AuthorTopic: WHAT DO WE REALLY KNOW?  (Read 1039 times)

Offline RE

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Re: The Population Bust
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2019, 02:23:00 PM »
Interesting piece of contrariana here. Interesting argument.

How could he write an article on this topic without once mentioning ENERGY usage and availability?

I prefer "Population Knockdown" to "Population Bust".  The latter is too reminiscent of "Financial Bust" and doesn't deal with the fact that it means a lot of DEAD PEOPLE.



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Offline Surly1

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Re: The Population Bust
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2019, 08:32:02 PM »
Interesting piece of contrariana here. Interesting argument.

How could he write an article on this topic without once mentioning ENERGY usage and availability?

I prefer "Population Knockdown" to "Population Bust".  The latter is too reminiscent of "Financial Bust" and doesn't deal with the fact that it means a lot of DEAD PEOPLE.

too.

RE

Who cares how the Mad Rat Cook of Palmer characterizes the article?

The article is talking about broad demographic strokes and does not delve into specifics aside from addressing the trends of pressure of inc erased population on all resource components, including energy. And as far as that goes, water trumps energy, IMO. We are already seeing migration as a result of climate instability; wait until the water runs out.

Population knockdown or bust,

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: The Population Bust
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2019, 08:40:24 PM »
Who cares how the Mad Rat Cook of Palmer characterizes the article?

I'm not precisely sure.  A few hundred I think between the Diner Blog & Forum, Utoob, Soundcloud and Reddit.  Reddit has 1600 subscribers now, although they ain't all fans. lol.

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Offline Surly1

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The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2019, 06:39:45 AM »
The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?
The Pentagon is using a moral panic over “fake news” to gain influence over the domestic news landscape


December 1950: Security guards on duty outside the Pentagon in Washington DC from where the nation's security and armed forces are directed. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

December 1950: Security guards on duty outside the Pentagon in Washington.

Keystone Features/Getty Images

If there’s a worse idea than the Pentagon becoming Editor-in-Chief of America, I can’t remember it. But we’re getting there:

From Bloomberg over Labor Day weekend:

Fake news and social media posts are such a threat to U.S. security that the Defense Department is launching a project to repel “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” as the top Republican in Congress blocks efforts to protect the integrity of elections.

One of the Pentagon’s most secretive agencies, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is developing “custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips.”

Once upon a time, when progressives still reflexively distrusted the military, DARPA was a liberal punchline, known for helping invent the Internet but also for developing lunatic privacy-invading projects like LifeLog, a program to “gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees, or does.”

DARPA now is developing a semantic analysis program called “SemaFor” and an image analysis program called “MediFor,” ostensibly designed to prevent the use of fake images or text. The idea would be to develop these technologies to help private Internet providers sift through content.

It’s the latest in a string of stories about new methods of control over information flow that should, but for some reason do not, horrify every working journalist.

From the Senate dragging Internet providers to the Hill to demand strategies against the sowing of “discord,” to tales of hundreds of Facebook sites zapped for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” following advice by government-connected groups like the Atlantic Council, it’s been clear the future of the information landscape is going to involve elaborate new forms of algorithmic regulation.

Stories about the need for such technologies are always couched as responses to the “fake news” problem. Unfortunately, “fake news” is a poorly-defined, amorphous concept that the public has been trained to fear without really understanding.

The term surged into public view three years ago. Experts insisted Macedonian troll farms and pranksters like the late Paul Horner (who once conned Fox News into doing a story that Barack Obama was funding a Muslim culture museum) had an enormous impact on Trump’s victory.

Had they? When “fake news” first became “a thing,” as media critic Adam Johnson put it in The Nation three years ago, I was skeptical.

Fake news has a long history in America. Its most pernicious incarnation is never the work of small-time scam artists. The worst “fake news” almost always involves broad-scale deceptions foisted on the public by official (and often unnamed) sources, in conjunction with oligopolistic media companies, usually in service of rallying the public behind a dubious policy objective like a war or authoritarian crackdown.

From the sinking of the Maine in 1898, to rumors of a union-led socialist insurrection before the Palmer raids in 1919, to the Missile Gap in the late fifties and early sixties (here is the CIA’s own website admitting that one was “erroneous”), to the Gulf of Tonkin lie that launched the Vietnam War, to the more recent WMD fiasco, true “fake news” is a concerted, organized, institutional phenomenon that involves deceptions cooked up at the highest levels.

The other “fake news” – the dubious panic over which began in November-December of 2016 – is a strange, hybrid concept that mixes fear of fever-swamp conservative lunacies with satire, Russian propaganda, legitimate dissent, and other content.

The most infamous example usually cited is Pizzagate, in which Hillary Clinton and campaign chief John Podesta were falsely said to be running a pedophile ring out of the basement of a Washington pizza restaurant. The hoax carried import because a 28 year-old North Carolinian named Edgar Maddison Welch was idiot enough to shoot up the joint in response.

But the other specific examples cited of “fake” news most often cited are patently absurd: that the Pope or the Amish endorsed Donald Trump, that Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS, that an FBI agent investigating Clinton had died in a house fire (a story broken by the nonexistent “Denver Guardian”), that the Democrats paid protesters to heckle Trump events, etc.

The idea that these fake tales had a major impact in 2016 is absurd on its face. They didn’t change things any more than ALIEN BACKS CLINTON swayed the 1992 election.

It was laughable beyond belief to see stories in outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post taking seriously the notion that small-time hoaxers like Horner — who was trying to sucker Trump fans to websites so he could make maybe ten grand a month off click ads – were a major threat to national security. (That some cited Horner’s own claim of responsibility for Trump’s election was even more preposterous).

When officials calling for a crackdown talk about “fake news,” you’ll often see them conflating examples of provably false stories with true stories circulated or interpreted in undesirable ways: the Clinton email scandal, the Uranium One story, the Podesta email leak, etc.

Even a controversy about Hillary Clinton’s health, cited by Ohio State University researchers as an example of the pernicious impact of fake news, was an amalgam of true and fake.

There was indeed wild speculation on the Internet and by goons like Sean Hannity about Clinton suffering from seizures or dementia. This was mixed in with real events like a 2012 collapse that caused a concussion, the subsequent discovery of a blood clot in Clinton’s brain (ABCnews.com called it “life threatening” in a headline), and Clinton’s September, 2016 collapse at a 9/11 memorial event.

The New York Times, CNN, CBS, the Washington Post and other reputable outlets covered the latter episode in great detail. As Vox noted at the time, this turned an online conspiracy theory into a “mainstream debate.”

If there’s a fake news story out there, it’s the fake news panic itself. It has the hallmarks of an old-school, WMD-style propaganda campaign.

It includes terrifying pronouncements by unnamed “intelligence officials,” unprovable, overblown, or outright fake statistical assertions about the threat (like the oft-cited claim that fake election news had more engagement than real news), open conflation of legitimate domestic dissent with foreign attack, and routine dismissal of experts downplaying the problem (here are two significantstudiessuggesting the “fake news” phenomenon is overstated).

Of course, the final, omnipresent ingredient in most major propaganda campaigns is the authoritarian solution. Here, it’s unelected, unsupervised algorithmic control over media. We’ve never had a true news regulator in this country, yet the public is being conditioned now to accept one, without thinking of the consequences.

The most enormous issue posed by the modern media landscape is the industry’s incredible concentration, which allows a handful of private platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google – to dominate media distribution.

This makes it possible to envisage direct levers of control over the public’s media habits that never existed back when people got much of their news from local paper chains with individual distribution networks. We’ve already seen scary examples of misidentified foreign subversion, from the Washington Post’s repeateditorials denouncing Bernie Sanders as a useful idiot for the Kremlin to the zapping of hundreds of domestic political sites as “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

What if the same people who can’t tell the difference between Truthdig and Pravda get to help design the new fake news algorithms? That’s a much bigger worry than the next Paul Horner or even, frankly, the next Russian Facebook campaign. While Donald Trump is in the White House, progressives won’t grasp how scary all of this is, but bet on it: In a few years, we’ll all wish we paid more attention when the Pentagon announced it wanted in on the news regulation business.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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JUDGE ORDERS RELEASE OF RECORDS THAT MIGHT TIE SAUDI ROYALS TO 9/11
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2019, 04:52:15 AM »
JUDGE ORDERS RELEASE OF RECORDS THAT MIGHT TIE SAUDI ROYALS TO 9/11



A federal judge’s ruling has raised hopes that we may better understand any possible ties between Saudi Arabia’s ruling family and the 9/11 hijackers — the vast majority of whom were Saudi citizens.

Just ahead of the 18th anniversary of the attack, US District Judge William J. Zloch ruled that the FBI unlawfully withheld from journalists important parts of its own highly sensitive investigative report on the subject.

Earlier, the FBI had declined to release to the Florida Bulldog — a nonprofit news organization which first broke the news about the ruling — key sections from records of the bureau’s probe of a South Florida-based Saudi family that apparently had ties to many of the 9/11 hijackers.

According to a 2011 Bulldog report (and to a Sarasota Herald-Tribune story published the same day), Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 plot leader, had visited the family of Abdulaziz al-Hijji several times, and phone records documenting communication over more than a year connected them to Atta and 11 other terror suspects. (See below for details.)

Two weeks before the 9/11 attack, the al-Hijjis suddenly left the area, abandoning cars, furniture, clothing, food, and medicine, and leaving the door of a safe ajar. Soon after, they all — including Esam Ghazzawi, the father of al-Hijji’s wife and owner of the home — flew to Saudi Arabia.

Connecting the Florida Family to the Saudi Royal Family

Through its own investigation, WhoWhatWhy discovered that there is a direct link between Ghazzawi and the ruling Saudi royal family.

Ghazzawi served as director of Eirad Management Company, the UK division of Eirad Trading and Contracting Co. Ltd., which among other things holds the Saudi franchise for many multinational brands, including UPS.

Esam’s brother Mamdouh, whose name shows up on public records associated with family properties in the US, was the executive managing director of the parent firm, Eirad Holding Co. Ltd. Eirad has connections to the US government via contracts. In 2008, records show, the State Department paid Eirad $11,733 for rental of facilities, presumably in Saudi Arabia.

And the chairman of Eirad Holding Co. Ltd. — i.e., the Ghazzawi brothers’ boss — was Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

The prince is a prominent member of the ruling Saudi royal family. He is a great-grandson of King Abdul Aziz (commonly referred to as Ibn Saud), founder of modern Saudi Arabia, and grandson of the current king.

A 2009 article in the publication Arab News covering an Eirad awards ceremony for outstanding employees features quotes from Prince Sultan and Mamdouh Ghazzawi as, respectively, Chairman and Executive Managing Director.

A 2017 article in the UK’s Telegraph described Eirad as “the company which managed the [royal] family’s properties, fleet of cars and vast collection of artwork.”

The link between the Ghazzawis and high ranks of the Saudi establishment reopens questions about the Bush White House’s controversial approval of multiple charter flightsallowing Saudi nationals — including princes — to depart the US, beginning about 48 hours after the attacks, without the passengers being interviewed by law enforcement. This was after the identification of the majority of the hijackers as Saudis.

In addition, these revelations draw further attention to a web of relationships that include the long and close business, personal, and political ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family.

September 11, World Trade Center

Fires still burn amidst the rubble and debris of the World Trade Centers in New York City in the area known as Ground Zero two days after the 9/11 attacks. Photo credit: Mike Goad / Flickr

A Mysterious Disappearance

The al-Hijji family left Florida on August 27, 2001, according to reports released in 2019 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. (The date had previously been given as August 30.) A counterterrorism agent and an administrator/security agent of the gated community got into the house and reported these findings:

There was mail on the table, dirty diapers in one of the bathrooms … all the toiletries still in place … all their clothes hanging in the closet … TVs … opulent furniture, equal or greater in value than the house … the pool running, with toys in it … The beds were made … fruit on the counter … the refrigerator full of food. … It was like they went grocery shopping. Like they went out to a movie … [But] the safe was open in the master bedroom, with nothing in it, not a paper clip. … A computer was still there. A computer plug in another room, and the line still there. Looked like they’d taken [another] computer and left the cord.

They abandoned three recently registered vehicles, including a brand-new Chrysler PT Cruiser, purchased in mid-August 2001.

The al-Hijji family left in a white van and traveled to another Ghazzawi property in Arlington, VA; then — with Esam Ghazzawi — they went, via Dulles airport and London’s Heathrow, to Riyadh.

Evidence Linking Family to 9/11

The Florida Bulldog reported the following discoveries:

Records subpoenaed from the phone company linked calls dating back for more than a year to and from the house to several of the 9/11 hijackers, and other terrorist suspects, including senior al-Qaeda member, Adnan Shukrijumah,

Mohamed Atta (who crashed a plane into the WTC), and Ziad Jarrah (who crashed a plane in Pennsylvania) were documented by gatekeepers to the Florida complex as visitors to the family. And their license plates were photographed as they went through the gate.

Three of the four men who piloted planes on 9/11 lived within 10 miles of the [al-Hijji/Ghazzawi] family and attended flight schools nearby.

Denial Upon Denial

The FBI failed to provide the information to congressional 9/11 investigators, or to the presidential 9/11 commission. They also did not turn over information connecting the hijackers to other Saudis living in California — which congressional investigators later discovered on their own.

When these investigators turned over to the 9/11 Commission a large body of information on the hijackers that they themselves had acquired, the panel seemed uninterested.

“They did very little with it,” said former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), who served as co-chair of the congressional joint inquiry into 9/11, “and their reference to Saudi Arabia is almost cryptic sometimes. … I never got a good answer as to why they did not pursue that.”

The final 28-page section of the congressional report — which deals with “sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers” — was entirely blanked out when it was released in July 2016. It was kept secret from the public on the orders of former President George W. Bush and is still withheld to this day, Graham said. (See additional revelations reported by WhoWhatWhy.)

Also kept from the public: Esam Ghazzawi and Abdulaziz al-Hijji had been on the FBI watch list — even before 9/11.

In response to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune article, the FBI issued a statement on September 15, 2011, claiming that the occupants of the house had been tracked down and interrogated, and that they were found to have no connections to the hijackers.

In March 2012, Lee Hamilton, former Indiana congressman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said, “We looked quite carefully at [possible Saudi involvement] and even sent investigators over there, and we found no hard evidence of any linkage to the hijackers. At the end of the day, you have to have hard evidence. Having said that, I will also say that despite our thorough investigation, a lot of questions about 9/11 remain unanswered.”

In a story published August 30, 2019, in Britain’s Telegraph, the FBI is quoted as saying, “At no time did the FBI develop evidence that connected the family members to any of the 9/11 hijackers … and there was no connection found to the 9/11 plot.’’

In court filings seeking to stave off a media Freedom of Information request, the FBI stated that releasing documents relating to this issue will harm “national security.” 

As proof of the sensitivity of the matter, the FBI gave the judge a document dated April 4, 2002, in which the FBI states provocatively that its own inquiries “revealed many connections” between a well-connected Saudi family with a house in South Florida and “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”

More Denials

Abdulaziz al-Hijji, who rented the Florida house from Ghazzawi and is married to Ghazzawi’s daughter, now lives in London, where he works for his country’s state oil company. In an email to the Telegraph, he made the following assertion:

I have neither relation nor association with any of those bad people/criminals and the awful crime they did. 9/11 is a crime against the USA and all humankind and I’m very saddened and oppressed by these false allegations.

He also denied that he left his home in haste:

No, no, no. Absolutely not true. We were trying to secure the [Aramco] job. It was a good opportunity.

He added the surprising claim that his wife and children followed him to Saudi Arabia a few weeks after he left. But that directly contradicts what the FBI found, including the disarray in the abandoned house, and the bureau’s assertion that the whole family left the country within days of abandoning the Sarasota house.

A former neighbor and close friend of al-Hijji, Tom Bello, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribunehis Saudi friend did not raise any suspicion because of his “easy manner.” But then he remembered something significant:

He felt Americans came to their country to steal their oil and take their money. He said he did not like Americans because of what we did to his country.

He said: “How would you like it if we came to your country and did that?”


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from The U.S. National Archives / Flickr.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound