…Congress Can Remove Donald Trump From Office Without Impeaching Him…


Presidential psychology is quickly becoming a bipartisan issue. Recently, Senator Al Franken said that he and several of his GOP colleagues shared the opinion that President Donald Trump is “not right mentally.” Shortly thereafter, 35 mental health professionals — psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers — took to the pages of the New York Times to register their own concerns that the President was demonstrating “grave emotional instability.”

These controversial armchair diagnoses are powerless on their own. But what if there was something that Senator Franken and his concerned colleagues could actually do? Constitutionally speaking, there might be.

Much has been written in recent weeks about a provision in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment that allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to send a letter to Congress stating that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” This letter would immediately initiate a transfer of power to the Vice President, subject to additional Congressional review.

While theoretically possible, it is highly unlikely that the Vice President and the Cabinet would unite to remove the President absent a clear incapacitation along the lines President Woodrow Wilson experienced after a stroke. Even if there was a bipartisan consensus that he was unfit to serve, the President would have broad authority to remove his Cabinet before it could take any action.

But there is another provision in the Amendment that has received much less popular attention — one that could allow Congress to play a role in removing the President. And no, it isn’t impeachment. Instead, a little-known provision in Section 4 empowers Congress to form its own body to evaluate the President’s fitness for office, eliminating the need for the Cabinet’s involvement in the process (emphasis ours):

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

But what constitutional constraints are put on this power? Remarkably, there aren’t any. The framers of the 25th Amendment left the provision purposely vague, allowing Congress flexibility to decide on its specifics at a later date. It should come as no surprise to those who bemoan Congress’s frequent inactivity to find out that in the 50 years since the Amendment passed, it has never made such a decision.

However, there are two ways that Congress could still act on this provision.

The first approach would be to appoint a panel of independent medical practitioners to judge the health of American presidents. Former president Jimmy Carter has been a strong advocate for this approach, noting the advanced age and poor health of many U.S. presidents. Since the 1990s, Carter has expressed particular concern about the conflict of interests faced by the personal physicians to the President, who might otherwise be tasked with making a determination about medical fitness. These physicians often have personal relationships with the presidents they treat. (Carter’s was his tennis partner.) This seems to be the case with President Trump, whose own personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, famously wrote a bizarre four-paragraph letter raving about Trump’s “astonishingly excellent” health. He later said that he wrote this letter in five minutes while riding in a limousine paid for by Trump himself.

A second approach would be for Congress to appoint a body with no medical expertise whatsoever. Because the 25th Amendment does not require a medical diagnosis or consultation with medical professionals, Congress could even appoint members of its own ranks to the panel. This approach could give Congress the ability to enforce its own criteria for presidential fitness. For example, Congress could deem the President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” if he is unable to be trusted with classified information by intelligence agencies. Congress could even use the threat of removal to exercise additional leverage over the President’s actions.

This approach would raise grave constitutional and moral questions about the proper role of Congress in our democracy. Moreover, in addition to sign-off from the Vice President, this path would likely require supermajorities in both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto, further underscoring the improbability of such a move.

Despite the long odds, President Trump’s erratic behavior in recent weeks has led many — including constitutional scholar and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe — to start talking about whether the President is fit to discharge the duties of his office under the meaning of the 25th Amendment. While such conversations may be premature, it is important to understand the constitutional mechanisms that would allow removal of a president if a broad bipartisan consensus emerges that he or she is unable to lead our nation.

In the heat of the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s physician assured the American people that his 70-year old patient would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Congress might have a different opinion.


Breidbart and Nayak are students at Yale Law School.

…….Dan Rather Blasts GOP: What’s Taking You So Long To Show Guts And Hold Trump Accountable?…..

Wed, May 10, 2017

If Republicans can’t put democracy first, they must step aside and let an independent commission do what they’re too cowardly to do.                                                                                            On the heels of the firing of now-former FBI Director James Comey, legendary newsman Dan Rather has a question for Republicans: What’s taking you so long to show some guts and hold the administration accountable for what appears to be a massive cover-up?

Rather said:

[The Comey firing], it’s smoke screen, it’s cover. I’ll be very surprised if it fools very many among the American people. … What’s needed here are some Republican leaders. Republicans have the White House, they have the Supreme Court, they have the Congress. This is going to require some Republican officeholders with guts who say to themselves, “I want the Trump administration to succeed, I want my party to succeed, but more importantly, I want to do what’s good for the country.” And they know, in that secret place behind their hearts that what’s good for the country is an independent, bipartisan commission with a special prosecutor. 

Once again, Rather is spot on in his objective analysis. The American people will not be fooled or distracted by Trump’s firing of Comey, and it’s time for GOP lawmakers to recognize that a scandal of this magnitude – and a cover-up to match it – is not a partisan issue.

This is not a political football to be framed by either side to score some cheap points. It’s an investigation into whether American democracy was hijacked by a foreign government with the help of a major party presidential campaign.

If Republicans can’t put democracy first, as Rather said, they must step aside and let an independent commission do what they’re too cowardly to do.



……..thanks to Politicus usa…. the only free press is the one you own…….




but wait….there’s more……………


Earth Day…Revisited

..my writing friend doesn’t’ take compliments well…..but this////…….sometimes it’s pretty close to perfect….well done…

Tails Around the Ranch

Despite wanting to share this post shortly after attending a photography seminar, a hectic life sort of interfered. But I decided it was just too good not to share the experience. “Walk on the Wildside” was held in connection with Earth Day sponsored by a local camera shop at the Denver Zoo. The guest speaker was not only a phenomenal photographer but one who happened to be a Nikon Ambassador.

Ron Magill, director of communications for the Miami Zoo, is a trained zoologist but never took any photography classes. He learned how to photograph through practice, patience and necessity (stock photos were too expensive when he first started out). I signed up for this class not because I’m planning on a safari trip to Africa, but because I figured any tips could be used in taking photos of Sam and Elsa (who often resemble wild animals).

Boy am I glad I did!! Although I shoot with…

View original post 395 more words

…..From pigsties to prime locations Brutalists barns and concrete cowsheds: England’s new rural architecture

…..pushing the definition of rustic………..


Hidden behind farmhouses and tucked into the corners of fields, bold architectural experiments are under way in the English countryside. A recent change in planning regulations has simplified the development process, allowing landowners to give derelict post-war farm buildings new purposes and, sometimes, exotic makeovers.

A fashion for rural living caught on in the 1980s, causing a boom in residential conversions of pre-industrial and Victorian farm buildings. By the early 21st century the supply of buildings suitable for conversion was almost exhausted. But in 2014 planning rules were altered to allow a greater range of agricultural structures to be developed with the need for only “prior approval” from the local council, rather than full planning permission. Post-war cowsheds and dairies with portal steel and pre-cast concrete frames, previously off-limits, became available for conversion.

This new supply of large, steel- and concrete-framed structures demands a new architectural approach. And so the urban fashion for exposed concrete is reaching out to the country. Concrete mezzanines, rough timber cladding and new quarry tiles are being installed in super-shed makeovers; some avant-garde farmers are planning brutalist barn conversions.

In the village of High Halden, Kent, a ramshackle 800-square-metre (8,600-square-foot) cowshed has prior approval to be turned into a single-storey timber-clad home with ceiling-high windows. In nearby Biddenden a corrugated-iron shed which used to function as a shop for farm-picked asparagus is to get a new glass facade; where vegetables were once weighed, a breakfast bar will stand.

The new rules have extended development rights over some older properties, too. In Sissinghurst a set of early-20th-century hop-pickers’ huts, where gangs of seasonal workers from London used to sleep on straw, will be converted into a slender, timber-clad two-bedroom chalet. The legislation also provides for changes to different commercial uses. On a farm near Wincanton in Somerset, a charitable foundation operates out of a former pigsty, the crumbling stone walls of which are little more than a nest for a timber building. Hens have been known to interrupt the work of the charity’s staff. A nearby grain silo will soon be converted into a library.

Farmers, many of whom have plenty of assets but little capital, are seizing the chance to give their old outbuildings new leases of life. This has contributed to a big increase in the number of home conversions. Between March 2010 and March 2012, 25,300 non-residential buildings in England were converted for domestic use. In the two years following the change in the law, the figure more than doubled, to 51,250. Where there’s muck, there’s brass.

….thanks to the Economist…..


The Baby Boomer War

…..look back…

To understand the war, we have to understand what motivated that generation of Americans not only to protest but also to fight, and later to seek some sort of closure. Wars are far easier to initiate than to conclude. And for those who serve, the memories endure long after the fighting stops.

At his inauguration in January 1961, President John Kennedy said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Those born after the boomers may find it quaint to read about a president asking citizens to sacrifice, to “pay any price.” Nonetheless, their parents or grandparents, the baby boomers, will most likely remember a brief shining moment of energized promise and of unfulfilled dreams. It was the echo of that call, just a few years later, that motivated hundreds of thousands of young men to enlist for Vietnam, for the chance to ensure “the success of liberty” — and many others back home, at least at the outset, to support the fighting.

In popular memory, the boomers quickly turned against the war. Many did, but many also served. Over 10 million boomers served in the military, some 40 percent of the males of their generation. Many of them served in Vietnam. More baby boomers died in Vietnam than went to Canada or to prison for refusing to serve. Those boomers in uniform were more blue-collar and minority than their generational median, but they were not some marginal part of it, nor were they the only ones to fight. So did college dropouts and graduates — and not only as officers.

New recruits for the Vietnam War being sworn in, in St. Paul, Minn. CreditRohn Engh/FPG, via Getty Images

The profile of those who served was more complicated than their stereotype — the men and women in Vietnam were not defined by peace symbols and love beads, although some displayed them. They were not a group of mutinous draftees, although many were drafted, and if they did not begin their tour disillusioned by their war, they most likely concluded it with that view. They were not a band of rebellious “fraggers” assassinating their officers or marauding killers piling up body counts of the innocent in a haze of marijuana smoke.

They were soldiers and marines, sailors and airmen, doctors and nurses, who learned about survival, about protecting buddies, about cruel death. They witnessed the suffering of the Vietnamese and they served even when an ending to their war and a clear meaning for it seemed increasingly elusive. Their favorite song was the Animals’ recording of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” But when they did get out, their homecoming was often difficult and lonely. The impact of their indifferent, if not hostile, reception was all the greater because they had assumed the responsibility of citizenship they understood was theirs.

The baby boomer generation grew up in the world of the 1950s, a world of “duck and cover” drills in schools in preparation for a nuclear attack, of reminders of the threat posed by Soviet and Chinese Communism, of the fear of the near-inevitability of war, and of their obligation to serve in this war. It was a time of fear, but also an era of national confidence and of individual obligation. These children of World War II veterans learned their responsibility to serve when called — or to volunteer before being called.

The journalist Philip Caputo was a young Marine officer who went ashore with the first American combat units in Vietnam, in 1965. He recalled, “For Americans who did not come of age in the early 1960s, it may be hard to grasp what those years were like — the pride and overpowering self-assurance that prevailed.” When they marched across rice paddies, he said, they carried, “along with our packs and rifles, the implicit convictions that the Vietcong would be quickly beaten and that we were doing something altogether noble and good.”

Few could have anticipated the duration and cost of this commitment. Their leaders did not, although they were seldom honest about this. So when President Kennedy proclaimed at his inauguration that the torch had passed to a new generation, his World War II generation, it was a torch that few held very long. Within a few years, they quickly passed it along to their children.

In 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson sent in ground combat troops, there was criticism and dissent, but the dominant image was of young Americans taking a stand in the jungle, a heady sense of Americans defending the “free world.”

This changed as the numbers of troops grew, their casualties increased, as draftees made up more of the units, and as the rationale for the war and its conduct were more broadly challenged and unpersuasively defended. As Americans became disillusioned by the war, some of their sons and daughters, siblings and friends continued to go to Vietnam. To the protesters and critics, by 1967 the troops had become objects of pity for serving on a dangerous assignment in a cruel and unjust war.

In 1968, the chant from protesters was “Hey, hey, L.B.J. How many kids did you kill today?” But by late 1969, when Americans learned of the atrocities committed against an estimated 600 civilians at the village of My Lai, some protesters focused on those who were serving in Vietnam, not as victims but as willing participants in their cruel and unjust war. Johnson was back in Texas, and the young men serving now were the baby killers. Pity became contempt. More people probably knew Lt. William Calley, the man in charge at My Lai, than knew the name of any other combat officer who served in Vietnam. This left little room in the Vietnam narrative for stories of courage and sacrifice.

My Lai framed the image that for too many retrospectively described the Vietnam generation. Theirs was the “Apocalypse Now” war. That movie bore as little relation to the conduct and experience of the Vietnam War as “South Pacific” did to World War II — except the latter was kinder to those serving. An overwhelming majority of Vietnam veterans served honorably and bravely.

We cannot come to terms with the Vietnam War until we acknowledge the story of the generation who served there and understand the emotional complexity they confronted. In the years after the war, as civilians they have continued to serve their country and their world and to make a difference. Powerful, often unshared, memories remain.

Understanding this is essential: Those with responsibility to send the young to war need always to consider the enduring consequences of war and the human cost of undertaking this action. Winston Churchill, reflecting on the Boer War, understood it a century ago, and the Vietnam generation experienced it a half century ago. As Churchill wrote, “The Statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” He argued, “Let us learn our lessons.”

…here come old flat top he come grooving up slowly…

…….now that I’ve got your attention……. a nibble perhaps?…..

“The sun never sets on the British Empire.”

This phrase was often used to describe the British Empire at the peak of its power as the largest empire in history. Covering 13.01 million square miles of land, almost one-fourth of the world, the empire encompassed about 458 million people in 1938 through overseas colonies, dominions, protectorates, trading posts and mandates.

Image Credit: AP. British troops in the Egyptian Desert, 1936. 

Despite its numerous accomplishments, the imperial empire was also responsible for sowing the seeds of global tension, conflict and wars, many of which still continue to rage on.

When asked how Britain could help end the conflict over Kashmir during a visit to Pakistan in 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “I don’t want to try to insert Britain in some leading role where, as with so many of the world’s problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place.”

While the British may not have been directly responsible for every event, their interference and self-serving policies at the time were more often destructive than helpful.

Many historians also say Britain does bear historic responsibility for many regional disputes in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While it is near-impossible to summarize the entire history of the Middle East in just one article, with all of its complexities and nuances, here is a brief modern history lesson on how Britain basically screwed up the region:

1. 1875: Making their way to India

During the 19th century, Egypt and Sudan were considered strategic regions for imperial powers in terms of continental and possible global control. In 1875, Britain bought Egypt’s shares in the Suez Canal for £4 million, making them the largest shareholder and safeguarding the water route to India.

While Britain held these until 1956, this strategic move marked the beginning of imperial Britain’s control over Egypt.

2. 1876-82: Protecting Egypt before taking over

By 1876, Egypt’s ruler, the Khedive Ismail Pasha had run up debts of about £100 million, in spite of Egypt’s sale of its holdings in the Suez Canal to Britain in 1875. As a result, he was forced to accept Anglo-French control of his treasury, customs, post offices, railways and ports.

Following riots in Alexandria, heightened tensions and the rise of a nationalist movement led by Ahmad Urabi Pasha Al-misri, Britain ordered the bombardment of Alexandria which led to the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882 between British and Egyptian defenses, and eventually the seizure of both the canal and the country by British troops.

3. 1915: Dividing up the Ottoman Empire

Just two days after the British navy lost against the Turkish army, the British government signed a secret agreement with Russia that included a hypothetical post-WWI division of the Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence.

According to the agreement that was signed on March 20, 1915, Russia would claim Constantinople, the Bosporus Strate, the Dardanelles, the Gallipoli peninsula and more than half of the European section of Turkey. Britain, on the other hand, would lay claim to other areas of the former Ottoman Empire and central Persia, including Mesopotamia, which was known to be rich in oil.

The sneaky agreement signified a change in alliances during the Great War, as Britain promised away territory it sought to defend a few years earlier. In 1854, Britain had gone to war with Russia to prevent it from claiming Constantinople and the strait, while in 1878, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli sent the British fleet to the Dardanelles during the Russio-Turkish War to send them away from Constantinople.

4. 1914-18: World War One and the Fall of the Ottoman Empire

Although the German attempt to take over Europe was stopped, the Middle East was also affected in the process. The Ottoman Empire, once the greatest Islamic power in the region, sided with Germany and declared war against France, Russia and Great Britain in November 1914.

Considering the Ottoman Empire a serious threat to the British Empire, London launched preemptive strikes and attacks to knock Turkey out of the war and take downthe Ottoman Empire.

The war ended with Great Britain occupying territory that would eventually become Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Trans-Jordan.

5. 1916: Encouraging the Great Arab Revolt

“Employing bags of gold, the diplomacy of Lawrence of Arabia and promises of Arab independence,” the British sparked and encouraged an Arab uprising in 1916, known as the “Great Arab Revolt,” against the Turks.

However, after the war, the victorious allies failed to grant full independence to the Arab people, and instead placed them under British and French control according to the mandate system under the Treaty of Versailles.

6. 1916: Carving up the Middle East

More than a year after the agreement with Russia, Great Britain and France also signed a secret agreement known as the Sykes-Picot agreement, by which most of the Arab region under the Ottoman Empire would be divided into British and French spheres of influence after World War I.

British and French representatives, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges Picot, believed that the Arab people were better off under European empires and divided up the region with a ruler and without Arab knowledge.

Image Credit: Mideast Cartoon History

The two men created uncomplicated, immaculate straight-line borders that would cater to the needs of Britain and France. However, these borders “did not correspondto sectarian, tribal or ethnic distinctions on the ground,” and failed to allow for future growth of Arab nationalism and secularism.

“Even by the standards of the time, it was a shamelessly self-interested pact,” writesBritish historian James Barr in his book A Line in the Sand.

7. 1914-18: Sowing the seeds for the Israel-Palestine conflict

After World War I, the British government was given a mandate to rule Palestine in the carve-up of the Ottoman Empire, including a commitment to Britain’s Jewish community to create a Jewish “national home” in the region put forth by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour. Eager to make sure Britain kept good on their promise, Arabs also demanded an Arab state on the same land.

Image Credit: Mideast Cartoon History

The simmering tension that would eventually evolve into the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict had already begun. For the next quarter of a century, the British faced riots and uprisings from both the Arab and Jewish sides.

8. 1947: The United Nations votes for partition of Palestine

Having ruled Palestine since 1920, Britain handed over responsibility for solving the Zionist-Arab issue to the United Nations in 1947. At the time, the region was plagued with chronic unrest between native Arabs and Jewish immigrants dating back to the 1910s, when both groups laid claim to the British-controlled territory.

Image Credit: By Illingworth, The Daily Mail, December 2, 1947

The U.N. recommended splitting the territory into separate Jewish and Palestinian states. According to the partition plan, 56.47% of Palestine would be given to the Jewish state and 43.53% to the Arab state. While the Palestinians opposed the plan, the Jewish forces secured control of their U.N.-allocated share of Palestine, as well as some Arab territory.

9. 1948: Setting the stage for today’s Israel-Palestine conflict

With the expiration of its mandate, Britain withdrew from the region on May 14, 1948, and the State of Israel was proclaimed as the first Jewish state for nearly 2,000 years.

The next day, five Arab armies from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq invaded Israel.

Image Credit: By Illingworth, The Daily Mail, May 10, 1948

The Israeli army managed to fend off the Arabs and seize key territories, including Galilee, the Palestinian coast and a strip of territory that connected the coastal region to the western side of Jerusalem. After a U.N.-negotiated cease-fire in 1949, Israel gained permanent control of these areas.

10. Post-WWI: Self-serving interests in Iraq

After the Ottoman Empire fought on the side of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary), the British captured Baghdad. Iraq remained a British mandate for the next three decades as a complex mix of ethnic and religious groups.

However, Britain’s gluttonous appetite for the new nation’s oil fields, new railway system and navigable rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, for trade and transportation overshadowed their concern over the country’s ethnic communities and tribes, including the Kurds, the Shi’a in and around Basra and the Sunni kings in Baghdad.

A Hashemite monarchy was established in 1921 under the British, and the country was granted independence on Oct. 3, 1932. Under the terms of the Anglo-Iraqi treaty in 1930, the British retained military bases and an agreement to train Iraq’s army. The army, however, “became a breeding ground of resentment against the British presence, particularly amongst new nationalist officers.”

After the Hashemite Royal family and politicians were swept away in a vicious nationalist army revolt in 1958, the Republic of Iraq was created and was then ruled by a series of military and civilian governments for the next two decades until General Saddam Hussein became the Iraqi dictator. Hussein’s authoritarian tactics and hold on power suppresed any regional, sectarian revolts. The face of the country, however, took a turn for the worse after the American-led, British-supported invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to renewed sectarian violence that was brewing for nearly a century and attacks from al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Hyacinth is a graduate of the George Washington University where she majored in Journalism and Mass Communications. Her interests include cultural, social and political trends in the Middle East and South Asia, as well as human rights issues across the globe.


Thanks and you’re welcome to Mic and Hyacinth

….so what the hell is an aggregator anyway?…..

ag·gre·ga·tor (ăg′rĭ-gā′tər)n.

1. one that aggregates.

2. gatherer/assembler/presenter of digital content such as news stories/reports, music/video and/or other multi media…. presenting such material, newly crafted and available in one place.











…how western civilization could collapse….


….some possible precipitating factors are already in place. How the West reacts to them will determine the world’s future….

By Rachel Nuwer / BBC /18 April 2017

The political economist Benjamin Friedman once compared modern Western society to a stable bicycle whose wheels are kept spinning by economic growth. Should that forward-propelling motion slow or cease, the pillars that define our society – democracy, individual liberties, social tolerance and more – would begin to teeter. Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse.

Such collapses have occurred many times in human history, and no civilisation, no matter how seemingly great, is immune to the vulnerabilities that may lead a society to its end. Regardless of how well things are going in the present moment, the situation can always change. Putting aside species-ending events like an asteroid strike, nuclear winter or deadly pandemic, history tells us that it’s usually a plethora of factors that contribute to collapse. What are they, and which, if any, have already begun to surface? It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return?

(Credit: Getty Images)

A South African police van is set on fire following protests about inequality in 2016 (Credit: Getty Images)

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation.

Safa Motesharrei, a systems scientist at the University of Maryland, uses computer models to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that can lead to local or global sustainability or collapse. According to findings that Motesharrei and his colleagues published in 2014, there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom, especially in terms of depletion of natural resources such as groundwater, soil, fisheries and forests – all of which could be worsened by climate change.

That economic stratification may lead to collapse on its own, on the other hand, came as more of a surprise to Motesharrei and his colleagues. Under this scenario, elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour. The inequalities we see today both within and between countries already point to such disparities. For example, the top 10% of global income earners are responsible for almost as much total greenhouse gas emissions as the bottom 90% combined. Similarly, about half the world’s population lives on less than $3 per day.

For both scenarios, the models define a carrying capacity – a total population level that a given environment’s resources can sustain over the long term. If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable. That fate is avoidable, however. “If we make rational choices to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which we deplete natural resources and the rate of pollution – all perfectly doable things – then we can avoid collapse and stabilise onto a sustainable trajectory,” Motesharrei said. “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions.”

(Credit: Getty Images)

One of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost (Credit: Getty Images)

Unfortunately, some experts believe such tough decisions exceed our political and psychological capabilities. “The world will not rise to the occasion of solving the climate problem during this century, simply because it is more expensive in the short term to solve the problem than it is to just keep acting as usual,” says Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. “The climate problem will get worse and worse and worse because we won’t be able to live up to what we’ve promised to do in the Paris Agreement and elsewhere.”

While we are all in this together, the world’s poorest will feel the effects of collapse first. Indeed, some nations are already serving as canaries in the coal mine for the issues that may eventually pull apart more affluent ones. Syria, for example, enjoyed exceptionally high fertility rates for a time, which fueled rapid population growth. A severe drought in the late 2000s, likely made worse by human-induced climate change, combined with groundwater shortages to cripple agricultural production. That crisis left large numbers of people – especially young men – unemployed, discontent and desperate. Many flooded into urban centres, overwhelming limited resources and services there. Pre-existing ethnic tensions increased, creating fertile grounds for violence and conflict. On top of that, poor governance – including neoliberal policies that eliminated water subsidies in the middle of the drought – tipped the country into civil war in 2011 and sent it careening toward collapse.

In Syria’s case – as with so many other societal collapses throughout history – it was not one but a plethora of factors that contributed, says Thomas Homer-Dixon, chair of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and author of The Upside of Down. Homer-Dixon calls these combined forces tectonic stresses for the way in which they quietly build up and then abruptly erupt, overloading any stabilising mechanisms that otherwise keep a society in check.

The Syrian case aside, another sign that we’re entering into a danger zone, Homer-Dixon says, is the increasing occurrence of what experts call nonlinearities, or sudden, unexpected changes in the world’s order, such as the 2008 economic crisis, the rise of ISIS, Brexit, or Donald Trump’s election.

(Credit: iStock)

Some civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper (Credit: iStock)

The past can also provide hints for how the future might play out. Take, for example, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. By the end of the 100BC the Romans had spread across the Mediterranean, to the places most easily accessed by sea. They should have stopped there, but things were going well and they felt empowered to expand to new frontiers by land. While transportation by sea was economical, however, transportation across land was slow and expensive. All the while, they were overextending themselves and running up costs. The Empire managed to remain stable in the ensuing centuries, but repercussions for spreading themselves too thin caught up with them in the 3rd Century, which was plagued by civil war and invasions. The Empire tried to maintain its core lands, even as the army ate up its budget and inflation climbed ever higher as the government debased its silver currency to try to cover its mounting expenses. While some scholars cite the beginning of collapse as the year 410, when the invading Visigoths sacked the capital, that dramatic event was made possible by a downward spiral spanning more than a century.

According to Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University and author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, one of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost. As stated in the laws of thermodynamics, it takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state – and human society is no exception. By the 3rd Century, Rome was increasingly adding new things – an army double the size, a cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defences – just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up those heightened complexities. It was fiscal weakness, not war, that did the Empire in.

So far, modern Western societies have largely been able to postpone similar precipitators of collapse through fossil fuels and industrial technologies – think hydraulic fracturing coming along in 2008, just in time to offset soaring oil prices. Tainter suspects this will not always be the case, however. “Imagine the costs if we have to build a seawall around Manhattan, just to protect against storms and rising tides,” he says. Eventually, investment in complexity as a problem-solving strategy reaches a point of diminishing returns, leading to fiscal weakness and vulnerability to collapse. That is, he says “unless we find a way to pay for the complexity, as our ancestors did when they increasingly ran societies on fossil fuels.”

(Credit: Getty Images)

A protest group in Argentina demonstrates against United States interference in the crises in Syria and Venezuela (Credit: Getty Images)

Also paralleling Rome, Homer-Dixon predicts that Western societies’ collapse will be preceded by a retraction of people and resources back to their core homelands. As poorer nations continue to disintegrate amid conflicts and natural disasters, enormous waves of migrants will stream out of failing regions, seeking refuge in more stable states. Western societies will respond with restrictions and even bans on immigration; multi-billion dollar walls and border-patrolling drones and troops; heightened security on who and what gets in; and more authoritarian, populist styles of governing. “It’s almost an immunological attempt by countries to sustain a periphery and push pressure back,” Homer-Dixon says.

Meanwhile, a widening gap between rich and poor within those already vulnerable Western nations will push society toward further instability from the inside. “By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority,” Randers says. “What will collapse is equity.”

Whether in the US, UK or elsewhere, the more dissatisfied and afraid people become, Homer-Dixon says, the more of a tendency they have to cling to their in-group identity – whether religious, racial or national. Denial, including of the emerging prospect of societal collapse itself, will be widespread, as will rejection of evidence-based fact. If people admit that problems exist at all, they will assign blame for those problems to everyone outside of their in-group, building up resentment. “You’re setting up the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence,” Homer-Dixon says. When localised violence finally does break out, or another country or group decides to invade, collapse will be difficult to avoid.

Europe, with its close proximity to Africa, its land bridge to the Middle East and its neighbourly status with more politically volatile nations to the East, will feel these pressures first. The US will likely hold out longer, surrounded as it is by ocean buffers.

(Credit Getty Images):

A severe drought in Syria left many people – especially young men – unemployed, discontent and desperate, which may have been a factor that led to civil war (Credit Getty Images):

On the other hand, Western societies may not meet with a violent, dramatic end. In some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper. The British Empire has been on this path since 1918, Randers says, and other Western nations might go this route as well. As time passes, they will become increasingly inconsequential and, in response to the problems driving their slow fade-out, will also starkly depart from the values they hold dear today. “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode,” Randers argues. “Democratic, liberal society will fail, while stronger governments like China will be the winners.”

Some of these forecasts and early warning signs should sound familiar, precisely because they are already underway. While Homer-Dixon is not surprised at the world’s recent turn of events – he predicted some of them in his 2006 book – he didn’t expect these developments to occur before the mid-2020s.

Western civilisation is not a lost cause, however. Using reason and science to guide decisions, paired with extraordinary leadership and exceptional goodwill, human society can progress to higher and higher levels of well-being and development, Homer-Dixon says. Even as we weather the coming stresses of climate change, population growth and dropping energy returns, we can maintain our societies and better them. But that requires resisting the very natural urge, when confronted with such overwhelming pressures, to become less cooperative, less generous and less open to reason. “The question is, how can we manage to preserve some kind of humane world as we make our way through these changes?” Homer-Dixon says.


….. thanks to Rachel Nuwer / BBC /18 April 2017 ….

and now for something totally different……..take this and call me in the morning…..

…..U.S. churches are now costing taxpayers $71 billion a year…..


A 2015 study says that tax exempt churches in the United States are costing its citizens $71 billion each year in tax breaks.

According to the Secular Policy Institute, religious groups receive $35.3 billions in federal income tax subsidies and $26.2 billion in property tax credits. They also enjoy $6.1 billion in state income tax, $1.2 billion of parsonage and $2.2 billion in faith-based initiative subsidies.

SPI reports that if “religious organizations (ie. churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) were taxed like for-profit agencies, it was found that this could generate upwards of $71 billion per year in tax revenue.”

“…even if churches were merely held to the standards of other non-profit agencies, this could generate $16.75 billion in tax revenue per year.The report estimate for the total subsides enjoyed by religious organizations, but they do not account for tax credits like sales taxes, local sales and income taxes volunteer labor subsidy, and donor-tax exemptions.”

Many Americans believe religious organizations require these heavy tax breaks for use in their charitable works. However, researchers at Secular Humanism report that many popular churches are in fact using far less of their funds compared to non-profits.

The Mormon Church, for example, spends roughly .7% of its annual income on charity. Their study of 271 congregations found an average of 71% of revenues going to ‘operating expenses’…Compare this to the American Red Cross, which uses 92.1% of revenues for physical assistance and just 7.9% on operating expenses. The authors also note that Wal-Mart, for instance, gives about $1.75 billion in food aid to charities each year, or twenty-eight times all of the money allotted for charity by the United Methodist Church and almost double what the LDS Church has given in the last twenty-five years.

While some churches actually participate in charitable works, they do not perform half as much humanitarian aid as a true none-profit organization.

According to Patheos, “churches should be entitled to the same tax breaks as other charitable groups, as long as they are held to the same standard, and not given the free pass to tax free status they currently enjoy.”


The New York Daily News and ProPublica are the twin recipients of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for public service.

The pairing of a famed local newspaper and an ambitious nonprofit news web site might strike some people as symbolic of turbulent times in journalism.

The Pulitzers, administered by Columbia University, are the most prestigious prizes in American journalism for newspaper and digital news coverage. The prizes recognize work from the 2016 calendar year, which means some of the entries involved election themes. Winners and finalists were announced on Monday.

Other winners included the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy and the Miami Herald, in the explanatory reporting category, for coverage of the Panama Papers; the East Bay Times for breaking news; the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold for national reporting; and the Charleston Gazette-Mail for investigative reporting.

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold won the national reporting prize.

“David never took things at face value. He checked out everything with amazing persistence. And he went about his work in an innovative, highly resourceful manner — soliciting the assistance of the public via Twitter. In that way, he reimagined how investigative reporting can be carried out while also providing a level of transparency into his work that fascinated the public,” Post editor Marty Baron said in a statement.

After the election, Fahrenthold became a CNN contributor on top of his Post reporting.

Short summaries accompanied each winning entry. Only one of the prize summaries — for Fahrenthold’s reporting — mentioned President Trump by name.

But some of the other prizes recognized work that reckoned with the consequences of the campaign and tried to lend insight to the election and its aftermath.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan received the commentary prize for, the judges said, “rising to the moment with beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation’s most divisive political campaigns.”


…thanks and your welcome to CNN et al…..


…you say you had to “suffer” through 8 years of Barack Obama?….

……….probably won’t work……first try talking to your foot…….

One of many, many infuriating parts of having Trump as the President is the insufferable smugness of conservatives. When they’re not telling you to “suck it up, snowflake” or trying to sell you fake news, they’re gloating: “We suffered for eight years under that tyrant Obummer. Now it’s your turn.”







One man, Scott Mednick had enough with his Republican acquaintances and penned this powerful response:

That, of course, is your right, I suppose. I do not wish harm on anyone. Your statement seems to continue the ‘US v THEM’ mentality. The election is over. It is important to get past campaigning and campaign rhetoric and get down to what is uniting, not dividing and what is best for ALL Americans.

There will never be a President who does everything to everyone’s liking. There are things President Obama (and President Clinton) did that I do not like and conversely there are things I can point to that the Presidents Bush did that I agree with. So I am not 100% in lock step with the outgoing President but have supported him and the overall job he did.

And, if you recall, during the Presidential Campaign back in 2008 the campaign was halted because of the “historic crisis in our financial system.” Wall Street bailout negotiations intervened in the election process. The very sobering reality was that there likely could be a Depression and the world financial markets could collapse.

The United States was losing 800,000 jobs a month and was poised to lose at least 10 million jobs the first year once the new President took office. We were in an economic freefall. So let us recall that ALL of America was suffering terribly at the beginning of Obama’s Presidency.

But I wanted to look back over the last 8 years and ask you a few questions. Since much of the rhetoric before Obama was elected was that he would impose Sharia Law, Take Away Your Guns, Create Death Panels, Destroy the Economy, Impose Socialism and, since you will agree that NONE of this came to pass, I was wondering: Why have you suffered so?

So let me ask: Gays and Lesbians can now marry and enjoy the benefits they had been deprived of. Has this caused your suffering?

When Obama took office, the Dow was 6,626. Now it is 19,875. Has this caused your suffering?

We had 82 straight months of private sector job growth – the longest streak in the history of the United States. Has this caused your suffering?

Especially considering where the economy was when he took over, an amazing 11.3 million new jobs were created under President Obama (far more than President Bush). Has this caused your suffering?

Obama has taken Unemployment from 10% down to 4.7%. Has this caused your suffering?

Homelessness among US Veterans has dropped by half. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama shut down the US secret overseas prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama has created a policy for the families of fallen soldiers to have their travel paid for to be there when remains are flown home. Has this caused your suffering?

We landed a rover on Mars. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Has this caused your suffering?

Uninsured adults has decreased to below 10%: 90% of adults are insured – an increase of 20 Million Adults. Has this caused your suffering?

People are now covered for pre-existing conditions. Has this caused your suffering?

Insurance Premiums increased an average of $4,677 from 2002-2008, an increase of 58% under Bush. The growth of these insurance premiums has gone up $4,145 – a slower rate of increase. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama added Billions of dollars to mental health care for our Veterans. Has this caused your suffering?

Consumer confidence has gone from 37.7 to 98.1 during Obama’s tenure. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Has this caused your suffering?

His bi-annual Nuclear Summit convinced 16 countries to give up and destroy all their loose nuclear material so it could not be stolen. Has this caused your suffering?

He saved the US Auto industry. American cars sold at the beginning of his term were 10.4M and upon his exit 17.5M. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit as a percentage of the GDP has gone from 9.8% to 3.2%. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit itself was cut by $800 Billion Dollars. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama preserved the middle class tax cuts. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

He signed Credit Card reform so that rates could not be raised without you being notified. Has this caused your suffering?

He outlawed Government contractors from discriminating against LGBT persons. Has this caused your suffering?

He doubled Pell Grants. Has this caused your suffering?

Abortion is down. Has this caused your suffering?

Violent crime is down. Has this caused your suffering?

He overturned the scientific ban on stem cell research. Has this caused your suffering?

He protected Net Neutrality. Has this caused your suffering?

Obamacare has extended the life of the Medicare insurance trust fund (will be solvent until 2030). Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Has this caused your suffering?

He banned torture. Has this caused your suffering?

He negotiated with Syria to give up its chemical weapons and they were destroyed. Has this caused your suffering?

Solar and Wind Power are at an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

High School Graduation rates hit 83% – an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

Corporate profits are up by 144%. Has this caused your suffering?

He normalized relations with Cuba. Has this caused your suffering?

Reliance on foreign oil is at a 40 year low. Has this caused your suffering?

US Exports are up 28%. Has this caused your suffering?

He appointed the most diverse cabinet ever. Has this caused your suffering?

He reduced the number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Has this caused your suffering?

Yes, he killed Osama Bin Laden and retrieved all the documents in his possession for analysis. Perhaps THIS caused your suffering?

From an objective standpoint it would appear that the last eight years have seen some great progress and we were saved from a financial collapse. Things are not perfect. Things can always be better. We are on much better footing now than we were in 2008.

I look forward to understanding what caused you to suffer so much under Obama these last eight years.”

Natalie Dickinson Occupy Democrats February 2017. 

Copy & paste to share.



…Kentucky Federal Judge sticks it to trump….

A Kentucky Federal Judge rejected to dismiss the claim from three protesters at a 2016 Trump rally that then-candidate Trump, provoked violence with his rhetoric to have them removed. U. S. District Judge David J. Hale ruled in a March 31 opinion that he is rejecting requests from Trump and his supporters named as defendants…

via Federal Judge Rules President Trump Incited Violence at Rally as Candidate — TIME

……..inside the hunt for russia’s most notorious hacker….

…ON THE MORNING of December 30, the day after Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 US election, Tillmann Werner was sitting down to breakfast in Bonn, Germany. He spread some jam on a slice of rye bread, poured himself a cup of coffee, and settled in to check Twitter at his dining room table.

The news about the sanctions had broken overnight, so Werner, a researcher with the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, was still catching up on details. Following a link to an official statement, Werner saw that the White House had targeted a short parade’s worth of Russian names and institutions—two intelligence agencies, four senior intelligence officials, 35 diplomats, three tech companies, two hackers. Most of the details were a blur. Then Werner stopped scrolling. His eyes locked on one name buried among the targets: Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev.
Werner, as it happened, knew quite a bit about Evgeniy Bogachev. He knew in precise, technical detail how Bogachev had managed to loot and terrorize the world’s financial systems with impunity for years. He knew what it was like to do battle with him.

But Werner had no idea what role Bogachev might have played in the US election hack. Bogachev wasn’t like the other targets—he was a bank robber. Maybe the most prolific bank robber in the world. “What on earth is he doing on this list?” Werner wondered.

AMERICA’S WAR WITH Russia’s greatest cybercriminal began in the spring of 2009, when special agent James Craig, a rookie in the FBI’s Omaha, Nebraska, field office, began looking into a strange pair of electronic thefts. A square-jawed former marine, Craig had been an agent for just six months, but his superiors tapped him for the case anyway, because of his background: For years, he’d been an IT guy for the FBI. One of his nicknames in college was “the silent geek.”

While you log into seemingly secure websites, the malware modifies pages before they load, siphoning away your credentials and your account balance.
The leading victim in the case was a subsidiary of the payments-processing giant First Data, which lost $450,000 that May. That was quickly followed by a $100,000 theft from a client of the First National Bank of Omaha. What was odd, Craig noticed, was that the thefts seemed to have been executed from the victims’ own IP addresses, using their own logins and passwords. Examining their computers, he saw that they were infected with the same malware: something called the Zeus Trojan horse.

In online security circles, Craig discovered, Zeus was notorious. Having first appeared in 2006, the malware had a reputation among both criminals and security experts as a masterpiece—smooth, effective, versatile. Its author was a phantom. He was only known online, where he went by the handle Slavik, or lucky12345, or a half-dozen other names.
Zeus infected computers through fairly typical means: fake IRS emails, say, or illegitimate UPS shipping notices that tricked recipients into downloading a file. But once it was on your computer, Zeus let hackers play God: They could hijack websites and use a keystroke logger to record usernames, passwords, and PINs. Hackers could even modify login forms to request further valuable security information: a mother’s maiden name, a Social Security number. The ruse is known as a “man in the browser” attack. While you sit at your computer logging into seemingly secure websites, the malware modifies pages before they load, siphoning away your credentials and your account balance. Only when you log in from a different computer do you even realize the money is gone.

By the time Craig started his investigation, Zeus had become the digital underground’s malware of choice—the Microsoft Office of online fraud. Slavik was something rare in the malware world: a genuine professional. He regularly updated the Zeus code, beta-testing new features. His product was endlessly adaptable, with variants optimized for different kinds of attacks and targets. A computer infected with Zeus could even be folded into a botnet, a network of infected computers that can be harnessed together to run spam servers or distributed denial-of-service attacks, or send out more deceptive emails to spread the malware further.

But sometime shortly before Craig picked up his case in 2009, Slavik had begun to change tack. He started cultivating an inner circle of online criminals, providing a select group with a variant of his malware, called Jabber Zeus. It came equipped with a Jabber instant-message plug-in, allowing the group to communicate and coordinate attacks—like in the two Omaha thefts. Rather than rely on broad infection campaigns, they began to specifically target corporate accountants and people with access to financial systems.

As Slavik turned increasingly to organized crime, he dramatically narrowed his retail malware business. In 2010 he announced his “retirement” online and then released what security researchers came to call Zeus 2.1, an advanced version of his malware protected by an encryption key—effectively tying each copy to a specific user—with a price tag upwards of $10,000 per copy. Now, Slavik was only dealing with an elite, ambitious group of criminals.

“We had no idea how big this case was,” Craig says. “The amount of activity from these guys was phenomenal.” Other institutions began to come forward with losses and accounts of fraud. Lots of them. Craig realized that, from his desk in suburban Omaha, he was chasing a well-organized international criminal network. “The victims started falling out of the sky,” Craig says. It dwarfed any other cybercrime the FBI had tackled before.
CRAIG’S FIRST MAJOR break in the case came in September 2009. With the help of some industry experts, he identified a New York–based server that seemed to play some sort of role in the Zeus network. He obtained a search warrant, and an FBI forensics team copied the server’s data onto a hard drive, then overnighted it to Nebraska. When an engineer in Omaha examined the results, he sat in awe for a moment. The hard drive contained tens of thousands of lines of instant message chat logs in Russian and Ukrainian. Looking over at Craig, the engineer said: “You have their Jabber server.”

This was the gang’s whole digital operation—a road map to the entire case. The cybersecurity firm Mandiant dispatched an engineer to Omaha for months just to help untangle the Jabber Zeus code, while the FBI began cycling in agents from other regions on 30- or 90-day assignments. Linguists across the country pitched in to decipher the logs. “The slang was a challenge,” Craig says.
The messages contained references to hundreds of victims, their stolen credentials scattered in English throughout the files. Craig and other agents started cold-calling institutions, telling them they had been hit by cyberfraud. He found that several businesses had terminated employees they suspected of the thefts—not realizing that the individuals’ computers had been infected by malware and their logins stolen.

The case also expanded beyond the virtual world. In New York one day in 2009, three young women from Kazakhstan walked into the FBI field office there with a strange story. The women had come to the States to look for work and found themselves participating in a curious scheme: A man would drive them to a local bank and tell them to go inside and open a new account. They were to explain to the teller that they were students visiting for the summer. A few days later, the man had them return to the bank and withdraw all of the money in the account; they kept a small cut and passed the rest on to him. Agents pieced together that the women were “money mules”: Their job was to cash out the funds that Slavik and his comrades had siphoned from legitimate accounts.

By the summer of 2010, New York investigators had put banks across the region on alert for suspicious cash-outs and told them to summon FBI agents as they occurred. The alert turned up dozens of mules withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars. Most were students or newly arrived immigrants in Brighton Beach. One woman explained that she’d become a mule after a job at a grocery store fell through, telling an agent: “I could strip, or I could do this.” Another man explained that he’d be picked up at 9 am, do cash-out runs until 3 pm, and then spend the rest of the day at the beach. Most cash-outs ran around $9,000, just enough to stay under federal reporting limits. The mule would receive 5 to 10 percent of the total, with another cut going to the recruiter. The rest of the money would be sent overseas.

“The amount of organization these kids—they’re in their twenties—were able to pull together would’ve impressed any Fortune 100 company,”  Craig says.
The United States, moreover, was just one market in what investigators soon realized was a multinational reign of fraud. Officials traced similar mule routes in Romania, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Russia. All told, investigators could attribute around $70 million to $80 million in thefts to the group—but they suspected the total was far more than that.

Banks howled at the FBI to shut the fraud down and stanch the losses. Over the summer, New York agents began to close in on high-ranking recruiters and the scheme’s masterminds in the US. Two Moldovans were arrested at a Milwaukee hotel at 11 pm following a tip; one suspect in Boston tried to flee a raid on his girlfriend’s apartment and had to be rescued from the fire escape.

Meanwhile, Craig’s case in Omaha advanced against the broader Jabber Zeus gang. The FBI and the Justice Department had zeroed in on an area in eastern Ukraine around the city of Donetsk, where several of the Jabber Zeus leaders seemed to live. Alexey Bron, known online as “thehead,” specialized in moving the gang’s money around the world. Ivan Viktorvich Klepikov, who went by the moniker “petr0vich,” ran the group’s IT management, web hosting, and domain names. And Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov, a well-known local DJ who went by the nickname “tank,” managed the whole scheme, putting him second in command to Slavik. “The amount of organization these kids—they’re in their twenties—were able to pull together would’ve impressed any Fortune 100 company,” Craig says. The gang poured their huge profits into expensive cars (Penchukov had a penchant for high-end BMWs and Porsches, while Klepikov preferred Subaru WRX sports sedans), and the chat logs were filled with discussions of fancy vacations across Turkey, Crimea, and the United Arab Emirates.

By the fall of 2010, the FBI was ready to take down the network. As officials in Washington called a high-profile press conference, Craig found himself on a rickety 12-hour train ride across Ukraine to Donetsk, where he met up with agents from the country’s security service to raid tank’s and petr0­vich’s homes. Standing in petr0vich’s living room, a Ukrainian agent told Craig to flash his FBI badge. “Show him it’s not just us,” he urged. Craig was stunned by the scene: The hacker, wearing a purple velvet smoking jacket, seemed unperturbed as agents searched his messy apartment in a Soviet-­style concrete building; his wife held their baby in the kitchen, laughing with investigators. “This is the gang I’ve been chasing?” Craig thought. The raids lasted well into the night, and Craig didn’t return to his hotel until 3 am. He took nearly 20 terabytes of seized data back to Omaha.

With 39 arrests around the world—stretching across four nations—investigators managed to disrupt the network. But crucial players slipped away. One top mule recruiter in the US fled west, staying a step ahead of investigators in Las Vegas and Los Angeles before finally escaping the country inside a shipping container. More important, Slavik, the mastermind himself, remained almost a complete cipher. Investigators assumed he was based in Russia. And once, in an online chat, they saw him reference that he was married. Other than that, they had nothing. The formal indictment referred to the creator of the Zeus malware using his online pseu­do­nym. Craig didn’t even know what his prime suspect looked like. “We have thousands of photos from tank, petr0­vich—not once did we see Slavik’s mug,” Craig says. Soon even the criminal’s online traces vanished. Slavik, whoever he was, went dark. And after seven years of chasing Jabber Zeus, James Craig moved on to other cases.
About a year after the FBI shut down the Jabber Zeus ring, the small community of online cybersecurity researchers who watch for malware and botnets began to notice a new variant of Zeus emerge. The malware’s source code had been leaked online in 2011—perhaps purposefully, perhaps not—effectively turning Zeus into an open source project and setting off an explosion of new variants. But the version that caught the eyes of researchers was different: more powerful and more sophisticated, particularly in its approach to assembling botnets.

Until then, most botnets used a hub-and-spoke system—a hacker would program a single command server to distribute orders directly to infected machines, known as zombie computers. The undead army could then be directed to send out spam emails, distribute malware, or target websites for denial­-of-service attacks. That hub-and-spoke design, though, made botnets relatively easy for law enforcement or security researchers to dismantle. If you could knock the command server offline, seize it, or disrupt a hacker’s ability to communicate with it, you could usually break the botnet.

The gang’s strategy represented an evolutionary leap in organized crime: Now they could do everything remotely, never touching a US jurisdiction.
This new Zeus variant, however, relied on both traditional command servers and peer-to-peer communication between zombie machines, making it extremely difficult to knock down. Infected machines kept a constantly updated list of other infected machines. If one device sensed that its connection with the command server had been interrupted, it would rely on the peer-to-peer network to find a new command server.

The network, in effect, was designed from the start to be takedown-proof; as soon as one command server was knocked offline, the botnet owner could just set up a new server somewhere else and redirect the peer-to-peer network to it. The new version became known as GameOver Zeus, after one of its file names, gameover2.php. The name also lent itself naturally to gallows humor: Once this thing infects your computer, went a joke among security experts, it’s game over for your bank accounts.

As far as anyone could tell, GameOver Zeus was controlled by a very elite group of hackers—and the group’s leader was Slavik. He had reemerged, more powerful than ever. Slavik’s new crime ring came to be called the Business Club. A September 2011 internal announcement to the group—introducing members to a new suite of online tools for organizing money transfers and mules—concluded with a warm welcome to Slavik’s select recipients: “We wish you all successful and productive work.”

Like the Jabber Zeus network, the Business Club’s prime directive was knocking over banks, which it did with even more ruthless inventiveness than its predecessor. The scheme was multipronged: First, the GameOver Zeus malware would steal a user’s banking credentials, intercepting them as soon as someone with an infected computer logged into an online account. Then the Business Club would drain the bank account, transferring its funds into other accounts they controlled overseas. With the theft complete, the group would use its powerful botnet to hit the targeted financial institutions with a denial-of-service attack to distract bank employees and prevent customers from realizing their accounts had been emptied until after the money had cleared. On November 6, 2012, the FBI watched as the GameOver network stole $6.9 million in a single transaction, then hit the bank with a multiday denial-of-­service attack.

Unlike the earlier Jabber Zeus gang, the more advanced network behind GameOver focused on larger six- and seven-figure bank thefts—a scale that made bank withdrawals in Brooklyn obsolete. Instead, they used the globe’s interconnected banking system against itself, hiding their massive thefts inside the trillions of dollars of legitimate commerce that slosh around the world each day. Investigators specifically identified two areas in far eastern China, close to the Russian city of Vladivostok, from which mules funneled huge amounts of stolen money into Business Club accounts. The strategy, investigators realized, represented an evolutionary leap in organized crime: Bank robbers no longer had to have a footprint inside the US. Now they could do everything remotely, never touching a US jurisdiction. “That’s all it takes to operate with impunity,” says Leo Taddeo, a former top FBI official.

BANKS WEREN’T THE gang’s only targets. They also raided the accounts of nonfinancial businesses large and small, nonprofits, and even individuals. In October 2013, Slavik’s group began deploying malware known as CryptoLocker, a form of ransomware that would encrypt the files upon an infected machine and force its owner to pay a small fee, say, $300 to $500, to unlock the files. It quickly became a favorite tool of the cybercrime ring, in part because it helped transform dead weight into profit. The trouble with building a massive botnet focused on high-level financial fraud, it turns out, is that most zombie computers don’t connect to fat corporate accounts; Slavik and his associates found themselves with tens of thousands of mostly idle zombie machines. Though ransomware didn’t yield huge amounts, it afforded the criminals a way to monetize these otherwise worthless infected computers.

The concept of ransomware had been around since the 1990s, but CryptoLocker took it mainstream. Typically arriving on a victim’s machine under the cover of an unassuming email attachment, the Business Club’s ransomware used strong encryption and forced victims to pay using bitcoin. It was embarrassing and inconvenient, but many relented. The Swansea, Massachusetts, police department grumpily ponied up $750 to get back one of its computers in November 2013; the virus “is so complicated and successful that you have to buy these bitcoins, which we had never heard of,” Swansea police lieutenant Gregory Ryan told his local newspaper.

“When a bank gets attacked en masse—100 transactions a week—you stop caring about the specific malware and the individual attacks; you just need to stop the bleeding,” says one Dutch security expert.
The following month, the security firm Dell SecureWorks estimated that as many as 250,000 machines worldwide had been infected with CryptoLocker that year. One researcher traced 771 ransoms that netted Slavik’s crew a total of $1.1 million. “He was one of the first to realize how desperate people would be to regain access to their files,” Brett Stone-Gross, a researcher with Dell SecureWorks at the time, says of Slavik. “He didn’t charge an exorbitant amount, but he made a lot of money and created a new type of online crime.”

As the GameOver network continued to gain strength, its operators kept adding revenue streams—renting out their network to other criminals to deliver malware and spam or to carry out projects like click fraud, ordering zombie machines to generate revenue by clicking on ads on fake websites.

With each passing week, the cost to banks, businesses, and individuals from GameOver grew. For businesses, the thefts could easily wipe out a year’s profits, or worse. Domestically, victims ranged from a regional bank in north Florida to a Native American tribe in Washington state. As it haunted large swathes of the private sector, GameOver absorbed more and more of the efforts of the private cybersecurity industry. The sums involved were staggering. “I don’t think anyone has a grasp of the full extent—one $5 million theft overshadows hundreds of smaller thefts,” explains Michael Sandee, a security expert at the Dutch firm Fox-IT. “When a bank gets attacked en masse—100 transactions a week—you stop caring about the specific malware and the individual attacks; you just need to stop the bleeding.”

Many tried. From 2011 through 2013, cybersecurity researchers and various firms mounted three attempts to take down GameOver Zeus. Three European security researchers teamed up to make a first assault in the spring of 2012. Slavik easily repelled their attack. Then, in March 2012, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit took civil legal action against the network, relying upon US marshals to raid data centers in Illinois and Pennsylvania that housed Zeus command-­and-control servers and aiming legal action against 39 individuals thought to be associated with the Zeus networks. (Slavik was first on the list.) But Microsoft’s plan failed to put a dent in GameOver. Instead it merely clued Slavik in to what investigators knew about his network and allowed him to refine his tactics.

Botnet fighters are a small, proud group of engineers and security researchers—self-proclaimed “internet janitors” who work to keep online networks running smoothly. Within that group, Tillmann Werner—the tall, lanky German researcher with the security firm CrowdStrike—had become known for his flair and enthusiasm for the work. In February 2013 he seized control of the Kelihos botnet, an infamous malware network built on Viagra spam, live onstage during a presentation at the cybersecurity industry’s biggest conference. But Kelihos, he knew, was no GameOver Zeus. Werner had been watching GameOver since its inception, marveling at its strength and resilience.

In 2012 he had linked up with Stone-Gross—who was just a few months out of graduate school and was based in California—plus a few other researchers to map out an effort to attack GameOver. Working across two continents largely in their spare time, the men plotted their attack via online chat. They carefully studied the previous European effort, identifying where it had failed, and spent a year preparing their offensive.

At the peak of their attack, the researchers controlled 99 percent of Slavik’s network—but they’d overlooked a critical source of resilience in GameOver’s structure.
In January 2013, they were ready: They stocked up on pizza, assuming they were in for a long siege against Slavik’s network. (When you go against a botnet, Werner says, “you have one shot. It either goes right or wrong.”) Their plan was to reroute GameOver’s peer-to-peer network, centralize it, and then redirect the traffic to a new server under their control—a process known as “sinkholing.” In doing so, they hoped to sever the botnet’s communication link to Slavik. And at first, everything went well. Slavik showed no signs of fighting back, and Werner and Stone-Gross watched as more and more infected computers connected to their sinkhole by the hour.

At the peak of their attack, the researchers controlled 99 percent of Slavik’s network—but they’d overlooked a critical source of resilience in GameOver’s structure: a small subset of infected computers were still secretly communicating with Slavik’s command servers. “We missed that there’s a second layer of control,” Stone-Gross says. By the second week, Slavik was able to push a software update to his whole network and reassert his authority. The researchers watched with dawning horror as a new version of GameOver Zeus propagated across the internet and Slavik’s peer-to-peer network began to reassemble. “We immediately saw what happened—we’d completely neglected this other channel of communication,” Werner says.

The researchers’ ploy—nine months in the making—had failed. Slavik had won. In a trollish online chat with a Polish security team, he crowed about how all the efforts to seize his network had come to naught. “I don’t think he thought it was possible to take down his botnet,” Werner says. Dejected, the two researchers were eager to try again. But they needed help—from Pittsburgh.
Over the past decade, the FBI’s Pittsburgh field office has emerged as the source of the government’s biggest cybercrime indictments, thanks in no small part to the head of the local cybersquad there, a onetime furniture salesman named J. Keith Mularski.

An excitable and gregarious agent who grew up around Pittsburgh, Mularski has become something of a celebrity in cyber­security circles. He joined the FBI in the late ’90s and spent his first seven years in the bureau working espionage and terrorism cases in Washington, DC. Jumping at the chance to return home to Pittsburgh, he joined a new cyber ­initiative there in 2005, despite the fact that he knew little about computers. Mularski trained on the job during a two-year undercover investigation chasing identity thieves deep in the online forum DarkMarket. Under the screen name Master Splyntr—a handle inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—Mularski managed to become a DarkMarket administrator, putting himself at the center of a burgeoning online criminal community. In his guise, he even chatted online with Slavik and reviewed an early version of the Zeus malware program. His DarkMarket access eventually helped investigators arrest 60 people across three continents.

Even after millions of dollars in thefts, neither the FBI nor the security industry had so much as a single Business Club member’s name.
In the years that followed, the head of the Pittsburgh office decided to invest aggressively in combating cybercrime—a bet on its increasing importance. By 2014, the FBI agents in Mularski’s squad, together with another squad assigned to a little-known Pittsburgh institution called the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, were prosecuting some of the Justice Department’s biggest cases. Two of Mularski’s agents, Elliott Peterson and Steven J. Lampo, were chasing the hackers behind GameOver Zeus, even as their desk-mates simultaneously investigated a case that would ultimately indict five Chinese army hackers who had penetrated computer systems at Westinghouse, US Steel, and other companies to benefit Chinese industry.

The FBI’s GameOver case had been under way for about a year by the time Werner and Stone-Gross offered to join forces with the Pittsburgh squad to take down Slavik’s botnet. If they had approached any other law-enforcement agency, the response might have been different. Government cooperation with industry was still a relatively rare phenomenon; the Feds’ style in cyber cases was, by reputation, to hoover up industry leads without sharing information. But the team in Pittsburgh was unusually practiced at collaboration, and they knew that the two researchers were the best in the field. “We jumped at the chance,” Mularski says.

Both sides realized that in order to tackle the botnet, they needed to work on three simultaneous fronts. First, they had to figure out once and for all who was running GameOver—what investigators call “attribution”—and build up a criminal prosecution; even after millions of dollars in thefts, neither the FBI nor the security industry had so much as a single Business Club member’s name. Second, they needed to take down the digital infrastructure of GameOver itself; that’s where Werner and Stone-Gross came in. And third, they needed to disable the botnet’s physical infrastructure by assembling court orders and enlisting the help of other governments to seize its servers across the globe. Once all that was done, they needed partners in the private sector to be ready with software updates and security patches to help recover infected computers the moment the good guys had control of the botnet. Absent any one of those moves, the next effort to take down GameOver Zeus was likely to fail just as the previous ones had.

The network was run through two password-protected British websites, which contained careful records, FAQs, and a “ticket” system for resolving technical issues.
With that, Mularski’s squad began to stitch together an international partnership unlike anything the US government had ever undertaken, enlisting the UK’s National Crime Agency, officials in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Luxembourg, and a dozen other countries, as well as industry experts at Microsoft, CrowdStrike, McAfee, Dell SecureWorks, and other companies.

First, to help nail down Slavik’s identity and get intelligence on the Business Club, the FBI teamed up with Fox-IT, a Dutch outfit renowned for its expertise in cyber-­forensics. The Dutch researchers got to work tracing old usernames and email addresses associated with Slavik’s ring to piece together an understanding of how the group operated.

The Business Club, it turned out, was a loose confederation of about 50 criminals, who each paid an initiation fee to access GameOver’s advanced control panels. The network was run through two password-protected British websites, ­Visitcoastweekend.com and Work.businessclub.so, which contained careful records, FAQs, and a “ticket” system for resolving technical issues. When investigators got legal permission to penetrate the Business Club server, they found a highly detailed ledger tracking the group’s various ongoing frauds. “Everything radiated professionalism,” Fox-IT’s Michael Sandee explains. When it came to pinpointing the precise timing of transactions between financial institutions, he says, “they probably knew better than the banks.”

ONE DAY, AFTER months of following leads, the investigators at Fox-IT got a tip from a source about an email address they might want to look into. It was one of many similar tips they’d chased down. “We had a lot of bread crumbs,” Mularski says. But this one led to something vital: The team was able to trace the email address to a British server that Slavik used to run the Business Club’s websites. More investigative work and more court orders eventually led authorities to Russian social media sites where the email address was connected to a real name: Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev. At first it was meaningless to the group. It took weeks’ more effort to realize that the name actually belonged to the phantom who had invented Zeus and created the Business Club.

Slavik, it turned out, was a 30-year-old who lived an upper-middle-class existence in Anapa, a Russian resort city on the Black Sea. Online photos showed that he enjoyed boating with his wife. The couple had a young daughter. One photo showed Bogachev posing in leopard-print pajamas and dark sunglasses, holding a large cat. The investigative team realized that he had written the first draft of Zeus when he was just 22 years old.

The team couldn’t find specific evidence of a link between Bogachev and the Russian state, but some entity seemed to be feeding Slavik specific terms to search for in his vast network of zombie computers.
But that wasn’t the most astounding revelation that the Dutch investigators turned up. As they continued their analysis, they noticed that someone at the helm of GameOver had been regularly searching tens of thousands of the botnet’s infected computers in certain countries for things like email addresses belonging to Georgian intelligence officers or leaders of elite Turkish police units, or documents that bore markings designating classified Ukrainian secrets. Whoever it was was also searching for classified ­material linked to the Syrian conflict and Russian arms dealing. At some point, a light bulb went off. “These are espionage commands,” Sandee says.

GameOver wasn’t merely a sophisticated piece of criminal malware; it was a sophisticated intelligence-­gathering tool. And as best as the investigators could determine, Bogachev was the only member of the Business Club who knew about this particular feature of the botnet. He appeared to be running a covert operation right under the noses of the world’s most prolific bank robbers. The FBI and Fox-IT team couldn’t find specific evidence of a link between Bogachev and the Russian state, but some entity seemed to be feeding Slavik specific terms to search for in his vast network of zombie computers. Bogachev, it appeared, was a Russian intelligence asset.

In March 2014, investigators could even watch as an international crisis played out live inside the snow globe of Bogachev’s criminal botnet. Weeks after the Sochi Olympics, Russian forces seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea and began efforts to destabilize the country’s eastern border. Right in step with the Russian campaign, Bogachev redirected a section of his botnet to search for politically sensitive information on infected Ukrainian computers—trawling for intelligence that might help the Russians anticipate their adversaries’ next moves.

The team was able to construct a tentative theory and history of Bogachev’s spycraft. The apparent state connection helped explain why Bogachev had been able to operate a major criminal enterprise with such impunity, but it also shed new light on some of the milestones in the life of Zeus. The system that Slavik used to make his intelligence queries dated back approximately to the moment in 2010 when he faked his retirement and made access to his malware far more exclusive. Perhaps Slavik had appeared on the radar of the Russian security services at some point that year, and in exchange for a license to commit fraud without prosecution—outside Russia, of course—the state made certain demands. To carry them out with maximum efficacy and secrecy, Slavik asserted tighter control over his criminal network.

The discovery of Bogachev’s likely intelligence ties introduced some trickiness to the operation to take down GameOver—especially when it came to the prospect of enlisting Russian cooperation. Otherwise, the plan was rumbling along. Now that the investigators had zeroed in on Bogachev, a grand jury could finally indict him as the mastermind behind GameOver Zeus. American prosecutors scrambled to bring together civil court orders to seize and disrupt the network. “When we were really running, we had nine people working this—and we only have 55 total,” says Michael Comber of the US Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh. Over a span of months, the team painstakingly went to internet service providers to ask permission to seize GameOver’s existing proxy servers, ensuring that at the right moment, they could flip those servers and disable Slavik’s control. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security, Carnegie Mellon, and a number of antivirus companies readied themselves to help customers regain access to their infected computers. Weekly conference calls spanned continents as officials coordinated action in Britain, the US, and elsewhere.

By late spring 2014, as pro-Russian forces fought in Ukraine proper, the American-­led forces got ready to move in on GameOver. They’d been plotting to take down the network for more than a year, carefully reverse-engineering the malware, covertly reading the criminal gang’s chat logs to understand the group’s psychology, and tracing the physical infrastructure of servers that allowed the network to propagate around the globe. “By this point, these researchers knew the malware better than the author,” says Elliott Peterson, one of the lead FBI agents on the case. As Mularski recalls, the team checked off all the crucial boxes: “Criminally, we can do it. Civilly, we can do it. Technically we can do it.” Working with a cast of dozens, communicating with more than 70 internet service providers and a dozen other law enforcement agencies from Canada to the United Kingdom to Japan to Italy, the team readied an attack to commence on Friday, May 30.
THE WEEK LEADING up to the attack was a frantic scramble. When Werner and Stone-Gross arrived in Pittsburgh, Peterson had them over to his family’s apartment, where his kids gawked at Werner and his German accent. Over dinner and Fathead beer, they took stock of their looming attempt. They were running way behind—Werner’s code wasn’t close to being ready. Over the rest of the week, as Werner and Stone-Gross raced to finish writing, another team assembled the last court orders, and still others ran herd on the ad hoc group of two dozen governments, companies, and consultants who were helping to take GameOver Zeus down. The White House had been briefed on the plan and was waiting for results. But the effort seemed to be coming apart at the seams.

For instance, the team had known for months that the GameOver botnet was controlled by a server in Canada. But then, just days before the attack, they discovered that there was a second command server in Ukraine. The realization made hearts drop. “If you’re not even aware of the second box,” Werner says, “how sure are you that there’s not a third box?”

Bogachev readied for battle—wrestling for control of his network, testing it, redirecting traffic to new servers, and deciphering the Pittsburgh team’s method of attack.
On Thursday, Stone-Gross carefully talked more than a dozen internet service providers through the procedures they needed to follow as the attack launched. At the last minute, one key service provider backed out, fearful that it would incur Slavik’s wrath. Then, on Friday morning, Werner and Stone-Gross arrived at their office building on the banks of the Monongahela River to find that one of the operation’s partners, McAfee, had prematurely published a blog post announcing the attack on the botnet, titled “It’s ‘Game Over’ for Zeus and Cryptolocker.”

After frantic calls to get the post taken down, the attack finally began. Canadian and Ukrainian authorities shut down GameOver’s command servers, knocking each offline in turn. And Werner and Stone-Gross began redirecting the zombie computers into a carefully built “sinkhole” that would absorb the nefarious traffic, blocking the Business Club’s access to its own systems. For hours, the attack went nowhere; the researchers struggled to figure out where the bugs lay in their code.

By 1 pm, their sinkhole had drawn in only about a hundred infected computers, an infinitesimal percentage of the botnet that had grown to as many as half a million machines. A line of officials stood behind Werner and Stone-Gross in a conference room, literally watching over their shoulders as the two engineers debugged their code. “Not to put any pressure on you,” Mularski urged at one point, “but it’d be great if you could get it running.”

Finally, by evening Pittsburgh time, the traffic to their sinkhole began to climb. On the other side of the world, Bogachev came online. The attack had interrupted his weekend. Perhaps he didn’t think much of it at first, given that he had easily weathered other attempts to seize control of his botnet. “Right away, he’s kicking the tires. He doesn’t know what we’ve done,” Peterson recalls. That night, yet again, Bogachev readied for battle—wrestling for control of his network, testing it, redirecting traffic to new servers, and deciphering the Pittsburgh team’s method of attack. “It was cyber-hand-to-hand combat,” recalls Pittsburgh US attorney David Hickton. “It was amazing to watch.”

The team was able to monitor Bogachev’s communication channels without his knowledge and knock out his Turkish proxy server. Then they watched as he tried to come back online using the anonymizing service Tor, desperate to get some visibility into his losses. Finally, after hours of losing battles, Slavik went silent. The attack, it appeared, was more than he had bargained for. The Pittsburgh team powered on through the night. “He must’ve realized it was law enforcement. It wasn’t just the normal researcher attack,” Stone-Gross says.

By Sunday night, nearly 60 hours in, the Pittsburgh team knew they’d won. On Monday, June 2, the FBI and Justice Department announced the takedown and unsealed a 14-count indictment against Bogachev.

Over the coming weeks, Slavik and the researchers continued to do occasional ­battle—Slavik timed one counter­attack for a moment when Werner and Stone-Gross were presenting at a conference in Montreal—but ultimately the duo prevailed. Amazingly, more than two years later, the success has largely stuck: The botnet has never reassembled, though about 5,000 computers worldwide remain infected with Zeus malware. The industry partners are still maintaining the server sinkhole that’s swallowing up the traffic from those infected computers.

For about a year after the attack, so-called account-takeover fraud all but disappeared in the US. Researchers and investigators had long assumed that dozens of gangs must have been responsible for the criminal onslaught that the industry endured between 2012 and 2014. But nearly all of the thefts came from just a small group of highly skilled criminals—the so-called Business Club. “You come into this and hear they’re everywhere,” Peterson says, “and actually it’s a very tiny network, and they’re much easier to disrupt than you think.”

IN 2015, THE State Department put a $3 million bounty on Bogachev’s head, the highest reward the US has ever posted for a cyber­criminal. But he remains at large. According to US intelligence sources, the government does not, in fact, suspect that Bogachev took part in the Russian campaign to influence the US election. Rather, the Obama administration included him in the sanctions to put pressure on the Russian government. The hope is that the Russians might be willing to hand over Bogachev as a sign of good faith, since the botnet that made him so useful to them is defunct. Or maybe, with the added attention, someone will decide they want the $3 million reward and tip off the FBI.

The uncomfortable truth is that Bogachev and other Russian cybercriminals lie pretty far beyond America’s reach.
But the uncomfortable truth is that Bogachev and other Russian cybercriminals lie pretty far beyond America’s reach. The huge questions that linger over the GameOver case—like those surrounding Bogachev’s precise relationship to Russian intelligence and the full tally of his thefts, which officials can only round to the nearest $100 million or so—foreshadow the challenges that face the analysts looking into the election hacks. Fortunately, the agents on the case have experience to draw from: The DNC breach is reportedly being investigated by the FBI’s Pittsburgh office.

In the meantime, Mularski’s squad and the cybersecurity industry have also moved on to new threats. The criminal tactics that were so novel when Bogachev helped pioneer them have now grown commonplace. The spread of ransomware is accelerating. And today’s botnets—especially Mirai, a network of infected Internet of Things devices—are even more dangerous than Bogachev’s creations.

Nobody knows what Bogachev himself might be cooking up next. Tips continue to arrive regularly in Pittsburgh regarding his whereabouts. But there are no real signs he has reemerged. At least not yet.


…thank you.,..and your welcome WIRED and Garrett M. Graff and Chad Hagen…. really nice work…………w

……..“A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, and What the Majority Can Do.”…..

“A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, and What the Majority Can Do.”

George Lakoff didn’t start off in the world of politics. He was a founding father of cognitive linguistics, starting with his 1980 book, “Metaphors We Live By“ (co-authored with philosopher Mark Johnson). The book showed how immediate, concrete experience — bodily orientation, physical movement, and so on — structures our understanding of more complex and abstract experiences via “conceptual metaphors” such as “Consciousness Is Up,” “Love Is a Journey,” etc.

Facing the rise of Newt Gingrich in the 1990s and bewildered by how he and other liberals could not make logical sense of conservative ideology (what do gun rights, low taxes and banning abortion have in common?), Lakoff found an answer in conceptual metaphors derived form two contrasting family models explicated by Diana Baumrind as authoritarian (“strict father” in Lakoff’s terms) and authoritative (“nurturant parent”), as described in his 1996 book, “Moral Politics.” His 2004 book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate,” drew on a wider range of cognitive science and gained a mass audience, but failed to fundamentally change how liberals and Democrats approach politics, as was richly illustrated by the recent election of Donald Trump.

But Lakoff is nothing if not persistent, and has penned an election postmortem like no other, “A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, and What the Majority Can Do.” It rearticulates the arguments of his earlier books — including others like “The Political Mind,” Whose Freedom?“ and Philosophy in the Flesh — along with fresh analysis and new insights that push hard for opening up a new realm of possibilities, instead of retrenching, retreating or repeating strategies and tactics that have failed in the past. In it, Lakoff displays both an intimate familiarity with detailed examples and a broad-based visionary outlook.

Salon spoke with him to explore both, with an eye toward expanding the horizon of the possible on one hand, and avoiding potholes on the other. He’s talking with Chelsea Green about expanding the essay into a book, but the ideas in it really can’t wait. The Democratic establishment needs to be shaken up, and the rest of us need to be stirred.

You’ve been writing about politics from a cognitive science perspective for more than 20 years. A lot of people have listened to you, but the Democratic political establishment as a whole has not, and that was reflected in the election of Donald Trump. As you note in your article, “The polls, the media, and the Democratic Party all failed to understand conservative values and their importance. They failed to understand unconscious thought and moral worldviews. While hailing science in the case of climate change, they ignored science when it came to their own minds.” So let’s start there. What do you mean by that, and how did it happen?

If you’re a conservative going into politics, there’s a good chance you’ll study cognitive science, that is, how people really think and how to market things by advertising. So they know people think using frames and metaphors and narratives and images and emotions and so on. That’s second nature to anybody who’s taken a marketing course. Many of the people who have gone into conservative communications have done that, and know very well how to market their ideas.

Now, if instead you are a progressive, and you go to college and you’re interested in politics, what are you going to study? Well, you’ll study political science, law, public policy, economic theory and so on, but you’re not going to wind up studying marketing, most likely, and you’re not going to study either cognitive science or neuroscience.

What you’ll learn in those courses is what is called Enlightenment reason, from 1650, from Descartes. And here’s what that reasoning says: What makes us human beings is that we are rational animals and rationality is defined in terms of logic. Recall that Descartes was a mathematician and logician. He argued that reasoning is like seeing a logical proof. Secondly, he argued that our ideas can fit the world because, as he said, “God would not lie to us.” The assumption is that ideas directly fit the world.

They’re also, Descartes argued, disembodied. He said that if ideas were embodied, were part of the body, then physical laws would apply to them, and we would not have free will. And in fact, they are embodied, physical laws do apply to them, and we do not have absolute free will. We’re trapped by what the neural systems of our brains have accumulated. We can only see what our brains allow us to understand, and that’s an important thing.

So what he said, basically, was that there are no frames, no embodiment, no metaphor — none of the things people really use to reason. Moreover if we think logically and we all have the same reasoning, if you just tell people the facts, they should reason to the same correct conclusion. And that just isn’t true. And that keeps not being true, and liberals keep making the same mistake year after year after year. So that’s a very important thing.

After “Don’t Think of an Elephant” was published, you got a lot of attention but your message really didn’t sink in. I think it was largely because of what you said above — what you were saying simply didn’t fit into the Enlightenment worldview that Democratic elites took for granted from their education.

When I started teaching framing the first thing I would tell the class is “Don’t think of an elephant,” and of course, they think of an elephant. I wrote a book on it because the point is, if you negate a frame, you have to activate the frame, because you have to know what you’re negating. If you use logic against something, you’re strengthening it. And that lesson was not understood. So if people think in terms of logic — it’s a mistake that’s made every day on MSNBC — you go on there and you’ll get people saying, “Well, you know, Trump said this, and some Republicans said that and Jeff Sessions said this and here are the facts that show they’re wrong.” You just keep repeating the things that you’re negating. And that just strengthens them.

Did that happen in Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

That showed up there. The Clinton campaign decided that the best way to defeat Trump was to use his own words against him. So they showed these clips of Trump saying outrageous things. Now what Trump was doing in those clips was saying out loud things that upset liberals, and that’s exactly what his followers liked about him. So of course they were showing what actually was helping Trump with his supporters.

I tried to convince people in the Clinton campaign — early on, I wrote a piece called “Understanding Trump,” in March 2016, and it was sent to everybody in the Clinton campaign. Everybody at the PAC, for example, got a copy of it. It didn’t matter; they were doing what they were told to do.

Another problem was the assumption that all you have to do is look at issues, and give the facts about issues, and the facts about the issues supposedly show up in polls, and then they apply demographics. So there was this assumption, for example, that educated women in the Philadelphia suburbs were naturally going to vote for Hillary, because they were highly educated. They turned out also to be Republican, and what made them Republican was Republican views, like Republican views about the Supreme Court, abortion, things like that. So they didn’t all go out and vote for Hillary.

Or the campaign assumed that since Trump attacked Latinos, and Latino leaders didn’t like Trump, that the Latinos would all vote for Hillary, and many Latinos voted for Trump. Why? Because “strict father” morality is big in Latino culture. The campaign was not looking at values. They were looking at demographics, and they missed the role of values.

Which you’ve been pounding on for a long time now.

Well over a decade. During the Bush administration, I talked to the Democratic caucus. I was invited by Nancy Pelosi, and I talked to them about “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” and the strict father/nurturant parent distinction, and I pointed out that one thing strict fathers can’t do is betray trust. It turned out that the Southerners in the caucus agreed strongly, and they wanted to have me work with them on talking about Bush betraying trust. But Nancy said, “Well, we should check with the polls first,” and she checked with one of the major pollsters who said, “Oh no, my polls show that people trust Bush, therefore we can’t use it.” And the idea is to follow the polls, rather than change them. And this is a big difference between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans try to change the polls, whereas Democrats try to follow the polls.

There are other problems with polling you point out as well.

Yes. The next problem has to do with going issue by issue. This is happening right now. Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer went onto the Rachel Maddow show on the same day, and they said, “The American people agree with us, issue by issue, each case and we’re going to press Trump issue by issue, and we’re going to start with health care and go on to other things.” What they’re missing is values.

They’re missing the idea that many Americans who depend on health care, affordable health care, for example, have strict-father positions and voted for Trump against their interests. And this is something has been known for ages, that a lot of poor conservatives vote against their material interests, because they’re voting for their worldview. And the reason for it is that their moral worldview defines who they are. They are not going to vote against their own definition of who they are.

This is missed by the unions as well. Unions don’t really understand their function. Unions are instruments of freedom. Unions free people from corporate servitude. From corporations saying what hours they can work, what wages are possible, and so on. The argument against unions that has come in so-called “right-to-work” laws misses the fact that unions are instruments of freedom, and instead suggests that unions go against freedom. They go against your rights. And the unions don’t know how to argue against right-to-work laws. So that’s a problem with liberals working in unions.

There’s something more basic underlying all this, isn’t there? From “Moral Politics” on you’ve been hammering on liberals’ failure to claim and proclaim their own values.

All progressives and liberals have a moral worldview, what I described as the nurturant-parent worldview. When applied to politics it goes like this: Citizens care about other citizens, they have empathy for other citizens, and the work of the government is to provide public resources for everybody. Public resources, from the very beginning of our country, not only apply to each private citizen, but they also apply to business. From the very beginning we had public roads and bridges and public education, we had a national bank, and the patent office for businesses, and interstate commerce laws for business, and so on. And a judicial system that’s mostly used for business.

Since then the government has supported business even more, especially through the promotion of scientific research, the development of pharmaceuticals, computer science, support of public research and public universities. The Internet began as ARPANET, is in the Defense Department. Think about satellite communication — that was made possible by NASA and NOAA. Very important things we did. What about things like GPS systems and cell phones? Our government is maintaining not just our cell phones, but the world economic system which all uses GPS systems and cell phones.

People don’t see the role of public resources, which are there to run the world economy, to help you in your everyday life, to give you communications, like this interview right now. This is just something that’s never said. When I say this to progressives, they say, “Well, of course that’s true, isn’t that obvious?” The answer is no. It is not obvious, because the next question I ask is, “Have you ever said it?” And the answer is no. The question after that is, “Will you go out from now on and say it?” And I don’t get enthusiastic “Yes!” answers.

People need to know this and it needs to be said all the time. It needs to be said about every single business. The person who has done best at it has been Elizabeth Warren. When Obama tried to use the same message he got it wrong, he said if you have a business you didn’t build that, and then he got attacked and he dropped it. But in fact this is something that does need to be out there.

There are other things that need to be said that progressives don’t say because they don’t really understand how framing works. Framing is not obvious. People read “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” they got some of the ideas, but when they tried to apply it, it turned out it’s not so easy to apply. You need some training to do it, and you need some ideas.

For example. Trump said we’re going to get rid of regulation, when there’s a new regulation we’re going to get rid of two for every new one that comes in. But what are regulations? Why do people have them? They’re there for protection of the public in every place. Why do you have environmental regulations? To protect against pollution and global warming and so on. Things that are harmful. Why do you have an SEC regulation? To protect investors, and protect people who have mortgages. Why do you have food and drug regulations? To protect against poisons. This is important. You’re protecting against corporate malfeasance. Corporate harm to the public. When they say, “We’re getting rid of these regulations, no one reports in the media, “They have gotten rid of protections, and they’re going to get rid of more protections!”

You’ve pointed out how Trump has actually been clever in ways that liberals, Democrats and the media didn’t understand. You laid out a number of mechanisms. So can we go through a few of those?

First, let’s talk about how Trump’s tweets work. Trump’s tweets have at least three functions. The first function is what I call preemptive framing. Getting framing out there before reporters can frame it differently. So for example, on the Russian hacking, he tweeted that the evidence showed that it had no effect on the election. Which is a lie, it didn’t say that at all. But the idea was to get it out there to 31 million people looking at his tweets, legitimizing the elections: The Russian hacks didn’t mean anything. He does that a lot, constantly preempting.

The second use of tweets is diversion. When something important is coming up, like the question of whether he is going to use a blind trust, the conflicts of interest. So what does he do instead? He attacks Meryl Streep. And then they talk about Meryl Streep for a couple of days. That’s a diversion.

The third one is that he sends out trial balloons. For example, the stuff about nuclear weapons, he said we need to pay more attention to nukes. If there’s no big outcry and reaction, then he can go on and do the rest. These are ways of disrupting the news cycle, getting the real issues out of the news cycle and turning it to his advantage.

Trump is very, very smart. Trump for 50 years has learned how to use people’s brains against them. That’s what master salesmen do. There’s a certain set of things they do. The first is repeat. Advertisers know this. You turn on your TV, and the same ad comes on over and over and over. The effect on the brain of repetition is that when you hear something it’s understood through the neural circuitry in your brain; it has to become activated. The more it’s repeated, the more that circuitry is activated, and every time it’s activated the synaptic connections become stronger. What that means when they become stronger is two things happen. One, they’re more likely to fire — it’s easier to get those ideas out there if they’re firing — and two, if you hear them often enough they become part of what’s fixed in your brain. They become part of what you naturally understand, and you can only understand what your brain allows you to understand.

Repetition is a way of changing people’s brains. What Trump was doing all through the nomination campaign was that every day he managed to get on TV, and he would repeat different things that activated the same moral framework, and it really worked. In addition you have particular frames that were repeated: “Crooked Hillary,” “crooked Hillary,” “crooked Hillary,” over and over. There wasn’t anything Hillary did that was crooked. But he kept saying it until people believed it. And they believed it because it was heard enough times to strengthen the neural circuitry in their brains. It wasn’t just stupidity. It’s simply the way brains work.

Another thing he used was grammar, as in “radical Islamic terrorism.” What does “radical” mean? Radical means not part of what is normal and healthy and so on, but something on the fringe, number one. Two, terrorists – people who are out to get you, right? If you modify terrorists, there are two ways in which you can do it. There are two forms of applying adjectives to nouns, and the classic example is “the industrious Japanese,” which assumes either that all Japanese are industrious, or that there are some and I’m picking out those. But the idea that they’re all industrious is activated.

In this case, the idea that all people who are Islamic are terrorists is activated. And they’re radical. If you say that, it’s not like you’re picking out the tiny proportion who happened to be terrorists and radical. You’re saying it about everybody. That’s part of grammar. He is using grammar to get his point across, to get his worldview across, and then criticizing Clinton and Obama for not doing it, as if not saying it is not recognizing the threat.

What about metaphor, which is something you’ve written and talked about for years?

“Brexit” was an excellent example of that. It had to do with exiting, which is a general metaphor. Throughout the world, states of mind are understood in terms of locations. You go into your café, you get a cup of coffee, you go out of the café — you’re in the same location you were in before. Now apply that to states: You go into a state, and when you go out of it you should be in the same state you were in before. But that doesn’t work. It’s not true. With Brexit, the metaphor was that if you entered the EU at a certain point in time — with a certain state being true of England at that time — and then you exit, you should be in the same state you were in before. Absolutely false. Brexit was based on the false assumption that England could go back to some ideal state it was in before.

The same thing is true with “Make America great again.” The assumption is: This has been a great country before, and now we can go back to what it was before, as if electing Trump would not change it in the worst way, and as if you could go back to some idealized past. Which you can’t, for many reasons, like a technological revolution that’s gotten rid of lots of jobs, and international trade, and so on. The world is not the same as it was before. So you’re using that universal metaphor to convince people. And that’s important.

Together, all you’ve just said makes a strong case that Trump’s success stems from approaching politics like a salesman, which ties back to your original point about how Republicans approach politics versus Democrats. In that sense, Trump is very much a realization of what Republicans have been moving towards for a long time. But there’s another sense in which he represents a culmination: his authoritarianism, rooted in strict-father morality.

Exactly. Except for gay marriage — he has friends who are gay — he has the whole strict-father thing, moral hierarchy. If you have strict-father morality what that says is it’s your concern alone that matters, reteaching individual responsibility. That means responsibility for yourself, not social responsibility. Not caring about other citizens; that’s weak. You should care about yourself; that’s strong. That is how he sees that the world naturally works. There is a hierarchy of morality because the strict father in a family gets his position of strength because he supposedly knows right from wrong, and in that there is an assumption that those who are most moral should rule.

So how do you tell who’s most moral? You look at who has come out on top. You have God above man, man above nature, conquering nature, so nature is there for us to use. Then you would have the rich above the poor — they deserve it, because they are disciplined. And the powerful above the non-powerful — they deserve it, they’ve become powerful. And you have adults above children. So in 21 states children in classes and on teams can be beaten by the teachers and coaches if they don’t show proper respect and obedience.

Western culture above non-Western culture, and so you get all the stuff on Breitbart about white Western culture. Of course Islamists are not in Western culture, Mexicans are not in Western culture, Asians are not in Western culture, etc. America above other nations: We should be great again, we should rule everybody, we should be able to intimidate everybody. And then other ones follow. You have men above women, whites above nonwhites, Christians above non-Christians, and straights above gays.

So you have this moral hierarchy in Republican thought for a long time; it’s not like this is new. Here it is bold, right out there, as strong as you can get, and you have the ultimate “strict father,” who wants to be the dictator of the country, if not the world.

At the very end of the article you get into what people can do in response, how people can fight back, and I wanted to give you some time to talk about that. There is a very real potential there that you talk about: It can be harder to break through to elites, but easier to reach ordinary people whose lives are directly affected. You have talked about the importance of reaching out to people you call “bi-conceptuals,” including conservatives.

There is within conservatism this idea of in-group nurturance, taking care of your own. This happens in churches; you go to a bigger evangelical church and they have the free babysitting and investment advice and will help you if you’re down on your luck and so on. If you go to the military, which is a strict -father thing, but also in a military base you’re going to get free schooling for your kids, a place to live, cheap goods at the PX, etc. In the military you never leave a wounded brother behind; they’re a band of brothers. See, you have in-group nurturance there. You also have it in conservatism as an institution. One, of the major think tanks in Washington built a large state-of-the-art media center, but also put in a hundred apartments for interns who couldn’t afford Washington prices. So they live together, get to know each other, become friends and they’re taken care of.

A lot of conservatives see their in-group as their local community or their neighbors, and then they will do all sorts of things. If there’s a flood they’ll be out there swinging the sandbags, if there’s a fire they’ll be out there on the lines with the hoses to protect their neighbors’ homes. That is the powerful community version of in-group nurturance, and that is real nurturance, it’s real care.

That can be appealed to, and we need to find ways of talking about that in terms of regulation and protection. What protections are being taken away from the people in your community? That needs to be said over and over again. Are we going to get bad drinking water? Are you going to get poisoned foods? Are you going to get drugs that haven’t been adequately tested that could make you terribly ill?

And many other things: Are you going to lose your health care, but not have something else to replace it? Are you going to lose your Medicare? If you look at those red states and ask, “What about those small towns in those red states?”, a lot of them are like that.

What else needs to be done?

Well two things. First, a citizens’ communication network. We have social media networks now, but people need to have feeds on their Facebook and Twitter pages, of things to say on particular days, and let’s do it from the point of view of the American majority. We’re the majority; here are our values. Let’s make our values clear, let’s have a little handbook about what our values are, and why those things are recommended, and the rationale for putting it out there. We need a website that can be used as a basis for a citizens’ communication network, and I’m going to be involved in starting something to do that.

The other thing is serious training of the NGOs — the foundations and other groups that are there for the public good — in how to talk about these things, how to frame their message and not make mistakes and not help the other side, and to do it always from the point of view of what’s positive. Not attacking Trump implicitly, but by saying what’s good for the public and why it’s good and then, by the way, this goes against everything that Trump is doing. But the main thing is to frame it in terms of public good.

Paul Rosenberg is a California-based writer/activist, senior editor for Random Lengths News, and a columnist for Al Jazeera English.

Follow him on Twitter at @PaulHRosenberg.

…..thanks Paul… et al and you’re welcome…………..w



…..what part of “unfit” are we having trouble with?…….

…..can’t say we didn’t know…..can’t say we weren’t told……..






Source: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons
In late 2015, we commenced what would become an ongoing conversation about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s mental health.

We were concerned that, given his “straightforward” or “outsider” presentation and charisma, he would appeal to people who were unaware of the dangers of his obvious narcissistic personality type, and the offensive behaviors that can accompany it. These behaviors include but are not limited to condescension, gross exaggeration (lying), bullying, jealousy, fragile self-esteem, lack of compassion, and viewing the world as Us-vs.-Them. Having observed the schoolyard-bully tactics Trump employed during public debates, as well as his boasting presentation during interviews, we felt it was important to raise awareness about his behaviors. So in January 2016, we posted Bullies: An Exploration Into Different Types of Bullies.

As Trump’s campaign, and his narcissism, gained momentum, so did our efforts. In March 2016, we posted The Narcissistic Personality: How to Spot a Narcissist, in which we shared clinically documented narcissistic behaviors and hoped it would be easy for readers to see that Trump fit every example.

And then on January 31 of this year, Psychology Today’s editors posted Shrinks Battle Over Diagnosing Donald Trump: Chaos in the White House Fuels Discord Amongst the Experts. The article reported on a petition by author and psychologist John Gartner, Ph.D., declaring that Trump has “a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.” Gartner, a former professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, is currently in private practice in New York and Baltimore. To date, more than 26,000 psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental-health professionals have signed his petition, which has no legal power but drives home the point that these professionals are gravely concerned about the mental health of our president. The point of the editors’ post was to highlight the conflict within the mental-health field: While some believe it is possible to diagnose through observation, some feel it is unethical and inappropriate to do so, while still others question whether or not psychology should be used to address issues of governance at all.

Duty to Warn

Journalist Lawrence O’Donnell has taken it upon himself to champion Gartner’s effort to help educate the public. On his MSBC program, The Last Word, he recently spoke with Gartner and Lance Dodes, M.D., a retired professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in a segment titled “Mental-Health Experts Say Donald Trump Is Unfit to Serve.” Gartner contended that mental-health professionals have a duty to warn the public of dangerous individuals in their midst. According to Gartner, mental-health professionals can observe a person’s behavior and words, from afar, and diagnose that person. He claimed that the idea of the psychiatric interview as the gold standard for assessment is not true, and added that we have thousands of hours of Trump’s behavior in front of us. He continued:

“As far as ethics go, I would argue with my colleagues that those who don’t speak out are being unethical. If we have knowledge and understanding about the unique danger that Donald Trump presents through our psychiatric training and we don’t say something about it, history is not going to judge us kindly.”

Dodes was asked by O’Donnell to watch and comment on a much-played clip of Trump claiming during a debate that he had lost “hundreds” of friends on 9-11. Dodes’ said there were two pieces to Trump’s lying: First, he lies because of his sociopathic tendencies — “He lies in the way a person scams people; he’s trying to sell an idea or a product by telling you something that’s not true.” The other aspect of his lying was more serious — his loose grip on reality. For example, when he lies and has been told that what he said is not true, he still carries on with the lie. Dodes said that this indicates Trump cannot accept an aspect of reality and therefore rejects it, making his grasp on reality, and his attention to it, loose. “This is an extremely dangerous trait in a president,” Dodes continued. “And that makes him unqualified.”

Both Gartner and Dodes agreed that as far as the depth of mental illness, this is the “worst case” scenario. Gartner added, “He’s just sane enough to ‘pass’ but is detached from reality.” Gartner argued that what is real for the president is fluid, meaning that it’s malleable. Combine this non-reality with paranoia, and being at a hand’s reach of the nuclear codes is troubling. “He actually imagines he is under attack by people who are not actually attacking him,” Gartner said, creating “a very dangerous combination of someone who can act on his paranoid fantasies in a way that can have catastrophic consequences.”

The Elephant in the Room

On his next broadcast, O’Donnell interviewed author Lee Siegel, who recently wrote an article for the Columbia Journalism Review titled, “Avoiding Questions About Donald Trump’s Mental Health Is a Betrayal to Public Trust.” (Dodes appeared again as well, and both enlightening segments can be viewed here.)

It’s important to note that Siegel wrote:

“Mental illness does not need to be professionally diagnosed. We don’t need to be told by a doctor that the guy coughing and sneezing at the other end of the train car is probably sick…When someone is compulsively lying, continuously contradicting himself, imploring the approval of people even as he is attacking them, exalting people one day and abusing and vilifying them the next, then the question of his mental state is moot. The safe thing to do is not just to stay away from him, but to keep him away from situations where he can do harm.”

In “Time Perspective Therapy” Terms

Through our observations, we can see Trump as embodying an unconstrained present hedonist—living only in the present moment and saying whatever it takes to pump up his ego and assuage his inherent low self-esteem, without thought of past reality or potentially devastating future consequences. He is the poster boy for a time perspective that is totally unbalanced. Unfortunately, given his personality type, there is little hope of reversal or any meaningful improvement.

Our Future

What can we do? Be observant. Be vigilant. Share this article to spread awareness. Write or call your elected government officials and state your concerns about Donald Trump’s mental health. And hope that with the backing of 26,000 mental-health therapists (a number that continues to grow — last month the number was 18,000) in agreement that he is mentally unfit to be President of the United States, we will have a new, mentally fit president as soon as possible through some judicially appropriate political action.

No matter whom you voted for in the election, or if you didn’t vote, we the people did this — at least those of us representing an Electoral Colleges majority. We need to correct this threat to our ecology, our society, and our international relations soon—before it’s too late…..


……of horseshoes and hand grenades…….


On the day of North Korea’s first atomic test in 2006, aides to President George W. Bush began phoning foreign capitals to reassure allies startled by Pyongyang’s surprising feat. The test, aides said, had been mostly a failure: a botched, 1-kiloton cry for attention from a regime that had no warheads or reliable delivery systems and would never be allowed to obtain them.

“The current course that they are on is unacceptable,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said publicly at the time, “and the international community is going to act.”


A decade later, that confidence has all but evaporated.

After a week in which Pyongyang successfully lobbed four intermediate-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, U.S. officials are no longer seeing North Korea’s weapons tests as amateurish, attention-grabbing provocations. Instead, they are viewed as evidence of a rapidly growing threat — and one that increasingly defies solution.

Over the past year, technological advances in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have dramatically raised the stakes in the years-long standoff between the United States and the reclusive communist regime, according to current and former U.S. officials and ­Korea experts. Pyongyang’s growing arsenal has rattled key U.S. allies and spurred efforts by all sides to develop new first-strike capabilities, increasing the risk that a simple mistake could trigger a devastating regional war, the analysts said.








In response to continued testing o missiles and nuclear weapons by North Korea, the United States is in the process of deploying an advanced missile defense system called THAAD in South Korea. But China is not happy with the plan, saying the system could undermine its own defense systems.


The military developments are coming at a time of unusual political ferment, with a new and largely untested administration in Washington and with South Korea’s government coping with an impeachment crisis. Longtime observers say the risk of conflict is higher than it has been in years, and it is likely to rise further as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seeks to fulfill his pledge to field long-range missiles capable of striking U.S. cities.

“This is no longer about a lonely dictator crying for attention or demanding negotiations,” said Victor Cha, a former adviser on North Korea to the Bush administration and the Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “This is now a military testing program to acquire a proven capability.”

Pyongyang’s ambition to become an advanced nuclear-armed state is not new. North Korea began building its first reactor for making plutonium more than three decades ago. Over the years, it has shown ingenuity in increasing the range and power of a stockpile of homemade short- and medium-range missiles, all based on Soviet-era designs.


Often, in the past, the new innovations have been accompanied by demands: a clamoring for security guarantees and international respect by a paranoid and nearly friendless government that perceives its democratic neighbors as plotting its destruction. After the first atomic test in 2006, then-leader Kim Jong Il threatened to launch nuclear missiles unless Washington agreed to face-to-face talks.

North Korea has been slammed instead with ever-tighter United Nations sanctions meant to cut off access to technology and foreign cash flows. Yet, despite the trade restrictions, diplomatic isolation, threats and occasional sabotage, the country’s weapons programs have continued their upward march, goaded forward by dictators willing to sacrifice their citizens’ well-being to grow the country’s military might.

And now, in the fifth year of Kim Jong Un’s rule, progress is coming in leaps.

Pyongyang’s fifth and latest nuclear weapons test occurred on Sept. 9 on the 68th anniversary of North Korea’s founding. Seismic monitoring stations picked up vibrations from the underground blast and quickly determined that this one was exceptional.

Scientific analyses of the test determined that the new bomb’s explosive yield approached 30 kilotons, two times the force of the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. The device was twice as powerful as the bomb North Korea tested just nine months earlier, and it was 30 times stronger than one detonated in 2006 in a remote mountain tunnel.

More ominously, North Korea last March displayed a new compact bomb, one that appears small enough to fit inside the nose cone of one of its indigenously produced missiles.
Regardless of whether the miniature bomb is real or a clever prop, North Korea does finally appear to be “on the verge of a nuclear breakout,” said Robert Litwak, an expert on nuclear proliferation and director of International Security Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He said Pyongyang’s arsenal is believed to now contain as many as 20 nuclear bombs, along with enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium to make dozens more.

“When I got into this field,” Litwak said at a symposium on North Korea this month, “I couldn’t have conceived of North Korea acquiring a nuclear arsenal approaching half the size of Great Britain’s.”

The country’s missiles also have grown more sophisticated. Last year, North Korea’s military conducted the first test of a two-stage ballistic missile that uses solid fuel — a significant advance over the country’s existing liquid-fueled rockets because they can be moved easily and launched quickly. Also in 2016, North Korea broadcast images of engineers testing engines for a new class of advanced missiles with true intercontinental range, potentially putting cities on the U.S. mainland within reach.

The provocations have continued in the weeks since the inauguration of President Trump, who, just before taking office, appeared to taunt Pyongyang in a Twitter post, saying that North Korea’s plan for building intercontinental ballistic missiles “won’t happen.”

A month later, Kim launched one of the country’s new solid-fuel missiles, interrupting Trump’s Mar-a-Lago dinner with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Last week’s coordinated launch of four intermediate-range missiles appeared intended to showcase the country’s ability to fire multiple rockets simultaneously at U.S. military bases in Japan, increasing the likelihood that some will penetrate antimissile shields.

North Korea’s state-run media has occasionally shown propaganda footage of Kim huddling with his generals over what some analysts have jokingly called the “map of death”: a chart that portrays Japanese and U.S. mainland cities as potential targets.

The laughter has now stopped, said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on North Korean weapons systems. “This idea that these things were just bargaining chips — something that was true years ago — is superseded by the fact that there is now a rocket force . . . with a commander and a headquarters and subordinate bases, all with missiles,” said Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “This is now a living, breathing thing.”

There have been notable failures as well. Numerous test rockets have drifted far off course, and others never made it off the launchpad. Many analysts say it could still be several years before Kim can construct a true ICBM that could reliably reach the U.S. mainland, and perhaps longer before he can demonstrate an ability to incorporate a nuclear payload into his rocket design. Yet, already, the basic components for a future arsenal of long-range, nuclear-tipped missiles are in place, Lewis said.

“The ICBM program is real,” Lewis said. “They’ve showed us their static engine test. They showed us the mock-up of the nuclear warhead. They have done everything short of actually testing the ICBM. When they do test it, the first time it will probably fail. But eventually it will work. And when it works, people are going to freak out.”


Danger of miscalculation
For decades, the United States and its East Asian allies have tried an array of strategies to blunt North Korea’s progress, ranging from diplomacy to covert operations to defensive antimissile shields. Lately, the search for solutions has taken on an intensity not seen in years.

As diplomatic initiatives have stalled, U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials have broadened the search for measures to ensure that Pyongyang’s missiles remain grounded, or — in the event of a launch — can be brought down before they reach their target. The efforts have proved to be partly successful at best.

Three years ago, alarmed by North Korea’s advances on missile systems, the Obama administration ordered the Pentagon and intelligence agencies to deploy highly classified cyber and electronic measures against North Korea, largely aimed at undermining the country’s nuclear and missile programs, two former senior administration officials said. Aspects of the initiatives were described in a recent report by the New York Times. The effort was further intensified last year, the officials said, in response to new intelligence assessments showing North Korea inching closer to its goal of fielding long-range ballistic missiles.

The clandestine effort begun under President Barack Obama appears to have borne fruit, judging from a rash of missile failures in the past year, said one former official familiar with the program. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secret operations.

“We’re stopping shipments. We’re making sure things don’t work the way they’re supposed to,” one former official said. “We’ve been able to delay things, in some cases probably by a lot. It’s a cat-and-mouse game.”

But the second official, familiar with the Pentagon’s cyberwarfare efforts, acknowledged that North Korea remains an exceptionally difficult target because of its isolation and limited digital infrastructure. The official suggested that at least some of the recent missile failures were probably caused by North Korean errors. “I would be wary of claiming too much,” he said.

“We were trying to use all the tools that were available to us in order to degrade as much of their capabilities as possible,” a second former official said. “But we just did not have nearly as much game as we should have.”

In handoff meetings with Trump, Obama described the gathering threat in stark terms, calling it the most serious proliferation challenge facing the new administration, according to aides familiar with the discussions.

The Trump White House has since convened three deputies’ committee meetings on North Korea and ordered a new, top-to-bottom threat assessment. White House officials say that Trump is weighing all options, from a new diplomatic initiative to enhanced military capabilities, possibly including a highly controversial return of tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea for the first time since the early 1990s.

The administration is dispatching Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to East Asia this week to confer with counterparts in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul. And the White House is defending its decision last week to send antimissile batteries to South Korea despite vehement opposition from China.

The initiatives have failed to calm tensions in the region. As more missiles streak across North Korea’s eastern coast, Japanese and South Korean officials are pledging increased investments in defensive shields and highly accurate, conventionally armed missiles designed to preemptively destroy North Korean launch sites and command centers if an attack seems imminent. North Korea has responded with similar threats, describing its recent missile launches as a dry run for a preemptive attack on U.S. bases in Japan, the presumed staging ground for forces preparing to come to South Korea’s aid if war breaks out.

In the past, such a strike would be seen as suicidal, as it would certainly result in a devastating counterattack against North ­Korea that would probably destroy the regime itself. But Kim is betting that an arsenal of long-range, nuclear-tipped missiles would serve as an effective deterrent, said Cha, the former Bush administration adviser.

“That’s why they want to be able to reach the continental United States, so they can effectively hold us hostage,” Cha said. “Do we really want to trade Los Angeles for whatever city in North Korea?”

Such an attack on the U.S. mainland is not yet within North Korea’s grasp, and U.S. officials hope they can eventually neutralize the threat with improvements in antimissile systems. But in the meantime, each new advance increases the chance that a small mishap could rapidly escalate into all-out war, Cha said. In a crisis, “everyone is put in a use-it-or-lose-it situation, in which everyone feels he has to go first,” he said.

“The growing danger now,” he said, “is miscalculation.”

Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report…..


Eight countries have performed nuclear tests. The United States and U.S.S.R. have performed the most explosive tests in history.



….worked for daddy…..

……vault 7: cia hacking tools revealed……..

……from the….. Fun Is Where You Find It….Folks…….

…….   …”Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the “Year Zero” disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published.”….



….does it get any more fun than this?……..don’t answer that!…….w


…..Revelations by WikiLeaks raise concerns…..

Revelations by WikiLeaks raise concerns about the extent to which the C.I.A. can peek in on domestic and foreign targets, and how much private companies have compromised their customers.

On Tuesday morning, WikiLeaks released eight thousand seven hundred and sixty-one files that it said were “from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence,” in Langley, Virginia. The group called the collection “Year Zero,” the first installment of a larger project, Vault 7, which reveals the “hacking capacity” of the C.I.A.—and which is, in turn, part of a larger archive that, it claimed, had “been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.” In other words, WikiLeaks has the files because the C.I.A. had “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.” (WikiLeaks seems to have redacted some of the sensitive code.) The C.I.A. has had no comment, but multiple news organizations have reported that, at first glance, according to their intelligence sources, the material looks as if it did come from the agency. (After the release, Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a cache of documents in 2013, tweeted, “Still working through the publication, but what ‪@Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.”) The dates on some of the files are as recent as 2016. The size and the currency of the apparent breach raises a number of questions. Here are five to start with.

1. How many ways might the C.I.A. be watching? The files discuss the use of basic consumer products for surveillance. One of the more striking details involves your Samsung SmartTV listening in on you, perhaps in collaboration with the camera or the microphone in your iPhone—even when the television is turned off. A television could also potentially yield information about what news programs or non-English-language programs people watch—possible indicators of their political leanings, religious beliefs, or associations. These are not new scenarios for privacy advocates; some of the lawyers and journalists working on these matters put their phones in the refrigerator when having a sensitive conversation. But the files suggest that the C.I.A. has gone from the concept stage to the actual building of a box of tools that can be used to break into consumer electronics. (The tool for taking over a Samsung SmartTV is called the Weeping Angel, which raises another question: how much time do C.I.A. contractors spend watching “Doctor Who”?) It also looks as if the C.I.A. may have a way to get around the encryption features of messaging systems. And there is talk of “Potential Mission Areas,” such as the control systems of cars. (It is not clear, from the files, how much of all this has been put into effect, or whether it works in practice.)

2. How much have private companies compromised themselves and their customers? Based on the files, some service providers and equipment manufacturers seem to know a certain amount about what is going on. Will they have to answer for that to the markets and to consumers? What position might this put companies in vis-à-vis other jurisdictions in which they do business? Could the government of China ask Samsung why it hasn’t given it what the company has delivered, intentionally or not, to America? (Maybe it already has.) And what does all this say about the role of the government in defending America’s infrastructure? The files indicate that the U.S. government knows about—and is happy to make use of, and leave uncorrected—vulnerabilities that could also allow bad actors a way into American homes, or, for that matter, American intelligence agencies. On that point:

3. Are Americans the targets? This is going to be a key issue, both politically and legally. If the C.I.A. is developing these tools, and perhaps promulgating them to other intelligence agencies, is it also taking part in domestic spying? How is the line between domestic and foreign defined these days? The Guardian notes that one of the files related to the Samsung sets contains a reference to a “joint workshop with MI5/BTSS (British Security Service),” and that others refer to hackers working out of American diplomatic facilities in Germany. There has been a persistent concern that, in order to get around various statutory and constitutional restrictions on domestic spying, the intelligence agencies have outsourced the actual surveillance to foreign allies, and then shared the intelligence gained with them. (This is an American-centered way of posing the basic concern that people in other countries will have about how these tools might be used against them.) The files will at least pose the question of whether the C.I.A. is following the rules—and whether the rules might need changing. In other words,

4. What will the courts make of this? This is not only an American concern; courts in Europe may have something to say, too, given the strict privacy laws in many countries. Still, let’s start with American courts. An awful lot of the jurisprudence in the area of wiretapping is based on court cases that date back to the nineteen-seventies and imagine police officers having to get telephone-company technicians to open a box full of wires. Maybe the television-set-as-home-invader scenario will help push judges to take a fresh, hard look at that body of law. This would be something to ask Neil Gorsuch about at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, later this month. And that brings us to the man who, at the moment, is at the head of the executive branch.

5. What about Donald Trump? Last week, he was complaining that President Obama, or someone, had tapped or bugged or otherwise failed to observe the sanctity of Trump Tower. Does Trump have any Samsung SmartTVs? As my colleague Steve Coll writes, there is a scenario in which Trump might be given pause about surveillance methods that might be directed at him and his associates. Or he might just rail against traitors in public and then ask, behind closed doors, when he gets to use these tools and toys himself. When the news of the revelations broke, some commentators asked if having promoted WikiLeaks’ Hillary Clinton-related revelations at his campaign rallies put Trump in an awkward position. But hypocrisy does not appear to be much of a constraint on this Administration. Nor are concerns about the laws circumscribing intelligence activities: Trump is a man who has complained that the C.I.A. isn’t allowed to torture people. The power of the President and his spies isn’t something that Trump seems to be interested in limiting—that is, as long as the President is named Trump.
Amy Davidson is a New Yorker staff writer. She is a regular Comment contributor for the magazine and writes a Web column, in which she covers war, sports, and everything in between.


…….seriously?………..somebody explain this to me……..and if you missed it elsewhere ……  Click Here  …

…..good night john boy…..


…..baffled ben carson says…. people pushed out of windows….. get unique opportunity to fly through air……





By Andy Borowitz March 7, 2017

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told reporters that people who are pushed out of windows are “extremely lucky” because they get “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly through the air.”

“Ever since the dawn of civilization, mankind has been enchanted by the dream of flight,” Carson said. “People who get pushed out of windows get to realize that cherished dream.”

“That’s what makes America a great country,” he continued. “People are pushed out of windows every day here.”

Carson said that, while he had never personally been pushed out of a window, “it’s on my bucket list.”

On a subject more pertinent to his new job at hud, Carson said that people without housing “enjoy the rare satisfaction you can only experience by building your own dwelling out of cardboard.”
Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com.


……thanks and you’re welcome Andy…

…NASA, UCI Reveal New Details of Greenland Ice Loss……

……tic tic tic tic…..


Fast Facts:

› NASA’s OMG is the first campaign ever to map all of the glaciers and ocean around Greenland’s coastline.

› NASA researchers have learned from OMG’s first year that cold water from the melting glaciers is cooling warmer subsurface ocean water, with possible implications for how much ocean heat reaches Greenland’s glaciers.

› A UC Irvine-led research team has applied the data to improve coastline maps used to predict future rates of sea level rise.

Less than a year after the first research flight kicked off NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland campaign last March, data from the new program are providing a dramatic increase in knowledge of how Greenland’s ice sheet is melting from below. Two new research papers in the journal Oceanography use OMG observations to document how meltwater and ocean currents are interacting along Greenland’s west coast and to improve seafloor maps used to predict future melting and subsequent sea level rise.

The five-year OMG campaign studies the glaciers and ocean along Greenland’s 27,000-mile coastline. Its goal is to find out where and how fast seawater is melting the glacial ice. Most of the coastline and seafloor around the ice sheet had never been surveyed, so the 2016 flights alone expanded scientists’ knowledge of Greenland significantly. Future years of data collection will reveal the rate of change around the island.

The water circulating close around the Greenland Ice Sheet is like a cold river floating atop a warm, salty ocean. The top 600 feet (200 meters) of colder water is relatively fresh and comes from the Arctic. Below that is saltwater from the south, 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) warmer than the fresher water above. The layers don’t mix much because freshwater weighs less than saltwater, so it stays afloat.

If a glacier reaches the ocean where the seafloor is shallow, the ice interacts with frigid freshwater and melts slowly. Conversely, if the seafloor in front of a glacier is deep, the ice spills into the warm subsurface layer of saltwater and may melt relatively rapidly. Satellite remote sensing can’t see below the surface to discern the depth of the seafloor or study the layers of water. OMG makes these measurements with shipboard and airborne instruments.

Tracking meltwater far into the North

In one of the two new papers, Ian Fenty of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and coauthors tracked water up the west coast to see how how it changed as it interacted with hundreds of melting coastal glaciers. They found that in northwest Greenland, cold and fresh water flowing into glacial fjords from the melting surface of the ice sheet is cooling the warmer subsurface water, which circulates clockwise around the island. In one instance, evidence for meltwater-cooled waters was found in fjords 100 miles (160 kilometers) downstream from its source. Fenty noted, “This is the first time we’ve documented glacier meltwater significantly impacting ocean temperatures so far downstream. That shows meltwater can play an important role in determining how much ocean heat ultimately reaches Greenland’s glaciers.”

The OMG data have enough detail that researchers are beginning to pinpoint the ice-loss risk for individual glaciers along the coast, according to OMG Principal Investigator Josh Willis of JPL. “Without OMG, we wouldn’t be able to conclude that Upernavik Glacier is vulnerable to ocean warming, whereas Cornell Glacier is less vulnerable,” he said.

Improving maps used to project sea level rise

In the second paper, lead author Mathieu Morlighem of the University of California, Irvine, used the OMG surveys to refine and improve maps of the bedrock under some of the west coast glaciers. Glaciologists worldwide use these and other maps in modeling the rate of ice loss in Greenland and projecting future losses.

A coastal glacier’s response to a warming climate depends heavily not only on the depth of the seafloor in front of it, as explained above, but on the shape of the bedrock below it. Before OMG, virtually the only measurements Morlighem had of these critical landscapes were long, narrow strips of data collected along flight lines of research aircraft, sometimes tens of miles inland (upstream) from a glacier’s ocean front. He has been estimating the shape of the bedrock outside of the flight lines with the help of other data such as ice flow speeds, but has had no good way to check how accurate his estimates are at the coastline.

Morlighem noted, “OMG [data are] not only improving our knowledge of the ocean floor, they’re improving our knowledge of the topography of the land, too.” This is because the campaign’s seafloor survey revealed features under the ocean, such as troughs cut by glaciers during the last ice age, that must continue upstream under the glacial ice. Therefore, Morlighem said, “By having OMG’s measurements close to the ice front, I can tell whether what I thought about the bed topography is correct or not.” Morlighem was pleasantly surprised to discover that 90 percent of the glacier depths he had estimated were within 160 feet (50 meters) of the actual depths recorded by the OMG survey.

The two papers are available online:

Oceans Melting Greenland: Early Results from NASA’s Ocean-Ice Mission in Greenland:


Improving bed topography mapping of Greenland glaciers using NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) data…



News Media Contact

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Janet Wilson
University of California, Irvine

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team





….think they’ll find good news?……….wbc