Taking Privacy Seriously: Leaving Google Behind

Recently, I made the decision to become a little more secure on the internet. I don’t have much to hide except maybe bank account info, but I was struck by a Glenn Greenwald quote from a TED Talk he gave about privacy.

Over the last 16 months, as I’ve debated this issue around the world, every single time somebody has said to me, “I don’t really worry about invasions of privacy because I don’t have anything to hide.” I always say the same thing to them. I get out a pen, I write down my email address. I say, “Here’s my email address. What I want you to do when you get home is email me the passwords to all of your email accounts, not just the nice, respectable work one in your name, but all of them, because I want to be able to just troll through what it is you’re doing online, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you’re not a bad person, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide.” Not a single person has taken me up on that offer.

I find myself tired of knowing Google is going through the content of my emails and examining my searches to sell me things.

I also know our new government (not that our old was too much better) is tracking the activities of anyone who is anti-fascist. I don’t trust them to follow the laws that would otherwise keep me secure from illegal search.

So I set out to become more private and that meant leaving Google products and using encrypted, more secure alternatives.

So what I have I found? Well, I have spent the last weeks and months testing products and making decisions on what I would do.

Continue reading at Medium.

The New Arab: Trump’s condemnation of Charlottesville was too little too late

Image: AFP (From The New Arab)
During the 2016 US Presidential Campaign, then Republican candidate Donald Trump condemned President Barack Obama and the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, for what he called their failure to call terrorism, carried about by Muslims, as “radical Islamic terrorism”.

“If it is radical Islamic terrorism, it’s about time he [Obama] said so. If it’s radical Islamic terrorism, he ought to say it. People would sigh with relief if he said that,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News the morning of the Nice, France terrorist attack.

Trump made it a regular point on the campaign trail and during presidential debates of chiding those who would not use his language on the issue. Many pundits criticised Trump for this because they believe that using the word “Islamic” which covers all of those who follow the religion, puts Muslims around the world, especially in the US, in great danger.

Trump, however, defended his choice, maintaining it was critical to call this terrorism by name.

Yet, on 12 August when white nationalist James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, President Trump decided he would not call the murder an act of terrorism.

Continue reading at The New Arab

The New Arab: What is attracting anarchists to Syria?

Image: YPG/Twitter

Once a volunteer medic for the Occupy Wall Street movement, 28-year-old Robert Grodt, an American anarchist, travelled to Syria last February to join the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, better known as the YPG, in their fight against the Islamic State group.

In a video posted by the Kurdish militia, Grodt explained why he left his five-year-old daughter and the rest of his family.

“My reasons for joining the YPG were to help the Kurdish people in their struggle for autonomy within Syria and elsewhere. Also to do my best to be able to fight [IS] and help create a more secure world,” he said.

He went on to apologise to his daughter for not being there with her.

On July 6, the YPG announced that Grodt had been killed on the outskirts of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s stronghold in northern Syria. Along with Grodt, another American, 29-year-old Nicholas Alan Warden, was also killed. Precise details of their deaths are unknown, but according to the YPG, the deaths were the result of the militant group’s operations to capture Raqqa.

Continue reading at The New Arab.

Ark Encounter’s $18 million tax rebate suspended after selling its land to its non-profit entity

Image: YouTube screen capture

It’s not secret Ken Ham does not understand numbers, but it seems he was hellbent on proving this by screwing himself out of a potential $18 million in tax rebates to save himself $700,000.

Last week, I reported that Ham sold the Ark Encounters land, which was owned by the for-profit theme park to his non-profit entity, Crosswater Canyon, for the grand sum of ten dollars.

By doing so, the state realized that Ham’s park was no longer a for-profit entity and was no longer eligible for a tourism tax rebate. Ham had previously sued the state for discrimination to access the tax rebate but has now undone all of that to save a little money. Continue reading “Ark Encounter’s $18 million tax rebate suspended after selling its land to its non-profit entity”

Ken Ham sells Ark Encounter land to himself for $10 to avoid paying taxes

Image: YouTube screen capture

Creationist Ken Ham, the notorious owner of The Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum has once again found a new way to swindle the good people of Kentucky out of their money.

Not satisfied enough with winning a court battle worth $18 million in tax rebates after convincing a judge that his for-profit business, which is actively using religion as a form of employment discrimination, he has now sold the land the theme park sits on, worth $48 million, to his own non-profit entity, Crosswater Canyon, for $10. You read that right, ten dollars.

This allows Ham to claim his land is a non-profit and not subject to the new safety tax passed by city officials which would have collected 50 cents of every entry ticket sold. This move also worries local politicians and residents because it sets up the park to claim exemption from all other taxes as well that includes the funding of public schools. Continue reading “Ken Ham sells Ark Encounter land to himself for $10 to avoid paying taxes”

The New Arab: New atheism’s move from Islamophobia to white nationalism

Image: Getty (From The New Arab)
“New atheism” has of late become increasingly sympathetic to right-wing causes and voices.

For years it was accused of anti-Muslim bigotry in the form of Islamophobia.

Proponents argue that these new atheists are simply criticising religion, and while in some cases this is true, opponents are quick to point out other times when the attacks turn to demonising Muslims in general, inflaming anti-Muslim bigotry.

The growth of such bigotry in the new atheist movement has not subsided, and in fact, in recent years has only grown to give rise to voices that promote bigotry across a broader field, bringing new atheism from a seemingly Islamophobic movement to a white nationalist one.

It’s become increasingly harder to differentiate the so-called liberal-centrists of the new atheist movement and those on the far-right, supporting Muslim travel bans and fanning the flames of racial tension around the United States.

Continue reading at The New Arab

Flag Burning Shows Conservatives Don’t Want Freedom, They Want Authoritarian Rule

Public Domain

On July 4, the day in which Americans celebrate its independence from England, a celebration of freedom for most, I decided to test said freedoms against those who defend it the loudest.

I tweeted a photo of a person holding a burning flag with the caption, “Happy Fourth,” and then awaited the results. Continue reading “Flag Burning Shows Conservatives Don’t Want Freedom, They Want Authoritarian Rule”

Radicals Chasing Utopia sets out to be your user guide to radical movements

Image: Kalispera Dell / CC 3.0

In a time of worldwide rebellion against the political norms, it can seem impossible to keep up with the onslaught of movements set to change the course of world history.

Thankfully, Jamie Bartlett’s Radicals Chasing Utopia: Inside the Rogue Movements Trying to Change World (Nation Books, June 13, 2017), seeks to connect readers to a handful of those movements. Bartlett brings readers deep inside the libertarian movement as they attempt to create a perfect libertarian utopia, filled with imaginary Bitcoins and so much freedom you’ll die because you can’t afford healthcare, to the pits of the far-right as Bartlett spends time with the former English Defense League’s Tommy Robinson.

When it comes to current events, the Robinson chapter that resonates the most as around the globe far-right, anti-immigration groups attempt to pass themselves off not as racist, but rationals. Bartlett embedded with Robinson through his attempt to launch Pegida-UK, an anti-Islam action group that Robinson hoped would be less controversial than his previous stint with EDL. Continue reading “Radicals Chasing Utopia sets out to be your user guide to radical movements”

Stop fetishizing non-violence in the face of white nationalist terrorism

Image: YouTube screen capture

In the wake of Alt-Right, white nationalist related murders in the past three weeks, liberal pundits continue to come out against any form of violence against fascist, terrorist groups.

A popular theme to the condemnations stems from two schools of thought, consequences, and pacifism.

Consequences being first that the optics of violence helps the right, but also that punching is illegal and can be damaging to those doing the punching.

Legality should not play a role in stopping self-defense. Antifa and others are not trying to make it legal to punch to anyone, there is a reason they wear masks and often run away after. They are more interested in doing what is right, not what is legal. And yes, they know the legal ramifications of their actions and are willing to take the risk. They are putting their own freedoms on the line for the greater good.

Violence is not being sought, but rather implemented when it is the only form of defense against a violent organization calling for the mass extermination of millions of people. Continue reading “Stop fetishizing non-violence in the face of white nationalist terrorism”

Stop waiting for Democrats to save health care and demand single payer now

Image: Public Domain

Both Republicans and Democrats seem to agree that health care needs to be better. For the Republican Party, they have shown us their desire. With the House of Representatives voting on Thursday to overturn many of the hallmark pieces of the Affordable Care Act in favor of their American Health Care Act. The AHCA is nothing less than a death sentence for millions of American and a massive gift to insurance companies.

The Democrats, however, only want to add what they believe are incremental improvements to the ACA, ignoring the fact that the majority of Americans, including many Republican voters, want single-payer health care.

Moments after the devastating vote, a reporter asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if the Democrats would finally support single-payer, to which she answered, “no,” without skipping a beat.

This, coupled with the party’s choice to throw all their weight behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign, instead of Bernie Sanders who would have taken populism toe-to-two against Donald Trump, shows the ever growing disconnect between voters and the Democratic Party. Continue reading “Stop waiting for Democrats to save health care and demand single payer now”