He Said That? 6/22/17

 From George Orwell (1903–1950), English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic, 1984:
Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
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Certain U.S. Airlines Are Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition Scans on Americans Flying Abroad, by Michael Krieger

Bit by Orwellian bit, the state introduces new surveillance technologies…for our own good, of course. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Just when you thought air travel couldn’t get any more invasive, authoritarian and downright miserable, the Department of Homeland Security and two U.S. carriers are determined to prove you wrong.

Yesterday, Harrison Rudolph, a law fellow at the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, wrote a very troubling article at Slatetitled, DHS Is Starting to Scan Americans’ Faces Before They Get on International Flights. Here’s some of what we learned:

Decades ago, Congress mandated that federal authorities keep track of foreign nationals as they enter and leave the United States. If the government could record when every visitor stepped on and off of U.S. soil, so the thinking went, it could easily see whether a foreign national had overstayed a visa.

But in June of last year, without congressional authorization, and without consulting the public, the Department of Homeland Security started scanning the faces of Americans leaving the country, too.

You may have heard about new JetBlue or Delta programs that let passengers board their flights by submitting to a face recognition scan. Few realize, however, that these systems are actually the first phase of DHS’s “Biometric Exit” program.

For certain international flights from Atlanta and New York, DHS has partnered with Delta to bring mandatory face recognition scans to the boarding gate. The Delta system checks a passenger is supposed to be on the plane by comparing her face, captured by a kiosk at the boarding gate, to passenger manifest photos from State Department databases. It also checks passengers’ citizenship or immigration status. Meanwhile, in Boston, DHS has partnered with JetBlue to roll out a voluntary face recognition system for travelers flying to Aruba. In JetBlue’s case, you can actually get your face scanned instead of using a physical ticket.

While these systems differ in details, they have two things in common. First, they are laying the groundwork for a much broader, mandatory deployment of Biometric Exit across the country. Second, they scan the faces of everyone—including American citizens.

Treating U.S. citizens like foreign nationals contradicts years of congressional mandates. DHS has never consulted the American public about whether Americans should be subject to face recognition. That’s because Congress has never given Homeland Security permission to do it in the first place. Congress has passed Biometric Exit bills at least nine times. In each, it has been clear: This is a program meant for foreign nationals. In fact, when President Trump issued an executive order in January on Biometric Exit, it was actually reissued to clarify that it didn’t apply to American citizens.

To continue reading: Certain U.S. Airlines Are Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition Scans on Americans Flying Abroad

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Bring Your Child To Work Day, from The Burning Platform

To Ted Cruz: Further Militarizing Mexico’s Drug War Is a Horrible Idea, by Brain Saady

Ted Cruz proposes spending billions more on the futile drug war, sending the US military down to Mexico to help its government. At least now you’re not considering a flaming crazy if you suggest legalizing various drugs. The needle moves, but slowly. From Brian Saady at antiwar.com:

Ted Cruz recently provided an exclusive interview to Breitbart News. He asserted that the U.S. military should be working in conjunction with the Mexican government to fight the cartels. He didn’t suggest a full-scale invasion, but he did propose something similar to our program, “Plan Colombia.”

If you’re not familiar, Plan Colombia is officially the U.S. foreign military aid program for Colombia aimed at preventing drug trafficking. The U.S. has provided the Colombian government with $10 billion of military aid over the last 15 years.

Senator Cruz said of Plan Colombia, “It was treated less as a law enforcement matter than as a military matter. Where our military went into Colombia and helped destroy the cartels.” His assessment was partially accurate because Plan Colombia isn’t purely an anti-drug strategy. Instead, it is essentially part of a broader U.S. geopolitical strategy in which our country uses the pretense of the drug war to resurrect Cold-War-style intervention.

However, Cruz’s belief that Plan Colombia helped defeat the cartels is completely wrong. First of all, that gives the impression that the program effectively reduced drug production. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The White House released a report in March stating that cocaine production in Colombia had reached record levels last year, roughly 710 metric tons.

Secondly, the program went into effect in 1999, which was many years after the Medellin Cartel had fallen and not long after the leadership of the Cali Cartel had been captured. Plan Colombia was first implemented when the most powerful drug trafficking organizations weren’t traditional crime organizations. Instead, the drug trade was fueling the country’s civil war between the right-wing paramilitary group, the AUC, and the communist rebels, the FARC.

Proponents of Plan Colombia believe that U.S. military support was a factor that led to the eventual disarmament of the FARC and the end of Colombia’s 52-year civil war. That point is debatable. But, even if you concede it, “peace” was reached at what cost?

To continue reading: To Ted Cruz: Further Militarizing Mexico’s Drug War Is a Horrible Idea

The Left Has One More Argument: Kill Them, by Ann Coulter

Trump Derangement Syndrome has violent manifestations, but a lot of the left’s lunacies do. From Ann Coulter at anncoulter.com:

After a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to commit mass murder last week — the second homicidal Bernie supporter so far this year — the media blamed President Trump for lowering the bar on heated political rhetoric by calling his campaign opponents cruel names like “Crooked Hillary” and “Lyin’ Ted.”

As soon as any conservative responds to Trump’s belittling names for his rivals by erupting in a murderous rage, that will be a fantastically good point. But until then, it’s idiotic. Unlike liberals, conservatives aren’t easily incited to violence by words.

What we’re seeing is the following: Prominent liberals repeatedly tell us, with deadly seriousness, that Trump and his supporters are: “Hitler,” “fascists,” “bigots,” “haters,” “racists,” “terrorists,” “criminals” and “white supremacists,” which is then followed by liberals physically attacking conservatives.

To talk about “both sides” being guilty of provocative rhetoric is like talking about “both genders” being guilty of rape.

Nearly every op-ed writer at The New York Times has compared Trump to Hitler. (The conservative on the op-ed page merely called him a “proto-fascist.”) If Trump is Hitler and his supporters Nazis, then the rational course of action for any civilized person is to kill them.

That’s not just a theory, it’s the result.

A few months ago, 38-year-old Justin Barkley shot and killed a UPS driver in a Walmart parking lot in Ithaca, New York, then ran over his body, because he thought he was killing Donald Trump. During his arraignment, Barkley told the judge: “I shot and killed Donald Trump purposely, intentionally and very proudly.”

In the past year, there have been at least a hundred physical attacks on Trump supporters or presumed Trump supporters. The mainstream media have ignored them all. (You can click the Anti-Trump Hate Map to see some of them here — http://www.amren.com/news/2017/05/anti-trump-hate-map/.)

To continue reading: The Left Has One More Argument: Kill Them

Albert Edwards: “Citizens Will Soon Turn Their Rage Towards Central Bankers” by Tyler Durden

Albert Edwards argues that the rage out there, now directed at politicians, should be directed towards central bankers. He has a point, but it should be kept in mind that fiat debt central banking isn’t working because it can’t work. It eventually becomes an engine for government debt monetization and interest rate suppression, in service to whomever are the powers that be. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

During the populist revolt of 2016, which first led to the “shocking outcomes” of Brexit and then Trump, we cautioned that these phenomena were merely the “silent majority” of the developed world’s middle class expressing their anger and frustration with a world that has left them – and their real disposable income – behind, while rewarding the Top 1% through policies that have led to a relentless and record ascent in global asset prices, largely the purview of the world’s wealthiest. More recently, we also noted that it was only a matter of time before this latest “revolt” fizzled, as the realization that changing one politician with another would achieve nothing, and anger shifted to the real catalyst behind growing global inequality (and anger): central banks.

In his latest note today, Albert Edwards picks up on this theme to write “Theft redux: the citizens will soon turn their rage towards Central Bankers.” The core of his argument is familiar:

 While politics in the West reels from a decade of economic crisis and stagnation, asset prices continue to surge on the back of continued rapid growth in G3 QE. In an age of “radical uncertainty” how long will it be before angry citizens tire of blaming an impotent political system for their ills and turn on the main culprits for their poverty – unelected and virtually unaccountable central bankers? I expect central bank independence will be (and should be) the next casualty of the current political turmoil.

That’s just the beginning from Edwards, who appears to be getting increasingly angrier and more frustrated with a market that makes increasingly less sense: his fiery sermon continue with the following preview of the “inevitable catastrophe that lies ahead.”

Evidence of the impact of monetary madness on assets prices is all around if we care to look. I read that a parking spot in Hong Kong was just sold for record HK$5.18 million ($664,200). What about the 3.5x oversubscribed 100 year Argentine government bond? Sure, everything has a market clearing price, even one of the most regular defaulters in history. But what concerned me most about the story was it was demand from investors (“reverse enquires”) that prompted the issue. Is it just me or can I hear echoes of the mechanics of the CDO crisis? But no one cares when the party is still raging and investors, drunk with the liquor of loose money, are blind to the inevitable catastrophe that lies ahead.

A Cyberattack ‘the World Isn’t Ready For’ by Nicole Perlroth

Remember the WannaCry cyberattack last month? There is another cyberattack lurking out there that’s worse. From Nicole Perlroth at nytimes.com:

NEWARK — There have been times over the last two months when Golan Ben-Oni has felt like a voice in the wilderness.

On April 29, someone hit his employer, IDT Corporation, with two cyberweapons that had been stolen from the National Security Agency. Mr. Ben-Oni, the global chief information officer at IDT, was able to fend them off, but the attack left him distraught.

In 22 years of dealing with hackers of every sort, he had never seen anything like it. Who was behind it? How did they evade all of his defenses? How many others had been attacked but did not know it?

Since then, Mr. Ben-Oni has been sounding alarm bells, calling anyone who will listen at the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Jersey attorney general’s office and the top cybersecurity companies in the country to warn them about an attack that may still be invisibly striking victims undetected around the world.

And he is determined to track down whoever did it.

“I don’t pursue every attacker, just the ones that piss me off,” Mr. Ben-Oni told me recently over lentils in his office, which was strewn with empty Red Bull cans. “This pissed me off and, more importantly, it pissed my wife off, which is the real litmus test.”

Two weeks after IDT was hit, the cyberattack known as WannaCry ravaged computers at hospitals in England, universities in China, rail systems in Germany, even auto plants in Japan. No doubt it was destructive. But what Mr. Ben-Oni had witnessed was much worse, and with all eyes on the WannaCry destruction, few seemed to be paying attention to the attack on IDT’s systems — and most likely others around the world.

The strike on IDT, a conglomerate with headquarters in a nondescript gray building here with views of the Manhattan skyline 15 miles away, was similar to WannaCry in one way: Hackers locked up IDT data and demanded a ransom to unlock it.

But the ransom demand was just a smoke screen for a far more invasive attack that stole employee credentials. With those credentials in hand, hackers could have run free through the company’s computer network, taking confidential information or destroying machines.

To continue reading: A Cyberattack ‘the World Isn’t Ready For’