Tuesday, April 17, 2018

National Socialism (Nazis) and Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party


scotsman |  In Arabic, baath means renaissance or resurrection. The Baath Arab Socialist Party, to give the organisation its formal title, is the original secular Arab nationalist movement, founded in Damascus in the 1940s to combat Western colonial rule. But since then, the Baath Party has undergone many chameleon-like twists in belief and purpose. Even the young men in Iraq who today claim its discredited banner might be surprised at the party’s real origins. 

Those beginnings lie thousands of miles to the west, in the leafy streets and pavement cafes of the left bank of the Seine in Paris. 

Here, in the 1930s, the two founders of the Baath Party were educated at the Sorbonne University. They were middle-class Arabs from the then French colony of Syria. 

Michael Aflaq was a Greek Orthodox Christian and would become the main ideologue of Baathism, preaching freedom from Western colonialism, Arab unity and socialism. And Salah al-Din Bitar, born of a Muslim family in Damascus, would be the practical politician, later becoming prime minister of an independent Syria. 

Back home in French Syria, they became teachers by day and political intriguers by night. Early Baathist ideas were strongly fringed with fascism, as you might expect from a group of men whose ideas were formed in France in the turbulent Thirties. 

The movement was based on classless racial unity, hence the strong anti-Marxism, and on national socialism in the scientific sense of the word, such as nationalised industry and an autarkic economy serving the needs of the nation. Hence, the antipathy towards Western capitalism. 

But the rise of German fascism also played a role. Many in the Arab world saw Hitler as an ally. In 1941, the Arab world was electrified by a pro-Axis coup in Baghdad. At that time, Iraq was nominally independent but Britain maintained a strong military presence. An Arab nationalist by the name of Rashid Ali al-Kailani organised an army coup against the pro-British Iraqi monarchy and requested help from Nazi Germany. In Damascus, then a Vichy French colony, the Baath Party founders immediately organised public demonstrations in support of Rashid Ali. 

After the Second World War, the Baathists emerged as the leadership of Arab nationalism for two reasons. First, they were the only force with a coherent ideology. Second, the existing Arab political elites were blamed for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Nor was Islam a competitor. For the Western-educated founders of Baathism, Islam smacked of backwardness. For the nascent Islamic fundamentalists, the Baathists were substituting Arabism for the much wider historic conquests of Muslim civilisation. But it was that pan-Arab nationalism that appealed to discontented Arab youth in the Fifties and Sixties. 

Baathism had something else to offer these youths: its tight, disciplined internal organisation which - at any rate, before the party became corrupt - stood in sharp contrast to the ramshackle nature of many Arab civil institutions. 

Like the Nazi and Communist parties, the Baath is organised through small cells in a rigid hierarchy. Members are expected to devote their life to the party. In Iraq, would-be members pass through four stages even before becoming a full member: supporter, sympathiser, nominee and trainee. Currently, there are about two million Iraqis in these categories. The system requires passing successfully a series of tests, so full members of Saddam’s Baathist organisation are the most hardened and fanatical of his supporters. 

With war looming, Saddam has extended this principle with the establishment of Fedayeen Saddam, many of whom have been in action against allied troops. The Fedayeen consists of teenage level members or novices eager to move up in the Baath hierarchy ladder. In this respect, they are very reminiscent of the Hitler Youth. 

It is estimated that there are about 40,000 full members of the Baath Party in Iraq. Each is assigned to an autonomous cell. A cell consists of three to five members, only one of whom would have a link to the next level of operation. This limits the ability to penetrate the organisation from without. This structure was born of the original clandestine and illegal life of the Baathists before they came to power. 

Nazi Relations With the Arab World


wikipedia |  In speeches, Hitler made apparently warm references towards Muslim culture such as: "The peoples of Islam will always be closer to us than, for example, France".[1]

A famous anecdote about Adolf Hitler's perspectives towards Islam and the Arabs is recounted by Albert Speer in his best-selling memoir, Inside the Third Reich. Speer reports that "Hitler had been much impressed by a scrap of history he had learned from a delegation of distinguished Arabs."[2] The delegation had speculated that the world would have become "Mohammedan" if the Berbers and Arabs had won the Battle of Tours in the 8th Century AD, and that the Germans would have become heirs to "a religion that believed in spreading the faith by the sword and in subjugating all nations to that faith. Such a creed was perfectly suited to the German temperament."[3] Speer then presents Hitler's claims on this subject:
Hitler said that the conquering Arabs, because of their racial inferiority, would in the long run have been unable to contend with the harsher climate of the country. They could not have kept down the more vigorous natives, so that ultimately not Arabs but Islamized Germans could have stood at the head of this Mohammedan Empire.[4]
Similarly, Hitler was transcribed as saying: "Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers [...] then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world."[5]

According to Speer, Hitler usually concluded his historical speculation by remarking, "You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?"[6]

Hitler's views on the Arab world

This "exchange" occurred when Hitler received Saudi Arabian ruler Ibn Saud’s special envoy, Khalid al-Hud al-Gargani.[7] Earlier in this meeting Hitler noted that one of the three reasons why Nazi Germany had warm sympathies for the Arabs was:
… because we were jointly fighting the Jews. This led him to discuss Palestine and the conditions there, and he then stated that he himself would not rest until the last Jew had left Germany. Kalid al Hud observed that the Prophet Mohammed … had acted the same way. He had driven the Jews out of Arabia ….[8]
Gilbert Achcar wryly observes that the Führer did not point out to his Arab visitors at that meeting that until then he had incited German Jews to emigrate to Palestine, and the Reich actively helped Zionist organizations get around alleged British-imposed restrictions on Jewish immigration.[9]
Hitler had told his military commanders in 1939, shortly before the start of the war:
We shall continue to make disturbances in the Far East and in Arabia. Let us think as men and let us see in these peoples at best lacquered half-apes who are anxious to experience the lash.[10][11]
Prior to the Second World War, all of North Africa and the Middle East were under the control of European powers. Despite the Nazi racial theories which denigrated Arabs as members of an inferior race, individual Arabs who assisted the Reich in fighting the British for possession of the Middle East were treated with honor and respect. Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, for example, "was granted honorary Aryan" status by the Nazis for his close collaboration with Hitler and the Third Reich.[12][13][page needed]

The German government developed a cordial association and cooperated with some Arab nationalist leaders based on their common anti-colonial and anti-Zionist interests. The most notable examples of these common-cause fights were the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine and other actions led by Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, and the Anglo-Iraqi War, when the Golden Square (four generals led by Rashid Ali al-Gaylani) overthrew the pro-British 'Abd al-Ilah regency in Iraq and installed a pro-Axis government.[14][15][16]

In response to the Rashid Ali coup, Hitler issued Führer Directive No. 30 on 23 May 1941 to support their cause. This order began: "The Arab Freedom Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally against England."[16]

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Nazi Role In Indian Independence


wikipedia |  The integral association of the Free India Legion with Nazi Germany and the other Axis powers means its legacy is seen from two viewpoints, similarly to other nationalist movements that were aligned with Germany during the war, such as the Russian Vlasov movement. One viewpoint sees it as a collaborationist unit of the Third Reich; the other views it as the realisation of a liberation army to fight against the British Raj.[31]

Unlike the Indian National Army, conceived with the same doctrine,[13] it has found little exposure since the end of the war even in independent India. This is because it was far removed from India, unlike Burma, and because the Legion was so much smaller than the INA and was not engaged in its originally conceived role.[31] Bose's plans for the Legion, and even the INA, were too grandiose for their military capability and their fate was too strongly tied to that of the Axis powers.[32] Looking at the legacy of Azad Hind, however, historians consider both movements' military and political actions (of which the Legion was one of the earliest elements, and an integral part of Bose's plans) and the indirect effect they had on the era's events.

In German histories of the Second World War, the Legion is noted less than other foreign volunteer units. Filmmaker and author Merle Kröger, however, made the 2003 mystery novel Cut! about soldiers from the Legion in France. She said she found them an excellent topic for a mystery because scarcely any Germans had heard of the Indians who volunteered for the German Army.[31] The only Indian film to mention the Legion is the 2011 Bollywood production Dear Friend Hitler, which portrays the Legion's attempted escape to Switzerland and its aftermath.

Perceptions as collaborators

In considering the history of the Free India Legion, the most controversial aspect is its integral link to the Nazi Germany, with a widespread perception that they were collaborators with Nazi Germany by the virtue of their uniform, oath and field of operation. The views of the founder and leader of the Azad Hind movement, Subhas Chandra Bose, were somewhat more nuanced than straightforward support for the Axis. During the 1930s Bose had organised and led protest marches against Japanese imperialism, and wrote an article attacking Japanese imperialism, although expressing admiration for other aspects of the Japanese regime.[33] Bose's correspondence prior to 1939 also showed his deep disapproval of the racist practices and annulment of democratic institutions by the Nazis.[34] He nonetheless expressed admiration for the authoritarian methods which he saw in Italy and Germany during the 1930s, and thought they could be used in building an independent India.[35]

Bose's view was not necessarily shared by the men of the Free India Legion, and they were not wholly party to Nazi ideology or in collaboration with the Nazi machinery. The Legion's volunteers were not merely motivated by the chance to escape imprisonment and earn money. Indeed, when the first POWs were brought to Annaburg and met with Subhas Chandra Bose, there was marked and open hostility towards him as a Nazi propaganda puppet.[36] Once Bose's efforts and views had gained more sympathy, a persistent query among the POWs was 'How would the legionary stand in relation to the German soldier?'.[36] The Indians were not prepared to simply fight for Germany's interests, after abandoning their oath to the King-Emperor. The Free India Centre—in charge of the legion after the departure of Bose—faced a number of grievances from legionaries. The foremost were that Bose had abandoned them left them entirely in German hands, and a perception that the Wehrmacht was now going to use them in the Western Front instead of sending them to fight for independence.[37]

The attitude of the Legion's soldiers was similar to that of the Italian Battaglione Azad Hindoustan, which had been of dubious loyalty to the Axis cause—it was disbanded after a mutiny.[7][8] In one instance, immediately prior to the first deployment of the Legion in the Netherlands in April 1943, after the departure of the 1st Battalion from Königsbrück, two companies within the 2nd Battalion refused to move until convinced by Indian leaders.[37] Even in Asia, where the Indian National Army was much larger and fought the British directly, Bose faced similar obstacles at first. All of this goes to show that many of the men never possessed loyalty to the Nazi cause or ideology; the motivation of the Legion's men was to fight for India's independence.[37] The unit did allegedly participate in atrocities, especially in the Médoc region in July 1944,[38] and in the region of Ruffec[28] and the department of Indre during their retreat,[39] and in addition, some elements of the unit undertook anti-partisan operations in Italy.

Role in Indian independence

However, in political terms Bose may have been successful, owing to events that occurred within India after the war.[7][8] After the war, the soldiers and officers of the Free India Legion were brought as prisoners to India, where they were to be brought to trial in courts-martial along with Indians who were in the INA. Their stories were seen as so inflammatory that, fearing mass revolts and uprisings across the empire, the British government forbade the BBC from broadcasting about them after the war.[28] Not much is known of any charges made against Free India Legion soldiers, but the Indian National Army trials that were initiated had the sentences they issued commuted or charges dropped, after widespread protest and several mutinies. As a condition of independence readily agreed to by the INC, members of the Free India Legion and INA were not allowed to serve in the post-independence Indian military, but they were all released before independence. Once the stories reached the public, there was a turnaround in perception of the Azad Hind movement from traitors and collaborators to patriots. Although the authorities expected to improve the morale of their troops by prosecuting the Azad Hind volunteers, they only contributed to the sentiment among many members of the military that they had been on the wrong side during the war.[40][41] According to historian Michael Edwardes, the "INA and Free India Legion thus overshadowed the conference that was to lead to independence, held in the same Red Fort as the trials".[40]

Inspired to a large extent by the stories of the soldiers at trial, mutiny broke out in the Royal Indian Navy, and received widespread public support. While the troops who fought for the Allies were being demobilised, the Navy mutiny was followed up by smaller mutinies in the Royal Indian Air Force, and a mutiny in the Indian Army that was suppressed by force. In the aftermath of the mutinies, the weekly intelligence summary issued on 25 March 1946 admitted that the Indian military was no longer trustworthy, and for the Army, "only day to day estimates of steadiness could be made".[42][8] The armed forces could not be relied upon to suppress unrest as they had been before, and drawing from experiences of the Free India Legion and INA, their actions could not be predicted from their oath to the King-Emperor.[43][44] Reflecting on the factors that guided the British decision to relinquish their rule in India, Clement Attlee, then the British Prime Minister, cited as the most important reason the realisation that the Indian armed forces might not prop up the Raj.[45] Although the British government had promised to grant dominion status to India at the end of the war,[46][47] the views held by British officials after the war show[citation needed] that although militarily a failure the Indians who fought for the Axis likely accelerated Indian independence. This is contrary to the usual narrative of India's independence struggle, which focuses only on the INC and Mahatma Gandhi.[citation needed]

Germany Plots With The Kremlin: The Madrid Circular


spitfirelist | by T. H. Tetens
1953, Henry Schuman, 294 pages
Download Pt. 1 | Download Pt. 2

T.H. Tetens’ Germany Plots with the Kremlin (1953) treats the pivotally important German “Ostpolitik,” which German power structure has traditionally exploited in order expand and develop its influence. The German threat to either remain neutral during the Cold War, or to ally with the USSR, was a significant factor in persuading conservative American power brokers to go along with the reinstatement in Germany of the Nazi elements that prosecuted World War II. Under the circumstances, some of these conservatives felt that permitting Nazi elements to return to power behind a democratic façade was the lesser of two evils, although many would have preferred a more traditionally conservative German political establishment. This German “Ostpolitik,” in turn, is characteristic of the geopolitical foresight and cynicism with which pan-Germanists have successfully pursued their goal of world domination through the centuries.

An authority on pan-Germanism employed by the U.S. government during World War II, Tetens analyzes German Ostpolitik in the aftermath of the war in the context of centuries of German policy toward Russia and the former Soviet Union. Tracing the roots of Ostpolitik, Tetens begins with Frederick the Great’s secret pact of 1762 with Czar Peter III, which disrupted the European coalition that almost crushed Prussia in the Seven Years War. This pact saved Prussia from total defeat and led to the first partition of Poland. In 1867, German chancellor Otto von Bismarck made a secret pact (called a “re-insurance treaty”) with Russia, which secured Germany’s Eastern frontier, helping to make Germany the strongest military power on the continent. Following in the footsteps of their predecessors, General Hans von Seeckt (head of the German general staff) created a new army after the German defeat in World War I. That army trained and armed in Soviet Russia after the Rapallo Treaty between Germany and the USSR in 1922. While German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann feigned neutrality, von Seeckt contemplated “war against the West in alliance with the East.” Perhaps the best-known example of Ostpolitik was the Hitler Stalin pact of 1939, which secured Germany’s Eastern border on the eve of World War II.

After World War II, the German geopoliticians (acting at the direction of the leaders of the Underground Reich under Martin Bormann) pursued a similar tack. Threatening neutrality, or even an alliance with the Soviets, the Germans were able to manipulate the U.S. into wooing Germany as an ally- –granting it renewed economic and military power and re-installing Nazis in positions of great influence. Kevin Coogan’s remarkable text Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker and the Postwar Fascist International contains an excellent contemporary account of this phenomenon. Listeners are emphatically encouraged to read the Coogan text as a supplement to the Tetens book (which was published in 1953.)

In 1950, the Madrid Geo-political Center (a Nazi think tank operating in exile under the friendly auspices of fascist dictator Franco) discussed the successful realization of the Reich’s plan to go underground. (These plans were described by Curt Reiss in The Nazis Go Underground. The Nazi grooming and installation of Franco, whose country was an important base for the postwar Reich activities, is discussed in Falange by Alan Chase.) The following passage appears on page 73 of the Tetens text: “According to the Madrid Circular Letter, referred to above, the German planners have never ceased their political warfare against the Allies. They admit that they had ‘blueprinted the bold plan and created a flexible and smoothly working organization,’ in order to safeguard Germany from defeat and to bring Allied post-war planning to nought. They boast that they were able to create total confusion in Washington, and that they saved German heavy industry from destruction: ‘By no means did the political and military leadership of the Third Reich skid into the catastrophe in an irrational manner as so many blockheads and ignoramuses often tell us. The various phases and consequences of the so-called ‘collapse’ . . . were thoroughly studied and planned by the most capable experts . . . Nothing occurred by chance; everything was carefully planned. The result of this planning was that, already a few months after Potsdam, the coalition of the victors went on the rocks.’. . .”

The Madrid Circular Letter goes on to set forth the course to be pursued by Germany, more startlingly relevant from the vantage point of early 2006 than in it was in 1950. The following is from page 52 of Tetens’ book:

“ ‘In view of the present political situation . . . the policy of orientation towards the West has lost all meaning or sense. . . . We must not forget that Germany has always considered orientation towards the West as a policy of expedience, or one to be pursued only under pressure of circumstances. Such was the case in Napoleon’s time, after 1918, and also after 1945. All of our great national leaders have constantly counseled the long-range policy of close cooperation with the East . . . .’” Fear of this dynamic drove the U.S. to accede to all of Germany’s demands for renewed power. “Anti-Communism Uber Alles!”

A stunning measure of the success of the Underground Reich and German Ostpolitik can be obtained by reading Dorothy Thompson’s analysis of Germany’s plans for world dominance by a centralized European economic union. (In this, we can see the plans of pan-German theoretician Friedrich List, as realized by the European Monetary Union.) Ms. Thompson was writing in The New York Herald Tribune on May 31, 1940! Her comments are reproduced by Tetens on page 92.
“The Germans have a clear plan of what they intend to do in case of victory. I believe that I know the essential details of that plan. I have heard it from a sufficient number of important Germans to credit its authenticity . . . Germany’s plan is to make a customs union of Europe, with complete financial and economic control centered in Berlin. This will create at once the largest free trade area and the largest planned economy in the world. In Western Europe alone . . . there will be an economic unity of 400 million persons . . . To these will be added the resources of the British, French, Dutch and Belgian empires. These will be pooled in the name of Europa Germanica . . .”
“The Germans count upon political power following economic power, and not vice versa. Territorial changes do not concern them, because there will be no ‘France’ or ‘England,’ except as language groups. Little immediate concern is felt regarding political organizations . . . . No nation will have the control of its own financial or economic system or of its customs. The Nazification of all countries will be accomplished by economic pressure. In all countries, contacts have been established long ago with sympathetic businessmen and industrialists . . . . As far as the United States is concerned, the planners of the World Germanica laugh off the idea of any armed invasion. They say that it will be completely unnecessary to take military action against the United States to force it to play ball with this system. . . . Here, as in every other country, they have established relations with numerous industries and commercial organizations, to whom they will offer advantages in co-operation with Germany. . . .”
Again, check out the current European Monetary Union and the “borderless” EU against the background of what Ms. Thompson forecast in 1940 and Mr. Tetens reproduced in 1953.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

It's Mueller's War and the Evil of It is Near at Hand...,


davidstockmanscontracorner |  America First is an existential threat to the Deep State.
 
It turns the clock back to April 2, 1917---the date when the Woodrow Wilson foolishly declared war on Germany and led America into a bloody cauldron on the Western Front that had absolutely no bearing on its national security; and thereafter into a destructive "peace" at Versailles that guaranteed perpetual war.

America First, when followed to its logical and correct conclusion, would put the War Capital of the world out of business; it would result in a massive slashing of the hideously bloated national security budget; it would ash-can the endless complex of think-tanks, NGOs, intelligence contractors and lobbyists for foreign interests.

We refer, of course, to the likes of the Podesta brothers, Paul Manafort and 20,000 more like and similar operators and racketeers. Indeed, having it way with the Warfare State, America First would bring a hair-curling recession to the Imperial City which would make Youngstown Ohio look like a model of prosperity.

To be sure, we seriously doubt that the Donald had any idea of where American First was leading him when he stumbled upon the slogan; and we are afraid that his xenophobic fear-mongering about the Mexican border would have distracted him, anyway.

But the Deep State was taking no chances. That's why the partisan shills who ran the CIA and FBI under Obama were able to launch their insidious anti-Trump witchunt as an "insurance policy" in July 2016; and it's also why the Obama Administration pulled out all the stops in its waning days in office to insure that the verdict of November 8 would be re-litigated on the back of the Russian Meddling story.

In Part 3 we intend to summarize the ludicrously threadbare nature of the whole Mueller investigation, but suffice it here to note the Smoking Bunker Buster that puts the lie to the whole scam.

To wit, it is absolutely the fact that neither Donald Trump, nor his sons, nor his daughter and son-in-law went to Russia at any time after the Donald's unlikely campaign was launched in June 2015. At that time no one including Vlad Putin gave him a snowball's chance of ending up in the Oval Office; and since then Trump has proven that no one matters in his comings and goings except the Donald and his family.

So if there was any collusion after the announcement, it had to be by email or phone between the Trumps and high state officials in the Kremlin. That is to say, every word of such conversations would be stored in the vast NSA (national security agency) server farms where everything which crosses the worldwide web gets snatched and stored.

Needless to say, if Robert Mueller were truly doing god's work in behalf of the rule of law and American democracy, he would have ordered-up the NSA taps on day one, and resolved the matter of "collusion" with the Russians within one week's time.

That he didn't do because no such taps exist and no such conversations between the Trumps and the Russian state ever happened. Period. Full stop.

To the contrary, the entire prolonged, ballyhooed, ever-expanding, leak-ridden, media-fueling Mueller investigation is designed to mortally wound Donald Trump and drive him from office. That is, to crush America First in its infancy and to obliterate even the crude and half-baked form in which its emerged from the modest gray matter nested under the Orange Comb-Over.  The Deep State Closes In On The Donald Part 1

 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Empire Now Plainly A Terminal Case....,


thesaker |   Frankly, I have already said everything I had to say about the so-called ‘West’ in the following articles:
and I don’t have much to add on substance.

Tonight all I ask you to follow the advice I gave in this article:

EVERYBODY WAIT! DO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS!
We have no facts. What US politicians (including generals – US generals are all politicians) say does not matter and is not “fact”.  The truth is that we won’t know for sure for at least 24 hours what took place.  The aggressors will present the attack as a huge success.  Don’t believe it!  The last time around it took several days to find out what really happened.

This is still my best advice to you:  wait for the facts and don’t listen to the Ziocon propaganda machine!

None of the above should distract us from what is by far the biggest danger currently facing us all – the risks of a US-Russian war in Syria. In fact, this reality seems to be slowly dawning even on the most obtuse of presstitutes who are now worrying about a spill-over effect. No, not in Europe or the USA, but on Israel, of course. Still, the fact that there are folks who understand that Israel might not survive a superpower clash on its doorstep is a good thing. Maybe the Israel lobby in the USA, or a least the part of it which cares for Israel (many/most only pretend to), will be more vocal than all the silent Anglo shabbos-goyim who don’t seem to be able to muster even a minimal amount of self-preservation instinct? Bibi Netanyahu felt the need to call Putin after the Israeli ambassador to Russia was read the riot act by Russian officials following the (admittedly rather lame) Israeli airstrike on the T-4 Syrian air force base. Not much of a hope, I admit..

This is not about good guys versus bad guys anymore. It’s about sane versus insane. I think that we can safely place Trump, Bolton, Haley and the rest of them in the “terminally delusional” camp. But what about the top US generals? I asked two well-informed friends, and they both told me that there is probably nobody above the rank of Colonel with enough courage left to object to the Neocon’s insanity, even if that means WWIII. Again, not much hope here either…

There is a sura (Al-Anfal 8:30) of the Qur’an which Sheikh Imran Hosein often mentions which I want to quote here: And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners. And since we are talking about Syria where Iran and Hezbollah are targets as much (or more) as the Russians, it is also fitting here to quote a very popular Shia slogan which calls to remember that the battle against oppression must be fought ceaselessly and everywhere: “Every Day Is Ashura and Every Land Is Karbala”. And, of course, there are the words of Christ Himself: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28).

Such religious references will, no doubt, irritate the many “enlightened” westerners for whom such language reeks of obscurantism, fanaticism, and bigotry. But in Russia or the Middle-East, such references are very much part of the national or religious ethos. To illustrate my point I want to quote from Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s “Divine Victory Speech” spoken in 2006 following the crushing victory by a relatively small Hezbollah force of the combined might of the Israeli ground, air and naval forces:
We are today celebrating a big strategic, historic, and divine victory. How can the human mind imagine that a few thousand of your Lebanese resistance sons – if I wanted, I would give the exact number – held out for 23 days in a land exposed to the skies against the strongest air force in the Middle East, which had an air bridge transporting smart bombs from America, through Britain, to Israel; against 40,000 officers and soldiers – four brigades of elite forces, three reserve army divisions; against the strongest tank in the world; and against the strongest army in the region? How could only a few thousand people hold out and fight under such harsh conditions, and [how could] their fighting force the naval warships out of our territorial waters? By the way, the army and the resistance are capable of protecting the territorial waters from being desecrated by any Zionist. [Applause] [And how could their fighting] also lead to the destruction of the Mirkava tanks, which are an object of pride for the Israeli industry; damage Israeli helicopters day and night; and turn the elite brigades – I am not exaggerating, and you can watch and read the Israeli media – into rats frightened by your sons? [How did this happen] while you were relinquished by the Arabs and the world and in light of the political (human solidarity was profound though) division around you? How could this group of mujahidin defeat this army without the support and assistance of Almighty God? This resistance experience, which should be conveyed to the world, depends – on the moral and spiritual level – on faith, certainty, reliance [on God], and readiness to make sacrifices. It also depends on reason, planning, organization, armament, and, as is said, on taking all possible protective procedures. We are neither a disorganized and sophistic resistance, nor a resistance pulled to the ground that sees before it nothing but soil, nor a resistance of chaos. The pious, God-reliant, loving, and knowledgeable resistance is also the conscious, wise, trained, and equipped resistance that has plans. This is the secret of the victory we are today celebrating, brothers and sisters.
These words could also be used to describe the relatively small Russian task force in Syria. In fact, there are numerous parallels which could be made between Hezbollah’s role and position in the Middle-East and Russia’s role and position in the world. And while both are well-trained, well-armed and well-commanded, it is their spiritual power which will decide the outcome of the wars waged against them by the Hegemony. AngloZionist secularists will never understand that – they just can’t – and that will bring their inevitable downfall. The only question is the price mankind will have to pay to have that last Empire finally bite the dust.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Hush Now Bout Digital Tricknology..., Bill Gates Talkin Bout Gene-Editing For the 3rd World!!


foreignaffairs |  Today, more people are living healthy, productive lives than ever before. This good news may come as a surprise, but there is plenty of evidence for it. Since the early 1990s, global child mortality has been cut in half. There have been massive reductions in cases of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The incidence of polio has decreased by 99 percent, bringing the world to the verge of eradicating a major infectious disease, a feat humanity has accomplished only once before, with smallpox. The proportion of the world’s population in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day, has fallen from 35 percent to about 11 percent.

Continued progress is not inevitable, however, and a great deal of unnecessary suffering and inequity remains. By the end of this year, five million children under the age of five will have died—mostly in poor countries and mostly from preventable causes. Hundreds of millions of other children will continue to suffer needlessly from diseases and malnutrition that can cause lifelong cognitive and physical disabilities. And more than 750 million people—mostly rural farm families in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia—still live in extreme poverty, according to World Bank estimates. The women and girls among them, in particular, are denied economic opportunity.

Some of the remaining suffering can be eased by continuing to fund the development assistance programs and multilateral partnerships that are known to work. These efforts can help sustain progress, especially as the world gets better at using data to help guide the allocation of resources. But ultimately, eliminating the most persistent diseases and causes of poverty will require scientific discovery and technological innovations.

That includes CRISPR and other technologies for targeted gene editing. Over the next decade, gene editing could help humanity overcome some of the biggest and most persistent challenges in global health and development. The technology is making it much easier for scientists to discover better diagnostics, treatments, and other tools to fight diseases that still kill and disable millions of people every year, primarily the poor. It is also accelerating research that could help end extreme poverty by enabling millions of farmers in the developing world to grow crops and raise livestock that are more productive, more nutritious, and hardier. New technologies are often met with skepticism. But if the world is to continue the remarkable progress of the past few decades, it is vital that scientists, subject to safety and ethics guidelines, be encouraged to continue taking advantage of such promising tools as CRISPR.

Blockchain Is Not Only Crappy NSA Technology...,


medium |  Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future. Its failure to achieve adoption to date is because systems built on trust, norms, and institutions inherently function better than the type of no-need-for-trusted-parties systems blockchain envisions. That’s permanent: no matter how much blockchain improves it is still headed in the wrong direction.

This December I wrote a widely-circulated article on the inapplicability of blockchain to any actual problem. People objected mostly not to the technology argument, but rather hoped that decentralization could produce integrity.

Let’s start with this: Venmo is a free service to transfer dollars, and bitcoin transfers are not free. Yet after I wrote an article last December saying bitcoin had no use, someone responded that Venmo and Paypal are raking in consumers’ money and people should switch to bitcoin.

What a surreal contrast between blockchain’s non-usefulness/non-adoption and the conviction of its believers! It’s so entirely evident that this person didn’t become a bitcoin enthusiast because they were looking for a convenient, free way to transfer money from one person to another and discovered bitcoin. In fact, I would assert that there is no single person in existence who had a problem they wanted to solve, discovered that an available blockchain solution was the best way to solve it, and therefore became a blockchain enthusiast.
There is no single person in existence who had a problem they wanted to solve, discovered that an available blockchain solution was the best way to solve it, and therefore became a blockchain enthusiast.
The number of retailers accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment is declining, and its biggest corporate boosters like IBM, NASDAQ, Fidelity, Swift and Walmart have gone long on press but short on actual rollout. Even the most prominent blockchain company, Ripple, doesn’t use blockchain in its product. You read that right: the company Ripple decided the best way to move money across international borders was to not use Ripples.

A blockchain is a literal technology, not a metaphor

Why all the enthusiasm for something so useless in practice?

People have made a number of implausible claims about the future of blockchain—like that you should use it for AI in place of the type of behavior-tracking that google and facebook do, for example. This is based on a misunderstanding of what a blockchain is. A blockchain isn’t an ethereal thing out there in the universe that you can “put” things into, it’s a specific data structure: a linear transaction log, typically replicated by computers whose owners (called miners) are rewarded for logging new transactions.

themaven |  I completely agree with much of what you wrote here. I’d like to point out a couple things:

First, in regards to “There is no single person in existence who had a problem they wanted to solve, discovered that an available blockchain solution was the best way to solve it, and therefore became a blockchain enthusiast.” There is in fact at least one such person: me. In 2010 I was looking for a payment system which did not have any possibility for chargebacks. It turns out that bitcoin is GREAT for that, and I became a blockchain enthusiast as a result.

The ugly truth about blockchain is that it is immensely useful, but only when you are in some way trying to circumvent an authority of some sort. In my case, I wanted to take payments for digital goods without losing any to chargebacks. It’s also great for sending money to Venezuela (circumventing the authority of the government of Venezuela, which would really rather you not). It’s great for raising money for projects (ICOs are really about circumventing various regulatory authorities who make that difficult). It’s great for buying drugs, taking payment for ransomware, and any number of terrible illegal things related to human trafficking, money laundering, etc.

Frankly, the day that significant trading of derivatives (gold futures, oil futures, options, etc) starts happening on blockchain, I expect a bubble that will make previous crypto bubbles look tiny in comparison. This is not because blockchain is an easier way to trade these contracts! It is because some percentage of rich traders would like to do anonymous trading and avoid pesky laws about paying taxes on trading profits and not doing insider trading.

I sum it up like this: are you trying to do something with money that requires avoiding an authority somewhere? If not, there is a better technical solution than blockchain. That does NOT mean that what you are doing is illegal for you (it’s perfectly legal for me to send money to Venezuela). It just means that some authority somewhere doesn’t like what you are doing.

Blockchain is inherently in opposition to governmental control of the world of finance. The only reason governments aren’t more antagonistic towards blockchain is that they don’t truly understand how dangerous it is. I wrote at length about this back in 2013 in an article called “Bitcoin’s Dystopian Future”:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bezos Got No Dogs In The Section 230 Of The Communications Decency Act Hunt...,


WaPo  |  You might think cracking down on child sex traffickers would be a legislative layup. You’d be wrong. The bill — authored by Republican Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), John McCain (Ariz.) and John Cornyn (Tex.) and Democrats Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) — was hard to pass. (Full disclosure: My wife works for Portman.) 

The act faced a wall of opposition from Silicon Valley because it amended Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gave blanket immunity to online entities that publish third-party content from civil and criminal prosecution. Big Tech wanted to preserve that blanket immunity, even if it gave legal cover to websites that were using it to sell children for sex. When child sex trafficking survivors tried to sue Backpage, and state attorneys general tried to prosecute the owners, federal courts ruled against them, specifically citing Section 230. This did not move Big Tech. Chief among the culprits was Google, which apparently forgot its old corporate motto of “Don’t Be Evil” and lobbied fiercely against the bill. 

How did the senators overcome Big Tech’s lobbying campaign? First, Portman and McCaskill, the chairman and then-ranking minority-party member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, used their subpoena power to gather corporate files, bank records and other evidence that Backpage knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and children, and then covered up that evidence. They fought Backpage all the way to the Supreme Court to enforce their subpoenas. The subcommittee then published a voluminous report detailing the findings of its 20-month investigation, including evidence that Backpage knew it was facilitating child sex trafficking and that it was not simply a passive publisher of third-party content. Instead the company was automatically editing users’ child sex ads to strip them of words that might arouse suspicion (such as “lolita,” “teenage,” “rape,” “young,” “amber alert,” “little girl,” “fresh,” “innocent” and “school girl”) before publishing them and advised users on how to create “clean” postings.

Then Portman, McCaskill and their co-authors used the result of their investigation to craft a narrow legislative fix that would allow bad actors such as Backpage to be held accountable. The bill they produced allows sex trafficking victims to sue the websites that facilitated the crimes against them and allows state law enforcement officials, not just the Justice Department, to prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws. The committee also turned over all its raw documents to the Justice Department last summer, urging it to undertake a criminal review, which Justice did.

Despite all the Silicon Valley money against them, the senators never wavered. Through the sheer power of the testimony of trafficking survivors; Mary Mazzio’s documentary “I Am Jane Doe;” the evidence of crimes committed by Backpage; and the support of law enforcement, anti-trafficking advocates, 50 state attorneys general, the civil rights community and faith-based groups — as well as carefully negotiated language — they wore down most of Big Tech’s opposition. In November, Facebook finally came on board. But Google shamefully never relented in its opposition. Despite this, the act overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Congress.

You Don't Own and Cannot Access or Control Facebook's Data About You



theatlantic |  But the raw data that Facebook uses to create user-interest inferences is not available to users. It’s data about them, but it’s not their data. One European Facebook user has been petitioning to see this data—and Facebook acknowledged that it exists—but so far, has been unable to obtain it.

When he responded to Kennedy, Zuckerberg did not acknowledge any of this, but he did admit that Facebook has other types of data that it uses to increase the efficiency of its ads. He said:
My understanding is that the targeting options that are available for advertisers are generally things that are based on what people share. Now once an advertiser chooses how they want to target something, Facebook also does its own work to help rank and determine which ads are going to be interesting to which people. So we may use metadata or other behaviors of what you’ve shown that you’re interested in News Feed or other places in order to make our systems more relevant to you, but that’s a little bit different from giving that as an option to an advertiser.
Kennedy responded: “I don’t understand how users then own that data.” This apparent contradiction relies on the company’s distinction between the content someone has intentionally shared—which Facebook mines for valuable targeting information—and the data that Facebook quietly collects around the web, gathers from physical locations, and infers about users based on people who have a similar digital profile. As the journalist Rob Horning put it, that second set of data is something of a “product” that Facebook makes, a “synthetic” mix of actual data gathered, data purchased from outsiders, and data inferred by machine intelligence.

With Facebook, the concept of owning your data begins to verge on meaningless if it doesn’t include that second, more holistic concept: not just the data users create and upload explicitly, but all the other information that has become attached to their profiles by other means.

But one can see, from Facebook’s perspective, how complicated that would be. Their techniques for placing users into particular buckets or assigning them certain targeting parameters are literally the basis for the company’s valuation. In a less techno-pessimistic time, Zuckerberg described people’s data in completely different terms. In October 2013, he told investors that this data helps Facebook “build the clearest models of everything there is to know in the world.”

Facebook puts out a series of interests for users to peruse or turn off, but it keeps the models to itself. The models make Facebook ads work well, and that means it helps small and medium-size businesses compete more effectively with megacorporations on this one particular score. Yet they introduce new asymmetries into the world. Gullible people can be targeted over and over with ads for businesses that stop just short of scams. People prone to believing hoaxes and conspiracies can be hit with ads that reinforce their most corrosive beliefs. Politicians can use blizzards of ads to precisely target different voter types.

As with all advertising, one has to ask: When does persuasion become manipulation or coercion? If Facebook advertisers crossed that line, would the company even know it? Dozens of times throughout the proceedings, Zuckerberg testified that he wasn’t sure about the specifics of his own service. It seemed preposterous, but with billions of users and millions of advertisers, who exactly could know what was happening?

Most of the ways that people think they protect their privacy can’t account for this new and more complex reality, which Kennedy recognized in his closing remark.

“You focus a lot of your testimony ... on the individual privacy aspects of this, but we haven’t talked about the societal implications of it ... The underlying issue here is that your platform has become a mix of ... news, entertainment, and social media that is up for manipulation,” he said. “The changes to individual privacy don’t seem to be sufficient to address that underlying issue.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Did I Miss Eric Schmidt's Testimony Before the Senate?


antimedia |  With all the attention paid to Facebook in recent weeks over ‘data breaches’ and privacy violations (even though what happened with Cambridge Analytica is part of their standard business model), it’s easy to forget that there are four other Big Tech corporations collecting just as much — if not more — of our personal info. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are all central players in “surveillance capitalism” and prey on our data. New reports suggest that Google may actually harvest ten times as much as Facebook.
Curious about just how much of his data Google had, web developer Dylan Curran says he downloaded his Google data file, which is offered by the company in a hub called “My Account.” This hub was created in 2015, along with a tool called “My Activity.” The report issued is similar to the one Facebook delivers to its users upon request. Whether or not these reports are comprehensive is still up in the air, but Curran says his was 5.5 GB, which is almost ten times larger than the one Facebook offered him. The amount and type of data in his file, Mr. Curran says, suggests Google is not only constantly tracking our online movements but may also be monitoring our physical locations.

Curran’s Google report contained an incredible amount documentation on his web activity, going back over a decade. But perhaps more importantly, Google had also been tracking his real-life movements via his smartphone device or tablet. This included fairly random places he’d frequented, many of the foreign countries and cities he visited, the bars and restaurants he went to while in these countries, the amount of time he spent there, and even the path he took to get there and back.
This, of course, is not new. It has been well-known for some time that Google silently tracks you everywhere you go and creates a map of your physical movements through its Location History feature. You can deactivate it by going to your timeline and adjusting the preferences.
Another Google user downloaded his file and discovered the company had been archiving his data even when he browsed in Incognito mode, a setting that advertises itself as one that does not save browsing history.

Like Facebook, Google gathers your info for sale to 3rd-party advertisers, including your name, email address, telephone number, credit card, specific ways you use Google’s services, your mode of interaction with any website that uses Google technology (such as AdWords), your device, and your search queries. And if you don’t enter your account and make adjustments, pretty much anything you do online while deploying a Google tool is tracked. Google’s policy states:
If other users already have your email, or other information that identifies you, we may show them your publicly visible Google Profile information, such as your name and photo.
But much of the location data stems from the use of Google apps like Maps or Now, which broadcast your location. If you want to stop this information from being shared, you have to go into your account settings and make adjustments.
The ostensible purpose of this data-sharing is to fine-tune your user experience, but who is benefitting more is arguable. The same year it released its new activity hub, Google also unveiled a new program that shares your email with high-value advertisers. Called Customer Match, this system streamlines consumer info so that an advertiser’s “brand is right there, with the right message, at the moment your customer is most receptive.”

Google’s policy also lists the three major categories of data collection: Things you do; Things you create; and Things that make you “you.”

The Underlying Nature of the Divide in American Politics


medium |  For several years now, political journalists, analysts, and pundits have been arguing that U.S. politics has increasingly turned into a struggle between urban and rural voters. Regional differences were once paramount, Josh Kron observed in the Atlantic after the 2012 election. “Today, that divide has vanished,” he declared. “The new political divide is a stark division between cities and what remains of the countryside.” Two years later, the Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote that there are “really two Americas; an urban one and a rural one,” going on to observe that since Iowa was growing more urban, Democrats could count on doing better there. Instead, an ever-more urbanized and diverse nation turned not just toward Republicans, but also toward the authoritarian nationalism of Donald Trump, prompting further hand-wringing over the brewing civil war. “It seems likely that the cracks dividing cities from not-cities will continue to deepen, like fissures in the Antarctic ice shelf, until there’s nothing left to repair,” concluded a lengthy New York story on the phenomena this April.

I don’t disagree that the United States is in crisis, with fissures breaking apart our facade of national unity and revealing structural weaknesses of the republic. Our federation — and, therefore, the world — is in peril, and the stakes are enormous. As the author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, however, I strongly disagree with the now-conventional narrative that what ultimately divides us is the difference between metropolitan and provincial life. The real divide is between regional cultures — an argument I fleshed out at the outset of this series—as it always has been. And I now have the data to demonstrate it.

So do we know whether targeted fake news helped swing the election to Donald Trump?


scientificamerican |  When I was a teenager, my parents often asked me to come along to the store to help carry groceries. One day, as I was waiting patiently at the check-out, my mother reached for her brand new customer loyalty card. Out of curiosity, I asked the cashier what information they record. He replied that it helps them keep track of what we’re buying so that they can make tailored product recommendations. None of us knew about this. I wondered whether mining through millions of customer purchases could reveal hidden consumer preferences and it wasn’t long before the implications dawned on me: are they mailing us targeted ads?

This was almost two decades ago. I suppose the question most of us are worried about today is not all that different: how effective are micro-targeted messages? Can psychological “big data” be leveraged to make you buy products? Or, even more concerning, can such techniques be weaponized to influence the course of history, such as the outcomes of elections? On one hand, we’re faced with daily news from insiders attesting to the danger and effectiveness of micro-targeted messages based on unique “psychographic” profiles of millions of registered voters. On the other hand, academic writers, such as Brendan Nyhan, warn that the political power of targeted online ads and Russian bots are widely overblown.

In an attempt to take stock of what psychological science has to say about this, I think it is key to disentangle two prominent misunderstandings that cloud this debate.

First, we need to distinguish attempts to manipulate and influence public opinion, from actual voter persuasion. Repeatedly targeting people with misinformation that is designed to appeal to their political biases may well influence public attitudes, cause moral outrage, and drive partisans further apart, especially when we’re given the false impression that everyone else in our social network is espousing the same opinion. But to what extent do these attempts to influence translate into concrete votes? 

The truth is, we don’t know exactly (yet). But let’s evaluate what we do know. Classic prediction models that only contain socio-demographic data (e.g. a person’s age), aren’t very informative on their own in predicting behavior. However, piecing together various bits of demographic, behavioral, and psychological data from people, such as pages you’ve liked on Facebook, results from a personality quiz you may have taken, as well as your profile photo (which reveals information about your gender and ethnicity) can improve data quality. For example, in a prominent study with 58,000 volunteers, a Stanford researcher found that a model using Facebook likes (170 likes on average), predicted a whole range of factors, such as your gender, political affiliation, and sexual orientation with impressive accuracy.

In a follow-up study, researchers showed that such digital footprints can in fact be leveraged for mass persuasion. Across three studies with over 3.5 million people, they found that psychologically tailored advertising, i.e. matching the content of a persuasive message to an individuals’ broad psychographic profile, resulted in 40% more clicks and in 50% more online purchases than mismatched or unpersonalized messages. This is not entirely new to psychologists: we have long known that tailored communications are more persuasive than a one-size-fits all approach. Yet, the effectiveness of large-scale digital persuasion can vary greatly and is sensitive to context. After all, online shopping is not the same thing as voting!

So do we know whether targeted fake news helped swing the election to Donald Trump?