From PaulKrugzilla, over the weekend:
“[The] concentration of wealth at the very top — the 0.1% — is fully back to Gilded Age levels … [and] a lot of wealth at the top is held in offshore tax havens …At the commanding heights of the US economy, hiding a lot of one’s wealth offshore is probably the norm, not the exception.”
Three years since the news of GE paying zero and the “Taxavoidination” jingle.
And what’s changed? Not a thing. That would be socialism!
Ha-ha-ha-ha! Offshore! No tax, to the max.
Ex-NSA chief Keith Alexander, a man in the mold of E. Howard Hunt.
From Politifact, via this blog, a week or so ago:
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to “ensure that his administration develops a Cyber Security Strategy that ensures that we have the ability to identify our attackers and a plan for how to respond that will be measured but effective.”
In the year since our last ruling, the attention devoted to cybersecurity has only increased, partly due to well-publicized breaches of customer data but especially from revelations about National Security Agency surveillance of electronic and telephone traffic.
On Feb. 12, 2013, Obama signed an executive order on “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” which called for the implementation of a cybersecurity framework launched one year later …
“On one hand, we had the Obama administration working for development of increased cybersecurity through its ‘framework’ initiative,” said George Smith, a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org. On the other hand, Smith said, the administration was “allowing the NSA to aggressively pursue initiatives that destroy the security and trust in global as well as domestic networks.”
In building the biggest cyberwar machine in the world under the leadership of NSA chief Keith Alexander, the United States government put itself squarely in an untenable and amoral position when it comes to computer security on the global networks.
While outwardly working the media on the need to strengthen national and private sector computer security, using the language of dire predictions and apocalyptic scenarios, behind the scenes its offensive cyberwar and spying operations were actively working to make networks untrustworthy.
The Edward Snowden affair exposed the hypocrisy in all its embarrassing detail.
Prior to Snowden, one could find Keith Alexander making speeches on computer security on how his agency wanted to protect the country by forming an active layer of defense between the national cyber-infrastructure and all putative threats.
With the news of the Heartbleed vulnerability this week, and a Bloomberg story which asserted the NSA knew of the bug for two years, the country is shown just precisely how untrustworthy and predatory the agency was under Keith Alexander.
From Bloomberg, yesterday:
The NSA has faced nine months of withering criticism for the breadth of its spying, documented in a rolling series of leaks from Snowden, who was a former agency contractor.
The revelations have created a clearer picture of the two roles, sometimes contradictory, played by the U.S.’s largest spy agency…
Ordinary Internet users are ill-served by the arrangement because serious flaws are not fixed, exposing their data to domestic and international spy organizations and criminals, said John Pescatore, director of emerging security trends at the SANS Institute …
“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, a former Air Force cyber officer told Bloomberg. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t new. Computer security experts not connected to the US government warned that in creating a global black market in which the agency bought analyses of network and computer vulnerabilities for use in its offensive cyberwar and spying operations, America was conducting operations that could in no way be reconciled with its oft-stated public position of being for strengthening computer security.
In this, the US has made itself the exceptional nation. And not in any good way.
To illustrate, from the New York Times, a couple weeks ago:
In the months before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s arrival in Beijing on Monday, the Obama administration quietly held an extraordinary briefing for the Chinese military leadership on a subject officials have rarely discussed in public: the Pentagon’s emerging doctrine for defending against cyberattacks against the United States — and for using its cybertechnology against adversaries, including the Chinese.
The idea was to allay Chinese concerns about plans to more than triple the number of American cyberwarriors to 6,000 by the end of 2016 …
But the hope was to prompt the Chinese to give Washington a similar briefing about the many People’s Liberation Army units that are believed to be behind the escalating attacks on American corporations and government networks.
So far, the Chinese have not reciprocated …
The Pentagon plans to spend $26 billion on cybertechnology over the next five years — much of it for defense of the military’s networks, but billions for developing offensive weapons …
Moreover, disclosures about America’s own focus on cyberweaponry — including American-led attacks on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and National Security Agency documents revealed in the trove taken by Edward J. Snowden, the former agency contractor — detail the degree to which the United States has engaged in what the intelligence world calls “cyberexploitation” of targets in China …
“We clearly don’t occupy the moral high ground that we once thought we did,” said one senior administration official.
Which is something of an understatement.
What, then, is Keith Alexander’s legacy?
Nothing good. I thought about it for a bit and one name that comes to mind is E. Howard Hunt, a career CIA officer and, later — more famously, one of the Nixon White House “plumbers” who ran the Watergate burglary and other clandestine operations for that administration.
Hunt strongly thought he was always serving his country. Before he was put away for almost three years for crimes connected to Watergate he stood before the Senate in 1973, wounded and distraught:
“I am crushed by the failure of my government to protect me and my family as in the past it has always done for its clandestine agents. I cannot escape feeling that the country I have served for my entire life and which directed me to carry out the Watergate entry is punishing me for doing the very things it trained and directed me to do.”
New York Times journalist Tim Weiner described Hunt with a proper degree of superciliousness in a review of his biography, AMERICAN SPY: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond, published posthumously:
Hunt wanted to believe he fit the popular image of the C.I.A.’s founders — the American aristocrats, the tough young veterans of the last good war, the daring amateurs who set out to save the world.
Hunt, it turned out, was among the worst of them. He was a liar, a thief and a con man — all admirable qualities for C.I.A. officers who served overseas during the cold war, aspiring to the British definition of a diplomat: a gentleman who lies for his country abroad. Fine when Hunt was station chief in Uruguay. Dangerous when put to work in Washington.
Hunt closes by arguing that “the C.I.A. needs to clandestinely produce television programs, movies and electronic games” to recruit talented young Americans, citing Fox’s “24” as a model. Great idea — get me Rupert Murdoch! He wants “the PlayStation generation” to revive “the principals [sic] and ideals” — sigh — of the C.I.A.’s founding fathers, to go “back to the heart and souls of the ‘daring amateurs.’ ”
This comes from the man who helped bungle both the Bay of Pigs and the Watergate break-in. It is not sound counsel.
‘[Hunt] drew no distinction between orchestrating a black-bag job at a foreign embassy in Mexico City and wiretapping the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex,” wrote Weiner in his obituary for the New York Times.
Does anything sound familiar?
Keith Alexander is not E. Howard Hunt. He did not botch the Bay of Pigs operation or help overthrow a foreign government, as Hunt did to Jacobo Arbenz, the elected president of Guatemala in 1954.
Today, however, Alexander is more powerful. Alexander also never has to worry about suffering the fate of E. Howard Hunt.
There won’t be any serious Senate investigations and no chance at criminal exposure. Mostly, because that’s not how our country works anymore.
“I think it’s wrong that — that newspaper reporters have all these documents, 50,000 or whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these — you know, it just doesn’t make sense. We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policy-makers. But from my perspective, it’s wrong, and to allow this to go on is wrong.” — Keith Alexander, 2013
The above quote is taken from Bill Blunden and Violet Cheung’s Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation & the Malware Industrial Complex.
It is the first book on the subject of cyberwar that I will be able to highly recommend. And that spans around fifteen years of them.
The reason for this, the short one, anyway, is that all books published in America on cyberwar have been total crap, works of mostly mislabeled fiction.
This is quite easy to see, today, doubly so in light of the past year.
Behold a Pale Farce is not crap. It is a carefully researched reality-based examination of the subject and a review of it will post tomorrow or Monday.
From Ted Nugent’s column at World Net Daily, today:
As the November election looms, the Democratic political hit machine and RINOs will do their best to malign the tea party as racists, bigots, homophobes, jingoists, anti-government zealots who are composed of Timothy McVeigh-types.
Meanwhile, there is a gathering storm of Americans who are raising their political pitchforks and don’t even know what the tea party is or what it believes …
These Americans are mad as hell and they aren’t going to take this anymore. No amount of spinning, bobbing and weaving, or smoke-and-mirrors political tricks are going keep these frustrated Americans from the polls.
A political storm is brewing. Good. It’s about time.
Old Steel Knees is WhiteManistan’s most popular and public bigot and, unconsciously, he describes himself very well.
But sometimes he’s too much for parts of it, even in Texas.
A couple of weeks ago the town of Longview canceled a Nugent show scheduled for the 4th of July. To do it they had to eat 16 thousand dollars, paying off Nugent not to show.
And this is because Nugent has a history of suing venues that drop him for shooting off his mouth. One you begin making open negotiations with the devil, you’re on the hook. (More on this a little further on.)
From the Dallas Morning News, in late March:
The city of Longview paid $16,250 to end contract negotiations with controversial rocker Ted Nugent, who was under consideration as the headliner for its Fourth of July celebration in East Texas.
Longview’s payoff last month came after Nugent’s earlier comments and song lyrics became an issue during a campaign swing with Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.
In January, Nugent called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel” …
City spokesman Shawn Hara said the controversy surrounding Nugent was just one factor that led the city to call off negotiations. The amount paid was about half Nugent’s performance fee.
There were “a variety of reasons: cost, structure, is it the right musical act for this type of event — a city-sponsored, family-oriented overall event,” he said. “They decided no, we don’t want to move forward, it is not the right act for this. At that point we decided to end discussions.”
Mayor Jay Dean said Nugent’s act didn’t fit with the family-oriented program the city wanted.
Nugent promptly exploded, this in addition to chiseling the town out of 16 thousand:
If city officials are saying Ted Nugent’s shows are not family friendly, the rocker said Tuesday, “Somebody has bamboozled the good citizens of Longview.”
“The lie that my concerts are inappropriate for any city anywhere is absurd,” Nugent said in an email response to questions. “My family friendly concerts are legendary and will continue to be all summer long in 2014.”
“Those that hate me are following the Saul Alinsky playbook on how to dismantle, fundamentally transform the greatest nation and quality of life the world has ever known,” he said. “Those that hate me hate America, plain and simple.”
Nugent did not respond Tuesday to questions about published comments he made last week that Longview Mayor Jay Dean is racist and dishonest.
“I hear from reliable sources that the mayor is a racist and was offended that my band performs mostly African-American-influenced music,” Nugent was quoted as saying in a column that appeared Saturday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Everyone knows ol’ Uncle Ted is the ultimate Independence Day rockout with the ultimate all-American, soul music, rockin’ soundtrack of defiance, liberty and freedom. We shall carry on. We are the good guys. Clueless, dishonest people like the mayor are the bad guys.”
This week Longview was able to cover Nugent’s hostage fee with a donation drive:
A fundraising group led by Mayor Jay Dean has recouped the $16,250 the city paid to end negotiations with rocker Ted Nugent as a potential headliner for Longview’s Independence Day show …
City officials have said they pulled the plug after learning of the talks in March, a few weeks after Nugent was drawing increasingly negative attention for comments he made about the president and his own background.
To get out of negotiations with Nugent’s booking agency, the city had to pay a portion of his contract fee — $16,250 …
On Wednesday, [a Longview representative] said numerous companies including Longview Regional Medical Center and Good Shepherd Medical Center, as well as many individuals, had contributed to the effort.
Readers get a good horselaugh from Nugent describing himself as a family-oriented act. YouTube is rife with video of Steel Knees, on television and on tour, using profanity to condemn his enemies from the president to random women producers on network television.
From this blog’s unrivaled archives (the originals may be gone at America’s dailies, but we keep ‘em:)
Ted Nugent’s appearance at the Benton Franklin fair in Kennewick, WA, [in the summer of 2010] brought on fear and loathing in the locals. Shocked, they were just shocked — by Ted’s foul language, heard for miles around, courtesy of the rock ‘n’ roll megawatt PA …
Here are some excerpts from the letters page at the Kennewick paper (note the absence of what generally shouts his obscenities in connection with — the president, other Dem politicians — it’s just the profanity they noticed):
“What rock did they find Ted Nugent under? I am very angry at the choice of words used during his concert. I understand that Ted Nugent is like this — but at a fair with children?”
“I have never been so astonished and mad as I was on the evening of Aug. 26 when my wife and I attended the Benton Franklin County Fair.
“Ted Nugent was performing (?) onstage, cursing, shouting obcenities [sic], screaming at the top of his voice, etc. All while in the presence of many young children.
“This is an insult to our society … ”
And, delightfully, here.
Oooh, still more, from 2011 (excerpting from media coverage):
From a Peoria newspaper: “When [Ted Nugent] shares his political views? That’s entertaining, too, in a borderline frightening way.
“He railed on government in general and the president in particular. He invited his audience to storm down to Springfield and take it over. Right after an f-bomb-laced barrage, he remarked that it was nice to see children in the audience …”
From a Niagara Falls newspaper: “Nugent is ranting at a furious pace, cramming in more obscenities in three minutes than a roomful of cursing sailors, and undoubtedly saying something shockingly funny, or just shocking.
“On Tuesday, many of Nugent’s rants were directed at Canadian visitors. Standing in front of a huge backdrop of the Stars and Stripes, Nugent invited Canadian visitors to “taste freedom.” Nugent later quipped, “I love you Canadians, it’s your government that is (fucked) up.” I am paraphrasing of course, but you get the picture.”
Steel Knees has something of an encapsulated mentally ill mind. The part of his brain that believes himself a family-oriented entertainer is completely isolated from that part that spews curses every four or five words. One begins to wonder if he even hears himself or if part of his cognitive function edits out the f-bombs somewhere in the tangle of ganglia between and behind the mouth and ears.
As for suing people who drop him for being ugly in public, one of the most famous cases, well prior to Nugent’s American fame as a public bigot, came in Michigan in 2003.
Again, from the unsurpassed archives of this blog:
In mid 2003 Nugent had a big gig lined up at the Muskegon Summer Celebration in Michigan. He then went on a radio show in Denver to do his inimitably Ted thing. The radio hosts pulled the plug on him.
The result — Nugent summarily dropped by the concert. Billboard, at the time:
“Derogatory racial remarks made by veteran rocker Ted Nugent have cost him a gig at the Muskegon Summer Celebration. Festival officials canceled his concert following an interview last week with two Denver disc jockeys in which the DJs said he used slurs for Asians and blacks.”
Three months later Nugent sued the Muskegon concert officials for defamation. In his complaint, it was linked to a tortured argument about violation of his 14th Amendment rights and breach of contract, which had deprived him of an $80,000 guarantee.
The Billboard image/article is here in a parcel of articles and comes from the case files entered by Nugent’s legal team. (DD has more and may get to them in a future post.)
The lawsuit became a celebrity trial in Michigan during the course of which Nugent’s defamation claim was tossed out. Nugent eventually took the stand, saying the DJs had misinterpreted his use of the n-word in a conversation. Nugent said he had related a story about how an African American had told him, after watching him in performance: “If you keep playing … like that, you’re going to be an ‘n word’ when you grow up.”
Whether this was all Nugent said during the course of the radio appearance was not determined. No tape of it existed, apparently.
“Unmentioned at the trial were news accounts of Nugent’s use of the other [derogatory] words [for Asians],” reported the Muskegon Chronicle in 2005.
Nugent was successful in his breach of contract suit with the Muskegon festival and was eventually paid his guarantee.
Internet technology has improved some things. Because of it Ted Nugent will never again be able to mount a defamation suit against anyone.
Media Matters notes The Toledo Blade newspaper showing regret over booking Ted Nugent this summer:
The director of a summer event sponsored by the The Blade of Toledo, OH, says the scheduled appearance of Ted Nugent is sparking a backlash from members of the community who take issue with the conservative commentator and musician’s virulent commentary.
“All things being equal I wouldn’t bring in a guy who is aggravating people, that is not my intention,” said Mike Mori, The Blade’s sales director, who is also event director for the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off, a four-day food and music event the newspaper has been running for four years. “It seems like this thing has kind of ballooned in the last couple months. I will probably think long and hard about inviting him next year.”
But Mori told Media Matters if he cancels Nugent’s appearance this year, he still has to pay him the full fee, which he declined to reveal but said is more than $50,000.
“I have to pay him that even if it rains,” Mori said. “I wish the guy would just not say the things he does, he brings a big audience, he’s from Michigan, he packs the place. If everyone hated him, nobody would come. He does have a following, it’s a tough situation. I try to have a diverse type of a line-up.”
Sean Parker, one of the “inventors” of Napster, thanks musicians for sharing their music so he could have this beautiful wedding.
From RockNYC Live and Recorded, one of the first pieces I’ve written on music in years, continuing riffs I made here last week:
Streamed music is regarded as a commodity of little value. And, very quickly, it’s developing into a worthless good, the kind of “stuff” produced in the economy of the old USSR. That’s my takeaway from an essay posted earlier on rock nyc and it’s apt, I think.
One can add a few things to the assessment.
The other side of this digital coin is those who benefit from it.
Here’s who gets fabulously wealthy off the deal: The owner of the pipe, in a perverted utility model where people or the essence of them in art, if you will, not water, are what’s shared at low price. Water, however, doesn’t care about or suffer from rock bottom pricing, that it gets nothing back. Water can’t be destroyed. People, their work and lives, however, can.
Do read all of it.
I’ve become expert on having my stuff distributed by others in the sharing economy, you know, the chiseling system in which the tools of technology take everything for a few at the top of the economic pyramid while everyone else gets shit.
“Arrogance,” my first record in 1985, became part of the “music blog pirating whole records” fad. (Using Google and DD it’s easy to find. If you take a peak you’ll find that, as noted previously, those performing the public service of gifting your work to the world always know precisely who and where you are when they take it.)
You will recall the rock music blogger nerds who quickly realized no one wanted to read their crap. But they could depend on Google to deliver them audiences of people searching for the semi-popular and obscure in their vinyl and CD collections if they ripped them to the Internet. Those “music bloggers” with a little good fortune were even able to peddle ads from miscellaneous internet swine ™, under the radar.
When Blogger and the powers that be stepped on a lot of that it was just moved to YouTube where Google monetized it with digital overlay and film advertisements.
On the corporate American side, Tribune — ahem, the Morning Call newspaper — took all my pre-web journalism, most of which was freelance (without a contract or any rights given on ownership), a lot of work, and put it on their website where it’s peddled with ads from miscellaneous internet swine ™.
And, last week, I wrote of the philanthropic gift of my 20-year old book, The Virus Creation Labs, to the web in its entirety.
From music to prose, the digital economy sure has been great to me. As it has been to so many.
“The Other Side of the Digital Coin” came about as a reaction to an earlier essay dealing with the social attitude toward digital music.
“The problem with [digital music] streaming is just about precisely that: nobody owns it, it has no life outside itself and its value is so minimal the majority of the world can’t make a living from it,” it reads.
Those who do make a living from it, grand ones, are those who own the means of distribution and who developed the technology for it.
See photo of Sean Parker, above. Boy, he’s sure made the good life for everybody.
And that brings up another thing about the marvelous inventors and programmers of our advancing world.
Some of them really seem to believe the bathwater that in making it convenient for everyone to have digital stuff, like music, they’ve made a better world, that they’ve fixed something that was broken.
You see this
miscellaneous internet swine ™ creepy tech geek megalomaniac world view all the time.
Today from the New York Times, on an HBO sitcom about tech start-ups alleged to be funny:
Rather than money or power, what motivates Richard and the other coders of “Silicon Valley” — to the extent that they’re motivated at all, which is sometimes debatable — is something quite prosaic. They seem to be in love with the intellectual puzzle of creating better code, and they genuinely believe that their technologies will benefit humanity.
This sounds hackneyed, and the show does use some of the tech set’s soaring, world-changing rhetoric for comic grist. Yet, in a way that feels unusual on TV and the movies, “Silicon Valley” buys into the central dogma of Silicon Valley: Finding new methods to make everything faster, cheaper, more convenient and more efficient will be good for the world.
“This sounds hackneyed” is right. Instead what happened is the opposite.
The technology has empowered those with the most to grab even more.
And there are now some obvious and easy measurements on how well the idea of furnishing abundance and convenience through coding for the global networks have made the world a better place.
You’ll recall the old idea from the early days of Napster and the beginnings of “free” music: The creators would benefit from gaining exposure to a new and appreciative audience they didn’t have and their boats would be lifted thereby. That was about fifteen years ago. Hilarious, in view of how things have turned out.
Jesus of America’s work is never done! Just over a month ago he was telling fables about how the poor are better off when you take their food and what little health care they may have away.
Stoned for it, Jesus of America just laughed at Pontius Paul and all the nail drivers, saying slyly, “Wait until next month!”
And, good as his word, next month is here with Jesus of America’s ten year budget which cuts 2 trillion from health care reform and almost 1 trillion from Medicaid and food stamps while giving more gold to those at the top. Jesus of America sayeth: “Don’t feed the poor, they are just too lazy, they’ll never work at all.” Share the love of Jesus of America far and wide!
Pontius Paul Krugman:
The latest Paul Ryan budget is getting a lot of well-deserved flak, and so is Ryan himself. The combination of cruelty and raw dishonesty is so obvious, it’s hard to see how anyone can fail to see what’s going on.
But Ryan hasn’t changed; his budgets have always been like this, and so has he.
The last time, about a month ago — if that, I mentioned Jesus of America would be back in no more than six months, probably less.
Much less, actually.
No amount of nails can stop him, no virtual lance in the side.
It’s impossible to stop Jesus of America.
And that’s because he’s one of the son’s of God in WhiteManistan. They love his spiritual teachings.
If Jesus says it, they know it must be true. So now it’s time to whip the poor (as it always is), they know what to do!
What’s wrong with this picture? Read the post to find out. The now bog standard American response to powdered castor seeds.
From KPCC public radio in Pasadena:
Three people including a Los Angeles police officer and a firefighter were hospitalized after being exposed to what was thought to be a dangerous substance.
Police Lt. Sabrina Kuhn tells City News Service that firefighters responded late Monday to a call of a possible overdose in Van Nuys.
They found a 23-year-old man had injected himself with a mix of an unknown white power and crushed castor beans …
A HazMat team determined that the crushed castor beans were not harmful, but admitted the firefighter and officer to a hospital as a precautionary measure. Ten residences in the area were briefly evacuated.
Police mentioned the unnamed individual may be subject to mental evaluation upon release from the hospital.
One science paper on an extremely rare event, abstract at the National Institutes of Health online library, on a suicide by injection of castor in 2009:
A case report is presented of a 49-year-old man who committed suicide by intravenous and subcutaneous injection of a castor bean extract. He was brought to the emergency department 24 h after injecting himself. On admission, the patient was conscious and he presented with a history of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dyspnoea, vertigo and muscular pain. Despite symptomatic and supportive intensive care, the man died 9 h after admission due to multiorgan failure …
Based on the clinical symptoms and the results of the toxicological analysis, we concluded that death was caused by intoxication with plant toxins originated from R. communis L.
A fascinating 2011 scientific review, available for free, entitled Ricinus communis: Intoxications in human and veterinary medicine, is also here.
A very recent review on the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports 45 fatalities out of more than 2 million plant poisonings between 1983 and 2009, of these, only one fatal case was attributed to Ricinus communis, while the majority (16 deaths) was caused by Datura and Cicuta species. A review by the Swiss Toxicology Information Centre mentioned 130 serious cases including five fatal plant poisonings between 1966 and 1994, among them three non-fatal cases related to Ricinus communis. These reviews of local plant poisonings support the opinion that intoxications with Ricinus communis usually do not belong to the most common or serious poisonings occurring accidentally in humans.
The seeds of Ricinus communis have a long history as medical remedy; it is therefore not surprising to find cases linked with adverse reaction to them: A Korean woman who had eaten five castor seeds in order to treat constipation was admitted to hospital with severe nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and initially near hypothermia; in this case ricin was detected in urine samples, symptoms were treated (fluids, charcoal) and she was discharged after 2 days. Similar cases have been reported from Brazil and Croatia …
In cases of intended uptake of ricin different reports describe suicides by injection of a self-made seed extract in Poland, Belgium and the US (Table 1). A fatal suicide took place in Poland, here a man subcutaneously injected himself with a Ricinus communis seed extract and was admitted 36 h later to the clinic with nausea, dizziness, pain and severe weakness. He deteriorated with haemorrhagic diathesis and multi-organ failure and died after asystolic arrest 18 h later …
Overall-among all plant poisonings reported-human cases of ricin poisoning are rare. With modern supportive care the fatality rate is low, except in suicide cases where a ricin-containing extract is injected, reflecting the higher toxicity after parenteral application.
Rough as well as precise evidence accumulated worldwide on death by castor seed consumption as well as injection over the course of many years yielded the following:
876 accidental cases (including one by injection), of which 13 died — or 1.5 percent. Paradoxically, the one injection case did not result in a fatality.
11 intended poisoning cases, 5 of which were oral and 6 by injection. Of these, none died in the oral sample while 5 expired after injection — or 45.5 percent of the whole.
Americans are not bereft of skills. I’m not. Read the blog for a few months and you’ll have a hard time selling the idea that someone like me is unqualified for paying work.
But “American have no skills” is part of the cant corporate America uses to dismiss the unemployed. And it bleeds into everything.
If you can’t find work all the people you know who still have jobs eventually begin to recoil. They’ve all been exposed to the same myth-making and this country’s economic mark of Cain is plainly visible on you.
Everything dries up. You have no connections, no opportunities, nobody will even speak to you. The idea that in the US economy millions will network into some position or new employment is absurd.
Paul Krugman got to it yesterday:
A few months ago, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, and Marlene Seltzer, the chief executive of Jobs for the Future, published an article in Politico titled “Closing the Skills Gap.” They began portentously: “Today, nearly 11 million Americans are unemployed. Yet, at the same time, 4 million jobs sit unfilled” — supposedly demonstrating “the gulf between the skills job seekers currently have and the skills employers need”…
Meanwhile, multiple careful studies have found no support for claims that inadequate worker skills explain high unemployment.
But the belief that America suffers from a severe “skills gap” is one of those things that everyone important knows must be true, because everyone they know says it’s true. It’s a prime example of a zombie idea — an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.
“Moreover, by blaming workers for their own plight, the skills myth shifts attention away from the spectacle of soaring profits and bonuses even as employment and wages stagnate,” concludes Krugman. “Of course, that may be another reason corporate executives like the myth so much.”
Extra galling it is for the presence of Jamie Dimon presenting himself as an expert on the alleged skills gap of his millions of lesser Americans. He’s the well-known CEO of Chase, hit by the Justice Department in 2013-2014 with a 20 billion dollar fine for institutional financial crime. Which the bank laughed off.
Matt Taibbi, formerly of Rolling Stone, has frequently referenced Dimon as a Wall Street criminal.
He wrote recently:
Chase’s responses to [the Justice Department's] record penalties have been hilarious. Their first move was to make sure people outside the penthouse boardroom took on all the pain, laying off 7,500 employees …
Next, Chase’s board members sat down, put their misshapen heads together, considered the impact of this disastrous year of settlements, and decided to respond by more than doubling the take-home pay of the executive in charge, giving Dimon about $20 million in salary and equity.
A-hoo-hoo-ha-hoo-hoo, we got no skills today…
In mid-March, a blog reader sent me a link to a roundtable computer industry/corporate honcho discussion which included Norman Matloff, a computer science professor at UC Davis, who has made it a cause to debunk the idea that there’s any skills gap or shortage of highly trained American computer scientists and programmers.
Matloff posted his thoughts to the web.
Except for me, all the participants were people with strong vested interests in expanding the H-1B program. These were all people with considerable power and influence–tech industry executives, venture capitalists, heads of business groups and so on. I joked that I had entered the “lion’s den,” which provoked laughter.
We first went around the table with introductions. A number of those present made a big point of saying that they can’t find the workers they need, they need to hire H-1Bs, etc …
However, the moderator (”Moderator Z”), a [venture capitalist] who is also board member of the organization holding the conference, actually was sympathetic to me, saying to the group, “I personally know a lot of older engineers who have trouble finding work.” He added that just by the laws of supply and demand alone, the presence of H-1Bs lowers wages. Apparently he’s the one who chose to invite me to the “lion’s den.”
His statement about older engineers came after I mentioned a friend who had applied to Firm Y just last week and had been rejected just one day later without even a phone interview. I didn’t say the person’s name, of course, but did cite the person’s stellar background. The guy lives in the Bay Area, so there would be no relocation issue etc. I said to the group, “You say you can’t find qualified American workers, but frankly what I say is that you aren’t trying very hard.” I also pointed out that if one clicks on “Our Team” on Firm Y’s Web page, one sees they are almost all in their 20s or early 30s. That kind of took the wind out of the group’s sails for a while, especially since VP X did say that this person seemed to be of the type Firm Y is seeking …
What was especially interesting is what the group did NOT say:
i. Moderator X asked VP W, “What would happen if all your foreign workers were to disappear tomorrow? Just from the laws of supply and demand, you’d have to start offering a lot more money in recruiting workers, right?” W answered yes, she would. But what she did NOT say was, “We would have to scale back our operations, because there aren’t Americans with the skills we need”–the industry party line, one that she herself had stated earlier in the meeting. So, apparently Americans with the skills she wants are available after all.
ii. No one spoke the other standard industry party line, “We need to work at the K-12 level to get more kids interested in STEM, so we don’t have to rely on H-1Bs in the future.” It’s phony, of course, as W and X implicitly conceded, but they didn’t even bother with it. It was just, “Gimme the H-1Bs.”
The entirety is here.
The fact is corporate America is actively and passively hostile to hiring Americans who are skilled. And it’s for a variety of reasons, many of which are now being more deeply examined.
The No-Job Job Fair. Yes, if you haven’t, read it. Recommend it. So why haven’t you?
Hundreds show up, including your host, for two part time jobs — meat counter clerk and dishwasher — at a Pasadena Whole Foods.
From “Seen by appointment only:”
My friend Mark, [drummer in the WhiteManistan Blues Band], admitted the country was pathetic. It hardly produces jobs for its people. The majority of those it does don’t pay much of anything.
When you have no more practical chance of landing even part-time work as a dishwasher or someone wrapping and weighing meat in a supermarket than winning the jackpot with a lottery ticket bought at the liquor store, there’s nothing to do but laugh.
The unemployment problem is caused by a skills mismatch! Americans are too stupid to get the jobs the new global economy furnishes! If you want a job bad enough, you’ll have one! Only the lazy and sinful do not!
From the NYTimes: “[Since] 2000, many college graduates have taken jobs that do not require college degrees and, in the process, have displaced less-educated lower-skilled workers. “In this maturity stage,” [a] report says, ‘having a B.A. is less about obtaining access to high paying managerial and technology jobs and more about beating out less-educated workers for the barista or clerical job…’
“[The future] norm may very well be an economy where even college-educated workers cannot thrive.”
Remember, the misery jar is still open for business. As this is the web equivalent of street-corner busking.
And at least the police can’t send you packing.
After a brief state of grace in which a judge ruled that Georgetown student and ricin-maker Danny Milzman could be released to psychiatric treatment in the nation’s capitol, and then home, his case has reverted to standard procedure.
All Americans who have been caught in ricin cases in the last fifteen years are jailed until trial or plea agreements. At which point they have all been sent to prison.
The ramifications and results of this policy have been discussed at length on this blog, most recently, last week, where analysis of the present and past cases are listed as well as one minor exception to the rule.
From the WaPo, minutes ago:
Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts overruled a magistrate judge’s order that would have allowed the student, Daniel Milzman, to enter an inpatient psychiatric treatment program.
Roberts said Monday that he was troubled by Milzman’s conversation with a close friend in which the sophomore allegedly denied being suicidal and said he was “definitely a threat to someone,” according to prosecutors.
The judge also said he was concerned that Milzman told law enforcement officials that he learned about the powdery substance from the hit TV show “Breaking Bad.” In the show, the protagonist uses ricin to poison his adversary – not to kill himself …
In his ruling from the bench, Roberts acknowledged Milzman’s depression but said the student’s mental health issues do not “eliminate the possibility that he intended to use it on someone else” and “may pose a threat to the community.”
Milzman’s “ability and determination” to make the ricin, the judge said, “reflects the seriousness of the danger to others should he be released.”
After the hearing, Milzman’s parents — both local doctors — and his two brothers were surrounded by nearly 90 classmates, colleagues and other friends who filled the courtroom.
Milzman will apparently remain in jail. Historically, ricin cases proceed slowly. Among them, previously, there has been no such thing as a speedy trial.
As mentioned last week, the Milzman case should give everyone a headache. All ricin cases should.
The US justice system needs a diversion program for first-time ricin-offenders with ameliorating or extenuating circumstances.
It would only be just and fair.
The US does not get a lot of ricin offenders per year but the cases almost always become high profile. And the American social environment and beliefs about the poison virtually guarantee that every year will always bring a fresh crop of mixed-up, young, or in some way mentally unsound or damaged first-time ricin-makers.
No one has ever died in connection with an American ricin case. No members of the public have ever been injured in any way in American ricin cases. And nobody has died from the consumption, accidental or intentional, of castor seeds or castor powder, if the public record on the matter is accurate, in at least the last 20 years.
Someone else who thought his smartphone gave him a technological edge.
Michael Piggin, an English teen who used his smartphone to download the old Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, a bowdlerized copy of Maxwell Hutchkinson’s The Poisoner’s Handbook, has had England’s heavy artillery called out and arrayed against him in court.
A Porton Down chemist was called to testify on the digital text, which has been judged a seditious document in the United Kingdom for over a decade. That is, possession of it potentially gets you jail for having materials deemed likely to be of use to terrorists or in terrorism.
From the unparalleled archives of this blog, 2007:
“Defendant after defendant has discovered that a long-forgotten internet search has left an indelible record sufficient for a conviction under the profoundly disturbing section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows prosecution for simple possession of an item likely to be useful to terrorists, and carries a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment,” wrote Gareth Piece for the Guardian on the 21st.
Pierce is a well-known defense lawyer in England. Her firm was notably reponsible for the defense in the trial of the notorious so-called London ricin gang and she has represented many others in England’s ongoing terror trials.
This blog has repeatedly analyzed and published portions — even entire copies — of documents which are now, for practical matters in the UK courts, considered seditious publications. For the legal system, there are only two working justifications for having them: Being a jounalist or a professional tasked with analyzing them.
For the trial of Samina Malik, aka The Lyrical Terrorist, DD was asked by the defense to contribute a short analysis concerning the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook.
It was found in Malik’s possession and is considered, wrongly, to be a document of potential use to terrorists. It contains many errors and some rather large fabrications which, while not obvious to laymen, are glaringly apparent to professionals trained in chemistry and biology.
DD has combed over it many times in the past year, tracing its origins and showing that it is fundamentally just an abridged and Bowdlerized copy of a pamphlet that had been published in the US in 1988, Maxwell Hutchkinson’s The Poisoner’s Handbook (Loompanics).
Samina Malik, from Southall, west London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of owning terrorist manuals,” reported the BBC simply in November.
“The jury heard Malik had written extremist poems praising Osama Bin Laden, supporting martyrdom and discussing beheading … Malik worked at WH Smith at Heathrow Airport until her arrest last October.”
Malik was convicted for possessing records deemed to be of potential use to terrorists, including the document pictured above. It has been published many places on the web and the above snapshot was published in a Sunday edition of the Washington Post newspaper in 2005. Naturally, it is an object of great curiosity, and not just to aspiring terrorists.
However, if you reside in the United Kingdom, have downloaded it and are swept up in a counter-terror dragnet, you are in big trouble.
“[She] was acquitted on a more serious charge of possessing articles for terrorist purposes, a fact that the judge said he took into account when deciding on a suspended sentence,” reported the Los Angeles Times in early December.
However, Malik’s sentence was subsequently suspended by the judge on the condition she stay out of such trouble going forward. Which apparently she did.
In 2007, the law was used to get those suspected to be in on Islamic terrorism.
In the case of Michael Piggin, the circumstances are reversed.
If one is to believe the BBC, he wanted to firebomb schools and a mosque with molotov cocktails. That alone will, in all probability, guarantee he is kept at Her Majesty’s pleasure for a substantial period of time.
In 2004-2005, the UK government trotted out Porton Down experts for the famous London ricin trial. Porton Down is England’s ultimate biological and chemical weapons defense installation, historically famous.
In the infamous Wood Green ricin trial, Porton Down’s testimony on poison recipes and ricin was ineffective. And that story is retold, in great detail, by me, here in Playtime Recipes for Poisons, which is a good way to describe material similar to that included in the Mujahideens Poisons Handbook .
However, Michael Piggin will go down for it, this time. And the Porton Down expert will have been effective.
From the BBC:
Dr Paul Rice, employed at Porton Down since 1987, said fireworks and bleach found in Michael Piggin’s bedroom could be used to make chlorine gas.
Mr Piggin, 18, is accused of planning attacks on a mosque and a school.
He denies two Terrorism Act charges but has admitted possessing explosives.
The Old Bailey heard a copy of the prohibited Mujahideen Poisons Handbook had been found by police, downloaded on Mr Piggin’s mobile phone …
Dr Rice, a chemical and biological weapons expert, told the court that the Mujahedeen Poisons Handbook, was a publication he had come across before and contained details about “homemade chemicals, gases and drugs” …
The handbook contained instructions on how to make poisons such as ricin, which could prove lethal in tiny quantities, the court heard.
Time and the instruments of technology have changed. People haven’t.
Now your ricin recipes are downloaded by smartphone, rather than the old home pc.
Perhaps someone should write a handy app called …
Do you think the iTunes store would allow it?
The Piggin trial arrived in the British news in early March.
Excerpting from the Guardian on March 4:
The teenager, who has Asperger’s syndrome, had drawn up a hitlist that included his college, a mosque, a cinema, Loughborough University and the town’s council offices, the Old Bailey heard.
On the back of his notebook, Piggin had scribbled “Fuck Islam – born in England, live in England, die in England”, and inside he wrote that he was a member of the EDL (a far right soccer hooligan gang for English purity) in opposition to the “Islamic invasion of Europe” …
Piggin stockpiled nine partially assembled petrol bombs [molotov cocktails made from beer bottles], as well as improvised explosive devices, air rifles, a gas mask, a crossbow, a camouflage flak jacket and other weaponry, the court heard. Detectives also found the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook in Piggin’s bedroom, the jury was told.
One is taken aback when confronted by an anti-Islamic bigot teenager with a copy of the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook and an alleged plan to take a Columbine-like revenge on his community.
1. From Steven Aftergood’s Secrecy Bulletin at the Federation of American Scientists, in 2005:
“The first time I saw [the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook],” said chemist George Smith of GlobalSecurity.org, “I thought it must be a hoax.”
“Careful examination of the document shows that it is crammed with errors, seemingly the work of someone with little discernible sense, profoundly ignorant of the nature of simple compounds and incompetent in even minor [laboratory] procedures,” Dr. Smith wrote in National Security Notes in March 2004:
In short, the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook that was excerpted on the Washington Post web site indicates something nearly the opposite of what the Post article on terrorist use of the internet claimed to show.
“The ‘Poisons Handbook’ is an example of someone professing to know what he is doing on poisons who profoundly and obviously does not know what he is doing,” Dr. Smith said.
This kind of motivation was a far cry from the old hacker pseudo-ethic, “Information wants to be free.” It was true that contemporary hackers tended to repeat this slogan over and over in their underground manuals. But in practice, it was little more than a convenient euphemism, eyewash that obscured the underlying bedrock of hacker belief, which was: “Your information is mine for free. But everything I can grab is secret unless you have something I want which can’t be free-loaded, stolen or found somewhere else.” — The Virus Creation Labs, 1994
Yesterday I was interviewed by a television producer/journalist in the process of making a documentary on the old computer underground of computer virus writing and spreading. It’s going to be for television content made for showing on Xboxes.
At the beginning she mentioned she’d read my book, The Virus Creation Labs, many years ago. She added she’d found an on-line copy, pirated in its entirety to the web and sent the link.
Sure enough, The Virus Creation Labs, now on its 20-year anniversary, is on the web, and obviously not in my domain.
I mentioned the lead box-quote and added I didn’t think much had changed.
In fact, although not as explicitly put, that quote is one of the central tenets of our Culture of Lickspittle. In fact, it’s now practiced in a more corporate, predatory and all-encompassing manner.
The ideology is one of the foundations of disruptive innovation and the so-called sharing economy, one in which the holders of the internet gateways and services get all the share and everyone else gets shit.
In 1994 there was very little money to be made writing malware and selling computer viruses. Today there’s good money to be had, through organized and spot crime and, better still, in the secret warrens of Uncle Sam’s offensive cyberwar operations.
I told the lady I believed you would find the same mentality in America’s professional computer virus-writers and malware bushwhackers as you found in the teenagers, twenty and thirty somethings of the virus underground in 1994.
Back then, they thought they were collectively hot stuff as I’m sure they do at the National Security Agency today.
Consider them at length and what they do and after some thought you arrive at the conclusion they must be a professionally mute and unimaginative bunch willing to be anonymously rapacious for a steady job, not even unique. The novelty was gone a decade or more ago.
Write malware for fix or six figures a year. Get a check from the government or the defense contractor providing employees for the operation. Perhaps some of the new malware men and women are so deluded they even think they’re defending freedom with the sharp cutting edges of technology and brain power.
Which is an even worse, as far as warped thinking goes, than the “information wants to be free” thing from decades ago.
I laughed when I told the producer that malware programmers had gone from being part of the shunned computer underground to people recruited by the likes of Keith Alexander of the NSA at hacker conventions.
So they could get a straight job being corporate stooges in the national security megaplex creating untrustworthy networks for, wait for it, freedom and the American way!
After two decades the technology is a light year away from 1994. But not a lot else has changed.
Looking at the big picture, many things have repeated themselves, only globally and in tidal wave volumes. At the root of it, though, the people, the wetware, are much the same. And not nearly as smart as their press would lead one to believe.
My old publisher, Mark Ludwig, as written previously, is dead. He ran off to Central America, specifically Belize, before 2000, convinced the country was eventually going to collapse.
Even in Central America he wasn’t satisfied, apparently switching allegiances between Belize, Nicaragua and back. This post, from nine years ago in Nicaragua, does not paint a particularly flattering picture. (Page down for the pertinent section.)
If my memory remains good, the last royalty check/statement from The Virus Creation Labs came in 1998.
On the web, The Virus Creation Labs is now alleged to be “owned” by something called Geodesies Publishing. My ass.
The tv producer told me how much she liked the book and that someone ought to be interested in a redo.
I laughed again. Mark Ludwig and American Eagle weren’t the right place for it, something that’s now more a matter of amusement than regret.
The audience for American Eagle’s books weren’t readers, at least not in the sense of a reader who would like what I do.
No one bought Ludwig’s books of computer viruses for some quality as a good read or because they liked them. Much of American Eagle’s “readership” was professionally captive, companies and individuals in the computer virus industry and PC security work who felt they had to have them, if only to be able to analyze the malware for countermeasures, if necessary.
From the old post on the black books of computer viruses:
You need a sense of humor to get what I did. Publishing black books on computer viruses was mostly for a totally humorless audience.
You also needed to be more human.
For me, having The Virus Creation Labs
pirated is like someone stealing the private small stone or pebble memorial to a long gone but once-loved pet out of your back garden, something that meant something to you but not much, if anything at all, to anyone else. Just because it was possible, rationalized as providing a public service, the furnishing of an educational resource on the original computer underground. (You remember the hogwash from the early days of Napster and music freetardism: The creators would benefit from gaining exposure to a new and appreciative audience they didn’t have and their boats would be lifted thereby.)
You also notice when such things are done, as it is done to many others, too, while someone always goes to the trouble of getting all the details to the last jot and tittle correctly rendered to the web, the liberated-by-technology digital goodies never include backlinks to their creators.
Thank you, innovation. Thank you, progress. Thank you, internet.
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