Operation sock puppet…

The UK’s Guardian gives us this…

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. […]

Read more at The Guardian: Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media

One cybersoldier can do the propaganda work of ten. Eat your heart out, Joseph Goebbels.

ADDENDUM

Elsewhere this topic generated yet another diatribe against the supposed one world government conspiracy that in the minds of some was behind the 9/11 attacks. In response I wrote:

Like many, I was initially very skeptical of the ‘official’ explanation for the WTC collapse as well as the damage to the Pentagon. But I waited until consensus from structural engineers developed in the wake of the numerous investigations. As the consensus of professionals developed, it became more and more clear to me that Occam’s razor had once again apparently cut through the often elaborate theories put forth by those who have made a cottage industry of conspiracy theory mongering.

There, however, are many very real and credible conspiracies in this troubled world.

And, sadly, whether it’s 9/11 or vapor trails, many of those who seem most caught up in skeins of intricate theories for which little or no hard evidence exists — and for which much countervailing and credible evidence does exist — appear to me to be wasting their time with great profligacy — when they could be working against the very real threats posed by environmental degradation, ocean foodstock depletion, and global warming.

Those threats are very real and far more threatening — and, if one really needs the emotional boost of X-Files-like intrigue, there are truly entrenched conspirators in the form of petrochemical profiteers and their paid lackeys in governments around the world against which they could invest their energies.

However, to the cynical — and along with deep skepticism, I am invested with deep cynicism — many of these conspiracy theorists seem almost to take a perverse satisfaction in the idea that the conspiracies they believe to pervade both government and civil life are so powerful that there is little they can do — so they are free to do nothing.

Gadafi forces gaining ground… government says al Qaeda behind rebellion

The once-hopeful, people-power based pro-democracy rebellion that began in Tunisia, and spread through Egypt and other nations is meeting crushing opposition from the brutal forces of dictator Muammar Gadafi’s armies as they shell and bombard civilian areas and spread outlandish lies about the rebellion.

From CNN:

(CNN) — The key Libyan city of Ajdabiya, the last major point between pro-government forces and the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, was slipping from the opposition’s hands Tuesday, witnesses reported.

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fired artillery into Ajdabiya and there were eyewitness reports of at least two airstrikes on the city. If Ajdabiya is retaken by pro-Gadhafi forces, it would give access to roads leading to the heart of the opposition’s base.

Opposition fighters in Ajdabiya returned fire with anti-aircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, but eventually had to pull back their defense positions. Gadhafi’s forces approached the city from the south and the west, witnesses said.

Libyian state television reported Tuesday evening that “Ajdabiya has been cleansed from mercenaries and terrorists connected to al Qaeda.”

File under: where there’s life, there’s hope

A 60 year old Japanese man was rescued, 10 miles at sea, after floating for two days atop the roof of his home washed away by the devastating tsunami that followed Friday’s 8.9 point earthquake.

CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20042628-503543.html

Is it time for environmentalists to say, “We told you so”?

For more than fifty years, environmentalists have been warning about the consequences of careless misuse and devastation of the earth’s natural resources and of the dangers of the tomorrow-never-comes attitude of those who deny those dangers.

Warnings about the dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear power production began almost immediately in the wake of the horrific images coming back from Japan after the devastation of Hirshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bombs dropped by the US to avert the necessity of a land invasion of Japan to end World War II.

Warning about global warming due to hydrocarbon emissions and the greenhouse effect began circulating among climatological scientists in the 60s and became widespread in the 1970s.

But few in the western world wanted to give up the new found luxuries that the post-WWII boom gave them. And fewer still in the developing world wanted to sidetrack the efforts to bring economic development and modern living to the third world.

In large part, the warnings of environmentalists were ignored and, when they couldn’t be ignored, denied and ridiculed.

And, so, today, we face a time of depleted fish stocks in the ocean and in fresh water around the world, of increasing challenges in maintaining the massive agricultural production which has tamped down hunger among the still exploding global population — which has increased about seven fold since 1900 — and a global weather system which has become increasingly unpredictable in the wake of increasing global temperatures that climate scientists tell us is either caused or greatly aggravated by human activities and fossil fuel consumption, further destabilizing agricultural production and even melting glaciers and the polar ice cap — causing sea levels around the globe to rise so precipitously that many areas of coastal habitation around the world will become unlivable over the next 100 years.

There are virtually no credible climatological scientists who deny that human activities play a large part in global warming, evidence of destruction of the natural environment and pollution from fossil fuel production and use are all around us, yet many politicians still gin up their gullible, shortsighted, and ultimately fatally selfish followers to tear down environmental safeguards in order to grab ever more wealth at the expense, scientists tell us, of the following generations.

It’s time that we citizens of the planet earth wake up.

Tomorrow is here.

Congressman King’s Witch Hunt

U.S. Representative Peter King, a Republican from conservative upstate New York state, is a man who doesn’t mince words.

In 2004, in an interview with Sean Hannity he stated flatly that “No American Muslims are cooperating in the war on terror.” When a recent study of U.S. domestic terrorism showed that 48 out of 120 terror cases came from tips from Muslim Americans, King declared that that cooperation was not “sufficient” — and, as the new chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, he’s initiated hearings apparently designed to demonstrate the supposed truth of his convictions.

Many Muslim Americans and other observers fear a McCarthy style witch-hunt from the congressman, who has called Muslims “an enemy living amongst us.”

This piece from the Washinton Post’s On Faith column, by John Esposito, professor of religion, international affairs, and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, lays out that thinking:

Peter King’s hearings: Islamophobia draped in the American flag

Accused “Wiki-leaker” faces potential death penalty

In a bit of stunning news for advocates of open government, the stakes have risen dramatically for Bradley Manning, accused by the US military of being the source of diplomatic cables leaked to the WikiLeaks whistle-blower site. Manning now faces 22 additional charges, including “aiding the enemy” — putting him at risk of the death penalty if convicted.

Manning hit with 22 additional criminal charges

Obama ordered GAO report on gov waste is out and it’s a wowser

Blame to go around.

Budget-cutting conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) says succinctly that it  “makes us all look like jackasses.”

The report, which members of Congress had called for and President Obama ordered in January, found redundancy and shortsightedness rampant in the USG. No sacred cow seemed untouched, from environmental and social net issues to waste in the military. All, in all, the report found waste and redundancy in 546 separate programs.

Obama pointed to the problem in his January State of the Union speech, joking, “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them while they’re in salt water,” he said. “I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

But the amount of waste and redundancy is no joke.

CBS News: Report finds hundreds of duplicative government programs, costing billions

CNN: U.S. bureaucracy wastes billions, watchdog says