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21

      

Sound Money Group, In-State Dealers, and Grassroots Activists Deter Tax-Hungry Politicians


Well, here’s some encouraging news…


Efforts in Washington State to impose sales tax on gold and silver were SHUT DOWN today thanks to intense efforts by the Sound Money Defense League, a group of in-state coin dealers led by Dan Duncan, the Association of Washington Businesses, and a large number of vocal grassroots supporters.


Here’s the backstory…


Since last month, a few misguided Washington State senators and representatives have been trying to ram through a new tax on constitutional money.


Their cynical efforts stalled out last month on the senate side, and Friday April 19th, the House Finance Committee voted decisively against imposing a new sales tax on precious metals.


Maintaining current law and not levying sales taxation on gold and silver coins and bullion reaffirms their status as money in Washington State, in keeping with Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution.


Remaining in sync with every state in the Pacific Northwest, Washington has so far upheld their sales tax exemption on the monetary metals that was passed almost 35 years ago.


Sound Money Defense League’s Jp Cortez testified before the legislature in Olympia, Washington, noting that “taxing gold and silver is a de facto penalty on the only form of money mentioned in the Constitution.”


Local dealers also testified that their businesses could be damaged or destroyed — and coin conventions and the economic activity they bring would leave the state — if sales taxes were suddenly slapped on gold and silver investors.


In addition to the compelling testimony, the politicians proposing the new taxes faced an angry backlash from citizens across Washington who learned of their scheme.


Both Washington and Nebraska have turned back attempts to repeal their long-standing tax exemptions this year.


The Sound Money Defense League, local dealers, and other in-state groups provided compelling testimony to maintain current protections for gold and silver investors in these states, stopping the efforts of tax-hungry politicians.


In reality, the national trend is toward removing rather than re-imposing unjust sales taxation from precious metals.


The governor of West Virginia last month signed a bill to remove sales tax on gold and silver, and Tennessee, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Maine are considering bills to eliminate taxation on gold and silver right now.


In total, 39 states have now wholly or partially exempted the monetary metals from sales and use taxes.


Thanks to YOUR help, we have been able to block the destruction of Sound Money in Washington. However, we must remain vigilant, as a new attack could be launched in the future.


The Sound Money Defense League is a non-partisan, national public policy organization working to restore sound money at the state and federal level and publisher of the Sound Money Index.


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22

      

By B.N. Frank


Anything can be spun and Ken Foster has been doing it on behalf of the Telecom Industry for many years now.  Here’s one reference to his spin-mastery from a February 8, 2016 article published by The Ecologist:



An investigative report published by the watchdog group Environmental Health Trust (EHT) digs deeper into the circumstances surrounding the CDC’s retraction of their guidelines on cell phone radiation exposure.


The report, based on 500 pages of internal CDC documents released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), illuminates key information left of out the New York Times article and points to a cover-up by the CDC.


Among the most startling revelations detailed is that immediately after publishing the new guidelines in June 2014 the CDC hired Kenneth Foster as a consultant to assist in the creation of future materials related to ‘non ionizing radiation matters‘.


         



      

Foster has an established record of conducting research funded by the private wireless industry and has authored a number of studies with results that contradict the notion that children are more susceptible to cell phone radiation than adults.


One such study published by Foster was recently scrutinized by EHT Senior Medical Advisor Robert Morris, MD PhD, and his peers in the journal IEEE.


In the paper, the authors highlight the dubious and unscientific methodology used by Foster and his colleague in drawing their conclusions about children absorbing cell phone waves, pointing out “what appears to be a deliberate distortion of the science and a boldfaced effort to downplay potential risks to children using mobile devices.”


In addition, the CDC’s internal communications reveal that the agency considered including in their guidelines information about the potential hazards of cell phone towers located near schools, but chose to omit that information.






By all indications, CDC officials aren’t immune to the influence of the cell phone industry, even when the health of Americans is at stake. The role of special interests in shaping government policy on wireless devices seems to extend beyond the CDC.



For many years, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been recommending we reduce kids’ exposure to all sources of cell phone and WiFi radiation. And 150+ letters have been written by doctors and scientists recommending the replacement of WiFi in schools with wired internet.


All irrelevant according to Ken whose most recent article supports WiFi in schools.  It’s very long and long-winded so many readers may not make it to the section called “Better Safe Than Sorry,” or the last 2 paragraphs where he mentions Electromagnetic Sensitivity and Hypersensitivity which are federally recognized disabling conditions.  Of course, in typical Ken fashion – he shames parents who want to protect their children.  He describes accommodation as being impossible and never-ending because it would entail replacing CFL and LED light bulbs, electric dimmer switches, WiFi devices, cell phones, and removing cell towers from school property. 


OMG spare us the drama.  Practical solutions are being offered by many organizations as to how to reduce harmful EMF levels and offer a “Better Safe Than Sorry” environment in schools for students and staff.




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It’s not surprising that Ken’s recent article was also referenced by a Pro-Tech website.  After all, “Better Safe Than Sorry” isn’t going to keep their toxic light bulbs on.


For more information, visit the following websites:



Wireless Information Network
Americans for Responsible Technology
Center For Safer Wireless
Ecological Options Network
EMF Safety Network
Environmental Health Trust
Generation Zapped
National Association for Children and Safe Technology
Parents for Safe Technology
SaferEMR
SafeTechForSchools
Scientists for Wired Tech
We Are The Evidence

Image credit: Pixabay


   
            


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23

      

By B.N. Frank


According to The Verge, Google has agreed to pay Louisville, KY $3.84M to remove the company’s fiber and infrastructure as well as repair and repave city roads. What a mess.


Many Americans aren’t aware that The Telecom Industry has been installing fiber all over the U.S to eventually attach 5G small cell technology to it despite the fact that telecom employees gave congressional testimony that they have no scientific proof that 5G is safe.


         



      


There is plenty of research that has already proven that 5G is harmful and since 2017, 200+ doctors and scientists have signed a petition for a moratorium on installation.  Last year the first 5G court case won in England after 5G was installed in street lamps.  Residents had become sick and women delivered stillborn babies.


Many studies have already proven 4G is harmful too.   


Where contractors are digging and there are large spools of orange and black cable – there is likely fiber being installed for 5G.  Once the fiber is in place, Americans won’t be able to legally be able to keep small cells from being installed onto it. 


Activist Post has reported about fiber being installed for 5G before (See 1, 2).  More warnings about fiber being installed for 5G are being issued.


From B. Blake Levitt of The Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council. Fiber broadband, seen as a complex Trojan horse.”



The innocuous-sounding “fiber broadband” is potentially dangerous — financially, environmentally, legally. Fiber will never again be the perfect dedicated system. It’s been kidnapped by wireless convenience’s feckless siren call. A safe, completely wired fiber network may have been NW ConneCT’s original plan, but reading carefully, they are now “fiber-to-the-driveway” with the final connection — the so-called “last mile” — struck by homeowners with various service providers typically via wireless connections.


And their plan invites piggybacking telecoms to create 100 percent mobile connectivity too, meaning small cell nodes — hundreds, if not thousands — affixed to utility poles in public rights-of-way, transmitting 24/7, without control or informed consent of those nearby. These are highly biologically active exposures.



4G and 5G small cell installation is being promoted as well as forced in communities all over the U.S (See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) around the world, and in space – despite increasing opposition (See 1, 2, 3), legal action against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), (See 1, 2), and huge cybersecurity risks.


If any of this concerns you, mark your calendar for The U.S. Day of Action against 5G on May 15.




For more information on what you can do, visit the following websites:



Wireless Information Network
Americans for Responsible Technology
5GCrisis
5G Information
Environmental Health Trust
In Power Movement
Last Tree Laws
My Street, My Choice
Our Town Our Choice
Physicians for Safe Technology
Scientists for Wired Tech
TelecomPowerGrab.com
Whatis5G.Info
Zero5G

Image credit: Tennessean.com


   
24

      

By David Haggith


1 – The US stock market is slightly overbought (which is not a positive in terms of head room for more of a rally).


2 – It’s massively built up on debt that is now more expensive to maintain and/or obtain.


3 – The Fed is still rapidly tightening money supply and says it will continue to do so for several more months.


4 – Interest rate increases and money tightening that already happened through this past December will continue to worsen economic conditions until summer because any changes by the Fed have about a half year lag time for the general economy.


5 – That also means all the tightening that continues between now and September, will continue to pile more and more weight on top of the economy until next February, which is why the Trump admin. is screaming the Fed went too far.


         



      

6 – 2019 Q1 US corporate earnings are coming in almost as poorly as economists said they would, and they don’t look set to start rising much in the next quarter … if at all.


7 – Measures used to help earnings beat much lower expectations (and not by much) were mostly cost-saving measures, not revenue boosters, or they were mere accounting choices. Earnings are after-tax numbers, so they benefited hugely in 2018 from the Trump Tax Cuts in a way that had nothing at all to do with companies doing better business. They are also reported as a “per share” number, and the main thing that changed was the number of outstanding shares in the denominator as a result of stock buybacks. So, really, earnings were pathetic!



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8 – Transportation is declining as product shipments decline. West-coast port imports plunged 19% from the previous quarter (3% YoY). Trucking lost ground four months in a row.





9 – Manufacturing is slowing in the US and Europe. PMI plummeted in the US to a 31-month low, taking us back to the Obama era. Businesses reported significant slowing in output, new orders, and hiring. China had a March growth spurt but only because of a massive stimulus pump. China injected 200-billion yuan of liquidity in one shot into its economy, and interest rates still jumped up.


10 – Business inventories are growing while sales are declining, meaning production has to slow more than it already has because back pressure is building.


11 – US interest rates inverted COMPLETELY on the gauge the FED uses to estimate recession risk (3-month rates over ten-year rates), which has been the Fed’s most reliable indicator of a coming recession.


12 – Major cash from repatriation is starting to dwindle, while stock buybacks using cash and cheap credit were the only fuel pushing the US market upward most of the last ten years. (Take buybacks out of the equations, and the market would have been flat at best.)


13 – US government debt is soaring as far as the eye can see at the highest rate of increase we’ve ever seen, meaning the government cannot do any more than it is already doing.




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14 – Existing stimulus effects from the Trump Tax Cuts have been waning each of the last two quarters. US GDP for the first quarter of 2019 is estimated to be substantially lower still, meaning the tax cuts, after more than a year, are grossly failing to perform as promised while they are not paying for themselves either. The IMF and World Bank have projected a decline in global GDP over the full year.


15 – The Fed is highly reluctant to turn back to more quantitative easing and rate reduction and, thereby, REALLY prove it couldn’t do what it claimed it could and would. Therefore, it will be late in helping and more limited in the help it can provide, forcing it to more extreme and reckless experiments in novelty monetary policy when it does jump back in.


16 – US unemployment is bottoming out, which it always does immediately before a recession, with an increase in the last couple of months, although there was also blip of decrease in reported filings at the end of March.


17 – Housing has been in steady decline across the USA for more than half a year now, and prices have finally begun to fall to coincide with the declining sales. Housing starts and permits in March took another tumble, and February’s bad figures, thought to be a one-off due to bad weather, were just revised from an 8.9% plunge to a devastating 12% crumpling heap. Australia’s housing market looks like the US market did just as the US market took down the world. The UK and Canada are having problems, too.





18 – Retail sales growth, including autos, have been in continual decline for months, though there was a bounce in March. More retail stores (nearly 6,000) have already closed in the first quarter of this year than closed in all of last year or the year before, and those years were pretty bad. More auto factories are closing, too.


19 – March’s improvements on the metrics above may just be a rebound after the government shutdown, while December-February’s lows would have been abnormally lower due to the shutdown, too, which makes something between January/February stats and March stats the place we’re actually stuck in, which is still not good.




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20 – Any trade deal with China appears likely at this point to come out limper than a boiled wanton as negotiations drag on after promise and promise of summits that fail to deliver or fail to even happen.


21 – John Bolthead and Mike Pompous have likely scuttled any hope of a North Korean nuclear deal … if there ever was any hope. As you recall, the nuclear Cold War was weighing on the stock market many months ago when rhetoric and nuclear activity last heated up.


22 – The stock market is back at its highest peak level, which may make investors skittish at this point, given the major crashes that happened the last two times it got into this stratosphere. This is a perilously high ceiling of resistance to break through. (Of course, if it does break through and holds, it could soar.)


23 – Just as before the dot-com crash, the values of many high-tech companies / online companies are based on soft metrics, such as “number of daily users” or “volume of user interactions,” rather than hard profits; and there is a lot of fantasy in some of those narratives.


24 – Inflationary pressures are backing off, but deflationary pressure is more indicative of a recession than inflation as deflation happens when demand recedes and growth stalls. Lower inflation also presses the Fed back to interest reduction and more quantitative easing, which it doesn’t want to do, lest it underscore the fact that we are stuck forever in money-printing mode just to hold against a receding tide, and where the Fed doesn’t have much room to move.


No wonder the Fed, as laid out in my last Premium Post, is paving the path for significant fundamental changes in how it does business in a world of economic conditions that it says have changed forever.



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This article was sourced from The Great Recession Blog.


   
            


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25

      

By EFF


Did you know that anything created by federal government employees, under American law, can’t be copyrighted? They go right into the public domain. That means it’s impossible for there to be any copyright infringement on, say, a report by the Special Counsel on the investigation into the President and his presidential campaign. But the copyright-enforcement bots on Scribd have been busy taking down copies of the Mueller report all the same.


Scribd is a service that allows users to upload documents for easy embedding. It’s commonly used by journalists to attach things like legal complaints or court records to articles based on those records. It is therefore not at all surprising that a number of people and news outlets uploaded the Mueller report to Scribd.


         



      

Scribd has an automated filter that searches uploads to check for alleged copyright infringement called BookID. BookID, like YouTube’s Content ID, has a propensity for false positives. This apparently happens so often that Scribd’s own page on the system has a whole section devoted to “false positives,” explaining:


The BookID database may contain reference samples from educational textbooks and other works that contain long excerpts of classic literature, religious texts, legal documents, and government publications that are typically in the public domain. This can occasionally result in the removal of uncopyrighted, authorized, or public domain material from Scribd.


False positives also happen enough that Scribd sent a letter—obtained by Quartz—to people whose uploads of the Mueller report were taken down, to lower people’s expectations. The letter explains that a) all automated systems will flag legitimate content b) the volume of content on Scribd means no one checks on the matches before the alleged infringing content is taken down and c) sometimes legitimate uploads are taken down just for being duplicates.


Note again: it is impossible for a copy of the Mueller report to be infringement since it cannot be copyrighted. Filters like BookID don’t work, and in this case, actively work against the public interest. As Quartz points out, the European Union recently passed a new copyright directive that will require platforms to take proactive measures against possible infringement. In practice, that means filters like BookID. As instances like this and all the other similar ones EFF has been documenting for years prove, filters harm civil discourse, and requiring a system like the one Scribd itself points out has huge faults is a mistake.


Date of threat or takedown: April 19, 2019


Learn More: Scribd taking down the Mueller Report is the future the EU has voted for


   
26

      

By Jennifer Lynch


Do you know where you were five years ago? Did you have an Android phone at the time? It turns out Google might know—and it might be telling law enforcement.


In a new article, the New York Times details a little-known technique increasingly used by law enforcement to figure out everyone who might have been within certain geographic areas during specific time periods in the past. The technique relies on detailed location data collected by Google from most Android devices as well as iPhones and iPads that have Google Maps and other apps installed. This data resides in a Google-maintained database called “Sensorvault,” and because Google stores this data indefinitely, Sensorvault “includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.”


The data Google is turning over to law enforcement is so precise that one deputy police chief said it “shows the whole pattern of life.” It’s collected even when people aren’t making calls or using apps, which means it can be even more detailed than data generated by cell towers.


         



      

The location data comes from GPS signals, cellphone towers, nearby Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth beacons. According to Google, users opt in to collection of the location data stored in Sensorvault. However, Google makes it very hard to resist opting in, and many users may not understand that they have done so. Also, Android devices collect lots of other location data by default, and it’s extremely difficult to opt out of that collection.


Using a single warrant—often called a “geo-fence” or “reverse location” warrant—police are able to access location data from dozens to hundreds of devices—devices that are linked to real people, many of whom (and perhaps in some cases all of whom) have no tie to criminal activity and have provided no reason for suspicion. The warrants cover geographic areas ranging from single buildings to multiple blocks, and time periods ranging from a few hours to a week.


So far, according to the Times and other outlets, this technique is being used by the FBI and police departments in Arizona, North Carolina, California, Florida, Minnesota, Maine, and Washington, although there may be other agencies using it across the country. But police aren’t limiting the use of the technique to egregious or violent crimes—Minnesota Public Radio reported the technique has been used to try to identify suspects who stole a pickup truck and, separately, $650 worth of tires. Google is getting up to 180 requests a week for data and is, apparently, struggling to keep up with the demand.


Law enforcement appears to be seeking warrants to access this extremely detailed location data. However, it’s questionable whether the affidavits supporting those warrants truly establish probable cause and also questionable whether judges fully understand what they’re authorizing when issuing these warrants.


According to the Times, the warrants frequently rely on an officer’s assertion that the fact that “Americans owned cellphones and that Google held location data on many of these phones” somehow supports probable cause for the warrant. The warrants also list GPS coordinates that supposedly “geo-fence” the geographic area for which they are requesting data, but many don’t include a map showing the area itself. Without a visual representation, there’s almost no way to tell how large or small the geographic area covered by the warrant is.






Law enforcement seems to be using a three-step process to learn the names of device holders (in some cases, a single warrant authorizes all three steps). In the first step, the officer specifies the area and time period of interest, and in response, Google gives the police information on all the devices that were there, identified by anonymous numbers—this step may reveal hundreds of devices.


After that, officers can narrow the scope of their request to fewer devices, and Google will release even more detailed data, including data on where devices traveled outside the original requested area and time period. This data, which still involves multiple devices, reveals detailed travel patterns. In the final step, detectives review that travel data to see if any devices appear relevant to the crime, and they ask for the users’ names and other information for specific individual devices.


This technique is problematic for several reasons. First, unlike other methods of investigation used by the police, the police don’t start with an actual suspect or even a target device—they work backward from a location and time to identify a suspect. This makes it a fishing expedition—the very kind of search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent. Searches like these—where the only information the police have is that a crime has occurred—are much more likely to implicate innocent people who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every device owner in the area during the time at issue becomes a suspect—for no other reason than that they own a device that shares location information with Google.


Second, as the Supreme Court recognized in Carpenter v United States last summer, detailed travel data like this can provide “an intimate window into a person’s life, revealing not only his particular movements, but through them his ‘familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations.’” This is exactly what the deputy police chief recognized when he said Google location data “shows the whole pattern of life.”


Third, there’s a high probability the true perpetrator isn’t even included in the data disclosed by Google. For these kinds of warrants, officers are just operating off a hunch that the unknown suspect had a cellphone that generated location data collected by Google. This shouldn’t be enough to support probable cause, because it’s just as likely that the suspect wasn’t carrying an Android phone or using Google apps at the time.




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Techniques like this also reveal big problems with our current warrant system. Even though the standard for getting a warrant is higher than other legal procedures—and EFF pushes for a warrant requirement for digital data and devices—warrants, alone, are no longer enough to protect our privacy. Through a single warrant the police can access exponentially more and more detailed information about us than they ever could in the past. Here, the police are using a single warrant to get access to location information for hundreds of devices. In other contexts, through a single warrant, officers can access all the data on a cell phone or a hard drive; all email stored in a Google account (possibly going back years); and all information linked to a social media account (including photos, posts, private communications, and contacts).


We shouldn’t allow the government to have such broad access to our digital lives. One way we could limit access is by passing legislation that mandates heightened standards, minimization procedures, and particularity requirements for digital searches. We already have this in laws that regulate wiretaps, where police, in addition to demonstrating probable cause, must state that they have first tried other investigative procedures (or state why other procedures wouldn’t work) and also describe how the wiretap will be limited in scope and time.


The Fourth Amendment itself also supports limits on the scope of individual warrants. It states that warrants must “particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” However, many courts merely rubber stamp warrant requests without questioning the broad scope of the request.


As the Times article notes, this technique implicates innocent people and has a real impact on people’s lives. Even if you are later able to clear your name, if you spend any time at all in police custody, this could cost you your job, your car, and your ability to get back on your feet after the arrest. One man profiled in the Times article spent nearly a week in police custody and was having trouble recovering, even months after the arrest. He was arrested at work and subsequently lost his job. Due to the arrest, his car was impounded for investigation and later repossessed. These are the kinds of far-reaching consequences that can result from overly broad searches, so courts should subject geo-location warrants to far more scrutiny.



As Surveillance Litigation Director, Jennifer Lynch leads EFF’s legal work challenging government abuse of search and seizure technologies through the courts by filing lawsuits and amicus briefs in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, on important issues at the intersection of technology and privacy. Jennifer founded EFF’s Street Level Surveillance Project, which informs advocates, defense attorneys, and decisionmakers about new police tools, and in 2017, the First Amendment Coalition awarded her its Free Speech and Open Government Award for her work opening up public access to police surveillance records. Jennifer has written influential white papers on biometric data collection in immigrant communities and law enforcement use of face recognition. She speaks frequently at legal and technical conferences as well as to the general public on technologies like location tracking, biometrics, algorithmic decisionmaking, and AI, and has testified on facial recognition before committees in the Senate and House of Representatives. She is regularly consulted as an expert on these subjects and others by major and technical news media.


   
            


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27

      

By Brandon Turbeville


Ever since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the Western mainstream media, along with its counterparts in the Gulf countries, have engaged in the most heinous acts of war propaganda seen in the modern world. Not content with the opportunity to twist facts and distort the realities on the ground, these mainstream corporate news engines have outright colluded in faking reports and concocting entire productions of propaganda for the purpose of convincing their audiences of the need to invade Syria or, at the very least, to support the terrorists “rebels,” armed, funded, and trained by the U.S., NATO, Israel, and the Gulf states.


A myriad of articles and videos have been written and made regarding the incidents staged by corporate media outlets in order to push war against Syria as well as a host of other target nations. However, a recent documentary made by Syrian investigative journalist Rafiq Lutf, with the assistance of journalist Vanessa Beeley, entitled The Veto, has chronicled a number of examples of these fabricated instances along with documented firsthand proof of their fabrication.


         



      

As Beeley herself stated,


I met journalist and friend Rafiq Lutf and cameraman Abdul-Mun’aim Arnous in January 2018 and I was honoured when Rafiq asked me to work with him on his film project, The Veto. As Dr Shaaban said to me in August 2016, “Western propaganda is paid for in Syrian blood”. This is true. The horrifying bloodshed and loss of life in Syria could never have happened without the colonial media manufacturing consent for another illegal war against a Sovereign nation.


The Veto tracks the evolution of the propaganda campaign waged by Western media against Syria. From Baba Amr in Homs 2011/2012 until the modern day “propaganda construct” – the NATO-member-state funded White Helmets.



. . . . .


George Orwell said “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Western media has been tasked with writing the history of the Syrian conflict to serve the aggressors in the US Coalition of terrorism.


As Dr Shaaban also told me: “The US alliance and its media are focusing on our history, material history, cultural history, identity, our army. Any power that keeps you as an entire state, or any statesman that represents strength or unity will be demonized and destroyed.”








The Veto exposes the criminal intentions of Western media and it archives the progression of the propaganda war waged by the West against Syria. Syrians are writing the history of the Syrian conflict because Syria and her allies have courageously resisted the Imperialist machine. As Rafiq has said so eloquently “ we are the Veto” and we must use it against the Industrial Media Complex in the West.



Syria’s history belongs to the Syrians and Syria’s final victory must ensure that Western media is never again given the power to destroy a nation, divide its people and promote international terrorism both military and economic.



The Veto is an important documentary now more than ever if nothing more than as an attempt to awaken Western audiences to the fact that their media has ceased even the pretense of journalism and is now nothing more than a monolithic intense propaganda factory designed to manipulate both their opinions and their morality.

Watch The Veto here:



See also:




CNN Caught Creating Fake News Again: Adding Words To Syrian Witness’ Statement To Fit Western Narrative  —  Brandon Turbeville

Clarissa Explains It All: CNN Reporter Colludes With Terrorist To Create War Propaganda – Brandon Turbeville

Footage Of Boy In Aleppo Is Opportunistic, Vile Propaganda From Western Media – Brandon Turbeville



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Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1500 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, civil liberties and, most notably, geopolitics and the Syrian crisis. His most recent release is a book of poetry, Dance, Amputee. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.


This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.


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28

      


By Reason


It’s hard to be pessimistic about marijuana legalization these days.


Recreational cannabis is legal in 10 states and decriminalized in another 14. Virtually all presidential candidates, including Trump, favor letting states decide the legal status of marijuana. For the first time, polls show a majority of Republicans support legalization. And six proposals to move marijuana laws in a more or less libertarian direction are now making their way through Congress.


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What do these policy proposals look like? How are states navigating the conflicts between state and federal law? And are there any obstacles left on the path to nationwide legalization?


Reason’s Todd Krainin sat down with Erik Altieri, the executive director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, to talk about the building momentum towards nationwide legal pot.



Visit Reason.com and subscribe to Reason TV on YouTube.


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29

      

By Aaron Kesel


Facebook has another scandal; this time it has been revealed that the company’s password verification feature for new users collected contact data from users’ email accounts without their consent.


Business Insider revealed that Facebook had “harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.” A security researcher e-sushi questioned why Facebook was asking for email passwords when new users signed up with the platform. Business Insider then discovered that if you did enter your email password, a message popped up saying it was “importing” your contacts, without asking for permission first.


Facebook has since admitted to the practice stating that it unintentionally” uploaded the address books of 1.5 million users without consent, and further stated it will delete the collected data as well as reach out to those affected.


“Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time. When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account,” the spokesperson said in a statement.


         



      

Many may remember this as the platform’s “you may know” feature. While fools thought this was Facebook’s algorithm scanning their friends for potential people they might know, in reality Facebook was doing this through data mining for emails of users on their platform.


The issue was first noticed in early April when The Daily Beast reported that Facebook was requiring new users to enter their email passwords to verify them. The feature was disguised as ease of access to allow Facebook to auto verify new user accounts and, according to the social media giant, was only introduced in 2016.


Facebook states that this feature was accidental, but I find that hard to believe from a company with so many questionable ethical practices for its user data. Since my explosive, deep dive into Facebook’s history of privacy violations, there has already been several new emerging scandals.


[RELATED: Deep Dive: FTC Negotiating Multi-Billion Dollar Fine For Facebook’s Privacy Scandals; Violating 2011 Accord]


It’s now even been revealed that Facebook will “deboost” posts. Something that all of us knew and is more commonly referred to in the industry as “shadow banning.” However, the claim holds more water coming from a former employee than just mere speculation, even if warranted with statistical analysis of posts/accounts as Project Veritas reported last month.


The information describes how Facebook engineers plan and go about policing political speech on the platform.


Screenshots from a Facebook workstation show the specific technical actions taken against political figures, as well as “[e]xisting strategies” taken to combat political speech.


Further, Facebook just recently updated an old blog post from last month thinking no one would notice, NBC Wave News reported.


A Facebook Newsroom post, by security VP Pedro Canahuati, initially stated the company stored millions of its users’ passwords in plain text for years, left accessible to its employees.


Canahuati had said in March the company would begin to notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users and tens of thousands of Facebook-owned Instagram users. That number of Instagram users just expanded to millions.


“Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” said the company in Thursday’s blog update. “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”


Facebook is being accused by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) of privacy violations and is in the midst of negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy concerns.


These latest revelations of data mining user emails for existing users on the platform, storing passwords in clear text, and censorship, comes after a series of privacy scandals, such as Cambridge Analytica, that may have put the personal information of its users at risk, as well as numerous times the company has been caught spying on its users or slipping up with its overall security including storing passwords in clear text without encryption.


The FTC’s probe of Facebook began in March of last year in response to big social’s entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm connected to a U.S. subsidiary (SHELL COMPANY) of a UK defense contractor SCL Group, Strategic Communication Laboratories, that improperly accessed data on 87 million of the social site’s users to use for campaign targeting for U.S. President Donald Trump through his former adviser Steve Bannon. According to reports, Facebook knew for an entire three years that Cambridge Analytica was abusing and misusing user data but did absolutely nothing.


[READ: The TRUTH About The Cambridge Analytica Scandal Is Bigger Than Just Facebook #MyDataMyChoice]


The FTC’s investigation stems from whether Facebook’s conduct and lack of protection of users since then is in breach of an accord in 2011 that Facebook brokered with the FTC to improve its privacy practices. Facebook has stated it did not breach that accord, despite evidence on the contrary showing that the social media giant sold user data to third parties and may have even been recording users’ private messages with its Messenger app.


Although Facebook contends that it didn’t use the data, it openly admits that it scanned/scans all user data that is sent and received on the Messenger app and will review text you send if something is flagged, as Activist Post reported last year.


Facebook also got entangled in a bug in December of last year that gave app developers access to private user photos including those shared on Marketplace or Facebook Stories and unposted pictures — an absolute privacy nightmare. The Facebook blog states, “that some third-party apps may have had access to a broader set of photos than usual for 12 days between September 13 to September 25, 2018.” However, who’s to say the bug wasn’t preexisting for quite some time and this is just to save face for the company?


Facebook got caught for years giving tech giants access to user data as well, so it’s not just Cambridge Analytica and numerous other analytics companies.


The New York Times reported a bombshell in December of last year detailing the secret relationship that Facebook had with the tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, and Yahoo just to name a few. The Times report was backed by 50 former employees of the company and its partners, as well as documents for the deals.


The official corporate partnerships with Facebook totaled more than 150 companies, which The Times notes that the oldest deal dates back to 2010, one year prior to Facebook’s brokered deal with the FTC for its privacy practices. One has to wonder if the social giant disclosed these type of deals to the FTC one year later when it was under scrutiny — more than likely, probably not.


“For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.” The Times wrote.


“The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond,” The Times added.


The New York Times goes on to detail the level of access that a few companies were given to users’ profiles; and it’s quite shocking, including the ability to read and delete messages, as the Huffington Post highlighted.


Again, from The New York Times:



Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.


The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.



Besides the 150 tech companies, Facebook gave 60 device makers themselves — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung — special access to Facebook data, according to another report by The Times. This special access allowed a reporter using a BlackBerry device (old model) to view private details of Facebook users despite their privacy settings, a shocking contention.


To make it clear, Facebook never asked for every specific user’s consent to send over their personal data to these other companies. Facebook claims that it didn’t need user consent since it considered these companies “service providers,” and “integration partners” which were acting in the interests of the social network. I am no lawyer, but it seems bluntly obvious that Facebook violated its 2011 agreement with the FTC.


In other words, the company used a loophole and said that users who logged into the aforementioned services were giving their consent to their partners.


It’s not known how far back the FTC is looking at Facebook’s privacy violations, but before 2011 it may come to the reader’s surprise that Facebook was embroiled in data scandal after scandal. To refresh the reader’s memory, in 2010 Facebook got caught giving advertisers its users’ names, ages, hometowns, and occupations simply from clicking an ad, Business Insider reported.


One year prior, in 2009, protests ensued against Facebook when the company decided to change its data retention policy for its users, ABC reported.


Two years before, in 2007, Facebook faced another scandal with its forced Beacon advertising software. Beacon would share users’ shopping experiences online or what websites a Facebook user was visiting if they were logged in.


It turns out that Beacon was tracking people’s Web activities outside the popular social networking site to other websites, PC World reported. Facebook was then sued in 2008 for violating the federal wiretap law when it began monitoring and publishing what Facebook users were doing on participating sites of Beacon.


Mark Zuckerberg himself even apologized for Beacon, explaining his thought process behind the system — of course, leaving out that it was profiting from this data. Nonetheless, Facebook finally allowed users to opt out of the system a month later.


“We were excited about Beacon because we believe a lot of information people want to share isn’t on Facebook, and if we found the right balance, Beacon would give people an easy and controlled way to share more of that information with their friends,” Zuckerberg wrote.


In 2009, Facebook finally shut down Beacon in an effort to settle the class action lawsuit against the social-networking site and donated $9.5 million to a foundation dedicated to exploring issues around online privacy and security, Telegraph reported.


Facebook said that it learned a great deal from Beacon in 2009, but then continued these type of deceptive marketing practices selling its users’ data years later. So how much did the company actually learn? Not much, as the company started partnering with data broker firms in 2013 after the 2011 FTC ordeal. For those unfamiliar, data brokers earn money by selling your consumer habits and monitoring your online and offline spending. Facebook’s partnership allows them to measure the correlation between the ads you see on Facebook and the purchases you make in-store — and determine whether you’re actually buying the things you’re seeing digitally while using Facebook.


“We learned a great deal from the Beacon experience,” said Barry Schnitt, a spokesman for Facebook. “For one, it underscored how critical it is to provide extensive user control over how information is shared. We also learned how to effectively communicate changes that we make to the user experience.”


However, there are two more of the biggest stories Mark Zuckerberg wishes were not forever archived on the Internet. The first is from 2004, when he was 19. When Mark was in college he used his newly created website, which was “TheFacebook.com” at the time, to hack into the email accounts of two Harvard Crimson journalists critical of him. The two journalists were allegedly working on a story that made claims that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divvya Narenda who later founded a similar site ConnectU (HarvardConnection), Business Insider reported.


The second story is the most revealing and comes from an interview in 2009 in which Facebook is grilled by a BBC reporter, an event in Zuckerberg’s life that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden highlighted in a tweet last year. The revealing exchange is from 2009, two years after Beacon advertising software successfully launched on the platform in 2007, and 1 year before Facebook gifted its advertisers its users’ names, ages, hometowns, and occupations simply from clicking on ads, selling their information. Something that Zuckerberg said he would never do to the BBC reporter.


One year later in 2010, a story in The New York Times reveals that Mark Zuckerberg had flip-flopped and changed his view against an individual’s privacy in a penned headline, “Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy Is Over.” 


Then the Zuck, Zucked us by changing everyone’s default privacy settings.




In February earlier last year, a German court echoed that previous ruling, stating that Facebook is breaching data protection rules with privacy settings that “over-share” by default and by requiring its users to give their real names.


The judges found that at least five different default privacy settings for Facebook were illegal, including sharing location data with its chat partners WhatsApp and Instagram or making user profiles available to external search engines, allowing anyone to search and find information on a person.


Facebook’s partners and subsidiaries collect data to enable what’s known as “hyper-targeted advertising” on its users.


Additionally, the court ruled that “eight paragraphs of Facebook’s terms of service were invalid,” while one of the most significant requires people to use their real names on the social network which the court deemed was illegal.


In 2015 the Belgian privacy commission study concluded Facebook’s use of user data violated privacy and data protection laws in the EU, Guardian reported.


All of this occurred despite another 2014 court decision where the judge ruled that Facebook must face a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating its users’ privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes. Something that again was reminded to users last year.


A U.S. court in 2017 dismissed nationwide litigation accusing Facebook of tracking users’ Internet activity even after they logged out of the social media website. It was dismissed despite the practice previously being admitted that it would start using data from users’ Web browsing history to serve targeted advertisements, and use data from apps and websites users visited.


Although Facebook has had a plethora of scandals in its past, recently it feels like its downfall was with the emergence of a whistleblower, Christoper Wylie, thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Wylie appeared before a committee of British MPs, delivering bombshell testimony noting that Facebook has the ability to spy on all of its users in their homes and offices, something many people miss.



“There’s been various speculation about the fact that Facebook can, through the Facebook app on your smartphone, listen in to what people are talking about and discussing and using that to prioritize the advertising as well,” Collins said. “Other people would say, no, they don’t think it’s possible. It’s just that the Facebook system is just so good at predicting what you’re interested in that it can guess.”


“On a comment about using audio and processing audio, you can use it for, my understanding generally of how companies use it… not just Facebook, but generally other apps that pull audio, is for environmental context,” Wylie said. “So if, for example, you have a television playing versus if you’re in a busy place with a lot of people talking versus a work environment.” He clarified, “It’s not to say they’re listening to what you’re saying. It’s not natural language processing. That would be hard to scale. But to understand the environmental context of where you are to improve the contextual value of the ad itself” is possible.



Facebook itself has admitted in a 2016 blog post that:



Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.


We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.



Although Facebook claims they do not listen in on conversations, the catch here is that Facebook does have access to your phone’s microphone — as giving permission to access your microphone is a requirement to be able to download the site’s mobile app – thus giving the company the ability to access your phone’s mic at any time.


The app itself can listen to audio and collect audio information from users – while the two aren’t combined, and that no audio data is stored or correlated with advertising according to Facebook, after all these other lies one has to wonder.


Facebook admits it has a public feature that started in 2014 which will try to recognize any audio in the background, like music or TV— however, it’s only while you’re entering a status update, and only if you’ve opted in. So don’t worry they have required consent for everything else!


Forbes has also reported on the potential that Facebook was using its users’ audio information to target them with ads.


This is not the first time Facebook was accused of listening to conversations using smartphone microphones. Reddit user NewHoustonian started a discussion last year about whether the Facebook app was listening to conversations for advertising purposes. NewHoustonian started off the discussion with a post — which has since been removed — about how he suspects the Facebook app was listening to him because he started seeing pest control ads after talking to his girlfriend about killing a cockroach. That Reddit thread now has over 1,700 comments in regards to Facebook listening to conversations and several of those comments refer to similar experiences.


Mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, Kelli Burns, believes that Facebook is using the audio it gathers not simply to help out users, but might be doing so to listen in to discussions and serve them with relevant advertising. Burns tested an experiment talking about cat food with her phone out, then loading Facebook — to her surprise she saw cat food ads, The Independent reported.


Last year, Vice reported another bizarre story about Facebook using its microphone to listen in on users. The author wrote they were talking about Japan with a friend, then subsequently received ads for flights to Tokyo.


A couple years ago, something strange happened. A friend and I were sitting at a bar, iPhones in pockets, discussing our recent trips in Japan and how we’d like to go back. The very next day, we both received pop-up ads on Facebook about cheap return flights to Tokyo. It seemed like just a spooky coincidence, but then everyone seems to have a story about their smartphone listening to them.


The author then decides to do a series of tests, to see if they are being spied on.






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Twice a day for five days, I tried saying a bunch of phrases that could theoretically be used as triggers. Phrases like I’m thinking about going back to uni and I need some cheap shirts for work. Then I carefully monitored the sponsored posts on Facebook for any changes.




To the writer’s horror, results came back immediately overnight.


The changes came literally overnight. Suddenly I was being told mid-semester courses at various universities, and how certain brands were offering cheap clothing. A private conversation with a friend about how I’d run out of data led to an ad about cheap 20 GB data plans. And although they were all good deals, the whole thing was eye-opening and utterly terrifying.


Before last year ended, in December the scandals still didn’t end for Facebook; 250 pages of emails and documents released by British Parliament as a part of its own investigation show conversations between Facebook and an app developer called Six4Three that developed Pikinis, which allowed people to find Facebook users’ bathing suit photos. The emails and documents were ordered sealed by a California court until the UK lawmakers got a hold of them. It’s highly likely that during the discovery phase of the lawsuit emails and documents unrelated to Pikinis were scooped up as well. The emails purported to show the social giant offering major advertisers special access to user data — deals many people view as a contradiction of Facebook’s promise not to sell user data according to Wired. Facebook, however, has stated the emails lack context and maintains that it never sold its user data, despite past scandals showing that they did.


Of course, this is also coming from a company that ran psychological experiments on at least 700,000 of its users in 2012. The experiment was revealed by a scientific paper published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. The test on users hid “a small percentage” of emotional words from people’s news feeds, without their knowledge, to test what effect that had on the statuses or “likes” that they then posted or reacted to after.


“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” said Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer while in New Delhi.“And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”


Facebook has even in the past studied messages that its users typed but decided not to post for whatever reason. The study by a Facebook data analyst looked at the habits of 3.9 million English-speaking Facebook users to analyze how different users “self-censor” on Facebook. They then measured the frequency of deleted messages or status posts. Facebook stated that it studied this because it “loses value from the lack of content generation.”


Hilariously enough, Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, accused the social media giant of exploiting human “vulnerability” using psychology in 2017 when he revealed all of the companies secrets.


Besides being a social validation feedback loop, Facebook has demonstrated itself to be an echo chamber by labeling people under political labels, as The New York Times reported.


The big social giant also hired a full list of liberal left-leaning fact checkers and has begun limiting the reach of sites like Activist Post; labeling alternative media, opinions, and editorials as “fake news.” And now they are set to target anti-vaccine information.


In fact, other former Facebook employees have confessed to the abhorrent censorship of conservative news and views. The nail in the coffin was actually placed in 2015 when Facebook admitted that they were censoring posts and comments about political corruption and content that some countries like Turkey and China don’t feel is appropriate for their citizens. Facebook is not new to censorship, and this will likely continue.


If all of that’s not enough, it was also revealed last year that Facebook has filed several patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for technology that is intended to predict your location by using your historical location data — and others’ — to determine where you will go next or when you will be offline to feed FB content, Activist Post reported.


Turns out that recently arrested, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was right: Facebook is “the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented.” Or, as a CBS report written in 2011 stated, “Social Media Is a Tool of the CIA. Seriously.”


It’s not entirely your fault (although your responsible for your own data online) — in 2012, Carnegie Mellon researchers determined that it would take the average American 76 work days to read all the privacy policies they agreed to, so who knows how long it would take the average human to read all the privacy policies they agree to on the daily now.


That brings us back to present day with the FTC looming a decision over the social giant’s head, which could see it pay a record multi-billion dollar fine. Facebook’s 2011 consent decree says that the company could be fined as much as $16,000 per day for “each violation” or as much as up to $40,000 per affected user if it is found to have broken its 20-year agreement with the FTC. The truth is that no one knows how the FTC will calculate the fine but it’s reported to be historic.


Although it could be argued this is a way for the government to begin to regulate social media, it’s indisputable that Facebook has exploited its user base for several years for a profit, as this article documents. And not only its users — it recently came out last year that Facebook also allegedly lied to its advertisers about how well its video ads were performing and inflated its user count for several years.  Plaintiffs argue that Facebook knew about the miscalculated metrics all the way back in January 2015, Bloomberg reported.


Facebook says the allegations are “without merit” and that it told its advertisers about the issue, WSJ reported.


“We told our customers about the error when we discovered it—and updated our help center to explain the issue,” a spokeswoman said.


In this writer’s opinion, there is only one way to go from here for Facebook and its stocks — and that’s plunging down to the concrete pavement.


It seems like Internet users for some reason forget about these massive scandals and just continue using Facebook. I would say it’s high time to “#DeleteFacebook” and join a number of growing alternative social media networks like SoMee.Social, Gab.ai, Minds.com, Steemit.com, where it’s even possible for you the reader and content producer to get paid for your comments and contributions to the platforms thanks to cryptocurrency.


Even a pre-existing option, Twitter, is better than Facebook. Jack Dorsey’s platform may have over-hypersensitive admins, but at least there hasn’t been as many privacy violations as Facebook. Although there have been some, it’s not nearly as much. On the bright side, Dorsey doesn’t seem to have a patent to spy on your current location, to keep track of your location data and predict where you are going next — Facebook does.


Let us move forward into the future to networks that don’t run in tandem with the U.S. government and other governments, and are not fueled by greed and selling harvested user data. But instead, completely decentralized and people-powered, incentive-based networks for sharing data you choose to share, where creators are rewarded rather than snubbed despite bringing value to these social platforms.


Keep all these privacy violations in mind when questioning whether Facebook intentionally or unintentionally data mined email contact data when asking for new users’ email passwords, (which is not only sketchy as hell but a huge privacy concern.)


Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.


Image credit: Anthony Freda Art


   
            


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By Dan Dicks


It’s official…we have entered a technocratic tyrannical dictatorship where at the flip of a switch enemies of the state can be “shut down” at any given moment. Case in point Chase Bank decided it no longer wants to do business with certain conservative leaning customers so without notice or explanation they pulled the plug on their accounts! Laura Loomer, Joe Biggs, Martina Markota and Enrique Tarrio have all been falsely lumped into the category of “alt right” and they are now suffering financially as a result by literally being cut off by the bank!


In this video Dan Dicks and Leigh Stuart of Press For Truth explain how the term “alt right” has become a useful tool for the left and how shadow banning and censorship just took a major leap to a whole new level with Chase Bank financially cutting off individuals from society.



Visit Dan Dicks at Pressfortruth.ca, subscribe to his YouTube channel, follow him on Twitter, support Dan via PayPal or Bitbacker.


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