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Community Articles from 2019

Amazon’s Ring Planned Neighborhood “Watch Lists” Built on Facial Recognition

[Community]
Amazon’s Ring Planned Neighborhood “Watch Lists” Built on Facial Recognition
by Sam Biddle
Posted December 29, 2019

Amazons Ring exponentially increases surveillanceOnce known only for its line of internet-connected doorbell cameras marketed to the geekily cautious, Ring has quickly turned into an icon of unsettling privatized surveillance. The Los Angeles company, now owned by Amazon, has been buffeted this year by reports of lax internal security, problematic law enforcement partnerships, and an overall blurring of the boundaries between public policing and private-sector engineering. Earlier this year, The Intercept published video of a special online portal Ring built so that police could access customer footage, as well as internal company emails about what Ring’s CEO described as the company’s war on “dirtbag criminals that steal our packages and rob our houses.”

Previous reporting by The Intercept and The Information revealed that Ring has at times struggled to make facial recognition work, instead relying on remote workers from Ring’s Ukraine office to manually “tag” people and objects found in customer video feeds. The automated approach to watch-listing described in the documents reviewed by The Intercept may seem less unsettling than that human-based approach, but it potentially allows for a litany of its own problems, like false positives and other forms of algorithmic bias.

Anyone moving past a home equipped with Ring cameras is unavoidably sucked into a tech company dragnet, potential fodder for overeager chatter among the suburban xenophobe set. More…

The Facts:
Amazon’s Ring camera network is working closely with law enforcement to essentially massively expand surveillance of US citizens.

Reflect On:
The government is somewhat limited by the Constitution when it comes to spying on US citizens. Corporations do not have that resistant barrier. Consider the consequences of allowing corporation spy on Americans and provide the data to law enforcement allowing them to effectively by pass Constitutional protections.

Scientific American Warns: 5G Is Unsafe

[Community]
Scientific American Warns: 5G Is Unsafe
By Dr. Joseph Mercola
Posted December 26, 2019

dangers of 5G have not been testedIn an article on the Environmental Health Trust’s website, Ronald Powell, Ph.D., a retired Harvard scientist of applied physics, notes “there is NO SAFE WAY to implement 5G in our communities; rather, there are only ‘bad ways’ and ‘worse ways,’” and rather than argue about who should have control over its deployment, we should focus on preventing its employment altogether.

Indeed, mounting research suggest the proliferation of 5G for the sake of faster wireless internet could be a public health disaster, so if 5G does end up “replacing cable internet for good,” humanity may be in for a devastating shock in coming decades, if not sooner.

While it may take years to fully ascertain the full effects of 5G, there are early warning signs. People have reported mass die-offs of bees around 5G towers in California,for example, and residents in Gateshead in the U.K. started reported insomnia, chronic nosebleeds and stillbirths after the installation of streetlamps that emit 5G radiation in 2016. More…

Peer to Peer: A Commons Manifesto

[Community]
Peer to Peer: A Commons Manifesto
by Michel Bauwens, Vasilis Kostakis, Alex Pazaitis
Posted December 4, 2019

peer to peer is a better futureAs capitalism faces a series of structural crises, a new social, political and economic dynamic is emerging: peer to peer (P2P). What is peer to peer? Why is it essential for building a commons-centric future? How could this happen?

P2P is considered to be both a social relation and a mode of allocation, as a socio-technological infrastructure and as a mode of production, and all these aspects when combined contribute to the creation of a new post-capitalist model, a new phase in the evolution of the organization of human societies. This will necessitate a discussion about economic and political transitions. At the microeconomic level of commons-based peer production, P2P dynamics are already creating the institutional seedlings prefiguring a new social model.

P2P could lead to a model where civil society becomes productive through the participation of citizens in the collaborative creation of value through commons. In this pluralistic commonwealth, multiple forms of value creation and distribution will co-exist, but most likely around the universal attractor that is the commons. We do not argue for a “totalitarianism” of the commons, but to make the commons a core institution that “guides” all other social forms — including the state and the market — towards achieving the greatest common good and the maximum autonomy. More…

A Michigan Man Underpaid His Property Taxes By $8.41. The County Seized His Property, Sold It—and Kept the Profits.

[Community]
A Michigan Man Underpaid His Property Taxes By $8.41. The County Seized His Property, Sold It—and Kept the Profits.
by Eric Boehm
Posted November 23, 2019

state stealing peoples' homesA state law allows counties to effectively steal homes over unpaid taxes and keep the excess revenue for their own budgets.

An 83-year-old retired engineer in Michigan underpaid his property taxes by $8.41. In response, Oakland County seized his property, auctioned it off to settle the debt, and pocketed nearly $24,500 in excess revenue from the sale.

Under Michigan law, it was all legal. And hardly uncommon. “Michigan is currently stealing from people across the state,” says Christina Martin, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm now representing Rafaeli and other homeowners in a class-action lawsuit that will go before the Michigan Supreme Court in early November. More…

Tiny Homes Banned in U.S. at Increasing Rate as Govt Criminalizes Sustainable Living

[Community]
Tiny Homes Banned in U.S. at Increasing Rate as Govt Criminalizes Sustainable Living
by Justin Gardner
Posted November 22, 2019

land of the free banning tiny homesAs the corporatocracy tightens its grip on the masses – finding ever more ways to funnel wealth to the top – humanity responds in a number of ways, including the rising popularity of tiny houses.

These dwellings, typically defined as less than 500 square feet, are a way for people to break free of mortgages, taxes, utility bills and the general trappings of “stuff.” They’re especially attractive to millennials and retirees, or those seeking to live off-grid.

But government and corporations depend on rampant consumerism and people being connected to the grid.

Seeking actual freedom through minimalist living should seem like a natural fit for the American dream, but the reality is that many governments around the country either ban tiny homes or force them to be connected to the utility grid. More…

Keystone Pipeline Does as Experts Predicted, Spills 383,000 Gallons of Oil in North Dakota

[Community]
Keystone Pipeline Does as Experts Predicted, Spills 383,000 Gallons of Oil in North Dakota
By Ryan Schleeter
Posted November 15, 2019

Keystone XL pipline spillI wish I could say I was shocked, but a major spill from the Keystone pipeline is exactly what multiple experts predicted would happen. In fact, this is the fourth significant spill from the Keystone pipeline in less than ten years of operation. History has shown us time and again that there is no safe way to transport fossil fuels, and pipelines are no exception. In the last ten years, US pipeline spills have led to 20 fatalities, 35 injuries, $2.6 billion in costs, and more than 34 million gallons spilled. New pipelines are locking us into carbon emissions that will push our climate past safe limits. That is not the future I want for my children.

“In the past decade, every proposed tar sands pipeline — including the Keystone XL pipeline — has been stopped or delayed by a powerful movement fighting for Indigenous rights, a clean energy economy, and our environment. It is past time to leave fossil fuels in the ground and begin a just transition to a Green New Deal and 100 percent renewable energy. More…

We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe

[Community]
We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe
By Joel M. Moskowitz
Posted November 14, 2019

5G health effects being hideen by indsutryThe telecommunications industry and their experts have accused many scientists who have researched the effects of cell phone radiation of “fear mongering” over the advent of wireless technology’s 5G. Since much of our research is publicly-funded, we believe it is our ethical responsibility to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us about the health risks from wireless radiation.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced through a press release that the commission will soon reaffirm the radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure limits that the FCC adopted in the late 1990s. These limits are based upon a behavioral change in rats exposed to microwave radiation and were designed to protect us from short-term heating risks due to RFR exposure.

Yet, since the FCC adopted these limits based largely on research from the 1980s, the preponderance of peer-reviewed research, more than 500 studies, have found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to RFR at intensities too low to cause significant heating. More…

The Facts:
This Scientific American article explains why 5G wireless technology may not be safe for human health. There are numerous other publications that show clear cause for concern, and the industry has not even conducted any safety testing.

Reflect On:
How are technologies like this, which have clear biological effects, allowed to rollout without any appropriate safety testing?

Illinois red-light cameras have collected more than $1B from drivers since 2008

[Community]
Illinois red-light cameras have collected more than $1B from drivers since 2008
By Austin Berg, Ben Szalinski, Tivas Gupta
Posted October 27, 2019

redlight cameras are about revenue, not safetyRed-light cameras in Illinois have done little to improve safety, but plenty to take more money from residents.

The 2017 Tribune report found over half of the intersections at which IDOT approved cameras were among the safest in the state, according to the department’s own study. Many permits were also given to intersections that had no red-light camera crashes in the previous three years.

Regardless of where they’re installed, red-light cameras lack clear-cut safety benefits. A 2018 study from Case Western Reserve University found red-light cameras likely do not increase traffic safety. Researchers looked at traffic accident data from Houston, which operated its red-light camera program from 2006 to 2010, and found that while T-bone collisions did indeed decrease during that time, non-angle collisions, such as rear-end crashes, actually increased. Moreover, rather than reducing traffic accidents, the study found that red-light enforcement cameras may have increased accidents overall. More…

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