For a More Progressively Evolving Society

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Defense Firm's Spy Software Tracking You on Social Media

Software tracking people on social media created by defense firm  
A multinational security firm has secretly developed software capable of tracking people's movements and predicting future behaviour by mining data from social networking websites.  

A video obtained by the Guardian [see below] reveals how an "extreme-scale analytics" system created by Raytheon, the world's fifth largest defence contractor, can gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.  
Raytheon says it has not sold the software – named Riot, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology – to any clients.  

But the Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was shared with US government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analysing "trillions of entities" from cyberspace.  

The power of Riot to harness popular websites for surveillance offers a rare insight into controversial techniques that have attracted interest from intelligence and national security agencies, at the same time prompting civil liberties and online privacy concerns.  

The sophisticated technology demonstrates how the same social networks that helped propel the Arab Spring revolutions can be transformed into a "Google for spies" and tapped as a means of monitoring and control.  

Using Riot it is possible to gain an entire snapshot of a person's life – their friends, the places they visit charted on a map – in little more than a few clicks of a button.  

In the video obtained by the Guardian, it is explained by Raytheon's "principal investigator" Brian Urch that photographs users post on social networks sometimes contain latitude and longitude details – automatically embedded by smartphones within "exif header data."  

Riot pulls out this information, showing not only the photographs posted onto social networks by individuals, but also the location at which the photographs were taken.  

"We're going to track one of our own employees," Urch says in the video, before bringing up pictures of "Nick," a Raytheon staff member used as an example target.  With information gathered from social networks, Riot quickly reveals Nick frequently visits Washington Nationals Park, where on one occasion he snapped a photograph of himself posing with a blonde haired woman.  

"We know where Nick's going, we know what Nick looks like," Urch explains, "now we want to try to predict where he may be in the future."  

Riot can display on a spider diagram the associations and relationships between individuals online by looking at who they have communicated with over Twitter.  It can also mine data from Facebook and sift GPS location information from Foursquare, a mobile phone app used by more than 25 million people to alert friends of their whereabouts.  The Foursquare data can be used to display, in graph form, the top 10 places visited by tracked individuals and the times at which they visited them.  

The video shows that Nick, who posts his location regularly on Foursquare, visits a gym frequently at 6am early each week.  Urch quips: "So if you ever did want to try to get hold of Nick, or maybe get hold of his laptop, you might want to visit the gym at 6am on a Monday."  

Mining from public websites for law enforcement is considered legal in most countries.  In February last year, for instance, the FBI requested help to develop a social-media mining application for monitoring "bad actors or groups".  

However, Ginger McCall, an attorney at the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Centre, said the Raytheon technology raised concerns about how troves of user data could be covertly collected without oversight or regulation.  

"Social networking sites are often not transparent about what information is shared and how it is shared," McCall said.  "Users may be posting information that they believe will be viewed only by their friends, but instead, it is being viewed by government officials or pulled in by data collection services like the Riot search."  

Raytheon, which made sales worth an estimated $25bn (£16bn) in 2012, did not want its Riot demonstration video to be revealed on the grounds that it says it shows a "proof of concept" product that has not been sold to any clients.  

Jared Adams, a spokesman for Raytheon's intelligence and information systems department, said in an email:  "Riot is a big data analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into useable information to help meet our nation's rapidly changing security needs.  

"Its innovative privacy features are the most robust that we're aware of, enabling the sharing and analysis of data without personally identifiable information [such as social security numbers, bank or other financial account information] being disclosed."  

In December, Riot was featured in a newly published patent Raytheon is pursuing for a system designed to gather data on people from social networks, blogs and other sources to identify whether they should be judged a security risk.  

In April, Riot was scheduled to be showcased at a US government and industry national security conference for secretive, classified innovations, where it was listed under the category "big data – analytics, algorithms."  

According to records published by the US government's trade controls department, the technology has been designated an "EAR99" item under export regulations, which means it "can be shipped without a licence to most destinations under most circumstances".  

How Raytheon software tracks you online

In this video obtained by the Guardian, Raytheon's 'principal investigator' Brian Urch explains how the Rapid Information Overlay Technology (Riot) software uses photographs on social networks.  These images sometimes contain latitude and longitude details – automatically embedded by smartphones within so-called 'exif header data'.  Riot pulls out this information, analysing not only the photographs posted by individuals, but also the location where these images were taken.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Anti-Choicers Get Real About Their Loathing of Female Sexuality

by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
February 24, 2013

Anti-choicers aren’t even trying to sound reasonable anymore.  Since the seventies, the anti-choice movement has gone to great lengths to try to spin their fear and loathing of female sexuality as anything but what it is.  Obviously, the most popular gambit has been to claim to have concern for fetal life, but there have been other popular variations: Pretending to have public health motivations for removing evidence-based information from sex education, pretending to believe condoms don’t work, pretending to be concerned about women’s mental health if they exert control over their own bodies.  While these derailing tactics are sadly not going anywhere soon, it does seem lately like there’s an uptick in anti-choicers just straight up admitting that they don’t think women should be having sex for any other reason but procreation.    

This past week have been a veritable buffet of incidents that demonstrate that anti-choicers simply have a problem with female sexuality and that everything else is noise.  

Example #1: Only virgins have a right to control their own bodies.  Indiana is looking at passing a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound law, which has the added bonus of requiring two if you use the abortion pill.  (I guess if you want to minimize your time with your feet in the stirrups and people sticking stuff in your vagina by opting for the pill over the surgical abortion, Indiana will just require you to get back into those stirrups, young lady.) Voters tend to have serious problems with the state requiring women to be penetrated against their will, but Indiana Right to Life legislative director Sue Swayze tried to calm those concerns by arguing that once a penis has been in your vagina, the rest of the world get an all-access pass: “I got pregnant vaginally,” she said, causing me to wonder if we’re expected to congratulate her.  “Something else could come in my vagina for a medical test that wouldn’t be that intrusive to me.  So I find that argument a little ridiculous.”  

One does wonder how far Swayze is willing to go with her contention that once you say yes to a penis, you can’t say no to anything else anyone would want to put in there.  Do we have to look forward to new anti-choice bills requiring that tennis balls and toothbrushes be shoved up in there?  One does hope that Swayze doesn’t learn what oral sex is, because new laws requiring unwieldy objects to be shoved in the sinner’s mouth could get downright dangerous.  

Example #2: Always be ovulating.  Oklahoma, presumably as a favor to Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby—a surprisingly misogynist organization for having a mostly-female customer base—is considering an (illegal) law that allows employers to refuse to cover contraception.  The bill was brought forward at the request of Dr. Dominic Pedulla, because he believes birth control is “poison.” “Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother,” he argued, forgetting the part in medical school where they taught you that the pill does not actually render a woman permanently infertile.  “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity,” he added, because he believes that if women can buy birth control, they must buy it, much in the same way he is required to buy a new car every time he drives by the lot.  “And if that wasn’t bad enough,” he continued, “they are being asked to poison their bodies,” stretching the definition of “poison” to include “safe drugs that improve your life,” a definition that encompasses everything from caffeine to aspirin.  Needless to say, I’m skeptical that Dr. Pedulla opposes ingesting other safe drugs for life improvement that don’t lead to scary, scary opportunities for women to have sex without worrying about getting pregnant.

Example #3: The female orgasm is unholy, unholy I tell you! As reported by Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel, Allegheny College hosted a sex education seminar called “I Heart the Female Orgasm” in the Ford Memorial Chapel on campus.  Chapels are a popular place to hold all sorts of lectures and classes—even my atheist self has had the pleasure of giving talks inside their hallowed halls—for the obvious reason that you can hold a lot of people inside them.  In the grown-up world, no big deal.

In the wingnut world, however, it’s time to cue the outrage, because while you filthy feminists may “heart” the female orgasm, anti-choicers strongly believe that God does not.  (Which does make one wonder why, if God is so strongly anti-lady-orgasm, he didn’t just make women so they can’t have them in the first place?)  Conservative blog The College Fix claimed that open “hearting” of the shameful, shameful female orgasm turned the chapel into a “boudoir of sorts.” Clearly, better sex education is needed on Allegheny campus if students such as blogger Katie McHugh think that talking about sex in public is the same thing as having sex in public.  Fox News and The Daily Mail were equally disturbed.

As Baker notes at Jezebel, the only way the outrage makes sense is if you think it’s a given that female sexuality is depraved, unholy, and evil.  None of the outraged folks straight up said that, but mostly because they seemed to believe it was a given and that everyone “knows” that the female orgasm is too awful to be discussed in public, much less in the home of the deity they believe invented it.  But of course, the rest of us do not actually take it as a given that it’s terrible to be a fan of the female orgasm.  On the contrary, some of us actually think female orgasms are nifty and that women are 100 percent entitled to finding consensual, appropriate ways to have as many as they damn well please.

So there you have it, folks: Anti-choicers aren’t even pretending that this isn’t about sex anymore.  Which is fine by me! I’m a big fan of honesty, and believe that the debate over reproductive rights would be much more pleasant if the opposition was straightforward and honest about their beliefs.  Of course, honesty tends to hurt their cause’s popularity, but that’s a small price to pay in order to be honest, moral people, I’d think.

This article originally appeared at

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Purposeful Solutions Offered by the Venus Project

While PROUT organizations have not specifically subscribed to the Venus Project concepts and precepts, I can say that much of what Jacque Fresco has to convey is germane to PROUT concerns, both of exploitation and lasting solutions, other than specificity of city design, of which PROUT gives maximum flexibility within the parameters of its fundamental principles in the contexts of time, place and persons, explorable from the column on your right.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Non Zero-Sum Society

by Robert Reich
January 28, 2013

As President Obama said in his inaugural address last week, America “cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”  

Yet that continues to be the direction we’re heading in.  

A newly-released analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the super-rich have done well in the economic recovery while almost everyone else has done badly.  The top 1 percent of earners’ real wages grew 8.2 percent from 2009 to 2011, yet the real annual wages of Americans in the bottom 90 percent have continued to decline in the recovery, eroding by 1.2 percent between 2009 and 2011.  

In other words, we’re back to the widening inequality we had before the debt bubble burst in 2008 and the economy crashed.  

But the President is exactly right.  Not even the very wealthy can continue to succeed without a broader-based prosperity.  That’s because 70 percent of economic activity in America is consumer spending.   If the bottom 90 percent of Americans are becoming poorer, they’re less able to spend.  Without their spending, the economy can’t get out of first gear.  

That’s a big reason why the recovery continues to be anemic, and why the International Monetary Fund just lowered its estimate for U. S. growth in 2013 to just 2 percent.  

Almost a quarter of all jobs in America now pay wages below the poverty line for a family of four.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 7 out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage — like serving customers at big-box retailers and fast-food chains.  

At this rate, who’s going to buy all the goods and services America is capable of producing?  We can’t return to the kind of debt-financed consumption that caused the bubble in the first place.  

Get it?  It’s not a zero-sum game.  Wealthy Americans would do better with smaller shares of a rapidly-growing economy than with the large shares they now possess of an economy that’s barely moving.  

If they were rational, the wealthy would support public investments in education and job-training, a world-class infrastructure (transportation, water and sewage, energy, internet), and basic research – all of which would make the American workforce more productive.  

If they were rational they’d even support labor unions – which have proven the best means of giving working people a fair share in the nation’s prosperity.  

But labor unions are almost extinct.  

The decline of labor unions in America tracks exactly the decline in the bottom 90 percent’s share of total earnings, and shrinkage of the middle class.  

In the 1950s, when the U. S. economy was growing faster than 3 percent a year, more than a third of all working people belonged to a union.  That gave them enough bargaining clout to get wages that allowed them to buy what the economy was capable of producing.  

Since the late 1970s, unions have eroded – as has the purchasing power of most Americans, and not coincidentally, the average annual growth of the economy.  

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2012 only 6.6 percent of workers in the private sector were unionized.  (That’s down from 6.9 percent in 2011.) That’s the lowest rate of unionization in almost a century.  

What’s to blame?  Partly globalization and technological change.  Globalization sent many unionized manufacturing plants abroad.  

Manufacturing is starting to return to America but it’s returning without many jobs.  The old assembly line has been replaced by robotics and numerically-controlled machine tools.  

Technologies have also replaced many formerly unionized workers in telecommunications (remember telephone operators?) and clerical jobs.  

But wait.  Other nations subject to the same forces have far higher levels of unionization than America.  28 percent of Canada’s workforce is unionized, as is more than 25 percent of Britain’s, and almost 20 percent of Germany’s.

Unions are almost extinct in America because we’ve chosen to make them extinct.

Unlike other rich nations, our labor laws allow employers to replace striking workers.   We’ve also made it exceedingly difficult for workers to organize, and we barely penalized companies that violate labor laws.  (A worker who’s illegally fired for trying to organize a union may, if lucky, get the job back along with back pay – after years of legal haggling.)  

Republicans, in particular, have set out to kill off unions.  Union membership dropped 13 percent last year in Wisconsin, which in 2011 curbed the collective bargaining rights of many public employees.  And it fell 18 percent last year in Indiana, which last February enacted a right-to-work law (allowing employees at unionized workplaces to get all the benefits of unionization without paying for them).  Last month Michigan enacted a similar law.

Don’t blame globalization and technological change for why employees at Walmart , America’s largest employer, still don’t have a union.  They’re not in global competition and their jobs aren’t directly threatened by technology.  

The average pay of a Walmart worker is $8.81 an hour.  A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits.

Walmart is a microcosm of the American economy.  It has brazenly fought off unions.   But it could easily afford to pay its workers more.   It earned $16 billion last year.   Much of that sum went to Walmart’s shareholders, including the family of its founder, Sam Walton.  

The wealth of the Walton family now exceeds the wealth of the bottom 40 percent of American families combined, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.  

But how can Walmart expect to continue to show fat profits when most of its customers are on a downward economic escalator?  

Walmart should be unionized.   So should McDonalds.  So should every major big-box retailer and fast-food outlet in the nation.  So should every hospital in America.

That way, more Americans would have enough money in their pockets to get the economy moving.  And everyone – even the very rich – would benefit.

As Obama said, America cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.  He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.  Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century.  He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of NationsLocked in the CabinetSupercapitalism; and his newest,Beyond Outrage.  His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week.  He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause.  His widely-read blog can be found at

Editor's Note:  It is the perspective and purpose of PROUT to move commerce toward worker-owned co-operatives within economic decentralization and economic democracy.  The labor/management, and labor/owner bifurcations are garishly obsolete, viciously exploitive, and demonstrably parasitic like a malignant carcinoma on the body of humanity and the planet at large.  PROUT's economic democracy paradigm is progressively homeostatic, positively affecting every realm of life, both for humans and all other life forms conjugating the mysteries as to why they and we exist on this magnificent planet.  Explore PROUT further.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Israel Shaking the World with Tesla Technology: Target Iran

Is Israel playing with Tesla quake technology?

January 30, 2013 

The White House has stated on the record that reports of a crippling and deadly explosion at the Iranian uranium enrichment facility at Fordow, near the holy city of Qom, are baseless. Referring to the reports of a disaster at Fordow, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a January 28 press conference, "we have no information that would confirm them and do not believe that those reports or that report is credible."

The Fordow facility is dug deep into a mountain bunker and is believed to be impregnable to bunker buster bombs and air-to-ground missiles.

Iran also dismissed the reports of an explosion as propaganda. The reports are emanating from right-wing Israeli media sources and their echo chamber in the neo-conservative American media, namely World Net Daily. There are suggestions from Israeli sources that a 5.4 magnitude quake on January 21 in Kerman province may be related to the reported explosion but Kerman province is 566 miles from Fordow and the Kerman quake appears to be unrelated to the event at Fordow.

Although quakes are extremely common in Iran, there has been a steady spate of measurable seismic activity reported in Iran recently. There is also a report out of Guam that a recent quake there went unreported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which is occurring with that agency's track record more frequently.

The denials and claims about a seismic event at Fordow may be indicative of something more troubling: that Israel is using earthquake-producing technology first developed by Nikola Tesla at the turn of the last century to cripple Iranian nuclear production activity not from outside the earth's surface but from within.

There are reports that over 250 Iranian and North Korean engineers and other personnel are trapped inside the facility after what was said to be an "explosion" that shook the facility to its "core." The reports are consistent with those that result from mine disasters, many of which are caused by seismic disturbances.

On August 28, 2009, WMR reported on Israeli earthquake-producing technology: "On August 27, Israel's Seismologic Division of its Geophysical Institute of the Ministry of National Infrastructure conducted, along with the U.S. Defense Department and the University of Hawaii, a joint earthquake research experiment in Israel's Negev Desert. The experiment simulated an earthquake in the southern Negev designed to improve not seismological warning and acoustic reading systems in either Hawaii or earthquake-prone California or Alaska, but in Israel.

The cover story is that the simulated earthquake was designed to improve Israel's earthquake advance warning system. The simulated earthquake, created with 80 tons of explosives, created a 3.0 earthquake on the Richter scale.

The involvement of the Pentagon with Israeli 'earthquake' research may involve a much more classified purpose. In 1995, this editor was told by an individual close to Mossad that Israel's intelligence agency was concerned about the Japanese Aum Shrinkyo movement arriving in Belgrade as Yugoslavia was collapsing. Agents of the cult movement were, according to the Mossad, trying to obtain Tesla earthquake-producing technology from notes and papers produced by the scientist on high-energy wave amplification maintained at the Nikola Tesla Institute in Belgrade. Nikola Tesla, a contemporary and one-time employee of Thomas Edison, died in 1943 and is considered the pioneer of alternating current machinery.

The Japanese cult members, who represented to institute officials that they were scientists, photocopied 100,000 Tesla documents. Tesla discovered that by altering the earth's magnetic field with electrical currents, earthquakes could result.

Israel's defense research community has also been interested in Tesla's earthquake- producing technology, which may have been at the heart of the recent Israeli-U.S. earthquake 'sensor' test in the Negev. In 1998, Los Alamos National Laboratory produced a super-magnet code-named 'Godzilla' that was the world's most powerful repeatable pulsed field magnet. Los Alamos had plans to create a more powerful magnet, twenty times more powerful than Godzilla, code-named Atlas. Atlas was designed with a magnetic field strength of 1000 tesla, 20 million times more powerful than the Earth's natural magnetic field and a potential weapon that could be used to alter the earth's magnetic field creating earthquakes.

Tesla's quake machine: of interest to Japanese suicide cultists and Mossad.

There are suspicions that such technology was what was being tested in Israel's Negev Desert on August 27.
One indication is that the Israel and U.S. explanation for the test in the Negev was an intelligence cover story is that the U.S. Geological Survey, which records earthquakes all around the world, has no record of a 3.0 earthquake in the Negev on August 27."

Last year, Iran accused Israel of possessing quake-producing technology and of using it against Iran. Quake-producing technology has reportedly advanced from the days of Tesla to now include high-powered radio frequency and magnetic applications.