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TBR News June 17, 2020

Jun 17 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. June 17, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not
the place to discuss it
Comment for June 17, 2020: Death is in the Air!
A new disease is treading softly on the tail of the dread coronovisus that has killed over twenty people world-wide and is, thanks to a stellar global media, terrifying legions of the feeble-minded into pant-wetting terror.
The new disease recently appeared for the first time in New Orleans when 15 year old Armando Ruiz was using a public lavatory to sneak a smoke. He lit a match and the entire wall of the building behind him smashed down into the main hall of the church behind the lavatory, killing thirty people attending a mixed-race same-sex wedding
A team of New Orleans police and scientists from the Weasel Hole Science Institute were able to identify not only the roasted remains of Ruiz but also to discover that he suffered from TF Disease. When word of this got out, there was mass panic in New Orleans that soon was reported, world-wide, in the media.
Armando Ruiz suffered from TF Disease and it is now feared that this is going to spread throughout the entire globe.
Scientists have explained that TF Disease, in its fully developed form, is also known as Terminal Flatulence and those who suffer from it cannot be around any open flame or fly on commercial aircraft
This disease is believed to have originated in the Halls of the United States Congress during the second Bush Administration and expanded outwards to every part of the planet
Human flatulence, not carbon emissions, is probably the major factor in major weather change and is certainly responsible for killing trees in national forests, chickens, bees, small animals, asthma victims and occasional slow cripples.

Trump Approval Rating

June 11-13
Abacus Data
Approve    Disapprove
38%         54%

The Table of Contents
• Biden opens 13-point advantage as Trump popularity drops to seven-month low: Reuters/Ipsos poll
• The King of America
• How Trump’s missteps undermined the US’s recovery from pandemic
• More than 7 in 10 Americans won’t use contact-tracing apps, data shows
• Tips for Victims
• FBI Facial Recognition System Gives Officers an Investigative Lead
• FDR, Demagogue Champion of Leviathan and War
• The Encyclopedia of Amereican Loons

Biden opens 13-point advantage as Trump popularity drops to seven-month low: Reuters/Ipsos poll
June 17, 2020
by Chris Kahn
Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has opened up a 13-point lead over President Donald Trump – the widest margin this year – according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll as Americans grow more critical of Trump over the coronavirus pandemic and protests against police brutality.
In the June 10-16 poll, 48% of registered voters said they would back Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the Nov. 3 election, while 35% said they would support Trump.
Biden’s advantage is the biggest recorded by the Reuters/Ipsos poll since Democrats began their state nominating contests this year to pick their party’s nominee to challenge Trump in November. A similar CNN poll from earlier this month showed Biden with a 14-point lead over Trump among registered voters.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll also showed that 57% of U.S. adults disapproved of Trump’s performance in office, while just 38% approved, marking Trump’s lowest approval rating since November, when Congress was conducting its impeachment inquiry into the Republican president.
In a clear warning sign for Trump, his own support base appears to be eroding. Republicans’ net approval of Trump is down 13 points from March to June, declining every month in that span.
The shift in opinion comes as Americans are whipsawed by the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic collapse and the outpouring of anger and frustration following numerous deadly confrontations between police and African Americans, including the death last month of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
Trump, who dismissed the threat of the coronavirus early on, sparred with state governors as they tried to slow its spread and has pushed authorities to allow businesses to reopen despite warnings from health experts about increasing risks of transmission.
More than 116,000 people in the United States have died from the virus and more than 2.1 million people have been infected, by far the most in the world. Some states that have reopened such as Florida, Arizona and Texas are seeing a jump in cases.
Altogether, 55% of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, while 40% approved, which is the lowest net approval for the president on the subject since Reuters/Ipsos started tracking the question in early March.
TRUMP EDGE ON ECONOMY
The president also has been criticized for the way he has responded to the protests that were sparked by Floyd’s killing.
While nearly two thirds of respondents sympathized with the protesters, according to the poll, Trump has openly flirted with deploying the military to “dominate” them. Earlier this month, police in Washington forcibly removed peaceful protesters so that Trump could pose for photographs in front of a church near the White House.
As businesses shuttered across the country because of coronavirus lockdowns, Americans have increasingly turned their focus to the economy and jobs as a top concern.
In that area, Trump still has the upper hand over Biden. Forty-three percent of registered voters said they thought Trump would be a better steward of the economy than Biden, while 38% said Biden would be better.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. The poll gathered responses from 4,426 American adults, including 2,047 Democrats and 1,593 Republicans. The poll had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney

The King of America

Trump is not an honest man by any stretch of imagination. He has a long record of bankruptcies, business failures, very dubious business practices and extraordinarily negative behavior to staff and other employees. To catalogue the full sweep of a flood of patently dishonest business allegations against Donald Trump would require thousands of words and lump together the trivial, the blatently criminal with the truly scandalous.
Certainly, the psychological personal profile of Donald Trump could hardly be better tailored to being easily turned by a hostile intelligence agency.
The concept of Trump taking bribes from the Russians (or the PRC) is completely understandable if one applies the concept of Occam’s Razor to the tumult and disruption he is deliberately causing both domestically and in foreign areas.
Russian intelligence agencies are known to have highly compromising and often bizarre sexual material on him going back more than 30 years and they have used Trump and his elaborate network of business entites as a funnel for laundering dirty money from the Russian mafia and from post-Soviet oligarchs. The Russians are well-known to have more than enough compromising material on Trump to bend him to their will.
Trump has constantly been engaged in bribings and manipulations and does this through second parties such as Cohen his former lawyer or Manafort, his recently convicted campaign manager during the election.
Following Mr.Trump’s bankruptcies in the 1990s he borrowed very large sums of operating capital from Russian sources. He also obtained large loans from the Deutsche Bank (over 640 million dollars)
Other big banks, domestic and foreign, have long refused to lend to him, coining the term “the Donald risk” to refer to his repeated bankruptcies and failures to repay loans. However, Deutsche Bank, whose real-estate division continued to lend him hundreds of millions of dollars to finance his projects, seemed to have a greater risk appetite. There is a solid connection and on-going business between this bank and two Russian-based banks.
1,300 Trump condominiums have been sold to Russian-connected buyers. Even a cheap Trump condo costs over a million dollars, so there over 1,300 condos that meet all the criteria for what is normally called money laundering. Russian intelligence is using Trump real estate to launder money
In 2008 his son, Donald Trump Jr., said that Russia was an important source of money for the Trump businesses.
Trump and his entourage have made a significant number of trips to Russia in the past (a list of these along with Russian personages he was in contact with can easily be found on Google), seeking financing and permission to build luxury hotels in that country
Russian intelligence owns Wikileaks entirely and released the damning, and authentic, ‘Podesta papers’ concurrent with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in coordinated agreement with the Trump people. This did serious damage to her campaign and was a major contributory factor to her narrow defeat and Trump’s election to the presidency.
Trump’s actions, as President, are deliberate efforts to alienate both the putative allies of the US such as Germany, France, and Canada and, to a lesser degree, Mexico. Also, the tariffs suggested by Trump against China would result in retaliation by that country and many retail outlets in the United States would be forced to close because they would be unable to purchase Chinese-made goods, the bulk of their stock.
Trump has deliberately launched pointless, and destructive, attacks against Mexican and Muslim immigrants, as well as Canadian, Chinese and German imports. All this has done is to create a highly negative image of his persona primarily and secondarily, the global image of the United States. This is only to the benefit of Putin’s Russia, not the United States.
Trump’s tariffs, and threats of tariffs, have engendered counter-tariffs that will, when implemented, create serious economic problems for American businessmen and, eventually, the American public.
Trump’s politically foolish but calculated support of the Israeli far right has done, and is doing, serious damage to the US image in the Middle East. It should be noted that Russian influence in the Shiite areas of the Middle East, is growing. Also note that Iran, and parts of Iraq, both Shiite, have extensive oil reserves and that Saudi Arabia, a Sunni state, once America’s primary source of badly-need oil, is running dry. Further, his aggressive support of Israel is resulting in increasing antisemitism in the United States.
The Middle East areas where Russia now has growing influence, have oil and if Russia sets itself up as major oil merchandising source, this will give them tremendous economic leverage vis a vis the United States which is the world’s largest consumer of oil and its by-products.
By alienating America’s allies and disrupting that country’s social structure, Trump benefits only Russia and its interests.
When he is caught at this, and it is common knowledge that the FBI was deeply interested in his Russian connections long before he ran for President, either the American public will have to deal with another Dallas or Trump will suffer a fatal heart attack. Vice-President Pence, a Christian fanatic, would then have to be told to mind his manners or suffer similar terminal problems.
Trump is very well aware of the ongoing and growing official investigation into his denied but completely genuine Russian connections and is certainly also well aware of what they can find, and probably have already uncovered, so he initially fired the head of the FBI and even now, according to a very reliable source, is determined to replace the FBI with the cooperative CIA (their former head, Pompeo, is now Secretary of State) as the sole foreign and domestic intelligence agency. He, and his Russian intelligence handlers, want to nip any FBI revelations in the bud so that Trump can continue on his course of castrating the United States as a global power to the benefit of Putin’s Russia.
There was a full page ad that he took out in the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post in 1988, putting forth foreign policy points that could have been dictated by Vladimir Putin. It was an assault against NATO, and the European Union, both anathema to Russia
In 2015, Western European intelligence agencies in France and Germany began picking up solid evidence of communications between the Russian government and people in Donald Trump’s orbit. In April 2016, one of the Baltic States shared with then–CIA director John Brennan an audio recording of Russians discussing funneling money to the Trump campaign. In the summer of 2016, Robert Hannigan, head of the U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ, flew to Washington to brief Brennan on intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
During the Soviet era, Russian intelligence cast a wide net to gain leverage over influential figures abroad. (The practice continues to this day.) The Russians would lure or entrap not only prominent politicians and cultural leaders, but also people whom they saw as having the potential for gaining prominence in the future. In 1986, Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin met Trump in New York, flattered him with praise for his building exploits, and invited him to discuss a building in Moscow. Trump visited Moscow in July 1987. He stayed at the National Hotel, in the Lenin Suite, which certainly was known to be bugged
Throughout his career, Trump has always felt comfortable operating at or beyond the ethical boundaries that constrain typical businesses. In the 1980s, he worked with La Cosa Nostra, which controlled the New York cement trade, and later employed Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, both of whom have links to the Russian Mafia. Trump habitually refused to pay his counter parties, and if the people he burned (or any journalists) got in his way, he bullied them with threats. He also used LLCs which he created for the purpose of swindling firm who, for example, laid new carpet in one of his hotels. The vendor billed the LLC which promptly went bankrupt. This has been a favorite gambit of Trump.
Trump continually acts like a man with a great deal to hide: declining to testify to anything under oath, dangling Presidential pardons to keep potential witnesses and former employees from incriminating him, publicly chastising his attorney general for not quashing the whole Russian investigation, and endorsing Russia’s claims that it had nothing to do with the election. (“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” he tweeted last month, contradicting the conclusion of every U.S. intelligence and counter-intelligence agency.) Trump’s behavior toward Russia looks exactly like that of an accessory after the fact.
When, and not if, it becomes public knowledge that the President of the US is an agent of a foreign power, it would be the worst scandal in American history, far surpassing Tea Pot Dome or Watergate.
In conclusion, it is clearly obvious that President Trump was jobbed into his office with the full cooperation of Russian intelligence and that he is currently engaged in efforts to carry out their political global programs which, if allowed to continue, will wreak economic and political havoc on the American government, business community and public.
And consider that the United States has been harassing Vladimir Putin’s Russia economically and causing considerable problems for that country. Mr. Putin’s reactive countermeasures aganst the United States are certainly in response to these actions and in the long view, far more effective than sanctions and hysterical threats.

How Trump’s missteps undermined the US’s recovery from pandemic
Situation could have been somewhat rescued if president backed his own administration’s efforts, experts say, but instead he has shown little leadership
June 17, 2020
by Oliver Milman
The Guardian
Despite the inertia and dysfunction that plagued the early stages of the US government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the situation could still have been somewhat rescued if Donald Trump had merely backed the efforts of his own administration, public health experts say.
Instead Trump has shown little active leadership and frequently undermined government efforts and advice aimed at curbing the virus by encouraging reopening protests and refusing to wear a face mask.
As America pushes ahead with reopening businesses and allowing public gatherings even as Covid-19 infections have jumped to alarming new highs in a number of states, missed opportunities have severely undermined the recovery phase of a pandemic that has already claimed 116,000 lives in the US.
On 16 April, the White House issued guidelines to states on how to safely restart normal life again. Many epidemiologists saw them as flawed – too broad, still not backed with a robust system of testing and tracking infected people to prevent a resurgence of the virus – but it was at least something consistent to work to at a delicate stage of the pandemic.
Instead, Trump announced “we’re in the process of winning now” and the next day responded to protests demanding an immediate reopening by tweeting “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA”.
From calling himself a wartime president fighting an invisible enemy, Trump, having seen some initial progress and a modest rebound in the stock market, vacated the battlefield, observers say.
An official close to the pandemic effort, who did not want to be named, said the federal response has been a “shitshow” with a leadership vacuum that Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the coronavirus taskforce; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and Mike Pence have all tried to fill.
“Trump had a plan from Dr Birx and if he had asked for a little more patience from the public we’d have a very different situation to now,” said Andy Slavitt, former acting head of Medicare and Medicaid Services. “But he was unwilling to do that. He couldn’t wait.
“There’s no science saying taking a month off ends the virus. The way the virus works is that it goes to places it hasn’t been and infects people, and that’s happening again now. No one has an easy job in this and there are tough decisions to make, but that’s where you need leadership. We’ve lacked that.”
Another potential turning point arrived earlier in the crisis, on 3 April, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has been largely sidelined during the pandemic, advised Americans to wear cloth face coverings. Again, the advisory was not perfect – surgical masks are far more effective but were in short supply because of a deficient federal stockpile.
Public health researchers have found, however, that even homemade masks can prevent Covid-19 spreading through coughing and sneezing and with Republican men far less likely to wear masks than other groups, a strong endorsement of the CDC advice from Trump could have pushed mass mask wearing and cut the pandemic off at the knees.
But Trump revealed he would not be wearing a mask himself, and pondered “sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself”.
He subsequently removed a mask he was wearing during a tour of a factory in Michigan to avoid the media seeing him in one.
“There’s been a complete failing in the national response and to recommend mask wearing and then undermine it in the same press conference is the epitome of what’s gone wrong,” said Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC.
Slavitt pointed out that countries such as the Czech Republic and New Zealand, which instituted strong, consistent measures, have been able to emerge from the pandemic without mask wearing. “Trump could’ve worn a mask for four weeks, asked people on the other side of the aisle to do the same and you’d get a dramatic reduction in the infection rate and start to operate very close to normal again,” he said.
“He would have a booming economy, very little virus and the closed borders, which he wants anyway. The public can take hard news if they are being given it straight but Trump doesn’t do bad news. He can’t do the little bit of sacrifice to see it through,” Slavitt added.
As the White House’s visible pandemic response has eroded – the coronavirus taskforce has not held a briefing for nearly two months – it’s been left to the states to time the reopenings of restaurants, bars, retailers and other public spaces. Infections are now trending upwards in 18 states, with evidence that a restart in travel and interactions between people is driving the increasing numbers, along with expanded testing.
Arizona is a new Covid-19 hotspot, with two weeks of record high infections, prompting Kate Gallego, the mayor of Phoenix, to warn that “hospitals are really struggling” with the influx of new patients.
New Covid cases nearly doubled in Alabama after reopening while in Florida a state record 2,581 new infections were confirmed on Saturday, breaking the previous high from just a day previously, two weeks after the state allowed the reopening of bars, movie theaters and other entertainment venues
Overseas, countries such as New Zealand have instituted a traffic light-style system to inform the public of increasing danger and dial restrictions up or down in response. US epidemiologists have also looked enviously at the data dashboards used in places such as Singapore, which track infection cases from contact between people. While some states, such as Oregon, have paused reopenings due to an increase in cases, many others are pushing ahead regardless, citing the economic and mental health costs of continued lockdown.
“Americans are on the move, and they can’t be tied down, and they can’t be restrained unless they make a voluntary decision that this is right for me and my health or my family,” said Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas.
Some Republicans have expressed frustration over what they see as a hypocritical reaction to the anti-racism protests that have roiled the US in the wake of George Floyd’s death, pointing out these gatherings may well have spread the virus. The fallout from the protests and conservatives’ reluctance to isolate further will probably make it extremely challenging to reimpose lockdown should infections escalate.
“Shutting down is not the answer,” said Henry McMaster, governor of South Carolina, last week, even after his state epidemiologist warned she was more worried than ever about the spread of Covid-19 in South Carolina. “People have to be able to go and work for a living.”
Frieden said that states with declining cases may seek to restrict travel from those with soaring infection rates, while pushing what he calls the three Ws – washing hands, wearing masks and watching your distance – to avoid an explosive spread.
“Predicting the future is a risky undertaking, though,” he said, “People are very reluctant to go back into lockdown, although some people will want to stay home. We do need to realize, though, that public health isn’t the barrier to reopening, it’s the route to reopening.”

More than 7 in 10 Americans won’t use contact-tracing apps, data shows
That’s a decline from April, when only 1 in 2 rejected the idea.
June 15, 2020
by Jonathan M. Gitlin
arstechnica
Because of the lag between infection and the onset of symptoms, people can contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus and then pass it on, potentially to many others, before they know they’re infected and have to isolate. So being able to identify and warn individuals who have been exposed to an infected person—known as contact tracing—is widely acknowledged to be a vital part of any effective strategy to beat COVID-19. Which is why it is extremely dismaying to see survey data that says fewer than 3 in 10 Americans intend to use contact-tracing apps to allow that to happen.
The data was gathered from an online survey of just over 2,000 people in the United States, collected on June 1 by polling company Opinion Matters on behalf of the security company Avira. When asked if they planned to download a contact-tracing app, an overwhelming majority—71 percent—answered no. Not only is that bad, it appears to be a deterioration from earlier this year; in April, we covered a poll that found 1 in 2 Americans would probably or definitely not use a contact-tracing app.
Most of the resistance to downloading a contact-tracing app came from people over the age of 55. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that people aged 55 and over account for almost 80 percent of US COVID-19 deaths to date.
It’s a trust thing
Survey respondents who replied “no” to the first question were then asked to explain that decision with a multiple-choice poll. The most common reason cited was a concern about privacy; in all, 44 percent of those who said “no” to a contact-tracing app said they would not trust the technology to protect their digital privacy. But nearly as many (39 percent) also said they thought the apps created a false sense of security, and 37 percent said they believed the apps would not work to slow the spread of the pandemic. Thirty-five percent also indicated a lack of trust in the app providers.
Interestingly, this latest poll shows quite a divergence to April’s results when it comes to the organizations people would trust to keep their COVID data private.
Two months ago, 57 percent said they’d trust public health agencies, 47 percent said insurance companies, and 43 percent said they’d trust Big Tech. But in today’s poll, only 32 percent said they’d trust Google or Apple, and only 14 percent said they’d trust the government to keep their data private. That suggests a significant deterioration in trust when it comes to public health agencies like the CDC, although the questions asked were not identical, and there may be some differences in survey populations that make a precise comparison between the polls difficult.
Unfortunately, distrust in public health and medical tools to fight the pandemic appears to be widespread in the United States. In recent weeks, other surveys have shown that as few as 50 percent of Americans say they would be vaccinated against the disease, assuming a vaccine were available. Coupled with what appear to be politically motivated decisions to end public health restrictions on gatherings, it is likely that the eventual US death toll from the pandemic will be high indeed.

Tips for Victims
June 1, 2020
by Christian Jürs

1. Don’t buy the newer HD TVs and don’t get their conversion box. Forget getting TV from broadcast or cable or satellite directly. One idea is to watch TV shows from your older computer with currently availabe TV reception hardware/software (newer computers probably have the surveillance devices installed) or send the video and audio from the computer into the AV jacks on your TV or VCR.
2. Watch TV shows from programs previously recorded on VHS tapes or from DVDs using your older TV and VCR equipment. This could become a cottage industry overnight if enough people become aware of the covert surveillance agenda riding along on the coattails of the forced conversion to High Definition digital television.
3. You can listen to only television audio from many inexpensive radios that include the TV audio bands from channel 2-13
In most cases, audio is good enough for me. I’m mainly looking for those few comedy offerings here and there that will provide a laugh. Most sitcoms are just awful: ‘boring’ or ‘banal’ would be complimentary descriptions.
There are also many “black box technologies” being developed out there that the public does not even know about yet.
Then there are the nation’s public schools, where young people are being conditioned to mindlessly march in lockstep to the pervasive authoritarian dictates of the surveillance state. It was here that surveillance cameras and metal detectors became the norm. It was here, too, that schools began reviewing social media websites in order to police student activity. With the advent of biometrics, school officials have gone to ever more creative lengths to monitor and track students’ activities and whereabouts, even for the most mundane things. For example, students in Pinellas County, Fla., are actually subjected to vein recognition scans when purchasing lunch at school.
Of course, the government is not the only looming threat to our privacy and bodily integrity. As with most invasive technologies, the groundwork to accustom the American people to the so-called benefits or conveniences of facial recognition is being laid quite effectively by corporations. For example, a new Facebook application, Facedeals, is being tested in Nashville, Tenn., which enables businesses to target potential customers with specialized offers. Yet another page borrowed from Stephen Spielberg’s 2002 Minority Report, the app works like this: businesses install cameras at their front doors which, using facial recognition technology, identify the faces of Facebook users and then send coupons to their smartphones based upon things they’ve “liked” in the past.
Making this noxious mix even more troubling is the significant margin for error and abuse that goes hand in hand with just about every government-instigated program, only more so when it comes to biometrics and identification databases. Take, for example, the Secure Communities initiative. Touted by the Department of Homeland Security as a way to crack down on illegal immigration, the program attempted to match the inmates in local jails against the federal immigration database. Unfortunately, it resulted in Americans being arrested for reporting domestic abuse and occasionally flagged US citizens for deportation. More recently, in July 2012, security researcher Javier Galbally demonstrated that iris scans can be spoofed, allowing a hacker to use synthetic images of an iris to trick an iris-scanning device into thinking it had received a positive match for a real iris over 50 percent of the time.
The writing is on the wall. With technology moving so fast and assaults on our freedoms, privacy and otherwise, occurring with increasing frequency, there is little hope of turning back this technological, corporate and governmental juggernaut. Even trying to avoid inclusion in the government’s massive identification database will be difficult. The hacktivist group Anonymous suggests wearing a transparent plastic mask, tilting one’s head at a 15 degree angle, wearing obscuring makeup, and wearing a hat outfitted with Infra-red LED lights as methods for confounding the cameras’ facial recognition technology.
Consider this, however: while the general public, largely law-abiding, continues to be pried on, spied on and treated like suspects by a government that spends an exorbitant amount of money on the security-intelligence complex (which takes in a sizeable chunk of the $80 billion yearly intelligence budget), the government’s attention and resources are effectively being diverted from the true threats that remain at large – namely, those terrorists abroad who seek, through overt action and implied threat, to continue the reign of terror in America begun in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

FBI Facial Recognition System Gives Officers an Investigative Lead
The powerful tool replaces legacy technology and lets police officers automatically compare a suspect’s digital facial image against more than 20 million images, but it has accuracy limits and has raised concerns among privacy groups.
by Jessica Hughes
Government Technology and Emergency Management
New FBI facial recognition technology released in September means more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies can search potential criminals by face in addition to fingerprint.
The facial recognition tool, called the Interstate Photo System, lets officers automatically compare a suspect’s digital facial image against the 20 million and growing images available for searches, giving officers an investigative lead.
“What this does for our criminal justice community is it provides them another tool to be able to go out and identify criminals,” said Stephen Morris, assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the FBI.
The facial recognition tool is part of CJIS’ Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, which is a 10-year IT project begun in 2008 to replace the decades-old legacy Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The project has been launched in stages, but the September release marks the biggest rollout and the official end of the legacy system. The facial recognition technology was piloted in six states and developed in collaboration with law enforcement agencies nationwide. NGI currently operates in about 75 percent of the country’s law enforcement agencies.
“This is a long overdue effort to replace legacy technology, old technology, with new, relevant, more efficient, cheaper technology and, more importantly, more accurate technology,” Morris said.
The facial recognition technology represents the first time officers can search CJIS’ criminal mug shot database, which can store up to 92 million photos, against digital photos culled from investigations. Previously, there was no way to automatically search against the images collected along with fingerprints taken during booking or incarceration. Law enforcement officers would have to submit photos to the CJIS Division for facial recognition processing. With the new system, officers can choose between two and 50 candidates for review.
Any image used for search purposes is in law enforcement’s possession pursuant to a lawful investigation, Morris said. Digital photos, for example, can be taken from surveillance cameras or from digital devices that are seized with a search warrant. The ability to use the images captured on these devices is where the value in the tool lies, he said.
“Obviously you can’t pull a fingerprint off of a phone, but if there are images on a phone and you know that it’s that person’s phone, it’s the next best thing,” said Morris.
Facial recognition technology, however, is less reliable than fingerprint identification, with the Interstate Photo System returning the correct candidate a minimum of 85 percent of the time when a matching photos is in the repository. Any facial recognition hits are therefore investigative leads, not positive identifications, Morris said.
“In other words, it’s not an absolute identification,” Morris said. “When that agency gets that result back, they then have to go out and do the follow-up investigation.”
Additionally, controlled environments are best for facial recognition, a relatively young technology, which can be explained as an algorithm that make sense of millions of pixels describing facial features, said Chenjgun Liu, associate professor of computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. DMV photos, for instance, are a good use for the technology.
“There is no such thing as a system or program that can recognize people without any constraint,” Liu said. “That is a fiction.”
Liu, who has received funding from the Department of Defense to support his research into improving the technology, recognizes the benefit of using the technology with digital images to narrow down the number of suspects in an investigation, reducing the search effort dramatically.
“The potential benefit is of course also obvious. We have nowadays images almost everywhere,” he said.
CJIS has put into place specifications to ensure photo quality for people submitting digital images to its database, requiring they be frontal facial images with no shadows, and be taken in controlled environments. The accuracy of the photos both in the database and for those that are searched against are correlated with faster and more accurate search results, Morris said.
And although it’s not an absolute, searching for both photo and fingerprint matches for one person can give officers almost virtual certainty of someone’s identify, he said.
“For the folks out there worried about it falsely identifying people, I would say it actually closes the gap and reduces the chance of an individual being falsely identified,” Morris said.
Indeed, the fact that law enforcement can search against such a large database of digital images, has some groups uncomfortable with its possible surveillance capabilities. The facial recognition technology received attention in the spring from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Morris said NGI has been subject to privacy threat assessments and privacy impact assessments, and that abuse of the technology using photos on social networking sites is “patently false.”
“First and foremost all of these things are done with absolute guarantee that privacy and civil liberties are of first concern,” he said.
Cost of the technology overhaul is another concern. The entire NGI System is a billion-dollar project. But Morris said the high price tag is an investment. “Over a long run, over a 20-year span, the return on that will be significant. You’re talking about savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
That’s because the technology was built on a flexible framework, scalable as new biometric capabilities become economically and technically feasible. One such technology, iris image recognition, was just piloted under NGI.
Although the technology is not ready to be added to NGI’s set of biometrics tools, it soon may be, Morris said, just as facial recognition technology has come around.
V for Vendetta is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd (with additional art by Tony Weare), published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics. The story depicts a dystopian and post-apocalyptic near-future history version of the United Kingdom in the 1990s, preceded by a nuclear war in the 1980s, which has left much of the world destroyed. The fascist Norsefire party has exterminated its opponents in concentration camps and rules the country as a police state. The comics follow its titular character and protagonist, V, an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, as he begins an elaborate and theatrical revolutionist campaign to murder his former captors, bring down the government and convince the people to rule themselves, while inspiring a young woman, Evey Hammond, to be his protégé
Since the release in 2006 of the film V for Vendetta, the use of stylised “Guy Fawkes” masks, with moustache and pointed beard, has become widespread internationally among groups protesting against politicians, banks and financial institutions. The masks both conceal the identity and protect the face of individuals and demonstrate their commitment to a shared cause.
The government of Saudi Arabia banned the importation of the masks in May 2013, and said that it would confiscate any found on sale. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs stated that the mask is “a symbol of rebels and revenge”, and warned imams and parents that “they could be used to incite the youth to destabilize security and spread chaos…”[37] On 22 September 2013, Saudi religious police prohibited the wearing of the Guy Fawkes mask, the day before Saudi Arabia’s 83rd National Day
The wearing of masks during a riot or unlawful assembly has been banned in Canada, following the enactment of Bill C-309, and now carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
In current times masked political protestors, such as those in the Occupy Movement, and in particular, Anonymous, a collective group of online hackers with strong political beliefs, who consistently sport Guy Fawkes masks, have been targeted with anti-masking laws
Austria
In Austria since 2002 masking ban on demonstrations under § 9 of the Assembly Law (Versammlungsgesetz). Violation of the ban need not be prosecuted if the mask does not threaten public order and security. Violation of the ban entails, according to § 19a of the Law, imprisonment up to six months, repeated offenses one year or a fine.
Denmark
Wearing masks at a protest is illegal in Denmark.
France
French ban on face covering is an act of parliament passed by the Senate of France on 14 September 2010, resulting in the ban on the wearing of face-covering headgear, including masks, helmets, balaclava, niqābs and other veils covering the face in public places, except under specified circumstances.
Germany
Since 1980s, according to § 17a Abs. 2 Versammlungsgesetz you may not disguise your identity in public meetings such as demonstrations so the police are able to identify you. This violation can be fined with imprisonment up to one year.
Spain
According to ‘Citizens’ Security Law’ passed by government, protesters who cover their faces at demonstrations could be fined up to 30,000 euros.
Sweden
According to the Law on the Prohibition of masking in some cases, the prohibition for participants in the demonstration to fully or partially cover the face in a way that complicates identification. This prohibition applies only if there are disturbances of public order at demonstrations, or if there is an immediate danger of such disturbances. The ban does not apply to the covering of the face for religious reasons. It also does not apply to the extent participants (under 2 Ch. 7 a § Order Act ) authorized to fully or partially cover the face.
Switzerland
In the cantons of Basel-Stadt (1990), Zurich (1995), Bern (1999), Lucerne (2004), Thurgau (2004), Solothurn (2006) and St. Gallen (2009), there are laws banning use of masks.
Ukraine
Several days after Berkut riot police clashed with Euromaidan protesters Verkhovna Rada has enacted law 721-VII banning wearing masks, helmets or camouflage clothing by people taking part in a gathering, assembly, demonstration, protest, rally or other mass event. Fines for violating are monetary up to about $400 or administrative arrest up to 15 days.[ The law was repealed in January 2014.[
United Kingdom
During the 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests one of the temporary policies discussed in the COBRA meeting was to ban the covering of the face during the riots. Generally only enforced in areas in a riot stage, none were arrested solely for wearing masks, only ordered to take them off. However, many arrested who committed other crimes, such as looting and attacking police officers, were charged with failing to adhere to the mask ban as well as all the other infringements when placed in court.
United States
There are anti-mask laws in many U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
New York State’s anti-mask law was enacted in 1845, to provide for public safety after disputes between landlords and tenants.
Many anti-mask laws date back to the mid-20th century, when states and municipalities passed them to stop the violent activities of the Ku Klux Klan, whose members typically wore hoods of white linen to conceal their identities
.In the 21st century those laws have been applied to political protesters such as those affiliated with the Occupy Movement or Anonymous – wearing Guy Fawkes masks.In some areas motorcyclists have been arrested using anti-masking laws.

FDR, Demagogue Champion of Leviathan and War
April 13, 2020
by Jim Bovard

Sunday was the 75th anniversary of the death of Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt was sainted by the media even before he died in 1945. CNN last week trumpeted FDR as “the wartime president who Trump should learn from.” A 2019 survey of historians ranked FDR as the third greatest president. President George H.W. Bush praised him for having “brilliantly enunciated the 20th-century vision of our Founding Fathers’ commitment to individual liberty.”
Roosevelt did often invoke freedom, but almost always as a pretext to increase government power. FDR proclaimed in 1933: “We have all suffered in the past from individualism run wild.” Naturally, the corrective was to allow government to run wild.
FDR declared in his first inaugural address: “We now realize… that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership can become effective.” The military metaphors, which practically called for the entire populace to march in lockstep, were similar to rhetoric used by European dictators at the time.
Roosevelt declared in a 1934 fireside chat: “I am not for a return of that definition of liberty under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of the privileged few.” Politicians like FDR began by telling people that control of their own lives was a mirage; thus, they lost nothing when government took over. In his re-nomination acceptance speech at the 1936 Democratic Party convention, Roosevelt declared that “the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties . . . created a new despotism. . . . The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor—these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship.” But if wages were completely dictated by the “industrial dictatorship”—why were pay rates higher in the United States than anywhere else in the world, and why had pay rates increased rapidly in the decades before 1929? FDR never considered limiting government intervention to safeguarding individual choice; instead, he multiplied “government-knows-best” dictates on work hours, wages, and contracts.
On January 6, 1941, Roosevelt gave his famous “Four Freedoms” speech, promising citizens freedom of speech, freedom of worship—and then he got creative: “The third [freedom] is freedom from want… everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.” Proclaiming a goal of freedom from fear meant that the government henceforth must fill the role in daily life previously filled by God and religion. FDR’s list was clearly intended as a “replacement set” of freedoms, since otherwise there would have been no reason to mention freedom of speech and worship, already guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Roosevelt’s new freedoms liberated government while making a pretense of liberating the citizen. FDR’s list offered citizens no security from the State, since it completely ignored the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment (to keep and bear firearms), the Fourth Amendment (freedom from unreasonable search and seizure), the Fifth Amendment (due process, property rights, the right against self-incrimination), the Sixth Amendment (the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury), the Eighth Amendment (protection against excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments).
FDR perennially glorified government as the great liberator of the common man. In a 1936 message to Congress, he denounced his critics: “They realize that in 34 months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a people’s government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people.” Because FDR proclaimed that the federal government was a “people’s government,” good citizens had no excuse for fearing an increase in government power. The question of liberty became totally divorced from the amount of government power—and instead depended solely on politicians’ intent toward the governed. The mere fact that the power was in the hands of benevolent politicians was the only safeguard needed.
Roosevelt sometimes practically portrayed the State as a god. In his 1936 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, he declared, “In the place of the palace of privilege we seek to build a temple out of faith and hope and charity.” In 1937, he praised the members of political parties for respecting “as sacred all branches of their government.” In the same speech, Roosevelt assured listeners, in practically Orwellian terms, “Your government knows your mind, and you know your government’s mind.” For Roosevelt, faith in the State was simply faith in his own wisdom and benevolence. Roosevelt’s concept of the State is important because he radically expanded the federal government— and most of the programs he created survive to this day.
FDR declared in 1938, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” Did Japanese-Americans round themselves up for concentration camps in 1942, or what? Did the people who owned the gold that FDR forcibly confiscated in 1933 secretly will that they be stripped of any defense against the inflation that FDR intentionally ignited?
FDR’s perpetual deceits on domestic policy are grudgingly recognized by some scholars but his brazen lying on foreign policy has not received its due. in 1940, in one of his final speeches of the presidential campaign, Roosevelt assured voters, “Your president says this country is not going to war.” But FDR was working around-the-clock to pull the United States into World War Two. Once the U.S. was engaged in fighting both Germany and Japan, FDR was determined to demand unconditional surrender from both nations. That demand severely undercut German generals who were reaching out to strike a deal with the Allies that would have toppled Hitler much earlier than April 1945. Thomas Fleming’s The New Dealers War vividly explains how FDR’s war demands perpetuated the fighting and cost the lives of far more Americans, Germans, and others.
Two months before he died, FDR met Stalin and Churchill for the infamous Yalta conference. Roosevelt had previously praised Soviet Russia as one of the “freedom-loving Nations” and stressed that Stalin is “thoroughly conversant with the provisions of our Constitution.” FDR agreed with Stalin at Yalta to move the border of the Soviet Union far to the west—thereby effectively conscripting 11 million Poles into Soviet citizenship.
Poland was “compensated” with a huge swath of Germany, a simple cartographic change that spurred vast human carnage. As author R.M. Douglas noted in his 2012 book Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans After the Second World War, the result was “the largest episode of forced migration… in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians – the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16 -were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland.” At least half a million died as a result. George Orwell denounced the “relocation” as an “enormous crime” that was “equivalent to transplanting the entire population of Australia.” Philosopher Bertrand Russell protested: “Are mass deportations crimes when committed by our enemies during war and justifiable measures of social adjustment when carried out by our allies in time of peace?”
In a private conversation at Yalta, FDR assured Stalin that he was feeling “more bloodthirsty” than when they’d previously met. Immediately after the Yalta conference concluded, the British and American air forces turned Dresden into an inferno, killing up to 50,000 civilians. The Associated Press reported that “Allied air bosses” had engaged in the “deliberate terror bombing of great German population centers as ruthless expedient to hasten Hitler’s doom.” Ravaging Dresden was intended to “‘add immeasurably’ to FDR’s strength in negotiating with the Russians at the postwar peace table,” as historian Thomas Fleming noted.
Almost all the tributes to FDR this month have omitted his dictatorial tendencies or his bloodthirsty warring. There were good reasons why Friedrich Hayek labeled FDR as “the greatest of modern demagogues.” The canonization of Franklin Roosevelt is a reminder to Americans to beware of any “lessons of history” touted by an establishment media that is vested

The Encyclopedia of Amereican Loons
Jerry Johnson

Jerry Johnson is president of something called the Nicene Council, and a raging fundie. As fundies are wont to do, Johnson believes that the end is near, and is actively looking for signs to support that idea. (You can read his “10 signs of God’s judgment upon a nation here, but the web design itself should give you a clue about what you have in store if you decide to do so.) He is also a creationist, and has created some videos using common creationist PRATTs to argue against evolution, which he doesn’t understand at all.
Johnson may, however, be most famous for his anti-Mormon activism. In 2012 Johnson asserted that he would not vote for either Romney or Obama, complained that “the two major parties have given us the choice between voting for the Beast or the False Prophet,” and called the two candidates “twin evils.” He also posted a video explaining “why Mormonism is a cult”.
Diagnosis: Not easy to distinguish from a mass of similar-minded fundamentalists, but that doesn’t make him any less insane. Probably not very influential, though.

Jay Johnson

There is heavy competition for being the most repugnantly deranged lunatic on the Internet, but Sandy Hook truthers put in a good application. According to them, the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax – arranged by the Obama administration or lizard people from space – cleverly designed to increase sympathy for gun control. Of course, a group unscroupolous and powerful enough to pull that off would likely not need to do so to implement gun control and would surely have been able to come up with a more effective means, but logic, reason and evidence don’t figure high on the list of guiding principles for inquiry among people like these. A brief article on the phenomenon is here.
An important resource for all things Sandy Hook conspiracy is the website SandyHookHoax.com. It was created by one Jay Johnson, whose (self-reported) credentials include being “the only person in the world to solve LOST.” He claims that he originally created the website to help the victims, but then realized that “it was 99% odds another psychological operation that was going on.” He also emphasizes that he created the website on “12/21/12.” This is significant, “since I am the New Age Messiah, with my Look Your Heart in the Mirror™ as the new revelation from the Goddess Tefnut, aka Ma’at, of Egypt.” So there’s that, too.
Diagnosis: Needs a hug and someone to love and care for him. Desperately. As such it is unfortunate that we need to recommend people to maintain a safe distance, but we probably should.

Cathy Jameson

Cathy Jameson is an anti-vaccinationist and blogger at the antivaxx websites Age of Autism and The Autism File, where she continues to believe, against all evidence, truth and credibility, that vaccines cause autism and for instance gives advice on how to deal with vaccine “bullies” (or how to try to baffle those who know what they’re talking about with bullshit). And of course, Jameson – like so many antivaxxers – gets bullied everywhere, from the mainstream news who “refuses to offer both sides of the vaccine story” to shills for the pharmaceutical industry (who you can recognize by the fact that they seem to know their stuff and therefore disagree with antivaxxers who don’t – many people are apparently not “aware of the many risks of vaccinating or realize how much money goes into this industry”) to doctors, who continue to encourage vaccines despite Jameson’s delusional rantings (“Why is my doctor bullying me about this?”). She also defends Andrew Wakefield. “Do know the lingo,” is one piece of advice she gives to her readers, and reminds them, with regard to Wakefield’s retracted study, to “[t]ell [vaccine advocates] first that it was not a study; it was a paper.” No, seriously. Here she apparently aims for some kind of record in Dunning-Kruger: The conclusion, at least, is that vaccines don’t work and that the CDC must be in a conspiracy to get you hooked on them for nebulous reasons. Also toxins.
Here is Jameson recommending you to stay away from the flu vaccine by pointing out how she “survived the flu naturally” (which in her mind seems to cast doubt on the “CDC’s over-used scare tactic of ‘36,000 flu deaths per year’ statistic” because she didn’t die and it’s all about her), and she proudly described how she felt completely awful for several days. No, there’s no price for discovering the problems with her reasoning. The idiocy is so thick the mind boggles, even remembering that we’re dealing with an antivaxx loon. Oh, we’re not done: “Now that I’m over it, and as my family and I get back on track boosting our immune systems naturally with some vitamins, supplements and essential oils, I believe we’ll be able to get through the rest of the flu (and flu-shot) season unscathed.” Reports that she’s able to operate a doorknob remain unverified. Suffice to say her case for the efficacy of those “natural remedies” isn’t impressive.
At least her screeds are useful for illustrating the religious fervor of anti-vaxx dogmatism and how it contrasts with scientific inquiry.
Diagnosis: At least she’s ready to take on the conspiracies that continue to silence her by ignoring her, armed with all the fallacies in the book. Probably one of the most impressive examples of Dunning-Kruger we’ve had the opportunity to cover.

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