Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why do we use the word Fascism?

The word Fascism is used because it is the only historically accurate word in the English language for identifying the process of the consolidation of control over resources for the purpose of creating wealth and profit at the expense of Human Rights, the ecology, "liberal values" and sovereignty of the people living in submission to Fascism. (See Anti-Fascist solutions [link])
Plutocrats and their Trans-National Corporations have no national loyalties or primary citizenship. They are multinational by their own definition. Fascism as an ideology is not monolithic. It is nationalistic or theocratic when it serves to promote popular agendas, but all fascist movements are united to serve the various cliques of plutocracy. Fascism can be against one set of plutocrats, while working to protect the property of another set.

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."
- 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt, "Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies" [link].

"They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective ... using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously (is to) keep the common man in eternal subjugation.- 1944, Vice-President Henry Wallace interview with the New York Times, (and what happened afterwards [link]).

Economic Dictatorship
* "5 Facts About America's Pathological Wealth Distribution" [link]
* "Wealthy Thrive and Poorest Dive as Surge in US Inequality Continues" [link]
Fascism mirrors the psychology of it's patron plutocrats.
It can be paranoid, selfish, exclusive, vain and against reason.

It serves only the interest of the plutocracy, to stabilize their economic power.
Meet the monopolists... [link]

400 individual USA citizens have more money than the entire economy of Russia!
* "US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study" [link].
The "Forbes 400" list of wealthiest Americans [forbes.com/forbes-400/list], [forbes.com/sites/luisakroll/2013/09/16/inside-the-2013-forbes-400-facts-and-figures-on-americas-richest]: "The 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a record $2.02 trillion, roughly equivalent to the GDP of Russia. That is a gain of $300 billion from a year ago, and more than double a decade ago. The average net worth of list members is a staggering $5 billion, $800 million more than a year ago and also a record. The minimum net worth needed to make the 400 list was $1.3 billion. The last time it was that high was in 2007 and 2008, before property and stock market values began sliding. Because the bar is so high, 61 American billionaires didn’t make the cut."   

Monopolist Dictatorship over the resources of the USA [link]
* 95% of new wealth created 2009 to 2012 in USA went to top 1% [link]
* Richest 10% of USA Citizens own 80% of the stock market [inequality.org/wealth-inequality]
* Private Monopolies increase Taxation of the Public for the enrichment of their investors [link]
* Private CEOs’ exorbitant salaries paid for by the Taxpayers [link]
* Plutocratic Philanthropy only benefits their own vision of culture and education [link]
* "The Other America": 2800 corporations have liquid cash equal to ALL USA Federal Spending for 2013 [link]
* "Billionaires' influence felt in state's water policy" (California) [link]
* "America’s Top 10 Corporate Tax Avoiders" [link], showing how many of the Federal military contractors are allowed to not pay taxes on profits made using tax-payer funding.
* 32 Companies dodged USD $72 billion in taxes during 2012, enough to fund the entire Federal education budget [link]
* "Debtor nation: Americans pay interest on $163 billion held by top tech firms overseas" (2014) [link]

Ideology of the monopolists (and their happy little helpers) [link].
* An ideology mixing libertarianism with dictatorship [link]
* Unlimited Pollution and Profit [link]
* "Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)" determined using artificial indicators of economic growth and is used by the monopolized media to reassure the investors and the public [link].
* How traders manipulate stocks using computers [link]
The stock market cannot uplift the quality of life of all the people...

How Monopolists use government to rule the people [link]
* Canada, and economic domination by USA petroleum cartels [link]
* Private Bureaucracies use Federal Government to protect holdings, enact profitable policies, despite economic crisis [link]
* Corruption in the USA: When individual monopolists can buy an entire congress... [link]
* Federal Congress legislates for profit [link]
* Monopolists using State Legislative entities to attack Wages and Labor Standards [link]
* State Policy Network (SPN) [link]
Democrat Party [link]
* The "Tea Party", an electoral vanguard aided by monopolists [link]
* Libertarianism is an ideology for unrestricted fascism [link]
* Fascism in Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emmanual and his ideological inheritors [link]
Monetization of Political Freedom in the USA [link]
North Carolina Republican Party work to prevent the rise of sovereign energy sources (2014) [link]
* "SEC Goldman Lawyer Says Agency Too Timid on Wall Street Misdeeds" [link]
Private investor partisans control national security of the USA [link]
Indiana: "The Ultra-Right-Wing State Nobody Mentions" (2014) [link]
The fascist's solution to the Liberal Agenda: President Barack Obama [link]

Prevention of political alternatives to the two-party establishment on the ballot:* Florida: Legislation considered to stifle the participation of political alternatives to the official two state parties (2011) [link]

Poverty is a Crime [link]
* America’s Disappeared [link]
* Homelessness is a Human Rights Abuse
The Minimum-Wage Economy: An Apartheid of Dollars [link]
* "Six Ways America is Like a Third-World Country" [link]

Monopolists create artificial 'Economic Crisis' to expand their dominion...  [link]

Monopolized Media Censorship [link]
* Wealthy exhibit willful ignorance of the conditions of life for the poor [link]
* The so-called "Liberal Press" [link]

Being under Permanent Suspicion by State and Private clandestine agencies [link]
* Targeting of Black / New African National Leadership [link]
* War against Dissent by private clandestine services [link]
Reform addressing human and civil-rights abuses by Clandestine Agencies is a facade [link]

Electronic Surveillance & Harassment
* Google is an extension of Military and Clandestine agencies [link]
* Indications that Facebook monitors and interferes with dissidents [link]
* "Meet the Data Brokers Who Help Corporations Sell Your Digital Life" [link]
* Pattern of cyber-attacks against "leftist" populist news journals [link]
* US Military study social media trends for use against democracy campaigns [link]

Unlimited War for Unlimited Profits [link]
* Dept. of Defense fraudulently gives away money with no oversight [link]
* Navy's Culture of Corruption [link]
* Promoting American Exceptionalism, an ideology for mega-death [link]
USA Citizens not allowed to know Overseas Drone Death Toll (2014-04) [link]
* USA gives $2.7 Billion to DynCorp for work in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite knowing it engages in sex slavery and death-squad operations [link]
* $1.45 Trillion of tax money to Private Armament Companies for F-35 attack jet [link]

"There exists a shadowy government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself." - Daniel Ken Inouye, during the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (Iran-Contra hearings) (1987) [en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Daniel_Inouye] [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbFphX5zb8w]

'Christian' Monopolists and fascism [link]
"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy." - Book of Ezekiel, chapter 16, verses 49-50.
* Ronald Reagan: Fascists in need of "their" President [link]
* "46 Percent of Mississippi Republicans Want Interracial Marriage Banned" (2011) [link]
* Political Agendas, Profit Motives, Religious Truth, and Cognitive Dissonance [link]

"This Racist Drug War..." [link], is an Unconstitutional War, a War against the People [link], for profit [link].

Prison archipelago: Slave Labor; Systematic Torture; Human Experimentation
* Political & Conscious Prisoners in the U$A [link]
* Slave Labor in USA prisons [link]
* Torture in Prisons [link]
* "School to Prison" pipeline [link]
* Prisons, not medical asylums, house many of the mentally ill [link]

Destruction of quality and inexpensive public education
Goldman Sachs controls Education Management Corp., which is the 2nd largest for-profit education entity, charges $15000 for comparable Community College public education worth $520!
Private companies are using Public Schools to, literally, "dumb down" the workforce [link]...
Under-education of the People is the reason why the process of fascism goes uninterrupted, and nobody reads books anymore [link]!
* Fascism at Florida State University [link]
* Destruction of Libraries at Los Angeles Unified School District [link]
* “Who Is Behind the Privatization of Public Education?” [link]
* Missouri State Politicians are destroying all public schools [link] (2014)
* "New Orleans Nearly Finished Killing Off Its Public Schools" [link] (2014)

Healthcare in the USA controlled by profit-driven private companies [link]
* This was private healthcare’s plans, no matter who's President after 2012, instead of single-payer or socialized medicine [link]

Fascism and Labor Unions [link]
* "Right To Work" law is an abolishment of Human Rights [link]

"Economic Sacrifice Zones", the so-called "Ghetto".
* "Capitalism’s Sacrifice Zones" [link], 2012-07-20 from "Public Affairs Television, Inc."

Captive Nation of Puerto Rico [link]

"American Fascism: How Big Business Has Taken Control of the U.S. Government", 2013-06-04 interview with Ralph Nader by Democracy Now! [link]:
Watch Part 1 of this interview: [link]
Watch Part 2 of this interview: [link]
Describing the United States as an "advanced Third World country," longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader calls for a new mass movement to challenge the power corporations have in Washington. "It is not too extreme to call our system of government now 'American Fascism.' It's the control of government by big business, which Franklin Delano Roosevelt defined in 1938 as fascism," Nader says. "We have the lowest minimum wage in the Western world. We have the greatest amount of consumer debt. We have the highest child poverty, the highest adult poverty, huge underemployment, a crumbling public works -- but huge multi-billionaires and hugely profitable corporations. I say to the American people: what's your breaking point? When are you going to stop making excuses for yourself? When are you going to stop exaggerating these powers when you know you have the power in this country if you organize it?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Georgia Police stifle Human Rights gathering targeting WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation)

WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) is responsible to aiding and training fascist death squads across the Americas, targeting journalists, human rights advocates, labor union organizers, and "leftist" political organizers. See Fascism in the Republic of Honduras [link].

"Police Deny Street Permit for Annual Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia"CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS UNDER ATTACK IN GEORGIA;
2014-07-23 from "SOA Watch" [www.soaw.org]:
Columbus, Georgia - The Columbus Police Department, continuing its history of antagonizing the movement to close the US military training camp known as the SOA/WHINSEC (School of the Americas, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), has this year placed unjust, unsafe and unconstitutional restrictions on the annual SOA Watch Vigil, essentially attempting to shut down the peaceful protest at the main gates of Fort Benning.
In a letter to grassroots solidarity group SOA Watch, Police Chief Ricky Boren explained that the thousands expected at this year's Vigil, the group's 25th, would have to somehow limit themselves to no more than 200 and stay on sidewalks five feet back from the street. The permit for the stage and sound, which has for years lifted up the voices of those targeted by the infamous military training school, like Padre Melo from Honduras, who's been threatened since speaking out against the SOA graduate-led coup in 2009, was also denied.
Nevertheless, SOA Watch pledges to return to Ft. Benning, hold the annual vigil, and continue its nonviolent tradition of protecting family-friendly, safe and legal protest. In response to police chief Boren, the human rights group writes, "we have responsibilities and freedoms under our constitution to peacefully assemble and to speak truth to power."
"This year, more than any other, we are called to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Latin America, 25 years after SOA graduates committed the brutal massacre at the University of Central America," said veteran and founder Father Roy Bourgeois. He continued, "When our military training continues to target communities, forcing the unaccompanied migration of thousands of refugee children, we must speak out. It is no surprise that when the stakes are this high, our movement is faced with political attacks on our constitutional rights."
The Columbus Police Department has a history of active opposition to SOA Watch's right to free speech, including harassment and intimidation by plainclothes officers, low-flying helicopters used to disrupt the solemn vigil, changing insurance requirements in a last-minute effort to target SOA Watch, and more. In 2001, the city tried to stop the protest in court; in 2002, police conducted mass warrantless searches of all participants, for which SOA Watch filed suit. In both cases, federal courts vindicated the movement's constitutional right to free speech and assembly.
Thousands of human rights activists have gathered every November for the demonstration since the first anniversary of the 1989 SOA graduate-led massacre of 16-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests at the University of Central America in El Salvador. The November Vigil commemorates those who have been killed by SOA/WHINSEC graduates, and calls for the closure of the institute, which perpetuates coups, torture, extrajudicial killings, and human rights abuses in the face of social and political problems. The SOA/WHINSEC made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released SOA training manuals that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Among its graduates are at least 11 dictators as well as leaders of infamous Central American death squads. Currently, SOA graduates are linked to the Honduran military coup and the repression campaign against social movements there, among other humanitarian crises.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Republican Party leader in USA Congress proposes refugee children be indoctrinated in slave-labor "Americanization" camps

2014-07-21 from KCTV 7 News [http://kctv7.com/michele-bachmann-suggests-labor-camps-for-immigrant-children/]:
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has offered up a new solution to the humanitarian crisis along the US/ Mexico border, where tens of thousands of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children are currently being detained. And now she’s calling on President Barack Obama to help push forward a bipartisan effort to see her idea become a reality.
bachmanBachmann’s plan? Send those children to labor camps, which she warmly refers to as “Americanization Facilities,” with the goal of having them pay off their past, present, and future care expenses, while assimilating them into American culture. And in exchange for that labor, the children would be fast-tracked on a path to citizenship.
During an interview with Minnesota’s Twin Cities News Talk, Bachmann revealed her plan while addressing the border crisis. “I’m calling on all of us, Obama and Congress and everyone, to chip in and build special new facilities… `Americanization’ facilities, if you will. And we’d send these kids to these facilities, in Arizona and Texas and wherever else. And we’d get private sector business leaders to locate to those facilities and give these children low-risk jobs to do. And they’d learn about the American way of life, earn their keep, and everyone wins in the end.”
Conservative radio host Jason Lewis asked Bachmann about the camps, and what life might be like for the children sent to them. “Well, we’d of course want these facilities to be ideal, you know, for the children to work and learn. They’d spend half of their day working, and the other half learning what every child should learn, and that’s English, you know, English and American history. And as soon as they learn English with some degree of fluency, they can attend local schools, maybe with a voucher program, or something like that. And then they could work when they aren’t in school.”
“I think this is a great way to bring businesses into the Texas and Arizona areas, and maybe other states struggling with low employment opportunities, thanks mostly to Obama’s policies,” Bachmann continued. “Once these kids grow up, they’d leave a big gap of new job opportunities, and that’s what this is all about. It’s about opportunity, not just for these kids but for the American people. It helps the businesses, and if we can raise fifty-thousand God-fearing, English-speaking Americans, who understand real American values, then I’d say it’s a job well done.”
Some have voiced concerns with Bachmann’s plan, however. “She wants to create Republican indoctrination camps and force these poor children into lives of indentured servitude,” posits documentarian and activist Jose Antonio Vargas. “She’s talking about labor camps where we raise an army of future Republican voters, and work them like slaves until they get old enough to possibly deport, if it comes to that. No one should be taking anything this woman says seriously.”

Friday, July 11, 2014


Benton Harbor, a town in Michigan under an executive dictatorship [link]

Petitioning Berrien County Michael Sepic stop the corruption: We demand justice in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and the resignation of Berrien County, Michigan Prosecutor Michael Sepic.
Petition by Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO)
It is hard to believe that in the year 2014, we have a county in Michigan with a legal system this antiquated and racist.  What is even harder to believe is that no one at the State or National level is taking action to remedy the situation.
We cannot run society for the privileged and allow a significant proportion of the population to be marginalized. It impacts the quality of life for all of us. If we have throw away people, a justice system which tolerates injustice is doomed  to collapse.   

Text of petition -
To: Berrien County Michael Sepic stop the corruption, Prosecutor Michael Sepic,
We demand justice in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and the resignation of Berrien County, Michigan, Prosecutor Michael Sepic. FREE REV PINKNEY! STOP THE CORRUPTION!
Sincerely,  [Your name]

Lack of Evidence for a Crime to have been Committed, No Crime Was Committed -
We must stop Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock and Mike Sepic.
There is absolutely no evidence that a crime was even committed. Judge Sterling Schrock and Prosecutor are gunning for Rev Pinkney in the kangaroo court in Berrien County (Illegally passing judgment and executing judgment is a kangaroo court.
This Judge Schrock is so one-sided, he is about to tip-over. He trying at hard as possible to rush this trial, hoping the all white jury will convict Rev Pinkney. This is the judge on the case.
We are appealing the case to the State Court of Appeals. We filed on July 9, 2014, seeking leave to appeal the denial of his motion to quash, the bind over, which was improper. We must stop the corruption in Berrien County.

Corrupt Judge Charlie LaSata said no evidence is need to go to trial -
On July 3, 2014 Judge Charlie LaSate stated no evidence is needed to go to trial. The Prosecutor Mike Sepic presented at the preliminary examination
no evidence that Rev Pinkney did anything wrong. There were no testimony that anyone saw Rev Pinkney do anything wrong. there were no confession. The handwriting expert could not testify Rev Pinkney did anything wrong. It was simply no evidence, but Judge LaSate refuse to quash bind over.
We the people must stop corruption. Please send out my petition for your friends and family to sign.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pattern of cyber-attacks against "leftist" populist news journals

2014-07-08 from "Common Dreams" [commondreams.org]:
I’m not paranoid. And I’m not a conspiracy theorist.
But sometimes the evidence just keeps piling up and makes you realize that ‘they’ really are out to get you.
We’ve been sabotaged.
Over the past year the Common Dreams website has been facing repeated malicious breaches and massive, coordinated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from unknown perpetrators. These attacks cause our servers to repeatedly overload and crash—often taking us many hours to get back on-line.
Eventually we get the website stabilized and all the pieces working again. And, for a couple months, all runs smoothly.
Until the next attacks begin…
Over time a clear pattern has emerged: they hit us when it hurts most.
Our non-profit media funding model is built much like National Public Radio’s fundraising campaigns: several times a year set a realistic goal; be aggressive for a couple weeks until the goal is met and then leave people alone: no more fundraising until it’s time for the next campaign.
We are now in the midst of our Mid-Year campaign. And, ‘they’ are back. We have been knocked offline repeatedly at the worst possible time for our fundraising.
Before last week, the last two extended attacks came during our Spring 2014 and Winter 2014 campaigns. And... we fell well short of our goals in both campaigns.
Why are we telling our readers about this only now?
We didn’t want to encourage the perps. We didn’t want to let them know they were succeeding in causing us real harm. We didn’t want them to know we had no way to stop them.
But now we think we will soon have a defense against these attacks. Our website platform was built in 2007—light years ago for the internet—and has vulnerabilities that left us defenseless.
Over the next couple weeks we will be relaunching our website on a brand-new platform that will give us protection against the kind of attacks we have been facing.
But for now, we must make our Mid-Year goal. Falling short for a third consecutive campaign could be a fatal blow to us.
Tonight, we are still $32,000 shy of meeting our goal. Can you help us get there?
We can't do it without you!
Gratefully,[signed] Craig Brown for the whole Common Dreams team

P.S. Our online donations are processed by a very secure third party vendor which was not part of the DDoS attacks on our website. Your donations are safe, tax-deductible and deeply appreciated. If we are knocked offline when you try to donate, checks can be sent to: Common Dreams, PO Box 443, Portland, ME 04112 USA.

P.P.S. Our investigative news team is working on a series of articles on other ways Common Dreams and other progressive news sites are being actively sabotaged. Coming soon… stay tuned.

US Military study social media trends for use against democracy campaigns

"US military studied how to influence Twitter users in Darpa-funded research"
2014-07-08 by Ben Quinn and James Ball from "theguardian.com" [http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/08/darpa-social-networks-research-twitter-influence-studies]:
• Defense Department spent millions to research social networks
• Studies focused on Occupy and Middle East protests
• Projects also analysed memes, celebrities and disinformation

The activities of users of Twitter and other social media services were recorded and analysed as part of a major project funded by the US military, in a program that covers ground similar to Facebook’s controversial experiment into how to control emotions by manipulating news feeds.
Research funded directly or indirectly by the US Department of Defense’s military research department, known as Darpa, has involved users of some of the internet’s largest destinations, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Kickstarter, for studies of social connections and how messages spread.
While some elements of the multi-million dollar project might raise a wry smile – research has included analysis of the tweets of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, in an attempt to understand influence on Twitter – others have resulted in the buildup of massive datasets of tweets and additional types social media posts.
Several of the DoD-funded studies went further than merely monitoring what users were communicating on their own, instead messaging unwitting participants in order to track and study how they responded.
Shortly before the Facebook controversy erupted, Darpa published a lengthy list of the projects funded under its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, including links to actual papers and abstracts.
The project list includes a study of how activists with the Occupy movement used Twitter as well as a range of research on tracking internet memes and some about understanding how influence behaviour (liking, following, retweeting) happens on a range of popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Kickstarter, Digg and Reddit.
Darpa, established in 1958, is responsible for technological research for the US military. Its notable successes have included no less than Arpanet, the precursor to today's internet, and numerous other innovations, including onion routing, which powers anonymising technologies like Tor. However, thanks to some of its more esoteric projects, which have included thought-controlled robot arms, city-wide surveillance programs and exo-skeletons, the agency has also become the subject of many conspiracy theories, and a staple in programmes like the X-Files.
Unveiled in 2011, the SMISC program was regarded as a bid by the US military to become better at both detecting and conducting propaganda campaigns on social media.
On the webpage where it has published links to the papers, Darpa states the general goal of the SMISC program is “to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base".
“Through the program, Darpa seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information."
However, papers leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate that US and British intelligence agencies have been deeply engaged in planning ways to covertly use social media for purposes of propaganda and deception.
Documents prepared by NSA and Britain's GCHQ (and previously published by the Intercept as well as NBC News) revealed aspects of some of these programs. They included a unit engaged in “discrediting” the agency’s enemies with false information spread online.
Earlier this year, the Associated Press also revealed the clandestine creation by USAid of a Twitter-like, Cuban communications network to undermine the Havana government. The network, built with secret shell companies and financed through a foreign bank, lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers. It sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the internet with a primitive social media platform.
Of the funding provided by Darpa, $8.9m has been channeled through IBM to a range of academic researchers and others. A further $9.6m has gone through academic hubs like Georgia Tech and Indiana University.
Facebook, the world’s biggest social networking site, has apologised for the study, which involved secret psychological tests on nearly 700,000 users in 2012, and prompted outrage from users and experts alike, being “poorly communicated” to the public.
The experiment, which resulted in a scientific paper published in the March issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hid “a small percentage” of emotional words from peoples’ news feeds, without their knowledge, to test what effect that had on the statuses or “likes” that they then posted or reacted to.
However, it appears that Facebook was involved in at least one other military-funded social media research project, according to the records recently published by Darpa.
The research was carried by Xuanhuai Wang, an engineering manager at Facebook, as well as Yi Chang, a lead scientist at Yahoo labs, and others based at the Universities of Michigan and Southern California.
The project, which related to how users understood and consumed information on Twitter, at one point analysed the tweets, retweets and other interactions spawned by Lady Gaga (described as “the most popular elite user on Twitter”) and Justin Bieber (“who is extremely popular among teenagers”).
Other studies looked further afield. One, "On the Study of Social Interactions on Twitter", which was carried out by the University of South California, collected tweets from 2,400 Twitter users who had identified themselves as residing in the Middle East. It analysed how often they had interactions with other users and how these were spread.
Several studies related to the automatic assessment of how well different people in social networks knew one another, through analysing frequency, tone and type of interaction between different users. Such research could have applications in the automated analysis of bulk surveillance metadata, including the controversial collection of US citizens’ phone metadata revealed by Snowden.
Studies which received military funding channeled through IBM included one called "Modeling User Attitude toward Controversial Topics in Online Social Media", which analysed Twitter users’ opinions on fracking.
Discussing the applicability of their research, the study’s authors stated: “For example, a government campaign on Twitter supporting vaccination can engage with followers who are more likely to take certain action (eg spreading a campaign message) based on their opinions.”
“As another example, when anti-government messages are spread in social media, government would want to spread counter messages to balance that effort and hence identify people who are more likely to spread such counter messages based on their opinions.”
A similarly titled-project out of the University of Southern California, "The Role of Social Media in the Discussion of Controversial Topics", studied the behaviour of Twitter users posting about a 2012 vote in California on measures such as raising taxes, genetically modified organisms and the death penalty.
“Our findings suggest Twitter is primarily used for spreading information to like-minded people rather than debating issues,” the authors wrote in their paper on the project.
A study at Georgia Tech, "Cues to Deception in Social Media Communications", involved an in-laboratory experiment using an experimental social media platform, "FaceFriend", and 61 paid participants. While past research had investigated “written deception” in communications such as email, the study expanded this into social media, and the researchers concluded: “Breaking news stories and world events – for example, the Arab Spring – are heavily represented in social media, making them susceptible topics for influence attempts via deception.”
Several of the DoD-funded projects went further than simple observation, instead engaging directly with social media users and analysing their responses.
One of multiple studies looking into how to spread messages on the networks, titled “Who Will Retweet This? Automatically Identifying and Engaging Strangers on Twitter to Spread Information” did just this.
The researchers explained: “Since everyone is potentially an influencer on social media and is capable of spreading information, our work aims to identify and engage the right people at the right time on social media to help propagate information when needed.”
In the paper, which included data gathered through actively engaging 3,761 people on Twitter around the topics of public safety and bird flu, the researchers added: “Unlike existing work, which often uses only social network properties, our feature set includes personality traits that may influence one’s retweeting behaviour.”
In a statement, Darpa defended its funding of the research as essential to US defense interests.
“Social media is changing the way people inform themselves, share ideas, and organize themselves into interest groups, including some that aim to harm the United States,” said a spokesman. “Darpa supports academic research that seeks to understand some of these dynamics through analyses of publicly available discussions conducted on social media platforms.”
Sources said that data was from public streams in social networks, and was collected and stored by academics at institutions conducting the research, not by Darpa itself.
The Guardian approached a number of individuals involved in research, asking them for their views on why they believed the US military may be interested in funding research of this type, and asking about the extent to which consent was sought from people whose social media posts were recorded and analysed.
Among those who replied, Emilio Ferrara, who was involved in the research paper on "The Digital Evolution of Occupy Wall St", said: “According to federal regulations of human experimentation, for studies that don’t affect the environment of online users, and whereas one can freely gather online data – say, from the public Twitter feed – there is no requirement of informed consent. This is the framework under which our Twitter study was carried out; moreover, all our studies on Twitter look into aggregate collective phenomena and never at the individual level.”
A colleague, Dr Filippo Menczer, added: “In our lab we study all aspects of the diffusion of information in social media.
“This work has broad applications as we strive to understand fundamental mechanism of social communication, such as how ideas and ‘memes’ compete for our attention, how they sometimes go viral, etc.”

Friday, June 27, 2014

Indiana: "The Ultra-Right-Wing State Nobody Mentions"

2014-06-27 by Bryan K. Bullock from "Truthout"
Indiana is a right-wing, conservative state. Somehow, however, the state seems to fly under the radar of the national media when they address the right-leaning activities in other states like Texas and Wisconsin. This is curious because it has frequently been Indiana at the forefront of many of the right-wing laws that have garnered attention from the national media in other states. Indiana has been ground zero in privatization of public resources, voter ID laws, assaults on reproductive rights, lax environmental regulations and dismantling unions - to name a few pet right-wing initiatives.
Several years ago, much of the media attention was focused on far-right-wing, anti-union activities in the Wisconsin legislature. While this attention was warranted, what was missed was that Wisconsin's neighbor, Indiana, was engaged in similar anti-union and ultra-conservative legislative initiatives. Governor Mitch Daniels, governor at that time, and the Republican-controlled House and Senate had advanced many of the same types of laws that were garnering attention in Wisconsin. One of Daniels' first tasks upon becoming governor was to delegitimize the state's public service unions. The unions had been lawfully recognized as a bargaining unit by executive order. Daniels, with a stroke of a pen, decertified the public sector union, saying that government worked better without them. This garnered some media attention, but not enough to raise the alarm in other states. Daniels continued his assault on unions by pushing charter schools on poor black communities like Gary, Indiana, and, in his final days, by signing so-called "right to work" legislation. The latter issue did pique the interest of national media, but only mildly.
One of Daniels' initial acts as governor that did get some media traction was his decision to privatize the administration of the state's welfare support system. He awarded a $1.34 billion contract to IBM to deliver the state's welfare system. This taxpayer giveaway met with little resistance and culminated in disastrous results - with IBM eventually suing the state of Indiana when Daniels rescinded the contract. His next big privatization scheme was to lease the state's toll road. He leased the state's toll road, which happens to run through the poor communities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, but the governments and citizens of those communities received nothing in return for the lease. This move also displaced many former state toll road employees. Daniels never advanced any progressive jobs agenda that would put the state's poor and minority citizens to work in good-paying jobs. His answer to the state's poor job creation was to privatize everything and bust up the unions. Despite this record, Indiana is not mentioned among the pantheon of conservative states in America.
Daniels also enacted one of the first voter-ID laws in the nation despite the fact that studies had shown that voter fraud in the state was negligible and unworthy of legislative resources and attention. The conservative credentials of Daniels and the Republican-held legislature were on full display for the nation, yet the nation barely noticed. Indiana's Democrats showed themselves to be simply moderate Republicans, and, although they picked their battles and voiced opposition at times, they were never able to rally their constituents to action, mainly because many of them were implicitly in agreement with many of Daniels' actions.
Whenever Indiana did get mentioned in the national media, Mitch Daniels was largely portrayed as a decent governor and his presidential ambitions, despite his extreme conservatism, were not signaled as a red flag. Under Daniels, Indiana's legislatures, along with Daniels' education secretary, Tony Bennett, advanced the Arne Duncan-esque education program of charters, more charters, blame the teachers and vilify the teachers' union's program for poor black school districts. Most of the charters in Indiana are, of course, in poor, black communities, and they have not appreciably improved the educational lot of the children of the parents chareters were sold to. Also by pushing charters and school vouchers (under the banner of "choice"), he economically minimized one of the only stable workforces in places like Gary: the teachers and their union. All of this flew under the radar in the national media. A simple, sustained coverage of Indiana would have revealed a Republican agenda in full swing during the full eight years of the Daniels governorship.
Indiana's Republican congress and governor also engaged in a very public attack in the culture wars. They sought to enact Arizona-style immigration legislation, which would have allowed police officers to stop "suspected" illegal immigrants. They enacted laws that sought to limit the right of women to make their own reproductive decisions and introduced legislation that would legalize the drug testing of women who receive government assistance. When other states engage in this practice, the media attention is glaring, but for some reason, Indiana's case was barely covered by the national press. Indiana has also been at the forefront of pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Once he left office, Daniels, who is now president of Purdue University, launched an attack to censure the use of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States in the curriculum at the university. This too gained some media traction, but Daniels was not portrayed as an arch-conservative, and the state that he governed, and the school that hired him to be its president, were not characterized as being deeply backward and conservative, evidence of same notwithstanding.
Environmental groups likewise largely ignore the state. Indiana ranks 49th out of 50 states in environmental regulations that protect its citizens, yet no appreciable media attention is focused on this. Indiana has no environmental justice regulations; its metropolitan planning organizations, particularly in northern Indiana, advance policies that encourage urban sprawl and all of the social and environmental results attendant to it and still, no coverage from media that cover these issues.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is widely seen in Indiana's environmental circles as being severely pro-business instead of pro-environment. The BP Amoco facility in Whiting, Indiana, is the second largest tar sands processing plant in the country. BP invested 3.8 billion dollars in the plant for the purpose of facilitating the processing of tar sands. IDEM issued a permit for BP to engage in the processing, as it has done with other polluters in the state. The lax environmental regulations and the pro-business culture of IDEM are directly in line with the conservative nature of the state.
The election of Mike Pence, the arch-conservative former congressman, as governor was likewise not described as a continuation of Indiana's hyperconservative politics. Pence, a Tea Party favorite, once claimed that Rush Limbaugh doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He also said of Limbaugh, "He's a man about opportunity of all Americans, regardless of race, creed or color, and I think that's why he's so admired and appreciated all across America." Yet, there seems to be no clamor justly characterizing a state that elects men like Pence and Daniels, as ultraconservative or right-wing.
It seems that most of what goes on in Indiana goes largely unreported, or when it is, it is not portrayed as a part of the right-wing agenda. This is probably due in part because Indiana's citizens do not protest as loud and long as do citizens of other states. The most progressive portion of the state, which is in the Gary area, has been beaten down economically, and its representatives in the state legislature are old and trending conservative. The majority African-American population in Gary is progressive, but it has suffered economic disinvestment and isolation for the past 40 years or so, which has muted much of its progressivism. Gary was Detroit before Detroit became the poster child for neoliberal economic policies. Weakening Gary is particularly troubling since populations like Gary's have been at the center of the right-wing attack in the state, just as cities like Detroit, Newark, Benton Harbor and other majority black cities have shouldered the brunt of the right-wing policies of their respective state governments. Yet, Indiana's neoliberal policies and their effects on Gary, the site of the historic black political convention, go unreported even in Chicago media outlets - where Gary gets its news. In fact, the northern part of Indiana, the most politically progressive part of the state, receives all of its news from Chicago and has more cultural and political affiliation to the windy city than to the Hoosier capital.
Then, there is the Indiana government's relationship to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Current governor Pence and former governor Daniels both spoke at ALEC functions and have spoken highly of the entity. Daniels' former superintendent of schools, Tony Bennet, who relentlessly ushered in the privatization of Indiana's schools, especially in black communities like Gary, has also spoken at ALEC events. Indiana has consistently had between 20 and 29 state legislators with known ties to ALEC. Even after the ALEC-crafted "stand your ground law" (which Indiana has a version of), caused many legislators and companies to back away from the group, Indiana's legislators moved closer to it. The Indiana connection to ALEC is as deep and cozy as it gets, and the laws pushed by the state's legislators make Indiana a virtual ALEC subsidiary - or at least a willing testing ground for ALEC's legislative efforts for the rest of the country. Indiana companies Eli Lilly, Wellpoint and BP either are, or were, on ALEC's board. All of this should be headline news for the national media. Oddly, it's not.
The national media should call the politics, governors and legislatures of Indiana, what they are: archconservative. Indiana should be spoken of in the same way that Wisconsin, Arizona and Texas are. The state should be seen as deeply anti-immigrant, institutionally racist, anti-poor, corporatist, privateering, anti-choice and conservative. Indiana, in fact, has been at the forefront of the conservative agenda in the states, and it should be known as such to the rest of the nation. This is important because as long as Indiana flies under the radar, national civil rights, environmental, civil liberties and other progressive organizations will not focus their efforts on assisting their local affiliates to fight against Indiana's regressive political climate. At a minimum, the national media should hold a bright light to what's happening in Indiana so that the voters in the rest of the country can accurately assess how far to the right presidential or vice presidential candidate Pence is and - given ALEC's success in the state - the media can issue citizens of other states a warning about what's in store for them.