Big Brother Palantir spying in New Orleans, USA

This 22 July 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Meet Peter Thiel: Trump Taps Billionaire Who Helped Bankrupt Gawker to Speak at RNC

Thiel made headlines earlier this year when he confirmed to The New York Times that he personally spent $10 million to secretly fund a controversial lawsuit by wrestler Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media. Hogan sued the company for invasion of privacy after Gawker posted a sex tape, and in May a jury awarded the wrestler $140 million, forcing Gawker to declare bankruptcy. Thiel set his eyes on Gawker after the site published a 2007 article headlined “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.” We are joined by Sam Biddle, technology reporter at The Intercept, formerly at Gawker, who has followed Thiel closely.

Another video from the USA used to say about itself:

Spoken Edition: How Peter Thiel’s Palantir Helped the NSA Spy on the Whole World // The Intercept produces fearless, adversarial journalism, covering stories the mainstream media misses on national security, politics, criminal justice, technology, surveillance, privacy, and human rights.

By Tom Hall in the USA:

Security firm Palantir secretly providing New Orleans police with predictive policing software

1 March 2018

Palantir, a secretive technology contractor with ties to the Pentagon and US spy agencies, has worked with the city of New Orleans to test its dragnet surveillance software for years, according to a report published in the online magazine The Verge.

The agreement with Palantir, which was co-founded by Paypal founder Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel is a billionaire Donald Trump supporter, most (in)famous for regretting that women have the right to vote. This underminer of civil liberties has the gall to call himself ‘libertarian’. With ‘liberty’ only for Peter Thiel and to a lesser extent his fellow billionaires.

The name of the corporation is derived from the fictional palantír crystal balls, described in the Lord of the Rings novels. In these books they give powerful persons, like human absolute monarchs, or Sauron, the lord of evil, the power to look what is happening anywhere on earth.

It looks like Thiel prefers that absolute governmental power as well; abolishing all vestiges of democracy not just for women, but for non-1% richest men as well.

with seed money from the CIA, was reached in 2012 with the office of Democratic mayor Mitch Landrieu. However, the city’s residents were totally unaware of the details of this program until The Verge broke the story on Tuesday.

Palantir specializes in data mining software which creates statistical models to predict what people will do before they do it, based on factors such as family and personal ties, geographical location, socioeconomic factors and social media posts. The use of such technologies stands in flagrant violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The military and intelligence agencies use such predictive models to create lists of people to be subjected to intensive surveillance or even drone assassinations. However, such software is increasingly used by police departments around the country. The Los Angeles Police Department has acknowledged that it is a customer of Palantir, as was the New York Police Department, until it cut ties with the company earlier this year in favor of alternative datamining software. Chicago’s police department used such software to create a “heat list” of individuals deemed likely to either commit or be a victim of murder.

According to The Verge, the project began at the initiative of James Carville, the former campaign manager and advisor to president Bill Clinton who now teaches political science at Tulane University. Carville has also been on Palantir’s payroll as an advisor since at least 2011, according to the report.

Carville defended the project as essentially a philanthropic endeavor designed to reign in the city’s skyrocketing murder rate. However, this is belied by the fact that the program was carried out in near-total secrecy. The agreement was kept off of the city’s books and away from public scrutiny by funneling it through Landrieu’s charitable foundation, NOLA for Life. “No one in New Orleans even knows about this, to my knowledge”, Carville said. According to The Verge, “Mayor Landrieu’s office, the city attorney, and the NOPD appear to be the only entities aware of the firm’s work in the city. Key members of the city council were not aware of Palantir’s work in New Orleans until approached by The Verge.”

For Palantir, the agreement with New Orleans represented an opportunity to test products that it could sell to other police departments and intelligence agencies. The Verge report notes that the company was able to sell products tested in New Orleans to the Danish national police and intelligence services and to the security services in Israel. The company also sought unsuccessfully to sell its services to Chicago Police, which ultimately decided to use different software.

Carville and his wife Mary Matalin openly bragged of his role in bringing Palantir executives into contact with the New Orleans local government in a radio interview in 2014. “We’re kind of a prototype”, Matalin, who is also a well-connected political consultant, said. “Unless you’re the cousin of some drug dealer that went bad, you’re going to be okay.” As The Verge correctly commented, this amounts to a back-handed admission that the surveillance algorithm could “sweep up innocent people” based on their mere association with people convicted of crimes.

“The data on individuals came from information scraped from social media as well as NOPD criminal databases for ballistics, gangs, probation and parole information, jailhouse phone calls, calls for service, the central case management system (i.e., every case NOPD had on record), and the department’s repository of field interview cards”, according to The Verge. These “field interview cards,” it added, “[represent] every documented encounter NOPD has with citizens, even those that don’t result in arrests,” and comes from a policy which “resembled NYPD’s ‘stop and frisk’ program and was instituted with the express purpose of gathering as much intelligence on New Orleanians as possible, regardless of whether or not they committed a crime.”

The fact that the Landrieu administration effectively handed over the city to Palantir to test advanced spying technologies is of a piece with government policy since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The ruling class seized on the devastation made possible by its decades of underfunding for hurricane preparedness to convert the city into a testbed for various reactionary, pro-business measures, most notably the conversion of the city’s entire public school system into privately-operated charters schools.

The revelation of Palantir’s agreement with the city of New Orleans further demonstrates the increasingly close integration between local police forces and the military-intelligence apparatus.

Since this program began, the Pentagon has funneled billions of dollars in surplus military hardware, including armored vehicles, to local police departments, which were then arrayed against peaceful protestors in Ferguson in 2014 and Baltimore the following year. The exposure in 2015 of the Chicago Police Department’s “black site” at Homan square, where detectives disappeared and tortured suspects, represents the domestic application of the methods perfected by American imperialism in a decade and a half of the so-called “War on Terror”.

Under the guise of combatting the spread of “fake news”, the ruling class is utilizing predictive modeling software such as that marketed by Palantir to police the internet and transform it into an instrument of surveillance and control. Last month, Facebook announced it would be implementing such technology to censor “harmful” content. “Our goal with AI is to understand the meaning of all the content on Facebook”, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared in a statement.

INSIDE THE GROWTH OF PALANTIR — WHICH IS ALWAYS WATCHING “An intelligence platform designed for the global War on Terror was weaponized against ordinary Americans at home.” [Bloomberg]

Britain: Migrant rights campaign group granted legal challenge over NHS/Home Office data sharing: here.

Singer Fats Domino, RIP

This music video from the USA is called Fats DominoBlueberry hill.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Fats Domino dead: Rock and roll legend dies aged 89

Iconic artist’s career spanned more than five decades and saw him sell over 65 million records

Legendary artist Fats Domino has died age 89, according to local reports from New Orleans.

The American singer, pianist and recording artist pioneered rock and roll and inspired countless artists, including Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

Local TV station WWL-TV cited his daughter as the person to confirm his death, saying he died peacefully surrounded by family.

Antoine ‘Fats’ Domino was born in New Orleans LA, in the lower ninth ward on 26 February 1928.

This 1986 music video from Houston, Texas in the USA is called Fats Domino Live Full Concert.

Climate change damaging USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

A Message to Trump from Climate Scientists

18 January 2017

Before the AGU meeting I read John Abraham’s articleTrump begins filling environmental posts with clowns’ in which he made the following point:

“Or Trump could attend the world’s largest geophysics meeting, which occurs in just a few weeks (American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting). He could walk around with a TV camera and a clipboard. Ask any random 10 scientists any question on climate change. Let’s see how their answers compare to the information he is going to get from his handpicked insiders.”

Trump most likely would never do this. Nor can I possibly know what kind of questions he would ask if he did visit the AGU Fall Meeting. But I can ask scientists what their message to Trump would be if they had a chance to speak to him. That one paragraph from Abraham’s article inspired me to do just that. During the Fall Meeting I asked several scientists what their message would be and compiled their responses into this video.

FEDERAL SCIENTISTS’ REPORT ARGUES CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALREADY HAVING A DRAMATIC IMPACT IN THE U.S. The release of the report, which highlights dramatic temperature changes in the U.S., hinges on the Trump administration‘s approval — so a copy was leaked early. [HuffPost]

By E.P. Milligan and Aaron Murch in the USA:

Flooding in New Orleans points to climate change, poor infrastructure

8 August 2017

New Orleans experienced flooding on Saturday across large swaths of the city after a heavy rainstorm passed over it.

The system dumped up to 10 inches of rain in some portions of the city over a three-hour span. The event has demonstrated once again that New Orleans’s infrastructure is in utter disarray, once again leaving the city unprepared for the year’s hurricane season, which began on June 1 and officially ends on November 30.

Flood waters reportedly have damaged structures and vehicles in Mid-City and Treme, as well as in Lakeview to the North. All three neighborhoods are located in some of the lowest areas of the city, in large part comprising working class neighborhoods. The flooding shut down major roadways, including multiple lane closures on the city’s interstate system. Many areas of the city still remained flooded into Sunday, with emergency responders and city officials towing abandoned vehicles and engaging in cleanup operations. Luckily, no deaths were reported.

Homeless schoolchildren in New Orleans, USA

This video from the USA is called Homeless Kids.

In Louisiana in the USA, there is not only a prominent Congressman with links to nazi David Duke.

There is also this; by Tom Hall in the USA:

New Orleans elementary school holds coat drive for homeless students

31 December 2014

In an event which underscored the horrifying social conditions faced by working-class children in America, the McDonogh 32 Literacy Charter School in New Orleans recently held a fundraiser in order to provide coats for homeless students attending the school, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

At least 12 percent of the school’s 600 students are currently homeless, according to a school administrator who spoke with the newspaper.

The fundraising event was organized on the initiative of several eighth-grade students who noticed that many of their classmates were without coats during a recent spate of cold weather. The students failed to meet their fundraising goal, and the school is still accepting donations on their behalf, in an effort to purchase coats for the homeless students.

McDonogh 32 Literacy Charter School focuses on “high-risk” students. In addition to high levels of homelessness, fully 98 percent of all its students are eligible for free or reduced school lunches, a key indicator of poverty among school-age children. Moreover, nearly one quarter of its student body is either in special education programs or receives accommodations for a disability.

The fact that so many school-age children and their families at a single school are unable to afford housing or winter clothing is a devastating exposure of the social conditions in the city of New Orleans, which has been used as a testing ground for the ruling elite’s program of austerity and privatization since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.

New Orleans has a child poverty rate of 39 percent, among the highest in the nation. This figure has rebounded since a temporary drop after Hurricane Katrina, when many impoverished residents remained stranded throughout the country with no means of returning home. The state of Louisiana has the fourth-highest child poverty rate in the nation, at 21 percent.

Enormous numbers of children in New Orleans are affected by hunger. A 2010 survey found that 30 percent of all households with children in the metropolitan area suffered from food hardship. As of 2012, almost 17,000 children in the city itself were at risk of hunger, according to Feeding America.

Students attending public or charter schools in the city are overwhelmingly impoverished. Eighty-four percent of public school students in New Orleans are eligible for subsidized lunches. This is an increase of 7 percent since 2005. In half the city’s schools, 95 percent or more of the student body is eligible for the lunches.

Child poverty has surged worldwide since the 2008 financial crisis. A recent study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found that the number of children living in poverty in the developed countries has grown by 2.6 million since 2008. The United States had the fifth highest child poverty rate among the 41 countries included in the survey. The growth of child poverty has been driven to a great extent by the relentless cuts to social programs and benefits enforced by governments worldwide.

The situation at McDonogh 32 encapsulates the perversity of this process. Even as the financial oligarchs on Wall Street reap vast profits from charter schools such as McDonogh 32—to the tune of over $200 million in New Orleans alone for the current school year—students are forced to hold a charity drive to secure the most basic necessities of life.

Aside from their profitability, charter schools are increasingly used by the US ruling class as mechanisms for channeling working-class and poor students into low-wage jobs. In October, the school hosted the 2nd annual “family job fair” of the Algiers Charter School Association, which operates the school. Over 100 students attended the event, according to the Times-Picayune, which hosted booths from such employers as Home Depot, Family Dollar and the New Orleans police.

For those students not deemed fit for such rewarding careers, charter schools can quickly become their entry point into increasingly privatized juvenile detention programs.

McDonogh 32 regularly hands out Saturday detentions to students, for which the charter operator charges the overwhelmingly impoverished parents at its schools a $25 fee, according to local investigative journalism publication The Lens. If parents refuse to pay for the detentions, which are served at the charter company’s own in-house youth detention facility, the so-called “Developing & Educating Alternative Learners Center,” students face a prolonged suspension, according to a spokeswoman for the privatized education company.

“We see [our fees] as an investment for the parents, because they are getting these crucial services,” a spokeswoman for the company told the Lens.

Kentucky leads the US in the rate of child homelessness, according to 2013-14 data from the federal Department of Education. Over 31,000 children, nearly 5 percent of the state’s public school students, are living in a homeless shelter, motel or campground, car, outside, or staying with relatives or friends: here.

Number of homeless New Yorkers hits record-high…again: here.

How Big Oil wetland destruction helped New Orleans Katrina disaster

This video from Louisiana in the USA says about itself:

Louisiana Wetlands – What we are losing?

26 May 2010

View unique images at: I made this video in July 2009 for the purpose of helping save our wetlands through the non-profit organization “For The Bayou.” Little did I know that it would also serve as a pictorial representation of the beautiful scenery we are loosing due to this catastrophic oil disaster. Mr. President are you watching???

By Greg Palast from the USA:

Crime scene: New Orleans

Monday 1st September 2014

Don’t blame Mother Nature – it was Big Oil that wreaked destruction on the Crescent City nine years ago, writes GREG PALAST

Nine years ago, New Orleans drowned. Don’t you dare blame Mother Nature.

Ms Katrina killed no-one in this town. But it was a homicide, with nearly 2,000 dead victims.

If not Katrina, who done it? Who is to blame for the crushing avalanche of water that buried this city?

It wasn’t an act of God. It was an act of Chevron. An act of Exxon. An act of Big Oil.

Take a look at these numbers dug out of Louisiana state records: Conoco 3.3 million acres, Exxon Mobil 2.1m acres, Chevron 2.7m acres, Shell 1.3m acres.

These are the total acres of wetlands removed by just four oil companies over the past couple of decades.

If you’re not a farmer, I’ll translate this into urban-speak — that’s 14,688 square miles drowned into the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s what happened. New Orleans used be to a long, swampy way from the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricanes and storm surges had to cross a protective mangrove forest nearly 100 miles thick.

But then, a century ago, Standard Oil, Exxon’s prior alias, began dragging drilling rigs, channelling pipelines, barge paths and tanker routes through what was once soft delta prairie grass.

Most of those beautiful bayous you see on postcards are just scars, the cuts and wounds of drilling the prairie, once the US’s cattle-raising centre. The bayous, filling with ’gators and shrimp, widened out and sank the coastline.

Each year, oil operations drag the gulf four miles closer to New Orleans.

Just one channel dug for Exxon’s pleasure, the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, was dubbed the “Hurricane Highway” by experts — long before Katrina — that invited the storm right up to and over the city’s gates, the levees.

Without Big Oil’s tree and prairie holocaust, “Katrina would have been a storm of no note,” Professor Ivor van Heerden told me.

Van Heerden, once deputy director of the Hurricane Centre at Louisiana State University, is one of the planet’s leading experts on storm dynamics.

If they’d only left just 10 per cent of the protective collar. They didn’t.

Van Heerden was giving me a tour of the battle zone in the oil war. It was New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward, which once held the largest concentration of African-American-owned homes in the US. Now it holds the largest contrition of African-American-owned rubble.

We stood in front of a house, now years after Katrina, with an “X” spray-painted on the outside and “1 DEAD DOG,” “1 CAT,” the number 2 and “9/6” partly covered by a foreclosure notice.

The professor translated: “9/6” meant rescuers couldn’t get to the house for eight days, so the “2” — the couple that lived there — must have paddled around with their pets until the rising waters pushed them against the ceiling and they suffocated, their gas-bloated corpses floating for a week.

In July 2005 van Heerden told Channel 4 Television: “In a month, this city could be underwater.”

In one month, it was. Van Heerden had sounded the alarm for at least two years, even speaking to George Bush’s White House about an emergency condition — with the gulf closing in, the levees were 18 inches short.

But the army corps of engineers was busy with other rivers — the Tigris and Euphrates.

So when those levees began to fail, the White House, hoping to avoid federal responsibility, did not tell Louisiana’s governor Kathleen Blanco that the levees were breaking up.

That Monday night, August 29, with the storm bypassing New Orleans, the governor had stopped the city’s evacuation.

Van Heerden was with the governor at the State Emergency Centre.

He said: “By midnight on Monday the White House knew. But none of us knew.”

So the drownings began in earnest.

Van Heerden was supposed to keep that secret. He didn’t. He told me, on camera — knowing the floodwater of official slime would break over him.

He was told to stay silent, to bury the truth. But he told me more. A lot more.

“I wasn’t going to listen to those sort of threats, to let them shut me down.”

Well, they did shut him down. After he went public about the unending life-and-death threat of continued oil drilling and channelling, LSU closed down its entire Hurricane Centre — can you imagine? — and fired Prof van Heerden and fellow experts.

This was just after the university received a $300,000 cheque from Chevron. The cheque was passed by a front group called “America’s Wetlands” — which lobbies for more drilling in the wetlands.

In place of van Heerden and independent experts, LSU’s new “Wetlands Centre” has professors picked by a board of petroleum industry hacks.

In 2003, people in the US protested “No Blood for Oil” in Iraq. It’s about time we said: “No Blood for Oil” — in Louisiana.

There are more revelations from Professor van Heerden in Greg Palast’s bestseller Vultures’ Picnic (Constable Press). Palast is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.

New Mark Fiore animation on hurricane Katrina

This video from the USA is about hurricane Katrina.

There is a new Mark Fiore animation on the Internet.

It is here.

It is about hurricane Katrina in the USA and its aftermath, like the toxic trailers for survivors.

It is called Pickling the poor.

It has a New Orleans jazz musical soundtrack.

Bush refuses Katrina help from Jamaica, Canada …

Condoleezza Rice during Hurricane Katrina, cartoon

From the Google cache:

Bush refuses Katrina help from Jamaica, Canada …

Linking: 79 Comments: 8
Date: 9/1/05 at 10:55PM

Mood: Thinking Playing: Do you know what it means, to miss New Orleans? by Louis Armstrong

From AMERICAblog (with different hyperlinks there):

Thursday, September 01, 2005

US refuses Jamaica’s offer to help with disaster

by John in DC


Bush has also refused a specific offer of help from Canada, with specific equipment we apparently need.

Because Condi has matters under control while she’s currently on vacation in NYC buying $3000 Prada shoes on Fifth Avenue today (true story, see here)?

[Maybe, Imelda would have been a better name for Ms Rice …]

WITH each passing hour, news of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina grows more horrific, but the US embassy in Kingston said the world’s most powerful nation was not now accepting help from outside, even as the offers mount….

The US acknowledges the crisis as its “worst natural disaster” in its history.

The United Nations went further to characterise it as one of the worst disasters internationally, outstripping even the damage caused by the December 26 Asian tsunami which killed 180,000.

While the destruction from the tsunami was estimated at about US$10 billion (euro8.2 billion), insurance experts estimate that Katrina will result in up to US$25 billion (euro20.5 billion) in insured losses….

Jamaica was among the nations offering what help they could.

But the Kingston embassy, while stating its appreciation for the support, politely declined the offers, saying in a statement: “The United States Government is not yet requesting international assistance at this time.”

Very probably, Bush also refuses help from Cuba (offered in a 2 September speech by President Fidel Castro), a country with much hurricane relief experience.

Cuba, whose parliament today honoured the victims of hurricane Katrina with a minute of silence.

Bush probably prefers a woman stuck with a little baby on a roof since three days ago in Louisiana, or among ruins in Biloxi, Mississippi, not to be helped by “communist” Cuban drinking water, “communist” food, or a “communist” doctor. So does, probably, Bush’s Secretary of State Rice, to whom the refused offers of help by Cuba, Jamaica, Canada etc. were directed.

Neither, for that matter, does the Bush administration want that woman helped by National Guard people from Mississippi or Louisiana, now in Iraq …

Bush is back in Washington NOW; three days after the disaster began.

Disaster experts say the first 72 hours after a disaster are the “golden 72 hours” when you still may save many lives.

Bush let those golden 72 hours pass, in Crawford on vacation and propagandizing for Social Security cuts in California.

While the National Guard people of Louisiana and Mississippi, who with their local knowledge might have saved lives, are in … Iraq.

Dutch TV news of tonight was among survivors around the Superdome in New Orleans.

As the reporter arrived, thousands of voices joined in a chorus of HELP!!! which they had not had yet after all those days.

Many of them angrily brought up Iraq, the reporter said.

So did surviving New Orleans local radio.

The reporter also said it would not be safe for Bush to land among Katrina survivors; who see ill people and babies around them dying from lack of water, food, and medicine.

On Friday morning, Dutch TV interviewed a crying New Orleans African American nurse.

She said her diabetic patients were in a state of shock and had not had any food since Monday.

Another, white, nurse shouted desperately: Does anyone have any insulin??

Dutch TV also reported famous singer Fats Domino was found miraculously alive in New Orleans.

Being 77 years old, he had, like so many others, been unable to comply with government orders to leave the city.

Katrina and social inequality in the USA: here.