Trump’s Pentagon prepares mass internet censorship


Diagram of the Semantic Forensics online censorship system sought by the United States Defense Department

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.

Trump’s soldiers for propping up Saudi dictatorship


This 29 June 2019 video says about itself:

Donald Trump says the Saudi crown prince is doing a ‘spectacular job’

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:

Satellite images ‘show US military buildup in Saudi Arabia’ amid Iran tensions

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.

The Trump administration has also been criticised for its response to the murder.

‘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]

Pentagon contribution to global warming, new study


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]