Tag Archives: technology

‘Life-Changer for Millions’: FCC Approves Program to Help Poor Families Overcome Digital Divide During Pandemic

“As the pandemic nears its one-year mark, it’s only gotten harder for many people to afford essential internet connections to the remote learning, work, and healthcare services they need.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-27-2021

Photo: Nenad Stojkovic/flickr/CC

Advocates for boosting access to high-speed internet on Friday welcomed a unanimous vote by the Federal Communications Commission establishing the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help low-income households across the country get and stay online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the $3.2 billion program, for which Congress allocated funding in the December relief package, eligible households will get discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service. On tribal lands, the discount is $75 a month. Families will also be given a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet. Continue reading

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Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

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‘No Safe Amount’: Environmentalists Sound Alarm Over Texas Refineries’ Release of Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds of Pollutants During Storm

337,000 pounds of benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide were flared, as well as an indeterminate amount of methane.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-22-2021

Flaring at Shell Deer Park Refinery, Deer Park TX. Photo: Roy Luck/flickr/CC

Texas oil refineries released hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants including benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide into the air as they scrambled to shut down during last week’s deadly winter storm, Reuters reported Sunday.

Winter storm Uri, which killed dozens of people and cut off power to over four million Texans at its peak, also disrupted supplies needed to keep the state’s refineries and petrochemical plants operating. As they shut down, refineries flared—or burned off—gases in order to prevent damage to their processing units. Continue reading

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Warnings of Growing ‘Surveillance Empire’ as AI Van Cameras Give Amazon ‘Roaming Eyes in Every Neighborhood’

“Amazon will have the perfect panopticon in place to sweep up unprecedented amounts of data en masse,” says Fight for the Future.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-4-2021

An Amaazon Prime van making a delivery in Queens. Photo: Tdorante10/CC

In what one leading digital rights advocate is calling “the largest expansion of corporate surveillance in human history,” Amazon has begun installing artificial intelligence-equipped cameras in some of its partners’ delivery vehicles to monitor drivers while they work, a move that is raising broader concerns about privacy and corporate power.

CNBC reported Wednesday that Amazon’s AI-powered, four-lens cameras—called Driveri—are being tested in a handful of contracted delivery vehicles. The cameras are manufactured by Netradyne, a San Diego-based startup, and record 100% of the time while vans are operating. They watch and record not only the drivers, but also the road and what’s happening around the vehicles. Continue reading

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New Report From Rep. Katie Porter Reveals How Big Pharma Pursues ‘Killer Profits’ at the Expense of Americans’ Health

“It’s time we reevaluate the standards for approving these mergers. It’s time we pass legislation to lower drug prices. And it’s time we rethink the structure of leadership at big pharmaceutical companies.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-29-2021

A new report from Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) reveals how Big Pharma uses mergers and acquisitions to increase profits at the expense of Americans’ healthcare.. Screenshot: CNN

Rep. Katie Porter on Friday published a damning report revealing the devastating effects of Big Pharma mergers and acquisitions on U.S. healthcare, and recommending steps Congress should take to enact “comprehensive, urgent reform” of an integral part of a broken healthcare system.

The report, entitled Killer Profits: How Big Pharma Takeovers Destroy Innovation and Harm Patients, begins by noting that “in just 10 years, the number of large, international pharmaceutical companies decreased six-fold, from 60 to only 10.” Continue reading

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Progressives Applaud Rob Malley, Key Nuclear Deal Negotiator, as Biden’s Special Envoy for Iran

“Malley should be celebrated for his ability to understand how adversaries see problems and find common ground, for this is the art of diplomacy.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-29-2021

Image: CODEPINK

Progressives on Friday welcomed the addition of Robert Malley, a Middle East expert and Iran nuclear deal negotiator, to the Biden administration as a positive step away from the previous U.S. administration’s hostile rhetoric and policies toward Tehran, which often generated fears of a hot war.

Following reporting on Thursday from multiple media outlets, both the White House and the State Department confirmed on Friday that Malley will serve as President Joe Biden’s special U.S. envoy for Iran—in spite of opposition from hawkish critics. Continue reading

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‘This Is Not a Game’: Internet Defenders Warn Against Gutting of Section 230—Key Law for Online Speech

“Section 230 is one of the most important laws protecting freedom of expression and human rights in the digital age.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-27-2021

Protect Net Neutrality rally, San Francisco 2017. Photo: Credo Action/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A coalition of internet defenders on Wednesday cautioned lawmakers against responding to this month’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by making “uncareful changes” to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that could “profoundly alter the state of digital free speech and human rights.”

The warning came in a letter to members of Congress and the Biden-Harris administration from a diverse collection of over 70 groups representing issues such as racial justice, sex workers, digital rights, and global human rights. Signatories include Common Cause, Fight for the Future, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Continue reading

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Cheaper solar power means low-income families can also benefit – with the right kind of help

Solar power is becoming more common for households at all income levels. These homes in Richmond, California, went solar with the help of GRID Alternatives. GRID Alternatives, CC BY-ND

Galen Barbose, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Eric O’Shaughnessy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Ryan Wiser, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Until recently, rooftop solar panels were a clean energy technology that only wealthy Americans could afford. But prices have dropped, thanks mostly to falling costs for hardware, as well as price declines for installation and other “soft” costs.

Today hundreds of thousands of middle-class households across the U.S. are turning to solar power. But households with incomes below the median for their areas remain less likely to go solar. These low- and moderate-income households face several roadblocks to solar adoption, including cash constraints, low rates of home ownership and language barriers. Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Alarmed by US Spy Agency’s Purchase of Warrantless Phone Location Data

“Congress must end this lawless practice and require the government to get a warrant for our location data, regardless of its source.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2021

Image: Free Press

Digital rights advocates reacted with alarm to a report published Friday detailing how Defense Intelligence Agency analysts in recent years bought databases of U.S. smartphone location data without first obtaining warrants.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is part of the Department of Defense and is tasked with informing military and civilian policymakers about the activities and intentions of foreign governments and nonstate actors. Continue reading

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Promised Vaccine Stockpile Doesn’t Even Exist? Governors Demand Trump ‘Answer Immediately for This Deception’

States “thought they were getting more doses and they planned for more doses and opened up to 65 and up, thinking they were getting more.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-15-2021

Earlier this week, the White House said the federal government would soon release coronavirus vaccine doses stored for second shots, but governors expecting increased shipments discovered Friday that no national stockpile exists, and now they are demanding that President Donald Trump’s administration be held accountable for deceiving the American public.

“Governors were told repeatedly by [the Department of Health and Human Services] there was a strategic reserve of vaccines, and this week, the American people were told it’d be released to increase supply of vaccine,” tweeted Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Friday. “It appears now that no reserve exists. The Trump admin. must answer immediately for this deception.” Continue reading

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