Article 43


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Project Nightingale

image: google

Google’s “Project Nightingale” analyzes medical records to create “Patient Search” for health providers

By Abner Li
Nov 2019

Beyond the ACQUISTION OF FITBIT earlier this month, Google’s health ambitions are multi-faceted and extend into services for hospitals and health providers. Such an effort named Project Nightingale was detailed today, along with the end product: Patient Search.

The Wall Street Journal today REPORTED on Project Nightingale, with Forbes providing more details on the effort, including screenshots.  Ascension - one of the country’s largest healthcare systems - is moving its patient records to Google Cloud. This complete health history includes lab results, doctor diagnoses, and hospitalization records.

In turn, Google is analyzing and compiling that data into a Patient Search tool that allows doctors and other health professionals to conveniently see all patient data on an overview page.

The page includes notes about patient medical issues, test results and medications, including information from scanned documents, according to presentations viewed by Forbes.

The interface is quite straightforward and not too different from hospitals that offer results directly to patients today.

Internally, the project is being developed within Google Cloud, and 150 Googlers reportedly have access to the data. This includes Google Brain, the companys internal AI research division. The WSJ describes another tool in development that uses machine learning to suggest possible patient treatment changes to doctors.

Google in this case is using the data, in part, to design new software, underpinned by advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, that zeroes in on individual patients to suggest changes to their care.

That appears to be further off in the distance compared to ԒPatient Search, which is already deployed to Ascension facilities in Florida and Texas, with more locations planned this year. Google is apparently not charging Ascension for the work and could offer the tool to other health systems in the future.

When asked for comment, Google said Project Nightingale abides by all federal laws and that privacy protections are in place. Experts that spoke to the WSJ believe that this initiative is allowed under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).


Posted by Elvis on 11/12/19 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Broadband Privacy
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Monday, November 11, 2019

How Many Good Jobs

no jobs

53 Million Americans Drowning in Cycle of Low-Wage Work
Today’s artificial economy isn’t working for everyone.

By Tyler Durden
November 9, 2019

It’s the “Greatest Economy Ever,” right? Well, it depends on who you ask.

For instance, a new report sheds light on 53 million Americans, or about 44% of all US workers, aged 18 to 64, are considered low-wage and low-skilled.

Many of these folks are stuck in THE GIG ECONOMY, making approximately $10.22 per hour, and they bring home less than $20,000 per year, according to a Brookings Institution report of these folks are stuck in the gig economy, making approximately $10.22 per hour, and they bring home less than $20,000 per year, ACCORDING TO a Brookings Institution report.

An overwhelmingly large percentage of these folks have insurmountable debts in that of student loans, auto loans, and or credit cards. Their wages don’t cover their debt servicing payments as their lives will be left in financial ruin after the next recession.

While the top 10% of Americans are partying like it’s 1999, most of whom own assets - like stocks, bonds, and real estate - are greatly prospering off the Federal Reserves serial asset bubble-blowing scheme and President Trump’s stock market pumping on Twitter.

Today’s artificial economy isn’t working for everyone as the wealth inequality gap swells to crisis levels.

The US is at the 11th hour, one hour till midnight, as the wealth inequality imbalance will correct itself by the eruption of protests on the streets of major metro areas, sort of like whats been happening across the world in Chile, Hong Kong, Lebanon, and Barcelona.

An uprising, a revolution, people are waking up to the fact that unelected officials and governments have ruined the economy and has resulted in their financial misery of low wages and insurmountable debts.

The report shows almost half of all low-wage workers are clustered in ten occupations, such as a retail salesperson, cooks and food preparation, building cleaners, and construction workers (these are some of the jobs that will get wiped out during the next recession).

10 biggest jobs

Shown below, most of these low-wage workers are centered in areas around the North East, Mid-Atlantic, and Rust Belt.

2019 11 jobs by state

As we’ve detailed in past articles, millions of these low-wage and low-skilled jobs will never be replaced after the next recession, that’s due in part to mega corporations swapping out these jobs with automation and artificial intelligence.

The solution by the government and the Federal Reserve, to avoid riots in the streets, will be the implementation of various forms of quantitative easing for the people.

There’s a reason why you already hear the debate of universal income, central banks starting to finance green investments, and other various forms of short/long term stimulus, that is because the global economy is grinding to a halt - and the only solution at the moment is to do more of the same.


Posted by Elvis on 11/11/19 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Sunday, November 03, 2019

500 Hundred Resumes Later

image: the invisible long-term unemployed

[O]ut-of-work Americans have played a critical role in helping the richest one percent recover trillions in financial wealth.
- Why The Rich Love Unemployment

After saying that “the halls of Congress are no joke,” Ocasio-Cortez said that “standing up to corporate power, and established interests is no joke. It’s not just about standing up and saying these things, but behind closed doors, your arm is twisted, the vise pressure of political pressure gets put on you, every trick in the book, psychological, and otherwise is to get us to abandon the working class.”
- Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

[F]or years the government has been taking large numbers of people from the basket known as “officially unemployed” and dumping them into another basket known as “not in the labor force.” Since those that are “not in the labor force” do not count toward the official unemployment rate, they can make things look better than they actually are by moving people into that category.
- There’s no BS like the BLS

THERE’S NO OTHER WAY TO SAY THIS. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth - the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real then we will quit wondering why Americans aren’t feeling something that doesn’t remotely reflect the reality in their lives. And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class.
- Gallup Head Says Unemployment Rate is “A Big Lie.”

This is VERY BAD. These are young men who have given up hope - men who saw no light at the end of the TUNNEL

That’s what happens when all you have is debt and no job prospects.

were all sort of just making time pass until the end. The antidepressants help, but on some level I can’t help feeling like Wellbutrin is only masking a very rational reaction to “modern” life.

Weve created a world so miserable that people prefer death over it.
- Reddit Post

Lots of Job Hunting, but No Job, Despite Low Unemployment
Even with the strongest labor market in half a century, getting work after losing it can still be a challenge.

By Patricia Cohen
NY Times
October 31, 2019

RIVER VALE, N.J.  Laura Ward flipped through the small, lined notebook where she had neatly recorded every job posting she had answered, resume she had sent and application she had completed since being laid off in March 2016.

No. 28 was a job listing for a creative manager at Byre Group posted on the website Indeed.

No. 97 was about a brand marketing administrator job at Benjamin Moore.

No. 109 marketing operations at AMC.

No. 158 an associate project manager at Vitamin Shoppe.

Callbacks were circled in green. Rejections were marked with a red X. Most have neither, signaling no reply one way or the other. Bottled messages dropped in an ocean.

“I had to keep track somehow,” said Ms. Ward, who has maintained job-hunting diaries since the 1990s.

Even in some of the hottest labor markets in the country - let alone lagging rural regions and former industrial powerhouses - workers, including skilled ones like Ms. Ward, say they cannot find jobs that provide a middle-class income and don’t come with an expiration date.

After more than a decade as production manager at a small advertising agency, Ms. Ward was let go after the firm lost a major account. Over the last three and a half years, she has worked temporary stints, and bolstered her skills by taking a project-management course at a nearby college. But she has not been able to find a steady, full-time job.

So for her, the reports of low unemployment rates and employer complaints of labor shortages are puzzling.

I don’t know what all those jobs out there are, she said from her living room in River Vale, a New Jersey suburb within commuting distance of Manhattan.

The continuing strength of the labor market has been one of the most remarkable economic achievements since the recession petered out. A nine-year string of job gains has coaxed discouraged and disabled Americans back into the work force and raised wages and hours, particularly for those at low end of the pay scale.

Beneath the clear benefits of the economic expansion, however, there is an undertow of anxiety, heightened recently by fears of slowing growth around the globe and in the United States.

“We’re not focusing enough on the people who have continued to be left behind by this recovery,” said Martha Gimbel, a manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative. “We have not talked enough about the workers who are still stuck even in a labor market that is this competitive.”

Most of these people do not show up in the stunningly low official unemployment rate, which was 3.6 percent in October. Working even one hour during the week when the Labor Department does its employment survey keeps you out of the jobless category.

Many more show up in a broader measure, which includes people who are working part time but would prefer full-time employment, and those who want to work but have given up an active job search. That rate in September was 6.9 percent, some 11 million people.

But there are also many others, like Ms. Ward, who work temporary jobs for months at a time and are not necessarily captured in either measure. And millions of contract workers freelancers, consultants, Lyft drivers ח lack benefits, regular schedules and job security. They have found a foothold, but it rests on loose rock.

A recent survey by Gallup found that a majority of Americans do not consider themselves to be in a good job.Ӕ

Appealing to Americans on the sidelinesӔ and those who had not benefited from the so-called recoveryӔ was a key element of Donald Trumps presidential campaign in 2016. Now, Democratic presidential contenders like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are arguing that American workers have barely shared in the economyҒs gains.

And they have bypassed benchmark statistics like the unemployment rate, and focused instead on the systems fundamental unfairness, highlighting stark income inequality and worker rights.

The political pressures have even registered in penthouse suites. The Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of some of the nationҒs biggest corporations, issued a new mission statement in August, declaring that companies should promote the interests of their employees as well as their investors.

We know that many Americans are struggling,Ӕ the group said in a release. Too often hard work is not rewarded, and not enough is being done for workers to adjust to the rapid pace of change in the economy.Ӕ

Such pronouncements have yet to produce a tangible change in many Americans daily lives.

One in four workers say they have unpredictable work schedules, which can have insidious effects on family life. One in five adults who are employed say they want to work more hours. Annual wage growth has struggled to reach 3 percent. And nearly 40 percent of Americans, a Federal Reserve report found, are in such a financially precarious state that they say they would have trouble finding $400 for an unexpected expense like a car repair or a medical bill.

Keenan Harton, 45, juggles two jobs, one at a Biscuitville fast-food restaurant that pays $8 an hour, and another at a hospital laundry in Durham, N.C., that pays $10.50 an hour. Often he shows up for work at the fast-food job for an eight-hour shift, only to be sent home after a couple of hours if business is slow.

ғIts real hard to find a full-time job thatҒs actually going to pay over $10 an hour, said Mr. Harton, who has a high school diploma.

Four hundred fifty miles north, in New Jersey, Sonia JohnsonԒs last job was in August, a four-week assignment. But my last full-time direct hire was back in 2009,Ӕ said Ms. Johnson, who worked in the human resources department of a pharmaceutical company until she was laid off. For me, itӒs been all through an agency, working as a contractor.

Ms. Johnson, 55, who has a college degree, said she had kept her skills up to date by using grant money from the stateԒs labor department to take courses. I have really good technical skills,Ӕ she said.

Asked how many jobs she had applied for, Ms. Johnson hesitated. “It’s almost embarrassing,” she said. “At least 500.”

Her impression is that the contract work that enables her to pay the bills may at times hinder her ability to get a full-time job. ԓEmployers are not happy with people with a contract working background, Ms. Johnson said, adding that they are also suspicious of any gaps in a rԩsum.

National averages, of course, can mask distinct geographical differences. Workers may not have the specific skills a particular employer needs, or live where a job opening is. But research also shows that some employers have a negative view of people who have been unemployed for long stretches at a time.

“The longer you are unemployed, the more stigma is attached,” said Carl Van Horn, the founding director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

African-Americans and older Americans are more likely to find themselves among the long-term unemployed, he said, a group that includes people out of work for more than six months. And age discrimination, particularly against women over 40, has been documented in several studies.

“There are very limited remedies in this country to deal with these issues,” Mr. Van Horn said. Cash assistance runs out, and there are few retraining opportunities. He noted that a lot of higher education assistance, like Pell Grants, do not pay for short-term training, which is what many people lacking a particular skill could benefit from.

The Heldrich Center runs the New Start Career Network, a program for the long-term unemployed that provides online job-search resources, job fairs and career coaching.

Both Ms. Ward and Ms. Johnson are members, and that is where they learned about the states grants for training.

“Every morning, I wake up and there’s that one second when I realize I don’t have a job, and its scary and awful,” Ms. Ward said.

Holding her notebook in her lap, Ms. Ward slowly ran her finger along the pages of color-coded entries of job leads.

It’s interesting to watch as time went on, she said. As the weeks, and then months went by, her search criteria shifted. “O.K., a little further away, 35 miles instead of 25,” she recalled. “Maybe a little less money, maybe this title instead of that.”

Her cellphone rang, and she excused herself to answer it.

“I applied to these three jobs yesterday, and I thought maybe they’ll call me,” she said when she did not recognize the number. It turned out to be a nuisance call.

Now that three years have passed since her last training, Ms. Ward is again eligible to receive unemployment insurance while taking up to $4,000 worth of classes. She has signed up for a social-media marketing class and an introductory design course.

“That should buy me till the end of the year,” she said.


Posted by Elvis on 11/03/19 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Friday, November 01, 2019


image: ed snowden

The Curious Case of Edward Snowden

By Makia Freeman
Freedom Articles
October 31, 2019

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who rose to extraordinary fame in June 2013 when he facilitated classified documents from the NSA to be made fully open and public, is an intriguing case. Some (with blind allegiance the USG and MIC [Military Industrial Complex]) view him as a traitor who should be imprisoned for life or killed. Others view him as a hero, genuine activist and champion of the right to privacy. There are also some who view him with skepticism, finding his story and claims beyond the bounds of credibility. With the publication of his recent book Permanent Record, and to some extent his recent interview with Joe Rogan, he has again become a focus of attention. We have learnt much more about his background and story. Now is a good opportunity to ask: who is Edward Snowden, and can we fully trust his story?

Hacking the NSA

Permanent Record is an interesting read. Snowden does a good job of picking out key moments from his childhood that formed his character. He reveals how he grew up in the Beltway (the area surrounding Washington DC) in a military family and became fascinated with computers, video games and hacking. The idea of hackingђ is a central theme of the book. He talks about how he was always trying to find loopholes and ways around the rules at home, at school and beyond. He was always interested in systems how they operate, how the components work together and what their vulnerabilities were ֖ in other words, how systems could be hacked.

He obtained a TS/SCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance after going through vigorous testing and became a Systems Administrator. As he worked his way up the ladder, he worked both on the private side as a contractor and on the public side as a government employee. By this point, the boy computer genius and teenage hacker had become a high-level systems expert with access to a massive amount of classified and secret data. He began to feel increasingly uncomfortable with the documents that came across his desk, as he started to see that the MIC, led by the NSA, had set up a network of mass surveillance across not just America but the entire world.

Snowden writes that they had hacked the Constitution by bypassing the checks and balances meant to protect the American public. The Executive Branch has actively hacked the system by using EOs (Executive Orders) to set new policy without needing approval from the Legislative Branch (Congress). Congress in turn had turned a blind eye to NSA spying and overreach by refusing to demand truthful answers and launch investigations. The Judicial Branch (the courts) had been hacked by the establishment of a special court under the 1978 act FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) which just rubber stamped virtually every (99%) request the NSA made. In response to this, Snowden decided to take matters into his own hands by hacking the NSA, in order to redress the balance of power.

Quotes from Permanent Record, First Book of Edward Snowden

Here are some great quotes from the book which sum up Snowdens realizations and principles. The first sums up the importance of the metadata as opposed to actual content of the communication:

“One major irony here is that the law, which always lags behind technological innovation by at least a generation, gives substantially more protections to a communications content than to its metadata - and yet intelligence agencies are far more interested in the metadata - the activity records that allow them both the “big picture” ability to analyze data at scale, and the “little picture” ability to make perfect maps, chronologies, and associative synopses of an individual person’s life, from which they presume to extrapolate predictions of behavior. In sum, metadata can tell your surveillant virtually everything they’d ever want or need to know about you, except what’s actually going on inside your head,”
- p. 180

In this quote, Snowden talks about his personal emotions of feeling used and violated. He had assisted the system without knowing it so many whistleblowers have felt the same. This is only possible due to the strict compartmentalization of information that takes place within the IC (Intelligence Community) and the Military in general:

“I felt far from home, but monitored. I felt more adult than ever, but cursed with the knowledge that all of us had been reduced to something like children, who’d be forced to live the rest of out lives under omniscient parental supervision. I felt like a fool, as someone of supposedly serious technical skills who’d somehow helped to build an essential component of this system without realizing its purpose. I felt used, as an employee of the IC who only now was realizing that all along I’d been protecting not my country but the state. I felt, above all, violated.

- pp. 180-1

In this quote, Snowden talks about his realization that the US had become the enemy it said it was fighting:

After 9/11, the ICOs orders had been “never again,” a mission that could never be accomplished. A decade later, it had become clear, to me at least, that the repeated evocations of terror by the political class were not a response to any specific threat or concern but a cynical attempt to turn terror into a permanent danger that required permanent vigilance enforced by unquestionable authority. After a decade of mass surveillance, the technology had proved itself to be a potent weapon less against terror and more against liberty itself. By continuing these programs, by continuing these lies, America was protecting little, winning nothing, and losing much until there would be few distinctions left between those post 9/11 polarities of ҖUs and ӔThem.Ӕ

pp. 204-5

Here he shows his understanding that privacy if intrinsic and fundamental to all people:

Because a citzenry’s freedoms are interdependent, to surrender your own privacy is really to surrender everyones. You might to choose to give it up out of convenience, or under the popular pretext that privacy is only required by those who have something to hide. By saying that you don’t need or want privacy because you have nothing to hide is to assume that no one should have, or could have, to hide anything - their immigration status, unemployment history, financial history, and health records, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and sexual activities.”

- pg. 208

Here he reveals the moment that the implications of the mass surveillance grid dawned on him:

The generations to come would have to get used to a world in which surveillance wasn’t something occasional and directed in legally justified circumstances, but a constant and indiscriminate presence once the ubiquity of collection was combined with the permanency of storage, all any government had to do was select a person or a group to scapegoat and go searching ԅ as Id gone searching through the agency֒s files for evidence of a suitable crime.Җ

- pg. 185

Some of the Surprising Things about Snowden

So, Snowden awoke to the reality of what the NSA was doing to people. He awoke to his unwitting role in assisting the creation of this sprawling surveillance system. He realized the War on Terror was a fraudulent piece of propaganda. He realized the IC had been using 9/11 as an excuse to consolidate tremendous power and control by constructing the most intrusive mass surveillance grid known to man in world history.

Ed Snowden is clearly an intelligent guy. So, it struck me as quite bizarre that he would still, after all these years, buy into the mainstream official version of events regarding the false flag operation of 9/11 and the death of Osama bin Laden. Here is a quote where he seems to buy hook, line and sinker that bin Laden was killed on May 1st, 2011 in Pakistan:

It was late at night on May 1, 2011, when I noticed the news alerton my phone: Osama bin Laden had been tracked down to Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed by a team of Navy SEALs ԓ I was glad the motherfucker was dead.

- pg. 203

The idea of radical Islamic terrorists being killed 2, 3, 4 or more times has just come up again with President TrumpŔs recent announcement that something big has happenedғ and that the US Military found and killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi again. Well, the story this time is that he committed suicide and blew himself up after being trapped in a tunnel by US forces. Trump claims they DNA tested him right after he died him to make sure it was him! Sure they did. James Corbett offers this brief background to the multiple deaths of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who seem to have more lives than a cat. That is, if you even believe some of them existed; the US Military didnԅt always think so. How is it that Snowden is unfamiliar with this, or indeed the general history and background to radical Islamic terrorism, including the creation and funding of Al-Qaeda and ISIS by the CIA and Israel? Also, why has Snowden apparently not questioned the official story of 9/11 in more depth?

Another red flag for me was this quote:

Few realize this, but the CIA has its own Internet and Web ғ the first things everyone looks up on the CIAs internal networks are aliens and 9/11, and thatŒs why, also you҅ll never get any meaningful search results for them. I looked them up anyway. The CIA-flavored Google didnt return anything interesting for either, but hey Ғ maybe the truth was out there on another network drive. For the record, as far as I could tell, aliens have never contacted Earth, or at least they havent contacted US intelligence ֒ In case you were wondering: Yes, man really did land on the moon. Climate change is real. Chemtrails are not a thing.

- pp.133-4

So we have some of the biggest topics of conspiracy here: aliens, 9/11, man on the moon, climate change and chemtrails. On each one, Snowden promotes the mainstream line. Why? Surely, in his position of access and in his time in exile since, he must have had the opportunity to investigate these topics and come across true information on them. The sheer amount of evidence exposing 9/11 as a blatant false flag operation is manifold, yet all Snowden says is that Ŕal-Qaeda did maintain unusually close ties with our allies the Saudis, a fact that the Bush White House worked suspiciously hard to suppress which shows he has barely entered the rabbit hole. Climate change may be real (as a natural cycle), but manmade global warming or manmade climate change is a giant scam based on scientific illiteracy and the demonization of carbon dioxide. Chemtrails are not a thing? Virtually every nation on earth has been bombarded with them for decades now. The photographic evidence alone is overwhelming. Researchers have exposed that chemtrail programs have been carried out by the CIA under names such as Project Cloverleaf. Man on the moon? Perhaps yes, but not in the way we were told Ӕ NASAs space videos and photos from the 1969 Apollo mission look completely fake. We have the excellent theory of Jay Weidner that Stanley Kubrick was recruited to do the cover-up. On the topic of aliens, I realize not all who are reading this will share my opinion, but I see yet more overwhelming evidence not only of their existence but also of their infiltration of society. A good place to start is with ALIEN CONTACTEES, WHISTLEBLOWERS and PARTICIPANTS IN THE SSP (Secret Space Program). Why is the US Military now going public with UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) in an attempt to rebrand UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects)?

Also, why would the CIA let its junior employees access top secret information on its internal internet? Why not keep the really sensitive information elsewhere? Or offline altogether?

Whistleblowers-in-Arms? Not Quite: Snowden and Assange

In the book, Snowden also reveals his complicated attitude towards Julian Assange, fellow hacker and founder of WikiLeaks. Snowden appears to “have a go” at fellow whistleblower and truth activist Assange. Patrick Anderson writes about this in his MintPress article:

“[I]n his memoir, Snowden uses rhetorical tricks to present Assange and WikiLeaks as his deceitful and irresponsible foils in a blatant and seemingly self-serving effort to highlight his own trustworthiness and accountability. The final name I chose for my correspondence,” Snowden explains, “was Verax, Latin for speaker of truth, in the hopes of proposing an alternative to the model of a hacker called Mendax (speaker of lies)the pseudonym of the young man who;d grow up to become WikiLeaks Julian Assange.” Snowden’s play on Assange’s youthful handle implies not only that Assange is deceitful but also that Assange intends to be deceitful. This insinuation is curious, given that WikiLeaks has published over 10 million documents, all of which have been authenticated.

Assange adapted one of Horace’s Latin catchphrases to create his online identity. “Every hacker has a handle,” Assange writes in Julian Assange: The Unauthorized Autobiography, “and I took mine from Horace’s splendide mendax nobly untruthful, or perhaps delightfully deceptive. I liked the idea that in hiding behind a false name, lying about who or where I was, a teenager in Melbourne, I could somehow speak more truthfully about my real identity.”

From his own perspective, Assange chose the handle “Mendax” not because he wished to “speak lies and deceive the public,” as Snowden’s interpretation suggests; rather, Assange chose the handle Mendax because it described what he conceived of himself doing, namely, disguising his identity to more effectively speak the truth. Untruthful applies not to the content of his speech but to his identity as the speaker.

Theories About Snowden

Some people take Snowden at face value. Others simply cannot believe a 29 year old could have stolen so many documents from the most advanced spying agency on Earth without getting caught or being secretly sanctioned to do so. Snowden reveals much of the way he did it (transferring files onto old computers, then using mini and micro SD cards to smuggle out the files). One theory is that Snowden did so knowingly and is still an Intelligence agent. I find this theory unlikely, given how much upheaval and disruption his decisions caused him. Others believe that Snowden did so unknowingly that he was used as a means of dispersing this information to the public. Why? The theory is that it was a NWO (New World Order) tactic to intimidate the public by letting them know they are surveilled slaves and that there’s nothing they can do about it. Then, after the initial shock and explosion, this became a drip-drip-drip disclosure of just how egregiously your privacy and rights are being violated, with the subliminal message that youd better be afraid, because youԒre being monitored 24/7. Some people also point to the fact that Snowden’s archive was shuttered in a disgraceful decision by Greenwald at The Intercept, despite only having released about 10% of it. Who owns The Intercept? First Look Media, owned by Pierre Omidyar, a rich oligarch who founded eBay. So now, the entire trove of leaked NSA documents are in the hands of a private billionaire, probably never to see the light of day again. Was this the plan from the start?


If we take it on face value, the Snowden story is one of incredible principle, courage and sacrifice. In his writing and interviews, he definitely comes across as sincere and genuine. He gave up his comfortable life, great income, career, family and friends - knowing he may never see them again, knowing he may get killed to make a decision based on valuing freedom. Such a devotion to freedom is exceedingly rare given how many people value convenience, comfortability and security over liberty. Such bravery is exceptional. Now, he is founder and president of Freedom of the Press Foundation, continuing the same line of work, standing up for freedom of the press and privacy. However, there are legitimate questions to be asked about him, and some things that just don’t quite make sense. I am left wondering is there more to the Edward Snowden story?


Posted by Elvis on 11/01/19 •
Section Dying America
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Friday, October 25, 2019

Rock Bottom

image: dying america

Has America (Finally) Hit Rock Bottom?
Is There Any Lower For Us to Go? Or, Are We Finally at the Beginning of the End of American Collapse?

By Umair Haque
October 24,2019

As someone who travels more than they want to, the very first thing people say to me, laughing anywhere and everywhere I go - is just one word: “Trump.” Its enough to send everyone into peals of laughter. The world is right to laugh. Who wouldn’t be amused by Americas very own home-grown aspiring Arab-style dictator? Replete with the tantrums, the scandals, the comedic pronouncements, and the outlandish ignorance of, well, everything an educated sane person should know and value? Who claims he’s getting “lynched"for basic accountability applying to him?

Now, the truth is that I don’t have a defensive reply. I can’t defend America. Who can? And what is there to defend, exactly? Can I say something like, “Hey! Americans are good people!”, when in fact the average American is too weary or numb or dumb to care much about concentration camps? There’s Hong Kong revolting against extradition laws. There’s Extinction Rebellion shutting London down. There are Americans happily trying to forget about kids in cages. What can I say? Shall I pick a fight - and prove to the world just how ugly Americans really are? How can I plead a case that doesn’t exist?

I can’t defend a country that let a guy like Trump get away with his worst, time and again - even if it pretends to be outraged. Words and actions. I have to look at it a little more coldly, like the world does. So all I can really do is shake my head, like most of us do daily. And then, after the laughter has subsided, I ask a tiny question. Maybe, just maybe: can America redeem itself from being a nation that stands humiliated and disgraced in the eyes of the world?

Let me put that question in a more pragmatic way. Has America finally hit rock bottom? I don’t ask it in a mean, ugly, spiteful way. I ask it, if anything, in an optimistic one. Let me explain.

Open corruption. Daily scandal. Whispers, to put it kindly, of betrayal. Nepotism. Malfeasance, incompetence. That’s the everyday state of this Presidency. It hovers somewhere between one of history’s great jokes and one of the world’s great embarrassments. It would be wrong of the world not to laugh at America, because nobody should get a free pass for such reckless irresponsibility - especially not the country which purports to lead the world.

And yet there are signs that Americas long, slow - and the sudden, violent decline may finally be bottoming out.
What signs are those?

Let’s begin with the obvious. First, there’s finally a movement to impeach the fascist who leads the free world. You see, what shocks people wherever I go - from Paris to Berlin to Lahore - isn’t really that a fascist now leads America. That much is predictable to the world, if not to Americans. After all wasn’t America the world’s largest apartheid state, until not so long ago, and hasn’t it long been the worlds most violent society, bombing and invading and destabilizing whomever it saw fit to? If we added up the tally of “collateral damage” in all those wars, from Iraq to Nicaragua to Chile - how high would it go? Nobody has ever counted, my friends and that is a mark of America’s profound moral irresponsibility.

So nobody, really, is shocked that a fascist leads the “free world” except Americans, who, because nobody has explained to them just how casually horrific their everyday behavior has been for the rest of that world, have had no idea just how much damage has been done. What the rest of the world is shocked by - well, perhaps shocked is the wrong word, and faintly amused is the better one is that - Americans dont care very much that they are led by a fascist.

What really surprised the world over the last few years hasn’t been that American fascists built concentration camps, put kids in cages in them, tore them away from their parents, or raided towns and cities, hunting the impure - it’s that the average American did something like this. Shouted in outrage for a day or two - and then - went back to Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon shopping.

Now, when my friends around the world point this out, and say, sometimes: “My God! Americans are terrible people, aren’t they! We had hope in them for so long, but who can respect them now?” I try to point out that they also don’t really understand the pressures Americans live under. Who has time to care about the fascists - when the capitalists have turned your life into a brutal, never-ending struggle for basic survival? When youre left weary and exhausted just trying to keep that job that gives you healthcare and a meagre income҅when the news shocks you into numbness every single daywho has the energy to fight the system? So Americans are victims, too.

And yet they are just as much predators. That is a fact I can’t dispute. Americans supported all the things that led to Trump. Maybe you didn’t - Im sure you are a saint, or at least a decent and thoughtful person - but Americans as a society did. The wars, the open corruption, the impossibly-low-taxes that denied them anything Europeans and Canadians would regard as basic human rights, like healthcare or retirement, the trade dealsӔ that made the rest of the world just labour to be exploited so that Americans got the everyday low price.

When somethings too good to be true, it usually is. So while their elites promised Americans lives of impossible ease, comfort, and prosperity җ the rest of the world, those dirty, filthy subhumans, theyll do all the work, and weҒll live in safety and peace and plenty!!  the reality was very much that the opposite started to happen. The dream began to die. Americans began to live lives of newfound poverty in a rich country.</b> Theirs was the דsafest country, so they said - why else all the wars?  but meanwhile, kids massacred each other at school<b>. Capitalism was to make the average American an owner, a master, finally - and yet instead, the average American now dies in debt, meaning they’ve never effectively owned, saved, or earned anything at all.

It was too good to be true, the American Dream. Not the humble one, I think, that I grew up with. Little houses on cul-de-sacs and kids walking to school. But the other one. A McMansion, three SUVs, a perfect body to fuck, and a million or two in every bank account. That dream, my friends, was one of subjugation, of violence, of power. And who was going to end up ruling over it - but a Trump, the most violent and shameless and indecent one of all?

So now there’s a movement rising - finally to impeach the fascist. And maybe America’s little nightmare is coming to an end. Sure, the Senate wont convict him and remove him from office - so what? It’s enough for a President to stand disgraced. For what? For a better one to come in.

Which brings me to the next reason that America might finally be at rock bottom. It’s becoming more obvious by the day that Elizabeth Warren will be Americas next President. She’s surging for a good reason. Shes the best candidate, by a very, very long way.

And yet I wonder if Americans see her like the world might. In global terms, what she is is a great democratic reformer. Latin American and Arab countries, too, have seen the like. A figure who rises to challenge the abuses of the tyrants and dictators that rule over a meek, timid populace - ironically, just like America now, only installed by America there, too - and roars to power in a tidal wave of people power.

Such figures tend to have one of two outcomes. One, they really do reform their societies for decades. Two, they are met with such extreme resistance that they fail without even really being given a chance ח and the dictators and tyrants come right back to power anyways. The first kind of such reformer is a Peron. To understand the other kind of outcome, think of a Sisi. Whether or not that makes, we dont need to dwell on it. Let me make the point sharper.

America’s decline has looked something like this. Long and slow, like an eroding shoreline. And then sudden and violent like a cliff crumbling away. Long and slow: American living standards have stalled for half a century, leading to mounting despair, collapsing trust, the loss of faith and optimism in society. Sudden and violent: all that frustration exploded into rage when the middle class finally became a minority - exactly the moment Trumpism arose.

Maybe the moment of catharsis has happened. Maybe Americans have got it out of their system. Maybe they’ve understood that voting for a violent, stupid man - just because you’re frustrated with a system - only empowers the violent and stupid. And no, I dont just mean the Trumpists - I mean even the elites, the analystsӔ and journalists and so on who pooh-poohed the idea that the Trumpists were a) actual fascists b) capable of doing terrible things c) not just misunderstood good ole boys.

Now, just because Elizabeth Warren comes to power doesn’t mean that Americas out of the woods, yet. I’m sure as I bet you are - that they’ll try to steal the election from her, or much worse, from outright intimidation to open violence. I’m sure, too, that pushing the agenda of real reform through a country as broken and divided as America will be no easy task - even for a visionary leader in power. Remember how Americans never figured out that when something is too good to be true, it usually is? How they ended up turning a blind eye to what they were doing to the world - and all those things, from fascism to tyranny to violence, now came back to haunt them?

Warren’s challenge isn’t just policies - that’s easy. It’s changing Americans. Helping them become the genuinely good people that the world is losing faith in them ever becoming. Enabling them to not live lives of desperation and poverty is one thing - but then leading people towards their better selves is bigger challenge still. Poverty and deprivation cause hate and violence and so American fascism was eminently predictable. But abundance and plenty by themselves are no guarantees of morality and virtue. Americans might well go on being the lazy and selfish and embarrassing people they’ve become anyways, even if Warrens successful just at the Ezra Klein level of ғpolicy.

America redeeming itself from being a humiliated and disgraced nation isn’t just about one mans obscenity, my friends. It is about all of us. Our negligence and willful blindness and complicity, too. A nation is never just one man.

And yet all those are good problems to have - or at least - better ones. If we have those problems tomorrow, then well know: America hit rock bottom, and from there, things began to curve gently, slowly upwards. And it was about time. We see Trumpism, too often, as a thing-in-itself. But the truth is that American decline has lasted fifty years now and counting, while American collapse has lasted just five. That’s a long time for a modern society to fall apart. Maybe, then, finally, were at the point of renewal.


Posted by Elvis on 10/25/19 •
Section Dying America
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