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The Russian Hacking Story Continues to Unravel

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (September 14 2017)


Photo by sime simon | CC BY 2.0

A new report by a retired IT executive at IBM debunks the claim that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign by hacking Democratic computers and circulating damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The report, which is titled “The Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge”, provides a rigorous examination of the wobbly allegations upon which the hacking theory is based, as well as a point by point rejection of the primary claims which, in the final analysis, fail to pass the smell test. While the report is worth reading in full, our intention is to zero-in on the parts of the text that disprove the claims that Russia meddled in US elections or hacked the servers at the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”).

Let’s start with the fact that there are at least two credible witnesses who claim to know who took the DNC emails and transferred them to WikiLeaks. We’re talking about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and WikiLeaks ally, Craig Murray. No one is in a better position to know who actually took the emails than Assange, and yet, Assange has repeatedly said that Russia was not the source. Check out this clip from the report:

Assange … has been adamant all along that the Russian government was not a source; it was a non-state player …

Assange: Our source is not a state party

Hannity (Conservative talk show host): Can you say to the American people unequivocally that you did not get this information about the DNC, John Podesta’s emails – can you tell the American people 1,000 percent you did not get it from Russia …

Assange: Yes.

Hannity: … or anybody associated with Russia?

Assange: We – we can say and we have said repeatedly … over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party … {1}

Can you think of a more credible witness than Julian Assange? The man has devoted his entire adult life to exposing the truth about government despite the risks his actions pose to his own personal safety. In fact, he is currently holed up at the Ecuador embassy in London for defending the public’s right to know what their government is up to. Does anyone seriously think that a man like that would deliberately lie just to protect Russia’s reputation?

No, of course not, and the new report backs him up on this matter. It states: “Nowhere in the Intelligence Community’s Assessment (“ICA”) was there any evidence of any connection between Russia and WikiLeaks”. The reason Assange keeps saying that Russia wasn’t involved is because Russia wasn’t involved. There’s nothing more to it than that.

As for the other eyewitness, Craig Murray, he has also flatly denied that Russia provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails. Check out this excerpt from an article at The Daily Mail:

(Murray) flew to Washington, DC for emails … He claims he had a clandestine hand-off … near American University with one of the email sources. Murray said the leakers’ motivation was ‘disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation’ and the ’tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders’ …

Murray says: “The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks. Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that”,’ Murray insists ….

Murray said he was speaking out due to claims from intelligence officials that Wikileaks was given the documents by Russian hackers as part of an effort to help Donald Trump win the US presidential election.

“I don’t understand why the CIA would say the information came from Russian hackers when they must know that isn’t true”, he said. “Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that”. {2}

 

Is Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and human rights activist, a credible witness?

There’s one way to find out, isn’t there? The FBI should interview Murray so they can establish whether he’s telling the truth or not. And, naturally, one would assume that the FBI has already done that since the Russia hacking story has been splashed across the headlines for more than a year now.

But that’s not the case at all. The FBI has never questioned Assange or Murray, in fact, the FBI has never even tried to get in touch with either of them. Never. Not even a lousy phone call. It’s like they don’t exist.

Why? Why hasn’t the FBI contacted or questioned the only two witnesses in the case?

Could it be because Assange and Murray’s knowledge of the facts don’t coincide with the skewed political narrative the Intel agencies and their co-collaborators at the DNC want to propagate? Isn’t that what’s really going on? Isn’t Russia-gate really just a stick for beating Russia and Trump? How else would one explain this stubborn unwillingness of the FBI to investigate what one senator called “The crime of the century”?

Here’s something else from the report that’s worth mulling over:

It is no secret that NSA has the technology to trace a web event, for example, a cyber attack, back to its source. There has been no public claim, nor is it implied in either Grizzly Steppe or the ICA that the NSA has trace routing to Russia on any of these purported Russian hacks. {1}

This is a crucial point, so let’s rephrase that in simple English. What the author is saying is that: If Russia hacked the DNC computers, the NSA would know about it. It’s that simple.

But no one at the NSA has ever verified the claims or produced one scintilla of evidence that connects Russia to the emails. In fact, the NSA has never even suggested that such evidence exists. Nor has anyone in the media asked Director Michael Rogers point-blank whether the NSA has hard evidence that Russia hacked the DNC servers?

Why? Why this conspiracy of silence on a matter that is so fundamental to the case that the NSA and the other Intel agencies are trying to make?

The only logical explanation is that there’s no proof that Russia was actually involved. Why else would the NSA withhold evidence on a matter this serious? It makes no sense.

According to the media, Intelligence agents familiar with the matter have “high confidence” that Russia was involved.

Okay, but where’s the proof? You can’t expect to build a case against a foreign government and a sitting president with just “high confidence”. You need facts, evidence, proof. Where’s the beef?

We already mentioned how the FBI never bothered to question the only eyewitnesses in the case. That’s odd enough, but what’s even stranger is the fact that the FBI never seized the DNC’s servers so they could conduct a forensic examination of them. What’s that all about? Here’s an excerpt from the report:

The FBI, having asked multiple times at different levels, was refused access to the DNC server(s). It is not apparent that any law enforcement agency had access.

The apparent single source of information on the purported DNC intrusion(s) was from Crowdstrike.

3. Crowdstrike is a cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic Party.

4. Not the FBI, CIA, nor NSA organizations analyzed the information from Crowdstrike. Only picked analysts of these agencies were chosen to see this data and write the ICA … {1}

 

 

Have you ever read anything more ridiculous in your life? The FBI’s negligence in this case goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. Imagine if a murder was committed in the apartment next to you and the FBI was called in to investigate. But when they arrive at the scene of the crime, they’re blocked at the door by the victim’s roommate who refuses to let them in. Speaking through the door, the roommate assures the agents that the victim was shot dead with a single bullet to the head and that the smoking gun that was used in the murder is still on the floor. But “don’t worry”, says the obstructing roommate, “I’ve already photographed the whole thing and I’ll send you the pictures as soon as I get the chance”.

Do you really think the agents would put up with such nonsense?

Never! They’d kick down the door, slap the roommate in handcuffs, cordon-off the murder scene, and start digging around for clues. That’s what they’d do. And yet we are supposed to believe that in the biggest case of the decade, a case that that allegedly involves foreign espionage and presidential treason, that the FBI has made no serious effort to secure the servers that were allegedly hacked by Russia?

The DNC computers are Exhibit A. The FBI has to have those computers, and they are certainly within their rights to seize them by any means necessary. So why haven’t they? Does the FBI think they can trust the second-hand analysis from some flunkey organization whose dubious background casts serious doubt on their conclusions?

It’s a joke! The only rational explanation for the FBI’s behavior, is that they’ve been told to “stand down” so they don’t unwittingly expose the truth about what’s really going on, that the whole Russia hacking fiction is a complete and utter fraud, and that the DNC, the CIA, and the media are all having a good laugh at the expense of the clueless American people.

Here’s another interesting clip from the report:

Adam Carter: … the FBI does not have disk images from any point during or following the alleged email hack … CrowdStrike’s failure to produce evidence. – With Falcon installed between April and May (early May), they should have had evidence on when files/emails/etc were copied or sent. – That information has never been disclosed. {1}

 

Read that excerpt over again. It’s mind-boggling. What Carter is saying is that they have nothing, no evidence, no proof, no nothing. If you don’t have a disk image, then what do you have?

You have nothing, that’s what. Which means that everything we’ve read is 100 percent conjecture, not a shred of evidence anywhere. Which is why the focus has shifted to Manafort, Flynn, Trump Jr, and the goofy Russian lawyer?

Who gives a rip about Manafort? Seriously?

The investigation started off with grave allegations of foreign espionage and presidential collusion (treason?) and quickly downshifted to the illicit financial dealings of someone the American people could care less about. Talk about mission creep!

What people want is proof that Russia hacked the DNC servers or that Trump cozied up to Russia to win the election. Nothing else matters. All these diversions prove is that, after one full year of nonstop, headline sensationalism, the investigation has produced nothing; a big, fat goose-egg.

A few words about the ICA Report

Remember the January 6, Intelligence Community Assessment? The ICA report was supposed to provide iron-clad proof that Russia hacked Democratic emails and published them at WikiLeaks. The media endlessly reiterated the claim that all seventeen US intelligence agencies took part in the assessment and that it’s conclusions represented the collective, objective analysis of America’s finest.

Right. The whole thing was a fraud. As it happens, only four of the agencies participated in the project (the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) and the agents who provided the analysis were hand-picked for the task. Naturally, when a director hand-picks particular analysts for a given assignment, one assumes that they want a particular outcome. Which they did. Clearly, in this case, the intelligence was tailored to fit the policy. The intention was to vilify Russia in order to further isolate a country that was gradually emerging as a global rival. And the report was moderately successful in that regard too, except for one paradoxical disclaimer that appeared on page 13. Here it is:

Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact … Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents …

 

What the authors are saying is that “Everything you read in this report could be complete baloney because it’s all based on conjecture, speculation, and guesswork”.

Isn’t that what they’re saying? Why would anyone waste their time reading a report when the authors openly admit that their grasp of what happened is “incomplete or fragmentary” and they have no “proof” of anything?

Gregory Copley, President, International Strategic Studies Association (“ISSA”) summed it up best when he said:

This is a highly politically motivated and a subjective report which was issued by the intelligence community … does not present evidence of success or even an attempt to actually actively manipulate the election process.

 

Like we said, it’s all baloney.

Lastly, Folden’s report sheds light on the technical inconsistencies of the hacking allegations. Cyber-forensic experts have now shown that:

The alleged “hack” was effectively impossible in mid-2016. The required download speed of the “hack” precludes an internet transfer of any significant distance.

 

In other words, the speed at which the emails were transferred could only have taken place if they were “Downloaded onto external storage, for example, 2.0 thumb drive”. (The report also provides evidence that the transfers took place in the Eastern time zone, which refutes the theory that the servers were hacked from Romania.)

The Nation summed it up perfectly in this brief paragraph:

There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year – not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak – a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. {3}

 

Bingo.

Bottom line: A dedicated group of independent researchers and former Intel agents joined forces and produced the first hard evidence that “the official narrative implicating Russia” is wrong. This is a stunning development that will, in time, cut through the fog of government propaganda and reveal the truth. Skip Folden’s report is an important contribution to that same effort.

Note: Skip Folden is a Private Intelligence analyst and a retired IBM Program Manager for Information Technology. His report has been submitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the Office of Special Counsel (Robert Mueller), and the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. The report was released on September 13 2017.

Read the whole report at {1}.

Links:

{1} https://nef4rhc.wordpress.com/

{2} http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4034038/Ex-British-ambassador-WikiLeaks-operative-claims-Russia-did-NOT-provide-Clinton-emails-handed-D-C-park-intermediary-disgusted-Democratic-insiders.html

{3} https://www.thenation.com/article/a-new-report-raises-big-questions-about-last-years-dnc-hack/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/14/the-russian-hacking-story-continues-to-unravel/

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Categories: Uncategorized

Welcome to 1984

Big Brother Google Now Watching Your Every Political Move

by Robert Bridge

RT.com (September 09 2017)

Zero Hedge (September 10 2017)

Google has taken the unprecedented step of burying material, mostly from websites on the political right, that it has deemed to be inappropriate. The problem, however, is that the world’s largest search engine is a left-leaning company with an ax to grind.

Let’s face it, deep down in our heart of hearts we knew the honeymoon wouldn’t last forever. Our willingness to place eternal faith in an earth-straddling company that oversees the largest collection of information ever assembled was doomed to end in a bitter divorce from the start. After all, each corporation, just like humans, has their own political proclivities, and Google is certainly no exception. But we aren’t talking about your average car company here.

The first sign Google would eventually become more of a political liability than a public utility was revealed in 2005 when CEO Eric Schmidt (who is now executive chairman of Alphabet, Inc {1}, Google’s parent company, sat down with interviewer Charlie Rose, who asked Schmidt to explain “where the future of search is going”.

Schmidt’s response should have triggered alarm bells across the free world.

“Well, when you use Google, do you get more than one answer”, Schmidt asked rhetorically, before answering deceptively.
“Of course you do. Well, that’s a bug. We have more bugs per second in the world. We should be able to give you the right answer just once … and we should never be wrong”.

 

Really?

Think about that for a moment. Schmidt believes, counter-intuitively, that getting multiple possible choices for any one Google query is not the desirable prospect it should be (aren’t consumers always in search of more variety?), but rather a “bug” that should be duly squashed underfoot. Silly mortal, you should not expect more than one answer for every question because the almighty Google, our modern-day Oz, “should never be wrong!” This is the epitome of corporate hubris. And it doesn’t require much imagination to see that such a master plan will only lead to a colossal whitewashing of the historical record.

For example, if a Google user performs a search request for – oh, I don’t know – “what caused the Iraq War 2003”, he or she would be given, according to Schmidt’s algorithmic wet dream, exactly one canned answer. Any guesses on what that answer would be? I think it’s safe to say the only acceptable answer would be the state-sanctioned conspiracy theory {2} that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction, an oft-repeated claim we now know to be patently false {3}. The list of other such complicated events that also demand more than one answer – from the Kennedy assassination to the Gulf of Tonkin incident – could be continued for many pages.

Schmidt’s grandiose vision, where there is just “one answer to every question”, sounds like a chapter borrowed from Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), where omnipresent Big Brother had an ironclad grip on history, news, information, everything. In such an intensely controlled, nightmarish world, individuals – as well as entire historical events – can be “disappeared” down the memory hole without a trace. Though we’ve not quite reached that bad land yet, we’re plodding along in that direction.

That much became disturbingly clear ever since Donald Trump routed Hillary Clinton for the presidency. This surprising event became the bugle call for Google to wage war on “fake news” outlets, predominantly on the political right.

“Like being gay in the 1950s”

Just before Americans headed to the polls in last year’s presidential election, WikiLeaks delivered a well-timed steaming dump, revealing that Eric Schmidt had been working {4} with the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) as early as April 2014. This news came courtesy of a leaked email {5} from John Podesta, former chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, who wrote:

I met with Eric Schmidt tonight. As David reported, he’s ready to fund, advise recruit talent, et cetera. He was more deferential on structure than I expected. Wasn’t pushing to run through one of his existing firms. Clearly wants to be head outside advisor, but didn’t seem like he wanted to push others out. Clearly wants to get going …”

 

1984 GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

The implications of the CEO of the world’s most powerful company playing favorites in a presidential race are obvious and make the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s resemble a rigged game of bingo at the local senior citizens center by comparison. Yet the dumbed-down world of American politics, which only seems to get excited when Republicans goof up, continued to turn on its wobbly axis as if nothing untold had occurred.

Before continuing our trip down memory lane, let’s fast forward a moment for a reality check. Google’s romance with the US political left is not a matter of conjecture. In fact, it has just become the subject of a released internal memo penned {6} by one James Damore, a former Google engineer. In the ten-point memo, Damore discussed at length the extreme liberal atmosphere that pervades Google, saying that being a conservative in the Silicon Valley sweat shop was like “being gay in the 1950s”.

We have … this monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can’t even express themselves. Really, it’s like being gay in the 1950s. These conservatives have to stay in the closet and have to mask who they really are. And that’s a huge problem because there’s open discrimination against anyone who comes out of the closet as a conservative.

 

Beyond the quirky, laid back image of a Google campus, where ‘Googlers’ enjoy {7} free food and foot massages, lies a “monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can’t even express themselves”, says Damore {8}, who was very cynically fired from Google for daring to express a personal opinion. That is strange.

Although Google loudly trumpets its multicultural diversity in terms of its hiring policy, it clearly has a problem dealing with a diversity of opinion. That attitude does not seem to bode well for a search engine company that must remain impartial on all matters – political or otherwise.

Back to the 2016 campaign. Even CNN at the time was admitting {9} that Google was Donald Trump’s “biggest enemy”.

Indeed, not only was Schmidt apparently moonlighting for the DNC, his leftist company was actively shutting down information on the Republican front runner. At one point when Google users typed in a query for “presidential candidates”, they got thousands of results for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Missing in action {10} from the search results, however, was, yes, Donald Trump.

When NBC4 reached out to Google about the issue, a spokesperson said a “technical bug” was what caused Trump to disappear into the internet ether. Now, where have we heard the word “bug” before? It is worth wondering if this is what Eric Schmidt had in mind when he expressed his vision of a “one answer” Google search future?

In any case, this brings to the surface another disturbing question that is directly linked to the “fake news” accusations, which in turn is fueling Google’s crackdown on the free flow of news from the political right today.

In the run up to the 2016 presidential election, poll after poll predicted a Clinton landslide victory. Of course, nothing of the sort materialized, as even traditional Democratic strongholds {11}, like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan pulled the lever for Trump. As The Economist reported {12}:

On the eve of America’s presidential election, national surveys gave Hillary Clinton a lead of around four percentage points, which betting markets and statistical models translated into a probability of victory ranging from seventy percent to 99 percent.

 

The fact that Trump – in direct contradiction to what the polls had been long predicting – ended up winning by such a huge margin, there is a temptation to say the polls themselves were “fake news”, designed to convince the US voter that a Clinton landslide victory was forthcoming. This could have been a ploy by the pollsters, many of whom are affiliated with left-leaning news corporations, by the way, for keeping opposition voters at home in the belief their vote wouldn’t matter. In fact, statisticians were warning {13} of a “systemic mainstream misinformation” in poll data favoring Clinton in the days and weeks before Election day. Yet the Leftist brigade, in cahoots with the Googlers, was busy nurturing their own fervent conspiracy theory that “fake news” – with some help from the Russians, of course – was the reason for Hillary Clinton’s devastating defeat.

Who Will Guard Us Against the Google Guardians?

Just one month after Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, purportedly on the back of “fake news”, Google quietly launched Project Owl, the goal of which was to devise a method to “demote misleading, false and offensive articles online”, according to a Bloomberg report {14}. The majority of the crackdown will be carried out by machines. Now here is where we enter the rat’s nest. After all, what one news organization, or alternative news site, might consider legitimate news and information, another news group, possibly from the mainstream media, would dismiss as a conspiracy theory. And vice versa.

In other words, what we have here is a battle for the misty mountain top of information, and Google appears to be paving the way for its preferred candidate, which is naturally the mainstream media. In other words, Google has a dog in this fight, but it shouldn’t. Here is how they have succeeded in pushing for their crackdown on news and information.

The mainstream media almost immediately began peddling the fake news story as to why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. In fact, it even started before Clinton lost the election after Trump jokingly told a rally: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing … I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” The Democrats, of course, found no humor in the remark. Indeed, they began pushing the fake news story, with help {15} from the likes of Amazon-owned Washington Post, that it was Russians who hacked the DNC email system and passed along the information to WikiLeaks, who then dumped it at the most inopportune time for the Democrats.

With this masterly sleight of hand, did you notice what happened? We are no longer talking about the whereabouts of Clinton’s estimated 33,000 deleted emails {16}, nor are we discussing how the DNC worked behind the scenes to derail {17} Bernie Sanders’ chances at being a presidential candidate. Far worse, we are not considering the tragic fate of a young man named Seth Rich, the now-deceased DNC staffer who was gunned down in Washington, DC on July 10 2016. Some news sites say Rich was preparing to testify against the DNC for “voter fraud”, while others say {18} that was contrived nonsense.

According to the mainstream media, in this case, Newsweek, only batshit crazy far-right conspiracy sites could ever believe Seth Rich leaked the Clinton emails.

“In the months since his murder, Rich has become an obsession of the far right, an unwilling martyr to a discredited cause”, Newsweek commented {19}. “On social media sites like Reddit and news outlets like World Net Daily, it is all but an article of faith that Rich, who worked for the Democratic National Committee, was the source who gave DNC emails to WikiLeaks, for which he was slain, presumably by Clinton operatives. If that were to be true – and it very clearly isn’t – the faithful believe it would invalidate any accusations that Donald J. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in tilting the election toward him.”

Blame Russia

The reality is, we’ll probably never know what happened to Mr Rich, but what we do know is that Russia has become the convenient fall guy for Clinton’s emails getting hacked and dumped in the public arena. We also know Google is taking advantage of this conspiracy theory (to this day not a thread of proof has been offered to prove Russia had anything to do with the release of the emails) to severely hinder the work of news sites – most of which sit on the right of the political spectrum.

Last November, just two weeks after Trump’s victory, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, addressed the question of “fake news” in a BBC interview, and whether it could have swayed the vote in Trump’s favor:

You know, I think fake news as a whole could be an issue [in elections]. From our perspective, there should just be no situation where fake news gets distributed, so we are all for doing better here. So, I don’t think we should debate it as much as work hard to make sure we drive news to its more trusted sources, have more fact checking. and make our algorithms work better, absolutely. {20}

Did you catch that? Following the tiresome rigmarole, the Google CEO said he doesn’t think “we should debate it as much as we work hard to make sure we drive news to its more trusted sources …”

That is a truly incredible comment, buried on the sea floor of the BBC article. How can the head of the largest search engine believe a democracy needn’t debate how Google determines what information, and by whom, is allowed into the public realm, thus literally shaping our entire worldview? To ask the question is to answer it …

“Just in the last two days we announced we will remove advertising from anything we identify as fake news”, Pichai said.

And how will Google decide who the Internet baddies are? It will rely on “more than fifteen additional expert NGOs and institutions through our Trusted Flagger program, including the Anti-Defamation League, the No Hate Speech Movement, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue”, to determine what should be flagged and what should not.

Feeling better yet? This brings to mind the quaint Latin phrase, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves? –  especially since these groups also have their own heavy political axes to grind.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Pichai and his increasingly Orwellian company already stand accused of censorship, following the outrageous decision to bar former Congressman Ron Paul and his online news program, Liberty Report, from receiving advertising revenue for a number of videos which Paul recently posted.

Dr Ron Paul would never be confused as a dangerous, far-right loony. Paul is a twelve-term ex-congressman and three-time presidential candidate. However, he is popular among his supporters for views that often contradict those of Washington’s political establishment, especially on issues of war and peace. Now if squeaky clean Ron Paul can’t get a fair hearing before the Google/YouTube tribunal, what are chances for average commentators?

“We have no violence, no foul language, no political extremism, no hate or intolerance”, Daniel McAdams, co-producer of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, told {21} RT America. “Our program is simply a news analysis discussion from a libertarian and antiwar perspective”.

McAdams added that the YouTube demonetization “creates enormous financial burdens for the program”.

Many other commentators have also been affected by the advert ban, including left-wing online blogger Tim Black and right-wing commentator Paul Joseph Watson. Their videos have registered millions of views.

“Demonetization is a deliberate effort to stamp out independent political commentary – from the left or the right”, Black told {22} The Boston Globe‘s Hiawatha Bray.

“It’s not about specific videos … It’s about pushing out the diversity of thought and uplifting major news networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC“.

In light of this inquisition against free speech and free thought, it is no surprise that more voices are calling for Google, and other massive online media, like Facebook and Amazon, to become nationalized for the public good.

“If we don’t take over today’s platform monopolies, we risk letting them own and control the basic infrastructure of 21st-century society”, wrote {23} Nick Srnicek, a lecturer in the digital economy at King’s College London.

It’s time for Google to take a stroll beyond its isolated Silicon Valley campus and realize there is a whole world of varying political opinion out there that demands a voice. Otherwise, it may find itself on the wrong side of history and time, a notoriously uninviting place known as 1984.

Links:

{1} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabet_Inc.

{2} http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/leadup-iraq-war-timeline/

{3} http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/powell-blames-himself-iraqi-wmd-speech-un/

{4} http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/10/19/wikileaks-googles-eric-schmidt-working-with-clinton-campaign/

{5} https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/36828

{6} http://www.businessinsider.com/james-damore-interview-video-2017-8

{7} https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2016/feb/11/is-googles-model-of-the-creative-workplace-the-future-of-the-office

{8} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hd07YcJDEY

{9} http://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/16/opinions/donald-trump-presidential-obeidallah/index.html

{10} http://nbc4i.com/2016/07/27/trump-left-out-of-google-search-for-presidential-candidates/

{11} http://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2016/11/09/how-clinton-lost-blue-wall-states-michigan-pennsylvania-wisconsin/93572020/

{12} https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2016/11/economist-explains-3

{13} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-15/statisticians-warn-systemic-mainstream-misinformation-poll-data

{14} https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-25/google-rewrites-its-powerful-search-rankings-to-bury-fake-news

{15} https://twitter.com/Recode

{15} https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obama-orders-review-of-russian-hacking-during-presidential-campaign/2016/12/09/31d6b300-be2a-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.3f6e6f08571c

{16} http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/hillary-clinton-deleted-33000-emails-secretary-state/story?id=42389308

{17} https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/23/us/politics/dnc-emails-sanders-clinton.html

{18} http://www.snopes.com/seth-conrad-rich/

{19} http://www.newsweek.com/seth-rich-634062

{20} http://www.bbc.com/news/business-37988095

{21} https://www.rt.com/usa/401240-ron-paul-youtube-demonetization-censorship-advertisers/

{22} https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/08/23/youtube-controversy-doesn-pay/9mXKWJMWMUhnkoJmUoq9DP/story.html

{23} https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/30/nationalise-google-facebook-amazon-data-monopoly-platform-public-interest

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/402588-google-eric-schmidt-republicans/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-10/welcome-1984-big-brother-google-now-watching-your-every-political-move

Categories: Uncategorized

Orwell’s Nightmare

The NSA and Google – Big Brother Meets Big Business

by John W Whitehead

HuffPost (July 13 2014)

What would happen if the most powerful technology company in the world and the largest clandestine spying agency in the world joined forces?

No need to wonder. Just look around you. It’s happened already. Thanks to an insidious partnership between Google and the National Security Agency (“NSA”) that grows more invasive and more subtle with every passing day, “we the people” have become little more than data consumer commodities to be bought, sold, and paid for over and over again.

With every smartphone we buy, every GPS device we install, every Twitter, Facebook, and Google account we open, every frequent buyer card we use for purchases – whether at the grocer’s, the yogurt shop, the airlines or the department store, and every credit and debit card we use to pay for our transactions, we’re helping Corporate America build a dossier for its government counterparts on who we know, what we think, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time.

What’s worse, this for-profit surveillance scheme, far larger than anything the NSA could capture just by tapping into our phone calls, is made possible by our consumer dollars and our cooperation. All those disclaimers you scroll through without reading them, the ones written in minute font, only to quickly click on the “Agree” button at the end so you can get to the next step – downloading software, opening up a social media account, adding a new app to your phone or computer: those signify your written consent to having your activities monitored, recorded, and shared.

It’s not just the surveillance you consent to that’s being shared with the government, however. It’s the very technology you happily and unquestioningly use which is being hardwired to give the government easy access to your activities.

In this way, the NSA no longer needs to dirty its hands by spying on Americans’ phone, email, and Internet activities, and the government can absolve itself of any direct wrongdoing. They can go straight to the source, as evidenced by the close relationship between Google higher-ups Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin and NSA Director General Keith Alexander. With Google in its hip pocket, the NSA can just bypass any legislative restrictions dreamed up to appease the electorate and buy their way into a surveillance state.

The government’s motives aren’t too difficult to understand – money, power, control – but what do corporate giants like Google stand to gain from colluding with Big Brother? Money, power, control. As privacy and security expert Bruce Schneier observed, “The main focus of massive Internet companies and government agencies both still largely align: to keep us all under constant surveillance”.

There’s a good reason that Google doesn’t charge for its services, and it has nothing to do with magnanimity, generosity, or altruism. So what does Google get out of the relationship? Simple: Google gets us.

It turns out that we are Soylent Green. The 1973 film of the same name, starring Charlton Heston and Edward G Robinson, is set in 2022 in an overpopulated, polluted, starving New York City whose inhabitants depend on synthetic foods manufactured by the Soylent Corporation for survival. Heston plays a policeman investigating a murder, who then discovers the grisly truth about what the wafer, soylent green – the principal source of nourishment for a starved population – is really made of. “It’s people. Soylent Green is made out of people”, declares Heston’s character. “They’re making our food out of people. Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food.”

Oh, how right he was. Soylent Green is indeed people, or in our case, Soylent Green is our own personal data, repossessed, repackaged and used by corporations and the government to entrap us. In this way, we’re being bred like cattle but not for food – rather, we’re being bred for our data. That’s the secret to Corporate America’s success.

Google, for example, has long enjoyed a relationship with clandestine agencies such as the CIA and NSA, which use Google’s search-technology for scanning and sharing various intelligence. The technology leviathan turns a profit by processing, trading, and marketing products based upon our personal information, including our relationships, daily activities, personal beliefs, and personalities. Even the most seemingly benign Google program, Gmail, has been one of the most astoundingly successful surveillance programs ever concocted by a state or corporate entity.

Email, social media, and GPS are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Google has added to its payroll the best and brightest minds in the fields of military defense, robotics (including humanoid robotics), defense, surveillance, machine learning, artificial intelligence, web-controlled household appliances (such as Nest thermostats), and self-driving cars. These are the building blocks of the global electronic concentration camp encircling us all, and Google, in conjunction with the NSA, has set itself up as a formidable warden.

The question, when all is said and done, is where will all this technology take us? It’s a conundrum I explore at length in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (2016), which looks to film, fiction, and art as indicators of the police state that now surrounds us, brought about with the help of the government and its corporate partners.

At this rate, it won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back to the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words, and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants, sold to government agencies, and used against us by militarized police.

George Orwell’s description of the world of 1984 (1949) is as apt a description of today’s world as I’ve ever seen:
 

You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

 

_____

John W Whitehead is an attorney and President of The Rutherford Institute.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-whitehead/orwells-nightmare-the-nsa_b_5310171.html

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We Told You So

Google is NSA

by Phil Butler

New Eastern Journal (September 04 2017)


Can you spot a difference?

Google wants to be Big Brother’s eyeballs on you. All we Internet gurus knew this since before the NSA was found out spying on everybody. But now the Mountain View boys are more determined than ever to filter your information and to obliterate any semblance of truth reaching people.

If I had led into an article with that paragraph even five years ago, I’d have been instantly labeled a “conspiracy theorist” or worse. How about now, dear reader? Is the idea the technocrats and their huge monied handlers want to run you crazy? I didn’t think so. But if you need proof beyond the obvious, Google’S 160-page handbook tells us all exactly how they plan to spoon feed us only “their” news. The lengthy handbook is a heavy read for the average person, but the book does lay out an Orwellian machination unlike anything seen since the Nazi propaganda machine of Hitler. Pay close attention to the “instructional” on page 108 where Google dictates who does and does not meet rating criteria. The section under Fails to Meet (“FailsM”) is a steamrolling of the free press, and suggested hiding certain kinds of sites:
 

Pages that directly contradict well established historical facts (for example, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories), unless the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.

 

As per usual, Google has obscured its real intentions with the idea some super smart algorithm is “filtering” or “learning” results to help your life be better. Once again Google supposes to do “what is good for us” by destroying some sources and propping up others. Using terms like “search quality rating guidelines” and “page quality rating guidelines” the little Machiavellis at Google provide justification for controlling what you see and read on the web. Censorship and monopolization of internet information and business – this is the case against the Mountain View boys this time.

Then there’s the section concerning how Google will rank the best of the best news sites entitled “A High Level of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (EAT)”. The acronym should clue you that Google search users are about to be fed some bullshit truth. “High Quality Pages” for the Google oligarchs means that either the page owner pays Google through the mouth, or that the site in question serves Google’s masters well – period. At the top of this matrix of sources are newspapers (High News 1) like The Washington Post and The New York Times, followed by the articles within those pages (High News 2). On down the list of authority pages are government sites like the US State Department and White House, and then pages categorized (believe it or not) “High Humor”. So, Google has factored out the importance of truth or even the importance of the news story itself, in favor of “who” wrote the story and the “reality” Google wants you to accept – Big Brother’s network – end of story.

Melissa Dykes of Truth Stream Media made a video about the new Big Brother effort, and Government Slaves did their take as well. And the latter even suggests alternatives to using Google Search for those refusing the totalitarian tendencies we see headed our way these days. For people who had rather boycott the imminent evil such as Yandex, and DuckDuckGo. Government Slaves also lists 400 sites for independent news outside Google’s MATRIX. My advice for everyone is to start making the transition away from Google and Facebook now. My own vast experience in dealing with these tech people has revealed people with no morals whatsoever, people willing to do anything necessary to perpetuate their dominance in digital. Google has destroyed millions of people’s livelihoods, broken its own code, lawyers itself around anti-trust and fair practice rules, avoided taxes, and colluded with the intelligence agencies against the people of the United States. All these assertions are not just this writer’s ramblings. Back in 2014, John W Whitehead wrote about the NSA and Google for the Huffington Post:
 

Just look around you. It’s happened already. Thanks to an insidious partnership between Google and the National Security Agency (NSA) that grows more invasive and more subtle with every passing day, “we the people” have become little more than data consumer commodities to be bought, sold and paid for over and over again.

 

August 29th the notorious Zero Hedge creator, Tyler Durden wrote a piece entitled “Why Google Made The NSA”, which revealed a project called INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a crowd-funded investigative journalism project that had released a story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. You read that correctly. My past assertions that Sergey Brin and Larry Page were “lifted up” by unseen money were probably correct. While I presumed George Soros or Rockefeller being behind, it’s conceivable Uncle Sam was the spook in the woodpile. The Zero Hedge story delves deep into a “deep state” we never imagined in our worst nightmares. The report unveils how Pentagon Highlands Forum’s more or less taking over tech giants like Google to pursue mass surveillance. Furthermore, the report shows how the intelligence community has played a key role in secret efforts to manipulate the media and the public. The endless crisis and war we find ourselves in is in large part because of the efforts of Google and the other technocratic institutions. In one section, the author frames how the Obama administration really consolidated this “Big Brother” control:
 

Under Obama, the nexus of corporate, industry, and financial power represented by the interests that participate in the Pentagon Highlands Forum has consolidated itself to an unprecedented degree.

 

These people refer to themselves as “the gatekeepers”. Their arrogance is only exceeded by their amoral agnosticism. The successes of the information age, Silicon Valley’s dubious venture capital bonanzas, the mysterious ways in which fairly ordinary innovators were propelled into the limelight warns us to the underlying swamp Donald Trump described. But it is the immensity of the network that should clue us. Imagine a new president taking office and fending off attacks as best he could, only to discover that the whole machine of the US government is under such a controlling influence. It’s easy to theorize after learning all this, how Trump did an about face on so many issues. He must have been overwhelmed. Or, he was part of the plan all along.

Finally, if we expand on this news and include other technocrats like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, then understanding world crises caused by bad US policy becomes simpler. It’s a corporation – all of it is a corporation for war and friction. Bezos walking with former Marine General and current Secretary of Defense, “Mad Dog” Mattis at Amazon is symbolic. Trump’s posture with Israel, the Saudis, even on domestic policy tells us those campaign promises sank in the wake of a deep state ship at full steam forward. If we allow Google and other such players to continue unchecked …

Well, you are as capable as I of completing that sentence. I only pray we are not too late.

_____

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

https://journal-neo.org/2017/09/04/we-told-you-so-google-is-nsa/

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How Google Rigs Search …

… and Hurts Consumers

by Mike Krieger

Liberty Blitzkrieg blog (July 07 2017)

Zero Hedge (July 07 2017)

I’m sure all of you heard about the $2.7 billion fine imposed by the EU on Google as a result of its anti-competitive behavior, but not many of you probably know exactly what the search giant did to earn it. To shine some light on the topic, let’s take a look at a few excerpts from a recent article written by Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer Gary Reback.

Below are some choice excerpts from the piece, You Should Be Outraged at Google’s Anti-Competitive Behavior {1}:
 

Before 2007, if a user searched for a product on Google, other sites listing prices for that product would appear among the general search results, ranked in the order of their quality to users. These “comparison shopping sites” were designed to identify merchants with the lowest prices. The more accurate and comprehensive their results, the higher they were ranked and the more traffic they generated.

But the more successful that comparison shopping sites became, the more they threatened Google’s business plan. Google makes money by selling ads placed next to its free search results, and merchants could not be expected to bid for ad placement if the listings in comparison shopping sites on the same search undercut their prices.

To address this, Google developed a cunning plan, the first phase of which was documented in a report by the US Fecderal Trade Commission (“FTC”). Portions of the report were published by The Wall Street Journal {2} more than two years ago.

Quoting internal Google documents and emails, the report shows that the company created a list of rival comparison shopping sites that it would artificially lower in the general search results, even though tests showed that Google users “liked the quality of the [rival] sites” and gave negative feedback on the proposed changes.

Google reworked its search algorithm at least four times, the documents show, and altered its established rating criteria before the proposed changes received “slightly positive” user feedback. Internal Google documents predicted that the proposed changes would reduce rivals’ user traffic up to twenty percent and subsequently reported producing the desired results once the changes were implemented.

At the same time, Google started putting the results from its own comparison shopping service at the top of search results. After these changes, the only source of low-price information readily available on Google’s search platform came from Google’s own comparison shopping service, known at the time as Google Product Search, which listed the lowest prices for products in its database at no charge to merchants.

Google’s conduct certainly hurt its rivals {3}, particularly after a second round of search-listing demotions documented by the European Union. Many companies have been forced to lay off all of their employees and even shut down operations.

In 2012, Google took the extraordinary step to kill Google Product Search, replacing it with Google Shopping. This new service did not display the lowest price (or even a low price) in the general search results; rather, it displayed ads at the top of the search results page in response to the user’s search term. The ads were carefully placed by Google’s algorithms to minimize price competition among merchants, by, for example, showing ads next to each other that featured different product models at different price points.

Google Shopping also permitted merchants to purchase ads on a separate shopping page. Merchants … no longer promoted in search results for having lower prices … now must pay for better placement. Not surprisingly, they have raised prices to cover these costs.

Google’s competitors argued in a study, which I submitted to the European Commission a few years ago, that the prices in Google Shopping ads for specified products on search results pages were among the highest in Google’s database. Google’s displayed prices for everyday products, such as watches, anti-wrinkle cream, and wireless routers, were roughly fifty percent higher … sometimes more … than those on rival sites. A subsequent study {4} by a consumer protection group found similar results. A study by the Financial Times {5} also documented the higher prices.

The Post’s editorial board claimed that the online availability of large merchant sites might restrain Google’s power over consumers. But those sites haven’t stopped Google from executing its plan so far. There is no denying that Google eliminated services showing the lowest prices, free to merchants, and replaced them with high-priced ads.

 

Some people like to blame all of the world’s problems on government.

Others blame business for everything that ever goes wrong.

I don’t fall into either of these categories. I think the greatest threat to humanity, freedom, and our overall happiness comes down to concentrations of power.

Too much concentration of power within business or government ultimately leads to tyranny and oppression, and the best solution is for all of us to fight against concentrations of power in all its manifestations. Personally, I think Google has far too much power in a service as important to modern life as search, and it seems executives there are doing what always happens with concentrated power … abusing their position.

Links:

{1} https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/you-should-be-outraged-at-googles-anti-competitive-behavior/2017/07/07/e117b704-5de1-11e7-9b7d-14576dc0f39d_story.html?utm_term=.c35dc381bdc2

{2} http://graphics.wsj.com/google-ftc-report/

{3} https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/google-faces-up-to-30-lawsuits-after-eu-ruling-j3gswtpxk

{4} http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/googlereport112513.pdf

{5} https://www.ft.com/content/a004c830-552d-11e3-a321-00144feabdc0

https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/07/07/how-google-rigs-search-and-hurts-consumers/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-07/how-google-rigs-search-and-hurts-consumers

Categories: Uncategorized

The Decay of Western Civilization

by Tom Greco

Beyond Money (September 05 2017)

One of my correspondents, Irish financial advisor Christopher Quigley, recently sent me a link to his article, “Civilizations Die by Suicide Not by Murder” {1}. In that article, he mentions famed historian Arnold Toynbee’s monumental work, A Study of History {2} which describes the rise and fall of 23 civilizations throughout human history. Toynbee concluded from his study that, “civilizations start to decay when they lose their moral fiber and the cultural elite turns parasitic”. That certainly rings true for our present world – the banking and corporate elite and their political minions have clearly turned parasitic, putting power and profit above all else.

Then by some strange coincidence I happened to notice a few days ago a book on display at my public library. The book is, The Lost City of the Monkey God {3}, by Douglas J Preston, which tells the story of the search for a legendary city that was supposed to have existed several hundred years ago in the eastern part of Honduras in Central America. It is a true adventure story that reads like fiction. Preston was part of a team that went looking for, and by using some highly advanced technology, ultimately found, not only a city, but extensive remnants of a lost civilization, one that appears to be distinct from the Mayan and others of the region that are well known.

In one chapter, Preston speaks more generally about the civilizations that existed in that region and tells of the decline around AD 650 of the Mayan city of Copan. He says,

This happened even as the ruling classes apparently swelled in size over succeeding generations … in what archaeologists call the “increasingly parasitic role of the elite”. (We see the same process today in the gross expansion of the Saudi royal family into no fewer than fifteen thousand princes and princesses.) This proliferation may have triggered the vicious internecine warfare and killing among the elite.

 

He goes on to say, “The commoners were willing to support the privileged class as long as they kept up their end of the bargain with effective rituals”.

What does that suggest for western civilization today? Who are those that comprise our privileged class, and what is the nature of the bargain between them and the “commoners?” I leave it to the reader to ponder those questions, but I would suggest that the bargain must at least include assurances of social justice, basic human rights, and access to a fair share of our natural and cultural heritage. But however one might define that bargain, political developments around the world in recent years seem to indicate that increasing numbers of people are feeling let down by their leaders.

Are we then doomed? Will western civilization continue to decay and collapse to be followed by another dark age?

I think it is not “we” who are doomed, it is the global interest-based debt-money regime that sits at the pinnacle of the power pyramid, and the American imperial hegemony that are doomed. How long the collapse will take, how much pain and suffering will it cause, how can the present dysfunctional systems be displaced? These are all open questions. The optimist in me sees the peaceful emergence of a multipolar political order and a sustainable and equitable global economy based on the devolution of power and new exchange and financing mechanisms that are interest-free, cooperative, and grounded in a spirit of compassion and mutual aid.

Note: This article {4} from the BBC provides an excellent elaboration on the topic of this post:

Links:

{1} https://www.financialsense.com/contributors/christopher-quigley/civilizations-die-by-suicide-not-by-murder

{2} http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B004I5BPVG/financialsenseon

{3} https://www.amazon.com/Lost-City-Monkey-God-Story-ebook/dp/B01G1K1RTA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504628196&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Lost+City+of+the+Monkey+God

{4} http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse


https://beyondmoney.net/2017/09/05/the-decay-of-western-civilization
/

Categories: Uncategorized

Elon Musk: World War Three …

… Will be Started by a Preemptive AI Nuclear Attack

by Jake Anderson

The Anti-Media (September 06 2017)

Stating in a tweet this week that artificial intelligence would be the most likely cause of World War Three, entrepreneur and tech mogul Elon Musk added a new chapter to his crusade against unregulated AI. Coming on the heels of Vladimir Putin’s pronouncement that the best innovator in AI technology would be the next global leader – as well as Musk’s own statement that AI is more dangerous than North Korea – the new tweet comes amid a peak of global tensions regarding nuclear ICBMs.

 

Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
It begins … https://twitter.com/verge/status/904628400748421122
Follow
Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk

China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo.
6:33 PM – Sep 4, 2017
3,332 3,332 Replies 18,495 18,495 Retweets 45,113 45,113 likes

 

Musk’s tweet, which was a response to Putin’s fairly obvious statement last week, made it clear that the SpaceX and Tesla founder believes the next nuclear strike is more likely to come from a preemptive AI attack than from a nation-state. With all three major superpowers – the United States, China, and Russia – pursuing militarized AI, Musk also asserted that governments, not corporations, would be the ones to control the existential risk presented by AI.
 

4 Sep
Andrew Kemendo @AndrewKemendo
Replying to @elonmusk
Governments suck at AI, it will be a corporation that builds a military that wins this.
Follow

Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
Govts don’t need to follow normal laws. They will obtain AI developed by companies at gunpoint, if necessary.
7:44 PM – Sep 4, 2017
224 224 Replies 962 962 Retweets 2,389 2,389 likes

 

Musk has positioned himself as a neo-Luddite in the AI race but has also made the controversial claim that the best way for us to safeguard human civilization against runaway AI is to essentially merge our minds symbiotically with AI technology. This is why his company, OpenAI, is working on the creation of a “neural lace” that will act as a transhumanist brain-machine interface (“BMI”) capable of merging the human mind with AI in a cloud-type environment.

Is Musk’s posturing a brilliant marketing move meant to permanently nestle his brand into the next generation of tech development? Or does he legitimately fear a preemptive nuclear strike by an advanced artificial intelligence that sees the human race – not killer robots – as the greatest threat to life on Earth?

http://theantimedia.org/elon-musk-world-war-3-ai-nuclear-attack/

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