TBR News February 15, 2018

Feb 15 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 15, 2018: “When you speak of fake news, I put it to you that the fake news in the United States is either on the lunatic blogs or in the controlled media, print and television.

It is well-known that the once-influential New York Times has lost 75% of its subscribers and half of its staff in the last two years.

Now, their front page has yesterday’s news tomorrow and sounds like something we used to find in supermarket tabloids or the Weekly Reader.

The Washington Post is now owed by Jeff Bezos who is under the mistaken impression that his views are important.

The Post, under the Graham family, was also in the pocket of the CIA and was going bankrupt when Bezos bought it.

Now it’s going bankrupt again.

We thank God for small favors!

Television and radio are packed with the boiler plate humped news jammed into them and given, by script, to photogenic news readers.

The American public, mostly bordering on illiteracy, now get their news, free, from the Internet and sooner, rather than later, the American media will have shrunk to the level of church bulletins in the Ozarks and the “reporters” will be fighting for crawl space under highway bridges.

Trump is a crooked, bombastic, self-deluded babbler who will certainly not serve out his term and on the other hand, Hillary Clinton is an epileptic, ageing shrew with the morals of a wolverine and at her age, the only thing she can run for now is a bus to the cemetery.”



Table of Contents

  • A Million Dollars a Minute
  • The Young and the Stupid: Virtue-Signaling Over the Olympics

Secrecy News

  • ‘Declaration of war’: liberals divided as California mulls housing push
  • Apple, Google buses rerouted on Peninsula after apparent shooting damages windows
  • Northern Ireland crisis: What’s going on & why it’s crucial to Brexit negotiations
  • How Can You Falter, When You’re the Rock of Gibraltar?
  • The CIA and the American Media
  • Faked Conspiracy Photos


A Million Dollars a Minute

February 15, 2018

by Andrew P. Napolitano


Imagine you open the faucet of your kitchen sink expecting water and instead out comes cash. Now imagine that it comes out at the rate of $1 million a minute. You call your plumber, who thinks you’re crazy. To get you off the phone, he opines that it is your sink and therefore must be your money. So you spend it wildly. Then you realize that the money wasn’t yours and you owe it back.

Now imagine that this happens every minute of every day for the next three years. At the end of the three years, you owe back more than $6 trillion. So you borrow $6 trillion to pay back the $6 trillion you owe.

Is this unending spigot of cash reality or fantasy?

I am not speaking of Amazon or Google or Exxon Mobil or Apple. They deliver products that appeal to consumers and investors. They deal in copious amounts of money because they sell what hundreds of millions of people want to purchase and they do it so efficiently that hundreds of thousands want to invest in them. If they fail to persuade consumers to purchase their products and investors to purchase their financial instruments, they will go out of business.

My analogy about all that cash in your kitchen sink that just keeps coming is not about voluntary commercial transactions, which you are free to accept or reject. It is about the government’s spending what it doesn’t have, the consequences of which you are not free to reject.

Government produces no products that consumers are willing to pay for voluntarily, and it doesn’t sell shares of stock in its assets. It doesn’t generate wealth; it seizes it. And when it can no longer politically get away with seizing, it borrows. It borrows a great deal of money – money that it rolls over, by borrowing trillions to pay back trillions to prior lenders, and thus its debt never goes away.

Last week, after eight years of publicly complaining that then-President Barack Obama was borrowing more than $1 trillion a year to fund the government – borrowing that the Republicans silently consented to – congressional Republicans, now in control of Congress and with a friend in the Oval Office, voted to spend and hence borrow between $5 trillion and $6 trillion more than tax revenue will produce in the next three years; that’s a few trillion more than they complained about in the Obama years.

That’s borrowing $1 million a minute.

Obviously, no business or household or bank can survive very long by borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Yet the federal government, no matter which party controls Congress or the presidency, engages in staggering borrowing – borrowing that will cripple future generations by forcing them to pay for goods and services that were consumed before they were born.

The government has often borrowed to meet critical emergency needs, typically during wartime. Indeed, the country was born in debt when Alexander Hamilton, the father of big government, offered the idea that the new federal government created by the Constitution could purchase the fidelity of the states by assuming their Revolutionary War debts.

But those debts were paid back using inflation, gold and tax dollars, and the country enjoyed sporadic periods of nearly debt-free government. Then three unhappy events coincided about 100 years ago: Woodrow Wilson – the father of modern-day big government – was elected president, and he brought us into the useless battle over national borders among old European royalty called the Great War, and he financed American participation in that first world war using the new printing presses owned by the new Federal Reserve System.

The $30 billion President Wilson borrowed from the Federal Reserve and others has been rolled over and over and has never been repaid. The federal government still owes the $30 billion principal, and for that it has paid more than $15 billion in interest. Who in his right mind would pay 50 percent interest on a 100-year-old debt? Only the government.

Wilson’s $30 billion debt 100 years ago has ballooned to $20.6 trillion today. At the end of President Donald Trump’s present term – because of the Republican budget signed into law last week – the government’s debt will be about $27 trillion.

That amount is a debt bomb waiting to explode. Here’s why. Every year, the federal government collects about $2.5 trillion in revenue and spends it all. It borrows another $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion and spends it all. To avoid paying back any of the $27 trillion it will owe, the federal government will need to spend about $1 trillion a year in interest payments.

That $1 trillion is 40 percent of the revenue collected by the federal government; that’s 40 cents on every dollar in tax revenue going to interest on old debts – interest payments that are legally unavoidable by taxpayers and voters.

Will the taxpaying public tolerate this much longer? What would happen if taxpayers stopped paying taxes because 40 percent of what they’ve been paying has produced nothing for them? Would investors stop lending money to the government because of fear that the government could not pay them back? The Constitution requires the government to pay its debts. Would the government’s creditors acquire control of the government’s fiscal policy in order to pay themselves back? The government’s biggest creditor is one of its biggest menaces – the government of China.

Borrowing money at $1 million a minute is digging a hole out of which we will never peacefully climb. President Obama’s and President Trump’s own military and intelligence chiefs have argued that the national debt – not the Russians or the Islamic State group or the North Koreans – is the greatest threat to freedom and security that we face today.

Why are Congress and President Trump not listening?




The Young and the Stupid: Virtue-Signaling Over the Olympics

The self-obsessed American media doesn’t realize: it’s not about them!

February 15, 2018

by Justin Raimondo


Oh, the virtue-signaling was hot and heavy as conservative and ostensibly “libertarian” media outlets competed to see who come up with the most self-righteously abusive rhetoric to describe North Korean Politburo member Kim Yo Yong, sister to Kim Jong Un. BuzzFeed grabbed the prize with “a garbage monster” – BuzzFeed being an expert when it comes to garbage. Reason’s Nick Gillespie could hardly contain his joy at the fusillade of hatred: “It was younger media outlets and personalities such as Buzzfeed and CNN’s Jake Tapper that called bullshit on such stories.” In Gillespie’s world, “young” is a synonym for good, because the young and the stupid will inherit the earth. Tapper is one of the War Party’s most fulsome cheerleaders, and BuzzFeed’s working relationship with the US State Department during the Obama administration was pretty brazen: but if Gillespie means young and dumb, or young and bought off, then perhaps he’s right.

“If you hate US leaders more than you hate the Kim Jong-un regime,” tweeted Tapper the tool, “you really need to read up on North Korea” and he helpfully “supplied a link to Human Rights Watch’s analysis of North Korea.” Hatred of foreign bogeymen is what Tapper, Gillespie, and all those no-longer-quite-so-young media mavens deal in: we’re supposed to hate Kim Yo Yong, those North Korean cheerleaders, and anyone who isn’t in a tizzy about “North Korean propaganda” supposedly broadcast by the media. Because, you see, simply showing a smiling and attractive Kim Yo Yong next to the dour and ill-at-ease Mike Pence is “perversely fawning” over the former.

For Gillespie and Tapper, writing about the Winter Olympics and the diplomatic breakthrough of the two Koreas playing on the same team, under the same flag, is all about virtue-signaling; in short, it’s all about them and how wonderful they are. Gee, it’s funny nothing is said about the Saudi players, or the athletes from any one of a number of authoritarian ‘stans where dissidents are regularly boiled in oil. No, it’s just a coincidence that Gillespie, Tapper, and the neocon media are harping on what everyone knows – North Korea is saddled with a horrific regime – at the very moment when there’s a chance that the two Koreas may reach some sort of rapprochement and the threat of a terrible war is considerably reduced.

But guess what – what’s happening in Korea isn’t about Nick Gillespie, or Jake Tapper, or any of the other faithful echoers of the conventional wisdom in Washington, where groupthink is mandatory. It’s about the Korean people, who are overjoyed that the North is responding to overtures from President Moon. The good news is that the US has agreed to talks between Seoul and Pyongyang, and the likelihood of a visit to the North by Moon is growing: Kim Yo Yong’s invitation augurs a repeat of then- President Kim Dae-jung’s 2000 visit to North Korea and the inauguration of the “Sunshine Policy” – derailed when George W. Bush snubbed the South Korean president, refusing to even meet with him when he came to Washington.

Korea has been occupied territory since the end of the Korean war – a conflict, by the way, that never formally ended. For over half a century the Korean peninsula has been threatened with the very real possibility of a renewed conflict, one in which millions of South Koreans would be almost instantly killed, not to mention the 30,000 US troops stationed there. There are an awful lot of people in Washington who would love to keep things that way: there’s a lot of money in military contracts, and in non-material values like prestige tied up in keeping that frozen conflict ice-cold. Yet this archaic relic of the cold war is melting under pressure from both sides of the DMZ.

It is certainly not in the interests of the Korean people to keep this ancient conflict alive, but what I want to know is: how is it in American interests to keep 30,000 sitting ducks stationed there? How do we benefit from paying billions for South Korea’s defense against an “enemy” that desperately wants to make peace?

While a crazed pro-war faction within the Trump administration openly touts the possibility of a “military solution,” Trump himself has alternated between bombast and “let’s make a deal”: “[A]t some point,” he told the New York Times, “there is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this [defend South Korea] anymore. … at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world.”

Between Nikki Haley, who stupidly declared that “we’re not taking any of this seriously,” and the Gillespie-Tapper-BuzzFeed chorus of virtue-signaling warmongering “young” people, no one is taking the Americans seriously as they try to stand in the way of Koreans who – for some reason! — object to the US turning their country into a nuclear shooting range. As I’ve said on many occasions, the Korean people will eventually find a way around their so-called “protectors” and finally put an end to the division of their land.

And yes it is possible – Stalinist regimes are notorious for cooperating with “bourgeois” governments and parties in order to gain what they see as some temporary advantage. North Korea is at the end of its rope: economically a basket base, diplomatically a pariah, and not exactly the monolith it projects to the outside world.

While the internal politics of North Korea are opaque, there are real indications that there is considerable factionalism inside the ruling Korean Workers Party. The “military first” policy replaced the original “juche,” or autarkic “self-sufficiency” line, and has since drained the North Korean economy by pouring all available resources into defense. What the regime is looking for is a pretext to return to “juche,” the old party line, which emphasized independent economic development: the Songun or “military first” policy did not appear until after the death of Kim Il Sung. The fall of the Soviet Union and the second Bush administration’s “axis of evil” rhetoric gave the North Korean military the edge, over and above the supposedly supreme Workers Party apparatus: the internal balance may now be shifting, which may partially explain the North Korean thaw.

The US needs to facilitate this process rather than blocking it: I don’t know what kind of a “grand bargain” is possible – the denuclearization of North Korea in exchange for the withdrawal of US troops? Growing ties between North and South leading to a federative solution? That’s up to the Korean people – and certainly neither Jake Tapper nor Nick Gillespie should have anything to say about it.

If East Germany could unite with West Germany then North and South Korea are not fated to be eternally sundered. When the ultra-Stalinist “German Democratic Republic” fell, its surrender was led by the ruling Socialist Unity Party, which soon changed its spots and become a social-democratic “left” party that, today, competes in German elections. In other words, stranger things have happened.


Secrecy News

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2018, Issue No. 11

February 15, 2018


The Central Intelligence Agency said yesterday that it has the right to disclose classified information to selected journalists and then to withhold the same information from others under the Freedom of Information Act.

FOIA requester Adam Johnson had obtained CIA emails sent to various members of the press including some that were redacted as classified. How, he wondered, could the CIA give information to uncleared reporters — in this case Siobhan Gorman (then) of the Wall Street Journal, David Ignatius of the Washington Post, and Scott Shane of the New York Times — and yet refuse to give it to him? In an effort to discover the secret messages, he filed a FOIA lawsuit.

His question is a good one, said Chief Judge Colleen MacMahon of the Southern District of New York in a court order last month. “The issue is whether the CIA waived its right to rely on otherwise applicable exemptions to FOIA disclosure by admittedly disclosing information selectively to one particular reporter [or three].”

“In this case, CIA voluntarily disclosed to outsiders information that it had a perfect right to keep private,” she wrote. “There is absolutely no statutory provision that authorizes limited disclosure of otherwise classified information to anyone, including ‘trusted reporters,’ for any purpose, including the protection of CIA sources and methods that might otherwise be outed. The fact that the reporters might not have printed what was disclosed to them has no logical or legal impact on the waiver analysis, because the only fact relevant to waiver analysis is: Did the CIA do something that worked a waiver of a right it otherwise had?”

Judge MacMahon therefore ordered CIA to prepare a more rigorous justification of its legal position. It was filed by the government yesterday.

CIA argued that the court is wrong to think that limited, selective disclosures of classified information are prohibited or unauthorized by law. The National Security Act only requires protection of intelligence sources and methods from “unauthorized” disclosure, not from authorized disclosure. And because the disclosures at issue were actually intended to protect intelligence sources and methods, they were fully authorized, CIA said. “The CIA properly exercised its broad discretion to provide certain limited information to the three reporters.”

“The Court’s supposition that a limited disclosure of information to three journalists necessarily equates to a disclosure to the public at large is legally and factually mistaken,” the CIA response stated. “The record demonstrates beyond dispute that the classified and statutorily protected information withheld from the emails has not entered the public domain. For these reasons, the limited disclosures here did not effect any waiver of FOIA’s exemptions.”

A reply from plaintiff Adam Johnson is due March 1. (Prior coverage: Tech Dirt, Intel Today).

Selective disclosure of classified information to uncleared reporters is a more or less established practice that is recognized by Congress, which has required periodic reporting to Congress of such disclosures. See Disclosing Classified Info to the Press — With Permission, Secrecy News, January 4, 2017.

The nature of FOIA litigation is such that a lawsuit that was intended to challenge the practice of selective disclosure could, if unsuccessful, end up ratifying and reinforcing it.


Recent news stories on security clearances (like these from the Christian Science Monitor and NPR) cite data from 2015 regarding the number of persons cleared for access to classified information (4.2 million at that time).

Why aren’t more current numbers being cited?

More recent information has already been compiled in an annual report to Congress that was completed in October 2017. But its release to the public has been delayed indefinitely by an internal intelligence community dispute over the classification status or sensitivity of some of the more detailed reporting on individual agency statistics that are contained in the report.

In fact, the same detailed reporting was provided in the 2015 report and the same dispute over publication arose. But at that time, Obama Administration intelligence officials told security officers in effect to “knock it off” and to just release the report, which they did in June 2016.

The public disclosure of security clearance data was one of dozens of fundamental changes to national security information policy that were made during the Obama Administration to promote greater transparency. Although the annual report on security clearances was required by Congress (in the FY 10 intelligence authorization act), its public disclosure was a choice made by the Obama Administration. Now a different choice is being made.

A FOIA request for release of the latest report on security clearances is pending.


New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service this week include the following.

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons, updated February 13, 2018

Congressional Gold Medals: Background, Legislative Process, and Issues for Congress, February 9, 2018

D.C. Circuit Upholds as Constitutional the Structure of the CFPB — Part I, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 12, 2018

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, updated February 12, 2018

Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2018 Budget and Appropriations, updated February 12, 2018

Ecuador: In Brief, updated February 13, 2018

Diversity Immigrants’ Regions and Countries of Origin: Fact Sheet, February 13, 2018

HPSCI Memorandum Sparks Debate over FISA Application Requirements, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 14, 2018


‘Declaration of war’: liberals divided as California mulls housing push

Proposal aimed at keeping up with population growth would limit cities’ power over housing, handing more control to state

February 14, 2018

by Erin McCormick in San Francisco

The Guardian

The mayor of Berkeley, California, has called it “a declaration of war”. A neighborhood group in Los Angeles said it would be akin to forcing Native Americans from their land.

Amid a desperate housing crisis, legislators in the Golden State have prompted an outcry with new proposals that threaten to take the rulebook that governs American city planning and throw it out the window.

Their proposition: reducing cities’ power to decide what gets built and putting more control into state hands.

“We have a housing deficit in the millions and it grows every year,” said the state senator Scott Wiener, author of a bill at the center of the fight.

To keep up with population growth, California needs to build 180,000 new homes each year. But for the last 10 years, it has constructed less than half that figure.

This scarcity has driven up rents and the prices of homes to the point where half of the state’s current residents can no longer afford them and homelessness has surged. In San Francisco, the state’s most expensive housing market, the median sales price of homes was $1.25m in 2016 and the median rent was $4,500.

Liberals have found themselves pitted against liberals, with urban environmentalists who want to build “smart cities” with dense housing around transit lines facing off against minority groups fighting to protect inner-city neighborhoods and suburbanites wanting to slow growth. It has divided renting millennials from their homeowning parents and created a passionate breed of housing activists calling themselves Yimbys.

Inspiration for Wiener’s new bill stemmed in part from an unexpected corner: a squat building that once housed a Kentucky Fried Chicken in San Francisco’s desirable Mission district.

Over a decade ago, developers wanted to build 16 rental units there. But faced with neighborhood concerns ranging from the building’s lack of parking spaces to the effects of construction noise on a next door theater, the project was subjected to some 20 hearings and review meetings as the approval process dragged out over a 10-year period, according to the landowner, Mark Rutherford. After getting through eight different board votes to win city approval, it was challenged again by a neighborhood lawsuit.

“It demonstrated an aversion to new housing, coupled with an expensive planning process, topped off with arbitrary decisions,” Wiener wrote in a 2014 op-ed.

Last year, Wiener successfully pushed a bill that would override local objections in districts that don’t produce their share of housing. It was among many other bids to help ameliorate the affordability crisis.

His new bill would wipe out height and density limits around all transit stations and major bus routes in the state to allow construction of buildings five to eight stories high. It has won support from a group of 100 Silicon Valley tech industry leaders, who signed a letter saying workers desperately need the housing. It also has financial backing from developers.

“Things are not going to get better by sticking to the status quo,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment. He said the state needed both affordable and market-rate housing near transit to reverse California’s tendency toward suburban sprawl. “We have to go full bore by building as much transit-oriented housing as possible.”

Opponents have declared the move “a war on local planning” that would unleash a huge wave of uncontrolled, private development and have unintended consequences, including gentrification and displacement of inner city minority populations. A Los Angeles city councilman said it could make beach neighborhoods look like “Dubai 10 years later” and Dick Platkin, a former Los Angeles city planner, said allowing eight-story towers around all transit stations would enforce a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

In an interview, meanwhile, Mayor Jesse Arreguin of Berkeley called the proposed rule change “extreme”.

“This will change the character of neighborhoods in the Bay Area and throughout the state.”

Others see Wiener’s plan in even starker terms, underlining the challenge that he and Yimby groups face.

A stakeholders’ coalition in the Crenshaw district, a Los Angeles neighborhood that has historically had a large African American community, charged that the bill would drive up prices.

The result, they said, would be the displacement of low-income residents on the scale of the Trail of Tears that followed President Andrew Jackson’s 1830 Indian Removal Act.

“This will be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Damien Goodmon, director of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition.


Apple, Google buses rerouted on Peninsula after apparent shooting damages windows

February 15, 2018

by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez


San Francisco’s “Google buses,” a term used for various tech commuter shuttles, have been vomited on, stalled by protesters dressed like clowns and parodied as pinatas.

Now an unknown assailant apparently used a pellet gun to shoot at the windows of commuter shuttles ferrying Apple and Google employees while they traveled down Interstate Highway 280 near Woodside Road on Tuesday, prompting the shuttles to reroute to U.S. Highway 101 on Wednesday, according to California Highway Patrol.

Social media posts and reports from drivers indicate the windows were cracked by an unknown projectile while the shuttles were in motion, though the CHP did not confirm that report.

“We are not sure at this time what caused the damage, but we’re not ruling anything out,” said CHP spokesperson Officer Art Montiel.

CHP knows of five incidents Tuesday — four with shuttles ferrying Apple workers and one shuttle with Google employees.

Corporate-run commuter shuttles ferry workers from San Francisco, Oakland and throughout the Bay Area south to Silicon Valley daily. Though those regional shuttles have been targeted by protests for the tech industry’s alleged role in gentrification, there’s no indication this latest act of vandalism is a protest.

“As you know these are unmarked buses, so there’s no indication these are targeted incidents,” said Montiel, though CHP had no record of other types of vehicles being targeted.

Doug Bloch is political director of the Teamsters Joint Council 7, which represents more than 100,000 workers in Northern California. Bloch said some of the buses were driven by Teamsters for shuttle companies Loop Transportation and Compass Transportation.

“It was pellet guns,” Bloch told the San Francisco Examiner. “A couple were driven by Teamsters who were understandably scared, but no one got hurt.”

“As a union we are very concerned about the safety of our members and the passengers we drive for every day,” Bloch said.

In a social media post on Twitter that has since been taken down by the user, an apparent Apple employee distributed a photo of a cracked window and wrote, “Someone is shooting at Apple commute shuttles on 280. Explains the spontaneously shattering window on the bus today 🙁 stay safe, all.”

That Twitter user declined to be interviewed.

Since the incident, Bloch said, Apple instructed shuttle drivers to drive along Highway 101 instead of Interstate 280. News site Mashable obtained a mass email sent to Apple employees by the “Apple Commute Team,” which Mashable said it verified.

“Due to recent incidents of broken windows along the commute route, specifically on Highway 280, we’re rerouting coaches for the time being. This change in routes could mean an additional 30-45 minutes of commute time in each direction for some riders,” the email read.

It continued, “As always, the safety of our employees is our first priority. We’re working closely with law enforcement to investigate these incidents and we’ll notify you as soon as the coaches are able to return to the regular route. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”


Northern Ireland crisis: What’s going on & why it’s crucial to Brexit negotiations

February 15, 2018


Talks to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland collapsed Wednesday, bringing the possibility of London rule closer – a move which could destabilize the delicate balance between Irish nationalists and unionists.

The latest failed talks dashed hopes of a breakthrough in the 13 month-long political deadlock which has left the region without a government during crucial Brexit negotiations. The long-running negotiations have been complicated by the DUP’s confidence and supply arrangement with the Tories.

Northern Ireland’s devolved government was thrown into crisis over a year ago following the resignation of the late Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) as deputy first minister of the Northern Ireland executive.

Initially the fall centered on a botched DUP Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, known as the ‘cash for ash’ scandal, that left the administration facing an overspend bill of around £500 million.

However, rows over the Irish language act and same sex marriage have continued to fuel the ongoing impasse. The Irish language is a divisive issue in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein are pushing for legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers locally but the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) argue it would give Irish speakers special treatment.

The issue was further complicated by the UK general election which put the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in an unexpected position of power, propping up the minority Conservative government at Westminster.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar both expressed hopes that a power sharing-deal would be reached this week. “Despite our best efforts, serious and significant gaps remain between ourselves and Sinn Fein, especially on the issue of the Irish language,” DUP leader Arlene Foster said in a statement.

The DUP is now calling for direct rule from London. “It is now incumbent upon Her Majesty’s Government to set a budget and start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure,” Foster said in a statement. Varadkar expressed ‘regret’ over the statement adding; “Power sharing and working together are the only way forward for Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland is now in a vulnerable position as Britain bids to secure a breakthrough in Brexit talks with the European Union – a deal which could have dramatic implications for Northern Ireland. A decision on the future trading relationship will go towards determining the level of border control between the region and the Republic of Ireland.

The Irish government has warned that there can be no reversal of political guarantees, granted last December, promising that there would be no ‘hard border.’

Northern Ireland has governed itself since 2007 under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord which ended three decades of violence.


How Can You Falter, When You’re the Rock of Gibraltar?

Germany used to be an anchor of international stability. But that’s changing. The political chaos surrounding Angela Merkel’s attempts to create a new government serve as a warning that the country is not immune to factors that are destabilizing other European countries.

February 15, 2018

by Henrik Müller


Something strange is happening in the land of boredom. Until last Friday, German politics seemed neat and orderly. The next “grand coalition” (or GroKo) was to be formed — with familiar faces, modest projects, no surprises. The planned third edition of the pact between the conservative Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) under Angela Merkel’s chancellorship didn’t promise Germany, Europe and the rest of the world much, but at least it seemed to guarantee stability.

But that may be about to change. The SPD has forced out its chairman, Martin Schulz, who had just finished coalition negotiations quite successfully from his party’s point of view. He also abandoned his aspirations to become the next foreign minister.

To be sure, the coalition agreement still needs to be confirmed by a vote of the SPD party base in the coming weeks. Schulz was to be the one to convince a doubtful party base. Whether the agreement will pass the test, is now a wide-open question. If that vote fails, it could trigger an explosive chain reaction.

Germany, which in recent years seemed like Rock of Gibraltar in a sea of global uncertainty, suddenly looks rather shaky.

It’s conceivable that we are close to a meltdown of Germany’s party system — with far-reaching consequences. This notion is by no means exaggerated. What has been possible elsewhere, could also happen in Germany.

Erratic Politics

In France, the centrist Emmanuel Macron and the hard-leftist Jean-Luc Mélanchon have revolutionized politics by creating new movements that have brushed aside traditional parties. In the United Kingdom, the ruling Conservatives are falling apart, while the Labour Party has morphed into a truly Socialist Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. In Italy, with elections due in early March, the left-wing populist Five Stars Movement is leading in the polls; even the grandmaster of Euro-populism, Silvio Berlusconi, is back in politics.

For decades, Western democracies were pretty stable affairs. But now politics has become fluid — and often erratic. Why should Germany be immune to this trend?

Global financial markets are already hypersensitive, with investors fearing that central banks will act on growing inflation concerns. Expectations of interest rate hikes have led asset prices to tumble at a time when the global upswing is only just beginning to take hold in the real economy. A prolonged political crisis in Germany, with all its possible side-effects on the eurozone, threatens to bring additional uncertainty to the markets.

Turbo Democracy Meets Turbo Capitalism 

Fundamental structural change is disrupting political systems everywhere. Firm party structures are no longer needed to be successful in politics; new movements can be organized quickly via social media like Facebook or Twitter. Ties to traditional sectors of society and organizations, e.g. churches or trade unions, have loosened. Barriers to entry into political markets have been lowered considerably, to the extent that activists and political startups have gained leverage.

This new political framework has the potential to induce dramatic changes. We live in times of turbo democracy, a system that although highly agile is also prone to the kind of crises seen in turbo capitalism.

Few anticipated the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Few considered Donald Trump’s election possible. Today, few believe that Italian voters could opt for a parliamentary majority that strives to exit the euro. And few expect Germany’s party landscape to be transformed by major tectonic shifts, even though that’s not such a far-fetched scenario.

Stop TTIP, No GroKo, No Euro?

At the SPD party congress in January, only a narrow majority of delegates voted in favor of starting formal coalition talks with Merkel’s party. Now that the coalition treaty is completed, a vociferous “NoGroKo” opposition within the SPD is mobilizing against the party leadership, while leading figures, who are supposed to win over a skeptical party membership, are fighting each other in public. Under these circumstances, it would come as little surprise if the party referendum was lost. The results are due in early March.

Such an outcome would spell trouble not only for SPD leaders, but also for the leadership of Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). Half a year after the election and endless negotiations with potential partners, Merkel would still lack a majority in parliament. This would add to the pressures she already faces from within her party for caving in on too many issues. If, in the end, she can’t even deliver the next stable government, her reputation as an effective political manager would be severely damaged.

So, what’s next?

Merkel has all but ruled out creating a minority government under her leadership. But if another election were held this year, new movements transcending traditional parties could stand to profit from the current vacuum. Sahra Wagenknecht and Oskar Lafontaine, leading figures of the far-left Left Party, have already toyed with the idea of creating a leftist movement that could appeal to disenchanted SPD voters as well as alienated left-wing Greens after the party’s recent appointment of an all-centrist leadership. It might even lure some protest voters away from the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD).

With the far-right gaining ground in the polls, it’s conceivable that another election could yield a situation in which the parties that have run the country for decades could no longer continue to do so. Under these circumstance, it is entirely unclear what a future government would look like and what agenda it might pursue. For Germany, once the land of reassuring boredom, that would be a downgrade. Europe’s strong center might become the Continent’s hollow middle.

I do not consider this scenario desirable. Unfortunately, though, it is far from outlandish.

National Mood Swings

Democracies no longer work the way they used to. Power has shifted from backrooms filled with party officials to a hyperactive public sphere prone to mood swings. Political parties also no longer have the same kind of hold on individual political issues that they once did. Even if another GroKo can be formed, it must prepare for issue-specific protest movements. It’s worthwhile remembering that the last grand coalition was confronted with an anti-TTIP campaign that killed the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement long before protectionist Trump even got elected. It would come as little surprise if the next government faced a massive anti-euro movement.

The GroKo parties have agreed to strive for more integration, both at the EU and at the eurozone level, a stance that is rather unpopular in Germany and that neither the Christian Democrats nor the Social Democrats have campaigned for. I agree that a more federalist Europe is needed to put the common currency on a stable footing. Given, however, that few have bothered to even try to persuade voters of the necessity of these moves, the ground is fertile for a counter-movement that has the potential to muster support from large swaths of the political spectrum, from staunch conservatives all the way into the middle class.

The Entertainment Factor

These days, public debates tend to be loud, aggressive and pointed. At the same time, political issues have become more and more complex thanks to globalization, Europeanization and digitization. That’s why many voters are forming their opinions on the basis of thin knowledge. Balanced, rational decision-making hardly seems possible on such a narrow information base. Instead, citizens delegate the difficult details to leaders in whom they trust. Mr. Macron shook up French politics in this way.

But these ties may not be long lasting. Moods can swing rapidly, as Martin Schulz has experienced during his political rollercoaster ride during the past 12 months. Because voters who behave like fans, also might eventually grow bored with their stars, thus adding to political instability.

Then there’s another factor. In a media that is increasingly placing a greater emphasis on entertainment value than debating real issues, serious politics is becoming boring for a lot of people. Citizens who follow popular political figures the way fans do rather than being driven by political convictions of their own may be more likely to turn to the next act swiftly, irrespective of performance in office. Simply because, at some point, there’s gotta be something new.

It would be a tragedy if politics were to turn into some kind of “Germany’s Next Top Chancellor” spectacle. As I mentioned before, I do not consider this scenario desirable. But it appears that boring politics could quickly get frighteningly exciting.


The CIA and the American Media

by Robert T. Crowley

I think you can say that the Company pretty well controls the media in this country now. Take the AP for example. Every little jerkwater paper out in East Jesus, Texas, cannot have a reporter in Washington or Moscow so they rely almost entirely on the AP for anything outside their town. I mean if a cow wanders out onto the highway and wrecks a truck or the local grange burns down, sure, they have the local reporters, but for what’s going on in Washington or elsewhere, it’s the AP. Look, you get on a plane in New York bound for, say, Chicago. You read the paper and then stuff it into the seat pocket and get off. In Chicago, you pick up the Tribune and read it. Same national and international news. Fly to ‘Frisco and the same thing. The AP is a wonderful asset, believe me. Let’s say you want to put a story about that a certain foreign potentate is about to get kicked out. Or better, you want him kicked out. So, we plant a story with the New York Times, the Washington Post or other big papers and then get AP to send our special message all over the damned country. Let’s say we start in the night before. By the six o’clock news the next day, all of America knows just what we want it to know and we do this so anyone reading an article can only come to the conclusions we want.

And we used them to plant our own agents all over the world. It is a wonderful cover. We have some of the major columnists, of course, and many editors and more than a few publishers but putting our own agents in, say, France or Ottawa, is a great advantage, believe me. And H&K had the best, the very best, connections. Bobby Gray was Ike’s press secretary and was a good friend of Nixon and Reagan and had their ear. We infiltrated our people into every level of the business, political and professional worlds and you never knew when one of your people might bring home the bacon. I can say with some pride that, let’s say, we wanted to get some legislation passed, it was a piece of cake. Sometimes we made bad calls like the time we pushed Fidel Castro into office only to have the bastard turn on us. I remember the howling the Alcoa people did when he nationalized their plants in Cuba. Or the United Fruit people demanding we get rid of Guzman  in Guatemala because he was expropriating their banana plantations. The man we put in after we kicked Guzman out turned on us and we had to shoot him, but in theory it was a slick deal. Sam Cummings got Nazi weapons from the Poles and we shipped them over there on a freight line we owned and for a little while, Levi and Zentner were happy. It was a question of helping our friends.

Our Gehlen Org was almost exclusively Nazi. Frenchy Grombach drew up a list of top Nazis wanted for war crimes after the war and Critchfield used it at his main recruiting guide. Of course if the Jews ever found this out, we would have to do some major damage control. Israel is friendly with us just as long as we keep the money and the guns coming. But then we have to kiss up to the Arabs as well because of the oil so the main thing here is to maintain a careful balance. But not only H&K but a number of other firms have been of inestimable help to us. They plant stories we want planted, they open offices in foreign countries of interest and let our men come in as employees and so on. The PR people can move mountains. Paster, who not only worked for H&K but also the Clintons, worked with Bill’s people to neutralize the Lewinski scandal, which was really not political but religious in nature.

The right wing Christians, who are as crazy as shit house owls, wanted Clinton’s scalp so they could put one of their own pro-Jesus nuts in the White House. Ken Starr is as strange as they come and I am ashamed to admit he’s a lawyer from my hometown. Stands in his yard and screams for Jesus to listen to him. The neighbors made such as fuss about these nocturnal shouting sessions, they called the police.


Faked Conspiracy Photos

by Robert D. Fiete, ITT Industries


Like it or not, fake images are everywhere and have become a part of today’s culture. Thanks to the popularity of digital cameras and the availability of desktop imaging software that allows users to easily manipulate images, fake images have become commonplace, especially on the Internet. We see many images that defy common sense and it is natural for us to question the authenticity of these images. Most of have seen images that are obvious fakes, such as the 80-foot grasshopper climbing the Empire State Building, but we naturally assume that these images are fake and know that they were created simply for our amusement. Unfortunately there are too many times when a fake image has been created but it is advertised as real, challenging us to decide for ourselves whether the image is real of fake.

A fake image can be defined as an image of an object or scene that wasn’t captured as the image would imply. In general, fake images are created to generate a deception, but not all fake images are bad. The motivation may be simply for harmless entertainment, which accounts for most fake images generated today. Fake images can be generated for research and development purposes, e.g. to understand image quality issues with different camera designs. The fake images that concern us most are those that are created to perpetuate a lie. Some people will generate fake images for profit, such as a picture of an alien, a ghost, or an alien ghost of Elvis that they can then sell to a tabloid. Probably the most dangerous motive for generating fake images is to alter the public’s perception of truth for political reasons. It would be nice a reliable method existed for determining if an image is real or fake, but unfortunately none exists. We can hope to catch most of the fake images, however, if we understand how fake image are made and what characteristics to look for.

Creating Fake Images

Although generating fake images historically originated with darkroom tricks, today almost every fake image is made using a computer. Even though it is getting more difficult to discern a real image from a fake image as image processing software improves, image analysis can still be used to detect traits that can expose many of them as fakes. To understand how fake images can be detected we must first understand how they can be made on computers. The two most common methods today for generating fake images are to “paint” a new image outright or to alter an existing image that has been captured by a camera.

A digital image is essentially a grid of numbers, where each number represents the brightness of each picture element, or pixel, in the image (An 8-bit image can have 28=256 gray-level values, with a value of 0 representing black and a value of 255 representing white. A color image is made by combining a red image, a green image, and a blue image. Adding together different gray-level values from the red, green, and blue image produces the various color values.

Since a digital image is simply a grid of numbers, it is conceivable for an artist to create a computer-generated image by “painting” a grid of numbers to represent any object or scene that could be captured with a digital camera. For a 24-bit color image composed of an 8-bit red, green, and blue image, there are almost 17 million possible colors for each pixel. A 4″x6″ image at 300 dpi (dots per inch) will have over 2 million pixels, thus there are over 36 thousand billion numbers that can be considered to make the color digital image. Realistically all of the possible numbers do not need to be considered by the artist, but serious thought does need to be put into the values that will be used, especially when illumination and edges are considered. If the computer generated image is to look like a real photograph, then the image must be consistent with all of the laws of physics applicable to generating a real image.

Many of the classic painters, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, had an amazing talent to incorporate the proper shading, texture, tone, and color into their paintings that were consistent with the real world thus adding an amazing amount of realism to their work. However, their paintings do not look like modern photographs because they do not contain sufficient detail to match all of the physical properties associated with photographic imaging. (Actually, most artists probably would have been quite unhappy if their works of art looked like a modern photograph.)

In order to create a digital image that looks like a real photograph, the correct brightness values must be determined on a pixel-by-pixel basis to match the physical imaging properties, which could take months to years, depending on the image size, without the aid of computer software to perform the calculation. This problem was solved with the development of computer graphics software, designed to generate images of 3D objects with realistic illumination conditions. A rendering operation adds lighting, shading, colors, and texture to a mesh form of the object that is created by the artist. Ray tracing models produce the best quality by projecting many rays of light and modeling all of the physical qualities between the light and the objects in the scene, including reflection, refraction, transmission, scattering, absorption, and diffraction. The artist must simulate enough rays of light to cover every pixel in the image, which can be very time consuming if many rays of light are used. We have all seen the impressive results of computer animation in many feature films, creating dinosaurs or aliens that come to life on the screen. However, generating impressive detail in fake images using computer graphics, especially in a movie sequence, is still very difficult due to the complex calculations that need to be performed and the software is not accessible to the average PC user.

The most common method of generating a fake image, due to its simplicity, is to alter an existing image that was captured by a camera. The image can be altered by changing the context of the image, such as claiming that an actual image of a lampshade is actually an image of alien spaceship, or the image can be altered by changing the content of the image, such as superimposing an image of a cow onto an image of the moon

Creating a fake image by altering the context of an image has historically been the preferred method for creating hoaxes because it requires no alterations and the image is an actual image captured by a camera; hence the image, and the film negative if it exists, will pass the scrutiny of scientific tests. A famous example of a faked image by altering the context is the “Surgeon’s Photo” taken in 1934 by Robert Wilson who claimed it was a photograph of the Loch Ness Monster The image fooled many experts until an accomplice confessed in 1994 that the monster was nothing more than a toy submarine with the model of a serpent head attached.

The Cottingley Hoax is another example of fake images created by altering the context In 1917 16-year-old Elsie Wright and her 10-year-old cousin Frances Griffiths took photographs of winged fairies near their home in England. Inspection of the images showed no alterations and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famous for creating the master sleuth Sherlock Holmes, deemed them authentic. Sixty years later the girls admitted that the fairies were paper cutouts held in place with hat pins.

Altering the content of an existing image most likely originated when early photographers were compelled to touch up the photographs of their paying customers to remove wrinkles and blemishes. Many people in the 19th century were accustomed to having flattering portraits painted of them and were not very tolerant at seeing the way they looked to the camera, which could not tell a lie. As dark room processes advanced, adding and removing people from images became a standard trick. When photographers were unable to get an entire family together for a family portrait, they would set up the subjects such that the missing individuals could be added at a later time (see Figure 5). Altering images became routine for many political regimes in the 20th century, especially for propaganda. It was not uncommon for some governments to remove people from historic photographs when these people fell out of favor with the ruling party.

Today, altering the content of an image does not require dark room tricks but merely a PC with image editing software. Desktop software is readily available and easy to use, allowing anyone to quickly and creatively alter images. The easiest approach is to simply cut a section from one image and embed it into another image (see Figure 6). The desktop software allows the creator to modify the extracted image to the appropriate size and rotation. The software on the market today is so easy to use that that pre-school children have little difficulty creating impressive altered images.

Identifying Fake Images

If an image is deemed suspicious, then we can first look for clues by visual inspection and then proceed with scientific inspection if necessary. The first line of defense for detecting a possible fake image is our own perception. We have a keen ability to sense that something is wrong with an image and trusting our common sense works most of the time. If an image looks unbelievable, then it probably is unbelievable and is a fake If an image looks real and similar images are easily obtained, then it probably is real since there would be no motive to warrant the time and effort to create the fake image. Unfortunately life isn’t that simple. There are examples of fake images that we believe are real because they do not draw suspicion (see Figure 8) and there are examples of unbelievable images that are in fact real images. These real but unbelievable images are the ones that fascinate us but also make it harder to discount the images that we suspect are fake. Images that we believe to be real but are in fact fake are bothersome because they unfairly manipulate our sense of truth.

Using computer animation software to create a fake image works well in movies but generally does not fool the public when used to pass off a fake image as real. Our perception is very sensitive to subtle details in the composure and texture of objects in an image, especially when viewing images of people. Most computer-generated scenes, especially those involving people or animals, have a “cartoon look” about them when scrutinized. People generally look like mannequins and subtle details are missing. Images that circulated on the Internet claiming to be actual satellite images of the space shuttle Columbia exploding in space could easily be recognized as the work of computer animation when viewed closely (see Figure 9). The ability to generate realistic computer generated people is improving dramatically over time as software technology and mathematical models progress.

A fake image created by altering the context is the hardest to positively identify as fake since the image is real and will pass scientific tests on the validity of the image itself. Most fake UFO images cannot be immediately discounted as fake because they are indeed real photographs of objects that the viewer cannot properly identify, leaving the image subject to interpretation. The key to identifying a fake image when the context is altered is to identify aspects of the image that are inconsistent with the image description, i.e. catch the perpetrator in a lie. For example, the time and date claimed may be inconsistent with the sun’s position or the known weather conditions for that date.

Photographs published in 1932 reportedly showing scenes from WWI dogfights were amazing due to their sharpness and clarity But the amazing clarity was a clue that the images were probably fake because they appeared too sharp given the relatively long exposures required from cameras at the time and the amount of motion and vibration on the airplane. The images were not proven to be fakes until 1984 when the model airplanes used in the images were discovered.

When the image content has been altered, we focus on the aspect of the image that makes the image unbelievable. Images that have had their content altered will usually have physical inconsistencies in the image that may be apparent under visual inspection. Unfortunately, these inconsistencies are not always apparent in the image and the image may not be proven to be fake until the original unaltered image is discovered

The physical traits of the image that can be assessed include the illumination conditions, edge sharpness, resolution, tone, relative scale, and noise characteristics. Many of the computer animated scenes created for movies and electronic games do not adhere to the laws of physics, but this is usually intentional to save cost and to make the scenes more entertaining.

A common inconsistency found when the image content is altered is the mismatch of radiometric or illumination conditions between the altered part and the rest of the image. The altered part of the image may have shadowing that is not consistent; indicating that is was illuminated under different conditions from rest of the image. This is commonly seen when an object captured at one time of the day is added to an image that was captured at a different time of the day. Also, the light illuminating the altered part may not be consistent with the diffuse or specular light illuminating the rest of the scene. This effect is commonly seen when an object captured with a photographic flash is added to an image that was acquired with outdoor or studio lighting. Color, contrast, and tone will also vary for different illumination conditions, thus creating a mismatch of these characteristics between different images

An image claiming to be a satellite image of the Northeast blackout in 2003 circulated on the Internet shortly after the blackout occurred The image was quickly identified as a fake because the blackout area is pure black compared to the other areas with no light sources. Other clues to this deception include the false satellite name, the unlikely lack of clouds anywhere over North and Central America, and the fact that the blackout was not total over the Northeast. The original image is a composite of many DMSP satellite images acquired between 1994 and 1995

One must be very careful when analyzing the illumination characteristics of the scene. The shadows and illumination conditions can be misleading, especially if the three-dimensional aspects of the scene are not taken into account. The Apollo 11 moon landing images appear to contain “anomalies” that some people use to argue that the moon landing was staged in a studio. These “anomalies” include shadows on the lunar surface that are not parallel and objects that appear illuminated even though they are in the shadows, both suggesting that there were light sources other than the sun, as well as the lack of stars in the black sky, suggesting that a black back-drop was used on a studio set. Of course, all of these so-called anomalies are exactly what we expect to see in the images if we truly understand the imaging conditions on the lunar surface. The shadows are not parallel as seen in the images because the lunar surface is not flat and the objects are not necessarily parallel to one another in height, the shadows are illuminated from the light scattering off of the lunar surface, and the stars do not appear in the images because the camera exposure was set for the brightness of the lunar surface.

Creators of fake images usually ignore the known physical properties of creating an image with a camera. The most significant camera effects are edge sharpness, influenced by the lens diffraction, focus, and motion blur; perspective geometry; and noise properties, usually from the detector and compression. Computer animated images are usually created without any camera effects since this will degrade the image quality and make the images less appealing to the audience. This, however, results in images that are physically impossible to capture with a camera in the real world.

When an object is added or deleted from an image, an edge is usually created that has a sharpness that is inconsistent with the rest of the image. Even an in-focus image will exhibit some blurring due to the diffraction of light from the camera aperture. The behavior of the blurring in the image is well understood and can be mathematically modeled if the camera design is known. Even if the camera design is not known, measurements within the image can produce a relatively accurate mathematical model of the camera that can provide reasonable predictions. Cutting an object from one image and inserting it into another image will create a sharp edge at the boundary of the inserted object that is sharper than physically possible. This sharpness is easily seen and creates an obvious sign that the image has been altered, so smudging tools in image processing software are usually used to reduce the visibility of these edges This smudging, however, will usually produce blurred edges around the object that are inconsistent with the rest of the image.

Most images will exhibit some amount of noise, primarily from the detector or from the image compression that was applied. The noise characteristics of an altered portion of an image can be inconsistent with the rest of the image. Magnifying digital images will generally exhibit graininess due to the detector noise and artifacts from the compression algorithm, depending on the level of compression. When images have been altered, the creator usually blurs the edges or other portions of the image to blend in the object, but this changes the noise characteristics, allowing the alteration to be detected

Finally, an understanding of how image processing alters the image characteristics can lead to signs of alteration. For example, when the image contrast is enhanced, the resulting gray-level histogram of the image will usually display “holes” or gray-level values that contain are no longer present in the image. An object from one image that is inserted into a second image may exhibit a different histogram that will indicate that it was not originally part of the second image. However, if an image has been enhanced using an adaptive processing algorithm, then the image characteristics, such as the gray-level histogram or the edge sharpness, can change locally even though no other alteration have been made. Adaptive processing should not be used on real images if the integrity of the image is to be preserved. Unfortunately, if the image is processed after the alteration has been made, such as compressing the image, then the holes in the histogram may be filled in and the histogram will no longer look suspicious

The Difficulty of Detecting Fake Images

Most of the people generating fake images know little or nothing about the physics of the image chain, yet lots of fake images fool us because they seem to have properties that are consistent with real images. How is this possible? Images with altered context are actual images; hence image analysis will not show that the image itself is inconsistent with physics, only that the perpetrator is being untruthful. Images with altered content will usually show signs of alteration if the image is created quickly and carelessly. The anomalies created in an altered image can be reduced by having an understanding of the imaging chain properties and taking the time and effort to ensure that the entire image is consistent at the pixel level, but this is rarely performed due to the knowledge and time required.

The simplest method to reduce the detection of the anomalies in an altered image is to degrade the quality of the image of the alteration. The most common methods are blurring the edges, adding random noise, reducing the size of the image, or compressing the image, all of which will cover up telltale signs of the manipulation. Many fake images have such poor quality that accurate measurements cannot be made to determine if inconsistencies exist. Admittedly, most creators of fake images do not reduce the quality with the intent of making image analysis more difficult, but instead reduce the quality by resizing and compressing the image simply to reduce the file size. However, reducing the image quality to hide the inconsistencies may reduce the impact that the creator of the altered image had hoped for. For example, inconsistent edge blurring can be reduced in altered images if the image is sub-sampled to a smaller size, but this could lead to unsatisfactory aliasing artifacts.

Image steganography offers a method for embedding hidden information into an image. Information pertaining to the unaltered image can be encoded and embedded into the image such that it is not visible. The information can also be encrypted, requiring a key to decode the embedded information so that unauthorized users cannot alter the information. The embedded information can withstand most alterations and processing such as scale, rotation, compression, and cropping. As an example, an edge map of the image can be created, encoded, and embedded into the image itself. If an image is suspected of being altered, then the embedded information can be extracted using the key and compared to the image. Any differences between the edge map of the current image and the edge map embedded in the image can prove if the image was altered

Although image analysis tools can help detect many fake images, currently there is no way to stop somebody from spending the time and resources to make a fake image that is not detectible. All one can do is hope that an inconsistency can be found, thus indicating that the image is fake. Methods currently being developed, such as image stenography and control coding in printers, can aid in the prevention and detection of altered images that are passed off as real images. Two great references for checking the authenticity of images being distributed on the Internet are The Museum of Hoaxes and Urban Legends Reference Pages.

For further reading on fake images, a good reference is Photo Fakery, by Dino Brugioni.


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