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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
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|Saturday, March 8th, 2014|
Bringing the [info] war home
The phone-records program is] unlawful. The statute the government relies on cannot be used to collect call records. Even if it could be used for this purpose, the phone-records program involves collection on a scale far beyond what the statute permits on its face, and far beyond what Congress intended. The government cannot demonstrate, as the statute requires it to, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that all Americans’ call records, over a twelve-year period (and counting), are “relevant” to an ongoing investigation.
The program would be anathema to the Constitution even if it were authorized by statute. It is unreasonable within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. It also violates the First Amendment by unjustifiably intruding on Plaintiffs’ associational privacy and by chilling communications that are central to Plaintiffs’ work.
The district court erred in dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint and in denying their motion for a preliminary injunction. The ongoing surveillance of their associations is causing irreparable injury to Plaintiffs’ privacy and associational rights. And both the balance of equities and the public interest favor injunctive relief. While the government once contended the program was the “only effective means” of tracking the associations of suspected terrorists, it has retreated from that claim in this litigation, and two government review groups—including a panel appointed by the President himself—have rejected it. Record evidence confirms that the government could achieve its stated goals without placing hundreds of millions of Americans under permanent surveillance.
|Murders linked to uncrackable phones
Police believe one of Australia's most violent outlaw bikers used uncrackable encrypted phones to order some of the shootings that have rocked Sydney.
SARAH FERGUSON, PRESENTER: Law enforcement agencies in Australia are confronting a new high-tech weapon in their fight against organised crime. Criminal gangs are now using encrypted mobile phones which make their communications impossible to decipher.
Police believe one of Australia's most prominent and violent outlaw bikers used a sophisticated encoded phone to order some of the shootings that have rocked Sydney. Dylan Welch reports.
DYLAN WELCH, REPORTER: This is the online video that advertises a company called Phantom Secure. It sells encrypted phones that are so secure even Australia's electronic spy agency can't crack their code.
The company's clients appear to be international men of mystery involved in high-powered business deals. But the reality is not always so polished.
Are these phones, for example, being used to kill?
PAUL JEVTOVIC, CHIEF EXEC., AUST. CRIME COMMISSION: I won't talk about any specifics, but encrypted communications and communications more generally are used across a range of criminal acts in this country. And, you know, the reality is they are accessible to organised crime and to serious criminals and they will use them in any way that will help them commit their crimes and to generate the profits.
DYLAN WELCH: Phantom Secure, like an increasing number of small businesses around the globe, sells BlackBerry phones that use military-grade encryption to prevent eavesdropping.
RICHARD BERGMAN, CYBER EXPERT, PWC: Phantom Secure are a modified BlackBerry. In a way what they have done to a BlackBerry phone is added additional encryption for secure communication, plus the ability to wipe the phone after messages are sent. You can also remotely wipe the phone, so if you lose the phone or maybe it's seized by law enforcement, you can wipe the phone to get rid of any call records or emails, etc.
DYLAN WELCH: Phantom Secure phones are marketed as a legitimate business tool, but they are also increasingly popular among the criminal underworld.
PAUL JEVTOVIC: Our intelligence would suggest that the most serious of crimes are being facilitated by communication modems including encrypted communications. So we're talking about serious acts of violence, we're talking about a range of serious crime.
CRAIG SEARLE, HEAD OF CYBER SECURITY ASIA-PACIFIC, BAE: : What they seem to be offering is effectively a handset that's highly locked down. You're not able to make calls, you're not able to use the SMS system or emails or anything like that. The only thing you can use is use the BlackBerry messaging system. You would need to provide a password on your phone to unlock the message and then you'll be able to view it.
DYLAN WELCH: The most important part of Phantom Secure's system is the powerful encryption.
CRAIG SEARLE: Encryption is essentially the art of being able to scramble information so that it's unrecoverable for everyone other than the intended recipient.
DYLAN WELCH: 7.30 has been told that Phantom Secure's encryption is so strong even the country's electronic intelligence agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, can't crack messages sent from one Phantom phone to another.
CRAIG SEARLE: So we're just using the standard version of PGP - PGP standing for Pretty Good Privacy. Can create a message - let's say, "Meet me at 2pm." So that's the plain text, that's the message that, the recipient, we'd like them to see. Now I can just use the PGP tool, select the text, click, encrypt and there. And so as you can see, the message is scrambled and for all intents and purposes, there's no real way to know what that message contains. ...
... If you took every single computer in the known world and you joined them together to try to decrypt the message, it would probably take about a lifetime of the universe, so hundreds of millions of years.
DYLAN WELCH: Phantom goes to extreme lengths to ensure their clients' anonymity. They don't ask for personal information, only credit card details and even that is deleted after payment. It means the company holds no paperwork linking the phone to its owner.
RICHARD BERGMAN: The phones are purchased overseas. You can purchase them for cash; you don't necessarily need to prove your identity to get access to some of the phones. So tying a device to a person can be challenging for law enforcement.
DYLAN WELCH: The Australian Crime Commission believes the global encryption industry will double in size over the next two years.
PAUL JEVTOVIC: Now whilst that demand is from legitimate industry and citizens who are not involved in crime, our concern is that organised crime will further avail themselves of this technology.
DYLAN WELCH: 7.30 has been told by senior law enforcement officials that use of the encrypted phones has proliferated among criminals in recent years.
Thousands of encrypted phones are believed to be in Australia and the officials say some of the phones are suspected of being used to send the most dangerous messages imaginable - those that lead to murder.
NEWSREADER: A 37-year-old man was shot dead outside a unit block in Eastlakes near Mascot.
DYLAN WELCH: Tyrone Slemnik was a newly-minted Sydney Hells Angels member when he was shot dead in southern Sydney in July last year.
ZOLTAN SLEMNIK, BROTHER: He was always the life of the party and, you know, and joking around and acting the clown and that's what a lot of people fell in love with him.
DYLAN WELCH: The night he died, Slemnik was standing watch outside the Eastlakes apartment of a senior Hells Angel. The club was embroiled in a turf war with the Comanchero. About 10 pm, a car load of unknown men drove past and opened fire.
RICO SLEMNIK, FATHER: Then, was around one o'clock, I was in the bed and my daughter rang me up. She said, "Dad," she said, "Tyrone got shot."
DYLAN WELCH: Investigators suspect a well-known member of the Comancheros ordered the drive-by using an encrypted phone.
NEWSREADER II: Two men are dead after a shooting in suburban Sydney. The two were targeted as they sat in a ute at Wentworthville just after 9 o'clock.
DYLAN WELCH: The 2012 murder of convicted drug cook and Hells Angels associate Roy Yaghi has also been linked by law enforcement to the senior Comanchero and his encrypted phone.
The Australian Crime Commission is now pursuing several investigations into the use of encrypted phones.
PAUL JEVTOVIC: This is a serious challenge for law enforcement and whilst each organisation will speak for itself on how frustrated they might be, it'd be fair to say, as I've said, that this is a serious risk and threat. So, why the ACC is focusing on this I suppose you can interpret as a reflection of the concerns of Australian law enforcement.
SARAH FERGUSON: Dylan Welch reporting. And Phantom Secure, based in Canada, did not respond to our request for an interview. FROMhttp://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s3957610.htm
|Friday, March 7th, 2014|
|I want security
Bitcoin was designed by people who think there is WAY too much theft and fraud protection in our current system.
Timothy March 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm
Eh. I feel ease of theft is not directly comparable in many ways.
I have securely printed cold storage wallets I’ll be putting in the safety deposit box shortly. Difficulty: steal from the bank vault. You could probably get some malware on my Nexus and steal the DOGE I carry around with me. My home PC should be much more secure though a skilled attacker coming after me specifically would likely get in. Stuff I have in exchanges and online wallets depends on their security.
I think it kind of does compare to cash. No amount of identity theft will get you the hundred dollars in my pocket, but you could sucker punch me and take it easily. If you take it and get away unidentified, it’s yours for good. When I give someone cash I do not give them free access to the rest of my cash, but when I pay with a debit card I give the merchant access to my entire checking account. When I pay with BTC I only give the merchant access to the BTC I send them, like cash.
Chargebacks and such are used to defraud merchants.
I think we will soon see crypto depositories (100% reserve) and then banks opening up. The current wisdom or best practice is to keep all your coin on your own equipment, and that’s what I do though not rigorously (I don’t bother installing every client for every coin I pick up a little bit of on an exchange). However, this is not ideal, and if no one else does this in the next 6 months or so I certainly will – I would prefer to have a trusty service with a thoughtfully designed, well controlled and audited technological practice receiving my BTC deposits and storing 50 BTC chunks like ingots on little archival slips of paper generated offline, duplicated in multiple locations. When I want to withdraw they offer a variety of challenges by desire and ability to pay, from “password” to “a guy drives out to shake my hand, take a DNA swap, and get my fingerprints.” If you wanted to go all out, you could segregate the funds, so when I wanted to withdraw an employee in the vault would have to find my slip of paper specifically and scan it. Coinbase is already doing a lot of this.
As it expands out of low-grade internet libertarians with a hardcore DIY trust no one ethos, you will find people like me are very willing to pay pros for the hassle of printing up redundant secure paper wallets and depositing them in secure places, or dealing with non-networked hardware security modules, unplugged USB drives, whatever.
- See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/03/profile-of-satoshi-nakamoto-creator-of-bitcoin.html#comments
But how was the play Mrs Lincoln?
Leah McGrath Goodman
What a piece of shit reporting. Journalists compulsively play
pop psychologist is reporting on targets to obscure their
lack of technical capability. When ridiculed for this they
say readers want the gossip because they too lack technical
Not a single journalist resists the temptation for slimey personal
analysis to boost sales from Obama to Putin to Satoshi, from
NY Times to Guardian to WaPo to Wired to The Intercept.
Still the tech firms suck up to the ignorant outlets for lurid
coverage, crypto firms now leading the pack to promote
comsec panic for digital cash-in. You, once honorably corrupt,
dear cpunks, should be raking it in as if in compelled to
Fuck them dead, the whipsawing comsec windfall bandits.
|Thursday, March 6th, 2014|
V for vendetta
vbuterinDev 3 points 7 days ago
True, contract is a jargon term that we came up with that does not adequately describe all use cases of the concept. Script is problematic too; scripts sound like something that are run once and then abandoned, whereas the whole point of contracts in Ethereum is that they can have long-term state.
Btw, if a script stops without doing anything, it is invalid and would not get on the blockchain, right?
Nope, you can put whatever script you want on the blockchain, whether it's something actually useful, a no-op or an infinite loop. Ethereum doesn't care.
contractual automation of moneyless cooperatives.
That is, a social formation volunteers (instead of being coerced) to meet its public ledger of human needs, which are publicly verified via a blockchain administration. One volunteers to service needs of others in the cooperative in order to receive services in return. The algorithm: "Each to their need according to their ability" as proof of work.
Human A needs to consume #FoodAlpha and wields ability #TeachingSubjectDelta; Human D needs #ClothingBeta and wields ability #ProduceFoodAlpha; Human G needs #MedicineGamma and wields ability #ArtLambda; Human X needs #LearnSubjectDelta wields ability ... ad infinitum
The contractual automation would be able to hash matches faster than they could be registered.
And where new individual needs are identified such that matching individual abilities do not exist then it's identified as a cooperative level need that undergoes a meta-level development.
The "incentive" for all is the social contract that transparently stipulates that by cooperating (Proof of Stake) competition and mediating value-forms (fiat, factum, ...) are entirely bypassed for each cooperator.
Elites would have no place in such a social formation. FROM
|Tuesday, March 4th, 2014|
A recent gap here is when Blurty was down for a while and I posted at Buttdarling Insane journal
RSAC Keynote: support your local sherif
By Robert Graham
RSA Security chairman Art Coviello opened his company's conference with with a discussion of "BSAFE backdoor" controversy [video]. Rather than defending his company's mistakes in the affair, he seemed to justify it with a four-point plan calling for greater powers for law enforcement.
#1 "Renounce the use of cyber-weapons, and the use of the Internet for waging war"
This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, touching upon the "0-day" debate in our community, but it's wholly without substance.
We already use the Internet for waging war, whether it's servicemen sending emails back home, or using Internet connectivity to control drones on the battlefield. Internet is communications, and communications is essential to warfare. We no longer have the ability to communicate without using the Internet. In modern warfare, all sides use the Internet for waging war.
Of course, that's not precisely what he meant (I think). Instead, he probably refers to attacking each other through cyberspace. But it's the same thing. If we are raining down terror from Internet-controlled drones, then that control mechanism, the Internet, becomes fair game. We can't tell the victims of drone attacks that while shooting back at the drones is allowed by the rules of war, that hacking or viruses are somehow morally reprehensible and off limits. It's the same with outer space: our use of GPS for precision-guided missiles and satellite communications means waging war in space, even though no military action has yet taken place in space. We are just luckily we haven't attacked somebody yet with the ability to put ball-bearings in low-orbit taking out our GPS system -- and the ability to launch anything into space for a decade.
In short, his idea "renouncing the use of the Internet for waging war" demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the issue.
He's more on target with "cyber-weapons". Our community has a legitimate debate over "military 0days", and how the military's purchase of 0days outbids bug bounties that serve to protect us by closing vulnerabilities.
However, the blanket statement about "cyber-weapons" ignores this complex issue, and treads bad ground. The argument seems tailor-made to appeal to the EFF crowd, but these people don't renounce cyber-weapons as a principle. Instead, they defend their use, such as claiming Anonymous hackers were justified in using LOIC (a DDoS tool) against PayPal.
There is also the issue that virtually all "weapons" in cyberspace are dual-use: used by defenders as well as attackers. To outsiders, Nmap and Metasploit seem like evil tools with no legitimate purposes, but in fact they are most heavily used by defenders in protecting their networks against hackers. Again, the EFF hotly defends the use of such tools. That's why the debate in our community centers on "0days": it's the one tool that doesn't seem to be particularly useful to defenders.
Then there is the issue about whether code is speech (again, something the EFF defends). Virtually all "cyber-weapons" are open-source (except for the 0-days). Restricting them becomes an intolerable offense to basic rights.
In short, what Caviello is talking about is the same logic used by law enforcement in the 1990s, when encryption was classified as a munition and tightly controlled. The consequence was that it left good people open to attack. While this point looks initially like a sop to the anti-war crowd, it is in fact an attack on our liberties.
#2 "Cooperate internationally in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of cyber-criminals"
Our job in the cybersec community is to defend computers against hackers. That doesn't automatically make us tools of the state for prosecuting cyber-criminals.
For one thing, the definition of "cyber-criminal" is overly broad. Jailbreaking your iPhone makes you a cybercriminal. Incrementing a number in a URL makes you a cybercriminal. Spoofing your MAC address makes you a cybercriminal. Posting to Facebook can make you a cybercriminal.
World wide, most countries are oppressive regimes. Certainly we aren't going to aid law enforcement internationally and help those regimes. Even in the mostly "free" country of the United States, law enforcement has taken on the appearance of a police state. The U.S. jails over 1% of it's population, which is 10 times more than any other free country. Half of all young black men are in the system, such as in jail or on parole. Even whites are more likely to be in jail in the United States than in Europe.
Yes, we in this community work on the side of law enforcement when it comes to real crimes like stealing money or murder. For a broad range of other things, we oppose law enforcement. Indeed, many of us live in constant fear that law enforcement will come up with a novel interpretation of the law in order deem previous common whitehat activities as cybercrime.
As in his first principle, Coviella reveals that he has gone back on the principles of RSA from the 1990 and is now taking the side of law enforcement against citizens. His comments seem to indicate that he'd find mandatory key escrow a good feature of encryption.
#3 "Ensure that economic activity on the Internet can proceed unfettered and that intellectual property rights are respected around the world"
Here Caviello has is completely at odds with the rest of the cybersec community.
Yes, limited intellectual property protections for a limited time are the lifeblood of the modern economy, especially a "knowledge economy" like the United States. But, our zeal to protect intellectual property has lead to a cyber-police-state, where the DMCA is used to chill speech and patent trolls destroy innovation.
In justifying this principle, Caviello says "The rule of law must rule". I'm not sure what he means by that. The phrase "rule of law" doesn't mean the principle that law must crack down on wrongdoers. Instead, the phrase means that everyone is subject equally to the law, even the powerful. It means whichever laws we have, they should be applied equally.
And the lack of even treatment under the law is exactly why people are upset with the current intellectual property regime. One example is how Disney appears to have tailored copyright law to its own benefit at the expensive of everyone else. Another example is how the DMCA is wholly unbalanced between the powerful and the powerless.
We see a theme developing here: Caviello (and by extension RSA) is clearly coming down on the side of law enforcement against individual rights.
#4 "Respect and ensure the privacy of all individuals"
Unlike Caviello's first three points, this seems reasonable. Maybe he isn't such a bad guy.
But, later in his remarks, it's clear that he's not really standing up for privacy. He says "Governments have a duty to create and enforce a balance ... that embraces individual rights and collective security". It's quite clear from the nature of his arguments where he sees the correct balance -- toward maximum security, and consequently, minimal individual rights.
My translation of Coviello's comments is this: "If we had backdoored our crypto, would that have been such a bad thing?". Betraying customer trust on behalf of the government is consistent with his entire speech: trusting the NSA, trusting NIST, and most of all, trusting the good intentions of the police state.
|Monday, March 3rd, 2014|
Glenin - what is to be done?
Was WikiLeaks infected with Vladimir Putin’s sins, as some argued, because Julian Assange’s show appeared on RT? Or go ahead and apply those questions to virtually every large media organization or advocacy group you like, which needs substantial funding, which in turn requires that they seek and obtain that funding from very rich people who undoubtedly have political views and activities you find repellent.
That journalistic outlets fail to hold accountable large governmental and corporate entities is a common complaint. It’s one I share. It’s possible to do great journalism in discrete, isolated cases without much funding and by working alone, but it’s virtually impossible to do sustained, broad-scale investigative journalism aimed at large and powerful entities without such funding. As I’ve learned quite well over the last eight months, you need teams of journalists, and editors, and lawyers, and experts, and travel and technology budgets, and a whole slew of other tools that require serious funding. The same is true for large-scale activism.
That funding, by definition, is going to come from people rich enough to provide it. And such people are almost certainly going to have views and activities that you find objectionable. If you want to take the position that this should never be done, that’s fine: just be sure to apply it consistently to the media outlets and groups you really like.
|The anarchist ratchet
4. The Anarchist Effect
Occupy was started by Adbusters, originally. They are an anti-capitalist group whose intent was to change how information flowed and take the propagandist slant out.
To say it was created by Anarchists is utterly wrong. It was embraced by Anarchists in the US, to be sure, but they didn’t create it. They were very involved in making a “citizen run” society – to prove that we didn’t need government to be successful. Of course, if you measure success by sustainability? Their societies only lasted months.
I have less problem with those who, at the start, played defender of the weak: The black bloc who stood in the front lines, clashing with pigs so that the old, young or infirm could get away.
But sadly? That group became more vocal – more authoritarian, if you will – in demanding that Occupy was made in their image. It was their influence that crippled what could have been a movement that changed concrete things – like leaders, demands and having candidates.
I am no pacifist, but pointless violence became the norm. Smashing the window of the family who bought a small Starbucks franchise, the family that brought campers donuts and coffee every single morning up until that day didn’t hurt the corporation at all. It hurt a small businessman, probably disillusioned his family, and made the people who lived on the street hungrier.
It allowed for infiltration, and there is concrete proof that FBI agents and police joined and did violent acts for which to blame on OWS. Once Occupy opened the door to allowing terrorism of local people, there was no way to filter who was real and who was an agent provocateur.
For a movement to be successful, it has to have rules, and anarchists are absolutely anti-rules… other than every interaction should be by mutual consent. I am not sure where the mutual consent of that Starbucks owner comes in. I think too many were not really interested in social change as much as in venting their rage and their Daddy issues. The US-anarchist movement has little to do with the actual principles of Anarchism as Noam Chomsky has repeatedly pointed out to me on air and in email, as well as other public venues.
He agrees, the idea of consent and the idea that no man should have ‘rule’ over another, that we are all beings of intrinsic equal value, capable of informed consent over every exchange in our lives is a profoundly good idea.
However, the do-no-harm principle of it demands an informed, enlightened populace… and we are generations away from that. The no-government-at-all-NOW set is short sighted and counter intuitive. People would die, suffer, starve, and the already suffering infrastructure of public works and education would become non-existent. The most at risk already would be sacrificed in a country more prone to ‘Lord of the Flies’ than ‘Pay it Forward.’
I am not saying Anarchists should be purged from any movement going forward. They should be cautioned that the next logical step is towards Socialism until we reach a healthy, educated, secure society. Only then can the idea of dismantling structure be worked towards in any way that would be beneficial to all. If they can work within those constraints, towards a common betterment and an end goal more to their liking, fine.
Random violence would have to be self-policed, and made absolutely taboo. Responding to violence by protecting the weak when forced to, allowed. See the difference?
Zinoviev as Big brother
Zinoviev as Big brother
From " Stalin's Hangmen" by Donald Rayfield ...Stalin oversaw with GPU help the crushing of national rebellions from his native Georgia to Bashkiria. Non-Russian communists were arrested and some shot for ' nationalist' deviations: they had misunderstood the role of the Russian Federal Republic in the Soviet Union and had taken their own autonomy seriously. They had not heeded Stalin's and Zinoviev's speeches explaining the difference between the Tsar's imperialism and Soviet centralisation. Zinoviev in 1919 expressed Stalin's idea with inimitable cynicism: We cannot do without Azerbaijan's oil or Turkestan's cotton. We take these things which we need, but not in the way the old exploiters took them but as elder brothers who are carrying the torch of civilisation'...
|Sunday, March 2nd, 2014|
Clay Claiborne wrote:
Here is another example of why I consider Counterpunch
counter-revolutionary crap. Why is it that when it comes to the great
popular revolutions of our day, be it in Libya, Syria or Ukraine, I've
seen only one side represented, the counter-revolutionary side?
That's a good question. My guess is that it reflects the dominant tendency on the left, which is uncomfortable with contradiction. No matter how much I disagree with those kinds of articles, I value CP. This has nothing to do with the fact that I write for it. I used to post links to CP articles on a continual basis and far more than from other leftist websites, long before I had any connection to it. We would be much worse off without it.
|Friday, January 17th, 2014|
From MIC to MEC the hits keep coming
New Powers sought by the Military-Entertainment-Complex
Late Night: Roll Over, Ike
By: cocktailhag Thursday January 16, 2014 8:00 pm
In what the White House called a “coincidence,” President Obama will be making Charlie Brown teacher noises about NSA “reforms,” except there won’t be any reforms to speak of, unless you call further crackdowns on leakers reforms, on the 54th anniversary of Eisenhower’s famous “Military Industrial Complex” speech. They should have waited a few days.
I was in college when I first watched the speech, and at the time it seemed almost hyperbolic; sure, militarism was costly and usually counterproductive, but did it really threaten liberty and democracy? This was the early 1980′s, after all, and the yet-unnamed “Vietnam Syndrome” was still in full effect, and Reagan’s militarism had just received a rousing thumbs up from the electorate. Soviet-style tyranny seemed pretty far off, and Reagan seemed to be guiding the Pentagon, rather than the other way around.
Even during the Bush years, the administration took pains to at least provide the trappings of Democratic acquiescence to its warmongering, albeit often in shabby and deceitful ways. As time wore on and the wars went south, both practically and in public opinion, Bush and his cronies increasingly let slip their contempt for the will of the people, they still could point to the fact that even after Abu Ghraib and whatnot, they had been reelected.
It wasn’t until Bush’s second term that I saw Ike’s speech with fresh eyes; one by one, liberty and democracy were, in fact, being tossed under the bus, and clearly at the hands of an MIC run amok. Suddenly we had something called “Joint Terrorism Task Forces” blurring the once bright line between local and federal law enforcement, warrentless search and seizure, and flagrant collusion between greedy corporations and overweening government. The war had come home in the worst possible way, just as Ike warned it would.
But by this time, Bush was as popular as crabs in a whorehouse, and whichever candidate was least like him would surely be the next President. Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out; Obama became a shill for the MIC the moment he clinched the nomination. The only candidate who opposed the Iraq war became entranced with having an idiotic, Bush-aping “surge” in Afghanistan. The guy who railed against warrantless wiretapping retroactively legalized it. Worse, once elected, broken promises continued to fall like rain.
The horrid gulag of Guantanamo remained open, persecution of leakers increased, government spying metastasized, and even the hated Iraq war only “ended” because our own puppet government there told us to take a hike. Thoroughly discredited military leaders like David Petraeus were not only kept on but promoted, the war on drugs escalated, and what few journalists questioned any of this found out in a hurry that their impertinence was not appreciated.
So it turns out Ike wasn’t blowing smoke on that January day in 1960; it just took a little longer than he thought. Militarism does, in fact, hate Democracy and freedom, as passionately as PETA hates furriers, and it’s done yoeman’s work getting rid of it. In tomorrow’s speech, Mr. Hope & Change will be treading carefully to avoid upsetting not the people he ostensibly serves, but the intelligence “community.” My guess is that Eisenhower’s ghost will not be amused. ( FROM FDL)
Carlo Graziani • January 16, 2014 2:02 PM
Without disagreeing that "this is Congress' job", I'd say that that job is so difficult and complex that the problem won't be fixed soon, if ever, and in the meantime the rumors about the administration's cosmetic reform plans still constitute catastrophic bad news.
The thing is, the policies of the Federal bureaucracy are influenced and set in proportion to the staff and budget of the various Departments and Agencies advocating those policies. This is a problem with respect to privacy and civil rights because almost all the institutions at the table with a say on such matters are the securocracies --- Justice, the various law-enforcement agencies, the intelligence bureaucracy, Defense, the NSA. All of these very powerful institutions advocate non-stop for greater technical and legal surveillance power and for more powerful tools for legal compulsion to extract information and protect secrecy.
Perhaps this is as it should be -- you could hardly expect the CIA to be tasked with making a case for protecting citizen rights. Some other institution at the table with a mandate to protect those rights should be doing that, so that the policies that emerge reflect some kind of balance. The trouble is, there is almost nobody in the Federal government who has both the mandate and the bureaucratic heft to swing that role. That's the reason that the securocracies have been hampered only by technical limitations and whatever fig-leaf of self-policing they deign to institute.
"Almost nobody": there is one major institution within the government that has both the mandate to protect citizen rights and has the power to balance the securocrats: the Office of the President. It is the President's job to make sure that those rights are correctly balanced, that the intelligence and law-enforcement types don't get everything they dream up. The President, as the only elected Constitutional officer in the Executive, is charged with protecting the rights established under the Constitution. That's his job. You can tell he's doing it if you see that the heads of the law-enforcement and intelligence bureaucracies are unhappy about limitations to their powers that they hate and complain about. Which is to say, at the moment, the President is not doing his job in this regard.
You would think that the first law professor elected President since Woodrow Wilson would understand this critical role, the nonfeasance of which is so damaging to our civil society. But in the case of Barack Obama, you would be wrong. The man's inability to conceive of an actionable belief not arrived at by averaging the beliefs of those around him makes him eat out of the palms of the securocrats he should be frustrating, who are the only people he talks to about secrets and spying. It's starting to look as if those people wrote his "reform" plan for him. I suppose that should have been expected, given his craven record in these matters.
|Thursday, January 16th, 2014|
|Architect as exhibit
With a $67B security market heading to $87B by 2016 why
would any security firm settle for RSA piddling racketerring?http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/technology/upstarts-challenge-old-timers-in-lucrative-computer-security-field.html
Not saying the RSA bashers are diverting attention from their
venality, that would be contrary to industry ethics to hide and
be hidden, by that I mean journalism and advertising, publicity
and campaign bribery, donations to computer education and
conferences, dark web sales to rogues and spies, plagiarism
and huffy indignation, sabotage and thievery, copyright and
DMCA takedowns, well, why preach in this smokey chapel to
the stogie-sucking porkies, don't they pay minimum taxes to
betray the privacy of ordinary taxpayers who pay the most.
FatSec Preacher bellows: Is there any industry more corrupt
than the fatuous security industry?
FatSec Believers yell back: Nope, and newcomers are flocking in.
And so, the sated toads toddle out to fancy chariots stashing
drunken investor bedmates, croaking,
"And we bloated firms are getting much fatter on hackers.
and we pay them shady bitcoins them to boost the flab."
The pentagon's puppet president
The No. 1 winner is, of course, the Pentagon, since it won’t be subjected to budget cuts that had been planned for the next two years. The military not only scores more spending through its regular budget but, as a bonus, it gets a raise through its Overseas Contingency Operations budget. The bill provides $85.2 billion in war spending, a $5 billion hike over what was on the books. And we should expect that number to go up, as Congress has used the war budget as a slush fund since the wars started in 2002 by abusing the emergency-spending loophole. I am not sure how the increase in war spending can be justified, considering that we are supposedly drawing down from two wars, but there you have it.
|Tuesday, January 14th, 2014|
A few of us Finks in New York
That's okay; actually I am just
starting out in the movies – though
I was pretty well established in New
York, some renown there,
Oh, it's an exciting time then. I'm
not the best-read mug on the planet,
so I guess it's no surprise I didn't
recognize your name. Jesus, I feel
like a heel.
For the first time Barton smiles.
That's okay, Charlie. I'm a
playwright. My shows've only played
New York. Last one got a hell of a
write-up in the Herald. I guess that's
why they wanted me here.
Hell, why not? Everyone wants quality.
What kind of venue, that is to say,
What do I write about?
Caught me trying to be fancy! Yeah,
that's it, Bart.
Well, that's a good question. Strange
as it may seem, Charlie, I guess I
write about people like you. The
average working stiff. The common
Well ain't that a kick in the head!
Yeah, I guess it is. But in a way,
that's exactly the point. There's a
few people in New York – hopefully
our numbers are growing – who feel
we have an opportunity now to forge
something real out of everyday
experience, create a theater for the
masses that's based on a few simple
truths – not on some shopworn
abstractions about drama that doesn't
hold true today, if they ever did...
He gazes at Charlie.
...I don't guess this means much to
Hell, I could tell you some stories–
And that's the point, that we all
have stories. The hopes and dreams
of the common man are as noble as
those of any king. It's the stuff of
life – why shouldn't it be the stuff
of theater? Goddamnit, why should
that be a hard pill to swallow? Don't
call it new theater, Charlie; call
it real theater. Call it our theater.
I can see you feel pretty strongly
Well, I don't mean to get up on my
high horse, but why shouldn't we
look at ourselves up there? Who
cares about the Fifth Earl of Bastrop
and Lady Higginbottom and – and –
and who killed Nigel Grinch-Gibbons?
I can feel my butt getting sore
Exactly, Charlie! You understand
what I'm saying – a lot more than
some of these literary types. Because
you're a real man!
And I could tell you some stories –
Sure you could! And yet many writers
do everything in their power to
insulate themselves from the common
man – from where they live, from
where they trade, from where they
fight and love and converse and –
and – and... so naturally their work
suffers, and regresses into empty
formalism and – well, I'm spouting
off again, but to put it in your
language, the theater becomes as
phony as a three dollar bill.
Yeah, I guess that's tragedy right
Frequently played, seldom remarked.
|Sunday, January 12th, 2014|
The Christie Question
By Jay Nordlinger
Earlier this week, there was a spring in conservatives’ step. That was because Chris Christie was in deep doo-doo. His career seemed to be imploding, over Bridgegate. Conservatives hadn’t been so happy since the Obamacare rollout (which wasn’t that long ago).
The end of Christie’s career would not be a good thing — for New Jersey, for the Republican party, for conservatism, or for the country. He is a valuable conservative, one of the most talented politicians in the country. We are lucky to have him on our side — general side.
Lately, I have been more and more impatient with 100-percenters — people who have to agree with someone 100 percent in order to consider him any good. There is very little room for 100-percentism in politics. In other spheres of life, maybe, but not this one.
Occasionally, I will quote someone favorably in my column. And someone will e-mail me, “Yeah, but do you recall what he said on September 8, 1999? Traitor!” That word could refer to me or the fellow I had originally quoted.
Sometimes it seems that no one is ever good enough for us: not 41, not Dole, not 43, not anybody. In the summer of 2012, people said that Mitt Romney would be a sell-out commie squish if he picked anyone but Paul Ryan as his running mate. If he picked Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty or Kelly Ayotte, that would be proof positive of his sell-out commie squishdom. He picked the sainted Ryan — so “Mittens” got a reprieve for a while.
But in recent weeks, the sainted Ryan struck some budget deal that is maybe not good. So he is no longer sainted — he is a sell-out commie squish. It can be hard to keep track of the Right’s list of Good and Bad. Today’s sheep can be tomorrow’s goat.
If you spend enough time in RightWorld, you may be led to believe that our enemies are John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, Karl Rove, Reince Priebus, and definitely anyone named Bush. I can’t tell you how nutso this seems to them (as to me). In the words of one of them, “I’ve been decried as a right-wing lunatic my entire life. And to be decried now as an establishment moderate is almost an out-of-body experience.”
Think for a second what it’s like to be George W. Bush. In the dominant liberal culture — the universities, Hollywood, the news media — you’re Attila the Hun, if not BusHitler. (Did I spell that right?) In RightWorld, you’re Elliot Richardson, at best.
Politics is not for everyone, heaven knows. It’s a messy business, full of compromises and concessions, half-loaves and quarter-loaves (and crumbs). Sometimes a reading group seems more inviting than politics: We can just sit around and recite Russell Kirk to one another. Reagan is Saint Ronald now, but he was very impure when he was practicing politics, leading many on the right to denounce him, or sigh over him. We’ve got to run someone in 2016: and it ain’t gonna be Sheriff Joe. Emotionally satisfying as that might be.
Because I am a Ted Cruz man — he is an old, dear friend, and I’ll be supporting him in ’16, if he runs — I should be gleeful over Christie’s tumble. I am not, however. I think that conservative rejoicing over his troubles is unseemly, and self-defeating. I don’t have to be for him 100 percent to appreciate him. Eighty percent will do, and maybe even 65.
In the days following the 2012 election, I could hardly stand to look at him. And I think his handling of the Senate vacancy in his state stank. I could go on.
Honestly, my inclinations are to be a hundred-percenter: “He hugged Obama, à la Charlie Crist? What is it with governors named Crist or Christie? Screw ’im.” But then I check myself. I realize that the loss of Chris Christie would not be a gain but a loss. We need Christie, in addition to Allen West and others who make us pump our fists with joy.
So, that’s my position for now, until Christie ticks me off again. (That could be by tomorrow morning, true.)
Democracy & science as fundamental truths
PJ's mutualist society was fundamentally democratic:
“We have, then, not an abstract sovereignty of the people, as in the Constitution of 1793 and subsequent constitutions, or as in Rousseau’s Social Contract, but an effective sovereignty of the working, reigning, governing masses . . . Indeed, how could it be otherwise if they are in charge of the whole economic system including labour, capital, credit, property and wealth?”
Rejecting state socialism, Proudhon proposed “a solution based on equality, – in other words, the organisation of labour, which involves the negation of political economy and the end of property.” He favoured socialisation, genuine common-ownership and free access. The “land is indispensable to our existence, consequently a common thing, consequently insusceptible of appropriation” and “all capital . . . being the result of collective labour, is, in consequence, collective property.” Against property, Proudhon argued for a society of “possessors without masters” with self-managed workers’ associations running the economy:
“under universal association, ownership of the land and of the instruments of labour is social ownership . . . We want the mines, canals, railways handed over to democratically organised workers’ associations . . . We want these associations to be models for agriculture, industry and trade, the pioneering core of that vast federation of companies and societies woven into the common cloth of the democratic and social Republic.”
He later termed this the agro-industrial federation. Unsurprisingly, then, Bakunin talked about Proudhon’s “socialism, based on individual and collective liberty and upon the spontaneous action of free associations.” In opposition to various schemes of state socialism, Proudhon argued for a decentralised federal market socialism based on workers’ self-management of production and community self-government.
From Mutualism to Collectivism
Proudhon’s ideas developed and evolved as he thought through the implications of his previous insights. They also reflected, developed and changed with the social and political context. He influenced the developing working class movement and was influenced by it. For example, he often called his libertarian socialism “mutualism,” a term invented not by him but by the workers in Lyon in the 1830s.
This did not stop with his death in 1865. The ideas Proudhon championed continued to evolve as working class people utilised them to understand and change the world. Mutualists were instrumental in forming the IWMA in 1864 and it was in that organisation that libertarian ideas evolved from reformist to revolutionary anarchism. The debates on collective ownership in the IWMA were primarily between socialists heavily influenced by Proudhon. All sides agreed on workers associations for industry, disagreeing on the issue of collectivising land.
By 1871, the transition from reformist mutualism to revolutionary collectivism as the predominant tendency within anarchism was near complete. Then came the Paris Commune. With its ideas on decentralised federations of communes and workers’ associations, the Commune applied Proudhon’s ideas on a grand scale and, in the process, inspired generations of socialists. Sadly, this revolt has been appropriated by Marxism thanks to Marx’s passionate defence of the revolt and his and Engels systematic downplaying of its obvious Proudhonian influences. As Bakunin suggested, Marx and Engels “proclaim[ing] that [the Commune’s] programme and purpose were their own” flew “in face of the simplest logic” and was “a truly farcical change of costume.”
Proudhon’s lasting legacy is his contribution to anarchism. It is little wonder that he has been termed “the father of anarchism” for while anarchism has evolved since Proudhon’s time it still bases itself on the themes first expounded in a systematic way by the Frenchman. Indeed, it is hard to imagine anarchism without Proudhon – even if a few anarchists may wish to.
Modern, revolutionary, anarchism developed within the IWMA and reflected the federalist and self-managed vision expounded by Proudhon. It rejected his reformism and transformed his call for a “revolution from below” into a literal support for a social revolution. With reformism rejected as insufficient, the revolutionary anarchists stressed the need for what would now be termed a syndicalist approach to social change. Rather than seeing workers’ co-operatives and the “organisation of credit” as the focus for social transformation, unions, strikes and other forms of collective working class direct action and organisation were seen as the means of both fighting capitalism and replacing it. Proudhon’s dual-power strategy from 1848 was applied it in the labour movement with the long term aim of smashing the state and replacing it with these organs of popular power. It also rejected Proudhon’s anti-communism in favour of going beyond abolishing wage-labour and advocating distribution according to need rather than deed as both more just and consistent (i.e., the extension of the critique of wage-labour into opposition to the wages-system). It also rejected Proudhon’s support for patriarchy in the family as inconsistent with the libertarian principles he advocated against capitalism and the state.
So Proudhon and the likes of Bakunin and Kropotkin had more in common than differences. Even a cursory glance at revolutionary anarchism shows the debt it has to Proudhon. Bakunin, unsurprisingly, considered his own ideas as “Proudhonism widely developed and pushed right to these, its final consequences.”
While Proudhon may not have been the first thinker to suggest a stateless and classless society, he was the first to call himself an anarchist and to influence a movement of that name. This is not to suggest that libertarian ideas and movements had not existed before Proudhon nor that anarchistic ideas did not develop spontaneously after 1840 but these were not a coherent, named, theory. Nor is it to suggest that anarchism has to be identical to Proudhon’s specific ideas and proposals, rather they have to be consistent with the main thrust of his ideas – in other words, anti-state and anti-capitalism.
Anarchists are not Proudhonists, Bakuninists, Kropotkinites, or whoever-ists. We reject the idea of calling ourselves after individuals. However, we can and do acknowledge the contributions of outstanding thinkers and activists, people who contribute to the commonwealth of ideas which is anarchism. Seen in this light, Proudhon should be (for all his faults) remembered as the person who laid the foundations of anarchism. His libertarian socialism, his critique of capitalism and the state, his federalism, advocacy of self-management and change from below, define what anarchism is.
Today, anarchists are continuing the task started in 1840: replacing capitalist statism with anti-state socialism.
The quotes in the above article come from the forthcoming Proudhon anthology “Property is Theft!” This book, the most comprehensive anthology of Proudhon’s work to date, will be published in December 2010 to mark the 170th anniversary of Proudhon’s classic “What is Property?”
Translated into English by Paul Sharkey for the first time for this anthology, this letter of the 14th of December 1849 to Saint-Simonian socialist Pierrer Leroux summarises Proudhon’s ideas on socialism, the organisation of labour and of credit, social reform, why opposing capitalism means opposing the state, and a host of other issues still debated within the radical movement.
Letter to Pierre Leroux
My dear Pierre Leroux,
[. . .]
On the basis of a few snatches of text quarried from my books and utterly misconstrued, you have cast me as an adversary of your own devising – anti-democratic, anti-socialist, counter-revolutionary, Malthusian and atheistic. This is the imaginary creature to which you address your arguments, without in the least bothering if the man you depict thus to proletarians fits the description. Sometimes you credit me with saying things that I never said, or you credit me with conclusions diametrically opposed to my actual ones; at other times, you take the trouble to lecture me on what no one living in this century could honestly be ignorant of; all in order to banish me benignly from the democratic and social community.
Thus you take me to task for having made a distinction between the labour question and the question of the State, two questions which are, at bottom, identical and susceptible to one and the same solution.
If you were as eager to acknowledge the common ground between your thoughts and mine as you are to highlight where they differ, you wouldn’t have had any difficulty persuading yourself that, when it comes to the questions of labour and the State, as well as on a host of other matters, our two outlooks have no reason to feel jealous of each other. When I state, say, that the capitalist principle and the monarchist or governmental principle are one and the same principle; that the abolition of the exploitation of man by man and the abolition of the government of man by man are one and the same formula; when, taking up arms against communism and absolutism alike, those two kindred faces of the authority principle, I point out that, if the family was the building block of feudal society, the workshop is the building block of the new society; it must be as plain as day that I, like you, look upon the political question and the economic question as one and the same. What you upbraid me for not knowing on this score is your own sheer ignorance of my own thinking and, what is worse, it is a waste of time.
But does it follow from the fact that the labour question and the State question resolve each other and are, fundamentally, one and the same issue, that no distinction should be made between them and that each does not deserve its own resolution? Does it follow from these two questions being, in principle, identical, that we must arrive at a particular mode of organising the State rather than the State being subsumed by labour? Neither of those conclusions holds water. Social questions are like problems of geometry; they may be resolved in different ways, depending on how they are approached. It is even useful and vital that these differing solutions be devised so that, in adding further dimensions to theory, they may add to the sum of science.
And as to the State, since, despite this multi-faceted character, the ultimate conclusion is that the question of its organisation is bound up with that of the organisation of labour, we may, we must, further conclude that a time will come when, labour having organised itself, in accordance with its own law, and having no further need of law-maker or sovereign, the workshop will banish government. As I argue and into which we shall look into, my dear philosopher, whenever, paying rather more heed to the other fellow’s ideas and being a little less sensitive about your own, you may deign to enter into a serious debate about one or other of these two things, about which you are forever prattling without actually saying anything: Association and the State.
The government question and the labour question being identical, you rightly remark that such identity is articulated in the following terms: The Question of the organisation of Society.
Now, read through chapter one of Contradictions Économiques and you will find it formally spelled out that it is incorrect to say that labour is organised or that it is not; that it is forever self-organising; that society is an ongoing striving for organisation; that such organisation is at one and the same time the principle, the life and the purpose of society. So, my dear Pierre Leroux, be so kind as to think me somewhat less of an ignoramus and above all less of a sophist than I may seem to your frightened imagination: it will lay to rest three quarters of our quarrel.
Yes, I tell you, the February Revolution (and I am sticking to my formula precisely on account of its concrete simplicity and its very materiality), the February Revolution has posed two questions; one political and the other economic. The first is the question of government and freedom; the second that of labour and capital. I defy you to express bigger issues in fewer words. So leave the Supreme Being to heaven and religion to conscience, to the household, a matter for the mother of the family and her offspring.
Let me add – and there is nothing in me to validate your entertaining doubts, the way you do, about my feelings on this score – that once those two major issues have been resolved, the republican catch-cry, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, is a reality. If this is what you refer to as God’s kingdom on earth, let me say to you, indeed, that I have no quarrel with that. It is a real comfort to me to find out at last that the kingdom of God is the kingdom of liberty, equality and fraternity. But could you not express yourself in everyday language?
You have me saying, and I really do not know where you could have found this, that ownership of the instruments of labour must forever stay vested in the individual and remain unorganised. These words are set in italics, as if you had lifted them from somewhere in my books. And then, on the back of this alleged quotation, you set about answering me that society, or the State that stands for it, has the right to buy back all property assets, that it has a duty to pursue such buy-backs and that it will do so.
But it does not follow at all from my speaking on the basis of socialism in order to reject the buy back of such assets as nonsensical, illegitimate and poisonous that I want to see individual ownership and non-organisation of the instruments of labour endure for all eternity. I have never penned nor uttered any such thing: and have argued the opposite a hundred times over. I make no distinction, as you do, between real ownership and phony ownership: from the lofty heights of righteousness and human destiny, I deny all kinds of proprietary domain. I deny it, precisely because I believe in an order wherein the instruments of labour will cease to be appropriated and instead become shared; where the whole earth will be depersonalised; where, all functions having become interdependent [solidaires], the unity and personhood of society will be articulated alongside the personality of the individual. True, were I not familiar with the candour of your soul, I should think, dear Pierre Leroux, that such misrepresentation of my meaning and my words were done on purpose.
But how is such solidarity of possession and labour to be achieved? How are we to make a reality of such personhood of society, which must result from the disappropriation, or de-personalising of things?
That plainly is the issue, the big question of the revolution.
Together with Louis Blanc, you make noises about association and buy back: but association, such as it must emerge from fresh reforms, is as much a mystery as religion, and all the attempts at association made by the workers before our very eyes and more or less modelling themselves on the forms of companies defined by our civil and commercial codes, can only be deemed transitory. In short, we know nothing about association. But, besides its requiring the acquiescence of all property-owners, by all the citizenry – which is an impossibility – buying back assets is a notion of mathematical nonsensicality. What is the State supposed to use to pay for assets? Why, assets. Buy back across-the-board adds up to universal expropriation without public usefulness and WITHOUT COMPENSATION. Yet your sense of caution, Pierre Leroux, has no misgivings about being compromised by fostering such claptrap!
There is a more straightforward, more effective and infinitely less onerous and less risky way of transferring ownership, achieving Liberty, Equality and Fraternity: And I have pointed that way out lots of times; it is to put paid to capital’s productivity by means of a democratic organisation of credit and a simplification of taxation.
Capital having been divested of its power of usury, economic solidarity is gradually brought into play, and with it, an equality of wealth.
Next comes the spontaneous, popular formation of groups, workshops or workers’ associations;
Finally, the last to be conjured and formed is the over-arching group, comprising the nation in its entirety, what you term the State because you invest it with a representativity beyond society [représentation extra-sociale] but which, to me, is the State no more.
That, dear philosopher, is how I see the Revolution going; this is how we should shift from Liberty to Equality and thence to Fraternity. Which is why I so forcefully insist upon the importance of economic reform, a reform that I have given this makeshift designation: Free credit.
|Friday, January 10th, 2014|
A girth experience all round
But, yes, Christie has real personal flaws. He has a temper, he can be a bully, and one senses a mean streak over petty things. His warm and inclusive speech after winning the governorship of New Jersey by a huge margin last November suggested that he had chosen consultants who were helping him to cultivate a nicer, warmer persona. Still, I prefer to believe that in an age of NSA access to all e-mails and phone conversations, the bridge fiasco was due to a residual atmosphere of meanness in his office, and not the unlikely stupidity of an ex-prosecutor ignoring the reality in which no privacy exists and long-term secrecy is dubious. To paraphrase Richard Nixon — whose 101st birthday it would be today — the American people will forgive “mean,” but stupid is forever. The GOP constantly forgets this truth.
For conservatives, of course, Christie’s real flaws have to do with policy. He’s squishy on matters of Islamic fundamentalism; he’s anti–Second Amendment; he just passed a mini–DREAM Act giving illegals in-state tuition, among other bad calls. This is poison in a national GOP primary, but centrist in a deep-blue state like New Jersey.
Perhaps the endless, escalating stuffstorm that will follow Governor Christie as Hillary’s media minions attempt to knock him out, will bring him enlightenment on the necessity of pleasing the party whose nomination he may seek. That would be a silver lining — a growth experience predicated on a tactical failing — that benefits us all.
Hi-ho silver lining
The Silver Lining of Bridgegate?
By Lisa Schiffren
January 9, 2014
esting thing about Chris Christie is that it is not possible to have lukewarm feelings about him. They’re hot or cold, sometimes both together. At the moment, that is working against him. But this Bridgegate scandal will pass because the American people have the attention span of a gnat; and reality will force voters to put even the worst possible construction of the behavior leading up to the stupid, unconscionable and bizarrely targeted deliberate creation of traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., into context. Should Governor Christie decide to run for the GOP nomination for president, that context is, as it always is, “compared to what?”