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Interesting Links: July 1, 2015

Here are links to a couple of long and interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about two issues which appear to be unconnected, but in reality are just two diverse manifestations of the same basic problem- which I hope to write about in my upcoming posts.

Link 1: XKEYSCORE- NSA’S Google for the World’s Private Communications

XKEYSCORE allows for incredibly broad surveillance of people based on perceived patterns of suspicious behavior. It is possible, for instance, to query the system to show the activities of people based on their location, nationality and websites visited. For instance, one slide displays the search “germansinpakistn,” showing an analyst querying XKEYSCORE for all individuals in Pakistan visiting specific German language message boards. As sites like Twitter and Facebook become increasingly significant in the world’s day-to-day communications (a Pew study shows that 71 percent of online adults in the U.S. use Facebook), they become a critical source of surveillance data. Traffic from popular social media sites is described as “a great starting point” for tracking individuals, according to an XKEYSCORE presentation titled “Tracking Targets on Online Social Networks.”

The NSA’s ability to piggyback off of private companies’ tracking of their own users is a vital instrument that allows the agency to trace the data it collects to individual users. It makes no difference if visitors switch to public Wi-Fi networks or connect to VPNs to change their IP addresses: the tracking cookie will follow them around as long as they are using the same web browser and fail to clear their cookies. Apps that run on tablets and smartphones also use analytics services that uniquely track users. Almost every time a user sees an advertisement (in an app or in a web browser), the ad network is tracking users in the same way. A secret GCHQ and CSE program called BADASS, which is similar to XKEYSCORE but with a much narrower scope, mines as much valuable information from leaky smartphone apps as possible, including unique tracking identifiers that app developers use to track their own users. In May of this year, CBC, in partnership with The Intercept, revealed that XKEYSCORE was used to track smartphone connections to the app marketplaces run by Samsung and Google. Surveillance agency analysts also use other types of traffic data that gets scooped into XKEYSCORE to track people, such as Windows crash reports.

Given the breadth of information collected by XKEYSCORE, accessing and exploiting a target’s online activity is a matter of a few mouse clicks. Brossard explains: “The amount of work an analyst has to perform to actually break into remote computers over the Internet seems ridiculously reduced — we are talking minutes, if not seconds. Simple. As easy as typing a few words in Google.” These facts bolster one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by The Guardian on June 9, 2013. “I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge to even the president, if I had a personal email.” Indeed, training documents for XKEYSCORE repeatedly highlight how user-friendly the program is: with just a few clicks, any analyst with access to it can conduct sweeping searches simply by entering a person’s email address, telephone number, name or other identifying data. There is no indication in the documents reviewed that prior approval is needed for specific searches. In addition to login credentials and other target intelligence, XKEYSCORE collects router configuration information, which it shares with Tailored Access Operations. The office is able to exploit routers and then feed the traffic traveling through those routers into their collection infrastructure. This allows the NSA to spy on traffic from otherwise out-of-reach networks. XKEYSCORE documents reference router configurations, and a document previously published by Der Spiegel shows that “active implants” can be used to “cop[y] traffic and direc[t]” it past a passive collector.

Link 2: Cruel and All-Too-Usual

Cell extractions are supposed to be a last resort—say, when an inmate is attempting suicide. In a well-run facility, a staff member will knock on the door and attempt to reason with a prisoner who is not following orders. But Steve J. Martin, a corrections consultant, explained that with militarized teams on call, supervisors became accustomed to using them for minor matters, too. Refusal to return a food tray, for instance, is a surprisingly common reason cited by prisons. In a bad facility, “staff like to do cell extractions because it’s an excuse to kick the crap out of inmates,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, a correctional consultant who has advised prisons on disciplinary policies. “There is no question that many cell extractions are unnecessary and avoidable.” Schwartz called the procedure used against Jamie “wrong and clearly dangerous.” “The female inmate is choking as they first put her down on the bunk, and she is also yelling for them to get off of her,” he said. “The staff should have stopped what they were doing and gotten a medical staff member to the scene immediately.” Pressing the spit guard over her face, he added, increased the chance that Jamie could “have a panic attack” or “vomit and asphyxiate with vomit in her airways.”

In November 2013, months after PREA implementation began, Michigan interviewed teenage inmates held at Thumb Correctional to see if they felt safe. In affidavits collected by Michigan as part of the lawsuit, most said they did. However, one said that in September, a guard had told him he would “rape my fat ass if I wasn’t 17.” Another 17-year-old inmate said, “[A]bout three weeks ago, an officer … told me that he was going to make sure I go up North to be fucked in the ass.” Overall, reported assaults by staff are rarely penalized. Between 2010 and 2013, Michigan received 1,122 allegations from inmates of staff sexual harassment. They substantiated 10 of them.Some kids later signed affidavits saying that they had been pressured by Michigan to participate in the interviews and even threatened with isolation. (An attorney for Michigan called the claims of intimidation “absolutely false.”) One wrote to his lawyer, “I sign a paper without reading it and was mad because I didn’t realize he was using [his] power to trick me.” Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist who reviewed the interviews for the plaintiffs, said that the state violated “every single point in the protocol” for interviewing sexual assault survivors and was “very unlikely to uncover the truth.”

On May 1, I went to see Max again. He had been removed from the housing unit with the dogs and sent to solitary for punching an inmate, an assault he said he didn’t commit. (His accuser told me in a letter, “He hit me soo hard,” although another inmate on the scene testified that he hadn’t seen Max fight with anyone.) His lawyers said they believe evidence will show that Max has been retaliated against for his participation in the lawsuit and willingness to speak to the press, and plan to address the matter in court. When Max found out he was going back to segregation, he lost it. He lashed out against staff members, earning more misconduct tickets. In separate lawsuits filed against Max’s facility last year, two inmates allege that after they reported officer wrongdoing, they were targeted with numerous forms of retaliation, including “unprovoked beatings, gassings, forced cell extractions, food and water deprivation, extended deprivation of basic hygiene and health care, and fabricated misconduct tickets.” MDOC responded in a legal filing that “the injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiffs, if any, were solely or partly a result of their own conduct.” On April 14, as the video below shows, he was forcibly put on suicide watch for “making threats of self harm.” He refused to submit to a strip search—he told me that taking his clothes off in front of the guards gives him flashbacks to his sexual assaults—and was gassed with chemical spray. When I saw the video, I could hardly believe it was the same person. In our conversations, he was calm and straightforward, chatting about playing basketball and football growing up. In the video he is naked, yelling and crying, the burly officers eyeing him like a wild animal.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: June 22, 2015

June 22, 2015 1 comment

Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about the actions (and true nature) of “national security agencies” of supposedly democratic western countries.

Link 1: Controversial GCHQ Unit Engaged in Domestic Law Enforcement, Online propaganda and Psychology Research

The spy unit responsible for some of the United Kingdom’s most controversial tactics of surveillance, online propaganda and deceit focuses extensively on traditional law enforcement and domestic activities — even though officials typically justify its activities by emphasizing foreign intelligence and counter-terrorism operations. Documents published today by The Intercept demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist,” Islamist activity in schools, the drug trade, online fraud, and financial scams. Though its existence was secret until last year, JTRIG quickly developed a distinctive profile in the public understanding, after documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the unit had engaged in “dirty tricks” like deploying sexual “honey traps” designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks, and generally warping discourse online.

While some of the unit’s activities are focused on the claimed areas, JTRIG also appears to be intimately involved in traditional law enforcement areas and UK-specific activity, as previously unpublished documents demonstrate. An August, 2009 JTRIG memo entitled “Operational Highlights” boasts of “GCHQ’s first serious crime effects operation” to shut down internet forums and to remove websites identifying police informants and members of a witness protection program. Another was “used to facilitate and execute online fraud.” The document also describes GCHQ advice provided “to assist the UK negotiating team on climate change.” Particularly revealing is a fascinating 42-page document from 2011 detailing JTRIG’s activities. It provides the most comprehensive and sweeping insight to date into the scope of this unit’s extreme methods. Entitled “Behavioral Science Support for JTRIG’s Effects and Online Humint [Human Intelligence] Operations,” it describes the types of targets on which the unit focuses, the psychological and behavioral research it commissions and exploits, and its future organizational aspirations. It is authored by a psychologist, Mandeep K. Dhami.

Link 2: Popular Security Software came under Relentless NSA and GCHQ Attacks

The National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, have worked to subvert anti-virus and other security software in order to track users and infiltrate networks, according to documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The spy agencies have reverse engineered software products, sometimes under questionable legal authority, and monitored web and email traffic in order to discreetly thwart anti-virus software and obtain intelligence from companies about security software and users of such software. One security software maker repeatedly singled out in the documents is Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, which has a holding registered in the U.K., claims more than 270,000 corporate clients, and says it protects more than 400 million people with its products. British spies aimed to thwart Kaspersky software in part through a technique known as software reverse engineering, or SRE, according to a top-secret warrant renewal request. The NSA has also studied Kaspersky Lab’s software for weaknesses, obtaining sensitive customer information by monitoring communications between the software and Kaspersky servers, according to a draft top-secret report. The U.S. spy agency also appears to have examined emails inbound to security software companies flagging new viruses and vulnerabilities.

Another way the NSA targets foreign anti-virus companies appears to be to monitor their email traffic for reports of new vulnerabilities and malware. A 2010 presentation on “Project CAMBERDADA” shows the content of an email flagging a malware file, which was sent to various anti-virus companies by François Picard of the Montréal-based consulting and web hosting company NewRoma. The presentation of the email suggests that the NSA is reading such messages to discover new flaws in anti-virus software. Picard, contacted by The Intercept, was unaware his email had fallen into the hands of the NSA. He said that he regularly sends out notification of new viruses and malware to anti-virus companies, and that he likely sent the email in question to at least two dozen such outfits. He also said he never sends such notifications to government agencies. “It is strange the NSA would show an email like mine in a presentation,” he added. The NSA presentation goes on to state that its signals intelligence yields about 10 new “potentially malicious files per day for malware triage.” This is a tiny fraction of the hostile software that is processed. Kaspersky says it detects 325,000 new malicious files every day, and an internal GCHQ document indicates that its own system “collect[s] around 100,000,000 malware events per day.”

Link 3: Spies Hacked Computers Thanks to Sweeping Secret Warrants, Aggressively Stretching U.K Law

British spies have received government permission to intensively study software programs for ways to infiltrate and take control of computers. The GCHQ spy agency was vulnerable to legal action for the hacking efforts, known as “reverse engineering,” since such activity could have violated copyright law. But GCHQ sought and obtained a legally questionable warrant from the Foreign Secretary in an attempt to immunize itself from legal liability. GCHQ’s reverse engineering targeted a wide range of popular software products for compromise, including online bulletin board systems, commercial encryption software and anti-virus programs. Reverse engineering “is essential in order to be able to exploit such software and prevent detection of our activities,” the electronic spy agency said in a warrant renewal application. But GCHQ’s hacking and evasion goals appear to have led it onto dubious legal ground and, at times, into outright non-compliance with its own procedures for staying within the bounds of the law. A top-secret document states that a GCHQ team lapsed in following the agency’s authorization protocol for some continuous period of time. Meanwhile, GCHQ obtained a warrant for reverse engineering under a section of British intelligence law that does not explicitly authorize — and had apparently never been used to authorize — the sort of copyright infringement GCHQ believed was necessary to conduct such activity.

One document describing the warrant, a 2008 warrant renewal application, identifies numerous commercially available products in which GCHQ identified vulnerabilities through reverse engineering. These include widely used encryption software such as Exlade’s CrypticDisk and Acer’s eDataSecurity. Exlade’s products are used by “thousands of companies and government agencies,” including tech giants IBM, Intel, GE, HP and Seagate, according to the company’s website. Also successfully targeted were popular web forum services vBulletin and Invision Power Board. VBulletin says its users include Sony Pictures, NASA, Electronic Arts and Zynga. Invision Power Services, the maker of Invision Power Board, said around the time of the warrant renewal application that its users included Yahoo, AMD and Sony. GCHQ also targeted CPanel, software used by large hosting companies like GoDaddy for configuring servers, and PostfixAdmin, used to manage Postfix, popular email server software.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: May 16, 2015

June 16, 2015 3 comments

Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about some of the less obvious, but very important details, behind the currently hot Rachel Dolezal story.

Link 1: Rachel Dolezal grew up in strict, cult-like Christian family, brother writes in memoir

The two siblings, born just two years apart, were raised in tiny Troy, Mont., by Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal, ex-hippies who turned to religion for life’s answers. Their zealot father spoke in tongues and made them wait to eat dinner every night while he read a chapter of the Bible, the memoir said. The family of evangelists had no TV and little contact with the outside world. Joshua Dolezal wrote in a memoir that he and her sister Rachel Dolezal were raised in a cult-like Christian home where her father spoke in tongues and the kids were banned from watching TV and reading books. Joshua Dolezal wrote in a memoir that he and her sister Rachel Dolezal were raised in a cult-like Christian home where her father spoke in tongues and the kids were banned from watching TV and reading books. Larry Dolezal delivered both his children at home, and put on the birth certificates that Jesus Christ was the witness, Joshua Dolezal wrote.

Link 2: Inside The Alleged Abuse Scandal That Destroyed The Dolezal Family

The criminal case that Rachel Dolezal said led her parents to spitefully reveal that the former president of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP is biologically white involves charges that her older brother sexually abused their adopted black sister — allegations her parents told BuzzFeed News were fabricated. As first reported by the New York Daily News, Joshua Dolezal, 39, is facing four counts of sexually assaulting a child in Colorado after being arrested in March 2014. He was released on a $15,000 bond after his arrest and works as an associate professor of English at Central College in Pella, Iowa. According to a Colorado affidavit and arrest warrant reviewed by BuzzFeed News, the alleged abuse occurred in the Dolezal home between 2001 and 2002. The documents state that the alleged victim was age 6 or 7 when the abuse was allegedly carried out by Joshua, who court documents said was 19 years older than the alleged victim. The documents obscure the identity and gender of the victim, but Rachel Dolezal previously told the Spokesman-Review of a “Colorado lawsuit filed by her sister against their brother.”

Rachel and Josh’s parents, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that their adopted daughter Esther had made the criminal complaints, but said the allegations were “absolutely untrue.” BuzzFeed News has contacted both Esther and Joshua Dolezal for comment. Dolezal would follow [redacted] into bathroom and would make [redacted] undress and would touch [redacted] and [redacted] area on [redacted] skin. This happened over 20 times,” according to an affidavit prepared by Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office Detective Al Billinger. According to the affidavit, the alleged victim told police Joshua Dolezal repeatedly made her touch his penis and perform oral sex on him. He allegedly threatened his victim with harm if she spoke out. The affidavit also says the victim told her adoptive mother, who did not believe her “lies.” However, the alleged victim was eventually placed in “a home for abused children,” according to the affidavit. The affidavit also claimed “that Joshua Dolezal had victimized [redacted] older sister” — a possible reference to Rachel.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: June 15, 2015

June 15, 2015 3 comments

Here are links to three interesting news articles (one recent + two older) about the same basic issue, namely the results of unrestricted profit-seeking in medicine under the guise of professionalism. Note that american-style frauds are usually a mix of self-delusion, image control and finding compliant underlings.

Link 1: Whistle-blower: How doctor uncovered nightmare

Fata’s Michigan Hematology and Oncology Inc. (MHO) was the state’s largest private cancer practice in 2013, with clinics in seven cities, its own pharmacy and diagnostic center, and 1,700 patients, virtually all of them assigned to Fata, the tireless physician. Those who needed proof of Fata’s dedication could look to the doctor’s work ethic — he often labored past midnight — or to the Swan for Life Foundation, a charity Fata established to help cancer patients and their families. Today, MHO is gone and Fata is behind bars, awaiting sentencing for at least $34 million in fraudulent Medicare billings and a kickback scheme with a hospice. The criminal counts only hint at the human suffering behind the financial damages and raise questions about how Fata’s schemes could go undetected so long, despite his many contacts, doctors, and huge roster of patients.

Maunglay was stunned by what the hospital chart suggested. A cancer-free patient being given chemotherapy wasn’t negligence; it was an atrocity. “It’s oh my God, if he can do this to a person who has nothing. …” he said one recent Saturday afternoon. “For me, one case like this was enough. How could a doctor do this? My father died of cancer. For most of us” — he waved his arms — “cancer is personal.” As a cancer specialist, he had a special understanding of the horror he was witnessing, its cruelty. Fata’s choice of myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow, bespoke a certain shrewdness, because of the subjectivity of diagnosis. It was a clever niche for false doctoring. “You cannot fake lung cancer,” he says. “You cannot fake a tumor …” But with this disease, a malevolent doctor could plausibly use the treatment itself as a smokescreen to obscure future questions.

Link 2: Detroit-area doctor pleads guilty to widespread cancer treatment fraud

A Detroit-area cancer doctor accused of putting people through unnecessary treatments and then billing insurers for millions of dollars pleaded guilty to fraud Tuesday, admitting that he knew his patients often didn’t need chemotherapy. Dr Farid Fata pleaded guilty to 16 charges, including money laundering and conspiracy, without the benefit of a plea deal with prosecutors. US Attorney Barbara McQuade said she would not negotiate such a “shocking” case and will seek a sentence of life in prison. “We weren’t interested in bargaining anything away,” McQuade said. “His conduct was so egregious,” she told The Associated Press on the courthouse steps. “It wasn’t a matter of stealing money but torturing patients by lying to them about having cancer. … Chemotherapy is poison intended to kill cancer cells.”

His cancer clinic, Michigan Hematology Oncology, had seven offices and a related business that performed tests to look for cancer. The government says Fata submitted about $225m in claims to Medicare over six years, about half for chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Medicare paid more than $91m, and private insurers were billed, too.

Link 3: Special Report: Behind a cancer-treatment firm’s rosy survival claims

CTCA is not unique in turning away patients. A lot of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers in the United States decline to treat people who can’t pay, or have inadequate insurance, among other reasons. What sets CTCA apart is that rejecting certain patients and, even more, culling some of its patients from its survival data lets the company tout in ads and post on its website patient outcomes that look dramatically better than they would if the company treated all comers. These are the rosy survival numbers that attract people like the Hilborns.

“They market hope,” Gail Robison, a staff nurse at the Zion hospital from 2003 to 2007, said of CTCA. The marketing typically features CTCA’s state-of-the-art care and holistic approach. Ads note that featured patients might not be representative: “You should not expect to experience these results.” The ads also challenge viewers to “compare our treatment results to national averages.” Doing so, on the company’s website, shows that CTCA’s reported survival outcomes regularly beat those averages. Experts in medical data who reviewed CTCA’s claims for Reuters say those claims are suspect because of what they called deviations from best practices in statistics – in particular, comparing its carefully selected patients to those nationwide. “It makes their data look better than it is,” said Robert Strawderman, professor and chairman of biostatistics at the University of Rochester. “So the comparisons used to suggest that CTCA has better survival rates are pretty meaningless.”

CTCA also excludes from its survival calculations thousands of patients it does treat but who did not receive “treatment at CTCA for the duration of their illness.” “‘The duration of their illness’ is a very big and very red flag,” said MD Anderson’s Berry. CTCA’s patients will “tend to be healthier” than those in the general population from which SEER draws its data, he said, adding: “Ability and willingness to travel is an independent factor” associated with longer survival. No federal or state law requires hospitals to report their cancer outcomes, let alone mandates how to do the calculations. But many healthcare providers voluntarily err on the side of inclusion.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: June 7, 2015

June 7, 2015 6 comments

Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are about the reality of “american justice”- a concept best understood as an oxymoron.

Link 1: Texas officer suspended after pool party video shows him pulling gun on teens

Video posted to YouTube on Saturday shows one officer sprinting past the camera, falling and losing his flashlight, then running again.Teenagers are seen returning the flashlight to another officer, who responds politely, before the first officer returns and shouts: “On the ground! I told you to stay! Get your asses on the ground. I told you to stay!” The officer, who was not named when his suspension was announced, is then seen forcing a number of teenagers to lie on a grass verge and a sidewalk and telling others to “get your ass out of here”. Some teenagers are handcuffed. One teenager can be heard saying: “Sir, we just came from a birthday party, please.” Another says: “Officer, I can’t find my bag.” The officer replies: “I don’t care, sit down.” The officer is then shown talking to teenagers on the ground.

He then forces a group of bystanders to leave. One, a girl, does not comply and the officer wrestles her to the ground. When other teenagers surround him to remonstrate, he draws his gun. Two other officers move to restrain him, and the officer re-holsters the weapon. He then slams the girl back to the ground, shouting: “On your face!” As the officer appears to sit on the girl to keep her subdued, hectoring her all the while, a voice, possibly that of the person filming the incident, says the officer pulled a gun on the girl.“No I didn’t,” he says, pointing at the camera. “Now get your butts outta here.” The officer is later shown in close-up, lecturing two boys who are sitting on the ground. “You just did what everybody else did,” he says, “and what everybody else did was illegal. You did it and you got caught. Now you’re sitting here paying for it. “I asked y’all to sit,” he adds, “you didn’t and you became a part of the mob. You could’ve been the guys that were doing right and you weren’t, so now you’re sitting here in trouble.”

Link 2: Man Wrongfully Imprisoned For 3 Years With No Trial Commits Suicide

Last fall, I wrote about a young man named Kalief Browder, who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime. He had been arrested in the spring of 2010, at age sixteen, for a robbery he insisted he had not committed. Then he spent more than one thousand days on Rikers waiting for a trial that never happened. During that time, he endured about two years in solitary confinement, where he attempted to end his life several times. Once, in February, 2012, he ripped his bedsheet into strips, tied them together to create a noose, and tried to hang himself from the light fixture in his cell. In November of 2013, six months after he left Rikers, Browder attempted suicide again. This time, he tried to hang himself at home, from a bannister, and he was taken to the psychiatric ward at St. Barnabas Hospital, not far from his home in the Bronx. When I met him, in the spring of 2014, he appeared to be more stable.

His relatives recounted stories he’d told them about being starved and beaten by guards on Rikers. They spoke about his paranoia, about how he often suspected that the cops or some other authority figures were after him. His mother explained that the night before he told her, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.” “Kalief, you’ve got a lot of people in your corner,” she told him. One cousin recalled that when Browder first got home from jail, he would walk to G.E.D. prep class every day, almost an hour each way. Another cousin remembered seeing him seated by the kitchen each morning with his schoolwork spread out before him.

Link 3: Watch Austin cop pepper spray man for filming an arrest

Around last call on Saturday night in Austin, Texas, a tourist from Los Angeles taped several white police officers tackling a black man in the middle of a busy street, confiscating the phone of a filming bystander, and then pepper spraying the man who’d been taping in the face. Jericho Tucker, a “video game player and online entertainer” was in Austin this weekend for the X Games, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Tucker and friends were walking along the city’s famously boozy 6th Street close to 1:30 AM on Sunday, when the group observed what appeared to be a team of white cops pinning a black man to the ground, handcuffing him, and taking him away. Tucker caught the confrontation on his camera phone, as well as footage of a police officer taking away a filming device from someone in the crowd, and then aiming burning liquid in his direction.

Tucker’s video shows officers picking a black man — who remains silent throughout the filming and whose crime is unclear — off the ground, and escort him in handcuffs away from a gathering mass of onlookers. Some police are on horseback, and use the horses’ bodies to push back the crowd from the street onto the sidewalk. “Hey, watch the fuck where you going with your fucking horses,” someone can he heard saying in Tucker’s video. And then, a cop smacks a camera phone from a man’s hand, and pepper sprays him in full view of Tucker’s lens.

What do you think? Comments?

A Brief Comparison of Andreas Lubitz and Chris Kyle

June 6, 2015 1 comment

A couple of months ago, the intertubes and airwaves were full of news and speculation about why Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed an airliner full of passengers and the rest of the crew in the French Alps. At that time, news sites and blogs were full of the latest leaked bits of information (or rumors) about his mental state- from his history of depression to whether he was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs for symptoms of psychosis.

As many of you know, there was no shortage of theories about what drove Andreas Lubitz to do what he did on Mar 24, 2015. Some proposed he was ideologically motivated, while others confidentially gave a post-mortem diagnosis of schizophrenia. A few blamed high-functioning autism or relationship problems with women, while others blamed working conditions and precarity of his chosen career. Perhaps the only point most people seemed to agree on was that he should not have deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 and killed 149 others with him.

A few months before this event, a film called American Sniper was released in the USA. It quickly became very profitable and has since made over 500 million dollars. It is no secret that this film, like every Hollywood films, distorted historical facts to portray a certain pro-white and pro-american delusion.. I mean “version” of the actual events. But that is best left for another post. The relevant point of the Chris Kyle story, as far as this post is concerned, is that he had 165 confirmed kills in Iraq. To put it another way- he deliberately killed 165 Iraqis, including women and children.

Now Chris Kyle’s number is not especially high. Snipers like Simo Häyhä (505-542 kills) and even women snipers such as Lyudmila Pavlichenko (309 kills) have killed more than that now dead idiot from Texas. But most snipers in the 20th century did so in wars where their country was being invaded or they were fighting a war against another uniformed army. However every american sniper since WW2 did so in support of the invasion of some country that posed no threat to the USA, let alone had invaded it. They also largely killed semi-regular troops, militia or civilians who were just defending their country or just happened to look “dangerous”.

By now, you might have noticed that the number of people killed by Andreas Lubitz (149 + himself) and Chris Kyle (~ 165) are roughly similar.

But why do most people want to believe that Andreas Lubitz was mentally ill while Chris Kyle was a “war hero”? If you look at it rationally, Andreas Lubitz killed 149 people who he barely knew and had no personal animosity against. Chris Kyle also killed ~ 165 people (one by one) who he almost certainly did not know and had no personal animosity against. Also what was Chris Kyle doing in Iraq anyway? And this brings us to the difference in what motivated both men. Andreas Lubitz probably just wanted to attain some degree of posthumous fame (or infamy) otherwise he could have killed just himself. Chris Kyle killed for money, bragging rights, fame and more money after retiring from the army. Sure, he did it under the guise of performing his “duty”, “patriotism” and other similar bullshit reasons.

Yet most people think that Andreas Lubitz was mentally ill for killing 149 people along with himself. Curiously, they also believe that Chris Kyle was a sane, selfless and humane “war hero” who was defending them from “bad people” inspite of the fact that nobody from Iraq posed any real threat to them. They also forget or gloss over the fact that USA was the real aggressor in that war and Iraqis were merely defending themselves from the aggressor.

If the extent of disconnection from (or willful ignorance of) reality correlates with the severity of mental illness, the average person in USA and Chris Kyle would be seen as far more mentally ill than Andreas Lubitz.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: June 3, 2015

June 3, 2015 4 comments

Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. They are also about the ever-expanding saga of sexual abuse and molestation scandal in the Duggar family.

Link 1: Josh Duggar confessed three times to sexually assaulting his sisters — and his parents still did nothing

Just when it seemed the details of Josh Duggar’s admitted sexual assault couldn’t get worse, the story has become more horrifying. On Wednesday, InTouch magazine — which first broke the story of abuse in the “19 Kids & Counting” family last month — released additional police reports indicating that Duggar told his father, Jim Bob, on three separate occasions that he had sexually abused his sisters as well as a family friend. Then Jim Bob and his wife, Michelle, waited more than a year to contact the authorities.

The new report, which is less redacted than initial documents, confirms that Duggar was 15 years old when he first molested his five-year-old sister. He also admitted seven separate instances of abuse to his father before he or any of his sisters was taken for professional counseling; InTouch notes that it remains unclear whether Jim Bob and Michelle brought their children for counseling of their own volition, or if intervention was mandated once law enforcement officials did become involved in the sexual assault allegations.

Link 2: Jill and Jessa Duggar to Confirm to Megyn Kelly That Josh Molested Them

19 Kids and Counting stars Jill and Jessa Duggar, ages 24 and 22, would have been 11 and 10 when their older brother Josh molested them in 2002. They confirmed they were among the victims when they joined their parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, Wednesday for an interview with Fox’s Megyn Kelly. Us Weekly confirmed the girls were part of the interview, which airs at 9 p.m. central. It had previously been reported that four of the girls Josh Duggar touched were his sisters, and that his oldest sister, Jana, was not a victim. The fifth girl was reportedly a family friend.

Earlier in the day, Fox was advertising the Kelly File interview as just a sit-down with Jim Bob and Michelle. Kelly promised to ask for “a first-person account of what Josh did, who was involved, what the parents did about it, how they satisfied themselves that it had been resolved, what they did to help the victims, and to answer some of the harder questions about whether they behaved hypocritically,” but she also told People that “what Josh did” wouldn’t include any details of the molestation because “I’ve been told I’m not going to get answers there.”

Link 3: Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters and a babysitter, parents tell Fox News

The parents confirmed publicly for the first time that their firstborn son — who had previously apologized for unspecified “wrongdoing” as a teenager — had molested multiple young girls. The Duggars, who star in TLC’s popular reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” spoke about the multiple incidents of molestation that occurred in their Arkansas home. According to Jim Bob and Michelle, the victims included four of their daughters, along with a family babysitter.

Kelly also asked the Duggars about their troubled son’s first interview with law enforcement. Josh gave a full account of his actions to the officer, Jim Bob Duggar said Wednesday. The conversation between Jim Bob, his son, a witness and an Arkansas State Trooper did not directly result in any further law enforcement action against Josh Duggar. Instead, the teenager received a “stern” talking-to from the officer. That officer was Joseph Hutchens, now serving a decades-long prison sentence for child pornography. “We had no idea what that officer was going through,” Jim Bob said.

At one point, Kelly asked Michelle Duggar about a robocall she made that,Kelly said,”suggested transgender people might want to go into the bathrooms of girls, locker rooms of girls, and that they may be child molesters.” “I think that protecting young girls and not allowing young men and men in general to go into a girls’ locker room is just common sense,” Duggar said. “But this is different, because you injected child molestation into it,” Kelly said.

What do you think? Comments?

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