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Kansas Suspends Tenure Protections

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 6:20am in

The Kansas Board of Regents yesterday approved a measure that, according to a faculty member representing the Council of Faculty Senate Presidents in Kanasas, “basically suspends tenure for a year” at public institutions of higher education in Kansas, “and sets a dangerous precedent for doing so again in the future.”

The measure, approved unanimously by the Regents, states:

In light of the extreme financial pressures placed on the state universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, decreased program and university enrollment, and state fiscal issues, effective immediately through December 31, 2021 and notwithstanding any other Board or institutional
policy, any state university employee, including a tenured faculty member, may be suspended, dismissed, or terminated from employment by their respective university.

The administration at each university is tasked by the policy to create a “framework for the university’s decision-making” within 45 days that will lay down the criteria and procedures used for any suspensions, dismissals, or terminations, though the policy does require that anyone terminated receive (at least) 30 days’ written notice, and decisions are appealable.

You can view the whole document below (and hhere), and there’s an article about the policy and reaction to it in the Lawrence Journal-World.

(via Dale Dorsey)

The post Kansas Suspends Tenure Protections appeared first on Daily Nous.

ScoMo Tells Everyone To Ease Up On All The Questions As He’s Still Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things After His Holiday

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/01/2021 - 6:00am in

Australian Prime Minister Scotty from Marketing has asked the media to please ease up on all the questions, especially those about his colleague Craig Kelly, as he’s still trying to get back into the swing of things after his most recent holiday.

“It’s good that the press is taking an interest in what I got up to during my holidays,” said Prime Minister Scotty. ”However, when it comes to questions about what my colleagues are up, to or what President Trump did this week. I ask you all to just give me a few months to get back into the swing of things.”

“After all, it’s not like I set the Nation’s agenda!”

When asked why he was so hesitant to discuss his colleague Craig Kelly and his controversial social media posts, the PM said: ”Whilst I was on holiday I didn’t take along my phone, so I am a bit oblivious to what people are talking about on the Facebook or the old Instagram.”

”Are the Kardashians still popular? What about that wacky dude from Korea? Is he still kicking it Gangham-style?”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s been a long day – so I might head off work early. Is Maccas still doing an all-day breakfast?”

”Nevermind, I’ll call into Engadine Maccas on the way home.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

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Consent-Manufacturing For Patriot Act II Continues

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 3:11pm in

It’s been obvious for a long time that the best way to stop the rise of right-wing extremism in America that everyone’s so worried about today is not to pass a bunch of authoritarian laws, but to reverse the policies of soul-crushing neoliberalism and domestic austerity which led to Donald Trump. Instead of doing this, the next president is already pushing a Patriot Act sequel and reducing the stimulus checks he’d promised the public before he’s even been sworn in.

President-elect Biden promised unambiguously that if voters gave the Democratic Party control of the Senate by electing Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia earlier this month, checks of $2,000 would “go out the door immediately”. Warnock blatantly campaigned on the promise of $2000 checks if elected, literally using pictures of checks with “$2000” written on them to do so. This was not an unclear promise by any stretch of the imagination, yet when Biden unveiled the “American Rescue Plan” on Thursday, the number 1400 was written where the number 2000 should have been.

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The argument being pushed out at the moment is that when Democrats were blatantly promising stimulus checks of $2000 what they really meant was that Americans would receive $1400 on top of the $600 checks they’d received earlier, and everyone should have just known this somehow (perhaps via some sort of psychic precognition or sorcery). Which of course makes as much sense as someone hiring you to do a job for a given amount of money and then paying you the amount promised minus the amount you’d made at your last job.

It’s just so emblematic of US austerity policies, which are so normalized they don’t even use that word. Keep people stretched so thin that even a paltry $2000 after months and months of nothing can be spun as an excessively exorbitant indulgence which must be scaled back to keep it reasonable. In reality a grand total of $2600 in the richest nation on earth after all this time would still be a huge slap in the face, but generations of media spin have gone into keeping Americans from attaining that level of rightful entitlement.

So as of this writing the internet is full of angry Americans actually typing the words “$1400 is not $2000”, which is totally bananas. People should not have to say that the number 1400 is not the same as the number 2000. It feels like if my Twitter feed was full of people saying “Cars are not birds”, or “Pogs are not iPhones”, or “Mimes are not salad”. People should not have to make such self-evident clarifications.

But they apparently do need to make such clarifications, because scumbags like Adam Schiff are looking them right in the eye, sharing information that says “$1,400 checks” on it, and telling them that it says “$2000 relief checks”.

2 + 2 = 5.

So again, it’s pretty clear that America isn’t going to attempt to reverse the conditions which created Trump and all the extremist factions that everyone’s been freaking out about since the Capitol riot. Obama led to Trump, and the strategy going forward is to just keep tightening the neoliberal screws like both Obama and Trump did throughout their entire administrations. And, of course, to advance new “domestic terrorism” laws.

As we discussed previously, Biden has often boasted of being the original author of the Patriot Act years before it was rapidly rolled out amid the fear and blind obsequiousness of the aftermath of 9/11. Now in the aftermath of the Capitol riot we are seeing a push to roll out new authoritarian laws around terrorism, this time taking aim at “domestic terror”, which were also in preparation prior to the event used to manufacture support for them.

In a new article for Washington Monthly titled “It’s Time for a Domestic Terrorism Law”, Bill Scher argues against left-wing critics of the coming laws like Glenn Greenwald and Jacobin’s Luke Savage saying such “knee-jerk reactions” against potential authoritarian abuses fail to address the growing problem. He opens with the acknowledgement that “Joe Biden’s transition team was already working on a domestic terrorism law before the insurrection,” and then he just keeps on writing as though that’s not weird or suspicious in any way.

Scher lists among the growing threat of domestic terror not just white supremacists and right-wing extremists but “extremist left-wing domestic terrorism” as well. He approvingly cites Adam Schiff’s Confronting The Threat of Terrorism Act, which “creates a definition of domestic terrorism broadly encompassing plots that carry a ‘substantial risk of serious bodily injury’ along with an ‘intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population’ or ‘influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.’” The ACLU has unequivocally denounced Schiff’s bill, saying it “would unnecessarily expand law enforcement authorities to target and discriminate against the very communities Congress is seeking to protect.”

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Known CIA asset Ken Dilanian has also been trotted out to make the case that Americans have too many rights for their own good, co-authoring an NBC article titled “Worried about free speech, FBI never issued intelligence bulletin about possible Capitol violence”.

“FBI intelligence analysts gathered information about possible violence involving the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6., but the FBI never distributed a formal intelligence bulletin, in part because of concerns that doing so might have run afoul of free speech protections, a current and two former senior FBI officials familiar with the matter told NBC News,” the article warns, making sure to inform readers that “experts say the lack of a domestic terrorism statute constrains the FBI from treating far-right and far-left groups the same as Americans who are radicalized to violence by Al Qaeda or ISIS ideology.”

We can expect to see more such articles going forward.

The only way to sincerely believe more Patriot Act-like laws will benefit Americans is to believe that the US will only have wise and beneficent leaders going forward, and the only way to sincerely believe the US will only have wise and beneficent leaders going forward is to be completely shit-eating stupid. The trajectory has already been chosen, and that trajectory is the one that has already given rise to Trump. Continuing along that same trajectory can only give rise to something far uglier, and that something far uglier will have whatever new authoritarian powers are added by Joe Biden.

They’re not actually worried about “domestic terror”, they’re worried about any movement which threatens to topple the status quo. They want to make sure they can adequately spy, infiltrate, agitate and incarcerate into impotence any movement which provides a threat to America’s rulers and the system which funnels them wealth and power at the expense of everyone else. The movements which most threaten this are not rightists, who are generally more or less aligned with the interests of the oligarchic empire, but the left.

This is who they’ll end up targeting going forward, and whatever Biden and Company wind up rolling out to fight “domestic terrorism” will help them do so.

_____________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels (you can also download a PDF for five bucks) or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Reflections on public sector transformation and COVID

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 12:30pm in

Public sectors around the world are facing unprecedented challenges as the speed, scale and complexity of modern life grows exponentially. The 21st century is a large, complex, globalised and digital age unlike anything in the history of humans, but our systems of governance were largely forged in the industrial age. The 20th century alone saw enough change to merit a rethink: global population rose from 1.6 billion to 6 billion, two world wars spurred the creation of global economic and power structures, the number of nations rose from 77 to almost 200, and of course we entered the age of electronics and the internet, changing forever the experience, connectivity, access to knowledge, and increased individual empowerment of people everywhere. Between Climate Change, COVID-19, and globalism, nations worldwide are also now preparing for the likelihood of rolling emergencies, whether health, environmental, economic or social.

“Traditional” approaches to policy, service delivery and regulation are too slow, increasingly ineffective and result in increasingly hard to predict outcomes, making most public sectors and governments increasingly unable to meet the changing needs of the communities we serve.

Decades of austerity, hollowing out expertise, fragmentation of interdependent functions that are forced to compete, outsourcing and the inevitable ensuing existential crises have all left public sectors less prepared than ever, at a the time when people most need us. Trust is declining and yet public sectors often feel unable to be authoritative sources of facts or information, independent of political or ideological influence, which exacerbates the trust and confidence deficit. Public sectors have become too reactive, too “business” focused, constantly pivoting all efforts on the latest emergency, cost efficiency, media release or whim of the Minister, whilst not investing in baseline systems, transformation, programs or services that are needed to be proactive and resilient. A values-based public sector that is engaged with, responsive to and serving the needs of (1) the Government, (2) the Parliament AND (3) the people – a difficult balancing act to be sure! – is critical, both to maintaining the trust of all three masters, and to being genuinely effective over time :)

Whether it is regulation, services or financial management, public sectors everywhere also need to embrace change as the new norm, which means our systems, processes and structures need to be engaged in continuously measuring, monitoring and responding to change, throughout the entire policy-delivery lifecycle. This means policy and delivery folk should be hand in hand throughout the entire process, so the baton passing between functionally segmented teams can end.

Faux transformation

Sadly today, most “transformation programs” appear to fall into one of three types:

  • Iteration or automation – iterative improvements, automation or new tech just thrown at existing processes and services, which doesn’t address the actual needs, systemic problems, or the gaping policy-delivery continuum chasm that has widened significantly in recent decades; or
  • Efficiency restructures - well marketed austerity measures to reduce the cost of government without actually improving the performance, policy outcomes or impact of government; or
  • Experimentation at the periphery - real transformation skills or units that are kept at the fringe and unable to drive or affect systemic change across any given public sector.

Most “transformation programs” I see are simply not particularly transformative, particularly when you scratch the surface to find how they would change things in future. If you answer is “we’ll have a new system” or “an x% improvement”, then it probably isn’t transformation, it is probably an iteration. Transformation should result in exponential solutions to exponential problems and a test driven and high confidence policy-delivery continuum that takes days not months for implementation, with the effects of new policies clearly seen through consistently measured, monitored and continuously improved delivery. You should have a clear and clearly understood future state in mind to transformation towards, otherwise it is certainly iteration on the status quo.

There are good exceptions to this normative pattern. Estonia, Taiwan, South Korea, Canada and several nations across South East Asia have and are investing in genuine and systemic transformation programs, often focused on improving the citizen experience as well as the quality of life of their citizens and communities. My favourite quote from 2020 was from Dr Sania Nishtar (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection) when she said ‘it is neither feasible nor desirable to return to the pre-COVID status’. It was part of a major UNDP summit on NextGenGov, where all attendees reflected the same sentiment that COVID exposed significant gaps in our public sectors, and we all need significant reform to be effective and responsive to rolling emergencies moving forward.

So what does good transformation look like?

I would categorise true transformation efforts in three types, with all three needed:

  1. Policy and service transformation means addressing and reimagining the policy-delivery continuum in the 21st century, and bringing policy and implementation people together in the same process and indeed, the same (virtual) room. This would mean new policies are better informed, able to be tested from inception through to implementation, are able to be immediately or at least swiftly implemented upon enactment in Parliament and are then continuously measured, monitored and iterated in accordance with the intended policy outcome. The exact same infrastructure used for delivery should be used for policy, and vice versa, to ensure there is no gap between, and to ensure policy outcomes are best realised whilst also responding to ongoing change. After all, when policy outcomes are not realized, regardless of whose fault it     was, it is everyone’s failure. This kind of transformation is possible within any one department or agency, but ideally needs leadership across all of government to ensure consistency of policy impact and benefits realisation.
  2. Organizational transformation would mean getting back to basics and having a clear vision of the purpose and intended impact of the department as a whole, with clear overarching measurement of those goals, and clear line of sight for how all programs contribute to those goals, and with all staff clear in how their work supports the goals. This type of transformation requires structural cultural transformation that builds on the shared values and goals of the department, but gains a consistency of behaviours that are constructive and empathetic. This kind of transformation is entirely possible within the domain of any one department or agency, if the leadership support and participate in it.
  3. Systemic transformation means the addressing and reimagining of the public sector as a whole, including its role in society, the structures, incentive systems, assurance processes, budget management, 21st century levers (like open government), staff support and relationship to other sectors. It also means having a clear vision for what it means to be a proud, empowered and skilled public servant today, which necessarily includes system and design thinking, participatory governance skills and digital literacy (not just skills). This can’t be done in any one department and requires all of public sector investment, coordination and cross government mandate. This level of transformation has started to happen in some countries but it is early days and needs prioritization if public sectors are to truly and systemically transform. Such transformation efforts often focus on structure, but need to include scope for transformation of policy, services, workforce, funding and more across government.

As we enter the age of Artificial Intelligence, public sectors should also be planning what an augmented public sector looks like, one that keeps values, trust and accountability at the heart of what we do, whilst using machines to support better responsiveness, modelling, service delivery and to maintain diligent and proactive protection of the people and communities we serve. Most AI projects seem to be about iterative efforts, automation or cost savings, which misses the opportunity to design a modern public service that gets the best of humans and machines working together for the best public outcomes.

COVID-19

COVID has been a dramatic reminder of the ineffectiveness of government systems to respond to changing needs in at least three distinct ways:

  • heavy use of emergency powers have been relied upon to get anything of substance done, demonstrating key systemic barriers, but rather than changing the problematic business as usual processes, many are reverting to usual practice as soon as practical;
  • superhuman efforts have barely scratched the surface of the problems. The usual resourcing response to pressure it to just increase resources rather than to change how we respond to the problem, but there are not exponential resources available, so ironically the
  • inequities have been compounded by governments pressing on the same old levers with the same old processes without being able to measure, monitor and iterative or pivot in real time in response to the impacts of change.

Sadly, the pressure for ‘good news stories’ often drives a self-congratulatory tone and an increase to an already siloed mindset, as public servants struggle to respond to increased and often diametrically opposed expectations and needs from the public and political domains. Many have also mistaken teleworking for transformation, potentially missing a critical opportunity to transform towards a 21st century public sector.

Last word

I’m planning to do a bit more writing about this, so please leave your comments and thoughts below. I’d be keen to hear how you differentiate transformation from iterative efforts, and how to ensure we are doing both. There is, of course, value to be found in some iterative efforts. It is when 100% of our time and effort is focused on iteration that we see public sectors simply revert to playing whack-a-mole against an exponentially growing problem space, hence the need to have SOME proportion of our resource on genuine transformation efforts. Proportional planning is critical so we address both the important and the urgent, not one without the other.

The Assange Extradition Ruling Is A Relief, But It Isn’t Justice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 1:31am in

British Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled against US extradition for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but not for the reasons she should have.

Baraitser’s frightening ruling supported virtually every US prosecutorial argument that was made during the extradition trial, no matter how absurd and Orwellian. This includes quoting from a long-discredited CNN report alleging without evidence that Assange made the embassy a “command post” for election interference, saying the right to free speech does not give anyone “unfettered discretion” to disclose any document they wish, dismissing arguments from the defense that UK law prohibits extradition for political offenses, parroting the false claim that Assange’s attempt to help protect his source Chelsea Manning while she was exfiltrating documents she already had access to was not normal journalistic behavior, saying US intelligence might have had legitimate reasons to spy on Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, and claiming Assange’s rights would be protected by the US legal system if he were extradited.

“Judge is just repeating the US case, including its most dubious claims, in Assange case,” tweeted activist John Rees during the proceedings.

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In the end, though, Baraitser ruled against extradition. Not because the US government has no business extraditing an Australian journalist from the UK for exposing its war crimes. Not because allowing the extradition and prosecution of journalists under the Espionage Act poses a direct threat to press freedoms worldwide. Not to prevent a global chilling effect on natsec investigative journalism into the behaviors of the largest power structures on our planet. No, Baraitser ultimately ruled against extradition because Assange would be too high a suicide risk in America’s draconian prison system.

Assange is still not free, and he is not out of the woods. The US government has said it will appeal the decision, and Baraitser has the legal authority to keep Assange locked in Belmarsh Prison until that appeals process has been carried through all the way to its end. Discussions on bail and release will resume on Wednesday, and Assange will remain imprisoned in Belmarsh at least until that time. Due to Assange’s bail offense which resulted from taking political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012, it’s very possible that bail will be denied and he will remain imprisoned throughout the US government appeal.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Australian trade union to which Assange belongs as a journalist, has released a statement on the ruling which outlines the situation nicely.

“Today’s court ruling is a huge relief for Julian, his partner and family, his legal team and his supporters around the world,” said MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom. “Julian has suffered a 10-year ordeal for trying to bring information of public interest to the light of day, and it has had an immense impact on his mental and physical health.”

“But we are dismayed that the judge showed no concern for press freedom in any of her comments today, and effectively accepted the US arguments that journalists can be prosecuted for exposing war crimes and other government secrets, and for protecting their sources,” Strom added. “The stories for which he was being prosecuted were published by WikiLeaks a decade ago and revealed war crimes and other shameful actions by the United States government. They were clearly in the public interest. The case against Assange has always been politically motivated with the intent of curtailing free speech, criminalising journalism and sending a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished if they step out of line.”

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Indeed, the ruling today was a huge relief for Assange, his family, and for all his supporters around the world. But it wasn’t justice.

“It’s good to hear that court has ruled against the extradition of Julian Assange but I am wary of the fact it’s on mental health grounds,” AP’s Joana Ramiro commented on the ruling. “It’s a rather feeble precedent against the extradition of whistleblowers and/or in defence of the free press. Democracy needs better than that.”

“This wasn’t a victory for press freedom,” tweeted journalist Glenn Greenwald. “Quite the contrary: the judge made clear she believed there are grounds to prosecute Assange in connection with the 2010 publication. It was, instead, an indictment of the insanely oppressive US prison system for security ‘threats’.”

It is good that Baraitser ultimately ruled against extradition, but her ruling also supported the entirety of the US government’s prosecutorial narrative that would allow for extradition of journalists under the Espionage Act in the future. The ruling is a significant step toward freedom for Julian Assange, but it changes nothing as far as global imperialist tyranny is concerned.

So the appropriate response at this time is a sigh of relief, but not celebration. The Assange case has never been about just one man; the greater part of the battle, the one we are all fighting, continues unabated.

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That said, the message of the empire here was essentially “We totally coulda extradited you if we wanted, but you’re too crazy,” which sounds a lot like the international diplomacy equivalent of “I could kick your ass but you’re not worth it.” It’s a way of backing down while still saving face and appearing to be a threat. But everyone looking on can see that backing down is still backing down.

I think it’s a safe bet that if this case hadn’t had such intense scrutiny on it from all over the world, we would have heard a different ruling today. The empire did what it could to try and intimidate journalists with the possibility of prison for exposing its malfeasance, but in the end, it backed down.

I’m not going to take that as a sign that we’ve won the war, or even the battle. But it is a sign that our punches are landing. And that we’ve got a fighting chance here.

______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Secret, Invisible Evidence Of Russian Hacking Is Not Actually Evidence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/12/2020 - 2:53pm in

Image via Pixabay

The Communist Party of China has been covertly sending arms to extremist Antifa militants in the United States in preparation for the civil war which is expected to take place after Joe Biden declares himself President for Life and institutes a Marxist dictatorship. The weapons shipments include rocket launchers, directed energy weapons, nunchucks and ninja throwing stars.

Unfortunately I cannot provide evidence for this shocking revelation as doing so would compromise my sources and methods, but trust me it’s definitely true and must be acted upon immediately. I recommend President Trump declare martial law without a moment’s hesitation and begin planning a military response to these Chinese aggressions.

How does this make you feel? Was your first impulse to begin scanning for evidence of the incendiary claim I made in my opening paragraph?

It would be perfectly reasonable if it was. I am after all some random person on the internet whom you have probably never met, and you’ve no reason to accept any bold claim I might make on blind faith. It would make sense for you to want to see some verification of my claim, and then dismiss my claim as baseless hogwash when I failed to provide that verification.

If you’re a more regular reader, it would have also been reasonable for you to guess that I was doing a bit. But imagine if I wasn’t? Imagine if I really was claiming that the Chinese government is arming Antifa ninja warriors to kill patriotic Americans in the coming Biden Wars. How crazy would you have to be to believe what I was saying without my providing hard, verifiable evidence for my claims?

Now imagine further that this is something I’ve made false claims about many times in the past. If every few years I make a new claim about some naughty government arming Antifa super soldiers in a great communist uprising, which turns out later to have been bogus.

Well you’d dismiss me as a crackpot, wouldn’t you? I wouldn’t blame you. That would be the only reasonable response to such a ridiculous spectacle.

And yet if I were an employee of a US government agency making unproven incendiary claims about a government that isn’t aligned with the US-centralized power alliance, the entire political/media class would be parroting what I said as though it’s an established fact. Even though US government agencies have an extensive and well-documented history of lying about such things.

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Today we’re all expected to be freaking out about Russia again because Russia hacked the United States again right before a new president took office again, so now it’s very important that we support new cold war escalations from both the outgoing president and the incoming president again. We’re not allowed to see the evidence that this actually happened again, but it’s of utmost importance that we trust and support new aggressions against Russia anyway. Again.

The New York Times has a viral op-ed going around titled “I Was the Homeland Security Adviser to Trump. We’re Being Hacked.” The article’s author Thomas P Bossert warns ominously that “the networks of the federal government and much of corporate America are compromised by a foreign nation” perpetrated by “the Russian intelligence agency known as the S.V.R., whose tradecraft is among the most advanced in the world.”

Rather than using its supreme tradecraft to interfere in the November election ensuring the victory of the president we’ve been told for years is a Russian asset by outlets like The New York Times, Bossert informs us that the SVR instead opted to hack a private American IT company called SolarWinds whose software is widely used by the US government.

“Unsuspecting customers then downloaded a corrupted version of the software, which included a hidden back door that gave hackers access to the victim’s network,” Bossert explains, saying that “The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate.” Its magnitude is so great that Bossert says Trump must “severely punish the Russians” for perpetrating it, and cooperate with the incoming Biden team in helping to ensure that that punishment continues seamlessly between administrations.

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The problem is that, as usual, we’ve been given exactly zero evidence for any of this. As Moon of Alabama explains, the only technical analysis we’ve seen of the alleged hack (courtesy of cybersecurity firm FireEye) makes no claim that Russia was responsible for it, yet the mass media are flagrantly asserting as objective, verified fact that Russia is behind this far-reaching intrusion into US government networks, citing only anonymous sources if they cite anything at all.

And of course where the media class goes so too does the barely-separate political class. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin told CNN in a recent interview that this invisible, completely unproven cyberattack constitutes “virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States.” Which is always soothing language to hear as the Russian government announces the development of new hypersonic missiles as part of a new nuclear arms race it attributes to US cold war escalations.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald is one of the few high-profile voices who’ve had the temerity to stick his head above the parapet and point out the fact that we have seen exactly zero evidence for these incendiary claims, for which he is of course currently being raked over the coals on Twitter.

“I know it doesn’t matter. I know it’s wrong to ask the question. I know asking the question raises grave doubts about one’s loyalties and patriotism,” Greenwald sarcastically tweeted. “But has there been any evidence publicly presented, let alone dispositive proof, that Russia is responsible for this hack?”

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“Perhaps they have information sources they can’t describe without compromising sources and methods?” chimed in Ars Technica’s Timothy B Lee in response to Greenwald’s query, a textbook reply from establishment narrative managers whenever anyone questions where the evidence is for any of these invisible attacks on US sovereignty.

“Of course they can’t show us the evidence!” proponents of establishment Russia hysteria always say. “They’d compromise their sources and methods if they did!”

US spook agencies always say this about evidence for US spook agency claims about governments long targeted for destruction by US spook agencies. We can’t share the evidence with you because the evidence is classified. It’s secret evidence. The evidence is invisible.

Which always works out very nicely for the US spook agencies, I must say.

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Secret, invisible evidence is not evidence. If the public cannot see the evidence behind the claims being made by the powerful, then those claims are unproven. It would never be acceptable for anyone in power to say “This important thing with potentially world-altering consequences definitely happened, but you’ll just have to trust us because the evidence is secret.” In a post-Iraq invasion world it is orders of magnitude more unacceptable, and should therefore be dismissed until hard, verifiable evidence is provided.

Isn’t it interesting how all the Pearl Harbors and 9/11s of our day are completely invisible to the public? We can’t see cyber-intrusions for ourselves like we could see fallen buildings and smoking naval bases; they’re entirely hidden from our view. Not only are they entirely hidden from our view, the evidence that they happened is kept secret from us as well. And the mass media just treat this as normal and fine. Government agencies with an extensive history of lying are allowed to make completely unsubstantiated and unverifiable claims about governments long targeted by those same government agencies, and the institutions responsible for informing the public about what’s going on in the world simply repeat it as fact.

Sure it’s possible that Russia hacked the US. It’s possible that the US government has been in contact with extraterrestrials, too. It’s possible that the Chinese government is covertly arming Antifa samurai in preparation for a civil war. But we do not imbue these things with the power of belief until we are provided with an amount of evidence that rises to the level required in a post-Iraq invasion world.

These people have not earned our trust, they have earned our pointed and aggressive skepticism. We must act accordingly.

_____________________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Exclusive Extract: George Pell’s Prison Journal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/11/2020 - 7:00am in

Day 1: A dear friend had taken me aside during my trial and given me a piece of advice should I find myself in prison. They said in jail, early on you need to seek out the biggest person in the yard and take them down or become their, forgive me Father for my language, become their bitch.

Suffice to say, I’m a lover, not a fighter and my cell mate Bruce has the softest hands.

Day 2: Very excited today to be told that I have a Visitor. Sadly, it was only Tony Abbott. Silly sod I asked him to bring in some smokes so that I could start doing business. Instead he brought in a bloody bible and some onions. What on earth would I do with those?

You can’t make a shiv from an onion, Lord knows I have tried.

Day 3: Have been called upon to coach my cell block’s football team. What an honour, I look forward to mucking in with the lads.

Day 4: We may have lost that football match in the exercise yard by a mere point, but I assertively told my disgruntled young players that unlike them, I have the best barristers who can overturn this decision at my behest. Mark my words, the screw who umpired the match will be convicted of dereliction of duty and imprisoned with us by the end of the week.

Day 5: Abbott came back today, thankfully he smuggled in some smokes. Not quite enough to cover the cost of having Bruce ‘taken care of,’ but enough to make a down payment.

Day 6: Had an unfortunate incident in the shower today. Despite dropping my soap a number of times no one would bend down and pick it up. What a sad World we live in when no one would pick up an old man’s soap.

Day 7: Abbott’s back again today. No smokes but he did give me a new toothbrush which will make a lovely shiv. Let’s see who sleeps on top tonight, Bruce.

Day 8: Didn’t sharpen the shiv enough, Bruce thought I was trying to tickle him. Called Abbott to ask for more cigarettes.

Day 9: Abbott came today with nicotine patches. The guards had to drag me off of him.

Day 10: Received a bag full of letters today from my dear supporters. After sifting through all 99 letters I found that most of them were from Abbott and the rest were from Andrew Bolt.

Day 11: Abbott’s back today and he’s brought me a present. Pope on a rope. If those guards were a little slower I would’ve successfully garroted him with the bloody rope from the pope.

Day 12: Meeting with the Warden did not go well. My plan to move more troublesome inmates, like Bruce to other parishes……err Jails, was not well received. Back to the drawing board.

Day 13: Another day another Abbott visit. He brings me a copy of the Australian, handy as the 1 ply toilet paper they have in here is not that great.

George Pell’s prison journal will be available for sale at your local parish gift shop and all good book stores clearance bins in the coming weeks.

The Indian Media is Blaming Muslims for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/11/2020 - 11:00pm in

Photo Credit: Madhuram Paliwal/Shutterstock In March of 2020, just before the official coronavirus-related lockdown in India, a Tablighi Jamaat religious...

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Unelected Officials Override The President To Continue War, But Only Kooks Believe In The Deep…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/11/2020 - 2:36pm in

Unelected Officials Override The President To Continue Wars (But Only Kooks Believe In The Deep State)

Outgoing US envoy to Syria James Jeffrey stated in a recent interview with Defense One that US officials have been “playing shell games” about the number of troops in the region to deceive the Trump administration into thinking there has been a military withdrawal. Here are some excerpts:

“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey said in an interview. The actual number of troops in northeast Syria is “a lot more than” the two hundred troops Trump agreed to leave there in 2019.
 …
“What Syria withdrawal? There was never a Syria withdrawal,” Jeffrey said. “When the situation in northeast Syria had been fairly stable after we defeated ISIS, [Trump] was inclined to pull out. In each case, we then decided to come up with five better arguments for why we needed to stay. And we succeeded both times. That’s the story.”
 …
Officially, Trump last year agreed to keep about 200 U.S. troops stationed in northeast Syria to “secure” oil fields held by the United States’ Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS. It is generally accepted that the actual number is now higher than that — anonymous officials put the number at about 900 today — but the precise figure is classified and remains unknown even, it appears, to members of Trump’s administration keen to end the so-called “forever wars.”

Some mass media propagandists find it hilarious that the US war machine used deceit to thwart the president’s attempts to withdraw from its illegal occupation of Syria:

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This would not be the first time that Jeffrey, a foreign policy insider with the past three presidential administrations, has admitted to deceiving the public about what’s happening in Syria. Earlier this year he admitted at a Hudson Institute video event (these Beltway insiders always get extra honest in the company of fellow think tank denizens) that, contrary to the official public narrative of the US military being in Syria to fight terrorism, it’s actually there to create “a quagmire for the Russians”.

This would also not be the first time we’ve heard reports of the US war machine hiding the facts from the elected commander-in-chief of the most powerful military force ever assembled. Last year The New York Times cited anonymous US officials in a report on cyber intrusion operations against the Russian government that the US military had deliberately kept Trump in the dark about.

“Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’ — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid,” NYT reports. “Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials.”

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Mainstream liberal US discourse has accomplished an amazing feat of Orwellian doublethink with regard to the notion that unelected power structures are running things without the consent of the nation’s official elected government. On the one hand there’s been a nonstop deluge of Daily Beast articles since Trump’s election saying anyone who dares to suggest the existence of a “deep state” in America is a conspiracy kook, but on the other hand there’s also been constant praise for the insider “adults in the room” who ensure from within the administration that Trump doesn’t demolish America’s precious norms while in office.

This cognitive two-step became even more reified after comments from the likes of Iraq war architect Bill Kristol tweeting that he’d “prefer the deep state to the Trump state”, and the famous anonymous New York Times op-ed authored by a “senior official in the Trump administration” (now known to have been former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security Miles Taylor) saying administration officials are working together against Trump to “thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations”.

The understanding of a deep state in America has become even more obfuscated by the other side of America’s fake partisan divide, with Trump supporters now using that term to essentially mean “anyone who doesn’t like Donald Trump”. That erroneous understanding has now become so prevalently associated with the term “deep state” that it has lost all use in meaningful discourse and is better off being avoided altogether if you want to point at something real.

https://medium.com/media/ad0c85179ebd13950a6bde739082652c/href

In reality the term deep state is meant to refer not to anyone who opposes Trump, nor to a secret cabal of baby-eating Satanists, but simply to the tendency among government agencies and plutocrats to form loose alliances with each other and collaborate toward common agendas. It’s a term used for political analysis to describe large-scale power agendas that are largely playing out right out in the open, hidden in plain sight.

It doesn’t take a ton of investigative reporting and WikiLeaks drops to understand that there’s been a collective of operatives mostly running the Trump administration while the actual elected president yells at the talking heads on Fox News and tweets. It’s also not hard to brush away the insubstantial narrative fluff and see that US policies have remained more or less unbroken regardless of which elected officials have been in office, and it doesn’t take a Nostradamus to predict that that will continue to be the case after Trump is replaced by the next empty husk in the White House.

The US government simply is not what Americans were taught it is in school, and it is not what they tell you it is in the news. It’s a mostly unelected power establishment which operates in the interests of imperialist expansionism and oligarchic control, with the official elected government operating sort of like the unplugged video game controller you hand your kid brother to keep him from whining for a chance to play.

All this fuss over who really won the election is missing the point. People are bickering over which oligarchic puppet should be sworn in on January 20th when all the evidence we’ve been given shows that nobody gets to become president if they inconvenience real power in any way, and if they do inconvenience real power they are simply ignored.

That is the direction we should all be looking. Not at who’s president, but why things stay the same no matter who’s president.

__________________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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The divided citizen: Robo-debt was just the beginning

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/11/2020 - 3:00am in

As governments around the world digitise their services, citizens are being subjected to conflicting forces of identity consolidation and fragmentation. In the name of ‘customer focus’, governments and their agencies are constructing systems that aggregate personal data from multiple sources. The ostensible reason is to provide convenient, personalised and accessible service on par with that of Facebook or Amazon. Through using corporations as models, governments are developing systems of surveillance and control based on commercial marketing technologies. As a result, citizens are left to reconcile the fragmented personas constructed from data created for incommensurate program goals.

While the recent Australian government robo-debt offensive provides a few insights into this new online retail mode of governance, it is just a sneak preview of the directions in which digital government is heading. This episode has taught us more broadly about the perils of data sharing, in particular the careless use of incommensurate data. It has also provided insights into the willingness of bureaucrats to prioritise compliance over ‘customer service’ and, despite internal and external warnings, to (illegally) force citizens to explain discrepancies in the data. 

As demonstrated by James Scott, when a government department seeks to administer an aspect of the natural or social environment, it works from a stripped-down map of the entities involved. The field of attention is abstracted and simplified within the goals of a program. The real world, whether a forest or a city, must be reduced and ordered to a point that makes it manageable from above. Moreover, any given community is subject to disparate programs that have been developed and legislated in a piecemeal way, each addressing the perceived circumstances in the time and place of their conception. Traditionally, program data has been service-focused and transactional. As a result, government information about a single person has been scattered between programs and the individual has been represented in the context of the program, for instance as a student, a passenger, a patient or a taxpayer. This means that each of us has to deal with government such that both parties assume a separate identity defined by each program. This sometimes leads to frustration in dealing with ‘the government’ when people assume it to be a single entity, but it has the advantage of limiting the ability of a government to have a singular view of a citizen.

Digital-government advocates propose to overcome these problems by delivering ‘seamless’ or ‘joined-up’ government, in which a government acts as a single entity in a relationship with a joined-up ‘customer’. Digital government combines web and app-based interfaces with large-scale back-room social and technical infrastructures. Digitising and automating large programs such as those operated by Services Australia can involve a comprehensive organisational ‘transformation’. The online retail mode of governance that pulls this picture together is based on computing infrastructure developed for corporate marketing systems that is designed to address analogous bureaucratic trends in the private sector. The origin of these customer-relationship-management (CRM) systems was a general move by many corporations from transactional or product-based marketing to relationship marketing. This connects with the widespread availability of modern computing and communications technologies that can collect, exchange and analyse large quantities of information at a micro level. CRM systems consolidate all information about a corporation’s customer across all its products and services, enabling precise tracking, prediction and influencing of customer intentions, preferences and behaviour over time. Analysing data over time opens up the possibility of predicting customer behaviours and identifying the opportunities and risks they present to the corporation. Consultants, systems integrators and software vendors have promoted this capability to government bureaucrats, such as those in Services Australia, who are bent on removing the uncertainties created by their old transactional systems and the unreliable behaviour of their ‘customers’. With such weapons in its arsenal, Services Australia has foreshadowed its ability to profile citizens who present a risk, thus enabling it to take pre-emptive action to prevent fraud and error and tighten compliance.

Services Australia delivers programs on behalf of thirty-four federal agencies. It is currently undertaking a $1.5-billion, seven-year program to fundamentally transform the delivery of social-services payments and services. It aims to use CRM and other large modular corporate systems to consolidate the data it has on each citizen across those programs. In doing so it wants to create ‘a single view of the Customer’, built up from thirty years of existing data and drawn from real-time links to other government and non-government sources. Services Australia wants to minimise the amount of information provided by customers in favour of data obtained through linkages to the systems of external organisations. It also wants to become a (digital) platform for the services of other federal, state and local governments.

However, this process of consolidation collides with the service-specific renditions of customers and their circumstances. This was amply illustrated in the case of robo-debt, which foundered in part on the differing definitions of income between Services Australia and the Australian Taxation Office. It was up to customers to reconcile the differences. This is just one simple example of a problem identified ten years ago by Paul Henman, who pointed out that it is customers who must navigate the incommensurate requirements of multiple policy areas when they encounter joined-up interactions with government. The continuation of this trend clearly highlights the entrenched power imbalance between the public and private system designers and a disparate and individualised citizenry.  

There is another dimension to this accumulation of customer-centric data. Michel Foucault described a ‘disciplinary government of each and all’, where, on the one hand, individuals are rendered visible to the state in fine detail and, on the other hand, populations can be sliced and diced according to life circumstances or current and future risk to the state. In the documentation for its transformation program, Services Australia envisages ‘a circumstance based approach’ to managing customers. It explains that:

Customer Circumstance data [is] the data that relates to the events that have or will occur in a Customer’s life, as disclosed to the department by the Customer or authorised third party… As a Customer moves through their life, their Circumstances (such as marriage and other relationships, residence, employment, birth, death and disability status) change and in turn these changes affect the Customer’s Eligibility and Entitlement.

Cutting across this consolidated view, according to Services Australia, customers can also be:

identified as part of a micro-segment according to their level of complexity, access needs and preferences, and level of risk. This is measured through indicators and Circumstances (both reactive and proactive) that can be observed by the department. [This] will enable the department to target service delivery based on an assessment of the individual risk, access needs and complexity of Customers, tailoring service offers to match customer circumstances.

This may be interpreted to have a benign meaning:  that Services Australia could be more inclined to ensure that every eligible person receives their due benefit. But the robo-debt experience demonstrated that it might be more prudent to interpret ‘target’ in a negative sense: to mean that only eligible people receive their benefits. Such an interpretation is supported by the predictive-risk frame engaged by the department. Robert Castel observed that such preventive techniques ‘promote a new mode of surveillance: that of systematic predetection’, which can ‘dissolve the notion of a subject or a concrete individual, and put in its place a combinatory of factors, the factors of risk’. In either interpretation, predictive risk assessment is a licence for an entity to surveil all its clientele all the time in an effort to assert control.

What does a citizen look like in the eyes of the state when she is constructed from multiple databases and how does she respond to the resultant kaleidoscopic rendition of her? Let us suppose that she has had multiple contacts with government agencies and programs over time. She could ask to see all the information that a government has on her. (Of course, despite current freedom-of-information laws, it would be almost impossible to get all her data. The citizen-customer would be obliged to seek her data separately from each program and agency, not always with success.) She would get something like a bunch of spreadsheets with data points (and, hopefully, field names) that have been stripped of the context of the agency applications that extracted the data from and about her. Unlike an old-fashioned paper dossier, with structured documents in chronological order, she would get the raw data but not the ‘business rules’ that give it meaning and that link the data elements together into a narrative. In a scenario of networked databases, her identities are constructed on the fly within the policy logic of each circumstance and the generic global logic of customer management embedded in the CRM system.

Like other major centres of surveillance in the Australian government, such as the Department of Home Affairs, Services Australia seems to assume that multiple incommensurate views of the subject can be reconciled without difficulty. But this approach assumes that the subject could be rendered in a coherent way that would serve all the programs drawing on that single rendition—a variant of the ‘view from nowhere’. This demands that all participating programs agree on the same definition of shared entities and their characteristics. Even if such a cultural mind-melding were possible, it would bring about a power struggle to agree on a dominant world view and the meanings of its language. What tends to happen in this situation is that interested parties, especially in bureaucracies, will only push so far, leaving inconsistencies to be resolved through informal arrangements or—such as occurred with robo-debt—other less powerful parties. Thus, inconsistencies must necessarily persist and the task of resolving them will generally fall to the isolated neoliberal subject; it will be their task to prove that their lived reality is more complex than the bureaucrat’s model.


Technocratic Urban Governance and the Need to Localise Computing Infrastructure

Andrés R. Yaksic, 21.7.2020

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