28 April 2013

Neither portal nor destination be

This is a set of musings on the nature of blogging brought on via a post at Stacy McCain's site Where Were You in 2002? (h/t: Insty).

Seeing Overlawyered moving over to Cato spurred on the question about 'making the big time' and 'are you a portal or destination?' in Stacy McCain's post.

In 2002 I was healthy, working, and helping to get the last of the Afghan materials out the door in the Agency I worked in before moving over to my R&D slot which I had requested a temporary re-assignment after 9/11/01.  This did not mean I was not interested in blogging, far from it, I was an avid reader of a number of early blogs and attended conferences featuring both Old and New Media (like the old Seybold Seminars or Print '97).  Part of my work was to scour the early web for material and avenues of presenting and using data that were new or novel, that would help move information to the warfighter.  That meant learning all I could about everything from blogging to 3D interfaces to the coming transition to the post-32 bit world and IPv6.  The methodology is straight out of James Burke's Connections series: let the pinball effect give you information and insights from multiple realms and see if the ideas cross into the realm you inhabit so as to allow it to adapt and change.

It is from that perspective that I took in the idea that the Internet is not about portals and destinations, hubs and spokes, nor even about connected clouds of users and information.  I can't tell you who put it like this, there are numerous possible authors, but I picked up on the idea that the Internet, blogs, media sites... the entire thing from static repositories of information like the reference work sites I link to all the way to Big Old Media sites... are something called a hyperlinked conversation.  Hyperlinks are generic in type, they are an unbiased connectivity form for the electronic New Media.  Hyperlinks are also that most powerful of things that mankind invented in the Old Media: an indexing tool.

That comes from James Burke and the power of an index of a book, that list of ideas and pages where they appear, is that they allow you to cross-index.  You can take an idea word, go to a page, find another idea word, go to its index, and find things that it links to via the index.  Hyperlinks do this exact, same function, but a far faster than you can with a static, read-only memory system with a hand/finger interface with leafs to flip through known as a book.  What a hyperlink allows, however, is the ability to show source of an idea via that link, and you can find other ideas that are linked to in the article/video/etc. and follow those links to see how ideas connect.  Everything, even the person who is a minimal utility node in a Metcalfe's Law network offers utility because you can use a search engine (of your choice) to then find out all the other people who link to an article/video/etc. and follow those links back to their sources.  Even the most dead-end of sites, those that studiously don't link to other bloggers, is still connected to them via the link to the source material and your ability to check other incoming links and go back to those sites to find out what ideas are there.  The hyperlink is thus an indexing tool for ideas.

From this there is no such thing as a 'portal' nor 'destination', no 'hub' nor 'spoke', nor even 'communities' of blogs and sites.  What there are is conversations that link to ideas forming their own interconnected set of sites, pathways, and journeys. Following James Burke this means that no site that requires human thought to construct sentences that purvey ideas, that have a logic connecting them, is alone unless it links to no one, and accepts no links and is an isolated node.

That is what I thought in 2002.

People can move around, become highlights or disappear, as I am largely doing, and yet the conversation continues within and amongst humanity.  It is a huge, extended conversation that now includes mini-thoughts via Twitter, picture thoughts and video thoughts (not necessarily stories but just thoughts and ideas) and it is all connected by the generic thing we call the hyperlink.  It is one of the most powerful tools deployed by mankind, and yet its actual invention starts with indexing.  It is the simple but powerful things that move minds, spirits and humanity.  That also has a precursor description in the Noosphere and the Internet can just be seen as a crude, physical form of Noosphere, not the thing, itself.  The next simple tool will not supplant the hyperlink nor index, but will move that conception one more step and then everything changes. 

And yet where it comes from will be obvious. 

What it will enable is beyond imagining. 

Just like the hyperlink and Internet before the invention of the hyperlink.

I can remember where I was in 2002... and with difficulty back to 1992 when there was only the first hint of html via sgml.  Yes, I can do that.  Can you remember the world without the Internet?

02 April 2013

End Game Against Freedom

What is the End Game of the global elites against freedom and liberty?  We can see its path by addicting populations to 'social' provisions such as 'retirement' and 'health care', which are different things than living a good life or providing good doctors and medicine.  This is the Redistributive State which seeks to undermine freedom by giving people material goods in return for those people relinquishing ever more control of their lives to the State.

This can be done by means of an Elite funding or promulgating a lower societal uprising so as to force society to be under enough pressure to call for a crackdown on those putting them at risk.  It is a mug's game, a violent game of 3 Card Monte in which those seeking to lead a normal life are The Mark.  When you agree to the 'good' that such government provided social programs can do at the cost of taking money from those who have rightfully earned it via their liberty, you agree to limit the liberty of all: of the rich to be rich, of the poor to realize that they are the source of their own problems, and of the middle class to purchase the passivity of the poor with the wealth of the rich and hoping for a few scraps for themselves.  When you wash, rinse and repeat this sort of thing you are in the  process of breaking the will of individuals to have a free society, to stand up for freedom and ridiculing them because they actually support the ability of people to get rich and of the poor to also have that same opportunity.  What is offered is the class system, at first, which turns into a self-fulfilling Caste System with those at the upper levels dictating to the rest of society how it shall act in its own terms.

The modern West is in one or more cycles of this, but it is interesting to look at one society where this has reached an end-game: there are no longer any illusions of providing social goods because they aren't necessary as the will of those to have a civil society have been broken.  In China there is so much autocratic control and police suppression that it is hard to get information out, but in another place there is just enough of a shame culture left and the attempts to have a veneer of civilization remaining that we can get a look at what this looks like.

I've reported on the Red Mafia before a number of times, and this time I'm coming at it not from the 'find all low level sources to piece together a framework' end, but at the other end of what happens when a very few who actually want to do their jobs in government AS jobs in government actually give the high level framework in stark detail.  I found this through Amazon Pime's service in  film documentary by Andrei Nekrasov who recounted the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in Poisoned by Polonium.  I had looked at part of the aftermath of this assassination of Litvinenko, but the lead-up to it and the high levels of corruption and societal abuse it points at is telling.  It is a film I urge everyone to see since, if you want to see where a quasi-western State ends when its elites assume autocratic control, there is no better overview of just how this can come to be.

The events the film reviews are centered on the post-Soviet collapse in the 1990's where the productive capacity of the old Soviet industries came under the sway of two general classes of individuals: old Soviet elites and organized crime.  In some cases there is no differentiating between the two because they have a connecting link in the secret service, the FSB which used to be the KGB, and actually dates back to the Czar's Cheka.  At one point they are actually referred to in their modern FSB incarnation under that term: their name changes but their methodology of violence in service to State remains. 

From Litvinenko we hear about this directly:

In our country, the special services are, in fact, a secret political organization that uses sharp methods, secret methods, not against spies and terrorists, but solely to keep a ruling class in power.  In 1999, for example, to seize power, the FSB used secret methods that are only allowed against terrorists and spies.  If the army were to seize power, they'd roll in with tanks and guns and fly in with jets maybe.  But everyone would notice. The FSB, on the other hand, has secret methods, and nobody noticed anything until chekists made up the government and seized every organ of power.  If the KGB was the armed unit of the Communist Party, then the FSB is the armed unit of – of a caste of corrupt Russian officials.

Normally a 'Police State' is something created by a dictator or tyrant as a means to control the population by deploying the police as parts of the government with the sole aim to keep the people controlled by police power.  In the case of Russia this has been flipped around where it is the Secret Police that now put forward their own minions into politics to give a veneer of choice but, in actuality, by their brutal and repressive methods that they keep secret but are whispered about, there is no choice at all.  Really if something is undertaken to sway the public via terrorist means promulgated by the Secret Police who, exactly, is going to investigate them?  Anyone seeking to do so can be intimidated via the system that is in place of informers, records, laws promulgated to help keep the police in power, and then enforced by a corrupt legal system upon those who try to bring the actual truth forward.

With tin-pot tyrants if you have a revolution to get rid of the tyrant, can you be sure that it wasn't the secret police that actually instigated the revolt to put themselves into power?  And when a society shucks off its old totalitarian State apparatus, what happens if it actually keeps the secret police around?  Unfortunately this last question is answered in Russia.

One of the men a special unit of the FSB was to frame a man or take him out of ciruclation , and that manwas Lt. Colonel Trepashkin who was starting to piece together just what was going on inside Russia.  He recounts his story:

My first conflict in the '90s was with today's FSB director Patrushev.  I rounded up a gang that laundered money, murdered people, consisted of war lords.  At some point, I had finally managed to get them, but then the problems really started.  There was that classic chain of protection that gangsters always have whether in the FSB, the military intelligence, or in the police.  I was told to drop the case.  I said "Why, these are criminals, we have to indict them.  I won't drop it!"

The agent inside the FSB who was told to frame him so that Trepashkin would be stopped and was recorded on tape in case anything happened to any of the men from the special group in the FSB:

Trepashkin knew something, and they were afraid he'd reveal it in court.  That was my first assignment in the new department that I found really suspicious.  We ended up avoiding it and never completed it.  At the concluding session of 1997 – [..] My boss Kamyshnikov came to me and said, "You must kill Berezovsky."

There is one relevant question that can be asked of Russian society, however, before going on to how the FSB got into power: were the Russian people ready for freedom from an autocratic, indeed, authoritarian State?  For that there is an answer from Boris Berezovsky:

Berezovsky -  So we can put forward – So a certain hypothesis can be put forward.  The better the opportunities a political system offers its members, the citizens, the more efficient the system is.  But the citizens must accept, voluntarily, certain limitations on free will.  A transition from a totalitarian system to a liberal one can only take place when enough of its citizens learn to accept certain inner limitations of free will.

Nekrasov – Perhaps the transition from external limitations to inner ones.

B – Exactly!

N -  Inefficient systems force external limitations.


B – What a price humans have to pay for knowledge.  How hard it is to rise above the common wisdom.

N- Is it even more difficult for Russians, would you say?

B -  I know what you mean.  The Russian mentality is that of slaves. That's why the system of forced limitations is so welcome. So why then am I advocating liberalism in Russia?  Am I contradicting myself, advocating freedom for the Russians, going against the nation's character?  So, is Russia ready, which means her people ready to take up the responsibility of freedom? I think they are ready.  Because once the tyrannical dictate was lifted, millions of entrepreneurs appeared, a myriad of independent politicians and journalists appeared.  Russia turned out fully prepared for this crucial, historical step.  We only needed to move forward and consolidate that freedom.  And so my main conflict with the authorities today  is about individual independence.  All those stupidities – media controls, "vertical power" – have one result.  Destruction of freedom in the minds of Russia's citizens.

One can see where Boris Berezovsky is a very dangerous man to the FSB and those that they support.  The betrayal of freedom in Russia post – USSR started at those places that were the worst off condition-wise.  This exploitation would not only put the criminal oligarchs in power, but they would do so with the help of the FSB and the new Duma which had barely gotten time to get itself together.   The film recounts a cover-up of this period in which Vladimir Putin was involved with a company he had going in Germany which was in contact with the Colombian Cartels and served as a money laundering outfit.  Putin was, at that point, head of the FSB while sitting on the board of that company.  This is recounted by J├╝rgen Roth, a German writer who has been tracking the Red Mafia's work:

Jurgen Roth - When the premesis of the SPAG here in the Frankfurt area were searched around lunchtime – Well, the offices were searched all day.  But around lunchtime, the Chancellor's office was informed.  That same day, the Russian Interior Ministry was tipped off about the search, which is strange.  Even before the search took place, the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt tried to suppress the case.  What was on their mind was that Putin was central to this whole affair.  The prosecutor investigating the case didn't get any help. 

It all started with a report about money laundering in Liechtenstein.  In this report the BND, the federal intelligence service, there was a note about the SPAG company laundering money for Russian criminal organization called Tambovskaya.  And so the Public Prosecutor Kirkpatrick opened an investigation.  Soon after that, it was confirmed that money laundering was taking place, that the Tambovskaya connection existed and that Putin might be involved. 

When the company was founded, Putin was on the board of directors for half a year in 1993.  After that he was on the advisory board until 2000.  During that time he was in St. Petersburg and also already director of the FSB.  So he was on the advisory board of SPAG while he was the director of the FSB. 

Now I am familiar with the workings of the FSB.  If someone somewhere so much as farted, he got a written report about it.  And it's hardly plausible that Putin was not informed about all this, about what was going on with SPAG's money and that the people behind it were criminals, classic mafiosi.  He was under investigation for accepting large sums of drug money,  which is undisputed.

N- That was ascertained?

R – It was ascertained by the courts in Liechtenstein.  You can also track his longtime intelligence connections to Germany, to Dresden. I've got a list of all the intelligence officers from the GDR era, and Putin is on it.  Even back then, he kept close connections with the entire intelligence community involved in dirty business.

N – The East German?

R – The GDR intelligence service.  Stasi.

N- Corruption and things?

R – Not only corruption.  Corruption – That's a matter of course.  No one even discusses that anymore.  It's more to do with spying and destruction.  How do I destroy a political opponent?

This is not the first instance that Putin was involved with underhanded dealing for personal gain via criminal means.  This starts with a lead that Litvinenko gives:

Shortly after I gave the interview on Radio Liberty, publications appeared that accused me of slandering our president.  Not to mention that Putin was caught stealing metal assignments and funds in the early '90s in St. Petersburg.

To properly understand what Putin was doing in Leningrad it is important to hark back to what else was going on in the Non-Ferrous Metals outfits at the time, and here I wall draw on my prior piece A taste of Oil For Food and its chefs, which goes over the process of 'tolling'.  With the Russian economy crippled by State facilities being unable to make any payroll at all, the workers were down to barter of goods their facilities produced in exchange for other goods from other workers in other facilities.  This was causing problems as stuff like food wasn't made locally and had to be brought into many regions and without a cash  based system to work with, there was no way to barter ovens, say, for eggs, cheese and milk.  Those who stepped in to put money into these facilities were generally of two major classes: rich elites of the former Soviet State, and organized crime.  Some facilities did try entrepreneurial capitalism, yes, but for large metal works, aluminum plants, steel foundries, titanium smelters... heavy industry in other words... you needed cash.  Lots of cash.  And these 'investors' wanted a 'sweet deal' from the new government and they insisted on 'tolling'.

This form of 'tolling' is unlike having to pay a certain charge on a toll-based road, however, as that is a government tax on use of that road by those who travel on it.  Here it is something else entirely: the agreement by the government not to put a tariff on goods that the producers get in exchange for their output.  What this put in place was a system whereby the workers actually got paid a pittance, almost all of what was produced went outside the country, what came back after sales had no tariff on them and were then sold at above market prices locally.  If you run this sort of system then those running the business get to keep their overseas money, put a small amount in goods to come back, garner a huge windfall of increased prices for those goods versus what a competitive market would garner and then pocket those profits, as well.  Because State power is used to enforce who gets market share and is able to exclude exterior competition and their better managed systems, what you get is a near monopoly on certain regions and markets by what is effectively monopolies run by organized crime.  Isn't it great when you get to write the bills to be passed like this?

From this the section of the film in which Leningrad (St. Petersburg) comes into clear focus because the situation was one in which Putin was part of a transactional scheme to exchange raw materials for food, or metals for food in 1991-92.  Any FSB agent who understands this sort of region and its criminal element is set to make out like a bandit which is, exactly, what Putin did and was written up and dismissed from the program by local officials about the external affairs office and has since been made to disappear as a document and is very difficult to find copies of it anywhere, even on the Internet.  The value of the amount embezzled was $11.5 million which meant that the citizens of St. Petersburg would go hungry and food would be rationed there for the first time since WWII.  That amount is a low-end figure as it doesn't go into specific foodstuff costs which were left out from the contracts.  From the report:

There are reasons to suggest that partners did not intend to import foodstuffs to St. Petersburg.


The recommendations to refer the case to the city prosecutor's office and to remove Mr. Putin from his position.

In 2000 another investigation clarified that because of what happened St. Petersburg did not receive foodstuffs in excess of $92 million, but the total cost left unjustified to the committee amounts to $850 million.  All from an organization that was being run by Mr. Putin.

And how did Vladimir Putin get into power?

If you are the head of a secret police organization using illegal means to enforce power, to work with organized crime, and to partake of such crimes as well, and you have the power and means to undercut the judiciary and subvert military officers, then you are left with very little to resist you.  With that said there is one pretext for a State assuming additional powers and that is war.  In this case the war in Chechnya and, most critically, the second phase of it that started with the bombing of a bridge and then an apartment complex in Moscow.

Those bombings had one strange artifact to them: in the case of the bridge bombing there was an FSB agent found dead at the site of it and in the apartment complex bombing an FSB agent was indicted for having supplied the necessary explosives.  Or should it be said that these were Special Agents, for they were.  The denial of the FSB is, ostensibly, 'we couldn't have done it'.  Even though agents of the FSB are implicated.  Indeed this brings into question why a tank column was stopped outside of Grozny for days and then bombed just before the other attacks.  Tank columns do not stop by roadsides for days at a time as that is wasteful in men and resources who can be better used for doing other things, like not needing field maintenance.  If you are trying to put together a meme of advancing terrorist attacks, would there be a better way to do it than just as it was done?  Because terrorists, you see, don't work on 'front lines' and don't need to 'advance' via announcing themselves with periodic attacks along a given axis of movement: they are not military units.

To get more State power over media, over the economy, over people, is there any means better than a war?

If the secret police of a State using illegal means put forward a program to require the current regime to delegitimize itself, would there be any better way than to start what is, essentially, a civil war and then assert 'special powers' in 'rooting out terrorists' by that self-same secret police?  And then, in the midst of awful, bloody fighting, wouldn't it be nice to have political backing, even if from extreme nationalists, for such activity?  Because that also came with the Chechen war and is one of the most startling visual artifacts of the documentary: skinheads chanting for Putin while waving a flag with a black hammer and sickle in a white circle on a red field.  The swastika replaced by the hammer and sickle.  And chants for killing them all, the Chechens and, although none had any involvement in this, the Jews.

With the election of Vladimir Putin also came the election of a high number of FSB agents and officials also 'winning' elections so that every organ of the State was soon in control of the government.  Some may remember the terrorist attack on the theater in Russia where patrons were held captive by 'terrorist' gunmen.  One of those was an FSB agent who was put into a high position by Putin some months after the 'terrorist attack'.

If China points to international socialism becoming a formulation of national socialism, which is to say fascism, then when genocidal war is mixed into that, as is the case in Russia, you get a form of fascism known as Nazism. Of course it will be denied up and down the line, yet the supporters of State power continue to show up with proper symbology be it that twisty, interlocking geometric design of the New Dawn party in Greece, or the swastika replaced hammer and sickle flag in Russia.  This, most virulent form of socialism at the nationalist scale, is a horror for mankind... although not a lesser horror than international socialist kind as both look to kill to get to and remain in power.  Often with tens of millions dead in that quest.

The true horror is the attitude taken by prosecutors and governments outside of Russia when companies started by FSB agents or organized crime in Russia, and it is hard to say which is worse at this point, are then suspected of criminal acts.  Money laundering, drug running, and, of course, murder using exotic means like a highly rare, short lived, radioactive metal like Polonium.  Litvinenko thought he was safe in Great Britain, but safety is only an illusion unless the State will actually do its job to keep you safe from exterior attack... not turn a blind eye towards it or refuse to ask hard questions or even seek to shut down inquests.  Yet, in the West, we see that in Great Britain and Germany, and if that sort of thing is going in those States, one with the longest history of people seeking democratic freedom and the other the one place that should have learned its lessons about the horrors of NOT investigating such things, then what does that say about the rest of Europe and the West as a whole?

In the US we have a man like Eric Holder who, it must be remembered, was involved in some very sorry episodes in the Clinton Administration, proving to be duplicitous in the Elian Gonzales affair, who also put forward a pardon for Marc Rich.  The same Marc Rich who would show up in post-Soviet Russia to bring 'tolling' as a concept with him to teach to the oligarchs.  It is certain Vladimir Putin knew of Marc Rich – as the head of the FSB that would not escape his notice.  And as Marc Rich had investments in operations going across Russia, east to west, it is very likely that Vladimir Putin had more than a nodding acquaintance of Marc Rich's tactics and techniques.  Did Putin actually know Marc Rich, a man then on the lam from the FBI for questioning with an international search warrant out for him prior to his pardon?  Especially as Putin used the methodologies that Rich brought with him to absolute perfection, can that be just chalked up to being a real good study of those techniques?  You don't use them by accident, that's for sure, but with criminal intent as the two commissions investigating the starving of St. Petersburg pointed out.  And as the courts in Liechtenstein also pointed to in the case of SPAG.  Makes you wonder where SPAG got its money, doesn't it? 

Back to Eric Holder, for a moment, how does such a man pushing for a known organized crime participant to get a pardon, which he must have known in his position at the FBI, get a 'pass' by any political establishment?  How does a duplicitous public official with policing powers entrusted to him violate that trust and, yet, get promoted?  How does criminal operations of running guns to Mexican Cartels, and to other non-State operators overseas, against the treaties we have signed with these Nations, actually get a yawn from the media?

What does the End Game Against Freedom look like?

Vladimir Putin had many contacts in the intelligence and police community overseas.

Here's a thought.

President Eric Holder.

But only after some suitable 'national emergency' has taken place in which 'extraordinary powers' need to be used to 'stop' advancing 'attacks' by organizations that don't do advancing 'attacks'.  That is the equivalent in the US.

The End Game Against Freedom is a Police State.

Run by the Secret Police, not a dictator creating one but a dictator put in power by one.

Who watches the Watchmen?