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Sat, 18 Sep 2021
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Facebook reads and shares WhatsApp private messages: report

WhatsApp 1
© SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
A new investigation revealed that moderators can read encrypted messages from WhatsApp.
Facebook's encrypted messaging service WhatsApp isn't as private as it claims, according to a new report.

The popular chat app, which touts its privacy features, says parent Facebook can't read messages sent between users. But an extensive report by ProPublica on Tuesday claims that Facebook is paying more than 1,000 contract workers around the world to read through and moderate WhatsApp messages that are supposedly private or encrypted.

What's more, the company reportedly shares certain private data with law enforcement agencies, such as the US Department of Justice.

The revelation comes after Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that WhatsApp messages are not seen by the company.

"We don't see any of the content in WhatsApp," the CEO said during testimony before the US Senate in 2018.

Privacy is touted even when new users sign up for the service, with the app emphasizing that "your messages and calls are secured so only you and the person you're communicating with can read or listen to them, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp."


One Flew Over the Kookaburra's Nest: Down Under is now a mental ward where the crazies are calling the shots over Covid

australia police
© (L) "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Milos Forman, 1975; (R) AFP / DAVID GRAY
Reminiscent of Nurse Ratched in Ken Kesey's classic 1962 novel, Australian officials have completely lost the plot over the virus, as they rob citizens of their basic democratic and human rights in the name of protecting them.
Eight o'clock the walls whirr and hum into full swing. The speaker in the ceiling says, 'Medications,' using the Big Nurse's voice. - 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'
While George Orwell's dystopian novel '1984' remains the go-to work of literature for helping wrap one's brain around these increasingly mental times, Kesey's masterpiece 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' has been relegated to the back of society's bookshelf. That's unfortunate, especially in the case of Australia, which appears to be hard at work penning the sequel.

The role of 'Big Nurse,' Kesey's tyrannical antagonist, who has an arsenal of medication at her disposal, would go to Australian health chief Dr. Kerry Chant. This medical authoritarian recently informed the 8.1 million locked-down subjects of New South Wales that Covid will be with us "forever" and people will have to just "get used to" rolling up their sleeves for endless booster shots.

Chant's grim assessment of Australia's future faced no challenges from other professionals, which should come as no surprise, since the act of expressing medical second opinions - a 'luxury' that doctors have enjoyed since at least the Middle Ages - has been outlawed.


My university sacrificed ideas for ideology. So today I quit

Peter Boghossian has taught philosophy at Portland State University for the past decade. In the letter below, sent this morning to the university's provost, he explains why he is resigning.

Peter Boghossian
Dear Provost Susan Jeffords,

​​I'm writing to you today to resign as assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University.

Over the last decade, it has been my privilege to teach at the university. My specialties are critical thinking, ethics and the Socratic method, and I teach classes like Science and Pseudoscience and The Philosophy of Education. But in addition to exploring classic philosophers and traditional texts, I've invited a wide range of guest lecturers to address my classes, from Flat-Earthers to Christian apologists to global climate skeptics to Occupy Wall Street advocates. I'm proud of my work.

I invited those speakers not because I agreed with their worldviews, but primarily because I didn't. From those messy and difficult conversations, I've seen the best of what our students can achieve: questioning beliefs while respecting believers; staying even-tempered in challenging circumstances; and even changing their minds.

I never once believed nor do I now that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

Comment: See also:


Massive gas explosion blows off front of residential building in Russia, 2 killed, 13 in hospital

russia gas explosion
© Виктория Смирнова
Emergency services in the Russian city of Noginsk raced to the scene of a colossal explosion at an apartment building in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with pictures and videos showing the devastation now emerging online.

Rescuers were called out after the explosion echoed through the streets at around 6.55am. They say it originated from a family apartment on the third floor of the building, and that as many as 30 other apartments had been damaged. Windows in neighboring houses were shattered, while shrapnel peppered cars parked outside.

Health officials in the city, located just outside the capital, Moscow, confirmed that at least thirteen people had been injured and that all victims had been hospitalized. Two victims are now understood to have died. Among those rescued from the building were two children aged between five and 11, who are understood to be in a stable condition and are receiving outpatient care.

Comment: Explosions and fires have been reported across much of the planet in recent months - not just in Russia - and one can't help but wonder, for at least some of them, is the cause the same? And just what exactly is causing them? See also: SOTT Exclusive: The growing threat of underground fires and explosions


Explosions and large industrial fire in Kidderminster, England - nearby residents evacuated

explosion kidderminster
© Twitter / @NWorcsCops
Explosions were heard and an enormous industrial fire broke out at a factory in Kidderminster, England. With black smoke towering over the town, police have advised people to avoid the area and residents have been evacuated.

Fire crews were swiftly dispatched to an industrial unit in the Worcestershire town after explosions were reported on Wednesday afternoon.

Video footage showed what appeared to be a burning factory, with a column of smoke rising over residential neighbourhoods nearby. The scene has been described as "absolute chaos" by locals.

Comment: Other fires and explosions that occurred in just the last few months:


Ohio judge reverses court order that forced hospital to treat Covid patient with ivermectin

Ivermectin pill
© Ale-stock.adobe/KJN
Ivermectin tablets
An Ohio judge has reversed a court order that forced a local hospital to treat a Covid-19 patient with the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin.

On Monday, Judge Michael Oster of Butler county issued an order that sided with West Chester Hospital, citing a lack of "convincing evidence" that the drug - used in small doses in humans against external parasites such as headlice, and in larger doses for animals including cows and horses - could significantly improve the patient's condition.

The patient, Jeffrey Smith, was admitted to intensive care on 15 July. He has been on a ventilator since 1 August.

At a hearing on Thursday, Julie Smith, his wife, testified that neither she nor her husband were vaccinated against Covid-19. "We didn't feel confident [the vaccine] had been out long enough."

As Smith's condition deteriorated, his wife reached out to Fred Wagshul, a physician and founder member of the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes ivermectin as a preventative treatment. According to Oster's order, Wagshul, who does not have medical privileges at West Chester Hospital, prescribed 21 days of the medication without having seen Jeffrey Smith.

Comment: There is a lot of support for ivermectin taken at an appropriate dosage. Once again, it is bias that passes for knowledge - especially from an uninformed court perspective.

See also:

Arrow Down

Study: COVID-19 reversed progress for Ohio women, more than 1M workers displaced

© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Need versus Cost
A new study from an Ohio think tank shows disproportionate lay offs for low-paid workers, gender and race inequity, and "job destruction" as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report released this week by Policy Matters Ohio, titled the State of Working Ohio 2021, showed that inconsistencies in assistance from federal and state administrations limited the effectiveness of relief plans like unemployment assistance.

While the study also showed that financial injections like supplemental unemployment, aid packages and direct stimulus payments "likely prevented the recession from dragging on months longer" in the state, the fact that they were one-time deals or deals that were taken away before the pandemic's end brought progress to an end as well.

Comment: Who's calculating the 'Cost' Virus? Any vaccine for that?

Star of David

Asleep in the tower: Behind prison escape, a farcical litany of Israeli blunders

Prison patrol guy
© Jalaa Marey/AFP
Israeli security forces patrol the prison security fence
Prison building plans posted online, guards blind to digging occurring under their noses, a watchtower manned by a sleeping recruit, and a fumbled report of suspicious figures.

These were just some of the blunders and oversights that helped six highly dangerous Palestinian security prisoners tunnel out of one of Israel's most secure prisons in the early hours of Monday and evade capture for a day and counting.

Hebrew media reports detailed the laundry list of missed clues and mess-ups, as authorities vowed to both collar the escapees and fix holes they exploited to break free.

A day before the breakout, the most senior prisoner of the group, Zakaria Zubeidi, requested a transfer into the cell where the five other prisoners were located, Channel 12 news reported, adding that the transfer was accepted without any red flags raised. The Israel Prisons Service typically separates prisoners based on their terror group affiliation, but Israel did not have any intelligence that an escape was being planned, the network said.

Comment: Someday it will be a movie.


Abbott says Texas will 'eliminate all rapists' in defending abortion bill

© Fox News
Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday defended his state's controversial abortion bill by arguing that the legislation does allow for victims of rape to get an abortion and that the state will work towards eradicating all rapists.

Abbott made his comments during a press conference in which he addressed how the law applies to instances of rape, according to a local NBC News station.

He said that the new law, which bans all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, allows victims of rape up to six weeks to get an abortion, arguing that it "does not do [forcing victims to have their assaulter's child]," the news outlet reported. Abbott said, according to KXAN:
"Let's be clear: rape is a crime. And Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets."
The law has been widely criticized by pro-choice advocates. President Biden last week condemned the law, saying it will "significantly impair" women's access to health care.

Comment: Governor Greg Abbott shakes up the status quo with more legislation changes:
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law a GOP-led bill that includes some of the most comprehensive voting-reform measures in the country.

State Democratic lawmakers had for months attempted to block the passage of the bill, even leaving the state to keep their Republican counterparts from having enough Assembly members to hold a vote.

Even before Abbott's signing, several groups, largely liberal leaning, opposed the new restrictions on mail-in voting and other balloting and mounted court challenges.
See also:

Arrow Up

Denmark overtakes Sweden as the restriction-free Nordic nation

© Getty Images
The Öresund bridge linking Denmark and Sweden was closed earlier in the pandemic.
Denmark, a country whose approach earlier in the Covid pandemic was thought of as the opposite of Sweden, with early border restrictions and school closures, has now overtaken its neighbour as the most restriction-free country in Scandinavia.

An article in today's Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish broadsheet, observes:
It seems like an upside-down world all of a sudden: that the Danes, who at the start of the pandemic gave Swedish travellers the cold shoulder on the Öresund bridge and told them to turn back because Swedish Covid restrictions were too mild, are now letting go of the reins altogether. - SVENSKA DAGBLADET