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Wed, 21 Oct 2020
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COVID-19 used as pretext to crack down on Internet freedom

internet censor
© Global Look Press / CHROMORANGE / Bilderbox
Internet freedom has declined for the 10th consecutive year as governments around the world are using the coronavirus pandemic as a "cover" to expand online surveillance, crack down on dissent, and build new technological systems to control society, Freedom House says in a new report.

The Washington-based human rights watchdog's annual Freedom Of The Net report, released on October 14, said the authorities in dozens of countries have cited COVID-19 "to justify expanded surveillance powers and the deployment of new technologies that were once seen as too intrusive."

As a result, Internet freedom has worsened in 26 of the 65 countries covered by the report, while only 22 registered gains.

And just 20 percent of the estimated 3.8 billion people using the Internet live in countries with a free Internet, according to the democracy research group.

Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, India, Ecuador, and Nigeria suffered the largest declines during the coverage period -- between June 2019 and May 2020. Internet freedom worsened in the United States for the fourth consecutive year.

Comment: See also:


COVID-19 lockdowns are in lockstep with the 'Great Reset'

Jay Heller
© Getty Images / Kena Betancur
Employees reacts as Jay Heller, head of capital markets & initial public offering (IPO) execution of Nasdaq Inc, center, opens trading on Zoom Video Communications Inc. during the company's IPO at the Nasdaq MarketSite on April 18, 2019 in New York City
Who benefits from lockdowns that are destabilizing all facets of our society? Look no further than the emerging global oligarchy.

In October 2019, a pandemic simulation exercise called Event 201 - a collaborative effort between Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - concluded that a hypothetical new coronavirus may end up killing at least 65 million people worldwide within 18 months of an outbreak.

When Covid-19 coincidentally emerged from Wuhan two months later, scientists were rushing to generate similar alarmist forecasts using a variety of questionable scientific models. Researchers from the Imperial College London, for instance, approximated death tolls of 500,000 in the UK and two million in the US by October this year.

While scientific models are admittedly fallible, one would nonetheless be hard-pressed to justify the endless string of contradictions, discrepancies and willful amnesia in the global pandemic narrative. Was it the science of mass-mediated hysteria? There are many troubling questions yet unanswered.

Comment: See also:


YouTube bans COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

YouTube will ban content containing misinformation about coronavirus vaccines, expanding its policy surrounding misinformation about the virus, the company said Wednesday.

The Google-owned video platform said it will remove any content that includes claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradicts information from health authorities.

Comment: Ok - but which health authorities? Oh yeah, the hysterical and hystericizing ones. Not the other health authorities. The ones they don't want you paying any mind to.

YouTube was already removing content with misinformation about the existence and the transmission of the coronavirus, as well as content promoting medically unsubstantiated methods of treatment. The platform said it had removed more than 200,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 information since early February.

Comment: Quick! Shut them up or shut them down - otherwise many more will catch on to the agenda!

Light Saber

Kyle Rittenhouse has 'illegal weapon' charge dropped in Illinois

kyle rittenhouse
© Screenshot Richie McGinniss
Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen accused of fatally shooting two protesters and wounding a third in Wisconsin over the summer, will not be charged with a gun offense in his home state of Illinois, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The 17-year-old remains jailed in Lake County, Ill., pending extradition to Wisconsin, where he faces multiple criminal charges in Kenosha.

A statement from the Lake County State's Attorney's Office said an Antioch police investigation determined the firearm used in the Kenosha shooting was purchased and stored in Wisconsin.


Cow Skull

Local rages "hardly anyone is sick, but we're all broke": Hawaii "has committed suicide"

oahu hawaii
© Zetong Li
Oahu officials issued a two-week stay-at-home order beginning on Friday, August 28
While we have grown used to the people (well, at least those who are capable for thinking for themselves) of Michigan and California complaining that the tyrannical COVID lockdown rules imposed by Governors Whitmer and Newsom are arbitrary and capricious (if not downright unconstitutional), it is less often we hear from those living on the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

For many 'mainlanders', the thoughts of a vacation to Hawaii (or anywhere but the apartment they have been suffering in for 7 months) are heavenly. However, as the following 'rural Hawaiian' exclaims in her Twitter thread, "Hawaii is committing suicide" with its "cargo-cult level bullshit" travel restrictions.


Western pundits confounded again as Putin's popularity rises

putin tv
© Sputnik / Sergey Krasnoukhov
For years we were told that Vladimir Putin's government relied on 'control' of TV networks to maintain its popularity. In reality, its support stems from its ability to reflect public opinion, rather than manipulate it.

Contradicting pundits who predicted that the Covid crisis would put a permanent dent in Putin's popularity, the Russian president's approval rating has bounced back to upwards of 69 percent, according to the latest survey by pollsters Levada.

Coming on top of recent victories in Russia's regional elections by the pro-Putin United Russia party, the survey demonstrates that the president and his movement continue to enjoy considerable popular backing.

Comment: See also:

Cowboy Hat

9 out of 10 workers want option to work from home if lockdowns ever end

home office

A man works in his kitchen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sassenheim
Nearly nine out of 10 workers want to be able to choose whether to work from home or the office once COVID-19 workplace restrictions ease, and have greater autonomy over their hours, according to research from Cisco Systems <CSCO.O>.

The pandemic has rapidly shifted attitudes towards home working, the research showed, with two thirds of workers developing a greater appreciation of the benefits and challenges of doing their jobs remotely.

Even though only 5% of those surveyed worked from home most of the time before the lockdown, now 87% of workers wanted the ability to choose where, how and when they worked - blending between being office-based and working remotely, Cisco said in a report issued on Wednesday.

Comment: It's highly likely that the number of people wanting the option to work from home was high even before the spectre of the 'new normal' was being enforced on our lives. But, notably, the vast majority of companies denied the average worker the ability to work from home, even when they were perfectly capable of doing so before the lockdowns, and for reasons they don't state explicitly but that are becoming clear: they don't trust employees to do their job when they're not under the watchful eye of a middle manager.

This has been partly been revealed in a number of stories that have come out recently including the rise of 'productivity' tracking software installed into home workers computers as well as employees being told that they can't do particular things in their own home - from what they must wear to whether they can smoke - even when it has no obvious impact on their work.

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Black Magic

Two charged in latest statue-toppling riot in Portland

Brandon Bartells and Malik Muhamad portland riots antifa

Brandon Bartells and Malik Muhamad are facing local charges after a night of violent rioting where Black Lives Matter-Antifa activists toppled the statues of former presidents and vandalized numerous buildings.
Two out-of-state suspects are facing local charges after a night of violent rioting where Black Lives Matter-Antifa activists toppled the statues of former presidents and vandalized numerous buildings.

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office charged 38-year-old Brandon Bartells, who is accused of being the driver who used a van to pull down the Theodore Roosevelt statue during the antifa-organized "Indigenous Day of Rage" on Sunday.

Comment: The quick release of violent rioters has been seen across the country. But Antifa is an 'idea', not an organization


Boomerang: Antifa rioters who targeted Portland cafe 'solidified' his Trump vote - military veteran

cafe shot up portland riots
© John Jackson
Two windows at Heroes American Cafe in Portland were boarded up Monday after rioters targeted the business over the weekend.
'When I first came here [Portland] about 10 years ago, it was one of the most accepting cities that I knew of,' the cafe owner said

A cafe owned by a military veteran was shot at during a chaotic demonstration in Portland over the weekend after being deemed by rioters as unfriendly to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Heroes American Cafe was targeted for being an "unfriendly business" by so-called Antifa-linked Twitter accounts, owner John Jackson told Fox News.

Two windows in the cafe's downtown location were shot at and another was struck with a blunt object -- possibly a baseball bat -- said Jackson, a Black man who served in the Army and Marine Corps.

Comment: But Antifa is just an 'idea'. Creepy Joe told us so.


Andy Yen, ProtonMail CEO: Apple runs its app store like 'mafia extortion' racket

ProtonMail logo
© ProtonMail
Tech giant Apple reportedly forced the privacy-focused email app ProtonMail to add in-app purchases to its iPhone app despite the service being free for years. Apple's treatment of the popular privacy-centric email service is another example of Tim Cook's company flexing its monopoly power. ProtonMail CEO Andy Yen likened Apple's app store policies to "mafia extortion."

The Verge reports that following a recent antitrust report from Congress which showed that major tech firms have taken part in anti-competitive practices, one developer revealed that it had been forced to monetize its largely free app.

ProtonMail, a privacy-focused email app, testified that Apple demanded in-app purchases be added to its iOS email client even though Apple had approved its app without any in-app purchases two years earlier. The developer claimed that when sending an email to customers notifying them of the change, Apple threatened to remove the app and block all updates.

Comment: More from The Verge:
On Tuesday, Congress revealed whether it thinks Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are sitting on monopolies. In some cases, the answer was yes.

But also, one app developer revealed to Congress that it — just like WordPress — had been forced to monetize a largely free app. That developer testified that Apple had demanded in-app purchases (IAP), even though Apple had approved its app without them two years earlier — and that when the dev dared send an email to customers notifying them of the change, Apple threatened to remove the app and blocked all updates.

That developer was ProtonMail, makers of an encrypted email app, and CEO Andy Yen had some fiery words for Apple in an interview with The Verge this week.

We've known for months that WordPress and Hey weren't alone in being strong-armed by the most valuable company in the world, ever since Stratechery's Ben Thompson reported that 21 different app developers quietly told him they'd been pushed to retroactively add IAP in the wake of those two controversies. But until now, we hadn't heard of many devs willing to publicly admit it. They were scared.

And they're still scared, says Yen. Even though Apple changed its rules on September 11th to exempt "free apps acting as a stand-alone companion to a paid web based tool" from the IAP requirement — Apple explicitly said email apps are exempt — ProtonMail still hasn't removed its own in-app purchases because it fears retaliation from Apple, he says.

He claims other developers feel the same way: "There's a lot of fear in the space right now; people are completely petrified to say anything."