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The views and opinions expressed in this post solely belong, to Steven Harris 

“A small event that leads to a chain reaction of events with unintended consequences that were unseen at the time of the inciting event” (1)

 

How we got here:

 

1984 began back in 2001, on 9/11/2001.

 

Yup, that day our government went after the suspected attackers, declared a global War on Terror, in practice a military war against an ideology set in Afghanistan and just about every country in the Middle East until it arrived at that we the citizens are the enemy to the interests of the United States. It was not enough to suck out 60% of tax BUSH SIGNS ANTI TERRORISM BILL INTO LAW.dollars to sustain a dozen foreign wars (some declared, others, not they had to come for our freedoms, the ones they said they were fighting to protect from the outset. The reality is that the freedoms of Americans have been under assault since 9/11 with the USA PATRIOT Act which strips us of our hard-fought-for rights, except if you are a person of color, that would be the rights you probably wanted to have. The early 2000s is around the time we now know the National Security Agency begun to spy and collect data on all Americans in massive sweeps from the archives of whistleblower Edward Snowden—collections that products of Microsoft, Google, Cisco and other tech companies have complied willfully to allow the government in via back doors circumvented encryption touted in each company’s sales pitch and into private files with the same access as the citizens who bought these products.

This is not new information, by now this has become well-documented and noncontroversial as to it being a real situation. At the time Apple claimed to be the lone holdout—whether they decided to uphold user privacy for more phone sales against phones that willfully are cracked for the authorities as another bullet point to sell more iPhones: secure from the US government, is another story. The case remained if the FBI wanted in, they’d have to do their best to hack in.

 

Then the Paris attacks happened.

 Screen-Shot-2015-11-15-at-06.25.21

With the world and media on its side, French President Hollande declared a state of emergency in November 2015 which is the next best thing to ramp up spying on citizens short of an American-style USA PATRIOT Act law, which Holland is working hard to extend at present. With the police state firmly in place, based on bogus information that the attacks were coordinated in an encrypted PlayStation Network chat room they took aim at encryption. With that, the French had all they needed to take aim at one of the last remaining areas of freedom in the digital realm which is always guarded by encryption, the security technology that scrambles information so that only the intended recipient and can read it back. France wanted Apple to do what the FBI is insisting Apple do with the iPhones in everyone’s pockets. The law failed and digital privacy won. (2)(3)(4)

 

Then the San Bernardino attack happened.

Right-wing Republicans from California to New York immediately went to work on legislation to do what France failed to do in an example that Republican can do things, and swiftly, other than obstructing the President. The debate continues as they seek to ban, block, circumvent an151202165015-08-san-bernardino-shooting-1202-super-169d create backdoors to strong encryption and with it destroy a little more our freedoms they will claim to be protecting in next election cycle. In 1984, Orwell would have called that doublespeak.

That’s how we got to where we are today with FBI standing with those states who want to abolish strong encryption in the name of the shooters in San Bernardino and have Apple build a backdoor in its popular iPhone operating system, literally letting the terrorist win by killing our own privacy, some might say. The French pressed its case with a state of emergency (cough, martial law) that’s crystallizing in a police state—the FBI is forging its case for Apple to submit with a 227-year-old All Writs Act to hammer its way into everyone’s smartphone data. (6)(7)(8)

 

You see, we have a slippery slope here, privacy has long been under attack, and we’re already halfway down that slippery slope.

 

We’re living in a strange time with our form of governance and economic system when a multinational corporation like Apple holds the interests of private citizens with more regard than a federal government funded and elected by those same private citizens. We are reaping the ill effects of political indifference and apathy to a system that has decayed and become equally apathetic to those on whose backs it is funded and supported, all the while this corporatio160224162849-apple-vs-fbi-scale-780x439n we rail about so often, for not paying its taxes for one, can claim the moral high ground against the FBI who wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Strange times in America indeed.

 Our freedoms, digital and otherwise, are a constant threat from those in power—the same who were fine with spying on you and me until they lost their shit when they found out sitting Congress members and even the President have been under surveillance at various points. Only then did the American people get its precious few privacy advocates among our elected officials, but it’s not nearly enough when the two chambers of Congress are lead by conservative obstructionist extremists and the public can barely be bothered to protest in a meaningful way.

 

It was said that “We get the politicians we deserve” and we also get the companies we deserve, as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have not committed to similar stances as Apple, not to forget this is probably against the interest of Apple, the world’s biggest explicit profit-seeking corporation, as well if it doesn’t sell any more phones and tablets, though at least Google’s new CEO offers vestigial praise for Apple and privacy. If you read the Snowden archives or Glenn Greenwald’s 2014 book “No Place To Hide” you’ll find that Microsoft and Google and several tech companies like Cisco are complicit with the NSA and FBI and are already operating back doors. In my opinion, we are in a very dangerous place when the only protect citizens have for their privacy is a capitalist market force called differentiation. Apple really is thinking different. (9)

 

How did we get here again? Slippery slope.

 

Steven Harris is an Apple systems administrator and computer engineer for American Public Media.

Endnote references:

(1)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KJmKTPzxBPc

 

(2)https://blog.easydns.org/2016/02/22/the-us-government-has-no-credibility-to-compel-anybody-to-weaken-security/

 

(3)https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/nov/14/paris-attacks-francois-hollande-declares-state-emergency-france-video

 

(4)https://www.france24.com/en/20160126-france-state-emergency-hollande-civil-liberties-security-terrorism

 

(5)https://fortune.com/2016/01/13/france-encryption/

 

(6)https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/what-all-writs-act-1789-has-do-iphone-180958188/?no-ist

 

(7)https://appleinsider.com/articles/16/02/23/in-new-court-filing-apple-cites-9-other-cases-in-which-fbi-asserted-the-all-writs-act

(8)https://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/a-dangerous-all-writ-precedent-in-the-apple-case

 

(9)https://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2016-02/24/google-ceo-paris-speech-sundar-pichai

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Entertainment

Rolling Ray Undergoes Surgery After Wig Catches On Fire

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Social media star Rolling Ray underwent surgery Tuesday morning to help treat the burns on his body after his terrible wig accident last week. 

In a series of IG stories, he let his audience follow along as hot prepped for surgery.

Last week Rolling Ray announced he was hospitalized after his wig caught on fire! During a January 13 Instagram Live session from inside a hospital room, he showed his severely burnt and damaged face telling viewers he burnt his “whole skin, legs, arms, feet, and everything.”

In a more recent Live, Rolling Ray explained what happened that led to his whole wig catching on fire. Apparently, it was just an unfortunate smoking accident. “It just, like, lit on fire when I tried to light the cigarette,” he recounted. “So I get to trying to snatch the wig off. B***h, the fire goes to my f*****g shirt, to my feet, to my legs, to my back. It’s a fire everywhere, it’s a fire in the whole room.” 

Of course the internet trolled him in a disgusting display of ableism and heartlessness. Comments like “Rolling Ray should have stopped, dropped, and rolled”and “karma’s a b***h” had social media split about his accident. His social media sensation comes from his harsh and, often, below-the-belt reads (just last month he told Yung Miami to “dig (sic) up” her dead baby father). However, the criticism didn’t stop him from responding on Twitter. 

Rolling Ray might be problematic as all get-out, but we do not tolerate ableism here. We wish him well as he heals.

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Politics

Mob of Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol, Sending Congress Into Lockdown

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On Wednesday afternoon an angry mob of Trump supporters, white supremacists, and what this website is calling “terrorists” stormed the United States Capitol as members of Congress were in session.

Earlier in the day, President Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand at an event in Washington, D.C. called the “Save America March.” Of course, as you know, since he lost the November election to Joe Biden, he has vigorously promoted various unfounded conspiracy theories that the election was rigged and somehow stolen from him. Without a single shred of evidence to back up his claim, he rambled on in front of his supporters for over an hour, charging that he lost due to widespread voter fraud. At one point, he told the crowd:

“Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy… I think right here we’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and our congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Shortly after the event concluded, videos flooded the internet of the mob not only attacking police, but also walking past multiple police barricades – sometimes at the invitation of police. They eventually scaled walls, smashed windows, and broke down doors as they raided the Capitol Complex. Meanwhile, Congress recessed and went into an immediate lockdown, interrupting their largely procedural vote to certify the electoral results of the 2020 presidential election.

Many Twitter users were quick to point out the glaring disparity in law enforcement’s treatment of these terrorists with their treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer. As you’ll recall, Trump ordered police use tear gas and rubber bullets when clearing a crowd outside the White House all for a photo op with a Bible.

Throughout the afternoon, many around the world watched as the Capitol grounds became unrecognizable in a sea of Trump flags and other white supremacist colors. For over 4 hours, the terrorists were allowed to roam freely throughout government halls. Many proudly posed for pictures inside congressional offices, on the floors of Congress, and throughout the halls. In one video, a police officer inside a building gave a thumbs up as he posed for a selfie with a terrorist. The scenes that came out of this insurrection were jarring for many.

For over two hours following the terrorists’ rushing of the Capitol, President Trump was completely silent on the matter. As more time passed, it became apparent that he would not make any serious attempts to quell the violence unfolding in his own backyard. All Americans got was a now-deleted video posted to social media in which Trump told the mob, “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us… It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it – especially the other side. But you have to go home now… We love you. You’re very special.”

Of course the President of the United States calling armed insurrectionists “very special” lit people up. Today’s events were the last straw for many; even with only two weeks left in office, he still managed to make more enemies than he already had.

By the time police finally decided to respond, the mayor had already put a 6pm curfew in place. Despite multiple law enforcement agencies clearing the Capitol and blocking the area around it, terrorists still hung around the complex well into the evening. It wasn’t until 8pm – over 8 hours after the siege began – that Congress was able to return to counting the electoral votes (they didn’t finish the count until nearly 4am). 

When all was said and done, law enforcement made 52 arrests, safely detonated at least 2 pipe bombs found at the RNC and DNC headquarters, arrested a suspect connected to a vehicle found with firearms, ammunition, and explosives, and confirmed 4 terrorists died.

Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP

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Asian Doll Gets Into It with JT and Megan Thee Stallion

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Twitter was lit Sunday when Texas rapper Asian Doll got into it with JT and Megan Thee Stallion over her assertions she was left off Meg’s track “Do It on the Tip,” which features City Girls – JT’s rap group.

Asian Doll told the world she was originally supposed to be on the song – recorded a verse and everything – but was kicked off at the last minute, replaced by City Girls. In an Instagram Live this past Friday (December 18), the rapper played her unreleased verse on “Do It on the Tip” as she told viewers she didn’t know why it didn’t come out or “what the f*** Megan was thinking.” 

Later, Asian Doll insisted her and Megan were good, tweeting that they’re still friends. That didn’t stop City Girls fans from getting involved and JT herself from commenting, “a real friend is something you b****** really don’t know nothing about!” She went on to suggest the TX rapper was lying about her verse originally being on the song.

Apparently, Asian Doll didn’t take these subliminals as shots fired because she appeared to attempt to calm the flames. “If Jt ain’t say my name then she wasn’t talking to me stop being messy cause what I said was between me & Megan !” she said on Twitter. But it didn’t take long for her to pick up on the beef and fire back. For much of Sunday, the two went back and forth online, trading shot after shot.

Finally, Megan Thee Stallion chimed in tweeting, “I hate that all of this is getting so blown out of proportion. It was never as deep as the comments made it seem.” Her and Asian Doll briefly exchanged.

Now that the dust has settled it looks like all the smoke was for show, yet still it made for entertaining Sunday tea.

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