Fake president picks fellow creep for Treasury job

❝ President Donald Trump’s pick for the top spokeswoman job at the Treasury Department repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that suggested then-President Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim who was sympathetic to America’s enemies…

❝ Crowley also endorsed a story claiming Obama was an “Islamic community organizer” trying to conform the United States to Sharia law and claimed conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth certificate were “legitimate concerns.” During Obama’s presidency, Trump was one of the most prominent voices pushing the so-called birther conspiracy theories questioning Obama’s birthplace. When he was seeking the presidency himself and under continual questioning, Trump finally admitted that Obama was born in the US but offered no apologies or explanation for the years he spent sowing doubt about Obama’s origins.

Birds-of-a-feather and other phrases about opportunist liars all apply.

Yup. Last month was the hottest May on record.

❝ It’s a familiar theme: each year, it seems, is the hottest year on record. The most recent climate change milestone in the U.S. occurred last month, when the country experienced its hottest May ever recorded. “Nature is dealing cards from a very different deck now compared to the 20th century,” climate scientist David Titley told USA Today. The average temperature for May in the lower 48 states was 65.4°F, 5.2°F above the average temperature for the month in the 20th century. Prior to this year, the record hottest May occurred in 1934, at the height of the Dust Bowl.

Meanwhile, our Fake President stops lying long enough to wander off into simple-minded fantasy and conspiracy theory. “Climate change is a Chinese hoax.” At a minimum it takes a chump to support Trump. There must be some limits to ignorance and blind faith, rejection of science and historic knowledge.

Maybe not?

Nutball claims LHC is Stargate – and the invasion of Earth less than 3 weeks away


This is NOT the Large Hadron Collider and the scientific staff of CERN

Bad news, citizens of Earth: those evil physicists at CERN are once again hellbent on vaporizing the Earth and ending the universe as we know it as the Large Hadron Collider ramps up to unprecedented energies. That’s according to Lonnie Robinson, intrepid correspondent/prophet of doom for The Daily Reporter in Coldwater, Michigan, who sees the signs of our imminent destruction everywhere he looks (including The Simpsons). He even pegs the specific day on which we can probably expect global annihilation: September 24, 2015.

The good news: Lonnie Robinson is full of shit.

Seriously, I am baffled that this article ever found its way into The Daily Reporter. At first I thought it had to be The Onion or a similar satirical site, but no — it’s an actual newspaper. Were the editors asleep at the wheel?…

..These are words that Robinson actually wrote, and presumably some editor at The Daily Reporter approved: “Two of the major goals for CERN is to collapse and break apart the God Particle that creates and maintains our physical world and to tear a hole through the veil that is the barrier protecting our physical universe from the unknown, non-physical universes and other non-physical dimensions believed to be located outside our physical universe…. CERN destroys matter, and everything in our universe is matter. Destroying physical matter eliminates the restrictions and barriers produced by physical matter that keeps us from entering the non-physical universes around us.”

There is so much wrong in that short excerpt, it’s not even worth debunking. This is the full-on crazy mode of the hardcore conspiracy theorist, made crystal clear by this little gem:

“CERN is being used as a stargate, so that human scientists will be able to go to and from currently unknown, perhaps very hostile, non-physical worlds and dimensions located and currently unseen, outside our physical universe.”…

…Note to Robinson: The Stargate franchise is not a documentary. And neither was Interstellar.

Robinson may be serious. I think it more likely the article was produced as clickbait for a smalltown newspaper with nothing else to do to pass the time. Who knows? By the 24th they may have acquired a sponsor or two, someone selling gold for Ron Paul?

Nutball conspiracy groups say Pentagon plans invasion of Texas. Huh? Wha?


Click to enlarge

U.S. Army Special Operations Command says that, contrary to reports circulating on conspiracy websites, it has no plans to invade Texas.

Some fringe websites have paraded a PowerPoint presentation, reportedly from USASOC, as evidence of Jade Helm 15, a series of military exercises across California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Texas. They say it will train the U.S. military to suppress American citizens rebelling in a coming military coup or civil war.

The Army says Jade Helm is a real exercise and will take place in the Southwest, as the slides indicate. But USASOC spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria said that’s the extent of the reports’ accuracy.

“It’s a training exercise. Just a regular training exercise,” Lastoria said of Jade Helm, which USASOC documentation references as a training exercise in at least one previous year as well…

Nothing in the presentation (with slides marked “unclassified”) contradicts the assertion that Jade Helm is merely a training exercise. It does note that civilian areas could notice some effects…including the potential for noise complaints and noting that personnel may be carrying weapons loaded with blanks.

Conspiracy websites painted language regarding civilian impact as revealing of the true nature of the mission: to prepare for abducting dissidents from their homes.

Many of the conspiracy sites have focused in on the selection of Texas as a “hostile” territory. To them, a high degree of libertarian support, pro-gun leanings and patriotism make Texas a target. The slides also mark Utah and a pocket in Southern California as “hostile,” while New Mexico is “uncertain (leaning hostile)” and Arizona is “uncertain (leaning friendly).”

There are only two reasons for either the Left or the Right to invade Texas. Lefties would support intervention if the Confederate brigades ever get started with their fixation on secession and return to a slave economy.

The Right-Wing under the thumb of the Koch Bros still prefers Texas oil over North Dakota because it’s cheaper, therefore more profitable.

Conservative Nutball says Obama establishing terrorist base in New Mexico

MikeGroves-Organ Mountains
Click to enlargeMike Groves

Conservative commentator Erik Rush unspooled a wild conspiracy theory in his latest World Net Daily column, which describes his belief that President Barack Obama plans to turn over land in New Mexico to Islamist militants…

“As uncomfortable for them as it may be, (government officials) must come to grips with the fact that Obama is a well-placed saboteur representing malignant interests, enemies both foreign and domestic, that have been strategizing the downfall of the United States for decades,” wrote Rush, who appears regularly on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program.

While some Obama critics feared the president’s designation of New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peak would weaken border security, Rush worried the area might be handed over to ISIS as a staging ground for domestic attacks…

Rush, who has previously suggested Obama is gay and recently claimed LGBT people shared the same goals as ISIS, outlined a nightmare scenario he believed Obama was cooking up with his Islamist allies…

He warned Obama would seize “absolute power” by imposing martial law after orchestrating terrorist attacks in the U.S. or possibly by using his “jihadist army” to pacify unsuspecting Americans.

Click the link and RTFA if you feel the need to soil your brain with this dreck. Or you can watch for Rush’s regular appearance on Fox News with that omniscient judge of political noise – Sean Hannity.

BTW, the Organ Mountains are a desert garden. If you want to hike and explore, carry as much water as possible, bring cool weather gear if you plan on overnighting. It is truly beautiful country that deserves wilderness status and protection.

Thanks, Mike

Is Google buying satellites to spy on you? — gasp!


National Reconnaissance Office — Fifty years of vigilance from above

With the $500 million purchase of Skybox, a startup that shoots high-res photos and video with low-cost satellites, Google can extend its reach far across the offline world. Thanks to its knack for transforming mass quantities of unstructured data into revenue-generating insights, the unprecedented stream of aerial imagery to which the company is gaining access could spark a whole new category of high-altitude insights into the workings of economies, nations, and nature itself.

But this acquisition will also demand assurances from Google that it will incorporate privacy safeguards into its vast new view of the world. Already Google gets a lot of flack for tracking user behavior online. With Skybox’s satellites, Google may gain a window into your everyday life even if you don’t use Google at all.

Not too often do we get the paranoid response BEFORE the technical part of an article.

In a statement, Google has said that, in the short term, it plans to use Skybox’s satellites to keep Google Maps up to date. And, in the future, the company says, it could use them to help spread internet access to remote areas, something that will help improve the reach of its existing services.

But imagine all the other things Google could do turns its artificial intelligence expertise onto a constant stream of images beamed down from above…

One Skybox insider told David Samuels that satellite images alone could be used to estimate any country’s major economic indicators. Take, for example, this Skybox case study of Saudi oil reserves measured from space. Now consider the insights that could come from marrying that visual data with Google’s Knowledge Graph, leveraging all the company’s algorithmic might. Google could learn all kinds of new things about the world.

But it could also learn all kinds of new things about you. Skybox can take photos from 500 miles up with a sub-one-meter resolution of the ground below. That isn’t likely to sit well with privacy activists who already don’t trust Google. What does the right to be forgotten mean when Google can always see you anyway?

Skybox’s pedigree likely won’t help assuage anyone who likes a good conspiracy theory. According to Samuels, one of the company’s co-founders, John Fenwick, had previously worked as as a liaison in Congress for the National Reconnaissance Office, “the ultrasecret spy agency that manages much of America’s most exotic space toys.” A major investor had worked as an intelligence officer in the French army, while its CEO held previous jobs that brought him into close contact with the Department of Defense…

Yes, these worries are legitimate. As legitimate as worrying about your DirecTV DVR listening in on conversation in the living room – or Microsoft Link turning over travel information in your new car to the NSA.

If Google finds ways of using these satellites that ends up making users’ lives more interesting and convenient, most people are unlikely to object, just like revelations of NSA surveillance haven’t exactly dented Gmail’s market share. But people may find the idea of Google looking down from the heavens on their physical selves more discomfiting than peering through their browsers at their virtual personas. After all, putting an all-seeing Google eye in space gives a whole new meaning to “do not track.”

It’s not the paranoia that I question. It’s the ignorance. Apparently, ignorance about how long governments have had this capability in spades. I learned both Soviet and American spy satellites were capable of reading the license plate on my car – in 1965. The US project started in 1957. I doubt that David Samuels or Marcus Wohlsen were born yet.

I don’t doubt Skybox has advanced beyond the software and hardware pioneered by Itek and whoever did Soviet satellite optics. But, if you think the alphabet soup of federally-funded spies and snoops haven’t been updating and upgrading – with a lot more moolah than a startup less than a decade in the air – you’re kidding yourself.

I don’t doubt there are or will be the occasional near-Earth project that’s cheap enough to attract Uncle Sugar’s spooks. Maybe there might be a view of something snapped at just the right place and time. I just don’t think relying on conspiracy theory to explain a half-billion$ purchase – especially when the spies who it for a living have a half-century head start. And all the taxpayers in the country to fund their work.

Maybe folks are primarily worried about Google spying for its own end…”imagine all the other things Google could do” could be all this is about. But, it’s still a heckuva lot cheaper to lease time or buy info from eyes in the sky than to acquire your own NASA. Unless, um, maybe you’d like to sell Android satphones to half the folks in Africa or South Asia and the Middle East.

Messi part of conspiracy against Bashar al-Assad — WTF?


 
Barcelona footballers don’t just have a slick passing game, they can also secretly indicate arms smuggling routes to Syria, a pro-government Syrian television channel claimed this week.

Without a hint of irony, Addounia TV superimposed a map of Syria on a screen to show how Lionel Messi and his team-mates, representing smugglers, had kicked a ball, representing a weapons shipment, into Syria from Lebanon.

The subtle signals to rebels were transmitted when Barcelona played Real Madrid in December, said the channel, which is owned by a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad. It did not trouble viewers by revealing Barcelona’s motives for the exploit.

“First we see how the guns are brought from Lebanon,” the presenter comments as one player passes the ball. “Then they cross into Homs and give the weapons to other terrorists in Abu Kamal,” he added, referring to rebel strongholds in Syria.

Messi’s final flick indicates the successful handover of the weapons to their destination in eastern Syria, he said.

Bizarre it may be, but paranoid conspiracy theories are common coin in the deeply divided and conflict-ridden state.

Not that anyone in the enlightened West could be drawn into into believing looneybird conspiracy theories, eh?

It takes one to know one? Conspiracy nutballs

Conspiracy theories – such as those surrounding the death of Princess Diana – are more likely to be believed by people who are willing themselves to conspire, new research at the University of Kent has shown.

In a paper to be published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, Dr Karen Douglas and Dr Robbie Sutton, two researchers from the School of Psychology, found that – in keeping with the psychological process called projection – an individual’s perception that “I would do it” informs his or her perception that “they did it”.

The research, titled Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire, considered the responses of around 250 UK undergraduates to 17 major alleged conspiracies, such as the ‘assassinations’ of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, the ‘faking’ of the moon landings and the ‘orchestration’ of the 9/11 attacks by the US government…

The more that participants indicated a willingness to conspire, the more they found the same conspiracy theories to be plausible, interesting, and worth considering…Further, the researchers found that participants who were highly Machiavellian – defined as willing to exploit others for personal gain – were more likely to indicate willingness to conspire, and as a result, were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories…

‘We found that in their search for explanations under such uncertain and confusing conditions, people rely partly on projection – the assumption that others would behave much as they would.

‘We’re not saying however that all conspiracy theorists are immoral or that they have arrived at their beliefs through projection…However what we have shown is that one reason some people endorse conspiracy theories is because is they project their own moral tendencies onto the supposed conspirators’, Dr. Douglas said.

Sounds reasonable to me. Should I post this somewhere that already is notorious for conspiracy theories?

Just to rile ’em up?

The CRU hack, conspiracy theory and sophistry

As many of you will be aware, a large number of emails from the University of East Anglia webmail server were hacked recently (Despite some confusion generated by Anthony Watts, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Hadley Centre which is a completely separate institution). As people are also no doubt aware the breaking into of computers and releasing private information is illegal, and regardless of how they were obtained, posting private correspondence without permission is unethical. We therefore aren’t going to post any of the emails here. We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day…

Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement.

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times. Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.

RTFA – please understand that the tempest in a teacup generated by bloggers committed to skepticism regardless of real data and sound science – is nothing more than that.

The saddest part for me is blogs and bloggers who pretend a commitment to science – but rely on conspiracy theory to keep up traffic.

My personal understanding of the worth of science versus religious, political and other corrupt philosophic commitments to obscuring progress in knowledge – has been consistent for over a half-century. I’m not about to change, now, just to grub out a few more page views.