In FTR #718 (recorded on Independence Day weekend of 2010), we noted that the new social medium–Facebook-might very well be the opposite of the liberating, empowering entity many believed it to be.
On the contrary, we said–it received financial backing from the CIA, permits unprecedented gathering and databasing of users’ personal information, and might very well be a “panopticon”–a type of prison in which the interned can never see his or her jailers, but their keepers can see the interned at all times.
In particular, we noted the prominent position of major Facebook investor Peter Thiel in “Mondo Zuckerberg.” Of German (and probable I.G. Farben) origins, we opined that Thiel was Underground Reich. Opposed to democracy because he feels it is inimical to wealth creation and doesn’t believe women should be allowed to vote, Thiel has now emerged as one of the most prominent of Donald Trump’s supporters, transition team creators and influential policy wonks.
Whereas we explored the “virtual panopticon” concept of Facebook with a question mark in 2010, we now feel affirmatively on the issue.
A very important story from New York magazine sets forth Facebook’s role in the just-concluded election. ” . . . . Facebook’s size, reach, wealth, and power make it effectively the only one that matters. And, boy, does it matter. At the risk of being hyperbolic, I think there are few events over the last decade more significant than the social network’s wholesale acquisition of the traditional functions of news media (not to mention the political-party apparatus). Trump’s ascendancy is far from the first material consequence of Facebook’s conquering invasion of our social, cultural, and political lives, but it’s still a bracing reminder of the extent to which the social network is able to upend existing structure and transform society — and often not for the better. . . .
” . . . . Facebook’s enormous audience, and the mechanisms of distribution on which the site relies — i.e., the emotionally charged activity of sharing, and the show-me-more-like-this feedback loop of the news feed algorithm — makes it the only site to support a genuinely lucrative market in which shady publishers arbitrage traffic by enticing people off of Facebook and onto ad-festooned websites, using stories that are alternately made up, incorrect, exaggerated beyond all relationship to truth, or all three. . . .
” . . . . And at the heart of the problem, anyway, is not the motivations of the hoaxers but the structure of social media itself. Tens of millions of people, invigorated by insurgent outsider candidates and anger at perceived political enemies, were served up or shared emotionally charged news stories about the candidates, because Facebook’s sorting algorithm understood from experience that they were seeking such stories. Many of those stories were lies, or ‘parodies,’ but their appearance and placement in a news feed were no different from those of any publisher with a commitment to, you know, not lying. As those people and their followers clicked on, shared, or otherwise engaged with those stories — which they did, because Trump drives engagement extremely bigly — they were served up even more of them. The engagement-driving feedback loop reached the heights of Facebook itself, which shared fake news to its front page on more than one occasion after firing the small team of editorial employees tasked with passing news judgment. . . .
” . . . . Something like 170 million people in North America use Facebook every day, a number that’s not only several orders of magnitude larger than even the most optimistic circulation reckonings of major news outlets but also about one-and-a-half times as many people as voted on Tuesday. Forty-four percent of all adults in the United States say they get news from Facebook . . . ”
Symptomatic of Facebook’s filter of what its users see concerns the social medium’s recent non-coverage of the women’s march:
” . . . . We don’t usually post on Pando at the weekend, but this is too topical and too shameful to wait until Monday. As you certainly know, today is the day of the Women’s March on Washington in protest of Donald Trump. The main event is in DC, where something close to 500,000 protesters of all genders and ages have packed the streets — but there are also major protests in Chicago, New York and around the world. Including Antarctica.
You certainly know this because the protest march is the top story on every major news outlet, and because updates and photos from the event are flooding your Twitter and Facebook feeds.
And yet, here’s what Facebook’s trending news feed looked like at the height of the march…
And here’s its trending politics feed…
Notice anything missing?
Like, say, a half million women? . . .
In case you think I’m seeing something different from the rest of the world, be assured I’m not….”
Facebook has changed its algorithm, no longer factoring in “likes” and other personal preferences in determining its news feed.
This, however, does not bode as well as Facebook would like us to believe. Facebook has promoted, among others, Campbell Brown, to an important position in structuring its news feed: ” . . . . Brown has longstanding ties not just to the traditional news media, but also to conservative politics, although she describes herself as a political independent. She is a close personal friend of Betsy DeVos, the Republican megadonor who is Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, and is married to Dan Senor, a former top advisor to Mitt Romney who also served as spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. . . .
. . . . And alongside her mainstream media experience, Brown is familiar with the world of non-traditional news outlets springing up online. In 2014, she founded a nonprofit news site, The 74, which bills itself as nonpartisan but which critics have said functions as advocacy journalism, tilted in favor of charter schools and against teachers’ unions. The site was launched with money from donors including the foundation run by DeVos, Trump’s proposed Education Secretary. When the nomination was announced, Brown said she would recuse herself from The 74’s coverage of DeVos. . .”
Brown is joined by Tucker Bounds, a former John McCain adviser and spokesman for the McCain/Palin campaign.
Exemplifying the terrifying possibilities of the virtual panopticon, we examine the nexus of Cambridge Analytica, its principal investors, Robert and Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon, a key member of the firm’s board of directors and a political guru to Rebekah. ” . . . . For several years, a data firm eventually hired by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, has been using Facebook as a tool to build psychological profiles that represent some 230 million adult Americans. A spinoff of a British consulting company and sometime-defense contractor known for its counterterrorism ‘psy ops’ work in Afghanistan, the firm does so by seeding the social network with personality quizzes. Respondents — by now hundreds of thousands of us, mostly female and mostly young but enough male and older for the firm to make inferences about others with similar behaviors and demographics — get a free look at their Ocean scores. Cambridge Analytica also gets a look at their scores and, thanks to Facebook, gains access to their profiles and real names.
“Cambridge Analytica worked on the ‘Leave’ side of the Brexit campaign. In the United States it takes only Republicans as clients: Senator Ted Cruz in the primaries, Mr. Trump in the general election. Cambridge is reportedly backed by Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire and a major Republican donor; a key board member is Stephen K. Bannon, the head of Breitbart News who became Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman and is set to be his chief strategist in the White House. . .
” . . . . Their [the Mercers] data firm, Cambridge Analytica, was hired by the Cruz campaign. They switched to support Trump shortly after he clinched the nomination, and he eventually hired Cambridge Analytica, as well. Their top political guru is Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman and White House chief strategist. They’re close, too, with Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who also has a senior role in the White House. They never speak to the press and hardly ever even release a public statement. Like Trump himself, they’ve flouted the standard playbook for how things are done in politics. . . .”
Bannon’s influence on Rebekah Mercer is particularly strong: ” . . . Another of the Republican operatives described Bannon as the ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ to Rebekah Mercer, and a third was even more pointed: ‘Svengali.’ Bannon is ‘really, really, really influential’ with Mercer, said the former Breitbart employee. The Mercers, the former employee said, made their wishes known through Bannon, who would sometimes cite the company’s financial backers as a reason for Breitbart not to do a story. Bannon didn’t respond to a request for comment about this. . . .”
In turn, the influence of Steve Bannon within the Facebook virtual panopticon is even more sinister considering Bannon’s political outlook: ” . . . . But, said the source, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about Bannon, ‘There are some things he’s only going to share with people who he’s tight with and who he trusts.’
Bannon’s readings tend to have one thing in common: the view that technocrats have put Western civilization on a downward trajectory and that only a shock to the system can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apocalyptic tone that at times echoes Bannon’s own public remarks over the years—a sense that humanity is at a hinge point in history. . . .”
One of the influences on Bannon is Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug, who has actually opened a backchannel advisory connection to the White House: ” . . . . Before he emerged on the political scene, an obscure Silicon Valley computer programmer with ties to Trump backer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel was explaining his behavior. Curtis Yarvin, the self-proclaimed ‘neoreactionary’ who blogs under the name ‘Mencius Moldbug,’ attracted a following in 2008 when he published a wordy treatise asserting, among other things, that ‘nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth.’ When the organizer of a computer science conference canceled Yarvin’s appearance following an outcry over his blogging under his nom de web, Bannon took note: Breitbart News decried the act of censorship in an article about the programmer-blogger’s dismissal.
Moldbug’s dense, discursive musings on history—’What’s so bad about the Nazis?’ he asks in one 2008 post that condemns the Holocaust but questions the moral superiority of the Allies—include a belief in the utility of spreading misinformation that now looks like a template for Trump’s approach to truth. ‘To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army,’ he writes in a May 2008 post.’It’s been a while since I posted anything really controversial and offensive here,’ he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explaining why he associates democracy with ‘war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.’
Moldbug, who does not do interviews and could not be reached for this story, has reportedly opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary, according to a source. Yarvin said he has never spoken with Bannon. . . .”
After discussing Facebook’s new AI technology being employed to search users’ photos, the program concludes with the shift of Silicon Valley money to the GOP.
Program Highlights Include: review of Steve Bannon’s role on the NSC; review of the martial law contingency plans drawn up by Oliver North during the Reagan administration, involving the deputizing of paramilitary right-wingers; review of Erik Prince’s relationship to the Trump administration and Betsy De Vos, Trump’s education secretary.
Continuing discussion and analysis from FTR #868, this program underscores the possible role of Swedish and Scandinavian fascists overlapping both WACL and Sapo, the Swedish intelligence service. Involved with escape networks forged to aid the international flight from justice of fascists and Nazis, the principals in these networks exhibited behavior around the time of the Palme killing that is suggestive. Worth noting in this regard is the late Stieg Larsson’s investigation of the Palme killing, which pointed in the direction of some of the same figures examined in the Kruger essay. The program concludes with an examination of the Bofors munitions firm and its corporate links to Third Reich industry and the postwar Bormann capital network, with which it may well be affiliated.
The first of two programs highlighting the unsolved 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, the broadcast features a 1988 article by the brilliant freelance Danish journalist Henrik Kruger, author of “The Great Heroin Coup: Drugs, Intelligence and International Fascism.” Through this examination of the intersected networks that Kruger has termed (in “The Great Heroin Coup”) “The International Fascista,” we are able to observe the elements of Operation Condor, key individuals and institutions comprising the former World Anti-Communist League, individuals and organizations underlying “the Strategy of Tension” in Italy, as well as the cast of characters that managed the Iran-Contra machinations. Long the focal point of death threats and assassination attempts, Palme had earned the lethal ire of fascists in North and South America, as well as Europe. The failure to solve the killing, despite the passage of almost 30 years and some very strong evidentiary tributaries, underscores the gravitas of the forces that destroyed Palme. Kruger’s article also serves as something of an “in vitro” window into many of the political networks we have examined over the years.
In our ongoing series of interviews with Peter Levenda, the author of “The Hitler Legacy,” we have highlighted points of discussion relating to WACL, Operation Condor, the Iran/Contra scandal and other elements that might not be familiar to recent/younger readers and listeners. Peter detailed his hair-raising visit to Colonia Dignidad in FTR #839. While going through some boxes in storage, we came across an old essay by the brilliant Danish journalist Henrik Kruger, author of “The Great Heroin Coup,” analyzing the unsolved 1986 assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme. We present that article here, in order to familiarize younger readers and listeners with individuals and institutions we haven’t covered in decades. All of the contents of this website as of 12/19/2014–Dave Emory’s 35+ years of research and broadcasting–as well as hours of videotaped lectures are available on a 32GB flash drive. Dave offers his programs and articles for free–your support is very much appreciated.
After recapping some threads in the tangled web of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Argentina, this program takes up the suspicious death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head the weekend before he was to testify before that country’s congress about the bombing. Nisman was reportedly going to indict Argentine president Kirchner in connection with a cover-up of the bombing, allegedly stemming from a “grain-for-oil” deal with Iran. Nisman had previously expressed fear for his own life and for the safety of his two young daughters. In addition to the presence of the DNA of a second person in Nisman’s apartment, the program covers: Nisman’s fear of his own bodyguards; apparent irregularities in the handling of the physical evidence in the case; president Kirchner’s attack on Nisman and her characterization of his death as a “suicide;” a female witness in the case expressing fear for her life after the charred body of another woman was found across the street from Kirchner’s apartment; irregularities in the statements of Nisman’s security personnel.
In this program, we detail some of the deep politics surrounding the AMIA attack, preparatory to a discussion of developments in the investigation of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s death in FTR #836. The dizzying melange of individuals, institutions and events connected to the AMIA bombing involves: several people linked to former Argentinian president Carlos Menem; individuals linked to the Iran-Contra scandal; neo-Nazi elements in Argentina; investigations into fugitive Nazi war criminals; the resignations of two justice ministers involved in the AMIA investigation; the suspicious deaths of numerous individuals linked to one or another of the elements figuring in several related investigations; evidentiary tributaries linking the AMIA bombing to the Oklahoma City Bombing, the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland and the Achille Lauro hijacking in 1985.
Analyzing the role of networks originally set up to perpetuate and sustain government in the event of nuclear war, this program highlights the role of Continuity of Government (COG) elements in a number of domestic and/or illegal covert operations. With its own communications network, the COG has proved an effective vehicle for sidestepping normal operational channels in order to realize nefarious aims. The COG-related networks and individuals have figured prominently in aspects of the JFK assassination, Watergate, the October Surprise, the Iran-Contra scandal and events pursuant to the 9/11 attacks. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are two of the prominent figures in the COG networks and have been present in the Nixon/Ford, Reagan/Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
With the Bergdahl “controversy,” American political culture continues to hit new lows, courtesy of the terrorist-coddling GOP and their Amen chorus in the media. John McCain–himself a former POW–seems intent on leading the GOP’s race to the bottom, no mean feat under the circumstances. Dewey Clarridge, himself a player in the Iran-Contra affair, was the source for much of the “secret intelligence” that has been utilized by Fox News, that beacon of journalistic integrity.
Some elements of DEA long known to be complicit in drug trafficking. Is this laundering REALLY to help fight the drug traffic?
Jim Thompson, CIA officer who openly criticized the Agency’s policy in Asia disappeared from the face of the earth.