TBR News May 16, 2020

May 16 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. May 16, 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 May 16, 2020:” A copy of an email from a reader and contributor
’CIA and Coronavirus article
Sirs: This article has arrived at my computer and I was very much impressed with the concept that the CIA was responsible for the coronavirus appearance in Europe. I was able to check, and verify, the institution in Milan that has been working on this. It is owned by a Swiss holding company. Through a connection, I was able to verify absolutely that this Swiss company is owned by two Americans, resident in Vienna, Virginia. Also that they both worked for the CIA! Do you realize how dangerous this is? How many people have already died? Why would the CIA do such a thing? It was not an accident, no one now believes. I sent your article and my own findings to about 500 people and I assure you this is spreading around. Someone published this later in Russia and this sickness is doing damage there. You say it is to allow your government to stop the big election because the disease will prohibit any gathering of people and that if the voting is by mail, it can be interdicted and controlled. This makes 100% excellent sense! This Trump is very dangerous and for the good of every country, including China as well, and should be removed from his high office before he does more fatal damage. I will send you pictures of the Milan laboratory and some other pictures of those who work there soon. Keep up on this and let me know if the American authorities come after you. Get names!’”

The Table of Contents
• Two Supertypes of Coronavirus: “East Asian” and “European”
• Facial recognition firms are scrambling to see around face masks
• The Ethics of Surveillance
• Truckers’ noisy protest expressed frustration with Trump – not support
• ‘It eats him alive inside’: Trump’s latest attack shows endless obsession with Obama
• A Foreign View of America’s Finest President

Two Supertypes of Coronavirus: “East Asian” and “European”
May 8, 2020
by Andrei Illarionov and Natalya Pivovarova
Cato Institute
The Los Alamos National Laboratory has posted a new study, as reported this week by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, that finds that the strain of the novel coronavirus that emerged in Europe and has spread to much of the world is different than the strain of the virus at its origin in China. Those findings are consistent with our research which we posted (in Russian) on April 15, 2020. Although we are not epidemiologists, we are posting our slightly updated analysis below in English in the interest of sharing what may be significant findings with a wider audience. We welcome the scrutiny and consideration of the epidemiology community and hope that our analysis and any corrections or critiques to the below will help advance our knowledge.
From a microbiological point of view, there are several varieties of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. But from the epidemiological point of view, the world is dealing with two distinctly different supertypes of the coronavirus – the so called “East Asian” and “European” ones.
1. Microbiological approach
In recent months, microbiologists, virologists, phylogenetics, and specialists in other fields of biological sciences have been carrying out unprecedented work to understand the mutation process of the coronavirus and track down new varieties appearing over time. According to recent data, several thousands of its genetically different variants have already been discovered. Based on genomic data available from the Gisaid initiative database the participants of the international research network nextstrain.org were able to discover 10 basic types of SARS-CoV-2 strains or clades: A1a, A2, A2a, A3, A6, A7, B, B1, B2, B4.
We combine the first six strains, referred to also as clades (A1a, A2, A2a, A3, A6, A7) into one supertype/superclade “A” and the remaining four types (B, B1, B2, B4) – into the supertype/superclade “B”. These two new superclades based on phylogenetic data from Gisaid and nextstrain.org perfectly correspond to “European” and “East Asian” supertypes that we (the authors) define independently from Gisaid and nextstrain.org. As of April 17, 2020, samples of SARS-CoV-2 from the database represent 59 countries.
The most complete database of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomic samples allowed researchers to create, in almost real time, a “portrait” of the evolutionary tree of the coronavirus with distinct features for all 10 basic clades of the SARS-CoV-2.
There are several parameters in the interaction of coronavirus with humans. Their quantitative values allow one to identify noticeable differences between “East Asian” and “European” supertypes.
2. Stages of the epidemic
The current epidemics started with the “East Asian” type of coronavirus. The first official manifestation of the disease was the case registered in Wuhan on December 1, 2019. According to the South China Morning Post that saw the PRC government’s documents, the first one was a 55-year-old patient who fell ill on November 17, 2019.
During the first 57 (or 42) days of the epidemic – from November 17, 2019 (or from December 1, 2019) till January 12, 2020 – cases of coronavirus infection were registered only within China. Therefore, this first period of the spread of infection can be called Chinese.
Between January 13 and February 1, 2020, the virus from Wuhan was detected in another 25 countries – Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka , Nepal, UAE, Australia, Canada, USA, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. In other words, during these 20 days, the virus was able to conquer on average 1.3 new countries per day. By the end of this period, 10 East Asian countries accounted for 73.5% of the total number of all cases in the world (without China). Therefore, the second period in the spread of infection can be called East Asian.
On February 1, in a seemingly non-stopping offensive campaign of the coronavirus, a pause suddenly occurred, which lasted almost three weeks – until February 20. After quickly capturing a number of countries, the virus seemed to “fall asleep”. During this almost three-week pause, only two isolated infections occurred (one each – in Belgium and Egypt). This third period can be called a Global pause. During this period, the proportion of East Asian cases of infection in the global total (excluding China) increased to 85.1%, European – decreased from 13.2 to 8.1%.
Global pause in the spread of coronavirus, February 2020
This Global pause in the geographical advancement of coronavirus remarkably coincides with the significant upward shift in the average number of accumulated mutations that happened exactly during the same period in February.
Genomic epidemiology of novel coronavirus – Global subsampling
The pause in the coronavirus attack stopped on February 20. On this day, Iran announced the appearance of the first two patients. Two days later, on February 22, at distances of thousands of kilometers from each other, three epidemic explosions occurred almost simultaneously: in Qom, Iran, in Lombardy, Italy, and in Seattle, USA.
In the following days and weeks, Europe became the main focus of the onset of coronavirus. The European share of the global number of cases (excluding China) increased from 6.4% on February 22 to 55.5% on March 21. Therefore, one can say that on February 20 the fourth period of the epidemic – the European explosion – began, which then quickly turned into a global pandemic.
The enormous duration (by epidemic standards) and the so far unexplained pause in the international spread of the virus that lasted almost three weeks allows one to separate two clusters of explosive epidemic behavior from each other and, therefore, distinguish four main periods of the pandemic:
1) Chinese: November 17, 2019 (December 1, 2019) – January 12, 2020;
2) East Asian explosion: January 13 – February 1, 2020;
3) Global pause: February 2 – 19, 2020;
4) European explosion: since February 20, 2020, quickly turned into a Global pandemic.
3. Changes in geography
Epidemic eruptions that began on February 20-22 in Iran, Italy and the United States marked the beginning of a new period qualitatively different from the previous periods that have been characterized by a relatively “gradual” spread of disease.
First, the number of countries affected by the epidemic has sharply increased. In the 19 days of the Global pause period the number of countries affected by the epidemic increased by only two, in the next 19 days at the stage of the European explosion it increased by 79.
Second, the geographical center of the pandemic has moved from East Asia to Europe. During the 19 days of the Global pause, the share of East Asia in the total number of cases in the world (without China) increased from 72.8 to 83.4%. But during the first 19 days of the European explosion period it fell to 26.5%. At the same time, over the next 19 days of the European explosion stage, the share of Europe in the total number of cases in the world (without China) grew from 8.1 to 42.8%.
4. The speed of spread
During the fourth period of the epidemic – the European explosion – the spread of infection has radically increased. The value of the basic reproductive coefficient (R0), determined according to Chinese data at 2.2, in Europe amounted to 4.0 in the first weeks of the explosion and then reached in some cases 5.7.
During the 19 days of the Global pause from February 1 to February 20, the total number of cases of coronavirus infection in the world (without China) increased 3.4 times (the average growth rate was 6.7% per day). Then, in the next 19 days of European explosion (from 20 February to March 10), it increased 63 times (the average daily growth rate grew to 24.4%).
5. Different behavior of the “old” and “new” types of viruses
The fact that after an almost three weeks’ Global pause, in addition to the “old” version of the coronavirus, its “new” type arrived in Europe, became noticeable in changes of all quantitative characteristics of its interaction with humans. In eight European countries (UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium), in which the first cases of the “East Asian” type of coronavirus were registered before February 4, the spread of infection from February 20-22 has radically accelerated.
In 19 days of the Global pause, the number of cases in Europe increased by 2.1 times, then in the next 19 days of the European explosion – it grew by almost 313 times. At the Global pause stage, the average growth rate of cases in Europe was 4% per day, then in the next 19 days it reached more than 35% per day.
At the same time, in 10 East Asian countries (Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia) the spread of infection during the European explosion stage did not occur at such a catastrophic rate as in Europe. Naturally, the spread of coronavirus infection has increased in this region, too, but not as dramatically as in European countries. The number of cases in East Asia increased by 20.5 times, but not 313 times as in Europe.
It should be noted that in Australia and Canada–countries that by most of their social, economic, political, even genetic characteristics are closer to Europe than to East Asia–the increase in the number of infections at the Global pause stage was similar to that of all three regions. But at the European explosion stage, the increase in Australia and Canada was similar only to the East Asian version, and indeed was even slower than in East Asia.
At the Global pause stage, the number of infections has increased:
in East Asia – by 4.1 times,
in Australia and Canada – by 1.8 times,
in Europe – by 2.1 times.
At the European explosion stage, the number of infections has increased:
in East Asia – by 20.5 times,
in Australia and Canada – by 7.7 times,
in Europe – by 312.9 times.
The visible change in the “paradigm” of their response to the epidemic when moving from one stage to another in Australia and Canada did not happen because on February 20-22, 2020, these two societies simultaneously, as if on command, changed their European type-susceptibility to a coronavirus infection to that of the, East Asian type-susceptibility. Obviously, such a change in susceptibility did not occur.
The solution to this riddle might be the following.
At the stage of the East Asian explosion, the East Asian supertype of coronavirus spread to 27 countries of the first wave (25 countries until February 1, plus Belgium and Egypt a few days later).
At the Global pause and a European explosion stages, this supertype of coronavirus continued to dominate in all three regions – in East Asia, Australia, Canada, and Europe.
But at the stage of a Global pause, a new type of coronavirus penetrated Europe and during the ensuing European explosion, it ousted its predecessor. This new type of coronavirus appears to significantly differ from its older relative in many of its quantitative characteristics – rates of spread, incidence, mortality, and lethality. Then this European supertype of coronavirus spread from Europe to some other regions of the world.
6. Quantitative characteristics of the two supertypes of coronavirus
The behavior of two supertypes of coronavirus can be observed in the spread of infection in two large parts of the world – in East Asia and in the rest of the world. The following graph shows 143 countries that simultaneously satisfy two criteria:
1) they registered 100 or more cases of infection;
2) they have at least 28 days since the beginning of the stage of the epidemic explosion.
The horizontal axis on the graphs shows calendar dates, the vertical axis shows the number of cases per 1 million inhabitants.
There is a wide gap in time (from January 31 to February 19) between these two groups of countries – “expanded East Asia” (which includes, in addition to proper East Asian countries, Australia and the UAE as well) and the Rest of the world, separating the start of the epidemic explosion stages in countries of one group from the beginning of the explosion stage in countries of another.
In the countries of “expanded East Asia” (together with Australia and the UAE), the explosion stages began between January 21 and 30.
In the countries of the Rest of the world group the explosion stages began on February 20.
In no country in the world did the explosion stage start between January 31 and February 19.
Why this global pause occurred in the evolution of the epidemic and why it persisted for almost three weeks, remain open questions.
7. Preliminary findings
Several conclusions might be derived from the above considerations.
First, for the society and authorities of each country, it is necessary to correctly identify what type of coronavirus they are faced with.
Second, the social and political reaction to epidemics caused by different types of coronaviruses cannot be the same for each type. Measures that have successfully proven themselves in the fight against a relatively “milder” epidemic may prove to be completely inadequate and unsuitable in resisting a “harsher” epidemic.
Third, a comparison of the effectiveness of public measures and epidemiological outcomes independent of the coronavirus supertype that afflicts the country, makes little sense. It may be like comparing a runny nose with cholera.
In view of the above, the effectiveness of certain anti-epidemic measures should be analyzed within the same group of countries hit by a particular supertype of coronavirus. Since most European countries and the north-eastern part of the United States have been harshly hit by the so-called “European” supertype of coronavirus (superclade “A”), it makes sense to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-epidemic measures in them in comparison first of all with each other.
Natalya Pivovarova is director of the Institute of Economic Analysis in Moscow.

Facial recognition firms are scrambling to see around face masks
Because of face coverings prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, companies are trying to ID people based on just their eyes and cheekbones.
May 15, 2020
by Alfred Ng
In the age of the coronavirus, face masks have become a part of normal life. They’re a safety requirement in many places, and for some people, a fashion statement. But for facial recognition technology, they pose a major challenge.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended wearing face coverings to help fight the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus-caused sickness that’s killed more than 302,000 people around the world. And governments in more than half the US states are making masks mandatory in various public settings.
But don a mask and stare at your iPhone or Android device to unlock it, and you quickly see the problem for facial recognition.
Before the novel coronavirus hit, facial recognition providers were expecting to install their technology everywhere: in airports, casinos, restaurants and schools. Face masks threaten to change all that, but the industry is looking at the situation more as a speed bump than a roadblock.
Some companies assert that their technology isn’t affected by masks, and that artificial intelligence can still detect and identify people with a high accuracy rate, even when half the face is covered.
A public beta program for Apple’s latest iOS release showed that the tech giant is updating its Face ID to account for people wearing masks. Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether it’s doing the same with Android.
Experts on facial recognition are skeptical about claims that the technology isn’t fazed by masks. After all, even without masks, facial recognition can stumble — studies have found that the majority of facial recognition algorithms had a higher rate of false positives for people of color by a factor of “10 to 100 times.”
And because of the pandemic, these algorithms can’t be properly tested with face masks by the US’ National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, which many consider the leading authority on facial recognition accuracy rates.
Still, facial recognition is being proposed as a solution for COVID-19, without any proof that the surveillance measure has any benefits, or even works properly with masks on.
“These workarounds are part of a larger effort to make an ever-expanding surveillance infrastructure a fundamental component of COVID-19 response governance,” Evan Selinger, a professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, said in a statement.
Masks have long been a method for avoiding facial recognition. Protesters in Hong Kong relied on them to beat the government’s facial recognition, prompting a mask ban there.
“The greatest amount of biometric data that uniquely sets us apart resides in the central portion of the face, just above the brow line all the way down to the chin,” said Eric Hess, senior director of product management for face recognition at facial recognition company SAFR. “When we put on face masks, we are blocking access to a significant amount of data points that help us differentiate one person from another.”
With face masks now common, several facial recognition companies have said their technology can still identify people.
UK-based Facewatch said it’s releasing an algorithm that can handle detection and identification based on just a person’s eye and eyebrow region. The company is proposing its technology for retail stores and says the development will extend beyond masks to other coverings, such as the religious veil called a niqab that’s worn by some Muslim women.
Facewatch had already been working on identifying people who are wearing hats and glasses, said company spokesman Stuart Greenfield. Its customers, mostly retail stores looking to keep shoplifters on a watchlist, didn’t consider mask detection much of a concern, until the pandemic began.
“All we need is the government to insist on [face masks], and the whole sector will have to react very rapidly,” Greenfield said. He added that Facewatch’s new algorithm will be able to ID people because their eyes and eyebrows are fixed points on the face and don’t change over time.
Still, Facewatch expects some complications because of face masks. Its algorithm typically identifies a person in half a second, and Greenfield said it could take longer because of the masks. But the company said it’s doing everything it can to make the new algorithm effective.
“Everyone’s working right now to ensure that we’re fit for the market,” Greenfield said. “Our future depends on having a product that works accurately.”
SAFR, which promotes its technology for use in schools, also says its tools can handle face masks.
“Our algorithms are now being trained with images of people wearing face masks,” Hess said. Until recently, the masks hadn’t been very present in society, “so they were not really added as a training dynamic before,” he said.
To train its algorithm, SAFR is relying on a hoard of photos of people wearing face masks, some shots that it creates on its own, and others its staff members have provided at the company’s request. Hess said the company is training its algorithm on a diverse set of images, to account for differences in gender, race and age.
The accuracy rate of the tools is 93.5% when people are wearing masks, Hess said, but only under ideal conditions, such as when the subjects are depicted in a high-quality photo with proper lighting.
It’s unclear how accurate these statements about facial recognition bypassing masks actually are. And it’ll be a while until we get some definitive answers.
On May 1, NIST announced that it would be running tests to identify how accurate facial recognition is with people wearing face masks, by digitally adding masks to its existing database of photos. But testing is closed because of the pandemic, and there’s no indication of when it’ll resume.
Facewatch and SAFR said they intend to submit their respective algorithms to NIST when possible. Without the test, there’s no way to effectively compare the accuracy to other facial recognition companies.
For now, people will have to take a company’s word for it that its technology actually works despite face masks. Facial recognition specialists are skeptical.
Kate Rose is a digital security expert and the designer behind Adversarial Fashion. She makes clothes to trick surveillance tech, like dresses for fooling license plate readers and masks for thwarting facial recognition.
Rose tests the masks’ effectiveness using open-source facial recognition tools at home, and she studies how surveillance technology recognizes people.
Facial recognition is designed to scan for and grab many data points on a person’s face, such as how far apart the eyes are, and the structure of the nose and chin. For identification, the technology compares the face it’s scanning with an image it already has in its database — one that likely doesn’t feature a face mask.
Rose doesn’t doubt that it’s possible for facial recognition providers to identify people from just their eyes and eyebrows, but she said this would possibly be ineffective in a real-world scenario.
“If you have perfect pictures of my eyes, I’m positive you can get them to match,” Rose said. “But the real world offers this crazy variety of background, lighting — and those things make it all really hard.”
With the entire face, there’s a greater number of distinguishing features for the AI to work from. When the features are reduced to just the eyes and eyebrows, a lot more similarities crop up that can trigger false positives.
The face masks would also play a role, said Liz O’Sullivan, co-founder of the AI monitoring company Arthur. The trained algorithm might be able to ID a person wearing a blue mask but could get tripped up by the same person wearing a red mask.
“With computer vision, so much depends on how it’s being used,” O’Sullivan said. “Most likely, they would need a data set that has the same person with and without masks, from different angles and lighting conditions. It might be possible to accomplish the same goal with just the masked and unmasked pairs, but the accuracy wouldn’t be as high.”
That’s an issue SAFR has encountered in its testing, Hess said, describing how face masks can differ from country to country. The majority of masks used in Europe, for instance, are blue, he said, while in Japan, a few skin-toned masks have appeared in the company’s data set. These deviations could confuse the system.
“There will be some masks that go undetected,” Hess said.
Facial recognition has long had issues with accuracy rates, especially in regard to people of color and women. Adding face masks further complicates the task.
COVID-19 has hit minority groups especially hard, with “a disproportionate burden of illness and death” affecting their communities, according to the CDC. More than 80 percent of summonses handed out by the New York Police Department for social distancing violations from March 16 to May 5 were issued to people of color, according to the department.
Experts warn that flaws with facial recognition and masks are another problem minority groups may have because of the pandemic.
“The similarity of many different types of people is going to go up,” Rose said. “We all like to think that we’re very unique and distinctive, but odds are you can find many people in a data set with very similar eyebrows and eyes.”
Beyond COVID
This new capability could have lingering effects long after the pandemic ends. Because of the public health crisis, companies are pushing for identification that can deal with masks. But that same capability could later be used by police to identify protesters wearing face coverings.
In January, members of the House Oversight committee warned that once facial recognition is perfected, it could have chilling effects on free speech and civil liberties. Police have already used facial recognition to monitor protests, and if people can be identified despite wearing masks, that creates a new level of privacy concerns for people exercising their First Amendment rights.
Both SAFR and Facewatch said that were it not for the pandemic, they wouldn’t have been so quick to start work on dealing with face masks. But with how prevalent the masks have become, there’s been a rise in demand from their customers.
“It is possible that you would have advancements that would not have been made if not for this,” Rose said. “We should be aware that this may be a tide that raises all boats in terms of surveillance.”

The Ethics of Surveillance
Stanford Education
Introduction to Surveillance
Surveillance is, simply put, the observation and/or monitoring of a person. Coming from the French word for “looking upon,” the term encompasses not only visual observation but also the scrutiny of all behavior, speech, and actions. Prominent examples of surveillance include surveillance cameras, wiretaps, GPS tracking, and internet surveillance.
One-way observation is in some ways an expression of control. Just as having a stranger stare at you for an extended period of time can be uncomfortable and hostile, it is no different from being under constant surveillance, except that surveillance is often done surreptitiously and at the behest of some authority.
Todays technological capabilities take surveillance to new levels; no longer are spyglasses and “dropping” from the eaves of a roof necessary to observe individuals – the government can and does utilize methods to observe all the behavior and actions of people without the need for a spy to be physically present. Clearly, these advances in technology have a profound impact with regards to the ethics of placing individual under surveillance&emdash;in our modern society, where so many of our actions are observable, recorded, searchable, and traceable, close surveillance is much more intrusive than it has been in the past.
Surveillance and Physical Searches
Particularly interesting about government surveillance is that in the United States surveillance is not held to the same standards of accountability&emdash;as the Constitution protects American citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, physical searches of individuals may not be conducted without a warrant issued by a judge. However, after the passage of FISA and subsequent laws, citizens have not been given the same protection with regards to electronic surveillance. As there have been massive changes in technology and lifestyle since the 1970s, electronic surveillance could be considered much more invasive than a physical search, yet as has been made clear in the legal section of this website, it is in fact much easier for government agents to perform surveillance. Why there is such disparity between these standards to us a matter of serious concern.
“If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.”
This is a typical argument used by governments and other groups to justify their spying activities. Upon cursory inspection, it seems to make sense&emdash;as most people are law-abiding citizens, most ostensibly will not be targeted for surveillance and it will not impact their lives, while making their lives more comfortable and safer through the elimination of criminals. Thus, the government’s use of closed-circuit television cameras in public spaces, warrantless wiretapping, and library record checks have the potential to save lives from criminals and terrorists with only minimal invasion of its citizens’ privacy.
First, as a mental exercise, we ask that the reader consider that these arguments could easily be applied to asking all citizens to carry location tracking devices&emdash;it would make tracing criminal acts much easier, and that it could easily be argued that people refusing to carry these devices only do so because they have something to hide. It is a matter of course that most people in our society would object to this solution, not because they wish to commit any wrongdoings, but because it is invasive and prone to abuse. Now consider that, given current technology, the government already has the ability to track a known target’s movements to a reasonable degree, and has easy access to information such as one’s purchasing habits, online activities, phone conversations, and mail. Though implementing mandatory location tracking devices for the whole population is certainly more invasive than the above, we argue that current practices are analogous, extreme, and equally unacceptable.
Next, this argument fails to take into consideration a number of important issues when collecting personally identifiable data or recordings&emdash;first, that such practices create an archive of information that is vulnerable to abuse by trusted insiders; one example emerged in September of 2007 when Benjamin Robinson, a special agent of the Department of Commerce, was indicted for using a government database called the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) for tracking the travel patterns of an ex-girlfriend and her family. Records show that he used the system illegally at least 163 times before he was caught (Mark 2007). With the expansion of surveillance, such abuses could become more numerous and more egregious as the amount of personal data collected increases.
In addition, allowing surreptitious surveillance of one form, even limited in scope and for a particular contingency, encourages government to expand such surveillance programs in the future. It is our view that the danger of a “slippery slope” scenario cannot be dismissed as paranoia – as a prominent example, the collection of biometric has expanded immensely in the past several years. Many schools in the UK collect fingerprints of children as young as six without parental consent (Doward 2006), and fingerprinting in American schools has been widespread since the mid-eighties (NYT National Desk 1983). Now, the discussion has shifted towards DNA collection&emdash;British police are now pushing for the DNA collection of children who “exhibit behavior indicating they may become criminals in later life” (Townsend and Asthana 2008), while former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has encouraged the collection of DNA data of newborns (Lambert 1998).
When data is collected, whether such data remains used for its stated purpose after its collection has been called into question, even by government officials: the European Data Protection Supervisor has acknowledged that even when two databases of information are created for specific, distinct purposes, in a phenomenon known as ‘function creep’ they could be combined with one another to form a third with a purpose for which the first two were not built (eGov Monitor Weekly 2006). This non-uniqueness and immutability of information provides great potential for abuse by individuals and institutions.
When is surveillance appropriate?
Many different groups define appropriate bounds for surveillance in different manners. One viewpoint that we have found interesting is that of M.I.T. professor Gary Marx, who argued that before implementing surveillance we should evaluate the proposed methods by asking a number of questions, which we enumerate below:
A. The Means
Harm: does the technique cause unwarranted physical or psychological harm?
Boundary: does the technique cross a personal boundary without permission (whether involving coercion or deception or a body, relational or spatial border)?
Trust: does the technique violate assumptions that are made about how personal information will be treated such as no secret recordings?
Personal relationships: is the tactic applied in a personal or impersonal setting?
Invalidity: does the technique produce invalid results?
B. The Data Collection Context
Awareness: are individuals aware that personal information is being collected, who seeks it and why?
Consent: do individuals consent to the data collection?
Golden rule: would those responsbile for the surveillance (both the decision to apply it and its actual application) agree to be its subjects under the conditions in which they apply it to others?
Minimization: does a principle of minimization apply?
Public decision-making: was the decision to use a tactic arrived at through some public discussion and decision making process?
Human review: is there human review of machine generated results?
Right of inspection: are people aware of the findings and how they were created?
Right to challenge and express a grievance: are there procedures for challenging the results, or for entering alternative data or interpretations into the record?
Redress and sanctions: if the individual has been treated unfairly and procedures violated, are there appropriate means of redress? Are there means for discovering violations and penalties to encourage responsible surveillant behavior?
Adequate data stewardship and protection: can the security of the data be adequately protected?
Equality-inequality regarding availability and application: a) is the means widely available or restricted to only the most wealthy, powerful or technologically sophisticated? b) within a setting is the tactic broadly applied to all people or only to those less powerful or unable to resist c) if there are means of resisting the provision of personal information are these equally available, or restricted to the most privileged?
The symbolic meaning of a method: what does the use of a method communicate more generally?
The creation of unwanted precedents: is it likely to create precedents that will lead to its application in undesirable ways?
Negative effects on surveillors and third parties: are there negative effects on those beyond the subject?
C. Uses
Beneficiary: does application of the tactic serve broad community goals, the goals of the object of surveillance or the personal goals of the data collector?
Proportionality: is there an appropriate balance between the importance of the goal and the cost of the means?
Alternative means: are other less costly means available?
Consequences of inaction: where the means are very costly, what are the consequences of taking no surveillance action?
Protections: are adequate steps taken to minimize costs and risk?
Appropriate vs. inappropriate goals: are the goals of the data collection legitimate?
The goodness of fit between the means and the goal: is there a clear link between the information collected and the goal sought?
Information used for original vs. other unrelated purposes: is the personal information used for the reasons offered for its collection and for which consent may have been given and does the data stay with the original collector, or does it migrate elsewhere?
Failure to share secondary gains from the information: is the personal data collected used for profit without permission from, or benefit to, the person who provided it?
Unfair disadvantage: is the information used in such a way as to cause unwarranted harm or disadvantage to its subject?
In general, we feel that surveillance can be ethical, but that there have to exist reasonable, publicly accessible records and accountability for those approving and performing the surveillance in question.

Truckers’ noisy protest expressed frustration with Trump – not support
Air horns blasts in support of pandemic relief interrupted Trump’s briefing but he claimed ‘They love their president’
May 15, 2020
by Amanda Holpuch
The Guardian
As Donald Trump spoke to the press in his Rose Garden on Friday, a low hum could be heard from outside the White House grounds.
The president said the sound was truckers “showing support” and insisted: “They love their president!”
In fact, the noise, which grew to include the honking of airhorns, was a protest.
According to a long-haul trucking industry website, the Trucker, the protest has been active for 15 days.
The drivers involved say they have not received targeted support in any coronavirus stimulus package and do not have adequate access to protective equipment and healthcare.
They have also voiced serious concerns about the rates they are getting through brokers who connect them with people needing to ship goods.
According to the Washington Post, “Just two weeks ago, President Trump personally extended his gratitude to truckers, welcoming representatives of the industry to the White House and calling truckers ‘the foot soldiers’ in the war against the novel coronavirus.”
But the paper quoted Santiago, “a 21-year veteran of the industry from New Jersey”, as saying: “The American truck driver needs help, and we need it now. This is our distress call to our commander in chief to address the problems we are facing. He has called us heroes – his heroes need his help now.”
On Wednesday, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, met the protesters for nearly 15 minutes, the Trucker reported. This, the website said, gave some enough hope to return to work, though it added that many did so simply because they could not afford more unpaid leave.
The Trucker reported that Meadows met Michael Landis, founder and chief executive of the United States Transportation Alliance, who acted as a spokesman.
Meadows “offered his personal email and promised that if Landis put together a list of priorities and [sent] it to him, Meadows [would] act”, the website reported. “The wary Landis, who has personally heard years of promises of action from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and others in Washington, responded, ‘We’d like to hear that from the president.’”
Meadows reportedly insisted he was “speaking on behalf of the president of the United States”.

‘It eats him alive inside’: Trump’s latest attack shows endless obsession with Obama
The president seems more interested in blaming his predecessor than tackling the coronavirus – so what’s driving Trump’s fixation?
May 16, 2020
by David Smith in Washington
The Guardian
President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump once sat together in the Oval Office. “I was immediately struck by Trump’s body language,” wrote journalist Jon Karl in his memoir Front Row at The Trump Show. “I was seeing a side of him I had never seen. He seemed, believe it or not, humbled.”
It was November 2016 and, just for once, Trump was not in charge of the room, Karl recalls. Obama was still president, directing the action and setting the tone. His successor “seemed a little dazed” and “a little freaked out”. What the two men discussed in their meeting that day, only they know.
But what became clear in the next three and a half years is that Obama remains something of an obsession for Trump; the subject of a political and personal inferiority complex.
Observers point to a mix of anti-intellectualism, racism, vengeance and primitive envy over everything from Obama’s Nobel peace prize to the scale of his inauguration crowd and social media following.
Ben Rhodes, a former Obama national security aide, tweeted this week: “Trump’s fact-free fixation on Obama dating back to birtherism is so absurd and stupid that it would be comic if it wasn’t so tragic.”
“Birtherism” was a conspiracy theory that Trump started pushing in 2011 (“He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one but there is something on that birth certificate – maybe religion, maybe it says he’s a Muslim, I don’t know.”) . Nine years later, he has come full circle with “Obamagate”, which accuses his predecessor of working in league with the “deep state” to frame Trump for colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election.
There is zero evidence for this claim. Indeed, a case could be made that the supposed “deep state” did more to help Trump than hurt him when the FBI reopened an investigation into his opponent, Hillary Clinton, just before election day. When questioned by reporters, Trump himself has struggled to articulate what “Obamagate” means. Ned Price, a former CIA analyst, dubbed it “a hashtag in search of a scandal”.
But his allies in the Republican party and conservative media are stepping up to build a parallel universe where this is the big story and Obama is at the center of it. Sean Hannity, a host on Fox News, demanded: “What did Barack Obama know and when did he know it?” Over the past week, the channel’s primetime shows have devoted more coverage to the bogus crimes of “Barack Hussein Obama” than to the coronavirus pandemic – and Trump’s mishandling of it.
Tara Setmayer, a former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill, said: “Donald Trump always need a foil. This riles up his base because they cling to anything that diverges responsibility for anything from Donald Trump over to someone else. And in this case Barack Obama is the boogeyman of the month.”
Beyond political expediency, there is a more profound antipathy at work. From the Iran nuclear deal to the Trans Pacific Partnership, from environmental regulations to the Affordable Care Act, Trump has always seemed to be on a mission to erase his predecessor’s legacy. With few deep convictions of his own, Obama became a negative reference point for Trump. Between 22 November 2010 and 14 May 2020, he tweeted about Obama 2,933 times, according to the Trump Twitter Archive.
There are a few reasons, argues Setmayer, host of the Honestly Speaking podcast. “First off, Donald Trump has a problem where I think he’s just jealous of the fact that President Obama is still so admired. Number two, I think he has a problem with people of color who are in authority that don’t do the kind of song and dance that he wants them to do.
“Barack Obama is not a ‘shuck and jive’ person of color, and those are the kinds of people that Donald Trump seems to be attracted to if you look at who he surrounds himself with as far as minorities are concerned.”
Third, Setmayer points to the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where Trump sat stony-faced and humiliated as Obama lampooned the Celebrity Apprentice host’s nascent political ambitions. Obama even pointed to a photoshopped image of a Trump White House with hotel, casino, golf course and gold columns.
“A lot of people think that this is where this all started,” Setmayer continued. “President Trump does not have a sense of humor, he’s not self-deprecating, and the White House correspondents’ dinner is a fun event where people make fun of each other, especially in politics.”
Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy group, said: “This obsession, of course, is absolutely rooted in racism. Some of the accusations have been deeply racialized, from the questioning of Obama’s intelligence to talking about how much basketball he plays to questioning his birthplace and citizenship.”
Trump has shredded many norms, including that of presidents maintaining a respectful contact with their predecessors. He has dismissed the idea of seeking Obama’s input during the coronavirus pandemic. For his part, Obama has carefully chosen his moments to condemn certain decisions or policies without mentioning Trump by name.
But tensions flared last week when a tape leaked of Obama on a private conference call with about 3,000 alumni of his administration, describing Trump’s leadership in the pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster”. He also warned a justice department move to drop charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, indicates that “the rule of law is at risk”.
Trump has described Flynn as a wronged “hero” and argued that Obama and his vice-president, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for November’s election, should “pay a big price” for supposedly derailing the retired general’s career. Critics suggest that the president is seeking to weaponise the justice department for electoral gain.
Matthew Miller, a former director of the office of public affairs at the department, said: “In terms of any real action against Barack Obama, he obviously doesn’t have anything to worry about. But when you look at what’s happened at the justice department with the complete politicisation of that department, I think it’s quite possible that they’re going to be coming after people from the Obama administration, using the criminal justice process any way they can.”
It would be one of the gravest consequences of Trump’s Obama obsession. Miller added: “There’s some racism there but, most of all, it’s driven by the fact that Obama has the thing that Trump has always craved but never achieved, and that’s respect. I’ve always thought that the respect that Barack Obama gets from people in this country and around the world is something that just eats Trump alive inside.”
Obama issued a tweet on Thursday that contained one word: “Vote.” He is expected to campaign vigorously for Biden, wooing voters who crave a return to what they saw as the dignity and stability of his era. But his presence is also likely to be inverted by Trump to rally his base with dark warnings that, like Clinton before him, Biden would effectively represent a third term of Obama. The 2016 rally chants of “Lock her up!” might be replaced by “Lock him up!”
The 2020 election could yet turn into a final showdown between Obama and Trump, even if only one of their names is on the ballot.
It will be a clash of opposites: one a mixed-race cerebral lawyer who has been married to the same woman for nearly three decades and publishes annual lists of his favorite books; the other a white billionaire and reality TV star who wed three times and measures success in TV ratings. Where one is renowned for elegant turns of phrase and shedding tears after mass shootings, the other serves up jumbled word salads and schoolboy spelling errors and has struggled to show empathy for the coronavirus dead.
Michael D’Antonio, a political commentator and author of The Truth About Trump, said: “There’s so much that separates them, it’s hard to imagine two presidents more different. It’s very obvious Trump is continually comparing himself with Obama in his own mind. Obama’s over his head, over his shoulder, always looming as the guy who could speak in paragraphs and juggle more than one thing at once and deal with them effectively.”

A Foreign View of America’s Finest President
Herewith is an overview of Donald Trump and his background taken and translated from an August, 2019 German intelligence report. This came, with copies of official stamps and all, from a very reliable German newspaper official.


Hintergrundbericht über den amerikanischen Präsidenten Donald T R U M P


(Translation from the German)

• 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
• Also, it is certain that Trump has been working closely with known Russian drug dealers, helping them to find headquarters in his various real estate holdings and laundering their drug profits for them in exchange for a percentage.
• 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.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply