01/22 Open Thread: January 22 saw the creation of The Central Intelligence Group, now the CIA

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Kindly Reduce Expectations
1958 Edsel Bermuda Station Wagon.

We are getting ready to head out on yet another multi-week adventure in the near future. This means that I need to write, post and schedule a whole bunch of OTs for the period of my absence, as well as some to bridge the gap between now and the start date. This means, among other things, that you shuldn't expect too much from them and will need to provide content as well as commentary yourselves (as if you don't already, heh). So, here we go ...

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The CIA's birthday; truly a dark, dark day in history. This is a horrible insult to vultures, but I needed a pic.

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ODDS & ENDS

Last week I opened with commentary and an article about government agencies here and elsewhere oficailly and formally slandering lefties and greenies as akin to terrorists and asserting that they need to be watched, reported and feared. I led into an article in The Guardian. Guess what? The Guardian also reports that US listed climate activist group as ‘extremists’ alongside mass killers

A group of US environmental activists engaged in non-violent civil disobedience targeting the oil industry have been listed in internal Department of Homeland Security documents as “extremists” and some of its members listed alongside white nationalists and mass killers, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The full linked article also discusses the attempts by the government-corporate-corporatist partnership to criminalize dissent and demonstrations.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/13/us-listed-climate-ac...

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Also from the Guardian, we learn that
Scientists use stem cells from frogs to build first living robots
. The describe said robots and their creation and then note that the work is being funded by DARPA, of course. Specifically -

The research is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s lifelong learning machines programme, which aims to recreate biological learning processes in machines.

Ya know, just to learn about machine learning, it would never by part of DARPA's goal to develop more and better bioweapons, especially not ones that could reproduce ...
( https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/13/scientists-use-stem-cell... )

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Even the NYT made my inbox, with Who Signs Up to Fight? Makeup of U.S. Recruits Shows Glaring Disparity ( https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/us/military-enlistment.html?utm_sourc... ) Those of us of a certain age tend to think, uh, yeah, old news, but this time there is a bit of a twist. The article explores how More and more, new recruits come from the same small number of counties and are the children of old recruits. Uh, huh. Maps and all. We're looking at clusters of multigenerational military families in multigenerational military enclaves of a sort. This bodes ill, at least to some extent, for attempts to shut down wars, warmaking and the MIC, and has a potential to become a variant of the threat that a standing, professional military always presents. Some military officials find it unsustainable, but is that good or bad?

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Meanwhile, ars Technica has a story that has direct bearing on the matter. It’s the network, stupid: Study offers fresh insight into why we’re so divided.( https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/01/its-the-network-stupid-study-off... ) And, no, they'e not talking about the internet, or tv network, at least not specifically. They'e talking about the human, social networks those one lives, works and talks with, those in one's social "neighborhood". For the military families above, it is pretty clear from the NYT article that the recruits' networks are largely populated with prior recruits. In a similar fashion, the ars Technica article talks about a study that was done on social perception bias.

Social perception bias is best defined as the all-too-human tendency to assume that everyone else holds the same opinions and values as we do. That bias might, for instance, lead us to over- or under-estimate the size and influence of an opposing group. It tends to be especially pronounced when it comes to contentious polarizing issues like race, gun control, abortion, or national elections.

The thing is, that out interpersonal networks often (usually?) tend to reinforce this today. Among things noted in the study was that

"People who were surrounded by people similar to them think that their group is larger than it really is, and people who have more diverse social circles think their group is smaller than it really is," Galesic told Ars. "These biases are exaggerated with the relative size of the majority and minority groups."

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Food for thought, yah? We can take that a step further with the unaccounted for fact that "Harbinger Households" also seem to cluster. BoingBoing tells us the basics about them here: ( https://boingboing.net/2019/12/03/harbringer-of-doom.html )

"Harbinger households": neighborhoods that consistently buy products that get discontinued, buy real-estate that underperforms, and donate to losing political candidates

It seems that there are individuals, groups of individuals, clusters and even zip codes such that the purchasing preferences are statistically good indicators of a product or brand's demise. These are the folks who bought Edsels, smokeless cigarettes, virtual boys, Apple Lisa and Harley Davidson Perfume. They voted for Alf Landon, used yogurt shampoo and drank Billy Beer. If you can find some of these folks, who have steadily and steadfastly bought dreck that is rapidly taken off of the market, watch them, and when they all run out to jump on some new bandwagon, go and short the product's manufacturer. This sounds like a fantasy, but seemingly isn't --

In "The Surprising Breadth of Harbingers of Failure (Sci-Hub mirror)", a trio of economists and business-school profs build on a 2015 "Journal of Marketing Research" paper that claimed that some households' purchasing preferences are a reliable indicator of which products will fail -- that is, if households in a certain ZIP code like a product, it will probably not succeed. The original paper calls these "harbinger households."

The BoingBoing article points us to the newer, follow-up study from 2019, which you can find here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022243719867935 . That source requires that you purchase to read, but the abstract (bait) is itself a good quick read and summary of the findings. As of yet, nobody quite knows how to explain these findings, or what as yet unknown factor(s) causes this behavior, let along the clustering of those susceptible to it. No doubt an mba and job in a marketing firm await those who ferret out the answers.

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Title Image is torac_up_close

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It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours
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Comments

living robot experiments
using frogs
oh my
biological programming
what could possibly go wrong?

ribbitt

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
bree kee kee ki, iirc (Aristophanes). Thanks for the great prose poem.

Have a great one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

@QMS  
(The N.I.C.E. = the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments, in C. S. Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength)

George Orwell’s review of That Hideous Strength, published in 1945 mere days after the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
https://apilgriminnarnia.com/2015/08/17/orwellonths/

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enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard
after being apprised of his penchant for exactly what Orwell decries with a particular slant:

On the whole, novels are better when there are no miracles in them.

After working through Tolkien, I became curious about Lewis' Narnia trilogy and was informed of its theological bent, as well as his, and decided to take a pass.

From the review, it seems that N.I.C.E. might fit DARPA very well, however,

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

TheOtherMaven's picture

@enhydra lutris

and it's up to each reader to decide how much of that they are going to put up with. (Even Tolkien got annoyed with it at times, and he and Lewis weren't that far apart in their basic opinions.)

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

enhydra lutris's picture

@TheOtherMaven
new one for me, and one that I'm pretty sure I will find plenty of use for.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

@enhydra lutris  
— watch out, or TV Tropes will ruin your vocabulary.

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Anvilicious

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/JustForFun/TVTropesWillRuinYourVo...

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Wally's picture

Polls for Breakfast! Since it's CNN, add 5 pts. to Bernie's numbers. Look at the drop in the enthusiasm for Warren among her supporters! We'll be seeing a lot more photos of her shaking hands with and even hugging Bernie.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Wally
Biden is still in the running, how sorry is that. Ah well.

have a great one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Wally's picture

@Wally

Krystal pretty much always knocks my socks off but her appearance here on CNN (first time?) is absolutely remarkable. And she steadfastly notes, while the other talking heads tries to sputter "Not true," that the new CNN poll shows that Bernie is now ahead among POC.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Wally

Sure, you'll think nobody likes Bernie". Ha! She snuck that jab at CNN while on CNN!

Although, she might as well said " If you only listen to cable news you'll believe anything".

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

smiley7's picture

thanks for the good stories and links, in a hurry this morning, will return later.

RIP Terry Jones of Monty Python https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-51209197

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enhydra lutris's picture

@smiley7
Saw that myself.

Have a great one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

...along with the FBI, and restructured to promote peace.

Take a look at their long history of crimes...
http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/CIAtimeline.html
This piece concludes...

The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolf Hitlers of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout
since their creation.

The CIA needs to be broken apart
...along with the FBI, and restructured to promote peace.

Thanks for the link and quotation and thanks for reading.

have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Wally's picture

Seems Bernie is ratcheting up and broadening his offensive scheme and taking square aim at Biden in behalf of older (and younger) voters, g'nabbit! I don't think there's any wiggle room for him to apologize for this one:

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Wally

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

ggersh's picture

ameriKans can't have things you know like SS, M4A, free college modern infrastructure etc.etc.etc.

EDIT: added link
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/bush-obama-and-trump-have-all-routinel...

The Bush, Obama and Trump administrations all routinely lied to the American people about the success of the 18-year war in Afghanistan. They exaggerated progress and inflated statistics to create an illusion that that the war was winnable. But after the deaths of 157,000 people at a cost of $2 trillion, corruption is rampant and the carnage continues.

“There’s an odor of mendacity throughout the Afghanistan issue … mendacity and hubris,” John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee during his January 15 testimony. In the last few years, Sopko said, the Trump administration has been “lying by omissions,” classifying “everything that is bad news,” including Afghan troop casualties and calculation of Taliban strength.

Sopko was called to testify before the committee to explain The Washington Post’s explosive December 2019 series known as “The Afghanistan Papers.” Based on hundreds of interviews with leading U.S. officials, Sopko published “Lessons Learned,” seven reports about the secret history of the war. The reports omitted the names of more than 90 percent of the interviewees.

“Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public,” the Post reported. “They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.” U.S. military officials took a page from the Vietnam War playbook, “manipulating public opinion.” As Sopko told the Post, “the American people have constantly been lied to.”

In September 2008, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser declared in a news briefing, “Are we losing this war? Absolutely no way. Can the enemy win it? Absolutely no way.”

Meanwhile, U.S. troops didn’t know whether the enemy was al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Pakistan, Islamic State, foreign jihadists or warlords on the CIA payroll.

Indeed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote in a 2003 memo, “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.”

Since Bush illegally invaded Afghanistan in 2001, about 157,000 people have been killed, including 2,300 U.S. military personnel and 43,074 Afghan civilians. In 2018 alone, 3,804 Afghan civilians were killed, the highest yearly number since the United Nations began calculating casualties 10 years ago.

The cost of the United States’ longest war is over $2 trillion. That figure includes $1.5 trillion to wage war, $87 billion to train Afghan military and police, $10 billion for counter-narcotics, $24 billion for economic development, $30 billion for other reconstruction programs and $500 billion for interest.

Moreover, U.S. policies have exacerbated corruption in Afghanistan. “A toxic mix of U.S. government policies, under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, directly contributed to Afghanistan’s descent into one of the world’s most corrupt countries,” the Post reported.

The massive amount of money Congress appropriated was distributed “with little oversight or recordkeeping,” according to the Post. “The ensuing greed and corruption undermined the legitimacy of the nascent government and helped make the ground more fertile for the Taliban’s resurgence.”

For example, a forensic accountant analyzed 3,000 Defense Department contracts from 2010 to 2012, totaling $106 billion. Approximately 40 percent of that money went to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan officials, criminal syndicates or insurgents.

A senior U.S. official reported, “[W]e were the most corrupt here, so had no credibility on the corruption issue.” One government contractor said he distributed $3 million per day for projects in an Afghan district the size of a county in the United States.

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trump amerika's last president

The CIA website has a kids section with games where children can “solve puzzles, crack codes, and discover clues like a real CIA officer”.

This is like ISIS starting an ice cream truck business.

Caitlin

enhydra lutris's picture

@ggersh
headlines on all US media, but, of course, isn't and won't be. Gotta love this line, artfully bolded above:

Meanwhile, U.S. troops didn’t know whether the enemy was al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Pakistan, Islamic State, foreign jihadists or warlords on the CIA payroll.

Thanks for bringing that to the party, and, of course, for reading.

have a good one.

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4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

the figures you reference have no indication
of the costs involved in psy-ops.
Yeah, no doubt they lie us into paying for wars of choice.
Let's see some congressional committee break that egg.
What it costs to mis-appropriate the truth.
In dollars and sense

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9 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris
pentagon and intel expenditures are not intended
to be transparent
a few billion in black ops get lost
somehow in amongst obfuscation
and classifried secret expenditures
doubt there is a line item named propaganda

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5 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
else, of course. Be that as it may, there are so many propaganda arms, that there cannot be a unified budget for that, just many mini-budgets.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

of them now.

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3 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Raggedy Ann's picture

Another bane of our existence is the CIA. The spooks are worried about their jobs and their kickbacks. They, and the FBI, should not be reorganized as peace departments. Their only hope is complete dismantlement. They are bad for American health.

Have a great hump day! Pleasantry

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“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

enhydra lutris's picture

@Raggedy Ann
of our existence indeed. I would quibble about one thing:

They are bad for American health.

I would make that "bad for world/global health".

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary Clinton for $50M over 'Russian asset' remark

I admire and respect this woman. Let's hope she wins.

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mimi's picture

@mimi

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enhydra lutris's picture

@mimi
really, really don't at all recall the rules for this type of thing, but, generally, one cn libel/slander a public figure, which is good for Hillary, because the "merely telling the truth" defense is unavailable to her, since that was a blatant lie. What I'm super unclear is how "malice" enters into the equation, specifically, does it override the public figure exemption. In that case, it could get to be fun, since Hillary is over-the-top malicious except when she is trying to get something out of somebody.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

Let's really talk about extremists measures. Targeting environmental groups who have a constitutional right to free speech is just another thuggish tactic our government uses to protect their benefactors. The DHS can suck on donkey dicks.

Sorry for saying that EL, but that just steams my ass.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

enhydra lutris's picture

@Anja Geitz
feel. Tee Hee. Wink Thanks for reading and for saying what needed to be said. Itend to think of then as anklebones - waaay lower than assholes.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

So far I could only find two articles in the German press:

https://www.t-online.de/nachrichten/ausland/id_87202844/cia-psychologe-v...

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/foltermethode-waterboarding-...

The Berlin-based, Green and alternative-left newspaper Taz.de — whereby I’m one of around 18,000 members of the co-op that owns and publishes it — sometimes shows such a selective disinterest in stories like this I find myself wondering to what degree its editorial staff has been infiltrated by the CIA.

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