Category Archives: Technology

As Colleges Resort to Online Learning, ICE Issues ‘Needlessly Cruel’ Rule Pushing International Students Out of US

“The Trump administration is using ICE to threaten universities into teaching in person by threatening international students with deportation if they’re all online.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-6-2020

Photo: pikist

Immigrant rights advocates were angered on Monday after Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced international students whose U.S. schools are moving to an online-only model for the Fall 2020 semester will no longer be welcome in the United States.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a physics and astronomy professor at University of New Hampshire, wrote that the Trump administration is likely attempting to pressure American colleges into abandoning their distance-learning plans even as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country. Continue reading

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Israel Defense Ministry Launches COVID-19 Voice Test for Americans

A company formed at the behest of the Israeli Ministry of Defense has begun collecting voice data from Americans to detect COVID-19 symptoms through technology with dubious diagnostic value, but highly profitable applications in law enforcement.

By Raul Diego  Published 7-2-2020 by MintPress News

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has launched a project to analyze people’s voices and breathing patterns using artificial intelligence (AI) in order to determine if they have COVID-19. The software allegedly listens for detectable “signs of distress,” ostensibly from the respiratory effects of the virus. A May 27 report in the Jerusalem Post stated that the research was already being conducted at several hospitals in Israel, where confirmed COVID-19 patients were asked to provide voice samples to be compared to those of a control group from the general population.

Results from the research were expected sometime in June. However, the study has now been expanded beyond Israel’s borders. Over one million voice recordings are currently being collected in the United States through a mobile app developed by Massachusetts-based Vocalis Health, under the auspices of the Israeli government. Continue reading

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Police with lots of military gear kill civilians more often than less-militarized officers

A police tactical team in Ferguson, Mo., responds to 2014 protests against a white officer’s killing of Michael Brown, a young Black man. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Casey Delehanty, Gardner-Webb University

Police departments that get more equipment from the military kill more civilians than departments that get less military gear. That’s the finding from research on a federal program that has operated since 1997 that I have helped conduct as a scholar of police militarization.

That finding was recently confirmed and expanded by Edward Lawson Jr. at the University of South Carolina.

This federal effort is called the “1033 Program.” It’s named after the section of the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act that allows the U.S. Defense Department to give police agencies around the country equipment, including weapons and ammunition, that the military no longer needs. Continue reading

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‘Absolute Robbery’: Gilead Announces $3,120 Price Tag for Covid-19 Drug Developed With $70 Million in Taxpayer Support

“Taxpayers provided funding for the development of this drug. Now Gilead is price-gouging off it during a pandemic. Beyond disgusting,” said Sen.Bernie Sanders.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-29-2020

Photo: Ivan Radic/flickr/CC

Consumer advocates reacted with disgust Monday to an announcement by Gilead Sciences that it will charge U.S. hospitals around $3,120 per privately insured patient for a treatment course of remdesivir, a drug which has proven modestly effective at speeding Covid-19 recovery times.

Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program, called Gilead’s pricing—which works out to around $520 per dose for non-government buyers like hospitals—”an offensive display of hubris and disregard for the public” and slammed the Trump administration for failing to ensure that the price of a drug developed with substantial taxpayer support is affordable for all. Continue reading

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‘This Scares Me,’ Says Bill McKibben as Arctic Hits 100.4°F—Hottest Temperature on Record

“100°F about 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle today in Siberia. That’s a first in all of recorded history. We are in a climate emergency.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2020

A graphic shows record heat in the Arctic Circle on Saturday, June 20, 2020. (Image: Screengrab\@ScottDuncanWX)

A small Siberian town north of the Arctic Circle reached 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, a figure that—if verified—would be the highest temperature reading in the region since record-keeping began in 1885.

“This scares me, I have to say,” environmentalist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben tweeted in response to news of the record-breaking reading in Verkhoyansk, where the average high temperature in June is 68°F. Continue reading

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Global Digital Divide a ‘Barrier to Wider Equality’ That Must Be Closed, Says World Wide Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee

“This inequality is a barrier to wider equality, and we know it most affects those who are already marginalized.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-12-2020

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee gives a speech at MIT in 2018. (Photo: Belinda Lawley/Southbank Centre/Flickr/cc)

The inventor of the World Wide Web is warning that global inequality is being exacerbated by a lack of access to the internet for the poor and urging world leaders to act to close the gap and ensure equity of opportunity for those in developing countries.

“This inequality is a barrier to wider equality, and we know it most affects those who are already marginalized,” Tim Berners-Lee said during remarks at the launch of U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’ Roadmap for Digital Cooperation Thursday. Continue reading

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80 Lawmakers Demand Trump Ditch Any Thought of Resuming ‘Dangerously Provocative’ Nuclear Tests

“When Americans say that they want and need tests, they weren’t talking about the nuclear kind.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-8-2020

A group of 80 Democratic federal lawmakers on Monday called on President Donald Trump to drop his reported consideration of atomic bomb nuclear testing, calling it an “awful” and “dangerously provocative” proposal that could give rise to “a new nuclear arms race.”

The demand came in a letter to the president—also sent to Pentagon chief Mark Esper and Energy Secretary Dan Broulliette—led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.). Continue reading

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Scientists have found oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in fishes’ livers and on the deep ocean floor

Researchers use Atlantic mackerel for bait on long-lining fishing sampling expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico.. C-IMAGE Consortium, CC BY-ND

Steven Murawski, University of South Florida and Sherryl Gilbert, University of South Florida

Over the decade since the Deepwater Horizon spill, thousands of scientists have analyzed its impact on the Gulf of Mexico. The spill affected many different parts of the Gulf, from coastal marshes to the deep sea.

At the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem, or C-IMAGE at the University of South Florida, marine scientists have been analyzing these effects since 2011. C-IMAGE has received funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative – a broad, independent research program initially funded by a US$500 million grant from BP, the company held principally responsible for the spill. Continue reading

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Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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American Weapons Manufacturers Are Thriving Even as the US Economy Suffers

Washington has made it a priority to radically overhaul the military in double time, designating weapons manufacturers as “essential” services during the pandemic.

By Alan Macleod.  Published 5-13-2020 by MintPress News

Photo: U.S. Air Force/Brad Fallin)

The economy has crashed. A nationwide pandemic that has (officially) claimed some 84,000 Americans has also resulted in an estimated 36 million filing for unemployment insurance and millions frequenting food banks for the first time. Yet business is booming for one unlikely industry; weapons manufacturers are busier than ever and are even advertising for tens of thousands of more workers.

Northrop Grumman announced that it was planning to hire up to 10,000 more employees this year. Airlines are being hit particularly hard, as the number of people flying on commercial planes has cratered. Raytheon, who supplies parts to civilian aircraft manufacturers, has lost a great deal of business. Yet it is still advertising 2,000 new jobs in the military wing of its business. Boeing, who endured a torrid 2019, with multiple high-profile crashes of its 737 MAX-8 airliner, is preparing to lay off ten percent of its staff as airlines predict a long and sustained drop in air travel. Nevertheless, it is looking to add hundreds of new workers in its defense, intelligence, and cybersecurity departments. Continue reading

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