Location Tracking Spyware, How Big Tech Censors News Platforms, Nelson Mandela's Legacy
Revealing News Articles
April 11, 2023
Explore below key excerpts of revealing news articles on the U.S. government's purchase of location tracking spyware from a company on a Commerce Department blacklist, Big Tech's practice of "censorship by proxy," indications that the Pentagon now considers insolvent banks to be a national security risk, and more.
Read also wonderfully inspiring articles on the legacy of Nelson Mandela as described by one of his former prison guards, peace activists using video games to give impressionable young people more balanced information about war than military recruiters provide, a new mobile phone service focused on privacy, and more. You can also skip to this section now.
Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails, see this page. The most important sentences are highlighted. And don't miss the "What you can do" section below the summaries. By educating ourselves and spreading the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Special note: An in-depth article reveals how the U.S. regime has killed 20-30 million people since World War II. Several thousand people gathered outside of the White House back in March to call for peace negotiations, major cuts in the US military budget, an end to the US policy of endless wars, and freedom for Julian Assange and Indigenous prisoner Leonard Peltier. However, coverage of the peace march was almost nonexistent among corporate news media platforms, a stark contrast to how peace demonstrations were covered in the 1960s.
Quote of the week: We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial congressional complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. ~~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Video of the week: Watch a concise analysis by independent journalist and geopolitical expert Brian Berletic (aka "The New Atlas") who explains what's behind the political unrest in Syria, and how this relates to the U.S.-fueled proxy wars in Ukraine and over the island province of Taiwan.
A Front Company and a Fake Identity: How the U.S. Came to Use Spyware It Was Trying to Kill
April 2, 2023, New York Times
The secret contract was finalized on Nov. 8, 2021, a deal between a company that has acted as a front for the United States government and the American affiliate of a notorious Israeli hacking firm. Under the arrangement, the Israeli firm, NSO Group, gave the U.S. government access to one of its most powerful weapons — a geolocation tool that can covertly track mobile phones around the world without the phone user’s knowledge or consent. Only five days earlier, the Biden administration had announced it was taking action against NSO, whose hacking tools for years had been abused by governments around the world to spy on political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists. The White House placed NSO on a Commerce Department blacklist, declaring the company a national security threat. The secret contract ... violates the Biden administration’s public policy, and still appears to be active. The contract, reviewed by The Times, stated that the “United States government” would be the ultimate user of the tool, although it is unclear which government agency authorized the deal and might be using the spyware. Elements of America’s expansive national security apparatus in recent years have bought the weapons, deployed them against drug traffickers, and have quietly pushed to consolidate control of them into the hands of the United States and its closest allies. The F.B.I. purchased access in 2019 to NSO’s most powerful hacking tool, known as Pegasus, which invades mobile phones and mines their contents.
Note: Read how journalists and activists have been targeted with NSO Group spyware. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
Censorship by Proxy: How Big Tech Censors Global News Platforms
December 11, 2022, LA Progressive (A popular Los Angeles Newspaper)
Big Tech giants and their oligarchic owners now engage in a new type of censorship, which we have called “censorship by proxy.” Censorship by proxy describes restrictions on freedom of information undertaken by private corporations that exceed limits on governmental censorship and serve both corporate and government or third-party interests. Censorship by proxy is not subject to venerable First Amendment proscriptions on government interference with freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Censorship by proxy alerts us to the power of economic entities that are not normally recognized as “gatekeepers.” For example, in 2022, the digital financial service PayPal (whose founders include Peter Thiel and Elon Musk) froze the accounts of Consortium News and MintPress News for “unspecified offenses” and “risks” associated with their accounts, a ruling that prevented both independent news outlets from using funds maintained by PayPal. Consortium News and MintPress News have each filed critical news stories and commentary on the foreign policy objectives of the United States and NATO. PayPal issued notices to each news outlet, stating that, in addition to suspending their accounts, it might also seize their assets for “damages.” Joe Lauria, editor in chief of Consortium News, said he believed this was a case of “ideological policing.” Mnar Adley, head of MintPress News, warned, “The sanctions-regime war is coming home to hit the bank accounts of watchdog journalists.”
Pentagon Tries to Cast Bank Runs as National Security Threat
April 3, 2023, The Intercept
In recent months, the Pentagon has moved to provide loans, guarantees, and other financial instruments to technology companies it considers crucial to national security — a step beyond the grants and contracts it normally employs. So when Silicon Valley Bank threatened to fail in March following a bank run, the defense agency advocated for government intervention to insure the investments. The Pentagon had even scrambled to prepare multiple plans to get cash to affected companies if necessary, reporting by Defense One revealed. Their interest in Silicon Valley Bank stems from the Pentagon’s brand-new office, the Office of Strategic Capital. The secretary of defense established the OSC in December specifically to counteract the investment power of adversaries like China in U.S. technologies, and to secure separate funding for companies whose products are considered vital to national security. The national security argument for bailout, notably, found an influential friend in the Senate. As the Biden administration intervened to protect Silicon Valley Bank depositors on March 12, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who chairs the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee and also sits on the Banking Committee, issued a press release warning that the bank run posed a national security risk. Warner — the only member of Congress to have publicly tied SVB to national security — has received significant contributions from the financial sector. Since 2012, Warner has received over $21,000 from Silicon Valley Bank’s super PAC.
Note: Many tech startups with funds in Silicon Valley Bank were working on projects with defense and national security applications. Explore revealing news articles on the rising concerns of the emerging technologies that the Defense Department is investing in, given their recent request for $17.8 billion to research and develop artificial intelligence, autonomy, directed energy weapons, cybersecurity, 5G technology, and more.
US Army awards Lockheed up to $4.5 bln missiles contract
April 4, 2023, Reuters
Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said on Monday the U.S. Army has awarded a multi-year production contract for Joint-Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) and HELLFIRE missiles, in a deal that could go up to $4.5 billion including follow-on awards. The contract, which will have a total value of $439 million in its first year, is among the first multi-year awards for precision munitions, as the Pentagon looks to build stocks in the hopes of deterring China. In March, President Joe Biden requested $842 billion for the Pentagon and $44 billion for defense-related programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Energy and other agencies. The 2024 budget proposal is $28 billion more than last year's $858 billion. Lockheed added the contract also offers three additional follow-on awards which will start in late 2023, allowing for a total contract value of up to $4.5 billion over the next four years. The JAGM program anticipates a "significant increase" in international demand for the weapon system, Lockheed said.
Note: Many benefit financially from warfare when it comes to provoking proxy wars and furthering U.S. agendas of full-spectrum dominance, as thoroughly explored in the book War is a Racket by the highly decorated general Smedley D. Butler. According to a revealing report, at least 47 members of Congress and their spouses hold between $2 million and $6.7 million worth of stock in Lockheed Martin and other companies that are among the top 100 defense contractors.
Who Controls How We Remember the Iraq War?
March 18, 2023, LA Progressive (A popular Los Angeles Newspaper)
As mainstream U.S. media outlets pause to remember the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it’s clear that there’s a lot they hope we’ll forget – first and foremost, the media’s own active complicity in whipping up public support for the war. But the more you dig into mainstream news coverage from that period ... the harder it is to forget how flagrantly news networks across the broadcast and cable landscape uncritically spread the Bush administration’s propaganda and actively excluded dissenting voices. A 2003 report by the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) found that in the two weeks leading up to the invasion, ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and the PBS Newshour featured a total of 267 American experts, analysts, and commentators on camera to supposedly help make sense of the march to war. Of these 267 guests, an astounding 75% were current or former government or military officials, and a grand total of one expressed any skepticism. The bedrock democratic principle of an independent, adversarial press was simply tossed out the window. “Often journalists blame the government for the failure of the journalists themselves to do independent reporting,” [author Norman] Solomon says. “But nobody forced the major networks like CNN to do so much commentary from retired generals and admirals and all the rest of it. That really runs directly counter to the idea of an independent press.”
Warmongers in Congress Use Tik-Tok to Justify Aggression towards China
March 31, 2023, LA Progressive (A popular Los Angeles Newspaper)
Last Thursday, a Congressional hearing took place where the TikTok CEO was grilled for five hours on the grounds of “security concerns.” This was days after the FBI and DOJ launched an investigation on the Chinese-owned American company. Isn’t it ironic that while the US government is putting TikTok under the magnifying glass, it’s turning a blind eye to its own surveillance programs on the American people? [It was] only last year that the post-9/11 NSA phone surveillance program was reported to have shut down. Major telecom companies like Verizon gave the government access to hundreds of millions of calls and texts. Dataminr, a startup Twitter partner, provided police with data about BLM protests. One focus on ‘potential gang members’ targeted Black and Latinx people, including school-aged children. Meta's subsidiary WhatsApp was reportedly used by the Saudi government to hack journalist Jamal Khashoggi's phone. Meanwhile, Meta itself used a VPN to spy on users' smartphones for market research in exchange for bribes. Yet WhatsApp is not banned on government devices. Unlike China as well as other Western countries, such as the EU, the US does not have any digital privacy laws on the federal level. The US could cooperate with China to better ensure people’s privacy is protected, instead of driving fear to target one single social media platform. The ongoing effort to investigate and ban TikTok is not about our privacy, but about fueling more aggression against China.
Congressional Effort to End Assange Prosecution Underway
March 30, 2023, The Intercept
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is circulating a letter among her House colleagues that calls on the Department of Justice to drop charges against Julian Assange and end its effort to extradite him from his detention in Belmarsh prison in the United Kingdom. The Justice Department has charged Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, for publishing classified information. The Obama administration had previously decided not to prosecute Assange, concerned with what was dubbed internally as the “New York Times problem.” The Times had partnered with Assange when it came to publishing classified information and itself routinely publishes classified information. Publishing classified information is a violation of the Espionage Act, though it has never been challenged in the Supreme Court, and constitutional experts broadly consider that element of the law to be unconstitutional. The Obama administration could not find a way to charge Assange without also implicating standard journalistic practices. The Trump administration, unburdened by such concerns around press freedom, pushed ahead with the indictment and extradition request. The Biden administration, driven by the zealous prosecutor Gordon Kromberg, has aggressively pursued Trump’s prosecution. Tlaib noted that the Times, The Guardian, El País, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel had put out a joint statement condemning the charges, and alluded to the same problem that gave the Obama administration pause.
US Virgin Islands subpoenas four top businessmen in Epstein banking inquiry
April 1, 2023, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
A US Virgin Islands investigations into the sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to an American bank issued subpoenas to four wealthy business leaders on Friday, extending its reach into the highest echelons of tech, hospitality and finance. The subpoenas issued to the Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Hyatt Hotels chairperson Thomas Pritzker, American-Canadian businessman Mortimer Zuckerman and former CAA talent agency chairperson Michael Ovitz are crafted to gather more information about Epstein’s relationship with JPMorgan Chase. The Virgin Islands’ lawsuit against JP Morgan, the world’s largest bank in terms of assets, alleges that the institution “facilitated and concealed wire and cash transactions that raised suspicion of – and were in fact part of – a criminal enterprise whose currency was the sexual servitude of dozens of women and girls in and beyond the Virgin Islands”. “Human trafficking was the principal business of the accounts Epstein maintained at JP Morgan,” it said. The disgraced financier ... owned two private islands – Little Saint James, or “Epstein Island”, and Great Saint James – in the American territory, and authorities there have secured a $105m settlement from his estate. The demand for any communications and documents related to the bank and Epstein from four of the wealthiest people in the US comes days after it was reported that Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan’s chairperson and chief executive, is expected to be deposed in the case.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein's child sex trafficking ring from reliable major media sources.
Key Articles From Independent Media
20 Years After Illegal US Invasion of Iraq, Its Architects Are Still Cashing In
March 19, 2023, Truthout
It had been 15 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq when, on March 19, 2018, the celebrated Iraqi novelist and poet Sinan Antoon published a blistering op-ed in The New York Times. He took readers through his observations of the steady deterioration of Iraqi society since the war began, but the most scathing words came toward the end. “No one knows for certain how many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago,” Antoon wrote. “Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again. The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in the United States as a ‘blunder,’ or even a ‘colossal mistake.’ It was a crime. Those who perpetrated it are still at large.” That the invasion was not just a moral catastrophe but an egregious war crime has been echoed by everyone from United Nations heads to human rights leaders. With the 20th anniversary of the invasion now approaching, the sanitizing of the war’s major culprits — or, at the very least, the soft forgetting of their crimes — continues. As the very top decision-makers faded into retirement, the next layer of war pushers, enablers and overseers — the top defense and national security officials and the celebrity generals — went on to profit immensely following their leadership of an illegal war, darting through the revolving door to snag coveted corporate board seats and prestigious university appointments. Many of them remain in these positions with defense industry giants, tech firms and Wall Street investors today.
Two Decades and $90 Billion US Dollars Later: Dissecting the Afghan Military’s Total Collapse
March 27, 2023, MintPress News
In February, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published an extensive investigation into the spectacular collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces’ (ANDSF), which the U.S. spent two decades and $90 billion building. In common with previous SIGAR reports, it offers a remarkably uncompromising, no-punches-pulled assessment, exposing corruption, incompetence, lies, and delusion every step of the way. The Pentagon and State Department rejected SIGAR’s jurisdiction over them, declined to review interim drafts of the report, denied access to their staff, and “mostly” refused to answer requests for information. The Afghan government and military, their trainers and the Pentagon alike were all heavily incentivized to lie to one another, and political leaders in Washington, who were in turn motivated to mislead the public. As prior SIGAR reports also found, so much money and equipment were flowing into Afghanistan without any supervision whatsoever, and weaponry and other aid were misused, stolen or illegally sold off with ease by Afghans, U.S. personnel and Pentagon contractors. SIGAR ominously warns that a similar absence of accountability is evident in the “unprecedented” U.S. arms shipments to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022. Despite U.S. leaders promising a keen eye is being kept on the weapons shipments, SIGAR’s report makes clear these same officials did not even know what was being sent to Afghanistan. Is the same true for Kiev?
Key Articles From Years Past
Alleged [9/11] Hijackers May Have Trained At U.S. Bases
September 14, 2001, Newsweek Magazine
U.S. military sources have given the FBI information that suggests five of the alleged hijackers of the planes that were used in [the 9/11] terror attacks received training at secure U.S. military installations in the 1990s. Three of the alleged hijackers listed their address on drivers licenses and car registrations as the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. -- known as the "Cradle of U.S. Navy Aviation," according to a high-ranking U.S. Navy source. Another of the alleged hijackers may have been trained in strategy and tactics at the Air War College in Montgomery, Ala., said another high-ranking Pentagon official. The fifth man may have received language instruction at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex. Both were former Saudi Air Force pilots who had come to the United States, according to the Pentagon source. The five men were on a list of 19 people identified as hijackers by the FBI on [September 14]. The three foreign nationals training in Pensacola appear to be Saeed Alghamdi and Ahmad Alnami, who were among the four men who allegedly commandeered United Airlines Flight 93. That flight [ended in] rural Pennsylvania. The third man who may have trained in Pensacola, Ahmed Alghamdi, allegedly helped highjack United Airlines Flight 75, which hit the south tower of the World Trade Center. Military records show that the three used as their address 10 Radford Boulevard, a base roadway on which residences for foreign-military flight trainees are located.
Note: For more on this vitally important news, see this Washington Post news article and this Los Angeles Times news article. Several of the alleged hijackers also contacted US media shortly after 9/11 to report that they were alive and were not on the hijacked planes, as reported in this BBC article and this Times of London article. Yet the 9/11 Commission Report lists these men as the official hijackers. Explore many other major media news articles suggesting that rogue elements of government were involved in 9/11. See also our excellent 9/11 Information Center.
How Nelson Mandela’s former prison guard is keeping his legacy alive
January 22, 2023, The Independent (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
“Nelson Mandela – I’d never heard the name before in my life,” a former prison guard to the South African icon recalls. Christo Brand casts his mind back to 1978, and his first night guarding one of the most influential people of the past century. He was just 19 years old. A sergeant informed him the ageing man sleeping uncomfortably on the floor of the Robben Island jail cell was “a terrorist trying to overthrow your country”. Mr Brand ... soon became close with Mandela. He began to spend days and nights with Mandela, who he says remained charming even after some 16 years as prisoner 466/64. In time he saw virtue in the older man’s crimes. Reflecting after years at Mandela’s side, years in which he saw his friend slowly but surely topple the old order, Mr Brand says: “Mandela was fighting for the freedom of the country, he was prepared to go to the gallows for freedom for his people”. “When Mandela was in prison,” Mr Brand says, “he studied Martin Luther King and Gandhi, he tried to follow their footsteps and try to bring a change.” In his memoir Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela hints at why he kept his prison officer at his side even after being freed. Mr Brand, he writes, “reinforced my belief in the essential humanity even of those who had kept me behind bars”. Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 already negotiating with South Africa’s leadership for the changes that would see the country’s first democratic election a few years later.
Note: Read more on Nelson Mandela's powerful capacity for empathy, and how he served as a striking role model for addressing the hearts, not minds, of people we deem as opponents or oppressors.
How Peace Activists Are Beating the U.S. Military at its Own (Video) Game
September 10, 2022, The Progressive
In 2018, the military, struggling to meet enlistment goals, began invading gaming communities as part of a larger, digital-first strategy. Recruiters who had once stalked school assemblies and shopping malls began streaming games on social media and competing in tournaments to court new enlistees online. Since then, the military’s online recruiting strategy has expanded to the Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch, which attracts 140 million active users per month. The Army, Navy, and Air Force churn out hours of Twitch content per week, including streams of popular first-person-shooter games. The Armed Forces claim their gamers ... aren’t technically recruiters. But anti-war advocates say they might as well be. To counter this, [Marine veteran Chris] Velazquez became a community developer for Gamers for Peace (GFP), the first peace organization formed to mirror the military’s online recruiting practices: While streaming popular games like Halo and Rocket League, its members—many of them veterans—offer career advice and mentorship to teens, talk politics, and discuss the realities of war. They also share information about online military recruitment tactics at in-person gaming conventions such as PAX Unplugged. These initiatives, members say, give prospective recruits the tools and knowledge to see other options and reconsider enlisting. The group has already accrued nearly 600 Twitch followers as well as 400 members on the popular messaging service Discord.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
New Mobile Phone Service Shows We Can Have Both Privacy and Nice Things
February 15, 2023, ACLU
The recent launch of a new mobile phone service introduced significant new privacy protections into the mobile phone system. This exciting new approach highlights the failure of the existing mobile phone infrastructure to protect privacy, and points the way forward for a wide variety of technologies. Today’s cellphones are generally a privacy disaster. Partly that’s the result of the two companies that control the operating system software on the vast majority of the world’s pocket computers. In order for your carrier to route calls and data to your phone, the network needs to constantly know which cell tower your phone is near. And when you make a call or use data, the provider can see where that traffic is going. Cell carriers track and store this accidental byproduct of the technology in order to record people’s location history and network activity for marketing purposes and, in certain circumstances, for sharing with law enforcement. The new phone service, called Pretty Good Phone Privacy (PGPP), uses encryption techniques to deliberately blind itself so that it can’t know that the user of a mobile device is you, or what data you are sending from that phone. You connect to the PGPP service for payment, and that’s all. With PGPP’s approach, the carrier simply does not have the data to turn over to anyone. It cannot be sold, leaked, or hacked, let alone offered to overreaching law enforcement agencies. Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and their smaller competitors could be offering such a privacy-protecting service, but don’t want to.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
20 million Americans still don't have enough to eat. A grass-roots movement of free fridges aims to help.
June 28, 2021, Washington Post
Darrell Brokenborough opened the bright yellow refrigerator that stood on the sidewalk outside a row home at 308 N. 39th St., smiled and said, "It's full." He balanced on his cane so he could take a closer look at the apples, yogurt, greens, pasta, cheese and chicken inside. On the front of the fridge was written: "Free food" and "Take what you need. Leave what you don't." Philadelphia now has more than 20 of these refrigerators sitting outside homes and restaurants, offering free food to anyone passing by. Volunteers keep the fridges clean and stocked with food donated from grocery stores, restaurants, local farmers and anyone with extra to share. The concept of the community fridge â€• sometimes called a "freedge" â€• has been around for more than a decade, but it exploded during the pandemic as hunger spiked in the United States and worldwide. There are now about 200 of these community fridges in the United States, up from about 15 before the pandemic. "What we're learning is when you do something like this, people will support it. People do have goodness and kindness, and they will bring food," said Michelle Nelson, founder of Mama-Tee.com, which now runs 18 bright yellow fridges in Philadelphia and has been inundated with requests to put more in place throughout the country. Nelson said the effort is part of the movement known as "mutual aid," where people, even those struggling, want to help one another and have a stake in the project.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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