This is a diagram of the Semantic Forensics online censorship system sought by the United States Defense Department.
By Kevin Reed in the USA:
DARPA requests proposals for “Semantic Forensics” system
US Defense Department prepares for mass internet censorship
6 September 2019
The US military has issued a call for research proposals from technology partners for the development of an automated system capable of scanning the entire internet and locating and censoring content deemed as “false media assets” and “disinformation”. According to government documents, the requested solution would provide “innovative semantic technologies for analyzing media” that will help “identify, deter, and understand adversary disinformation campaigns.”
On August 23, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued a solicitation for a so-called Semantic Forensics (SemaFor) program on the federal government business opportunities website. According to the bid specifications, SemaFor “will develop technologies to automatically detect, attribute, and characterize falsified multi-modal media assets (text, audio, image, video) to defend against large-scale, automated disinformation attacks.”
In other words, the US Defense Department is seeking a technology partner that will build a platform to enable the Pentagon to locate any content it identifies as an adversarial “disinformation attack” and shut it down. This technology will cover anything on the internet including web pages, videos, photo and social media platforms.
The documents released as part of the DARPA request say that the technology and software algorithms it is seeking would “constitute advances to the state of the art” that will be top secret and do not include “information that is lawfully publicly available without restrictions.”
Several recent media reports have pointed to the rise of government Internet shutdowns internationally as a mechanism of censorship, repression and control in response to growing political turmoil and mass protests. Based largely on data maintained by Access Now—an organization that “defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world”—these reports show a trend of dramatically accelerating Internet shutdowns over the past three years: here.
This 29 June 2019 video says about itself:
Donald Trump has praised Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, saying he is doing a ‘spectacular job’ as the pair met on the sidelines of the G20 summit. Trump ignored questions from the media about whether he would raise the journalist’ [Khashoggi]s death during his working breakfast with the prince.
From daily The Independent in Britain, 19 July 2019:
Up to 500 soldiers to be deployed to airbase east of Riyadh
By Harry Cockburn
The United States is preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia where satellite images appear to show a build up of American forces on the ground.
Up to 500 soldiers are to be sent to the Prince Sultan Airbase in the desert to the east of the capital Riyadh, two officials told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Preparations are also reportedly underway for a large missile installation from which Patriot surface-to-air missiles can be launched …
The moves would likely strengthen the US’ controversial relationship with Saudi Arabia, while also responding to rising tensions with Iran which escalated dramatically in recent months. …
The Trump administration has long sought to base troops in the remote region, but the decision to send them to Saudi Arabia comes amid outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A United Nations report concluded his death at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul was “an extrajudicial execution” sanctioned [by] Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
‘USA FIRST’ TRUMP SPEECH SENT TO GULF FOR VETTING Tom Barrack, a longtime friend and informal adviser to President Donald Trump, worked to modify a major 2016 energy speech by then-candidate Trump to be more pro-[Saudi and similar regimes in the]Middle East, according to a new report released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee. [HuffPost]
By Nick Barrickman in the USA:
17 July 2019
When the fall 2019 semester begins next month, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) will jointly take a major step in their integration with the United States war machine. According to a school press release, the fall semester at NOVA will unveil courses specifically tailored to providing data intelligence, machine learning and artificial intelligence training to members of the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
In essence, NOVA will become a semi-official supplemental military academy tasked with providing training and “hands-on experience” to the Marines.
The press release states:
Historically, Marine Corps training was completed aboard USMC or other services’ installations where the military developed, managed, and taught the curriculum. This is a transformational approach of the current project that provides a non-traditional training solution. Marines will enroll in NOVA’s courses to complete a significant portion of the knowledge, skills, and abilities as defined in their military occupational specialty (MOS, Intelligence Data Engineer). The remaining military-specific components of the MOS will be covered in a “finishing course” offered by the USMC.
The statement adds:
These new courses, combined with existing information technology coursework, will not only satisfy the USMC’s MOS training requirements, but place Marines well on their way to earning NOVA’s Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Information Systems Technology (IST) … which was also developed in consultation with the AWS Educate team.
In addition to training troops for military service, Amazon is seeking to attract military veterans into its corporate structure. Similarly, the structure of the course is designed to integrate the military into the campus’s student body.
The press release notes that while US Marines will attend the campus “in a cohort structure”, i.e., as a group, the courses will also be open to the general student body “as an educational opportunity to learn alongside their military peers.” According to Marine Colonel Randy Pugh, “the Intel Data Engineer course’s blend of academic instruction, commercial courses and internships and traditional military training represents the future of Marine Corps intelligence training.”
In addition to being compatible with the Marine’s military requirements, the 31-credit associates course will feed into a new four-year Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree supplied by George Mason University (GMU), which has also been designed by Amazon.
Prior to its decision to create a direct conduit to the Marines, NOVA was already closely tied to the US intelligence establishment. The state’s community college system was a founding member of the National Cyberwatch Center, billed as “a national consortium of colleges and universities focused on cybersecurity education.” In 2013, it was selected by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in the area of “information assurance.”
Last year, NOVA debuted its single-semester AWS-directed cloud technologies course. The first class to enroll in the new feeder course was comprised entirely of military veterans, according to a press release previewing the course from 2017.
With its academic community leading the way, the state of Virginia is increasingly becoming an incubator for the expanding nexus between internet technology companies, academia and the military-intelligence complex. The role of Amazon is critical in this process.
In June, George Mason University, the largest four-year public university in Virginia, unveiled a new bachelor’s degree as a part of its ADVANCE program, which has been jointly administered by Amazon Web Services, NOVA and GMU for training in cloud technology. Also last month, Amazon Web Services announced the creation of the US Cyber Range, intended to “provide cloud-based infrastructure for educators, industry, and others, allowing them to offer tailorable hands-on cybersecurity training and education in order [to] increase the number of skilled cybersecurity experts across all sectors.”
The US Cyber Range builds upon infrastructure previously introduced in Virginia by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2016, with the assistance of the state’s academic community and AWS. “The public cloud has allowed the Virginia Cyber Range, and now the US Cyber Range, to quickly and cost-effectively scale to meet the rapid growth in demand for its services,” stated the Virginia Tech vice-president for information technology and chief executive officer to Executivebiz.com.
AWS operates dozens of data centers in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, through which nearly a third of the globe’s internet traffic passes. For the capitalist establishment, the ability to monitor and control this technology and the traffic it channels is an increasingly important military question. An Amazon blog from March 2016 spells this out, noting that the “adoption of cloud computing is critical to maintaining our military’s technological advantage.” The statement continues: “Our nation’s warfighters deserve the most innovative and secure solutions at the tactical edge—whether on land, in air, or at sea.”
This year, Amazon is set to begin breaking ground for its East Coast corporate headquarters, nicknamed “HQ2”, in Arlington, Virginia. HQ2 will be situated across the Potomac River from the US capital and within an hour’s drive to the various headquarters of the US intelligence and military agencies, including the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon. Amazon was recently awarded the largest US military contract in history—a $10 billion deal with the Department of Defense to administer the military’s cloud computing JEDI Project.
The integration of academia and technology giants with the military and the capitalist state continues, even as the various media propagandists for the state decry the supposedly malign effect of the internet and web technology, arguing for censorship. This expanding nexus of war and surveillance demonstrates the need for an international movement of the working class to take technology out of corporate hands and transform it into a publicly-owned, democratically controlled utility as part of the struggle to put an end to the source of militarism and repression—the capitalist system.
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Trump orders review of Pentagon’s JEDI cloud computing contract: here.
EU SMACKS AMAZON WITH ANTITRUST PROBE The European Union said it is investigating whether Amazon uses data from independent retailers to gain an unfair advantage, a decision that could lead to changes in how the internet’s biggest marketplace works. [AP]
This 28 August 2017 video from the USA says about itself:
Pentagon dumps tons of hazardous waste yearly without disclosing pollution harm
Pop quiz – name the entity that takes the title for largest polluter in the US? As a recent piece in Counterpunch points out, it’s actually not a corporation but rather the Department of Defense. The Pentagon dumps more than 700,000 tons of hazardous waste a year. Frank Vera, an Air Force veteran and founder of http://www.georgeairforce.info, says the Air Force and Marines never address the pollution problems, out of fear for losing their jobs.
From Lancaster University in England:
U.S. military consumes more hydrocarbons than most countries — massive hidden impact on climate
June 20, 2019
The US military’s carbon footprint is enormous and must be confronted in order to have a substantial effect on battling global warming, experts argue.
Research by social scientists from Durham University and Lancaster University shows the US military is one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.
The majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting routinely focuses on civilian energy use and fuel consumption, not on the US military. This new study, published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, calculates part of the US military’s impact on climate change through critical analysis of its global logistical supply chains.
The research provides an independent public assessment of the US military’s greenhouse gas emissions. It reports that if the US military were a nation state, it would be the 47th largest emitter of GHG in the world, if only taking into account the emission from fuel usage.
Report co-author Dr Patrick Bigger, of Lancaster University Environment Centre, said: “The US Military has long understood it is not immune from the potential consequences of climate change — recognising it as a threat multiplier that can exacerbate other threats — nor has it ignored its own contribution to the problem.
“Yet its climate policy is fundamentally contradictory — confronting the effects of climate change while remaining the largest single institutional consumer of hydrocarbons in the world, a situation it is locked into for years to come because of its dependence on existing aircraft and warships for open-ended operations around the globe.”
Despite the recent increase in attention, the US military’s dependence on fossil fuels is unlikely to change. The US is continuing to pursue open-ended operations around the globe, with the life-cycles of existing military aircraft and warships locking them into hydrocarbons for years to come.
The research comes at a time when the US military is preparing for climate change through both its global supply networks and its security infrastructure. This study brings transparency to one of the world’s largest institutional consumers of hydrocarbons at a time when the issue is a hot-button topic on the US Presidential campaign trail. Leading Democratic candidates, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, are asking critical questions of the role of the US military in climate change and examining its plans for the future.
Co-author Dr Benjamin Neimark, Associate Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster, said: “This research provides ample evidence to support recent calls by activist networks to include the US military in Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s Green New Deal and other international climate treaties.”
Co-author Dr Oliver Belcher, of Durham University’s Department of Geography, said: “Our research demonstrates that to account for the US military as a major climate actor, you must understand the logistical supply chain that makes its acquisition and consumption of hydrocarbon-based fuels possible.
“How do we account for the most far-reaching, sophisticated supply chains, and the largest climate polluter in history? While incremental changes can amount to radical effects in the long-run, there is no shortage of evidence that the climate is at a tipping point and more is needed.”
The researchers’ examination of the US military ‘carbon boot-print’ started with the US Defense Logistics Agency — Energy (DLA-E), a powerful yet virtually unresearched sub-agency within the larger Defense Logistics Agency. It is the primary purchase-point for hydrocarbon-based fuels for the US Military, and a powerful actor in the global oil market, with the fuels it delivers powering everything from routine base operations in the USA to forward operating bases in Afghanistan.
“An important way to cool off the furnace of the climate emergency is to turn off vast sections of the military machine,” added Dr Neimark. “This will have not only the immediate effect of reducing emissions in the here-and-now, but create a disincentive in developing new hydrocarbon infrastructure integral to US military operations.”
Other key findings of the report include:
- In 2017 alone, the US military purchased about 269,230 barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kt- CO2e by burning those fuels. In 2017 alone, the Air Force purchased $4.9 billion worth of fuel and the Navy $2.8 billion, followed by the Army at $947 million and Marines at $36 million.
- If the US military were a country, it would nestle between Peru and Portugal in the global league table of fuel purchasing, when comparing 2014 World Bank country liquid fuel consumption with 2015 US military liquid fuel consumption.
- For 2014, the scale of emissions is roughly equivalent to total — not just fuel — emissions from Romania. According to the DLA-E data obtained by the researchers, which includes GHG emissions from direct or stationary sources, indirect or mobile sources and electricity use, and other indirect, including upstream and downstream emissions.
- The Air Force is by far the largest emitter of GHG at more than 13,000 kt CO2e, almost double that of the US Navy’s 7,800 kt CO2e. In addition to using the most polluting types of fuel, the Air Force and Navy are also the largest purchasers of fuel.
MEDICAL GROUPS WARN ON CLIMATE CHANGE Nearly 75 medical and public health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, are calling for a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, saying the phenomenon is a “health emergency.” [AP]
Honor Fallen Heroes: No More Unnecessary Wars
Memorial Day is a time to remember: war must only be waged as a very last resort to keep the American people safe. As Commander-in-Chief, I will honor our troops who’ve sacrificed their lives for our country by working to prevent unnecessary costly wars.
By George Marlowe in the USA:
“It’s been hell for the world”
US Army tweet provokes outpouring of antiwar sentiment
28 May 2019
The United States Army did not get the response it intended when it asked in a tweet last week, “How has serving impacted you?” Instead of paeans to the military, the horrific reality of war on a world scale broke through the annual celebration of American militarism over the Memorial Day weekend.
By Monday night, there were over 11,000 comments in response to the US Army’s question. The official lies and platitudes employed by the ruling elite and the media to exalt war were shattered by stories detailing the living hell that has been imposed on millions of lives.
So massive was the outpouring of sentiment on social media that the response was covered by the mainstream news Monday night, a singular rarity on a day usually devoted to mindless jingoism. The incident even made headlines around the world, an expression of the vast global impact of US militarism.
Veteran suicides, depression, violence, recurring nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse, addiction, alcoholism, rape and sexual assault by commanding officers, inadequate health care, generational trauma, exposure to chemical agents, war crimes. These were just some of the nightmarish tales that emerged.
Heartbreaking stories of veteran suicides were all too common. Shane Burley’s story was repeated in various forms by numerous people. “My best friend from high school was denied his mental health treatment and forced to return to a third tour in Iraq, despite having such deep trauma that he could barely function,” Shane wrote. “He took a handful of sleeping pills and shot himself in the head two weeks before deploying.”
Sean described what he called “the ‘Combat Cocktail’: PTSD, severe depression, anxiety. Isolation. Suicide attempts. Never ending rage. It cost me my relationship with my eldest son and my grandson. It cost some of my men so much more. How did serving impact me? Ask my family.”
Lies used to manufacture public consent for war were also opposed. “Don’t fabricate enemies and shove innocent Americans into wars that kill innocent civilians,” wrote one person. “You’ve gained nothing from all the wars combined. It’s been hell for the world.”
For all the nauseating glorification of the military by the media and the political establishment, those that serve in the military as cannon fodder are generally economic conscripts looking for a way out of poverty and at the chance of a college degree. The reality is they end up maimed, broken and scarred, with generations of families and friends affected by the trauma.
More than 5,500 veterans killed themselves last year, and active-duty military suicides were at an all-time high in 2018. More than 321 of those in active duty in the military killed themselves in 2018, with 138 in the US Army alone.
A 2018 study by the Council on Foreign Relations found that recruits from families with annual incomes less than $38,400 a year made up 19 percent of soldiers. Over 60 percent of recruits come from families with annual incomes less than $61,403, and over 80 percent come from families who make less than $80,912. The study did not show the levels in which the top 5 percent or the top 1 percent participated in the wars, but they no doubt constitute a tiny minority.
Numerous commenters on the US Army Twitter thread referred to the statements of Major-General Smedley Butler, who famously confessed in 1933, “War is just a racket. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.”
There is deep opposition to war in the working class in the United States and internationally. As with every other political issue, however, the real interests of the vast majority of the population are excluded from official political life.
In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this sentiment found expression in mass demonstrations of millions of people throughout the world. Opposition to the Iraq war was channeled behind the Democratic Party, culminating in the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Extending the Bush administration’s “war on terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama attacked more than seven countries, including Libya and Syria, and killed thousands of innocent civilians through drone warfare.
The Trump administration now plans to dispatch 1,500 new troops to the Middle East and has threatened to “end” Iran. His administration also announced the doctrine of “great power” conflict, preparing even bigger military conflagrations against Russia and China that hurtle the world towards a third world war.
In 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs under the Trump administration proposed to close more than 1,100 facilities in an effort to privatize health care. While only $220 billion was allotted to Veterans Affairs for the 2020 budget, more than $718 billion was requested by the Pentagon, a five percent increase over the previous year. If the trend continues, more than $7 trillion will be spent on war over the next decade.
With the support of the Democratic Party, moreover, the Trump administration is intensifying its campaign against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for exposing the crimes of American imperialism.
The Democrats have waged their opposition to Trump largely on the demand that the administration adopt a more aggressive position against Russia and expand the war in Syria and the Middle East. The Democrats have sought to position themselves as the party of the military and the intelligence agencies, hailing as heroes such arch warmongers as the late Republican Senator John McCain.
And the organizations of the complacent and privileged upper middle class that surround the Democratic Party have become the most adamant supporters of American imperialism.
The sentiments expressed in the response the US Army tweet must and will find more organized form. The mass opposition to war must be connected to the growing struggles of workers, in the United States and internationally, against inequality and exploitation. The growing support for socialism must be connected to a conscious political movement of the international working class against capitalism and imperialism.
This 26 May 2019 video from Iraq war veteran, United States Democratic party congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard says about itself:
It’s Time To Bring Our Troops Home #MemorialDay
While the politicians make empty, hollow, phony speeches on Memorial Day, they continue to send my brothers and sisters into wars that are impossible to win, because there is yet no definition of what “victory” would be. These aren’t just “troops”. They’re PEOPLE—friends and comrades, again separated from loved ones. Just another unnoticed cost of war.
US BEGINS NEW ARMS RACE! – as Senate agrees to spend £1.37 trillion next year: here.