Springtime for slimy thugs and slugs — fascism, information terrorism, bioweapons and corporate abuse — rotting civilization’s core.
“[T]he murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi…[is] departure of the United States as a restraining force against evil actors…[because] no Saudi leader would…[make] such a brazen move without confidence [U.S.]…would do nothing….
[Similarly] China’s arrest of the head of Interpol; the Burmese…genocide against the Rohingya…slaughter of civilians in Syria…by outlawed chemical weapons; the Russian invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea…[or] rise of right-wing nationalist forces in Europe….
So welcome to the breakdown of the liberal world order…[though] just the beginning….
[There’s] always dangerous people…[that] can be suppressed by a reasonably stable international order….[When] order breaks down…[and] rocks are overturned…the darkest elements of the human spirit, crawl out….[like] Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini….Today the rocks are being overturned again….
[Those] arguing that we should pull back…grew up inside the bubble of…the liberal world order…in which other nations were forced to adjust their behavior to those realities of power….
[Today’s] Hitlers and Stalins are all around us, waiting….[Putin] has grand ambitions…[and] a more powerful China is abandoning…cautious foreign policies….’Gradually and then suddenly’…[is] how the world order collapsed before the two world wars…. Welcome to the jungle.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/welcome-to-the-jungle/2018/10/09/0f8ffb58-cbc5-11e8-a3e6-44daa3d35ede_story.html?utm_term=.234c71d9d87f
Beyond accumulated scientific knowledge. art and magical technological artifacts, we humans remain primates with…medium.com
“Former Trump campaign adviser…[who] pleaded guilty in…special counsel investigation, sought proposals…in 2016 to create fake online identities…[for] Trump’s campaign…[using] social media manipulation and to gather intelligence…[on] opponents in the Republican primary…[and] Hillary Clinton….
[A] company staffed by former Israeli intelligence officers, Psy-Group…[planned] to create thousands of different identities…on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera’….
[Targeting] delegates based on a psychological profile that the company built…[using] avatars, bots, et cetera to spread messages…to influence their votes…[for] Trump…[and] ‘by using social media to help expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions’….[Group] met in August 2016…with Donald Trump, Jr.” https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/410486-nyt-rick-gates-sought-plans-to-use-fake-online-identities-in-trumps-2016
“[Since] Trump’s candidacy…[the] people who often initiate…far-right disinformation [include]…Roger Stone, his…protégés Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec…Cassandra Fairbanks…[Infowars] Alex Jones…and white nationalist fund-raiser Chuck Johnson….
[This] cadre…starting in 2014 with Gamergate…promoted toxic conspiracies like Pizzagate and QAnon, and was ever-present around…Unite the Right…and exonerate Kavanaugh…[with] hundreds of thousands of followers…[on] social media…[and] mainstream partisan media outlets that will subscribe to any argument that suits their current agenda…[inspired] a form of radicalization and extremism….
[A] culture of digital violence…bleeding into real life…seeing themselves as a new kind of [insurgent]….
- Gamergate — an internet culture war sparked when a group of women exposed what they saw as inherent misogyny in the production and culture of videogaming….The women were doxxed and threatened in graphic terms with rape and death…[by] Milo Yiannopoulos, then a writer for Breitbart, and blogger Mike Cernovich… amplifying the theory of white-male identity politics….Infowars jumped on….
[So] Gamergate…[was] a bunker mentality that Trump would mobilize…[as] themes of censorship, false accusations…resurgent masculinity…[and] a magnet for other internet fringe elements, including white nationalists, anti-feminists, neo-Nazis….
- The America First Unity Rally…was sponsored by Infowars and cohosted by Roger Stone…[to] harass and intimidate…anyone who wasn’t a fervid enough supporter of [Trump]….Richard Spencer, Ricky Vaughn, Tim Gionet, Andrew Auernheimer — would congeal near the core cadre….
- [At] convention, GOP delegates were intimidated via twitter…by Vaughn, who targeted threats of violence to certain delegates…. Collectively, this group dominated the media surrounding the GOP convention…with Trump as ringmaster….
- They all played a central role in amplifying Wikileaks, along with the parallel conspiracy theory that the DNC hack was actually a leak from murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich….
- September 2016, Johnson claims he helped the teenage girl sexting with disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner…[and] baited Weiner into the [relationship]…[and] became the pretext for the FBI’s access to Weiner’s computer…[that] impacted the Clinton campaign in the final months….
- [T]he stories Johnson helped spin on Weiner were…the origin of the fabricated…child sex trafficking ring…known as Pizzagate…heavily promoted by Infowars and other right-wing disinformation sites…[and] by Stone himself, plus…array of foreign-hosted botnets….
- [Infowars] next iteration of this elaborate contrivance — QAnon…[claimed] Trump is saving the world from a vast Soros/Clinton/Podesta child sex trafficking ring….[Trump] hosted one of its promoters in the Oval Office and praised and defended celebrities who champion Q….[But] Q got out of control…[with] domestic terrorism and conflicts with law enforcement….
As with the previous toxic conspiracies, once they…[spark] violent events, their promoters pretended…[they] had their doubts…[yet] prepared for the next iteration…[with] the audience waiting…[as] amplifiers, both organic and automated…backed by hackers and coders….
[So] small number of…[actors] drive the system…[to] elicit an intense emotional response…[against] a secret cabal of elite…pedophiles and predators…[and] normalize racism — referring to blacks and Muslims as serial rapists and to migrants….
Stone helped deflect a series of assault allegations made against candidate Trump by bringing all of Clinton’s accusers to a debate.…[knowing] exactly what to do when the allegations made against Kavanaugh…[using] Mark Judge [who]…has a long history of interaction with this [network]….
The narrative was set long ago…men (especially white men) are oppressed, the people who stand against you are corrupt perverts…and everything that is the America you know will fall apart if you don’t fight for some notion of the way things were and should be again. And the best way to achieve this, since the system will fight back, is viciousness….
[W]hat the Stone cadre has done for years: push a lie, entrench it, later disavow, thus minimizing the damage all while presumably knowing that it’s still there, colonizing the target population….
[Kavanaugh] deployed this narrative by…implying conspiracies in his red-faced attacks on the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee….
Radicalization is relatively simple to accomplish using social networks and other media, but de-radicalization is not. Pizzagate believers still believe….
[It’s] the system the cadre built — a network hungry for the next hit of disinformation to inflame confirmation bias, moving content so swiftly that stories can jump from radio to twitter to MSM in 12 hours flat. The landscape is prepared. The participants know what to do.
When it comes to the psychology that shapes mass movements, there are two fundamental rules: Everybody wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and everybody wants someone to tell them what to do so that things will turn out OK….
Conspiracy theories…are something that people who want to believe in something latch on to…particularly in times of rapid change…[as] framework for making things that don’t make any sense somehow understandable….So prepared is this landscape for new conspiracies…that naked absurdities are liked and reposted without much thought…[for] misogyny and white nationalism and intimidation….
[T]he chaos god of Roger Stone…cultivated the narrative to make it acceptable to a wider lane of conservatives. This is triggering violence and…extremism that we can no longer ignore….
[It’s] Trump’s America….Whatever it takes to win is fair game…[as] the president himself has amplified conspiracy and demonized ‘the media’ — even while elevating a new ecosystem of far-right media groups and personalities….This has transformed the way conservative Americans consume information, altering how they make judgments on truth and reality….
It is clear that foreign powers seeking to manipulate Americans with these asymmetric tools of information warfare must pay a price for doing so. But what about domestic forces that use the same tools and tactics…to spark frenzy and fear, intimidation and violence? What price should they pay?….
Cognitive warfare is a dark, seductive rabbit hole…[that’s] powerful and unregulated…[so] small groups, like the cadre…can achieve significant outcomes when the network effects kick in….
The immediate costs are already visible…[but] long-term costs will be devastating. One need only look to Stalin’s…internal psychological terror…to understand the price can be inconceivably high.” https://www.wired.com/story/information-terrorists-trying-to-reshape-america/
“How did we as a country…accept Trump’s corrosion of our culture and our discourse….[T]o be sure: racism, xenophobia, ethnic hostility, Islamophobia, nationalism, Fox News….[Two] are much more basic: entertainment and ownership….
- entire Trump presidency is a show…[with] Trump as its antihero…their entrée to power, a personification…of anger and anti-intellectualism, a way to wrap their hatreds in humor…
- part tent revival, part circus…[where] it is perfectly admissible to surrender any remaining morality to the mob….[He’s] their Frankenstein…to fight for white power and its privileges and purity….[A] symbiotic last-ditch shot at survival….There is nowhere that Trump goes, in policy or rhetoric, that they won’t follow, because they have no way back from how far they’ve already gone. They’ve burned all the bridges they’ve crossed…[and] are now part of his circus….
In this world, the aberrant and…monstrous don’t offend but entertain.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/03/opinion/the-trump-circus.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=8&pgtype=sectionfront
“Pentagon is studying whether insects can…carry genetically engineered viruses that could be deployed rapidly…[with] a warm and fuzzy name: ‘Insect Allies’…[but] technology that ‘may be widely perceived as…biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery’….
[Plan] envisions three types of pestiferous insects as allies: aphids, leafhoppers and whiteflies…[that] routinely spread viruses among plants….
[CRISPR] allows researchers to customize viruses to achieve a specific goal in the infected plant.[and] could switch on or off certain genes that, for example, control a plant’s growth rate….
[DARPA] said there are multiple layers of protection to ensure that this technology does not have unintended ecological effects…[and] is not targeting the germline cells of plants and thus would not lead to heritable traits….
’National security can be quickly jeopardized by naturally occurring threats to the crop system…but especially by threats introduced by state or non-state actors…[and] the use of insects…could be deployed cheaply and surreptitiously by malevolent actors….
[Using] insects as a vector to spread diseases is a classical bioweapon….If this technology works…national governments will not be able to control its spread.’” https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2018/10/04/pentagon-is-studying-an-insect-army-defend-crops-critics-fear-bioweapon/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.63c3047d2c17
“[Google’s] Cambridge Analytica moment…[when] security bug allowed third-party developers to access Google+ user profile data since 2015 until…patched it in March, but decided not to inform the world….
[Bug] let those developers pull their and their friends’ non-public profile fields…users’ full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status….
[Google] decided against informing the public because it would lead to ‘us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook… Cambridge Analytica scandal’ according to an internal memo….
Google made that announcement about the findings…[only] after the WSJ report was published….
[Google] could still face class-action lawsuits and public backlash…casts doubt on whether Google is being transparent on tons of other controversial questions about its practices…[and] increasingly calls for [regulation].” https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/08/google-plus-hack/
“[A] dramatic rise in lending by…shadow banks in China and…failure to impose tough restrictions on insurance companies and asset managers, which handle trillions…causes for concern….
[Also] backlash against international agreements, especially [Trump’s]…has undermined efforts to prepare for another downturn….
’[W]e are in a leaderless world’…[where] global debt, in both the public and private sectors, has rocketed by 60%…since the financial crisis to reach an all-time high of $182tn…[making] developing world governments and companies more vulnerable to higher US interest rates, which could trigger a flight of funds and destabilize their economies….
Increased cybersecurity risks…for financial institutions, financial infrastructure, and supervisors…[and] ‘risks tend to rise during…period of low interest rates and subdued volatility, and those risks can always migrate to new areas’….
[Finally] huge rise in borrowing by corporates and government at cheap interest rates…not shown up in higher levels of…[R&D] or more general investment in infrastructure….
[Today] the median general government debt-GDP ratio stands at 52%, up from 36% before the crisis; central bank balance sheets, particularly in advanced economies, are several multiples of the size they were before the crisis; and emerging market and developing economies now account for 60% of global GDP in purchasing-power-parity terms…compared with 44%…before the crisis.” https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/08/google-plus-hack/
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