Why the Google Memo Brings Forward an Overdue Conversation – Part 2 (‘The Firing’)

Today’s piece was originally supposed to be the second and last part of a short series on the Google memo, but in light of the author’s rapid termination, I’ve decided to add at least one other installment on the topic. As such, my analysis on how Spiral Dynamics fits into the whole drama will have to wait till another day.  

As everyone knows by now, Google went ahead and fired James Damore, the author of the now infamous memo on Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber. In yesterday’s piece I remarked about how shocked I was by the extraordinarily charged and hyperbolic language being used by so many of those who disagreed with what Mr. Damore wrote. Indeed, the language and mischaracterizations of the memo itself were so completely unhinged in many instances, it’s hard for me to believe that many of these people even read it in the first place.

First off, while I happen to agree with a lot of what he wrote, that’s besides the point. If you read the memo it’s obvious that the author went out of his way to avoid triggering people who are easily triggered. Whether or not you agree with the conclusions, it was written in a respectful and measured way. He goes out of his way to clarify what he’s saying so as not to be misunderstood Here are just a couple examples of what I mean:

I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

Incredibly, people are calling this guy (who has a masters degree in Systems Biology from Harvard) a Nazi because he has a different opinion than the dogmatic prevailing consensus within what clearly is a Google echo chamber culture. He was politely trying to have a discourse about a topic he feels passionately about and did so in a respectful way. For that unforgivable act, he’s been deemed a misogynist Nazi and fired. I’m not the first person to note that by firing him for writing this, Google essentially proved his point regarding the company’s closed cultural and ideological environment.

Indeed, what Google did to this employee is a textbook example of “ritual defamation,” as Yale professor Nicholas Christakis explained in a recent tweet.

 

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Despite being fired, James Damore will be just fine. There are enough people completely sick and tired of the authoritarian left for him to have countless opportunities. I’m not so sure about Google. In fact, I’d expect many talented people at the company to start looking for new, less ideologically stifling jobs, and I think ten years from now the brain drain from Google will likely be obvious. Google has publicly demonstrated itself as a drab and intellectually dishonest place to work, and such a place cannot and will not attract the best and brightest in tech.

Not to mention the fact that when it comes to making money from ads, Google is perfectly fine with “perpetuating gender stereotypes” (the supposed reason they fired Mr. Damore). For example, take a look at this screenshot from the Google adwords page, Add Demographic Targeting to an Ad Group:

Target by gender. There you go. When it comes to Google making money, gender differences suddenly exist.

 

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Moving along, although Google executives clearly lack the maturity and wisdom to take the memo as an opportunity to have a productive and rigorous debate, plenty of other people have. One of the most interesting articles I’ve read in this regard was written by Scott Alexander and published at Slate Star CodexHe comes at the issue by explaining his view that many of the very real and observable differences in professions between men and women can be explained not by sexism or capacity, but by different interests at the population level between the genders. In other words, the whole “men tend to like to work with things, and women tend to like to work with people” observation that James Damore discussed in his memo.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece, but I highly recommend reading the entire thing:

Might girls be worried not by stereotypes about computers themselves, but by stereotypes that girls are bad at math and so can’t succeed in the math-heavy world of computer science? No. About 45% of college math majors are women, compared to (again) only 20% of computer science majors. Undergraduate mathematics itself more-or-less shows gender parity. This can’t be an explanation for the computer results.

Might sexist parents be buying computers for their sons but not their daughters, giving boys a leg up in learning computer skills? In the 80s and 90s, everybody was certain that this was the cause of the gap. Newspapers would tell lurid (and entirely hypothetical) stories of girls sitting down to use a computer when suddenly a boy would show up, push her away, and demand it all to himself. But move forward a few decades and now young girls are more likely to own computers than young boys – with little change in the high school computer interest numbers. So that isn’t it either.

So if it happens before middle school, and it’s not stereotypes, what might it be?

One subgroup of women does not display these gender differences at any age. These are women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a condition that gives them a more typically-male hormone balance. For a good review, see Gendered Occupational Interests: Prenatal Androgen Effects on Psychological Orientation to Things Versus People. They find that:

Consistent with hormone effects on interests, females with CAH are considerably more interested than are females without CAH in male-typed toys, leisure activities, and occupations, from childhood through adulthood (reviewed in Blakemore et al., 2009; Cohen-Bendahan et al., 2005); adult females with CAH also engage more in male-typed occupations than do females without CAH (Frisén et al., 2009). Male-typed interests of females with CAH are associated with degree of androgen exposure, which can be inferred from genotype or disease characteristics (Berenbaum et al., 2000; Meyer-Bahlburg et al., 2006; Nordenström et al., 2002). Interests of males with CAH are similar to those of males without CAH because both are exposed to high (sex-typical) prenatal androgens and are reared as boys.

Females with CAH do not provide a perfect test of androgen effects on gendered characteristics because they differ from females without CAH in other ways; most notably they have masculinized genitalia that might affect their socialization. But, there is no evidence that parents treat girls with CAH in a more masculine or less feminine way than they treat girls without CAH (Nordenström et al., 2002; Pasterski et al., 2005). Further, some findings from females with CAH have been confirmed in typical individuals whose postnatal behavior has been associated with prenatal hormone levels measured in amniotic fluid. Amniotic testosterone levels were found to correlate positively with parent-reported male-typed play in girls and boys at ages 6 to 10 years (Auyeung et al., 2009).

The psychological mechanism through which androgen affects interests has not been well-investigated, but there is some consensus that sex differences in interests reflect an orientation toward people versus things (Diekman et al., 2010) or similar constructs, such as organic versus inorganic objects (Benbow et al., 2000). The Things-People distinction is, in fact, the major conceptual dimension underlying the measurement of the most widely-used model of occupational interests (Holland, 1973; Prediger, 1982); it has also been used to represent leisure interests (Kerby and Ragan, 2002) and personality (Lippa, 1998).

In their own study, they compare 125 such women and find a Things-People effect size of -0.75 – that is, the difference between CAH women and unaffected women is more than half the difference between men and unaffected women. They write:

The results support the hypothesis that sex differences in occupational interests are due, in part, to prenatal androgen influences on differential orientation to objects versus people. Compared to unaffected females, females with CAH reported more interest in occupations related to Things versus People, and relative positioning on this interest dimension was substantially related to amount of prenatal androgen exposure.

What is this “object vs. people” distinction?

It’s pretty relevant. Meta-analyses have shown a very large (d = 1.18) difference in healthy men and women (ie without CAH) in this domain. It’s traditionally summarized as “men are more interested in things and women are more interested in people”. I would flesh out “things” to include both physical objects like machines as well as complex abstract systems; I’d also add in another finding from those same studies that men are more risk-taking and like danger. And I would flesh out “people” to include communities, talking, helping, children, and animals.

So this theory predicts that men will be more likely to choose jobs with objects, machines, systems, and danger; women will be more likely to choose jobs with people, talking, helping, children, and animals.

Somebody armed with this theory could pretty well predict that women would be interested in going into medicine and law, since both of them involve people, talking, and helping. They would predict that women would dominate veterinary medicine (animals, helping), psychology (people, talking, helping, sometimes children), and education (people, children, helping). Of all the hard sciences, they might expect women to prefer biology (animals). And they might expect men to do best in engineering (objects, machines, abstract systems, sometimes danger) and computer science (machines, abstract systems).

I mentioned that about 50% of medical students were female, but this masks a lot of variation. There are wide differences in doctor gender by medical specialty. For example:

A privilege-based theory fails – there’s not much of a tendency for women to be restricted to less prestigious and lower-paying fields – Ob/Gyn (mostly female) is extremely lucrative, and internal medicine (mostly male) is pretty low-paying for a medical job.But the people/thing theory above does extremely well! Pediatrics is babies/children, Psychiatry is people/talking (and of course women are disproportionately child psychiatrists), OB/GYN is babies (though admittedly this probably owes a lot to patients being more comfortable with female gynecologists) and family medicine is people/talking/babies/children.

Meanwhile, Radiology is machines and no patient contact, Anaesthesiology is also machines and no patient contact, Emergency Medicine is danger, and Surgery is machines, danger, and no patient contact.

Here’s another fun thing you can do with this theory: understand why women are so well represented in college math classes. Women are around 20% of CS majors, physics majors, engineering majors, etc – but almost half of math majors! This should be shocking. Aren’t we constantly told that women are bombarded with stereotypes about math being for men? Isn’t the archetypal example of children learning gender roles that Barbie doll that said “Math is hard, let’s go shopping?” And yet women’s representation in undergraduate math classes is really quite good.

I was totally confused by this for a while until a commenter directed me to the data on what people actually do with math degrees. The answer is mostly: they become math teachers. They work in elementary schools and high schools, with people.

Then all those future math teachers leave for the schools after undergrad, and so math grad school ends up with pretty much the same male-tilted gender balance as CS, physics, and engineering grad school.

This seems to me like the clearest proof that women being underrepresented in CS/physics/etc is just about different interests. It’s not that they can’t do the work – all those future math teachers do just as well in their math majors as everyone else. It’s not that stereotypes of what girls can and can’t do are making them afraid to try – whatever stereotypes there are about women and math haven’t dulled future math teachers’ willingness to compete difficult math courses one bit. And it’s not even about colleges being discriminatory and hostile (or at least however discriminatory and hostile they are it doesn’t drive away those future math teachers). It’s just that women are more interested in some jobs, and men are more interested in others. Figure out a way to make math people-oriented, and women flock to it. If there were as many elementary school computer science teachers as there are math teachers, gender balance there would equalize without any other effort.

I’m not familiar with any gender breakdown of legal specialties, but I will bet you that family law, child-related law, and various prosocial helping-communities law are disproportionately female, and patent law, technology law, and law working with scary dangerous criminals are disproportionately male. And so on for most other fields.

This theory gives everyone what they want. It explains the data about women in tech. It explains the time course around women in tech. It explains other jobs like veterinary medicine where women dominate. It explains which medical subspecialties women will be dominant or underrepresented in. It doesn’t claim that women are “worse than men” or “biologically inferior” at anything. It doesn’t say that no woman will ever be interested in things, or no man ever interested in people. It doesn’t say even that women in tech don’t face a lot of extra harassment (any domain with more men than women will see more potential perpetrators concentrating their harassment concentrated on fewer potential victims, which will result in each woman being more harassed).

It just says that sometimes, in a population-based way that doesn’t necessarily apply to any given woman or any given man, women and men will have some different interests. Which should be pretty obvious to anyone who’s spent more than a few minutes with men or women.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m pleased Mr. Damore wrote this memo, because this conversation is long overdue. I hope people aren’t afraid to say what they think, because our cultural hostility toward debate is getting ridiculously dangerous. If people aren’t allowed to write a thought provoking memo in a polite manner questioning corporate policies without being fired, we’ve lost an essential component to any halfway decent civilization — the ability to have a conversation without name calling and career destruction. If we’ve truly lost that, we are doomed.

Fortunately, I do not think that’s the case, and I don’t think the SJW mindset of Google executives resonates at all with the vast majority of Americans irrespective of where they reside on the political spectrum. If you actually read the memo, it’s quite obvious that his intent was not to offend or insult anyone or any group. He was just a guy with a view that doesn’t fit into the Google echo chamber and he wanted to spark a conversation about it. For that, he was burned at the stake. Hopefully, the rest of us find that unacceptable.

As a sidenote, last month I launched a Patreon campaign in which I pledged to remove Google ads from my site upon hitting a certain goal. Consider helping me reach that goal so I can separate financial ties with Google.

For other donation options, visit our Support Page.

Part 3 on the topic will be published tomorrow.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

 

Michael Krieger | Posted Tuesday Aug 8, 2017 at 12:08 pm

via Why the Google Memo Brings Forward an Overdue Conversation – Part 2 (‘The Firing’) | Liberty Blitzkrieg

Why the Google Memo Brings Forward an Overdue Conversation – Part 1

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Fortunately, I spent most of the weekend blissfully unaware of the latest topics dominating the news cycle. As such, when I awoke this morning to get caught up, it became obvious that a “manifesto” written by a male Google employee had become a huge topic of conversation. Given the outrage associated with the document, I expected to read some downright awful and unconscionable things in it. That never happened.

Personally, I’m really glad this person wrote the manifesto. Not because I agree with everything he wrote and the way he delivered it, but because it hopefully will allow us to have a conversation on a topic that has spilt people into binary factions that resemble dogmatic religious sects. Before I get started, I want to make it clear that I understand how some people — particularly women in tech — many of whom unquestionably experience harassment and sexism, could feel isolated and offended by this document. I don’t work at Google, and have never worked at Google, so I have no basis on which to agree or disagree with what he wrote as it pertains to the company. Likewise, I have no informed opinion whether it’s true or false that coding at a high-level for a company at the scale of Google requires a higher concentration of masculine traits or not. For a contrary opinion to the Google document on that front, see the following: So, About This Googler’s Manifesto (for the record, I found most of that piece to be painful and preachy, but his point #2 is worth considering).

In contrast, the purpose of this post is to have a conversation about the belief that there are no observable biological differences between men and women at the population level, and that all observable differences are social constructs. I completely reject this assertion based on logic, history and life experience. That being said, the most productive way to talk about these differences is in the context of masculine and feminine energies. The acknowledgement and acceptance of these different energies has been discussed since the beginning of time, and really shouldn’t be controversial. It has always been acknowledged that feminine energies tend to be found in greater concentrations within the female population, while masculine energies tend to be more concentrated in males. These things aren’t just invented social constructs, they’ve always been a present and observable aspect of the human condition, which is why they’ve been discussed ad nauseam for thousands of years.

Things get complicated and dangerous when you take the fact that feminine qualities tend to be concentrated in females (and masculine within males), and then apply it at the individual level in a stereotypical manner. We certainly should not do this. Every single male and every single female will have their own unique blend of masculine and feminine energies, and there will be plenty of women who exhibit greater concentrations of masculine energy than many male peers. These are also probably the sorts of women who tend to rise up to the position of CEO or political leader. This doesn’t make masculine energy better than feminine energy, but it does mean that our unbalanced and twisted world offers more financial and material rewards to those who demonstrate a greater concentration of masculine energy.

Personally, I think this is a huge flaw and the root cause of a lot of our suffering. For example, American culture worships the Wall Street trader who makes $5 million a year while adding very little to no value to society, while looking down upon a mother or father who chooses to stay home and raise their children. Rather than reflecting upon the world we’ve created and admitting how perverse this is, the mantra seems to be “hire more women traders.” That’s a one-way ticket to nowhere.

The one aspect of the Google manifesto that really struck me on a personal level was the following:

Men’s higher drive for status

We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

Status is the primary metric that men are judged on, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.

I’m one of these people who worked a job that required “long, stressful hours” during my 10 years on Wall Street. I personally decided that it wasn’t worth it for a variety of reasons. Was this me finding more of an appeal in what can be characterized as feminine energy and wanting to embrace that side of me? I think that certainly was a part of it, and I’m very proud of that decision. In fact, I think much of my evolution as a human over the past decade has to do with me fundamentally understanding the importance of feminine energy and trying to connect to it more. I get to take my son out of his crib every single morning, and I simply can’t put a dollar value on how much that means to me. Claiming that these two types of energies don’t exists, or that they don’t tend to aggregate in higher densities in one gender versus the other, is just putting our heads in the sand and causes us to ignore the root of the problem.

The real problem as I see it, isn’t that feminine energy tends to aggregate more in females than in males, but that we undervalue feminine energy to the detriment of our societal health. I’ve written a lot about incentives over the years, and how we are creating more bad behavior because our culture incentivizes bad behavior. If Wall Street or other corporate crooks never have to fear prison and simply have to pay a fraction of ill-gotten gains for committing fraud, of course you’re going to have a fraud epidemic. Likewise, if we have an economic system that funnels the vast majority of material rewards to those with higher concentrations of masculine energy (which across an entire population will tend to be males), of course masculine energy will dominate and create a very unbalanced, unhealthy world.

This puts females in general in a very difficult and unfair position. There must be countless women who are extraordinarily talented and downright brilliant, yet feel trapped because they must cater their spirits toward a masculine-energy dominated world just to be financially independent and successful. Does this make any sense? Should we be denying the existence of masculine and feminine energies and their distribution within genders, or should we be questioning why our culture places masculine attributes on a pedestal and funnels most financial rewards to such traits? Is a systematic denial of the importance of feminine energy healthy for the human race?

These are the really important questions we should be asking, because the more we incentivize and reward masculine traits in favor of the feminine in a very unhealthy way, the more unbalanced and prone to collapse our civilization becomes. The yin and the yang, the masculine and the feminine, these things are equally important to nature and must be equally represented and appreciated in any society. Any culture that does not do this is out of balance and will suffer the consequences.

Finally, here’s a link to the entire “manifesto” should you want to read it. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll analyze the document, and the extremely heated reaction to it, from a Spiral Dynamics framework.

If you enjoyed this post, appreciate what I do, and want to support my work, consider doing so at Patreon, or via our Support Page.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

 

Michael Krieger | Posted Monday Aug 7, 2017 at 2:03 pm

via Why the Google Memo Brings Forward an Overdue Conversation – Part 1 | Liberty Blitzkrieg

The Great American Eclipse Of 2017 – Videos To Consider

The Great American Eclipse Of 2017 Is STRANGE | SIGN OF THE END TIMES!?

Published on Aug 3, 2017

There are many strange things happening around this eclipse!!!

Thanks ETP for making this video, (this is and End Times Productions Video)

 

 

 

There Is Something Strange Happening On August 21 | THE GREAT AMERICAN ECLIPSE OF 2017

Published on Aug 3, 2017

There are many strange coincidences associated with this event. Are all of these synchronizations merely happenstance or were they specifically designed as a sign or an omen? You decide, just remember this,
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only”-Mat 24:36

Thank you for watching

God Bless

Special Thanks
Steve Cioccolanti

 

 

 

THE PLANET X (NIBIRU) VEIL WILL BE LIFTED DURING THE GREAT ECLIPSE AUGUST 21, 2017

 

RAW NEWS RAW NEWS

Published on Aug 5, 2017

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will darken the American skies starting in Oregon and moving across the country’s midsection to South Carolina. The shadow will be close to 70 miles in radius and divides the country in half. Does this portend evil for the nations according to Scripture? Absolutely.

In Revelation 6, which happens just prior to the Day of the Lord, the Bible speaks about the sun turning as black as sackcloth. When the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, you have a solar eclipse, which totally or partly obscures the image of the sun for an Earth-based viewer.

The last time this happened, where the path of totality lies completely in the U.S., was 1776, the date of the founding of our Republic. The starting point of the ‘Great Eclipse’ is on the waterfront at Government Point, Oregon, at 10:15:56.5 AM PDT. The center line’s last contact with the U.S. occurs at the Atlantic Ocean’s edge just southeast of Key Bay, South Carolina.

In the meantime, the eclipse impacts a total of 10 states. This is a number indicating Biblical completeness and order. Going back since history repeats itself, the 10 generations beginning with Adam ended with Noah. That generation had an abrupt end.
This Great Eclipse also is a time marker to the Great Sign of Virgo, just 33 days away. As seen from the Midwest, the planet Venus is -33 degrees west-northwest of the sun.

2017 may well be the culmination and convergence of diverse prophecies, including the appearance of Planet X. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians that the “Day of the Lord” will be as a thief in the night. People are talking “peace and safety.” But Paul makes reference in this same chapter to “labor pains upon a pregnant woman” which definitely points to the September 23, 2017 Great Sign. This is the birth of Jupiter, the King planet, from the womb of Virgo, all accompanied by labor pains. Ominously, Revelation 12 is the last reference in the entire Bible to this event.

This is a period of darkness. What might cause this to happen? There is a huge reawakening of volcanoes in Italy as I write this, and just across the Bay of Naples, near Pompeii (the site of the 79 AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius), lies a hidden super-volcano. It could kill millions. It is known as Campi Flegrei.

In fact, it can have a global catastrophic impact. Scientists are in process of drilling down over two miles on the site to measure the magma levels, despite opposition from other local scientists who say this is suicidal and could cause the supervolcano to erupt. Are all of these facts in simultaneous motion mere chance occurrences?

Let’s end with an opinion from Albert Einstein:

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. -Albert Einstein

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

 

Total Eclipse Bombshell That Everyone Missed [video]

This is a startling analysis of the approaching total solar eclipse, or Great American Eclipse—and perhaps explains why it is so lauded and perhaps at least a portion of the potential importance for our current reality.

The historic, metaphysical, esoteric and physical implications of the numbers, etc. are fascinating. It also reminds me of one of my favourite movies: City of Angels with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage. We are learning more and more that myths and legends are rooted in fact.

It seems like little is simply about coincidences. What DOES happen by accident?  ~ BP

 

 

Total Eclipse Bombshell That Everyone Missed | 33rd Degree Fallen Angel Love Story

 

Published on Aug 6, 2017

The eclipse on the 233rd day of the year will exit the US at 33 degrees, the same parallel where 200 fallen angels entered the earthly dimension at Mt Hermon. The eclipse also enters the US in the 33rd state, OREGON! We now know what the total eclipse of the heart really means. The mixing of the fallen angel bloodline with humans. Georgia may be in for a show.

Bonnie Tyler (not her birth name), singer of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, was born on the 33rd anniversary of the total solar eclipse of 6/8/1918, the last time an eclipse went from coast-to-coast in the United States.

 

 

via Total Eclipse Bombshell That Everyone Missed | Starship Earth: The Big Picture

The Lie of the 21st Century: How MSM “Fake News” Led to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq

The Lie of the 21st Century: How Mainstream Media “Fake News” Led to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq

By Timothy Alexander Guzman

The mainstream media (MSM) has declared war on alternative media websites labeling them “Fake News” ever since Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump. The New York Times editorial board expressed their frustration in an article calling for the censorship of alternative and social media‘Facebook and the Digital Virus Called Fake News’ which claimed both social media platforms (Facebook and Google) has not been aggressive enough in blocking fake news sites:

Most of the fake news stories are produced by scammers looking to make a quick buck. The vast majority of them take far-right positions. But a big part of the responsibility for this scourge rests with internet companies like Facebook and Google, which have made it possible for fake news to be shared nearly instantly with millions of users and have been slow to block it from their sites

Some of the websites named in a fake news list by Melissa “Mish” Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts including

21stCenturyWire,Activistpost.com, Globalresearch.ca, Lewrockwell.com, Naturalnews.com  and Project Veritas (who released undercover videos of the DNC attempting to rig the elections) and others have exposed the lies by MSM propaganda. The MSM has lost its credibility and at the same time lost viewers at unprecedented levels. on April 17, 2016, the Associated Press reported on how the U.S. population viewed the MSM ‘Poll: Getting facts right key to Americans’ trust in media’ said that “Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public’s view of other institutions.” Now they want to stop the alternative media from becoming a credible source for news. The New York Times is calling for the censorship of the alternative and social media by blocking “misinformation”:

Blocking misinformation will help protect the company’s brand and credibility. Some platforms have suffered when they have failed to address users’ concerns. Twitter users, for instance, have backed away from that platform because of abusive trolling, threatening posts and hate speech, which the company hasn’t been able to control.

Mr. Zuckerberg himself has spoken at length about how social media can help improve society. In a 2012 letter to investors, he said it could “bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.” None of that will happen if he continues to let liars and con artists hijack his platform

Just to be clear, there are a number of websites that do spread misinformation including those in the alternative media, but it is fair to say that they never have caused the deaths of millions of people like The New York Times when it comes to U.S. foreign policy. A recent example is the U.S. led war against Iraq in 2003. After the September 11th attacks, the George W. Bush administration made a false accusation that the Iraq government had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) which led to a U.S. invasion eventually toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The U.S. led war turned out to be a calculated plan by The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative think-tank who wrote the secretive blueprint called ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century’ to remove Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath party from power. The blueprint was originally written for the neocon lunatics who served under then-President George W. Bush including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to establish an “international Security order” dominated by the United States. According to the document:

In broad terms, we saw the project as building upon the defense strategy outlined by the Cheney Defense Department in the waning days of the Bush Administration. The Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) drafted in the early months of 1992 provided a blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests

PNAC was founded by neoconservatives William Kristol, a political analyst, media commentator (Fox News, ABC News) and the founder and editor of The Weekly Standard and Robert Kagan, an author, columnist, and foreign-policy commentator who is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) and a fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kagan is also the husband of Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs appointed by President Obama who helped orchestrate a coup against the Ukrainian government of the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych. The blueprint for regime change in Iraq was planned way before George W. Bush became President in 2001:

Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein

However, Judith Miller (who is currently an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute) and The New York Times played a crucial role for the Bush administration. Miller wrote one of the main articles on Iraq’s “WMDs” that justified the Bush administration’s agenda to topple Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath party. The article was not just “fake” news telling a lie that deceived the public, it destroyed a sovereign nation. The U.S. war against Iraq killed more than 1.4 million Iraqis (according to www.justforeignpolicy.org estimates) and more than 4,400 U.S. troops and tens of thousands permanently injured. The Iraq War also displaced millions of Iraqis thus creating a refugee crisis in neighboring countries including Syria. The destabilization of Iraq has also created a terrorist recruiting base that has spread throughout the Middle East including Syria.

The New York Times published Miller’s article on April 21st, 2003 ‘AFTER EFFECTS: PROHIBITED WEAPONS; Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, An Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert’ which claimed that an Iraqi scientist confirmed that the Iraqi government had WMDs:

They said the scientist led Americans to a supply of material that proved to be the building blocks of illegal weapons, which he claimed to have buried as evidence of Iraq’s illicit weapons programs. The scientist also told American weapons experts that Iraq had secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, starting in the mid-1990′s, and that more recently Iraq was cooperating with Al Qaeda, the military officials said.

The Americans said the scientist told them that President Saddam Hussein’s government had destroyed some stockpiles of deadly agents as early as the mid-1990′s, transferred others to Syria, and had recently focused its efforts instead on research and development projects that are virtually impervious to detection by international inspectors, and even American forces on the ground combing through Iraq’s giant weapons plants

On April, 22, 2003, Miller appeared on the PBS News hour and spoke about her evidence on what she described as a “Silver Bullet” from an Iraqi scientist who allegedly worked on Saddam’s weapons program:

RAY SUAREZ: The task of finding that definitive proof falls in part to specialized teams within the U.S. Military. New York times” correspondent Judith Miller is reporting on the search conducted by units of the 75th exploitation task force. And she joins us now by phone south of Baghdad. Judith Miller, welcome back to the program. Has the unit you’ve been traveling with found any proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

JUDITH MILLER: Well, I think they found something more than a “smoking gun.” What they’ve found is what is being called here by the members of MET Alpha– that’s Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha– what they found is a silver bullet in the form of a person, an Iraqi individual, a scientist, as we’ve called him, who really worked on the programs, who knows them firsthand, and who has led MET Team Alpha people to some pretty startling conclusions that have kind of challenged the American intelligence community’s under… previous understanding of, you know, what we thought the Iraqis were doing.

RAY SUAREZ: Does this confirm in a way the insistence coming from the U.S. government that after the war, various Iraqi tongues would loosen, and there might be people who would be willing to help?

JUDITH MILLER: Yes, it clearly does. I mean, it’s become pretty clear to those of us on the ground that the international inspectors, without actually controlling the territory and changing the political environment, would never have been able to get these people to step forward. I mean, you can only do that when you know there is not going to be a secret policeman at your door the next day, and that your family isn’t going to suffer because you’re talking. And that’s what the Bush administration has finally done. They have changed the political environment, and they’ve enabled people like the scientists that MET Alpha has found to come forth. Now, what initially the weapons hunters thought they were going to find were stockpiles of kind of chemical and biological agents. That’s what they anticipated finding. We now know from the scientist that, in fact, that probably isn’t what we’re going to find. What they will find, and what they have found so far, are kind of precursors; that is, building blocks of what you would need to put together a chemical or a biological weapon.

But those stockpiles that we’ve heard about, well, those have either been destroyed by Saddam Hussein, according to the scientists, or they have been shipped to Syria for safekeeping. And what I think the interpretation of the MET Alpha people is, is why he did this. They believe that Saddam Hussein wanted to destroy the evidence of his unconventional weapons programs, and that’s what he has done– not only since 1995, but also in the weeks and months that led up to the war itself. There was mass destruction. And the scientist who has been cooperating with MET Alpha has actually said that he participated in… he kind of watched, you know, a warehouse being burned that contained potentially incriminating biological equipment. So clearly what Saddam Hussein wanted to do was cover his weapons of mass destruction tracks. And that means that the whole shape of the hunt here on the ground for unconventional weapons is changing

The problem with Miller’s assertion that Iraq had WMDs is that it relied on an Iraqi exile named Ahmed Chalabi who wanted “regime change” against Saddam Hussein’s government. James Moore of The Guardian wrote ‘How Chalabi and the White House held the front page: The New York Times has burned its reputation on a pyre of lies about Iraq’described Chalabi as a convicted criminal who embezzled millions from his Petra Bank in Amman, Jordan. Moore said the following:

Judith Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and authority on the Middle East for the NYT, appears to have been the most reliant on Chalabi. In an email exchange with the NYT’s Baghdad bureau chief John Burns, Miller said Chalabi “had provided most of the front page exclusives for our paper”. She later said that this was an exaggeration, but in an earlier interview with me, Miller did not discount the value of Chalabi’s insight. “Of course, I talked with Chalabi,” she said. “But he was just one of many sources I used.”

Miller refused to say who those other sources were but, at Chalabi’s behest, she interviewed various defectors from Saddam Hussein’s regime, who claimed without substantiation that there was still a clandestine WMD programme operating inside Iraq. US investigators now believe that Chalabi sent these same Iraqi expatriates to at least eight Western spy agencies as part of a scheme to convince them to overthrow Saddam

Mr. Moore mentioned Miller’s article which was co-written with Michael R. Gordon and published by The New York Times on September 8th, 2002 titled ‘THREATS AND RESPONSES: THE IRAQIS; U.S. SAYS HUSSEIN INTENSIFIES QUEST FOR A-BOMB PARTS’ claiming that Saddam was “building a uranium gas separator to develop nuclear material”:

If spies wanted a trophy to show what happens when their craft is perfectly executed, it would be a story written by Judith Miller on the front page of the New York Times on a Sunday morning in September 2002. She wrote that an intercepted shipment of aluminum tubes, to be used for centrifuges, was evidence that Saddam was building a uranium gas separator to develop nuclear material.

The story had an enormous impact, one amplified when national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state Colin Powell and vice-president Dick Cheney all did appearances on the Sunday-morning talk shows, citing the first-rate journalism of the liberal NYT. No single story did more to advance the neoconservative cause

Here is the original excerpt from Miller’s original September 8th 2002 New York Times article:

More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today.

In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. American officials said several efforts to arrange the shipment of the aluminum tubes were blocked or intercepted but declined to say, citing the sensitivity of the intelligence, where they came from or how they were stopped

According to Moore (and many other journalists, researchers and alternative media outlets), Judith Miller’s story was completely false and that the “the aluminum tubes were covered with an anodised coating, which rendered them useless for a centrifuge, according to a number of scientists who spoke publicly after Miller’s story.” Moore continued“the tubes, in fact, were almost certainly intended for use as rocket bodies.” Lastly, Moore quoted what Miller had told him about her sources which lead to the WMD hoax:

“I had no reason to believe what I reported was inaccurate,” Miller told me. “I believed the intelligence I had. We tried really hard to get more information and we vetted information very, very carefully.” A few months after the aluminum tubes story, a former CIA analyst explained to me how simple it had been to manipulate the correspondent and her newspaper.

“The White House had a perfect deal with Miller,” he said. “Chalabi is providing the Bush people with the information they need to support their political objectives, and he is supplying the same material to Judy Miller. Chalabi tips her on something and then she goes to the White House, which has already heard the same thing from Chalabi, and she gets it corroborated. She also got the Pentagon to confirm things for her, which made sense, since they were working so closely with Chalabi. Too bad Judy didn’t spend a little more time talking to those of us who had information that contradicted almost everything Chalabi said.”

The New York Times was clearly embarrassed by Miller’s articles after the fact that Miller was wrong all along about the WMDs that led up to the invasion of Iraq. Nothing was ever found. On May 26th, 2004, the editorial board admitted their wrongdoing. The article ‘FROM THE EDITORS; The Times and Iraq’ stated that “We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq’s weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists” which blames U.S. and other intelligence agencies (which do share the blame to an extent). The editorial piece continued “We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.” Well, they do turn the light on themselves, sort of:

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on ”regime change” in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.)

Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations – in particular, this one

The New York Times admittance that their journalistic principals had failed was too little and too late. The MSM in particular The New York Times relied on “fake” evidence from Ahmad Chalabi for years (since 1991 to be exact). The MSM failed the Iraqi people who suffered enormously under a pack of lies that destroyed their country. When Washington uses “propaganda” or fake news reports against a sovereign nation, the outcome is always “regime change” that sometimes leads to an all-out war. The MSM has time and time again been guilty of perpetrating fake news stories to assist in Washington’s Imperial agenda. The Iraq War was the biggest lie of the 21st century. What other fake news stories will appear on the MSM websites and newspapers in the future regarding Syria, Russia, China, Iran, the Palestinians, Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and even the U.S. President-elect, Donald Trump? To answer that, we just don’t know, but it is up to the alternative media to decipher the “fake” stories and bring out the truth. It is just a matter of time that the MSM will falsify another story; let’s just hope it won’t lead to another war in the process.

****************

About the author: Timothy Alexander Guzman is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on political, economic, media and historical spheres. He has been published in Silent Crow News, Global Research, The Progressive Mind, European Union Examiner, News Beacon Ireland, WhatReallyHappened.com, EIN News and a number of other alternative news sites. He is a graduate of Hunter College in New York City.

This article (The Lie of the 21st Century: How Mainstream Media “Fake News” Led to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq) was originally created and published by silentcrownews.com and is republished here under “Fair Use” (see disclaimer below) with attribution to author Timothy Alexander Guzman and silentcrownews.com. Copyright © Timothy Alexander Guzman , Silent Crow News, 2017

 

via The Lie of the 21st Century: How MSM “Fake News” Led to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq – The Liberty Beacon

 

Get informed. There is a war in the information battle-space and the media is the most powerful weapon our enemies have in their arsenal. Fight back with truth, knowledge and activism. Share the news the media won’t cover.

Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies

This simple advice will help to protect you against hackers and government surveillance.

Got nothing to hide? Think again.

Privacy is what sets us apart from the animals. It’s also what sets many countries and citizens apart from dictatorships and despots. People often don’t think about their rights until they need them — whether it’s when they’re arrested at a protest or pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

Surveillance is also a part of life, and it’s getting progressively more invasive. Government eavesdropping is increasing, carried out in wider secrecy, and it’s becoming far more localized. In fact, the last three presidents have pushed for greater surveillance: Clinton introduced mandated wiretapping laws, Bush expanded mass domestic surveillance, and Obama expanded the intelligence service’s reach — just in time for Trump.

Now, with a new president in the Oval Office, many are concerned about the future of their fundamental freedoms and constitutional rights.

There is no such thing as perfect security. But no matter who you are or where you are in the world, there are a lot of things you can do — many of which are simple — to protect yourself in this turbulent time.

THE SIMPLE STUFF

Your privacy, at its core, relies on your data being secure.

There are some professions — such as government workers, journalists, and activists — who face far more and complex threats than the average citizen, who should usually only worry about tech companies tracking them to serve up the best kinds of ads, or government bulk data collection of their personal records. But everyone can take the basic advice and modify it on varying degrees.

While most apps and services nowadays secure your data with encryption on their servers to prevent data from being readable if hacked or served with a government subpoena, many more now are providing it “end-to-end.” In other words, nobody else can see what’s sent, stored, or received, other than you and the person you’re talking to — not even the companies themselves.

Usually, the only way to break that “end-to-end” model is to attack an endpoint, such as the device you’re using, the internet pipe that the data’s traveling along, or the company’s servers.

If you secure each of those points, you’re well on the way in keeping your data private.

SECURE YOUR DEVICES

Your phone is your ultimate endpoint. You carry it everywhere and it usually holds your most personal secrets and sensitive information.

iPhones are widely seen as the most secure mainstream device today. Modern and newer Android devices usually come with strong security features, but there isn’t a universal implementation of encryption yet. Your iPhone encrypts as soon as you lock your screen (even the feds can’t access it), but Android devices have to be shut down entirely.

Here’s a guide on how to secure your iPhone, and here’s another guide for most Android devices.

TURN OFF FINGERPRINT PHONE UNLOCK

Your Touch ID or fingerprint sensor is meant to keep your data more secure. But in some cases federal agents can force you to unlock your phone with your fingerprint, because the courts have determined that it’s not a violation of the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination. The feds however can’t force you to turn over your passcode.

Turn off Touch ID by going to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > turn off iPhone Unlock. (Android users can go to Settings > Security > Lock Screen or Nexus Imprint.)

BE MINDFUL OF EVERY APP YOU INSTALL

Each time you install an app, it will ask you for permissions to your phone’s features or data, like your contacts, photos, camera, or even the phone dialer itself. Be mindful of apps that you install, as a single rogue app can punch a hole in your privacy protections.

Take Meitu, the anime photo app that whipped up a privacy storm. For such a simple app, it required almost unlimited and unfettered access to your phone. Remember: if an app is free, you’re paying for it in some other way — and usually it’s with your data.

SET A STRONG PASSCODE

Chances are you’re already using a six-digit passcode, if you’re using a modern version of iOS. But you can make the code as long as you like. We have a simple and handy guide here. Choosing the “custom numeric code” will still give you the number keypad on the lock screen, making the passcode entry easier to type in.

USE A COMPUTER? TAKE THIS ADVICE

Keeping your devices and apps up to date will significantly reduce attacks. Every app or service you install will increase your vulnerability risks because no software is perfect. If you have preinstalled apps or “bloatware,” you should remove those — and that includes web plugins like Adobe’s Flash, Oracle’s Java, and Apple’s QuickTime. Using ad-blockers can prevent ads from installing tracking cookies and even malware (which happens surprisingly often).

You should also consider encrypting your computer, which is easy if you use either Windows or a Mac. Just make sure you don’t upload your encryption keys to the cloud, otherwise Microsoft or Apple could be forced to turn them over.

Yes, Windows 10 is more secure than Windows 7, but it’s understandable that many think it’s a privacy nightmare. We have a separate Windows 10 privacy guide that shows you the right options for you.

SECURE YOUR MESSAGING

Now that your device is secure, you should think about your data in-transit — that is, as it traverses the waves of the wireless spectrum and the pipes of the internet.

SMS messages and phone calls can be intercepted and wiretapped at any time — it’s the law. Police can also use cell-site simulators (known as “stingrays”) to force-downgrade your cell connection from LTE to non-encrypted channels to make it easier to snoop on your phone.

It’s not just the messages you send that you need to worry about; you also have to think about the data that’s generated as a result — so-called metadata, such as who you’re talking to, when, and sometimes where. That information alone can tell a lot about your life, which is why it’s so important to intelligence services. Metadata is a core pillar of government surveillance.

Countering metadata collection isn’t easy, but its collection can be limited. The trick? Use the right app.

Let’s get one myth out of the way: There is no secure email solution — at least not yet. While there are systems like PGP encryption, which remains the favorite for scrambling the contents of email messages, it’s not as strong as it used to be and better instant communications exist.

In ranked order, best first:

USE SIGNAL FOR ENCRYPTED MESSAGING

Signal is by far the simplest and the most secure app when it’s used properly. Available for iOS and Android, the end-to-end encrypted messenger was almost universally accepted as the gold standard among security experts and professionals after its debut audit.

The messaging app and its desktop counterpart are also open-source, meaning anyone can look at and inspect the code to ensure there are no backdoors. And, Signal almost entirely removes itself from the surveillance loop by collecting almost no metadata. Even if a user chooses to upload their contacts list to Signal, each record is scrambled and can’t be used by the intelligence services.

signal-pic.png
Using a secure messaging app alone won’t keep you secure. Ensuring that you properly verify the keys of those you’re talking to will ensure that you’re not talking to someone else. (Image: ZDNet)

The Intercept has a simple guide on how to verify your contacts in the unlikely event that your communications are being intercepted. You usually only do this only once (unless you or someone you’re talking to changes device).

You can download Signal here.

IGNORE THE FEARMONGERS. WHATSAPP IS BASICALLY FINE

If you heard recently that WhatsApp has a “backdoor,” it’s wrong. So wrong, in fact, that some of the world’s foremost security experts and cryptographers have called for the story to be retracted.

The end-to-end encrypted messenger, owned by Facebook, works on a range of devices, including desktop. At its core, it uses the same protocols as Signal — so it’s secure and neither Facebook, WhatsApp, or anyone else can read your messages.

WhatsApp is fine as long as it’s being used properly by verifying your keys with the other party. Make sure that you enable security notifications so you can monitor for any key changes.

Do this by going to WhatsApp then Chats > Chat Backup > then set Auto Backup to Off.

You should also turn off online backups — both on the app and iCloud and Android’s settings — as backups can be cherry-picked out of the cloud by law enforcement with a search warrant.

The app does collect and store more metadata than Signal. That means the government, if it demands data from Facebook, could see who you’re talking to and when. A recent report by Forbes confirms that the company could be forced to turn over data it collects, such as IP addresses, phone identifiers, and even location data in some cases.

iMESSAGE IS OK, BUT BE MINDFUL

Apple’s iMessage is also encrypted end-to-end, but you can’t verify your keys with the people you’re messaging. That’s a problem, because you can’t ever be sure that your messages aren’t being intercepted. Recent developments have shown that the system is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, so don’t rely on the system for critical communications. And again, don’t back up your messages to iCloud, because Apple can be forced to turn that data over to law enforcement. End-to-end encryption refers to your message securely traversing the internet and not when it’s in storage.

That said, you should regularly carry out an encrypted local backup your iPhone or iPad on occasion. It’s very simple to do, and can restore your data if you break your device.

AS FOR ENCRYPTED EMAIL…

Again, encrypted email is a fallacy, so you should get the idea out of your head. Consider services that don’t require you to handle private keys, such as ProtonMail, which now comes with support for the Tor browser (more on that shortly).

Or, there’s still PGP, which remains clunky and difficult to use for even many advanced users. Even the creator of PGP admits he doesn’t use it anymore. If you really want to use PGP, get started with these Windows or Mac guides from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Or, if you can get an invite to Keybase.io (you can find some here or by searching Twitter), you can choose to import your PGP private key and use the web-based encrypt and decrypt tools. This has raised some eyebrows, but it’s entirely optional, as it makes scrambling and unscrambling PGP messages and files significantly easier.

SECURE YOUR BROWSING

Browsing is usually at the heart of what most people do. But just as you’re looking out at the world, you also have a lot trying to look in. Ad networks will track you from site to site, your internet provider will log which pages you visit, and hackers will try to target you.

Without getting too into the weeds, no browser is perfect, but some are better than others.

When it comes to the gold standard of privacy, consider using Tor. It’s like a regular browser with privacy benefits, and it’s often used by the privacy conscious, such as reporters and activists.

tor-screenshot.png
Tor Browser is a great tool for secure and private browsing. But remember, be careful with plugins and browser extensions as these will significantly weaken the browser’s security. (Image: ZDNet)

The Tor browser lets its users browse the internet anonymously by bouncing traffic through multiple relays. Not only does it hide a user’s internet history, it’s also used to circumvent state-sanctioned network blocks. The service also allows users to browse parts of the dark web, which aren’t accessible through traditional browsers and networks, as well as websites and services that are blocked in your region.

You can use Tor for anything — but streaming video can be slow, and some web plugins (like Flash) are generally disabled as these can be used to de-anonymize you, defeating the point altogether.

With other browsers, to enhance your security, you can install the HTTPS Everywhere plugin (available for most popular browsers), which forces websites that support website encryption to turn it on by default.

Secure sites are your friend, because it means an attacker can’t modify the pages and that internet providers (and the government) can’t see which individual web pages you visit on a domain.

You can also use mobile versions of the Tor browser called Orbot for Android and Onion Browser for iOS, both of which are also open source.

Both of these apps are widely used and trusted by leading security researchers.

PUBLIC WI-FI NETWORKS ARE A BIG ‘NO’

Remember: If you ever use a public network, like a Wi-Fi hotspot in a coffee shop or anywhere else, be extremely careful. Treat this network as though every page you visit will be monitored — which may expose your personal information, including your usernames and passwords.

USE YOUR PHONE’S DATA FOR BETTER SECURITY

If you need a secure network, you should use your phone’s data — such as 4G or LTE — or use your phone as a hotspot for your computer. It’s far better to use your phone’s data plan for anything important than using insecure public Wi-Fi.

You can usually find your hotspot option in iPhone’s settings or Android’s notification tray.

BE AWARE OF STINGRAY ‘DOWNGRADE’ ATTACKS

On that note, be mindful of your connection if you’re at public or high-profile events, including protests or demonstrations. We mentioned earlier that police can use “stingrays” to intercept your phone calls and texts, and possibly your browsing data.

There’s a lot of secrecy surrounding stingrays, such as who has them and what they do, but some news outlets have discovered other tech with similar aims. Most modern phones use high-speed LTE, which comes with encryption, making interception almost impossible. By blocking or jamming LTE and 3G, the stingray can force a phone into connecting to 2G, which can be easily intercepted by the stingray.

If you’re at a protest or other high-security event and you suddenly lose LTE connectivity and are pushed to 2G, that could be a sign your communications are being monitored. (Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Android users can select a “preferred network type” such as LTE only by accessing a hidden Android menu. Here’s a helpful guide which explains how to do it.

For iPhones, you have the option to select LTE as a preference, but no way to disable 2G. Go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Enable LTE > and select Voice & Data.

Then, use your smarts: If you’re in a busy area, such as a city, and you suddenly lose LTE connectivity in the middle of a protest, your phone may have been tricked into connecting to a stingray.

SECURE YOUR SERVERS AND CLOUDS

You’ve secured your phone, your computer, and you can communicate and browse with relative safety. But you still store a wealth of data in the cloud — in other words, other people’s servers.

US citizens and residents have Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In other words, police must get a warrant before anything’s searched or taken. But those protections are less clear when it comes to the cloud, according to a guide cross-posted by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. In most cases, authorities still need a warrant to access your data, but they can still serve subpoenas, which don’t require a judge to sign off on, to access limited metadata.

It’s not only wise to be careful with what you store in the cloud wherever possible, but also to ensure that your various clouds are secure. Some services even allow their staff to read and access your content.

ENSURE YOU USE STRONG PASSWORDS

You must use a strong, unique alphanumeric password that is at least in the double-digits of characters for each account you have. Use a password manager like LastPass, 1Password, or Dashlane to generate strong passwords for you.

Once you set strong and unique passwords for each account, it’s not necessary to change them often. Many — even government agencies themselves — say it’s bad advice to change your password often.

NOW, SET UP TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION ON EVERYTHING

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts. Once you enter your password, you’ll get a code sent to your phone to make sure it’s you.

This helps prevent account takeovers from hackers. CNET has a great explainer on two-factor, and why it’s so important.

If you are a reporter or a government worker, it’s wise wherever possible to have your two-factor token sent to you by an authenticator app, which delivers a code via an encrypted channel. This is because in some cases, SMS messages can be intercepted in a number of ways, such as exploiting flaws in the cell network. But, for most people, receiving two-factor tokens over SMS is generally fine.

You may use many different services, and each process is different. But one website, the aptly-named Turn It On has you covered. It explains how to set up two-factor authentication on dozens of major websites, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and more.

Just make sure you keep your phone number safe. You might want to set up a strong and secure passcode for your phone account by calling your cell provider.

If you do decide to use an encrypted two-factor app, Google Authenticator is highly recommended, as well as Duo Mobile.

DELETE ANY ACCOUNTS YOU NO LONGER USE

If you know you have an account that you never use, log in (or use its “forget password” tool if you can’t remember your password) and shut down the account. You can find out the best way by going to JustDeleteMe, which explains how for each site.

Holding onto these old accounts may expose you to greater hacks or intrusions down the line, even if you long forgot about them.

DON’T STORE YOUR ENCRYPTION KEYS IN THE CLOUD

You should encrypt as much of your data wherever possible. To make life easier, some providers allow you to upload your encryption keys in case you get locked out of your account. Helpful, yes, but a huge risk to your privacy if leaked.

Windows lets you upload your BitLocker encryption key to the Microsoft cloud. To check to see you have already, go to your Microsoft account, log in, and check. Back up the key onto your computer and delete it from the webpage. You can then re-encrypt your device by following this guide.

Macs also offer the same option. Once you begin encrypting your Mac hard drive, you are given the option to upload your key to your iCloud. If you choose not to, you’ll be given a recovery key which can you can keep safe, and your encryption key won’t be uploaded to Apple’s servers.

BEWARE THE HARD PART

There’s a lot you can do to ensure your personal security and data privacy, but all too often it takes two to tango — in that you should ask your friends, colleagues, and others you communicate with to also jump in.

When it comes to messaging and communication, you put your privacy in their hands as they do yours. It’s a collective effort that everyone can — and should — support.

A FINAL NOTE

Contact me securely

Zack Whittaker can be reached securely on Signal and WhatsApp at 646-755–8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

Read More

Today’s security might not be what is tomorrow’s, so this guide will be kept as up to date as it can be. While this guide has been poured over to make sure it’s fair and accurate, do take the time to read more (from the various links).

And, you can always reach out with any questions and suggestions.

 

 

 

via Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies | ZDNet

The Mark of the Beast System is Being Implemented Today

People are voluntarily getting chipped around the world.

The gradual roll-out of the Antichrist’s Mark of the Beast system is playing out before our eyes. In the video report posted below, Benjamin Knight highlights two separate stories (one out of Europe and another out of Wisconsin) on new RFID chips being offered for voluntary use.

What will start out as a voluntary procedure branded as a means to “make life easier,” will one day be a tool to persecute Christians around the world during the Great Tribulation.

The Bible says:

Revelation 13:16-17 King James Version (KJV)

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

A mark IN their right hand, or IN their foreheads. We’re seeing the normalization of this “mark” today as the devil works behind the scenes to establish his New World Order.

Watch the video report below:

via The Mark of the Beast System is Being Implemented Today

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