Social Articles from 2018

Video and Photo Evidence Now Even More Easily Faked and Fabricated

[Media]
Video and Photo Evidence Now Even More Easily Faked and Fabricated
by Makia Freeman
Posted March 19, 2018

photo and video can be fakedPhoto evidence and video evidence has been relied on in academia, science, courts of law and elsewhere to prove or refute facts and theories – but those days are coming to an end. We live in an historic era. Technological advances in the realm of computers and AI are taking place so rapidly that our world is being changed overnight.

Now, software has been written that allows computers to create new faces that look like normal unique people but which are actually composite amalgams; to literally create and fabricate objects (from a basic sketch) and render them so lifelike that you won’t be able to tell the difference between the fabricated ones and the real ones; and to remove entire objects from video footage in real time, and render in the empty space so well that it is undetectable to the eye. The days of being able to trust photo evidence and video evidence are disappearing – and the implications for human knowledge are far reaching. More…

Happy Aniversary, James Clapper

[Justice]
Happy Aniversary, James Clapper
by Jonathan Turley
Posted March 14, 2018

James Clapper, commits perjury and never prosecuted-- above the lawToday is an important anniversary for former intelligence chief James Clapper. No it is not his marriage anniversary or conventional milestone. Clapper can celebrate the running out of the statute of limitations on his alleged perjury before Congress — five years and Clapper is now beyond the reach of the law.

I recently wrote a column on the approaching anniversary and how it reaffirms the widely held view that powerful people in Washington are immune from laws used against the rest of society.

Clapper appeared before the Senate to discuss surveillance programs in the midst of a controversy over warrantless surveillance of the American public. He was asked directly, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?” There was no ambiguity or confusion and Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” That was a lie and Clapper knew it when he said it. More…

42 People Own the Same Wealth as the Bottom 3.7 Billion, Says Report

[Economic]
42 People Own the Same Wealth as the Bottom 3.7 Billion, Says Report
by Amanda Froelich
Posted March 12, 2018

obvious that this is not sustainableRepeat after me: “I am free.” Now, say it again with conviction. Can you? Probably not. This is because the world we collectively share is anything but fair, and this is largely due to an imbalanced distribution of wealth. If you are doubtful, perhaps a new report by Oxfam will convince you. In their recent report, entitled “Reward Work, Not Wealth“, the non-profit organization reveals that 82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 “went to the richest one percent.”

According to the report, 2017 “saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history.” 42 people now “own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people,” says the report. The trend is nothing new, but is becoming more noticeable as “the richest one percent continue to own more wealth than the whole of the rest of humanity.” More…

The Opioid Epidemic in America – Killing One Million Workers: The Triumph of Capital

[Social]
The Opioid Epidemic in America – Killing One Million Workers: The Triumph of Capital
By Prof. James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya
Posted March 9, 2018

government guilty of malpractice in opioid epidemicOfficial government studies estimate almost 700,000 deaths since 1999, based on the scattered and incomplete coroner reports and death certificates that characterize the state of vital statistics in the US. There is no uniformity in data collection and no interest in developing a uniform national system on which to formulate social policies. Most likely additional hundreds of thousands of drug deaths have gone un-recorded or attributed to ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions, suicides and accidents – despite clear evidence of over-prescription of narcotics and sedatives in the victims.

The ‘drug epidemic’ in the US is all about the current structure of power and social relations in an increasingly oligarchic state amidst growing class inequalities and immiseration. At its roots, American capitalism in the 21st Century has degraded, impoverished and exploited US workers and employees with increasing intensity over the past two decades. Workers have lost almost all collective influence in the workplace and in politics. Working conditions and safety have deteriorated – while capitalists hire and fire at will. Salaries, pensions, health care and death benefits have been slashed or disappeared. More…

How Uncle Sam Launders Marijuana Money

[Justice]
How Uncle Sam Launders Marijuana Money
By Ellen Brown
Posted March 8, 2018

Uncle Sam launders drig moneyIn a blatant example of “do as I say, not as I do,” the US government is profiting handsomely by accepting marijuana cash in the payment of taxes while imposing huge penalties on banks for accepting it as deposits. Onerous reporting requirements are driving small local banks to sell out to Wall Street. Congress needs to harmonize federal with state law.

One small banker complained that banks have been turned into spies secretly reporting to the federal government. If they fail to comply, they can face stiff enforcement actions, whether or not actual money-laundering crimes are alleged. In 2010, one small New Jersey bank pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act and was fined $5 million for failure to file suspicious-activity and cash-transaction reports. Another small New Jersey bank closed its doors after it was hit with $8 million in fines over its inadequate monitoring policies. The cost of compliance and threat of massive fines for not complying have been major factors in the collapse of the community banking sector. The number of community banks has fallen by 40 percent since 1994 and their share of U.S. banking assets has fallen by more than half, from 41 percent to 18 percent. More…

Nine Humanitarian Activists Face Federal Charges After Leaving Water for Migrants in the Arizona Desert

[Justice]
Nine Humanitarian Activists Face Federal Charges After Leaving Water for Migrants in the Arizona Desert
by Ryan Devereaux
Posted March 7, 2018

felony charges for providing waterA faith-based humanitarian group that provides aid and shelter to undocumented migrants on the southwestern border fears it has become the latest target in the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration advocates. Nine members of the group, No More Deaths, were charged with federal crimes and misdemeanors in recent months, including one volunteer arrested last week shortly after the publication of a report documenting alleged abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol.

Last week, the Tucson, Arizona-based organization published a report presenting what it described as evidence of Border Patrol agents’ systematic destruction of water jugs left for migrants in the desert, as well as “months of increasing surveillance and harassment” by the agency beginning last year. Hours after the report was published, one of the group’s organizers was arrested in a remote area of Arizona, along with two undocumented immigrants, and hit with felony charges. More…

Evictionland

[Community]
Evictionland
By Joseph Williams
Posted March 6, 2018

shrinking middle class feeling more evictionsMy trip from the middle class into the ranks of the homeless began with a ticket of sorts. I came home one afternoon in 2013 from another fruitless job search to find a summons taped to the front door of my $2,000-a-month apartment in suburban Washington, D.C.

Show up in housing court on the assigned date with the back rent, it read. Or be prepared to find another place to live.

I didn’t think about it then—I was too busy trying not to freak out—but I was about to enter the world of eviction, a portal to poverty that is a largely unseen but growing part of the nation’s housing landscape. What used to be primarily a scourge among the working poor is becoming a fact of life for the shrinking middle class. More…

Why Farmers Are Using Glyphosate To Kill Their Crops — And What It Might Mean For You

[Community]
Why Farmers Are Using Glyphosate To Kill Their Crops — And What It Might Mean For You
By Ben Hewitt
Posted Match 5, 2018

saturating crops with glyphosate before harvestFew consumers are aware of what also has contributed to increased glyphosate use: Pre-harvest crop desiccation. Originating in Scotland in the 1980s, this practice involves applying the herbicide to a standing crop toward the end of the growing season with the express purpose of expediting the natural process that would occur, where a crop slowly dies and dries in the field. The glyphosate kills the crop so it can be dry enough to harvest sooner than if it were left to die naturally — allowing the farmer to clear the field before the onset of unfavorable weather. The practice has since gained significant traction in North America, particularly in the northern regions of the Great Plains and the grain belt of Midwestern and western Canada, where cold, wet weather comes early.

The exact timing of the application depends on a number of factors, but generally ranges from three to seven days before the onset of harvesting activities. And herein lies a potential explanation for the appearance of glyphosate in Ben & Jerry’s, as well as a large number of other food products. “Pre-harvest desiccation may account for only a small percentage of overall glyphosate use,” says Charles Benbrook, a visiting scholar at the Bloomberg School of Public Health who has spent more than a decade studying the use of glyphosate and associated health risks. “But it accounts for over 50 percent of dietary exposure.” More…

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