Archive for July 2016

Wait, you’re actually FOR Internet Censorship?!   Leave a comment

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This is the crux of the arguement those of the Internet Free Speech Movement (IFSM) and the Internet Privacy Rights Movement (IPRM) use when making the case for “a free, unregulated and uncensored internet access for all”. They want everyone to be able to say whatever they want to whoever they want as much as they want without having the responsability that comes with it. This is actually two issues in one that is merged into one on purpose. Let’s split them into their correct categories first before we proceed: Government Censorship and Toxic Behavior.

We’ll start with the first one.

For the most part, I think we can all agree no one should unrestricted access to any of the following types of information:

  • How to build a bomb (Can actually be viewed in videos on YouTube)
  • Child Porn
  • How to get Military Vehicles
  • How to get Military-grade munitions
  • How to buy or process Uranium (Can actually be bought in small amounts off Amazon)
  • How to get away with Identity Theft/Fraud
  • How to get or make a Biological Weapon (Virus, etc.)
  • How to track or monitor someone in real time outside security protocols

It should go without saying NONE of the above should be easy to find, let alone readily available to the general public on the internet. All of these are actually very easy ro find on the Dark Web, which itself has preconditions that must be met to even use. Information I am aware of but will never disclose. All of the above are what can be called “forbidden knowledge”: Information that is assured to bring harm to others. The average person has NO NEED to know about ANY of these things or rather not unless the intent is to do harm.

I’ll be blunt: If you disagree with that last statement, I consider you a threat to society.

For the most part, we have our opinions about the following types of information:

  • Hate Speech
  • Threating People/Harassment
  • Trolling/Baiting/Griefing
  • Hacking/Intrusion
  • Criticizing Government Officials or Policies
  • Memes

These all fall under the magic umbrella known as “Grey Area”: As long as you don’t go too far, you’re good. Me personally, I have zero tolerence for all but the fourth item on this list. Mostly because I’ve seen far more than them than most, I have a strong dislike of viral Memes. Yes, I know how hypocritical that sounds given I have two Apps on my computers that I use to make Memes of my own. LOL

The thing about criticizing elected officials online most people are mindful of is not taking it too far. Saying “I fucking hate that coon Obama and his inbred bitch of a wife.” is yes, VERY racist but perfectly fine. Do I think it’s ok for people to say that online? Absolutely not but to each their own. Now, saying “One of these days I’m gonna spray the White House with so much fire, they’re gonna need alot a body bags.” Is an easy way to get the FBI to pay you a visit within 24 hours. Even something like “I swear I wanna fucking kill Justin Bieber right now.” will get you a visit from the police at the very least and maybe a referral to a shrink. You do not and SHOULD NOT get away with threatening violence against anyone. Including yourself. So, no Tweeting “I’m about to OD on some pills, I’m done.” and then being surprised when the police show up within an hour.

In addition to this, there is a new phenomenon called Swatting that’s becoming a real problem. How it works is someone calls local police in your area to “report a crime in progress”, giving YOUR address. The ensure the police do go to your house, they spice up their story by saying “They have a bomb and are threatening to set it off” or “They’re holding people hostage at gunpoint”. Both are the types of things the dispatcher won’t be able to doubt at face value. It being a waste of taxpayer dollars aside, it’s also very dangerous for both the occupants and police as neither know about the hoax phone call and…yeah. Police might make a forced entry thinking someone’s in imminent danger and someone gets hurt. See, the losers who make these calls are some sick, twisted individuals to even consider doing something like this. Yet it’s happening more and more, mainly involving people who play online games. Nevermind making a false police report is itself a crime.

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I agree 100% with both of these statements. The problem, in the last 10 years especially is folks insist on using the first one as justification for the second one. Then there’s this:

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This is NOT what the IPRM and IFSM had in mind but it is exactly what is happening. Replace Facebook with Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media platform. If you need specific examples of any of these things, there’s far too many to bother listing from this month alone and far too easy to find all over the internet.

The sad truth is, there are people who get off spreading misery online. 8 out of 10 times, the person spreading toxic language has issues of their own and are taking out on people online. They do it in part because of the false sense of security they have in the assumption “It’s not like anyone will find out who I really am”. Quite the contrary. It may take time but as the saying goes, the longest rope has an end.

See, the problem is too often, people want to be able to say whatever they want to whoever they want whenever they want and not have to accept the full responsability of their actions. Here’s a few examples I’ve seen daily on just ONE website’s forums I will not name:

  • “Go kill yourself.”
  • You’re a fanboy/fangirl.”
  • “You’re what’s wrong with <Insert Game Here>”
  • <Insert Game Here> is trash now.”
  • “Everyone who likes <Insert Game Here> is White Knighting/Fanboy/Fangirl.”
  • “No one cares about what you think.”
  • “WTF is wrong with you? Only faggots pick <Insert Playable Character>”
  • “You’re a fucking moron picking <Insert Playable Character>, you now that?”

 

I will say this is from a combination of the forums of a website for an particular MMO as well as said game’s in-game chat. I will speak more on this specific subject on my Video Game Blog once again at a later time.

Anyway, these things and more are being said more and more on large-traffic websites. On the one hand yes, it’s mostly the type of shit your textbook internet tough guy will never say to someone’s face. You don’t need to be a psychologist to know this is very sociopathic behavior even in an online setting. What’s most concerning to me is this is considered “normal” or “expected” behavior online. The tolerance for toxic comments is far higher online than it would be in a face to face conversation.

…And folks want to “protect” this kind of “speech”? This isn’t something worth endorsing. I call it being as asshole personally.

 

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…Which brings me back to this.

There are countries that heavily censor and monitor internet use within their boarders. China, Iran, Turkey, North Korea and to a lesser extent Russia are the biggest offenders. China actually has its own versions of Google, Facebook and many other high-profile websites. The IPRM and IFSM have these countries in mind. They are worried about this happening in the U.S. and honestly, it’s only a matter of time. That said, I see websites and companies imposing internet censorship first, not the government.

Folks should be much more concerned about the rampant data collection by websites and social media they surrender their personal information to without a second thought. These same companies are hiding behind the IPRM and the IFSM when the government and the FCC started asking the obvious questions: “Why are you collecting so much user data and what will it be used for?” The government should do something about this but they can’t because then they’ll be accused of being too intrusive. That’s well and good until you’re the victim of identity fraud. LOL.

Anonymous is fighting the good fight to bring Internet Freedom of Speech to countries that don’t have it. We don’t have that problem in North America and much of Europe. Try to keep that in mind.

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To say that another way: Since everyone’s got an opinion, everyone wants to be seen and heard. My blogs are the epitome why I just said in regards to me. I know very few people actually read my blogs on any given day. I have the raw data of vews. Trust me, I know 3-5 people max view my most popular blogs a day. I’ve shamelessly tried shaming my Facebook contacts into reading my blogs with little success. LOL. I have no problem admitting to that since like I just said, it’s changed nothing in the four years since I launched this blog, which was the first of seven =O

If it isn’t clear already, I am a big believer in Freedom of the Press. Through my blogs, I live by the phrase “The only people who should have freedom of the Press are those with their own press.” This is the main reason why I blog. I’m very passionate about the things I write about or I would have written several volumes worth of words on all of my blogs combined.

I’ll speak more of this in a second blog post but I’ve come to understand something very important during the Democratic and Republican Primaries: Social Media is the wrong place to try to have a serious discussion online. Social Media a means of sharing information with alot of people who will in turn share that information very quickly. If you want to have a more in-depth conversation, that’s what forums, message boards, blogs, Skype or some other chat client/system is for.

I’ll end with the one thing I haven’t yet said: For most, the internet and online games are an escape.

Let’s not beat around the bush, this is why people spend most of their non-School or Work-related time on the internet. There’s actually nothing wrong with that–people read books, watch TV, meditate and exercise for the same reason. Whatever helps you stop constantly thinking about the things that stress you out.

The problem, as I pointed out earlier is some people want to bring their personal problems online with them. They’re miserable so they decide it’s their job to spread their misery with other people.  They see how “happy” or “successful” other people are and they have to criticize them or tear them down just for being themselves. They do it to make them feel better about themselves even though it will do nothing to change their own situation. It really is pathetic when you think about it.

This is why it’s all the more important for folks to put their foot down and make it clear their toxic attitude is not wanted. Then take steps to purge toxic people from the online community. This isn’t something that can or should be automated. A person needs to take this role on.

…Oh and no, I don’t believe the internet should be censored. LOL.

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For Little Girls Inspired By Hillary Clinton   Leave a comment

May you find better role models and aspirations.

Source: For Little Girls Inspired By Hillary Clinton

Here’s the truth about Internet “Privacy”: There is no such thing   Leave a comment

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Many of you have probably heard this saying somewhere before. The fact of the matter is it’s 100% true. It’s that simple. Once something is put on the internet, it’s no longer private. Even stuff put on Google Drive, Box.net One Drive and other online storage websites. The internet’s only 20 years old but one thing it’s certainly done well is made the world a much smaller place. I don’t just mean in regards to georgraphy and communications but I also mean in regards to Social Media.

Having said that:

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I always find it hypocritical and IRONIC so many people profess their desire to keep the government out of their private lives yet have no problem violating their own right to privacy on social media. That is the irony of using Social Media: You forfeit your right to privacy the moment you start using Social Media. This is because by design, social media is a platform for you to share yourself to the world.

While it is true Facebook has made efforts in recent years to give users more control over who can see or look up what about them, those efforts mean NOTHING if the account holder A. Doesn’t know about them and B. Doesn’t make use of them. I’ll use a recent privacy breach that happened to me with my Facebook account.This past Sunday, a family member saw something on my Facebook profile they didn’t like and gave my grief over it almost immediately. It was info regarding my employment situation I thought had been set to private. While I didn’t really care for the reaction to what was shared, I DID care about the context the info was in and who could see it.

I immediately went into my FB Privacy Settings and set all my past, present and future posts to only be viewable by my Friends list contacts. I also set my employment history and other stuff to private. I even took things a step further and set it to make it much harder for anyone not on my friends list to look up my FB Page via Facebook OR a Search Engine. I had actually removed my last name from all of my social media accounts two years ago, replacing them with my pen name Aurabolt. I started doing the same with all but one of my email accounts as well. The one email account that has my actual last name in the letterhead is for my non-social media purposes.

Let me hit you with some statistics:

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…So, yeah.

Once you’ve created a digital footprint and more specifically a social media presence, it’s there forever. There actually ARE tech companies that specialize in helping you shrink and privitize your online presnece but more often than not, their services are sought out AFTER either an account is hacked or an identity is stolen. The easiest way to prevent either of these outcomes is to simply not use social media and severely limit your internet presence as much as possible.

Those of you reading this with social media accounts should take the time to look into the sites’ privacy options if they have any. You should also limit who can see what you post be it someone on your friends list or someone who isn’t but has a social media account. At the very least, NONE of the following should be readily visible to ANYONE who views your account on social media or any other website for that matter:

 

  • Full Name: Use a nickname based on your name if you want like I do.
  • Date of Birth: Set it to private
  • Employment Status and History: No one’s business, set it to private.
  • Education Status and History: Same as above
  • Home or Work Address: Goes without saying.
  • Home or Cellphone Number: Not unless you want scammers calling you.
  • Your email address: Privately give it to whoever you want but it should NOT be visible.
  • Clear Profile Pic: Not unless you want someone to make a fake ID with your face.

–I’ll pause there and say this is all anyone needs to steal your identity or set up fraudulent accounts in your name. Yes, even finding our your social security number won’t be very hard with all this info. If you allow ANYONE on your friends list to see any of this info, MAKE SURE they’re all people you trust 100%. There are groups the younger generation are in whose only purpose is building friends lists. The major problem with these groups is  they’re sandboxes for identity thieves, scammers and con artists. More on this in a bit.

All that said, you can also just set up a Social Media account with NONE of your personal information. More and more folks have been doing this with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Kik in particular as an extra layer of protection: They have their actual FB account with people they personally known or trust and then they have a second account just for messing around. It’s become more and more important for folks to aggressively control how much of themselves is shared on social networks.

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…That last one is a book and a very good read. Check it out sometime.

The world’s increased dependency on the internet is cause for concern for reasons other than the obvious loss of privacy. I’ll get to those other reasons in spearate posts. Anyway, the Internet Privacy Rights Movement (IPRM for short) says it champions an “unregulated internet” where all who use it “should be free of government surveilance”. Their arguement is since the internet is used by the whole world, no one country should have the power to regulate the people, companies and otherwise that use it 24/7/365.

…This is the most dangerous ideology of the Digital Age yet.

This campaign is also a front for its TRUE objective: providing a cover for those who SHOULD be watched by the government to make themselves invisible online AND giving cyber criminals the tools they need to stay ahead of law enforcement. The IPRM has already made it clear: They are against government surveilence of ANY kind under ANY circumstances. Their arguement is “the government has no business looking at my browsing history”.

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I’ll put it this way: I support the online group collectively known as Anonymous, what they do and what they stand for. I have no problem admitting they are the one good thing that came out of the Snowden Leaks. They do what the governments of the world are unable and unwilling to do: True Digital Social Justice. Wall St., ISIS and many governments fear them. It goes without saying their reputation preceeds them. They consider themselves everyone and no one. They are chaos incarnate. They cannot be contained. They cannot be stopped.

For every Anonymous member unmasked, arrested or killed, 10 more move in to replace them somewhere in the world. I’ve talked about Anonymous in previous blog posts before but I think this is the first time I’ve outright saud I support what they stand for. They are aligned to no one and no thing, a force that cannot be bought or controlled. They simply do what they please.

That said, I I draw a hard distinction between Anonymous and the IPRM: Anonymous are digital ghosts because of what they do. the IPRM simply doesn’t want “anyone” to know what they’re doing. I actually don’t have a problem if it was just that. What I do have a problem with is their calls for a a completely unregulated and unmonitored internet. Since I’m going to talk about Free Speech and the internet in a separate post, I’ll leave it at that.

Back to my original train of thought:

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If you want to use the internet, like it or not YOU willingly and easily give up the right to privacy and free speech. I’ll speak more to the second point in a separate blog but here’s something to think about. Who DO all of the above websites and thousands of other commonly used websites and apps want at least your full name and email address? “It’s just to confirm it’s really a person making the account and not a macro.”, right? That’s what your answer will be if you know that much about creating accounts on websites.

The truth is, THAT is the price you pay for the free use of their “free” services. You pay with your right to privacy. See, all these websites have done something I will concede the IPRM have long been aware of: User Information is the currency of advertisers. Over the last year You Tube, Facebook and Twitter users will have noticed ads and trending articles matching topics they’ve recently browsed online appearing much more frequently. If you were browsing GameFAQS or Gamestop, you’ll see news on upcoming video games. If you were ordering pizza from the Dominos Pizza website, you’ll see comfort food Page suggessions. If were looking at my Anime Blog, you will see channel suggestions for anime fans. I assure you, that is no exaggeration.

There has also been a renewed effort by advertiserd to demonize people who use ad-blocking tools. How and why? Simple: Under the guise of giving you “control” of what ads you see. “Please disable your ad blocking ad-ons to support our website”. The funny thing websites don’t want you to know about that is they only get a fraction of the profits from Ads. I used to run a website for 5 straight years. I’d know.

…In closing, the same rules online apply in the real world. Truse NO ONE with your personal information. The more they insist “Your personal information will not be shared”, the more likely it actually is. Remember: That’s money to them.

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The Democratic National Convention begins   Leave a comment

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…Two weeks after Bernie Sanders officially conceded to Hillary Clinton and endorsed her, one thing has been made clear in the hours leading up this week: The Democratic Party is far from united. Bernie Sanders spoke to his delegates at the beginning of convention Tuesday afternoon, urging them to join him in backing Hillary Clinton. His call for unity was met with boos from his own base and cheers from Clinton’s. After speaking, he sent an email to all his supporters and rebuffed them, reminding them what’s at stake is more than partisan politics.

In an interesting contrast to the RNC, a who’s who of Democrats are converging on Philadelphia to make the case for Democrats nationwide on why Hillary Clinton must win the election in November. It certainly doesn’t hurt Bernie Sanders, President Obama, Clinton 42 and Elizabeth Warren are among the top voices championing her campaign at the DNC. Like the RNC, there will be testimonies from ordinary Americans who will make the case for why they believe Clinton is what’s best for the country. If the Democrats don’t want to have a repeat of the 2000 election, they would do well to remember the lessons of the past.

What was expected to be an easy victory for Vice President and Democratic Nominee Al Gore in the 2000 election ended in defeat not at the hands of Republican President George W. Bush but the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court. Gore requested a recount after some democratic ballots in Florida went missing but the GOP blocked his efforts. Gore took the fight to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the GOP. Bush 43 was sworn in as President in short order as presumed.

We know what happened the following year on September 11, 2001. Bush 43, the GOP and the Military Industrial Complex used the attack by terrorists as an excuse to launch unprovoked attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. What was framed as avenging those who were killed and hunting down the group responsible became an illegal war and subsequent occupation of both countries.

The Democrats’ efforts to take back the White House in 2004 fell apart due to the candidates chosen at that time: John Kerry and John Edwards, both Senators at the time. Kerry lacked the presence needed to connect with voters and as would be revealed after the election, a sex scandal would bring an abrupt end to Edwards’ political career. The one silver lining for the Dems during Bush 43’s second term was the 2004 DNC introduced America to then Senator Barack Obama. The Democrats managed to retake control of Congress in 2006. They got another political victory in the Wall St. bailouts, which was considered an act of betrayal to conservatives by the GOP. Bush 43’s stimulus package–basically another tax return for most–did little too late to address the mounting national debt and unemployment rate. Writing a blank check to the military while slashing essential services and jobs will do that.

Barack Obama’s historic victory in 2008 was nearly overshadowed by The Great Recession. It was the worst economic collapse in America since The Great Recession. It was bad but nowhere near as bad as the Depression. The GOP capitalized on the tanking economy to retake control of Congress in 2010 but not before passing the Affordable Care Act–quickly dubbed Obamacare–which the GOP has tried and failed at every opportunity to both stop and defund when it was passed into law.

The Dems’ refusal to work with the GOP cost them control of Congress in 2010 and nearly the White House in 2012. Fortunately for the Dems, the GOP’s incompetence was still fresh in the minds of most Americans. Many conservatives were also uncomfortable with the idea of businessman and former governor Mitt Romney becoming president. It also didn’t help the GOP was still divided from the aftermath of the 2008 election–the rise of the National Tea Party during Obama’s first term started to tear the GOP apart from within. It also didn’t help their foreign policy called for carpet bombing the middle east.

Obama’s perceived “reluctance” to use military force went out the window when he greenlit the Black Op that led to the death of Al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden. The 9/11 mastermind was found not hiding in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan as had been long believed but in a compound deep inside neighboring Pakistan. The real test of Obama as commander of the U.S. Military came with the rise of ISIS. The Obama administration has ordered more airstrikes, bombings and drone attacks in the middle east than his predecessor.

As Obama’s second turn comes to a close, many current and former Democrats have come to realize their party is just as corrupt as the GOP. The recent leak of emails confirming the Democratic National Committee did everything in their power to ensure Bernie Sanders never had a chance in the Democratic Primaries infuriated his supporters. It also didn’t help Sanders not only endorsed Clinton two weeks ago but called on his supporters to back her as the Democratic Nominee. Addressing his delegates Monday night, Sanders told them Hillary Clinton must become the next President and she is the right person for the job.

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…Or is she?

Even though she lacks the level of controversy the puppet candidate Donald Trump has, I feel it is extremely important to tell those who backed her from the beginning the criticism against her is rightly deserved.

Let’s get to the big one first: She is a former First Lady. Assuming she wins the election in November, by extension her husband Bill Clinton will become a 3-term presidemt through her. While it’s true the Bush, Roosevelt and Adams families had two presidents each in all three cases, the retired president didn’t get involved with sitting president. That won’t be a case with the Clintons even though it’s likely Clinton 42 will won’t be in the White House much due to his non-profit work.

Some Feminists and many of HRC’s most loyal supporters are trying to make the long dispoven case the “real reason” for the hate against her is because of her gender. That’s definitely not it. Nancy Pelosi is probably going to become the Majority Leader of the House in two years once again. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was also the Republican Vice Presidential Nominee in 2008 during Hillary Clinton’s first White House run. There is also another woman who is running for President as a third party candidate: Jill Stein.

…Is the country ready for its first female president? Absolutely BUT it should not have been under these circumstances. Yes, Clinton conceded to Obama in 2008 but the circumstances were very different: Obama played by the rules. HRC, the Dems and CNN used every means necessary including blatanrly breaking the law to ensure Clinton won the Democratic Nomination.

Now, let’s go back to Monday’s email leaks and as a reminder, the Russians have the traitor Eric Snowden working for them. The reveal vindicated Sanders supporters like myself who said for almost a year the primaries were rigged to ensure Bernie Sanders never had a chance from the beginning. The standoff I’m witnessing at the DNC between the Dems and Bernie Supporters is indicative of the Democratic Party’s corruption. Hillary Clinton will be the most unpopular Democratic President since Jimmy Carter. That’s a more than fair general assumption despite her making history as the country’s first female president. I will go over the reasons why in a week or two.

 

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As the role call of the delegates began to play out for the country to see on CNN, you can see the somber expression of Senator Bernie Sanders as he watched the tally. Hillary Clinton clinched the votes needed to become the Democratic Nominee with the South Dakota delgation. Vermont elected to pass on announcing its delegation count in order during the roll call. As the roll call continued, Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane had made their way to the Vermont delegation. His pensive expression said more than the words he would speak moments later would.

When the floor returned to Vermont, as expected Bernie Sanders would have the final word. In stunning move. Bernie Sanders called for his deligates to give ALL of his votes to HRC as soon as possible. The motion was unanimously voted YEA at once. Based on the reactions of the delegates, this was enough for (most of) them to endorse HRC.

As New York Times columnist Shaun King said in an article he released Tuesday afternoon, endorsing HRC was a much harder decision for Bernie than his supporters can possibly imagine. Much can be read into the emotion in Sanders’ voice when he emphatically uttered the words “Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States”. His emphasis on the word “must” speaks to more than just the mere partisan politics the Bernie or Bust, Stein/Johnson and GOP camps are focusing on. Things I will not digress any further in this blog post on. I certainly will in a separate post at a later time, though.

What I will end with is the Democratic Party is no longer what it once was. It’s easy for folks old enough to remember to suddenly forget Clinton 42’s two terms were the Dems’ best years since FDR was president: They controlled the White House, Congress AND the Supreme Court. They truly lost Congress in 2009 when Edward Kennedy passed away not long after President Obama was sworn in as the 44th President.

The Dems have been struggling with an identity crisis since 2000 prettymuch, mostly due to influences from both the media and Wall St. On that note, they are just as much to blame for the Recession as the GOP. They knew what was happening and didn’t do anything to soften the blow to the nation’s economy. What they did instead was take the opportunity to blame the GOP for creating the conditions for it to happen. Just like they blamed the GOP for the so-called “War on Terrorism” Hillary Clinton supported as both a Senator and Secretary of State. One thing the GOP has over the Dems is at least they’re consistent even when they’re wrong. With the Dems, they’ll do whatever it takes to get what they want. That was made clear during the Democratic Primary for not just the whole country but the whole world to see. It WILL be remembered over the next four years should HRC win the election as she is scripted to do.

To those who are Republicans, Independents and otherwise it is EXTREMELY important that you follow the discussions at the DNC. The Democratic Party is clearly not “united” like Corporate Media and the Dems desparately want everyone to believe. The price that will be paid for what they’ve done will be steep, the likes of which I dare not say. On that note, the Third Party candidates have ZERO chance in November of winning a single district. I will get into why in a post next week.

Let’s revisit the so-called “whistleblowers” Eric Snowden and Wiki Leaks   Leave a comment

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After debating Snowden with 3 people on Facebook yesterday, I decided to draft this post to explain a few things in detail. As a refresher, I wrote a similar post two years ago on Snowden. In that post, I explained why Eric Snowden is a traitor to the U.S. To those who might have forgotten, here is why this American informant is living in Russia and is now trying ot negotiate with the U.S. Government the terms of his return:

  • A few years ago, Eric Snowden was working as a subcontractor for the NSA. His position granted him access to classified information only those who worked in US counterintelligence and counterterrosism agencies or the Pentagon had access to.
  • Some of the files Snowden and other subcontractors had access to revealed U.S. intelligence was actively monitoring the phone conversations of the leaders of some of its allies in Europe and the Middle East. Other files revealed the U.S. was actively also monitoring phone conversations and email accounts of U.S. citizens.
  • Bothered by this, Snowden decided to send the classified information to Julilan Assange–the owner of the websiteWikiLeaks–which immediately posted the data Snowden provided on its website for the world to see. Up until then, WikiLeaks was a tabloid-like website that openedly shared data and information provided to them by hackers and hacking rings online.
  • After sending the data to WikiLeaks, Snowden fled the U.S. and went to Russia–which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.–to seek assylum. Russia granted his request for Assylum and has been living in hiding in Russia ever since.
  • In the days immediately following the Snowden Leak, Jullian Assange was arrested in London for his role in the leaked files and unrelated sexual assault charges. A U.S. soldier working in the Pentagon was also implicated for leaking classified data to WikiLeaks and will likely spend the rest of their life in prison. The Hactivist group Anonymous also formed shortly afterward.
  • Snowden and Assange quickly became the faces of the Internet Privacy Rights Movement. Assange is out on bail due to the massive amount of donations sent to him online from around the world. He still maintains WikiLeaks and has taken steps to ensure it stays online after he is eventually convicted and imprisoned.
  • Snowden, who has been living in hiding in Russia has spoken at several conferences on internet privacy in the U.S. via live stream. In the last two years, he announced he is looking into negotiating the terms of his return to the U.S. with the federal government.

…And there you have it. This is an outline of the events involving Snowden up to now. A movie about the incident is coming out in two months but Snowden himself was not involved in the film’s development. The director used accounts from two books written about the Snowden Leaks. The movie will do to Snowden what The Social Network did to Mark Zuckerberg: show the OTHER side of him the media didn’t tell. The books used as reference material are The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena, both of which I have read. Oliver Stone taking creative liberties aside, the movie asks viewers to ask themselves the question “Was Snowden right to do what he did?”

The clear answer when you look at the facts is no.

This is the point I told the three people I debated this with yesterday: He didn’t disclose anything that wasn’t already publicly accessible. The government spies on its own citizens? That nothing new. Patriot Act says hi. Martin Luther King’s phones were wiretapped by the FBI. The FBI wiretapped international calls from Japan and Germany during World War II. It’s nothing new and should be expected.

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Like I said on Facebook, the Feds don’t give a damn about the porn sites you visit from your mother’s basement. They don’t care about you telling a coworker how much you hate your boss for giving you a hard time about vacation time. They don’t even care about the extreme political views you share on Twitter. The only things they give a damn about is monitoring people who deal in illegal, illicit and criminal activities.

What the IPRM isn’t concerned about that the government has to be is who’s listening to them. Earlier this year, a locked iPhone became the belonged to a mass shooter who carried out an act of terrorism in the U.S. brought the subject back to light. The story goes the FBI asked Apple to create a backdoor on the dead suspect’s iPhone so they could gather the data on it. Apple refused, saying unlocking the phone would violate their obligation to protect user privacy. The hypocrisy of that statement aside,  the FBI later announced they found a third party who was able to crack the phone for them.

The media followed the “standoff” between Apple and the FBI for several weeks but the truth is the FBI likely gained access to the locked phone from the beginning. Of coure, they wouldn’t want to tip off any possible co-conspirators the suspect may have known know so they created a distraction to give the illusion they were unable to unlock the phone. The Feds can hack government networks overseas. There’s no reason to believe they can’t crack one guy’s iPhone on their own. Like I said, the “controversy” was just a distraction to buy the Feds time to go through the phone. CNN found it odd Law Enforcement released the suspect’s house as a crime scene within days of the shooting. Do you think they’d actually do that unless they already had all the intel they needed? Remember: It took 15 years for 31 classified pages from the 9/11 report to be declassified.

Anyways my main point is the Snowden Leaks made the world a much more dangerous place. The only good thing Wiki Leaks did is it forced developed nations to take securing their databases more seriously. Aside from that, it galvanized anti-government groups and conspiracy theorists who belive beyond reason the government wants to monitor and control everyone 24/7. That aside, the renewed aggression from Russia can be directly attributed to the Snowden and Wiki Leaks. The Russian military hasn’t openly provoked the U.S. military since the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.

Russian President Vladomir Putin is clearly looking to pick a fight with the U.S. Sure, he’s gone out of his way to undermine the U.S. at every opportunity in the past but he’s never been this openly hostile before. The U.S. considers the Russian government a Rogue State for a variety of reasons. Two facts that can’t be ignored or argued and were likely WHY Snowden decided to go THERE are the country is a safe haven for cyber criminals and the U.S. can’t ask for him to be sent back. Nevermind the obvious fact he has intel the Russians clearly made use of.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Clearly, Snowden has been sharing some of the intel he stole with the Russian government. That’s the only possible reason they extended his visa twice. Because of where he is, he was prettymuch cut off from his contacts back in the U.S. as well as his parents. Rumor has it they are smuggled in and out or Russia when they visit him due to how many people worldwide are actively looking for him.

Based on several accounts, anyone going to Russia to see him have an extensive vetting process they must clear before he will agree to meet with them. Not entirely his call as the Russians want to make sure he’s not talking to an informant from the U.S., which will get him in trouble with the Russian government since his apartment in Moscow is under 24-hour surveilance. They want to know everyone from out of the country who wants to talk to him and why prettymuch.
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All that said, let’s get back to the so-called “damage” the Snowden Leak caused the U.S. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was explcitly named as one of the heads of state the U.S. was monitoring. Her public statement after confirming the findings were true was just lip service. There has been ZERO harm th U.S.-German relations since then. I have two friends deployed overseas at the U.S. Base in Hamburg. I know with certainty given the passage of time.

The bigger “smoking gun” is the “revelation” the U.S. is spying on its own citizens. This has been widely known for decades. The U.S. has been monitoring telecommunications domestically for decades. The Patriot Act, which was rushed through Congress after 9/11 gave law enforcement the power to illegally monitor international phone calls and domestic phone calls without a warrant before it was eventually defunded and gutted. It was quickly modified to take back some of the blatant civil rights violations it allowed. Still waiting for the TSA to follow suit on that note. LOL. To say the last paragraph another way: Government surveilance, or the fear of it is the least of the average American’s problems. I’ll speak more to this in a separate blog post but the much larger threat is from websites, companies and social media websites that buy and sell user infromation online and in worse cases, release it on the Dark Web and Black Market.

Make no mistake, the only people who benefited from the Snowden Leaks were criminals and terrorists. While everyone was looking at Snowden and Assange, they used the anti-tracking software the IPRM started pushing out to hide their movements online, making it much harder for the government to track them. While obviously not intended, the IPRM is indirectly making it easier for terrorists and criminals to freely move without being caught by law enforcement.

I’m not anti-privacy though I do believe a government has a duty, obligation and certainly should have the authority to access the accounts of suspected criminals, terrorists and their informants who are within their boarders. Two years ago, CNN ran a story about the creator of an email provider whose service encrypted messages sent and received that were untracable. The Feds apparently asked him to make a backdoor for them and he refused, electing instead to shut down the email service. These people think they’re doing the little man a service but in reality, they’re just being egotistic.

This is why I consider Eric Snowden an enemy of the state and a traitor. He should be punished to the fullest extent of the law when he eventially returns to the U.S. He’s kidding himself if he truly thinks he can set terms for his return. His supporters will view him as being a martyr and a symbol when that happens of course but it’s to be expected. I don’t have a problem with that happening personally but Snowden himself needs to anwer for what he did in court. Everyone else except him has so far. It’s only fair.

NBA to move 2017 All Star Game out of Charlotte; WNBA Players vow to defy league sanctions   Leave a comment

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The decision was announced a  few hours ago by the NBA: The 2017 All Star Game will NOT be in Charlotte next year due to North Carolina’s new anti-LGBTQ law. The timing for this announcement–during the Republican National Convention–is no coincidence. The NBA coould’ve decided to wait until next week during the Democratic National Convention or the week after to announce this but they chose now. The NBA is looking at Indiana or New Orleans to host the All Star game instead while Charlotte could host the All Star Game in 2019–Assuming North Carolina gets rid of its new anti-LGBTBQ law.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the news, North Carlina’s new HB2 law specifically states all (Transgender) Persons must use the public bathrooms of the gender they were born with. This invasive bill doesn’t just effect those who identify as the gender opposite the one they were born with but those who are either Binary (don’t Identify as male or female) and children/teens who had gender reassignment surgery after birth due to ambiguous genitalia. These are the ones who will suffer the most under HB2. While most states are enacting pro-LGBTQ legislation, some are moving to enact laws similar to North Carolina’s. I would be very surprised if today’s announcement from the NBA isn’t mentioned at the RNC today or tomorrow.

Anyways intended or not, the NBA’s decision to pull out of Charlotte has ramifications that could effect both the Hornets remaining in the city of Charlotte at least in the short term. This also puts pressure on the NFL and the NHL teams that are also in North Carolina–The NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes–to chime in as well. I think the latter should be expected sooner or later. No question the NBA has at least discussed the possability of the team being temporarily relocated with the team’s owner, Michael Jordan. Yes, THAT Michael Jordan.

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And now, the other big basketball-related news of the day: As I mentioned before, WNBA players have started to wear the above T-Shirt or a black jumpshoot during their pregame warmup routines. They were wearing the colors to show their support for the recent protests on police-involved shootings and bring attention to the need for dialogue on the subject. Earlier this week, the WNBA fined the Phoenix Mercury, New York Liberty and the Indiana Fever were fined $5,000 each. In addition, individual players from the three teams as well as the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks were also fined $500 each for wearing the black t-shirts.

In response to the fines, WNBA players have started a media blackout in defiance of the fines. They are refusing to talk to the media at all unless it is about the recent shootings until the WNBA reverses its decision to punish players for using their platform for speaking out. Carmello Anthony released a statement yesterday condemning the WNBA’s decision to fine its players and teams.

It is worth noting no such action has ever been taken against him, Lebron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade or any other NBA players for doing the same and more. The WNBA will be pressured to reverse the fines real quick given today’s big announcement fromt the NBA and they will. It’s just a matter of time.

 

…If anything interesting happens with either situation, I will update this post to reflect the new info.

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The Republican National Convention begins today   Leave a comment

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…Already, there is controversy over the anti-Trump delegates being blocked from efforts to prevent his nomination. I just watched the spectacle a short time ago. Clearly the pro-Trump faction is consolidating power by drowning out dissenting voices. We already knew there would be anti-Trump protests inside and outside the convention as well so…yeah. CNN is reporting Bush 43, the previous two Republican Presidential nominees and even Ohio Governor John Kasich will NOT be at the RNC. Many other establishment GOP members have also said they will not be attending the RNC in protest of Trump becoming the Republican nominee.

To say the Republican Party is a divided party goes without saying.

The Republican Party collapsed during Bush 43’s second term due to a variety of factors, the biggest being blue-collar Republicans learned for the first time what everyone else already knew: Reaganomics was the biggest, most broken lie they ever bought into. Trickle-Down Economics–the idea that as long as the rich are kept happy, maybe the wealth will flow down to the middle class and poor–paved the way for the Recession in the second half of Bush 43’s second term and calls for a party rebrand. To say the GOP’s credability and reliability were shot to hell would be an understatement.

For the 2008 election, the GOP chose Arizona Senator and Vietnam Vet John McCain as their Republican candidate. Joined by Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican platform was crushed by the Democrats’ choice: Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The fallout from 2008 election followed the GOP in the 8 years since then. The rise of the National Tea Party Movement–an extreme Right political group within the Republican Party–divided the Republican Party even further. This cost the GOP in 2012 when the Tea Party’s hand-picked candidate–former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney with Paul Ryan as his VP–failed to deliver on his promise to make Obama a 1-term president.

In the four years since then, the Republican Party has only become more fractured. Like most Democrats, many Republicans don’t like or trust Washington. Their insistence on being on the wrong side of history in regards to Civil Rights, Foreign Policy and National Security has led most to call the GOP “the party of hate”.

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…This brings us to the Republican Nominee, Donald Trump.

Him being a DEMOCRAT aside, let’s review how we reached this point. In 2013, Donald Trump was speaking at a public event and said was talking about something he’d like to do if he was president. The media picked it up and as usual, decided to coerce him into running in the 2016 election. Being a businessman and reality TV star, it wasn’t hard for Trump to convince himself he needed to run for president. Mind you, no one actually thought he had a chance of becoming the nominee, let alone as a REPUBLICAN candidate.

We all laughed at the very idea. Then he started saying all the things the Republican Party didn’t dare say publicly. “There’s no way he’s serious about getting elected.” we thought to ourselves. “He’s getting bad advice.” we thought. Perhaps to his own surprise, racists and biggots who felt the same came out of their parents’ basements and out of the woodwork to voice their support of him. Much to the shagrin of  the at one point 17 other Republican Candidates, Trump’s popularity within the party continued to rise until he was the last man standing.

For those wondering who is to “blame”, the media first for pushing him to run and the GOP second for taking him seriously. Alot of the hate towards Donald Trump because of the things he’s said is unncessary. As I have said before, he’s the red herring.  Everything he’s said and reiterated is to help his “opponent” get the White House: Hillary Clinton. The term I heard alot this time last year is “Coronation”. That is the correct phrase for what will happen in November but I’ll speak more about HRC next week during the DNC.

I’ll say what the whole country already knows: Donald Trump will NOT win in November. He’s not scripted to. The only ones who don’t know yet are Donald Trump and his supporters. Everyone else knows it. My hope is this will bring the GOP around to overturning Citizens United, the lobby that opened the door to the practice of putting a price tag on elected officials and seats. Elections are now decided by who has the better personality and who has the most money. No longer is it a matter of who can unite the country and is the best person for the job.

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All that said, the GOP’s focus since the 80s has been hate, violence, xenophobia, death, regulating women’s bodies, revenge and war. And they wonder why terrorists want to kill us. What’s sad is I know not all Republicans feel this way. I have friends who are Republican or formerly were Republican and while we disagree on a few things, we agree on alot more things. The Republican party was once a respectible Party. It’s said and hard to believe the same party once led by Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt–both Republican Presidents–is no longer recognizable.

While it is obvious a reset is in order for the party, the TRUE values of the Republican Party–advocating self-reliance, maintaining core American traditions, championing civil liberties and whistleblowing divisive policies–have been replaced with their exact opposites. it is a party that’s all about isolationism, intolerance, violating rights and advocating divisive policies. The Republican Party is once again trying to make the already disproven arguement State and Local politics supercede federal politics. They say it’s a matter of “giving power back to the people” when in fact it’s about consolidating power into the hands of a few people. True Republicans have been trying to get the party to return to its roots in recent years. Believe it or not, the Tea Party was a misguided effort in that regard.

To those who are Democrats, Independents and otherwise it is EXTREMELY important that you follow the discussions at the RNC. The Republican Party is a divided and broken party and thats exactly why it needs to be watched very closely. On that note, the Democratic Party has its own set of issues which I will get to next week.

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