A Right Old Mess!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

political hypocrisy

It seems there is no end to the political hypocrisy that has taken over our well surveilled world.

I wrote a post a few days ago about the Belgian government wanting Skype to hand over confidential customer data. I called it ‘Taking A Swipe At Skype’ (if you want to read it click here )

In a previous post called, ‘What Is The German Word For Hypocrite?’ (if you want to read that one click here) I had a bit of rant against the hypocrisy of Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel who professed great anxiety publicly about the Americans snooping in on her phone calls while she and her intelligence agencies were in cahoots with the US to spy on other European countries.

Now a week or so later the two stories have merged with yet another piece of hypocrisy, this time by the Belgians who have announced that they are starting an official investigation into allegations that Belgium’s telecommunications networks were spied on by a consortium of German and American intelligence agencies.

telecommunications network

In other words, it is okay for the Belgians to snoop on Skype users, but not okay when someone else wants to snoop on the Belgians.

If that’s not another good example of hypocrisy I don’t know what is.

Specifically the targets in Belgian sights are the United States National Security Agency and Germany’s Bundesnach-richtendienst (BND) and an operation that they referred to as ‘EIKONAL’.

The Belgians found out about the snooping when Austrian politician Peter Pilz blew his whistle at a press conference in Bern, Switzerland, saying that EIKONAL had targeted European telecommunications carriers for at least four years, from 2005 to 2008.

Spokesmen for the Belgian government have said that if the alleged espionage is confirmed, it would have “not only legal implications, but will also affect relations between Belgium, Germany and the US”. It also threatened to “take appropriate action” but didn’t specify what that would be – they probably don’t know yet.

Switzerland and the Netherlands flags

Needless to say, the governments of Switzerland and the Netherlands were not amused by the revelations either and immediately launched their own investigations into this thing called ‘EIKONAL’.

It’s all turning into what they call “a right old mess”.

.

==================================

.

What Is The German Word For Hypocrite?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

hypocrite definition

Remember the big furor a while ago when Edward Snowden revealed that American intelligence agencies had been spying on their friends and allies as well as their enemies? I even commented on it myself here and there.

One of the politicians most outraged by the unwanted and unnecessary snooping was German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Spying among friends, that’s not all right at all,” she said very publicly in 2013. And in July last year in an unprecedented move she expelled, from Germany the CIA station chief, who in plain language is the top American spy in the country.

The German media jumped all over it too, with heavy moralizing tones and whipping up the German public’s natural reaction against what America had been caught doing.

Angela Merkel with phone

Hmmmm.

That was good stuff.

At least it would have been, but for more recent revelations that Germany’s own spy agency, the BND, have for years been collaborating with America’s National Security Agency (NSA) in spying on Germany’s friends in Paris and Brussels.

What???

Yes, you read it correctly.

While Merkel was whining on about privacy this, and privacy that, her spooks were operating hand in glove with the Americans to spy on supposed friends. And Merkel knew it. As Chancellor she is in charge of overseeing what the BND is up to.

German BND

And specifically what the NSA was up to was using the electronic eavesdropping facilities of the BND in Bad Aibling, a town in Bavaria, by giving the Germans phone numbers, search terms or internet addresses they wanted to monitor. The scale of the snooping was huge. In 2013 alone, the Americans snooped in on 690,000 phone numbers and 7.8m search terms.

As investigations and revelations continue we will no doubt hear phrases like “national security’ and ‘terrorist threats’ being cited as the reasons for all this snooping being necessary. That would be fine if it were true. But it isn’t.

The thing that negates all the good elements that those who have been caught red-handed and red-faced will try to emphasize now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag are revelations that the American snoops were also targeting certain commercial companies which, if true is industrial espionage and nothing to do with terrorism.

Airbus, the European aircraft maker and chief rival to America’s Boeing, has already filed a criminal suit with German prosecutors and demanded clarification from the German government.

Airbus logo

Of course that doesn’t mean they’ll get it. Since these revelations a lot of ass-covering has started. Several investigations are apparently underway, investigations that will find whatever the government wants them to find. In other words they will only reveal what they think they have to and little else.

So to answer the question posed in the title of today’s post, ‘Heuchler’ is apparently the German word for hypocrite. So ‘Heuchlers’ they are!

Auf Wiedersehen.

Until tomorrow.

.

=============================

.

I Spy With Your Little ‘i’ – A Free And Open Internet?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

internet surveillance

When the internet was born it was a tool of the military establishment.

Then it broke out of that stranglehold and escaped into a world of freedom of expression and communication for everyone.

Never before had a system like this been available to the general public. Never before had it been so easy to find information, search for friends, communicate with groups with similar interests, etc. Its popularity was assured.

The world wide web developed at break neck speed, much too quick for the people who hate and detest freedom. They were confounded.

It was a free and open internet.

world wide web

So how could it ever go wrong?

Well, as with the financial crisis, when you dig down a bit you find the Clinton administration again as the culprit.

During the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was first being woven into social and cultural life, internet companies and corporate advertisers lobbied the Clinton administration to minimize privacy restrictions, so that they could re-engineer the Web to enable commercial surveillance of internet users.

The warnings of public interest groups were ignored as social networks, search engines, service providers and advertisers lobbied hard against even the smallest of efforts at data protection. Motivated by greed, they ensured that commercial surveillance would be pervasively integrated online. They are still at it today, that’s really what cloud computing services are all about.

A few thousand giant corporations, like Google, have become able to capture information every minute, of every hour, of every day, from everyone who uses the internet. And they can’t stop because their profit strategies totally rely on accumulating user data.

google for profit surveillance

Thus began the surveillance society. The government saw how easy this could now be done and began to catch up fast. If there was snooping to be done, they were not to be left out in the cold.

Until Edward Snowden, who had been a computer consultant working for a subcontractor to the US National Security Agency (NSA), copied several hundred thousand classified documents relating to surveillance programs being conducted by the US and its allies in the name of the war on terror, and sent them to journalists, nobody really understood the level of snooping that was going on.

Most of it was unnecessary, intrusive, unproductive and immoral, and after Snowden’s revelations nobody believed the United States government was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

ennesssseh

Further revelations published since have helped to reveal a surveillance system that intrudes into almost every facet of our private lives. Privacy in fact is a thing of the past, unless you have the time, resources and knowledge to try to circumvent it.

If the government was only spying on the communications of foreign countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and if it was confined to what could be termed ‘unfriendly’ nations and their agents throughout the world, then I don’t think anyone would mind so much. It’s a necessary evil in today’s world.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Friendly nations and heads of state, European institutions, the UN headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to name but a few, have all also come under the snooper’s gaze.

This has not only shown up the irresponsibility and arrogance of those in charge of the snoopers, and their lack of common sense and ethics, but it has also created even more ill will against the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally of the United States, was a victim of the snoopers. As a result of that revelation, the German government protested publicly its outrage. It also terminated its longstanding telecommunications service contract with Verizon, directing its business to Deutsche Telekom instead. Two weeks after that it expelled the head of US intelligence in Germany.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, also took public stands against US privacy invasions. He, like Merkel, had also personally been a victim of the US snoopers.

Then the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right, and in June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department had to promise to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

Bad enough not trusting your supposed ‘allies’, but US intelligence agencies have gone even further. Now they don’t even trust the decent, honest, hard-working citizens of America who have never broken any laws, nor have any intention of doing so.

prism

The Prism program, for example, allows the NSA to collect data from your emails, telephone conversations, contacts, videos, etc., from major US digital companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The XKeyscore program uses several hundred servers distributed across the world to store information on the activities of every Internet user, including your emails, internet searches, the websites you visit, what you post on social networks, and blogs like this. (Whoops!)

The list goes on and on.

After Snowden’s revelations, commercial firms like Google, Facebook and others scrambled to distance themselves by professing outrage. Their protestations had little to do with political principle but a lot to do with ensuring they continued to make fortunes by collecting data on us.

The US Internet companies went on a public relations offensive, and also raced to reorganize their overseas operations, to reassure worried foreign customers that they were complying with local data protection measures.

IBM, for example, committed over a billion dollars to building additional data centers overseas, hoping to ease customer fears that their data was not safe from the US government’s surveillance. But then the US authorities demanded that Microsoft, which deploys more than a million computers in over 40 countries, hand over emails stored on its servers in Ireland. Data is not safe and private anywhere it seems.

Last week I wrote a post about the Facebook/US Army experiment in trying (successfully) influence how people thought. (Click here if you want to read it.)

And so it continues.

Personally I think it is a pity that the powers that be are able to devote time, energy and money against people who have done nothing wrong, yet seem unwilling to remove child pornography and other evils from the world wide web. But the latter would require a decree of decency and morals that is sadly lacking in those who direct such matters for the government.

The US has lost the moral authority to talk about a free and open Internet, because that free and open internet has already been destroyed.

No doubt there is worse to come.

.

==============================

.

 

Vlad The Bad?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

The Sunday Sermon

.

“It was the Russians, they’re the ones to blame.”

“It was Putin. He’s the baddie. We can’t let him get way with it!”

 malaysia-airlines-flight-mh17

So go the cries in the US in the aftermath of the shooting down of Air Malaysia Flight MH17 over the Ukraine.

And that was long before any of the facts had been collected and it was known who shot down a plane on a different continent, or why. 

Russia wants (virtual) control of the Ukraine. There isn’t really any doubt about that. For them it is a strategic imperative. Russia’s history has taught it that it needs to be able to control a vast amount of territory, if only to use as a buffer zone against invasion.

The situation is not helped by various US Presidents and Secretaries of State giving Russia assurances that they would not attempt to involve the peripheral former Soviet states in things like NATO – and then trying to do the exact opposite.

It is now widely accepted that the underlying reason for the unrest in the Ukraine and Russia’s reaction is because of US interference in that country, which included helping to overthrow its democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, and replace him with someone who was a virtual puppet of the West.

That was just asking for trouble. And they should have known it.

And they will get trouble, probably much more than they bargained for.

Unfortunately that will impact on ordinary people, like us.

 Major_NATO_affiliations_in_Europe

Just as the US has its beady eyes on bringing the Ukraine and other former Soviet states into pro-Western organizations like NATO, it is equally certain that Putin will have his beady eyes on not only bringing the former Soviet states back firmly under Russian control, but in perhaps expanding his relationships with other parts of Europe.

Putin has the energy reserves to do it. Whilst there is very little in the way of direct trade between the US and Russia, particularly in regard to energy supplies, (Russia is just the United States’ 20th largest trading partner), Europe is largely dependent on Russian gas to keep it going. Over 30 percent of the European Union’s energy supplies come from Russia and the EU is Russia’s largest trading partner.

Russia’s counter strategy, therefore, will obviously be to use its considerable economic influence as leverage to try to break up the NATO alliance and to separate the European power house, Germany, from its Anglo-American alliance.

Putin is being helped by the arrogance of America’s government spooks who thought they could spy on their friends and allies, even going so far as tapping the phone of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, without there being consequences.  

consequences

Prompted by leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the fallout from America’s spying debacle continues, people have been arrested, and the German government has even ordered the local CIA station chief to pack his bags and leave the country.

Germany may still place some value on its relationship with the US, but not nearly so much as previously, thanks solely to America’s lack of respect for them.

Putin and his advisors know this, even if Obama and Kerry don’t. They see Germany as ready for change. And they may well be right. The German people are angry at the contempt America has shown for them  – just as Americans would rightly have been if the Germans had done the same to them and their President  –  and they are increasingly frustrated at the burden the European Union has become economically.

If the US doesn’t catch itself on and behave differently and with respect towards its foreign friends, it may find that there will be changes it did not expect and certainly did not want.

Kerry Putin Obama

.

=====================================================

.

Clever Celebrity Caricatures

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

 .

As most of you know, the main focus of this blog is on the stupidity of the politicians and bureaucrats who do all that they can to make our lives less enjoyable and free than they could be without such unwanted and idiotic interference.

Occasionally, however, I like to feature quite the opposite, things and people who are exceptional in their chosen field, whether that be science, sport, engineering, music or whatever.

Today’s post is one of the latter and is a wonderful selection of caricatures that I received in a recent email. Unfortunately I don’t know the names of the exceptional artists who did these drawings, otherwise I would be more than happy to acknowledge them. Nonetheless I think as wide an audience as possible deserves to be able to view their work and what follows I hope will be a small part of that.

Enjoy, I think you will. And if you feel the urge please let me know you favorite or favorites.

.

.

Caricatures.

.

Einstein

.

.

Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown

.

.

Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger

.

.

Benedikt XVI and Prince Charles

.

.

George W Bush and Vladimir Poetin

.

.

Bill Clinton and Gerhard Schroder

.

.

Donald Trump and Bill Gates

.

.

Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali

.

.

Pablo Picasso and Karl Lagerfeld

.

.

Quentin Tarantino and Alfred Hitchcock .

.

Steven Spielberg and Roman Polanski

.

.

Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt.

.

Bette Davis and Marlene Dietrich.

.

Bill Murray and Bruce Willis

.

.

Christopher Walken

.

.

Clint Eastwood and George Clooney

.

.

Humphrey Bogart and Harrison Ford

.

.

Jack Nicholson and Jamie Lee Curtis

.

.

John Wayne and Klaus Kinski

.

.

Lee Marvin and Marilyn Monroe

.

.

Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage

.

.

Paul Newman and Orson Wells

.

.

Penelope Cruz and Robert de Niro

.

.

Rowan Atkinson and Sarah Jessica Parker

.

.

Sean Connery and Sophia Loren

.

.

Sylvester Stallone and Tom Cruise.

.

Tom Hanks and Uma Thurman

.

.

Whoopi Goldberg and Bruce Lee

.

.

Bjork and David Bowie

.

.

Chet Baker

.

.

Dolly Parton and Duke Ellington

.

.

Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton

.

.

James Brown and John Lenon

.

.

Keith Richards and Kylie Minogue

.

.

Lou Reed and Michael Jackson

.

.

Madonna

.

.

Mick Jagger and Neil Young

.

.

Paul McCartney and Steve Tyler

.

.

Tina Turner and Katarina Witt

.

.

THE END

(Copyright to all drawings belong to the original artists)

.

.