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Netizen Report: If Protecting Your Privacy is “Part of a Conspiracy,” Then We’re All in Big Trouble

19 hours 47 min ago

By Netizen Report Team

The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in technology and human rights around the world. This report covers news and events from April 04 – April 19, 2019.

On April 11, two arrests were made in cases that could set game-changing legal precedents threatening online privacy and free speech protections.

The first case made headlines worldwide: WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had lived since 2012.

Legal and ethical debates about the impact of material released on WikiLeaks — troves of classified documents that have affected the rise, fall and floundering of multiple governments around the world —  alongside sexual assault allegations against Assange, have resurfaced in public debate since his arrest. But these are not new.

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What is newly public is the US Justice Department’s indictment of Assange, which was filed in March 2018 but kept under seal until now. The indictment seeks charges against Assange under the 1984 US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, accusing him of conspiring to “knowingly access a computer, without authorization” (e.g. crack a password) to facilitate Chelsea Manning’s “acquisition and transmission of classified information related to the national defense of the United States…”

But the indictment also details the means by which Assange communicated with Chelsea Manning, describing secure, open source technologies such as the chat service Jabber and the open source computer software Linux as “part of the conspiracy.”

Technical experts in the human rights field who handle sensitive information online know that using tools like these is considered only a best practice. These tools were built with privacy as their primary objective, and they are vital to the protection of journalists’ sources, not to mention the transmission of sensitive information about human rights abuses by lawyers, researchers and activists worldwide.

In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm warned of the legal precedent that the case could set in the US, pending Assange’s extradition. He highlighted the fact that using digital privacy tools like Jabber has become a “common journalistic practice”:

Once there is law on the books that says “this aspect of journalism is illegal”, it becomes much easier for the justice department to bring other cases against more mainstream government critics down the road, and much harder for judges to immediately dismiss them.


…it’s clear that they are using the conspiracy charge as a pretext to target Assange and potentially criminalize important and common journalistic practices in newsgathering at the same time.

The legal precedent that Timm foresees may be set even sooner in Ecuador, where another “computer-related crime” case is taking shape.

The other case, which has garnered much less media attention, is that of Ola Bini, the Swedish free software developer who was detained at the Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito, Ecuador, where he has lived since 2013. Bini is part of the broader global digital rights community to which Global Voices is strongly tied.

On April 13, Ecuador’s federal prosecutor announced that the government had filed charges against Bini for “alleged participation in the crime of assault on the integrity of computer systems” and attempts to destabilize the country. Interior Minister María Paula Romo also has said that Bini “supported” WikiLeaks.

Bini will be detained for 90 days while prosecutors pursue their investigation. Police have searched his home and confiscated numerous electronic devices and hard drives. The public prosecutor’s office posted photos of the devices on its website, as if to associate common electronic storage devices with serious crimes. Ecuadorian authorities have yet to offer evidence to support their accusations.

In a statement to his supporters, Bini asserted that the case against him is based “based on the books I’ve read and the technology I have.” He wrote:

I believe strongly in the right to privacy. Without privacy, we can’t have agency, and without agency we are slaves. That’s why I have dedicated my life to this struggle. Surveillance is a threat to us all, we must stop it….If Ecuador can do this, so can others. We have to stop this idea now, before it’s too late.

David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur for the protection of free expression, and Edison Lanza, who serves a similar role in the Inter-American Free Commission on Human Rights, have expressed concern about Bini’s arrest.

Free speech advocacy group ARTICLE 19 has called for Bini’s release:

ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the arrest and illegal detention of Ola Bini is part of a crackdown against the community of developers who build digital security technology tools which enable Internet freedoms and secure communication online.

Indian authorities tackle Tiktok, on child safety grounds

This week, both Apple and Google removed the mega-popular short video streaming app Tiktok from their app stores in India in compliance with an order from the country’s information and technology ministry.

Owned by Chinese tech giant Douyin, Tiktok was released globally in 2018 and the company says it has more than 120 million users in India. The removal order came after the Madras high court ruled that the app could expose children to sexual predators, pornographic content and cyberbullying and put a ban on downloading the app. The court also extended the ruling to media outlets, banning them from using Tiktok footage in their reporting.

The New Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre has pointed out that the Madras court ruling disregards constitutional protections for free speech, as well as India’s IT Act, which protects online platforms from liability for illegal content posted on their platforms by third parties.

Tiktok has been banned in Bangladesh and was briefly blocked in Indonesia, and is facing legal challenges in the US, also on child privacy grounds.

Facial recognition works — even while you’re sleeping

A restaurant worker in Ningbo, China was robbed by two co-workers as he lay sleeping in a shared dormitory for food workers. The two men did not steal money from his pockets, however. Instead, they took the man’s phone and pointed it at his sleeping face, prompting its facial recognition system to unlock the device. They then transferred 10,000 yuan (about US $1500) from his WeChat account to their own accounts. In China, WeChat payment has all but replaced cash and even credit cards in many aspects of daily life, both when paying for goods and services, and sending money to family or friends.

Egypt blocks thousands of domains in effort to silence opposition campaign

On April 15, internet service providers in Egypt blocked over 34,000 web domains in what appears to be an effort to stifle voices and initiatives opposing draft constitutional amendments that would allow president al-Sisi to extend his term in office until 2030. Many of the websites affected by the block are associated with a campaign to oppose the amendments, which would also limit judiciary independence and allow the military to wield greater influence over political decision making. The campaign organizers estimate that 250,000 people have signed their petition opposing the amendments.

Jailed UAE activist on hunger strike

Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor has endured an open-ended hunger strike since approximately mid-March 2019. His supporters say his health is rapidly deteriorating. In May 2018, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison under the 2012 Cybercrime Law of “insulting the status and prestige of the UAE” and “publishing false reports and information on social media to damage the UAE’s relationship with its neighbouring countries.”

Prior to his 2017 arrest, he campaigned online on behalf of jailed activists in the UAE and elsewhere in the region. He is the 2015 laureate of the Martin Ennals Foundation, which supports human rights defenders who are at risk.

Image credit: “Hacker” by the Preiser Project via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was sourced from

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Categories: News for progressives

The National Debt is the Most Serious Crisis America Faces

Sun, 2019-04-21 22:50

By David Unsworth

A generation ago, the national debt stood at just a smidgen over USD $4 trillion and a young presidential candidate named Bill Clinton was discussing a great plan he had to have it entirely paid off by now. Oops. The national debt is now 5.5 times bigger.

More than anything, this astoundingly bad public policy is the fault of Barack Obama, undoubtedly the most irresponsible president in our history…who added on more to the national debt than all other presidents combined in an orgy of Washington, DC, debauchery that saw the size of the federal government mushroom while hundreds of thousands of new bureaucrats were added to federal payrolls, and Washington, DC, housing prices skyrocketed as federal government employees and private industry sub-contractors paid for by the government reveled in their six-figure paychecks and outrageously lavish healthcare and pension plans… all paid for by us, the taxpayers.

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Obama’s stewardship of our national finances was truly obscene, but George W. Bush was nearly as bad. He has even less of an excuse, in fact, because he had a Republican Congress to work with for most of his eight years. During that time, Bush took us from USD $5.8 trillion to USD $10 trillion, something that seemed reckless at the time. Of course, in light of the Obama USD $10 trillion spending extravaganza, Bush looks prudent by comparison.

How is it that we supposedly elect the best and the brightest to represent us in Washington, DC,…people with law and medical degrees and MBAs from Ivy League universities, people that come from the finest law practices and accounting firms and consultancies and banks and financial institutions in the country…and our end result is the debt avalanche we now have before us?

Why do we believe politicians of either party when they tell us that they will make our national debt a top priority?

Why is it that the American people seem to fail to understand how ruinous our national debt truly is and what an astounding percent of our national budget we are now spending on servicing that debt?

Interest Is Adding Up

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has penned an op-ed which presents some eye-opening statistics as to just how bad our national debt really is. By next year, the cost of servicing the national debt (paying interest on it), will exceed the cost of Medicare. By 2025, it will exceed the cost of our military spending, making it the most expensive item in our entire national budget!


Today’s high school and college students are well-versed in a whole host of social justice topics, courtesy of their Marxist professors. How much would you venture to bet that they hear little to nothing about the national debt and what it means for American workers and families?

Today’s campus culture social justice themes include the “right” to “free” healthcare and education… transgender bathrooms… the need for “safe spaces”… the enforcement of campus “speech codes” designed to make sure that no one ever gets their feelings hurt… a robust and comprehensive policy on identifying and denouncing inappropriate Halloween costumes… and a stale and tired Marxist discourse on the exploitative nature of American capitalism.

But… when was the last time college students ever got together to protest a USD $22 trillion and rising national debt? Do they understand the threat, even?

And even more importantly… do they understand why and how we have gotten here?

Corrupt Politics

Quite simply… we have arrived at this point by spending infinitely more than we collect in tax revenue, mainly on things that have no mention in the Constitution as being a function of the federal government.

Public sector unions, and the millions of workers and hundreds of millions of dollars that they spend every year to support the Democratic Party, play a fundamental role in not only our ruinous levels of federal debt but the debt crisis facing our state and local governments as well.

Nothing is more ruinous to our future than the ever-increasing demands of government employees… specifically public sector union employees such as those at AFSCME and the SEIU. They live like kings and queens on the backs of actual working-class people… all the while donating hundreds of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party to ensure that their six- and seven-figure paychecks never run dry.

They couldn’t care less about government budgets or the national debt or actual working-class people. They couldn’t care less about “public service.” There are only two things that public sector unions care about: soaking the rest of us for the biggest paychecks possible… and shoveling money to socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But it is not merely their salaries and the fact that government employees rarely, if ever, get fired. It’s the highly lucrative nature of their healthcare and pension plans… plans to which they contribute far less than their private sector counterparts.

For states, these plans have proved a bitter pill to swallow, and have led to the greatest fiscal crisis in the United States that you have most likely never heard about: unfunded pension liabilities. When you drill down into the details, it is almost impossible to believe that the situation is true. Essentially, states promise outrageously generous pensions to state employees (who, of course, rally to support whichever candidate promises them the most money), and then fail to fund those very plans… kicking the can down the road to future administrations and generations.

The Snowball Keeps Getting Bigger

Now, it amounts to a USD $6 trillion crisis.

For the libertarian and conservative movements, it’s time to stand for fiscal responsibility and common sense. It’s time to stand against government employees and their demands, and explain to the American people that the government is spending their money on entirely unconstitutional (read: illegal) things. It’s time to take a strong stand against the public sector unions like AFSCME and the SEIU that are leading this country to fiscal ruin.

And more than anything, it’s time to force Trump to actually live up to his promise of draining the swamp: reining in the excess and beginning to drastically reduce the size of our bureaucratic state: firing large numbers of government employees.

These government employees are driven by self-interest.

It is hard to envision government employees stepping back from the situation and saying:

Well, I have a pretty generous salary, healthcare, and pension. It’s far more generous than the private sector enjoys. And we are $22 trillion in debt, and the government is spending too much money. So… as much as it pains me to say… me and some other government employees should lose our jobs. The government is spending too much money, deficits and debt are growing, and I should go look for a job in the private sector.

That is never going to happen. Public sector unions are a millstone around our neck, and as many commentators have noted, they have no natural enemies.

Except, of course, for citizen watchdog groups and independent media outlets who are not afraid to denounce them and point out their ruinous nature.

I, for one, will not rest until we return our government to the vision of the Founding Fathers, who would not have approved of any of this. Let’s start by ending the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture. That would be a good start. We could use the money we saved to begin paying off our national debt, and government employees would have to do something that the vast majority of real working class people have to do every day: compete in a highly competitive free market economy to earn our daily bread.

This article is reprinted with permission from Panam Post. 

David Unsworth is a Boston native. He received degrees in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and subsequently spent five years working in real estate development in New York City.

This article was sourced from

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Categories: News for progressives

FDA Approves Low-Level Electrical Pulse Forehead Patch to Be Worn by Children Ages 7-12 with ADHD While They Are Sleeping

Sun, 2019-04-21 01:06

By B.N. Frank

Parents with children who have ADHD have my sympathy.  Therapy takes a long time and doesn’t always work.  It’s also not cheap.  Dietary changes aren’t easy to implement.  Drugs don’t always work and they aren’t necessarily cheap either.  Drugs can also have horrible side effects.  So there’s a new treatment that the FDA recently approved for kids ages 7-12 with ADHD:  an electrical pulse patch to wear on their foreheads while they sleep.

It was approved after a trial was conducted with 62 children.  It’s also not cheap – unless a thousand bucks is chump change to you.

Of course, putting an electrical pulse patch on a child’s forehead while they sleep and without medical assistance or supervision seems risky even before reading the warning:

The device should not be placed near a phone or used by children on an insulin pump, pacemaker or implanted neurostimulator, the FDA said.

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This may be due to the possibility of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) which could do all kinds of damage to the child and/or any nearby digital, electronic, or wireless devices – medical or otherwise.  With the way adults and children constantly use their phones and other devices – I can’t be the only one anticipating a lot of very sad news stories about kids with burned foreheads and worse.

According to the article, “The FDA found no serious adverse events associated with eTNS” even though it was noted that some of the trial kids experienced drowsiness, an increase in appetite, trouble sleeping, teeth clenching, headache and fatigue.

So drowsiness, an increase in appetite, trouble sleeping, teeth clenching, headache and fatigue aren’t to be taken seriously.

Of course, the FDA is well known for having embarrassingly bad judgment.  They’ve even been accused of playing a substantial role in causing the Opioid Crisis.   Activist Post has covered other wacky FDA decisions before too.  (See 1, 2)

Anyone who has ever used a TENS unit knows that patches can be worn on the forehead to effectively reduce pain and inflammation.  TENS units have also been known to burn and shock users too.  Sometimes the user can anticipate when this might happen and reduce the pulse strength to avoid it.  But these ADHD-reducing patches are to be worn by sleeping children.  Again – I can’t be the only one anticipating a lot of very sad news stories about kids with burned foreheads and worse.

Somebody pinch me and tell me this is all a bad dream.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Categories: News for progressives

List of 24 Points Pressing Hard Toward Recession

Sat, 2019-04-20 22:40

By David Haggith

1 – The US stock market is slightly overbought (which is not a positive in terms of head room for more of a rally).

2 – It’s massively built up on debt that is now more expensive to maintain and/or obtain.

3 – The Fed is still rapidly tightening money supply and says it will continue to do so for several more months.

4 – Interest rate increases and money tightening that already happened through this past December will continue to worsen economic conditions until summer because any changes by the Fed have about a half year lag time for the general economy.

5 – That also means all the tightening that continues between now and September, will continue to pile more and more weight on top of the economy until next February, which is why the Trump admin. is screaming the Fed went too far.

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6 – 2019 Q1 US corporate earnings are coming in almost as poorly as economists said they would, and they don’t look set to start rising much in the next quarter … if at all.

7 – Measures used to help earnings beat much lower expectations (and not by much) were mostly cost-saving measures, not revenue boosters, or they were mere accounting choices. Earnings are after-tax numbers, so they benefited hugely in 2018 from the Trump Tax Cuts in a way that had nothing at all to do with companies doing better business. They are also reported as a “per share” number, and the main thing that changed was the number of outstanding shares in the denominator as a result of stock buybacks. So, really, earnings were pathetic!

Real Investment Advice

8 – Transportation is declining as product shipments decline. West-coast port imports plunged 19% from the previous quarter (3% YoY). Trucking lost ground four months in a row.

9 – Manufacturing is slowing in the US and Europe. PMI plummeted in the US to a 31-month low, taking us back to the Obama era. Businesses reported significant slowing in output, new orders, and hiring. China had a March growth spurt but only because of a massive stimulus pump. China injected 200-billion yuan of liquidity in one shot into its economy, and interest rates still jumped up.

10 – Business inventories are growing while sales are declining, meaning production has to slow more than it already has because back pressure is building.

11 – US interest rates inverted COMPLETELY on the gauge the FED uses to estimate recession risk (3-month rates over ten-year rates), which has been the Fed’s most reliable indicator of a coming recession.

12 – Major cash from repatriation is starting to dwindle, while stock buybacks using cash and cheap credit were the only fuel pushing the US market upward most of the last ten years. (Take buybacks out of the equations, and the market would have been flat at best.)

13 – US government debt is soaring as far as the eye can see at the highest rate of increase we’ve ever seen, meaning the government cannot do any more than it is already doing.

14 – Existing stimulus effects from the Trump Tax Cuts have been waning each of the last two quarters. US GDP for the first quarter of 2019 is estimated to be substantially lower still, meaning the tax cuts, after more than a year, are grossly failing to perform as promised while they are not paying for themselves either. The IMF and World Bank have projected a decline in global GDP over the full year.

15 – The Fed is highly reluctant to turn back to more quantitative easing and rate reduction and, thereby, REALLY prove it couldn’t do what it claimed it could and would. Therefore, it will be late in helping and more limited in the help it can provide, forcing it to more extreme and reckless experiments in novelty monetary policy when it does jump back in.

16 – US unemployment is bottoming out, which it always does immediately before a recession, with an increase in the last couple of months, although there was also blip of decrease in reported filings at the end of March.

17 – Housing has been in steady decline across the USA for more than half a year now, and prices have finally begun to fall to coincide with the declining sales. Housing starts and permits in March took another tumble, and February’s bad figures, thought to be a one-off due to bad weather, were just revised from an 8.9% plunge to a devastating 12% crumpling heap. Australia’s housing market looks like the US market did just as the US market took down the world. The UK and Canada are having problems, too.

18 – Retail sales growth, including autos, have been in continual decline for months, though there was a bounce in March. More retail stores (nearly 6,000) have already closed in the first quarter of this year than closed in all of last year or the year before, and those years were pretty bad. More auto factories are closing, too.

19 – March’s improvements on the metrics above may just be a rebound after the government shutdown, while December-February’s lows would have been abnormally lower due to the shutdown, too, which makes something between January/February stats and March stats the place we’re actually stuck in, which is still not good.

20 – Any trade deal with China appears likely at this point to come out limper than a boiled wanton as negotiations drag on after promise and promise of summits that fail to deliver or fail to even happen.

21 – John Bolthead and Mike Pompous have likely scuttled any hope of a North Korean nuclear deal … if there ever was any hope. As you recall, the nuclear Cold War was weighing on the stock market many months ago when rhetoric and nuclear activity last heated up.

22 – The stock market is back at its highest peak level, which may make investors skittish at this point, given the major crashes that happened the last two times it got into this stratosphere. This is a perilously high ceiling of resistance to break through. (Of course, if it does break through and holds, it could soar.)

23 – Just as before the dot-com crash, the values of many high-tech companies / online companies are based on soft metrics, such as “number of daily users” or “volume of user interactions,” rather than hard profits; and there is a lot of fantasy in some of those narratives.

24 – Inflationary pressures are backing off, but deflationary pressure is more indicative of a recession than inflation as deflation happens when demand recedes and growth stalls. Lower inflation also presses the Fed back to interest reduction and more quantitative easing, which it doesn’t want to do, lest it underscore the fact that we are stuck forever in money-printing mode just to hold against a receding tide, and where the Fed doesn’t have much room to move.

No wonder the Fed, as laid out in my last Premium Post, is paving the path for significant fundamental changes in how it does business in a world of economic conditions that it says have changed forever.

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This article was sourced from The Great Recession Blog.

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Categories: News for progressives

The Mueller Report Can’t Be Copyrighted, Is Flagged by Copyright Bots Anyway

Sat, 2019-04-20 22:35


Did you know that anything created by federal government employees, under American law, can’t be copyrighted? They go right into the public domain. That means it’s impossible for there to be any copyright infringement on, say, a report by the Special Counsel on the investigation into the President and his presidential campaign. But the copyright-enforcement bots on Scribd have been busy taking down copies of the Mueller report all the same.

Scribd is a service that allows users to upload documents for easy embedding. It’s commonly used by journalists to attach things like legal complaints or court records to articles based on those records. It is therefore not at all surprising that a number of people and news outlets uploaded the Mueller report to Scribd.

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Scribd has an automated filter that searches uploads to check for alleged copyright infringement called BookID. BookID, like YouTube’s Content ID, has a propensity for false positives. This apparently happens so often that Scribd’s own page on the system has a whole section devoted to “false positives,” explaining:

The BookID database may contain reference samples from educational textbooks and other works that contain long excerpts of classic literature, religious texts, legal documents, and government publications that are typically in the public domain. This can occasionally result in the removal of uncopyrighted, authorized, or public domain material from Scribd.

False positives also happen enough that Scribd sent a letter—obtained by Quartz—to people whose uploads of the Mueller report were taken down, to lower people’s expectations. The letter explains that a) all automated systems will flag legitimate content b) the volume of content on Scribd means no one checks on the matches before the alleged infringing content is taken down and c) sometimes legitimate uploads are taken down just for being duplicates.

Note again: it is impossible for a copy of the Mueller report to be infringement since it cannot be copyrighted. Filters like BookID don’t work, and in this case, actively work against the public interest. As Quartz points out, the European Union recently passed a new copyright directive that will require platforms to take proactive measures against possible infringement. In practice, that means filters like BookID. As instances like this and all the other similar ones EFF has been documenting for years prove, filters harm civil discourse, and requiring a system like the one Scribd itself points out has huge faults is a mistake.

Date of threat or takedown: April 19, 2019

Learn More: Scribd taking down the Mueller Report is the future the EU has voted for

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Categories: News for progressives

More Than 50,000 Marijuana Convictions in Los Angeles Will Be Automatically Wiped Clean

Sat, 2019-04-20 22:25

By Vic Bishop

In the age of cannabis legalization, we have to reconcile the damage done by the war on this medicinal and enjoyable plant. In this effort, a growing number of cities and counties in cannabis legal states are advancing legislation to expunge the criminal records of people with certain marijuana related convictions. Even the federal government is showing signs of slowly getting on board with this, as Democrats recently introduced federal legislation that would legalize cannabis nationwide and erase possession charges.

The latest and largest metroplex to take on this issue is Los Angeles, where officials from two counties are putting plans in place to reverse over 54,000 prior convictions. Code for America, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the government to use technology in the service of the citizenry, will be employing an algorithm to quickly identify qualified beneficiaries and automatically remove their convictions.

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A move like this will greatly improve the lives of thousands of people, as criminal convictions in California can have serious repercussions on day-to-day living, as noted by Code for America in the following tweets.

2/ In California alone, there are 4,800 legal obstacles that exist for someone with a criminal record. Obstacles like the ability to get a job, access financial aid, get a loan, etc.

— Code for America (@codeforamerica) April 1, 2019

4/ Nearly every state in America has record clearance laws. But many people do not clear their criminal records because:

Categories: News for progressives

Google Paying Louisville, KY Almost $4M to Remove Fiber and Fix Roads After Failed Installation Experiment

Sat, 2019-04-20 22:13

By B.N. Frank

According to The Verge, Google has agreed to pay Louisville, KY $3.84M to remove the company’s fiber and infrastructure as well as repair and repave city roads. What a mess.

Many Americans aren’t aware that The Telecom Industry has been installing fiber all over the U.S to eventually attach 5G small cell technology to it despite the fact that telecom employees gave congressional testimony that they have no scientific proof that 5G is safe.

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There is plenty of research that has already proven that 5G is harmful and since 2017, 200+ doctors and scientists have signed a petition for a moratorium on installation.  Last year the first 5G court case won in England after 5G was installed in street lamps.  Residents had become sick and women delivered stillborn babies.

Many studies have already proven 4G is harmful too 

Where contractors are digging and there are large spools of orange and black cable – there is likely fiber being installed for 5G.  Once the fiber is in place, Americans won’t be able to legally be able to keep small cells from being installed onto it. 

Activist Post has reported about fiber being installed for 5G before (See 1, 2).  More warnings about fiber being installed for 5G are being issued.

From B. Blake Levitt of The Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council. Fiber broadband, seen as a complex Trojan horse.”

The innocuous-sounding “fiber broadband” is potentially dangerous — financially, environmentally, legally. Fiber will never again be the perfect dedicated system. It’s been kidnapped by wireless convenience’s feckless siren call. A safe, completely wired fiber network may have been NW ConneCT’s original plan, but reading carefully, they are now “fiber-to-the-driveway” with the final connection — the so-called “last mile” — struck by homeowners with various service providers typically via wireless connections.

And their plan invites piggybacking telecoms to create 100 percent mobile connectivity too, meaning small cell nodes — hundreds, if not thousands — affixed to utility poles in public rights-of-way, transmitting 24/7, without control or informed consent of those nearby. These are highly biologically active exposures.

4G and 5G small cell installation is being promoted as well as forced in communities all over the U.S (See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) around the world, and in space – despite increasing opposition (See 1, 2, 3), legal action against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), (See 1, 2), and huge cybersecurity risks.

If any of this concerns you, mark your calendar for The U.S. Day of Action against 5G on May 15.

For more information on what you can do, visit the following websites:

Image credit:

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Categories: News for progressives

Pro-Industry Scientist Kenneth R. Foster Dismisses Boatloads of Research and Medical Letters to Continue Promoting WiFi in Schools

Sat, 2019-04-20 22:12

By B.N. Frank

Anything can be spun and Ken Foster has been doing it on behalf of the Telecom Industry for many years now.  Here’s one reference to his spin-mastery from a February 8, 2016 article published by The Ecologist:

An investigative report published by the watchdog group Environmental Health Trust (EHT) digs deeper into the circumstances surrounding the CDC’s retraction of their guidelines on cell phone radiation exposure.

The report, based on 500 pages of internal CDC documents released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), illuminates key information left of out the New York Times article and points to a cover-up by the CDC.

Among the most startling revelations detailed is that immediately after publishing the new guidelines in June 2014 the CDC hired Kenneth Foster as a consultant to assist in the creation of future materials related to ‘non ionizing radiation matters‘.

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Foster has an established record of conducting research funded by the private wireless industry and has authored a number of studies with results that contradict the notion that children are more susceptible to cell phone radiation than adults.

One such study published by Foster was recently scrutinized by EHT Senior Medical Advisor Robert Morris, MD PhD, and his peers in the journal IEEE.

In the paper, the authors highlight the dubious and unscientific methodology used by Foster and his colleague in drawing their conclusions about children absorbing cell phone waves, pointing out “what appears to be a deliberate distortion of the science and a boldfaced effort to downplay potential risks to children using mobile devices.”

In addition, the CDC’s internal communications reveal that the agency considered including in their guidelines information about the potential hazards of cell phone towers located near schools, but chose to omit that information.

By all indications, CDC officials aren’t immune to the influence of the cell phone industry, even when the health of Americans is at stake. The role of special interests in shaping government policy on wireless devices seems to extend beyond the CDC.

For many years, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been recommending we reduce kids’ exposure to all sources of cell phone and WiFi radiation. And 150+ letters have been written by doctors and scientists recommending the replacement of WiFi in schools with wired internet.

All irrelevant according to Ken whose most recent article supports WiFi in schools.  It’s very long and long-winded so many readers may not make it to the section called “Better Safe Than Sorry,” or the last 2 paragraphs where he mentions Electromagnetic Sensitivity and Hypersensitivity which are federally recognized disabling conditions.  Of course, in typical Ken fashion – he shames parents who want to protect their children.  He describes accommodation as being impossible and never-ending because it would entail replacing CFL and LED light bulbs, electric dimmer switches, WiFi devices, cell phones, and removing cell towers from school property. 

OMG spare us the drama.  Practical solutions are being offered by many organizations as to how to reduce harmful EMF levels and offer a “Better Safe Than Sorry” environment in schools for students and staff.

It’s not surprising that Ken’s recent article was also referenced by a Pro-Tech website.  After all, “Better Safe Than Sorry” isn’t going to keep their toxic light bulbs on.

For more information, visit the following websites:

Image credit: Pixabay

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Categories: News for progressives

Washington State Politicians Drop Cynical Attempt to Impose Taxes on Gold & Silver

Sat, 2019-04-20 22:11

Sound Money Group, In-State Dealers, and Grassroots Activists Deter Tax-Hungry Politicians

Well, here’s some encouraging news…

Efforts in Washington State to impose sales tax on gold and silver were SHUT DOWN today thanks to intense efforts by the Sound Money Defense League, a group of in-state coin dealers led by Dan Duncan, the Association of Washington Businesses, and a large number of vocal grassroots supporters.

Here’s the backstory…

Since last month, a few misguided Washington State senators and representatives have been trying to ram through a new tax on constitutional money.

Their cynical efforts stalled out last month on the senate side, and Friday April 19th, the House Finance Committee voted decisively against imposing a new sales tax on precious metals.

Maintaining current law and not levying sales taxation on gold and silver coins and bullion reaffirms their status as money in Washington State, in keeping with Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution.

Remaining in sync with every state in the Pacific Northwest, Washington has so far upheld their sales tax exemption on the monetary metals that was passed almost 35 years ago.

Sound Money Defense League’s Jp Cortez testified before the legislature in Olympia, Washington, noting that “taxing gold and silver is a de facto penalty on the only form of money mentioned in the Constitution.”

Local dealers also testified that their businesses could be damaged or destroyed — and coin conventions and the economic activity they bring would leave the state — if sales taxes were suddenly slapped on gold and silver investors.

In addition to the compelling testimony, the politicians proposing the new taxes faced an angry backlash from citizens across Washington who learned of their scheme.

Both Washington and Nebraska have turned back attempts to repeal their long-standing tax exemptions this year.

The Sound Money Defense League, local dealers, and other in-state groups provided compelling testimony to maintain current protections for gold and silver investors in these states, stopping the efforts of tax-hungry politicians.

In reality, the national trend is toward removing rather than re-imposing unjust sales taxation from precious metals.

The governor of West Virginia last month signed a bill to remove sales tax on gold and silver, and Tennessee, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Maine are considering bills to eliminate taxation on gold and silver right now.

In total, 39 states have now wholly or partially exempted the monetary metals from sales and use taxes.

Thanks to YOUR help, we have been able to block the destruction of Sound Money in Washington. However, we must remain vigilant, as a new attack could be launched in the future.

The Sound Money Defense League is a non-partisan, national public policy organization working to restore sound money at the state and federal level and publisher of the Sound Money Index.

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Categories: News for progressives

Over 70,000 Killed in Yemen War Since 2016

Sat, 2019-04-20 22:09

By Jason Ditz

(ANTIWAR.COM— Official figures on the deaths in the Yemen War have been virtually unavailable, or at least years out of date. The database tracker from the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project, however, issued their own data on Yemen Thursday, showing more than 70,000 have been killed in Yemen just since January 2016.

This is a huge amount of deaths, and if there is some decrease in fighting in Hodeidah because of UN talks, it’s not like the war is slowing much. At least 10,000 people were killed just in the past five months.

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The decline in Hodeidah was made up for by substantial increases in fighting in Taiz and Hajjah. Stopping the fighting in Hodeidah was still important, since it prevented a famine that could’ve killed even more people, but the combatants have largely just started fighting elsewhere.

The database included 3,155 direct attacks targeting civilians, with more than 7,000 civilians killed. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the civilians were killed by the Saudi-led coalition, at least 4,800, while the Houthis killed about 1,300 civilians.

By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / ANTIWAR.COM / Report a typo

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Categories: News for progressives

Google’s Sensorvault Can Tell Police Where You’ve Been

Sat, 2019-04-20 09:07

By Jennifer Lynch

Do you know where you were five years ago? Did you have an Android phone at the time? It turns out Google might know—and it might be telling law enforcement.

In a new article, the New York Times details a little-known technique increasingly used by law enforcement to figure out everyone who might have been within certain geographic areas during specific time periods in the past. The technique relies on detailed location data collected by Google from most Android devices as well as iPhones and iPads that have Google Maps and other apps installed. This data resides in a Google-maintained database called “Sensorvault,” and because Google stores this data indefinitely, Sensorvault “includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.”

The data Google is turning over to law enforcement is so precise that one deputy police chief said it “shows the whole pattern of life.” It’s collected even when people aren’t making calls or using apps, which means it can be even more detailed than data generated by cell towers.

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The location data comes from GPS signals, cellphone towers, nearby Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth beacons. According to Google, users opt in to collection of the location data stored in Sensorvault. However, Google makes it very hard to resist opting in, and many users may not understand that they have done so. Also, Android devices collect lots of other location data by default, and it’s extremely difficult to opt out of that collection.

Using a single warrant—often called a “geo-fence” or “reverse location” warrant—police are able to access location data from dozens to hundreds of devices—devices that are linked to real people, many of whom (and perhaps in some cases all of whom) have no tie to criminal activity and have provided no reason for suspicion. The warrants cover geographic areas ranging from single buildings to multiple blocks, and time periods ranging from a few hours to a week.

So far, according to the Times and other outlets, this technique is being used by the FBI and police departments in Arizona, North Carolina, California, Florida, Minnesota, Maine, and Washington, although there may be other agencies using it across the country. But police aren’t limiting the use of the technique to egregious or violent crimes—Minnesota Public Radio reported the technique has been used to try to identify suspects who stole a pickup truck and, separately, $650 worth of tires. Google is getting up to 180 requests a week for data and is, apparently, struggling to keep up with the demand.

Law enforcement appears to be seeking warrants to access this extremely detailed location data. However, it’s questionable whether the affidavits supporting those warrants truly establish probable cause and also questionable whether judges fully understand what they’re authorizing when issuing these warrants.

According to the Times, the warrants frequently rely on an officer’s assertion that the fact that “Americans owned cellphones and that Google held location data on many of these phones” somehow supports probable cause for the warrant. The warrants also list GPS coordinates that supposedly “geo-fence” the geographic area for which they are requesting data, but many don’t include a map showing the area itself. Without a visual representation, there’s almost no way to tell how large or small the geographic area covered by the warrant is.

Law enforcement seems to be using a three-step process to learn the names of device holders (in some cases, a single warrant authorizes all three steps). In the first step, the officer specifies the area and time period of interest, and in response, Google gives the police information on all the devices that were there, identified by anonymous numbers—this step may reveal hundreds of devices.

After that, officers can narrow the scope of their request to fewer devices, and Google will release even more detailed data, including data on where devices traveled outside the original requested area and time period. This data, which still involves multiple devices, reveals detailed travel patterns. In the final step, detectives review that travel data to see if any devices appear relevant to the crime, and they ask for the users’ names and other information for specific individual devices.

This technique is problematic for several reasons. First, unlike other methods of investigation used by the police, the police don’t start with an actual suspect or even a target device—they work backward from a location and time to identify a suspect. This makes it a fishing expedition—the very kind of search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent. Searches like these—where the only information the police have is that a crime has occurred—are much more likely to implicate innocent people who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every device owner in the area during the time at issue becomes a suspect—for no other reason than that they own a device that shares location information with Google.

Second, as the Supreme Court recognized in Carpenter v United States last summer, detailed travel data like this can provide “an intimate window into a person’s life, revealing not only his particular movements, but through them his ‘familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations.’” This is exactly what the deputy police chief recognized when he said Google location data “shows the whole pattern of life.”

Third, there’s a high probability the true perpetrator isn’t even included in the data disclosed by Google. For these kinds of warrants, officers are just operating off a hunch that the unknown suspect had a cellphone that generated location data collected by Google. This shouldn’t be enough to support probable cause, because it’s just as likely that the suspect wasn’t carrying an Android phone or using Google apps at the time.

Techniques like this also reveal big problems with our current warrant system. Even though the standard for getting a warrant is higher than other legal procedures—and EFF pushes for a warrant requirement for digital data and devices—warrants, alone, are no longer enough to protect our privacy. Through a single warrant the police can access exponentially more and more detailed information about us than they ever could in the past. Here, the police are using a single warrant to get access to location information for hundreds of devices. In other contexts, through a single warrant, officers can access all the data on a cell phone or a hard drive; all email stored in a Google account (possibly going back years); and all information linked to a social media account (including photos, posts, private communications, and contacts).

We shouldn’t allow the government to have such broad access to our digital lives. One way we could limit access is by passing legislation that mandates heightened standards, minimization procedures, and particularity requirements for digital searches. We already have this in laws that regulate wiretaps, where police, in addition to demonstrating probable cause, must state that they have first tried other investigative procedures (or state why other procedures wouldn’t work) and also describe how the wiretap will be limited in scope and time.

The Fourth Amendment itself also supports limits on the scope of individual warrants. It states that warrants must “particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” However, many courts merely rubber stamp warrant requests without questioning the broad scope of the request.

As the Times article notes, this technique implicates innocent people and has a real impact on people’s lives. Even if you are later able to clear your name, if you spend any time at all in police custody, this could cost you your job, your car, and your ability to get back on your feet after the arrest. One man profiled in the Times article spent nearly a week in police custody and was having trouble recovering, even months after the arrest. He was arrested at work and subsequently lost his job. Due to the arrest, his car was impounded for investigation and later repossessed. These are the kinds of far-reaching consequences that can result from overly broad searches, so courts should subject geo-location warrants to far more scrutiny.

As Surveillance Litigation Director, Jennifer Lynch leads EFF’s legal work challenging government abuse of search and seizure technologies through the courts by filing lawsuits and amicus briefs in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, on important issues at the intersection of technology and privacy. Jennifer founded EFF’s Street Level Surveillance Project, which informs advocates, defense attorneys, and decisionmakers about new police tools, and in 2017, the First Amendment Coalition awarded her its Free Speech and Open Government Award for her work opening up public access to police surveillance records. Jennifer has written influential white papers on biometric data collection in immigrant communities and law enforcement use of face recognition. She speaks frequently at legal and technical conferences as well as to the general public on technologies like location tracking, biometrics, algorithmic decisionmaking, and AI, and has testified on facial recognition before committees in the Senate and House of Representatives. She is regularly consulted as an expert on these subjects and others by major and technical news media.

Categories: News for progressives

Another Day, Another Facebook Scandal — Company Data Mined Email User Contacts From New Users

Sat, 2019-04-20 02:31

By Aaron Kesel

Facebook has another scandal; this time it has been revealed that the company’s password verification feature for new users collected contact data from users’ email accounts without their consent.

Business Insider revealed that Facebook had “harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.” A security researcher e-sushi questioned why Facebook was asking for email passwords when new users signed up with the platform. Business Insider then discovered that if you did enter your email password, a message popped up saying it was “importing” your contacts, without asking for permission first.

Facebook has since admitted to the practice stating that it unintentionally” uploaded the address books of 1.5 million users without consent, and further stated it will delete the collected data as well as reach out to those affected.

“Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time. When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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Many may remember this as the platform’s “you may know” feature. While fools thought this was Facebook’s algorithm scanning their friends for potential people they might know, in reality Facebook was doing this through data mining for emails of users on their platform.

The issue was first noticed in early April when The Daily Beast reported that Facebook was requiring new users to enter their email passwords to verify them. The feature was disguised as ease of access to allow Facebook to auto verify new user accounts and, according to the social media giant, was only introduced in 2016.

Facebook states that this feature was accidental, but I find that hard to believe from a company with so many questionable ethical practices for its user data. Since my explosive, deep dive into Facebook’s history of privacy violations, there has already been several new emerging scandals.

[RELATED: Deep Dive: FTC Negotiating Multi-Billion Dollar Fine For Facebook’s Privacy Scandals; Violating 2011 Accord]

It’s now even been revealed that Facebook will “deboost” posts. Something that all of us knew and is more commonly referred to in the industry as “shadow banning.” However, the claim holds more water coming from a former employee than just mere speculation, even if warranted with statistical analysis of posts/accounts as Project Veritas reported last month.

The information describes how Facebook engineers plan and go about policing political speech on the platform.

Screenshots from a Facebook workstation show the specific technical actions taken against political figures, as well as “[e]xisting strategies” taken to combat political speech.

Further, Facebook just recently updated an old blog post from last month thinking no one would notice, NBC Wave News reported.

A Facebook Newsroom post, by security VP Pedro Canahuati, initially stated the company stored millions of its users’ passwords in plain text for years, left accessible to its employees.

Canahuati had said in March the company would begin to notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users and tens of thousands of Facebook-owned Instagram users. That number of Instagram users just expanded to millions.

“Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” said the company in Thursday’s blog update. “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”

Facebook is being accused by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) of privacy violations and is in the midst of negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy concerns.

These latest revelations of data mining user emails for existing users on the platform, storing passwords in clear text, and censorship, comes after a series of privacy scandals, such as Cambridge Analytica, that may have put the personal information of its users at risk, as well as numerous times the company has been caught spying on its users or slipping up with its overall security including storing passwords in clear text without encryption.

The FTC’s probe of Facebook began in March of last year in response to big social’s entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm connected to a U.S. subsidiary (SHELL COMPANY) of a UK defense contractor SCL Group, Strategic Communication Laboratories, that improperly accessed data on 87 million of the social site’s users to use for campaign targeting for U.S. President Donald Trump through his former adviser Steve Bannon. According to reports, Facebook knew for an entire three years that Cambridge Analytica was abusing and misusing user data but did absolutely nothing.

[READ: The TRUTH About The Cambridge Analytica Scandal Is Bigger Than Just Facebook #MyDataMyChoice]

The FTC’s investigation stems from whether Facebook’s conduct and lack of protection of users since then is in breach of an accord in 2011 that Facebook brokered with the FTC to improve its privacy practices. Facebook has stated it did not breach that accord, despite evidence on the contrary showing that the social media giant sold user data to third parties and may have even been recording users’ private messages with its Messenger app.

Although Facebook contends that it didn’t use the data, it openly admits that it scanned/scans all user data that is sent and received on the Messenger app and will review text you send if something is flagged, as Activist Post reported last year.

Facebook also got entangled in a bug in December of last year that gave app developers access to private user photos including those shared on Marketplace or Facebook Stories and unposted pictures — an absolute privacy nightmare. The Facebook blog states, “that some third-party apps may have had access to a broader set of photos than usual for 12 days between September 13 to September 25, 2018.” However, who’s to say the bug wasn’t preexisting for quite some time and this is just to save face for the company?

Facebook got caught for years giving tech giants access to user data as well, so it’s not just Cambridge Analytica and numerous other analytics companies.

The New York Times reported a bombshell in December of last year detailing the secret relationship that Facebook had with the tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, and Yahoo just to name a few. The Times report was backed by 50 former employees of the company and its partners, as well as documents for the deals.

The official corporate partnerships with Facebook totaled more than 150 companies, which The Times notes that the oldest deal dates back to 2010, one year prior to Facebook’s brokered deal with the FTC for its privacy practices. One has to wonder if the social giant disclosed these type of deals to the FTC one year later when it was under scrutiny — more than likely, probably not.

“For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.” The Times wrote.

“The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond,” The Times added.

The New York Times goes on to detail the level of access that a few companies were given to users’ profiles; and it’s quite shocking, including the ability to read and delete messages, as the Huffington Post highlighted.

Again, from The New York Times:

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

Besides the 150 tech companies, Facebook gave 60 device makers themselves — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung — special access to Facebook data, according to another report by The Times. This special access allowed a reporter using a BlackBerry device (old model) to view private details of Facebook users despite their privacy settings, a shocking contention.

To make it clear, Facebook never asked for every specific user’s consent to send over their personal data to these other companies. Facebook claims that it didn’t need user consent since it considered these companies “service providers,” and “integration partners” which were acting in the interests of the social network. I am no lawyer, but it seems bluntly obvious that Facebook violated its 2011 agreement with the FTC.

In other words, the company used a loophole and said that users who logged into the aforementioned services were giving their consent to their partners.

It’s not known how far back the FTC is looking at Facebook’s privacy violations, but before 2011 it may come to the reader’s surprise that Facebook was embroiled in data scandal after scandal. To refresh the reader’s memory, in 2010 Facebook got caught giving advertisers its users’ names, ages, hometowns, and occupations simply from clicking an ad, Business Insider reported.

One year prior, in 2009, protests ensued against Facebook when the company decided to change its data retention policy for its users, ABC reported.

Two years before, in 2007, Facebook faced another scandal with its forced Beacon advertising software. Beacon would share users’ shopping experiences online or what websites a Facebook user was visiting if they were logged in.

It turns out that Beacon was tracking people’s Web activities outside the popular social networking site to other websites, PC World reported. Facebook was then sued in 2008 for violating the federal wiretap law when it began monitoring and publishing what Facebook users were doing on participating sites of Beacon.

Mark Zuckerberg himself even apologized for Beacon, explaining his thought process behind the system — of course, leaving out that it was profiting from this data. Nonetheless, Facebook finally allowed users to opt out of the system a month later.

“We were excited about Beacon because we believe a lot of information people want to share isn’t on Facebook, and if we found the right balance, Beacon would give people an easy and controlled way to share more of that information with their friends,” Zuckerberg wrote.

In 2009, Facebook finally shut down Beacon in an effort to settle the class action lawsuit against the social-networking site and donated $9.5 million to a foundation dedicated to exploring issues around online privacy and security, Telegraph reported.

Facebook said that it learned a great deal from Beacon in 2009, but then continued these type of deceptive marketing practices selling its users’ data years later. So how much did the company actually learn? Not much, as the company started partnering with data broker firms in 2013 after the 2011 FTC ordeal. For those unfamiliar, data brokers earn money by selling your consumer habits and monitoring your online and offline spending. Facebook’s partnership allows them to measure the correlation between the ads you see on Facebook and the purchases you make in-store — and determine whether you’re actually buying the things you’re seeing digitally while using Facebook.

“We learned a great deal from the Beacon experience,” said Barry Schnitt, a spokesman for Facebook. “For one, it underscored how critical it is to provide extensive user control over how information is shared. We also learned how to effectively communicate changes that we make to the user experience.”

However, there are two more of the biggest stories Mark Zuckerberg wishes were not forever archived on the Internet. The first is from 2004, when he was 19. When Mark was in college he used his newly created website, which was “” at the time, to hack into the email accounts of two Harvard Crimson journalists critical of him. The two journalists were allegedly working on a story that made claims that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divvya Narenda who later founded a similar site ConnectU (HarvardConnection), Business Insider reported.

The second story is the most revealing and comes from an interview in 2009 in which Facebook is grilled by a BBC reporter, an event in Zuckerberg’s life that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden highlighted in a tweet last year. The revealing exchange is from 2009, two years after Beacon advertising software successfully launched on the platform in 2007, and 1 year before Facebook gifted its advertisers its users’ names, ages, hometowns, and occupations simply from clicking on ads, selling their information. Something that Zuckerberg said he would never do to the BBC reporter.

One year later in 2010, a story in The New York Times reveals that Mark Zuckerberg had flip-flopped and changed his view against an individual’s privacy in a penned headline, “Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy Is Over.” 

Then the Zuck, Zucked us by changing everyone’s default privacy settings.

Facebook: "This is their information. They own it"
BBC: "And you won’t sell it?"
FB: "No! Of course not."

Please help this 2009 interview of Facebook's CEO get seen by people who don't use Twitter. Here's a download link so you can pull and repost it:

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 27, 2018

In February earlier last year, a German court echoed that previous ruling, stating that Facebook is breaching data protection rules with privacy settings that “over-share” by default and by requiring its users to give their real names.

The judges found that at least five different default privacy settings for Facebook were illegal, including sharing location data with its chat partners WhatsApp and Instagram or making user profiles available to external search engines, allowing anyone to search and find information on a person.

Facebook’s partners and subsidiaries collect data to enable what’s known as “hyper-targeted advertising” on its users.

Additionally, the court ruled that “eight paragraphs of Facebook’s terms of service were invalid,” while one of the most significant requires people to use their real names on the social network which the court deemed was illegal.

In 2015 the Belgian privacy commission study concluded Facebook’s use of user data violated privacy and data protection laws in the EU, Guardian reported.

All of this occurred despite another 2014 court decision where the judge ruled that Facebook must face a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating its users’ privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes. Something that again was reminded to users last year.

A U.S. court in 2017 dismissed nationwide litigation accusing Facebook of tracking users’ Internet activity even after they logged out of the social media website. It was dismissed despite the practice previously being admitted that it would start using data from users’ Web browsing history to serve targeted advertisements, and use data from apps and websites users visited.

Although Facebook has had a plethora of scandals in its past, recently it feels like its downfall was with the emergence of a whistleblower, Christoper Wylie, thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Wylie appeared before a committee of British MPs, delivering bombshell testimony noting that Facebook has the ability to spy on all of its users in their homes and offices, something many people miss.

“There’s been various speculation about the fact that Facebook can, through the Facebook app on your smartphone, listen in to what people are talking about and discussing and using that to prioritize the advertising as well,” Collins said. “Other people would say, no, they don’t think it’s possible. It’s just that the Facebook system is just so good at predicting what you’re interested in that it can guess.”

“On a comment about using audio and processing audio, you can use it for, my understanding generally of how companies use it… not just Facebook, but generally other apps that pull audio, is for environmental context,” Wylie said. “So if, for example, you have a television playing versus if you’re in a busy place with a lot of people talking versus a work environment.” He clarified, “It’s not to say they’re listening to what you’re saying. It’s not natural language processing. That would be hard to scale. But to understand the environmental context of where you are to improve the contextual value of the ad itself” is possible.

Facebook itself has admitted in a 2016 blog post that:

Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.

We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.

Although Facebook claims they do not listen in on conversations, the catch here is that Facebook does have access to your phone’s microphone — as giving permission to access your microphone is a requirement to be able to download the site’s mobile app – thus giving the company the ability to access your phone’s mic at any time.

The app itself can listen to audio and collect audio information from users – while the two aren’t combined, and that no audio data is stored or correlated with advertising according to Facebook, after all these other lies one has to wonder.

Facebook admits it has a public feature that started in 2014 which will try to recognize any audio in the background, like music or TV— however, it’s only while you’re entering a status update, and only if you’ve opted in. So don’t worry they have required consent for everything else!

Forbes has also reported on the potential that Facebook was using its users’ audio information to target them with ads.

This is not the first time Facebook was accused of listening to conversations using smartphone microphones. Reddit user NewHoustonian started a discussion last year about whether the Facebook app was listening to conversations for advertising purposes. NewHoustonian started off the discussion with a post — which has since been removed — about how he suspects the Facebook app was listening to him because he started seeing pest control ads after talking to his girlfriend about killing a cockroach. That Reddit thread now has over 1,700 comments in regards to Facebook listening to conversations and several of those comments refer to similar experiences.

Mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, Kelli Burns, believes that Facebook is using the audio it gathers not simply to help out users, but might be doing so to listen in to discussions and serve them with relevant advertising. Burns tested an experiment talking about cat food with her phone out, then loading Facebook — to her surprise she saw cat food ads, The Independent reported.

Last year, Vice reported another bizarre story about Facebook using its microphone to listen in on users. The author wrote they were talking about Japan with a friend, then subsequently received ads for flights to Tokyo.

A couple years ago, something strange happened. A friend and I were sitting at a bar, iPhones in pockets, discussing our recent trips in Japan and how we’d like to go back. The very next day, we both received pop-up ads on Facebook about cheap return flights to Tokyo. It seemed like just a spooky coincidence, but then everyone seems to have a story about their smartphone listening to them.

The author then decides to do a series of tests, to see if they are being spied on.

Twice a day for five days, I tried saying a bunch of phrases that could theoretically be used as triggers. Phrases like I’m thinking about going back to uni and I need some cheap shirts for work. Then I carefully monitored the sponsored posts on Facebook for any changes.

To the writer’s horror, results came back immediately overnight.

The changes came literally overnight. Suddenly I was being told mid-semester courses at various universities, and how certain brands were offering cheap clothing. A private conversation with a friend about how I’d run out of data led to an ad about cheap 20 GB data plans. And although they were all good deals, the whole thing was eye-opening and utterly terrifying.

Before last year ended, in December the scandals still didn’t end for Facebook; 250 pages of emails and documents released by British Parliament as a part of its own investigation show conversations between Facebook and an app developer called Six4Three that developed Pikinis, which allowed people to find Facebook users’ bathing suit photos. The emails and documents were ordered sealed by a California court until the UK lawmakers got a hold of them. It’s highly likely that during the discovery phase of the lawsuit emails and documents unrelated to Pikinis were scooped up as well. The emails purported to show the social giant offering major advertisers special access to user data — deals many people view as a contradiction of Facebook’s promise not to sell user data according to Wired. Facebook, however, has stated the emails lack context and maintains that it never sold its user data, despite past scandals showing that they did.

Of course, this is also coming from a company that ran psychological experiments on at least 700,000 of its users in 2012. The experiment was revealed by a scientific paper published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. The test on users hid “a small percentage” of emotional words from people’s news feeds, without their knowledge, to test what effect that had on the statuses or “likes” that they then posted or reacted to after.

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” said Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer while in New Delhi.“And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

Facebook has even in the past studied messages that its users typed but decided not to post for whatever reason. The study by a Facebook data analyst looked at the habits of 3.9 million English-speaking Facebook users to analyze how different users “self-censor” on Facebook. They then measured the frequency of deleted messages or status posts. Facebook stated that it studied this because it “loses value from the lack of content generation.”

Hilariously enough, Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, accused the social media giant of exploiting human “vulnerability” using psychology in 2017 when he revealed all of the companies secrets.

Besides being a social validation feedback loop, Facebook has demonstrated itself to be an echo chamber by labeling people under political labels, as The New York Times reported.

The big social giant also hired a full list of liberal left-leaning fact checkers and has begun limiting the reach of sites like Activist Post; labeling alternative media, opinions, and editorials as “fake news.” And now they are set to target anti-vaccine information.

In fact, other former Facebook employees have confessed to the abhorrent censorship of conservative news and views. The nail in the coffin was actually placed in 2015 when Facebook admitted that they were censoring posts and comments about political corruption and content that some countries like Turkey and China don’t feel is appropriate for their citizens. Facebook is not new to censorship, and this will likely continue.

If all of that’s not enough, it was also revealed last year that Facebook has filed several patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for technology that is intended to predict your location by using your historical location data — and others’ — to determine where you will go next or when you will be offline to feed FB content, Activist Post reported.

Turns out that recently arrested, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was right: Facebook is “the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented.” Or, as a CBS report written in 2011 stated, “Social Media Is a Tool of the CIA. Seriously.”

It’s not entirely your fault (although your responsible for your own data online) — in 2012, Carnegie Mellon researchers determined that it would take the average American 76 work days to read all the privacy policies they agreed to, so who knows how long it would take the average human to read all the privacy policies they agree to on the daily now.

That brings us back to present day with the FTC looming a decision over the social giant’s head, which could see it pay a record multi-billion dollar fine. Facebook’s 2011 consent decree says that the company could be fined as much as $16,000 per day for “each violation” or as much as up to $40,000 per affected user if it is found to have broken its 20-year agreement with the FTC. The truth is that no one knows how the FTC will calculate the fine but it’s reported to be historic.

Although it could be argued this is a way for the government to begin to regulate social media, it’s indisputable that Facebook has exploited its user base for several years for a profit, as this article documents. And not only its users — it recently came out last year that Facebook also allegedly lied to its advertisers about how well its video ads were performing and inflated its user count for several years.  Plaintiffs argue that Facebook knew about the miscalculated metrics all the way back in January 2015, Bloomberg reported.

Facebook says the allegations are “without merit” and that it told its advertisers about the issue, WSJ reported.

“We told our customers about the error when we discovered it—and updated our help center to explain the issue,” a spokeswoman said.

In this writer’s opinion, there is only one way to go from here for Facebook and its stocks — and that’s plunging down to the concrete pavement.

It seems like Internet users for some reason forget about these massive scandals and just continue using Facebook. I would say it’s high time to “#DeleteFacebook” and join a number of growing alternative social media networks like, where it’s even possible for you the reader and content producer to get paid for your comments and contributions to the platforms thanks to cryptocurrency.

Even a pre-existing option, Twitter, is better than Facebook. Jack Dorsey’s platform may have over-hypersensitive admins, but at least there hasn’t been as many privacy violations as Facebook. Although there have been some, it’s not nearly as much. On the bright side, Dorsey doesn’t seem to have a patent to spy on your current location, to keep track of your location data and predict where you are going next — Facebook does.

Let us move forward into the future to networks that don’t run in tandem with the U.S. government and other governments, and are not fueled by greed and selling harvested user data. But instead, completely decentralized and people-powered, incentive-based networks for sharing data you choose to share, where creators are rewarded rather than snubbed despite bringing value to these social platforms.

Keep all these privacy violations in mind when questioning whether Facebook intentionally or unintentionally data mined email contact data when asking for new users’ email passwords, (which is not only sketchy as hell but a huge privacy concern.)

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.

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Categories: News for progressives

“The Veto” New Documentary Sheds Light On Western Propaganda Campaign Against Syria

Sat, 2019-04-20 02:00

By Brandon Turbeville

Ever since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the Western mainstream media, along with its counterparts in the Gulf countries, have engaged in the most heinous acts of war propaganda seen in the modern world. Not content with the opportunity to twist facts and distort the realities on the ground, these mainstream corporate news engines have outright colluded in faking reports and concocting entire productions of propaganda for the purpose of convincing their audiences of the need to invade Syria or, at the very least, to support the terrorists “rebels,” armed, funded, and trained by the U.S., NATO, Israel, and the Gulf states.

A myriad of articles and videos have been written and made regarding the incidents staged by corporate media outlets in order to push war against Syria as well as a host of other target nations. However, a recent documentary made by Syrian investigative journalist Rafiq Lutf, with the assistance of journalist Vanessa Beeley, entitled The Veto, has chronicled a number of examples of these fabricated instances along with documented firsthand proof of their fabrication.

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As Beeley herself stated,

I met journalist and friend Rafiq Lutf and cameraman Abdul-Mun’aim Arnous in January 2018 and I was honoured when Rafiq asked me to work with him on his film project, The Veto. As Dr Shaaban said to me in August 2016, “Western propaganda is paid for in Syrian blood”. This is true. The horrifying bloodshed and loss of life in Syria could never have happened without the colonial media manufacturing consent for another illegal war against a Sovereign nation.

The Veto tracks the evolution of the propaganda campaign waged by Western media against Syria. From Baba Amr in Homs 2011/2012 until the modern day “propaganda construct” – the NATO-member-state funded White Helmets.

. . . . .

George Orwell said “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Western media has been tasked with writing the history of the Syrian conflict to serve the aggressors in the US Coalition of terrorism.

As Dr Shaaban also told me: “The US alliance and its media are focusing on our history, material history, cultural history, identity, our army. Any power that keeps you as an entire state, or any statesman that represents strength or unity will be demonized and destroyed.”

The Veto exposes the criminal intentions of Western media and it archives the progression of the propaganda war waged by the West against Syria. Syrians are writing the history of the Syrian conflict because Syria and her allies have courageously resisted the Imperialist machine. As Rafiq has said so eloquently “ we are the Veto” and we must use it against the Industrial Media Complex in the West.

Syria’s history belongs to the Syrians and Syria’s final victory must ensure that Western media is never again given the power to destroy a nation, divide its people and promote international terrorism both military and economic.

The Veto is an important documentary now more than ever if nothing more than as an attempt to awaken Western audiences to the fact that their media has ceased even the pretense of journalism and is now nothing more than a monolithic intense propaganda factory designed to manipulate both their opinions and their morality.

Watch The Veto here:

See also:

Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1500 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, civil liberties and, most notably, geopolitics and the Syrian crisis. His most recent release is a book of poetry, Dance, Amputee. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found at UCYTV. His website is He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)

This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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Categories: News for progressives

Is Nationwide Marijuana Legalization Just Around the Corner?

Sat, 2019-04-20 00:46

By Reason

It’s hard to be pessimistic about marijuana legalization these days.

Recreational cannabis is legal in 10 states and decriminalized in another 14. Virtually all presidential candidates, including Trump, favor letting states decide the legal status of marijuana. For the first time, polls show a majority of Republicans support legalization. And six proposals to move marijuana laws in a more or less libertarian direction are now making their way through Congress.

Organically-grown CBD oil and products!

What do these policy proposals look like? How are states navigating the conflicts between state and federal law? And are there any obstacles left on the path to nationwide legalization?

Reason’s Todd Krainin sat down with Erik Altieri, the executive director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, to talk about the building momentum towards nationwide legal pot.

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Categories: News for progressives

Chase Bank CLOSES ACCOUNTS of Political Activists Without Explanation!

Fri, 2019-04-19 23:49

By Dan Dicks

It’s official…we have entered a technocratic tyrannical dictatorship where at the flip of a switch enemies of the state can be “shut down” at any given moment. Case in point Chase Bank decided it no longer wants to do business with certain conservative leaning customers so without notice or explanation they pulled the plug on their accounts! Laura Loomer, Joe Biggs, Martina Markota and Enrique Tarrio have all been falsely lumped into the category of “alt right” and they are now suffering financially as a result by literally being cut off by the bank!

In this video Dan Dicks and Leigh Stuart of Press For Truth explain how the term “alt right” has become a useful tool for the left and how shadow banning and censorship just took a major leap to a whole new level with Chase Bank financially cutting off individuals from society.

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Categories: News for progressives

Multiple Investigations Reveal Secrets About Where US Tax Dollars Are Really Going

Fri, 2019-04-19 23:19

By Arjun Walia

  • The Facts: Multiple investigations and testimony from high-ranking sources have discovered that trillions of our tax dollars are going towards programs that not even the highest ranking people within government know about.
  • Reflect On: Why are we made to believe that our taxes are going towards necessary services that favor the population? Why do we so easily trust our government and take their word for it when evidence says otherwise.

It’s amazing how much money is scraped off of each paycheck, and how much money multiple small and big businesses pay. We are told that it’s necessary; that this is the money going towards various programs that are responsible for building our schools, employing people for necessary services and infrastructure, among many other things. It’s truly amazing how much money governments rake in from taxes.

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It’s an astronomical amount that makes it hard to see how all of the money is allocated to services that are in the people’s favor, instead of the possibility of it going into the pockets of certain politicians and elitists, among other places. Yet we are heavily taxed, and reasons for taxation are constantly brought up and justified, almost as if to imply that there really is no other way of changing things and doing things differently here on planet Earth. Our potential is huge, yet we are convinced that money and taxation are our only ways to operate.

Sure, some of our taxes are going toward various needs and services we deem necessary, but how much off of our paychecks is really required for this? Judging by the amount of money that has been poured into black budget programs, it doesn’t seem like much is needed at all, and this is because trillions upon trillions of our tax dollars are actually going towards projects that the public has absolutely no idea about.

These projects are known as ‘black budget programs,’ which include Special Access Programs (SAPs). Within these we have unacknowledged and waived SAPs. These programs do not exist publicly, but they do indeed exist. They are better known as ‘deep black programs.’ A 1997 US Senate report described them as “so sensitive that they are exempt from standard reporting requirements to the Congress.”

Not many people have investigated the black budget world, but The Washington Post revealed that the “black-budget” documents indicate that a staggering 52.6 billion dollars was set aside for operations in fiscal year 2013.(source) More recent investigations, however, reveal a lot more than that.  The topic was discussed in 2010 by Washington Post journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin. Their investigation lasted approximately two years and concluded that America’s classified world has:

Become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. (source)

Recently, Arkin quit NBC/MSNBC and went public, outing them as completely fake government-run agencies. You can read more about that hereHere is another article we published that has links within it to documents showing the close relationship between mainstream media, academia, and the CIA.

The most recent investigation was conducted by economist and Michigan State professor Mark Skidmore, alongside some of his graduate students as well as Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development. They discovered trillions of unaccounted dollars missing from the Department of Housing & Urban Development as well as the Department of Defense. For their research, the team used several government websites and made inquiries to multiple U.S. agencies. Much of the time they received no response; and the Office of the Inspector General even disabled links to all key documents that revealed unsupported spending, according to the team.

Given the Army’s $122 billion budget, that meant unsupported adjustments were 54 times spending authorized by Congress. Typically, such adjustments in public budgets are only a small fraction of authorized spending… Skidmore thought Fitts had made a mistake. “Maybe she meant $6.5 billion and not $6.5 trillion,” he said. “So I found the report myself and sure enough it was $6.5 trillion.” – Michigan State News.

They went on to find documents indicating a total of $20 trillion worth of undocumented adjustments made from 1998 t0 2015. Our tax dollars are going directly into these black budget programs, which often cost far more than our roads and services. If this information was made transparent and public for discovery and use, it would leap all of humanity into the stars and into new discovery and exploration. The implications would be huge, and it would force us to ask more questions.

Here’s a great quote from Paul Hellyer.

It is ironic that the U.S. would begin a devastating war, allegedly in search of weapons of mass destruction when the most worrisome developments in this field are occurring in your own backyard.  It is ironic that the U.S. should be fighting monstrously expensive wars  allegedly to bring democracy to those countries, when it itself can no longer claim to be called a democracy when trillions, and I mean thousands of billions of dollars have been spent on projects which both congress and the commander in chief know nothing about. (source)

What’s even more interesting is that Fitts has been quite outspoken about a secret space program and where this missing money is actually going. She explains how enormous amounts of resources were handed over to covert operations to develop a security system of finance. This then created the CIA and a select group of people who were in charge of UFO technology. “By the time JFK came into office ready to challenge this shadow government and make space program the centrepiece of his administration, the civil war between the Deep State and the public state was in full force.” (source)

Interesting to say the least.

Deeper Black Budget Discussion On CETV

CETV is a platform we created in order to combat censorship and demonetization we have been facing over the past few years. On episode 4 of The Collective Evolution Show on CETV, we discussed the Black Budget in much deeper detail. Below is a clip exploring the validity behind missing money from the black budget and special access programs, explaining where the money is going and what exactly it’s being used to do.

You can become a member of CETV, get access to the full show and many others, and support conscious media here.

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is to really question what’s going on with our tax dollars. Whose pockets is the majority of money going into, and for what purpose? What are we really paying for? Secret space programs? Deep underground and under ocean military bases? Have we just been made to believe that the way we are taxed is absolutely necessary? What is really going on here and how come nobody is questioning it?

Arjun Walia — I joined the CE team in 2010 shortly after finishing university and have been grateful for the fact that I have been able to do this ever since

Categories: News for progressives

Are “Conspiracy Theories” Tearing Society Apart Or Saving Us From Destruction?

Fri, 2019-04-19 10:05

By Brandon Smith

The phrase “conspiracy theory” is often used by establishment agencies, the mainstream media and useful idiots as a tool to dismiss legitimate evidence or viewpoints that disagree with their predetermined version of events. This method of propaganda was not always as widespread as it is today. The phrase was not “created” by the CIA, but it was in fact weaponized by them in the 1960s after the assassination of John F. Kennedy with the express purpose of shutting down rational debate.

CIA memo 1035-960, circulated within the CIA in 1967 and exposed through a freedom of information act request by The New York Times in 1976, outlines strategies the agency would use to shut down critics of the Warren Commission Report. Specifically, they suggested the accusation of “conspiracy” with negative connotations attached, predominantly in mainstream books and articles. This was indeed done through the CIA’s many puppets in the media, and the concept of “conspiracy theory” as a pejorative was born.

Through the use of straw man arguments, red herring fallacies and sophistry, the incredible scale of evidence (exposed by investigators like New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison) suggesting the Warren Commission was either corrupt or ignorant in its findings was buried in a flurry of hatchet jobs and hit pieces. And this was the goal, of course; to attack the messenger and silence the truth without having to go through the ugly process of directly confronting the truth.

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Until recently, this strategy was highly effective. Attacking a person as a “conspiracy theorist” was the only tool critics really needed to keep a piece of evidence or a concrete viewpoint from going viral. Conspiracy theory is equated to insanity, or stupidity, or buffoonery. Everyone knows a conspiracy theorist is not to be taken seriously, so why waste time listening to what they have to say in the first place?

It should come as no surprise that conspiracy REALITY is not something these people want entertained by the public. Conspiracies are a fact of history. Governments lie, all the time, and they have been caught doing it. The media lies, constantly, and has been caught doing it. Yet, we are supposed to ignore this and assume that anyone daring to stand contrary to government and media claims is some kind of lunatic?

In the past 5-10 years, however, things have been changing. Suddenly, anti-establishment views and investigations of corruption are bulldozing the mainstream scripted narrative, and the elites and the media are bewildered. They can see they are losing control of popular thought and they are disturbed, to say the least. A steady stream of articles and essays have been flooding the MSM recently lamenting the rise of “conspiracy culture” and warning of the “death of democracy” if this is allowed to continue.

They seem specifically angered by the idea that their “journalistic” and “professional” status no longer matters to most people. Not long ago, anyone wearing a suit, a uniform, a lab coat, a journalist’s badge or collecting a government paycheck was supposed to be immediately taken seriously as a designated “expert”. As Noam Chomsky describes them in his book Manufacturing Consent, they were the professional class, the top 10% or less of individuals with “all the answers”. These were the people the establishment sought to indoctrinate most of all, because these were the community leaders that many in the public listened to without question.

Now there is a growing movement of people who could not care less about what kind of degree someone’s parents purchased for them from an Ivy League university. They don’t care about establishment designations and fake accolades and titles and credentials. What they care about are facts and evidence. What they care about are the arguments a person puts forth, rather than how important they purport to be. This is causing some consternation among the elites.

A key figure and gatekeeper in the propaganda war against the alternative media and conspiracy reality is Cass Sunstein, former “Information Czar” in the Obama Administration. Sunstein has written numerous books and articles lamenting the growing influence of the alternative media, including his book Conspiracy Theories And Dangerous Ideas.

The main thrust of Sunstein’s position is that conspiracy theories isolate the populace into small groups of like-minded people perpetuating each other’s “misguided” views. He also suggests that these groups represent a concrete threat to the stability of government and of society by spreading wrong (or perhaps inconvenient) information and civil unrest. In other words, a few decades ago all information was centralized and filtered by the corporate media and government, and now the Internet is decentralizing information flow thereby allowing people to think differently and break from the majority narrative, which is unacceptable by Sunstein’s standards.

Sunstein sees the creation of a public hive mind as the best outcome for social order. He suggests in his book Nudge the concept of “Libertarian Paternalism” (which is neither libertarian nor paternal). He advocates for the control of society through subversive means of influence (nudging) while allowing people to continue believing that their choices are actually their own.

But how would Sunstein go about executing this influence? His solution to the threat of the alternative media was first made clear in his paper titled “Conspiracy Theories”, published in 2008. In it, he argues in favor of government interference or control of alternative media or “conspiracy theory” sources. His primary tactic was the infiltration of alternative media forums and sites by government agents or private actors paid by the government to disrupt discussion, derail activism and sow seeds of doubt or chaos. Effectively, Sunstein wanted the covert destruction of the liberty media by paid agitators.

So, the same man who accuses the alternative media of conspiracy mongering and the destruction of the Western world is actively seeking to foment a conspiracy to undermine that movement. Is this irony, or hypocrisy or both?  Doesn’t this mean that Sunstein is a part of one of the very conspiracies he criticizes people like me for being concerned about?

Sunstein and his elitist ilk want the power to erase or sabotage the alternative media. In fact, there are probably a few of their agents provocateurs attacking this article in the comments below right now. They would prefer that the government eventually take full control of the Internet and dictate the terms of media participation directly. This gives rise to one of the most important questions that the establishment does not want to answer – Who gets to decide what is and what is not “dangerous conspiracy theory”?

If pressed, the elites will ultimately suggest that they are the best qualified. Sunstein describes the general public in his books as essentially lazy, unintelligent, impulsive and not to be trusted to make good decisions. He does not seem to include himself and his globalist comrades as being prone to the same weaknesses. They are apparently wise and benevolent enough to make the best decisions for all of us. Imagine that…

This elitism bias and Sunstein’s overall methodology for biting at the ankles of the liberty media is being carried over into a new wave of propaganda in the past couple of years, primarily coming from (though not limited to) the political left.

Sunstein’s gatekeeping has spawned a cancerous growth of copycats in progressive academics. This is going on everywhere, but one particular example I found recently was on Vox, a leftist rag which shamelessly flaunts its political bias and actively slanders conservatives.  Vox‘s article “Conspiracy Theories Are Getting More Absurd And Harder To Refute” promotes a new book which regurgitates Sunstein’s propaganda model. The article takes special time to reassert the old disinformation narrative by stating that:

Democracy requires a minimum amount of mutual trust among citizens, and conspiracism destroys it.

Are you getting the sense yet that there is a repetitive message coming from these people that they want you to embrace? Is there ANYTHING true about the statement above?  The fundamental root of their argument is that conspiracy theories (viewpoints outside the mainstream) must be treated as existential threats to society. In other words, some ideas are so dangerous that they must be controlled or outlawed. The basis of this argument, though, is entirely fraudulent.

First, leftists incessantly refer to our society as a “democracy”, I think because they believe if they tell the lie enough it will become reality by default.  The US was never intended to be a “democracy”, but a Republic, and with good reason. Democracy requires blind and often misplaced faith in the system. A Republic requires constant vigilance and healthy skepticism. In a Republic, we are not supposed to simply “trust” that our leaders are going to do the right thing. We are supposed to put them under a microscope, uncover criminality and corruption, and generally make them uncomfortable at all times. It is our civic duty to become “conspiracy theorists”.

The establishment prefers a democracy because in a democracy 51% of the population can dictate the individual liberties of the other 49%, and they are rightly convinced that they can influence the thinking and decisions of the larger half. Also, in a democracy, society revolves around moral relativism and the ever arbitrary “greater good for the greater number”, instead of governing according to individual liberty, inherent moral compass and human conscience.

The Vox article goes on to make the claim that while there are some correct conspiracy theories, they have all come from the left side of the political spectrum (which they call “progressive conspiracy theories”). They then assert that there are no verifiable conspiracy theories coming from the political right. This is madness.

When Cass Sunstein describes the tribalist isolation and conspiracy delusions of certain groups, he was clearly trying to mislabel conservative activists and the alternative media, but the REAL conspiracy nutbags have actually been on the left this whole time.

A lot of young leftist millennials, professional (I say this with the utmost sarcasm) mainstream media personalities and celebrities foolishly bought into the Russiagate conspiracy theory; a theory based on ZERO concrete evidence and a garbage heap of empty conjecture. For example, how many sessions of Real Time With Bill Maher or Late Night With Stephen Colbert was the Russiagate fantasy propped up as verified fact by a screeching flock of leftist parrots, blanketed in the protective peanut-brained imbecility of the audiences in their Los Angeles and New York echo chambers?

Even today, after the long-anticipated Mueller Report led to no indictments, leftists continue to cling desperately like hemorrhoids to the anus that is Russiagate.

Leftists have to this point justified much of their schizophrenic and sometimes violent and criminal behavior on the lie that Donald Trump is a usurper put into office by Russian manipulation of US elections. Now isn’t this the epitome of a conspiracy theory that is destructive to society?

Not all conspiracy theories are started by the alternative media. Many are started by the establishment itself, and these are indeed designed to cause the destabilization of the nation.

At the same time, the fabricated Russiagate conspiracy has been very effective at leading the left away from the very real conspiracy of Trump’s saturation of his cabinet with banking elites and globalist think tank ghouls like John Bolton, Steven Mnuchin or Wilber Ross. Weren’t these the same elites that Trump was going to “drain from the swamp”? Why hasn’t the left talking about that for the past two years?

The article also makes no mention of the DNC rigging of the Democratic primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders. This was a conspiracy conservatives had to help expose, while the left sat idle and ignored it, hyperfocusing on their hatred of Trump while propping up Hillary Clinton, a repeat criminal offender. But, hey, conservative conspiracies are always wrong and leftist conspiracies are often correct according to Vox and friends…

And what about the verified fact of mass digital surveillance by government on the public?  This was a conspiracy that conservative groups had been warning about for years.  We were called kooks, because why would the government care about what the average person did in their day-to-day life?  Our fears were verified by the exposure of classified data by people like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (who is now facing extradition and prosecution for nothing more than publishing truths on the Internet).  Both the political left and political right are aggressively hostile to both these men, and are seeking to bury them.

My question is, what is really more dangerous?  Conspiracy theories, or the actual conspiracies governments and elitists execute against the people?

The message here is not ambiguous at all. To summarize, the establishment wants control of Internet media, by hook or by crook, in the name of protecting people from themselves and from ideas they consider unsettling to the world order. The political left is all on board with this as long as their conspiracy theories are treated with legitimacy; and they will be, because their conspiracy theories are the establishment’s conspiracy theories.

The only theories that are being threatened with subjugation are those of conservatives and the alternative media that are contrary to centralization and government power. Not because our theories are dangerous to the fabric of society, but because our theories are dangerous to the people who want to dictate the fabric of society. Our activism and journalism represents decentralized thought which could choke the engine of the globalist agenda. We aren’t tearing down the Western world, we’re the only thing keeping it alive.

You can read more from Brandon Smith at his site Alt-Market. If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE.

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Categories: News for progressives

As Governments Adopt Artificial Intelligence, There’s Little Oversight and Lots of Danger

Thu, 2019-04-18 23:58

By James Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Artificial intelligence systems can – if properly used – help make government more effective and responsive, improving the lives of citizens. Improperly used, however, the dystopian visions of George Orwell’s 1984 become more realistic.

On their own and urged by a new presidential executive order, governments across the U.S., including state and federal agencies, are exploring ways to use AI technologies.

As an AI researcher for more than 40 years, who has been a consultant or participant in many government projects, I believe it’s worth noting that sometimes they’ve done it well – and other times not quite so well. The potential harms and benefits are significant.

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In 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed an AI system called “Emma,” a chatbot that can answer questions posed to it in regular English, without needing to know what “her” introductory website calls “government speak” – all the official terms and acronyms used in agency documents.

By late 2016, DHS reported that Emma was already helping to answer nearly a half-million questions per month, allowing DHS to handle many more inquiries than it had previously, and letting human employees spend more time helping people with more complicated queries that are beyond Emma’s abilities. This sort of conversation-automating artificial intelligence has now been used by other government agencies, in cities and countries around the world.

Flint’s water

A more complicated example of how governments could aptly apply AI can be seen in Flint, Michigan. As the local and state governments struggled to combat lead contamination in the city’s drinking water, it became clear that they would need to replace the city’s remaining lead water pipes. However, the city’s records were incomplete, and it was going to be extremely expensive to dig up all the city’s pipes to see if they were lead or copper.

For a time, artificial intelligence analysis helped guide pipe replacement in Flint, Michigan. AP Photo/Chris Ehrmann

Instead, computer scientists and government employees collaborated to analyze a wide range of data about each of 55,000 properties in the city, including how old the home was, to calculate the likelihood it was served by lead pipes. Before the system was used, 80% of the pipes dug up needed to be replaced, which meant 20% of the time, money and effort was being wasted on pipes that didn’t need replacing.

The AI system helped engineers focus on high-risk properties, identifying a set of properties most likely to need pipe replacements. When city inspectors visited to verify the situation, the algorithm was right 70% of the time. That promised to save enormous amounts of money and speed up the pipe replacement process.

However, local politics got in the way. Many members of the public didn’t understand why the system was identifying the homes it did, and objected, saying the AI method was unfairly ignoring their homes. After city officials stopped using the algorithm, only 15% of the pipes dug up were lead. That made the replacement project slower and more costly.

Distressing examples

The problem in Flint was that people didn’t understand that AI technology was being used well, and that people were verifying its findings with independent inspections. In part, this was because they didn’t trust AI – and in some cases there is good reason for that.

In 2017, I was among a group of more than four dozen AI researchers who sent a letter to the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We expressed concerns about a proposal to use automated systems to determine whether a person seeking asylum in the U.S. would become a “positively contributing member of society” or was more likely to be a terrorist threat.

“Simply put,” our letter said, “no computational methods can provide reliable or objective assessments of the traits that [DHS] seeks to measure.” We explained that machine learning is susceptible to a problem called “data skew,” in which the system’s ability to predict a characteristic depends in part on how common that characteristic is in the data used to train the system.

A face tracking and analysis system takes a look at a woman’s face. Abyssus/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

So in a database of 300 million Americans, if one in 100 people are, say, of Indian descent, the system will be fairly accurate at identifying them. But if looking at a characteristic shared by just one in a million Americans, there really isn’t enough data for the algorithm to make a good analysis.

As the letter explained, “on the scale of the American population and immigration rates, criminal acts are relatively rare, and terrorist acts are extremely rare.” Algorithmic analysis is extremely unlikely to identify potential terrorists. Fortunately, our arguments proved convincing. In May 2018, DHS announced it would not use a machine learning algorithm in this way.

Other worrying efforts

Other government uses of AI are being questioned, too – such as attempts at “predictive policing,” setting bail amounts and criminal sentences and hiring government workers. All of these have been shown to be susceptible to technical issues and data limitations that can bias their decisions based on race, gender or cultural background.

Other AI technologies such as facial recognition, automated surveillance and mass data collection are raising real concerns about security, privacy, fairness and accuracy in a democratic society.

As Trump’s executive order demonstrates, there is significant interest in harnessing AI for its fullest positive potential. But the significant dangers of abuse, misuse and bias – whether intentional or not – have the potential to work against the very principles international democracies have been built upon.

As the use of AI technologies grows, whether originally well-meant or deliberately authoritarian, the potential for abuse increases as well. With no currently existing government-wide oversight in place in the U.S., the best way to avoid these abuses is teaching the public about the appropriate uses of AI by way of conversation between scientists, concerned citizens and public administrators to help determine when and where it is inappropriate to deploy these powerful new tools.

James Hendler, Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Top image credit: A SenseTime artificial intelligence system monitors an intersection in China. Reuters/Thomas Peter

Categories: News for progressives

What are War Crimes?

Thu, 2019-04-18 23:30


War crimes include genocide, crimes against humanity, and mistreatment of civilians or combatants during war. Genocide is the most severe of these crimes.

The rules regarding the conduct of war and war crimes were first discussed at The Hague, Netherlands in 1899 and 1907, respectively. These, along with the Geneva Conventions, formed the framework for the new body of international law governing conduct during war. Previous to these International Union of Hague Peace Conferences, atrocities committed during wars were considered to be regrettable, but just a natural part of the horrors of war.

The main effect of the Hague Conventions was the banning of certain types of technology in wars; dropping bombs from the air, using chemicals, and hollow point bullets were outlawed. The Conventions set up a permanent Court of Arbitration.

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The Geneva Protocol, signed in 1925, permanently banned all chemical and biological warfare. This was passed in response to the use of mustard gas in WWI. Subsequently, four treaties and three more protocols were passed. The term “Geneva Conventions” refers to the fourth treaty of 1949, which updated the standards for humanitarian treatment of the victims of war. The articles define the basic rights of captives during a military conflict, establish protections for the wounded, and list protections for civilians. The treaties were ratified by 194 nations, some with reservations.

Summary of War Crimes

Article 147 of the Geneva Conventions summarizes war crimes as:

Willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including… willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, …taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

Some examples of war crimes includes as attacking those displaying a truce flag and also using a truce flag as a ruse to attack. Attacking soldiers while parachuting is not a war crime, but attacking those who have ejected from a damaged aircraft and surrendering when on the ground is a war crime. Mistreating prisoners of war is forbidden as is mistreatment of civilians. Mistreatment of prisoners or civilians may be part of mass murder or genocide, but these are covered more fully under crimes against humanity.

Crimes Against Humanity

Crimes against humanity are not isolated instances (they may be war crimes) but rather a part of government policy or widespread practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government. Widespread and systematic murder, torture, rape, political, racial, or religious persecution may fall under the category of crimes against humanity. The term was first applied by the Allies in 1915 to the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

Those accused of war crimes have referred to “Victor’s Justice” to criticize war crime trials. They maintain that only the victorious nation in a conflict is allowed to bring charges of war crimes, although atrocities were committed by both sides.


Arjun is an independent researcher, writer, speaker and a consciousness activist. He writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze.

Categories: News for progressives

How Exposure to 5G Could Make You (and Everybody Else) A Hot Sweaty Mess.

Thu, 2019-04-18 23:01

By B.N. Frank

Maybe the G in 5G should stand for “gross” or “gag me” because research has already proven that exposure to 5G can cause excessive sweating.  Dr. Yael Stein MD explains:

Computer simulations have demonstrated that sweat glands concentrate sub-terahertz waves in human skin. Humans could sense these waves as heat. The use of sub-terahertz (Millimeter wave) communications technology (cellphones, Wi Fi, antennas) could cause humans to percept physical pain via nociceptors.

Lloyd Burrell from wrote an article about this too.  It references additional undesirable symptoms and conditions from 5G exposure.

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Other websites offer research links about 5G exposure risks as well including:

The Telecom Industry can’t offer any studies that show 5G is safe because there aren’t any.

Since 2017, 200+ doctors have requested a moratorium on 5G installation due to biological and environmental risks.  Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has even taken legal action against The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because of forced 5G installation in the U.S.  Communities in the U.S. and around the world continue trying to stop it from being installed. (See 1, 2, 3, 4)

Regardless, 5G has already been installed in some locations and serious problems have been reported.  Last summer, Dr. Naomi Wolf reported about how New Yorkers’ and their pets were suffering from exposure.  The first 5G court case was won last year in England but only after it was installed and people became sick from exposure.  Unfortunately, none of this is still apparently enough for the U.S. government and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop promoting and forcing the installation of 5G.

Concerned about Climate Change?  Additional energy usage is needed to operate 5G and all its applications.  This includes utility “Smart” Meters – tens of millions of which have already been installed seemingly with the goal of eventually operating them all on 5G.  Additional energy will also inevitably be used by people running their air conditioners more often to help relieve themselves of their excessive sweatiness.

It’s not just 5G that’s harmful.  Decades of research from government, independent, industry and military scientists has already proven that exposure to all sources of cell phone and wireless WiFi radiation is harmful and may cause sweating.

Last summer The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new prescription – for ages 9 and up – who suffer from excessive sweating.  Unfortunately it’s flammable and exposure to 5G can cause more than sweating.

The U.S Day of Action against 5G is on May 15.  For more information on what you can do, visit the following websites:

Categories: News for progressives


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