Goodbye Censorship: Digital Rights Activist Creating Open Source Internet, Free From Gov’t Spying

Source: The Free Thought Project

Digital rights activist and award-winning journalist Barrett Brown’s Pursuance Project is close to becoming a reality, as the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the creation of this ambitious suite of interconnected digital tools, including virtual conference rooms, calls, video, text, project management — all protected by military-grade end-to-end zero-knowledge encryption – closes in on its goal needed to fund the project’s development costs.

The Pursuance Project is a software platform that Brown designed to help journalists, researchers, and activists collaborate securely – without fear of government or private contractor surveillance. The software offers the same protection that SecureDrop provides but extends that level of security to your team communications, emails, texts, video and more.

Brown explained the extreme importance of this project, stating:

“No activist should have to entrust their life to Facebook. No one should have to choose between security and the ability to organize large numbers of people. No one should have to use platforms designed to waste your time in the course of trying to make their lives count. When Pursuance launches, things will be different.”

For those unfamiliar with Brown’s history as a prolific digital activist, a bio by the Courage Foundation provides insight:

Barrett Brown is a US journalist and the founder of Project PM, a crowd-sourced investigation into the cyber-industrial complex who was imprisoned for charges relating to the 2011 Stratfor hack. He was described as an unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous before he renounced his ties to the collective in 2011. He’s written two books, in addition to several articles about politics and journalism in the digital age. In 2012, the FBI raided his house, and later that year Barrett was indicted on 12 federal charges. The most controversial charge, linking to the hacked data, was dropped, but in 2015 Brown was still sentenced to 63 months in prison. Reporters Without Borders cited Barrett’s prosecution among its reasons for the United States dropping 14 spots on its press freedom rankings in 2014…

Barrett was released from prison to a halfway house on 29 November 2016.

Brown explains the goals of the Pursuance Project in the video below:

It’s clear that with ever-watchful eye of government surveillance, working in unison with social media giants, has created a landscape for mass surveillance that leaves those whose work requires anonymity at risk. The Pursuance Project says that they are “the world’s first platform specifically designed for process democracy.”

The importance of a platform from which individuals can collaborate and communicate in a secure digital environment cannot be overstated, as the current paradigm is that of a freedom suffocating mass surveillance society.

The Pursuance Project allows for groups and individuals to privately create, without fear of their worked being spied upon by outside actors. This project will allow for those engaged in human rights work, investigative journalism, whistleblowing, activism, etc. to operate in a private and secure environment, where governmental entities that view these activities as threats are kept out.

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Internet Freedom Breakthrough? Father of World Wide Web Launches Radical Startup to Take Back the Internet from Google & Facebook

Source: The Free Thought Project

(ZH) “For people who want to make sure the Web serves humanity, we have to concern ourselves with what people are building on top of it,” Tim Berners-Lee told Vanity Fair last month. “I was devastated” he said while going through a litany of harmful and dangerous developments of the past three decades of the web.

That’s why “the Father of the World Wide Web” has launched a start-up that intends to end the dominance of Facebook, Google, and Amazon, while in the process letting individuals take back control of their own data.

Berners-Lee’s new online platform and company Inrupt is being described as a “personal online data store,” or pod, where everything from messages, music, contacts or other personal data will be stored in one place overseen by the user instead of an array of platforms and apps run by corporations seeking to profit off personal information. The project seeks “personal empowerment through data” and aims to “take back” the web, according to company statements.

The man who created the world wide web by implementing the first ever successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet in 1989 lamented that his creation has been abused by powerful entities for everything mass surveillance to fake news to psychological manipulation to corporations commodifying individuals’ information.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Image via Wikimedia Commons

But he’s long been at work on a new project to take the web back, described in depth by the business technology magazine Fast Company:

This week, Berners-Lee will launch, Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon.

“We have to do it now,” Berners-Lee said of the newly launched project. “It’s a historical moment.” He identified the main impetus behind his recent announcement that he’ll be going on sabbatical from his research professor post at MIT to work full-time on the project as the recent revelation that Facebook allowed political operatives to gain access to some 50 million users’ private data.

At MIT Berners-Lee has for years led a team on designing and building a decentralized web platform called ‘Solid’ — which will underlie the Inrupt platform. The Inrupt venture will serve as users’ first access to the new Soliddecentralized web:

If all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.

“I have been imagining this for a very long time,” says Berners-Lee.

As described on the Solid and Inrupt websites the new platform will allow users to have complete control over their information ‘pods’ (an acronym for “personal online data store”) — it is only they who will decide whether outside apps and sites will be granted access to it, and to what extent.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter where all user information ultimately resides in centralized data centers and servers under control of the companies, applications on Inrupt will compete for users based on the services they can offer, and only the users can grant these apps “views” into their data, making personal data instantly portable between similar applications.

“The main enhancement is that the web becomes a collaborative read-write space, passing control from owners of a server, to the users of that system. The Solid specification provides this functionality,” the Solid website says.

Visual of the Inrupt prototype platform

Berners-Lee explained to Fast Company one example currently under development that could radically changed a popular product that has been prone to overstepping privacy boundaries and compromising data:

For example, one idea Berners-Lee is currently working on is a way to create a decentralized version of Alexa, Amazon’s increasingly ubiquitous digital assistant. He calls it Charlie. Unlike with Alexa, on Charlie people would own all their data. That means they could trust Charlie with, for example, health records, children’s school events, or financial records. That is the kind of machine Berners-Lee hopes will spring up all over Solid to flip the power dynamics of the web from corporation to individuals.

With the weekend launch of Inrupt, developers across the globe this week will be invited to begin building their own decentralized apps through the Inrupt site. As its popularity grows the company will move forward to raise more funds, though it’s currently backed by a venture capital firm.

Yet as his latest interview notes, “his plans could impact billion-dollar business models that profit off of control over data. It’s not likely that the big powers of the web will give up control without a fight.”

WATCH: Woman Secretly Records Cop Try to Force Her to Give Him Sexual Favors to Drop Charges

Source: The Free Thought Project

Forsyth, GA — Monroe County sheriff’s deputy Bill Miller was recorded earlier this month on a woman’s cell phone, epitomizing everything wrong with sickos in uniforms who seek to abuse their authority for personal gain. His victim recorded him trying to force her to give him sexual favors in return for getting her DUI charges dropped and this deputy is still collecting a paycheck.

Ashlie Roberts was arrested last month by Miller for driving under the influence and drug possession. Roberts admitted she had done the crime and she was willing to do the time. However, after she made bail, Miller contacted the 34-year-old woman and told her to meet him in a parking lot on August 14th. So, she did.

As FOX 5 Atlanta reports, she told internal affairs investigators the same story she told us: Miller put her in his personal Dodge Ram pickup, handed her a Coors Light, and drove them to a dirt trail off Freeman Road.

“I didn’t think I had to record anything until I got to that dirt road,” she explained. “After I turned on that dirt road, that’s when I knew something was fishy.”

As the recording shows, after Miller drove the woman down the dirt road, the sexual advances immediately began.

“You can come over here. I’m not going to jump on you, I promise you,” said the deputy.

“I mean, I’m good. I’m all right,” Roberts replies.

That’s when the deputy asked her for oral sex.

“Not even a b***-job?” he asked.

“No,” replied Roberts.

“I’m just messing with you. I think you’d like it but…” replied Miller.

“No, I’m good.”

“You probably would like it,” the deputy persisted.

“I don’t know about that,” said the terrified Roberts who didn’t know if this cop was about to attempt to rape her or what.

After she shut down his initial advances, that’s when Miller began to flex his blue privilege in an attempt to blackmail Roberts into sex by offering to “talk to the D.A.”

“The whole reason I gave you that beer…” deputy Miller said as he began to blackmail the woman.

“Uh-huh,” Roberts replied.

“…is leverage,” said the corrupt cop.

“Oh. What leverage would that be?” she asked.

“Well, I got another unit over there,” he said, claiming that he could have her arrested again if she didn’t submit to his requests.

“So what are you trying to do? You trying to blackmail me or something?” she asked.

“Yeah,” replied the deputy.

“Oh, it ain’t gonna work,” Roberts said.

“It won’t?” Miller asked.

“No,” replied Roberts.

“I’m just messing with you,” said the deputy in an attempt to downplay what he had just done. However, as Roberts explained to FOX 5, this deputy was not joking.

On the recording, which is 19 minutes long, Miller is heard asking her to show her breasts over ten times. After turning him down all ten times, Miller finally concedes and begins to drive the woman back to her vehicle in the parking lot, but not before one last futile attempt.

“I really didn’t want to have sex with you,” the deputy said after his blackmail attempt was met with rejection. “I was just f**king with you.”

“I know,” Roberts said, seemingly glad the harassment was over.

But then the deputy subtlety tried one more time. “I mean, I would, cause you’re not a bad-looking girl. You just need to straighten your ass out.”

But Roberts told FOX 5 that deputy Miller picked the wrong girl.

“I’m not that type of girl,” she insisted. “I’m a good girl. I just hang out with the wrong crowd.”

The deputy then told Roberts to toss the can of beer out on the roadside and they drove off. As FOX 5 reports:

On the recording, you can hear deputy Miller tell Roberts it’s okay to toss that Coors Light out the passenger window before they left that dirt trail. The FOX 5 I-Team followed the path and searched the woods. Sure enough, we spotted a Coors Light can still in the paper bag with a receipt inside dated August 14. It also had the buyer’s debit card number. We used a stick to pull out the receipt. Later, we gave investigators directions so they could recover the can and any fingerprints that might still be on it.

We approached deputy Miller as he came on duty last Friday night. He said he didn’t remember Ashlie Roberts and denied offering to get her charges dropped in exchange for sexual favors. He refused our offer to let him hear the recording of the two of them.

“We are shocked and disappointed,” Monroe County interim sheriff Al Shackleford said. “Law enforcement should be held to a higher standard.”

Mary Ann Nichols is murdered. She is the first of Jack the Ripper’s confirmed victims.

Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.

However, instead of arresting the officer for using his badge to blackmail a woman into having sex with him, the sheriff put Miller on a paid vacation.

After the incident, a Fulton County judge then revoked Ashlie Robert’s probation and sent her back to jail, citing the DUI arrest, according to FOX 5.

“I did the crime. I’ll do the time,” said Roberts.

Sadly, however, Miller, who was caught in the act committing a far more serious crime, will likely not do any time. And, at least for now, he’s enjoying a paid vacation for it. Even if he is fired, Miller will likely become a gypsy cop and get hired on at another department down the road.

Police Announce Program to Illegally Stop People for ‘SAFE Driving’ & Facebook Owns Them

Source: The Free Thought Project

Crestview, FL — In an unprecedented violation of the right of citizens to be free from unlawful search and seizure, the Crestview Police Department in Florida has announced a most insidious program. Driving safely is now a reason for cops to pull you over—under the guise that you’ll be “offered free pizza.”

“A free Papa Murphy’s “FAVES” pizza awaits Crestview motorists who drive safely and courteously and get caught in the act,” reads the announcement on the department’s Facebook page.

“Under this program, Crestview Police officers may initiate a traffic stop based upon observed safe operation of a motor vehicle,” Community Services Officer Sam Kimmons said.

While the Free Thought Project has reported on programs where cops randomly pull people over to give them free stuff, this program crosses a line others did not by conducting an actual traffic stop.

“We’re going to reward you for good driving,” Police Chief Tony Taylor said. “It’s as simple as that.”

But it is not “as simple as that.” Pulling people over for driving safely is a direct violation of the 4th Amendment. And this department is not just giving people pizza, they are conducting actual traffic stops.

Under the program, officers have standardized criteria to look for. Examples of safe operation Ofc. Kimmons cites include “using hands-free devices or having children properly buckled up.” Others include using a seat belt, maintaining a safe following distance, courteous driving, proper use of turn signals, and observing the speed limit.

Here is where the program takes a turn for the worse. Safe drivers will only get the “reward” if they allow their rights to be violated and further submit to the illegal stop. Drivers who flex their rights get nothing, or worse.

When stopped for safe operation of their vehicles, drivers are offered the opportunity to opt out of the program and are immediately allowed to leave under most circumstances. If they wish to participate, the officer will ask for the driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

If all the documentation checks out, the officer will present the driver with a certificate for a free Papa Murphy’s “FAVES” pizza, redeemable at their Crestview location, 2670 Ferdon Blvd. S. (Not the Mini Murph Offc. Kimmons displays in the photo.)

See how they did that? Notice how they said, “under most circumstances,” meaning if they find anything when they walk up to your vehicle during the unlawful stop, you’re screwed—4th amendment be damned.

Only if the illegal stop, illegal detention, relinquishing of rights, and citizen submission all work out in your favor, then, and only then, will you get some coupon for a pizza. But, if they find one thing wrong, their illegal traffic stop just found a way to circumvent the 4th amendment.

However, if the documentation isn’t in order, or if the officer notices openly visible unlawful behavior or materials, such as DUI impairment, drug paraphernalia, narcotics or open alcoholic beverage containers, “proper law enforcement action will be taken,” Ofc. Kimmons said.

safe

In order for police to initiate a traffic stop, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that articulable facts indicate there is a crime being committed or about to be committed.

Safe driving is not reasonable suspicion and offering pizza coupons does not change this fact.

Luckily, however, people on Facebook are seeing right through it. There are hundreds of comments on the post and only a handful of people who actually support the program.

“I’m all for giving back to the community, but this is a horrible idea. Now you can literally pull anyone over for absolutely no reason, in the silent hopes you find something. Keep your pizza and save me the time and anxiety attack of being pulled over,” Jessica Roan wrote.

“You are pulling people over for abiding by the law….isnt it illegal to pull people over if they are not doing anything wrong? Pull me over for being a law abiding citizen and I will sue your ass,” writes Liz Stewart. “Go feed homeless people and stop harassing citizens.”

In one exchange on the post, the typical police apologist reaction of “if you don’t do anything illegal, you have nothing to worry about,” was presented and that person received the most epic reply pointing out that it is the police who are breaking the law.

Judging from the reaction to this program the police department would do well to scrap it. If they do not, taxpayers of Crestview be warned: you are setting yourselves up to be fleeced in the countless lawsuits that are sure to follow.

Nationwide Human Trafficking Stings Ensnare Multiple Cops—84 Kids as Young as 3 Months Freed

Source: The Free Thought Project

Multiple undercover sting operations across the United States were carried out this month targeting adult and child sex trafficking. The results of many of these stings netted hundreds of arrests—including doctors, pharmacists, high-level military officers, and law enforcement officers. Dozens of children were also rescued — including one as young as three months old.

“That’s the most we have ever arrested in the history of the sheriff’s office,” Sheriff Grady Judd said of his undercover operation in Polk County, Florida.

The sheriff is referring to the 277 people rounded up in “Operation No Tricks, No Treats” which started last Tuesday and ran through Monday.

According to the sheriff’s office, as reported by WFLA, 51 of the arrests were related to those who advertise as prostitutes online and 209 of the arrests were those who solicited undercover detectives posing as prostitutes. Seventeen arrests were made for other offenses.

The sheriff noted that the arrests included lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, former and current police officers, multiple men looking to have sex with children, and convicted sex offenders.

During the bust, the sheriff even nabbed a cop in his own department. Since his arrest,  Sergeant Luis Diaz has resigned from the force after 17 years.

In another, far more horrifying bust, conducted by the FBI, eighty-four children were saved and 120 human traffickers were arrested.

FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites, according to the release, as reported by Myrtle Beach Online. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old, the release stated.

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“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested — and the number of children recovered — reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the release.

It is important to note that some of these arrests included people trying to simply pay another willing adult to have sex with them.

In the Land of the Free, it is against the law to get paid to have sex, unless that sex is filmed, distributed on DVD, and taxed. One of the least talked about systems of oppression in the US is that of persecuting prostitutes.

When referencing prostitution, it is critical to point out that we are talking about the mutually beneficial exchange of sexual favors for money by two or more consenting adults; not forced human trafficking. Sadly enough, the state’s prohibition on prostitution actually fosters the underground trade of humans as it pushes the selling of sex into dark alleyways and criminal entities.

Also, what this case points out is that when it comes to the government, in general, the notion of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ rings true through every level, from the parking transit officer to the president.

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Hypocrisy is a function of the state.

The citizens of the US are often reminded of this hypocrisy when members of the government commit such heinously criminal and hypocritical acts that they are cast out from their curtain of government protection.

All these cops getting busted for acts that they themselves have likely thrown people in prison for is the epitome of said hypocrisy.

Hover, human sex trafficking in the United States is a very real and horrifying problem. As the Free Thought Project has pointed out and what some of the arrests in this bust show, the monsters behind this darkness are often upstanding members of society. Through their connections within the state, they are allowed to operate these modern day slave trades with impunity.

In case after case, the Free Thought Project reports on horrifying instances of child sex rings that were allowed to go on for decades because politicians — including heads of states — policemen, clergy, and others were all in on the sick game.

In fact, as the Netflix series, The Keepers set out to launch an investigation into a murder cold case, it soon became much deeper because of the high-level pedophilia it revealed. The story exposed a concerted effort to conceal widespread rape and sexual abuse committed by Keough school chaplain and counselor Father Joseph Maskell, as well as other clergy, police, and a local gynecologist.

On multiple occasions, the Free Thought Project has reported interviews of former child sex trafficking victims who’ve all noted that they had nowhere to go as police and high-level politicians all took place in the abuse.

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Hopefully, as the government’s war on drugs continues to crumble, people will wake up to the fact that rescuing a child from a rapist is far more important than catching some dude smoking a plant. Hopefully.

Cops Arrest More People for Pot Than All Violent Crimes—Combined—Blame Lack of Resources

Source: The Free Thought Project

Police in Ohio are blaming a lack of resources for the fact that unsolved homicide cases greatly outnumber the cases that are solved, yet they seem to have the resources to arrest thousands of suspected cannabis users.

The failed War on Drugs is alive and well in the state of Ohio where an average of over 20,000 people are arrested on charges of cannabis possession each year. While the Drug Policy Alliance reported that around 30,494 people are arrested for drug-related offenses annually, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws noted that the majority, or around an average of 20,453 arrests, are for cannabis possession and sales.

While Ohio legalized cannabis for medicinal use in 2016, it has taken over one year for regulators to finally start to formalize how and where pot will be grown and available to medical patients,” which means that patients will just now start to see a difference.

However, despite the fact that they seem to have plenty of resources when it comes to arresting and detaining nonviolent offenders, police in Ohio are blaming a lack of resources for the fact that the number of homicide cases they solve continues to decline.

According to a report from The Columbus Dispatch, while over 80 people have been murdered in Columbus, Ohio, in 2017, police have made arrests in just 22 cases, with five cases being solved through “exceptional clearance” which occurs when the killing was self-defense, or the suspect dies. This puts the city at a 34 percent clearance rate for the year.

“It does appear homicide clearances are becoming rarer,” Thomas Hargrove, chairman of the Murder Accountability Project, told the Dispatch. “I’m afraid Columbus is joining a number of cities where most murders go unsolved.”

The homicide clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of homicides that are cleared—or have suspects that are charged—by the number of homicides that are recorded. While the national average for homicide clearance rate was over 90 percent in the 1960s, it declined to around 64 percent in 2015.

Detectives cited in the report from the Dispatch listed a lack of cooperation from witnesses in communities, a double-digit spike in homicides, which has only taxed limited resources, and the turnaround time at the lab” as reasons from the declining clearance rate.

Hargrove insisted that “more homicides will be solved when there are more resources, mainly detectives,” and said that cities such as Columbus has struggled financially, and the detectives they do have, are spread too thin as it is.

While there has been a recent increase in the murder rate in Ohio, the overall question remains: How did police in the United States go from solving over 90 percent of homicides in the 1960s to around 60 percent today, with cities like Columbus solving as little as 30 percent of homicides? It was not a change in resources—it was the introduction of the Drug War.

Former President Richard Nixon declared the official start of the “War on Drugs” in June 1971:

“America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive. I have asked the Congress to provide the legislative authority and the funds to fuel this kind of an offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive dealing with the problems of sources of supply, as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad, wherever they are in the world. It will be government wide, pulling together the nine different fragmented areas within the government in which this problem is now being handled, and it will be nationwide in terms of a new educational program that we trust will result from the discussions that we have had.”

However, the trend in Ohio has been a trend reflected in many states across the country—the war on drugs has turned into a war on cannabis. The majority of the individuals arrested on drug charges have been arrested for possessing a plant that at least 86 percent of Americans support legalizing in some form.

“Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime,” an ACLU and Human Rights Watch report found last year. “More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”

In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.

Aside from caring more about arresting people for a plant than catching a murderer, cops also make arrests disproportionately among race. According to the report, in spite of whites and blacks using drugs at the same rates, black adults are arrested 250% more than their white counterpart for drug posession.

As people literally take to the streets to oppose systemic racism, unfortunately, most of them aren’t pushing for the one solution that would have the biggest effect on stifling it—end the drug war.

The Moscow-Washington hotline between the leaders of the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union goes into operation.

The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Douglas MacArthur lands at Atsugi Air Force Base.

The Free Thought Project has provided in-depth coverage of stories that show the true power of cannabis, such as a groundbreaking study published last month, which found that cannabis can stop HIV from becoming AIDS; a study that confirmed that the majority of cannabis users give up prescription opiate medications; and a study that confirmed that cannabis has a “significant” effect on killing cancer cells.

As states like Ohio find that the number of unsolved homicide cases greatly outnumber the cases that are solved, it makes you wonder—what more could they accomplish if they were able to use their resources to track down violent murder suspects, instead of wasting them on nonviolent individuals who are found in possession of a plant?