Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Last Call For Tracking The Virus (And Everything)

Two years ago I warned you about Palantir, the massive data-mining startup founded by Silicon Valley Trump donor (and probable vampire) Peter Thiel, who was busy snapping up Trump regime, corporate, and state government data analytics contracts to track everything from America's grocery store purchases to undocumented immigrants hiding from ICE by building digital profiles of everyone in America for sale to the highest bidder.

Now the Trump regime is counting on Palantir to track COVID-19 and to predict which states can "safely" resume opening businesses and public areas and when, to become the single source of the country's information on where the virus is.

Palantir, the data-mining firm created by investor Peter Thiel, is best known for its work with global intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies. Now, the company has a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help the federal government create a new data platform called HHS Protect Now.

The Daily Beast has confirmed that Palantir will provide a major aspect of the analytics platform. Sources familiar told The Daily Beast that Palantir’s data suites will be a primary contributor to HHS Protect Now, if not the core element of the tool.

Palantir’s involvement in the creation of a new government coronavirus data platform system underscores the Trump administration’s reliance on close political allies of the president to respond to the global pandemic. Thiel was Trump’s earliest and highest-profile backer in Silicon Valley, and delivered a prime-time speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. A top donor to conservative causes and the first outside investor in Facebook, Thiel was, according to The Wall Street Journal, instrumental in pushing the social networking giant to allow politicians to lie in advertisements on the platform. It’s a policy that many outside observers believe will help the Trump campaign—which Thiel has again pledged to support.

Palantir, which Thiel helped found—and still retains a sizeable stake in —has watched its already-lucrative government business skyrocket in the Trump era. Palantir “provided digital profiling tools” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement “as it carried out President Trump’s increasingly controversial policies for apprehending and deporting undocumented immigrants,” according to The Washington Post. The firm had anticipated going public, although the coronavirus may have delayed plans for an IPO.

The HHS Protect Now platform, which is set to be unveiled later this week, pulls data from across the federal government, state and local governments, healthcare facilities, and colleges, to help administration officials determine how to “mitigate and prevent spread” of the coronavirus, according to a spokesperson for the department.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus response, receives nightly briefings based off data compiled and analyzed on the platform, the spokesperson said. Birx has, over the past several weeks, often appeared at daily press briefings to speak about her analysis of coronavirus data-related testing, hospitalizations and community spread.

Two officials working with the administration’s coronavirus task force said the president is himself relying on Birx’s presentations in determining where and when to reopen parts of the U.S. economy. That positions HHS Protect Now as one of the most important data tools the federal government possesses.

Putting aside the huge ethical implications of one of Trump's largest donors getting a contract to be the company to track and provide critical health information during a global pandemic that's already killed 45,000 Americans, let's remember that the company happily worked with police departments in LA and New Orleans to profile millions of citizens and assign them "social scores" to mark them for further police harassment and arrest before committing crimes.

The New Orleans program was scrapped a few years ago, but the LAPD program didn't end until last year after existing since 2010.

Now Palantir is going to be tracking all of us for a virus, with the government's blessing.

State Of The Pandemic, Con't

Over the river in Ohio, business owners can't wait to get back to work because COVID-19 is apparently a hoax created to destroy God-Emperor Trump.

As a GOP-controlled Ohio House panel heard again from a series of business owners Monday urging a reopening of the state, one owner testified that he thinks the whole coronavirus pandemic is part of a plot to thwart the re-election of President Donald Trump. 
“This was a government overreach that was politically motivated, quite frankly, to derail our commander in chief’s ability to be re-elected for four more years,” said Bill Bader Jr., owner of Summit Motorsports Park near Norwalk. 
“It was more politically motivated than erring on the side of the health and safety and well-being of the citizens of this great country of ours. The media reaction incensed, scared, struck fear in the hearts of people to the point where it blinded people to their constitutional rights.” 
Columbus Democrat David Leland, one of the 24 members of the House Economic Recovery Tax Force, asked, “Do you really believe that Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, and all the people that are leading us in this particular crisis — their motivation for doing that was to unseat the president of the United States?” 
Bader didn’t back down. 
“Yes. I think this was a well-constructed plan. I think the timing of it was unique,” he replied. 
And he questioned Leland’s citation of 41,000 deaths in the U.S. from the virus, bringing up an undocumented conspiracy theory. 
“I understood that every fatality that took place in the United States of America, there was a check box that it was mandated that they perish as a result of the coronavirus. Are there truly 41,000 fatalities due to COVID-19?” 
Bader’s original response came in response to questioning from Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, who said, “I don’t think you’re really doing any harm in reopening your business, and we don’t need any more central-government planning and restrictions. We need to get Ohio open again.”

During another witness’s testimony, Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, said the state should not decide which businesses can and can’t operate. 
“We need to work to reopen all business in Ohio,” he said.

We have to reopen everything.

Even if it kills you.

Barr Goes Viral, Con't

Attorney General Bill Barr is all but promising federal legal action against states that don't "reopen their economies" by the end of the month.

The Justice Department will consider taking legal action against governors who continue to impose stringent rules for dealing with the coronavirus that infringe on constitutional rights once the crisis subsides in their states, Attorney General William Barr said.

Blunt means to deal with the pandemic, such as stay-at-home orders and directives shutting down businesses, are justified up to a point, Barr said in an interview Tuesday on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” Eventually, though, states should move to more targeted measures, Barr said. He said he supports the approach laid out by President Donald Trump.

“We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said. “To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce -- our common market that we have here -- then we’ll have to address that.”

Barr’s comments come as the Trump administration and states are struggling -- and at times fighting with each other -- over the best approach to deal with the crisis. Trump has stoked tensions with some Democratic governors who are dealing with protests against stringent social-distancing rules, even as his administration backs guidelines that call for states to open up gradually.

Trump tweeted over the weekend that his supporters should “liberate” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia -- three states with Democratic governors and strict stay-at-home orders. The move came just a day after Trump outlined the return-to-work guidelines contingent on states meeting specific benchmarks on testing and a decline in Covid-19 cases.

This is all part of Trump's plan to shift blame for the COVID-19 death toll to Democratic governors, of course.   The ones who maintain social distancing measures will be sued by Barr.

But let's not forget the "back to work!" push by the GOP is far more sinister, especially since it's black and brown faces who are the essential workers.

The lieutenant governor of Texas, who was criticized last month for saying it was worth risking lives to return to work if that meant saving the economy, has doubled down on his comments.

Dan Patrick, who turned 70 this month, faced a social media backlash in March for telling Fox News that many of his generation were willing to "take a chance" and return to work because an economy that was shut down by the coronavirus would harm future generations.

As parts of Texas started to reopen this week following weeks of restrictions, Patrick defended his comments on Monday, telling anchor Tucker Carlson again that the recent economic hardship had left him "vindicated."

"When you start shutting down society and people start losing their paychecks and businesses can't open and governments aren't getting revenues...I'm sorry to say that I was right on this," he said.

"I'm thankful that we are now beginning to open up Texas and other states because it's been long overdue."

Questioning the shifting projected death toll over the last few weeks he believed that "we have the wrong numbers, the wrong science."

Comparing the death toll in Texas with its population, he went on to say, "every life is valuable but 500 people out of 29 million and we're locked down and we're crushing the average worker, we're crushing small business, we're crushing the markets, we're crushing this country."
Using data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Tribune reported that as of Monday, the death toll in the state stood at 495, with 19,458 positive tests.

Patrick went on: "There are more important things than living, and that's saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us.

Once again, American history can be reduced to "black and brown people need to die to keep white people happy, healthy, and well-fed." COVID-19 didn't change that one bit.

You can see how eager Republicans got to start feeding people to the furnace of industry when those people primarily turned out to be not white ones.

Oh, and for some unknown reason, a major breach of email, password and privacy data just happened to hit major health organizations and non-profit health foundations over the weekend.

Unknown activists have posted nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords allegedly belonging to the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation and other groups working to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism and terrorist groups.

While SITE was unable to verify whether the email addresses and passwords were authentic, the group said the information was released Sunday and Monday and almost immediately used to foment attempts at hacking and harassment by far-right extremists. An Australian cybersecurity expert, Robert Potter, said he was able to verify that the WHO email addresses and passwords were real.

The lists, whose origins are unclear, appear to have first been posted to 4chan, a message board notorious for its hateful and extreme political commentary, and later to Pastebin, a text storage site, to Twitter and to far-right extremist channels on Telegram, a messaging app.

No doubt we'll see a whole bunch of out-of-context emails and attacks on these groups this week that just happen to get leaked at the exact time when Trump and other Republicans need to start discrediting health officials by justifying reopening of businesses during a pandemic to save his own ass.  FOX State TV will be back to "the COVID-19 hoax" by the end of the month.

And Barr will have his "reason to investigate" these non-profits.



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