Sacre Bleu! – Er, Make That Red White And Bleu!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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sacre bleu cartoon

There has been a lot of activity in France lately concerning the United States government spying on three French Presidents.

The current President of France even called an emergency meeting of the Conseil de la Défense, the country’s highest national security forum to discuss the emergence of documents that appear to implicate the US National Security Agency (NSA) – now who’da guessed that? –  spying on Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who ruled France from 1995 to 2012.

The documents further indicate that the NSA may have also targeted the personal communications of Francois Hollande, France’s current head of state.

The files were published by WikiLeaks, which described them as “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents”, detailing NSA spying operations against the French presidency, as well as espionage directed at several French government ministers and at France’s ambassador to the US.

French President Francois Hollande at meeting to discuss Wikileaks revelations

The documents include intelligence briefs, which detail the thoughts and diplomatic maneuvers by French presidents and other senior officials, on subjects such as the Greek economic crisis, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and the United Nations.

This is further evidence of more disgraceful and arrogant behavior by US spy agencies.

The thing is, however, no one is surprised any more.

Since Edward Snowden’s revelations the world has come to expect illegal and bad behavior from Americans. It is as simple as that. And for the reputations of Americans it is as bad as that. Which is a great pity because these activities do not represent in any way the vast majority of the American people.

So, if they aren’t a surprise to anyone, will the latest revelations cause trouble between America and France? I think the undoubted answer is “Oui”, but only a “petit oui”.

As befits normal protocol in these kinds of things, the American ambassador to France was summoned for what was called ‘an official protest’, but little or nothing more happened apart from President Obama getting on the phone with the French President, groveling and apologizing and assuring him in no uncertain terms “that the US is no longer spying on France”.

No, I don’t believe him either, but there it is.

President Obama on phone

There was no need for America’s snooping. As with Germany, French and American intelligence agencies cooperate with each other regularly. They jointly monitor international issues of mutual concern, such as what is happening in Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Libya, and even the financial catastrophe that is Greece.

For now that will continue, but the road ahead looks bumpy.

Wikileaks has already made good on its promise that its “French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future”.

The latest release from the whistleblower website contains more documents that indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA), under orders from Washington, were tasked with collecting secret information not only about the economic policies of the French government and the country’s financial sector, but on export contracts by French companies.

In fact every French-registered company involved in negotiations for international projects or other sales contracts valued at over $200 million, like car makers Peugeot and Renault and financial institutions like BNP Paribas and the agricultural credit union, were also subjected to US government secret snooping.

Washington’s pathetic statements that none of this information is ever used to benefit American companies competing for international contracts rings mighty hollow with the French, and the rest of the world come to that.

This latest information is a lot more damning and may necessitate a much stronger response from the French – even if it is just to save face.

Like their attitude over the invasion of Iraq, I think any further reaction would include little or no cooperation in any future American interventions in the Middle East and maybe the use of a veto or two in the United Nations.

We might be at the start of a new meaning to the term “non” cooperation?

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non merci button

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What Is The German Word For Hypocrite?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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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.

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Nails Are One Thing You Don’t Want To Screw With.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Neither is Pun Day.

Another selection of wonderful word play for you to….

Enjoy or endure!

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rofl

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Sometimes pregnancy lasts so long

it seems like a maternity.

 pregnancy

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How many nihilists does it take

to sharpen a pencil?

One, but there’s still no point.

 nihilists

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I dropped my barometer earlier.

Just couldn’t handle the pressure.

 barometer

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What do you call a man

with three balls?

…a juggler.

 juggler

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Uncle Ben found dead.

No more Mr Rice guy.

 Uncle Ben

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I just invented a joke about helium.

Unfortunately it doesn’t go down well.

 helium

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You know that you’re getting old

when your narrow waist swaps

places with your broad mind.

 getting old

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Apparently a truck carrying boxes of wigs has overturned,

spilling its load across the freeway.

Police are combing the area.

 boxes of wigs

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I saw a woman crying as she

was buying tampons earlier.

Must be going through a

tough period in her life.

 woman crying

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This man was about to throw dough,

cheese and tomatoes at me.

I said, “You wanna pizza me?”

 pizza

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Looking after my kid is

proving to be expensive.

I’ve just had to buy a baby monitor,

for crying out loud.

 baby monitor

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The hospital told me there is a problem

with my son’s blood and he should have

a plasma screen as soon as possible.

They were going to charge me $10,000,

but I managed to buy him a 50″ HDTV

in WalMart for less than a grand.

 50 inch HDTV

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Now I hear that the NSA are employing

dwarfs to break into people’s homes

and install listening devices.

The little buggers.

 little buggers

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What happens if you swallow uranium?

You get atomic ache.

 uranium alert

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What do you call a Scottish lady who comes round

and decorates your bathroom?

Bonnie Tiler.

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

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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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.

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Were YOU Part Of The Secret Facebook Experiment?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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subliminal advertising

Many years ago subliminal advertising was banned by law because it manipulated how people thought – brainwashed them to a degree. Since then the practice has been frowned upon, but, with the popularity of social media, are some people, particularly in some government agencies, trying to secretly manipulate us again?

In January 2012, Facebook ran a secret experiment on 689,000 of its users.

The purpose of that experiment was to see if the company could change those peoples’ moods by altering their news feeds.

The scary thing is that it worked.

The study found that by manipulating the News Feeds displayed to 689,003 Facebook users, it could affect the content which those users posted to Facebook. More negative News Feeds led to more negative status messages, and more positive News Feeds led to more positive statuses.

This means, as the report on the experiment stated, “that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.” To put it another way, it is the manipulation of the herd, or zombie, mentality.

Facebook-apologizes-for-manipulating-emotions

Such mass manipulation is only possible now with the immediacy and vast scale of social networks such as Facebook. Now, because of the numbers of people involved, even minor manipulations in how they think can have far reaching consequences.

One of the groups funding the experiment was the US Army which flags up big question marks over their motives and over Facebook’s place as an independent commercial operation.

The fact that government agencies are experimenting as to how they can influence people online has been known for some time, but you have to search for the evidence because they never tell you what they are up to.

The mass surveillance that whistleblower Edward Snowden highlighted is only the first step in a more sinister process. The big question everyone should be asking is, once the government and its agencies have gathered all of that information on us, what are they going to use it for? There must be some end goal. You can be sure that just leaving terrabytes of data languishing in remote computer server farms is not it.

The most obvious use of that information is to manipulate people, which is essentially what the Facebook experiment tells us. Only the moronically naïve or dumb would think otherwise.

In the commercial online world where everyone is used to free services paid for by advertising, information can be used to manipulate consumers into becoming indirect paying customers by simply turning their private information into cash. The more personal, detailed and intimate the data on you is, the more valuable it is to the company collecting and selling it, either directly, or indirectly via targeted advertising especially for you. Yes, what you see when you go to a Google search page is not what I see!

Secret Facebook Experiment

In the world of government control, some of their spy agencies will collect information just for the bureaucratic hell of it. Don’t believe that the NSA, that Snowden highlighted, is the only government data-thief. It may well be the biggest and best funded, but there are many others busy snooping away. And not just in the USA, but in Britain, China, Russia, and many other powerful countries too.

These groups will justify their unwanted intrusions into our private lives by hanging a ‘national security’ sign on it, it’s the excuse they always use. To an extent that is true at the moment since they use information collected by these snooping techniques to smear the reputations of what are deemed to be ‘enemies of the state’. They used to do much the same via planted news reports and information given to friendly newspaper journalists to disseminate. At the moment ‘enemies of the state’ are terrorist groups, particularly Islamic terrorists like ISIS. But in the future, who knows?

Increasingly government agencies will use the manipulation of social media to influence the general population and thereby bring about outcomes that suit their needs.

George Orwell had the right idea about what would happen. His only problem was that he chose the wrong title for his book. By 1984 technology had not caught up with the aspirations of those who wish to exert such control.

Now it is almost here.

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Political Jokes!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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No, this isn’t a list of the names of the members of the HoR or the Senate, or even the Obama administration, although I see why you would have jumped to that conclusion.

I thought I would try to lighten the mood for the weekend by posting some of the political jokes that made me smile.

Hope they have the same effect on you.

Enjoy.

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Politicians and diapers have one thing in common:

they should both be changed regularly…

and for the same reason.

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Q: Have you heard about McDonald’s new ‘Obama Value Meal’?

A: Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it.

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Q: How many politicians does

it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two: one to change it and

another one to change it back again.

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.stupid face 01

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Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 100?

A: Your Honor.

Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50?

A: Senator.

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We used to have Reagan, Jonny Cash, and Bob Hope.

Now we have Obama, no cash, and no hope.

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The recession is getting so bad,

the bank sent me a new type of credit card.

It was pre-declined.

.stupid face 02

 

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It was so cold in Washington today,

I saw a Democrat who had his hands in his own pockets!

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I is very proud dat I went 2 school in da UK.

I fink out of all 17 countries in da world UK is da best.

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When they call the roll in the Senate,

the Senators do not know whether to answer

‘Present’ or ‘Not guilty.’ 

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.stupid face 07Today’s public figures can no longer

Today’s public figures can no longer

write their own speeches or books,

and there is some evidence

that they can’t read them either. 

(Gore Vidal.)

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‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble,

finding it whether it exists or not,

diagnosing it incorrectly,

and applying the wrong remedy’.

(Ernest Benn.)

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‘Politicians are the same all over.

They promise to build bridges,

even where there are no rivers’.

(Nikita Kruschchev.)

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stupid face 05

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I just hope our next world war isn’t with China.

Who would make uniforms for the troops?

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The Iranian leader has left

on a tour of friendly countries.

He’s expected home tomorrow.

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Foreign Aid :

Poor people in a rich country

sending money to

rich people in a poor country.

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stupid face 06

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I rarely speak to Obama supporters,

but when I do….

I ask for large fries.

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Obama: “Here we are, two black presidents.”

Mandela: “You’re not very black.”

Obama: “I’ve not been to jail.”

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President Obama met Bill Clinton for lunch.

“I was sorry to hear about Hillary’s concussion,”

Obama said. “How’s her head?”

“It’s fine,” Bill replied.

“But she’s no Monica.”

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stupid_391615

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My computer crashed earlier and I lost all my files,

Luckily the NSA has a back up…

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Stop repeat offenders.

Don’t re-elect them!

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Democracy:

A political system where

any two idiots outvote a genius.

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stupid face 03

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How many Feminists does

it take to change a lightbulb?

Two.

One to get a man to change it,

and the other to criticize men for inventing it.

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Spin doctors:

People who never call a spade a spade.

They proclaim it as a ground-breaking innovation.

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Politicians should serve two terms.

One in office, one in prison.

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stupid face 08

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No matter who you vote for

the government always seems to get in.

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Definition of an elephant:

A mouse built to government specifications.

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The word ‘politics’ is derived from

the word ‘poly’, meaning ‘many’,

and the word ‘ticks’,

meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.

(Larry Hardiman.)

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