Welcome to Saturday's Potluck

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Pablo Picasso

My summertime reading list has always included a few spy novels. This year I am just reading the news.

Exactly how much does a highly placed spy cost?

On an annual basis even the most dangerous spies — those delivering Western military and security secrets to Russia or China — can cost less than the price of a luxury car, Insider reported....
Current and former intelligence officials seem to agree on one point: Agents that spy for greed alone are the easiest to manage because their handlers only have to fight about the slow dispersal of money, Insider reported

Agents that spy for ideology or ego become much harder to handle over time.

Yes, there is an app to keep costs under control. Added bonus, your spy doesn't know who hired them and can't snitch.

There's a growing cottage industry at the nexus of consumer research and government surveillance.

In a report published Friday, the Wall Street Journal explored the world of Premise Data Corp., an innocently-named firm that uses a network of users, many in the developing world, who complete basic tasks for small commissions. Assignments can range from snapping photos of competitors' stores, to counting the number of ATMs in a given area, to reporting on the price of consumer goods on the shelf.
...
Users of Premise's data-collection app typically aren't told for whom they are truly working. This is all laid out in its privacy policy, of course. The app currently assigns about five "tasks" per day to its active users in Afghanistan.

When WSJ caught up with Afghani users of the app, they were told that the users were typically paid about 25 cents per task (about 20 Afghani). And that lately, some of the tasks had struck him as "potentially concerning." Premises claims that none of its users have ever been harmed while completing tasks.

In this way, many of the app's users are effectively being used as unwitting spies for the military.

But it's just one more thing to look out for. Next time you're traveling abroad and you see somebody taking a photo of a mosque or a bank, just remember, it might be part of an officially sanctioned intelligence operation.

The super secret spy group - Unit of real-life James Bonds is so classified, the British government won’t admit they exist

They are an elite section of the SAS, known as “The Increment.”

According to a report in the UK’s The Sun, the existence of the secret unit, “E Squadron,” was inadvertently confirmed this week when bungling Army top brass leaked the personal details of more than 70 Special Forces troops.

Buried deep in a spreadsheet of 1,200 soldiers’ names, trades and military units was a single reference to “22 SAS E SQN.”

It was the first written proof that the unit exists.

Maybe it is just a research project by the absent minded professor.

Allegations that pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have been paid for their activities have swirled for years but have always been strenuously rubbished by the Western media. Now, an academic study seems to confirm just that.

Secreted in the depths of academic journal American Economic Review’s June edition is an absolutely extraordinary research paper, revealing that a team of Western scholars conducted a somewhat peculiar study analyzing why students attended protests in Hong Kong – and that participants were paid to do so.

The paper’s abstract notes that the academics set out to study “the causes of sustained participation in political movements.” In order to “identify the persistent effect of protest participation,” and the role of social networks in organizing and motivating protests and protesters, they “randomly indirectly [incentivized]” – that is, paid – 849 students at the University of Hong Kong to participate in an “antiauthoritarian protest” for two years running, in 2017 and 2018.

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A more upbeat keeping track of the neighborhood. The first fawn spotted on the farm this season. I missed the excitement, changing irrigation in a different field. My sister was able to get a few non blurry shots.

A quick bit of nourishment to recover from the mad dash away from the hay field next door. Bounced off the fence a few times before squeezing through to join Mother after she jumped the fence. It crawled through the welded wire panel. The bigger spaces are about 6 x 9 inches. The space is too small for the rooster and my larger hens to escape their pen.

soe fawn 1.JPG

Danger alert, the person walking in the hay field was on the move again. Off to the next fence line to hide in the bushes by the irrigation ditch. The bird just calmly watched the proceedings. It was not his crisis.

soe fawn.JPG

________

What is on your mind today?

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Lookout's picture

I loved Reilly Ace of spies series. (1 min intro)

This is the main title sequence from "Reilly, Ace of Spies," the 1983 ITV/Thames Television miniseries starring Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, "a Russian Jew who became one of the greatest spies ever to work for the British," explains Wikipedia. "Among his exploits, in the early 20th century, were the infiltration of the German General Staff in 1917 and a near-overthrow of the Bolsheviks in 1918. His reputation with women was as legendary as his genius for espionage." The theme music used in this miniseries is the Romance movement from Dmitri Shostakovich's "The Gadfly Suite."

and the 1 min trailer

And 8 min of Mad's spy vs spy

Thanks for the undercover OT. (We've been seeing fawns too) Have a good weekend everyone!

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

studentofearth's picture

@Lookout Creates a good market for a nonreusable product.

Going to find the "Reilly, Ace of Spies" series to watch. A good thriller is a bit of escapism. This quick bio is pretty interesting highlighting his history of working for several countries and their corporations, sometimes simultaneously.

Fawns and first flights of birds simply make me smile all the way to the heart.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Lookout's picture

@studentofearth

in reserve right and left to make it legal
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6vuo6g

free anyway.

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

studentofearth's picture

@Lookout

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1 user has voted.

Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

enhydra lutris's picture

with accompanying pics. Thanks, and thanks for the OT.

This bit raised an eyebrow:

But it's just one more thing to look out for. Next time you're traveling abroad and you see somebody taking a photo of a mosque or a bank, just remember, it might be part of an officially sanctioned intelligence operation.

I remember a huge to-do, shortly after 911, iirc, of all kinds of gurds stopping all kinds of people from taking all kinds of pictures because may be gathering intel for terists. The odds that any given person, probably a tourist or student, took any given pic to feed to some terrorist net are, on an individual basis, prohibitive, but hell, it's good theater and helps promote police statism.

So this app exists and nobody knows who is asking for, using and paying for the data. That's the information. Commercial, business and industrial espionage is a constant and continuous bit or activity. Counting total ATMs or those of bank x, or the numbers of items of product k on the shelves of 7-11, CVS, or grocery stores and such could be military or CIA, becasue both are dumb enough to conflate information with intelligence, but is far more likely to be done by or on behalf of some commercial enterprise. In addition to specific competitors or competitor wannabees, there have to be "niche finders" out there. "Niche finders" is a term I just made up (I think) for a sort of "think tank" dedicated to finding business opportunities, products, marketing campaigns, and tactics that they can promote to existing companies or entrepreneurs.

Military spying exists in kinds, spying (data collection & mapping) for its own sake so as to keep a unit occupied with it in order to keep it funded, self-justifying busywork; seeking out the sekret lab and or favorite hangouts of "dr. evil" and "general badguy" in order to be able to plan assassination runs; and trying to find infrastructure access and or structural weak points for both overt and covert ops. Only the latter is likely to be farmed out to a commercial app. Not as likely to include mosques as hospitals, btw.

The CIA, not an intelligence operation in reality, will, all the same, take all the information it can get, even on allies. Any information of any kind has a potential to be useful to some crazy destabilization or regime change or assassination scheme (what brand of cigar to use in making an exploding cigar to kill a specific target, for example). Also, it can all be used (or twisted) in compiling the CIA factbook, a compendium of "ingormation", part true, part lies, and part mis or disinformation with the appropriate US centric propaganda spin used and misused by many for many purposes. This book is a weapon in and of itself, but is unlikely to contain anything that will tip off any likely operation that they are working on. OTOH, they are unlikely to use a service like Premise because they create vulnerabilities of different kinds that way, though they might use it some just to get something akin to a second opinion.

All just my opinion, btw.

Meanwhile, warm spell continues in the Bay Area, but not as serious as last week's heat wave. Farmers' market day followed by routine household chores, as well as figuring out when to plan certain agenda items now facilitated by "reopening" of California. Also, still my week to cook (last day) and need to prep for a very busy July that includes cat sitting and huse guests and who knows what else. Also, SPAM Day is in the offing, so I need to get some to celebrate & I still need to complete my birthday celebrations (involving a specific pinot from a specific appellation, and some mescal with included maguey worm).

be well and 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 --

studentofearth's picture

@enhydra lutris crunch raw data into useful information for actions. Government agencies generate power and money by collecting large amounts of data. Expanded funding and promotions are often not related to successfully utilizing information and subsequent actions toward an objective.

Counting total ATMs or those of bank x, or the numbers of items of product k on the shelves of 7-11, CVS, or grocery stores and such could be military or CIA, because both are dumb enough to conflate information with intelligence, but is far more likely to be done by or on behalf of some commercial enterprise.

Thanks for the useful summary on the subject. I like term "Niche Finder". My most successful business was a niche large enough to boot strap a small company. Once the niche became large enough to make real money the banks and investors developed products poured into the market.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

enhydra lutris's picture

Engineer reportedly warned in 2018 of ‘major damage’ at Miami condo complex

Repairs were due to start real soon now

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/26/miami-condo-collapse-war...

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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

@enhydra lutris
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/06/26/miami-condo-collap...

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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 --

studentofearth's picture

@enhydra lutris 15 minute shifts. Concerns of toxic chemicals, smoke and shifting rubble complicates the efforts.

For the rescue crews digging into the unstable rubble and using search dogs, sonar and video technology, jackhammers and specialized heavy lifting equipment, the work is hard, dangerous, and physically and emotionally draining. Small teams work in 15-minute shifts, 24 hours a day, sifting rubble into buckets.

They have been hampered by storms and by fires that have broken out in the mound. On Friday there was a larger blaze in the standing section of the 130-apartment tower.

The dense, gray-black smoke is choking, the stench of chemicals hangs in the air, and crews are wading through knee-deep water in the subterranean parking garage to reach the rescue zone. But nobody wants to leave.

Don't have any words for the ongoing tragedy.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Read that Reagan's CIA director Casey was shocked to learn that 80% of CIA gathered intelligence was from open sources. Even an acronym for it: OSINT. The movie Three Days of the Condor makes more sense to me now.

It seems most of the Americans who gave information to Soviets/Chinese were motivated by money more than anything else. The Steele document was created by contracting it.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@MrWebster

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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 Talked about how Casey was gung to get them Soviets harboring Islamic terrorists. He had to be calmed down by senior operatives telling him it was all made up by the CIA.

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studentofearth's picture

@MrWebster for some of the participants. Cassidy's Run: The Secret Spy War Over Nerve Gas by David Wise makes one wonder if Intelligence Services are the biggest leakers of secrets.

A solidly told tale of a 22-year espionage operation aimed at foiling attempts by the Soviet Union to pilfer nerve-gas secrets. Though journalist Wise (Molehunt, 1992) works hard to make the story more spectacular than it actually is—after all, the annals of spying are chock-full of long-term agents—he does create a compelling portrait of Joe Cassidy, an American army officer recruited to serve as a “dangle” for the KGB.
...
Cassidy starts by passing information about the nuclear-power plant at Fort Belvoir, Maryland, then moves on to the nerve-gas arsenal at Edgewood before rounding out his double life by leaking authorized secrets of the US strategic command in Vietnam.

FBI selected the information to be passed on to the Russians, including more than 4,500 pages of classified documents, including U.S. nerve gas formulas, were passed to the Soviet Union in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Granma's picture

I see them when visiting in the country sometimes. Much of it is steep wooded terrain. As the deer travel downhill toward the river, they have to cross a narrow gravel road. There is no time for photos, but I get a good look at them when they cross in front of me. Occasionally, I see a group of them standing in the yard munching grass on their way to or from the river.

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studentofearth's picture

@Granma not many opportunities to spot fawns unless they are crossing roads. Beautiful part of the state. My Dad's grandparents homesteaded in the area.

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3 users have voted.

Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.