Followup #1: The Internet shitstorm mentioned earlier is still going on and got a boost today from Breitbart reporting on the existence of a secret mailing list (allegedly) used by gaming journalists to set agendas and decide what stories to cover and what not to.

Followup #2: In a report by the Heritage Foundation, one of the State Department officials disciplined over Benghazi accuses Hillary Clinton's aides of withholding documents from Congress.

Both reports follow a couple of patterns. In both cases we see the hard-right, ideologically biased media breaking the news about a major scandal in a widely known situation where the majority of the media have told us that there is no scandal. By inference, we see that the traditional media failed in its job to get to the story first. Also, both are about situations where the cover-up may be worse than whatever original scandal there may have been.

Here's the quote:

I believe that the failure to shine a full light on Saudi actions and particularly its involvement in 9/11 has contributed to the Saudi ability to continue to engage in actions that are damaging to the US – and in particular their support for Isis.

Graham was the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 2000s. He was in a very strong position to know what he is talking about.

Whatever was in this post, the submitter was banned from Reddit for saying it. As-yet-uncensored conversation suggests that it was about "Admins being corrupt including interview with moderator whistleblower". The interview is an hour long and I haven't heard anything outrageous in a few minutes of listening. [Edit] Somewhere near the end the interviewee says that Reddit admins use "vote manipulation" as an excuse to ban people they don't like. Also, one of the moderators suspected of banning people for no good reason is Reddit's PR person.

Also: everyone posting a story "IGF and Indiecade accused of racketeering" is being banned from Reddit.

A middle school teacher in Maryland was arrested and placed in a mental institution for writing two books about a school shooting in the year 2902. From the report:

Early last week the school board was alerted that one of its eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace's Lane Middle School had several aliases. Police said that under those names, he wrote two fictional books about the largest school shooting in the country's history set in the future ... Phillips said McLaw was taken in for an emergency medical evaluation. The sheriff would not disclose where McLaw is now, but he did say that he is not on the Eastern Shore. The same day that McLaw was taken in for an evaluation, police swept Mace's Lane Middle School for bombs and guns, coming up empty.

The book is mentioned on Google Books but otherwise the book and its author have no web presence outside of this news article.

There is a category 4 shitstorm over the Internet today as Reddit administrators have been shadowbanning users for discussing the Zoe Quinn controversy (more) (more) (more+nsfw), for discussing the censorship of the discussion, and for notifying other users that they have been shadowbanned. Rumours suggest that several other prominent websites have been deleting non-intrusive, non-offensive commentary on the subject. Encyclopedia Dramatica has a long list of websites allegedly censoring discussion of the issue, but no evidence.

In one of the more notable examples, IndieGogo's administrators shut down a fundraiser that had raised $25,000 for a feminist gamer group and embedded the video "You Are An Idiot" on the fundraising page because this group landed in the anti-Quinn camp when Quinn accused them of being anti-transsexual on the grounds of requiring that applicants be "a self identified woman". There may also be a monetary angle involved.

Both pro-Quinn and anti-Quinn factions also claim the other side has hackers breaking into their websites and stealing their identities. Cover your popcorn because this might get messier than a Gallagher show.

[Edit] Fixed the KYM link. Added another summary timeline.


  • Antagonist - An actor who plays the Dark Lord in a video game is forced to team up with an actual hero who wants to kill him. The game takes longer to download than it does to play, but it's worth it just for the humor.
  • Robots Initate Work Sequence - A time management game similar to the base-building side of RTS games. The concept looked boring at first glance, but I couldn't stop playing.
  • Solarmax 2 - A space strategy game like like Intergalactics or Konquest with very good ambiance.
  • Sunken Spire - The core of the game is a routine series of themed levels, but if you step outside of the dungeon for a moment you'll see a richly developed game world and a pair of sidequests that are more interesting than the main story.
  • Touhou: Wandering Souls - A fan-made action RPG with enough variety in monsters and their attacks that it does not get old, and the music is pleasant to listen to. For an action game, it is surprisingly relaxing.

The NSA figured out a way to deny my appeal regarding my request for information about the PAIC (see earlier). Their new line is that "the appropriate response is to neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of the information" even when required by law to do so, and this is expressed as a blanket policy for all FOIA requests received by the NSA.

This latest Fuck Off is signed by E. R. Brooks, chief of staff and FOIA/Privacy Act Appeal Authority. This is probably Elizabeth R. Brooks, who has done this before.

Two attendees of the Popular Arab and Islamic Congress were Yasser Arafat and Abdul Majeed al-Zindani. Zindani is the founder of Yemen's al-Islah movement, whose members include Tawakkol Karman. So if one considers the PAIC as an al-Qaeda meeting -- I call it their global launch party -- then al-Qaeda has won two Nobel Peace Prizes.

"According to Fox News:

The government’s "Cash for Clunkers" program – pitched as a plan to jump-start U.S. auto sales and clean up the environment by getting gas-guzzling vehicles off the road -- may have been a clunker itself, according to a new economic study.

As evidence for this conclusion, the article goes on to say that people traded in their big gas-guzzling vehicles for small fuel-efficient cars. In other words, the program worked exactly as intended. Fox calls it a failure because the small cars are also cheaper, so the auto industry made less money than they could have if people were buying big expensive gas guzzlers instead.

A couple of retired FBI agents formed a short-lived group, the Foundation for Ethics in Public Service, to investigate allegations of corruption within the FBI. That organization's web site now redirects to the FBI.

That group was: membership list inside the cut )

So this organization was literally a couple of retired FBI agents and a bunch of businessmen with no apparent relationship to the FBI. That looks even more suspicious than their website redirecting to the FBI.

Faisal Gill, the director of intelligence policy policy director of the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection unit at the Department of Homeland Security, had previously worked for al-Qaeda frontman Abdurahman Alamoudi. That does not make him a bad guy; he could have been one of ours spying on Alamoudi's people. It does make one wonder just what the hell was going on over there.


This came to my attention now because Glenn Greenwald published a list of people under investigation by the NSA, Gill was the first name on the list, and I Googled him. This investigation is being framed by Greenwald as an injury to liberty; it is supposed to somehow be wrong that the government got a warrant to eavesdrop on the communications of a guy with a known direct connection to al-Qaeda. The position of Greenwald and his echo chamber is that these people should be immune from investigation for their connections to al-Qaeda because they happen to be Muslim. What the hell is going on over there?


Edit Aug. 12: On rereading the article, Gill was policy director of the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection division.

The Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami (DMI) Trust is one of several suspects whom authors have accused of funding the September 11 attacks of 2001, yet were found innocent in their trials. There have been several cases like this in the US and Europe where either the authors were working from bad information or their good information was inadmissible in court or the defendants had bought really good lawyers or judges. The past leaders of DMI have included al-Qaeda organizer Hassan al-Turabi, and Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf Qaradawi was an early advisor. This is enough evidence to bomb them, but not to win a conviction in a court of law.

DMI's lawyers declare the company's complete innocence:

In 2010, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed all claims against the two companies, ruling that the plaintiffs had shown nothing to indicate that they ever did anything more or less than engage in routine banking services ...

On April 16, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the rulings of the Southern District, holding that DMI Trust and DMI S.A. did nothing more than, at most, providing routine banking services to persons later deemed to be suspected of connections to terrorism, and thus that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim against DMI Trust or to establish jurisdiction over DMI S.A.

Dismissal at district court

I was unable to find the first dismissal on the Southern District web site. Google was unable to find any mention of "Dar" or "Maal" there. I did find the ruling elsewhere. Here is the entirety of the ruling as regards DMI:

Defendant Dar Al?Maal?Al?Islami Trust ("DMI Trust") is alleged to be part of a network of financial institutions that provide money laundering, and financial and banking services on behalf of al Qaeda. Plaintiffs allege that DMI Trust knowingly maintained accounts for al Qaeda front charities, including AHIF thereby facilitating the funding of al Qaeda. Defendant is also alleged to have actively sponsored al Qaeda through the actions undertaken by its purported subsidiaries. Mere allegations that defendant provided routine banking services, and of wrongful conduct committed by independent subsidiaries, are insufficient to subject DMI Trust to liability in this litigation. Its motions to dismiss are, therefore, granted.

This sounds like the plaintiffs failed to show that the subsidiaries were acting under direction from above or that the directors of DMI were part of the same conspiracy. The judge was George B. Daniels and the case In Re Terrorist Attacks.

Appeals court ruling

The appeals court ruling is available and it is an interesting read that explains the difficulties in applying tort laws to those who support terrorists. The judges in the appeals decision were Jose Cabrenes, Reena Raggi, and Jed Rakoff. Cabrenes is also a FISA court judge, and Rakoff is a district court judge from the Southern District of New York sitting by designation.

  • In dismissing O'Neill's claim under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 USC § 1350 which covers any "violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States", the court finds that "plaintiffs’ ATS claims are without merit because no universal norm against 'terrorism' existed under customary international law". In other words, the court ruled that 9/11 was not a war crime.
  • In forbidding torts of aiding and abetting, the court cited Rothstein v. UBS AB, a decision by Jed Rakoff and upheld by Amalya Kearse, which held that UBS bank had no civil liability for violating sanctions against Iran. This appears to be well supported by the lack of the plaintiffs' showing proximate cause, by the federal aiding-and-abetting statute 18 USC §2 referring specifically to crimes against the United States and not to civil torts, and by a Supreme Court finding in Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver that "Congress has not enacted a general civil aiding and abetting statute․."
  • O'Neill's claim of extrajudicial killings under the Torture Victims Prevention Act was rejected on finding that the TVPA was written to apply to "individuals" meaning natural persons and not corporations. This is also well supported.

augh

Jul. 3rd, 2014 03:32 pm

Quote of the day and of the years:

The gap between now and "Marge vs. the Monorail" is larger than the gap between "Marge vs. the Monorail" and the fall of Saigon.

Dagnabbit.


There's a guy who puts out an annual list of things that high school freshmen will not be able to relate to, but I can't find a link to it.

Fistfook Media's prize-winning journalist Gleen Grenwald has announced plans to release a gargantuan blast of flatulence in the near future. "This fart will be by far the biggest fart that I have ever farted," Grenwald predicted. "This is the fart that will expose the reality of manmade global warming by pushing the Earth's ecosystem over the tipping point." For maximum effect, Grenwald plans to release the fart directly into the face of David Koch.

The US government has argued that the release of the fart at this time may threaten the lives of endangered songbirds in the area and cause lasting damage to the resale value of nearby homes. However, Grenwald is not concerned. "I have been holding onto this for too long already," he said. "I feel inside me that the time is right for this release."


Yes, I have descended to the point of posting fart jokes. Pity me.

Here's another conservative conspiracy theory, but one that appears to have substantially more behind it than most. The Department of Homeland Security sought tenders for a $350 million contract to handle 65,000 unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the Mexican border well before such a number of minors crossed the border. The core claims are:

  1. The government was expecting up to 65k unaccompanied children to show up. (seems solid)
  2. The contract was for "transporting these juveniles to Office of Refugee Resettlement" (seems solid) for permanent resettlement in the US (justified speculation)
  3. Circa 65k children did show up. (The Washington Times claims 60,000.)
  4. No more than 5k unaccompanied children had shown up in a previous year. (Not quite true: 10,000 were found in 2007). ([Edit Jul 2]: the count was almost 25,000 last year)
  5. Large numbers of children don't just show up like this. This has to be organized. (a matter of speculation at this point)

The resulting conspiracy theory is that the government was planning to import a large number children to to pressure the public for immigration reform For The Children™. While everyone is speculating, I will add my own CT: this could be an intelligence operation. Cuba once once emptied its jails and mental institutions and sent everyone to the Florida Keys accompanied by several teams of intelligence officers, and presented them all as refugees fleeing Communism to fool the Cuban anti-communist movement into demanding that they be welcomed into the United States. It's possible that some of these children are members of politicized "youth" groups seeking to meet up with contacts inside the States. Even if they're not, stressing the target's economy and moving your population onto the target's land are classic strategies. Also, organized crime has the opportunity to make money from all sides: moving the children in, moving them around, moving them out, and moving contraband with them. Causing the problem and then billing the government to handle it is the sort of thing the mafia would do.

The points of contact on the federal contract are Tony Ross and Rachel Ali of DHS.


[Edit Jul 2] The feds are pushing through an extra $2 billion for the services that the government has already sought a contract for, which implied that they had already allocated the money. So some group of contractors is about to be $2 billion richer. This is over $30,000 per child, far more than is needed to feed, clothe, and house them.

Todd Starnes at Fox News claims that A security force from the Baptist Child and Family Services Emergency Management Division calling themselves the "Brown Shirts" had ordered the staff at the refugee camp at Lackland Air Force Base not to talk about what they saw there. Quote: "Anyone caught with a phone was immediately fired." This comes from the political side of Fox News, so take it with a grain of salt.

The BFCS EMD is a "non-profit" security firm getting government contracts across the country and around the world, claiming operations in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Their website was registered in November 2012 and was not noticed by Internet Archive until 2014. Here's the boss's CorpWiki page. A former treasurer of BCFS retired from Arthur Anderson, moved from Texas to be self-employed in Richmond, Virginia, and now works for the Send Out Cards greeting card (and multi-level marketing) company with offices in Richmond and Salt Lake City.

The Emergency Management Division was involved in the seizure of the Mormons' Yearning for Zion Ranch (wikipedia background).

Edit #2: The private security contractors denied a Congressman entry to one of the holding camps, which is ringed by recently erected barriers to prevent anyone from looking inside. They have offered to let him come back in a few weeks on the condition that he ask no questions and talk to no one. WTF is this about? Our nuclear weapons research facilities are less secure.


[Edit Jul 12] Some of the kids are showing up wearing Obama shoes, assuming the pictures aren't Photoshopped. The same source published an alleged border patrol memo the day before. Both shoes look like the Nike Air Force One.

A little bit of Googling shows that a limited edition of Obama Air Force One shoes looking just like those two was produced in 2008, designed by the artist Van Taylor Monroe.

This one is fun. Walid Shoebat alleges that the Obama administration created the "Innocence of Muslims" video to incite riots that could be cited to justify new laws against criticizing Islam. What makes this worth mentioning is that Shoebat does have evidence of...something. A summary of his findings:

  • Ahmed Abu Khattala, the alleged planner of the attack who was recently captured by US forces, was a leader of the February 17 Brigades which the State Department had hired to secure the consulate.
  • Government service agency Stanley Associates gave the film some promotional support, including the new name of the movie which had previously been The Real Life of Muhammad. In one of those twists that means absolutely nothing, Stanley Associates is a subsidiary of CGI Federal which built the broken Obamacare website.
  • One of the film's actresses says that Nakoula Basseley aka Sam Bacile aka that guy that made the video told her he was a Muslim.
  • Nakoula's Youtube account includes signs of support for Nader Bakkar and Wisam Abdul Waris, two of the leaders of the Sep11 Cairo embassy attack.
  • Nakoula became a federal informant allegedly after giving evidence against Eiad Salameh, but the US refused to accept Canada's offer to extradite Salameh for prosecution.
  • Shoebat personally knows Eiad Salameh to be so right-wing that he would not go into business with a Copt.
  • Within the span of one month, Eiad Salameh was released from prison; Nakoula began the first steps of producing his movie; and Hillary Clinton and Turkey's foreign minister co-chaired a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference at which the organization called for laws to ban criticism of Islam.

So, that's it. It's not very convincing of anything, but it is interesting.

Shoebat's conspiracy theory fits into the conspiracy theory that the Obama Administration planned the Benghazi attack to kidnap Ambassador Stevens in order to justify releasing Omar Abdul Rahman in a prisoner swap.

If any of these rumours were true, I would assume that somebody could leak some evidence: NSA tapes, a list of everyone present when these decisions were made with a time and place that could be verified, or something that could potentially be trusted and validated.

Shoebat does not help his credibility by having a sidebar headline blaming Muslims for the MERS virus.

A rumour on Reddit is that ISIS just took Taji north of Baghdad. That would put them a straight 15 miles down the highway from the palace district where the seat of government and the US embassy are.

[Edit] No verification after several hours, so this rumour may have been nothing more. It was easy to believe given that ISIS took over Mosul and Tikrit with no opposition in a couple of days, there were other rumours they had taken Samarra, and they seemed to be heading south towards the capitol.

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