Tag Archives: technology

For Next Weapon in Anti-Protest Arsenal, US Military Building Plasma Gun Capable of Vaporizing Human Flesh

At its highest setting, the new laser weapon would painfully vaporize the outer layer of skin from 100 meters away. Also, this so-called “non-lethal” weapon can kill people.

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-18-2018

Beyond NoDAPL March on Washington, DC. Photo: Rob87438 [CC-BY-SA-4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

From wood batons to stun batons to water cannons to sound cannons to. . .  frickin’ plasma lasers that can “vaporize” your skin?

Recent reporting out of the Pentagon reveals that the U.S. military is working on perfecting what they called a Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser System (SCUPLS)—or plasma gun, for short—intended for mounting on a truck or a tank.

Billed as the military’s latest “crowd control” technology, what this has typically meant is a new “non-lethal” weapon designed for use by militaries or police forces against unruly demonstrators or those standing against powerful state actors or corporate forces. Continue reading

Share

Facebook Accused of ‘Full-Frontal Suppression of Dissent’ After Independent Media Swept Up in Mass Purge

The massive shutdown affected many progressive sites devoted to covering war, police brutality, and other issues neglected by the corporate media

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-12-2018

“Those who demanded Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants censor political content—something they didn’t actually want to do—are finding that content that they themselves support and like end up being repressed,” noted The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald in response to Facebook’s announcement. “That’s what has happened to every censorship advocate in history.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

After Facebook announced on Thursday that it shut down and removed hundreds of pages and accounts that it vaguely accused of spreading “spam” and engaging in “inauthentic behavior,” some of the individuals and organizations caught up in the social media behemoth’s dragnet disputed accusations that they were violating the platform’s rules and raised alarm that Facebook is using its enormous power to silence independent political perspectives that run counter to the corporate media’s dominant narratives.

While it is reasonable to assume that some of the more than 800 total pages and accounts shut down by Facebook were engaged in overtly fraudulent behavior—such as the use of fake accounts and bots to generate ad revenue—numerous independent media outlets that cover a wide array of issues say they were swept up in the massive purge despite never using such tactics. Continue reading

Share

Shutting Down Free Speech in America: Government and Lobbyists Work Together to Destroy the First Amendment

By Philip Giraldi. Published 9-24-2018 by American Herald Tribune

During the past several years, there has been increased pressure coming from some in the federal government aided and abetted powerful advocacy groups in the private sector to police social and alternative media. It is a multi-pronged attack on the First Amendment which has already limited the types of information that Americans have access to, thereby narrowing policy options to suit those in power.

The process has been ostensibly driven by concerns over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, but it is really about who controls and limits the public’s right to know what is going on out of sight in Washington and New York City, where politics and money come together. If one is interested in the free flow of information and viewpoints that comes with the alternative media, it certainly does not look that way. Robert Parry described it as a deliberate process of “demonizing and silencing dissent that questions mainstream narratives.” Continue reading

Share

Facebook Will Fail to Solve #FakeNews

Zuckerberg needs to step back for his company to succeed

By Juan Ortiz Freuler. Published 8-28-2018 by Common Dreams

“It has amassed such power that experts and public opinion refer to it as the digital public square: the place where people protest, sign up for public events, get information about politics, and more.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

Every policy-tweak Facebook attempts to roll out is faced with public criticism. This signals a structural problem: Facebook developed quicker than its own systems of governance and now struggles to carry its own weight. In other words, Facebook seems to lack the legitimacy to exercise the huge power it has amassed over the years.

If the user base were smaller, Facebook would have a group of like-minded individuals that could be more easily catered to. But Facebook has become very big and diverse. With over 2 billion active monthly users, it’s bigger and more diverse than any community we’ve ever seen. Continue reading

Share

Legal Analysis Exposes Kavanaugh’s Long History of Siding With Corporate Power Over the Common Good

“The most eye-catching conclusion,” says the author, is the Trump nominee’s inconsistent reasoning coupled with an “overwhelming tendency to reach conclusions favorable to corporations.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-29-2018

Critics of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh protested at Foley Square in New York City on Aug. 26. (Photo: Ivan Pereira/Twitter)

Bolstering calls for the Senate to block President Donald Trump’s deeply unpopular U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, an analysis out Wednesday reveals that Kavanaugh has overwhelmingly sided with corporate power over public interest while serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit over the past 12 years.

The new report (pdf), authored by Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, found that Kavanaugh ruled against public interest 87 percent of the time for more than 100 split-decision cases involving consumer and regulatory issues and administrative law, environmental protection, worker rights, alleged police or human rights abuses, and antitrust enforcement. Continue reading

Share

California Fire Dept Says Verizon Throttling During Deadly Wildfire ‘Has Everything to Do With Net Neutrality’

“It shows that the ISPs will act in their economic interests, even at the expense of public safety. That is exactly what the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality allows and encourages.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-22-2018

Satellite image of the Mendocino Complex Fire. Photo: NASA

As California lawmakers prepared on Wednesday for a key committee vote on their state’s net neutrality bill—which, in its current form, would restore the protections repealed by the FCC in December—the Santa Clara County Fire Department accused the telecom giant Verizon of dramatically cutting its data speed as it recently fought the largest recorded wildfire in California’s history.

After Verizon admitted that it slowed the fire department’s data—a despised practice known as throttling—but claimed it was a simple mistake that “has nothing to do with net neutrality,” Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams responded in a statement on behalf of the fire department on Wednesday that “Verizon’s throttling has everything to do with net neutrality.” Continue reading

Share

In Bid for ‘Dystopian’ Surveillance Power, Facebook Asking Big Banks for Customer Data

“How much more of your personal existence are you willing to give up to continue to be a sieve of your data for a multi-billion dollar corporation?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-6-2018

Screenshot: CNN

Apparently not satisfied with access to its users’ call history, text messaging data, and online conversations, Facebook has reportedly asked major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to hand over their customers’ sensitive financial data as part of the social media giant’s ongoing attempt to become “a platform where people buy and sell goods and services.”

And according to the Wall Street Journal—which first reported on Facebook’s plans on Monday—the social media behemoth isn’t the only tech company that wants access to Americans’ financial data. Google and Amazon have also “asked banks to share data if they join with them, in order to provide basic banking services on applications such as Google Assistant and Alexa,” the Journal pointed out, citing anonymous sources familiar with the companies’ ambitions. Continue reading

Share

‘The Dam Is Breaking,’ Declare Net Neutrality Defenders After First House Republican Backs CRA

“We urge Congressman Coffman’s Republican colleagues to follow his lead and sign the discharge petition to restore net neutrality. It’s the right thing to do.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-17-2017

Net neutrality advocates rallied outside the Lincoln, Nebraska office of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on July 13, 2018 to urge him to support a measure that would restore net neutrality protections nationwide. (Photo: @IndivisibleLNK/Twitter)

“The dam is breaking, as it should.”

That’s how Faiz Shakir, the ACLU’s national political director, responded on Tuesday after Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado became the first House Republican to sign a petition to force a vote on a measure that would reinstate net neutrality protections that the GOP-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rolled back in December.

“Rep. Coffman’s support to undo FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s repeal of net neutrality shows that public pressure is continuing to build on this issue and cannot be ignored this November,” Shakir added. “Other House members should take heed of Coffman’s direction and stand by the overwhelming majority of their constituents, not corporate interests.” Continue reading

Share

‘Most Important Surveillance Story You Will See for Years’: Report Reveals How AT&T Buildings Serve as Secret Hubs for NSA Spying

“AT&T has bent over backwards to help the U.S. government spy on essentially all internet traffic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2018

AT&T Center, Los Angeles. Photo: Laurie Avocado/flickr/cc

“The most important surveillance story you will see for years just went online, revealing how AT&T became the internet’s biggest enemy, secretly collaborating against its customers and partners to destroy your privacy.”

That was how whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden reacted to the publication of an explosive story by The Intercept on Monday, which reveals for the first time how “fortress-like” AT&T buildings located in eight major American cities have played a central role in a massive National Security Agency (NSA) spying program “that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.” Continue reading

Share

Trump Taxpayer-Funded Coal and Nuclear Bailout Decried as ‘Breathtaking Abuse of Authority’

Critics called the plan an “outrageous ploy” by Trump “to help his rich friends” at the expense of Americans’ pocketbooks and the environment

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-1-2018

Photo: flickr

Environmental advocates on Friday responded with outrage to confirmation from the White House that President Donald Trump has ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to plot what’s being called an “unprecedented intervention” by the federal government to bail out financially strapped coal and nuclear power plants that can’t compete with the renewable energy sector.

“This is an outrageous ploy to force American taxpayers to bail out coal and nuclear executives who have made bad decisions by investing in dirty and dangerous energy resources,” declared Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Continue reading

Share