Biden Wanted $33B More For Ukraine. Congress Quickly Raised it to $40B. Who Benefits?

US President Joe Biden speaks about the conflict in Ukraine during a visit to the Lockheed Martins Pike County Operations facility on May 3, 2022 (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Tens of billions, soon to be much more, are flying out of U.S. coffers to Ukraine as Americans suffer, showing who runs the U.S. Government, and for whose benefit.

By Glenn Greenwald

Source: Substack

From the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Biden White House has repeatedly announced large and seemingly random amounts of money that it intends to send to fuel the war in Ukraine. The latest such dispatch, pursuant to an initial $3.5 billion fund authorized by Congress early on, was announced on Friday; “Biden says U.S. will send $1.3 billion in additional military and economic support to Ukraine,” read the CNBC headline. This was preceded by a series of new lavish spending packages for the war, unveiled every two to three weeks, starting on the third day of the war:

  • Feb. 26: “Biden approves $350 million in military aid for Ukraine”: Reuters;
  • Mar. 16: “Biden announces $800 million in military aid for Ukraine”: The New York Times;
  • Mar. 30: “Ukraine to receive additional $500 million in aid from U.S., Biden announces”: NBC News;
  • Apr. 12: “U.S. to announce $750 million more in weapons for Ukraine, officials say”: Reuters;
  • May 6: “Biden announces new $150 million weapons package for Ukraine”: Reuters.

Those amounts by themselves are in excess of $3 billion; by the end of April, the total U.S. expenditure on the war in Ukraine was close to $14 billion, drawn from the additional $13.5 billion Congress authorized in mid-March. While some of that is earmarked for economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, most of it will go into the coffers of the weapons industry — including Raytheon, on whose Board of Directors the current Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, sat immediately before being chosen by Biden to run the Pentagon. As CNN put it: “about $6.5 billion, roughly half of the aid package, will go to the US Department of Defense so it can deploy troops to the region and send defense equipment to Ukraine.”

As enormous as those sums already are, they were dwarfed by the Biden administration’s announcement on April 28 that it “is asking Congress for $33 billion in funding to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than double the $14 billion in support authorized so far.” The White House itself acknowledges that the vast majority of that new spending package will go to the purchase of weaponry and other military assets: “$20.4 billion in additional security and military assistance for Ukraine and for U.S. efforts to strengthen European security in cooperation with our NATO allies and other partners in the region.”

It is difficult to put into context how enormous these expenditures are — particularly since the war is only ten weeks old, and U.S. officials predict/hope that this war will last not months but years. That ensures that the ultimate amounts will be significantly higher still.

The amounts allocated thus far — the new Biden request of $33 billion combined with the $14 billion already spent — already exceed the average annual amount the U.S. spent for its own war in Afghanistan ($46 billion). In the twenty-year U.S. war in Afghanistan which ended just eight months ago, there was at least some pretense of a self-defense rationale given the claim that the Taliban had harbored Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda at the time of the 9/11 attack. Now the U.S. will spend more than that annual average after just ten weeks of a war in Ukraine that nobody claims has any remote connection to American self-defense.

Even more amazingly, the total amount spent by the U.S. on the Russia/Ukraine war in less than three months is close to Russia’s total military budget for the entire year ($65.9 billion). While Washington depicts Russia as some sort of grave and existential menace to the U.S., the reality is that the U.S. spends more than ten times on its military what Russia spends on its military each year; indeed, the U.S. spends three times more than the second-highest military spender, China, and more than the next twelve countries combined.

But as gargantuan as Biden’s already-spent and newly requested sums are — for a ten-week war in which the U.S. claims not to be a belligerent — it was apparently woefully inadequate in the eyes of the bipartisan establishment in Congress, who is ostensibly elected to serve the needs and interests of American citizens, not Ukrainians. Leaders of both parties instantly decreed that Biden’s $33 billion request was not enough. They thus raised it to $40 billion — a more than 20% increase over the White House’s request — and are now working together to create an accelerated procedure to ensure immediate passage and disbursement of these weapons and funds to the war zone in Ukraine. “Time is of the essence – and we cannot afford to wait,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to House members, adding: “This package, which builds on the robust support already secured by Congress, will be pivotal in helping Ukraine defend not only its nation but democracy for the world.” (See update below).

We have long ago left the realm of debating why it is in the interest of American citizens to pour our country’s resources into this war, to say nothing of risking a direct war and possibly catastrophic nuclear escalation with Russia, the country with the largest nuclear stockpile, with the US close behind. Indeed, one could argue that the U.S. government entered this war and rapidly escalated its involvement without this critical question — which should be fundamental to any policy decision of the U.S. government — being asked at all.

This omission — a failure to address how the interests of ordinary Americans are served by the U.S. government’s escalating role in this conflict — is particularly glaring given the steadfast and oft-stated view of former President Barack Obama that Ukraine is and always will be of vital interest to Russia, but is not of vital interest to the U.S. For that reason, Obama repeatedly resisted bipartisan demands that he send lethal arms to Ukraine, a step he was deeply reluctant to take due to his belief that the U.S. should not provoke Moscow over an interest as remote as Ukraine (ironically, Trump — who was accused by the U.S. media for years of being a Kremlin asset, controlled by Putin through blackmail — did send lethal arms to Ukraine despite how provocative doing so was to Russia).

While it is extremely difficult to isolate any benefit to ordinary American citizens from all of this, it requires no effort to see that there is a tiny group of Americans who do benefit greatly from this massive expenditure of funds. That is the industry of weapons manufacturers. So fortunate are they that the White House has met with them on several occasions to urge them to expand their capacity to produce sophisticated weapons so that the U.S. government can buy them in massive quantities:

Top U.S. defense officials will meet with the chief executives of the eight largest U.S. defense contractors to discuss industry’s capacity to meet Ukraine’s weapons needs if the war with Russia continues for years.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told reporters Tuesday she plans to participate in a classified roundtable with defense CEOs on Wednesday to discuss “what can we do to help them, what do they need to generate supply”….

“We will discuss industry proposals to accelerate production of existing systems and develop new, modernized capabilities critical to the Department’s ongoing security assistance to Ukraine and long-term readiness of U.S. and ally/partner forces,” the official added.

On May 3, Biden visited a Lockheed Martin facility (see lead photo) and “praised the… plant that manufactures Javelin anti-tank missiles, saying their work was critical to the Ukrainian war effort and to the defense of democracy itself.”

Indeed, by transferring so much military equipment to Ukraine, the U.S. has depleted its own stockpiles, necessitating their replenishment with mass government purchases. One need not be a conspiracy theorist to marvel at the great fortune of this industry, having lost their primary weapons market just eight months ago when the U.S. war in Afghanistan finally ended, only to now be gifted with an even greater and more lucrative opportunity to sell their weapons by virtue of the protracted and always-escalating U.S. role in Ukraine. Raytheon, the primary manufacturer of Javelins along with Lockheed, has been particularly fortunate that its large stockpile, no longer needed for Afghanistan, is now being ordered in larger-than-ever quantities by its former Board member, now running the Pentagon, for shipment to Ukraine. Their stock prices have bulged nicely since the start of the war:

But how does any of this benefit the vast majority of Americans? Does that even matter? As of 2020, almost 30 million Americans are without any health insurance. Over the weekend, USA Today warned of “the ongoing infant formula shortage,” in which “nearly 40% of popular baby formula brands were sold out at retailers across the U.S. during the week starting April 24.” So many Americans are unable to afford college for their children that close to a majority are delaying plans or eliminating them all together. Meanwhile, “monthly poverty remained elevated in February 2022, with a 14.4 percent poverty rate for the total US population….Overall, 6 million more individuals were in poverty in February relative to December.” The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau found that “approximately 42.5 million Americans [are] living below the poverty line.” Americans with diabetes often struggle to buy life-saving insulin. And on and on and on.

Now, if the U.S. were invaded or otherwise attacked by another country, or its vital interests were directly threatened, one would of course expect the U.S. government to expend large sums in order to protect and defend the national security of the country and its citizens. But can anyone advance a cogent argument, let alone a persuasive one, that Americans are somehow endangered by the war in Ukraine? Clearly, they are far more endangered by the U.S. response to the war in Ukraine than the war itself; after all, a nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and Russia has long been ranked by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists as one of the two greatest threats facing humanity.


One would usually expect the American left, or whatever passes it for these days, to be indignant about the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars for weapons while ordinary Americans suffer. But the American left, such that it exists, is barely visible when it comes to debates over the war in Ukraine, while American liberals stand in virtual unity with the establishment wing of the Republican Party behind the Biden administration in support for the escalating U.S. role in the war in Ukraine. A few stray voices (such as Noam Chomsky) have joined large parts of the international left in urging a diplomatic solution in lieu of war and criticizing Biden for insufficient efforts to forge one, but the U.S. left and American liberals are almost entirely silent if not supportive.

That has left the traditionally left-wing argument about war opposition to the populist right. “You can’t find baby formula in the United States right now but Congress is voting today to send $40 billion to Ukraine,” said Donald Trump, Jr. on Tuesday, echoing what one would expect to hear from the 2016 version of Bernie Sanders or the pre-victory AOC. “In the America LAST $40 BILLION Ukraine FIRST bill that we are voting on tonight, there is authorization for funds to be given to the CIA for who knows what and who knows how much? But NO BABY FORMULA for American mothers!” explained Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Christian Walker, the conservative influencer and son of GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia, today observed: “Biden should go apply to be the President of Ukraine since he clearly cares more about them than the U.S.” Chomsky himself caused controversy last week when he said that there is only one statesman of any stature in the West urging a diplomatic solution “and his name is Donald J. Trump.”

Meanwhile, the only place where dissent is heard over the Biden administration’s war policy is on the 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. programs on Fox News, hosted, respectively, by Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, who routinely demand to know how ordinary Americans are benefiting from this increasing U.S. involvement. On CNN, NBC, and in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, there is virtually lockstep unity in favor of the U.S. role in this war; the only question that is permitted, as usual, is whether the U.S. is doing enough or whether it should do more.

That the U.S. has no legitimate role to play in this war, or that its escalating involvement comes at the expense of American citizens, the people they are supposed to be serving, provokes immediate accusations that one is spreading Russian propaganda and is a Kremlin agent. That is therefore an anti-war view that is all but prohibited in those corporate liberal media venues. Meanwhile, mainstream Democratic House members, such as Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), are now openly talking about the war in Ukraine as if it is the U.S.’s own:

Whatever else is true, the claim with which we are bombarded by the corporate press — the two parties agree on nothing; they are constantly at each other’s throats; they have radically different views of the world — is patently untrue, at least when it comes time for the U.S. to join in new wars. Typically, what we see in such situations is what we are seeing now: the establishment wings of both parties are in complete lockstep unity, always breathlessly supporting the new proposed U.S. role in any new war, eager to empty the coffers of the U.S. Treasury and transfer it to the weapons industry while their constituents suffer.

One can believe that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is profoundly unjust and has produced horrific outcomes while still questioning what legitimate interests the U.S. has in participating in this war to this extent. Even if one fervently believes that helping Ukrainians fight Russia is a moral good, surely the U.S. government should be prioritizing the ability of its own citizens to live above the poverty line, have health insurance, send their kids to college, and buy insulin and baby formula.

There are always horrific wars raging, typically with a clear aggressor, but that does not mean that the U.S. can or should assume responsibility for the war absent its own vital interests and the interests of its citizens being directly at stake. In what conceivable sense are American citizens benefiting from this enormous expenditure of their resources and the increasing energy and attention being devoted by their leaders to Ukraine rather than to their lives and the multi-pronged deprivations that define them?

CORRECTION (May 10, 2022, 20:47 pm ET): This article was edited shortly after publication to reflect that Russia’s total annual military budget is $65.9 billion, not $65.9 million.

UPDATE (May 10, 2022, 22:39 pm ET)Shortly after publication of this article, the $40 billion package for the war in Ukraine passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 368-57. According to CNN: “All 57 votes in opposition were from Republicans.”

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MATERIALISM & THE LOSS OF SOUL

By Kingsley L. Dennis

Source: Waking Times

The non-material, or non-visible, realm does not lie dormant. It is active, constantly. It is what infuses and makes possible the world we know and see. The intangible realm of vital forces is what we often call the ‘spiritual’ dimension for within it lies the conscious intelligences that establish material life. Spiritual matters have long been an abstract thing for many people. Yet they are no longer to remain abstract – they are now to flow into culture not only through ‘spiritual channels,’ but through all manner of ways, including people. The flow and merger between the suprasensory world and the sensory world (the realm of the phenomenal), has always been in operation. Only now, it looks set to increase.

Materialism is all good and well – yet up to a certain point. This is recognized by some as the ‘Fall’ – the deep immersion into physical reality. To a certain degree, this immersion into physicality was necessary for developing individualism and to perceive existence in relation to Source. Once this recognition is gained, then begins the ‘return journey’ back to Source/Origin consciousness. However, if a species remains too long within the grip of materialistic forces, then a hardening – or deadening – can occur that crystallizes certain faculties and organs of perception, which leads to an evolutionary stagnation. As such, the stagnation of evolvement can be due to the over-influence of entropic forces. The impulse of spiritual knowledge (developmental forces) descending into the physical world has been opposed by other forces that do not wish for people to discover their inner freedom. Yet this time, this moment in human development, has been foreseen and, on some levels, even planned for. What is to come about has been viewed as inevitable by those who know what is at stake.

The entropic forces that exist in opposition aim to ‘over-materialize’ materialism. They intend to deepen the entanglement within physical matter, and to create artificial material forms that would not have arisen in the natural course of human evolvement. This is a matter of exercising certain powers upon the physical plane. This is being applied in such a way as to block a renewal of human culture beyond materialism and to direct it into a new form of materialism, a more etheric form that seems un-material. This is what I refer to as the ‘fallacy of materialism’ – the digital-virtual realms, whilst seeming contrary to physical-materialism, are in fact working to deepen human entanglement in material forces. These digitized spaces, because of their sense of non-physicality, are really an etheric manifestation of materialism. Or rather, a realm of theoretical materialism. Theoretical materialism signifies a reality construct that does not need to be physical to the touch, yet it is based on, or is a projection from, a material foundation. Within both the theoretical and regular mode of materialism, the human being is encapsulated within an amalgamation of material processes. It is also a world of facts and external evidence that a person becomes lost within. All life experience proceeds from this material realm, and this conditions the human being to gain a view of life that is factually based, and to accept that there is no other reality except this world of materialism and factual experience. Any notion of the soul or spirit – the transcendental impulse – is either regarded as being a by-product from material reality or is rejected altogether as a false notion. This is the power of the immersion into matter-reality.

Deep materialism finally becomes a cosmology of entropy and decline. It leads to mechanical, artificial modes of thinking that eventually brings about a stagnation in those forces driving human development. If continued, these materialistic forces carve out a path of technological advancement and evolution that further blocks vital, spiritualized forces. In this route, the human being strives for greater material benefits yet neglects the vital human forces of spiritualized connection. Our current epoch is concerned with the development of the material world; and if the human being is not to degenerate totally into a mere accomplice of machines, then a path must be found which leads from the mechanical impulse towards a life of the spirit. However, entropic forces are in play that are opposed to forms of spiritualization (spiritual freedom), and which work to reduce and, eventually, dispose of spiritual seeking and to replace it with an ethereal and otherworldly ‘virtual paradise’ where all needs can be fulfilled-by-illusion. A part of this ‘supra-materialism’ is the notion of immortality that is arising through transhumanist tropes. This can be referred to as the immortality falsehood as it works not through the spirit-soul but through a prolongation of the physical life experience by merger with machinic forms. This is a mode of potential immortality within the physical sphere but not within the spiritual. In the end, it is an entrapment for it disavows the inner spirit release from the physical domain. This can lead to a state of soullessness within the human being as the contact with Source becomes, over time, diminished. Or, perhaps this materialistic, transhumanist agenda will attract those people already without full spirit-soul incarnation.

It may be that there are people walking around in physical incarnation, in physical bodies, yet who are lacking, for want of a better word, a soul. Rudolf Steiner made note of this a hundred years ago when he stated

‘…a kind of surplus of individuals is appearing in our times who are without Egos [‘I’], who are not truly human beings. This is a terrible truth…They make the impression of a human being if we do not look closely, but they are not human in the fullest sense of the word.’ 1

Steiner warned us to be aware that what we encounter as human beings in human form may not always have to be what it appears to be. He stated that the outer appearance can be just that: appearance. He went on to state: ‘We encounter people in human form who only in their outer appearance are individuals…in truth, these are humans with a physical, etheric, and astral body, but beings are embodied in them, beings that make use of these individuals in order to operate through them.’2 What this refers to is that human bodies can be vessels for other beings to operate through.

This makes us realize that the world of ‘spirit’ may not always be what we have thought it to be. In other words, it may not be all divine light and ascension. It also involves the aspect of discernment. For there are players and forces that wield a great deal of influence within the physical world. And some of these influences act through the presence of certain individuals that may appear outwardly ‘normal.’ In this light, a completely different kind of spirituality is at work in present-day humanity. It may be inferred, without sounding dramatic, that certain power groups, and their important individual members, are influenced (and perhaps dominated) by a non-human species of being that are intent on implementing non-human objectives. Such groups and individuals would, in this case, exhibit a distinct lack of ‘soul’ – i.e., empathy and compassion – and would appear to others as displaying almost sociopathic tendencies.[i] Yet at the same time, such people can appear unusually charismatic and are able to exert great influence over other people, especially with their words and speeches, whilst being themselves emotionally stunted.

To consider this further, such beings might be motivated in their actions to attempt to block other human being’s connection to their own individual inner/spiritual impulse. By a range of actions, they could focus on distracting people away from the notion of a metaphysical reality and of their inherent connection to Source (or a realm of vital conscious intelligence beyond matter-reality). In extreme cases, such players might even target the bio-psycho human body in an attempt to sabotage the vessel so as to make it a less viable vehicle for soul-spirit incarnation. What else might they hope to achieve? Again, referring to Rudolf Steiner, he stated that: ‘Their objective is to maintain the whole of life as a mere economic life, to gradually eradicate everything else that is part of the intellectual and spiritual life, to eradicate the spiritual life precisely where it is most active…and swallow up everything through the economic life.’3

By hijacking cultural, social, and economic systems, the focus turns away from the inner life, which tends to be more active once people have satisfied their primary needs (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). Also, if there are uncertainties, disruptions, and fluctuations in these systems, then people can become psychologically influenced in a negative way. That is, for those people who come under the domination of such economic forces – i.e., are subservient through debt – they are more likely to experience a loss of personal empowerment and will. If we take only a cursory glance at the actions of many incumbent leaders, politicians, corporate businesses, financial institutions, and more, we can see a clear lack of any soulful behaviour or intent. Quite the contrary, many of these individuals and groups seem determined to curtail human freedoms, sovereignty, and inner empowerment. If Steiner were alive today, he would no doubt say that what we are currently witnessing upon the physical plane is an act of soulless terraforming of the planet and a controlling manipulation of the human life experience by nefarious forces that have anti-human aims and intentions. Perhaps this is why so many people today are experiencing depression, frustration, and apathy – a paralysis of will – from which they feel unable to resolve. This gets manifested as a sense of weariness and dissatisfaction that is projected out into their everyday lives.

Because of this, and other factors, the consciously aware person of today is being asked to step into their role as a physical representative of sacred life. It is important that metaphysical realities are never diminished or disowned, and that the life of the spirit remains healthy and strong in expression within physical life. If there is ever a struggle against the human soul, then we may be witnessing this in these current times. We would do well to remember that each person possesses that special treasure that can never be taken from them. And this is the true eternal and genuine immortality. These are the times to be soulful, and to bring forth the human spirit.

References

Cited in Grosse, Erdmuth Johannes (2021) Are There People Without A Self? Forest Row: Temple Lodge, p31-2

Cited in Grosse, Erdmuth Johannes (2021) Are There People Without A Self? Forest Row: Temple Lodge, p60

Cited in Grosse, Erdmuth Johannes (2021) Are There People Without A Self? Forest Row: Temple Lodge, p63

Posted in consciousness, culture, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: Blue Thunder

Looking back at Blue Thunder

John Badham’s high-tech helicopter thriller Blue Thunder rode the crest of a decade obsessed with cool cars and aircraft…

By Ryan Lambie

Source: Den of Geek

Back in the 1980s, a company called Sega perfected what it referred to as the Full Body Experience. Less kinky than it sounds, this fusion of CRT television, videogame technology and hydraulic pistons aimed to give amusement arcade visitors a taste of what it might be like to drive a Ferrari Testarossa or motorcycle at breakneck speed or fly a fighter jet through a valley full of enemy aircraft.

For a generation of youths, these machines, with their chunky graphics and even chunkier controls, are the stuff of legend, and the mere mention of their names – Hang On, Out Run, After Burner, Space Harrier, Thunder Blade – is enough to evoke involuntary memories of Proustian proportions.

These half-remembered machines sum up the 80s era of mechanical wish fulfilment. More than any other, the decade catered to youthful fantasies of fast cars and deadly aircraft. Perhaps spurred on by the ongoing success of Star Wars, which placed Luke Skywalker at the helm of one of the coolest fighter craft ever committed to celluloid, the 80s saw a rash of mechanical fantasies appear in cinemas, arcades, and on television.

For examples, look no further than Magnum PI, first broadcast in 1980, in which Tom Selleck got to drive around in someone else’s Ferrari 308 GTS, and took the occasional ride in a friend’s helicopter. Knight Rider, first broadcast in 1982, saw David Hasselhoff drive around in an unspeakably cool talking car. In the movies, small boys got to fly through the skies on bikes (E.T.), in stolen spy planes (D.A.R.Y.L.), and sexy alien space craft (Flight Of The Navigator). Even Hollywood elder statesman Clint Eastwood got in on the act, as he controlled a top-secret Russian fighter jet with the power of his mind in Firefox.

Later on in the decade, Top Gun flew into cinemas, whose lovingly lit fighter jet porn inspired such films as Iron Eagle and its sequel. But before Top Gun, there was Blue Thunder, a 1983 movie that appeared to kick off a brief media love affair with helicopters.

Like Firefox, Blue Thunder had the benefit of some quite serious acting heft behind it. Roy Scheider, best known to wider audiences as the chap who blew up a shark real good in Jaws, turned in some quite brilliant performances in KluteThe French Connection (for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) and Marathon Man. Scheider starred alongside Malcolm McDowell, whose biggest successes at the time, either financially or critically speaking, were if…, A Clockwork Orange and Voyage Of The Damned.

Quite why either of them signed up for Blue Thunder isn’t initially clear; Scheider would essentially play second fiddle to the true star of the picture – the high-tech experimental helicopter, so important to the story that it gets title billing. But in a 1983 interview with Movies & Video Magazine (as recorded for posterity by Blue Thunder Online), Scheider explained that the film’s political overtones interested him in getting involved.

“So you see the underlying theme of the movie is that it’s a total invasion of privacy,” Scheider said. “Although this kind of device to control crowd would be very effective it would also be invasion of your personal liberties.  What my character does in the film is to show the community that this kind of device isn’t necessary to be flying over anyone’s life.”

As for McDowell, director John Badham noted in a Starlog interview that the actor was terrified of flying – a setback, considering the character he was supposed to play was an army colonel with a love of hurtling about in helicopters.

The plot, if you were a youth at the time, mattered little – there was a helicopter in the movie, and it got to blow stuff up with a big gatling gun, and that was all you needed to know. Viewed today, it’s surprising how long it takes for director John Badham to get to the explosive bits – which, as it turns out, is no bad thing.

Scheider plays Frank Murphy, a Vietnam veteran turned helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles Police Department. In spite of his troubled past, Murphy’s selected to fly a new, experimental helicopter called Blue Thunder, a kind of flying Swiss-army knife which would allow the police to spy on citizens from the air undetected, and gun down miscreants with the gigantic gatling cannon sticking out of the front.

It’s the twin topics of public freedom and state control which separate Blue Thunder out from most other vehicle-based films of the decade. Although a thriller first and foremost, Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby’s script poses some pertinent questions about privacy and surveillance; there are many scenes in Blue Thunder where technology is misused to spy on women in a state of undress, or on private conversations in people’s houses.

Interestingly, Dan O’Bannon, who was inspired to write Blue Thunder with his partner Don Jakoby after growing annoyed at the police helicopters buzzing around LA during the late 70s, wasn’t at all happy with the filmed treament of the script. “The political impact – and there was quite a bit – was toned down,” O’Bannon argued, making the villains of the piece the federal government rather than the LA police department.

Whether Blue Thunder’s political elements were toned down or not, there’s no doubt that, in an era where the British government’s looking to place missiles on the roofs of London buildings as an anti-terrorist measure during the Olympics, and personal privacy is a more current topic than ever before, the idea of a heavily-armed police helicopter scouting the skies doesn’t sound so far fetched.

Anyway, back to the plot. Murphy learns that a group of shady individuals within the military may be thinking of using the helicopter to exterminate troublesome political dissidents. This group is headed up by – surprise – Murphy’s old Nam-era nemesis, Colonel Cochrane, played by McDowell. As Murphy’s wife Kate (Candy Clark) heads off to a news network headquarters with a videotape which proves the military group’s guilt, Murphy steels himself for a final act confrontation with his new-found  military enemies.

And what a confrontation it is. Having carefully racheted up the post-Nixon era paranoia, John Badham lets fly with a closing stretch that pleased the young viewers less interested in the script’s earlier meditations on state control. For all those kids who sat in one of Sega’s Thunder Blade machines in the 80s, I suspect it’s Blue Thunder‘s closing action scene which was playing back in their heads as they prepared to pilot a remarkably familiar looking military helicopter.

At the helm of Blue Thunder, Murphy does battle with ordinary police choppers, a pair of fighter jets, and then Cochrane himself, who’s taken to the skies in an armed helicopter of his own. Without CG and with a mere sprinkling model effects, Badham stages an impressive aerial display above the streets of Los Angeles. To modern eyes, it’s not quite so jaw-dropping, but it’s still well shot, well choreographed and surprisingly intense – and there’s a sublimely comic moment involving a shower of roasted chickens.

On the acting front, Roy Scheider’s the consummate tough, unflappable hero, a young Daniel Stern is good value as his sidekick, while Warren Oates puts in a welcome appearance which would sadly prove to be among the last in his long career. Then there’s McDowell, who remains a cheerfully despicable hate figure, in spite of his terror behind the scenes. His character even gets his own obnoxious catchphrase – a stomach-churning “Catch you later”, complete with finger gun.

(On the topic of acting, Mario Machado, who memorably played a news anchor in the RoboCop movies, Scarface and Rocky III, among many others, also turns up in an identical role in Blue Thunder.)

From a technological standpoint, it’s inevitable that a film that dealt with the cutting-edge gadgetry of 80s America would look particularly outdated to 21st century eyes. In spite of this, Blue Thunder remains an intelligent and well-made thriller with some great action moments. Its box-office success triggered a spin-off ABC TV series of the same name in 1984, while rival network CBS brought out its own helicopter-based series, Airwolf, that same year.

Of all the vehicle-based films and TV shows to appear in the 80s, Blue Thunder is almost certainly among the best. Where most, such as Top Gun, brought with them an air-punching sense of jingoism, Blue Thunder is a bitter, cynical film, and that’s probably why it’s aged so well. It’s also a fact that the helicopter itself still looks extremely cool, even if it isn’t quite as high-tech as it was 30 years ago.

With superhero movies currently at the peak of their popularity, Hollywood movie makers are probably wondering what the next big thing might be. If so, might we suggest a return to the mechanical wish-fulfilment movies of the 80s, as exemplified by arcade games such as Thunder Blade, or the film that inspired it, Blue Thunder? If there’s one thing the current clutch of blockbusters are sorely missing, it’s a sexy helicopter.

Watch Blue Thunder on Crackle here: https://www.crackle.com/watch/520

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Sam’s Bio-Weapons Extravaganza

By Mike Whitney

Source: The Unz Review

Question– Is the US making bio-weapons in Ukraine?

Answer– That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Unfortunately, there’s no simple “yes or no” answer. It’s more complicated than that.

Question– Can you explain what you mean?

Answer– Sure, but some people might find it a bit confusing.

First, most of what we know comes from the Russians who investigated the bio-labs that were abandoned following the invasion of Ukraine. These are the people who uncovered the pathogens and other toxic substances that were kept at the 30-or-so facilities around the country. The Russian team has also studied the documents “they received from employees of Ukrainian laboratories on the implementation of military biological programs of the United States.” In other words, the Russians have compiled evidence that the US is violating its obligations under the terms of the Biological Weapons Convention.

Second, we know that the Pentagon –through various channels– pumped $32 million into laboratories located in Kiev, Odessa, Lvov and Kharkov. These biolabs were chosen to oversee a “project aimed at studying the pathogens of the Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis and hantaviruses.” The Russians believe that interest in these pathogens is due to the fact “their use can be disguised as natural outbreaks of diseases”, which is why the project received additional funding. In other words, the Russians think that the US funding was mainly aimed at biological weapons development. The Chinese appear to agree with Russia on this matter. Here’s what China’s FM said:

“Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian … asked the US to release “relevant details as soon as possible” regarding alleged US biological laboratories in Ukraine….“The US has 336 labs in 30 countries under its control, including 26 in Ukraine alone. It should give a full account of its biological military activities at home and abroad and subject itself to multilateral verification.”

“According to reports, in these facilities, large quantities of dangerous viruses are stored. Russia has found during its military operation that the US uses these facilities to conduct military plans. (“China… demands ‘full account of its biological military activities“, opindie.com)

You can see that there’s considerable concern among many of the countries the US sees as its rivals. And, their concern is not limited to the fact that the US is fooling around with all manner of highly-contagious and lethal pathogens but, also, that these 336 bio-labs are part of an integrated network under the operational control of the Pentagon. That is the biggest red flag of all!

The Russians have been quite blunt about what they think is going on. Here’s a clip from their official statement: “We believe that components of biological weapons were created on the territory of Ukraine.”

That sums it up perfectly. And they should know, too, after all, it’s the Russians who uncovered the stockpiles of pathogens and the documentation that supports their analysis. Of course, all of this could just be more “Russian disinformation”, that’s what the media would like you to believe. But what the media fails to acknowledge is that a lot of the documents gathered by the Russians have been signed by “real officials and are certified by the seals of their organizations.” In other words, the Russians can verify their analysis with hard evidence.

Here’s another excerpt from the Russian report that helps to shed light on what’s really been going on at these Ukrainian virus factories:

“During the implementation of these projects, six families of viruses (including coronaviruses) and three types of pathogenic bacteria (pathogens of plague, brucellosis and leptospirosis) were identified. This is due to the main characteristics of these pathogens that make them favourable for the purposes of infection: resistance to drugs, rapid speed of spread from animals to humans, etc…..

A study of the documents in the part of the P-781 project on the study of ways of transmitting diseases to humans through bats showed that the work was carried out on the basis of a laboratory in Kharkov.” (“Russia Mod: Briefing on analysis of documents related to US military and biological activities in Ukraine“, The Saker)

Nice, eh? So, the researchers at these facilities chose the pathogens that they believed were:

  1. The most infectious
  2. The most deadly
  3. The most drug resistant

When does it become appropriate to use a term like “diabolical”? Is that too much of a stretch? Here’s more:

“Within the framework of the FLU-FLYWAY project, the Kharkov Institute of Veterinary Medicine studied wild birds as vectors for the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. At the same time, the conditions under which spread processes can become unmanageable, cause economic damage and pose risks to food security have been assessed.

These documents confirm the involvement of the Kharkov Institute in the collection of avian influenza virus strains with high epidemic potential and capable of overcoming the interspecific barrier….” (“Russia Mod: Briefing on analysis of documents related to US military and biological activities in Ukraine”, The Saker)

Do you understand what they’re saying? The researchers were looking for ways to use migratory birds to transport lethal pathogens to the territories of Washington’s enemies. This is beyond diabolical. It’s Satanic.

The Russian report goes on to explain how much of the documentary evidence of potentially-criminal activity was destroyed following Russia’s invasion. Check it out:

“The materials that our Defense Ministry got hold of prove that all serious high-risk research in Ukrainian biolabs was directly supervised by US experts… Our Defense Ministry reports that at this moment the Kiev regime…. hastily covers up all traces so that the Russian side could not get hold of direct evidence of the US and Ukraine violating Article 1 of the BTWC. They rush to shut down all biological programs.

Ukraine’s Health Ministry ordered to eliminate biological agents deposited in biolabs starting from 24 February 2022. We infer from the instructions to lab personnel that the order of elimination of collections suggested that they should be destroyed irrevocably. Having analyzed the destruction certificates, we can say that the Lvov lab alone destroyed 232 containers with pathogens of leptospirosis, 30 – of tularemia, 10 – of brucellosis, 5 – of plague. The total of more than 320 containers was eliminated. Pathogens’ titles and excessive amounts give reason to think that this work was done as part of military biological programs.” (“USNC biolabs in the Ukraine”, The Saker)

In other words, the Russian invasion triggered a mad-dash at the labs where these killer pathogens were being stored. Researchers had to quickly dispose of the evidence before the Russians arrived and figured out what was going on. The lab personnel were performing the same sketchy ritual as a serial killer who scrupulously wipes the bloody fingerprints off the murder weapon before the cops arrive. In other words, they were “covering their tracks.” At the same time, the researchers were told to blame everything on “Russian propaganda.” (But you probably knew that already.)

Question— How have these bio-labs effected the lives of the people living in Ukraine?

According to the Russian MOD: “… attention is drawn to the fact o f a sharp increase in cases of tuberculosis caused by new multi-resistant strains among citizens living in Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics in 2018. …, more than 70 cases of the disease were detected, which ended in a rapid fatal outcome. This may indicate a deliberate infection, or an accidental leakage of the pathogen from one of the biolabs located on the territory of Ukraine.” (“Russian MOD”, The Saker)

So, a number of people who lived around these facilities mysteriously died from weird strains of tuberculosis and other oddball diseases, but we’ll never know for sure whether the deaths were deliberate or not. And, naturally, the perpetrators of these crimes will never be held accountable. It’s tragic.

Of course, it could all be a big coincidence, but I suspect not. I suspect that the Ukrainians are the unwitting lab rats in Uncle Sam’s deadly science project. And there’s more, too. Check out this blurb from Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin:

“It is also no secret to the leadership of our country that the purpose of these biological experiments conducted by the Pentagon using biomaterials obtained from Slavic subjects in Ukraine and other countries neighboring Russia is to develop ‘ethnic weapons’ against the Russian population of Russia.” (“Rogozin: Bioweapons developed in Ukraine…”, The Saker)

This idea that the US is developing bio-agents that selectively target particular ethnic groups is a recurrent theme among critics of America’s mysterious bio-projects. According to Chinese military expert, Song Zhongping, “The United States kept setting up biological laboratories around rival countries with the goal of developing targeted viral weapons against those countries…The US insists on developing weapons of mass destruction to seek hegemony, which is a gross violation of the Biological Weapons Convention and an assault on human civilization.” Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert.” (“US shuns UN meeting on biological security”, Global Times)

And here’s how author M.K. Bhadrakumar summed it up in a recent article titled “Migratory birds of mass destruction”:

“Russia had released a number of documents related to the biological military activities of the Pentagon, which pointed toward a worldwide project to set up biological laboratories in rival countries with the goal of developing targeted viral weapons against those countries.”…

(According to) General Igor Kirillov, chief of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces of the Russian Armed Forces, that Washington is creating biological laboratories in different countries and connecting them to a unified system.” (“Migratory birds of mass destruction”, Indian Punchline)

Finally, there is this from author Matthew Ehret who explains the probable origins of “ethnic targeting” with biological weapons. Here’s what he said in an article at the Unz Review:

“The earlier October 2000 RAD document emphasized the importance which the neocon cabal placed on bioweapons ..stating: “Combat will likely take place in new dimensions: In space, cyber-space and perhaps the world of microbes… advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool”. (“The Project for a New American Century and the Age of Bioweapons: 20 Years of Psychological Terror“, Matthew Ehret, Unz Review)

Further along in the article, Ehret points to evidence that researchers may have achieved their goal of “selectively targeting particular ethnic groups.” Here’s the money-quote:

“…leading medical specialists like Dr. Shankara Chetti of South Africa, Dr. Soňa Peková of the Czech Republic) and Dr Meryl Nass of the USA having delivered bountiful evidence that the various waves of the pathogen were not only NOT naturally occurring, but ethnic specific and lab-generated.

After evaluating over 7,000 paients, Dr. Chetty observed early on that the patients who suffered the greatest during each of the four waves encountered in South Africa were ethnic specific with the first wave targeting only blacks, the second only Indians and the third Caucasians and Arabs.” (“The Project for a New American Century and the Age of Bioweapons: 20 Years of Psychological Terror“, Matthew Ehret, Unz Review)

Is that where all this is headed: Ethnic specific bioweapons to help usher in the New World Order?

One can only wonder.

We’re also curious about the fact that these 300-plus bio-labs (around the world) are part of a “unified system” that is under the Pentagon’s control. What’s that all about? Why would the Pentagon want a unified system of biological laboratories?

I can think of one reason, although I’m sure there are many more. Let’s say, powerful elites wanted to change our democratic system to a more authoritarian model (The Great Reset) by creating a global crisis that could be used as a pretext for terminating personal freedom, enforcing mandatory vaccination and imposing martial law. If they had a network of biological labs at their disposal, they could easily release the same-identical pathogen in locations around the world creating the perception of a rapidly-spreading virus. In other words, a widespread network of bio-labs could be used to simulate a global pandemic.

Is such a thing even possible?

You bet it is, in fact, the last two years might provide us with an example of how the system actually works.

One last thing: The UN Security Council recently convened an emergency meeting to address the issue of Ukraine’s biological labs. (Arria Formula Meeting on Biological Security.) But did anyone from the Biden administration attend the confab?

No one. The administration boycotted the meeting entirely which means the US was given the opportunity to make its case before the international community, but decided to pull a no-show instead. Why would that be, we wonder?

A member of the Chinese delegation said it was a sign of a “guilty conscience.”

That sounds about right to me.

Posted in black ops, Corruption, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, elites, Empire, Geopolitics, imperialism, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, Technocracy, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Censorship and Disinformation

By W.J. Astore

Source: Bracing Views

The best way to combat disinformation is with more and better information.  Censorship isn’t the answer.

The Biden administration has reached a different conclusion, creating a “Disinformation Governance Board” under the Department of Homeland Security. This “board” is headed by Nina Jankowicz, an unelected official and an apparent partisan hack. One example: she dismissed the infamous Hunter Biden laptop story as a “fairy tale” involving a “laptop repair shop”; it’s now been confirmed that Hunter’s laptop was real, and so too was that repair shop.

Democrats, of course, don’t have exclusive rights to censorship. Republicans always seem to be calling for books to be banned or education to be policed. But the real problem is much larger than partisan hackery and bickering. Efforts at censorship are all around us, couched as a way of protecting us from harmful lies and other forms of disinformation. Yet, as the comedian Jimmy Dore points out, the government isn’t that concerned about protecting you from lies; it is, however, deeply concerned with denying you access to certain truths, truths that undermine governmental authority and the dominant narrative.

As a retired U.S. military officer and as a historian, the most insidious lies and disinformation I’ve encountered have come from the government. Consider the lies revealed by Daniel Ellsberg and his leak of the Pentagon Papers. Consider the war crimes revealed by Chelsea Manning, aided by Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Consider the lies revealed in the recent Afghan War Papers. Consider the lies about the presence of WMD in Iraq, lies that were used to justify the disastrous Iraq War. The government, in short, is a center of lies and disinformation, which is precisely why we need an adversarial media, one that is willing to ferret out truth. Instead, we’re being offered a governmental Ministry of Truth in the form of a “Disinformation Governance Board.”

All things being equal, a democratic society thrives best when speech is as free as possible, trusting in the people to sort fact from fiction, and sound theories from blatant propaganda. And there’s the rub: trusting in the people. Because the government doesn’t trust us (remember Hillary Clinton’s comment about all those irredeemable deplorables), even as the government is often at pains to mislead and misinform us. As maverick journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone said, all governments lie. It’s truly nonsensical, then, to allow the government to police what is true and what is “disinformation.”

But don’t we need some censorship in the name of safety or security or mental health or whatever? Sorry: censorship is rarely about safety, and it most certainly doesn’t serve the needs of the vulnerable. Instead, it serves the needs of the powerful, those who already possess the loudest megaphones in the public square.

But doesn’t someone like Donald Trump deserve to be censored because he spreads disinformation? Which is the bigger problem: Trump or censorship? I happen to think Trump is a divisive con man, but it was a bad precedent for Twitter to have banned him from tweeting. The bigger problem wasn’t Trump’s tweets but the media’s obsessive coverage of them in pursuit of ratings. The way to combat a blowhard like Trump is to ignore him, and to correct him when needed. To combat his lies with the truth. We don’t need a governmental Ministry of Truth to police the tweets of a former president. Not when the government is often the biggest liar.

The solution isn’t censorship but an active, engaged, and informed citizenry, assisted by a fourth estate, the press, that is truly independent and adversarial to power. But the weakening of education in America, combined with a fourth estate that is deeply compromised by the powerful and often in bed with the government, means that these democratic checks on power are less and less effective. Hence calls for quick yet dangerous “solutions” like censorship, where the censors (governmental boards, private corporations) are opaque and almost completely unaccountable to the people.

Unless your goal is to give the already powerful a monopoly on speech, censorship is not the answer.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, civil liberties, Corporate Crime, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, freedom of speech, internet freedom, media, Media Literacy, police state, propaganda, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, Technocracy, war, Whistleblowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US – UK Intel Agencies Declare Cyber War on Independent Media

British and American state intelligence agencies are “weaponizing truth” to quash vaccine hesitancy as both nations prepare for mass inoculations, in a recently announced “cyber war” to be commanded by AI-powered arbiters of truth against information sources that challenge official narratives.

By Whitney Webb

Source: Unlimited Hangout

In just the past week, the national-security states of the United States and United Kingdom have discreetly let it be known that the cyber tools and online tactics previously designed for use in the post-9/11 “war on terror” are now being repurposed for use against information sources promoting “vaccine hesitancy” and information related to Covid-19 that runs counter to their state narratives. 

A new cyber offensive was launched on Monday by the UK’s signal intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which seeks to target websites that publish content deemed to be “propaganda” that raises concerns regarding state-sponsored Covid-19 vaccine development and the multi-national pharmaceutical corporations involved. 

Similar efforts are underway in the United States, with the US military recently funding a CIA-backed firm—stuffed with former counterterrorism officials who were behind the occupation of Iraq and the rise of the so-called Islamic State—to develop an AI algorithm aimed specifically at new websites promoting “suspected” disinformation related to the Covid-19 crisis and the US military–led Covid-19 vaccination effort known as Operation Warp Speed.

Both countries are preparing to silence independent journalists who raise legitimate concerns over pharmaceutical industry corruption or the extreme secrecy surrounding state-sponsored Covid-19 vaccination efforts, now that Pfizer’s vaccine candidate is slated to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by month’s end. 

Pfizer’s history of being fined billions for illegal marketing and for bribing government officials to help them cover up an illegal drug trial that killed eleven children (among other crimes) has gone unmentioned by most mass media outlets, which instead have celebrated the apparently imminent approval of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine without questioning the company’s history or that the mRNA technology used in the vaccine has sped through normal safety trial protocols and has never been approved for human use. Also unmentioned is that the head of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Patrizia Cavazzoni, is the former Pfizer vice president for product safety who covered up the connection of one of its products to birth defects.

Essentially, the power of the state is being wielded like never before to police online speech and to deplatform news websites to protect the interests of powerful corporations like Pfizer and other scandal-ridden pharmaceutical giants as well as the interests of the US and UK national-security states, which themselves are intimately involved in the Covid-19 vaccination endeavor. 

UK Intelligence’s New Cyberwar Targeting “Anti-Vaccine Propaganda”

On Monday, the UK newspaper The Times reported that the UK’s GCHQ “has begun an offensive cyber-operation to disrupt anti-vaccine propaganda being spread by hostile states” and “is using a toolkit developed to tackle disinformation and recruitment material peddled by Islamic State” to do so. In addition, the UK government has ordered the British military’s 77th Brigade, which specializes in “information warfare,” to launch an online campaign to counter “deceptive narratives” about Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

The newly announced GCHQ “cyber war” will not only take down “anti-vaccine propaganda” but will also seek to “disrupt the operations of the cyberactors responsible for it, including encrypting their data so they cannot access it and blocking their communications with each other.”  The effort will also involve GCHQ reaching out to other countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance (US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) to alert their partner agencies in those countries to target such “propaganda” sites hosted within their borders.

The Times stated that “the government regards tackling false information about inoculation as a rising priority as the prospect of a reliable vaccine against the coronavirus draws closer,” suggesting that efforts will continue to ramp up as a vaccine candidate gets closer to approval.

It seems that, from the perspective of the UK national-security state, those who question corruption in the pharmaceutical industry and its possible impact on the leading experimental Covid-19 vaccine candidates (all of which use experimental vaccine technologies that have never before been approved for human use) should be targeted with tools originally designed to combat terrorist propaganda. 

While The Times asserted that the effort would target content “that originated only from state adversaries” and would not target the sites of “ordinary citizens,” the newspaper suggested that the effort would rely on the US government for determining whether or not a site is part of a “foreign disinformation” operation. 

This is highly troubling given that the US recently seized the domains of many sites, including the American Herald Tribune, which it erroneously labeled as “Iranian propaganda,” despite its editor in chief, Anthony Hall, being based in Canada. The US government made this claim about the American Herald Tribune after the cybersecurity firm FireEye, a US government contractor, stated that it had “moderate confidence” that the site had been “founded in Iran.” 

In addition, the fact that GCHQ has alleged that most of the sites it plans to target are “linked to Moscow” gives further cause for concern given that the UK government was caught funding the Institute for Statecraft’s Integrity Initiative, which falsely labeled critics of the UK government’s actions as well as its narratives with respect to the Syria conflict as being related to “Russian disinformation” campaigns.

Given this precedent, it is certainly plausible that GCHQ could take the word of either an allied government, a government contractor, or perhaps even an allied media organization such as Bellingcat or the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab that a given site is “foreign propaganda” in order to launch a cyber offensive against it. Such concerns are only amplified when one of the main government sources for The Times article bluntly stated that “GCHQ has been told to take out antivaxers [sic] online and on social media. There are ways they have used to monitor and disrupt terrorist propaganda,” which suggests that the targets of GCHQ’s new cyber war will, in fact, be determined by the content itself rather than their suspected “foreign” origin. The “foreign” aspect instead appears to be a means of evading the prohibition in GCHQ’s operational mandate on targeting the speech or websites of ordinary citizens.

This larger pivot toward treating alleged “anti-vaxxers” as “national security threats” has been ongoing for much of this year, spearheaded in part by Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the UK-based Center for Countering Digital Hate, a member of the UK government’s Steering Committee on Countering Extremism Pilot Task Force, which is part of the UK government’s Commission for Countering Extremism. 

Ahmed told the UK newspaper The Independent in July that “I would go beyond calling anti-vaxxers conspiracy theorists to say they are an extremist group that pose a national security risk.” He then stated that “once someone has been exposed to one type of conspiracy it’s easy to lead them down a path where they embrace more radical world views that can lead to violent extremism,” thereby implying that “anti-vaxxers” might engage in acts of violent extremism. Among the websites cited by Ahmed’s organization as promoting such “extremism” that poses a “national security risk” were Children’s Health Defense, the National Vaccine Information Center, Informed Consent Action Network, and Mercola.com, among others.

Similarly, a think tank tied to US intelligence—whose GCHQ equivalent, the National Security Agency, will take part in the newly announced “cyber war”—argued in a research paper published just months before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis that “the US ‘anti-vaxxer’ movement would pose a threat to national security in the event of a ‘pandemic with a novel organism.’”

InfraGard, “a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and members of the private sector,” warned in the paper published last June that “the US anti-vaccine movement would also be connected with ‘social media misinformation and propaganda campaigns’ orchestrated by the Russian government,” as cited by The Guardian. The InfraGard paper further claimed that prominent “anti-vaxxers” are aligned “with other conspiracy movements including the far right . . . and social media misinformation and propaganda campaigns by many foreign and domestic actors. Included among these actors is the Internet Research Agency, the Russian government–aligned organization.”

An article published just last month by the Washington Post argued that “vaccine hesitancy is mixing with coronavirus denial and merging with far-right American conspiracy theories, including Qanon,” which the FBI named a potential domestic terror threat last year. The article quoted Peter Hotez, dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, as saying “The US anti-vaccination movement is globalizing and it’s going toward more-extremist tendencies.”

It is worth pointing out that many so-called “anti-vaxxers” are actually critics of the pharmaceutical industry and are not necessarily opposed to vaccines in and of themselves, making the labels “anti-vaxxer” and “anti-vaccine” misleading. Given that many pharmaceutical giants involved in making Covid-19 vaccines donate heavily to politiciansin both countries and have been involved in numerous safety scandals, using state intelligence agencies to wage cyber war against sites that investigate such concerns is not only troubling for the future of journalism but it suggests that the UK is taking a dangerous leap toward becoming a country that uses its state powers to treat the enemies of corporations as enemies of the state.

The CIA-Backed Firm “Weaponizing Truth” with AI

In early October, the US Air Force and US Special Operations Command announced that they had awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to the US-based “machine intelligence” company Primer. Per the press release, “Primer will develop the first-ever machine learning platform to automatically identify and assess suspected disinformation [emphasis added]. Primer will also enhance its natural language processing platform to automatically analyze tactical events to provide commanders with unprecedented insight as events unfold in near real-time.”

According to Primer, the company “builds software machines that read and write in English, Russian, and Chinese to automatically unearth trends and patterns across large volumes of data,” and their work “supports the mission of the intelligence community and broader DOD by automating reading and research tasks to enhance the speed and quality of decision-making.” In other words, Primer is developing an algorithm that would allow the national-security state to outsource many military and intelligence analyst positions to AI. In fact, the company openly admits this, stating that their current effort “will automate the work typically done by dozens of analysts in a security operations center to ingest all of the data relevant to an event as it happens and funnel it into a unified user interface.”

Primer’s ultimate goal is to use their AI to entirely automate the shaping of public perceptions and become the arbiter of “truth,” as defined by the state. Primer’s founder, Sean Gourley, who previously created AI programs for the military to track “insurgency” in post-invasion Iraq, asserted in an April blog post that “computational warfare and disinformation campaigns will, in 2020, become a more serious threat than physical war, and we will have to rethink the weapons we deploy to fight them.” 

In that same post, Gourley argued for the creation of a “Manhattan Project for truth” that would create a publicly available Wikipedia-style database built off of “knowledge bases [that] already exist inside many countries’ intelligence agencies for national security purposes.” Gourley then wrote that “this effort would be ultimately about building and enhancing our collective intelligence and establishing a baseline for what’s true or not” as established by intelligence agencies. He concludes his blog post by stating that “in 2020, we will begin to weaponize truth.”

Notably, on November 9, the same day that GCHQ announced its plans to target “anti-vaccine propaganda,” the US website NextGov reported that Primer’s Pentagon-funded effort had turned its attention specifically to “Covid-19 related disinformation.” According to Primer’s director of science, John Bohannon, “Primer will be integrating bot detection, synthetic text detection and unstructured textual claims analysis capabilities into our existing artificial intelligence platform currently in use with DOD. . . . This will create the first unified mission-ready platform to effectively counter Covid-19-related disinformation in near-real time.”

Bohannon, who previously worked as a mainstream journalist embedded with NATO forces in Afghanistan, also told NextGov that Primer’s new Covid-19–focused effort “automatically classifies documents into one of 10 categories to enable the detection of the impact of COVID” on areas such as “business, science and technology, employment, the global economy, and elections.” The final product is expected to be delivered to the Pentagon in the second quarter of next year.

Though a so-called private company, Primer is deeply linked to the national-security state it is designed to protect by “weaponizing truth.” Primer proudly promotes itself as having more than 15 percent of its staff hailing from the US intelligence community or military. The director of the company’s National Security Group is Brian Raymond, a former CIA intelligence officer who served as the Director for Iraq on the US National Security Council after leaving the agency. 

The company also recently added several prominent national-security officials to its board including:

  • Gen. Raymond Thomas (ret.), who led the command of all US and NATO Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan and is the former commander of both US Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
  • Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson (ret.), the former deputy chief of staff for Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance who led the Air Force’s intelligence and cyber forces. She also personally developed “strategic partnerships” between the Air Force and Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and IBM in order “to accelerate the Air Force’s digital transformation.”
  • Brett McGurk, one of the “chief architects” of the Iraq War “surge,” alongside the notorious Kagan family, as NSC Director for Iraq, and then as special assistant to the president and senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration. Under Obama and during part of the Trump administration, McGurk was the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the State Department, helping to manage the “dirty war” waged by the US, the UK, and other allies against Syria.

In addition to those recent board hires, Primer brought on Sue Gordon, the former principal deputy director of National Intelligence, as a strategic adviser. Gordon previously “drove partnerships within the US Intelligence Community and provided advice to the National Security Council in her role as deputy director of national intelligence” and had a twenty-seven-year career at the CIA. The deep links are unsurprising, given that Primer is financially backed by the CIA’s venture-capital arm In-Q-Tel and the venture-capital arm of billionaire Mike Bloomberg, Bloomberg Beta.

Operation Warp Speed’s Disinformation Blitzkrieg   

The rapid increase in interest by the US and UK national-security states toward Covid-19 “disinformation,” particularly as it relates to upcoming Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, is intimately related to the media-engagement strategy of the US government’s Operation Warp Speed. 

Officially a “public-private partnership,” Operation Warp Speed, which has the goal of vaccinating 300 million Americans by next January, is dominated by the US military and also involves several US intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as intelligence-linked tech giants Google, Oracle, and Palantir. Several reports published in The Last American Vagabondby this author and journalist Derrick Broze have revealed the extreme secrecy of the operation, its numerous conflicts of interest, and its deep ties to Silicon Valley and Orwellian technocratic initiatives. 

Warp Speed’s official guidance discusses at length its phased plan for engaging the public and addressing issues of “vaccine hesitancy.” According to the Warp Speed document entitled “From the Factory to the Frontlines,” “strategic communications and public messaging are critical to ensure maximum acceptance of vaccines, requiring a saturation of messaging across the national media.” It also states that “working with established partners—especially those that are trusted sources for target audiences—is critical to advancing public understanding of, access to, and acceptance of eventual vaccines” and that “identifying the right messages to promote vaccine confidence, countering misinformation, and targeting outreach to vulnerable and at-risk populations will be necessary to achieve high coverage.”

The document also notes that Warp Speed will employ the CDC’s three-pronged strategic framework for its communications effort. The third pillar of that strategy is entitled “Stop Myths” and has as a main focus “establish[ing] partnerships to contain the spread of misinformation” as well as “work[ing] with local partners and trusted messengers to improve confidence in vaccines.”

Though that particular Warp Speed document is short on specifics, the CDC’s Covid-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook contains additional information. It states that Operation Warp Speed will “engage and use a wide range of partners, collaborations, and communication and news media channels to achieve communication goals, understanding that channel preferences and credible sources vary among audiences and people at higher risk for severe illness and critical populations, and channels vary in their capacity to achieve different communication objectives.” It states that it will focus its efforts in this regard on “traditional media channels” (print, radio, and TV) as well as “digital media” (internet, social media, and text messaging). 

The CDC document further reveals that the “public messaging” campaign to “promote vaccine uptake” and address “vaccine hesitancy” is divided into four phases and adds that the overall communication strategy of Warp Speed “should be timely and applicable for the current phase of the Covid-19 Vaccination program.” 

Those phases are:

  • Before a vaccine is available
  • The vaccine is available in limited supply for certain populations of early focus
  • The vaccine is increasingly available for other critical populations and the general public
  • The vaccine is widely available

Given that the Covid-19 vaccine candidate produced by Pfizer is expected to be approved by the end of November, it appears that the US national-security state, which is essentially running Operation Warp Speed, along with “trusted messengers” in mass media, is preparing to enter the second phase of its communications strategy, one in which news organizations and journalists who raise legitimate concerns about Warp Speed will be de-platformed to make way for the “required” saturation of pro-vaccine messaging across the English-speaking media landscape.

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Two for Tuesday

Negativland

Tears for Fears

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What the Media Still Isn’t Telling You About Russiagate

By Ray McGovern

Source: AntiWar.com

Two years ago last Saturday (May 7, 2020) Adam Schiff (D, California), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, was forced to perform what Nixon co-conspirator John Ehrlichman famously called a “modified limited hangout.”

On that day, Schiff released sworn testimony that there was zero technical evidence that Russia – or anyone else – hacked those DNC emails so prejudicial to Hillary Clinton (later published by WikiLeaks).

Now, please, before you put me in Putin’s or Trump’s pocket, read on: The testifier was Shawn Henry, the head of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. For reasons former FBI Director James Comey would never really explain, he deferred to CrowdStrike to do the forensic work on the DNC computers that were supposedly “hacked.” Comey told Congress that CrowdStrike “would share with us what they saw.”

In June 2019, it was revealed that CrowdStrike never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, according to the Justice Department.

Are you starting to smell a rat? What about the “modified limited hangout”?

Well, if some or all of this is news to you, it is because the NY Times and other major media have deep-sixed it for exactly two years now, and counting. It gets worse – much worse.

What Did Schiff Know and When Did He Know It?

Fasten your seatbelts: It was on December 5, 2017 that Shawn Henry gave sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee – see the official transcript. Henry testified that there was no technical evidence that Russia, or any other entity, hacked the DNC emails that were published by WikiLeaks just before the Democratic Convention in July 2016. (The emails showed how the deck had been stacked against Bernie Sanders – in the primaries, for example.)

Shawn Henry is a longtime protégé of former FBI Director Robert Mueller and headed Mueller’s FBI cyber investigation unit. After retiring from the FBI in 2012, he took a senior position at CrowdStrike. At his testimony on Dec. 5, 2017, he had Graham M. Wilson, a partner at Perkins Coie, as well as David C. Lashway of Baker & McKenzie in support.

Falling Silently in the Forest

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, relying on (1) the extensive expertise and professional experience of two members who happened to have been Technical Directors at NSA, (2) the revelations of Edward Snowden, and (3) the immutable principles of physics, had already concluded that the accusation of that Russian hack on the DNC was phony. (That Brennan’s CIA “believed” it to be credible helped not a whit.)

Below is how we began “Allegations of Hacking are Baseless,” our Memorandum of December 12, 2016 (a year before Shawn Henry was forced to choose between telling the truth or perjuring himself). We wrote:

New York Times report on Monday alluding to “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” leading the CIA to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin “deployed computer hackers with the goal of tipping the election to Donald J. Trump” is, sadly, evidence-free. This is no surprise, because harder evidence of a technical nature points to an inside leak, not hacking – by Russians or anyone else. (See: “US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims.”)

We even included a brief tutorial on the difference between a “hack” and a leak, but we were already, in Dec. 2016 going up against deeply encrusted popular “belief” based on intelligence-corporate media connivance.

‘Modified Limited Hangout’

Schiff was able to hide Shawn Henry’s testimony for two and a half years. Under considerable pressure from a new Director of National Intelligence, who threatened to release the testimony himself, Schiff finally relented and released it (as mentioned above) on May 7, 2020. As for Establishment media, the transcript of Henry’s testimony fell like the proverbial tree in the forest with no one around to hear it.

Did the NY Times, et al. get “The Memo” ordering all to avoid Henry’s testimony like the plague? Actually, in this particular case, corporate media had quite enough incentive of their own to hide from media consumers the fact that “Russian hacking,” the cornerstone of Russia-gate, was a crock, and that viewers and listeners had been had.

When I wrote about the released – well, sort of released – Shawn Henry transcript the following day, there was a wealth of background information to provide context to this sordid affair. I included a four-minute discussion I had had with Schiff just five days after Trump took office, a reminder that the Dems were well into “Russian hacking” as the centerpiece of Russia-gate from the very start. (That clip, and lots else, is embedded here)

So Schiff knew on Dec. 5, 2017 that “Russian hacking” of those DNC emails was bogus. I was recently asked, why do you suppose he did not tell Robert Mueller, the “Inspector Javert” in hot pursuit of “Russian election interference,” whose $32-million investigation of Russia-gate lasted from May 2017 till March 2019? Good question. Did Shawn Henry misplace the telephone number of Mueller, his old boss and mentor? Or did Mueller know, and despite knowing, continued his Javert-like chase until after the mid-terms in November 2018. (That worked for the Democrats; and, not incidentally, Schiff took back the reins of the Intelligence Committee.)

Most of Americans have no idea how they’ve been had on Russia-gate. And the NYTimes, et al. have every reason to keep them in the dark about “Russian hacking.” Most people have little idea as to how the steady drumming on Russian perfidy has conditioned them not only to distrust “the Russians,” but to hate them. (What, after all, could be more hateful than for being responsible for giving us four years of Trump?) Sadly – and admittedly – it cannot be considered unreasonable to be convinced that everything out of Trump’s mouth is a lie and that he would never ever tell the truth about Russia – given what Obama and others call his “bromance” with Putin.

There are, of course, dangerous implications in all this for what Americans may be asked in terms of confronting Russia on Ukraine.

On wider Russia-gate issues over the past five years and my tree-falling-in-forest attempts to expose the malfeasance of our corporate-captive media, readers may wish to review this.

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