Tag Archives: social media

Don’t fall for this Facebook hoax!

If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen this message from your friends (click to enlarge):

Facebook2Don’t fall for it. It’s a hoax!

Here’s what Snopes says (Note: Snopes won’t enable “copy & paste,” so I took screenshots instead):

Facebook1Facebook4aFacebook4Facebook5Facebook6Facebook7

~Eowyn

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Obama will pay your utility bills!


Too many Americans are just plain stupid — and greedy.
CBS Philly issued a warning on July 13, 2012, that THOUSANDS of people have reportedly been victimized in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and across the United States by a popular scam spreading through social media, text messaging, telephone, and US Mail.
The scam claims that “President Barack Obama is providing funding to help customers pay their utility bills.”
To “qualify,” all you have to do is provide personal information including your Social Security number, credit card number, and/or bank account number.
It turns out the scam had been going on for more than a month at least because I found this article on Business Insider about the scam, which was dated June 5, 2012:

Thousands of consumers in Miami are getting scammy phone calls saying President Obama plans to pay their utilities, according to Jacey Birch of Local News 10 in Miami.

As PSE&G energy company reports, the con artists tell consumers a federal grant will cover their energy bill for one time only.

The scammers then get the victim’s Social Security number, send a fake Federal Reserve routing number and have the victim enter his account number to receive the phony “credit.”

Scammers have been contacting consumers by email, social media and text as well. 

JUST REMEMBER These people vote!!!

Don’t ever give out personal information like your Social Security number or your credit card number or your bank account number unless you had initiated the call!
~Eowyn

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Rumor that Obama administration is preparing for civil war

This is all over the Alternative Media.
Interviewed on a radio program, a private investigator claims that his contact in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tells him that the Obama administration expects and is preparing for civil war in America.
I don’t know if it’s true, so I’m simply re-publishing one account of the radio interview. Maybe now we know why:

H/t May, Wendy, Tina, Joseph, and Anon.
~Eowyn

“We are Preparing for Massive Civil War,” Says DHS Informant

Posted by
Beacon Equity Research, May 03, 2012
In a riveting interview on TruNews Radio, Wednesday, private investigator Doug Hagmann said high-level, reliable sources told him the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing for “massive civil war” in America.
“Folks, we’re getting ready for one massive economic collapse,” Hagmann told TruNews host Rick Wiles.
“We have problems . . . The federal government is preparing for civil uprising,” he added, “so every time you hear about troop movements, every time you hear about movements of military equipment, the militarization of the police, the buying of the ammunition, all of this is . . . they (DHS) are preparing for a massive uprising.”

Hagmann goes on to say that his sources tell him the concerns of the DHS stem from a collapse of the U.S. dollar and the hyperinflation a collapse in the value of the world’s primary reserve currency implies to a nation of 311 million Americans, who, for the significant portion of the population, is armed.
Uprisings in Greece is, indeed, a problem, but an uprising of armed Americans becomes a matter of serious national security, a point addressed in a recent report by the Pentagon and highlighted as a vulnerability and threat to the U.S. during war-game exercises at the Department of Defense last year, according to one of the DoD’s war-game participants, Jim Rickards, author of Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis.
Through his sources, Hagmann confirmed Rickards’ ongoing thesis of a fear of a U.S. dollar collapse at the hands of the Chinese (U.S. treasury bond holders of approximately $1 trillion) and, possibly, the Russians (threatening to launch a gold-backed ruble as an attractive alternative to the U.S. dollar) in retaliation for aggressive U.S. foreign policy initiatives against China’s and Russia’s strategic allies Iran and Syria.
“The one source that we have I’ve known since 1979,” Hagmann continued.  “He started out as a patrol officer and currently he is now working for a federal agency under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security; he’s in a position to know what policies are being initiated, what policies are being planned at this point, and he’s telling us right now—look, what you’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.  We are preparing, we, meaning the government, we are preparing for a massive civil war in this country.”
“There’s no hyperbole here,” he added, echoing Trends Research Institute’s Founder Gerald Celente’s forecast of last year.  Celente expects a collapse of the U.S. dollar and riots in America some time this year.
Since Celente’s ‘Civil War’ prediction of last year, executive orders NDAA and National Defense Resources Preparedness were signed into law by President Obama, which are both politically damaging actions taken by a sitting president.
And most recently, requests made by the DHS for the procurement of 450 million rounds of hollow-point ammunition only fuels speculation of an upcoming tragic event expected on American soil.
These major events, as shocking to the American people as they are, have taken place during an election year.
Escalating preparatory activities by the executive branch and DHS throughout the last decade—from the Patriot Act, to countless executive orders drafted to suspend (or strip) American civil liberties  “are just the beginning” of the nightmare to come, Hagmann said.
He added, “It’s going to get so much worse toward the election, and I’m not even sure we’re going to have an election in this country.  It’s going to be that bad, and this, as well, is coming from my sources.  But one source in particular said, ‘look, you don’t understand how bad it is.’  This stuff is real; these people, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), they are ready to fight the American people.”
TruNews Wiles asked Hagmann: who does the DHS expect to fight, in particular?  Another North versus South, the Yankees against the Confederates?  Hagmann stated the situation is far worse than a struggle between any two factions within the U.S.; it’s an anticipated nationwide emergency event centered on the nation’s currency.
“What they [DHS] are expecting, and again, this is according to my sources, what they’re expecting is the un-sustainability of the American dollar,” Hagmann said.  “And we know for a fact that we can no longer service our debt.  There’s going to be a period of hyperinflation . . . the dollar will be worthless . . . The economic collapse will be so severe, people won’t be ready for this.”
Source: Full TruNews interview, May 2, 2012.
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Who Are the Top 1%?

“Those who don’t know the game or are assets and manipulators of  the game will want to ‘endorse’ people and organisations they say they support  in cleaning up America – but they will be the very people and groups that are  systematically destroying America.”David Icke, October 16, 2011
The movement that began as Occupy Wall Street in New York has spread to other cities across America as well as countries. In Italy, the Occupiers instigated a riot in Rome, torching cars and smashing windows, which required armed police to be brought in.

In the name of equity, the Occupiers say they are the 99% opposed to the top 1%, the filthy rich. So who are America’s Top 1%?
To begin, we need to define “income” vs. “wealth or net worth.”
Income is what people earn — from salaries, wages, dividends, interest, royalties, and rents from properties they own. U.C. Santa Cruz Sociology Professor William Domhoff claims that most of the income of “the rich” does not come from “working”: In 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries.
Wealth is the value of everything a person or family owns in marketable assets (such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, but not including cars and household items), minus any debts or liabilities (such as home mortgages, credit card debts and auto loans). In effect, wealth is assets minus debts, or W = A-D. That is why a better term for “wealth” is “net worth.”
High income (HI) may or may not mean great wealth because a high-income person or household may simply spend everything they make — and more, by going into debt. At the same time, an individual or household with moderate or even low income (MI/LI) may actually become wealthy by being frugal and investing their savings wisely.
Thus, HI ≠ W; whereas it is highly possible that MI/LI = W. Remember that when you decide to condemn “the wealthy.”
Wikipedia says the current per capita (per person) median income in the United States is roughly $32,000 (for those employed full-time between the ages of 25 and 64, it’s $39,000). By “median” income is meant that the figure $32,000 divides the American population into two equal halves — half (50%) of Americans make more than $32,000, and the other half make less than $32,000.
The U.S. Census Bureau offers income data by household and individual. 42% of U.S. households have two income earners; thus making households’ income levels higher than personal income levels. According to a 2008 article on the investment website My Budget 360, the median U.S. household income was $46,326. Dual earner households had a higher median income at $67,348.
Currently marketing corporations and investment houses classify those with household incomes exceeding $75,000 as “mass affluent,” while sociologist Leonard Beeghley identifies all those with a net worth of $1 million or more as “rich.” The upper class is most commonly defined as the top 1% with household incomes commonly exceeding $250,000 annually.

Income in America (source: Wikipedia)


In a recent Census report there are 110 million households in the United States. Here’s the distribution of U.S. households’ income in 2006:

  • Top third (34.73%) of households had annual gross income of $65,000 or more.
  • Top quarter (25.60%) of households had annual gross income of $80,000 or more.
  • Top quintile (20%) of households had annual gross income of $91,202 or more.
  • Top 15% (17.80%) of households had annual gross income of $100,000 or more.
  • Top 10% of households had annual gross income of $118,200 or more.
  • Top 5% of households (3/4s of whom had 2 income earners) had annual gross income of $166,200 or more.
  • Top 3% (2.67%) had annual gross income of $200,000 or more.
  • Top 1.5% had annual gross income of $250,000 or more.
  • Top 0.1% (0.12% or 146,000 households) had annual gross income of $1,600,000 or more.

The 2008 article on My Budget 360 further breaks down that Top 0.1%. At its apex are:

  • The top 0.01% (11,000 households) with annual incomes of $5.5 million or more.
  • The top 400 highest tax payers in America had annual incomes of $87 million or more.

Notice how the incomes gradually go up from the Top Third’s $65,000 to the Top 1.5%’s $250,000, but between the Top 1.5%’s $250,000 and the Top 0.1%’s $1.6 million) is a huge gap of $1.35 million!
While households in the top 1.5% of households had incomes exceeding $250,000, 443% above the national median, their incomes were still 2200% lower than those of the top 0.01% of households. One can therefore conclude that almost any household, even those with incomes of $250,000 annually are poor when compared to the top 0.1%, who in turn are poor compared to the top 0.000267%, the top 400 taxpaying households.
According to the Federal Reserve Board, here’s the distribution of U.S. households’ networths in 2001:

  • 6.9% of U.S. households had a negative networth of <$0 (i.e., those who not only have zero assets but are in debt).
  • 5.4% of households had a networth of $0-$999.
  • 2.4% of households had a networth of $1,000-$2,499.
  • 3.5% of households had a networth of $2,500-$4,999.
  • 4.7% of households had a networth of $5,000-$9,999.
  • 8.1% of households had a networth of $10,000-$24,999.
  • 9.2% of households had a networth of $25,000-$49,999.
  • 12.8% of households had a networth of $50,000-$99,999.
  • 19.2% of households had a networth of $100,000-$249,999.
  • 13% of households had a networth of $250,000-$499,999.
  • 7.8% of households had a networth of $500,000-$999,999.
  • 7% of households had a networth of $1 million or more.

Alas, the Federal Reserve Board did not break that top 7% down, so we don’t know what’s the networth of the Top 1% of U.S. households, other than that the Top 1% own 32.7% of Americans’ total networth in 2001. In contrast, 50% of U.S. households own just 2.8% of Americans’ total networth.
Here are some interesting tidbits about the above distribution of U.S. households’ networths:

  • 58% of households with negative networth were young, i.e., under 35 years old (which makes sense because many college students are poor).
  • Those with negative networth are more likely to have a less-than-high-school education.
  • Among those with negative networth, the percentage who are unemployed (but not retired) is more than twice they are in the larger population.
  • Households with negative networth are concentrated in the South and in the West.
  • 10.1% of households with networth of $1 million or more are Boomers (aged 46-55).
  • 28.2% of the Top 1% households in networth are Boomers.

The Top 1%

Leonard Beeghley called the top 0.9% the “Super Rich”, whom he described as “Multi-millionaires whose incomes commonly exceed $350,000; includes celebrities and powerful executives/politicians.” The OWS Movement say they are against the Top 1%. Here are some members of the Top 1% who are or should be targets:
Barack Obama: (supports OWS)

  •  Annual POTUS salary (not total income): $400,000
  • Net worth in 2010: $10.5 million

The 25 richest members of Congress (in Roll Call’s 2009 annual survey that gives only their estimated net worth. Under federal law, members of Congress must disclose their personal investments and liabilities, but only in broad categories, thereby shielding the exact value of any asset or debt):

  1. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass): $188.37 million
  2. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca): $160.05 million
  3. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Ca): $152.62 million
  4. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va): $81.50 million
  5. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas): $73.75 million
  6. Sen. Mark Warner (D- W.Va): $70.19 million
  7. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo): $56.49 million
  8. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla): 55.47 million
  9. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ): $49.70 million
  10. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca): $46.07 million
  11. Sen. Alan Grayson (D-Fla): $31.41 million
  12. Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM): $25.52 million
  13. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca): $21.74 million (supports OWS)
  14. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NY): $19.90 million
  15. Sen. James Riche (R-Idaho) : $19.69 million
  16. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Ca): $19.37 million
  17. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tx): $18.41 million
  18. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn): $18.21 million
  19. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo): $15.73 million
  20. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): $14.90 million
  21. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine): $12.52 million
  22. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn): $12.12 million
  23. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont): $10.90 million
  24. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): $10.52 million
  25. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa): $10.45 million

Non-elected political figures:

The Media:

Celebrities who’ve spoken out in support of Occupy Wall Street:

  • Yoko Ono: $500 million
  • Russell Simmons: $325 million
  • Sean Penn: $150 million
  • Rosie O’Donnell: $100 million
  • Roseanne Barr: $80 million
  • Deepak Chopra: $80 million
  • Kanye West: $70 million
  • Alec Baldwin: $65 million
  • Russell Brand (networth: 15 million; combined networth with wife, singer Katy Perry: $63 million)
  • Susan Sarandon: $50 million
  • Tim Robbins: $50 million
  • Michael Moore: $50 million
  • Danny Glover: $15 million
  • Talib Kweli: $14 million
  • Mark Ruffalo: $10 million

Here are the networths of some of the Super-Rich, the Top 0.01% (from Forbes’ richest 400 in America list):

  1. Steve Jobs: $8.3 Billion
  2. Carl Icahn (leveraged buyouts): $12 Billion
  3. Sergey Brin (Google): $15.9 Billion
  4. Charles Koch (manufacturing, energy): $19 Billion
  5. Michael Bloomberg (NY mayor): $20 Billion
  6. George Soros: $22 Billion
  7. Jim Walton (of Wal-Mart): $23.4 Billion
  8. Lawrence Ellison (of Oracle): $27 Billion
  9. Warren Buffet: $50 Billion
  10. Bill Gates (Microsoft): $57 Billion

The Occupy protesters reportedly are armed with iPhones and laptops and are active in social media — the very gadgets and communications technology invented by Jobs, Brin, Ellison, and Gates. Reportedly, Soros is funding the Occupy movement.
Will irony ever end?
By the way, raging socialist and President-for-life of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has an estimated networth of $1 Billion (!) — the same as Prince Albert II of Monaco. Another raging socialist, Fidel Castro of Cuba, has an estimated networth of $900 million.
Adios for now. See you at the Revolution!
~Eowyn

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19 Most Hated Companies in America

Gus Lubin and Vivian Giang reports for The Atlantic, July 3, 2011, that the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) rates companies based on thousands of surveys.
In the latest index, the most-hated companies include major airlines like Delta, large banks like Bank of America, power and telecom companies, and social media like Facebook.
ACSI’s David VanAmburg has an explanation: “These are not terribly competitive industries, as the switching barriers for most of them are quite high. In other industries, like the food or clothing sector, the competition is huge. They bend over backwards to make customers happy, because they have to.”
Using that explanation, if the U.S. federal, state, and local governments were included in ACSI’s surveys, no doubt they will rank at the very top as the most hated institutions in America.
Here are America’s 19 most hated companies:
19. Bank of America
Satisfaction rating: 68/100
Customers complain of excessive fees for overdraft and other services and are pursuing lawsuits over illegal charges. The bank is America’s largest mortgage servicer and the slowest to respond to clients, according to Treasury reports. In recent years it has blundered through countless foreclosure horror stories. Meanwhile, as with other large banks, BoA offers dismal rates for savings. Bank of America was the second lowest rated bank.
18. Dish Network
Common complaints include incorrect billing and bad customer service. In 2009, Dish Network paid nearly $6 million to settle allegations that the company practiced misleading consumer marketing and lacked full disclosure when dealing with costs and fees. The agreement was made between Dish Network and 46 attorneys general. Dish’s rating has lost four points since the last year.
17. Cox Communications
Satisfaction rating: 67/100
Common complaints include unexpected extra fees including up to $480 to cancel service Cox has maintained its satisfaction rating since the previous year, affirming its lead on Time Warner, Comcast, and Charter. Cox has actually been touted as a success story compared to other cable companies. That said, cable companies in general are liked less than satellite, according to ASCI.
16. Pacific Gas & Electric
Satisfaction rating: 67/100
Common complaints include the company’s plans to raise electric rates and multiple investigations into recklessness. In June 2011, PG&E agreed to pay $26 million in fines for a gas explosion that fatally wounded a man and injured five others. It is currently the largest fine assigned by the California Public Utilities Commission.The company is still under investigation for a gas line explosion that killed eight people in September 2010.
15. JP Morgan Chase
Satisfaction rating: 67/100
Common complaints include absurdly high overdraft fees according to a Federal Court suit and other complaints associated with big banksJPMorgan Chase suffered from its rebranding, as the reorganization was slow and some branches took a long time to present the new brand. The company’s consumer rating has steadily decreased since 2007, as costumers perceive the bank to be more impersonal with growth, according to ACSI.
14. AT&T Mobility
Satisfaction rating: 66/100
Common complaints include dropped calls — especially in New York City, San Francisco, and other major metropolitan areas — and limited coverage.AT&T has had problems ever since taking on the popular, data-heavy iPhone as an exclusive product. The lack of choices for smartphone users was one of the biggest complaints the company faced, but AT&T recently adopted a new, tier plan, which will phase out unlimited data plans for new subscribers. Instead, consumers will be able to choose between cheaper, capped plans.
13. L.A. Dept of Water & Power
Satisfaction rating: 66/100
Common complaints include billing problems and disputes over proposed charge hike within the next three years.Consumers claim the LADWP is intentionally issuing bills late in order to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in late fees. The LADWP is also seeking to raise electric and water rates for their consumers in order to afford the new renewable energy commitment set forth by the city of Los Angeles. If approved – it will be up to the Los Angeles City Council – increases in charges for consumers would hike to more than 15 percent for water and 16 percent for power over the next three years.
12. Long Island Power Authority
Satisfaction rating: 65/100
Common complaints include billing glitches resulting in the company overcharging customers at least $230 million in the past 10 years. Merely days after Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the state inspector general to audit LIPA’s electricity rates, the energy utility company hired their own auditor. Governor Cuomo’s move came after a decade of questionable overbilling practices by the LIPA. The company claims the overcharges resulted from a faulty formula they were using and have since began returning the money to consumers.
11. UnitedHealth
Satisfaction rating: 65/100
Common complaints include coverage denials, mishandling claims and miscommunication. In 2007, UnitedHealth paid $12 million to 37 states for allegations of mishandling claims and administrative practices. The National Insurance Commissioner requested that the healthcare company be monitored in their claim practices through 2010.Although UnitedHealth is ranked the lowest in its industry by ACSI, the company’s employer satisfaction is the highest in the nation’s self-insured commercial health plans, according to J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Employer Health Insurance Plan Study.
10. Facebook
Satisfaction rating: 64/100
A common complaint includes user’s privacy and personal information protection. Social networkers worry about privacy and sometimes complain when Facebook introduces new features, like the news feed. Or when Facebook shuts down apps without warning users beforehand, like they did recently to tens of thousands of apps.ACSI began measuring social media sites in 2010 and ratings may have a few kinks to work out. Wikipedia earned the top score at 77.
9. MySpace
Satisfaction rating: 63/100
Common complaints include privacy and personal information protection and bad interface.My Space does not attract new subscribers to its service and its traffic is slowly decreasing. Parent News Corp is still trying to find some way it can compete with Facebook.
8. American Airlines
Satisfaction rating: 63/100
Common complaints include baggage fees and service cutbacks, as with most airlines.American Airlines’s satisfaction rating has not changed since the previous year.
7. United Airlines
Satisfaction rating: 61/100
Common complaints include flight delays and baggage fees. A recent unexplainable computer glitch resulted in the airline canceling 31 flights and delaying 105 more. Overweight bags could cost passengers $100-$200 a piece. Service cutbacks, as with most airlines, is another concern for consumers.The merger between United Airlines and Continental might have influenced the bad score of the company in consumer satisfaction. According to ACSI, a big merger in service companies usually have a negative impact on customer services in the short-term, because of organization issues. The company’s ratings has increased steadily since 2007.
6. US Airways
Satisfaction rating: 61/100
Common complaints include low-ratings for cabin-crew service, baggage fees and baggage handling, a lack of entertainment options and poor communication regarding delays. The company is currently censured by the Department of Transportation for its lack of communication with travelers.In June 2011, the airline carrier paid $45,000 in fines for failing to include the law-required applicable taxes and fees on the same page as a print advertisement on air fare.
5. Charter Communications
Satisfaction rating: 59/100
Common complaints include improper billing practices – which led to a class action settlement in 2004 – and poor customer service following the closing of domestic call centers in 2006. The Better Business Bureau issued a warning to Charter in 2007 following numerous complaints. In 2009, the company filed for bankruptcy and was forced to cut cost and downsize heavily.Within the next few months, Charter’s subscribers will increase by 16,000 in Missouri with the acquisition of Texas-based U.S. Cable.
4. Comcast
Satisfaction rating: 59/100
Complaints include poor communication of upgrade and billing changes, lost channels for customers who didn’t upgrade to digital box or digital-ready TV, long waiting time for technicians and price hikes.Comcast announced that a new dispatch system will cut wait-time for repairs and installations in half by 2012. One of the largest cable companies in terms of revenue, it remains one of the worst in terms of customer satisfaction. Comcast has decreased two points since the previous year.
3. Time Warner Cable
Satisfaction rating: 59/100
Time Warner has been a public relations disaster for at least a decade. Blunders include usage caps, fees increasing each year faster than inflation and fraudulent business acts and bad services. In June 2011, a lawsuit was filed against Time Warner for refusing to make closed captioning available on CNN’s online videos after being notified by disgrunted consumers. Recently it also aired pornography on children’s channels.
2. Delta Airlines
Satisfaction rating: 56/100
Complaints include additional costs for food, beverages and baggage fees. The airline collected more than $952 million in baggage fees from flyers in 2010, almost twice as much as any other airline carrier.Since acquiring Northwest airlines in 2008, Delta’s consumer satisfaction score has plunged. According to ACSI, a big merger in service companies usually have a negative impact on customer services in the short-term, because of organization issues. Delta’s rating dropped another 6 points this year.
And now the No. 1 most hated company in America….
1. PEPCO
Satisfaction rating: 54/100
Potomac Electric had among the worst ratings in various power reliability studies, according to Washington Post. The average Pepco customer experienced 70 percent more outages than customers of other big city utilities that took part in one 2009 survey, and the lights stayed out more than twice as long. The unreliable services resulted in the adoption of the “Pepco bill,” in March 2011, requiring the state’s Public Service Commission to hold electric providers accountable for service quality standards.
~Eowyn

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President Tweetie Pie


 

LTG

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Obama Admin to Concoct Phony ePeople for Propaganda

Sunstein also thinks government should stop sanctioning marriage; federal law should be interpreted by presidents "and those around him" instead of judges; and Americans should not have the right to “keep and bear arms.”


According to an article in Computerworld, the Obama administration has contracted for the development of software that could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues.
This has the fingerprints of Obama’s Information Czar Cass Sunstein all over it.
In a 2008 co-authored paper, “Conspiracy Theories,” published in the Journal of Political Philosophy, Sunstein decries the proliferation on the Internet of false conspiracy theories that he claims may ultimately lead to violence. Sunstein then outlines a plan for the government to stealthily infiltrate ‘”conspiracy theory” groups. He proposes that “government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.” [Sources: Wikipedia and “Obama Czar Wants to Limit Free Speech“]
Here’s the Computerworld article that, woefully, is rather poorly written.
H/t beloved fellow Tina.
~Eowyn

Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda
By Darlene Storm – Computerworld – Feb 23, 2011
It’s recently been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like. It could then potentially have their “fake” people run smear campaigns against those “real” people. As disturbing as this is, it’s not really new for U.S. intelligence or private intelligence firms to do the dirty work behind closed doors.

EFF previously warned that Big Brother wants to be your friend for social media surveillance. While the FBI Intelligence Information Report Handbook (PDF) mentioned using “covert accounts” to access protected information, other government agencies endorsed using security exploits to access protected information.
It’s not a big surprise that the U.S. military also wants to use social media to its benefit. Last year, Public Intelligence published the U.S. Air Force social media guide which gave 10 tips for social media such as, “The enemy is engaged in this battlespace and you must engage there as well.” Number three was “DON’T LIE. Credibility is critical, without it, no one cares what you have to say…it’s also punishable by the UCMJ to give a false statement.” The Air Force used the chart below to show how social media influences public opinion.

The 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base sought the development of Persona Management Software which could be used for creating and managing fake profiles on social media sites to distort the truth and make it appear as if there was a generally accepted agreement on controversial issues. “Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms.” What happened to don’t lie and the Uniform Code of Military Justice?
Everything revealed after Anonymous leaked emails from private security firm HBGary Federal is disturbing on many levels. However, the Daily Kos said with the Persona Management Software it would take very few people to create “an army of sockpuppets” which could distort the truth while appearing to be “an entire Brooks Brothers riot online.”
So again I ask, what happened to number three . . . the rule about not lying that was also “punishable by the UCMJ to give a false statement”?
President and CEO of Plessas Experts Network, Inc, Kirby Plessas pointed out some of the unethical and potentially illegal activities that Aaron Barr’s leaked emails suggested like “Chumming and baiting” which sounded like “entrapment of some sort.” There would be no warrant for the data collected on individuals which could then be stored for how long? “THIS is the entire reason Intelligence Oversight was created – to avoid this sort of thing from ever happening again.”
According to Redacted News, the leaked emails showed how names can be cross-referenced across social media sites to collect information on people and then used to gain access to those social ciricles. The emails also talked of how Facebook could be used to spread government messages:

Even the most restrictive and security conscious of persons can be exploited. Through the targeting and information reconnaissance phase, a person’s hometown and high school will be revealed. An adversary can create a classmates.com account at the same high school and year and find out people you went to high school with that do not have Facebook accounts, then create the account and send a friend request.
Under the mutual friend decision, which is where most people can be exploited, an adversary can look at a targets friend list if it is exposed and find a targets most socially promiscuous friends, the ones that have over 300-500 friends, friend them to develop mutual friends before sending a friend request to the target. To that end friend’s accounts can be compromised and used to post malicious material to a targets wall. When choosing to participate in social media an individual is only as protected as his/her weakest friend.

Lots of people have multiple online aliases, Facebook or Twitter accounts for both business and private life. What most bothers me is the lying and seemingly unethical means to an end. Although the government says it doesn’t approve of censorship, etc, when its secrets come to light, it seems to be Okay with recommending underhanded tactics.
Secretary Clinton delivered a speech called, “Internet Rights and Wrongs: Choices and Challenges In A Networked World.” To help promote and support Internet freedom, the State Department intends to award $25 million in grants. While that is great news, the EFF reported, “For every strong statement about preserving liberty, freedom of expression, and privacy on the global Internet, there exists a countervailing example of the United States attempting to undermine those same values.”
Secretary Clinton later told “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpou that most Americans “are in favor of human rights, freedom, democracy. We know that ultimately the most progress that can be made on behalf of human beings anywhere is when those individuals are empowered, when they have governments that are responsive.” Clinton added, “At the same time, we recognize that this process can be hijacked. It can be hijacked by both outside and inside elements within any country.”
So while the U.S. government can talk a good talk, what it does and what it says often doesn’t seem to jive. Gasp, I know, it’s not a big shocker but sometimes I find that utterly frustrating. The President wanted an Internet Kill Switch, the FBI keeps pushing for backdoors on all-things-Net. What happened to a code of ethics? Does it disappear behind closed doors, dirty deeds done in the dark and used against the American people who are supposed to be free to express themselves?

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After Egypt, 11 Dominoes May Fall

The overnight news from Egypt is that, despite President Hosni Mubarak’s concession to the rioters revolutionaries that he would step down, the unrest and violence are worsening. It appears pro-Mubarak people have been unleashed against the revolt and they are targeting western media. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was punched in the head yesterday and ABC’s Christiane Amanpour was surrounded by an angry mob who screamed “We hate Americans!”
The Egyptian unrest itself was inspired by what happened a week earlier in Tunisia where huge mobs, enraged by their political leaders’ corrupt lavish lifestyle, succeeded in overthrowing the regime.
Both Egypt and Tunisia share the same trigger factors of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), rising food prices, and high unemployment, especially among the college educated. In political science literature, the latter is a classic feature of Third World revolutions.
Wall Street Cheatsheet has identified 11 countries that have the same trigger factors as Egypt and may be the next dominoes to fall.
H/t beloved Fellowship co-founder Steve.
~Eowyn

 


violence escalates in Egypt


 
From “Your Cheat Sheet to the 11 Countries Which Could Follow Egypt’s Lead,” by Business Insider, Wall Street Cheatsheet, Feb 1, 2011:
1. MOROCCO:

  • Style of government: Constitutional Monarchy
  • Inflation: 2.6% year-over-year in December
  • Unemployment: Among graduates, 25%, Total rate at 9.1%
  • Social media: Very much a serious part of youth culture
  • Conclusion: Morocco’s government has already undergone democratic reforms, so any political pressure would likely be responded to in a similar manner, with more reforms. Those very reforms have been suggested by a government commission, so Morocco seems pretty safe at the moment, prepared to adjust if things get out of hand. 

2. JORDAN:

  • Style of government: Constitutional monarchy, incorporating limited democracy
  • Inflation: Jordanian inflation up 6.1% year-over-year in December, 1.2% month-over-month
  • Unemployment: Around 14%
  • Social media: 38-39% of Jordanians have internet access
  • Conclusion: Jordan is already experiencing protests related to these factors. The government is responding by providing food and fuel subsidies. King Abdullah just sacked his government and appointed a new one with reforms priority number one. Whether the government moves fast enough to implement these reforms will be the deciding factor in the future size of protests and threat to the regime.

3. SYRIA:

  • Style of government: Single party authoritarian, President Bashar al-Assad
  • Inflation: Government intends to take action to lower prices
  • Unemployment: 8.1% in 2009
  • Social media: Facebook still openly used by the public, searches for Egypt on computers, however, crash them.
  • Conclusion: The economic situation is not as dire in Syria as in other countries. The regime is, arguably, more ruthless than its Egyptian counterpart. The President believes his partnership with Iran and support for the Palestinian cause will keep him safe, and he’s already pushing for reforms. Syria’s state may be too powerful for the little protest movement developing to flourish.

4. SAUDI ARABIA:

  • Style of government: Absolute Monarchy
  • Inflation: Inflation at 5.4% in December, down from November
  • Unemployment: 10% in 2010
  • Social media: 3 million Saudi Arabians are on Facebook, with Twitter usage increasing quickly
  • Conclusion: Saudi Arabia has seen some small protests, but over the government response to flooding, not rising costs and unemployment. There are concerns on the streets that the country doesn’t have proper infrastructure and is recklessly spending its oil riches. The repressive regime is unlikely to fall under these smaller concerns, but its youth unemployment problem (42%) and religious minority (Shia) could eventually exert real pressure.

5. IRAN:

  • Style of government: Islamic Republic, with democratically elected representatives. Less than certain how “democratic” elections truly are. Ruled by Supreme Leader, who is a both religious and political leader.
  • Inflation: Inflation at 13.5% in early 2010, may be more than double that level
  • Unemployment: 14.6% as of August 
  • Social media: Significant penetration of both Twitter and Facebook. Government showed willingness to crackdown on use during previous protest movement.
  • Conclusion: Iran crushed its most recent protest movement. If inflation continues to rise, the sentiment may become more popular, and Egypt’s revolution could inspire Iranians back to the streets.

6. LIBYA:

  • Style of government: Authoritarian, led by Muammar al-Gaddafi
  • Inflation: CPI up 2.654% in 2009
  • Unemployment: Highest unemployment rate in North Africa
  • Social media: The Muslim Brotherhood has a Facebook page. Unknown levels of internet penetration.
  • Conclusion: Libya would seem a good bet. It’s stuck between revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt. Its leader is regarded as an international eccentric. He wants his son to take over, and the public’s not pleased. Financial squalor is probably worse than estimated. Whether or not social media could assist is unknown, but Libya is a likely future front in the spillover.

7. YEMEN:

  • Style of government: Presidential democracy, elections not entirely free
  • Inflation: No data of note, though likely higher that the 5.4% projection
  • Unemployment: 40%
  • Social media: 2.2 million internet users, population 23.4 million
  • Conclusion: Yemen has the deepest unemployment problem in the region, and likely a serious inflation problem too. There’s a large terrorist group in the country, as it is a headquarters for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Protests are already significant. There is a sincere liklihood of change here, or, and this might be worse, further radicalisation of the population.

8. PAKISTAN:

  • Style of government: Democratic republic
  • Inflation: Over 15%
  • Unemployment: 14% in 2010 (estimate)
  • Social media: Heavy use, government has banned use over the depiction of Mohamed before.
  • Conclusion: Pakistan has a serious economic crisis, a weakness of state shown in recent flooding, confused positions over the U.S. and Taliban, as well as large anti-government, pro-Muslim fundamentalist forces. The potential for change is there. The biggest power source remains the military, however, and another coup, similar to the one that brought Musharaf to power, could occur.

9. VIETNAM:

  • Style of government: Authoritarian capitalism
  • Inflation: High inflation, including rising food costs
  • Unemployment: 6.5%
  • Social media: Blogs, Facebook, and other social media venues are prevalent
  • Conclusion: In Asia, Vietnam looks a likely candidate for protests, particularly if the economy slows down and unemployment increases. The economic trigger for a downturn would need to be pulled, however, before any change would take place.

10. VENEZUELA:

  • Style of government: Authoritarian republic
  • Inflation: 27.2% in 2010
  • Unemployment: 8.1% in the first 10 months of 2010
  • Social media: It exists, and Chavez has a Twitter account.
  • Conclusion: The economic numbers scream change, but there’s no way to know whether or not Chavez has outstayed his welcome. The country hasn’t had the same, long-term oppressive experience as a country like Egypt. And its leadership still appeals to the anti-American sentiment held by the populace.
  •  

11. CHINA:

  • Style of government: Authoritarian
  • Inflation: China has a serious inflation problem, with food prices at the forefront.
  • Unemployment: 4.2% [official figure; real unofficial unemployment is much higher. -Eowyn]
  • Social media: Significant penetration, but government aggressively censors
  • Conclusion: China has all the ingredients except the big one: unemployment. Now, there’s no guarantee rural China won’t see an uprising related to soaring prices and high unemployment there, but it’s unlikely to be passed on to the country’s cities. It would take a massive economic downturn, like one created by a liquidity crisis leading to a banking crisis leading to a recession, to trigger an unemployment surge that would threaten the regime.
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