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This here is my first article writing for Berning Media, and I look forward to writing much more about current events, politics, and a load of other stuff as well!
I will write about Trump’s dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency, and how it may affect our environment and country as a whole. The EPA is an omnipresent and ever so important agency in the protection of our planet. As the country that has the most global power, we must be a leader in the fight against climate change and we must work to move our world towards renewable energy. We were the first to the moon and we shall be the first world power to transform our energy system to protect the Earth from climate change. Read any scientific study that wasn’t funded by the fossil fuel companies and you will find that CO2 emissions are rising at an unprecedented level unlike any other period in history. The earth is changing at an alarming rate and we as a species are nearing the point of no return.
With our planet suffering, we can and should, lead the world in fighting an existential threat to all of the humanity. But when a country that can have a very powerful say in the battle, looks the other way, and its president believes China, made up climate change, to prevent the growth of the U.S. economy, there is much need for worry. The cuts proposed are a threat not just to the sustainability of our planet, but also to the water supply of many cities around the nation. The Government in the past has given 4 billion to the EPA for grants and other assistance programs to give to states. Since the beginning of the presidency, the money has been all frozen. The budget has been cut from 8.1 billion to 5.7 billion. The EPA took more cut in a budget than any other government agency, 38 programs will be eliminated. The department of research and development has been cut by 42% to nearly $250,000,000. This budget would discontinue the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan was put forward by the Obama Administration. Although this plan will make a mere dent in carbon emissions it does set reasonable goals for doubling fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks by 2025. The end to this plan shows just how delusional this administration is. It is still not certain how Trump will act on the Paris Climate Accords, but one thing that is certain about this presidency is that he is unpredictable. While the accords are a step in the right direction, they are still nowhere near the amount of effort the world must put into the global fight against climate change. Another troubling fact is that the budget will not let the EPA give grants to states to clean up brownfields. Brownfields are abandoned industrial lots that pose a risk to people living around them consisting of hazardous pollutants and contaminates. There are an estimated 450,000 brownfields nationwide. In addition, the colossal Chesapeake bay cleanup project’s budget has been lowered from $73,000,000 to just $5,000,000. Lastly, under the budget, Trump has stated he aims to remove the “Waters of the United States” rule under the Clean Water Act. The Obama Administration put the rule in in 2015 to clear up any confusion about the act and was there to protect the water supply of 117 million Americans. As the environmental group Earthjustice stated, Trump is “demonstrating that he puts the interests of corporate polluters above the public’s health.” I agree!
Most of you reading this know that Obama was not very effective in combating climate change during his presidency. However, there is no denying that he had moved us in the right direction. President Trump rolling back the few things that the Obama Administration put forward in combating climate change is setting us back in the fight. If you look at the U.S. Constitution article 1, section 8, it states, “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” This is where I would love to see the “constitutionalist” wing of the Republican Party get involved. The effect the Industrial Revolution had on our global temperatures is a major scientific discovery. Richard Nixon was the president that created the EPA, and George H.W. Bush passed the Clean Water Act you can sense how drastically to the right, the Republican Party has moved. What we must do is organize, and express our opposition by getting on the phones, and calling our elected officials! There is nothing that can’t be accomplished when millions of people fight back and demand change! History proves it…
Writer: Alexander Dean
Noam Chomsky talks politics, neo-liberalism, and more during a recent interview on an Iranian TV network.
English interview begins at 7:40
(photo: Saudia frigate Al Makkah in Toulon harbor, France.)
The video below shows an alleged attack on a Saudi frigate by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen. The video, uploaded February 5, comes days after President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran for a recent missile test, as well as the attack shown below.
Written 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.
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.
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:
written 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.
Written By: Adam Peach
This week I stumbled upon a video shared by a friend about a feature on Facebook which “allows you to see a list of people spying on your account”.
At first glance, I didn’t think much of it at all. Knowing what we have been told about how the NSA, Facebook, Google and other data-mining entities are harvesting our information from credible sources and publications such as the Edward Snowdon revelations, I shrugged this off completely. This video was a man sitting at his computer in his home, instructing people to go to a search tool feature located in your “account settings” under the submenu “Blocking”. Once there, you will find a list of people you have previously blocked (or it will be empty if you have been lucky enough to have all positive interactions on facebook). The man in the video claims if you type “facebook security” and click “block” into the search bar, it will then show you a “list of people spying on you”. If anyone appears on your “list”, they will have “facebook security” included somewhere in their Facebook name or nickname.
With little investigation, you can see that some of these people with “facebook security” in their names have made public posts that they have been victim of hacking recently, and to not accept any bogus messages from them. The first two people I clicked on from my “spy list” had made this exact claim on their timelines about being recently hacked as you can see from my screenshots below. I had a very bad feeling that these people were about to get the trolling of a lifetime based on a completely confused theory, which in actually is just a myth. Created by people who simply do not understand something – so they fear it.
Screenshot of posts from hacking victims being cyber-bullied from false claims.
Some of you may be familiar with one of those people in the screenshots. Her Name Is Katherine Scholz. Born In Oklahoma City – she loves, to read, listen to rock music, cook and create recipes, and is an avid lover of cats and posting pictures of them.
This week she suffered a disgusting cyber-bullying attack for reasons she was completely unaware of, at first.
Imagine, all of a sudden messages start coming from people asking if you are spying on them. Some people actually threatening your life. Out of the blue. You are just at your job, making a living, minding your own business. Then your life is threatened completely at random. All of this after being victim to a recent hacking. Obviously, you can imagine the kind of fear this caused for her, or anyone going through this situation.
When your account gets hacked, you have no idea who did it or why or what information the hacker wanted. So imagine having this going through you mind, then all of a sudden you become victim to threats and extremely profane insults from strangers, completely at random. This, I can only imagine, must have been extremely traumatizing for Katherine and the other victims of this bogus myth. I reached out to Katherine, through a mutual friend we have on facebook in hopes of informing her of why she is possibly being harassed. Unfortunately, my guess was correct – Katherine was recieving a barrage of threatening and demeaning messages from people, and she had absolutely no idea why.
The bogus myth comes from two seperate internet sources. I reached out to the creator of the original video, posted by Youtube user “Daboo 7” to try to get a technical explanation for his findings. An actual technical explanation of how the search tool works was not given in the video demonstration. The man in the video just simply calls it “a way to find out who is spying on you” with no factual evidence or explanation.
After reaching out to “daboo 7” via multiple emails, he has not responded.
I reached out to the creator of the second video, Mike Kintner. Who maintains a Facebook Page in which claims it’s “a source of information”, “based on the FACTUAL findings I have & others aquired through RELIABLE sources”. His video, posted on facebook, repeats the same claims made in the original video posted by “Daboo 7”. I asked Mike if he had any technical information to back up his claims.
“No.” he said.
He told me he posted his video after watching the original, posted by “daboo 7”.
So, a random person on the internet without any technical knowledge or evidence whatsoever, just used fear and paranoia to convince hundreds of people to commit cyber-bullying and utter death threats to completely innocent, ordinary people – just like yourselves – based on a completely false claim. And they fell for it! Some of them even started posting victims’ information as what looks like some kind of “warning” for their other facebook friends, further spreading this ridiculous myth:
Imagine if you were Katherine, or any of the other victims of this harassment. Imagine if it was your spouse, or your child. All because it feeds into some kind of paranoid addiction people seem to have for mysteries.
The people who made these videos boast about being “factual” and having “reliable sources” when in fact, that is totally incorrect in this particular case. It’s also damaging to independent news sources who maintain integrity when it comes to factual information, during a time when many independent publications are fighting for legitimacy in the “fake news” era. You are not “waking people up” if you are spreading false and damaging information catering to some paranoid obsession.
Mike Kintner also told me he plans to upload another video on Facebook tonight.
Screenshot of The New Michael Kintners Wake Up America Facebook Page
Another person who fell victim to this – not nearly as bad as others, fortunately – is Anthony Beecher. I reached out to Anthony after Mike Kintner shared a screenshot of one of Anthony’s posts with the caption: “This guy seems to have all the answers…. but still unblockable”. The post was debunking Mike’s myth by using actual research he did himself about this issue when he too, like myself, had a bad feeling this would harm people and had a general understanding of facebook and it’s algorithms. That post got him a few unpleasant comments, as you can see in the screenshot below:
Screenshot of Anthony Beecher's post and comments.
This is what Anthony had to say:
“One unexplained observation is the search algorithm, we don’t know on what basis the results are matched. It seems like a different result set every time you search, and not all of them have the text “Facebook Security”. It may be they just do a broad scan for those words, and who knows what all they are looking at, or why it’s not completely consistent. Another early debunking realized that you can search for other terms and get matches, so I said, jokingly, “when I search for Free Money, does it mean that those people owe me money?” (Of course not, so why would matches on Facebook Security mean they work for Facebook Security). And logically, they own the database, if they want to spy on you, they can do that easily without you knowing it. They sure aren’t going to use a bunch of user accounts that say “Facebook Security” to do that!”
One thing is certain, there are people tracking your facebook accounts – And Google accounts, and other platforms. There are data-mining companies selling your information to advertisers and filtering what we see on the internet. One major source of this information is former NSA senior administrator Edward Snowdon, who leaked information about government surveillance programs such as PRISM. Let’s not confuse his leaked information with catfishing, or typical internet stalking.
As Anthony said, Facebook has complete control of its database and everything in it. They have access to everything you post. They do not need to hire people to make a public profile calling themselves the “facebook police” and “spy” on your every post. That’s not to mention, why do you actually think people are watching you? Are you a nuclear scientist? An international Spy? Someone connected to a national crime syndicate? Have you actually stopped for a moment and thought about how ridiculous it is that someone would be investing THOUSANDS of dollars into spying on YOU? For absolutely no reason.
We need to be concerned with who is watching us and who has access to our information on Facebook and the rest of the internet. Let’s not direct our energy at the wrong targets of this important debate.
Here are some videos I think are important for anyone wishing to learn about the real issues of internet privacy and who is actually watching: