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Belmont Club

Not Always What It Seems

December 8th, 2013 - 1:49 pm

JBS Haldane [corrected] once said “not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.” History is full of surprises.

The Washington Post reports that the FBI has had the ability to secretly activate a computer’s camera “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording” for years now, according to Gizmodo. The Post says:

The most powerful FBI surveillance software can covertly download files, photographs and stored e-mails, or even gather real-time images by activating cameras connected to computers, say court documents and people familiar with this technology.

But don’t worry. These techniques were only used “‘mainly’ used in terrorism cases or the ‘most serious’ of criminal investigations.” If you’re not any of these you have nothing to hide.  Back in 2006 the Register reported that Google was developing software to play the same game with your laptop microphone. “Technology Review said Google talked about this software in Europe last June, and that it breaks sound into a five-second snippets to pick out audio from a TV, reducing the snippet to a digital ‘fingerprint’, which it matches on an internet server.”

But there’s more in the “now it can be told” department. The “stealth probe” later identified as the RQ-170 which came to public prominence when one crashed, or was brought down over Iran is now discussable. David Axe writes its successor — something called the RQ-180 — has replaced it.  The old RQ-170 it turns out, has been flying missions against China and North Korea for over 10 years.

According to reporters Bill Sweetman and Amy Butler, the new RQ-180, built by Northrop Grumman, is a bigger, longer-ranged and stealthier successor to the Lockheed Martin-made RQ-170, which apparently entered service just in time for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The RQ-170 was famously outed in December 2009 after being photographed, years earlier, by a journalist at an airfield in southern Afghanistan.

The flying-wing RQ-170, known by its nickname “Sentinel,” spied on Osama Bin Laden’s compound during the May 2011 raid by Navy SEALs that killed the terrorist leader. In December 2011 a Sentinel crashed on the Iran-Afghanistan border and was seized by Iranian officials for display and study.

The true state of the world is often buried under layers of disinformation. Remember the 10 foot tall Soviets who have now been replaced by the 10 foot tall Russians? Published reports allege that the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is so decrepit that the Sixth Fleet actually feared she might come to grief.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet is based at Ukrainian ports along the Black Sea coast with the largest concentration of ships at Sevastopol. But this is a disadvantageous position, as the ports are vulnerable to political turmoil in Ukraine—the lease on Sevastopol expires in 2017, but it’s renewable.

Likewise, treaties dating to the 1930s regarding transit rights from the Black Sea through the Turkish-controlled Bosporus Straits are also a bit stifling. But the treaties limit tonnage, which is less of a concern for the kinds of modern, light and unarmored warships used today.

Otherwise, there’s the port of Tartus in Syria. But the Russian pier there has been variously described as little more than a minimally-manned and broken-down refueling spot incapable of supporting larger ships like Admiral Kuznetsov. But the port does have subjective and symbolic importance to the Kremlin.

A Taiwanese report, quoted mainland sources says the Liaoning’s first cruise showed it had inherited many of the defects of the Soviet systems. Focus Taiwan writes:

But it will be some time before the Liaoning is combat-ready due to five major weaknesses, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League of China said, listing them in order.

First, the Liaoning relies on Russian technology that limits the ship’s range and usefulness in open sea.

Secondly, the carrier cannot match the capabilities of U.S. aircraft carriers, which can launch unmanned fighters with a range of up to 200 nautical miles.

The electronics and weapons systems of the Liaoning and its J-15 fighter jets are far inferior to American carriers and their F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, and the U.S. carriers also boast E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft with a flying altitude and range that outclasses the Liaoning’s Kamov KA-31 helicopter.

Lastly, the paper said that China does not yet have a large-size battle group centered around the Liaoning, and the ability of its warships to take part in coordinated fighting is not yet mature.

Who knows if its true? Deception and self-deception is the handmaiden of state rivalry. The Russians might well be ten inches tall or a hundred. The Chinese may be stronger or far weaker than we suspect. The FBI may or may not be turning on your webcam now.  Who can say?  The true balance of forces may be unknown even to the official intelligence agencies themselves. Winston Churchill once wrote, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

Of course the world is not at war, but in a sense it always is, though at a level of low intensity.

Just recently the Associated Press reported that “the California health exchange says it’s been giving the names of tens of thousands of consumers to insurance agents without their permission or knowledge in an effort to hit deadlines for coverage.”

“You can’t do this,” Blatt, a technology consultant in Ventura County, told the newspaper. “For a government agency to release this information to an outside person is a major issue.” … Lee, the exchange chief … said. “But I can see a lot of people will be comforted and relieved at getting the help they need to navigate a confusing process.”

So many things are being done for your own good that one should either be grateful or very afraid. Maybe one should be both. Anyway if you’re innocent and have nothing to hide, here’s the perfect gift this Christmas. Why not try purchase the Eyebloc webcam cover from Amazon for only $6.99.

You may also wish to consider the Sony tie clip microphone, the pickup end of which can be packed in modeling clay while inserted into your laptop input port. They provide a tasteful way of obscuring your likeness and voice from people who aren’t watching anyway.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

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Top Rated Comments   
The use of these particular tools is prioritized by the perceived threat level. The latest and most effective tools will be used against those who the Federal government considers to be the greatest threat.

Thus, the latest, most sophisticated, and intrusive intelligence systems will be used against the American people; who are the greatest threat as far as the regime is concerned.

Al Quada, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran [among others] are being watched by a few unpaid interns and the TSA.

As to the removal of quality hospitals and doctors from Obamacare plans; Obamacare has absolutely nothing to do with medicine, and everything to do with control. The Democrats do not care how many Americans die, so long as they can control and/or intimidate those remaining into submission.

Subotai Bahadur
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Bev Marcus began shopping recently for a health-insurance plan, she found one from Premera Blue Cross on Washington’s online insurance exchange that seemed to offer good coverage at a reasonable price.

Marcus assumed the individual Premera policy would include Swedish Medical Center’s main hospitals in Seattle, just like the Premera group plan she and her husband had in the past.

That policy had covered most of $150,000 in hospital bills from her husband’s heart attack and cancer treatment a few years ago. Marcus knew she wouldn’t want to face such bills without coverage, so she called Premera to make sure the Swedish hospitals were in its network.

The answer startled her: None of the company’s individual plans for 2014 include any of Swedish’s three hospitals in Seattle or its campus in Issaquah.

“I said, ‘Whoa! You’ve got to be kidding,’ ” Marcus recalled.
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022371201_exchangenetworksxml.html

That's OK Bev, after they share your details with the insurance companies you'll get a discount at the Nigerian Hospitals, which is a really good alternative to Swedish.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"But don’t worry. These techniques were only used “‘mainly’ used in terrorism cases or the ‘most serious’ of criminal investigations.”

Since when (rhetorical question) do Americans "presumed innocent until proven guilty' lose their inalienable rights (such as search and seizure) when suspected of the ‘most serious’ of crimes?

Sir Thomas More's declaration as to the law and pursuit of the devil comes to mind.

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power sufficient to endanger the public liberty." John Adams

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation. The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.” President James Madison
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
"Why not try purchase the Eyebloc webcam cover from Amazon for only $6.99. "


Wouldn't a piece of masking tape do just as well?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Used chewing gum?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The whole reason for “0bamacare” has more to do with getting into every bodies personal information than anything to do with Health Care. Progressives don’t want a world of 6+ Billion people, if getting the dirt to enslave the population with the effect of murdering off millions during the process Why Not! If 0bamacare was so bad (It really is the worst of the worst) then why isn’t there open rebellion in the Demoncrat Party? Because they (Demoncrat’s) will openly Oppress and Steal the 2014 Election which will only secure 0bama’s place in the 2016 Election, after that I think the Federal elections will go away.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
If y’all haven’t seen this, this will make your day. Ukrainians hold huge protest, topple and BEHEAD 1946 granite statue of mass-murderer Lenin:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/12/08/in-ukraine-anti-russia-protesters-smash-lenin-statue/

Going on now!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whole lotta beheading goin' on in this world nowadays........ Things are gettin' kinda savage.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The bad news is that you can't get into the Swedish Hospital. The good news is that the surgeon at the Bolivian Hospital doubles as a Swedish Chef on Thursdays.

Thirty years ago Obama probably read, or more likely heard someone else read, about the glories of Barefoot Doctors in Mao's China, and believed it. Imprinting works..
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's strange about this universe is that there is something rather than nothing, and our science has pretty much zero explanation for it. After the Big Bang why should there be all these elements, stars and planets, dogs and cats, Democrats and Republicans, rather than a cloud of hydrogen gas slowly cooling to a thin mist? It's really not that there is something beyond our grasp, the miracle is that we have a grasp on anything at all, insofar as we do.

Unless of course you are Barack Obambus or Zaphod Beeblebrox.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
J. B. S. Haldane said the universe was stranger than we could ever imagine. I’m not so sure about that.

The universe is not so strange
To those who know not of it
They think that it will never change
That always will they love it
Just as it is, a whirling disk
Of stars that can’t be numbered
All hurtling space at more than brisk
With planets, moons encumbered
This is, of course, no so at all
The universe is tiny
An atom wide, an atom tall
All polished nice and shiny
Inside this atom we all live
Curved space described by Einstein
Where we’re expected to forgive
Barack and Diane Feinstein
For messing up our nice clean world
With leftist scams and nostrums
Where lies and calumnies are hurled
From telepromtered rostrums
It was so nice once, warm and snug
Inside our little atom
We knew the stars could give a tug
To actions here, a datum
Like all the other things we knew
Like gods lived up on mountains
And manna flowed like morning dew
From sugar candy fountains
But now it’s leftists all year round
Bad stuff without cessation
Not long ago we all were bound
For stars, our destination
That seems so very long ago
Before Barack the Master
Did bid his childlike voters grow
And ushered in disaster

40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The use of these particular tools is prioritized by the perceived threat level. The latest and most effective tools will be used against those who the Federal government considers to be the greatest threat.

Thus, the latest, most sophisticated, and intrusive intelligence systems will be used against the American people; who are the greatest threat as far as the regime is concerned.

Al Quada, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran [among others] are being watched by a few unpaid interns and the TSA.

As to the removal of quality hospitals and doctors from Obamacare plans; Obamacare has absolutely nothing to do with medicine, and everything to do with control. The Democrats do not care how many Americans die, so long as they can control and/or intimidate those remaining into submission.

Subotai Bahadur
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
People are retiring in Latin America in part because they can get better medical coverage down there with their retirement funds. This also pulls money out of the US medical system
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Details, man, details!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
What, me, paranoid?
I ain't got no stinkin' paranoia.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"This is the best the government, the U. S. government, can come up with?" - Bruce Willis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPXPYI0iRbg

40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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