The Insurrection Index Exists to Defend American Democracy

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The Insurrection Index launches today to defend democracy in the United States from internal attacks on democratic institutions. The focus of the initiative is clearly in response to, and all about, the failed coup and insurrection attempt that happened on this day last year. Multiple organizations joined together to create the index to promote democratic transparency around who (and what organizations) helped try to overthrow the government in support of former president Trump. By making the names of people involved in the extreme anti-democratic action it will be easier to keep those people out of office by exposing their anti-American actions.

It’s good to see that there is a concerted effort in the USA to defend their struggling democracy. Let’s hope that this marks a turning point in the country to more open, honest, and better defended democratic institutions.

The index is the brainchild of Public Wise, a voting rights group whose mission is to fight for government that reflects the will and the rights of voters. Christina Baal-Owens, the group’s executive director, said that the index was conceived as an ongoing campaign designed to keep insurrectionists out of office.

“These are folks who silenced the voices of American voters, who took a validly held election and created fraudulent information to try to silence voters. They have no business being near legislation or being able to affect the lives of American people,” she said.

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How to Avoid Billionaire Trolls

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Figure 1 from Cook, Ellerton, and Kinkead 2018. CC BY 3.0

The biggest trolls in the world are also the richest. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp fame and Elon Musk of Tesla fame are trolling us online and we shouldn’t let them get away with it. Zuckerberg trolls us by censoring what we see and selecting what propaganda enters our screens, other tech giants do the same. Musk, on the other hand, trolls us by getting leagues of fanboys to defend his union-busting, tax avoiding, and questionable health practices. Let’s be clear: the billionaires who are troll like this are doing it for their own profit at our expense.

Don’t feed the trolls, feed your mind. Here are some tips to eliminate billionaire trolls from your news.

Thankfully some tools are still leaving you in control:

  1. Blogs are still out there. I had 50,000 visitors last month. You can still use RSS readers. You can subscribe to blogs like mine by email.

  2. I have recently discovered the fantastic substack community.

  3. Telegram is pretty decent as a secured news aggregator. My blog has a telegram channel. Nobody needs to know what you are reading.

  4. Twitter has a hidden feature (twitter list) which lets you subscribe to specific individuals and only see content from these individuals.

  5. DuckDuckGo is a fantastic search engine which mostly gives me what I am looking for instead of what it thinks I should find.

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Big Box Stores Remove Products Used to Violate Human Rights

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Two of the largest retail chains in the United States have stopped the sale of Chinese-made surveillance products used by the Chinese government to violate human rights. This move to ban the sale of particular Chinese surveillance goods is a direct reaction to those companies benefiting from the ongoing Uyghur genocide happening in China. Indeed, Chinese companies are both using forced labour to produce products and using those products to further suppress the Uyghurs.

The pressure from human rights groups seems to have worked to convince Best Buy and Home Depot to stop selling these goods made to oppress people.

The U.S. government says Beijing relies heavily on Hikvision, Dahua and other technology companies to supply the surveillance equipment to surveil the Uighur population. The Biden administration called the human rights abuses in Xinjiang a “genocide,” and blamed Chinese video surveillance manufacturers of having “been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

Dolkun Isa, the president of the World Uyghur Congress, welcomed the “meaningful actions” by the U.S. government with bans on forced labor and sanctions for Chinese companies, but said that it’s “unacceptable that there are still American companies directly helping further the repression.”

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Refugees Who Helped Snowden Landed in Canada

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Edward Snowden did a very brave thing of exposing how the American government spies on its citizens, foreigners, and allied nations. Thanks to his efforts the web is now a safer place from spying by large corporations and governments.

When Snowden needed help fleeing from the long spying arm of the American military he turned to refugees. While in Hong Kong Snowden stayed with people who also fled to the city for protection. It’s a story of people fleeing prosecution from overbearing governments helping one another.

Last week some of those kind and brave refugees landed in Canada and granted asylum.

There are a few more refugees who helped Snowden in Hong Kong, you can support them over at For the Refugees.

Canada granted asylum to four people who hid former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in their tiny Hong Kong apartments when he was on the run after stealing a trove of classified documents.

The four – Supun Thilina Kellapatha, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and their children Sethumdi and Dinath – landed in Toronto on Tuesday and were due to go on to Montreal to “start their new lives”, non-profit For the Refugees said in a statement.

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Digital Violence Exposes NSO’s Tools Targetting Activists

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NSO made the news again due to their tools being used to spy on Bahraini and Hungarian activists, which obviously isn’t good. NSO is a cyber security organization that focuses on offensive rather than defence; they sell hacking tools and exploits to target individuals. Anyone with enough money can buy their attack tools, including rich individuals or companies. In Mexico their spying tool was used to intimidate campaigners asking the government to regulate sugar content in sofas.

We know spying on human rights activists is not good for anyone, and three organizations teamed up to expose how NSO supports such spying (and thus abuse). Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International, and Citizen Lab all worked together to create a neat website called Digital Violence which explores the complexity and reach of NSO’s tools.

First detected in 2015, the NSO Group’s Pegasus malware has reportedly been used in at least 45 countries worldwide to infect the phones of activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Having learnt that our former collaborators and close associates were hacked by Pegasus, Forensic Architecture undertook 15 months of extensive open-source research, interviews assisted by Laura Poitras, and developed bespoke software to present this data as an interactive 3D platform, along with video investigations narrated by Edward Snowden to tell the stories of the individuals targeted and the web of corporate affiliations within which NSO is nested. Supported by Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab, our analysis reveals relations and patterns between separate incidents in the physical and digital sphere, demonstrating how infections are entangled with real world violence, and extend within the professional and personal networks of civil society actors worldwide.

Check out digital violence.

One way to defend yourself from NSO group and other malicious agents is to keep your software up to date. Apple released a patch this week, so update your Apple devices.

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