Community Articles from 2020
10 Reasons to Use Linux Mint
by Martins D. Okoi
Posted September 22, 2020
Linux Mint is 100% free and open-source so you are well within your right to use it for whatever you choose whether it is for educating people, understanding operating systems better, or for providing proprietary services.
Together with elegance, simplicity, and reliability, security and privacy are at the core of Linux Mint’s philosophy and the developers have made sure that all services running in the OS are respectful of users’ rights to data privacy.
Users are bound to feel at home, or at least, welcome, when using Linux Mint because of its familiar setup to that of Windows. Its configuration and navigation options don’t use text different from other operating systems so it is easy to find what one is looking for. To put in simpler terms, from the time you install the Linux Mint to your first boot, you wouldn’t feel lost and will be able to find your away around without outside help whether you are coming from a Windows, macOS, or non-Linux platform. More…
The Microsoft Police State: Mass Surveillance, Facial Recognition, and the Azure Cloud
by Michael Kwet
Posted September 17, 2020
Nationwide protests against racist policing have brought new scrutiny onto big tech companies like Facebook, which is under boycott by advertisers over hate speech directed at people of color, and Amazon, called out for aiding police surveillance. But Microsoft, which has largely escaped criticism, is knee-deep in services for law enforcement, fostering an ecosystem of companies that provide police with software using Microsoft’s cloud and other platforms. The full story of these ties highlights how the tech sector is increasingly entangled in intimate, ongoing relationships with police departments.
Microsoft’s links to law enforcement agencies have been obscured by the company, whose public response to the outrage that followed the murder of George Floyd has focused on facial recognition software. This misdirects attention away from Microsoft’s own mass surveillance platform for cops, the Domain Awareness System, built for the New York Police Department and later expanded to Atlanta, Brazil, and Singapore. It also obscures that Microsoft has partnered with scores of police surveillance vendors who run their products on a “Government Cloud” supplied by the company’s Azure division and that it is pushing platforms to wire police field operations, including drones, robots, and other devices. More…
5G – A Move into the Future! But… What about Public Health?
By Rob Brown
Posted September 10, 2020
We have all seen commercials for 5G. And although most of us don’t really understand what 5G is, we have felt the excitement and the hype. The tech industry and world governments believe 5G to be the genesis of the 3rd industrial revolution that will transform society, allowing for the internet of things!
This technology will connect the internet to our appliances, our lights, our “things” and so much more. Turn your dishwasher on with your smart phone! Autonomous self driving vehicles will abound. 5G cells will triangulate and precisely locate your phone and other devices whenever you are connected to the network. Vendors will know who you are when you enter their stores and be able to market to you in real time as you move through the aisles. Companies will know when you turn your lights on, turn your TV off, what temperature you turn your thermostat on and how often you do your laundry!
Anyone could get caught up in the media hype. That is, anyone but those that fear the implications of wide scale surveillance and those aware of the negative health effects from EMF exposure. More…
Rest In Power, Kevin Zeese
By Margaret Flowers
Posted September 7, 2020
It is with a sad heart that I report the sudden and unexpected death of Kevin Zeese early Sunday morning. Kevin was working up until the end and died in his sleep of a possible heart attack.
Kevin was going to write a newsletter this weekend about the extradition trial of Julian Assange, which begins today. Kevin understood the great importance of the prosecution of Julian Assange as a battle that will define journalism in the 21st century and our right to know.
He was helping to organize an online event featuring Daniel Ellsberg, James Goodale and Chris Hedges, moderated by Sue Udry. As far as I know, that event will still take place. You can register for it here. The Facebook page for it is here. More…
The world has lost a valued warrior for justice and peace. He will certainly be missed, but it is up to us all to pick up where he left off and to continue to fight against the forces of darkness that would would deprive people of their individual empowerment for the sake of self serving interests.
Why Hundreds of Mathematicians Are Boycotting Predictive Policing
By Courtney Linder
Posted September 1, 2020
Several prominent academic mathematicians want to sever ties with police departments across the U.S., according to a letter submitted to Notices of the American Mathematical Society on June 15. The letter arrived weeks after widespread protests against police brutality, and has inspired over 1,500 other researchers to join the boycott.
“Given the structural racism and brutality in U.S. policing, we do not believe that mathematicians should be collaborating with police departments in this manner,” the authors write in the letter. “It is simply too easy to create a ‘scientific’ veneer for racism. Please join us in committing to not collaborating with police. It is, at this moment, the very least we can do as a community.” More…
An Open Letter to the Ocean Township Board of Education
By Lynn Marie
Posted August 24, 2020
My Question to the Ocean Township School Board: What policies are in place to protect children from health issues resulting from forced masking? How will the school protect children from abduction (masking hides identifying features and muffles communication reducing their cries for help)?
Isolation (disguised as “social distancing” and/or virtual learning)
Children develop a sense of self by watching others and by mimicking play and social skills – and by interacting with one another. I can’t believe I have to point out this fact. Isolation destroys this natural connection. It is a prison. And more child abuse.
My Question to the Ocean Township School Board: What policies do you have in place to counsel children suffering from the unnecessary, yet mandated, social isolation and interruption of life-sustaining skills…and ultimately their feelings of depression, anxiety, displacement, and doom? More…
EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities
EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities
by Electronic Frontier Foundation
Posted August 20, 2020
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in partnership with the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, today launched the largest-ever collection of searchable data on police use of surveillance technologies, created as a tool for the public to learn about facial recognition, drones, license plate readers, and other devices law enforcement agencies are acquiring to spy on our communities.
The Atlas of Surveillance database, containing several thousand data points on over 3,000 city and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices nationwide, allows citizens, journalists, and academics to review details about the technologies police are deploying, and provides a resource to check what devices and systems have been purchased locally.
Users can search for information by clicking on regions, towns, and cities, such as Minneapolis, Tampa, or Tucson, on a U.S. map. They can also easily perform text searches by typing the names of cities, counties, or states on a search page that displays text results. The Atlas also allows people to search by specific technologies, which can show how surveillance tools are spreading across the country. More…
Brave Illinois Police Sergeant Faces Retaliation After Exposing Fellow Cops Torturing Man to Death
by Elias Marat
Posted August 12, 2020
A police sergeant in Joliet, Illinois, has been stripped of his police powers and placed on administrative leave after he blew the whistle on the cover-up of the murder of a man who was effectively tortured to death by his fellow officers.
Community members are hailing the actions of whistleblower police Sgt. Javier “Butch” Esqueda, who was moved to reveal the grisly nature of the in-custody death of Eric Lurry, a Black man from Joliet, who was choked to death in the back of a squad car in grueling footage captured on video.
On Tuesday, protesters rallied around the Joliet Police Department calling for justice for Lurry while praising Sgt. Esqueda, a 27-year veteran of the force who has faced retaliation after breaking the code of silence regarding what he sees as the criminal actions of his colleagues, reports CBS2 Chicago. More…
A Pandemic of Digital Rights Abuses
by Michael Proper
Posted August 2, 2020
We are giving up our right to privacy, our right to gather, our right to work, our freedom of speech, our pursuit of happiness. Fear will drive us to give up just about everything in order to survive. Getting those freedoms back is a lot harder than giving them up.
And now, in the midst of the COVID-19 threat, the news that Google and Apple are building APIs that allow contact tracking in order to track the spread of the pandemic so local governments can assess whether or not to impose stricter “stay at home” ordinances. This from their blog:
“Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms.”
In other words, contact tracing will be permanently built-in. To be fair, contact tracing is opt-in. And the announcement is careful to point out that privacy is paramount. But take that with a grain of salt. It was only a couple of years ago that Apple got busted for secret deals with Uber that allowed for Uber to track locations of users even when location data was turned off. More…
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