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Archive for January, 2018


Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — gift horse, Trojan horse, back door — take your pick ]



Liz Sly, reporting from Beirut:

U.S. soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging

An interactive map posted on the Internet that shows the whereabouts of people who use fitness devices such as Fitbit also reveals highly sensitive information about the locations and activities of soldiers at U.S. military bases, in what appears to be a major security oversight.

The Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the locations and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity.

Strava says it has 27 million users around the world, including people who own widely available fitness devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone, as well as people who directly subscribe to its mobile app. [..]

In war zones and deserts in countries such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark — except for scattered pinpricks of activity. Zooming in on those areas brings into focus the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as of other unknown and potentially sensitive sites — presumably because American soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around. [..]

The Pentagon has encouraged the use of Fitbits among military personnel and in 2013 distributed 2,500 of them as part of a pilot program to battle obesity.

Unanticipated consequences..


Amira El Masait, from Rabat:

After Building New AU Headquarters, China Spies on Addis Ababa Facility By Amira El Masaiti

In 2012, the Chinese government “graciously offered” African States a gift and constructed the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa. The act of soft diplomacy proved to be a rather self-serving maneuver to spy on the activities and discussions being conducted by leaders of the exclusive continental group.

In Addis Ababa, ministers and heads of states meet twice a year to discuss major continental issues. While strict security measures give the impression that that building is closely monitored and secured, an unseen security threat was present from 2012 until 2017. The threat was from none other than those who built the headquarters: the Chinese. An investigation conducted by “Le Monde Afrique” exposed Chinese espionage efforts.

According to the report, for five years, between midnight and 2 a.m., computer servers were reaching a peak in data transfer activity. A computer scientist noticed the oddity of the situation. The organization’s technical staff later discovered that the AU servers were all connected to servers located in Shanghai.

Every night, the secrets of the AU were being stored more than 8,000 km away by what was thought to be a diplomatic ally of Africa.

The glass tower $200 million complex was gifted to the African Union in 2012. The computer systems were fully equipped by the Chinese, allowing them to open an undocumented portal that gives Chinese administrators access to the AU’s computing system. This “backdoor” is an intentional fault put into code to allow hackers and intelligence agencies to gain illicit access to information.

Shoulda looked that gift horse in the mouth..

“Following this discovery, we have taken some steps to strengthen our cybersecurity,” a AU official told Le Monde.

But at least, “The Chinese have nothing to listen to. They have never colonized us. They have supported the struggles of independence on the continent and help us economically today,” an AU official told Le Monde anonymously.

Another official believes that, “They are not alone.” In fact, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the British intelligence agencies (GCHQ) have had their share of surveillance on the AU building, according to documents which were extracted by Le Monde, in collaboration with The Intercept.


Fox / Faux and two mirrors

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — still pondering how much of “Trump” is chaff, intended to deflect attention from his serious intention ]


My source for the main thrust of this post:

Fox News hosts ramp up ‘deep state’ conspiracies
As the network escalates its attacks on the FBI, mainstream conservatives say it is endangering U.S. institutions.



There are mirrors all over the place, and smoke, too. Harvey Weinstein, Democrat and friend of Hillary; Steve Wynn, Republican finance chair and Vegas mogul: both were major fundraisers for their respective parties, both have been accused of sexual malfeasance.

If you’re a Republican and castigated Weinstein, demandung his cntributions be returned, are you now castigating Wynn, and demanding your own party returm the funds he raised? And if you’re a Democrat, and contrarywise in any way played doen the Weinstein affair, are you likewise playing down the Wynn matter?

Or is party politics making a difference?

The principle here should be, surely, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander..


Back to the deep state and its mirrors.

Hannity’s coverage was just part of a wider trend, observers say. For the past week, Fox News opinion hosts have seized on claims by some Republican lawmakers about a “secret society” at the FBI and “deep state actors” to fashion unproven narratives designed to protect Trump and delegitimize Mueller.

On Wednesday night, Hannity told viewers, “The constitutional violations are severe and historically unprecedented in this country. You have deep state actors using and abusing the powerful tools of intelligence we give them to protect this country.”


One mirror sees a parallel with sixties left radicals, the Weathermen

Stuart Stevens, the Republican who served as chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, had a similar view.

“In the 1960s, some rich white radicals attacked the justice system, ranted about government conspiracies and called for violent opposition,” he wrote in an email. “They called themselves Weathermen. Now the same is happening, and they call themselves conservative commentators. But it’s equally nutty.”

nota bene, the Weathermen used violence, while thus far, the Republican conspiracists have confined themselves to virulent rhetoric.


Jennifer Rubin holds another mirror up to Republican conspiracists — Russian propaganda:

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist at The Washington Post, noted to POLITICO that the points being made on shows like “Hannity” and “Fox & Friends” echo those being reportedly pushed by Russian bots on social media.

“When they turn on a dime and begin adopting the same position as Russian bots and start attacking the FBI, we’ve gone to a whole new level of crazy,” she said.

“It’s almost like Fox has become the RT, the Russia Today, for the administration and the Kremlin,” she added.

Stevens finds a parallel in the American past, and a leftist group. Rubin finds a contemporary parallel in the activities of our principal foreign enemy.


Bill Kristol doesn’t offer a mirror, but his comments are worth noting:

In a Thursday interview on CNBC, Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor who was a Fox News analyst from 2002 to 2012, alleged that the channel has become increasingly conspiratorial over the past several years, saying, “Seventy-five percent of it seems to be birther-like coverage of different issues.”

Rubin said, though, that the most recent commentary is beyond anything that’s aired on the network in the past.

“The substance of what they’re saying and the conspiracy theories that are being floated are so much weirder and so much less credible than simply taking a suspicious view of the events leading up to Benghazi or questioning the motives of President Obama. There was once upon a time some factual basis for what they were looking at — some may have been drawing unreasonable conclusions and some may have been exaggerating, but here they appear to be making stuff up from whole cloth, so I do think it’s worse.”

If the Fox-faux folk heard these critiques from their Democratic rivals, they might well dismiss them out of hand. But they come from erstwhile highly respected people on their own “side” — fellow Republicans.


Humor on your way out the door:

Anti-Muslim converts to Islam — Enantiodromia!

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — balancing explanations — psychological, sociological, anthropological ]

Carl Jung‘s definitions of enantiodromia read:

In the philosophy of Heraclitus it [enantiodromia] is used to designate the play of opposites in the course of events—the view that everything that exists turns into its opposite….

I use the term enantiodromia for the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. [CW 6, 708 & 709]


There could hardly be a clearer set of instances of this individual psychological principle than this, as reported by David A Graham in the strong>Atlantic yesterday:

The Strange Cases of Anti-Islam Politicians Turned Muslims
Three recent incidents seem to highlight a quirk of sociology.

More details:

Last fall, Arthur Wagner was part of something remarkable: His political party, the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland, entered the Bundestag, becoming the first far-right party in the body since the 1950s. This year, Wagner has done something even more [ .. ]remarkable: He has converted to Islam and left AfD.

Even stranger, Wagner is not the first person to leave a far-right, anti-Islam party in Europe and become a Muslim. Arnoud van Doorn, a member of Geert Wilders’s Dutch Freedom Party—which is another far-right, anti-Islam party—left it in 2011, converted to Islam in 2012, and soon after made hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca Muslims are obliged to make at least once in their lifetimes. And in 2014, Maxence Buttey, a local councillor for the National Front (FN), France’s analogous far-right party, converted to Islam and was suspended from the party committee.

In the United States, a grisly story made headlines last year when an 18-year-old former neo-Nazi in Tampa who said he had converted to Islam confessed to killing two (apparently still) neo-Nazi roommates, though that case is so grotesque, and the use of violence so far from mainstream Muslim practice, that it defies comparison to the European examples. (The suspect also shouted a nonsensical, non-Muslim phrase.)

In all cases, the shift from anti-Muslim to Muslim is counterintuitive.

The same article quotes friend JM Berger, commenting after the Charlotesville shootings —

The process and structure of radicalization and extremism are the same in different kinds of movements, even when the content of the extremist belief is different (such as with neo-Nazis and jihadists)

— all this as part of a sociological explanation of conversions to and from extremisms.


The sociological explanations are well-represented by these paras:

There seem to be some people who are joiners, eager to become part of larger groups. Almost everyone will know someone like this, perhaps someone who is constantly searching for new social groups or joining new organizations, or perhaps even a spiritual seeker-type who flirts with a succession of faiths. The cliche about the “zeal of the convert” exists for a reason.

According to Michael Hogg’s uncertainty-identity theory, people seek to reduce questions about who they are, where they fit in the world, and how people view them. “One way to satisfy this motivation is to identify with a group (a team, an organization, a religion, an ethnicity, a nation, etc.) a process that not only defines and locates oneself in the social world but also prescribes how one should behave and how one should interact with others,” Hogg writes.

I don’t think these sociological explanations really conflict with Jung’s theory of enantiodromia, but the latter seems more exact – “turning into the opposite” rather than “showing a propensity for eextremes” — because in my view, Jung’s version hits the mark so exactly.

I’m too fatigued to fisk Graham’s article more extensively, but my main point is that enantiodromia is “closer in” than the sociological motive, focusing in the indiviual rather than the group.


Issues of this kind crop up quite frequently. IMO we need some kind of useful understandings of the boundaries between anthropology and sociology, and of the complex relations of both with psychology.

Game on!

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — war games seeping into non-game so-called real life again ]



Russia Jammed Phones and GPS in Northern Europe During Massive Military Drills

A loss of GPS coverage in Norway and an outage in cellular and emergency cellular services in Latvia, both are part of a growing and worrying trend of reported electronic warfare, as well as cyber attacks, in and around NATO member states in Europe. The incidents both occurred during the largest Russian military exercises in years, suggesting that the Kremlin may have used these drills to more actively demonstrate its expanding hybrid warfighting techniques, all of which offer ways to harass the alliance and other countries with relatively little risk of setting off an actual conflict.

You got that?

both are part of a growing and worrying trend..


How about this?

USAF Is Jamming GPS In The Western U.S. For Largest Ever Red Flag Air War Exercise

The year’s first iteration of the USAF’s premier set of aerial war games, known commonly as Red Flag, is kicking off today at Nellis Air Force Base just outside of Las Vegas, but this exercise will be different than any in the past. Not only is it the largest of its kind in the exercise’s 42 year history, but the USAF is going to blackout GPS over the sprawling Nevada Test and Training Range to challenge aircrews and their weaponry under realistic fighting conditions. The tactic will spill over throughout the region, with warnings being posted stating inconsistent GPS service could be experienced by aircrews flying throughout the western United States.


And / or this?

This is Likely Why the Navy Is Causing a Massive and Mysterious GPS Outage in the Western US

iPcture a giant, invisible, upside-down cone rising up from the desert floor near Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. It ranges over 500 miles in every direction, covers more than 500,000 square miles in total, and reaches up higher than any civilian aircraft can fly. Inside the cone, GPS-related systems fail to function.

That invisible cone will be a reality this month, at least intermittently, and the FAA is warning pilots that GPS-related systems may fail to work in the area over the next three and a half weeks



Are both “part of a growing and worrying trend”?

Hugh Masekela, RIP

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — I’m not particularly a jazz buff — this is mostly about my mentor Trevor Huddleston, who was also Maasekela’s mentor ]

Hugh Masekela, jazz trumpeter extraordinaire, is no longer with us. May he rest in peace.

I was happy to read the story of Masekela’s connection with the mentor we were both ignited by, Fr Trevor Huddleston CR, in this obit for Masekela in the Guardian:

Hugh was given his own instrument when he was 14. He was then a pupil at St Peter’s, a remarkable secondary school for black children that became a centre for opponents of apartheid before being closed by the authorities. The staff included Oliver Tambo, later leader of the ANC, and Trevor Huddleston, later Archbishop Huddleston, president of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. The young Masekela was always in trouble. “I was one of the worst delinquents”, he once told me, “always fighting with the teachers or going into town stealing.” He was sent to see Huddleston because “you’d be sent to him when everything else had failed”.

Masekela had wanted a trumpet, he said, after seeing the 1950 film Young Man With a Horn, and recalled that he told the priest: “If I can get a trumpet I won’t bother anyone one any more.” Huddleston managed to raise £15 (“a lot of money in those days”) to buy the instrument, found a black Salvation Army trumpeter to teach Masekela, “and then he sat outside the school making hideous noises”. Other pupils naturally wanted instruments as well, and the Huddleston Jazz Band was born. They wore black trousers and grey silk shirts, and played American rather than African music. Along with Masekela, the band featured the trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, who would also become a star.

Huddleston continued to help Masekela even after the priest had left the school and South Africa. In 1956, when he was in the US publicising his book Naught for Your Comfort, he told Masekela’s story to a journalist, who suggested that it might interest Louis Armstrong, the best known trumpeter of the day. Armstrong was fascinated and handed Huddleston one of his horns to give to Masekela. “I sent it straight to South Africa, and I have a wonderful picture of Hugh jumping for joy,” said Huddleston.

It is good to see Fr Trevor so honored.


I talked about Fr Trevor, Masekela, the Huddleston Jazz Band, and Satchmo‘s trumpet in Between the warrior and the monk (ii): Fr Trevor Huddleston, and while the photos there may be of interest —
especially the one where Satchmo is presenting Fr Trevor with the trumpet for Masekela — the video of Maasekela’s first record, Ndenzeni Na with the Huddleston Jazz Band has expired.

Happily, there’s another copy on Youtube for us to hear:


Maselela goes to meet old and beloved friends, Trevor Huddleston among them.

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