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Obama administration caught in blatant software piracy; script powering Healthcare.gov ripped off from UK...

Mike Adams
Natural News
October 18, 2013

The Obama administration has been caught red-handed engaged in software piracy. Computer code used on Healthcare.gov was stolen (and then modified in an effort to conceal the theft) from a UK company called Spry Media.

Image: Obamacare.

To my best knowledge, this story was broken by WeeklyStandard.com in a blog authored by Jeryl Bier.

The computer code that was stolen is called DataTables, and it is exclusively provided under a GPL v2 license which requires anyone who uses the software code to keep the copyright notice visible in the code itself. This allows the original author of the code to receive attribution for creating it.

An analysis of the code running Healthcare.gov reveals that the Obamacare development team maliciously removed the copyright notice and credit attributions from the code while copying and using the rest of the code. In the field of journalism, this would be called “plagiarism.” In the field of computer software, it’s called “piracy” according to the U.S. government.

Here’s an image capture of the copyright notice which is supposed to remain in the code:

On Healthcare.gov, however, the copyright attribution is removed, leaving only the functional code of the script (which is a piracy violation):

Nearly all of the remainder of the script is identical to the Spry Media code, proving beyond any doubt that the Obama administration pirated this code in its construction of the failed website Healthcare.gov.

The Weekly Standard says they contacted SpryMedia for a comment: “A representative for the company said that they were ‘extremely disappointed’ to see the copyright information missing and will be pursuing it further with the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that runs the Healthcare.gov site.”

Will DHS now seize Healthcare.gov?

The Department of Homeland Security has seized hundreds of other websites that it says were engaged in piracy.

These website seizures are conducted completely outside of law and utterly without due process. When sites are seized by DHS, the following notice is placed on the website home page:

This notice reads, in part:

Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.

Will the developers of Healthcare.gov who pirated the DataTables software from SpryMedia now be sentenced to federal prison?

Don’t hold your breath on that one. Prisons aren’t used to lock up actual criminals anymore. They are “work camps” with the sole purpose of locking up black Americans so they can be exploited as a “human resource” of ultra-cheap labor. Yes, the prison labor industry needs more output, and that’s why the entire “war on drugs” is allowed to continue even though it is a complete failure.

Sounds like Obamacare, come to think of it: A disastrous program that wastes billions of dollars while enslaving innocent Americans in a system where they will be financially raped for life.

Am I the only one who thinks we might be better off if we forced all politicians to trade places with all prison inmates?

This article was posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:36 am

Tags: ,





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US defense giant Raytheon has developed a controversial software that uses social networking sites to track your movements, able to predict where a person will be and their future behavior. The program has drawn criticism from civil rights groups.

A video obtained exclusively by The Guardian shows how software developed by the US defense contractor Raytheon, can gather vast amounts of personal information from social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Raytheon has admitted that the technology was shared with the US government as part of a joint research and development program in 2010, as part of an effort to build a national security system capable of analyzing trillions of entities from cyberspace.

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We’re going to track down one of our employees,” says Urch. He then proceeds to show, using information gathered from social networking sites, how “Nick” visited Washington National Park and a picture of Nick in the park with a blonde woman.

“We know where Nick is going, we know what Nick looks like, now we want to try to predict where he will be in the future,” Urch continues.

As Nick regularly uses Foursquare, a phone app that alerts friends to your whereabouts, it was possible for Riot to track the top ten places visited by Nick and the times at which they were visited.

It shows that Nick visits a gym every Monday at 6am. “So if you want to get hold of Nick, or maybe get hold of his laptop, you might want to visit the gym at 6am on a Monday,” says Urch.

Using public websites for law enforcement is considered legal in most countries, and Riot will be of interest to intelligence and national security agencies. In February last year the FBI requested that it wanted to develop ways of mining social media sites for monitoring “bad actors or groups”.

This has prompted concern from civil liberties groups about online privacy. Ginger McCall, an attorney at the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, said Riot raised concerns about how an individual’s data could be collected covertly without oversight or regulation.

“Users may be posting information that they believe will be viewed only by their friends, but instead it is being used by government officials or pulled in by data collection services like the Riot search,” McCall told The Guardian.

But Raytheon defended its product and in an email to the Guardian Jared Adams, a spokesman for the company’s intelligence and information systems department, said it would help to meet the US’s rapidly changing security needs.He also highlighted that it does not analyze personally identifiable information, such as bank details or social security numbers.

In December Raytheon indicated that Riot would be part of a patent the company is pursuing for a system designed to gather data from social networking sites and blogs to identify if someone is a national security risk.

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Computing giant Microsoft has blamed Brexit for price rises of more than 15 percent, which...

Pentagon's supplier & Tomahawk missiles manufacturer to protect US power utilities from cyberattacks

One of the world’s top military contractors, Raytheon, has teamed up with another American company that...

New York Stock Exchange faces lawsuit over 2015 blackout

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has indicated that it will file a lawsuit against a 2015 outage on the New York Stock Exchange...

Federal prosecutors seek to indict ‘2nd Snowden’ this week

Prosecutors in Baltimore, Maryland say they are seeking to indict one of the biggest thieves of classified information in US history. It could happen...

‘Personal involvement’: Lockheed credits Trump with lower F-35 price tag

Ninety new F-35 fighter jets will be delivered to the US government and its allies at...

A Mickey Mouse Reason to Support the TPP

If it weren’t for retroactive copyright extension, then 1928’s “Steamboat Willie”–and therefore Mickey Mouse–would unquestionably be in the public domain. David Leonhardt says the future...

Here Is Some of the Human Misery Caused by President Trump’s Muslim Ban From...

With the sweep of his pen, President Donald Trump caused the U.S. immigration system to go into total disarray and sowed global chaos and...

F-35 has 276 deficiencies and counting, unfit for combat operations – Pentagon report

The F-35 stealth fighter jet suffers from hundreds of problems and won’t be fully combat-capable before 2020, says a scathing report from the Pentagon’s...

Lockheed CEO promises cheaper F-35 & 1,800 jobs after meeting with Trump

A deal for a lower-priced F-35 program could be near, as Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson...

New rules grant FBI, DEA & CIA access to raw NSA surveillance data

In virtually its last gasp, the Obama administration has quietly given the National Security Agency wider...

Guccifer 2.0 accuses US of ‘falsifying evidence,’ denies Russian links

An entity claiming to be the mysterious hacker or hackers Guccifer 2.0 says a “vulnerability” in the Democratic Party’s computer software and not Russian...

Robots could erode the right to privacy, Britons fear

Artificial intelligence could erode privacy, make face-to-face contact a thing of the past, and stop...

‘Propaganda intended to incite Americans’: John McAfee to RT on ‘Russian hacking’ claims

The sloppiness of the alleged DNC hack by itself proves it was not organized by a nation state, and the “utter nonsense” presented as...

‘What is going on?’ Trump wonders why FBI never requested access to the DNC’s...

Amid an avalanche of self-replicating reports of “Russian hacking”, Donald Trump has questioned how the task...

Why Crowdstrike’s Russian Hacking Story Fell Apart- Say Hello to Fancy Bear

(RINF) - In the wake of the JAR-16-20296 dated December 29, 2016 about hacking and influencing the 2016 election, the need for real evidence...

'Simulated+Unsupervised': Apple eyes self-driving cars in first AI paper

Researchers at Apple recently published their first paper on artificial intelligence (AI). The paper introduces new...

The F-35 Fighter: Not Invisible to Trump’s Radar

Is Donald Trump putting coal in Lockheed Martin’s Christmas stocking? Trump has sent another tweet about the F-35 jet fighter (Lockheed Martin is the primary...

‘Tremendous cost!’ $379bn F-35 project in doubt as Trump asks to ‘price-out’ cheaper F-18s

US President-elect Donald Trump signalled that he might dump the controversial F-35 program after asking Boeing...

Swarming the enemy: US Navy showcases fleet of ‘drone’ defense boats (VIDEO)

A new autonomous warfare tool has been revealed by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR)...

Trump says F-35 program cost ‘out of control’, wants to save ‘billions of dollars’

The latest target of President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism is the Joint Strike Fighter program. He tweeted...

How To Instantly Tell

Anonymous CIA officials claim that Russia hacked the U.S. election by accessing emails from top Democratic officials and then leaking them to Wikileaks. But the...

Twitter cuts ties with firm believed to help police spy on activists

Twitter is doubling down on its commitment to opposing police use of its data for surveillance....

Want To Protect Your Eyesight?

By Dr. Mercola It wasn’t long ago, relatively speaking, that humans woke and slept along with the rise and setting of the sun. While the invention...

The No-BS Inside Guide to the Presidential Vote Recount

Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential nominee, speaks at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, August 23, 2016. (Photo:...

Children's sex texts should be monitored by tech firms, says health secretary

Social media companies should use snooping software to stop children from sending sexually explicit images,...

What Is An Online Casino?

Many people love to gamble. It's something that people do while they are on vacation and some even make a living out of it....

US drivers may get ‘locked out’ of smartphones, apps if regulators have their way

US road safety regulators want smartphone makers to “lock out” devices and some apps when users...

Confessing your sins? There’s an app for that! Catholic Church launches ‘Sindr’

Move over Tinder, the grace of God is now available for download. Absolution is just...

Anti-VW Racism

What just happened (Friday) tells us much about what Trump must do on Monday. Thirty thousand people just lost their jobs – as opposed to...

DARPA funds second prototype of new sea drone (VIDEO)

US weapons researchers are building a second test model of the sea-launched drone they call Tern,...

Manhattan DA seeks to make iPhones and other gadgets accessible to law enforcement

Manhattan's district attorney wants to "end the sale and distribution of impenetrable mobile devices" through federal...

US police spend millions on social media monitoring tools, study finds

A new study has found law enforcement agencies spent $4.75 million on social media monitoring tools...

UK may have ‘fundamental divergence of outlook’ with Trump’s US – security expert

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means the UK must seriously rethink its technological relationship with the world’s preeminent military power and...

Next To Be Hanged by the EPA

It takes a lot for a major car company or engine manufacturer to deliberately circumvent a regulatory fatwa. As policy. Not a “rogue engineer.” The...

The Noose that Obama Had Wanted to Hand to President Hillary to Hang...

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org INTRODUCTION This will be a summary, update, and extension from, a 25,000-word masterpiece of historical writing: the obscure, little-noticed, but...

Building an Environmentally Sound House Cheaply, in a Week

Open-source construction. (Photo: CC: Open Source Ecology) Should construction industry giants be worried? After open-source software and the manufacture of machines and objects, the global...

Syria aid convoys used to transport terrorists’ money & property, court hears

Four men accused of using aid convoys bound for Syria to transport ‘items for terrorists’...

Cybersecurity CEO resigns after Facebook threat to ‘kill’ Donald Trump

The president and CEO of PacketSled, a cybersecurity firm that develops software to detect the origin...

The Final Bill for TPP May Include Trump

In the final days of the campaign, President Obama was still pushing the TPP deal (Wall Street Journal, 11/1/16) It will be very hard to...

Leave those kids alone! Thousands of schoolchildren being spied on without their knowledge

At least 1,000 schools have installed software that allows teachers to monitor their students’ internet activity, but most schools have failed to inform youngsters...

Troubled F-35 fighter jets will be repaired in the UK, says military

Britain will be the global repair shop for the new and highly controversial F-35 fighter...

Guccifer 2.0: Dems Will Rig the Elections

Before the recent torrent of daily Podesta email dumps brought renewed attention to Wikileaks (and accusations Julian Assange was working with the Kremlin despite...

Peter Thiel’s Palantir only willing to work with Clinton campaign, #PodestaEmails

CIA-backed software company, Palantir, offered to work with Hillary Clinton’s campaign - despite it’s co-founder Peter...

Never enough: $500mn more needed for F-35, Pentagon told

The US military will have to come up with another $500 million to finish development on...

Inventions That Changed Our Lives

The world of 1900 was nothing like the world of 1800. The world of 2000 was nothing like the world of 1900. Why? Because...

‘A very different kind of warfare’: Clinton team on Benghazi committee leaks in #PodestaEmails

Correspondence among senior Clinton campaign staff released by WikiLeaks in Sunday’s tranche of Podesta emails shows...

‘We’re Not Helping Our Kids by Keeping the Deficit Down’ – CounterSpin interview with...

Janine Jackson interviewed Dean Baker about the debt boogeyman for the October 21, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Dean Baker:...

One out of two Americans in facial recognition databases

Shelley Connor Over 117 million Americans—half of the adult population—are in facial recognition databases used by law enforcement, according to a report released by Georgetown...

How the 2004 Presidential Election Was Stolen by George W. Bush

Eric Zuesse (RINF) - In 2006, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. headlined at Rolling Stone “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” and he presented an argument that...

Why Is Petraeus an Expert on Mosul?

General (retired) David Petraeus was on PBS the other day to explain the current Iraqi offensive on Mosul. Sure, his military “surges” in Iraq...

Internet denied: What’s behind the massive DDoS attacks

An attack on a major DNS service provider literally broke the internet Friday, impacting more than 80 popular websites, including PayPal, Reddit and Twitter....

Mars lander crash casts doubt on Britain’s own rover project

European Space Agency (ESA) plans to send a British-built rover to Mars have been cast...

Half of Americans in ‘virtual lineup’ face-recognition police programs – study

To help identify a culprit, police may ask people to volunteer to be in a line-up....

Trump Organization's 'problematic' cybersecurity risks email hack — report

Donald Trump may want to worry less about the Mexican border wall and more about his...

1/3 pro-Trump & 1/5 pro-Clinton tweets boosted by bots – study

From the 9 million Tweets generated during the first US presidential debate, analysis found that nearly...

FBI releases Clinton probe documents

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has published another set of documents from their probe into Hillary...

First heartbeat of babies as early as 16 days after conception – study

The first tick of a baby’s heart happens as early as 16 days after conception,...

Yahoo disables email forwarding for users fleeing server

Email forwarding is a basic concept, but allowing messages to be automatically sent from one account...

‘We did US gov’t a favor by exposing their security flaws’ – hacker on...

A hacker from the group that leaked the contact information of thousands of FBI and DHS...

Facial recognition tech set for NY bridges & tunnels ‘to fight terrorism’ (VIDEOS)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has revealed details of his high-tech plans for the state, including...

British companies rake in billions from Pentagon military contracts

UK defense firms have earned more than £47 billion ($60 billion) from US military contracts...

'We interpret every govt request' – Yahoo responds to e-mail scanning revelations

Yahoo called the report that the company scanned its customers’ incoming emails “misleading.” This comes as...

Not a single NYPD officer wears a body camera

One of the reforms stemming from a federal court case on racial discrimination in the New...

Yahoo Secretly Scanned Customer Emails for US Intelligence

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers' incoming emails for specific information provided...

Obama implicated in Clinton email scandal – New FBI docs

President Barack Obama used a pseudonym when communicating with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by...

#TakeCTLR: US cities, activists rise against police surveillance

Eleven cities across the US have partnered with 13 organizations to push for community control over...

‘American people deserve better’: Snowden refutes House report through Twitter outburst

Edward Snowden addressed specific claims of the report by the House Intel Committee, which accused him...

Oops! 25% of Oakland police body-camera footage deleted by IT workers

About a quarter of all police body-camera footage stored by the Oakland Police Department was deleted...

Months after fatal smash, Tesla’s autopilot switches to radar sensor

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed plans to upgrade the company’s autopilot software to focus on...

Google-run project "redirect method" to tackle ISIS propaganda, but now focus on the far...

A pilot project launched by Google’s startup incubator and a British IT company will target potential Islamic State recruits – and also the American...

Governments’ Fury Reflects Success of Telegram App’s Privacy Features

While everyone gives lip-service to protecting customers’ privacy these days, many major US tech companies are known to be in...

‘Invisibilizing the Workers Who Actually Do the Work’ – Transcript of CounterSpin's special Labor...

Janine Jackson assembled some of CounterSpin‘s best segments on workers and media for a special September 2, 2016, episode for Labor Day. This is...

Warner Bros scores own goal in anti-piracy efforts (PHOTOS)

Warner Bros has its own anti-piracy arm to protect its lucrative business, but it appears the company has bloodied its own nose by flagging...

FBI releases 58 pages of Clinton email probe

The FBI has released documents relating to its investigation of the private email server used by...

US Arms Makers Invest in a New Cold War

Exclusive: Behind the U.S. media-political clamor for a new Cold War with Russia is a massive investment by the Military-Industrial...

Can Americans Overthrow the Ruling Evil?

Paul Wolfowitz and the lies that he told in the high government positions that he held are responsible for a massive number of deaths...

Can Americans Overthrow the Ruling Evil?

Paul Wolfowitz and the lies that he told in the high government positions that he held are responsible for a massive number of deaths...

Can Americans Overthrow the Ruling Evil?

Paul Wolfowitz and the lies that he told in the high government positions that he held are responsible for a massive number of deaths...

Propaganda warfare? Russia accused of backing hacker attack on Washington think tanks

Russia has once again been accused of backing hackers who this time allegedly penetrated several Washington...

Microsoft services to crack down on 'hate speech'

The end may be nigh for trolls on Skype and Xbox. Microsoft is launching a customer...

Blueprint for an Orwellian future? Chicago tests new data collection technology

The Array of Things project could be life changing. By using cameras, sound level monitors and air quality sensors, the network digitizes city living....

‘Foreign hackers’ accessed Arizona, Illinois election databases – FBI

A secret FBI memo urged states to beef up the security of their voter databases, blaming...

Clinton ‘bleached’ her private server to permanently wipe emails, says House Oversight member

Thousands of emails were permanently deleted from a private email server for former Secretary of State...

Clinton Foundation donors given special treatment while Hillary was DoS head, emails show

Newly released emails reveal more ties between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary...

Under fire: Chipotle, Papa John, McDonald’s over ‘pervasive’ wage theft and discrimination

Federal regulators and states are finding fast food companies like Chipotle, McDonald’s and Papa John culpable...

US Air Force ‘did not fully assess’ potential ‘gaps’ in phasing out A-10 jet...

The Pentagon and the US Air Force are underestimating the risks of scrapping the “unique” A-10...

Hack of NSA ‘cyber weapons’ verified by Snowden docs – report

Newly liberated NSA files from whistleblower Edward Snowden remove any doubt that the “ShadowBrokers” hack on...

‘You’re welcome’: Snowden casts light on NSA hack

The files released by a hacker group that claims to have breached the NSA are authentic,...

Central Bankers Are Choking the Economy

If the Economy were a car, productivity would be the engine. Heated seats, on-demand 4-wheel drive and light-sensitive tinted windshields, are all very nice....

Remember Blue-Blockers?

By Dr. Mercola You may remember the blue-blocking sunglasses that were popular in the U.S. in the 1980s. The glasses, with their amber-colored lenses, had...

Linux vulnerability leaves top sites wide open to attackers

A flaw in the Linux operating system lets hackers inject malware into downloads and expose the...

Public Roads as Tesla’s Private Test Track

Logic – let alone reasonableness – is not one of the government’s stronger suits. There are many examples of this, but here’s a newsie...

Firms peddling surveillance tech to spy on public exposed in new database

Corporations that develop technology used to spy on citizens are being added to a new searchable database compiled by human rights NGO Privacy International...

Lessons From the Deep State

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks – the courageous international organization dedicated to governmental transparency –...

#BlackLivesMatter calls for slavery reparations, free education & justice reforms

A coalition of over 50 organizations affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement has issued a...

New Anti-Government TV Series

“Never trust a criminal … until you have to,” is the official motto of The Blacklist, the American crime-thriller television series that premiered on NBC...

‘Unconstitutional’: Civil liberties group takes on copyright rules

Arguing that rules under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are unconstitutional, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is...

5 costly Pentagon projects of dubious merit

With the world’s biggest military budget at its disposal, even budget cuts leave the Pentagon with...

US Navy’s costliest-ever carrier USS Gerald Ford ‘unlikely to succeed in combat’ – leaked...

Some of the USS Gerald Ford’s critical combat systems are “poorly reliable,” making the Navy’s most expensive warship ever built unlikely to be ready...

Get Paid To Be a Hacker

Calling all technology geeks. Fiat Chrysler wants you. The automaker is inviting computer hackers around the world to try to hack into its auto technology...

How This Became the Era of the Gunman

(Photo: Torrey Wiley / Flickr) Every era has its representative figure. The Neolithic era had the Farmer. The avatar of the Middle Ages was the...

The Maryland-EPA Conspiracy

As I recently sat in a seemingly endless line of cars at the Maryland vehicle emissions checkpoint, the engine in my 1999 Ford suddenly...

Car hacking: Insurers say car thieves may use laptops in crimes

Insurers and police across the country are raising awareness of a new trend in car theft, as thieves have been using laptop computers or...

Robotic rectum to further prostate cancer research

Scientists have created a robotic rectum and paired it with 3D imaging software to give medical students a life-like model which provides the experience...

FBI to grill Hillary Clinton over classified email scandal as early as Saturday –...

It’s the moment millions of Americans have been waiting for. Hillary Clinton will be interrogated as...

Guccifer 2.0 reveals Clinton expenses, clues on identity & slams presidential hopefuls

Releasing a new batch of documents from the Democratic National Committee, hacker Guccifer 2.0 mocked...

Non-Firing guns & killer ejection seats – the UK’s new F-35 stealth fighter finally...

The first F-35 Lightning has touched down in the UK amid repeated controversies and uncertainty...

Despite praise for Chinese efforts, AG Lynch calls ‘economic espionage’ a ‘tremendous problem’

The Chinese government is doing its part to stop economic espionage against the US, according to US Assistant Attorney General John Carlin. However, the...

High powered Wall St. breakfast among gaps & missing entries in Clinton’s State Dept...

Hillary Clinton’s official calendar from her time as Secretary of State is missing details of dozens...

US Navy employs video games to prevent a robot apocalypse

The United States Navy is using artificial intelligence software to teach its robots about human ethics and norms. They think that way robots won’t...

Measuring the Cost of the VW ‘Cheating’ Scandal

The VW emissions “cheating” scandal has been below the fold for a couple months now, but the repercussions are beginning to hit home. Literally. At home. If...

US efforts 'have not reduced' ISIS terrorist capability, reach – CIA chief

Despite losing ground in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State is still able to organize terrorist attacks...

NSA learning how to snoop on pacemakers

The NSA is seeking new ways to satisfy its hunger for raw data by exploiting the...

Niche market: Tesla Motors introduces cheaper sedan model

Tesla Motors, the electric carmaker, is introducing two lower priced sedans in its Model S series...

Civil asset forfeiture goes digital: Police tool swipes money from cards before conviction

Confiscating cash or property without a conviction or charges is now old hat for law enforcement....

Distributed database defence: Datos IO delivers its distinctives

Datos IO has announced the launch of its RecoverX distributed database protection and recovery tool, designed, we're told, to specifically protect against the sort...

Snowden leak: GCHQ & America’s NSA regularly intercept British MPs emails

American spies and the UK’s listening post GCHQ regularly intercept the emails of British MPs...

AI is everyone's new friend on Facebook, understanding posts and interfering in communication

Facebook’s new artificial intelligence (AI) engine, DeepText, will understand the text users post on the network...

Even Orwell Didn’t Predict This

I love technology. I can’t imagine life without modern conveniences like telephones, email, and the Internet. Not to mention running water, air conditioning, and...

Third way: Libertarians elect Gary Johnson as presidential nominee

Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, has won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination at the...

Putin Warns Romania and Poland Against Installing ABM Missiles

Eric Zuesse On Friday, May 27th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin again asserted that American President Barack Obama lies when saying that the reason America’s anti-ballistic...

FBI refusal to divulge Tor hack code sees child porn evidence thrown out of...

A US District court judge has thrown out evidence submitted by the FBI because they refuse...

The BlackRock Dilemma: To End Short-Termism, Reform CEO Pay

In April, Gretchen Morgenson boldly called out the hypocrisy of BlackRock pillorying corporate short-termism while the investment giant simultaneously approved more than 96 percent...

The FBI’s secret biometrics database they don’t want you to see

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wants to prevent information about its creepy biometric database, which...

Libertarianism and the Libertarian Party

Now that Mary Matalin and the mainstream media have mentioned the Libertarian Party as a possible alternative to the Republicrat Party, already there is...

Clinton Does Best Where Voting Machines Flunk Hacking Tests: Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders...

At the end of the climactic scene (8 minutes) in HBO’s Emmy nominated Hacking Democracy (2006), a Leon County, Florida Election official breaks down in tears. “There are people...

‘Next major marketplace’: Siri creators unveil Viv, a bot to replace app stores

Apple’s virtual assistant, known as Siri, is on the verge of becoming obsolete. Wowing users with...

Ferguson swears in African-American police chief

The Missouri city of Ferguson, site of protests after the 2014 shooting of a black teen...

Twitter bans US intelligence access to Dataminr analytics – report

Twitter has banned the US intelligence agencies from using a service called Dataminr, which searches through real-time tweets to detect newsworthy events, including terror...

Heart surgery stalled for nearly 5 mins as anti-virus scan crashes computers

A patient undergoing heart surgery at a US hospital was put at risk when the computer...

Facebook sued over facial recognition, judge refuses to throw case out

Facebook’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit over its facial recognition software was denied on Friday, meaning that the three users who claim the social...

Fewer precincts, early closings, record interest: Indiana primary challenges

With the Indiana presidential primary set to potentially decide the GOP race, the state is reporting...

FBI could soon legally hack any computer in the US – and possibly beyond

The Supreme Court approved new rules on Thursday that would potentially give the FBI the authority...

Sanders drops lawsuit against DNC over voter database breach

Bernie Sanders’ campaign team withdrew its lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee Friday. The democratic socialist...

FBI doesn’t know how to use iPhone hack it bought for $1mn – report

The FBI spent roughly a million dollars to hack into the encrypted iPhone 5C that belonged...

1000+ yr shelf life: Microsoft buys into synthetic DNA for data storage

Microsoft has purchased ten million strands of synthetic DNA to advance cutting edge digital data storage...

Former Tor developer makes malware for FBI

A developer of the Tor software has been exposed for creating malware for the FBI to...

‘Science fiction to fact’: NASA hackathon expands its diversity worldwide

In some 163 locations across 72 countries spanning six continents, hackers joined with scientists, engineers and...

US govt drops fight with Apple over locked iPhone in drug case after getting...

The US Justice Department “no longer needs Apple’s assistance” in unlocking an iPhone which is evidence...

FBI director hints that agency paid record $1.3mn to hack into San Bernardino iPhone

FBI Director James Comey let slip a general idea of how much his agency paid to...

Las Vegas hotels testing 3D porn virtual reality devices as worldwide market opens for...

Virtual reality has been toyed with for 50 years, but there is one industry that could...

US government dead last in cybersecurity compared to private sectors – report

Despite President Obama often noting the need to bolster protections against hackers, the US government is...

Wireless signal strong enough to stream Netflix goes through flesh to revolutionize implants

You may soon be able to Periscope from within, as researchers have developed a wireless signal...

Decrypt or else: Draft encryption bill says tech companies must comply with court orders

A leaked draft of a Senate bill addressing the fight between Apple and the FBI over...

Privacy concerns? FBI director Comey trolled online for taping over laptop cam

It turns out that FBI director James Comey covers his laptop camera with tape, just like...

FBI reveals iPhone hacking method to senators behind anti-encryption bill

The FBI has revealed the secret method it used to hack into the San Bernardino terrorist’s...

WhatsApp rolls out end-to-end encryption for its billion users

Messaging giant WhatsApp completed its effort to fully encrypt every message and call made over its...

‘Exciting time for Pacific airpower’: Alaska Air Force base to get F-35 fighter jets

The secretary of the US Air Force has approved a plan to deploy two new squadrons...

Kidnappers & pedophiles could steal smartphone movement data – report

Phone tracking software used by hundreds of thousands of people is being sold on for...

Hack the Pentagon, win $150,000

The US Department of Defense is calling for hackers to infiltrate the Pentagon - and offering...

Security gaps found in State Department travel database

A crucial State Department database used to vet travelers to and from the US has gaps...

Tick tock… The ‘death clock’ that predicts when you’ll die

Scientists have teamed up with insurance companies to develop a ‘death clock’ that can predict...

Google upgrades warnings to alert users to when Big Brother is watching

Google will display a full-page warning if state-backed attackers attempt to access a user’s Gmail account...

Sanders officially files lawsuit against DNC for freezing campaign’s access to voter files

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has officially served the Democratic National Committee (DNC) with a lawsuit for...

UK's top cop tells banks not to refund cyber-crime victims, even as online defenses...

Banks shouldn't compensate customers who are victims of cyber-crime because it “rewards” them for sloppy...

You guessed it: Israeli firm to help FBI hack Apple phones

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is hiring an Israeli firm to open a backdoor to an iPhone belonging to a terrorist as Apple...

Procurement, my dear Watson: US Air Force turns to computer to manage shopping

Recognizing that it is nearly impossible for human beings to navigate the federal procurement rules, the...

Black Lives Matter sides with Apple in iPhone encryption battle

As the fight over the San Bernardino shooter’s encrypted iPhone continues, Black Lives Matter activists and...

Fitness fracas: Jawbone accuses Fitbit staff of stealing over 330k of its secret files

Tensions are high in a corporate espionage scandal between two popular fitness tracker makers. Jawbone is...

Another Way ‘Democracy’ Is Rigged in America

Eric Zuesse Did you know that if a given political party already has an incumbent in a particular political post, it’s standard practice in the...

Ferguson City Council accepts DoJ-ordered police reforms

Ferguson, Missouri has approved a police-reform deal negotiated with the US Department of Justice (DoJ). The...

‘Founders would be appalled’: Apple accuses FBI, DoJ of trying to ‘rewrite history’

Apple has accused the US government of "attempts to rewrite history", saying that Founding Fathers “would...

Snoopers’ charter ‘unfit for purpose,’ 200 legal experts say

Home Secretary Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the snoopers’ charter, breaches international surveillance standards...

Apple fight could escalate with demand for ‘source code’

The latest filing in the legal war between the planet’s most powerful government and its most valuable company gave one indication of how the...

Calling all MacGyvers: DARPA’s Improv program invites you to DIY a bomb

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking techies to help fight terrorism. The US...

Reboot required: US Air Force’s F-35 has a radar problem

Plans to have the Air Force’s version of the F-35 Lightning II operational sometime this year...

You Should Care About Apple, Your iPhone, and the FBI

Yep, you should care. Very much. Hang up the phone and listen. What This is All About The FBI wants Apple to help unlock an iPhone...

Leading tech firms join Apple suit over iPhone encryption

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Thomas Gaist US tech firms, including Facebook, Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems,...

What’s at Stake in Apple’s Privacy Fight

Civil liberties fans in the United States recently got an unlikely champion: the CEO of Apple. In a high-profile spat with the White House, Tim...

‘This Is Not a Case About One iPhone’

Janine Jackson interviewed Neema Singh Guliani about the Apple‘s legal fight with the FBI for the February 26, 2016, CounterSpin. This is a lightly...

Hillary Clinton’s Dark Drug War Legacy in Mexico

(Image: SOA Watch / Flickr) Mexico, John M. Ackerman wrote recently for Foreign Policy, “is not a functional democracy.” Instead, it’s a “repressive and corrupt”...
video

Video: Das Spyware! Germany approves ‘Trojan Horse’ to monitor suspects

Germany's government has approved the use of a so called “trojan horse” software bug to monitor the computers and smartphones of police suspects. RT...

Showdown: Justice Department Escalates Against Apple

The US Justice Department escalated its standoff with Apple today, filing a motion to compel Apple to create software that would facilitate the Federal...

Leading California Democrat sentenced to five years in prison for corruption

  Alan Gilman Former California State Senator Leland Yee, a San Francisco Bay Area Democrat, was sentenced Wednesday by a federal judge to five years in...

‘Nobody Asked a Worker!’

Janine Jackson interviewed Aviva Chomsky about the Boston Globe‘s delivery debacle and immigrant labor for the February 12, 2016, CounterSpin. This is a lightly...

‘UK nukes could be hacked’

A newly-published report has cast serious doubts about the security of the UK’s nuclear weapons. A study for think tank the European Leadership Network (ELN)...

22 Signs That The Global Economic Turmoil We Have Seen So Far In 2016...

Michael Snyder (RINF) - As bad as the month of January was for the global economy, the truth is that the rest of 2016 promises...

Corporations Killed Medicine. Here’s How to Take It Back.

(Photo: taggartjm / Flickr) Along the path toward the creation of a global capitalist system, some of the most significant steps were taken by the...

Why doesn’t the U.S. government track prescription drug death statistics more diligently … since...

Recent revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the heads of state of countries allied with the United States – even after...

Washington Post’s Wild Swings at Sanders

The Washington Post (1/27/16) tells you to disbelieve in Bernie Sanders’ “future to believe in.” (image: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) It’s not surprising that the Washington...

When Robots Commit War Crimes

The use of robots in combat will be accompanied by a lengthy learning curve – and, likely, many civilian casualties. (Pictured: Modular Advanced Armed...

The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’

While officers raced to a recent 911 call about a man threatening his ex-girlfriend, a police operator in headquarters consulted software that scored the...

Taiwan bans GMOs from school lunches… mandates GMO labeling nationwide… throws down gauntlet on...

Even as the fascist, corrupt U.S. government and its regulators (FDA and USDA) actively conspire with the biotech industry to poison Americans with genetically...

How America’s Corrupt Press Are Destroying the Country

Eric Zuesse Even the best of America’s major mainstream and alternative-news media understate enormously the degree to which America’s government is corrupt; and, as a...

Conn Hallinan’s 2015 “Are You Serious?” Awards

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Transhumanism: An Attempt To Use Technology To Turn Men Into Gods

Transhumanism Turning Men Into Gods - Public DomainDid you know that the word “transhuman” literally means “beyond human”?  All over the world, scientists and intellectuals are joining the transhumanism movement.  Those that adhere to this philosophy believe that the time has come for us to use technology to take control of our own evolution.  By doing so, they believe that we can give ourselves superhuman powers and radically extend our lifespans.  Right now, the most popular movie in America is “Avengers: Age of Ultron“, and in recent years we have watched films about “mutants” and “superheroes” become some of Hollywood’s biggest moneymakers.  But transhumanists believe that we will soon be able to literally turn ourselves into such superheroes as technology continues to increase at an exponential rate.  And once we have superhuman powers and superhuman intelligence, they are convinced that we will eradicate all sickness, disease, poverty and war.  Many of them actually believe that we will be able to achieve immortality and establish a utopia on Earth just a few decades from now.  In other words, we won’t need a “God” because we will have become our own gods.

At the core of the transhumanist movement is an unshakable faith in the inevitable technological progress of humanity.  Yes, there are some transhumanists that have doubts, but for most transhumanists the solution to all of our problems is more technology.  If you are not familiar with transhumanism, the following is a really good definition that I recently came across

Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement promoting the aim of transforming the human condition fundamentally by developing – and making available – technologies to enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capabilities. Transhumanist thinking studies the potential benefits and hazards of emerging technologies that could overcome basic human limitations. It also addresses ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. Some transhumanists predict that human beings may eventually transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities that they justify a state of being known as ‘posthuman’.

Transhumanists want to help humans live much longer, and they also want to dramatically increase the quality of those lives.  Ultimately, most transhumanists are fully convinced that they will be able to defeat death altogether.  The following is a short excerpt from an ExtremeTech article

One of the core concepts in transhumanist thinking is life extension: Through genetic engineering, nanotech, cloning, and other emerging technologies, eternal life may soon be possible. Likewise, transhumanists are interested in the ever-increasing number of technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities beyond what humans are naturally capable of (thus the term transhuman). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), for example, which speeds up reaction times and learning speed by running a very weak electric current through your brain, has already been used by the US military to train snipers. On the more extreme side, transhumanism deals with the concepts of mind uploading (to a computer), and what happens when we finally craft a computer with greater-than-human intelligence (the technological singularity).

So would you like to live forever armed with superhuman powers?

The most famous transhumanist in the world, Ray Kurzweil, actually believes that he is going to be able to do that.  But first he has to stay alive long enough for the technologies that he believes are coming to be developed.  So Kurzweil takes 150 supplements a day in an attempt to keep his body in peak condition…

The youthful 65-year-old currently takes 150 supplements a day, which he argues is the first bridge.

The idea is to build enough bridges to ensure the body holds out long enough for life-lengthening technology to come into its own.

He has likened the biology of the body to computer software and believes we are all ‘out of date’.

Kurzweil is absolutely convinced that if he can just stretch his life out long enough that technologies that will enable him to achieve immortality are right around the corner.  In fact, in a piece that he wrote for CNN he expressed his belief that our medical technologies will be “a million times more powerful” than they are today just two decades from now…

Health and medicine is now an information technology and is therefore subject to what I call the “law of accelerating returns,” which is a doubling of capability (for the same cost) about each year that applies to any information technology.

As a result, technologies to reprogram the “software” that underlie human biology are already a thousand times more powerful than they were when the genome project was completed in 2003, and will again be a thousand times more powerful than they are today in a decade, and a million times more powerful in two decades.

So will he be right?

We will just have to wait and see.

For a long time, many in the transhumanist movement (including Kurzweil) have been pointing to a time period between 2030 and 2050 during which they believe something remarkable will happen.  They believe that during that time period something known as “the singularity” will occur.  As technology increases at an exponential rate, they believe that artificial intelligence will begin to greatly surpass human intelligence at some point, and that humanity will merge with this new super intelligence.  Once that happens, they believe that the world will change in ways that we cannot even comprehend today

Kurzweil and his followers believe that a crucial turning point will be reached around the year 2030, when information technology achieves ‘genuine’ intelligence, at the same time as biotechnology enables a seamless union between us and this super-smart new technological environment. Ultimately the human-machine mind will become free to roam a universe of its own creation, uploading itself at will on to a “suitably powerful computational substrate”. We will become essentially god-like in our powers.

Does that sound good to you, or does it sound frightening?

Other transhumanists are not quite as optimistic as Kurzweil and his followers.  Just consider what Max Tegmark, the author of Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, had to say about what life will be like after “the singularity”…

After this, life on Earth would never be the same. Whoever or whatever controls this technology would rapidly become the world’s wealthiest and most powerful, outsmarting all financial markets, out-inventing and out-patenting all human researchers, and out-manipulating all human leaders. Even if we humans nominally merge with such machines, we might have no guarantees whatsoever about the ultimate outcome, making it feel less like a merger and more like a hostile corporate takeover.

Even some of the most prominent scientists in the world are skeptical of what an ultra-powerful artificial intelligence would mean for the future of humanity.  The following is an excerpt from an article co-authored by Stephen Hawking

Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organized in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. An explosive transition is possible, although it may play out differently than in the movie: as Irving Good realized in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a “singularity” and Johnny Depp’s movie character calls “transcendence.” One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.

But despite these reservations from many in the scientific community, many transhumanists are pushing ahead as hard as they can.  Many of them are absolutely convinced that what they are doing will bring a new golden age to this planet.  Just consider the words of transhumanist Zoltan Istvan

Despite this, people continue to worry that technology and science that make our species more transhuman will be used to create a deeper divide in society for the haves and have-nots. Those worries are unfounded. A close examination of the issues show that transhumanist technology and science liberates us, brings us better health, and has improved the living standards of all people around the world. If you value liberty, equality and progress, it makes sense to embrace the coming age of transhumanism.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

And there are even some transhumanists that couch their hopes and dreams for the future in religious terminology.  For example, transhumanist Mark Pesce is fully convinced that transhumanism will allow ordinary humans “to become as gods”

“Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more—a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will; To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our image—for our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman – an apotheosis to reason, salvation – attained by good works.”

That is some pretty strong stuff.

So what do you think about all of this?  Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below…

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The most heinous thing a human can do is eat another human.  Fear of cannibalism along with the other two great taboos, incest and inter-family violence, are the bedrocks of human culture.  Without these taboos there is no human civilization, yet zombie cannibals are everywhere, from the most popular TV shows in the US and Europe to the most played PC games.   Everywhere we look there is a zombie dragging his feet looking for human prey.  The ubiquitous nature of this meme of semi-human creatures that survive only by breaking the most fundamental of human taboos is a clear indicator of a collective cultural pathology.

Humans must not only kill and eat plants and animals to survive, we must make sure they keep coming back so they can be killed and eaten again and again.  Life needs death;  we must kill to live, and eventually we all wind up as someone else's food.  This paradox lies at the core of the world’s religions and mythologies and the fear/repulsion of eating other humans is the keystone of our culture, without it we turn on ourselves and self-annihilation ensues.  The zombie meme is a modern myth pointing to a deep fear of self-destruction.

The great psychologist and mystic Carl Jung was asked if a myth could be equated to a collective dream and he answered this way, “A myth…is the product of an unconscious process in a particular social group, at a particular time, at a particular place. This unconscious process can naturally be equated with a dream. Hence anyone who ‘mythologizes,’ that is, tells myths, is speaking out of this dream.”

If a person had a recurring nightmare that she was eating her family it would be a clear symptom of a profound psychological disturbance.  Cultures don’t dream, but they do tell stories and those stories can tell us much about the state of the collective psyche.

Many of the themes in our popular culture are conscious story telling devices with the definite purpose of social engineering/control, but others seem to just emerge from the collective unconscious like the stuff of dreams.  The zombie meme is clearly of the latter variety.   It's pointing to a fear that something has broken in our culture and what awaits us is a collective psychotic break of apocalyptic proportions.

In the 1950’s there were widespread fears of a communist takeover that expressed themselves through films like The Village of the Damned or the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  But the zombie meme exposes something much darker in our collective psyche.  The fundamental taboo around cannibalism is a pillar of human culture, yet the zombies are obsessive cannibals and we can’t seem to get enough of them.

What does this new archetype of a cannibalistic apocalypse reveal about out culture?  By nature archetypes point to transcendent themes that evade definition.  They are not symbols that have a clear equivalent, they can only point in the general direction which in the case of the zombie meme is the inverting of some of our most sacred myths and the embracing of our most horrid taboos.

The zombie meme emerged onto the American consciousnesses with George Romero’s 1968 cult classic, The Night of the Living Dead.  The archetype was invigorated with Danny Boyles’s  2002 film, 28 Days Later  which introduced an important new element: the apocalypse.

The meme reached maturity in 2010 when AMC launched The Walking Dead, now the number #1 show on US television for viewers between the ages of 18 and 49.  The Walking Dead was created by Frank Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption, and is based on a comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.  The key to the success of The Walking Dead is the dystopian zombie apocalypse in which the story unravels, allowing it to outperform even the ultimate social opiate, Sunday Night Football.

This is not simply an American phenomenon. In France the series The Returned (French: Les Revenants) has been very popular with both viewers and critics.  The Returned puts a fascinating twist on the return of the dead-  they just start walking home after having been dead for many years as if nothing had happened.  The BBC’s  In the Flesh  focuses on reintegrating zombies, victims of PDS (Partially Dead Syndrome).  World Z  had Brad Pitt save the world from fast moving zombies on the big screen and Mel Brook’s son Max even wrote a book titled The Zombie Survival Guide.

The Inverted Christian Mythos


In one episode of The Walking Dead the zombies are seen shuffling under the arch of an episcopal church inscribed with a passage from the gospel of John,  “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”.  Over a billion Catholics in the world regularly participate in the transformation of bread and wine into what they believe is the actual flesh and blood of their savior, Jesus of Nazareth, and then eat him.  Catholics believe this sacramental right gives them eternal life.  In the zombie meme, however, the infected humans die and are born again but not unto salvation but into a hell of insatiable appetites and mindless meandering.

The Christian myth is agricultural; Christ is killed, buried, and comes to life three days later as the seed emerging from the ground,  just as the moon hides for three days behind the sun each month, only to be born again.  Christ’s body is the ‘sacred’ meal, the sacrificial food of the gods, his blood is their elixir.  The Catholic acts as the god receiving the sacred meal and by doing so gains the eternal qualities of the gods by breaking the most embedded of human taboos – the eating of human flesh.   It’s certainly a curios paradox that the sins of man are forgiven by committing cannibalism, as Catholic doctrine clearly states that Jesus was both man and God and the transubstantiation of the Catholic mass physically changes the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus.

As the Christian myth begins its third millennium, is the zombie meme telling us that this religious story is no longer viable ?  Are billions of ‘zombies’ eating flesh and drinking blood but finding no nourishment?  The vast majority of Western people  have a profound belief in science and science tells us that the story of Jesus is not to be taken literally, yet our churches insist that the ‘myth’ of Jesus is historical.  The Christian software no longer works as the science ‘virus’ has rendered it useless.

Myths are other people’s religions and for Westerners in need of spiritual ‘food’ the Eastern systems of yoga and Buddhism, which don’t depend on dogma that contradicts science, seem to be more palatable to their scientific worldviews.  Unfortunately, those ‘programs’ where written for a machine other than modern Western man.

Joseph Campbell described believing in a literal, historical God as someone eating a menu believing that they were really eating the food.   One clear component of the zombie meme is the spiritual starvation we are experiencing in the West.  We are eating the menus so the speak- old, meaningless books written by foreign peoples from far off places thousands of years ago, and they give us no nourishment.

The Hunger


Another essential quality of the zombie is it’s unquenchable hunger.  No amount of flesh and blood seems able to quench the longing to consume live human flesh.  Modern man has a similar problem-  no amount of money, sex, gadgets, job titles, drugs, entertainment, pornography, art, religion or gurus seem able to quench our thirst.  We live in constant hunger.

If we equate the zombie ‘hunger’ for flesh to the human desire for money, the comparison becomes almost uncanny.  Most adult humans spend most of their day either making money or spending it while being constantly bombarded with propaganda/advertising to keep them hungry.

From the most humble street vendor to the billionaires on CNBC, no one seems to ever have enough money.   Zombies need to eat live human flesh and money is at its core, human labor.  Our craving for money is really the craving for the work of others, for the sweat and blood of millions to furnish us with unlimited amounts of food and consumer goods.

The vast majority of Westerners have ceased to create anything tangible.  Only one in five Americans actually produce anything.  Eating what one produces on a farm or trading manufactured goods for food connects us to life.   But when people spend ten hours hours a day in an office looking at a computer screen and two hours in traffic, somehow eating, and living, become abstract.  What are we actually doing to create the food , heat, and the shelter we need?

Our hunger for food and things far outstrips our practical needs and has become the cause of our ever more obese, angry, unsatisfied society while our spiritual hunger leaves us addicted, chasing empty consumer thrills.  There is no end to what can be consumed and there is never enough for even those with billions; we always need more.

Zombies Don’t Surf 


Zombies don’t think, they simply move in big herds looking for their next meal, reminiscent of the herds piling up behind the doors of malls on Black Friday.  Curiously, the only way to kill them is to shoot them in their least vulnerable point, their brains.

Modern man is almost entirely without out any practical skills.  He doesn't know how to grow food, hunt animals or build a house.  He uses all sorts of electronic tools whose core technologies he doesn't really understand and which he doesn't have the slightest idea how to fix.

This set of circumstances is a recent development in human history, beginning in the 18th century and growing exponentially in the last 30 years during the information revolution.  We are helpless slaves to technologies we don’t understand and to media that programs us to believe all sorts of propaganda designed to keep us from actually thinking critically.

The Zombie Apocalypse


At least since the time of Christ, western man has been waiting for one apocalypse or another.  Be it the return of Christ, the turn of the millennium, nuclear war, killer meteorites or UFO’s, apocalyptic fears are nothing new to us.  Yet it’s no coincidence that just as the zombie took over prime time with The Walking Dead, the term 'preppers' began to appear. The intensity of apocalyptic thinking has noticeably increased in the last few years as shows like Doomsday Preppers is the most watched program in the history of the National Geographic Channel.

The latest wave of apocalyptic furor to take over the US is not based on fears of nuclear war or the return of Jesus, but on the collapse of the financial system which gave us a shot over the bow in 2008.  We are so far removed from any practical and productive activities that if the extremely complex financial and logistical infrastructure of the world gave way, how would we survive?  If our stores were suddenly empty how many people in the West would be able to produce food, fuel and shelter?  The vast majority of us are so far removed from the practical necessities of life that we are in a very real sense, mindless, insatiable, endlessly consuming zombies.

Not only do we not understand the technologies we use, we seem to trust that the complex systems that maintain us will continue working seamlessly even as doubts grow over the people who brought us the sub-prime debacle, the Iraq War and quantitative easing (QE).  What would happen to the world supply chain if the confidence in the dollar as a reserve currency were lost?  Is the ever increasing gap between rich and poor about to explode into all out class/race war?  A key element of the zombie meme is the underlying fear of societal collapse.

The Myth is Dead


Sometime after Galileo but before Newton, science lost the need for meaning.  For Galileo the universe, including the earth, was alive but by the time of Newton it was a dead machine.  The importance of this shift cannot be overestimated.  Galileo was describing something that was alive, that had a soul, a soul humans participated in, but by the time of Newton and the Enlightenment we were existing in a cold universe.  The world went from breathing like a mother to ticking like a clock.

From the earliest known cave paintings made over 40,000 years ago to the mystery schools of pre-Aryan Europe through to medieval Christian Europe, the West has been guided by profound mythical stories.

Science can give us answers to almost all our questions, yet in the end its meaninglessness is disquieting.  Science gives us technologies and deep understandings of the mechanics of the universe, but it's unwilling to the breach the topic of meaning.  We are asked to live for cliches, consumerism, hedonism or fundamentalism.  Rejecting science is absurd but embracing it is deadening.

If we were able to understand our own religions in the same spirit that we decipher the religions of others (myths) while embracing science (with its limitations), than maybe we could find our way to a new myth that would shed meaning on our cold world.  But myths emerge, they are not consciously created, and for the moment we wade in the void of knowing how but not why.  We consume but are never filled, we seek but we do not find.

We are all zombies.

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As Malaysia Airlines bleeds out, twin tragedies are still a question mark

Malaysia Airlines has had a profoundly difficult year. Between two harrowing air disasters and the company’s precarious financial woes, the national carrier faces daunting challenges as it attempts to restructure and recover its reputation as a leading regional airline. Despite poor commercial performance in recent years, it maintained a stellar record for decades as one of the Asia-Pacific's safest and most reliable airlines.


Malaysia Airlines has suffered the two worst disasters in modern aviation less than five months apart. Both incidents involved Boeing 777-200ERs, widely considered being one of the safest aircrafts. Over six months have past since flight MH370 disappeared on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A multinational search team has scoured remote southern stretches of the Indian Ocean, unable to find even a trace of debris from the aircraft.


A preliminary report on the demise of flight MH17 released by Dutch investigators has failed to provide a wider understanding of the incident, leaving critical questions of culpability unanswered. The crippling impact of the two air disasters has forced Malaysia Airlines into accelerating a major restructuring effort to rescue the brand and return it to profitably by 2017, with plans to relist the company by 2019.


Nationalize or privatize?


As the flagship carrier, Malaysia Airlines is viewed as a symbol of national prestige and development. The state has played a vital role in using public funds to restructure the airline over the years. The key challenges confronting the carrier are competition from low-cost national and regional rivals, high operating costs, unprofitable long haul routes, and a bloated payroll.


The main question going forward is whether further nationalization or drastic privatization will more effectively resuscitate the airline. Khazanah Nasional, a state investment fund that owns about 70% of Malaysia Airlines, proposed a strategy to recover the national carrier, involving plans to take full ownership of the airline and the most stringent job cuts in the company's history.


Unlike the four previous attempts to restructure the airline, which reneged on plans to scale back the workforce under pressure from politically influential airline unions, the company intends to cut staffing by 6,000 jobs or 30% of the carrier's 20,000 employees. Malaysia Airlines has about 30 percent more staff than comparable airlines, and while the cuts will be painful, the status quo can clearly not be maintained under the prevailing circumstances.


Khazanah Nasional will channel around RM6bn ($2 billion) into reviving the carrier, buying out remaining stock from shareholders, layoffs and other restructuring costs, debt settlement and capital injections. Putrajaya claims these funds are an investment, rather than a bailout, expressing its intention to regain the funds when the airline returns to profitability. One can be forgiven for being skeptical of the carrier’s strategy, taking into account the shortcomings of previous restructuring attempts.


An accumulative sum of RM17.4bn ($5.3 billion) was injected into the airline between 2001 and 2014, and losses of RM8.4bn ($2.6 billion) were incurred nonetheless during that period. Malaysia Airlines reported a net loss of RM443mn ($140.8 million) for the first quarter of 2014. Second-quarter earnings following the unexplained disappearance of MH370 in March saw losses of RM307mn ($97.6 million). The second-half earnings are expected to be even grimmer in the wake of MH17, following reports from the airline that average weekly bookings had declined by 33 percent. The company has lost more than 40 percent of its market value this year and has not made an annual profit since 2010.


Shareholders will be meeting in early November to consider Khazanah’s selective capital reduction proposal plan before the recovery plan can go into effect. Although shareholders will be losing money by selling off their assets for lower prices than they purchased them for, the independent adviser AmInvestment Bank advised that they accept the offer, because without the proposed capital injection from Khazanah, the airline will go under and the share price will collapse. It’s better to lose a finger than to lose an arm.


As budget carriers like AirAsia, which was formally state-owned before being taken private, lead the Southeast Asian market, there are those who will view any further capital injection into Malaysia Airlines as an imprudent use of public funds. Khazanah itself has noted that the RM17.4bn used to restructure the national carrier could have helped improve education or provide water and power to remote villages. It also doesn’t make sense to refer to Khazanah’s move to take full ownership of the airline as a privatization since it is a government investment fund; it’s more like a de-facto nationalization.


At this stage, whether Malaysia Airlines is nationalized or privatized is a periphery concern: the real question is how can it be restructured to viably compete with discount airlines that make up some 58 percent of the air traffic in Southeast Asia? There are concerns going forward that Khazanah lacks the expertise needed to micromanage the airline and implement the kind of solutions needed to shift the balance back toward profitability. Additionally, there will be no minority shareholders to scrutinize the management and provide helpful input under Khazanah’s full ownership of the carrier.


Structural adjustments are needed to make the airline leaner and more efficient if it has any chance of surviving. Long unprofitable routes that require heavy subsidies should be cut with renewed focus on competitively priced medium-haul services within Asia. The fleet of Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s can be sold off and replaced with more fuel-efficient A330s and the A350s designed for shorter distances.


If employees and unions were better informed about the dire ill health of the airline, perhaps they would agree to voluntary pay cuts for a limited period if it meant retaining job security. Under the current circumstances, bonuses should be suspended and the balance sheet should be carefully scrutinized. In addition to rolling out a public relations blitz to repair the image of the company, Malaysia Airlines should emulate some qualities of their rivals’ business models, but differentiate themselves by offering greater value for money to the extent that a full-service airline can provide.


No answers, no closure


As the enquiry continues into the demise of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over the skies of eastern Ukraine in July, the preliminary findings of the international investigation have done little to develop a clearer understanding of the incident. The parties responsible for bringing down the aircraft, and exactly what means were utilized to do so, have yet to be firmly established.


The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is leading the investigation into the MH17 crash, released a preliminary report in September, which sought to analyze air traffic control and radio communication data, assess the inflight break-up sequences, and conduct a forensic examination of the wreckage. Assigning culpability to any party was not in the report’s mandate; the authors of the text use highly guarded and ambiguous language to explain their findings.


Due to the continued obstruction and contamination of the crash site as a result of military hostilities, it is highly questionable whether further forensic examinations can be carried out under such protracted circumstances. Another barrier is a lack of political will to consider certain findings, due to the politically charged nature of the Ukrainian conflict, which has resuscitated Cold War-era hostilities, bringing US-Russia relations to new lows.


Though Ukraine, the United States, and other countries have accused Russia of supplying the rebels with surface-to-air missiles and orchestrating the shoot-down of MH17, those governments have yet to declassify their intelligence on MH17, refusing even to discuss the sources and methodology behind their findings. Comments by Russian officials at the UN and elsewhere indicate that Moscow feels its side of the story has been neglected and overlooked.


The satellite images and military data made public by Moscow, which suggest a completely different series of events, have been entirely absent from the media’s narrative. The Dutch findings conclude that the aircraft abruptly ended its flight after a large number of “high energy objects”penetrated the aircraft from the outside, but does not identify the nature of those objects.


Dutch investigators have wholly omitted findings from radar data submitted by Moscow that purportedly showed a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet flying in close proximity to MH17 prior to it disappearing from radar.  BBC’s Russian language service broadcasted a report shortly after the disaster where several local eyewitnesses claimed to see a military aircraft in the sky flying in the vicinity of MH17 as it exploded and broke apart. The investigation has a responsibility to address the question of the Ukrainian fighter jet and its possible role in the incident.


The case of MH370 has proven to be the most baffling incident in commercial aviation history and one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries. Despite the largest multinational search and rescue effort ever conducted, not a trace of debris from the aircraft has been found, nor has the cause of the aircraft’s erratic change of trajectory and disappearance been established.


After a fruitless search in the southern Indian Ocean where the plane is believed to have crashed after running out of fuel, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau leading the investigation has admitted that investigators are not entirely sure if the current underwater search is being conducted in the right spot, although Malaysian officials have been more optimistic.


Tim Clark, the CEO and president of Emirates, questioned the methodology used by investigation team to pinpoint the crash site, claiming it was downright “suspicious” that a Boeing 777 could disappear without a trace with its communications being disabled. Clark also raised concerns that the public was not being told the whole truth about the cargo manifest.


The families of the passengers and crewmembers onboard the missing aircraft recently renewed calls for Putrajaya to release the full cargo manifest, which they say was only partially released some two months after the incident, claiming that there were missing gaps in the document. The manifesto claimed that the cargo contained 2.4 tons of lithium ion batteries and radio accessories and chargers consigned for Motorola, and 4.5 tons of mangosteen.


IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar promised the media that authorities would investigate the mangosteen supplier after the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority claimed that the fruit was not in season, nor were there any orchards in Johor where the mangosteen supplier, Poh Seng Kian, is based. The way in which certain information has allegedly been withheld from the public domain has worked to stoke skepticism that investigators must address. 


Inmarsat, the British satellite telecommunications company responsible for analyzing MH370 satellite data, has also come under scrutiny from independent satellite experts and engineers that found glaring inconsistencies in their analysis. The Atlantic magazine published a report in May based on the analysis of Michael Exner, founder of the American Mobile Satellite Corporation, Duncan Steel, a physicist and visiting scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, and satellite technology consultant Tim Farrar.


The team of analysts used flight and navigation software to deconstruct Inmarsat’s analysis, and determined that Inmarsat’s data contained irregular frequency shifts, and even when the values were corrected, Inmarsat’s example flight paths failed to match and proved to be erroneous. In other words, these analysts believe there may be grounds to believe that the search is being conducted on the basis of a false mathematical conclusion.


The authors of the report attempted to reach Inmarsat and other relevant bodies, but they claim that the company did not reply to requests for comments on basic technical questions about their analysis, leading them to determine that “Inmarsat officials and search authorities seem to want it both ways: They release charts, graphics, and statements that give the appearance of being backed by math and science, while refusing to fully explain their methodologies.”


While the investigation teams are doing their level best to establish accounts of the two Malaysia Airlines disasters, there is undoubtedly a dimension of political pressure involved that can create various barriers to understanding. The astonishing nature of these two incidents demand that uncomfortable scenarios and questions be addressed and examined. The media still has an important role to play.

This article was appeared in the October 28 and 29, 2014 print edition of The Malaysian Reserve newspaper.

Nile Bowie is an independent journalist and political analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His articles have appeared in numerous international publications, including regular columns with Russia Today (RT) and newspapers such as the Global Times, the Malaysian Reserve and the New Straits Times. He is a research assistant with the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), a Malaysian NGO promoting social justice and anti-hegemony politics. He can be reached at [email protected].


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