ACLU study warns of 'unchecked rise' of surveillance cameras in St. Louis - (Oct. 10, 2014 - by Ken Leiser - St. Louis Post-Dispatch) - High-tech surveillance devices threaten to rob people of what little privacy they enjoy on some of St. Louis’ public streets and sidewalks, according to a new study by the ACLU of Missouri.
The organization rips what it describes as the “unchecked rise” of an Orwellian “web of surveillance” that stretches along the city’s central corridor from the Mississippi River to Forest Park.
“We are becoming a surveillance society,” Jeffrey Mittman, the group’s executive director, told reporters on Thursday.
The two-year study traced a “hodgepodge” of surveillance cameras it says are maintained by various groups with little coordination or guiding policies. More troubling, Mittman said, is that the surveillance web sprouted up with little public discussion or debate.
The use of such cameras has become so widespread that what was once considered impossible — tracking individual movements on a “mass scale” — can now be done, and the images can be saved for months or years, the report found.
St. Louis officials are in the process of “rapidly expanding” the city’s surveillance capacity. During the past two years, four networks have been linked, and a central monitoring center was established at the Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis.
Despite the case that law enforcement agencies make to the contrary, the ACLU report cites studies suggesting surveillance cameras have “minimal impact on reducing crime.”
“Moreover,” the report continues, “increasingly sophisticated camera surveillance threatens to erode one of our most basic values, the right to be left alone.” - http://tinyurl.com/o9yuflm
Science Busts One of the Most Common Myths About Smoking Pot - (October 22, 2014 - by Paul Armentano - NORML) - A recent study proves what most real-life pot smokers already know.
Moderate cannabis consumption by young people is not positively associated with changes in intelligence quotient (IQ), according to data presented this week at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual congress in Berlin, Germany.
Investigators at the University College of London analyzed data from 2,612 subjects who had their IQ tested at the age of eight and again at age 15. They reported no relationship between cannabis use and lower IQ at age 15 when confounding factors such as subjects’ history of alcohol use and cigarette use were taken into account.
“In particular alcohol use was found to be strongly associated with IQ decline,” the authors wrote in a press release cited by The Washington Post. “No other factors were found to be predictive of IQ change.”
[….]A previous assessment of cannabis use and its potential impact on intelligence quotient in a cohort of young people tracked since birth reported, “[M]arijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence.” - http://tinyurl.com/n58tckp
4 Illegal Drugs That Could Safely Treat Depression - (October 22, 2014 - by David Derbyshire - The Guardian) - Science continues to show how cannabis and psychedelics can work psychological wonders. - http://tinyurl.com/ne8h9zy
Could You Be the Next Innocent American to Have Your Bank Account Seized by the Government? - (October 27, 2014 - by Lynn Stuart Parramore - AlterNet) - The IRS can take your money, even if you did nothing wrong. - http://tinyurl.com/q5ro53w
The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives' Favorite—And Most Dangerous—Fiction - (October 27, 2014 - by Sara Robinson - AlterNet) - Nobody ever makes it on their own in America. - http://tinyurl.com/kbbvfyy
There is more truth about American journalism in the film “Kill the Messenger,” which chronicles the mainstream media’s discrediting of the work of the investigative journalist Gary Webb, than there is in the movie “All the President’s Men,” which celebrates the exploits of the reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal.
The mass media blindly support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the myth of American democracy—even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism. They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses. The corporations, which own the press, hire journalists willing to be courtiers to the elites, and they promote them as celebrities. These journalistic courtiers, who can earn millions of dollars, are invited into the inner circles of power. They are, as John Ralston Saul writes, hedonists of power.
When Webb, writing in a 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News, exposed the Central Intelligence Agency’s complicity in smuggling tons of cocaine for sale into the United States to fund the CIA-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua, the press turned him into a journalistic leper. And over the generations there is a long list of journalistic lepers, from Ida B. Wells to I.F. Stone to Julian Assange. - http://tinyurl.com/plbgbhl
The Military Invasion Of My High School - (October 31, 2014 - by Sylvia McGauley - Rethinking Schools) - JROTC programs are indoctrinating vulnerable high school students in the science of war -- with disastrous effects. - http://tinyurl.com/q88mzog
Left or right-wing? Brain's disgust response tells all - (October 30, 2014 by Dan Jones - NewScientist) - The way your brain reacts to a single disgusting image can be used to predict whether you lean to the left or the right politically. - http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26481
Don't Read This Tech News Site
If You Want Net Neutrality - (6 min. -
YouTube audio/video) - (Oct. 30, 2014 - The
Young Turks) - "Verizon is getting
into the news business. What could go wrong?
The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.
There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today." - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJUSW-ek1D0
I’m terrified of my new TV: Why I’m scared to turn this thing on — and you’d be, too - (Oct. 30, 2014 - by Michael Price - Salon.com) - From facial recognition to personal data collection, this thing is downright scary -- and so are the implications - http://tinyurl.com/pdzvpjn
IPCC: Rapid Carbon Emission Cuts Vital To Stop Severe Impact Of Climate Change - (November 2, 2014 - by Damian Carrington - The Guardian) - Most important assessment of global warming yet warns carbon emissions must be cut sharply and soon, but UN’s IPCC says solutions are available and affordable
Climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” on people and the natural world unless carbon emissions are cut sharply and rapidly, according to the most important assessment of global warming yet published.
The stark report states that climate change has already increased the risk of severe heatwaves and other extreme weather and warns of worse to come, including food shortages and violent conflicts. But it also found that ways to avoid dangerous global warming are both available and affordable.
“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message,” said the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, attending what he described as the “historic” report launch. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.” He said that quick, decisive action would build a better and sustainable future, while inaction would be costly.
Ban added a message to investors, such as pension fund managers: “Please reduce your investments in the coal- and fossil fuel-based economy and [move] to renewable energy.”
The report, released in Copenhagen on Sunday by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the work of thousands of scientists and was agreed after negotiations by the world’s governments. It is the first IPCC report since 2007 to bring together all aspects of tackling climate change and for the first time states: that it is economically affordable; that carbon emissions will ultimately have to fall to zero; and that global poverty can only be reduced by halting global warming. The report also makes clear that carbon emissions, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, are currently rising to record levels, not falling. - http://tinyurl.com/p7fskwr
Interactive Map: Find Out If Your Child’s School Is Near A Chemical Plant
Greed, Power, and Endless War -- James Risen Tears the Lid off America's Dirty Wars - (October 31, 2014 - by James Risen - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) - An excerpt from Risen's new book, "Pay Any Price," on the government spending 'rivers of cash' to fight terrorism. - http://tinyurl.com/ksv4hrr
Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change. - (Oct. 19, 2014 - by Jordan Michael Smith - The Boston Globe) - The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon - http://tinyurl.com/onwc87g
U.S. Corporations Top List of Those Living in 'Magical Fairyland' of Tax-Dodging - (November 6, 2014 - by Jon Queally, staff writer - Common Dreams) - Leaked documents reveal Luxembourg's paradise for companies and financial firms stiffing the global populace with their unpaid tax bills
More than 300 global corporations and financial institutions—including well-known names like Pepsi Co., FedEx, JP Morgan Chase, and Amazon—have created complex tax avoidance schemes using the small European nation of Luxembourg to funnel billions of dollars of profits away from the countries where they actually do business, according to leaked documents obtained and analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. - http://tinyurl.com/p8ft8pc
ACLU of Missouri Mobile Justice - Innocent people are routinely stopped, searched, harassed, bullied into compliance and humiliated every day in Missouri. It's not a crime to walk down the street, to peacefully protest, to march or to gather with a group of your peers on the sidewalk.The ACLU of Missouri Mobile Justice smartphone app was created to empower individuals to hold Missouri law enforcement agencies accountable for their actions. It has four main features: - http://www.aclu-mo.org/your-rights/mobile-justice
The Surprising Truth About 'Driving While High' - (November 4, 2014 - by Angela Bacca - Cannabis Now) - The human body does not process cannabis the way it processes alcohol. - http://tinyurl.com/m4uyr7v
Marijuana Use Shrinks The
Brain, Study Shows - (Nov. 11, 2014 - The Young Turks) - (4-1/2 min. - YouTube audio/video) - "Long-term
marijuana use appears to alter a person's brain, causing one region associated
with addiction to shrink and forcing the rest of the brain to work overtime to
compensate, a new study reports.
MRI scans revealed that people who use pot for years have a smaller-than-usual orbitofrontal cortex, a region in the frontal lobes of the brain that is involved in decision-making and assessing the expected rewards or punishments of an action, said study author Francesca Filbey, from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.” - [Important note: The study further notes that the brain does compensate…without any discernible detrimental effects, or degradation, in a marijuana user’s abilities to function normally.] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odec4gA_Eo8
California Nurses Lead
Nationwide Strike Over Lack of Ebola Protection to Spotlight Hospital Cuts - (November 11, 2014 - by AlterNet) - As usual, it's nurses -- not hospital executives --
who are pushing for health and safety. - http://tinyurl.com/ko7ekar
Unregulated Capitalism and the Persuit of Happiness - (9 min. - YouTube audio/video) - Thom Hartmann: It's impossible for unregulated capitalism and the Declaration of Independence to co-exist. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HasieHLOEx8
Snowden: "I Did What I Did Because I Believe It Is the Right Thing to Do" - (November 11, 2014 - by The Nation) - In an interview the NSA leaker covers the crises in our technology and surveillance, and politics.
Snowden: …. …the fact that the director of national intelligence gave a false statement to Congress under oath, which is a felony. If we allow our officials to knowingly break the law publicly and face no consequences, we’re instituting a culture of immunity…. …. …the rule of law doesn’t mean the police are in charge, but that we all answer to the same laws. You know, if Congress is going to investigate baseball players about whether or not they told the truth, how can we justify giving the most powerful intelligence official, Clapper, a pass? This is how J. Edgar Hoover ended up in charge of the FBI forever.
…. We have a media that goes along with the government by parroting phrases intended to provoke a certain emotional response—for example, “national security.” …. But it is not national security that they’re concerned with; it is state security. ….
What defines patriotism, for me, is the idea that one rises to act on behalf of one’s country. …that’s distinct from acting to benefit the government—a distinction that’s increasingly lost today. You’re not patriotic just because you back whoever’s in power today or their policies. You’re patriotic when you work to improve the lives of the people of your country, your community and your family. ….
As for my personal politics… …when it comes to social policies, I believe women have the right to make their own choices, and inequality is a really important issue. …automation inevitably is going to mean fewer and fewer jobs. And if we do not find a way to provide a basic income for people who have no work, or no meaningful work, we’re going to have social unrest that could get people killed. When we have increasing production—year after year after year—some of that needs to be reinvested in society. …. …these issues have to be addressed. - http://tinyurl.com/omaph5j
Countries Without Militaries - (Nov. 11, 2014 - The Atlantic) - More than 20 nations lack standing armies—and it's not always about pacifism. - http://tinyurl.com/phattjp
I'm Terrified of My New TV - (20-3/4 min. - YouTube audio/video) - Thom Hartmann talks with Michael Price, Counsel, Liberty & National Security Program-Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law (www.brennancenter.org), about privacy concerns with new generation smart tv sets. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIJL6V8bSdg
Undercover Operations Growing in 'Every Corner of the Federal Government' - (November 15, 2014 - by Nadia Prupis, staff writer - Common Dreams) - Covert intelligence-gathering missions threaten civil liberties, critics warn
Undercover operations, once the domain of the FBI, have expanded to "virtually every corner of the federal government," a New York Times investigation published Saturday found—and the scope of those missions has become so wide that it risks abusing civil liberties and possible entrapment of targets.
Officers from at least 40 agencies played various roles in the operations—student protesters, doctors, business people, and welfare recipients among them—to investigate "wrongdoing," according to the Times. At the Internal Revenue Service, for example, officers posed as accountants to investigate tax evasion.
But often, the operations involved officers infiltrating political rallies outside of state courthouses to look for "suspicious activity," or pretending to be food stamp recipients at neighborhood grocers to suss out welfare fraud.
"[C]hanges in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents," the Times writes. - http://tinyurl.com/lrtn3vk
James Risen: The Post-9/11 Homeland Security Industrial Complex Profiteers and Endless War - (Nov. 16, 2014 - by In a revealing interview with Truthout about his new book Pay Any Price, journalist James Risen provides evidence of how the United States has become enmeshed in an endless war. He also discusses how the post-9/11, military-surveillance state has enriched - with little oversight or accountability - many opportunists. Risen tells Truthout: "Four trillion dollars is the best estimate for the total price tag of the war on terror, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much of it has gone to shadowy contractors. It is one of the largest transfers of wealth in American history, and yet it has gone largely unnoticed." - http://truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/27425
Google’s Secret NSA
Alliance: The Terrifying Deals Between Silicon Valley And The Security State - (Nov. 16, 2014 - by Inside the high-level, complicated deals -- and
the rise of a virtually unchecked surveillance power - http://tinyurl.com/kfdg5ky
Waste Water From Oil Fracking
Injected Into Clean Aquifers - (Nov 14, 2014 - By Stephen
Villarreal and Scott
Pham - NBC Bay Area) - State officials allowed oil
and gas companies to pump nearly three billion gallons of waste water into
underground aquifers that could have been used for drinking water or
Those aquifers are supposed to be off-limits to that kind of activity, protected by the EPA.
“It's inexcusable,” said Hollin Kretzmann, at the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco. “At (a) time when California is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history, we're allowing oil companies to contaminate what could otherwise be very useful ground water resources for irrigation and for drinking. It's possible these aquifers are now contaminated irreparably.”
In “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing operations, oil and gas companies use massive amounts of water to force the release of underground fossil fuels. The practice produces large amounts of waste water that must then be disposed of. - http://tinyurl.com/o7qtjc5
Depleting The Water - (14 min. - video) - (Nov.
16, 2014 - 60 Minutes/CBS) - Lesley Stahl reports on disturbing new evidence that our planet's groundwater is being pumped
out much faster than it can be replenished. - http://ecowatch.com/2014/11/17/water-wars-21st-century-60-minutes
Outfoxed Effect - (13 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (July 9, 2014 - Brave New Films) - This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the release of "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism." Take a look back in time with us and see how things have not really changed. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2i_HH54BPk
Do Wars Really Defend America’s Freedom? - (Nov. 16, 2014 - by U.S. politicians and pundits are fond of saying that America’s wars have defended America’s freedom. But the historical record doesn’t bear out this contention. In fact, over the past century, U.S. wars have triggered major encroachments upon civil liberties. - http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/157574
Algorithms Are Great and All, But They Can Also Ruin Lives - (Nov. 11, 2014 - by Luke Dormehl - Wired) - …an algorithm may falsely profile an individual as a terrorist: a fate that befalls roughly 1,500 unlucky airline travelers each week. Those fingered in the past as the result of data-matching errors include former Army majors, a four-year-old boy, and an American Airlines pilot—who was detained 80 times over the course of a single year.
Many of these problems are the result of the new roles algorithms play in law enforcement. As slashed budgets lead to increased staff cuts, automated systems have moved from simple administrative tools to become primary decision-makers.
In a number of cases, the problem is about more than simply finding the right algorithm for the job, but about the problematic nature of believing that any and all tasks can be automated to begin with. Take the subject of using data-mining to uncover terrorist plots, for instance. With such attacks statistically rare and not conforming to well-defined profiles in the way that, for example, Amazon purchases do, individual travelers end up surrendering large amounts of personal privacy to data-mining algorithms, with little but false alarms to show for it. As renowned computer security expert Bruce Schneier has noted:
Finding terrorism plots . . . is a needle-in-a-haystack problem, and throwing more hay on the pile doesn’t make that problem any easier. We’d be far better off putting people in charge of investigating potential plots and letting them direct the computers, instead of putting the computers in charge and letting them decide who should be investigated. - http://tinyurl.com/o7prccf
How a Strange, Secretive, Cult-like Company Is Waging Legal War Against Journalists - (November 18, 2014 - by William D. Cohan - The Nation) - The lawsuit filed by the NXIVM company against a Vanity Fair writer and a local reporter invokes the same computer hacking law used against Aaron Swartz.
By now, most Americans are familiar with the sad story of Aaron Swartz, the self-styled “hacktivist” and political organizer, and the Justice Department’s terribly ill-conceived prosecution of him, in which it claimed that Swartz repeatedly violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 2011 when he downloaded without authorization millions of academic articles from JSTOR, the digital library. ….
Now the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, is once again at the center of an ill-advised prosecution, except this time a private corporation is using the law against working journalists and their sources.
NXIVM, based in Albany, is not your typical company. Founded in 1998 by Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere as Executive Success Programs, the renamed NXIVM, according to its lawsuit, “conducts professional success training programs for executives and other individuals concerned with developing their skills and achieving their goals.” ….
Some people have referred to NXIVM as “a cult” that revolves around Raniere, who seems to exert a Svengali-like hold on rich, attractive and powerful women. According to Andrews’s November 2010 Vanity Fair article, “The Heiresses and The Cult,” among the company’s fans are Pamela Cafritz, the daughter of wealthy Washington area developers; billionaire Richard Branson; and Sara and Clare Bronfman, two heirs of the Seagram fortune and the daughters of the late billionaire, Edgar Bronfman Sr. ….
[….]Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, its chilling effects have already been felt. - http://tinyurl.com/jvj9pm9
Study Shows Dramatic Correlation Between GMOs And 22 Diseases - (November 18, 2014 - by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers - Popular Resistance) - As crops that use the herbicide glyphosate rise, so do a wide range of diseases. - http://tinyurl.com/nzsuzpo
Report: Wal-mart’s Clean Energy Boasts Are Little More Than Greenwashing - (November 21, 2014 - by Wal-mart gets 40 percent of its electricity from coal, and only 3 percent from renewables - http://tinyurl.com/o33f4e7
One of Largest Transfers of Public Wealth to Private Hands: Our Staggering War Economy - (November 24, 2014 - by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch) - The cost of our massive military and endless wars is almost beyond comprehension, and non stop. - http://tinyurl.com/lvaho8n
7 Leading Candidates for Corporate Rip-Off of the Year- (November 23, 2014 - by Paul Buchheit - AlterNet) - These acts of corporate treachery take billions of dollars from the American people. - http://tinyurl.com/ltvxyvl
The Fascinating Differences Between the Conservative and Liberal Personality - (November 24, 2014 - by Jared DeFife - Psychotherapy Networker) - Evidence suggests that differences between the two groups begin to emerge at an early age.
…psychologists are increasingly exploring the political arena, examining not just the ideological differences, but also the numerous factors - temperamental, developmental, biological, and situational - that contribute to the formation and maintenance of partisan political beliefs.…. Using data compiled from nearly 20,000 respondents, Columbia University researcher Dana Carney and colleagues found that two common personality traits reliably differentiated individuals with liberal or conservative identifications. Liberals reported greater openness, whereas conservatives reported higher conscientiousness. This means that liberals (at least in their own estimation) saw themselves as more creative, flexible, tolerant of ambiguity, and open to new ideas and experiences. Across the political personality divide, conservatives self-identified as more persistent, orderly, moralistic, and methodical. These personality differences were even reflected in the bedroom belongings and offices or workspaces of ideological undergrads, with liberal students collecting more CDs, books, movie tickets, and travel paraphernalia, as opposed to their conservative peers, who showed more sports décor, U.S. flags, cleaning supplies, calendars, and uncomfortable furniture. Lest you think that the partisan personality is a uniquely American phenomenon, similar findings on personality and political ideology have emerged in samples across the globe, from North America, Europe, and Australia. - http://tinyurl.com/patepcj
California Case Could Be A Pivotal Moment In Ending The War On Marijuana - (Nov. 24, 2014 - By Sean Nevins - Mint Press News) - Over half of Americans think marijuana should be legalized, and one California case challenging the constitutionality of the DEA’s scheduling of the drug could prove instrumental in ultimately putting an end to the government’s war on marijuana. -http://tinyurl.com/qhmf7wf
The CIA’s Student-Activism Phase - (November 26, 2014 - by Tom Hayden - The Nation) - In the 1960s, the agency sought to fight Communism through the students’ rights movement. There’s little reason to think its tactics have changed.
Only once in a while does a book come along that sheds new light on the 1960s. Karen Paget’s forthcoming Patriotic Betrayal (Yale University Press) is just such a work, telling the inside story of how the Central Intelligence Agency corrupted the natural and democratic growth of students’ rights movement by infiltrating the National Student Association (NSA) and directing it to its Cold War ends.
The real-world consequences of these manipulations of student politics are still with us. Here are three examples from Paget’s history:
Supporting Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a CIA operative whom the American spy agency deployed in 1959 to kill the ruler of Iraq, Abdul Karim Kassem. When that assassination attempt failed, Saddam entered a CIA protection program in Egypt until his Baath Party, also supported by the CIA, seized power in 1963. At least 5,000 Iraqis, most of them student activists, were executed immediately by the Baathist regime. And so our Iraq War began.
In those years, the NSA’s secret elite encouraged the NSA Congress to celebrate the Ba’athist coups in Iraq and Syria. The Cold War rationale for ousting Kassem was that he tolerated communists in his governing coalition. (The same rationale was given for the 1954 coups in Iran and Guatemala.) Kassem was executed by a firing squad. Many of the student victims of the new repression were members of the General Union of Iraqi Students. The NSA staff, according to Paget, “turned in hundreds of reports that contained assessments of foreign students” to the CIA, which were fed to the new regime’s security apparatus. It’s “a fact that today haunts many of them,” she says. In Iran, similar lists of human targets were prepared…. - http://tinyurl.com/p777ddu
OPERATION AURORAGOLD: How The NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide - (Dec. 4, 2014 - by Ryan Gallagher - The Intercept) - According to documents contained in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies and organizations internationally, including in countries closely allied to the United States, in an effort to find security weaknesses in cellphone technology that it can exploit for surveillance.
The documents also reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers.
Karsten Nohl, a leading cellphone security expert and cryptographer who was consulted by The Intercept about details contained in the AURORAGOLD documents, said that the broad scope of information swept up in the operation appears aimed at ensuring virtually every cellphone network in the world is NSA accessible.
“Collecting an inventory [like this] on world networks has big ramifications,” Nohl said, because it allows the NSA to track and circumvent upgrades in encryption technology used by cellphone companies to shield calls and texts from eavesdropping. Evidence that the agency has deliberately plotted to weaken the security of communication infrastructure, he added, was particularly alarming.
“Even if you love the NSA and you say you have nothing to hide, you should be against a policy that introduces security vulnerabilities,” Nohl said, “because once NSA introduces a weakness, a vulnerability, it’s not only the NSA that can exploit it.” - http://tinyurl.com/ndsujd8
Illinois Passes Historic Measure To Fight Money In Politics - (17 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (Dec. 4, 2014 - The Young Turks) - Illinois has become the third state in the nation to call for a constitutional convention to amend campaign finance law to overturn the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. …. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGh6qE4UZfQ
What The People Of The Amazon Know That You Don’t!Ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin brings us into the world of the forest's indigenous tribes and the incredible medicinal plants that their shamans use to heal. He outlines the challenges and perils that are endangering them — and their wisdom — and urges us to protect this irreplaceable repository of knowledge. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XJ20tt5nPQ
Have We Become Fascists? - (7 min. - YouTube audio/video) - Thom Hartmann asks if the United States has become a fascist state based on the definition laid out by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Vice President Henry Wallace? - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUDhkcvVp8w
How The Surveillance Industry Sells Itself - (December 9, 2014 - by John Knefel - VICE) - The impressive capabilities of the software and hardware on the convention floor are only underscored by the pedestrian ease with which vendors discuss their products' power. Don Hines, the director of business development at Identytech Solutions, happily tells me about his facial recognition software without a trace of concern the tool could be abused. According to him, Indentytech recently ran a test in a stadium in Argentina filled with 60,000 people, and the system correctly identified 98 out of 100 targeted faces. Display screens in his vendor booth show how even a partial capture—say, of a person's profile—can be turned into a full-on positive ID. "If [a camera] catches a 2-D image, it makes a 3-D image in real time," Hines tells me.
Identytech software also offers a feature their promotional material refers to as "non-voluntary" facial recognition. "I can enroll your face without you ever knowing it," Hines tells me. ….
When I ask him how many companies use his product, he laughs knowingly. "It's more widely utilized than you'll ever know," he responds. "Airports—just about everybody uses it. You just don't know it because it's not widely publicized." - http://www.vice.com/read/the-banality-of-selling-total-surveillance-1207
How Millionaires Buy Up Farmland And Hoard All Our Water - (November 26, 2014 - by Karen Piper - University of Minnesota Press) - When FOX News stands up for "family farmers," they are really fighting for Murdoch's rich friends. - http://tinyurl.com/k97ppgw
Why Good Hackers Make Good Citizens - (9-3/4 min. - YouTube audio/video) - Hacking is about more than mischief-making or political subversion. As Catherine Bracy describes in this spirited TED talk, it can be just as much a force for good as it is for evil. She spins through some inspiring civically-minded projects in Honolulu, Oakland and Mexico City — and makes a compelling case that we all have what it takes to get involved. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeAGu40vZzI
Do Right-Wing Christians Want People To Be Destitute? - (November 26, 2014 - by AlterNet) - The anti-government rhetoric of conservatives would mean throwing millions of people into destitution -- and they're counting on it.
What they want, in short, is a captive audience. If government charity were to be cut off, the churches wouldn't be able to come close to supplying the wants of everyone, and so they'd have strong incentive to impose stringent conditions on the people they did help. Only the most faithful, the most compliant, the most submissive would be able to get through the door.
And that's precisely the state of affairs that the religious right yearns for. What they want is to build a theocracy from the ground up, where the poor and the needy are abjectly dependent on a church that can yank away the necessities of life if it judges them insufficiently compliant, and so the masses will have no choice but to be corralled and steered. Even today, we can see this conservative vision put into practice, and witness the terrible consequences that result when it blocks the government from helping the needy. - http://tinyurl.com/kswnlzo
The Small And Surprisingly Dangerous Detail The Police Track About You - (5-3/4 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (Dec. 11, 2014 - TED) - Currently in-use technology that allows the police to know where you go, with whom, and when: the automatic license plate reader. These cameras are innocuously placed all across small-town America to catch known criminals, but as lawyer and TED Fellow Catherine Crump shows, the data they collect in aggregate could have disastrous consequences for everyone the world over. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt4o-R9wzrs
Tracker, pixel, spyware, snitch: How to shop in secret - (December 12, 2014 - by Violet Blue - Zero Day) - Advances in ad retargeting will broadcast your intentions across the internet and all your devices unless you cover your tracks. - http://tinyurl.com/k3hnx7w
Climate Science: What You Need To Know - (6-1/4 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (Dec. 8, 2014 - It's Okay To Be Smart/PBS) - Scientists overwhelmingly agree that our climate is changing, Earth is getting warmer, sea levels are rising, and it’s primarily because of humans putting lots of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Whether you already trust in the science, you’re undecided, or you disagree with what all this, this video is for you! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffjIyms1BX4
The Prosecution Of An American President - (21-1/2 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (Dec. 16, 2014 - ThomHartmann) - Thom Hartmann talks with Vincent Bugliosi, Renowned Prosecuting Attorney / Author of several books, including his exposé The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, now a documentary feature film "The Prosecution of an American President", who lays out the case for prosecuting former President George W. Bush on murder charges. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRMgTJ_6bTg
From the E.R. to the Courtroom: How Nonprofit Hospitals Are Seizing Patients’ Wages - (Dec. 19, 2014 - by Paul Kiel, ProPublica, and Chris Arnold, NPR) - One Missouri hospital has sued thousands of uninsured patients who couldn’t pay for their care, then grabbed a hefty portion of their paychecks to cover the bills. “We will be paying them off until we die,” one debtor said. - http://tinyurl.com/otz3xyr
Major Chicago study finds red light cameras not safer, cause more rear-end injuries - (Dec 20, 2014 - by Megan Geuss - ArsTechnica) - "This entire program is strictly to generate revenue and always has been," alderman says. - http://tinyurl.com/oou6mcg
Ferguson Grand Jury Witness Lied - (9 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (Dec. 22, 2014 - Thom Hartmann) - Thom Hartmann discusses revelations that a witness in the Michael Brown murder case lied to the Grand Jury with America's Lawyer - Mike Papantonio, Host-Ring of Fire Radio (www.ringoffireradio.com ) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvzqyvsmGE0
WikiLeaks: CIA Knew in 2009 That Drone Strike Program Could Backfire - (Dec. 22, 2014 - AlterNet)Leaked document warned that targeted assassinations could increase popular support for extremist groups. - http://tinyurl.com/oaox5v8
Endless Wars Have Cost Americans $1.6 Trillion, Report Finds - (December 23, 2014 - by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer - Common Dreams) - Post-9/11 military operations are second only to World War II in terms of financial cost—and 'the costs go on.' - http://tinyurl.com/nrd4lvf
Thousands of Websites May Have Left Passwords Exposed - (December 20, 2014 - by Jeff Fox - StateOfTheNet.net) - Large corporations, like AT&T, FedEx, The New York Times and Macy’s have laid bare user information. - http://tinyurl.com/l3jzntl
The Battle For Space - (Dec. 23, 2014 - by Jane C. Hu - Slate) - Russia, China, and the United States are developing “dual use” technologies. One use is peaceful. The other isn’t. - http://tinyurl.com/on3gwu6
The Top-Secret Food That Will Change The Way You Eat - (Dec. 26, 2014 - by Rowan Jacobsen - Outside Magazine) - More protein than beef. More omegas than salmon. Tons of calcium, antioxidants, and vitamin B. In their secret R&D lab, the scientists at Beyond Meat concocted a plant-protein-based performance burger that delivers the juicy flavor and texture of the real thing with none of the dietary and environmental downsides. - http://tinyurl.com/kw9b57z
Inside The NSA's War On Internet Security - (Dec. 28, 2014 - by Jacob Appelbaum, Aaron Gibson, Christian Grothoff, Andy Müller-Maguhn, Laura Poitras, Michael Sontheimer and Christian Stöcker - Der Spiegel) - …the encryption featured in Skype, a program used by some 300 million users to conduct Internet video chat that is touted as secure. It isn't really. "Sustained Skype collection began in Feb 2011," reads a National Security Agency (NSA) training document from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Less than half a year later, in the fall, the code crackers declared their mission accomplished. Since then, data from Skype has been accessible to the NSA's snoops. …. The NSA had been monitoring Skype even before that, but since February 2011, the service has been under order from the secret US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), to not only supply information to the NSA but also to make itself accessible as a source of data for the agency.
The "sustained Skype collection" is a further step taken by the authority in the arms race between intelligence agencies seeking to deny users of their privacy and those wanting to ensure they are protected. ….
The fact that large amounts of the cryptographic systems that underpin the entire Internet have been intentionally weakened or broken by the NSA and its allies poses a grave threat to the security of everyone who relies on the Internet -- from individuals looking for privacy to institutions and companies relying on cloud computing. Many of these weaknesses can be exploited by anyone who knows about them -- not just the NSA.
Inside the intelligence community, this danger is widely known: - http://tinyurl.com/n6nsbvc
Robert W. McChesney: "Capitalism as We Know It Has Got to Go" - (December 30, 2014 - by A distinguished professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Champaign, Robert McChesney is a writer, educator and activist about the dangers of corporation consolidation controlling the media and stifling democracy. - http://truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/28273
Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel To Run Marijuana Company - (Dec. 12, 2014 - by Matt Ferner - The Huffington Post) - Former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) is the new CEO of a marijuana company that produces cannabis-infused products for both recreational and medical use, the company announced Tuesday.
The Alaskan Democrat and 2008 presidential contender will lead KUSH, a subsidiary owned by Cannabis Sativa, Inc. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson serves as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, and Gravel is on that company's board of directors.
KUSH will develop and market new marijuana-infused products under Gravel's leadership, the company said in a press release.
Gravel served two terms in the Senate from 1969 to 1981, and was a candidate in the 2008 presidential race. He also has been an outspoken supporter of marijuana legalization and a staunch critic of the decades-long war on drugs.
"I feel very deeply about the failure that is marijuana prohibition," Gravel told The Huffington Post as one of the reasons why he took his new job. "Nixon is the one that put marijuana into a Schedule I. People forget that story, I lived through that. I thought it was horrible." - http://tinyurl.com/pusyuaa
The Children’s Climate Crusade - (25 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (Jan. 1, 2015 - Bill Moyers) - The very agencies created to protect our environment have been hijacked by the polluting industries they were meant to regulate. It may just turn out that the judicial system, our children and their children will save us from ourselves.
The new legal framework for this crusade against global warming is called atmospheric trust litigation. It takes the fate of the Earth into the courts, arguing that the planet’s atmosphere – its air, water, land, plants and animals — are the responsibility of government, held in its trust to insure the survival of all generations to come. It’s the strategy being used by Bill’s recent guest, Kelsey Juliana, a co-plaintiff in a major lawsuit spearheaded by Our Children’s Trust, that could force the state of Oregon to take a more aggressive stance against the carbon emissions.
Wood tells Bill: “If this nation relies on a stable climate system, and the very habitability of this nation and all of the liberties of young people and their survival interests are at stake, the courts need to force the agencies and the legislatures to simply do their job.” - http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-climate-crusade
10 Rules For Dealing With Cops, By A Cop - (January 5, 2015 - by Neill Franklin - LEAP) - Few people understand that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them. - http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/10-tips-avoid-being-tricked-cops
Groundbreaking Study Confirms: We Must Leave Fossil Fuels "In the Ground" - (January 7, 2015 - by Sarah Lazare, staff writer - Common Dreams) - New research first of its kind to identify specific national reserves that must remain untapped
A groundbreaking new study is confirming what green campaigners have long argued: in order to stave off climate disaster, the majority of fossil fuel deposits around the world—including 92 percent of U.S. coal, all Arctic oil and gas, and a majority of Canadian tar sands—must stay "in the ground."
How Regressive Local Taxes Are Rewarding The Rich - (January 14, 2015 - by Andrea Germanos, staff writer - Common Dreams) - New report finds 'fundamentally unfair' tax system in nearly every state - http://tinyurl.com/pm4vrxp
Tentacles of ‘The Octopus’ - (7-1/2 min. - YouTube audio/video) - What do Iran-Contra, the October Surprise, surveillance software, super-spies and mysterious mafia hits all have in common? The answer might surprise you. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s0ixQ4x-qg
Danny Casolaro and ‘The Octopus’ - (5 min. - YouTube audio/video) - Journalist Danny Casolaro swore to his friends that he'd stumbled upon something big -- a massive conspiracy at the heart of the U.S. government, spanning the globe. His life, he believed, was in danger. But what happened next -- and what, exactly, is "The Octopus"? - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BGOZWJTeCw
The Man Who Spawned “#FoxNewsFacts” Also Advises the U.S. Government on Terror - (January 13, 2015 - By Zaid Jilani - AlterNet) - Steve Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism receives funding from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
“terror expert” Steve Emerson set off a sort of global
laugh track last week when he claimed that parts of the United Kingdom had
been completely taken over by Muslims, and that the city of Birmingham no
longer allowed non-Muslims to enter. Emerson's
fact-free rant spawned the Twitter hashtag #FoxNewsFacts,
prompting users to conjure up outlandishly satirical tales that mocked with the farcical quality of Fox News analysis. “When I
heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April
Fool’s Day,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said of Emerson's remarks. “This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.”
Unfortunately, Emerson is anything but a joke to those he advises. As the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit, Emerson channels millions in funding to SAE Productions, a private company he controls that has no available data on its assets. He has been called as a witness before Congressional committees looking into terrorism-related issues including the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. His website boasts of endorsements from current and former government officials. Here's a few examples: - http://tinyurl.com/q34vbm5
New Police Radars Can 'see' Inside Homes - (At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance.
Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person's house without first obtaining a search warrant.
The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving. - http://tinyurl.com/q43c4sp
Why Are Some Generic Drugs Getting So Expensive? - (January 21 2015 - by Geoffrey Joyce - The Conversation) - While price increases are good news for some generic manufacturers, almost everyone else is adversely affected. Consumers face higher prices, physicians have to prescribe alternative therapies or deal with angry patients. And the local pharmacist can actually lose money if drugs were purchased at new higher prices but is reimbursed at a predetermined lower rate.
The majority of cases come down to two broad factors: reduced competition due to consolidation in the industry, and market and regulatory forces that altered incentives for firms producing generic drugs.
In a nutshell, it’s the bad side of capitalism where intense competition and lower profit margins lead to cost-cutting measures. Lean inventories, outsourcing production and manufacturer consolidation can allow the remaining firms to regain some market power and raise prices, sometimes precipitously. We’ve seen this pattern happen before in the airline and cable industries where highly competitive, deregulated markets led to consolidation and higher prices over time. - http://tinyurl.com/ml5uq4q
How The CIA Made Google: Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet - (Jan. 22, 2015 - By Nafeez Ahmed - Medium.com) - Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work. He has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others.
INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’
The origins of this ingenious strategy trace back to a secret Pentagon-sponsored group, that for the last two decades has functioned as a bridge between the US government and elites across the business, industry, finance, corporate, and media sectors. The group has allowed some of the most powerful special interests in corporate America to systematically circumvent democratic accountability and the rule of law to influence government policies, as well as public opinion in the US and around the world. The results have been catastrophic: NSA mass surveillance, a permanent state of global war, and a new initiative to transform the US military into Skynet.
As our governments push to increase their powers, INSURGE INTELLIGENCE can now reveal the vast extent to which the US intelligence community is implicated in nurturing the web platforms we know today, for the precise purpose of utilizing the technology as a mechanism to fight global ‘information war’ — a war to legitimize the power of the few over the rest of us. The lynchpin of this story is the corporation that in many ways defines the 21st century with its unobtrusive omnipresence: Google.
Google styles itself as a friendly, funky, user-friendly tech firm that rose to prominence through a combination of skill, luck, and genuine innovation. This is true. But it is a mere fragment of the story. In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.
The inside story of Google’s rise, revealed here for the first time, opens a can of worms that goes far beyond Google, unexpectedly shining a light on the existence of a parasitical network driving the evolution of the US national security apparatus, and profiting obscenely from its operation. - http://tinyurl.com/msy98ld
No, America Has Never Been A Christian Country -- Why Does The Myth Persist? - (February 3, 2015 - by Laura Miller - Salon) - A historian challenges conservative claims that the U.S. has a single religious heritage. - http://tinyurl.com/mnzkam3
Intellectual Privacy Vital To Life In Digital Age - (February 3, 2015 - Washington University in St. Louis) - In our increasingly digital world, the balance between privacy and free speech is tenuous, at best. But we often overlook the important ways in which privacy is necessary to protect our cherished civil liberties of freedom of speech, thought and belief, says Neil M. Richards, JD, a privacy law expert at Washington University in St. Louis and author of the new book, "Intellectual Privacy: Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age," published Feb. 2 by Oxford University Press.
"I want people to realize that in building our digital world, we have choices," said Richards, professor of law at the School of Law, noting the importance of free speech to democratic societies.
While new technologies that allow us to learn and communicate in powerful ways continue to be developed, we aren't paying as much attention to the important human values we fought hard to build into our pre-digital technologies, Richards said.
"Intellectual privacy is the much-needed protection for learning, reading and communicating that helps us make up our minds about the world on our own terms," he said. "Without intellectual privacy, when people are watching us when we read and communicate, our thoughts and beliefs get driven to the boring, the bland and the mainstream.
"As a society, we say frequently that we care about individuality, diversity, eccentricity and the vibrant weirdness that freedom makes possible. If we don't have intellectual privacy, all of these important values that make life worth living are threatened." - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150203141927.htm
How Much Does Google Really Know About You? - (Infographic)
License Plate Scanners Also
Taking Photos of Drivers and Passengers - (February 5,
2015 - by Sonia Roubini - Blog of Rights / ACLU) - The Drug
Enforcement Agency is using its license plate reader program not only to track
drivers' locations, but also to photograph these drivers and their passengers,
according to newly disclosed records obtained by the ACLU via a Freedom of
Information Act request.
One internal 2009 DEA communication stated clearly that the license plate program can provide “the requester” with images that “may include vehicle license plate numbers (front and/or rear), photos of visible vehicle occupants [redacted] and a front and rear overall view of the vehicle.” Clearly showing that occupant photos are not an occasional, accidental byproduct of the technology, but one that is intentionally being cultivated, a 2011 email states that the DEA's system has the ability to store “up to 10 photos per vehicle transaction including 4 occupant photos.”
The DEA documents are just the latest indication that license plate scanners are not always focused just on license plates.
[Note: While this article refers to the widespread use of "license plate scanners" they are still not directly addressing the now-pervasive inverted-black-dome 24/7 surveillance network of cameras that have been installed at most major roadway intersections and every mile or two along most roadways. These cameras are operated by so-called Homeland Security and are tied into regional "Fusion Centers" nationwide, that tie-in directly to the FBI, NSA, CIA, DEA, etc.. As an example, this surveillance-camera network is so pervasive that literally now almost every mile of I-44 in Missouri is completely covered. The same holds true now for most State roadways, and many county and municipal roadways, too. It is very important to keep in mind that hese cameras are software-driven and hard-drive auto-archived with photo resolution so good -- via software magnification -- that they can tell from a distance of a mile or more whether or not someone has shaved that morning! --Bike Bob] - http://tinyurl.com/k2fg5tv
How To Surveillance Proof Your Room - (Infographic)
Study Shows Surprising Results on The Dangers of Driving and Consuming Marijuana - (February 10, 2015 - by Paul Armentano / NORML) - You're more likely to be in an accident if you test positive for low levels of alcohol. - http://tinyurl.com/m78p4g4
5 Things The Media and Government Are Not Telling You About Marijuana - (February 3, 2015 - by Paul Armentano / AlterNet) - News outlets continue to ignore research that belies government anti-pot propaganda. - http://tinyurl.com/o65n8jy
HSBC Funds A Cocaine
Plane And Gets Away With It! - (9 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (Feb. 12, 2015 - Thom
Hartmann) - Thom
Hartmann talks with America's Lawyer - Mike Papantonio, Host-Ring of Fire Radio
/ Attorney, Website: www.ringoffireradio.com, who sheds light on wrong
doing at big bank, HSBC and how the U.S. Justice Department let them off the
hook. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVRsQddBWyc
Government wonders: What’s in your old emails? - (February 11, 2015 - by Lindsay Wise - McClatchy Washington Bureau) - If you’ve been remiss in cleaning out your email in-box, here’s some incentive: The federal government can read any emails that are more than six months old without a warrant.
Little known to most Americans, ambiguous language in a communications law passed in 1986 extends Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure only to electronic communications sent or received fewer than 180 days ago.
The language, known as the “180-day rule,” allows government officials to treat any emails, text messages or documents stored on remote servers – popularly known as the cloud – as “abandoned” and therefore accessible using administrative subpoena power, a tactic that critics say circumvents due process.
As you rush to purge your Gmail and Dropbox accounts, however, be forewarned that even deleted files still could be fair game as long as copies exist on a third-party server somewhere. - http://tinyurl.com/mgdbqcz
Why the GOP's Vision of North America's Energy Future Should Scare All of Us - (February 12, 2015 - by Michael Klare - TomDispatch) - It will be a nightmare of environmental degradation and global conflict. - http://tinyurl.com/kjg8gat
Bruce Schneier’s New Book: Data and Goliath - (Feb. 16, 2015 - Schneier on Security) - …copy from the inside front flap:
You are under surveillance right now.
Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who's with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you're unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you're thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.
The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we're offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches. - http://tinyurl.com/ms8j56u
Explosive New Snowden Doc: NSA/GCHQ Stole Vital Cell Phone Encryption Keys - (February 19, 2015 - by Jon Queally, staff writer - Common Dreams) - New reporting by The Intercept, based on documents leaked by whistleblower, reveals how spy agencies hacked world's largest SIM card manufacturer
Following its publication, journalist Glenn Greenwald called it "one of the biggest Snowden stories yet."
According to fellow journalists Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley, who did the reporting on the top-secret documents and detail the implications of the program, the target of the government hacking operation was a company called Gemalto, based in the Netherlands, which makes SIM cards for some of the best known makers of cell phones and other portable electronic products, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and hundreds of other global brands. The acronym SIM stands for "subscriber identity module" and is a small intergrated circuit within a phone that is used to authenticate users and relay key information to the network on which the phone is operating.
As Scahill and Begley report:
With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt. - http://tinyurl.com/nogyeeq
The Great SIM Heist - (Feb. 19, 2015 - by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley - The Intercept) - How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle - https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/great-sim-heist
Big Pharma Is America’s New Mafia - (Feb. 21, 2015 - by Daniela Drake - The Daily Beast) - Dr. Peter Gotzsche, the Director of the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen, has seen enough over the last two decades to sum up his findings in a book whose title says it all: Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare.
“Much of what the drug industry does fulfills the criteria for organized crime in US law,” Dr. Gotzsche said in a recent interview. “And they behave in many ways like the mafia does, they corrupt everyone they can corrupt, they have bought every type of person, even including ministers of health in some countries…The drug industry buys the professors first, then chiefs of departments, then other chief physicians and so on, they don’t buy junior doctors.” - http://tinyurl.com/pwopahh
Prominent Climate Change Denier Funded By Koch Brothers, Energy Companies - (February 22, 2015 - by Nadia Prupis, staff writer - Common Dreams) - Willie Soon received $1.25 million over 14 years to write academic research stating climate change is not caused by human activity, newly released documents show
Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, accumulated a total of $1.25 million from Exxon Mobile, the American Petroleum Institute, Southern Company, and a Koch brothers foundation, according to documents obtained by Greenpeace through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filings.
For years, Soon's work has been a go-to source for politicians angling to block climate change legislation, such as Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who has called climate change a hoax. Soon has also testified before the U.S. Congress and appeared on numerous conservative news shows to claim that greenhouse gases are not harmful and that recent global warming trends are not caused by human activity, but by variations in the sun's energy. - http://tinyurl.com/l5szj4n
Your Privacy Online: Health Information At Serious Risk Of Abuse, Researchers Warn - (February 23, 2015 - University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication) - There is a significant risk to your privacy whenever you visit a health-related web page, some researchers warn. An analysis of over 80,000 such web pages shows that nine out of ten visits result in personal health information being leaked to third parties, including online advertisers and data brokers.
"Personal health information -- historically protected by the Hippocratic Oath -- has suddenly become the property of private corporations who may sell it to the highest bidder or accidentally misuse it to discriminate against the ill," Libert said. "As health information seeking has moved online, the privacy of a doctor's office has been traded in for the silent intrusion of behavioral tracking." - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223122647.htm
A UFO Story Lands In A Hall Of History - (February 23, 2015 - by Billy Baker, Globe staff - The Boston Globe) - This is how the story goes: It’s 1966, and 6-year-old Thomas Reed is in his bedroom on his family’s horse farm in the Berkshires when the encounters begin.
Strange lights. Strange figures in the hallway. Suddenly, he’s in the woods near his home looking at a UFO. Then he and his younger brother, Matthew, are inside the craft. He’s shown a projection of a willow tree.
The following year, there is another incident at their home on Boardman Street in Sheffield. More strange lights. The sound of doors slamming. Then the boys are back inside the vessel. The next thing Thomas knows, he’s in his driveway being scooped up by his mother, who has been searching frantically for the boys on horseback.
Two years later, the family is driving on Route 7 when they see strange lights in the sky. Their car stalls, and then Thomas and his brother and mother and grandmother find themselves in a giant room. He is brought to meet two strange, ant-like figures, then placed in some sort of cage. Next thing, he’s back near the car.
Reed has told these stories many times, and it has not always gone well. But recently, his tale had found recognition in an unlikely place. The Great Barrington Historical Society & Museum has formally inducted the UFO story.
What does that mean? “It means that we believe it is true,” said Debbie Oppermann, the director of the society.“I know we’re going to get a lot of backlash. We’re going to get hammered,” she said. “But we have given it an awful lot of thought, and, based on the evidence we’ve been given, we believe this is a significant and true event.” - http://tinyurl.com/m4ynbwp
A new report, by the journal Scientific Reports, finds that marijuana is far safer than other recreational drugs, including and especially alcohol.
Pot may be as much as 114 times safer than booze, say the researchers. The study also maintains that past research into alcohol has systematically underestimated the risks associated with its use.
The study sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of common recreational drugs. Alcohol, they found, was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine. The safest drug was marijuana; it was also the only drug in the study that had a low mortality risk for users. - http://www.alternet.org/pot-114-times-safer-booze-says-study
Looking Up Symptoms Online?These Companies Are Tracking You!
The Terrifying "Smart" City Of The (Near) Future - (February 19, 2015 - by Allegra Kirkland - AlterNet) - So-called "smart cities" are being heralded as the way of the future, but they have scary social and political consequences. - http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/terrifying-smart-city-future
Bill Maher Blasts NFL Ban On Weed: 'Maybe It's Because Pot Doesn't Make You Violent' - (February 27, 2015 - by Arturo Garcia - Raw Story) - Beer, the official NFL sponsor, "is responsible for more violence against women than the Taliban.” - http://tinyurl.com/ochkn9d
Who's Behind the
Secretive Group Bashing U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren's Favorite Agency? - (Feb.
26, 2015 - by Patrick
Caldwell - Mother Jones) - Anonymous donors
"hired" a PR firm to launch the US Consumer Coalition, its founder
admits. - http://tinyurl.com/np4yo9w
The Democratization of Cyberattack - (March 2, 2015 - by Bruce Schneier - Schneier on Security) - …here's the problem: technological capabilities cannot distinguish based on morality, nationality, or legality; if the US government is able to use a backdoor in a communications system to spy on its enemies, the Chinese government can use the same backdoor to spy on its dissidents.
Even worse, modern computer technology is inherently democratizing. Today's NSA secrets become tomorrow's PhD theses and the next day's hacker tools. As long as we're all using the same computers, phones, social networking platforms, and computer networks, a vulnerability that allows us to spy also allows us to be spied upon.
We can't choose a world where the US gets to spy but China doesn't, or even a world where governments get to spy and criminals don't. We need to choose, as a matter of policy, communications systems that are secure for all users, or ones that are vulnerable to all attackers. It's security or surveillance.As long as criminals are breaking into corporate networks and stealing our data, as long as totalitarian governments are spying on their citizens, as long as cyberterrorism and cyberwar remain a threat, and as long as the beneficial uses of computer technology outweighs the harmful uses, we have to choose security. Anything else is just too dangerous. - https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/03/the_democratiza_1.html
Push Back at Government and Corporate Personal Privacy Incursions [Excerpt] - (March 2, 2015 - by Bruce Schneier / Scientific American) - Digital security specialist Bruce Schneier’s latest book examines the repercussions of—and the appropriate responses to—ubiquitous corporate and governmental harvesting of personal data - http://tinyurl.com/ngacapm
Microchip hand implants offered to Swedish office staff - (video)
Surveillance Valley: Why Google Is Eager to Align Itself With America's Military Industrial Complex - (March 1, 2015 - by Yasha Levine - AlterNet) - Is it wise for us to hand over the contents of our private lives to private companies?
…the construction of a citywide surveillance center that would turn a firehouse in downtown Oakland into a high-tech intelligence hub straight out of Mission Impossible — a federally funded project that linking up real time audio and video feeds from thousands of sensors across the city into one high-tech control hub, where analysts could pipe the data through face recognition software and enrich its intelligence with data coming in from local, state and federal government and law enforcement agencies.
Residents’ anger at the fusion surveillance center was intensified by a set of internal documents showing that city officials were more interested in using the surveillance center monitor political protests rather than fighting crime: keeping tabs on activists, monitoring non-violent political protests and tracking union organizing…. ….
But buried deep in the thousands of pages of planning documents was another disturbing detail. Emails that showed Google — the largest and most powerful corporation in Silicon Valley — was among several other defense contractors vying for a piece of Oakland’s $11 million surveillance contract.
What was Google doing there? What could a company known for superior search and cute doodles offer a controversial surveillance center?
Turns out, a lot.
[….]…the free Google services and apps that we interact with on a daily basis aren’t the company’s main product. They are the harvesting machines that dig up and process the stuff that Google really sells: for-profit intelligence. - http://tinyurl.com/kr8k56w
The Demolition of Workers’ Comp - (March 4, 2015 - Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers. - http://tinyurl.com/lc38cm8
Last Hours: The Frightening Reality Of Global Climate Change - (12-3/4 min. - YouTube audio/video) - (March 6, 2015 - Thom Hartmann / The Big Picture RT) - A special segment of “Last Hours,” the frightening reality of global climate change, narrated by Thom Hartmann and Leonardo DiCaprio. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue9Rin38dDw
Medical Marijuana: A View From Behind The Dispensary Counter - (March 13, 2015 - by David McCullick - AlterNet) - Northern California dispensary operator shares his insights on medical marijuana myths and realities and looks toward what the future might hold. - http://tinyurl.com/pxmwymg
BIOS Hacking - (March 23, 2015 - by Bruce Schneier - Schneier on Security) - We've learned a lot about the NSA's abilities to hack a computer's BIOS so that the hack survives reinstalling the OS. Now we have a research presentation about it.
The NSA has a term for vulnerabilities it think are exclusive to it: NOBUS, for "nobody but us." Turns out that NOBUS is a flawed concept. As I keep saying: "Today's top-secret programs become tomorrow's PhD theses and the next day's hacker tools." By continuing to exploit these vulnerabilities rather than fixing them, the NSA is keeping us all vulnerable. - https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/03/bios_hacking.html
How 'One Nation' Didn't Become 'Under God' Until The '50s Religious Revival - (34-3/4 min. audio) - (March 30, 2015 - Fresh Air/NPR) - The words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase "In God we trust" on the back of a dollar bill haven't been there as long as most Americans might think. Those references were inserted in the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration, the same decade that the National Prayer Breakfast was launched, according to Kevin Kruse, professor of history at Princeton University. His new book is One Nation Under God.
In the original Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy made no mention of God, Kruse says. Bellamy was Christian socialist, a Baptist who believed in the separation of church and state. - http://www.npr.org/2015/03/30/396365659
Five years after Deepwater Horizon, wildlife still struggling: dolphins dying in high numbers; sea turtles failing to nest - (March 31, 2015 - National Wildlife Federation) - As the five-year anniversary of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig approaches, a new report looks at how twenty species of wildlife are faring in the aftermath of the disaster. - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150331082558.htm
“The GOP has scores of racists” - (Apr. 10, 2015 - by A former Bush official condemns modern Republican orthodoxy
Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, warns of the militarism & racism of Republican lawmakers - http://tinyurl.com/p8o3xqo
The FBI is taking extraordinary and potentially unconstitutional measures to keep local and state police forces from exposing the use of so-called “Stingray” surveillance technology across the United States, according to documents obtained separately by the Guardian and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Multiple non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) revealed in Florida, New York and Maryland this week show federal authorities effectively binding local law enforcement from disclosing any information – even to judges – about the cellphone dragnet technology, its collection capabilities or its existence.
In an arrangement that shocked privacy advocates and local defense attorneys, the secret pact also mandates that police notify the FBI to push for the dismissal of cases if technical specifications of the devices are in danger of being revealed in court.
The agreement also contains a clause forcing law enforcement to notify the FBI if freedom of information requests are filed by members of the public or the media for such information, “in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels”.
The strikingly similar NDAs, taken together with documents connecting police to the technology’s manufacturer and federal approval guidelines obtained by the Guardian, suggest a state-by-state chain of secrecy surrounding widespread use of the sophisticated cellphone spying devices known best by the brand of one such device: the Stingray. - http://tinyurl.com/mq5ut2s
& UFOs (1978)
(10 min. - YouTube audio/video)
Global Warming Is Already Clobbering The Amazon - (Apr. 14, 2015 - by University of Leeds ecologist Roel Brienen, who works on Rainfor, crunched the numbers, a startling result emerged. Last month the team reported that the Amazon isn’t pulling in as much carbon as it used to, contradicting the many models that predicted that the rainforest would thrive for another several decades thanks to increasing carbon dioxide levels. In many parts of the forest, the trees do appear to be growing faster and bigger, Phillips says. But they are also dying younger, riding the high of resource abundance until they suddenly flame out. Once a tree dies, its carbon travels back to the atmosphere—exactly where we don’t want it be.
For now, the Amazon is still sucking up more carbon than it’s releasing. But the Rainfor data suggests that a tipping point is coming. As skeptics have long asserted and scientists themselves suspected, models of the future of Earth’s climate did indeed get it wrong. But not in they way anyone would hope. As Phillips puts it: They were “too optimistic.” - http://tinyurl.com/py5lc4a
St. Louis Police Networking Cameras, Other Technology… - (Apr. 16, 2015 - It’s part of the Real Time Crime Center, opened Thursday to bring together an array of electronic resources — including a network of public and private surveillance cameras that could put eyes on a location within seconds.
…. They will have access to data from cameras, license plate readers, red light cameras, hot-spot crime mapping and the ShotSpotter microphone system that can track the source of gunfire.
John Chasnoff, longtime member of the activist organization Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression, called it “a spy hub for the whole city of St. Louis.” He was among about 20 protesters gathered outside headquarters as officials toured the center.
“This is a big step toward mass surveillance of the city’s population,” Chasnoff complained. “People going about their business who have given no indication they have committed an offense are still being watched by their government and police.”
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, is skeptical of the way it was planned. “Maybe everyone will say the policies the city has drafted are great, but there should be a process for review and public comment first,” he said.
Mittman cautioned that once private cameras were used by the government, they must be treated as public cameras, operated in accordance with the Constitution.
“Now they can follow you, keep data, store it and go back and search through it, so we’re going from what might seem like a benign observance of a public square to a Big Brother 24/7 surveillance society,” Mittman suggested. - http://tinyurl.com/mghwwvo
Kids with ADHD must squirm to learn, study saysApril 17, 2015 - University of Central Florida) - For decades, frustrated parents and teachers have barked at fidgety children with ADHD to "Sit still and concentrate!"
But new research conducted at UCF shows that if you want ADHD kids to learn, you have to let them squirm. The foot-tapping, leg-swinging and chair-scooting movements of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are actually vital to how they remember information and work out complex cognitive tasks, according to a study published in an early online release of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.
The findings show the longtime prevailing methods for helping children with ADHD may be misguided.
"The typical interventions target reducing hyperactivity. It's exactly the opposite of what we should be doing for a majority of children with ADHD," said one of the study's authors, Mark Rapport, head of the Children's Learning Clinic at the University of Central Florida. "The message isn't 'Let them run around the room,' but you need to be able to facilitate their movement so they can maintain the level of alertness necessary for cognitive activities."The research has major implications for how parents and teachers should deal with ADHD kids, particularly with the increasing weight given to students' performance on standardized testing. The study suggests that a majority of students with ADHD could perform better on classroom work, tests and homework if they're sitting on activity balls or exercise bikes, for instance. - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150417190003.htm
The Good, The Bad and The Dirty: Climate, Congress and Carbon - (April 22, 2015 - by Reynard Loki - AlterNet) - Energy expert Greg Dotson, the vice president of energy policy at the Center for American Progress, says there are big differences between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to meaningful action on climate change.
Greg Dotson: The last time the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, they passed legislation requiring an 80% reduction in carbon pollution. On the other hand, since the Republicans took control of the House four years ago, Congress has engaged in a counter-productive debate about the environment and climate change. I wish the parties were much more united in their desire to address climate change, but at this point, the record is pretty clear that there is a big difference between them.
In recent years, the debate has not been about how to better protect our air, land and water, nor about how to move our energy system away from the fossil fuels of the past to the cleaner technologies of the future. Instead, the [Republican] House—and now Senate—leadership agenda has focused on gutting the nation’s cornerstone environmental laws, defending tax breaks and subsidies for dirty energy sources, slashing funding for clean energy development, and passing bills to block any action on climate change. That’s a disturbing development and not a political dynamic that allows members of Congress who are concerned about climate change to move meaningful legislation. - http://tinyurl.com/kzcqhkt