Internet Activists Mysteriously Vanishing In Pakistan

1485594518351Written By: Adam Peach
January 28, 2017   3:40AM  EST

Since the first week of 2017, “digital activists” and bloggers have been mysteriously vanishing in Pakistan. It’s been reported, four “citizen journalists”were abducted from the city of Multan, on January 1. Reports suggest that the journalists were summoned to the FIA’s(Federal Investigation Authority) office but never returned.

  Ahmad Waqass Goraya and Asim Saeed were abducted on January 4. They’re both both human rights activists and co-administrators of both a Facebook page and a group, where they campaigned for human rights and religious freedom. There, they would regularly expose human rights violations by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan. The page has since been taken down.

   Two days later, January 6, another abduction. Salman Haider – social media activist, renowned poet, University lecturer, and editor of an independent magazine called, Tanqueed – was reportedly abducted in Islamabad. Then, on January 7, Ahmed Raza Naseer was taken from his family’s shop in Punjab province, by unidentified men. Naseer, also a human rights activist, is administrator of a Facebook page – reporting similar events as that of Goraya and Saeed – was also targeted in the sweep.

  MirrorAsia reported that Naseer was sitting with his brother at their shop outside, when a man holding a mobile phone to his ear walked in. After looking at some mobile phones, the man asked their names. The brothers answered, and the man asked them which one used a particular phone number – it was Ahmed’s.

  “The man tells him to take his phone and come and sit in the car outside, where a sahab [important man] is sitting who wants to ask you some questions,” – his younger brother Tahir, who was ordered to stay inside, reported by Al Jazeera.

   Ahmed has not been seen by anyone since.

   The FIA allegedly targeted the citizens for posting a “fake” picture involving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on December 28, 2016.  Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali complained about the picture, in a letter to the Ministry of Interior. Following this, The FIA traced identities of those who shared the picture. This was done through tracing their IP addresses, followed by a legal notice sent through WhatsApp – Ordering them to appear in court on December 31.

   No one has come forward with the whereabouts of any of these people yet. It is feared by many that they’ve been charged with Blasphemy – a death sentence, in Pakistan. Insulting the Islam prophet is a the death sentence in Pakistan, defiling the Quran carries a life sentence. Rights groups have previously claimed that blasphemy accusations have been previously used to taget minorities, or to settle personal scores.

   Major smear-campaigns against the men abducted have been pushed through Facebook groups with, in some cases, millions of followers, labelling the men as blasphemers. It was reported that one particular group, with almost half a million followers, accused the activists of being funded by the Indian government. It was also reported that conservative groups have lobbied the government to register more cases, such as this, in Pakistan.

   “These [Facebook] pages … are extremely insulting to the Prophet, the Quran, Allah and Islam. They have made a joke out of this,”

Abdullah Cheema, guest on popular television news show on January 12.

  “These blasphemers who they have captured, whoever has captured them, may Allah bless those people,”

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a well-known Muslim leader in a sermon uploaded to YouTube, Jan 13.

    “The group of atheists committing blasphemy on Facebook … have been defeated,”

  Post by Pakistan Defence, pro-military Facebook page with 7.5 million likes.

  Rights groups are worried that the blaspheme charges are being used as a weapon, to silence those who speak out about the state. This, in turn, can silence other activists by instilling fear.

   In August 2016, the government of Pakistan introduced a law used to undermine citizens’ freedom of expression. The law allows the government is able to censor online content, criminalize internet user activity and access internet users’ data without judicial review.

   “Disappearances of people mean the disappearance of voices – and of an alternate, dissenting political dream for what Pakistan can be. They only have to pick up a handful of people, as they’ve done now, to scare and silence us all.”

Mahvish Ahmad, a journalist and founder of the magazine Tanqeed.

It is unknown how many people have been arrested since the “fake” picture was uploaded. It’s also still unknown where any of these people are. Here’s a recent post found on bibleforums.com, posted January 26, 2017:

  “Pastor Judoon, our brother in Pakistan, has not been seen since Sunday and his family fear he’s been kidnapped.

They’re worried because Judoon has been supporting a Christian accused of ‘blasphemy’ – the type of case which causes tensions to run high in Pakistan.”

Post made to bibleforums.com

Sources:

GlobalVoices.Org

FrontlineDefenders.Org

MirrorAsia.Com

AlJazeera.Com

Bibleforums.Org

Advertisements

January 28 Is Data Privacy Day: Here’s How You Can Pay Less For More Privacy

An Extensive guide to keeping your data safe with free, open source software, for everyday use

1485594518351Written By: Adam Peach   January 27.2017       12:27PM EST

  It’s hard to maintain privacy online these days. Services and devices we pay hard-earned money for, are mediums of gathering information for the companies providing them. That information is then compiled and sold in bulk quantities to call centres, marketing agencies, and entities that provide analysis for various industries, or fields of study.

  We pay hundreds for smart phones and computers. Software is then required, for these devices to meet our individual needs. Things like anti-virus software, or word processing software, are required to complete work tasks – or keep your computer safe. We pay for this software, while giving our personal information to the developers; rarely paying attention to their privacy policies. Therefore, when you select the box labelled “I agree to the terms and policies”, you’re passively consenting to the distribution of your information, in whichever way that particular company sees fit.

  Computers and cell phones hold extremely personal information, and while passwords and 2-step authentication methods can seem inconvenient, it’s actually our perception of inconvenience. It’s convenient for our Facebook account to log in upon opening our web browser, but is that really the safest way to go?

  We lock our doors when we leave our homes with a key. It can take 5-10 seconds, or more, to take them out and unlock the front door. Most don’t think of this as an inconvenience, however. It’s just the way we protect our personal belongings. So, why don’t we treat our electronic devices with the same vigilance? After all, they do hold many personal belongings, like our home.

  This is a guide to demonstrate some quick and easy methods for maintaining your privacy while still being productive at work, or at home. There are many FREE programs out there which do not require your personal information. These are ad-free, open source programs which can be downloaded free-of-charge – to manage everyday tasks, such as browsing the internet, or managing personal files. These developers make money by receiving donations from users of their software. That money usually just barely covers operational costs. That being said, developers of these programs are very proud of their work, and strive to provide the public with practical computer solutions, without compromising privacy.

  The guide will demonstrate some methods you can use to maintain privacy, and save a bit of money. They can be easily applied for someone brand new to encryption and open source software, as they are all very easy to use.

  Nothing is really “sure-fire” in terms of being completely hidden online, however, this guide will help quite a bit – first, with a step-by-step into making your password management a little easier.

STEP 1

Create a Password For Your Computer Login

  Probably a no-brainer, but most tend to ignore this step if using their own private computer. It just adds another key to crack, for anyone trying to access the computer. It doesn’t have to be long, but something unique – using letters AND numbers, with a combination of lower-case and CAPS. This will be one of the only two passwords you will have to manually enter when starting your computer.

STEP 2

Get KeePass

  KeePass is a password manager in which you store ALL of your logins, whether it be social media, email, and so on. It has a password generator built-in, allowing you to create very strong and unique passwords for any of your other accounts. Once in the password generator window, just click “Generate”. You can then copy and paste the created password to any other account you wish.

  Once your login info is stored, just copy and paste it every time you log in to that account – saving you from typing, or attempting to memorize extremely long alpha-numeric passwords. You can then save all of your information as a file on your computer(the file automatically encrypts itself when saved). Every time you log on to the computer, open KeePass, then click “open” near the top of the screen, and open the saved file.

  Upon installation, after launching KeePass, you will be prompted to enter a password to protect your file. Remember, this file will have ALL of your login information, for every account you are associated with . Therefore, after creating your initial password, I recommend using the password generator to create a strong key, and then copy and paste it as your new password for your file. WRITE THIS PASSWORD DOWN! This will be number two, of the only two passwords you’ll need to enter manually, in this guide.

  When you turn on your computer, enter your login password. Then open your KeePass file, and enter your key. You have now unlocked your “front door”, so to speak.

  Keep KeePass open and minimize the window while you use your computer. This way, when loggin into an online account, you won’t have to enter the long KeePass key again. Just maximize the window, and copy and paste desired login info as needed.

  You can now remove all of your login information from your browser memory, as now you can just copy and paste it from KeePass. This is important because in the case of the computer being hacked, the hacker will not gain immediate access to online accounts, such as social media, by simply opening the browser.

  KeePass can also be downloaded to your mobile phone, allowing you to copy your file to your phone VIA email or DropBox and use in the same way as described above. Remember, this is an encrypted file, therefore it is safe(safer) to share on dropbox. Otherwise, cloud storage is really not the way to go, if you care about privacy and security. USB flashdrives can hold much more data than free, or paid cloud storage, and can be attached to a key chain, for easy travel.

Available for iPhone & Android

ENCRYPTION SOFTWARE

AxCrypt

  AxCrypt is a very easy-to-use encryption software. This program, however, does require you “sign up” with your email and a password – only downfall, I guess. AxCrypt is also available as an app for mobile devices which makes it easy to log in to your account and decrypt your files from your phone. Use the password generator in KeePass to make a strong key for your AxCrypt account. When decrypting files or media, copy and paste the password from your KeePass. Use this to encrypt EVERYTHING before transferring to cloud services like DropBox, iCloud or Google Drive.

  Comparing the privacy policies of Google Drive VS. DropBox, Google Drive states that your information will be shared with affiliated third parties, whereas, DropBox states it does not share information in this manner. Still, encrypting EVERYTHING before uploading to DropBox or similar services is recommended, if you care about privacy.

  Take a few minutes to encrypt ALL of your documents, photos, and videos, after installing AxCrypt. When a particular file is needed, simply decrypt it for use, then encrypt it again for storage. This way, even if your device is compromised, your personal files and photos will still be protected from intruders trying to gain access or view them. AxCrypt makes this very quick and easy by allowing you to right-click on the file you wish to encrypt, and click “encrypt” – done.

Available on iOS & Android

ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE

ClamWin

  Anti-virus software can get expensive. Not to mention, the cost of giving up personal information to developers. “Big-name” anti-virus software requires yearly paid subscriptions, whereas, free, open source programs exist which do the same job at similar, or better quality. Expensive anti-virus software also has a bad tendency to slow down your computer, due to using a lot of RAM in the backround. Most open source software does not slow down your computer like this. ClamWin is exactly that, and does not require giving up any personal information. Just download, and start using it. It’s also very popular and considered one of the best open source anti-virus programs, in various forums on the web.

WEB BROWSER

FireFox

  FireFox is an open source browser by Mozilla. Settings can be configured to increase privacy on the web, such as deleting cookies, or login information. Various add-ons are also available to prevent web trackers from harvesting data such as which news article you’re reading, or which Youtube video you’re watching. To improve security while browsing just download FireFox, then go to “settings” and then “add-ons”. There, you can download AdBlock Plus and Ghostery. Ghostery is great because it shows you which trackers are active on the page you are currently browsing, while blocking them. It also provides detailed info about each tracker, and their affiliations.

**Available for iOS & Android

Tor Browser

  Tor browser is a great open source option for privacy. The Tor network was created by the US Navy for anonymous web browsing. It’s now being run by a non-profit organization, made up of internet privacy advocates. Tor works similar to a VPN, bouncing your internet traffic around the world before reaching it’s destination – effectively making it harder for a spectator to determine where your traffic is coming from. Tor browser is more secure than FireFox, albeit a little slower in performance. However, the slower performance is only due to the process Tor follows to make users “less-visible” on the web. The Tor browser was actually built from FireFox. It should be noted that downloading and uploading “torrents” is not welcome on the Tor browser, as it can slow down the whole network for other users. Use this for browsing, not downloading torrents. Using Tor in combination with a VPN will get you about as close to “hidden” as you can get, while browsing.

iOS: Onion Browser

Android: OrFox (use with Orbot)

EMAIL BROWSER

ThunderBird

  Also by Mozilla, ThunderBird works just like Outlook Express. You can manage multiple email accounts in one platform, and also has a built in calendar and task list. Add-ons are available for ThunderBird as well, such as EnigMail – a built-in PGP tool for encrypting email. It is important to use a master password, when using an email client like ThunderBird. Without a master key, an intruder could gain access to all of your email accounts, simply by opening ThunderBird. This can be done in the “options” menu. Generate a new password in KeePass, save it, then copy and paste as your master password for ThunderBird.

  PGP (pretty good privacy) is a method of exchanging encrypted messages. It was used by Edward Snowden, when he reached out to journalist Glenn Greenwald, with his leaked NSA documents.

 Malware detectors and anti-virus add-ons are also available.

  An alternative, is to use a secure email provider such as ProtonMail. ProtonMail offers a fully-encrypted email service, for free, of course. However, it can not be used with an email client such as ThunderBird. You must use a browser to access it.

iOS: Not available, but there’s a similar app called TutaNota. The big difference is that you must create a new email address to use this app’s end-to-end encrypted email service.

Android: Not available, perfect equivalent is BlueMail. Works exactly like ThunderBird.

Gpg4win

  This is a stand-alone PGP tool for sending encrypted messages, similar to EnigMail. The main difference being that it is not just an add-on, but a dedicated PGP/Encryption software. It’s very basic looking and easy to use for a “newbie”.

iOS Equivalent: NONE (but you can download a free SSL certificate from Comodo, giving you encryption used with your stock email client)

Android Equivalent: OpenKeyChain

DOCUMENTS, SPREADSHEETS, PDFs, & POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS

LibreOffice

  Office-based programs such as Microsoft Office can get quite expensive. Once again, the price also comes with giving up personal information to even more developers.

  LibreOffice is almost exactly the same as Microsoft Office in that, it comes with a replacement for MS Word, Excell, Powerpoint, Paint, and a couple of other neat tools. Word files are saved by default as OpenDocument Text (.odt), which can be opened on all other popular office programs. Libre Writer (MS Word replacement), provides almost all of the same features found in MS Word or Google Docs. LibreOffice also uses much less hard drive space than MS Office – saving you valuable storage room on your computer. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s free? Although, you can also make a donation to support the developers on their website, if you like.

iOS: LibreOffice Vanilla

Android: LibreOffice Viewer

SEARCH ENGINE

Duck Duck Go

  Duck Duck Go is a search engine, much like Google. However, unlike Google, it does not store search history. In FireFox, go to “settings” and change your default search engine to Duck Duck Go.

NOTABLE MENTIONS

VPNs

  Unfortunately, there are no free VPN services recommended for maximum privacy. Pretty much all of them come with either tons of ads, or slow your bandwidth down significantly. Also, many are known to share personal information with third-parties, therefore, compromising the very privacy you were attempting to protect in the first place. This type of service is worth the small amount required to subscribe. Here are a couple of popular VPN services. Again, these are not free. However, some – like TunnelBear – offer a demo, to try their product before purchasing.

TunnelBear: $4.17/month

VPN Unlimited: $4.99/month

USB Flash Drives

To be blunt, if you care about privacy, stop using cloud-based storage. Go back to using USB flash drives. You can get USB sticks that have plenty of space now, for relatively cheap. Keep it in a safe place. If you’re going somewhere that you won’t need it, but may lose it – leave it somewhere safe, like at home. If you require more space than you can get on a USB stick, upgrade to a larger, external hard drive.

If using cloud-based storage to share large media files, you can compress those files or folders and send VIA email to colleagues or clients. This can be done with another open source program called 7-Zip File Manager. It does the same as WinZip, in regards to compressing and decompressing files and folders. 7-Zip also supports encryption.

  Some may say there is a fine line between convenience and privacy, on the internet these days – but there’s really not. There has always been a very thick line, and by passively consenting to give away our personal information, we are helping to destroy that privacy, while companies are profiting from it. People learn about ways their privacy is being taken away, and accept it, under the idea: “well, what are we supposed to do about it, though?”. How about if we stop supporting companies that DON’T respect privacy, and start supporting companies that DO respect privacy – if we really care about our constitutional right, that is. Companies have learned over the years that in order to keep key customers, they must use encryption. Unfortunately, the largest companies are constantly offering “convenient” products and services which in actuality, undermine the privacy and security of their customers. By supporting these products, you are catering to that trend, replacing your privacy for convenience.

Walmart Facing 174 Charges For Selling Contaminated Food After Wildfire

1485594518351Written By: Adam Peach

A Walmart store in Fort MacMurray, Alberta, Canada reportedly has been selling contaminated food.  Walmart Canada and four of its managers are now facing 174 charges in relation to fire-contaminated food.

The wildfire started in May, 2016, Fort MacMurray residents were evacuated, as it spread  approximately 590,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres) before it was declared to be under control on July 5, 2016.

Court documents have shown the violations occurred at the Walmart store of Hospital Street, around May 24 – May 29, 2016.

Before residents re-entered the city, businesses and residents were urged repeatedly to throw out any food items not stored safely in cans or tins.

In a statement reported by CBC News, Walmart Canada said this:

“We, at all material times, and during an unprecedented crisis, worked very closely with both food inspectors and the crisis management team of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to re-open the store as soon as reasonably possible, in an effort to support and meet the critical needs of the community.”

Statement from Walmart Canada, CBC News, article HERE

Under the Public Health Act, each offense would impose a fine of up to $2,000.

 

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Fort_McMurray_wildfire

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/fort-mcmurray-burns-this-is-a-nasty-dirty-fire/article29862009/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/the-fort-mcmurray-disaster-read-the-latest-weekend/article29930041/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/wal-mart-charged-1.3935533

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/walmart-charged-for-allegedly-failing-to-throw-out-food-after-fort-mcmurray-wildfire

The 2016 US Presidential Election And The Myth Of Anti-Establishment

1485594518351 Written By: Adam Peach

To understand the current world around us, we have to understand the fundamentals of how decisions are actually made.  Why have we not achieved world peace?  Why have we not ended world hunger or world poverty?  Why are there still constant wars being fought around the world?  Those sort of questions can draw many different different opinions.  However, there is one thing that influences almost, if not, all decisions made in the world today.  That is, of course, Money.  For this reason, to understand most or all decision-making processes, we have to look at things from a business perspective, not a humanitarian perspective.

  Most of the general public do not have the millions of dollars needed to contribute to successful political campaigns.  This is where corporations come in.  Sure, the general public can make donations to whichever candidates they like, in support of whichever political party or agenda they happen to agree with – but most people, in general, can not afford to donate the same kind of million-dollar contributions made by large corporations.
  These corporations all represent a different industrial sector, respective to what each of them do in the global market.  For example, you have sectors such as Finance, Pharmaceudical, Agriculture, Energy, and more.  Each of these sectors have different opinions on how policies should be, based on their respective sector or business interests.  Therefore, corporations will give more money to a politician who supports the same policies that they support.  For example, oil companies would be more apposed to a politician who does not support new pipelines.  As an oil company, they would be more in favor of politicians who DO support building pipelines, because pipelines are crucial for their business to succeed.
  This is called “Lobbying”.  Corporations and organizations hand out millions to politicians throughout every election cycle to help sway policies in favor of their specific business .  Upon receiving this money, politicians must maintain a stance that supports these businesses in their own way – otherwise they may lose future contributions from those businesses.  For instance, if I give you money because you promise to help my business succeed, but then you support policies that prevent my business from succeeding –  I would not want to give you any more money because you are using my contribution to go against my interests.  Therefore, as we have experienced over the years – in democracies all over the world – politicians can be easily swayed to support a policy in a specific company, or industry’s interest.  These companies are, after all, financially supporting political campaigns and politicians must not “bite the hand that feeds” – that is the mentality, of course.
  PACs and Super PACs:

Political Action Committee (PAC) — A popular term for a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor or ideological interests.”

Foreign-connected Political Action Committee – Only American citizens (and immigrants with green cards) can contribute to federal politics, but the American divisions of foreign companies can form political action committees (PACs) and collect contributions from their American employees. Here’s an indication of the foreign-connected interests behind these PACs, based on the headquarters of their parent companies.”

   A super PAC is pretty much what it sounds like.  It is a PAC that contributes substantially more funds than other PACs.  The donors of these super PACs are some of the wealthiest people in the country, and abroad.  As a Super PAC, they hold significantly more “buying power” when it comes to political lobbying.
  Below, are three charts showing how much money was contributed to the election from Foreign-connected PACs in 2016.  The first chart, demonstrates how many of these contributions went to a specific political party.  In other words, we can consider a company is in favor of a particular political agenda based on who they give majority of their donated money to.  The second chart below, shows how much money was contributed by Foreign-connected PACs from each industrial sector.  The third, shows how much money was contributed per region.
forcont-chart-2016
forcon-by-sect-2016
forcont-by-reg
As you can see, the top 5 sectors that contributed the most are Finance, Pharmaceudical, Construction,Defense, and what we’ve categorized as “Misc” – which is made up of companies in the Beer/Wine/Spirits industry, as well as Lobbyist groups, in which their sole purpose is to push support for specific policies.  In regards to regional contributions, Europe and Asia are the biggest contributors – Europe contributing the most, as clearly shown, above.

From the top 5 sectors described above, here is the top contributor from each:


forcont-top5sectors


  Aside from foreign contributions, obviously there are domestic contributions.  The biggest campaign contributions come from Super PACs (described above).  Super PACs are driven to specifically enforce political agendas by means of lobbying, or forking out millions of dollars to support candidates’ policies and policy reform, in their specific social or economic interests.  Super PACs also receive many contributions from political non-profit organizations which, by law, are not required to report where their funding comes from.  This is called “dark money”.  These such organizations have been sprouting up all over since that law was passed and they are very large contributors for political campaigns.
  Here are the top 3 super PACs from the 2016 election cycle:

 top-3-super-pac

  Listed below, you will find the top 5 donors for each of the top 3 super PACs.  Additionally, each donor is listed with a brief but descriptive history of their previous financial or political endeavors.  This information was gathered using multiple various news sources and publications, and information that is available publicly on the internet.  Links to sources for all information and data shown, above and below, is listed at the bottom of this report.

Priorities USA Action Top 5 Donors

George Soros: Soros Fund Management

George Soros is known to Support “open borders” and globalization ideaologies.  Soros once quoted:

  “The system is very favorable to financial capital, which is free to go where it is best rewarded, which in turn has led to the rapid growth of global financial markets. The result is a gigantic circulatory system, sucking up capital into the financial markets and institutions at the center and then pumping it out to the periphery either directly in the form of credits and portfolio investments or indirectly through multinational corporations.”

The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered” by George Soros, 1998

Soros  Allegedly earned $1B after engineering “Black Wednesday” financial meltdown. in the UK, early 1990’s.  He has Lobbied for more power to World Bank and is a huge contributor to MoveOn.Org.  The group’s website started an ad comparing President George W. Bush to Hitler and ran the infamous “General Betray Us” ad in the New York Times, attacking Gen. David Petraeus[1] (who was a whistle-blower that provided “8 Black books” containing sensitive government information to Paula Broadwell, his biographer.  Here’s a quote from the original indictment of Petraeus:

(The books) “collectively contained classified information regarding the identifies of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings… and discussions with the president of the United States.”

[1] Petraeus received no jail time for this, which has sparked much debate regarding hypocrisy in dealing with government whistleblowers.  A valid debate when one considers the opposite treatment in which has been given to whistle-blowers such as Chelsie Manning, Edward Snowdon, and Thomas Drake.  Drake in particular, made attempts to use the chain-of-command protocol available to him in reporting his original concerns, however – with no success.  After deciding to leak his information to the media, his security clearance was suspended – effectively ending his career with the government.  Following that, Drake was indicted in 2010, which forced him to lose his position at Strayer University.  After that, Drake went to work for retail, at The Apple Store.

James Simons: Mathematician, founder of Renaissance Technologies

Jim Simons is an award-winning mathematician that used his skills to decipher Soviet codes for the NSA during the Cold War.

He is also the founder of Renaissance Technologies, known for investing in research and advancement of Big Data systems for the purpose of collecting, and analyzing data for hedge funds.  Renaissance has a hedge fund called “Medallion” which is considered one of the most successful hedge funds, ever.

The mass collection data can give key investors advantage of markets due to ability to make projections based on investor/consumer behavior.  Using algorithms like these, internet entities can send a user specific ads, or information related to their past interactions, thus creating a false sense of reality and can undermine competition.  For lack of a better general example at the moment, in a 2002 movie called “Minority Report”, an agent is able to use a computer to prevent future crimes that have not yet happened by receiving information of who they are, where they are, and what crime they are going to commit.  The agent can then locate and arrest the criminal BEFORE the crime actually takes place.  This is he same concept of a quant fund – to recognize trends before they happen, thus, creating an obvious advantage in forcasting.  This can be especially dangerous if used for political means as data can be used with algorithms to create content specifically designed for that user.  A user may only see ads and information from one bias political point of view or opinion.  It also gives companies with access to more databases advantage over smaller companies.  A small company would be no match for a large corporation with access to extremely large consumer databases, allowing them to analyze trends and financial forecasting.

For a broader idea of what Big Data is, and why it is important for the general public to know about this technology, Please refer to my articles “How You’re Really Being Watched: Facebook, The Filter Bubble & Big Data” as well as “Augmented Realities And The Perception Of Truth “ .

Fred Eychaner: Owner of Newsweb/Known as 5th highest lifetime contributor to the Democratic party (as of 2015)

Fred Eychaner is the chairman of Newsweb Corporation – a printer of ethnic and alternative newspapers in the United States, based in Chicago, Illinois.  Newsweb Corporation owns WCPT – an Air America and CNN Radio affiliate, which includes locally hosted Progressive Talk programming.  An article from 2010, in the Chicago Sun-Times, reported Eychaner has given the Clinton Foundation more than $25 million – The link and desciption for this article is still available on search engines, however, the article has been taken down.

Donald Sussman: Founder of the Paloma Funds and New China Capital Management LLC

Donald Sussman’s company, New China Capital Management LLC is an investor of The Cathay Family of Funds.  CATHAY is a leading private investment firm which provides capital to Chinese companies to support growth.

“Since 1992, Cathay has completed over 40 investments and has completed initial public offerings (“IPOs”), trade sales and other capital events with a cumulative transaction value over US$5 billion. In 2007 alone, Cathay completed five IPOs of its portfolio companies on international stock exchanges. Current assets under management exceed US$1.5 billion.”  -crunchbase.com

S. Daniel Abraham: Founder of Thompson Medical (Slim-Fast), Founder of S. Daniel Abraham Center For Middle East Peace

S. Daniel Abraham is the founder of Thompson Medical, famous for creating Slim-Fast.  He supports Jewish causes  in Florida and Israel.  Abraham made Thompson Medical private in 1988. Unilever later acquired Slim-Fast for $2.3 billion in 2000.  As of October 2016, Abraham had an estimated wealth of $2.1 billion.  He established The S Daniel Abraham Center For Middle East Peace in which the current president is former congressman Robert Wexler.  Wexler has previously been called “one of the most influential leaders in the American Jewish community”.  Wexler was one of two Congressmen who travelled to the International Court of Justice at The Hague – in opposition to the Palestinian case against Israel’s construction of a security barrier – or border wall, in other words.

Right To Rise (USA) Top 5 Donors

CV STARR & CO Inc.: Investment bank

C.V. Starr & Co is an investment bank founded by Cornelius Vander Starr, aka C.V. Starr, aka Neil Starr  (October 15, 1892 – December 20, 1968).  Starr was an American businessman and it is reported that he was an operative for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)[2].  He is best known for founding the American International Group (AIG), one of the biggest corporations in the world.  AIG accepted a government bailout after the 2008 financial crisis for the amount of $182.5 billion – The biggest bailout in history.

The OSS was the predecessor for the CIA.  The OSS was formed as an agency of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).  It was originally formed to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Other functions of the OSS included the use of propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning.

Maurice R. Greenberg is currently chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co.  He is formerly chairman and CEO of AIG.  Greenberg was once named the most connected business executive in New York by New York Business.  He was alleged to have been forced from his position with AIG after a fraud claim by Elliot Spitzer.

“They knew which factories to burn, which bridges to blow up, which cargo ships could be sunk in good conscience. They had pothole counts for roads used for invasion and head counts for city blocks marked for incineration.”

“They weren’t just secret agents. They were secret insurance agents. These undercover underwriters gave their World War II spymasters access to a global industry that both bankrolled and, ultimately, helped bring down Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.”

“Newly declassified U.S. intelligence files tell the remarkable story of the ultra-secret Insurance Intelligence Unit, a component of the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA, and its elite counterintelligence branch X-2.”

Mark Fritz, LA Times Original article HERE.

Miguel “Mike” Fernandez

Mike Fernandez is the founder of MBF Healthcare Partners, a private equity firm in Coral Gables, Florida.  During the Republican primaries, Fernandez funded newspaper ads comparing Trump to Hitler, Mussolini, and Perón.

In 2014, MBF contributed $1 million to Rick Scott’s campaign in Florida.  Scott, a former chief executive of Columbia/HCA, was forced to resign in 1997, amid a controversy over the company’s business and Medicare billing practices.  Upon resignation, Scott was paid a settlement of $9.88 million and left with 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million.  The case was settled at a reported cost of $2 billion to HCA in 2002. Thus, making it the largest fraud settlement in US history.

CBS SIXTY MINUTES reported out of 100 employees from HCA for-profit hospitals, most said this:

“relentlessly pressured its doctors to admit more and more patients—regardless of medical need—in order to raise revenues”

Sunday, CBS’ Sixty Minutes, video HERE

Jasper Reserves LLC: Affiliate company of Shell

Chris Cline is a mining entrepreneur and philanthropist.  He is the majority owner of privately held Foresight Reserves LP.  He has previously been called “The King Of Coal”.  Cline is considered responsible for reviving the Illinois coal industry. His company has more than three billion tons of coal reserves across Illinois and the Northern Appalachia.  As a prominent figure in the coal industry, it’s no surprise that he is not a supporter of the idea that climate change is due to carbon emissions.  It has been reported, Cline once lobbied his daughter’s school to distribute literature explaining alternative causes for climate change, such as sunspots – after hearing that the school showed students Al Gore’s famous movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”.

Jasper Reserves LLC, an affiliate of major oil company Shell, was originally a “mystery donor” for Right To Rise.  Chris Cline later came forward as the so-called “mystery donor of $1 million to Jeb Bush’s Right To Rise PAC.

This type of transaction points to a loophole in the campaign finance system. By law, super-PACs can receive unlimited donations from individuals, corporations and other businesses, but they must regularly disclose their identities.

“Using a shell corporation that’s not easily traced to its creator is one way big donors can avoid the disclosure requirement.”

“In 2011, a super-PAC supporting Mitt Romney got $1 million from a company known as “W Spann LLC” that had been created shortly beforehand. Edward Conard, a former colleague of Romney’s at Bain Capital, eventually came forward as the mystery donor.”

– Bloomberg, original article HERE

Hushang Ansary:  Former Iranian Ambassador to the United States

Former Iranian ambassador to the US, former Head of NOIC and former Minister of Finance and Economy. He is the founder of parmen group – a Houston-based, privately held global investment enterprise with extensive interests in oilfield equipment manufacturing, leisure industries, International trade and real estate. In addition to being chairman of Parmen Group, he is also chairman of Stewart & Stevenson LLC – another manufacturer of specialized equipment for the oil and gas industry.

Bernard Marcus: Philanthropist

  Bernard Marcus is co-founder of Home Depot.  As a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, he supported Stephen Bannon, former chairman of Brietbart News – a media organization known for extremely alt-far-right views related to white supremacy.  In a sworn court declaration after their divorce in 2007, Bannon’s ex-wife claimed he said:

‘didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews’

In response to numerous anti-semitic claims directed at Bannon, the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement, written by Bernard Marcus.  In the statement, Marcus claims:

“I have known Steve to be a passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel who felt so strongly about this that he opened a Breitbart office in Israel to ensure that the true pro-Israel story would get out,”

– Bernard Marcus, Republican Jewish Coalition

  Furthermore, Steve Bannon, also an ex-Goldman Sachs banker, was once called the “most dangerous political operative in the US in 2015”  After serving as Chief Executive to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Bannon has now been appointed chief strategist and senior counselor to the Trump Administration.

SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND Top 5 Donors

ONE NATION: Karl Rove

   Karl Rove is former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush.  In a November 2004 speech, Bush publicly thanked Rove, calling him “the architect” of his victory over John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.  Many claimed the election favored Kerry, however, key votes from Ohio were allegedly not included, or voided during recounts.  
Rove also allegedly played a key roll in the federal prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman (Democrat).  In 2006, Siegelman was convicted on felony corruption charges and sentenced to seven years in prison.  More than 100 former attorneys general and officials, both Democrat and Republican, have contended that his prosecution was marred by misconduct, on behalf of the prosecution.
   On May 2, 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to Attorney General Gonzales, ordering the Department of Justice to turn over all email from Rove regarding the “Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy” – no matter what email account Rove may have used, with a deadline of May 15, 2007.
On August 31, 2007, Karl Rove resigned without responding to the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena claiming:
“I just think it’s time to leave.”
Karl Rove, 2007 upon resignation of position after not responding to subpoena.
  On July 7 and July 30, 2009, Rove testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding questions about the dismissal of seven U.S. Attorneys under the Bush Administration. Rove was also questioned regarding the federal prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who was convicted of fraud. The Committee concluded that Rove had played a significant role in the attorney firings.

Action Now Initiative: Laura & John Arnold

Laura and John Arnold are billionaire philanthropists who started the Laura & John Arnold Foundation.  John Arnold is a former Enron trader who received an $8M bonus before the collapse of Enron and started a billion-dollar hedge fund.  The Laura and John Arnold Foundation states that it focuses on three main areas: criminal justice, education, and public accountability.  The foundation also funds the Nutrition Science Initiative in San Diego.

On July 1, 2013, the New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram and the foundation, launched a data driven risk management electronic system to assist employees of the Criminal Justice department in their decision making.  Milgram resigned from her position in 2009.  She is now founding head of the Criminal Justice Initiative at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Ross McNutt, Founder of Persistent Surveillance Systems, created a drone with a camera attached, that can hover in the same position in the air for endless hours at a time.  Originally developed for use in the Iraq war, the drone-technology gives analysts a bird’s-eye view of the whole city and can track anyone’s movements.  Ross was trying to convince US police, in mostly high-crime areas, to adopt his technology but police wouldn’t pay for it.

Laura and John heard about this technology on a radio show and then offered McNutt to pay for the system’s use, provided that he could find a city willing to use it.  The initial contribution was $120,000.  This was paid privately, not through the foundation.  Ross got the Baltimore Police on board and they immediately put it to use.  The police, however, failed to inform anyone that they were using an aerial surveillance technology that literally watches every movement in the entire city.

Six months later, citizens were finally notified of the continued use of this technology by Baltimore Police, due to an article published by Bloomberg.  Approval for the use of the surveillance was not sought by Baltimore Police.  Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, claimed that she was also not aware or briefed about the deployment of the surveillance device in the city over the past six months.  Inresponse, Laura Arnold said this:

“trust local actors to make those decisions. We don’t say you have to do it one way or another.”

-Laura Arnold, Huffington Post, article HERE

The baltimore police have not had a good track record over the past few years, in regards to human rights.  One can see how this caused extra concerns from many upon finding out about the secret drone mass-surveillance.

This however, is not the only venture they are funding in Baltimore.  The Laura and John Arnold Foundation handed out $450,000 to the Johns Hopkins University in support of a an initiative aimed to give thousands of pairs of free glasses to public school students, to study that better vision will improve school performance.  During this very same time, an additional contribution to the aerial surveillance program was made in the tune of $240,000.  In a statement released in regards to the Baltimore Police aerial surveillance program, they said:

“We invest in a wide array of criminal justice issues and policies, including strategies for improving the clearance rate of criminal cases. One such strategy is to use technology to assist police in early-stage investigations,”

“To that end, we personally provided financial support for the aerial surveillance tool being piloted in Baltimore.  As a society, we should seek to understand whether these technologies yield significant benefits, while carefully weighing any such benefits against corresponding tradeoffs to privacy.”

Laura and John Arnold, statement

Additionally, John Arnold was allegedly involved in a PBS scandal in which it was reported he lobbied money to the TV station and funded the production and broadcasting of anti-pension ideologies, supporting policies such as refrain from additional taxation of the 1%, and scrapping pensions.  PBS’s own rules prohibit such corporate, political or ideological interests from funding programming that directly promotes a specific agenda.

It’s been reported that PBS was also subject to a similar situation back in 2005.  It involved Bush-installed chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting launching a secret probe of PBS programs that evaluated how loyal each show was to the Bush administration’s agenda.  Some of those shows were ultimately cancelled, and the watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has documented PBS’s shift to news coverage favoring the right.

Sheldon Adelson:

Sheldon Adelson owns Israel Hayom, an Israeli national Hebrew language free daily newspaper with the largest daily circulation in the country.

  Adelson is the founder, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.  It is the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited, which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

It has been reported that he pushes his political views in his news publications in Israel, which tend to be extremely pro-Netanyahu.  It is also reported that the News company has contributed millions to Netanyahu’s campaign.

 Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman once called it “Pravda”, referring to a Russian daily newspaper, founded in 1912, and from 1918 to 1991 was the official voice of the Soviet Communist Party.

“a mouthpiece of one man.”

-Minister Naftali Bennett describing Israel Hayom, article HERE

Sheldon and his wife Miriam have supported Taglit-Birthright Israel – an organization which offers ten-day free trips to Israel to Jewish adults – donating more than $100 million to the organization since 2007. They have also contributed $25 million to a Jewish high school in Summerlin, Nevada.  Furthermore, they have donated $5 million to a Jewish elementary and middle school in Newton, Mass.

In the past, Adelson has denied ties to a senior Chinese official, alleged to have been his gambling empire’s “contact with Beijing”. The official was named several years earlier in a US congressional report as being a key player in illegal Chinese funding of US political campaigns.

Stephen A. Schwarzman:

Stephen Schwarzman is the chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, a global private equity firm established in 1985 with former US Secretary of Commerce, Pete Peterson.  Forbes has ranked Schwarzman at 113th on its World’s Billionaires List in 2016.  Blackstone is known as the largest alternative investment firm in the world.

Schwarzman attended Yale University during the same time as George W. Bush, both fellow members of the Skull & Bones Society – an undergraduate senior secret society at the helm of many conspiracy theories on the internet.

In 2013, Blackstone agreed to pay $85 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in regards to a scrutinized IPO from 2007 in which the preliminary prospectus said the firm sought to book profits from private equity at the time an asset is bought—not when the assets are sold.  This was shortly before the financial crisis of 2008, of course, in which similar types transactions played a role.

Paul Elliot Singer:  Hedge Fund Manager

  Paul Elliott Singer is an American hedge fund manager,  and philanthropist.  His hedge fund, Elliott Management Corporation (EMC), specializes in distressed debt acquisitions.  Singer is also the founder and CEO of NML Capital Limited, a Cayman Islands-based offshore unit of Elliott Management Corporation. In 2016, Forbes rated Singer’s net worth as $2.2 billion.

In 2002, Argentina defaulted on its sovereign debt. Singer, which owned Argentinian bonds with a nominal face value of $630 million – now worth $2.3 billion – refused to accept Argentina’s offer of less than 30 cents on the dollar.  Elliott won judgments against Argentina in U.S. and U.K. courts but did not collect payment.  They were to collect 101% interest on the debt.  In October 2012,  NML Capital, Singer’s other arm of EMC, arranged for the seizure in Ghana of the ARA Libertad, an Argentinian naval vessel.  EMC intended to confiscate the vessle in accordance with court judgments, awarding it over $1.6 billion in Argentinian assets in a 2012 New York trial ruling that ended in favor of NML and against Argentina.  This was called by some legal experts as the “sovereign debt trial of the century”.  Argentina was given until 29 March 2013 to submit a new plan of action.  Singer and EMC profited billions from Argentina’s debt crisis.    

Similarly, Singer has purchased sovereign debts from Congo, as well as Peru – profiting billions.

Singer has also provided funding to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.  He has written against raising taxes for the 1% and aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act – an act which imposed more regulations on financial institutions.

 “a pioneer in the business of buying up sovereign bonds on the cheap, and then going after countries for unpaid debts”

The Independant, original article HERE

Singer and EMC have defended their model as:

“a fight against charlatans who refuse to play by the market’s rules.”

-original article HERE

“Hedge fund manager Paul Singer’s hedge fund firm settled a fifteen year battle with the government of Argentina in 2016 over outstanding bond payments, earning his Elliott Management a check for $2.4 billion. Singer founded Elliott Management in 1977 with $1.3 million, and it has since grown to more than $28 billion in assets under management. Elliott is one of the country’s most successful hedge funds, having lost money in only two years since its inception.

-Forbes, original article HERE

Kenneth Griffin

Kenneth Griffin is a hedge fund manager, as well as, founder and CEO of the global investment firm Citadel.  Griffin got his first fund with $265,000, including money donated by his grandmother, and profited heavily from the 1987 stock market crash.  He founded Citadel in 1990.  The fund suffered setbacks in the recession in 2008, falling 35 per cent in one year, but has since rallied back.  It was later revealed that AIG paid Citadel taxpayer bailout money after the financial crisis, in a document you can view in full HERE.

As you can see, from everything presented, the Pharmaceutical companies and Financial institutions seem to have the most rooted “grasp” on influencing public policies.  My father once told me: “There are only two things in life you can not stop:  paying bills, and your eventual demise.”  Evidently, the financial and health sectors are very keen to this profound concept, it seems.  This, perhaps, is the most intelligent summary of modern human existence ever told.

With all of the political divide currently plaguing the nation, we need to take a step back and understand the real mechanics of our current society.  In our globalized economy, everyone is in this pot of boiling water together, whether you choose to acknowledge it – or not.  If 75% of the US population decided to orchestrate the next hippy movement and quit all jobs and stop generating income, the entire economy would collapse.  While this may sound great to anti-corporation type-folks, that kind of sudden halt in supply chains we take for granted, such as food, clean drinking water, and important medications, would be absolutely devastating to populations around the world.

Saving this for last, here are Donald Trump’s political contributions since 1989.  As you can see, he was very much in favor of the democratic agenda throughout the years.  Having made contributions to Federal, State, and Congressional democrats such as scandal-ridden Anthony Weiner and Elliot Spitzer.  Other notable democrats Rahm Emanuel, John Kerry, and of course, Hillary Clinton.  He has also contributed to Lindsay Graham,a fellow republican, who Trump has had a public spout with during the campaign.

trump-contributions-since-89

Chart from https://ballotpedia.org/History_of_Donald_Trump%27s_political_donations

Sources/References:

Factcheck.org
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/on-political-donations-td-bank-breaks-ranks/article18165115/
Canada approves Enbridge’s largest pipeline in company history
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-cabinet-trudeau-pipeline-decisions-1.3872828
http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/ottawa-approves-two-pipelines-rejects-one-while-imposing-tanker-ban-on-northern-b-c-coast
http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/united-states-israel-memorandum-of-understanding-military-aid/500192/
http://ifamericansknew.org/stat/usaid.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/26/the-u-s-foreign-aid-budget-visualized/?utm_term=.07492a6f2f1c
https://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/6/whos_investing_in_the_dakota_access
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Andrews_Drake
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/on-political-donations-td-bank-breaks-ranks/article18165115/
http://csr.enbridge.com/about-enbridge/government-relations-and-lobbying/management-approach/
https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/01/hhs-pick-has-worst-campaign-disclosure/
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaign-updates/hillary-clintons-connection-oil-gas-industry/
http://globalnews.ca/tag/political-donations/
http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/2012/01/10/enbridge-and-politics-oil-money-campaign-trail
http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/2012/01/10/enbridge-and-politics-oil-money-campaign-trail
http://humanevents.com/2011/04/02/top-10-reasons-george-soros-is-dangerous/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soros_Fund_Management
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros
http://www.businessinsider.com/the-word-is-that-geroge-soros-might-be-involved-in-the-lightsquared-scandal-too-2011-9
http://www.businessinsider.com/jim-simons-renaissance-mit-speech-video
https://www.quora.com/What-does-Renaissance-Technologies-actually-do
https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-democrats-mystery-man-fred-eychaner/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsweb_Corporation
https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/new-china-capital-management#/entity
http://centerpeace.org/about/staff/robert-wexler/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._Daniel_Abraham
http://www.forbes.com/profile/s-daniel-abraham/
http://www.factcheck.org/2016/01/priorities-usa-action/
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/The_American_Federation_for_Children
http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapid=4423496
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/25/business/aigs-lucrative-and-unusual-ties-to-affiliate
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_R._Greenberg
http://www.starrcompanies.com/whoweare
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Strategic_Services
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Vander_Starr
http://mycrains.crainsnewyork.com/most-connected/public/profiles/maurice-hank-greenberg
http://articles.latimes.com/print/2000/sep/22/news/mn-25118
http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapid=4423496
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article48067815.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-08-06/the-king-of-coal-made-a-hidden-1-million-bet-on-jeb-bush
http://aryamehr11.blogspot.ca/2008/03/spotlight-houshang-ansari.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hushang_Ansary
http://aryamehr11.blogspot.ca/2008/03/spotlight-houshang-ansari.html
http://www.jta.org/2016/11/15/news-opinion/politics/stephen-bannon-backed-in-statement-from-republican-jewish-coalition-board-member
https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2015-steve-bannon/
http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/jewish-funders/2016/5/4/bernard-marcus.html
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/27/trump-campaign-ceo-stephen-bannon-denies-antisemitic-remarks
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_A._Schwarzman
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-blackstone-lawsuit-idUSBRE97S0NA20130829
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blackstone_Group
http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2007/06/the_golden_ass.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Singer_(businessman)
http://pushingrope.blogspot.ca/2014/03/fallout-from-mike-fernandez-emails.html
http://www.healthbeatblog.com/2013/06/medicare-fraud-and-for-profit-hospitals-a-story-that-never-ends/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skull_and_Bones
http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2007/06/the_golden_ass.html
https://aishealth.com/blog/medicare-advantage-and-part-d/never-ending-universal-health-story-takes-another-twist
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Global_Economy/Crisis_Capitalism_Soros.html
http://www.wsj.com/articles/elliott-management-other-funds-make-hay-on-argentina-bonds-1456929628
http://nypost.com/2012/10/10/argentina-says-arrh-no-to-paul-singers-20-million-demand-for-seized-ship/
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-vulture-capitalist-who-devoured-peru-and-now-threatens-argentina-8347577.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-08-07/argentinas-vulture-paul-singer-is-wall-street-freedom-fighter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_Corporation_of_America#cite_note-8
http://www.healthbeatblog.com/2013/06/medicare-fraud-and-for-profit-hospitals-a-story-that-never-ends/
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/hospitals-the-cost-of-admission-2/
http://www.salon.com/2009/09/30/rick_scott_one/
http://fortune.com/2012/02/08/meet-the-woman-behind-sheldon-adelson/
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/23/sheldon-adelson-trump-super-pac-donation-25-million
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/09/sheldon-adelson-macau-testimony-las-vegas-sands
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.763704
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/05/sheldon-adelson-testimony-steven-jacobs
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/05/sheldon-adelson-testimony-steven-jacobs
http://www.factcheck.org/2016/01/right-to-rise-usaright-to-rise-policy-solutions/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2705587/The-epic-upcoming-divorce-two-hedge-funders.html
http://www.forbes.com/profile/ken-griffin/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/billions/2010/01/12/site-reveals-ken-lay-john-arnold-e-mails-during-enrons-demise/#136ae536342f
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/laura-and-john-arnold-foundation/
http://www.arnoldfoundation.org/laura-and-john-arnold-foundation-announces-request-for-criminal-justice-research-proposals/
https://web.archive.org/web/20150208024359/http://www.arnoldfoundation.org:80/node/1
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-buerkli/an-eye-in-baltimores-
sky_b_12152918.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-buerkli/an-eye-in-baltimores-sky_b_12152918.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/michelle-rhee-education-a_n_1519720.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-baltimore-secret-surveillance/
https://pando.com/2014/02/13/how-pbs-is-becoming-the-plutocratic-broadcasting-service/
https://pando.com/2014/02/12/the-wolf-of-sesame-street-revealing-the-secret-corruption-inside-pbss-news-division/
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/One_Nation
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/One_Nation#One_Nation_Works_to_Avoid_Disclosing_its_Funding
https://ballotpedia.org/History_of_Donald_Trump%27s_political_donations

Augmented Realities and The Perception of Truth

1485594518351Written By: Adam Peach

Everyone has “their side of the story”.  A unique opinion or observation based on their experiences in life. Things such as education, geological location, gender, ethnic descent, culture, political views, age, moral values, emotions, and we could go on all day with this.  Opinions are formed from the perception of the individual making it.  People from the countries of, let’s say Canada, Egypt, and Greece are all dealing with completely different issues in their own respect and live in a different society than one another.  What is reported in the news will differ in each region, again, due to cultural differences and political issues.  Some countries have suffered huge atrocities.  Education is different in regards to teaching what is relevant to the particular region, as well as laws and even extreme cases in which education could be better described as indoctrination for certain regions.  Reality is different for everyone.  The old saying “back to reality” can mean a totally different thing depending on who is saying it.  Everyone lives in their own Augmented Reality.

Everything we do or say is based on each individual’s personal interests, physical and/or mental ability, age, and again – the list goes on.  The interactions we make, decisions we make and activities we participate in throughout our daily lives is based on a mixture of past experiences, location, beliefs/values and ability (regional laws, financial situation, etc).  This makes every person’s perception of the world around them different.

  Companies such as Facebook, Google, Youtube, and many data-tracking entities, are working to make our experience on the internet an augmented reality.  For example, this is why when you make a purchase online, the ads in which you see on the internet afterwards are of the same product or related to the product you previously purchased(think ebay, amazon for the best example).  The same applies for news on sites like facebook (currently the #1 news source for people, with 1.79B active users as of January 2017).  If you generally click on more right wing news sources, you’ll get more suggestions and ads for those kinds of sources.  If you like to click on entertainment news sources for a specific musical genre, such as Heavy Metal, you will get ads and suggestions related to heavy metal.  This goes for literally everything you do online.  While this is an amazing technology, the augmented reality is essentially a box based on your past experiences.  Limiting us from exploring the internet indiscriminately.  Limiting us from seeing other perspectives from the actual world around us.

  This kind of packaged existence is very dangerous, socially.  (1)It’s already very evident that people are completely addicted to their phones and the internet.  It has become so integrated into our daily lives.  We learn and get information, read news, earn money, spend money and interact with others every single day.  This degrades our ability and experience in communicating with others physically, or in person due to basically living on your device and not articulating actual conversation or getting any actual human interaction.  It takes the personal aspect out of communicating with others, while creating a sort of “wall” between you and the person you’re communicating with.  Meeting an online friend in person for the first time can be a very awkward situation in a lot of cases.  Things such as body language, height, weight, voice, and general demeanor can all be “turn-offs” if you’re perception of that person was significantly different in anyway before meeting.  Not to mention, text messages do not indicate context.  Messages can very easily be taken out of context.  The perception of context can differ greatly from the intended context to the person on the receiving end – which can change our perception of how we think a person’s real personality is.  These things all contribute to our Augmented Reality.

Big Data collects massive amounts of data from everything we do, including, but not limited to those aforementioned interactions, listed above.  The information collected is then used to create your online Augmented Reality giving you an informed, however, manufactured reality of the world and people around you.

Data is collected as our devices pass through all kinds of different networks as we travel and interact in daily life.  As we walk past restaurants, subway stations, schools, retail stores, libraries, you name it – data is being generated from your device whether it be a computer, phone, tablet, or car.  It’s commonly known by now, that our cars are also on the internet and as we drive we are interacting with all of the other public networks around us, which generates data.

Despite what many say, data is personal.  It’s personal because while it doesn’t necessarily identify the individual by name, it creates a user profile of us which is stored and used to analyze our trends, where we usually go, places we eat, cars we drive, places we shop and what we buy, who we communicate with.  We are essentially a nameless entity identified by a number.  IP data, metadata, and geotagging making up “who we are”.

Now, before anybody goes posting any conspiracy videos, please understand me here.  We should not fear Big data – as a technology.  It allows us to generate and analyze data for any kind of scientific or medical field on a level we have never been able to before.  I’m just mentioning those fields for the purpose of making my point, but there are many more great uses for these systems, obviously.  The Big Data industry is still going through a “golden age” in which developers are making successful, huge advances with data systems and what they can do with it for things such as medical advancements, scientific research and financial forecasting, for the purpose of recognizing business trends.  As someone who was born in the late 80’s, I was an elementary student in the 1990’s, when conventional desktop computers were starting to become more integrated at home, in education and business.  A lot of people still didn’t even own a personal computer.  Not necessarily because they couldn’t afford it, it just wasn’t as common as it is today.  People didn’t “need” them, and was more of a “luxury” item in a sense.  This was, from my perspective, a sort of “golden age” for computers.

While there were so many amazing and successful advancements, a lot of people in general didn’t understand them yet.  Some people even feared them in regards to computers becoming more and more integrated into industry-related functions, performing tasks more efficiently than humans.  A justified fear in some ways at the time.  The other side of that is, people just didn’t understand all of the benefits of those advancements yet.  Most of the general public to this day, don’t actually know what HTML is.  Everyone has most likely heard of it, or have some idea of what it is, but coding and programming languages such as basic HTML are still “foreign languages” to most people.  This proves that society STILL has not been able to even come close to catching up with what is considered extremely basic computer skills in today’s world.  There are less jobs in the labour sector all over North America due to technological advancements in industrial or business-related computer systems.  People seen this in the 90’s, and they feared it.  Fear of becoming obsolete.

But wait, if more of the general public were educated about computer languages such as HTML and the many others, then they would NOT feel so obsolete after all.  We could forget about some of those labor-intensive jobs of the past and adapt to the technologically advanced society we have become.  Instead of accepting defeat and crying about being left behind in the job market, while expecting people to sympathize with our inability to apply outdated standards, we have a responsibility as citizens of our society to learn and adapt to it’s technological advancements.

That being said, programming languages should be taught in schools from a very young age.  When my generation was learning to use for the first time, in grade 2 of elementary school, the extent of our learning was basic navigation of Windows 95.  Other than that, computer classes consisted of typing tutorials and countless hours of Math Circus.  Programming languages, in today’s society, should be considered as important as math.  Children deserve to have access to the tools needed to adapt in our rapidly changing technological society – and we have a responsibility to provide these basic tools!  Why not let a computer program, or a robot do a labor-intensive job that can cause long-term physical conditions for some?  You have real working computer skills!  You don’t have to confine yourself to exausting labor jobs anymore – you’re a programmer!  There will, however, always be demand for some kinds of labor jobs.  Still, basic knowledge of computer language will go a long way in 2017 and beyond.

My generation and others before (and after me), were not provided with that specific tool from a young age to adapt to computers in the way we should have.  Yes, we learned how to type and use Windows, however, almost nothing at all in regards to ms-dos or any kind of terminal-based operations, on any platform.  However, where would we have found the amount of teachers required at that time, with working knowledge of terminal commands and programming languages to enforce it in the education system?  For that reason, it would have been impossible then.  Now, in 2017, there are enough people with working knowledge of those skills to accommodate the education system, at least by helping supply all teachers with working knowledge of programming languages.  Technology, it seems, has moved far past the general public’s understanding of it.  It’s our responsibility to now adapt to these changes.

Big Data has been growing rapidly and right now has virtually no restriction on how it collects data in regards to metadata over public networks.  There are also so many advancements that it’s hard to keep up with them.  However, we shouldn’t fear these systems.  We should try to understand them more.  There needs to be more debate about privacy in regards to data collecting and more debate about the Augmented Reality topic.  In an age where the internet is the lifeblood of our technological society, Augmented Reality distorts an individual’s already Augmented perceptions of the world.  This can especially be very dangerous to a democracy, allowing authoritarian governments to influence the public to suit political agendas.  I believe data collection, without clear consent, for the purpose of generating augmented reality for consumers is a breach of consumer freedoms as well as privacy rights.  We need to be vocal with our government and phone companies about why encrypted services and products such as (2)The Blackphone are a required tool in todays society, as a right.  We should be demanding more encrypted products, as consumers, from developers of these products.

*** Technological advancements in computer science = GOOD.

***Indiscriminate mass collection of personal user/consumer data without some form of consent for the purpose of capital and/or use by government agencies = BAD

***Enforcing basic programming languages such as HTML from an early age (grade 2?) in the education system with the same importance as math, and using it as a platform to learn and apply other subjects such as math and english = GOOD

***Failing to acknowledge that computer technology will never go away or stop advancing rapidly, not realizing that basic working computer knowledge in basic languages is a staple in today’s society, and most working-class people are still extremely far behind  = BAD

References:

(1) Cell Phone Statistics

http://anewdomain.net/2015/08/05/smartphone-addiction-stats-new-survey-infographic/

(2)  The Blackphone

https://www.silentcircle.com/products-and-solutions/devices/

How To Stop People From Spying On You On The Internet

1485594518351Written By: Adam Peach

The internet is a truly amazing thing.  It empowers people, allowing access to a vast ocean of information from all over the world.  With the Internet we meet new friends, stay in touch with old friends, create ideas, earn money, participate in public debates, learn about current issues, and so much more.  The internet was built for indiscriminate access to information.  It was not particularly built for security, however.

As described in my last article, Big Data is a rapidly growing billion-dollar industry in which it’s fundamentals include massive collection of user/consumer data for the purposes of analytics, forecasting and marketing – and more!  While this can be very extremely useful in various fields – particularly the medical field – it also raises a question in regards to user/consumer privacy.  Should companies be allowed to collect our data and use it to analyze our trends, interests, and frequent locations without us knowing?  Does this breach our privacy in any way?  Should we allow anyone to continuously make records of basically everything we do, everywhere we go and every particular activity we are engaging in without our consent to this kind of mass social experimentation.

Don’t get me wrong, data is great!  As someone who maintains various blogs and social media accounts, I like the idea of knowing how many people are viewing my content and having the ability to draw geographical demographics from that data.  However, this is the exact sort of data that is being used to create what Eli Pariser calls “The Filter Bubble”, in which the data is used to generate future readily-visible content for a specific user, based on their specific past viewed content.  That means the content you see in front of you was pre-determined by an artificial intelligence-based system which is showing you this content based on all of your other interactions on that particular platform (links you’ve clicked on, web sites you have visited, people you communicated with).  These things, and more, will all contribute to what is shown to you on the internet.  This is called Augmented Reality and by definition creates a computer-generated image of our view of the real world, giving us a “manufactured” view of the world around us.

Regardless of our opinions about the legal legitimacy of this kind of data collection and social manipulation, there are ways you can stop companies from collecting and storing your data.  There are ways to make yourself less visible when browsing the internet.

The Tor Network  (www.torproject.org)

Tor is great for become less visible on the internet.  It disguises you by sending you traffic over multiple TOR servers and encrypts it, preventing the data being tracked back to the user.  Browsers such as Tor Browser and Orfox (Android) can be used for anonymously surfing the internet and can be downloaded for free at http://www.torproject.org.  This worldwide network was developed with the US Navy as a means to browse the internet anonymously.  Now, it is a non-profit, internet privacy advocate.

VPN Services

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) add security and privacy when using public networks like public wifi hotspots, and the rest of the internet really.  It works by using computers on discrete networks joined together through the world wide web.  Activating a VPN service encrypts your information preventing any eavesdropping.  The most trusted VPN services are in which a paid subscription is required.  Unfortunately, most free VPN services share your registration information to 3rd parties making your attemp at privacy useless, really.  It is a cheap service, but a very useful service for anyone who cares about their privacy online and is willing to shell out only a couple of bucks to enforce their concern.  Netflix users will most likely be familiar with VPN services as they can also be used to access content otherwise restricted in their particular geographical location, or particular network (schools, workplace, countries with strict internet browsing restrictions).  However, companies such as Netflix are currently being pro-active in trying to stop the use of VPN services by users of it’s platform.

Encrypted Email

Leaked emails and email service providers having security breaches are both topics almost constantly coming up in the news today.  By using encrypted email services such as ProtonMail (www.protonmail.com), you increase your email privacy greatly.  ProtonMail also offers 2-step authentication for user access (account password, as well as an inbox password to make it more difficult for someone to access your account).  Other services such as Gmail offer these 2-step authentication options as well.  However, it is not encrypted and does not share the same privacy values as a service such as ProtonMail.  ProtonMail is a free service.

Block Data and Ad-Trackers From Collecting Your Data

Anyone can do this, however, here are some demonstrations to make things easier  – explaining how you can prevent snooping and tracking on a few popular platforms such as Windows 10, Mac IOS, and your mobile phone.  Another video I’ve included, explains how to stop Google from tracking your data through your Google account.  At the bottom of this article, I’ve shared some written articles explaining more about ways to increase your privacy on the internet.


Stop Adds on Mac:

Disable Windows 10 Tracking (Part 1):

Disable Windows Tracking (Part 2):

Disable Mobile Tracking:

Disable Google Account Tracking:

Useful Articles:

Extremetech.com:

https://www.extremetech.com/internet/180485-the-ultimate-guide-to-staying-anonymous-and-protecting-your-privacy-online

Digitaltrends.com:

http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-be-anonymous-online/

PC Mag:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2363302,00.asp

Lifehacker:

http://lifehacker.com/5940565/why-you-should-start-using-a-vpn-and-how-to-choose-the-best-one-for-your-needs

http://lifehacker.com/5887140/everyones-trying-to-track-what-you-do-on-the-web-heres-how-to-stop-them/amp?client=ms-android-bell-ca

Wikihow.com:

http://wikihow.com/Prevent-People-from-Tracking-You-on-the-Internet

Gadgets.ndtv.com:

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/features/how-to-stop-google-from-tracking-you-on-the-web-550286

How You’re Really Being Watched: Facebook, The Filter Bubble & Big Data

1485594518351written by: Adam Peach

The most recent article I wrote covers an internet hoax in which a man claimed individual people were “spying” on you in the name of “Facebook Security” and “Facebook Police”.  It was obviously not true and just paranoid ranting, but caused some severe harassment and cyber-bullying for a few people.

As mentioned near the end of that article, there are entities “watching you” on facebook and other platforms such as Google – just not in the way the false conspiracy claimed.

Facebook and Google use IP info and metadata to track what kind of links you’re clicking on, who you’re interacting with, what you’re searching for, and so on.  This data is gathered and stored and then used to create a “bubble” around you of things it “thinks” you’re interested in based on the data it has collected from you.  This is why there is no standard Google anymore – no 2 people on different devices will get the same search results when looking for the exact same search terms.  This is explained in great detail by Eli Pariser in his book “The Filter Bubble”.

Facebook in particular has grown to be the #1 source for news for most people today.  With 1.79 Billion active monthly users (as of January 2017), one can imagine the kind of power in social engineering it can have if information is being filtered from us.  Newspapers show all kinds of important stories on their front covers and within, not tailored to any specific person – but showing important events in the world for anyone interested to read it and form an opinion.  This makes us aware of issues outside of our daily “bubble” we live in.  By enforcing the “bubble”, Facebook and Google can filter what we see and prevent us from hearing about important issues that keep us aware of the world outside.

After the fiasco leading up to the US election in regards to the ongoing claims of a Russian Hacking, the battle wages on in terms of internet privacy, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of The Press.  I’m referring to “fake news”and why we shouldn’t allow anyone to take any kind of “authoritative” position on what defines that term in our behalf.

One fact here is that the so-called “hacking” was actually a leak – not a hacking.  It was a leaking of information from someone who had access to it (service provider, DNC insider, etc).  Julian Assange of Wikileaks said multiple times including in a recent interview that the source of the leaked information was “not a state” or anyone working for any government parties of Russia or anyone else.  That leaked information was uploaded by Wikileaks and it spread like wildfire!  Again, keep in mind that this was leaked information and leaked emails. These were real emails.  They were not fake.  And the people spoke.

By making this a “hacking” situation and blaming “fake news” as a factor in shifting the election, the entities pushing against our rights such as Freedom Of Speech and Freedom of The Press gain momentum in the battle.  Do you know what is really amazing about living in a democracy?  That people who don’t like what their government is doing can vote against it.  And they did.  Obviously, this wasn’t the only factor in the election.  For the purpose of this article, however, it is relevant.

Filtering news and information on Facebook, frankly, would be an act of social engineering.  Yes, it has been happening for years now but the debate has changed in the name of “fake news”.  People should have the option of seeing information and forming an opinion of their own – not have an “authoritative” entity or “focus group”.  3rd party entities or focus groups can be politically influenced the same as anything else and in the name of our rights we should speak out against this kind of filtering of information.

People can say very hateful, hurtful, damaging and threatening things and they should be reported and held accountable for what they say in whatever way necessary.  However, this is Freedom Of Speech.  Hate speech is damaging.  People who freely use it on social media should be held accountable for it.  But that doesn’t mean our rights have to be undermined.  Rights that give power to people in important times such as elections in a democracy such as the one we live.

Some people drive drunk.  It’s illegal and now socially unacceptable, but people will still do it.  Should we ban all people from having cars?  Absolutely not, that’s rediculous.  We hold the drunk drivers responsible and deal with them in accordance to the law.

The same should apply for the internet.  There has to be rules and guidelines but we also have to keep our rights to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of The Press.  Don’t like what someone posts?  Facebook allows you to make any specific post invisible to your news feed.  You can report a post and it will be taken down if it breaks the rules or is offensive, or hatespeech.  There are ways to deal with people who commit wrong-doing but we should not throw our rights away for that purpose.

Today, your computer, phone, television, gaming systems – even your car is on the internet.  Literally tons of data is being collected from basically everything we do in life.  Think about when you go to a popular location, such as a restaurant.  Google users will know that in a lot of cases you will get a notification on your device recognizing where you are and ask you something like “Take a picture to show friends you were here?”  Once you take a picture there and upload it, that data is stored called geotagging.  As mentioned above, your car is on the internet now as well.  Think about all of the wifi networks your car will be coming into contact with, geotag data being recorded same as a mobile phone.

This is where Big Data comes in.  Big data is a huge growing industry in which extreme amounts of data is harvested from users and used for analytics and marketing purposes.  It can also be used for healthcare purposes, fincances, and anything where analytic data is useful, really.  While there are amazing uses for Big Data, there is still the concept that everywhere you go and everything you do in life is being stored and analyzed.  An Unsettling concept, indeed.  Controlling the ads and content you see day to day based on where you go, where you shop, who you communicate with, what you do and what you search for.

Below, are some important videos relevant to this conversation.  They are not extremely long and shed light on these subjects.  I think we should all care about this.  This is an issue that affects all other issues.  Think about how Freedom of Speech on the internet has worked for activism in the past 10 years.  The power it has to spread information far and wide to others that would never know otherwise.  The internet is an amazing place as long as we are not confined into a small box when we log on.

Source:

https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/