Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'Wall Street' is associated with 94 posts.

FTR #946 In Your Facebook: A Virtual Panopticon, Part 2

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.


FTR #920 The Trumpenkampfverbande, Part 3: The Underground Reich Emerges Into Plain View

QUICK: How many Presidential candidates can you name who kept a book of Adolf Hitler’s speeches by their bedside? Donald Trump does. For many years, what Mr. Emory terms “The Underground Reich” has been a fundamental point of discussion and analysis in these broadcasts and posts. In the third program analyzing the Donald Trump campaign, we examine the “Trumpenkampfverbande,” its political antecedents and adherents. Exemplifying, and networking with, generations of fascists and fascist organizations, the Trumpenkampfverbande embodies the emergence of the Underground Reich into plain view. A signature element of Trump’s campaign is his resuscitation of the “America First” slogan and concept, a manifestation both of his thinly-veiled appeal to Nazi and white supremacist elements and his willingness to cede dominance over world affairs to a German-dominated “third power bloc.” The America First concept mobilizes powerful feelings among those feeling overwhelmed and left behind by political and economic developments globally and in the United States. We note that the “original” America First was financed by Nazi Germany. Trump’s invocation of America First exemplifies the nature of his political heritage and allegiances. One of his top advisers Joseph E. Schmitz, “obsessed with all things German” and, according to associates, someone who “fired the Jews” (from the Pentagon) and manifested Holocaust denial. This is not atypical of “Team Trump.” One of the most important figures in mainstreaming “alt right” (i.e. Nazi, white nationalist and anti-Semitic) attitudes has been Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, now essentially running the Trump campaign. Trump and his campaign have a habit of re-tweeting information from “alt right” websites and message boards. Of primary significance in analyzing Trump concerns the main financial backer of his real estate projects–Deutsche Bank. In addition to the fact that this places a potential President in the position of owing upwards of $100 million to an institution that has openly defied U.S. regulatory positions, Deutsche Bank is a primary element of the remarkable and deadly Bormann capital network, about which we speak so often. Program Highlights Include: Analysis of the possibility that Trump’s father was in the Ku Klux Klan; review of Trump’s association with former Axis spy Norman Vincent Peale; review of Trump’s counsel–Senator Joe McCarthy aide Roy Cohn; Trump’s additional financial backing from George Soros, who got his start in business “Aryanizing” Jewish property during the Holocaust; Trump’s tweeting of a campaign ad featuring Waffen SS-clad World War II re-enactors; The enthusiastic suppoprt Trump has received from David Duke.


“Enthusiastic Hitlerite” Eleanor–The Third Side of The Dulles Iron Triangle

” . . . Few people outside of the United States had heard of Miss Dulles since she won notoriety during the Roosevelt era as being pro-Hitler. But her quiet, square-jawed personality, much like her two elder brothers, had a lot to do with building up a strong, remilitarized Germany. . . . an ‘enthusiastic Hitlerite’ . . . Miss Dulles remained the key German adviser to her brother [John Foster] during his career as Secretary of State.”


Another “Collateralized Death Obligation” at Zurich Insurance

In FTR #’s 772, 792 and 823, we noted the remarkable number of suspicious deaths in the global financial industry, usually dismissed as “suicides,” often despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Now, the former CEO of Zurich Insurance Group, Martin Senn (right), has joined his former CFO (Pierre Wauthier), allegedly taking his own life. The deaths of Senn and Wauthier are the latest in what some see as an unusual number of suicides in the realm of Swiss finance–” . . . . He [Martin Naville] knew Senn, who was president of the chamber, as well as Wauthier, who had British-French dual citizenship. He also knew Carsten Schloter, the German-born head of telecoms group Swisscom, who took his life in 2013, and Alex Widmer, head of bank Julius Baer, who committed suicide in 2008. . .” 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.


FTR #905 Globalization, Transnational Corporations and Japanese Fascism

Over the decades, we have spoken at great length about the Second World War and fascism as outgrowths of globalization, a phenomenon generally thought of as having begun in the post World War II period. Most of the discussion has centered on the relationships between German and American corporations and oligarchs. With both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders targeting trade agreements and globalization in their campaign rhetoric, we review the cartel relationships between the Japanese Zaibatsu (family trusts) and their American counterparts. As well, we note the central role of Emperor Hirohito in the waging of Japan’s war of aggression and the post-war historical revisionism that has eclipsed his activities. After discussing the re-investment of the profits from the American industrial boom of the 1920’s in Germany and Japan, we analyze the deliberate frustration of the attempted political and economic reform of Japan. Intent on continuing the profound corporate relationships that had boosted Japan into its position as a dominant industrial power, Wall Street interests and allied political, national security and media elites subverted the attempts at reforming Japanese finance, industry and politics. A major part of the effort involved whitewashing Emperor Hirohito’s central role in waging World War II in the Pacific and profiting from Japanese military conquests. Program highlights include: the suspicious deaths of Japanese officers and members of the Imperial family who were forthcoming about the truth concerning Emperor Hirohito; the apparent murder of State Department officer George Atcheson, who attempted to blow the whistle concerning the subversion of the reform of Japan; the role of General William Draper in frustrating the reform of Japan and review of his career as an investment banker with Dillon, Read & Co.; the decisive role of the MacArthur group within the military in the frustration of Japanese reform and the re-institution of the fascists, militarists and zaibatsu in postwar Japan.


FTR #894 Physicians, Heal Thyselves: Hypocrisy and the Trump Campaign

From the Republican Party to European political and intellectual elites to “The New York Times,” everyone is “shocked, shocked” at the fascistic nature of the Trump candidacy. They shouldn’t be–his candidacy is the direct outgrowth of powerful forces that have been at work in this country for decades. After highlighting two op-ed pieces from the “Times,” accurately noting the virulent fascism at the root of the Trump phenomenon, the broadcast notes that neither Europe, where fascism is on the march once again, nor the American so-called “progressive sector,” which has embraced the “Eddie the Friendly Spook,” Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange are in a position to complain. Snowden, Greenwald, Assange et al embody PRECISELY the same forces percolating at the surface of the Trump waters. Much of the broadcast consists of excerpts of an important new book: “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government” by David Talbot. In that worthy volume, Talbot chronicles the role of the Dulles brothers and Sullivan and Cromwell in the capitalization of Hitler’s Germany and the cover-up of the Nazi flight capital program, Dulles’s long collaboration with Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, Gehlen’s pursuit (with Dulles) of the Cold War as a continuation of Hitler’s war against the U.S.S.R., the Dulles/Gehlen collaboration in the formation of the fascist networks known as “Stay Behind/Gladio.” The program concludes with review of the Crusade For Freedom, a Dulles project which culminated in the formation of a Nazi branch of the GOP. Program Highlights Include: the genesis of the Bormann network and its apparent collaboration with the Dulles networks; Prescott Bush, Sr.’s role as the Senate’s liaison with Dulles’s CIA; the roles of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, William Casey and George H.W. Bush with the Crusade For Freedom; “The New York Times” and its own incorporation of Third Reich alumni as part of its collaboration with CIA.


FTR #883 The Times They Have A’ Changed: JFK and the Steel Crisis of 1962

On the cusp of a new year–a Presidential election year at that–analysis of President Kennedy’s handling of the steel crisis of 1962 illustrates just how far we have descended in the 50-plus years since his death. After brokering an agreement between the United Steelworkers union and United States Steel aimed at holding down inflation, Kennedy was blindsided by United States Steel, acting in concert with other large steelmakers and, behind them, the luminaries of corporate America. Whereas the union rank and file embraced a contract encompassing lower wages, U.S. Steel promptly announced a 3.5 percent price increase. Kennedy used the full force of the Federal government against U.S. Steel, forcing rollback of the price increase. This earned Kennedy the hatred of big business. Program Highlights Include: Henry Luce’s “Fortune” magazine’s publication of an editorial foreshadowing JFK’s murder; big business’ view of JFK as a quasi-communist; the vigorous action taken by Robert Kennedy’s Department of Justice against the big steel makers; JFK’s public excoriation of the leaders of Big Steel as enemies of the people; JFK’s re-direction of defense contracts to smaller steel firms that had not raised prices.


FTR #867 Because They Can, Part 3: Fireside Rant about Technocratic Fascism as “Cyber-Crowleyism”

Continuing discussion from FTR #866, we develop various manifestations of libertarian, technocratic fascism. Celebrated by Silicon Valley executives and elevated to power (in part), by EBay chief Pierre Omidyar, Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist/fascist government has been suppressing free speech, lauding Mahatma Gandhi’s killer as a patriot, murdering critics and turning a blind eye to lethal mob violence directed against Muslims for allegedly slaughtering cows. Capitalizing on Snowden’s activities, the very financial institutions that precipitated the 2008 financial collapse are employing a secure, end-to-end encryption messaging system that will enable them to evade regulatory scrutiny. The laissez-faire, corporatist economic philosophy embraced by Modi is at one with the values of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, the Tea Party and the GOP as a whole, the advocates of Bitcoin, and the pirates of Wall Street. Program Highlights Include: a comparison of the social philosophies of Assange and Snowden with those of the SS; review of Modi’s move to undermine India’s child labor laws; review of the frightening possibilities of “smart contracts;” review of Bitcoin as “cyber-offshoring.”


FTR #866 Because They Can, Part 2: More about Technocratic Fascism

Although high-tech can be an enlightening, entertaining development offering remarkable possibilities for improving human existence, there exists another, sinister potential. Many big tech firms and coders of various types don’t play well with others–they embody another ethic: ” . . . . [they are] telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it. . . .” Potentially realizing the wet dream of powerful economic elites, crypto-currencies like Bitcoin are seen as circumventing the ability of nation states to tax in what might be termed as “cyber-offshoring.” Such a development would spell doom for nation-states. Major financial firms implicated in the crash of 2008 have circumvented regulators with their end-to-end encryption service called “symphony.” Ethereum CEO Gavin Wood enthuses about the possibilities of smart-contracts: ” . . . illicit activ­ity enabled by Ethereum could change the world, he says. . . .” Program Highlights Include: Target stores’ introduction of robot workers after employees voted to unionize; Hindu fascist Narendra Modi’s courting of Silicon Valley at the same time as he works to undermine India’s child labor laws; Ethereum’s technology enabling: the assassination of political leaders, the vandalizing of websites, the subversion of any form of state regulation and the technological replacement of lawyers and other administrators. Low-wage workers aren’t the only ones facing replacement by digital technology.


They’re B-A-A-A-C-K! Subprime, er, “Non-Prime” Mortgage-Backed Securities

Hungry investors are now focusing on bonds backed by US residential mortgages that do not meet strict credit guidelines. We also note that, in FTR #412, we directly foreshadowed the financial crisis in early 2003. 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.