Thursday, July 30, 2020

Greg Bishop DJ's Over Three Hours of UFO Music on STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Recommended listening: For the past few years, Fortean writer Greg Bishop (with whom I appeared on the 8-26-19 episode of Adam Sayne's CONSPIRINORMAL) has been hosting the WFMU radio show STOP HITTING YOURSELF. Bishop describes the content of the show as "Weird and wonderful sounds from outsider to weird covers and occasionally painful stuff from the Golden Age Of Stupidity." Since the show's debut in October of 2018, Bishop has devoted three episodes to UFO-themed music. You can listen to all three of these shows by clicking on the links below....

STOP HITTING YOURSELF: UFO SHOW #1 (11-12-18).

STOP HITTING YOURSELF: UFO SHOW #2 (12-3-18).

STOP HITTING YOURSELF: UFO SHOW #3 (7-27-20).



Monday, July 27, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security Attempts to Explain the Portland Van Video

What follow are the first few paragraphs of Andrew Crespo's 7-25-20 Lawfare blog post entitled "Unpacking DHS’s Troubling Explanation of the Portland Van Video":

Over the past few days, millions of people have seen a now-viral video in which two federal agents dressed in full combat gear removed an apparently peaceful protester from the streets of Portland, Ore., and carried him away in an unmarked van. Stories have emerged of other people being taken or pursued by federal agents in a similar fashion. Meanwhile, troubling videos show federal agents in Portland beating a peacefully resolute U.S. Navy veteran and, on a separate occasion, shooting a man in the face with a nonlethal munition, which broke his skull.

As criticism of these events rolled in—including from virtually every relevant state and local official in Oregon—the Department of Homeland Security scheduled a press conference earlier this week to try to reclaim the narrative. If the point of that press conference was to reassure an anxious nation that this unfamiliar and recently constituted federal police force is following the law, it likely achieved the opposite effect.

In particular, there is a two-minute segment of the press conference that is both revealing and highly disturbing. It shows that one of the top commanders of this new paramilitary federal police force—Kris Cline, Deputy Director of the Federal Protective Service—apparently does not know what the word “arrest” means. To say as much might seem like harping on semantics or, worse, like picking on Cline for speaking inartfully. But it is absolutely critical to unpack and examine Cline’s words—because the word arrest is one of the most important words in the constitutional law of policing.

Simply put, for an arrest to be constitutional it must be supported by probable cause. This means that the arresting officer must be able to point to specific facts that would cause a reasonable officer to believe that the person being arrested has committed a specific crime. If, on the other hand, the police have not arrested someone but have instead conducted only a brief investigatory stop, they need substantially less proof that the target of their attention is engaged in criminal activity. And if the police initiate instead what is often termed a consensual contact—as would occur if, say, a uniformed officer walked up to you and said, “hey, I want to ask you some questions”—well, in that case the Fourth Amendment simply does not apply, which means the officer does not need to have any reason to approach you.

Arrests, stops and contacts carve up the universe of police-civilian interactions in the United States. So, when I say that Deputy Director Cline does not appear to know what the word “arrest” means, what I am really saying is that he does not know where the basic and essential legal lines are that mark the bounds of his agency’s lawful authority. That is a problem.

This post expands on a Twitter thread I wrote earlier this week. It is a deep dive into the critical two-minutes of the DHS press conference, during which Cline made a series of comments that lead to only one of two possible conclusions: Cline does not know what the word “arrest” means. Or, if he does, he thinks no one will call him out for saying something that is patently untrue. Either way, he is wrong.

To read the entire blog post, click HERE.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit

From Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean's 7-23-20 New York Times article entitled "No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public":

Mr. [Harry] Reid, the former Democratic senator from Nevada who pushed for funding the earlier U.F.O. program when he was the majority leader, said he believed that crashes of objects of unknown origin may have occurred and that retrieved materials should be studied.

“After looking into this, I came to the conclusion that there were reports — some were substantive, some not so substantive — that there were actual materials that the government and the private sector had in their possession,” Mr. Reid said in an interview.

No crash artifacts have been publicly produced for independent verification. Some retrieved objects, such as unusual metallic fragments, were later identified from laboratory studies as man-made. 

Eric W. Davis, an astrophysicist who worked as a subcontractor and then a consultant for the Pentagon U.F.O. program since 2007, said that, in some cases, examination of the materials had so far failed to determine their source and led him to conclude, “We couldn’t make it ourselves.”

The constraints on discussing classified programs — and the ambiguity of information cited in unclassified slides from the briefings — have put officials who have studied U.F.O.s in the position of stating their views without presenting any hard evidence.

Mr. Davis, who now works for Aerospace Corporation, a defense contractor, said he gave a classified briefing to a Defense Department agency as recently as March about retrievals from “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.”

Mr. Davis said he also gave classified briefings on retrievals of unexplained objects to staff members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 21, 2019, and to staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee two days later.

Committee staff members did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.

To read the entire article, click HERE.


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Unconstitutionally Detaining Protesters

From Katie Shepherd's 7-17-20 Washington Post article entitled "‘It Was Like Being Preyed Upon’: Portland Protesters Say Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Detaining Them":

When several men in green military fatigues and generic “police” patches sprang out of an unmarked gray minivan in front of Mark Pettibone in the early hours of Wednesday morning, his first instinct was to run.

He did not know whether the men were police or far-right extremists, who frequently don militarylike outfits and harass left-leaning protesters in Portland, Ore. The 29-year-old resident said he made it about a half-block before he realized there would be no escape.

Then, he sank to his knees, hands in the air.

“I was terrified,” Pettibone told The Washington Post. “It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.”

He was detained and searched. One man asked him if he had any weapons; he did not. They drove him to the federal courthouse and placed him in a holding cell. Two officers eventually returned to read his Miranda rights and ask if he would waive those rights to answer a few questions; he did not.

And almost as suddenly as they had grabbed him off the street, the men let him go.

Pettibone said he still does not know who arrested him or whether what happened to him legally qualifies as an arrest. The federal officers who snatched him off the street as he was walking home from a peaceful protest did not tell him why he had been detained or provide him any record of an arrest, he told The Post. As far as he knows, he has not been charged with any crimes.

His detention, which was first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, and videos of similar actions by federal officials driving around Portland in unmarked cars have raised alarm bells for many. Legal scholars questioned whether the detentions pass constitutional muster.

“Arrests require probable cause that a federal crime had been committed, that is, specific information indicating that the person likely committed a federal offense, or a fair probability that the person committed a federal offense,” Orin Kerr, a professor at University of California at Berkeley Law School, told The Post. “If the agents are grabbing people because they may have been involved in protests, that’s not probable cause.”

Federal officers from the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security have stormed Portland’s streets as part of President Trump’s promised strong response to ongoing protests. Local leaders expressed alarm at news of Pettibone’s detention and echoed calls for the feds to leave that have grown stronger since Marshals Service officers severely wounded a peaceful protester on Saturday.

“A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump’s secret police,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote in a Thursday tweet that also called out acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf. “Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.”

Civil rights advocates suggested the Trump administration is testing the limits of its executive power.

“I think Portland is a test case,” Zakir Khan, a spokesman for the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Post. “They want to see what they can get away with before launching into other parts of the country.”

Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, called the recent arrests “flat-out unconstitutional” in a statement shared with The Post.

“Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping,” Carson said. “Protesters in Portland have been shot in the head, swept away in unmarked cars, and repeatedly tear-gassed by uninvited and unwelcome federal agents. We won’t rest until they are gone.”

To read Shepherd's entire article, click HERE.

Friday, July 17, 2020

HHS Protect, Palantir, and Peter Thiel

From Hilary Brueck's 7-16-20 Business Insider article entitled "The Trump Administration Just Pulled Coronavirus Data Out of the CDC's Hands, and It Means Americans Can't See Where Hospital Beds Are Filled":
On Wednesday, hospitals across the country abruptly stopped telling the US Centers for Disease Control how many beds they have available, and how many are filling up with coronavirus patients. 
The Trump administration's Department of Health and Human Services, the arm of the federal government that oversees the CDC, will now keep data in a more secretive, newer database built with private contractors, called HHS Protect, instead of sending such information directly to the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) [...].
HHS is contracting with private companies on the project, including Palantir, a software company cofounded by investor and Trump associate Peter Thiel, and Pittsburgh-based health system software company TeleTracking.
To read Brueck's entire article, click HERE.

To read previous Cryptoscatology posts about Palantir and Peter Thiel, click HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Bari Weiss Resigns from New York Times

From Elahe Izadi and Jeremy Barr's 7-14-20 Washington Post article entitled "Bari Weiss Resigns from New York Times, Says ‘Twitter Has Become Its Ultimate Editor’":

New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, who attracted considerable controversy both internally and externally, resigned from the newspaper this week, the company confirmed Tuesday.
In a lengthy note about her Monday departure, Weiss criticized the Times for caving to the whims of critics on Twitter and for not standing up for her after she said she was “bullied” by Times staffers.
“The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people,” she wrote. “Nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back.”
To read Izadi and Barr's entire article, click HERE.

What follows is a brief excerpt from Weiss' resignation letter:

...the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative...

Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.

To read Weiss' entire letter, click HERE.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The National Counterterrorism Center

From Betsy Woodruff Swan's 7-9-20 Politico article entitled "A Top Terrorism Fighter’s Dire Warning":

America’s intelligence agencies risk slipping back into dangerous pre-9/11 habits, a recently departed top counterterrorism official is warning in his first public remarks on the matter.

Russell Travers, former head of the U.S. government’s hub for analysis of counterterrorism intelligence, was so alarmed that he shared his concerns with the intelligence community’s top internal watchdog in his final weeks on the job.

“I think there are really important questions that need to be addressed, and I don’t think they have been thus far,” said Travers, who ran the National Counterterrorism Center until March of this year. “And that has me worried, because I do think we could very easily end up back where we were 20 years ago.”

Travers detailed his concerns, much of which remain highly classified, to the intelligence community’s inspector general. About a week later, he was summarily ousted, he says — and the Trump administration official who fired him didn’t explain why [...].

The National Counterterrorism Center was set up to solve a gaping problem the Sept. 11 attacks had revealed all too painfully: U.S. agencies weren’t good about sharing information with one another. Bits of intelligence weren’t always in the right hands. Dots weren’t getting connected. By analyzing intelligence on terror threats at a central hub, the thinking went, potential attacks could be foiled before they happened [...].

Travers, a veteran intelligence officer with decades of experience who helped set up NCTC’s predecessor organization in 2003, temporarily helmed the center for all of 2018. Then he took the reins there again in August 2019, at a moment of immense tumult for the intelligence community [...].

“I do think this community is too big, and it’s got to get smaller,” [Travers] said, referring to the counterterrorism enterprise. “The question is, how do you do that?” [...]

“Russ is absolutely right to point out that it is past time for a reckoning of resource allocation across the Intelligence Community when it comes to terrorism and counterterrorism,” said Nick Rasmussen, a former NCTC director. “There’s no doubt that there is room for rationalization and elimination of duplication and redundancy.”

To read Swan's entire article, click HERE.