Beyond the Cusp

July 15, 2013

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Fall Upends Obama Middle East Aims

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It has been reported by the <a href=http://www.worldtribune.com/2013/03/29/obama-promoted-egypt-iran-turkey-alliance-in-tense-israel-meeting/>World Tribune</a> website the absolutely shocking and controversial content of President Obama rendition of the future for the Middle East which the United States as their policy goals for his second term in the White House. The Israelis did not respond in any manner and allowed President Obama to enthusiastically reveal every detail of his vision for solving all the problems in the Middle East simply by building an alliance under a triumvirate of shared absolute power by Shiite Iran teamed with Sunni Egypt and Turkey. It was in the pursuit of this end that President Obama pressured to the point of threatening Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu into apologizing and committing to a complete capitulation to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara terror incident when a Turkish backed flotilla attempted to run the Gaza blockade. When the prearranged ambush was sprung on the IDF soldiers, who boarded the ship armed with paintball guns loaded with pepper spray balls, beating them with metal rods, large knives and other bludgeoning weapons (some reports included gunshots coming from the ship’s attackers before the IDF soldiers responded) as well as taking one soldier below decks and throwing two other IDF soldiers overboard, the IDF soldiers resorted to live fire, as they feared for their lives, killing nine of their attackers. This exchange was the cause of Turkish President Erdogan breaking off relations with Israel and demanding a formal apology and paid retribution for the families of the slain attackers aboard the Mavi Marmara. It was said that the Israelis were in a state of shock but heeded their instruction not to question or comment on anything presented by the American leader.

The plan which has President Obama so enthusiastically engaged calls for the strengthening of Iran, Turkey and Egypt, the Egyptian strengthening has begun with the shipment of F-16 fighter jets to be delivered during this year, and having these three strengthened Muslim nation cooperate and through such cooperation form a single Muslim federation. President Obama claims that such an arrangement would relieve any troubles that might have developed due to the Iranian drive to attain nuclear weapons. President Obama informed the Israeli leaders that once his plan was executed that with Iran now allied with Turkey and Egypt the threat of a nuclear arms race between the various Muslim and Arab nations would no longer be a threat so nobody would need fear a nuclear armed Iran in this scenario. I am sure that this calmed the Israelis being informed that allying Iran with Egypt and Turkey would remove any threat of Iran nuclear weapons being used against the other Arab and Muslim nations and that there would be no adverse results to a nuclear armed Iran as long as the three nations were responsible to each other. President Obama apparently believes that Iran would refrain from attacking Israel with nuclear weapons because Turkey and Egypt would object and prevent such actions. Yes, sure they wouldn’t.

Another nation that is most conspicuous by their absence from President Obama’s new Middle East scheme is Saudi Arabia. The implication was that Saudi Arabia along with Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar and the rest of the nations of the Arabian Peninsula would be under Iranian control making the land to be renamed the Persian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. The betrayal of Saudi Arabia and all of the other member nations of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) as a sacrifice given for the honoring of Iran and to reward them for joining President Obama and his plan super Caliphate where the Iranian Shiites along with the Turkish Sunnis and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Sunnis all lie down together in harmony and bliss for the good of the Muslim World with President Obama as the great facilitator. This is where the little upheaval in Egypt becomes far more than an inconvenience as for President Obama to make his plan work must have the Islamists in control of each of his three chosen nations, and the Muslim Brotherhood just lost Egypt. Of course this dream Islamist coalition shoves aside the centuries of Sunni-Shiite hatreds in the immediate timeframe in order to unite the adversaries into an irresistible unified force for Islam and return to the glorious Caliphate such as was the Ottoman Empire at its height. What President Obama has caught on to as the solution to all the world’s ills, especially the Muslim World, is the simple walking back the results of World War I, the repealing step-by-step the entirety of the Treaty of Versailles and the Mandate System as they pertain to the world of Islam. No more separate Arab and Muslim nations or any other arbitrary lines and chosen potentates which were put in place just to serve the colonialist European powers, those decrepit and corrupt enslavers of all who were different than they. This is President Obama’s vision, the end of the ill effects of colonialism on the Muslim World and by ridding the Muslim World of this European imposed crippling systems and divisions, the Muslim World will be returned to its golden age.

There are a few major items which might cause this stratagem to fail and fail in a splendid and admirable fashion, a failure unequalled in all of human history, rivaling the Tower of Babel and other epic failures. The most glaring is that the Shiites and Sunnis only know one method for burying the hatchet, and that is to bury it as deeply as possible in the other’s skull which tends to settle any argument. Another problem for President Obama is to get Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to agree to share power and make compromises even with the Muslim Brotherhood approved leader of Egypt, assuming that President Obama can manage to reinstate the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt, no easy task all things considered, let alone the Shiite Grand Ayatollah in Iran. Further problems might arise as I seriously doubt that Saudi Arabia (especially the Royal Family and the Wahhabis), Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman or Bahrain would be enthusiastic about being handed to Iran no matter what the reasons. Looking at just the countries which have experienced governmental changes as a result of the Arab Spring one will be witness to a collection of train wrecks where the whole idea was for elected governments to be in place and improvements in every aspect of society with the most advancement coming financially and in personal rights and freedoms. Instead we see a state of affairs better described as having entered an Arab Winter with Libya, Yemen and Syria still experiencing internecine violence as the different factions and tribes struggle for preeminence and control where those interests vary including tribal groups, al-Qaeda and Hezballah fighters, the Muslim Brotherhood forces, State Militaries, and Mujahedeen fighters from throughout the Muslim World and the four corners of the Earth. And last but not least, little Israel would definitely fight to the last soul against any attempts to remove the Jews from their homeland as they have just started to get it together and hit high gear towards rebuilding their society and gathering in their lost children from every corner of the globe.

President Obama may be enthusiastic and all excited, one might even say all atwitter, over the concept of redrawing the Middle East and the rest of the Arab and Muslim Worlds to suit some grant strategy to reconstruct and usher in a second Golden Age of Islam. The idea that the borders between countries, even those borders as artificial as those drawn mostly by the French and the British, can be erased with a few words and there would not be any resistance to turning everything everybody has known in their lives upside-down is foolish and not something worthy of the man who is the leader of the United States. There should be somebody within the Administration to advise the President that his plan is simply not possible. But then we need to remember who the real people are who make up President Obama’s inner circle of advisers. Recognizing that we are counting on Secretary of State John Kerry, Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, among others, to give sagely, well thought out, wise and experienced advice to President Obama reveals the crux of the deficiencies surrounding the President. The problem is that each of these high Administration officials have little if any experience in foreign affairs and other than John Kerry and Chuck Hagel the rest of these Presidential Advisors have spent the better part of their lives as agitators for social justice and social transformation and would be more at home designing government mandated single payer healthcare regulations than advising on anything to do with international affairs. And the fact that one has to resort to Chuck Hagel and John Kerry for astute, intricate and nuanced advice should be sufficient to send shiver down one’s spine and a cold chill throughout one’s body filling them with a strong sense of anxiety and trepidation. I can assure you it does so for me.

Beyond the Cusp

July 12, 2013

NSA Snooping Bothersome, How About the IRS?

Ever since Edward Snowden blew the lid off of the NSA Prism Program and the cataloguing virtually every single electronic signal worldwide, people have been in panic mode worrying over an overly intrusive government. The fact that the information readily available is that of trends and unless some trigger causes there to be suspicions about a particular person, the government would never actually listen to or read any of one’s personal catalogued information. This does not appear to have allayed many people’s fears and likely with a fair amount of good cause. The simple fact that this treasure trove of personal data and possibly inconvenient facts are in some gigantic storage site just waiting for somebody to decide to misuse these presumably secure files for whatever nefarious purpose their evil little heart’s desire is simply too much of a threat to allow people to maintain absolute sense of calm.

 

To those amongst us that knew about the predecessor to Prism which was called Echelon, we faced this fact back in the late 1980s or 1990s when that system was sufficiently powerful to record almost every electronic signal of the day. Running concurrent to Echelon was an agreement between the Anglo-nations of Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States that each nation would monitor the civilian information gathered through Echelon and should anything of interest be found then alert the nation where the suspected person resided. This allowed for domestic monitoring of each nations citizenry without running afoul of the laws against domestic spying by the intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA. No longer does the government feel it is necessary to go to such extents to avoid the regulations and laws which make spying within the borders by our intelligence agencies forbidden. Now they simply promise that the information they are collecting will simply be left unsifted beyond searching for suspicious patterns or other such traits trip set indicators. Of course we need not fear as we all can be assured that there are no people in government who might, without cause, actually sift through the personal information even if they have a friend who suspects his or her spouse may be having something undesired and would really appreciate knowing who he or she has been trading emails with? I mean, what could possibly go wrong when every phone conversation, email, instant message, web site visited, television show or movie watched, and purchase made is recorded and available to anybody within the Federal Government with the proper security clearance to peruse at their leisure?

 

Believe it or not, the invasion of privacy that Prism permits the Federal Government through the NSA is about to be dwarfed by the invasion of our medical privacy by an arm of the Federal Government which has already been proven to use their powers for nefarious and vindictive reasons when the IRS held up and demanded unnecessary details and information from conservative and pro-Israel organizations seeking tax exempt status. Starting with the advent of Obama Care the IRS will be charged with keeping the files of our entire medical histories. They will be able to profile every American for health problems and have influence over treatments that will be allowed to be made available. They will assess fees and make numerous health care decisions. Does having the IRS, who already holds every iota of your personal financial information, now be charged with your entire health care and medical history make you feel at all comfortable? Between the IRS and the NSA there will no longer be a single secret about your life that the government will not be privy to. I would be hard pressed to pick which I find more troublesome, the NSA with every byte and possibly bit of my electronic history or the IRS having every piece of my financial and health histories at their fingertips. And even if one could choose which is worse, you can depend on the fact that there will be sharing of this information between the two agencies whenever anybody’s name becomes one of those “names of interest”, whatever that may come to mean.

 

How much longer before we will all find ourselves being careful not to allow too much emotion to show as such discretions might raise the suspicions of some government minder who would then file your name as a person of interest which would start a full review of your files to decide if your show of emotion was out of sorts requiring further investigation and monitoring or simply some understandable reaction to a recent event. We must also remember the networking by numerous municipalities of all the city’s public and private security cameras tied to facial recognition software, and more are joining this list every month. And just to make an obvious prediction, the government at all levels will very soon be able to track your vehicle on every trip it makes. This will come into play once sufficient numbers of people drive vehicles which use little or no petroleum fuels. This will cause the government to tax your vehicular mileage which will require every vehicle to be fitted with an electronic identifier with GPS route and distance tracking for the purpose of collecting revenue. Such would never be utilized by the government to discover who belongs to the gun club or regularly drive to TEA Party events or other places of particular interest. Some people will tell you the government already has this ability to track movements of anybody by following their cellphone. The answer to that is sometimes let your cellphone stay home while you clandestinely go to your destination assured of arriving under complete secrecy. Privacy? We don’t need no individual privacy.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 11, 2013

Prism, Echelon, Unlimited Data Mining, the NSA, Where Did it Start?

We are hearing stories and rumors, facts and flights of fancy, truths and misdirections, and enough information overload to the point that our heads are spinning and we end up so confused that we likely just shake our heads, take a couple analgesics for the headache and go off to forget the whole mess. Unfortunately, once we know that our every communication, our every internet search, every web site we visit, every purchase we make, and even our every move is being tracked, stored and can be retrieved any time in the future and collated to make any story desired about us believable. Add to that the fact that with computers tapes can be made in which there is nothing that cannot be produced showing us doing anything from sleepwalking to murder and saying anything from the kindest compliments to the worst treasons. When we delve deeply into the potential powers that the government could use in nefarious efforts to paint us as guilty of any crime and part of any conspiracy which they could ever dream up we realize that the powers that be have the ability to make our lives into whatever scheme their sick little minds desired. But at some point in our paranoid fog the thought creeps into our consciousness, when and how did all of this start and how long has it been turned against the people?

 

The beginning of modern data mining was espionage, both between rival city states and within city states by the different members of the ruling court. Espionage was accepted by the common person as it was something that did not affect their lives and it also diverted the ruling classes from further ruining their lives. That has all changed as it is now utilized by governments in order to control the lives of the people. Totalitarian governments have long been known to have secret police and entire departments within their governments which collected information on the general public and went even deeper on persons of interest. The targets usually contained the wealthy, political activists and anybody who was thought to be a potential problem, threat, rival or simply somebody who may need some convincing to assist with gathering information on any others. With the advent of the electronics age espionage became both more technical and also easier to employ against a wider set of targets. Even as electronic data increased geometrically, the ability to gather and store data increased exponentially far outstripping the rate of increase of available data. The unfortunate fact is that the ability to collect data has reached the dream point for the political class as they can now record everything. And since they have the ability to collect every iota of available data they have reached the obvious conclusion, they collect everything, why not.

 

The first major data collecting on masses of people in the United States where anybody who may be of use or importance was monitored for whatever secrets or damning information that could be uncovered was FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover. His files on politicians, leaders of industry, and anybody who was somebody became stories of legend. But J. Edgar Hoover would have salivated had he ever seen the NSA system known as Echelon, the forerunner of Prism. Echelon was preceded by international signal monitoring between nations but Echelon was capable of such volumes of data gathering as to make everything preceding it seem almost amateurish. Today’s data mining capabilities make Echelon appear almost primitive. Echelon was implemented over a quarter century ago and gave the NSA (National Security Agency) unprecedented capabilities outstripping their wildest dreams of the founders back in 1952. With Echelon the NSA finally realized their dream of having the capability to collect data on almost anybody their little hearts desired. But even the immense gathering powers of Echelon were outpaced by the amounts of data being generated very soon after its inception with the addition of general use of the Internet plus cell phones and a simple explosion with the advent of the electronics age. The onset of the electronics age also provided the solution to the unimaginable amounts of data generated. This presented the NSA with the opportunity to meet the challenge before them, the ability to collect all data from all sources. This required an extensive storage facility. That is exactly what the NSA just officially opened in Nevada where they estimate they have sufficient storage medium to store every electronic signal generated worldwide for the next century. Even if it only does as advertised for half that time, it will still have been an impressive system.

 

Echelon caused a stir amongst many people who follow government abuses, politics and conspiracy theorists. Much of what was known in the public about Echelon was refuted by government as the NSA and others denied its existence. Eventually, like anything which requires large numbers of people to run the equipment and make the raw data into something presentable that had real uses and meaning, the secret got out and enough became known that denial was no longer possible. Armed with the experience of the warnings and denials over Echelon, the revelations about Prism are easily believed by the people and thus no attempt appears to be in the works for denial. That leaves the government with the choice of facing the music or making what they are doing appear to be both necessary and innocuous. Trust one who was a believer and ever suspicious of Echelon, Prism is every bit as dangerous with levels of misuse beyond the wildest of imaginations. We have already been witness to the powers of Prism. General Petraeus and General John Allen were early victims of the powers of Prism as they were disgraced into retirement by the revelation of their private emails. The information of their emails that were released did not result from their government email accounts but from their private email accounts. The power of Prism became evident in these two cases as once those who wished to destroy these men’s lives took the knowledge that there had been emails that might be of a questionable nature and then gathered the entire history of these emails simply be entering a query into Prism data search and waited for the results. Presto, everything that matched the query for the past decade at their fingertips to use in any manner against these men. These were private emails and before you claim they should have known better than to leave such evidence, what would your bosses think if they had access to every email, chat, instant message, tweet, and Facebook entry you have made over the past decade? Would your job be safe? What about that comment you made after a particularly bad day about that slave-master who runs your office? That is the potential damage anybody in our government with access to Prism can bring down on any citizen of the United States for the foreseeable future. I am fairly sure that Prism also is collecting data from other nations as well and its capabilities are being made available to friendly government within limits. With Prism now fully activated and connected to the immense storage facility in Nevada the government can continue collecting every electronic signal and run their queries at their convenience as the data will be available for the rest of time, well, in theory at least.

 

Some may be interested in what are the main differences between Echelon and Prism other than the sheer immensity of the data that can be stored indefinitely by Prism versus Echelon. Well, that actually is the basic difference. Under Echelon the government entered key words and phrases which could be adapted depending on what were deemed to be of interest. With Echelon they had permanent key words such as bomb, President, terror, attack, assassinate, kidnap, Echelon, and the names of important or noteworthy people. When a piece of data crossed the Echelon data input channels containing any of these keywords it was saved and if it contained the right combination or sufficient numbers of key words, it was marked for review by an actual person. Echelon was monitoring all the trans-Atlantic phone cables, satellite uplinks and downlinks, Internet providers’ data points to the Web, and numerous other data points which were considered necessary or sensitive. The main deficiency of Echelon was the amounts of data it was capable of both storing and monitoring. Prism does not have such limitations as it has the capability to take in all the data that the NSA can manage to find a method to intercept. There is no requirement for keywords with Prism. Using Prism does require keywords but they can be entered well after the data was stored, not using them as a hurdle to clear in order to be stored. When accessing the Prism database one enters the names and keywords which they wish to pull the data on just like we do when searching the Internet. The difference is Prism has far more data than the Internet and Prism can track any piece of data in its memory back to the person or people who were parties to the conversation or otherwise connected to the data. Prism has another capability that too many will be even more ominous. If you wish to track the movements of someone you only need to enter a few key numbers to gather tracking information for them from that point further. Whether Prism has the ability to track one from past data it would likely be limited to tracking where any person received a cell call or used their OnStar or tracked their lost vehicle. Any way one looks at the power and potentials for misuse of Prism, it definitely is a sign that Big Brother has arrived and we may soon need to monitor our every facial expression so that our faces do not arouse suspicions, after all there are cameras almost everywhere.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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