CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby Grizzly » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:34 am

Slad, can you please tell me where this came from? Also, your image is not showing up for me..

Imagenearest hsbc bank
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby DrEvil » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:43 am

^^If it just says "image" you can right-click it and "view image".
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:57 am

Grizzly » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:34 am wrote:Slad, can you please tell me where this came from? Also, your image is not showing up for me..

Imagenearest hsbc bank

Barrett's twitter

now you explain this

nearest hsbc bank
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby Grizzly » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:06 am

Brown , just posted this on his, PursuanceProject sub reddit.
Psy Group Speed Read: 6 WTF Bits From The New Yorker Exposé on Mueller Probe’s Ex-Mossad Spy Group
The ‘private Mossad’ who ‘won’ 2016 for Trump couldn’t win a small-town election? That and more from The New Yorker’s report on the creepy ops infiltrating Devin Nunes’ backyard.

Even for the world of covert intel operations, this one crosses boundaries in both fake-personae espionage and epic influence failure.

In 2017, the notorious Israeli spy-for-hire outfit known as Psy Group, known for its alleged role in social-media manipulation ahead of Donald Trump’s election and its spot on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s radar, got entangled in a local election in an obscure part of central California, after a Bernie Sanders die-hard convinced his immigrant mother to try to unseat one of the town’s hospital-board members.

But apparently it wasn’t the only time the Mossad-linked intelligence group tried to expand its practice in the U.S. On Monday morning, The New Yorker published “Private Mossad for Hire” by reporters Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow, which unravels additional disturbing details about the Psy Group’s other work in America, including a proposition to sabotage campus opponents of Israel and that out-of-proportion attack on the candidate in Rep. Devin Nunes’ home district.

Here, a look at the six most WTF bits in the report about this shadowy group.
Psy Started on Small Targets—Including U.S. Campus BDS Activists

Before it set its sights on the U.S. election market, Psy Group first practiced sowing false information in elsewhere, according to The New Yorker report. In recent years, it wrote a fictitious report about an Amsterdam-based religious sect called Brunstad Christian Church that stated that its Norwegian leader claimed to have written “a more important book than the New Testament.” It also spread disinformation about a rival of Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba under the code name “Operation Bentley” to ensure he retained power.

In New York, it reportedly developed “Project Butterfly” at the bequest of wealthy Jewish-American university donors in an effort to “embarrass and intimidate activists” who demanded U.S. entities put economic pressure on Israel because of its harsh treatment of Palestinians. In 2017, Psy operatives scouted the internet for supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, known as BDS. “If a student claimed to be a pious Muslim, for example, Psy Group operatives would look for photographs of him engaging in behavior unacceptable to many pious Muslims, such as drinking alcohol or having an affair,” The New Yorker reports. “Psy Group would then release the information online using avatars and websites that couldn’t be traced back to the company or its donors.” Eventually, Psy Group was able to recruit Yaakov Amidror, a former national-security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to work as an adviser on Butterfly.
Psy’s Owner Asked Newt Gingrich to Offer Services to Jared Kushner

The New Yorker reports the group’s owner Joel Zamel asked Trump ally and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to get Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to sign on for the services that included “online deception.” In one draft strategy from early 2016, it promised to exploit their powers of sowing deceit to more than 50 political groups including the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and major super PACs that were deemed influential among voters. By controlling the messages these groups were sending to potential voters, they promised to easily sway first the Republican primary and then the general election.

Entous and Farrow report Kushner checked around with the team, including Brad Parscale, who was in charge of the Trump campaign’s web-based strategies, but concluded that they didn’t need Psy Group’s expertise.
Psy Advertised ‘Honey Traps’ and Low, Low Prices

The company’s glossy publicity campaign included printed brochures with a price list for services like “honey traps,” which they depicted with a cartoon cat casting the shadow of a lion to refer to using a sexy spy to get information from various targets, according to the report. It also used a goldfish with a shark fin attached to its back to back up its motto: “Reality is a matter of perception.” The cost of these services? An average package price of $350,000, or just $275 an hour.

Slad wrote
now you explain this

nearest hsbc bank

I already have else where...(it's the hosting company that sneaks that shit in, I've explained it already, they didn't use to do that...) Now, can you please stop with the constant suspicion and antagonism?

Back on topic, yes?
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby Grizzly » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:07 am

^^If it just says "image" you can right-click it and "view image".

Tanks Dr. Evil... I never knew one could do that! That's a big help. :sun:
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:33 am

Barrett Brown

Barrett Brown Retweeted Eric Weinstein
Look at this fucking pair

Barrett Brown

I’m not saying we need a civil war so as to dislodge these people from their neo-monarchist shadow empire before Palantir becomes even more firmly entrenched in the world’s power centers or anything. It’s not my place to make those kinds of decisions.

Eric Weinstein

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Revealed: This Is Palantir’s Top-Secret User Manual for Cops

Motherboard obtained a Palantir user manual through a public records request, and it gives unprecedented insight into how the company logs and tracks individuals.

By Caroline Haskins
Jul 12 2019, 10:13am

Palantir is one of the most significant and secretive companies in big data analysis. The company acts as an information management service for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, corporations like JP Morgan and Airbus, and dozens of other local, state, and federal agencies. It’s been described by scholars as a “secondary surveillance network,” since it extensively catalogs and maps interpersonal relationships between individuals, even those who aren't suspected of a crime.

Palantir software is instrumental to the operations of ICE, which is planning one of the largest-ever targeted immigration enforcement raids this weekend on thousands of undocumented families. Activists argue raids of this scale would be impossible without software like Palantir. But few people outside the company and its customers know how its software works or what its specific capabilities and user interfaces are.

Through a public record request, Motherboard has obtained a user manual that gives unprecedented insight into Palantir Gotham (Palantir’s other services, Palantir Foundry, is an enterprise data platform), which is used by law enforcement agencies like the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. The NCRIC serves around 300 communities in northern California and is what is known as a "fusion center," a Department of Homeland Security intelligence center that aggregates and investigates information from state, local, and federal agencies, as well as some private entities, into large databases that can be searched using software like Palantir.

Fusion centers have become a target of civil liberties groups in part because they collect and aggregate data from so many different public and private entities. The US Department of Justice’s Fusion Center Guidelines list the following as collection targets:


The guide doesn’t just show how Gotham works. It also shows how police are instructed to use the software. This guide seems to be specifically made by Palantir for the California law enforcement because it includes examples specific to California. We don’t know exactly what information is excluded, or what changes have been made since the document was first created. The first eight pages that we received in response to our request is undated, but the remaining twenty-one pages were copyrighted in 2016. (Palantir did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

The Palantir user guide shows that police can start with almost no information about a person of interest and instantly know extremely intimate details about their lives. The capabilities are staggering, according to the guide:

If police have a name that’s associated with a license plate, they can use automatic license plate reader data to find out where they’ve been, and when they’ve been there. This can give a complete account of where someone has driven over any time period.
With a name, police can also find a person's email address, phone numbers, current and previous addresses, bank accounts, social security number(s), business relationships, family relationships, and license information like height, weight, and eye color, as long as it's in the agency's database.
The software can map out a person's family members and business associates of a suspect, and theoretically, find the above information about them, too.
All of this information is aggregated and synthesized in a way that gives law enforcement nearly omniscient knowledge over any suspect they decide to surveil.


Most of the Palantir guide is written in the company’s technical language, so it can be hard to parse if you haven't used the software or aren't familiar with it. Here are the important terms to know:

OBJECTS: Any piece of data. This data could be a name, address, phone number, bank account number, etc.

HISTOGRAM: A chart. Specifically, a chart that looks like a web and makes connections between things. This feature kind of looks like the "detective wall" trope from TV and movies, but since it’s digitized, it’s much more fast, powerful, and dense.

ALPR/AUTOMATIC LICENSE PLATE READER: A camera that takes pictures of cars and license plates. They’re usually located at toll booths, or intersections on heavily trafficked roads, though police also have mobile versions of them and massive databases of license plate information. Each city in California has different ALPR privacy policies about how the information can be used and shared.

HEATMAP: A map that shows how many things there are in a particular area. A higher concentration of things is usually shown in a darker or richer color. Palantir advertises Gotham as a tool that transforms huge amounts of data into actionable maps for police investigations.


All data points in Palantir are referred to as “Objects,” and these objects can be practically anything. But they boil down to three main categories: Entities, Events, and Documents. The possibilities of these categories are shown below.
Chart of object types
The “Person” Entity Type doesn’t just include a person’s name. It also includes their emails, bank account numbers, phone numbers, current and previous addresses, social security number(s), and driver’s license data such as height, weight, eye color, and date of birth. (The email address example shown in the user guide is
Zoomed-in screenshot from the Palantir user guide.
There’s also “Property Types”—which basically list different traits that can be attributed to Objects, or data points. The different Property Types are:

Data Source
Data Range and Location
Incident Type
Geographic Area
Incident Number
Incident Disposition
Incident Status
Cross Street
Phone Number
Location Name
License Plate
The Palantir guide shows that this data is pulled from several different management systems at once. For instance, a Palantir screenshot included in the guide show that the NCRIC lets police pull from the record management systems of the San Mateo and Palo Alto Police Departments. This exemplifies Palantir's selling point: the system can synthesize enormous amounts of data from various sources. Palantir can also make connections across that data, making it accessible for users in a way that would be extremely time-intensive to do manually.
Zoomed-in screenshot of the Palantir Object Explorer section of the user guide.
In order for Palantir to work, it has to be fed data. This can mean public records like business registries, birth certificates, and marriage records, or police records like warrants and parole sheets. Palantir would need other data sources to give police access to information like emails and bank account numbers.

“Palantir Law Enforcement supports existing case management systems, evidence management systems, arrest records, warrant data, subpoenaed data, RMS or other crime-reporting data, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) data, federal repositories, gang intelligence, suspicious activity reports, Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) data, and unstructured data such as document repositories and emails,” Palantir’s website says.

Some data sources—like marriage, divorce, birth, and business records—also implicate other people that are associated with a person personally or through family. So when police are investigating a person, they’re not just collecting a dragnet of emails, phone numbers, business relationships, travel histories, etc. about one suspect. They’re also collecting information for people who are associated with this suspect.
Zoomed-in screenshot of the Palantir Object Explorer section of the user guide.


The guide explains how to make two types of searches: people record searches, and vehicle record searches.

With the people record search, police can start out with a person’s name. Police can also input a phone number (with or without area code), a license plate number, or the dates of cases associated with that person. The name that the Palantir guide uses as an example is "John Badguy Smith."

“The results that appear are from LAPD and LASD data sources,” the Palantir guide says, “and include person records linked to crimes, citations, and arrests.”
Palantir person search section of the user guide.
With the vehicle record search, police start by entering a license plate number. The results spit back any and all relevant information about that vehicle, and Palantir gives police the option of mapping or visualizing this information.

“The results show if the vehicle appeared in any crimes, arrests, field interviews, incidents, or citations, across both LAPD and LASD sources simultaneously,” the Palantir guide says.


The Palantir user guide also explains how to use three types of tools: the Histogram tool, the Map tool, and the Object Explorer tool. These tools all let police graph, map, visualize, and connect dozens of different types of data points. So, police can chart the relationships between individuals. Police can click on an individual on this chart and see everything about them: their email addresses, their bank account information, their license information, etc. Police can also put current addresses, previous addresses, locations of a suspected crime, work locations, family addresses, and travel history (as captured by ALPR-cameras) on a map.

Histogram Tool

The Histogram tool, as stated by the Palantir guide, helps police find “correlations” and “trends” between different Objects, or data points. This can help police decipher a person’s behavior. Police can also create “Virtual Dossiers” at the end of their investigations, which centralizes their analysis into a single place.
Palantir Histogram Helper section of the user guide.
Map Tool

The Map tool lets police do three things: complete “Geosearches,” create “Heatmaps,” and search an Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) database.

Geosearches lets police see Objects, visually, within a certain radius on a map.

“The purple radius, polygon, route, or recent buttons allow you to draw a shape and search for objects/properties that are within the search area,” the Palantir guide says.

Heatmaps show the concentration of Objects on a map. Using a Legend tool, police can adjust the coloring and display of objects on the map.
Palantir Heatmap Helper section of the user guide.
The ALPR search, meanwhile, lets police view license plate data captured within a certain search radius on the map. Police have to first enter a search purpose, which can be a “a DR or case number,” according to the guide. Then, police have to enter the center of their search radius, and a license plate number they want to search. Police can, optionally, select a date range they want to search.

The results show images of the license plates as captured, the car associated with the license plate, time stamps, and the location that the license plate information was captured (Image of this is near the top of the article.)

Object Explorer

The Object Explorer is a comprehensive analysis tool that lets police filter, sort, map, analyze, and export dozens of different data points. A huge part of the Object Explorer is visualizing data, which can be done in four main ways: numeric charts, histograms, timelines, and pie charts. The Palantir guide explains that depending on which Objects police are analyzing, the appropriate visualization tool may vary.
Palantir “Timeline” tool in the Object Explorer.
The document obtained by Motherboard for this story is public and viewable on DocumentCloud. ... l-for-cops
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They could still get him out of office.
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:08 pm

China embraces its surveillance state. The US pretends it doesn’t have one
David Carrol
l4 hours ago

Shown is a security camera in Philadelphia, Monday, June 24, 2019.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

America is doing a better job of camouflaging its surveillance state so it can go on pretending to be the land of the free.
At least China is honest about its surveillance dystopia. In Trump’s America, we pretend Palantir isn’t worse.

The parallels between how the two countries control their minority populations via technology are chilling. In China, no one has yet to emerge from the Communist Party’s largest concentration camps (sorry, “re-education” camps) in the northwest province of Xinjiang, said to be holding 1 million people. Suspected subversives are captured by an all-pervasive digital dragnet integrated with Smart City data and a grid of checkpoints, which creates a prison state to oppress Islam. The checkpoints allow police to ensure that that the Muslim ethnic minority of Uighurs have a government app installed on their smartphones that transmits all their data, allowing law enforcement to patrol Islamic religious practices.

Meanwhile, ethnic divisions are cleaving America into a democracy on the brink. Righteous outrage opposes cultish defense over the semantics of “concentration camps” here on the US/Mexico border, fueling a furious debate over ongoing family separation and torture-grade conditions for unaccompanied children. The US immigration apparatus has failed to maintain adequate records of detainees and separations, and proposals of forced DNA sampling have been floated. Our nation’s cruelty-as-deterrent policy against the influx of refugees fleeing failed states harkens America back to its interment days and our own penchant for human-rights abuses.

We’re understandably reluctant to zoom in on our own signature style of abusing privacy and autonomy for profit. Pointing at China’s oppression of the Uighur peoples makes us feel better about the caged baby asylum seekers, all alone in Texas, wearing weeks-old diapers under 24-hour fluorescence on cold concrete. But ignoring the problem at the border doesn’t fix it. Refugee children in an Arizona camp have

The searing images and incomprehensible atrocities at our border today are animating America’s political emotion. Compare this to China, where an astonishing scale of censorship allows the Party to shield the population from news about its prison state in Xinjiang.

But that doesn’t mean that the US isn’t busy engineering its own digital surveillance state. It’s just doing a better job of camouflaging it, so we can go on pretending to be the land of the free.

Free speech doesn’t equal freedom

Here in the US, the digital censorship machine is brutally efficient at marketing itself as a free-speech platform while keeping things safe for advertising profits.

Suppliers cash in on billions in contracts to provide logistics for the growth industry of internment.
The farce relies on legions of outsourced content moderators in sweatshop conditions who scrub and clean services like Facebook and YouTube of unimaginable volumes of unspeakable violence, explicit pornography, and incendiary hate. Both Amazon and Google transcribe audio files from their customers’ smart speakers for algorithmic training purposes. And Amazon has hired a news editor to gather local crime stories from its connected doorbell camera platform, Ring, to create crime news intended to induce fear in consumers—and therefore install more Amazon home-surveillance gear.

Suppliers cash in on billions in contracts to provide logistics for the growth industry of internment. From foil blankets to cloud-computing storage and the face masks worn by agents to stifle the stench of unbathed people overcrowded in cages for 40 days, American companies are getting into the business of migration management.

Palantir, the big data analytics contractor for big government that is currently positioning for IPO, is a uniquely concerning profiteer from the war on immigrants. Founded by vaunted venture capitalist and ultra-libertarian Peter Thiel and self-described socialist CEO Alex Karp, Palantir’s data and software help power Trump’s deportation force by unifying disparate data sources into user-friendly apps. For example, agents can easily cross-reference data points like license-plate cameras to court documents, helping power the largest data-driven immigration dragnet ever—all with the efficiency of ordering an Uber.

ICE agents are now storming sanctuary cities asking for papers, and they’re equipped with Palantir apps to tap into surveillance networks and massive machine-learning data pools. Their goal? To pinpoint targets for deportation with a UX seemingly optimized for ethnic cleansing. And it doesn’t come cheap. A Palantir product called FALCON costs taxpayers $39,000,000 for an immigrant-tracking database.

While it has been reported that Palantir has contracts to provide ICE with its data-driven deportation tools, it has not been widely reported that Palantir also had a contract with the Census Bureau from 2016-2018. This was during the time that the Commerce Department would have been developing its plan to deploy the very first digital census.

We don’t know exactly what Palantir has been doing for the Census Bureau, and that’s exactly why we should try to find out. However, given Palantir’s contractor status, we shouldn’t have much confidence in a FOIA process, which is the Freedom of Information Act to legalize government transparency. It’s hard to imagine getting back anything other than a redacted block of black from an official information request, the dreaded Section 552(b)(4) exemption that protects “trade secrets” and other confidential corporate information.

Palantir’s UX is seemingly optimized for ethnic cleansing.
The Census has been mired in fear, uncertainty, and doubt over Trump’s insistence that a citizenship question be added, despite being blocked by the Supreme Court on a technicality. While there’s no longer enough time for the citizenship question to make it into the 2020 Census, the president has instructed his administration to identify alternative data sources to arrive at some kind of approximation of citizenship status data.

Title 13 of the US Code prohibits Census data from being used for law enforcement purposes. But given that Palantir has contracts for both the Census Bureau and immigration agencies, we will be relying on the ethical integrity of private contractors to have confidence that Title 13 will not be violated. The result of this would be the Trump administration achieving its explicit goals of deporting undocumented citizens at unprecedented scale.

Unfortunately, public trust in Palantir is scant. After all, it was a Palantir employee who helped build the notorious and illegal Facebook data-harvesting scheme that allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest 87 million accounts and then match 30 million accounts to registered voters for advertising surveillance, political profiling, and precision microtargeting. It’s what these folks do for a living.

Is that really so different from China’s social credit system?

The future of freedom

The US and China’s digital surveillance states sound like an episode of Black Mirror until you start poking around in the privacy policies that everyone ignores; Experian, Axciom, Oracle, Equifax, and countless other mysterious data brokers have been stealing and selling our secrets for years.

No doubt, there are profound differences between our plutocratic constitutional republic and China’s single-party autocracy. We enjoy the rights to criticize our government and investigate how it conducts its business of implementing policy enacted by elected representatives. But these rights must be vigorously exercised.

Witnessing the protests in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition bill revealed to the world just how much Hong Kongers value their autonomy from Beijing. But as Americans grapple with the manufactured crisis on the border and an ongoing tech-lash emanating from Silicon Valley, Palantir somehow symbolizes the fragile distinction between a patriotic software company building products to hunt terrorists and fight crime and an instrument of a despotic regime.

In that way, Washington and Beijing have something in common now. Both centers of power mobilize the national tech industries to solidify state power, sow ethnic division and oppression, and have ensured that the 1% enjoy maximum privacy protections while the populace enjoys none.

As an American, you might think twice about bringing your phone on a trip to China. But what about Mexico? ... nce-state/

Bannon and the Committee on the Present Danger: China
View all posts by James Porteous27 March 2019

Steve Bannon is among the co-founders of a committee that first existed in the 1950s before reappearing in 1976. Photo: EPA-EFE
26 March 2019 | Wendy Wu | South China Morning Post

A group of Washington policy advisers and former US government officials including Steve Bannon have revived a cold war-era advocacy organisation to take aim at China, which it called “an aggressive totalitarian foe”.

The Committee on the Present Danger: China, or CPDC, will be launched to facilitate “public education and advocacy against the full array of conventional and non-conventional dangers” posed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, the group said in an announcement on Monday.

The committee’s latest iteration underscores the growth of opposition to Beijing in Washington’s policymaking circles, which has helped to fuel a bilateral tariff war started by US President Donald Trump last year and a new law that will tighten oversight of Chinese investments in the United States.

The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) was first established in the early 1950s as a bulwark against the influence of communism in the US. The group disbanded after some leading members were drafted into the administration of Dwight Eisenhower, but in 1976 was reformed by US foreign policy hawks to counter the Soviet Union during the cold war.

The Committee on the Present Danger is a non-partisan organization with one goal – to stiffen American resolve to confront the challenge presented by terrorism and the ideologies that drive it.

The committee members warned at a press event in Washington on Monday that China had posed a broad range of threats to the US: expanding military power, strengthening strategic nuclear capability, stealing US technology, repressing religions, human rights and minority groups, initiating “chemical warfare” by being the prime source of
fentanyl reaching the US
and influencing US campuses and corporations.

“As with the Soviet Union in the past, communist China represents an existential and ideological threat to the United States and to the idea of freedom – one that requires a new American consensus regarding the policies and priorities required to defeat this threat,” the committee’s announcement said.

The group’s vice-chairman Frank Gaffney, a defence adviser to former president Ronald Reagan, said the committee hoped to “set the stage for a series of national debates about China” to address the threats the country posed. Gaffney has spent much of his time since leaving government in the 1980s propagating stridently anti-Islamic views.

Even if Beijing faithfully kept its commitments under a trade agreement that Washington is trying to negotiate with China, the US would still face serious threats in other areas and must address those, Gaffney said.

Frank Gaffney said the revived committee aimed to initiate a series of debates about China. Photo: AFP

“China’s arsenal for global supremacy includes economic, informational, political and military warfare,” read a statement by James Fanell, a former US Navy intelligence official focusing on Pacific security affairs. The US “has witnessed already China’s expansion into the vacuum of a diminishing US presence in East Asia”, he said.

Fanell argued that Washington needed to regain a military deterrence position in the Indo-Pacific. “We already have slipped,” he said. “If we fall any further, we may not recover.”

Sasha Gong, also a member of the new CPD, said China was “waging an ideological war” against the US, which was “losing ground” and should consider it “as urgent as military defence”.

“We are disarming ourselves; meanwhile Chinese are taking our ground, broadcasting here, taking our people and winning hearts and minds,” said Gong, adding that the US’ response to China’s aggression was “very inadequate”.

Gong is the former chief of Voice of America’s Mandarin service. She
was sacked
by the US government-funded broadcaster along with two others in November for their involvement in a live-streamed 2017 interview with Chinese fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui, who has used social media to make

corruption accusations
against senior Chinese officials including Vice-President Wang Qishan.

In a faxed reply to the South China Morning Post, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it had not heard about the organisation and that it was a “dead end” to revisit the cold war-era zero-sum mindset.

“We have repeatedly stated our stances with regard to the ‘China threat’ cliché,” the ministry said.

“We hope some people in the United States view China’s development in proper perspective, stop groundless accusations and defamation against China, and instead, be more engaged in deeds that would benefit China-US relations, the peace, stability and prosperity of the world,” the ministry said.

Although the committee boasts a roster of China experts, it also features a number of US public figures not known primarily as authorities on the country’s affairs.

The founders of the committee also include Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and co-founder of
far-right news outlet Breitbart
, which he described in an interview with American magazine Mother Jones as a “platform for the alt-right”.

Bannon is also known for being a former vice-president of
Cambridge Analytica
, the now-defunct data analysis firm that harvested the data of millions of Facebook users to predict and influence political movements.

The CPD gained notoriety in its first iteration when it issued NSC 68, a policy directive that called on Congress to triple the US defence budget to counter the Soviet Union’s expansion, according to a 2004 report by US political newspaper The Hill.

The second CPD was formed in 1976 by hawks from the Democratic and Republican parties who believed that “detente [had] lulled everybody into complacency”, The Hillquoted Yale University cold war scholar John Gaddis as saying.

The report described that CPD’s members as the original “neoconservatives” – former liberals who became disillusioned with the Democratic Party during the Jimmy Carter administration and advocated that the US initiate an arms build-up.

Additional reporting by Owen Churchill, Robert Delaney and Laura Zhou ... ger-china/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby Grizzly » Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:04 pm

This is so, sooooo, ugly, but damn if it's NOT happening*:

China Uses High-Tech Surveillance to Subdue Minorities

160 points by mcone 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

bitL 61 days ago [-]

Most Deep Learning papers related to tracking human pose, identifying abnormal behavior, detecting crime from video feeds etc. have Chinese authors. Literally bleeding-edge stuff used to subdue people. Can't wait to see some western politicians to hop on the same train once this tech is cheap after China beta-tests it and irons out all the quirks.

dheera 61 days ago [-]

There are also plenty of less dystopian uses for pose tracking, including games, cashless convenience stores, VR/AR applications, and driverless cars predicting pedestrian behavior.

bitL 61 days ago [-]

There are. I am using them myself which is why I had to read many recent papers about them. Though if you look specifically at activity detection, identifying abnormal movements associated with crime or social disturbance, Chinese authors dominate there. They probably receive many grants from their government on these specific topics.

mschuster91 61 days ago [-]

The key is that said "less dystopian" uses commoditize the technology that the governments can use to spy on its citizens without even spending any major amount of r&d investment. Hell, Alexa in a TV and you have a 1984 system - willingly installed by consumers, no less. A 1984 system that for all intents and purposes can be converted into a surveillance system per secret court order.

The recent crackdowns on TOR darknet services are also frightening. While I'm not shedding tears for child porn distributors, the inevitable message that comes across with the monthly takedown press releases is "we can even get those with the best experience in using cryptography and hiding tools, how do you expect to organize resistance in case government goes the China way?"

Maybe parts of the US could provide resistance given that many people have enough private firearms to make sure any kind of government intrusion will result in unbelievable bloodshed, but disarmed populations like many European countries? They will have no way to voice any opposing thought anymore. We already see this in Hungary where Orban's friends have all but eliminated free independent press or in Turkey where tens of thousands get arrested for "terrorism" charges.

JCharante 61 days ago [-]

I've always heard that the US stands out from other Western countries due to the number of guns in its civilian populations. Is the ability to stand up to mass surveillance states something that people who want to take away guns take into account? In my time in the US I've only heard the argument of the US becoming a bad actor towards its civilian populations be dismissed. I also wonder if civilian populations have access to weapons in areas like Caracas. It'd certainly be terrifying to fight the military there, but the military is already mowing down protesters that are wielding sticks and stones.

andrenth 61 days ago [-]

Venezuelan civilians were disarmed in 2014.

wasdfff 61 days ago [-]

That line of logic towards gun ownership made sense when the constitution was written, and the musket you owned was not far off from the musket a soldier was issued. What is your ar15 going to do to an unmanned drone six miles in the air? Or a missile launched from a battleship hundreds of miles off the coast? We’ve long passed the point of the second amendment. The only reason guns arent’t totally banned now is because how entrenched the arms industry is in american politics.

hkai 61 days ago [-]

I was wondering that too, so I researched and the counterargument appears to be:

- Vietnam won a war with primitive weapons against highly equipped American military

- while the government can mass murder people with tanks and rockets, it is unlikely to do so. If in 2019 there was an armed uprising against let's say Trump, it could succeed.

sixothree 61 days ago [-]


dv_dt 61 days ago [-]

The western politicians already subdue minorities via the Justice and financial systems. Just look at our incarceration rate, and differential outcomes for the same crimes. No need to buy flashy new tech for it.

vorpalhex 61 days ago [-]

Differential outcomes and putting your muslim population into "re-education camps" without trial sure is apples to apples...

bnolsen 61 days ago [-]

It's a bad solution to a legitimate problem, one very easily abused.

A few years ago in the northwest xinjiang province there was an uprising by the muslim population randomly stabbing chinese, injecting them with needles, containing God knows what, pulling people out of cars and beating them to death, etc. The people were so scared no one went out to do anything and full commerce everything stopped entirely (I know because my wife have sisters and direct relatives living there). So one result was a general crackdown on everyone. In xingjian now restaurants, grocery stores, etc all have xray machines and metal detectors at all entrances. It seems subways, trains, airports, all over now require xray and metal detectors just to enter. Just as in western europe the islamic population in many cases is a menace.

vorpalhex 61 days ago [-]

That sounds an awful lot like propaganda. Vague needle attacks, lack of sources, "beating people to death" while commerce comes to a halt.

> Just as in western europe the islamic population in many cases is a menace

Except that's just not true. There's no secret Islamic uprising, muslims aren't running around torching arsenal fans or forcing Germans to stop eating pork.

Don't get sucked into the propaganda. Question everything.

vkou 61 days ago [-]

Most people in US prisons have never had a trial. 95% of our criminals plead guilty, without trial.

It is, indeed, apples to oranges, but we've got no shortage of problems in our justice system.

burfog 61 days ago [-]

There are problems, but the fact that "95% of our criminals plead guilty, without trial" provides no evidence of it. Consider these possible explanations:

a. We only arrest the guilty. Of those, 95% are remorseful and willing to admit that they did wrong. Just 5% stubbornly try to evade justice.

b. We only arrest the innocent. The 95% who plead guilty are taking plea deals, but would have been found not guilty.

c. We only arrest the innocent. The 95% who plead guilty are taking plea deals, saving themselves from losing at trial.

d. Of the people charged with crime, 95% are guilty. They accept it. The remaining 5% are innocent.

e. Of the people charged with crime, 99% are guilty. The innocent people, and some of the guilty people, choose to fight.


Ideally there would not be such a percentage, because there would be no crime and no trials. Failing that, the next best thing would be perfect arrests and 100% guilty pleas. This puts all the criminals in prison without putting anybody else in prison. The next best after that would involve trials with a 100% conviction rate. This also puts all the criminals in prison without putting anybody else in prison.

dv_dt 61 days ago [-]

Muslims in re-education camps sounds a lot like systematic high-rate incarceration of minorities to me.

Look at something as mundane as cash bail in our justice system. It's something that systematically knocks poor and minority people into a tailspin of financial and life woes. Rich people systematically walk free, poor people who can't pay, wait in jail, sometimes years for their trial date. Compared to China, I would agree that the US crucially does have more political freedom to change things like this - but the actual state of things means we need to exercise those freedoms while we still can. ... logs/sta...

sonnyblarney 61 days ago [-]

"Muslims in re-education camps sounds a lot like systematic high-rate incarceration of minorities to me."

This is a beyond troubling bit of moral relativism.

The difference between 'arbitrary incarceration based on ethnicity' - and 'detention based on reasonable likelihood of committing violent crime' is a mile wide.

You're literally comparing the rounding up of an ethnic minority and placement in internment camps, to the fact that there's a higher crime rate in some areas in the US.

FYI nothing in your reference indicates necessarily that there is injustice in the bail system, rather there could be changes to create better outcomes.

dv_dt 61 days ago [-]

The US incarceration rate is by most estimates four times higher than in China. You can try to dismiss the criticism qualitatively, but quantitatively it's very troubling in the US.

Even including estimates for political inceration in China, it seems to go from 118/100k, w/ political prisoners up to 165/100k, whereas the US is 655/100k just outright. Which we try to claim is some form of justice, but is far outside the norms of all other nations (even politically regressive ones).

Compared to South Africa the US "imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid"

Few care to admit it, but we basically have race based imprisonment in the US. ... tates_in...

sonnyblarney 60 days ago [-]

That there is a lot of crime in the US is a problem, but it's another thing to argue that such incarceration is not entirely warranted.

The US has cultural issues that don't remotely exist in the rest of the civilized world.

There are a few dozen 'violence zones' i.e. S. Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans that are extremely violent, to the point that such violence is unknown in the rest of the civilized world. Only S. America and Africa have spots that compare.

dv_dt 60 days ago [-]

We have crime rates no higher than other nations. ... e/Total-...

chrischen 61 days ago [-]

This reminds me of a scene in the book To Kill a Mockingbird where some old white ladies are talking about the poor people in Africa while they treat their own Black servants poorly.

dredmorbius 61 days ago [-]

Foucalt and Chomsky on institutinal control, 1971.

contingencies 61 days ago [-]

Subdue? Not sure of that. But this is ironic on a number of levels. First, China's crackdown on Xinjiang followed a prolonged (multi-decade) period of low intensity guerilla resistance to their occupation that essentially garnered no international reporting. Second, everywhere else in China has suffered deep and substantial cultural losses in the rush through socialism to modernity as well, with religion, festivals and local languages and dialects front and center. Third, China only really stepped up its efforts in Xinjiang right after the US made "terrorism/national security" the catch-all political excuse de riguer in the noughties, post 911. Fourth, the Islamic presence in Xinjiang literally corresponds to a complete cultural genocide against a range of multicultural (but predominantly Buddhist) kingdoms so effective that we are still piecing together how to read their (significant) literature today. Fifth, a $290M CCTV contract is nothing versus daily US military-industrial spending. Sixth, modern China's main push against peoples in this region began as early as the 1940s based on a joint China-Russia opposition to nomadic tribes in the region, documented in the book Kazak Exodus.

haunter 61 days ago [-]

Why is this topic so popular on HN? I'm just curious because there are so many social problems and actual politics news in the world but somehow this is always up here.

sergiomattei 61 days ago [-]

Well, we're a crowd of mostly technology enthusiasts, developers, and scientists.

This is very related to the topic of HN - we're witnessing the (worry-inducing) birth of an oppressive technology-fueled dystopian society.

slg 61 days ago [-]

But it is strange that there is a lot of discussion about the slippery slope of what happens when this tech falls into the wrong hands. Meanwhile there is relatively little discussion about things that get us closer to the government actually being the "wrong hands".

stcredzero 61 days ago [-]

But it is strange that there is a lot of discussion about the slippery slope of what happens when this tech falls into the wrong hands.

Not strange at all. One can already see a lot of abuses of such technological power in the US through the exploitation of political affiliations or connections. We've already slipped down the slope, and we've already seen the fingerprints of those hands.

Meanwhile there is relatively little discussion about things that get us closer to the government actually being the "wrong hands".

The government has checks and balances. Though those are imperfect, they can be used as tools to check the overstepping of power. There are also laws against the government censoring speech. The popular refrain among technologists is that it only pertains to Free Speech if the government is doing it, and it's just private businesses doing their justified activities when tech giants do it.

What's wrong in principle is still wrong, even if laws and societal wisdom are lagging technology. Large swathes of the populace feel their voice is being stifled against their wishes, and many can't even spend their money to support who they wish to without overcoming barriers put in place by powerful corporate actors. That's not people losing/winning in a free marketplace of ideas. That's willful manipulation of the free marketplace of ideas.

CountSessine 61 days ago [-]

So you don't want to hear about this at all? Because my news feed still features plenty of news about other things. One mention about this every week or so is too much for you?

And there aren't a lot of other countries that currently have a million members of an ethnic minority in concentration camps. And tech/AI is an integral part of this oppression. How is this not news?

beenBoutIT 61 days ago [-]

We don't actually know much at all about what China does to people in its concentration camps, although the US State Department says it's the worst abuses it's seen 'since the 1930s'. ... s-chinas...

sonnyblarney 61 days ago [-]

Because the a mega power is using advanced technology to lock up people based on ethnicity by the 100's of thousands is definitely news worthy.

tdb7893 61 days ago [-]

It's a social problem that both liberals and libertarians care about (both decent sized populations here in my experience) and is also related to technology. It would be weird if it wasn't popular here.

beenBoutIT 61 days ago [-]

It would be equally weird if China didn't have a few sympathetic people expressing pro-China sentiment in online discussions linked to anti-China articles.

raxxorrax 61 days ago [-]

True, although this is not an anti-China article.

mutzp 61 days ago [-]

It's a feelgood topic. People here are programmers, technologists, investors, etc and they feel responsible for this. So they come here, condemn it, and leave.

darawk 61 days ago [+14]

baybal2 61 days ago [-]

> “The digitalization of police work has achieved leap-like growth in Xinjiang,” Zhang Ping, a counterterrorism officer from Jiujiang, a city in southeastern China

Sounds ironic. Xinjiang is now the only province in China to register a recession after eighties

yimoburu 61 days ago [-]

"Xinjiang is now the only province in China to register a recession after eighties" Where is the source?

yorwba 61 days ago [-]

I'd be interested in that, too. I was under the impression that even the central government can't get reliable economic data on its provinces, because the numbers are fudged at every level, so they have to estimate them indirectly e.g. using electricity consumption.

bitL 61 days ago [-]

It's like applying recent patches to Intel CPUs - your CPU is now slower, but safer ;-)

idlewords 61 days ago [-]

This apparatus of surveillance is functionally identical to what has been commercially deployed in the U.S., except that we are considerably ahead of China in areas like in-car monitoring and always-on home microphones.

drak0n1c 61 days ago [-]

It's not just for home use. China is also exporting their surveillance and social credit technology to Venezuela, Cuba, NK, and even Australia. Those white crowd control vehicles used by Maduro forces to run over dozens of protestors a few weeks ago? Another tailor-made export. ... it-syste...

yorwba 61 days ago [-]

That article was discussed 2 days ago:

It's barely more than a thinly-veiled book ad, though. If you want to learn more about the topic, you're probably better off reading

orhmeh09 61 days ago [-]

Could you provide a source for your final two statements? The page that you have linked doesn’t make the same claim.

drak0n1c 61 days ago [-]

1) Crowd control exports: ... s/venezu... ... 398/HHRG...

2) Running over of protestors (NSFW): ... americas... ... s-base-v...

chrischen 61 days ago [-]

China also makes NYPD uniforms.

beenBoutIT 61 days ago [-]

Being forced to buy inferior Chinese made crowd control vehicles has got to be one of the more terrible aspects of these sanctions. If the guy's still around in 2 years most his subpar fleet won't be.

stcredzero 61 days ago [-]

It's not just for home use. China is also exporting their surveillance and social credit technology to Venezuela, Cuba, NK, and even Australia.

On the home front, we have AI recognizers and pattern matching being applied to YouTube videos and comments to prohibit certain words or certain messages because they're "wrongthink." We also let political opponents/activists report on certain words, certain messages, and the use of certain kinds of language. How is that any different from what China is doing, in principle? It's not. It just covers a smaller fraction of the population and culture, for now.

Granted, some of the people targeted by these activities are unpleasant and bad people. Not all of them are, however. The organizations and people who do this targeting (through AI recognizers and pattern matching and through taking reports from social media) are problematic for the US in that, 1) no one elected them to do this, 2) the people who control the mechanisms and rules overwhelmingly belong to one political party, and 3) for all that there is little concern demonstrated by those who have the power, over how such power can be abused. Yet, it's already openly acknowledged that the use of and control over such media does have significant political ramifications.

Many in China recognize that the power over social media is one-sided, but they don't mind because they consider Uyghur terrorist organizations and people like Falun Gong to be shady troublemakers at best or evil at worst. We in the US and the rest of the west recognize that such unchecked power results in abuses. It's easier to criticize the flaws and quirks of another society, but much harder to recognize when the same exists in our own.

hndamien 61 days ago [-]

Australia? Do you have a reference?

mzs 61 days ago [-]

journalist's thread:

>Three years ago China’s leading maker of military electronics, CETC, came to Xinjiang with a vision: bring the tech of battlefield management to control and surveil all aspects of the lives of Uighurs. This is our attempt to walk through how it works.

>That shows how important the power of the Chinese state is in creating such a totalizing surveillance system. But it also shows how powerful readily available commercial technology has become and how easily it can be made into the basic ingredients of a police state. ... 2429266945

OrgNet 61 days ago [-]


Grazester 61 days ago [-]


tide_ad 61 days ago [-]

> ...Until the minority becomes the majority.

Not exclusively

There are typically minority and majority powers which have to be recognized. This typically is correlated with the prevalence of a particular ethnic group acting in its own interests by numerical representation, but it does not always exist this way. In some places it is easy to see how current minority groups becoming majority groups would still not inherit power accumulated via generational wealth, or would not have a realistic means of gaining consensus on changing socioeconomic circumstances in their favor.

A more collaborative approach to different groups in a system would be necessary, instead of fearing demographic changes.

femiagbabiaka 61 days ago [-]

There is nothing in this article that the U.S. hasn't been doing via technology exported out of the Acela corridor _forever_. Both are bad, but it will likely take China another 50 years to match what our MIC has done. Just this morning I was reading about how the notorious Azov Battalion of Ukraine ( got much of its military training and weapons from the U.S. amongst others.

*Mostly because I highly suspect, they plan on doing this to us!
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby Grizzly » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:54 pm

Dear Equifax Customers,
Here is all of your $2.11. The sum that we accounted for when splitting our bounty like the democratic pirates we are. I hope this taught you all a valuable lesson about being a greedy guts, pining for that $125. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The price of postage for your monies will be $2.50.
Merry Christmas

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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:49 am

ICE Accidentally Just Revealed How Much its New Contract With Peter Thiel’s Palantir Is Worth

Palantir founder Peter Thiel, right, listens as then President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders.Evan Vucci/AP
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement renewed its contract with the software company Palantir, according to new government documents made public on Monday, and it could be worth some $49 million over the next three years.

But that number isn’t intentionally public.

The documents, posted online, were redacted to hide information about the size of the contract for case management software. However, through what appears to be a mistake in the redaction process, when copy-and-pasting text from the government document into a word processor, the financial figures are revealed. (A similar embarrassing screw up happened earlier year in a filing in the Paul Manafort case.)

The first year of the deal, from Sept. 2019 to Sept. 2020, is worth $16 million. The contract appears to give ICE the option to renew through 2022, and if it does, Palantir will make a base of over $14 million each year with a possible extra $2.5 million from 2020-2021 and $1.6 million from 2021-2022.

The deal is for Palantir’s Investigative Case Management or ICM software. Palantir has tried to distance its work with ICE from the agency’s work of deportations and family separations. However, documents revealed earlier this year show how Palantir’s software does in fact play a part in ICE’s deportations.

ICE’s current contract with the company founded by Trump ally Peter Thiel was worth $41 million and has provided the software to the agency since 2014. ... -revealed/

ICE has just renewed its contract with Palantir through 2022.

Feds say there are "no other products within the commercial marketplace able to provide these same capabilities." ... 31393?s=20
1:55 PM - 20 Aug 2019
168 Retweets 138 Likes Senait DashoRon DiPronioKatie McInnisAmersBeckiJayneparanoidandroidCormac Tighe6675636b207472756d700d0aTom Looby
Doc is here: ... r-FBO.html
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:46 pm

Wendy Siegelman

Saudi Businessman Tarek Obaid Tests US Jurisdiction Over 1MDB-Linked Asset Palantir stock - Of $1bil 1MDB invested in joint venture w/PetroSaudi, $700mil went to a bank acct controlled by Jho Low, then Obaid received $153mil and invested $2mil in Palantir ... 6228782082

Saudi Businessman Tests U.S. Jurisdiction Over 1MDB-Linked Asset
By Edvard Pettersson
September 10, 2019, 11:00 PM CDT
Appeals court to decide if forfeiture case belongs in L.A.
Tarek Obaid allegedly bought Palantir shares with 1MDB funds

Private Company
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have been working for three years to recover assets around the world that were allegedly acquired with billions of dollars stolen from Malaysia’s 1MDB fund by people associated with former prime minister Najib Razak.

But the question of whether the civil forfeiture lawsuits for overseas assets, acquired by foreigners with Malaysian money, actually belong in a Southern California courtroom has yet to be resolved.

Tarek Obaid, a businessman with dual Saudi and Swiss citizenships, is going to court Wednesday to argue that a Los Angeles-based federal judge doesn’t have jurisdiction to order the seizure of his shares in Palantir Technologies Inc., allegedly bought with 1MDB-linked funds.

The outcome of Obaid’s challenge before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California, will be closely watched by Low Taek Jho, the Malaysian financier better known as Jho Low, and Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson, who are fighting the Justice Department’s attempts to seize their properties in London.

2014 Angel Ball - Arrivals
Jho LowPhotographer: J. Countess/Getty Images North America
The U.S. has brought 30 forfeiture lawsuits seeking real estate, investments, art and jewelry valued at $1.7 billion that Low, the alleged mastermind behind the looting of 1MDB, and his accomplices bought. The lawsuits were put on hold in 2017 so they wouldn’t interfere with a separate criminal investigation, but Obaid was allowed to appeal a ruling that let the forfeiture case against him to go ahead in Los Angeles.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer said last year, when she denied Obaid’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, that there was “substantial ground for disagreement” whether Los Angeles was the proper venue.

Specifically, the judge expressed concern that the “branch” of the 1MDB money-laundering conspiracy the Justice Department linked to Southern California wasn’t the same as the one in which Obaid allegedly received funds he used to buy the Palantir shares.

The U.S. claims the 1MDB money was laundered through shell companies with bank accounts in the U.S. and abroad. The money was used to invest in assets in the U.S. and overseas, according to the Justice Department.

Obaid’s role in the 1MDB scandal pertains to an early phase of the alleged conspiracy. Soon after 1Malaysia Development Berhad was created in 2009 as a government-owned development company, Low arranged a meeting aboard a yacht off the coast of Monaco between Najib, who is identified as “Malaysian Official 1” in court filings and Obaid, according to U.S. prosecutors. They were to discuss a joint venture between 1MDB and Obaid’s company PetroSaudi International.

Also present was Prince Turki bin Abdullah, a PetroSaudi co-founder who was swept up in an anti-corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia two years ago, prosecutors said.

After the meeting, Low emailed his parents, brother and sister: “Just closed the deal with petrosaudi. Looks like we may have hit a goldmine,” according to court filings.

Of the $1 billion 1MDB initially invested in the joint venture with PetroSaudi in 2009, $700 million immediately disappeared in a bank account controlled by Low, according to the U.S. Obaid received $153 million of the diverted money in the following months, the U.S. claims.

Obaid’s $2 million investment in preferred stock of Palantir Technologies, a private data-mining company co-founded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, came from the funds he received from Low, according to federal prosecutors.

Obaid said in his appeal that he “vigorously disputes” the government’s vague attempts to tie him to the alleged conspiracy.

“Obaid’s alleged misconduct has nothing to do with California,” according to his appeal. “There is no allegation that Obaid knew or had any reason to know that any acts in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy occurred in California, such as to make it foreseeable to Obaid that he could be hauled into court there.”

Lawyers representing Low’s London property argued that the outcome of Obaid’s appeal will have a profound impact on their ability to challenge Los Angeles as a proper venue. They say the Justice Department has failed to establish a connection between Southern California and the London acquisition.

“The government’s assertion of venue in these cases rests on an unprecedented legal theory: that acts in a district in furtherance of one conspiracy are sufficient to give rise to the forfeiture of, and thus to confer venue over, assets that are allegedly the proceeds of another, entirely separate and distinct conspiracy,” Low’s lawyers said.

The case is U.S. v. Obaid, 18-56657, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth District (Pasadena). ... nked-asset
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:58 pm

The FBI is investigating a venture capital fund started by Peter Thiel for financial misconduct
Mithril Capital raised over $1 billion on the name of Thiel, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest celebrities. Now federal investigators are looking under the hood.

Theodore SchleiferSep 12, 2019, 10:05am EDT
Peter Thiel on the set of “Fox & Friends.” John Lamparski/Getty Images
Federal investigators are probing the conduct and practices of Mithril Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by Peter Thiel, Recode has learned.

US officials — including the FBI — have in recent months questioned some people close to Mithril regarding concerns of possible financial misconduct at the firm, according to people familiar with the matter who insisted on anonymity given its sensitivity. Mithril confirmed in a statement that its lawyers are in touch with government authorities.

Mithril’s leader, Ajay Royan, has worked with Thiel for almost two decades and has used that relationship to raise over $1 billion. But in recent years, Royan has frustrated some of his investors by sitting on some of their money rather than investing it in startups — while almost certainly raking in millions of dollars in fees for himself.

This federal probe is just the latest — but most significant — problem for the firm, which has increasingly struggled with internal tensions, declining morale, and employee departures. Not all federal investigations, of course, end with an indictment, and Mithril could eventually be cleared of wrongdoing.

If you have more information about the situation at Mithril Capital or at other venture capital firms, please contact me at or at 202-809-2946 on messaging services such as Signal, Telegram, Confide, or WhatsApp.
When asked if Mithril and Royan were cooperating with the government probe, a Mithril spokesperson said: “This is a foiled plot by a self-serving ex-employee. There are no allegations from any government agency, or any [investor.] Nevertheless, our attorneys are in contact with government authorities in order to protect [investors], employees, and portfolio companies against any extortionate behavior.”

The drama around Mithril pulls back the curtain on a venture capital industry that is awash in money but governed by relatively few rules. And it raises questions about how often similar situations are unfolding quietly in high finance but don’t manage to draw the scrutiny of the federal government.

Ajay Royan smiling in a posed photograph
Ajay Royan, the co-founder of Mithril Capital.
Christopher Michel/Flickr
And while the probe is in the early stages, it threatens to destabilize the world of Thiel, who heads an enormously influential network of tech investors, startup founders, and political allies across Silicon Valley. Thiel sits on the board of Facebook; he’s also built an unusual amount of political power and raised his public profile as one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent supporters of President Donald Trump.

A federal investigation could subject Thiel, who has not publicly distanced himself from Royan, to new scrutiny as investigators put the firm he co-founded under a microscope. It could also stain the reputation Thiel has established for having a Midas touch in investing.

A spokesperson for Thiel, Jeremiah Hall, declined to comment on the new probe, but has said previously that Thiel was “proud” of Royan.

In the months since Recode reported on unanswered financial questions at Mithril, things have deteriorated, according to people familiar with the matter. The firm has lost staff and has adopted a more defensive posture. Two of the other managing directors at Mithril, Crystal McKellar and Jim O’Neill, recently left the venture capital firm in contentious exits, the people say — departures that until now haven’t previously been reported.

Those two departures, which are at least the sixth and seventh people to leave the investing team since the spring of 2016, have essentially stripped a shop with more than $1.2 billion in assets down to a bare-bones operation whose remaining senior full-time employees consist of Royan, CFO Anuja Royan (his sister), and a close ally named Paul Leggett.

That shrinking staff list might explain why the firm also removed the “Team” page from its website about two months ago, along with other tabs. Its entire website now features just a single substantive paragraph of information about the firm.

Meanwhile, Royan is described by sources close to Mithril as obsessed with trying to plug up leaks in his network, tactics that these sources say have further sapped morale.

Sources told Recode that, this past winter, Royan called his staff to the offices of a downtown San Francisco law firm for a heated, intimidating meeting where he implored them to feel gratitude for working at Mithril. (The firm denies this.)

At one point, he repossessed some of his staff’s phones and computers to try to find leakers, a search mission that effectively cut off some of his remaining employees from any real Mithril work. (Mithril told Recode “this was a device upgrade to increase productivity.”) And in recent months, Royan offered at least one former employee some additional financial upside in Mithril funds — if that employee agreed to become a consultant for the firm and signed reinforced nondisclosure agreements.

The federal government, though, is not the only entity scrutinizing Mithril for possible financial misconduct.

One of the most powerful investment advisers in Silicon Valley, Cambridge Associates, is looking into Mithril over financial mismanagement, according to people briefed on Cambridge Associates’ activity. The firm’s clients have invested millions into Mithril’s second fund, but some of those clients are now, in turn, frustrated with Cambridge Associates, which recommended that they invest in Mithril in the first place.

Cambridge Associates is an outside investment adviser to wealthy families and foundations, serving as a powerful gatekeeper of sorts between Silicon Valley and the richest people in the world. While it cannot compel cooperation in the same way the federal government can, Cambridge Associates is a behind-the-scenes powerbroker in tech investing, and its scrutiny could pose reputational risk to Mithril Capital and Thiel’s empire more broadly.

Cambridge Associates officials repeatedly declined to comment. Mithril denies that Cambridge Associates is investigating its firm.

All of this months-long drama surrounding Mithril has proven to be an embarrassing series of events for Thiel, who has personally given a total of $300 million to the firm and is tied to Mithril by reputation. Some entrepreneurs and investors have chosen to work with Royan specifically because they thought it could give them greater access to Thiel, sources say, even though he is not involved in Mithril’s day-to-day operations.

While Thiel has a high appetite, in general, for media spectacle, part of the reason Mithril’s drama is so notable is because Thiel projects typically are well-run. Royan promised when he started the firm that it would be the “capstone” to Thiel’s investment empire.

Thiel, who is averse to confrontation, became aware of the concerns surrounding Mithril earlier this year but has been slow to take any action. Thiel and Royan are very close personally — Royan, for instance, sits on the board of the Thiel Foundation — but the relationship has nevertheless been strained by the recent disarray, sources have previously told Recode.

Some of Mithril’s investors, which have included the MacArthur Foundation and Temasek, have for months expressed concerns directly to Thiel, Royan, and to one another about the venture capital firm’s seeming unwillingness to actually spend the money that they gave Mithril, according to some investors. Others are more sympathetic to Royan’s desire to be parsimonious with their money, or at least felt somewhat reassured by the multibillion dollar acquisition of one of Mithril’s portfolio companies, Auris Health, earlier this year. But many remain unsettled.

In its statement, Mithril said that many of its LPs “have expressed overwhelming appreciation for Mithril’s disciplined deployment of capital and exceptional returns in this late-cycle environment.”

Other prominent investments by Mithril include the Thiel-founded data analytics company Palantir, and, according to sources, uBiome, a biotech company under its own federal investigation that just last week filed for bankruptcy. Mithril never announced that latter deal.

Investments though have become few and far between. Recode reported in February that the firm had only invested about $90 million of the $740 million that the firm held its first close on in April 2016. It has only publicly announced one new deal since that story: a $15 million investment in a startup called Neocis. But on Tuesday, Glance, an Indian artificial intelligence startup, said Mithril would back it with $45 million. Even so, that is a highly unusual pace of deployment for a venture capital firm, which charges its investors management fees in order to invest money into startups on their behalf.

But then just before Labor Day weekend, Royan suddenly sent investors a long investor update that defended his strategy — a move read by at least some investors as an attempt to quell their concerns. As criticism toward his firm has mounted, he’s also begun quickly trying to spend the money: He told investors that he would be spending about $90 million on upcoming deals, sources say, a sum that includes Neocis and Glance; if actualized, that would mean Mithril has invested about $180 million of the total $740 million that it collected.

In its statement, Mithril told Recode that it has communicated its investment strategy to its investors and that the firm “takes a disciplined and concentrated investment approach.”

But over the course of the eight-page investor letter, Royan said not a word about any of the turnover or drama at his firm in the past year, which in the words of one person familiar with the matter, was “glaring in its omission.”

Mithril is likely collecting as much as $20 million a year in management fees, sources familiar with the figures have previously told Recode — an unusually large haul for a venture capital firm that each month has a smaller and smaller staff and therefore smaller and smaller expenses. (Mithril disputed the $20 million figure but did not provide an alternative.) At least 75 percent of the firm’s management company is owned by a Cayman Islands limited company that is, in turn, owned in excess of 75 percent by Royan, according to legal documents. So some of that money is going to Royan directly as salary.

Those management fees go further in a low-tax state like Texas, where Mithril Capital said it was moving late last year. Several employees resisted the sudden move to Austin, which has a much smaller startup scene than Silicon Valley. Royan has said the move was rooted in his distaste for the Bay Area. But beyond that, two sources told Recode that Mithril leaders alluded to tax advantages when privately explaining the multiple reasons for the move. Mithril denied this.

It’s unclear whether it is the tax strategy, the management fees, or something else that is drawing the scrutiny of federal investigators. Multiple investigative agencies could be interested in policing potential misconduct at the firm. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which generally governs bad behavior in the investment world, has aggressively gone after venture capital firms like Rothenberg Ventures for fraud.

And Department of Justice officials in San Francisco have increasingly expressed interest in regulating the world of Silicon Valley investors and possible fraud with the US Attorney’s Office’s new Corporate Fraud Strike Force. The FBI, the investigative arm for the DOJ, is one of the agencies involved in the Mithril probe.

The DOJ, FBI, and SEC each declined to comment.

Royan can proceed with his work even as federal investigators probe his firm. Investigations can take years. As Mithril is being scrutinized, Royan has added to his public relations team.

For now, he is keeping up a busier-than-normal public schedule. Never one in the past for pursuing press, Royan in the months following Recode’s first Mithril story has offered interviews to outlets like Fortune, the Globe and Mail, and the Financial Times. He’s also scheduled to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt, a high-profile startup festival, next month.

That appearance, though, might be contingent on how the federal probe plays out. ... ajay-royan
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Re: CIA's favorite data analysis company, Palantir

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:51 am

Silicon Valley billionaire Thiel invests in Kobach, Hawley and rise of nationalism
September 29, 2019 05:00 AM, Updated 2 hours 45 minutes ago
Here’s the field of candidates running to replace Kansas Senator Pat Roberts

Sen. Pat Roberts announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Take a look at the Republican and Democratic contenders that are running to replace him. By Monty Davis
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Here’s the field of candidates running to replace Kansas Senator Pat Roberts

Sen. Pat Roberts announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Take a look at the Republican and Democratic contenders that are running to replace him. By Monty Davis
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who believes Google should be investigated for treason and once wrote that American democracy has been in decline since women won the right to vote, is investing heavily in two of the Kansas City region’s most ambitious political startups.

Thiel steered six figures into a dark money group that backed Republican Kris Kobach’s failed campaign for Kansas governor, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

And now that Kobach is running for U.S. Senate, the PayPal co-founder is upfront about his financial support. Last week at his New York City apartment, Thiel and conservative pundit Ann Coulter co-hosted a fundraiser for the former Kansas secretary of state.

He also donated $300,000 to Missouri Republican Josh Hawley’s 2016 campaign for Missouri attorney general and $5,400, the maximum allowed under federal law, toward his successful 2018 run for U.S. Senate.

Thiel is one of the few tech entrepreneurs to embrace President Donald Trump.

He claims that Google should be investigated for treason because of its business dealings with China and its decision not to renew a contract with the Department of Defense. Google denies any wrongdoing. He has invested heavily in anti-aging technology and told Bloomberg in 2014 that he plans to live to 120.

In record and rhetoric, Kobach and Hawley reflect different aspects of Thiel’s worldview.

Kobach helped lay the groundwork for the immigration-focused Trump movement, while Hawley has championed two of Thiel’s pet issues with his call for more accountability in the tech industry and higher education.

In Thiel, Kobach and Hawley have a highly controversial patron, a self-described libertarian with an outspoken antipathy for the democratic process.

In a 2009 essay for the Cato Institute, he argued that democracy and liberty are incompatible, blaming the decline of U.S. democracy partly on women gaining the right to vote in 1920.

“The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics,” Thiel wrote. “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”

As secretary of state, Kobach faced criticism for championing some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on voting. His signature policy, which required voters to prove their citizenship with a birth certificate or other documentation, was struck down last year after a federal judge concluded the law had blocked citizens from exercising their right to vote.

Thiel and Hawley were both keynote speakers at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington in July, where Thiel presented nationalism as an alternative to outdated notions of American exceptionalism that failed to reckon with competition from other countries.

“Nationalism is not blind patriotism. It’s not my country right or wrong without any questions. Nationalism is going to ask hard questions. It’s going to ask, how does our country stack up against other countries, how does it compare? And it may find it very wanting,” Thiel said.

“It’s long past time for us to grow out of exceptionalism and I think we should settle for greatness.”

Thiel has donated millions to Republican campaigns in recent years, helping bankroll Club For Growth Action, a group that played a key role in the rise of the Tea party movement in the wake of Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

He gave Club For Growth Action $1 million two months ahead of the 2018 election.

Thiel’s spokesman, Jeremiah Hall, declined to answer questions about his involvement in Midwest politics. He did not confirm nor deny the billionaire’s support for Kobach in the 2018 race for governor.

One Republican political consultant, who asked for anonymity to speak candidly, said Thiel’s interest in Kobach is consistent with his outlook.

“Thiel and Kobach’s connection dates back years ago and he was an early supporter of his run for governor. His support for his campaign for the Senate should not be a big surprise,” the consultant said.

“Thiel has a well-documented history of supporting anti-establishment candidates and immigration hardliners.”

Co-founder of PayPal calls bathroom debate ‘distraction from our real problems’

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an openly gay man, spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Thursday, supporting Donald Trump as his pick for the next president of the United States. Thiel described the bathroom debates as a

By McClatchy

Stepping on billionaires

Kobach has been one of the most outspoken supporters of increasing efforts to prevent illegal immigration. His record earned him a place on Trump’s transition team alongside Thiel following the 2016 election.

During his run for Kansas governor, Kobach sent the names of 289 Nebraska residents to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a failed attempt to get the agency to investigate their immigration status.

One of Thiel’s companies, the data mining firm Palantir, has provided software supporting ICE’s case management system since 2014. The company has faced criticism from immigration activists because of the software’s reported use in deportations.

Two sources familiar with the inner workings of Kobach’s 2018 campaign said Thiel gave a contribution worth six figures to Per Aspera Policy, a 501(c)4 organization that paid for digital and television ads.

Both of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Thiel’s previously undisclosed contributions to the dark money group occurred after Kobach and Thiel discussed the race on the phone. One source said Kobach was giddy when Thiel agreed to spend money in the race.

Kobach did not consent to an interview about his relationship with Thiel. His campaign declined to answer any questions, including about whether Thiel and Kobach had discussed the race for governor.

Here’s the field of candidates running to replace Kansas Senator Pat Roberts

Here’s the field of candidates running to replace Kansas Senator Pat Roberts

Sen. Pat Roberts announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Take a look at the Republican and Democratic contenders that are running to replace him.

Per Aspera Policy also declined to comment. The group, formed last year, appears to have been created primarily to support Kobach’s campaign for governor.

A contribution made directly to Kobach’s campaign or to a political action committee would have to be disclosed to the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. But as a 501(c)4 tax-exempt organization, the group is exempt from disclosing its donors under federal law.

The sources who revealed the contribution said Thiel was adamant about donating in a way that protected his identity.

Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Washington-based Campaign Legal Center, said at a minimum the situation “sounds like an illustration of the problems with dark money. Dark money is often only dark when it comes to the public’s knowledge—the candidates who benefit often know where the money is coming from.”

Mark Skoglund, the executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said in an email that Kansas law does not prohibit candidates from helping raise money for outside groups.

However, the state requires entities expressly advocating for a candidate’s election to register with the commission as political action committees or to file a verified statement identifying those in charge of the organization regardless of their federal tax status.

The Ethics Commission has no record of Per Aspera filing either of the required forms. However, forms filed with the Federal Communications Commission specifically list “Kris Kobach for Kansas Governor” as the issue the group was advocating for during the 2018 election.

Per Aspera Policy paid Kansas City TV station KMBC $30,000 to air a gun-themed television ad during the final week of Kobach’s race against Democrat Laura Kelly, who went on to win the race.

The ad, highlighting Kobach’s endorsement from the National Rifle Association and accusing Kelly of flip flopping on gun rights, featured him firing a rifle and posing with rocker Ted Nugent.

Sandlot Strategic, a Kansas City-based consulting firm, purchased the airtime on behalf of Per Aspera Policy.

The same consulting firm also handled buying television airtime for Kobach’s campaign, according to disclosure forms filed with the FCC, and conducted phone polling to gauge support for a Senate run by Kobach in January.

Colin Hoffman, the president of Sandlot Strategic, said his firm maintains a strict internal firewall to prevent improper coordination between campaigns and independent expenditure groups.

Sen. Pat Roberts announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Take a look at the Republican and Democratic contenders that are running to replace him.

Kobach’s Senate candidacy has been panned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has pointed to his loss in the race for governor as a reason to doubt his capability as a Senate candidate.

The Kansas Republican struggled to keep pace with Kelly in fundraising during the campaign.

Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, who entered the GOP primary with more than $1 million in his federal campaign account, said Thiel’s involvement in the Senate race could be critical in helping Kobach close the fundraising gap.

In a radio interview following the fundraiser with Thiel, Coulter said of the turnout: “Boy, you couldn’t turn around last night without stepping on a billionaire.”

Coulter, who said on Twitter last year that the state of Kansas was dead to her following Kobach’s defeat in the race for governor, touted his credentials as a Harvard University grad and Yale-educated attorney who “made it through the Chinese-style brainwashing of these Ivy League schools” with a love of God and country intact.

She went on to connect Kobach to Hawley, another Yale Law graduate who has won Thiel’s political favor. Hawley, the freshman Missouri Republican, has emerged as one of the toughest critics of the tech industry.

“Sen. (Tom) Cotton, Sen. (Ted) Cruz and Sen. Hawley, they could use some help with another articulate Republican,” Coulter told radio host Mark Simone in an interview clip Kobach promoted on Twitter.

Thiel’s contribution to Hawley’s Senate campaign came four days before Hawley, as Missouri attorney general, launched an investigation into Google, the company Thiel has frequently criticized.

Hawley has also been vocal in targeting Facebook, a company where Thiel is a board member.

During his time at Stanford in the early 2000s, Hawley wrote for The Stanford Review, a conservative newspaper founded by Thiel in the 1980s.

Despite his status as a Stanford University graduate and a board member of Facebook, Thiel has been an outspoken critic of higher education and one of the Silicon Valley voices most skeptical of the wider tech industry.

“Silicon Valley is sort of a very insular place… It’s something I’ve been on a crusade about for the better part of the decade,” Thiel said in his speech at the National Conservatism Conference hosted by the Edmund Burke Foundation, a Dutch think tank that promotes social and fiscal conservatism.

Hawley spoke at the same conference and has pursued legislation intended to hold the tech industry and universities more accountable.

But he downplayed his connection to Thiel when asked if they had any conversations about the bills.

“Zero,” Hawley said in July after the conference. “I haven’t talked to him about the higher ed bill or these tech amendments. I don’t think we appeared together.”

In his speech, Hawley argued that the left’s emphasis on multiculturalism had degraded a common national identity.

At the same conference, Thiel hammered the left for what he argued was a wrong-headed focus on identity politics.

“Identity politics is an insane distraction… I always have this hope that it’s about to end in some sort of paroxysm of insanity and that the identity politics monster is going to get a heart attack from flopping its tail as wildly as it is,” Thiel said later in the speech.

Kobach has hit at similar themes on the campaign trail in Kansas.

When told of the New York fundraiser, Hawley declined to speculate this week on the reasons that Thiel might have for backing Kobach’s Senate campaign

“I have no insight on who he supports. I don’t track who he supports. I didn’t realize he had done that for Kobach,” Hawley said. “It’s interesting.” ... 16452.html
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They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
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