Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Many Faces of John Bolton

"Allies worry about Bolton’s hawkish views" by Michael Birnbaum Washington Post  March 23, 2018

BRUSSELS — President Trump’s decision to make John Bolton his new national security adviser ricocheted around the globe on Friday, unsettling allies and raising alarm that a hawk who advocates military action against North Korea and Iran will have the president’s ear.

From Berlin and Jerusalem to Seoul and Tokyo, US allies who have long felt that Trump’s unconventional rhetoric on foreign policy often did not translate to concrete policy are bracing for a shift.

After the nomination last week of the hawkish Mike Pompeo to become secretary of state, Bolton’s elevation means that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is the lone survivor among a trifecta of advisers who pushed Trump to hew closer to conventional foreign policy positions.

Now, Bolton’s regime-change rhetoric toward North Korea and Iran may lead to a hardening of policy, allies believe.

Europeans, who widely support a 2015 deal to restrict Iran’s nuclear program, fear its imminent demise. Some Israelis — even those who criticized the pact — are also concerned. And in South Korea and Japan, there are fears that Trump is preparing for war if talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, scheduled for May, fail to yield breakthroughs.

That's not what I was told yesterday

More broadly, the appointment has fueled worries that the Trump administration is turning its back on Washington’s decadeslong role as the preeminent guarantor of global stability.

What a laugh! They have been the ones fomenting instability as a pretext for military action that in turn creates further instability.

‘‘We would desperately wish to see the United States in a constructive leading role as a steward of the international system,’’ said Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the lower house of the German Parliament. He said he fears Washington is moving in the opposite direction.

Why fear now? They have been going in that direction for a long time. This only makes sense if you are some sort of globalist.

‘‘We are concerned that the policy is coming closer to the rhetoric,’’ he said. Trump ‘‘has now surrounded himself with people who share his intuitions and his general views.’’

Actually, his intuition was to get out of Afghanistan but: 

"A car bombing outside a sports stadium in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province on Friday killed 13 people and wounded 40 others, an official said. The explosion occurred after celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian new year, were winding down and revelers were on their way home, he added. Casualties were received at a hospital with many burned beyond recognition. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State, whose affiliate in Afghanistan has grown stronger since it emerged in 2014, have stepped up attacks recently, in what analysts say is a campaign of violence intended to undermine the US-backed government....."

Yup, whatever.

Some leaders braced themselves for more turmoil.

‘‘We are at the greatest risk of real conflict than we have been for many years, perhaps decades,’’ said Xenia Wickett, head of the Americas program at Chatham House, a London think tank. 

Just wondering what he thinks has been going on in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Africa the last 15 years or so.

The appointment inflamed concerns about the prospects of a conflict with North Korea.

H.R. McMaster, the outgoing national security adviser, was no dove on Pyongyang, repeatedly talking about military options to make it give up its nuclear weapons program.

But Bolton’s move into the president’s inner circle comes at a particularly sensitive time: The South Korean president is preparing to hold a summit with Kim Jong Un at the end of April, and Trump plans to follow suit in May.

‘‘By tapping Bolton, who has called for preemptive strikes against North Korea, Trump is sending a message to the regime, telling them that they should come out to talks in order to avoid such drastic military backlash,’’ said Kim Sung Han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister who is now dean of Korea University’s Graduate School of International Studies.

Bolton has advocated a hard line against North Korea since he served as undersecretary of state for arms control and ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.

At that time, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency regularly denounced Bolton, calling him ‘‘human scum and a bloodsucker.’’

The hostility is mutual.

‘‘There’s an all-purpose joke here,’’ Bolton said this month when asked about North Korea’s conciliatory moves toward South Korea and, by extension, the United States. ‘‘Question: How do you know that the North Korean regime is lying? Answer: Their lips are moving.’’

That's an old joke that's been played.

In a separate development, reports emerged Friday that the political action committee founded by Bolton was one of the earliest customers of Cambridge Analytica, which it hired to develop psychological profiles of voters with data harvested from Facebook profiles.

The John Bolton Super PAC first hired Cambridge Analytica in August 2014, months after the political data firm was founded and while it was still harvesting the Facebook data, The New York Times reported, citing former Cambridge employees and company documents.

In the two years that followed, Bolton’s super PAC spent nearly $1.2 million primarily for “survey research,” which is a term that campaigns use for polling, according to campaign finance records.

But the contract between the political action committee and Cambridge, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, offers more detail on just what Bolton was buying. The contract broadly describes the services to be delivered by Cambridge as “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.”

To do that work, Cambridge used Facebook data, according to the documents and two former employees familiar with the work.

“The data and modeling Bolton’s PAC received was derived from the Facebook data,” said Christopher Wylie, a data expert who was part of the team that founded Cambridge Analytica. “We definitely told them about how we were doing it. We talked about it in conference calls, in meetings.”

Cambridge Analytica, which rose to prominence through its work with Trump’s 2016 election campaign, has found itself confronting a deepening crisis since reports this past weekend that the firm had harvested the data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles in its bid to develop techniques for predicting the behavior of individual US voters.

Cambridge’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques, which were built in part with the data harvested from Facebook, underpinned its work for Trump’s campaign in 2016, setting off a furious — and still unsettled — debate about whether the firm’s technology worked.

The same techniques were also the focus of its work for Bolton’s super PAC.

“The Bolton PAC was obsessed with how America was becoming limp-wristed and spineless and it wanted research and messaging for national security issues,” Wylie said.


That's odd; this was the accompanying photo in my printed paper:

FILE - In this March 29, 2014, file photo, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. President Donald Trump’s pick of Bolton for his next national security adviser stirred up the same burning question Friday in Washington as in anxious foreign capitals: Just how much will his hawkish, confrontational approach rub off on Trump? Photo: Julie Jacobson, AP / Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Source: (Julie Jacobson/AP/File 2014)

The face is still the same.

All I can say is "Where have you gone, Michael Flynn, A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo, woo, woo."

Time to man up!

"Do you have what it takes to quit Facebook?" by Beth Teitell Globe Staff  March 24, 2018

Turns out mothers are not the only ones inclined to use the good old-fashioned guilt trip. Facebook does it, too.

That makes one shudder. 

What kind of mother did she have?

As for guilt trips..... they are the champs.

That’s what Pat Jenakanandhini of Westford learned on Wednesday, when he went to delete his account in the wake of the data-breach scandal, disgusted that the social media site has become a “surveillance tool.”

This was known years ago. Why is it only an issue now?

Jenakanandhini, a senior vice president at a software firm, got out anyway, a move that separates him from the digital shrug that greeted the recent news that the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica collected private information from more than 50 million Facebook users.

In an age when reports of data breaches arrive with the regularity of Trump scandals, most of Facebook’s 2.2 billion active users/hostages reacted predictably:

They vented via hashtag. They threatened to quit. They vowed to pull back, and then, for the most part, they got back to business.

That reminds me, no indictments from Mueller yesterday in a case that could put the political elite behind bars for decades.

Despite studies showing that spending time on Facebook can lead to a decline in mental health, only a small percentage have the strength to cut themselves off.

That explains a lot.

Yes, we waste a lot of time on Facebook. But imagine the time drain if you weren’t on the site — writing individually to friends, family, and the friends of friends of friends of friends (who are somehow in your feed) to update them on life’s minutia.


You can just catch up when you see them (maybe over a drink?) or just call them on the phone, right?

Oh, gonna go crap now, okay. Just part of life's minutia.

Leah Klein, a Cambridge blogger, has grown so dependant on Facebook that despite concerns about digital privacy, she’s not trying to get out. “Facebook lets you give the illusion of caring [about staying in touch] even when you don’t,” she said.


What kind of statement is that? 

Yup, everything is imagery and illusion.

What a great "friend," huh?

Is it even worth pointing out that most calls for anti-Facebook action are happening on Facebook itself?

What do you think?

On Friday, Elon Musk — who may have already been unhappy with  Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg over a prior incident, according to Business Insider — deleted the official Facebook pages for his Tesla and SpaceX companies.....

What do i care about some rivalry amongst the Jewish elite?


FTC now looking into it:

"FTC says two Massachusetts brothers ran phony Amazon sales program" by Katheleen Conti Globe Staff  March 23, 2018

The Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it filed a lawsuit against two Massachusetts brothers and a Nevada man for allegedly operating a get-rich-quick scheme that targeted people interested in learning how to sell goods on

The brothers, Adam S. and Christopher F. Bowser, along with Nevada resident Jody Marshall, are accused of luring consumers into purchasing their expensive “Amazing Wealth System” to learn “secrets for making money on Amazon.” They falsely claimed people could make $5,000 to $10,000 in a month “even if you have never sold anything online before,” according to the suit filed in federal district court in Nevada.

The three men — who have no affiliation with Amazon — and several limited liability companies they manage that are registered in Massachusetts and Nevada are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Business Opportunity Rule by, among other things, making false or unsubstantiated earnings claims. The court entered a temporary restraining order against them on March 14.

They should have sold wars instead.

Under the Amazing Wealth System, people were charged from $995 to more than $35,000 for a “plug-and-play system” that promised to teach them how to make money as third-party sellers on Amazon, according to the charges.

“Contrary to the defendants’ promises, most, if not virtually all, purchasers do not earn the advertised income,” the FTC said.

Many of the strategies and techniques the would-be sellers were allegedly taught — such as posting fake product reviews — were deceptive and violated Amazon’s policies. Sellers who followed the program ended up receiving warnings from Amazon or had their store accounts suspended, the FTC said.

“Amazon has zero tolerance for fraud,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “We take independent legal action against bad actors, in addition to working with consumer protection agencies and law enforcement to protect our customers and sellers.”

I would read the fine print if I were you.

The federal suit comes on the heels of two other lawsuits filed last year against the Bowser brothers by the state of Washington and by Seattle-based Amazon. The Amazon suit described the brothers as “con-artists who prey on people hoping to become sellers on” According to the state filing, the Bowsers have been running their training program since 2009.


Going to refer it to the Justice Department:

"US imposes sanctions, issues indictments against Iranian hackers" by Ellen Nakashima Washington Post  March 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday announced sanctions and criminal indictments against an Iranian hacker network it said was involved in ‘‘one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns’’ ever prosecuted by the United States.

The network targeted more than 300 US and foreign universities, the United Nations, and dozens of American firms and government agencies.

Nine of 10 indicted individuals were connected to the Mabna Institute, a high-tech company in Shiraz, Iran, that the Justice Department said hacks on behalf of Iranian universities and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The tenth defendant was charged in a separate hacking case last year.

None of the alleged hackers were direct employees of the Iranian government, but all worked at the behest of the Revolutionary Guard, officials said. The Mabna Institute conducted ‘‘massive, coordinated intrusions’’ into the computer systems of at least 144 US universities and 176 foreign universities in 21 countries, including Britain and Canada, officials said.

And they left their fingerprints? Didn't bother to hide in the shadows?

All the data protection and surveillance was nothing but wasted money and a failure then -- and who benefited?

It allegedly stole more than 31 terabytes of data and intellectual property — the rough equivalent of three Libraries of Congress — from their victims, prosecutors alleged. Much of it ended up in the hands of the guard.

Sounds fake to me.

The guard is the division of Iran’s security forces charged with overseeing Iranian proxy forces abroad and is under the direct control of the country’s religious leaders.

‘‘Today, in one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, we have unmasked criminals who normally hide behind the ones and zeros of computer code,’’ said Geoffrey S. Berman, US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Just as John Bolton comes on board, too.

Also sanctioned was Behzad Mesri, who US prosecutors said last November had been indicted for allegedly hacking into HBO and stealing unaired episodes of programs including the ‘‘Game of Thrones,’’ which he threatened to release unless he was paid $6 million.


They just jumped the shark!! 

As a result of the indictments, officials said, the defendants cannot travel to more than 100 countries without fear of arrest and extradition to the United States.

The sanctions block any transactions with those named and freeze any assets they may have under US jurisdiction.....

Almost as if they were being held.... hostage?


Also see:

"Stocks around the world plunged Friday as investors feared that a trade conflict between the U.S. and China, the biggest economies in the world, would escalate. A second day of big losses pushed U.S. stocks to their worst week in two years. Investors fear that if China responds in kind to sanctions on $60 billion worth of Chinese imports the White House announced on Thursday, it will be a first step toward a full-blown trade war that could damage the global economy and slash profits at big U.S. exporters like Apple and Boeing. The market's two biggest sectors slumped the most. Technology stocks have made enormous gains over the past year, but since they do so much business outside the U.S., investors see them as particularly vulnerable in a trade dispute. The sector dropped 7.9 percent this week. Banks also fell sharply....."

Looks like I'm reading the wrong paper.