Financial Trading in The Digital Age

The digital age is shaping most aspects of the world such as speeding up manufacturing, improving the quality of life around the globe, and making every aspect of being more efficient and effective. The financial marketplace hosts many variables, which over the years have been experiencing relentless growth of the numerous entities remains reassuringly consistent. The financial markets and stock market revolutionized by advanced technology that marks the digital age.

Technology has shaped and changed the current state of financial trading, and also the future directions. For an instant, through technology, it’s now easier than ever to trade on the various markets, and making a transaction is faster than ever, and the financial depth of information that is easy to access.

More Efficient Trading Operations

The legal and financial process involved in the financial market is primarily done on paper and needs a large, inflexible, and expensive operation footprint. Advanced digital documentation trade promises to increase agility and reduce trading costs.  Although, there are several obstacles to moving to paperless business, and the move is expected to gain much traction in the future. Large trading companies and banks are likely to benefit more from digital investment, compared to small traders and some freighting firms that engage in forex trading.

Financial Trading Optical Character Recognition and Machine Learning

The most global trading institution is currently using standard optical character recognition mostly used in recognizing text form trade documents. Although the technology is valuable, it offers no step change in efficiency.  Recent years trading brokers are taping the great opportunity that lies in intelligent OCR that recognizes trading papers and automatically transfers paper-based text and written content into back-end field.

Digital Compliance

Financial trading is covered by several regulations such as known-your-customers, trade embargoes, and anti-money-laundering policies.  In the digital age, those regulations and procedures are becoming more compressive, changeable and very strict, placing trading institution to the risk of reputational damage and fines.  The trading organization needs to practice effective compliance as the critical driver of performance and significant operation burden.

In Practice

Today, new digital, cloud-based trading platforms are emerging that enable stock trading to complete trade transactions, in a minute.  Traders are using the best in class technology, safely and securely and accessing instant information. In a trade transaction, data can be shared, instant checks are done and the entire process completed in a few minutes.

Trading platforms in stock, precious metal and CFDs trading work by scanning trade documents and extracting the data using OCR software’s which the trading platform can use downstream. The data is then run through several sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning-based, trading rules algorithmic engines for processing. The trading platform can come up with responses and decisions that can be used by the trader every day, ensuring the trading process is data-driven-as opposed to paper trade dependent.

Financial Trading Positive outcomes

Digital age application in trading promises reduced trading cost in gold and silver trading and reduces the complexities of trade finance for trading cooperations and brokers (compare brokers).  There is enhanced working-capital management among the trading partners such as the use of smart contracts, AI and machine learning that automate forex trading for a more streamlined operation process across the whole trade ecosystem.

Looking Forward

Trade digitalization won’t happen overnight, the transformation is still at an early stage, and it shows definite potential for technology by creating significant efficiencies and financial market opportunities in the sector. As the financial industry continues to show progress and interest in digitization, advanced, innovative such as mobile trading apps, among other with multiple benefits for all parties operating in trade finance will be transformational in the recent future.

Digitalization and technological innovations show an exciting future for global trade amid today’s uncertainties. That innovation soon will usher in more inclusion and skilled financial business in the years to come.

Dr. Mercola: Is It Time to Forget Facebook?

Article Source: Mercola.com


  • As of December 31, 2018, Facebook had 2.32 billion active users around the world, up from 2.27 billion at the end of the third quarter that year. This includes an estimated 83 million fake profiles
  • Your hobbies, habits and preferences are meticulously tracked by the site, and your personal data is then sold to whomever wants access to it — ostensibly for targeted marketing purposes, but there are no safeguards in place to prevent scammers and even political agents from using the data, as detailed in Frontline’s “The Facebook Dilemma”
  • A front-runner to Facebook was a “hot or not” site called FaceMash, where people voted on the attractiveness of Harvard students’ photos — photos Zuckerberg obtained and used without permission
  • Two former Snopes employees quit after discovering Facebook was paying Snopes, and pushing fact-checkers to debunk information that might hurt its advertisers
  • NewsGuard, clearly influenced by Wall Street and indebted to big industries through its funding, is being positioned to eliminate competition, which will allow Big Industry to reign as the leading shaper of public opinion and government health policies

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Despite the controversy swirling around Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg in recent years, the social media platform keeps growing. As of December 31, 2018, Facebook had 2.32 billion active users1 around the world, up from 2.27 billion2 at the end of the third quarter that year.

This does include an estimated 83 million fake profiles,3 though, which is just one of the many hazards of Facebook. It should come as no surprise at this point that Facebook is monetizing your involvement with the site.4 As the saying goes, “There’s no free lunch,” and this certainly applies here.

Facebook Primary ‘Product’ Is You

Your hobbies, habits and preferences are meticulously tracked by the site,5 and your personal data is then sold to whomever wants access to it — ostensibly for targeted marketing purposes, but there are no real safeguards in place to prevent scammers and even political agents from using the data, as detailed in Frontline’s “The Facebook Dilemma,” featured above.

In it, Frontline PBS correspondent James Jacoby investigates Facebook’s influence over the democracy of nations, and the lax privacy parameters that allowed for tens of millions of users’ data to be siphoned off and used in an effort to influence the U.S. elections.

The problem is, Facebook has repeatedly been caught mishandling users’ data and/or lying about its collection practices, and it seems precious little is being done to really correct these shortcomings.

Its entire profit model is based on the selling of personal information that facilitates everything from targeted advertising to targeted fraud. For individuals who start using Facebook at a young age, the lifetime data harvest is likely to be inconceivably large, giving those who buy or otherwise access that information an extraordinarily comprehensive picture of the individual in question.

Facebook even has the ability to access your computer or smartphone’s microphone without your knowledge.6 If you suddenly find yourself on the receiving end of ads for products or services you just spoke about out loud, chances are one or more apps are linked into your microphone and are eavesdropping.

The Origin of Facebook Speaks Volumes

While Zuckerberg insists that Facebook was created “to make the world more open and connected,” and “give people the power to build community,”7 his early foray into social media could hardly be called altruistic.

A front-runner to Facebook was a “hot or not” site called FaceMash,8 where people voted on the attractiveness of Harvard students’ photos — photos which, according to Tech Crunch, were obtained and used without permission.9 As noted in Tech Crunch:10

“Blogging about what you were doing as you did it, you wrote:11 ‘I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of some farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.’ Just in case there was any doubt as to the ugly nature of your intention.

The seeds of Facebook’s global business were thus sown in a crude and consentless game of clickbait whose idea titillated you so much you thought nothing of breaching security, privacy, copyright and decency norms just to grab a few eyeballs …

[T]he core DNA of Facebook’s business sits in that frat boy discovery where your eureka internet moment was finding you could win the attention jackpot by pitting people against each other.”

Indeed, the Frontline report starts out showing early video footage of Zuckerberg in his first office, complete with a beer keg and graffiti on the walls, talking about the surprising success of his social media platform. At the time, in 2005, Facebook had just hit 3 million users.

The video also shows Zuckerberg giving an early Harvard lecture, in which he states that it’s “more useful to make things happen and apologize later than it is to make sure you dot all your i’s now, and not get stuff done.” As noted by Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor, it was Zuckerberg’s “renegade philosophy and disrespect for authority that led to the Facebook motto, ‘Move fast and break things.'”

While that motto speaks volumes today, “It wasn’t that they intended to do harm, as much as they were unconcerned about the possibility that harm would result,” McNamee says. Today, one has to wonder whether lack of concern is truly the core problem. Increasingly, it appears Facebook’s leadership know exactly what they’re doing, and the harm — especially the harm they expose users to — appears intentional.

Facebook Fact-Checkers Have Lost Trust in the Site

In a December 2018 article in The Guardian,12 Sam Levin reported that a number of journalists hired as fact-checkers for the site have quit, saying “the company has ignored their concerns and failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.”

One of them, Brooke Binkowski, told Levin that Facebook is “not taking anything seriously,” and “are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck.”13 She also said she “strongly believe[s] that they are spreading fake news on behalf of hostile foreign powers and authoritarian governments as part of their business model.”

Binkowski used to be the managing editor of Snopes, a fact-checking site partnered with Facebook for two years. She has since quit Snopes and started her own fact-checking site. Another Snopes content manager also left the company due to frustrations over Snopes dealings with Facebook, saying she thought Facebook was trying to give the “appearance of trying to prevent damage without actually doing anything.”

She also discovered Snopes was being paid by Facebook, which she felt was “really gross,” as the two companies “have completely different missions.” The fact that Snopes employees are disgusted over Facebook’s apparent disinterest in the facts seems ironic in and of itself, considering Snopes itself has repeatedly come under fire for being ill-equipped to discern facts from lies due to apparent biases.

Most recently, Snopes’ fact-checking of a vaccine injury report by former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson got an “F,” as they were clearly going to great lengths to simply discredit the report and not actually looking at the factual basis behind it.

According to Attkisson, “[T]he Snopes article debunks claims that were never made and uses one-sided references as its sources — other propagandists — without disclosing their vaccine industry ties.”14 The fact of the matter is, Snopes engages in massive censorship of natural health, and promotes industry talking points regardless of what the scientific reality is.

Facebook Accused of Creating Propaganda

Facebook is also accused of hiring Definers Public Affairs, a PR firm whose use of “anti-Semitic narrative to discredit critics” — in this case a group of protesters called Freedom From Facebook — created “the same kind of propaganda fact-checkers regularly debunk.”15

According to The Guardian,16 Facebook’s media partners (about 40 in all, located across the globe) are split in their views about their fact-checking relationship with Facebook. While some believe it’s a positive step, others claim to have:

” … [G]rown increasingly resentful of Facebook, especially following revelations that the company had paid a consulting firm to go after opponents by publicizing their association with billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

The attacks fed into a well-known conspiracy theory about Soros being the hidden hand behind all manner of liberal causes and global events. It was later revealed that Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, had directed her staff to research Soros’ financial interests after he publicly criticized the company.

‘Why should we trust Facebook when it’s pushing the same rumors that its own fact-checkers are calling fake news?’ said a current Facebook fact-checker … ‘It’s worth asking how do they treat stories about George Soros on the platform knowing they specifically pay people to try to link political enemies to him?'”

A November 15, 2018, article in Tech Crunch reported on the PR scandal, saying:17

“Facebook is facing calls to conduct an external investigation into its own lobbying and PR activities by an aide to billionaire George Soros …

The call follows an explosive investigation, published yesterday by the New York Times based on interviews with more than 50 sources on the company, which paints an ugly picture of how Facebook’s leadership team responded to growing pressure over election interference … including by engaging an external firm to lobby aggressively on its behalf.”

Facebook leaders deny the allegations — Zuckerberg going so far as to claim he didn’t even know his company was working with Definers, or who had hired them.18 Facebook reportedly severed ties with the PR firm shortly after the publication of The New York Times article.

This call for an investigation into Facebook’s PR activities came on the heels of a call for a privacy audit by the European parliament, following the revelation that Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to misuse users’ data in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election. November 16, 2018, Wired added to the ongoing story, stating:19

“Freedom From Facebook has garnered renewed attention this week, after The New York Times revealed that Facebook employed an opposition firm called Definers to fight the group Definers reportedly urged journalists to find links between Freedom From Facebook and billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a frequent target of far-right, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

That direct connection didn’t materialize. But where Freedom From Facebook did come from — and how Facebook countered it — does illustrate how seemingly grassroots movements in Washington aren’t always what they first appear.”

According to Wired, Freedom From Facebook was the idea of former hedge fund executive David Magerman, who approached the Open Markets Institute, a think tank headed by Barry Lynn, an outspoken critic of monopolies such as Google and Facebook.

The group has also formed coalitions with other progressive groups, including Citizens Against Monopoly (a nonprofit founded by Open Markets Institute), Jewish Voice for Peace and the Communications Workers of America. In all, the Freedom From Facebook coalition now includes a dozen groups, all of which, according to Open Markets Institute director Sarah Miller, “organize around this fundamental principle that Facebook is too powerful.”

Facebook Fact-Checkers Charged With Protecting Views of Advertisers

According to Binkowski, Facebook was also “pushing reporters to prioritize debunking misinformation that affected Facebook advertisers.”20 This comes as no surprise to me, seeing how my site has been on the receiving end of that agenda.

Below is a screenshot of a Facebook post for one of my Splenda articles, which based on “fact-checking” by Snopes was classified as “False,”21 thereby reducing its potential views by an average of 80 percent.22 This despite the fact that I’m reporting published, peer-reviewed science.

NewsGuard — Another Biased Arbiter of Truth

Another fact-checking site that is positioning itself as a global arbiter of credibility is NewsGuard. A recent article23 in Slate highlights the ramifications of getting a poor NewsGuard rating, as the company has partnered with Microsoft to incorporate its ratings as a feature in Microsoft’s Edge browser.

If a user has the setting enabled, each and every search result, plus all media posts in their Facebook and Twitter feeds, will display NewsGuard’s credibility rating of the site in question. NewsGuard has also partnered with the public library system, so that all library computers will display the ratings.

The Daily Mail Online — one of the world’s largest online newspapers — scored just 3 out of 9 possible criteria, earning them a “red” NewsGuard label, which warns readers that “This website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

A spokesman for the Daily Mail said, “We have only very recently become aware of the NewsGuard startup and are in discussions with them to have this egregiously erroneous classification resolved as soon as possible.” As noted by Slate:

“[W]hat does it mean if NewsGuard, or another fledgling credibility-rating project, begins to wield outsize influence over which news organizations garner the most trust on the internet? …

[T]he Mail’s run-in with NewsGuard may presage a new phase: one in which the big tech platforms’ algorithms begin to incorporate measures of a news outlet’s trustworthiness, while a handful of startups and nonprofits vie to be the arbiters behind those ratings.

The trust industry is quietly taking shape. Should we trust it? … It’s … possible to imagine a nightmare scenario in which the ratings authorities become too powerful, their subjective decisions baked into every algorithm and profoundly shaping what people read.

Media companies would try to game the green shields the same way they gamed Facebook’s algorithm — or worse, curry favor or influence behind the scenes.”

The Credibility War — The Latest Attempt to Stifle Big Business Competition

Indeed, I would argue there’s simply no way one can trust any given organization or company to dictate credibility and preside over what’s true and what’s not. There are typically two or more sides to any story, and money can easily tip the scales on which side gets to be “true” and which is deemed “false.”

In the case of NewsGuard, one does not need to have prophetic vision to see the future writing on the wall. All you have to do is take a look at where its funding is coming from, and you’ll realize the organization is ripe with bias already.

Aside from internet giants Microsoft24 and Google — one of the largest monopolies in the world — NewsGuard is backed by companies that are involved in advertising and marketing of pharmaceutical products, cigarettes and unhealthy junk food to kids.25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33 (To learn more, see “The New Plan to Censor Health Websites.”)

Are we really to believe that the profit preferences of such entities will have no influence on NewsGuard’s ratings of individuals, organizations and companies that criticize the safety or effectiveness of those products?

In the final analysis, it appears NewsGuard is just another big business aimed at keeping the chemical, drug and food industries, as well as mainstream media, intact by discrediting and eliminating unwanted competition, which likely includes yours truly and many others who empower you with information that helps you take control of your health.

Is It Time to Forget Facebook? Take the Survey Below and Let Me Know.

Over time, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with Facebook myself, and I wonder if perhaps I’m doing more harm than good by being a part of it. There’s no denying that by being on Facebook, you’re exposing yourself to privacy intrusions.

Then again, as described by Tech Crunch,34 these intrusions will continue to occur even after you close your Facebook account, and take place even if you never had one in the first place. In the end, it seems the very existence of Facebook is the problem. As Tech Crunch notes, “Essentially, Facebook’s founder is saying that the price for Facebook’s existence is pervasive surveillance of everyone, everywhere, with or without your permission.”

You may want to consider taking a sabbatical from Facebook. According to a recent study35 by researchers at New York University and Stanford, Facebook users report feeling happier and more satisfied with life after leaving the platform for a month. They were also less likely to report feelings of anxietydepression and loneliness — a finding that supports the idea that social media is a poor substitute for actual face-to-face interactions.

Still, I’m seriously considering leaving the platform, and devising other ways to stay in touch with readers. Before I do that, however, I am conducting a survey below to get a feel for what you think about my presence there. Take the survey now to let me know your thoughts.

Top 10 Health Searches for 2018

Article Source: Mercola.com


  • Google recently announced the top health searches for 2018. Ketogenic diet and keto dishes were popular, although top billing still went to junk food items, with unicorn cake coming in at No. 1
  • Top internal health searches for Mercola.com include high blood pressure, ketogenic diet, the benefits of beets, vitamin D, intermittent fasting, flu shot facts, sucralose, probiotics, berberine and cancer

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for subscribers like you, who help, support and share our vision for a naturally healthier, happier world, every day of the year.

Google recently announced the top health searches for 2018.1,2,3 Ketogenic diet and keto dishes were popular, although top billing still went to junk food items, with unicorn cake coming in at No. 1. Below, I’ll review the Top 10 internal Mercola.com searches for 2018 — the articles and information people have turned to again and again.

Below each search term heading, the most popular article of the year is hyperlinked; just click on it to read the full article.

No. 1 — High Blood Pressure

A blood pressure reading of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is considered healthy. High blood pressure (hypertension) is typically considered anything over 140/90 mmHg, although the latest guidelines4 from the American Heart Association now have 130/80 mmHg as the cutoff for a diagnosis of hypertension. In the U.S., an estimated 1 in 3 have high blood pressure, and another 1 in 3 have prehypertension.5

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia,6 adding further weight to recommendations to get your blood pressure under control in order to protect not only your heart but also your long-term cognitive health.

High Blood Pressure Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia” reviews the latest research linking hypertension with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease; factors that can affect your blood pressure reading; common causes for high blood pressure; and, natural ways to normalize your blood pressure without drugs.

Beet juice, for example, has been found to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.7 The beneficial effects are related to the nitrate found in beetroot juice. Your body converts the nitrate into bioactive nitrite followed by nitric oxide (NO), the latter of which helps relax and dilate your blood vessels. High-intensity exercise such as the Nitric Oxide Dump will also trigger NO production in your body.

A number of essential oils can also be helpful, including lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, bergamot, rose, frankincense, rosemary, lemon balm and clary sage.8 More information can be found in the popular article “Essential Oils Lower Blood Pressure.”

Salt-related hypertension is also a concern for many. In “Why a Low-Sodium Diet Might Wreck Your Health,” I interview James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., about his book, “The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong — and How Eating More Might Save Your Life.”

A key take-home message here is that processed foods and sugars may have a far greater impact on your blood pressure than salt, and that your sodium-to-potassium ratio is far more important a factor than the amount of salt you eat.

No. 2 — Ketogenic Diet

Many of the disease epidemics facing us today — including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia — could be turned around by educating people about the benefits of a cyclical ketogenic diet, i.e., a diet high in healthy fats, moderate in protein and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber).

Burn Fat for Fuel” details how burning fat for fuel improves mitochondrial function, and why cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis is recommended once your body is able to efficiently burn fat. In this article, I also review the benefits of intermittent fasting and longer water fasts, as well as the fats to eat more of and which ones to avoid.

No. 3 — Beets

Beets have gotten loads of beneficial press in the past year, as research demonstrates the beneficial impact of plant-based nitrates on your heart health. In “Why Some Nitrates Are Healthy While Others Are Harmful,” I review the ins and outs of healthy versus unhealthy nitrates.

Your microbiome converts the nitrates found naturally in plant foods into beneficial nitric oxide, while the nitrates in cured and processed meats raise your risk of cancer by being converted into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds due to the presence of proteins and heme in the meat.

No. 4 — Vitamin D

We’re continually learning more and more about the benefits of vitamin D — and how vitamin D works with other nutrients to optimize health. “Without Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Backfire” explains why optimizing your magnesium level is so important for effectively raising your vitamin D level.

Like vitamin K2 and calcium, magnesium is a crucial cofactor when trying to raise your vitamin D, as it’s required for the activation of vitamin D. Without sufficient amounts of magnesium, your body cannot properly utilize the vitamin D3 you’re taking, and research shows improving your magnesium status can actually allow you to raise your vitamin D level while taking lower doses.

To assess your magnesium level, check your RBC magnesium level and track signs and symptoms of magnesium insufficiency to determine how much magnesium you need. Low potassium and calcium are also common laboratory signs indicating magnesium deficiency.

Remember that the only way to determine how much sun exposure is enough and/or how much vitamin D3 you need to take is to measure your vitamin D level, ideally twice a year. According to the latest research, a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL appears to be ideal for optimal health and disease prevention.

No. 5 — Intermittent Fasting

Fasting upregulates autophagy and mitophagy — natural cleansing processes necessary for optimal cellular renewal and function — and triggers the generation of stem cells. The cyclical abstinence from food followed by refeeding also massively stimulates mitochondrial biosynthesis. All of this is needed for optimal health and disease prevention, which is why fasting has such a powerful regenerative effect.

Research shows fasting is a powerful lifestyle tool for combating obesity, insulin resistance and related health problems, including cancer. There’s even evidence to suggest fasting can help prevent or even reverse dementia, as it helps your body clean out toxic debris.

While water-only fasting is the most effective, it can also be the most problematic, as it forces fat-soluble toxins out of your fat cells. If you’re highly toxic and your detoxification pathways aren’t working well, this could actually be dangerous.

Fortunately, research has confirmed that similar results (albeit not as profound) can be achieved through intermittent fasting, i.e., following a meal-timing schedule where you’re fasting for at least 16 hours every day and eating all of your meals within eight consecutive hours.

While some intermittent fasting plans place no restrictions on the foods you eat (only when and/or the number of calories), recent evidence suggests intermittent fasting is far more effective when combined with a ketogenic diet.

This makes sense considering both strategies improve your fat burning ability and have similar rejuvenating and regenerating effects. All of this is reviewed in the popular article “Why Intermittent Fasting Is More Effective Combined With Ketogenic Diet.”

No. 6 — Flu Shot Facts

Flu protection is a common yearly concern, online search data reveal. Two of the most-read articles for 2018 were “The Big Bad Flu Data — What You Need to Know About Vaccine Effectiveness and Alternatives,” and “New York City to Require Flu Shots for Preschoolers and California Moves to Eliminate Vaccine Exemptions for the Poor.”

As noted in “The Big Bad Flu Data,” the vaccine effectiveness against influenza for the 2017/2018 seasonal flu vaccines was just 36 percent, meaning for a vast majority of people, it offered no protection at all. What’s more, research shows the flu vaccine does not result in significantly fewer or lessened symptoms should you contract the flu.

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting flu vaccinations render you more susceptible to illness, both in that season and the following one. The article also provides the details of research showing vitamin D optimization would protect far more people than flu vaccinations.

The second article discusses the ongoing concern of mandatory flu vaccinations for school-aged children, and the elimination of vaccine exemptions. It also reviews a number of studies questioning the validity of annual flu vaccination as a public health measure.

No. 7 — Sucralose (Splenda)

Sucralose (sold under the brand name Splenda) is one of the main competitors to aspartame, and both of these artificial sweeteners can have serious health consequences, raising your risk of obesity, diabetes and other chronic health problems. One of sucralose’s mechanisms of harm is the destruction of beneficial gut bacteria.

New Splenda Studies Confirm Its Dangers” reviews research showing sucralose is not a biologically inert compound; it is in fact metabolized, and accumulates in fat cells — something that the industry has long denied — and has toxic effects in your liver. The article also lists commonly reported side effects, and other scientific findings that question its overall safety in the long term.

I also review how to determine whether you might be having a reaction to artificial sweeteners, and how to file an adverse reaction report with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

No. 8 — Probiotics

More attention than ever is being put on your gut health, and understandably so because 70 to 80 percent of your immune function resides within your gastrointestinal tract. Your gut bacteria can also influence your behavior and gene expression, and have been shown to play a role in a variety of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, autism and Parkinson’s disease.

While fermented foods and a healthy low-sugar, high-fiber diet are foundational for gut health, probiotic supplements can also be beneficial. In “Go With Your Gut,” I review the influence of your gut microbiome on your health, and how to identify a high-quality probiotic supplement.

I also discuss the benefits of sporebiotics, which in some ways are superior to conventional probiotic supplements, especially if you’re taking them concurrently with an antibiotic, or to reseed your gut following a course of antibiotics. Sporebiotics do not contain any live bacillus strains, only its spores — the protective shell around the DNA and the working mechanism of that DNA — which means they are not affected by antibiotics.

No. 9 — Berberine

A number of new supplements have gained recognition in the past year, with berberine, a powerful AMPK activator, being among the most popular and most-searched-for.

AMPK is an enzyme that plays an important role in body fat composition, inflammation, blood lipids, mitophagy (mitochondrial autophagy) and mitochondrial biogenesis. It also stimulates five other critically important pathways: insulin, leptin, mTOR, IGF-1 and PGC-1α.

In “PQQ, Berberine and Other Mitochondrial Enhancers,” I interview Dr. Michael Murray, a naturopathic physician and author of several books, about the benefits and action of berberine. For example, berberine has been shown to protect against oxidative stress associated with Parkinson’s disease, and has many of the same benefits as the diabetic drug metformin, but without the side effects.

No. 10 — Cancer

As you’d expect, cancer is also on the list of most-searched-for health concerns. Clearly, prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to cancer, and while diet is paramount (with cyclical keto and fasting topping the list of all-natural cancer prevention strategies), specific nutrients and supplements show great promise as well, curcumin being one of the most potent and most well-studied.

When it comes to cancer treatment, more people than ever before are forgoing conventional chemotherapy and are starting to take control of their own cancer treatment and care. Overall, years of research supports the sanity of this trend, as studies have repeatedly shown chemo is nowhere near as effective as most people think, and actually hastens death when given to severely ill patients.

Two of the most popular cancer-related articles for the year were “How Curcumin Targets Cancer” and “Chemotherapy Is Losing Its Luster,” which address prevention and treatment respectively.

The remarkable benefits of nutritional ketosis and fasting as adjuncts to conventional cancer treatment are also detailed in “Metabolically Supported Therapies for the Improvement of Cancer Treatment,” which features an interview with Dr. Abdul Slocum and Travis Christofferson, author of “Tripping Over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms.”

WATCH: What To Trust in a “Post-Truth” World | Alex Edmans [TED Video]

Source: TED

Watch this fascinating TED video with Alex Edmans discussing what you can trust in a ‘post-truth’ world.

Only if you are truly open to the possibility of being wrong can you ever learn, says researcher Alex Edmans. In an insightful talk, he explores how confirmation bias — the tendency to only accept information that supports your personal beliefs — can lead you astray on social media, in politics and beyond, and offers three practical tools for finding evidence you can actually trust. (Hint: appoint someone to be the devil’s advocate in your life.)

Facebook Applies For Patent On Technology That Identifies Households For Targeted Ads

In Facebook’s patent application, titled “Predicting Household Demographics Based on Image Data,” the company makes very clear the purpose of its new technology. If the patent is granted, and officials at Facebook choose to move forward with the new technology, it would likely be part of a major family-targeting program—one aimed at providing retailers with the data they need to target products that whole families might want to purchase, such as a vacation or a phone package plan.

By Bob Yirka , Tech Xplore

Article source: phys.org

Facebook has applied for a patent on technology the company has developed to collect data on people living in the same household by using photographs and other information stored or posted on the social networking site.

Facebook, like most other social network sites, not only keeps track of posting activity, but uses that data as a way to help sellers target users with ads more likely to get their attention. Now, it appears, engineers at Facebook have developed algorithms that target entire households using information from a variety of sources on the site, including posted pictures.

Such an  could easily use information that is directly posted, such as home address, and names and descriptions of things that people do, along with information collected behind the scenes, such as IP addresses (multiple IP addresses from the same site give an indication of how many people live at a given location). It could also use physical GPS address location information collected from data stored along with digital images that users post from their phones.

The algorithm could also make use of reference data, such as groups of friends or  mentioning attending the same event, or people appearing in photos posted by more than one person—like photos of a child by both a mother and a father. Also, it is likely that the algorithm would make use of keywords that appear in user posts, such as wife, sweetie, honey, etc.—clear indications of a familial relationship.

Read the rest of the article…

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics’ Real-Life Superhero, Dies at 95 (Plus His Top 10 Greatest Comics)

By Mike Barnes | The Hollywood Reporter

The feisty writer, editor and publisher was responsible for such iconic characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther and the Fantastic Four — ’nuff said.

Stan Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics whose fantabulous but flawed creations made him a real-life superhero to comic book lovers everywhere, has died. He was 95.

Lee, who began in the business in 1939 and created or co-created Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among countless other characters, died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a source told The Hollywood Reporter.

Lee’s final few years were tumultuous. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he sued executives at POW! Entertainment — a company he founded in 2001 to develop film, TV and video game properties — for $1 billion alleging fraud, then abruptly dropped the suit weeks later. He also sued his ex-business manager and filed for a restraining order against a man who had been handling his affairs. (Lee’s estate is estimated to be worth as much as $70 million.) And in June 2018, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating reports of elder abuse against him.

On his own and through his work with frequent artist-writer collaborators Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko (who died in July) and others, Lee catapulted Marvel from a tiny venture into the world’s No. 1 publisher of comic books and, later, a multimedia giant.

In 2009, The Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, and most of the top-grossing superhero films of all time — led by Avengers: Infinity War‘s $2.05 billion worldwide take earlier this year — have featured Marvel characters.

“I used to think what I did was not very important,” he told the Chicago Tribune in April 2014. “People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed.”

Lee’s fame and influence as the face and figurehead of Marvel, even in his nonagenarian years, remained considerable.

Beginning in the 1960s, the irrepressible and feisty Lee punched up his Marvel superheroes with personality, not just power. Until then, comic book headliners like those of DC Comics were square and well-adjusted, but his heroes had human foibles and hang-ups; Peter Parker/Spider-Man, for example, fretted about his dandruff and was confused about dating. The evildoers were a mess of psychological complexity.

“His stories taught me that even superheroes like Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk have ego deficiencies and girl problems and do not live in their macho fantasies 24 hours a day,” Gene Simmons of Kiss said in a 1979 interview. “Through the honesty of guys like Spider-Man, I learned about the shades of gray in human nature.”

(Kiss made it to the Marvel pages, and Lee had Simmons bleed into a vat of ink so the publisher could say the issues were printed with his blood.)

The Manhattan-born Lee wrote, art-directed and edited most of Marvel’s series and newspaper strips. He also penned a monthly comics column, “Stan’s Soapbox,” signing off with his signature phrase, “Excelsior!”

His way of doing things at Marvel was to brainstorm a story with an artist, then write a synopsis. After the artist drew the story panels, Lee filled in the word balloons and captions. The process became known as “The Marvel Method.”

Lee collaborated with artist-writer Kirby on the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Silver Surfer and X-Men. With artist-writer Ditko he created Spider-Man and the surgeon Doctor Strange, and with artist Bill Everett came up with the blind superhero Daredevil.

Such collaborations sometimes led to credit disputes: Lee and Ditko reportedly engaged in bitter fights, and both receive writing credit on the Spider-Man movies and TV shows. “I don’t want anyone to think I treated Kirby or Ditko unfairly,” he told Playboy magazine in April 2014. “I think we had a wonderful relationship. Their talent was incredible. But the things they wanted weren’t in my power to give them.”

Like any Marvel employee, Lee had no rights to the characters he helped create and received no royalties.

In the 1970s, Lee importantly helped push the boundaries on censorship in comics, delving into serious and topical subject matter in a medium that had become mindless, kid-friendly entertainment.

In 1954, the publication of psychologist Frederic Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent had spurred calls for the government to regulate violence, sex, drug use, questioning of public authority figures, etc., in the comics as a way to curtail “juvenile delinquency.” Wary publishers headed that off by forming the Comics Code Authority, a self-censoring body that while avoiding the heavy hand of Washington still wound up neutering adult interest in comics and stereotyping the medium as one only kids would enjoy.

Lee scripted banal scenarios with characters like Nellie the Nurse and Tessie the Typist, but in 1971, he inserted an anti-drug storyline into “The Amazing Spider-Man” in which Peter Parker’s best friend Harry Osborn popped pills. Those issues, which did not carry the CCA “seal of approval” on the covers, became extremely popular, and later, the organization relaxed some of its guidelines.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922, he grew up poor in Washington Heights, where his father, a Romanian immigrant, was a dress-cutter. A lover of adventure books and Errol Flynn movies, Lee graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project, where he appeared in a few stage shows, and wrote obituaries.

In 1939, Lee got a job as a gofer for $8 a week at Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. Two years later, for Kirby and Joe Simon’s Captain America No. 3, he wrote a two-page story titled “The Traitor’s Revenge!” that was used as text filler to qualify the company for the inexpensive magazine mailing rate. He used the pen name Stan Lee.

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#GoogleWalkout: Workers Worldwide Leave Their Desks to Demand End to Sexual Harassment and Inequity

Dublin participants of the Google Walkout For Real Change on Nov. 1 left their desks at 11:10am local time. (Photo: Karen O’Connell/Twitter)

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

Thousands of Google employees across the globe walked out of their offices at 11:10am local time on Thursday to demand improvements to workplace culture including an end to sexual harassment and misconduct.

The walkout comes on the heels of an executive resigning this week after the New York Times reported that he allegedly harassed a female job applicant and that the company gave another executive accused of harassment a “hero’s farewell” and a $90 million exit package.

Those who are participating in the Google Walkout For Real Change are leaving flyers at their desk that read: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone. I’ll be back at my desk later.”

“I’m here protesting against harassment in the workplace, to make sure that we don’t protect or support those perpetrators of harassment,” a demonstrator in London told Sky News. “I think people are supporting those who have been harassed in any workplace situation, by any employer, and this is just part of the movement.”

Echoing the #MeToo movement’s rallying cry “Time’s up!” seven organizers of the walkout wrote for The Cut on Thursday about the culture of the company and its failures to create a safe work environment. As they put it:

All employees and contract workers across the company deserve to be safe. Sadly, the executive team has demonstrated through their lack of meaningful action that our safety is not a priority. We’ve waited for leadership to fix these problems, but have come to this conclusion: no one is going to do it for us. So we are here, standing together, protecting and supporting each other. We demand an end to the sexual harassment, discrimination, and the systemic racism that fuel this destructive culture.

While the walkout is occurring in an era of mounting calls for accountability and amid growing frustration over how Google has handled past allegations of sexual misconduct, the walkout participants’ five demands also have some broader goals related to eradicating sexism, including an end to “pay and opportunity inequity.”

The walkout follows the resignation of Richard DeVaul, an executive at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, who stepped down Tuesday over allegations reported in theTimes—which also revealed that despite “credible” allegations against Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, the company gave him a multi-million dollar exit package when he left in October of 2014.

Following DeVaul’s departure, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai reportedly sent an email to employees announcing that those participating in the walkout on Thursday will get “the support you need.”

“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” he wrote. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too.”

“As CEO, it’s been personally important to me that we take a much harder line on inappropriate behavior,” Pichai continued. “We have taken many steps to do so, and know our work is still not done.”

Participants are sharing photos and videos from worldwide protests using the hashtag #GoogleWalkout, and the Twitter account Google Walkout For Real Change is sharing highlights from several demonstrations:

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Facebook Accused of ‘Full-Frontal Suppression of Dissent’ After Independent Media Swept Up in Mass Purge

“Those who demanded Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants censor political content—something they didn’t actually want to do—are finding that content that they themselves support and like end up being repressed,” noted The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald in response to Facebook’s announcement. “That’s what has happened to every censorship advocate in history.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

The massive shutdown affected many sites devoted to covering war, police brutality, and other issues neglected by the corporate media.

After Facebook announced on Thursday that it shut down and removed hundreds of pages and accounts that it vaguely accused of spreading “spam” and engaging in “inauthentic behavior,” some of the individuals and organizations caught up in the social media behemoth’s dragnet disputed accusations that they were violating the platform’s rules and raised alarm that Facebook is using its enormous power to silence independent political perspectives that run counter to the corporate media’s dominant narratives.

While it is reasonable to assume that some of the more than 800 total pages and accounts shut down by Facebook were engaged in overtly fraudulent behavior—such as the use of fake accounts and bots to generate ad revenue—numerous independent media outlets that cover a wide array of issues say they were swept up in the massive purge despite never using such tactics.

“Facebook has removed the pages of several police accountability/watchdog/critic groups, including Cop Block, the Free Thought Project, and Police the Police,” Washington Post journalist Radley Balko noted in a tweet following Facebook’s announcement. “They’ve also apparently severely restricted activity for the Photography Is Not a Crime page.”

Activist, comedian, and political commentator Lee Camp argued that Facebook’s purge is clear evidence that the “purging of anti-establishment thought is upon us” and described the account shutdowns as “full-frontal suppression of dissent.”

Speaking to journalist Alex Rubinstein after they found out Facebook shut down their pages—some of which had hundreds of thousands of followers—the founders of Police the Police, the Free Thought Project, and other now-shuttered pages denied Facebook’s hazy charge of “fraudulent” activity and accused the company of attempting to suppress dissenting voices that refuse to toe the corporate line.

“Our approach generally is to cover stories and angles that corporate media underreport or misreport and to amplify activist and anti-war voices and stories. All of our content is professionally fact-checked and edited,” said Nicholas Bernabe, founder of The Anti-Media, a self-described “anti-establishment” website whose Facebook page was shut down along with hundreds of others on Thursday. “I can only speculate that these suspensions were a coordinated effort to stifle our message ahead of the coming elections.”

While some of the pages Facebook removed on Thursday were affiliated with right-wing sites that were spreading patently false stories, censorship opponents have long warned of the “slippery slope” of empowering corporate giants to suppress certain kinds of content, given that the suppression almost always expands far beyond the original target.

“Those who demanded Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants censor political content—something they didn’t actually want to do—are finding that content that they themselves support and like end up being repressed,” noted The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald in response to Facebook’s announcement. “That’s what has happened to every censorship advocate in history.”

Though Facebook has yet to release a full list of the pages and accounts it removed, several individuals affected by the purge have taken to other social media platforms to denounce the social media giant for squashing pages that took years to develop.

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THE PURGE IS HERE: Hundreds of Political Social Media Pages Deleted Without Warning

Source: Press For Truth

The Press For Truth Facebook page with over 300,000 followers, and the Anti-Media page of over two million Facebook followers were both unpublished on October 11 without warning, as well as hundreds of other indy/alternative news Facebook pages. For details, watch the above video with Dan Dicks of Press For Truth.

CLN Editor Note: The Conscious Life News Facebook page was one of the many, many fan pages removed during the first round of the Facebook purge. See HERE a list of pages removed in early June of this year.

For additional perspectives regarding the Facebook purge, watch the videos below with Carey Welder (Anti-Media) and Derrick Broze (The Conscious Resistance):

Source: Carey Wedler


Source: The Conscious Resistance

Visionary Report Demands ‘New Social Contract’ to Curb Threats Tech Giants Pose to Democracy

A report from New America calls for federal action establishing a digital social contract that is “rooted in transparency, privacy, and competition.” (Image: bitsfrombytes.com/Flickr/cc)

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

“The crisis for democracy posed by digital disinformation demands a new social contract for the internet rooted in transparency, privacy, and competition,” declares a new report that challenges the overwhelming power wielded by large tech firms and the online platforms they now control.

Published by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank New America—and building on a previous paper titled Digital Deceit—the new report by Dipayan Ghosh of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and Ben Scott of the Omidyar Network argues that “as a democratic society, we must intervene to steer the power and promise of technology to benefit the many rather than the few.”

The intervention they propose in Digital Deceit II is not small. As Ghosh told the Wall Street Journal, “We need to completely reorganize the way that industry works.”

“For two decades, public policy has taken a hands-off approach to these new markets, believing that regulation might blunt innovation before these technologies reached maturity,” the report explains. “Now, we have dominant market players that have built the most valuable companies in the world, and yet they still operate largely without the oversight of public government.”

Considering that “the companies that control this market are among the most powerful and valuable the world has ever seen,” it notes, “we cannot expect them to regulate themselves.”

Collectively presented as a “digital social contract,” the report’s proposed federal regulations fall into three categories—transparency, privacy, and competition—and are “designed to foster open digital markets while protecting against clear public harms and supporting democratic values.”

To promote more disclosures regarding the forces that use social media in hopes of influencing public opinion, they call for:

  • Real-time and archived information about targeted political advertising;
  • Clear accountability for the social impact of automated decision-making; and
  • Explicit indicators for the presence of non-human accounts in digital media.

To safeguard consumer privacy and promote users having more control over personal data, they suggest:

  • Consumer control over data through stronger rights to access and removal;
  • Transparency for the user of the full extent of data usage and meaningful consent; and
  • Stronger enforcement with resources and authority for agency rule-making.

To ensure that consumers “have meaningful options to find, send, and receive information over digital media,” they recommend:

  • Stronger oversight of mergers and acquisitions;
  • Antitrust reform including new enforcement regimes, levies, and essential services regulation; and
  • Robust data portability and interoperability between services.

Recent state-level action and polling show that the American public supports stricter regulations for tech firms. In June, Pew found that the majority of Americans “believe these companies should be regulated more than they are now.” That same month, California lawmakers passed legislation that led some to conclude that the state  “could be the bellwether for the privacy movement.”

Ghosh and Scott recognize the California measure was “watered down after interest lobbying,” but assert in the new report that as “the most protective privacy standard anywhere in the United States,” the law deserves “recognition as the starting point for a path forward at the national level.”

Pointing to their January paper and changes to data collection and advertising standards that tech companies have announced in recent months, Ghosh—who previously worked as a White House technology adviser under former President Barack Obama—told the Journal he doesn’t believe that major firms will go far enough to protect consumers unless they are forced to by federal regulatory action.

“I think we both felt at the beginning of the year, there was potential to talk to the industry,” Ghosh said, referring to his co-author. “We are increasingly disillusioned now.”

Meanwhile, Congress appears inclined to only hear the recommendations from the tech industry. Representatives for Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Charter Communications, Google, and Twitter are slated to testify Wednesday for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation about protecting users’ data. Despite outcry that corporate interests will dominate the hearing and demands that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the committee chairman, also invite the nation’s leading consumer advocacy groups to attend, the witness list has not changed.

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School District to Begin Randomly Drug Testing High School Students

Image Credit: The Mind Unleashed

Carey Wedler | The Anti-Media

A school district in Clark County, Indiana, will soon be randomly drug testing students who want to participate in extracurricular activities like sports, band, and driving to school.

“Henryville High School and Borden High School will randomly select ten students each quarter and test them for ten drugs that teenagers are most likely to use,” local ABC 13 reported.

If students test positive, they will be ineligible for one-third of scheduled extracurricular activities after the first offense.

“After the third offense, the student will become ineligible for the rest of their high school career.”

While some parents support the new policy and hope it will discourage students from bringing drugs to school, others, like Lance Leach, feel it is too invasive. “There has to be a reasoning, and you have to talk to a parent beforehand,” he said. “Like suspicious behavior or they got caught doing something, then maybe, but not just random drug testing.

The ACLU agrees. The civil liberties organization has long fought against drug testing in schools. In 1998, the organization attempted to challenge drug testing for after school activities in Indiana schools, but the Supreme Court refused to hear their arguments. The following year, they challenged an Oklahoma school district, arguing in that case, the after school activities were directly linked with coursework throughout the normal day, and that drug testing infringed on students’ “right to a public education, as well as of the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure,” the New York Times reported at the time.


Facebook Condemned for Empowering Right-Wing Magazine to “Drive Liberal News Outlets Into the Ground”

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

When Facebook selected the right-wing, Iraq War-boosting magazine The Weekly Standard as an official fact-checking partner last year as part of its effort to combat “misinformation,” progressives warned that the conservative publication would use its power to suppress accurate articles published by center-left and left-wing outlets.

That’s precisely what happened.

After ThinkProgress published an article by Ian Millhiser last week arguing that Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh’s comments during his Senate confirmation hearings combined with a speech he gave in 2017 eliminates “any doubt” that the judge opposes the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, the Weekly Standard deemed the article “false“—a designation that, given Facebook’s rules and the platform’s enormous power, cuts off 80 percent of the piece’s future traffic and penalizes other pages that dare to post the article.

Expressing opposition to Facebook’s decision to hand the factually-challenged Weekly Standard the power to decide what is and isn’t fact-based news, The Intercept republished Millhiser’s piece on Friday with a statement from The Intercept‘s editor-in-chief Betsy Reed, who condemned the social media giant’s decision to tank “a fairly straightforward legal analysis” at the behest of a right-wing magazine.

“That legal analysis, the article noted, matched comments Kavanaugh had made in a speech in 2017,” Reed writes. “Facebook, meanwhile, had empowered the right-wing outlet the Weekly Standard to ‘fact check’ articles. The Weekly Standard, invested in Kavanaugh’s confirmation, deemed the ThinkProgress article ‘false.’ The story was effectively nuked from Facebook, with other outlets threatened with traffic and monetary consequences if they shared it.”

“The story is republished below with permission from ThinkProgress,” Reed concluded, “though not from Facebook or the Weekly Standard.”

Progressive outlets and commentators have been warning since Facebook launched its latest news feed algorithm that allowing such a powerful corporation to become the arbiter of “trustworthy” sources would threaten non-corporate and left-wing outlets that publish information.

These warnings took on a new sense of urgency after Facebook began giving a ton of airtime to Fox News and making publications like the Weekly Standard the gatekeepers of legitimate news.

Demonstrating that Facebook has no plans to apply critical scrutiny to articles published by the very outlet it has empowered as an official fact-checker, The Intercept‘s Jon Schwartz found three basic falsehoods in a single paragraph of an article published on the Weekly Standard‘s website on Friday.

As of this writing, the Weekly Standard has not yet deemed its article “false.”

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Do Your Good Deed for the Day, Share Wai Lana’s New Colors Video

In what has now turned into a much-anticipated tradition, world-renowned yoga teacher Wai Lana has released another new music video in celebration of the 4th Annual International Day of Yoga on June 21st. The release of Colors follows Wai Lana’s three previous Yoga Day releases, each of which were viewed by millions of people from all over the world.

Beginning in 2015 on the first International Yoga Day, Wai Lana’s Namaste spread the important message of being respectful to all. Then in 2016, her Alive Forever short film brought to life the ancient yogic meditation “Aham Brahmasmi,” showing us that, by appreciating the immortality of the soul, we can overcome the sadness that often accompanies the aging of our bodies. Then came 2017.

Oh My Sweet Lord was a beautiful masterpiece, revealing Wai Lana’s heart and soul. It reminded us to always remember our Sweet Lord and thus fulfill our inherent desire to love and be loved. Now, with her fun and upbeat Colors music video, Wai Lana is introducing us to a simple and practical world-view, one that can put an end to unnecessary racial conflict and disharmony. So check out Colors. It’s such an easy good deed to share it with your friends and family, but it can make a world of difference in people’s lives.


Confirming Dangers of FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal, New Study Shows Telecoms Throttling YouTube, Netflix, and Other Apps

Wireless carriers are throttling video content on various mobile phone apps, including YouTube, according to an ongoing study.

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

An ongoing study first reported by Bloomberg reveals the extent to which major American telecom companies are throttling video content on apps such as YouTube and Netflix on mobile phones in the wake of the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealing national net neutrality protections last December.

Researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst used a smartphone app called Wehe, which has been downloaded by about 100,000 users, to track when wireless carriers engage in data “differentiation,” or when companies alter download speeds depending on the type of content, which violates a key tenet of the repealed rules.

Between January and May of this year, Wehe detected differentiation by Verizon 11,100 times; AT&T 8,398 times; T-Mobile 3,900 times; and Sprint 339 times. David Choffnes, one of the study’s authors and the app’s developer, told Bloomberg that YouTube was the top target, but carriers also slowed down speeds for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the NBC Sports app.

Apple initially blocked Wehe from its App Store, but changed course in January following public outrage. A Motherboard report on the fight to make the app available outlined how Wehe allows users to see how their wireless carriers are treating various video apps compared with speeds for data such as text messages or emails. The report also offered this screenshot of the app to show how it detects those different speeds:

Although wireless carriers still throttled videos under the repealed net neutrality provisions—thanks in part to a loophole that allowed them to offer plans that skirted the rules—the FCC was looking into concerns about the practice before Trump-appointed Ajit Pai took over the agency, and public interest groups have long demanded that federal regulators take action to stop it.

Instead, Pai stopped that inquiry and the agency commissioners voted along party lines to repeal net neutrality protections, giving internet service providers (ISPs) more power to decide how to treat content. While carriers claim that video throttling is not automatic, and is part of necessary network management, in the absence of national regulations, the new research has provoked heightened alarm.

Jeremy Gillula, tech policy director at Electronic Frontier Foundation, pointed to Verizon slowing down data speeds as Santa Clara County emergency responders battled the largest fire in California’s history. Verizon claimed it was a “customer-support mistake,” but county counsel James Williams said it proves that ISPs “will act in their economic interests, even at the expense of public safety,” and “that is exactly what the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality allows and encourages.”

That example, Gillula told Bloomberg, demonstrates “that ISPs are happy to use words like ‘unlimited’ and ‘no throttling’ in their public statements, but then give themselves the right to throttle certain traffic by burying some esoteric language in the fine print” of service contracts. “As a result, it’s especially important that consumers have tools like this to measure whether or not their ISP is throttling certain services.”

Florian Schaub, a digital privacy expert at the University of Michigan, agreed that “efforts like Wehe are an important approach to detect whether internet service providers are engaging in traffic shaping,” especially “now that net neutrality has been repealed by the FCC.”

States are fighting back against throttling and the net neutrality repeal by enacting local legislation, though campaigners continue to call for restoring national rules through a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that has narrowly passed the Senate, but still lacks the support needed from Republicans in the House.

However, even restoring those protections likely would not be enough to stop video throttling on mobile phones. As Choffnes told Motherboard in January, when it comes to wireless carriers, “We didn’t have net neutrality even before the rules changed… All the carriers are doing content-based throttling, specifically with video.”

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‘Massive Victory for the Whole Internet’ as California Passes Nation’s Strongest Net Neutrality Bill

“We did it. We passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation,” Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, the primary author of SB 822, said in a statement. (Photo: Fight for the Future)

By Jake Johnson, staff writer | Common Dreams

In a major victory for the open internet that could have ripple effects throughout the United States, the California Senate on Friday thwarted aggressive lobbying by the telecom industry and passed the strongest, most comprehensive net neutrality bill in the nation.

“The passage of SB 822 in California has huge implications for our fight to restore neutrality nationwide,” declared the advocacy group Fight for the Future (FFTF) following Friday’s vote. “We also need to harness the momentum from this huge victory to put pressure on our elected officials in Congress.”

“Finally,” FFTF added, “y’all should be really proud of yourselves. Giant telcos like AT&T and Comcast spent enormous amounts of money lobbying to kill SB 822. They almost succeeded more than once, but we fought back. We drove phone calls, tweets, crowdfunded billboards, attended meetings.”\

ttt fightfortheftr

Having cleared both houses of California’s legislature, SB 822 will now head to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for a signature.

Brown, who has 30 days to sign the measure, is already facing pressure from the telecom industry to veto the bill, so open internet advocates are warning Californians to remain vigilant and keep up the pressure.

If SB 822 is ultimately signed into law, it would restore the net neutrality protections repealed by the Republican-controlled FCC last December and implement even stronger rules by establishing “an outright ban on zero-rating—the practice of offering free data, potentially to the advantage of some companies over others—of specific apps.”

ttt mediajustice

“We did it,” Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, the primary author of SB 822, said in a statement. “We passed the strongest net neutrality standards in the nation. The internet is at the heart of 21st century life—our economy, our public safety and health systems, and our democracy. So when Donald Trump’s FCC decided to take a wrecking ball to net neutrality protections, we knew that California had to step in to ensure our residents have access to a free and open internet.”

As the fight for strong net neutrality protections gains steam at the state level, open internet advocates are hoping the resulting energy and momentum will translate into action in Congress, where the House is working to assemble enough votes to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution to undo the FCC’s deeply unpopular repeal.

Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, argued that lawmakers who don’t support net neutrality will feel the wrath of voters in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond.

“Internet users are still royally pissed off about the FCC’s repeal,” Greer said in a statement following Friday’s vote. “They’re still paying attention. And they’re not going to let their elected officials get away with it if they sell out their constituents by siding with big telecom companies.”

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