Anisotropic Gem Stones

Diamonds are not forever.

Anti-surveillance mask lets you pass as someone else

Uncomfortable with surveillance cameras? "Identity replacement tech" in the form of the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic gives you a whole new face.

If the world starts looking like a scene from "Matrix 3" where everyone has Agent Smith's face, you can thank Leo Selvaggio.

URME SURVEILLANCE: Indiegogo Campaign from Leo Selvaggio on Vimeo.

His rubber mask aimed at foiling surveillance cameras features his visage, and if he has his way, plenty of people will be sporting the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic in public. It's one of three products made by the Chicago-based artist's URME Surveillance, a venture dedicated to "protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities."

"Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub," reads the URME (pronounced U R Me) site. "We don't believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn't have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public."

The 3D-printed resin mask, made from a 3D scan of Selvaggio's face and manufactured by, renders his features and skin tone with surprising realism, though the eyes peeping out from the eye holes do lend a certain creepiness to the look.

Creepiness is, of course, part of the point here, as the interdisciplinary artist takes a his-face-in-everyone's-face approach to exploring the impact of an increasingly networked world on personal identity.

"When you wear these devices the cameras will track me instead of you and your actions in public space will be attributed as mine because it will be me the cameras see," the artist, who's working toward his MFA at Chicago's Columbia College, says on a recently launched Indiegogo page for the products. "All URME devices have been tested for facial recognition and each properly identifies the wearer of me on Facebook, which has some of the most sophisticated facial recognition software around."

It turns out some states have anti-mask laws. And Selvaggio -- whose earlier project You Are Me let others use his social-media profiles -- says he's considered the possibility that anyone wearing his face in public could engage in illegal activity.

"I would of course like to believe that others will use these devices responsibly and I can't be clearer that I do not condone criminal activity," he told Crave. "However it is possible, and I have weighed out the possibility that a crime may become associated with me. That being said, I have come to the conclusion that it is worth the risk if it creates public discourse around surveillance practices and how it affects us all."

URME's Indiegogo campaign has so far raised a little over $500 of its $1,000 goal, with 36 days left. Products include a $1 paper mask for those unable to afford the $200 prosthetic, as well as community development hacktivist kits of 12-24 paper masks meant to be worn by groups, presumably of protesters (or anyone into clone armies).

Open-source facial-encryption software that replaces faces in video with Selvaggio's is currently in the prototype stage and will most likely go through several iterations, Selvaggio says, before eventually becoming available as a free download from the URME website.

URME insists all products will be sold at cost, with no profit made and all proceeds going to sustain URME's efforts to keep surveillance in the public discourse.

"To be clear, I am not anti-surveillance," the artist told Crave. "What I am pushing for is increasing the amount of public discourse about surveillance and how it affects our behavior in public space. When we are watched we are fundamentally changed. We perform rather than be."

from HERE

Fake Israel Sanhedrin with fake sacrifices

The Sins of Hophni and Phinehas: Animal Sacrifice on Mount of Olives creating Satanic Sacrifice.

And you shall declare to them: Thus said Hashem: I am going to take B’nei Yisrael from among the nations they have gone to, and gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. Ezekiel 37:21 (The Israel Bible™)

On September 25, the 5,780th anniversary of the day on which Jewish tradition holds the world was created, the Sanhedrin is holding a conference for the emerging Organization of 70 Nations. The conference will culminate in an animal sacrifice made by representatives of the nations on the Mount of Olives in which they will renew the covenant made by Noah upon leaving the Ark.

The Conference and 70 Nations

The conference will begin on Wednesday evening, September 25, the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Elul at the Jerusalem Gate Hotel and continue until Friday, September 27. Lectures and discussions will focus on the Noahide obligations incumbent upon all of mankind. Also discussed will be the universal economic, cultural, educational that should be the focus of such an organization. A major focus will also be the establishment of an international court based on Bible principles.

God established the borders of the world based on the 70 children of Israel who went down to Egypt and the 70 nations that came out from Noah. The concept of 70 nations also appears in reference to the 70 oxen offered in the Temple throughout Sukkot (the feast of the tabernacles) which the Talmud (Sukkah 55b) teaches are for the merit of the 70 nations.

The organization emphasizes that every nation will keep its unique and distinct national identity, cultural heritage, language, and recognized borders.

In attendance will be official representatives of several nations: Representing Guatemala, Vice president of the Republic of Guatemala Jafeth Ernesto Cabrera Franco as well as several of his advisers. There will also be official delegations from El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, Trinidad Tobago, and Costa Rica. Many other countries have yet to commit to attending. Several of the delegates are parliamentarians of their respective countries.

Universal Prayer

The first day of the conference will end with a joint prayer by all the participants. Rabbi Yeshayahu Hollander, the Sanhedrin’s Foreign Minister has been tasked with composing the unique prayer for the special occasion.

“Religion is a difficult word,” Rabbi Hollander said. “An individual does not need a religion to relate to God. Adam did not need religion to speak to God. Religion is an activity that a community does together. Nations were established with Noah and then there became a need for religion. We need to come together as distinct nations and religions.”

“A nation has the attributes that define it but it also needs a religion,” Rabbi Hollander said, suggesting that the United Nations lacked this attribute. “An organization of nations necessarily needs to be religious, 70 nations under God, but not any specific common religion.”

Noahide Principles Incumbent on all of Mankind

Much of the conference will be dedicated to the seven principles incumbent upon all mankind given to Noah after the Biblical flood. A lecture on the subject will be given by the chairman of Brit Olam – Noahide World Center Rabbi Oury Cherki. Rabbi Hollander, who also sits on the board of the Brit Olam organization, is convinced that universal adherence to the Noahide laws is necessary for the existence of civilization.

“If you read history you will see that the Hebraicists of the 17th century believed in a minimum basis which society needs in order to exist,” Rabbi Hollander said. “This is clearly true in the Noahide law to establish courts of law. All of the laws are required by a nation and not by an individual. An international, or multinational organization, needs to establish the basics required for the survival of civilization.”

Knesset and Sacrifice

As part of the conference, the representatives will visit the Temple Mount and pay an official visit to the Knesset with the Sanhedrin.

On Friday, the conference will culminate in a trip to the Mount of Olives where the nations will be invited to reenact the ceremony first performed by Noah upon exiting the Ark.

Then Noach built an altar to Hashem and, taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar. Genesis 8:20

The ceremony will renew the covenant made between mankind and God at that time.

“I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come, and with every living thing that is with you—birds, cattle, and every wild beast as well—all that have come out of the ark, every living thing on earth. I will maintain My covenant with you: never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Genesis 9:9-11

This sacrifice made by Noah was a Korban Olah (a sacrifice that goes up), a tribute to God that was entirely burnt on the altar.

“Just as Noah was not Jewish but was a servant of God, this ceremony is a declaration that mankind is serving Hashem (God, literally, ‘the name’),” Rabbi Weiss explained. The altar must be built and the sacrifice made by someone from the nations who keeps the seven Noahide laws. It is still unclear

“This is a religious act but not for any specific religion,” Rabbi Weiss said. “This is a meta-religion, not a global religion, which is inherent in every person and expressed in his own way. The world needs to return to religion. Rejecting religion, rejecting God, is a sickness that is afflicting the world. Secularism rejects human values. The UN declared abortion and euthanasia to be human rights. This is a sign of sickness. The concept of family, a father, and mother, is a basic human quality reinforced by religion and rejected by secularism. The concept of belonging to a nation, to a tribe, to a people, is rejected by secularism. Man was given the mandate to care for the world but they have turned people into animals and animals into people. It is impossible to continue like this.”

Return of the Lost Ten Tribes

Another purpose of the conference and the organization of the 70 Nations is to begin the return of the lost ten-tribes of Israel.

“The establishment of the modern State of Israel began the process of the ingathering of the exiles,” Rabbi Weiss explained. “In the past, people who were descended from Jews would fade away and never return. We are blessed to live in an age when so many of these people are discovering their roots in the Jewish people and are reconnecting to this. But the next step is to raise awareness so that the lost ten-tribes of Israel can return as well, as prophesied.”

And you shall declare to them: Thus said Hashem: I am going to take B’nei Yisrael from among the nations they have gone to, and gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. Ezekiel 37:21

Towards this end, Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum who travels the world looking for hidden descendants of Jews will be the first keynote speaker to address the conference.

The 70 Nations initiative began last year at the World Creation Concert when high-ranking delegations from Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico signed a declaration saying:

“We, as representatives of our nations, declare that according to the laws of Torah that God to Moses at Mount of Sinai, and according to the prophets of Israel and all the books of the Bible we wish to accompany the people of God, the people of Israel, to the place chosen by God, the Temple on Mount, Moriah, the place of binding the of Isaac.

“All this in order to serve only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as it is written:

‘That my house will becalled a house of prayer to ALL peoples’

We are all gathered together in the name of peace and love with the people of Israel in the courtyards of the House of God as the sages of Israel and to fulfill the messianic vision of peace.”

God blessed Abraham by saying, ‘They that will bless you will be blessed.’ We pray that by blessing Israel today, we, in turn, will be blessed.”

Seventy Nations: Principles

The Seventy Nations organization is directed at all of mankind who accept G-d as the creator of the world and who recognize his leadership as He appears in the annals of the world and the universe. The Bible relates to God as He is known in the individual lives of all beings, in the history and language of all nations both for creating and destroying, for reward and for punishment.  Just as God reveals Himself in the Bible and declares His laws and precepts, so the purpose of man in history to serve Him through the medium of the Temple as He wills it, and through the power of His holiness that comes from Zion.
All humanity, all Peoples both individually and in multi-faceted groupings, are descendants of Adam and Eve. All were created in the image of G-d and called “Man”. All humanity survived the “flood” and committed themselves to follow the joint covenant with G-d by following those basic laws and precepts whose violation brought on the destruction of mankind in the time of Noah. And to await for G-d’s mercy.

The basic breaches of G-d’s laws are the following: revolt against G-d, lack of justice,   forbidden sexual relations, murder, stealing and robbery, worshipping a false G-d, inflicting damage to life as it is lived through illegal and unbridled greed.

These breaches in a positive tone are expressed as the covenant of the Noachites.

The Seventy Nations organization envisions the redemption and rehabilitation of man and the whole world. It respects the honor of all mankind, the family, tribe, the country, and the state and their individual and collective freedoms. It carries out this principle by protecting the rights and obligations of all in an equal manner according to the laws of the Bible and international justice based on the Bible.

The organization will concern itself with the protection of the globe, the just distribution of resources and the avoidance of theft and the results of excessive greed.

The organization will protect the culture, the language, the territories and borders of all nations, states, and societies.

The organization does not accept rule of man over man of any kind.

The organization recognizes and accepts the concept of the uniqueness  of the people of Israel according to the laws of the Bible, It expects that the people of Israel and its leaders  will operate according to the will behave according to the expections from a nation of a society of priests and a holy people.

The Essence of the organization

An international court will sit in Jerusalem and judge according to the important and recognized laws of the Bible as adjusted to actual facts of life.

All members of the organization, states, nations, ethnic groups, tribes will have a seat and equal voting powers in the court of law as long as they accompany the people of Israeli as it appears in the covenant composed by the Sanhedrin in 2018 and signed by a number of countries.

The Seventy Nations and the nations that signed the original covenant mentioned above will compose the court and all decisions will be decided upon by a simple majority vote.

The role of the Sanhedrin will be to consult with and advise the court but the Sanhedrin cannot force its opinion upon the court. It will have one seat and one vote on the court.

All decisions will be made according to a vote including all members.

If more than seventy bodies join the organization the court will determine the division of seats.

All members of the organization will cooperate in building the Temple on Mount Moriah according to their own individual desires and can visit it as they choose when it is built.

All are Invited

The general public is invited to take part in the conference by signing up in advance by contacting arranged in advance by contacting Ayal Be’eri (Tel. 054-534-3545) with a NIS 100 enrollment fee. Three festive meals at the hotel are available by advance order for NIS 160 per meal. Transportation to the Temple Mount is available by prearrangement for NIS 50. Transportation to the Mount of Olives Noahide ceremony is available for NIS 70.

from here

Dreamscapes Anthology

Recently, my short: "Where the White Wolf Grovels" was published in an anthology. You might like to read it here, or pick up a free copy from the Publisher's website.

Buy the anthology here


"Where the Demons Rise and the White Wolf Grovels."
Pauly Hart
Copyright, 2014

...Were the lyrics I was singing as I woke up this morning. I had been performing to a massive audience just then. I had started the set "Everybody in this place is going to hell" and proceed from there. Each song in the set was a progressive story about the horrors that lay beyond the grave. The title lyrics were part of the chorus to the third song in the set: "The Reapers Gloves" that are at the end of the post. I woke up and realized that this dream had been pretty interesting and wanted to get it all down and wrote the following below. Now, an hour later, it is almost five in the morning. I might just wander into the kitchen and make myself some breakfast... But in the dream I just had? It went something like this:

It was late, late enough for the audience to start to frenzy. Alice cooper had not arrived and Trent Reznor was vomiting up everything that he had put down earlier. The demand performance of "White Wedding" was going to be an utter disaster. Rage against the Machine was tuning up, and the rest of Nine Inch Nails were there to supply extra background music where Rage would be lacking... But there was no lead singer.

It was Tulsa and the year was both 2017 and 2007 - I was pretty sure. I wasn't sure how I had come to be in charge of the stripping and waxing of the Gypsy Coffeehouse, or why Bradley had taken a trip to Fiji, or why even he had decided to have White Wedding and the strip and wax on the same night. My realtor was there also, but she was just checking in her inventory of wines into the Gypsy and so, I verified her inventory and she left. It was a new startup wine company that employed the floating balls just like Orbit Soda had. But the back room was a disaster and I was terrified at the prospect of the audience not having anything to drink.

I snuck around the many crazy rooms that almost had no purpose into the main dining area of the Gypsy. The bar was gone by this time too! The mid-shift girl Heidi had taken everything down and put it in the back. Only a couple of chairs were left and the bad news was that the opening bands Seether and Placebo were done and the main act: White Wedding was due to start in only a little while. I was furious that there was nothing to eat or drink... That the coffee-shop was going to lose money, but all we really had that was portable to a concert setting was bottles of water and Dr Pepper in 12 ounce bottles. Heidi showed me where things were at, and I asked her how she had moved the Cappuccino machine and along comes Joey who just pointed to his arm, flexed it, and we all laugh.

The Emcee for the night was Bullit and he was frantic. I had seen him running around side-stage talking to everyone, talking on his radio, talking talking talking. Meanwhile I was in the back assessing the drink issue. It had now been around twenty minutes since Seether had taken their gear off and Rage and Nails were ready. The techs were still scrambling with the snakes and mic lines here and there but it looked like it was almost ready to begin. I turned once more to the issue of appeasing the masses for this venue was quite different than most of the concerts that I had ever worked.

The concert hall itself looked to be a converted grade school theater. The walls had been knocked down on the left and the right and the ceiling had been removed and raised to the floor above to give a faux Opera-house look. The middle was fancy, but to the left and the right were really cheap aluminum bleachers, and in some parts, even tree stumps.The room was full of people dressed in their best Gothic Steam-Punk. Huge black ribbons, huge top hats. Everything was pretty, and everything was dark. And look: They already had drinks. And fruit. And a Champagne Fountain at the front. My little cart of Dr Pepper and water looked like an affront to the senses of this setup. The chocolate fountain and strawberry dipping area had been mostly grazed clean, but the bunt cake castle was still mostly standing. Around isle three, I turned around and left the snack oasis that I had not previously known about, taking my cart back up the aisle, to the cafe at the back of the theater.

But I didn't have time to do much. Samantha was there and she was in a black prom dress. "You have to sing Pauly. There is no one else."

To which I replied: "Are you kidding me? I don't know any of Trent's stuff."

Her eyes were saucers. "No. You don't understand. Ozzy was supposed to come tonight instead of Trent and Alice, It was going to be a surprise."

"Well then where the heck are any of these three singers?" I asked, a little perturbed that they were abandoning the wonderful people of this audience, who were my paying customers on a daily basis.

"That's just it man" said crazy Tom, appearing from behind a stack of umbrellas. "Nobody knows."

That Tom was here did not surprise me. That he was hiding behind a stack of umbrellas was a little disconcerting. I told them both that I would think about it, but that I needed to know what the songs were.

I went to find Bullit.

All throughout the break, people were not really upset or impatient. It was pretty cool. There was a joyful, almost playful attitude among everyone, almost as if they weren't at a concert at all, but more like just hanging out at Gen Con. I was relieved, I had seen some pretty terrible audiences in my days and I didn't want to this one fierce. There's nothing angrier than Gothic Medieval Steam-Punk Cosplayers who haven't had their Music. I walked down to the front of the stage.

"Bullit!" I cried, and there he was right in front of me, pushing people out of the way.

"I want to know five things." I told him. He nodded and motioned me to follow him. I only asked him the fourth thing. "Four!" I hollered for suddenly Rage and Nails had started doing an impromptu guitar sound check, playing Fugazi riffs. "Are you only asking me because I can sing and do impromptu?"

"Yes!" he hollered back. "And because you're cool too!"

"What?" I asked incredulously.

But he ignored me and said: "I need you on the stage in five minutes. Do whatever you need to do before then!" and pushed thru the growing crowd, leaving me there.

I was pretty pissed, excited and nervous all at the same time. Pissed because of the lazy singers. Why hadn't they done their job? Excited because this was the opportunity of several lifetimes... and nervous because... WHAT? They wanted me... Such a beginner at onstage band singing to fill in for the legends that were not going to come up on stage?

Ozzy Ozbourne, Alice Cooper, and Trent Reznor?

I looked up to the stage. The band was horsing around... "noodling" as it was known in the business. Not really giving the audience any riffs from their own songs to get them excited, but not doing nothing. Bands loved to noodle. Now they were doing a bit of Green Day.

I made my way to the back with my head swimming. How in the world was I going to pull this off? I knew absolutely none of their songs. White Wedding had been touring for around six months to the acclaim of all of the Rock world. It was a brilliant success, but they had not advertised one show via the traditional media. It had all been in secret dark internet convos. Usually even the location was secret, just mentioning somewhere in the state. The owners of the venue were asked to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements about advertising and the fans were not told where it was until two hours before the show started. This is why it was so small and so much fun here. The bands knew their fans would not only have to pay to get here, but really work to get here... The reward was worth the wait.

I went to my friend Beth. She was sitting in the bleacher section, watching her friend kneed some dough that he was going to cook biscuits with there in his portable oven.

"Beth!" I hollered as I mostly jogged over to her. "Do you know any of these songs?"

Her face cocked sideways at me. "You don't?" She asked. Oh I could tell already that she was angry. Everyone who had been following White Wedding on the internet had already memorized all of their songs. They had released nothing official, so it was all shaky hand cam from the audiences, but there had been a couple of genius fans who had done some compilations with some decent recordings and put them all up on Pirate Bay as their "official tour song list" even though it was not, for every set, they introduced two new songs and didn't play one of their oldest songs and one random song. It was an evolving song list, and it was getting mixed reviews.

"No. I only know some Rage and some Nails from back in the day." I told her with exasperation. Now she was really angry. She called me a bastard, threw some dough at me and wandered off. The kick drum started thumping, very slowly and very rhythmically. It was time to put up or shut up. The crowd had started a slow clap. They were facing the stage, but a couple of people in the know were turned to me, they had strong smiles on their faces, they had faith in me. They could trust me. They were true believers in the healing power of rock... They were they type of people who had no idea how hard it was.

I came up the side stage steps, the ones that led behind the curtain. There was Bullit, with a bottle of water, at the ready.

"You ready bro?" He asked.

"Maybe you could do some beat-boxing." I told him, a joke on our past musical history together. He laughed his jolly laugh. The one where his whole face contorts into a tiny space between his ears and becomes red.

"Oh no man. This one is all you." he said and then bounded onto the stage: "Are you reeeeaaaaaadyyyyyyy Tuuuuuuulsaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"


Below are the lyrics to the third song in the set: The Reapers Gloves. It sounds a lot like Ozzy would sing it.

The reapers gloves

Out in the night - the twilight's risen
The cold dead hand - of night begins
I feel the grasp - of the unforgiven
Cold cuts the knife - of their first sin

Blind is the ice - of frozen laughter
Yours is the night - not born again
The reapers gloves - make hollow rattles
They grip the scythe - to fell all men

I know the place of pain and sorrow
Where the Angels cry and my hope is bottled
You are the pain that I must swallow
Where the demons rise and the white wolf grovels

Down underground - the dead are rising
Dark in their crypts - their hatred grows
Free from the hope - among the living
They burn with fire - with molten glow

I know the place of pain and sorrow
Where the Angels cry and my hope is bottled
You are the pain that I must swallow
Where the demons rise and the white wolf grovels.

Paging Big Brother: In Amazon’s Bookstore, Orwell Gets a Rewrite

In George Orwell’s “1984,” the classics of literature are rewritten into Newspeak, a revision and reduction of the language meant to make bad thoughts literally unthinkable. “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words,” one true believer exults.

Now some of the writer’s own words are getting reworked in Amazon’s vast virtual bookstore, a place where copyright laws hold remarkably little sway. Orwell’s reputation may be secure, but his sentences are not.

Over the last few weeks I got a close-up view of this process when I bought a dozen fake and illegitimate Orwell books from Amazon. Some of them were printed in India, where the writer is in the public domain, and sold to me in the United States, where he is under copyright.

Others were straightforward counterfeits, like the edition of his memoir “Down and Out in Paris and London” that was edited for high school students. The author’s estate said it did not give permission for the book, printed by Amazon’s self-publishing subsidiary. Some counterfeiters are going as far as to claim Orwell’s classics as their own property, copyrighting them with their own names.

What unites all these books is that none of them paid the author anything, which means they could compete with legal Orwell titles as a lower-cost alternative. After all, if you need a copy of “Animal Farm” or “1984” for school, you’re not going to think too much about who published it. Because all editions of “1984” are the same, right?

Not always, not on Amazon.

One reader discovered, to his surprise, that his new copy of “1984” had passages that were “worded slightly different.” Another offered photographic proof that her edition was near gibberish. A third said the word “faces” was replaced in his copy with “feces.” Getting Orwell books that skip a chunk of pages seemed to be a routine experience.

Even the titles changed. One edition of “Animal Farm: A Fairy Story” referred to itself on the back cover as “Animals Farm: A Fair Story.” The preface referred to another great Orwell work, “Homage to Catalonia,” as “Homepage to Catalonia.”

I started browsing Orwell on Amazon after writing about the explosion in counterfeit books offered by the retailer. The fake books appeared to help Amazon by, for example, encouraging publishers to advertise their genuine books on the site. The company responded in a blog post that it prohibits counterfeit products and has invested in personnel and technology tools including machine learning to protect customers from fraud and abuse.

On Sunday, Amazon said in a statement that “there is no single source of truth” for the copyright status of every book in every country, and so it relied on authors and publishers to police its site. “This is a complex issue for all retailers,” it said. The company added that machine learning and artificial intelligence were ineffective when there is no single source of truth from which the model can learn.

Bookselling is an ancient and complicated profession, and fake editions of all sorts can turn up anywhere. But Amazon is the world’s biggest bookstore and the standards it sets have ripples everywhere.

How it treats Orwell is especially revelatory because their relationship has been fraught. In 2009, Amazon wiped counterfeit copies of “1984” and “Animal Farm” from customers’ Kindles, creeping out some readers who realized their libraries were no longer under their control.

Orwell resurfaced in 2014 during Amazon’s bare-knuckles fight with the publisher Hachette over e-book sales. Amazon tried to use a quotation by the author — renowned for his moral rectitude — to suggest he was a sleaze in favor of illegal collusion. It turned out the quote was very much out of context.

My newly acquired Orwell shelf was frankly dismal — typos galore, flap copy lifted directly from Wikipedia, covers that screamed “amateur.” Eleven of the books were sold directly by Amazon as new books and were shipped from an Amazon warehouse; one was sold as a new book by a third party. Prices ranged from $3 to $23.

The counterfeits and imports are generally the least expensive editions, and who can blame people for buying those? So they do. A $7.99 legitimate edition of “1984” was recently ranked at No. 72 among all Amazon books. A $5 Indian import was at No. 970, which suggested copies were selling at a steady clip.

Most of the distorted texts are likely due to ignorance and sloppiness but at their most radical the books try to improve Orwell, as with the unauthorized “high school edition” of his 1933 memoir. The editing was credited to a Moira Propreat. She could not be reached for comment; in fact, her existence could not be verified.

“Down and Out” is an unflinching look at brutal behavior among starving people, which makes Ms. Propreat’s self-appointed task of rendering the book “more palatable” rather quixotic. An example of her handiwork came when Charlie, a boastful rapist, described how he lured a young woman into his clutches:

“‘Come here, my chicken,’ I called to her.”

Ms. Propreat’s version:

“‘Come here,’ I called to her.”

It’s unlikely that Orwell, a finicky master of English prose, would have appreciated this editing — nor the fact that all the French in the book is rendered in capital letters, which makes it seem like the writer is shouting at the reader.

Until recently, improving Orwell was not a practical business proposition. Then Amazon blew the doors off the heavily curated literary world. No longer was access to the marketplace determined by publishers, booksellers or reviewers. Even the most marginal books were suddenly available to everyone everywhere.

Breaking down the doors, however, also let in people who did not appear to care about the quality of what they sell.

“Once a week a counterfeit pops up,” said Bill Hamilton, the agent for the Orwell estate. “When will a company like Amazon take responsibility for the curation of the products passing through their hands?”

If Amazon vetted each title the way physical bookstores do, it would need lots more employees. That would cost more, dragging profits down. I searched my Amazon account for a way to tell the retailer it was selling me counterfeits and came up with nothing. (Amazon suggested I use the blue “report incorrect product information” button on every page, or give them a call. If I returned the book, I could select a reason from some drop-down options provided.)

The Authors Guild said that in the last two years, the number of piracy and counterfeiting issues referred to its legal department has increased tenfold. Counterfeit editions are a blow against the authority of the book and accelerate a dangerous trend toward misinformation.

“During most of human existence, facts have been hard to pin down and most of knowledge was oral history, rumor and received wisdom,” said Scott Brown, a prominent California bookseller. “We have spent our whole lives in a fact-based world and while that seems how things ought to be, it may prove to have been a temporary aberration.”

Mr. Brown noted that the news was now mostly digital. “Who can really say what an article really said when it was published? There’s rarely a printed — and therefore hard-to-change — version to refer back to,” he said. “The past is becoming unmoored and unreliable.”

One of the Orwell books I bought was a copy of “Animal Farm” issued by Grapevine India. On the copyright page it declared, “The author respects all individuals, organizations & communities, and there is no intention in this novel to hurt any individual, organization [or] community.”

Orwell said no such thing, his estate confirmed. This was a 2019 sentiment tacked onto a 1945 story. But then, in this edition of “Animal Farm,” the author and the past barely exist. There was no copyright acknowledgment, no mention of the year 1945.

In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell wrote that “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” He would have found his point confirmed by another Indian edition of “Animal Farm” sold by Amazon, this one from Adarsh Books. One sentence in the introductory blurb goes like this: “When the animals, the so-called characters in the novel, are making their attempts to learn the alphabet in different ways, is definitely the scene that would be bringing some unexpected laughter to the reader.”

The Adarsh edition was seemingly created using an optical scanner, which often results in misspelled words. One well-known passage in “Animal Farm” tells how the seven commandments of the farm are written on the wall. No. 2 goes like this: “Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.”

Adarsh’s version goes on to note that the spelling of the commandments is correct “except that ‘friend’ was written ‘friend.’” If you’re confused, it’s because that second “friend” is supposed to be “freind.” One of Orwell’s signature passages was thus rendered incomprehensible.

Grapevine and Adarsh are free to publish these books in India. But after I asked Amazon about the Indian editions last week, it removed them from sale in the United States, including a digital “1984.” It also removed the counterfeits I asked about. An email to Adarsh’s address as printed on its edition of “Animal Farm” bounced back. Grapevine did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Even assuming Amazon customers care, it is difficult for them to know they are getting a legitimate edition. Amazon sometimes bundles all the reviews of a title together, regardless of which edition they were written for. That means an unauthorized edition of “Animal Farm” can have thousands of positive reviews, signaling to a customer it is a valid edition.

At the other extreme, reviews that expose a counterfeit edition will remain even if the edition itself disappears. A reader complained — and provided photos as proof — that his copy of “Animal Farm” had the words “Chapter IV” inserted into the text anytime there was a word with the letters “iv.” For example: “He was unChapterIVersally respected.”

“A literary nightmare,” the reader concluded.

The large publishers, which have remained mostly mute since they were on the losing side of an antitrust clash with Amazon over e-reading, are now finding their voice again. Their trade group, the Association of American Publishers, just filed a heavily researched analysis with the Federal Trade Commission that is remarkably blunt.

“The marketplace of ideas is now at risk for serious if not irreparable damage because of the unprecedented dominance of a very small number of technology platforms,” the report concluded.

Meanwhile, the books are mutating. A reader recently tried to sound the alarm about a different dystopian classic he bought on Amazon.

“This is not the real Fahrenheit 451,” he wrote. “The wording is different, the first chapter is not properly titled, they used the first sentence of the chapter as the title in this book. There are typo’s and spacing issues. They need to advertise that this is not an authentic book.”

Tenacity to love

What is tenacity? What is stewardship over the lambs and sheep that YHVH has sent  my way? What am I to do with my gifts and callings? Let me tell you... I continue.

And that's the hardest part. Continuing. Perseverance. Tenacity. Going on after you've already gone on. The Apostle Paul said: "When you've done all to stand... Stand." And I feel that way sometimes. I press on towards the higher calling in Christ Jesus. No matter what. No matter if my best friends think I'm a freak. And they do. I've lost friends along the way for all sorts of reasons.

I wear Tzit-tzits because the Bible tells me to. I obey Sabbath because the Bible tells me to. I think the earth is flat. Seriously. Why? Again... Because the Bible tells me that it is. And that's a matter for hatred and revision right there. Christians think I'm nuts, Torah people think I'm nuts... And regular folk think I'm certifiable. But guess what? I persevere. The Bible calls it: "Long Suffering."

As a child my father had me memorize Psalms chapter one. Do you know what it says? You should read it. Basically it says that if i think about Torah all day long I will be successful. That if I meditate on it, ponder it, think on it, I will succeed. And guess what happens when you think about The Word all day? You start falling in love with the Creator of the Word. Remember John chapter one? The Word became flesh. The Torah became alive and dwelt among men. That's awesome.

So I don't give up because of Jesus. I love Him. He's my favorite. He's my only. He's my home. Look... When you've had fame and disappointment and get reviled by other authors you know personally it sucks. I've been famous. It lasted a couple of seconds and then it was gone. I got thru it. And then I got famous again, and then that was gone. Fame can't feed you. Fame can't get you thru the night. Fame is fleeting. It's ugly, and even sinful.

But guess what remains? Humility. People remember humility in times of grief and hardship and suffering and loss. And I totally respect those who are in grief because they call me when they don't know anyone else to call. They know I love them and they know I'm kind of a hard-ass about morality but they know that I stand for something that they don't understand... They know I have an anchor.

It's not the world or the things in the world. I don't submit to the things of this world. I submit to God, and because He wants me to obey authority, by submitting to Him, then I submit to God. I'm not open minded. I'm a bond slave to Christ. I'm not a free thinker. I'm a bond slave to Christ. I'm racist. As a matter of fact, I'm the most racist person that I know. Why? Because the Metaphysical Reborn are not carnal Mudmen and Spare-ribs anymore. We have had our heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh. No, I’m not a bigot. Mankind is only divided into the lost and the saved. Those are the races of men.

Sorry, probably some of that went over your head. But guess what? When you have the Spirit of the Intelligent Designer living inside of you, He will teach you in all things. So feel free to ignore the ramblings of that "One Pauly Hart Dude" if you must, but do this: Believe me when I tell you that I believe in the Bible and the Creator of the whole cosmos SO MUCH that I would be willing to die for my faith.

That's right, you heard me correctly. Look. Genesis 6:3 says that I can live to be 120 years old, so that's cool. But I tell you what, if Hillary Clinton and the whole of the Arkansas Cocaine Mafia comes after me to martyr me for my love of Jesus, then TO DIE IS GAIN. It's not that I have a death wish or anything... I will never commit suicide. Mark my words, and I'll say it again. I will never do anything stupid like rob a bank or touch little girls or blow up an abortion clinic or go against the ethos of holiness that God himself directs me in.

And that's why they may come and martyr me. Not because I'm evil, but because I'm righteous. Blessed am I when they revile me for His name's sake. Amen. And like I was saying, my friends don't agree with me. They don't. My family doesn't either. Oh they  may say that they believe and shed a few hot tears in their mega-buildings on Sunday mornings after the "tithe" is taken up and a really emotional song is sung by an overweight ethnic woman... But is that "Christianity?" No.

Look, when your brother, father, and all your family think your insane... When the co-authors of the book you wrote together revile you... you keep writing flat earth books. Tenacity man. That's what it takes man. Tenacity. The only way we who are reborn into Christ and are grafted into the vine can be defeated is when we quit. I will say it again. The only way we lose is when we quit. Let that sink in because there will come times where you feel like shit. There will come times when you feel like a dog in heat. But persevere.

When you're drunk - pray. When you're afraid - pray. When you're horny - pray. When you're high - pray. Be sober minded and alert and awake and obey the commandments that Jesus taught. Obey like Daniel did. Obey like Josiah did. Obey like Paul did. Obey. Do you know why? Because to obey is better than sacrifice. That's what Samuel said to Saul and then had to cut off the nasty old head of Agag because Saul had misplaced His obedience and let his own plan get in the way.

Even in success, things get tempting. That's why fame sucks. That's why fame is horrible. You want to know something? It's easier for a famous man to get thru the eye of a needle than it is for him to enter into the kingdom of God. So let the pulpits and lecterns be filled with the self-righteous. Let them swarm to them like wasps to honey. Let them play their tambourines and their pipes in the marketplaces and make their prayers loud. I will go into my closet and pray until I burst the capillaries in my forehead for their repentance.

The axe is laid at the root already, for every tree that bears not fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So what should you do? Repent. Turn back to your God, turn back to the one you forsook. Return to your first love. Return to that place at Summer Camp where you gave your heart to Him for the very first time with tears in your eyes and your friends sweaty hugs.

What is tenacity? What is it that drives me? What is the calling of God in my heart so loud that I cannot help but to tell people that Jesus loves them and has a plan for their lives? It's the overflow. The loving living purifying pater of the precious Holy Spirit of God. It's Jesus alive on the inside. It's love that drives me. Love makes me tenacious.

- Pauly Hart
8/16/2019 1:15am

Israel are/is Christians

No, you didn't misread the article title, but maybe I worded it ambiguously so that you would dig further in and read farther on. The modern day metaphysically reborn, washed in the blood, baptized in The Spirit... The Ekklesia... The Bride of Christ is actually Israel. The remains of the semite peoples who wear Pagan Zionist Dual Triangles on their Kippahs are not Israel. They are a people who were formerly Israel. They may have the blood heritage of Israel, but they have been divorced away, cursed, and forsaken by YHVH.

Not to say that they cannot become Israel again. Judah, Benjamin, and Levi (as well as the rest of the lost tribes) may enter into True Israel thru the cutting of the last covenant, the covenant of the Messiah, who came to them to save them, but they rejected Him.

Bible Info, usually not a source I refer to, due to their horrible exegesis on many other subjects, parses this information correctly:

What is the essence of being a true Israelite? It is not literal descent from Abraham, but faith in God.

It's in the Bible: "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." Galatians 3:7. "For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children… but the children of promise are counted for the seed." Romans 9:6-8.

The children of promise are those who put their faith in Jesus. It's in the Bible: "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" Galatians 3:29.

Whether they are Jewish or Gentile, God regards only those who have renewed hearts as true Israelites. It's in the Bible. "For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter' whose praise is not from men but from God." Romans 2:28,29, NKJV. "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Philippians 3:3, NKJV

God has a special covenant with those who are true, spiritual Israelites. It's in the Bible: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel… says the Lord, 'I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor and none his brother saying, "Know the Lord," for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds, I will remember no more." Hebrews 8:10-12. Compare with Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:26-28.

The Bible tells us the spiritual. characteristics of God's spiritual Israel. They are a morally clean people. It's in the Bible: "Truly God is good to Israel, to such as a pure in heart." Psalm 73:1. They are a people who are spiritually intimate with God. It's in the Bible. "He has exalted the horn of His people, the praise of all saints, even of the children of Israel, a people near to Him." Psalm 148:14.

They are a completely honest people. It's in the Bible. "I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord … toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. For He has said, Surely they are My people, children that will not lie: so He was their Saviour." Isaiah 63:7,8. Speaking of Nathaniel, Jesus declared, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Jn. 1:47. Also see Zephaniah 3:13.

God's True Israelites are keenly conscious of the saving merits of Christ's blood. It's in the Bible: "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; but now in Christ Jesus, ye who were sometimes [once] far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ… Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Ephesians 2:11-13,19, see verses 11-22, also Revelation 7:1-14.

The true Israel of God have been regenerated by the power of Christ's cross; they are held in the grip of its love and grace. It's in the Bible: "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." Galatians 6:14-16.

Spiritual Israelites have their citizenship registered is the New Jerusalem in heaven. It's in the Bible: "For here we have no continuing city, but seek one to come." "A city which hath foundations whose builder and make is God" Hebrews 13:14; 11:10. "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels." Hebrews 12:22. This is the Jerusalem "above, which is free, the mother of us all" (i.e., all who have faith in Christ as their Redeemer. Galatians 4:26.

When God creates a new heaven and a new earth, His spiritual Israelites will then inhabit the New Jerusalem. God will set this city on earth and make it the spiritual capital of the Universe. It will be a city of peace that shall never be touched by apostasy, conflict, violence, or ungodliness of any kind. It's in the Bible: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away… And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away… . And there shall in no wise enter into anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Revelation 21:1-4,27.

Though respectful of human laws, spiritual Israelites do not regard any earthly government as God's supreme representative. Their spiritual citizenship and paramount affections are in heaven. "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:21. For, "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" 1 Pet. 2:9.

But God's spiritual Israel does not to despise earthly government. It's in the Bible: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities." Rom. 13:1. Yet when there is conflict between human law and divine law, it is written, "We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29.

Love to God, faith in Christ as a personal Saviour, and reception of a new heart that gives cheerful and willing obedience to His laws is the essence of being a True Israelite. The names of all such are written the Lamb's book of Life. We have seen it in the Bible.


The original Israel has been forsaken and left. Remember the words of John Baptist to the leaders of all Israel at the very end of the Old Covenant:

"Produce fruit worthy of repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

PT Shamrock's July 2019 Newsletter

PT Shamrock's July 2019 Newsletter

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhor(s) is sinful and trrannical."
- Thomas Jefferson
In this issue:
* Welcome To Freedumbville USSA!
* Bend Over!
* Food for thought
* The District of Criminals
* Police State
* Red Hot Product!
* Advisory
* Over 70% of Swedes Don't Want Cashless Society
* Shamrock's Missive
* Letters To The Editor
* Quote of the month!
*** Welcome To Freedumbville USSA!
Buyer beware: Google is tracking your purchases via Gmail
- Brooke Crothers
Rack it up as one more way Google tracks your personal data.
Any purchase you make that uses your Gmail account will be logged by Google, according to a discovery recently made recently by a Reddit user. The user uncovered that Google is keeping tabs on any purchase that uses your Gmail account. Google also tracks purchases made via Google Pay or via the Google Play store.
For its part, Google says the purchase information lives in your Google Account and is only accessible by you. "To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place, we've created a private destination that can only be seen by you. You can delete this information at any time," a Google spokesperson told Fox News in a statement.
"We don't use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page," the spokesperson added.
But it's not clear what else Google may be using the information for, as pointed out by BleepingComputer, a publication that covers information security and technology.
And it's not clear how to prevent Google from extracting this data from Gmail.
"I have no problems with features like this. Just give us the control to disable them," Lawrence Abrams, the creator and owner of BleepingComputer, told Fox News. Abrams added that he viewed it as an invasion of privacy.
Like Facebook, Google's business model is based on knowing a lot about you. Data collection is done for advertising and to improve Google services. And while not intentionally nefarious, a lot of this is done in the background unbeknownst to the average user.
Google's Eric Schmidt: Breaking Up Big Tech Would Be 'Illegal'
Ostensibly, there should be a way to control purchase tracking via a setting such as "Privacy & Personalization" or "Data and Personalization" – both accessible on your Google account home page – but that doesn't appear to be the case. This issue was addressed in other reports too, which found no way to completely turn off tracking.
It's easy to check what Google has tracked so far by going to your Google "Purchases" page. A check of my page revealed everything I had purchased going back to 2013, including reloads on a Starbucks card, iTunes purchases and flight reservations.
If you don't want to store this data, you can remove purchases one at a time. When you do this, you're sent to your Gmail and you delete the purchase there. There is no single setting that will do this en masse for all your purchases.
Google is looking into simplifying the settings further to make it easier for people to control, the company added.
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*** Bend Over!
Police facial recognition cameras should be banned because they pose 'one of the greatest threats to freedom', a human rights group has claimed.
Lawyer Martha Spurrier, and director of organisation Liberty, warned that the technology takes private information and hands it to the state without its owner's consent.
It comes as a pedestrian was fined £90 for disorderly behaviour after he tried to cover his face when walking past a facial recognition camera in London.
Police facial recognition cameras should be banned as they pose 'one of the greatest threats to freedom', a human rights group has claimed
'I don't think these cameras should ever be used,' Spurrier told The Guardian.
'It takes us into uncharted invasive state-surveillance territory where everyone is under surveillance.'
Earlier this year a man was fined when he covered his face with his hat and jacket while walking past a camera in Romford, East London.
Lawyer Martha Spurrier, and director of campaign group Liberty, warned that the technology takes private information and hands it to the state without the owner's consent. A campaigner challenges officers after police stop a man for covering his face when passing a facial recognition camera
San Francisco has already banned the technology saying that it 'endangers' civil rights and liberties. At least four police forces in the UK have trialled the technology so far including the Met police, South Wales, Leicester and Greater Manchester police forces
San Francisco has already banned the technology saying that it 'endangers' civil rights and liberties. At least four police forces in the UK have trialled the technology so far including the Met police, South Wales, Leicester and Greater Manchester police forces
When police pulled him to the side, he said: 'If I want to cover me face, I'll cover me face. Don't push me over when I'm walking down the street.'
At the scene an officer said: 'The fact that he's walked past clearly masking his face from recognition and covered his face. It gives us grounds to stop him and verify.'
Six steps behind facial recognition technology
The Metropolitan Police uses facial recognition technology called NeoFace, developed by Japanese IT firm NEC, which matches faces up to a so-called watch list of offenders wanted by the police and courts for existing offences. Cameras scan faces in its view measuring the structure of each face, creating a digital version that is searched up against the watch list. If a match is detected, an officer on the scene is alerted, who will be able to see the camera image and the watch list image, before deciding whether to stop the individual.

Eight people were arrested during the Met police trial, on January 31 this year, but only three were stopped as a result of the technology.
Liberty brought a landmark legal case against South Wales police last month, which has used the technology, after Cardiff resident Ed Bridges claimed it invaded his privacy.
He was filmed when he went out for a sandwich in December 2017, and again when he attended a protest against the arms trade.
At least four UK police forces have used the technology. Officers working at the Leicester and Greater Manchester forces are known to have used facial recognition cameras.
Its first deployment in the UK was by officers at the South Wales force ahead of the Champions League final in Cardiff in 2007.
This led to more than 2,000 people being wrongly identified as possible criminals.
Technology-city San Francisco banned facial recognition cameras on its streets in May this year, after finding that it 'endangered' civil liberties.
'The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits, and the technology will exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring,' read the legislation.
'It shall be unlawful for any department to obtain, retain, access, or use any Face Recognition Technology or any information obtained from Face Recognition Technology.'
Worries about the technology, including the dangers of innocent people being misidentified as criminals, have also spurred on moves to ban it.
Figures revealed that the new technology incorrectly identified members of the public in 96 per cent of matches made between 2016 and 2018.
How Does Facial Recognition Technology Work?
Facial recognition software works by matching real time images to a previous photograph of a person.
Each face has approximately 80 unique nodal points across the eyes, nose, cheeky and mouth which distinguish one person from another.
A digital video camera measures the distance between various points on the human face, such as the width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, distance between the eyes and shape of the jawline.
A different smart surveillance system (pictured) can scan 2 billion faces within seconds has been revealed in China. The system connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets. The military is working on applying a similar version of this with AI to track people across the country
A different smart surveillance system can scan 2 billion faces within seconds has been revealed in China. The system connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets. The military is working on applying a similar version of this with AI to track people across the country
This produces a unique numerical code that can then be linked with a matching code gleaned from a previous photograph.
A facial recognition system used by officials in China connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets.
Experts believe that facial recognition technology will soon overtake fingerprint technology as the most effective way to identify people.
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Food for thought
Cashless economy can be a double-edged sword for any nation
- Global Look Press
Many nations, particularly Scandinavian countries, are currently trying to embrace a cashless future where physical money is replaced with digital. RT talked to experts about the upsides and downsides of such a move.
While some see a cashless society as the future, it will take years or maybe decades to get rid of paper money, according to Nafis Alam, director of Postgraduate Research Studies and Associate Professor of finance at Henley Business School, University of Reading Malaysia.
"Definitely, the world is moving away from physical cash due to increase usage of E-wallet, Apple/Samsung pay," he said, adding that the upside of cashless payments is "the unparalleled convenience it offers in the form of time, efficiency and security."
However, he noted that "the biggest upside is for the regulators, who can have records for each and every transaction which makes law-breaking more difficult for tax evaders, money launderers, and black marketers."
Being a cashless economy can be a double-edged sword for any nation, according to Alam. "While it does control the illegal activities surrounding money, such as money laundering and fraud, at the same time it reduces the privacy of individual usage."
"Every single transaction can be recorded and monitored by the government which will become like a communist setup rather than a libertarian society," he said.
Meanwhile, Steve Worthington, adjunct professor at Swinburne University of Technology has argued that the world is moving towards a less-cash society. "We will never get to a cashless society in my lifetime because cash has its own triple 'A'. It is accepted nearly everywhere, it is anonymous and it is authentic," he said.
Talking about the downsides of a cash-free push, Worthington said that "we will then live in an even more 'controlled' and 'observed' society."
The crime-fighting characteristics of cashless societies have been largely overestimated, according to another expert.
"Currently most money transactions happen through banks and are controlled but this has not stopped criminality from flourishing," said Sergio Focardi, a professor and researcher in finance at ESILV and EMLV at the Pole Universitaire De Vinci in Paris.
Talking about the cash-free push as an anti-crime measure, he explained that it depends on the situation of each state on the willingness of governments to really fight criminality.
"It's difficult to believe that a technology will change the crime situation. I think it is the government willingness to fight crime that makes the difference."
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo, professor of business history and bank management at Bangor University, says he prefers "to think of the downsides" of a cash-free future "such as the number of vulnerable people (poor, young, elderly, single mothers, non-urban) that can be left out."
"Then, there is the fact that digital systems are binary: they work or they don't," he added. "A small problem with electricity (such as a hurricane in NY), internet supply or even in the IT systems of a bank (such as TSB or NatWest in the UK) bring the whole system to a halt."
Going cashless does little to eliminate corruption or the "black economy," but it does help governments increase their tax base, according to Batiz-Lazo.
But ultimately there are independence issues, according to the expert, as "people are entitled to a level of privacy and choice in payments."
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*** The District of Criminals
'Oops, we did it again!' NSA caught illegally collecting Americans' phone data
- RT
The NSA has been caught improperly collecting Americans' phone data yet again, just months after a similar incident forced them to (supposedly) purge hundreds of millions of records captured without FISA authorization.
The agency unlawfully slurped up a "larger than expected" volume of call and text records from one US telecom provider under the metadata-collection program known as Section 215, according to a document obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of its ongoing lawsuit against the agency. The heavily redacted file does not reveal which company was affected, or how many of its "call detail records" were illegally collected between October 3 and 12, 2018.
Also on NSA 'unmasking' of American surveillance targets peaked in 2018, new report says
"These documents further confirm that this surveillance program is beyond redemption and a privacy and civil liberties disaster," ACLU National Security Project staff attorney Patrick Toomey told the AP. "There is no justification for leaving this surveillance power in the NSA's hands."
Revealingly, the NSA in its own internal documents assesses the blunder's "impact on national security or international relations" to be "none." Critics of the program, formerly known as StellarWind, have pointed to its acknowledged failure to stop a single terror event – the agency's official rationale for eavesdropping on 3 billion phone calls every day – as one of many reasons it should be scrapped.
The agency "will assess the scope of the civil liberties and privacy impact of this incident upon completion of the investigation," the report promises, though an "initial assessment is that the impact was limited given the quick identification, purge processes, and lack of reporting."
"Why is there no penalty? Why is there no consequence for doing this? This is illegal behavior - if it is illegal, what is the accountability for those who are collecting it?" journalist Ben Swann asked, referring to both the telecoms providing excess information and the government agency that has made at least three such "mistakes" in the last year.
"The NSA never outs themselves and admits 'We made a mistake' - it only comes to light when the ACLU or some group sues," Swann told RT.
"If there is no accountability for those who continue to break the law - because that's what they're doing – then why would they ever stop doing that?"
The NSA is reportedly in favor of discontinuing Section 215 altogether, allowing congressional authorization to lapse when it expires at the end of 2019, though President Donald Trump has declared he wants to keep it running indefinitely.
While the documents received by the ACLU suggest previous rumors about the agency's use of the program – a security adviser to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed the NSA hadn't used it since June, the last time it was forced to purge millions of improperly-collected records – were false, former NSA chief William Binney confirms the agency is only letting it go because they have something much more sinister going on.
"There is no oversight of the upstream program," Binney told RT, referring to an NSA program that collects not only phone records but emails, "chatter," and "everything on the fiber optic network." Upstream is "the major program that's copying the collection of bulk data on everybody, not just in the United States but on the planet."
The Ending Mass Collection of Americans' Phone Records Act, a bipartisan bill to end NSA bulk collection of US phone data and prevent the agency from restarting it which was introduced in the Senate earlier this year, appears to have come a bit too late.
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*** Police State
Internet Privacy in the Age of Surveillance
- Tom Bradbury
Pew Research Center reports that "91% of adults agree or strongly agree that consumers have lost control of how personal information is collected."
That incredibly-high statistic must describe victims under authoritarian governments like China, Russia, or North Korea, right?
That study was about US citizens. You know, the land of the free.
91% - That's the percentage of adults living in the US who agree that consumers have lost control of how personal information is collected and used by companies.
The sad truth is that governments of every shape and size are ramping up mass surveillance with little-to-no objection.
We live on the internet. But does that interconnection work in their favor, providing more opportunities to pierce our online privacy?
The simplest way to settle that score is to compare how the espionage efforts of the United States and their allies compare to other oppressive regimes.
How do we measure up to our closest friends and worst enemies? Let's find out.
State Surveillance and the Right to Privacy in Foreign Countries

The Chinese government has an annual domestic security budget of more than $197 billion.
That's 13% higher than their allocated budget for external defense.
What does this mean?
China is more concerned with threats coming from inside its borders than with those coming from external forces.
The Chinese government is notorious for limiting what websites its people can access through the use of what has come to be known as the Great Firewall of China. (Which also sounds like a new Michael Bay film.)
The Great Firewall blocks a large number of foreign websites, including everyday Western platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. China also routinely blocks any content that contradicts the stance of its communist government.
Communists have thin skin, apparently.
You heard it here first.
China ups-the-spying ante by actively encouraging civilian-to-civilian surveillance. They utilize government-controlled whistleblower phone applications that allow citizens to report on any violations that they see. Buzzkill.
The state is also developing a social credit system which assigns a grade to each citizen based on the government's assessment of their trustworthiness. No, this is not a joke.
It creates this ranking based on social behaviors, government data, and financial information. At the moment, this program is not nation-wide, but enrollment will be mandatory by 2020 for all of China's 1.379 billion people.
This is nothing, though.
The Chinese government will also impose strict control over entire geographic areas. For example, in the region of Tibet, mobile phone and internet users must identify themselves by name.
The Chinese government cites an attempt to "curb the spread of detrimental information" as the primary catalyst behind this decision.
One group of Chinese citizens have security cameras installed within their homes.

Uh huh.
In response to this mandate, more than 100 Tibetans have chosen to self-immolate themselves (a fancy way for saying ??), while others opt to live completely "unplugged" to avoid government oversight.
These dissidents continue to demand more freedom, more rights, and the return of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who has been living in permanent exile since 1959.
In Xinjiang, the Chinese government forces the Uyghurs, a Muslim Turkic ethnic group, to install an application on their phone that monitors all of its content. The government is well known for its poor treatment of this group, going so far as to install security cameras in the homes of these citizens.
When the government feels that it has gathered sufficient evidence of wrongdoing on the part of an Uhgyur, they take them to re-education camps that work to change their political and religious beliefs, effectively erasing their identities.
Nope. Still not making this up.
Throughout the rest of the country, the Chinese government employs the use of more than 20 million security cameras to keep an eye on its citizens. It is the government's goal to build a massive surveillance network spanning the entirety of China by 2020.
This network would use both public cameras and private ones to accomplish its goals.
The Chinese government proudly touts its success at using mass surveillance techniques to curb the spread of crime throughout the country.
While critics of the government have decried these practices, claiming that it is nothing more than a heavy-handed way to snuff out political foes.
You be the judge.

Can you believe that Russia spies on their own people?
Said no one ever.
The System of Operational-Investigatory Measures (SORM) is a division of the Russian government created, for the most part, to literally just spy on their own people.
Telecom companies throughout the country have been forced by SORM to install hardware designed by the Federal Security Service throughout its systems. This is done to monitor all metadata and content pertaining to communication throughout Russia.
ISPs who refuse to install SORM spying software can be poisoned get in serious legal trouble with the Russian government.
The government collects everything from email correspondence to web browsing activities, and telephone calls.
Take this as a friendly reminder to wipe that browser history from last night real quick.
The Federal Security Service, also known as the FSB, requires a post-collection court warrant to access the records of ordinary citizens, but they can begin surveillance efforts before they request the warrant.
It's also important to note that the agency does not need a court order to comb through metadata. It is only necessary to access the collected communications information.
SORM has been a regular target of the European Court for Human Rights. This group has declared the Russian agency to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, but this has not halted domestic espionage in the least. They heard the case in 2015 before the European Convention in Zakharov v. Russia.
The international court unanimously agreed that Russia's surveillance legislation was in stark violation of the convention. However, on that same day, the Russian government passed a law which allows them to overrule any rulings set down by an international court. They cited a need to "protect the interests of Russia" in the event that such orders contradicted the Russian constitution.
They're nothing if not crafty.
The Russian government can access citizens' communication records at any time without a court order.

The FSB saw to the upgrading of SORM equipment within Sochi before the start of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. This upgrade ensured that the government could capture all internet traffic within that location throughout the event when many foreign visitors and dignitaries were in attendance.
Another problematic surveillance law within Russia is what has come to be known as "Bloggers Law." This 2014 law states that all bloggers who have more than 3,000 daily readers cannot be anonymous.
The government must confirm their identities. Any organization that provides a platform to these bloggers has to maintain six months of computer records. These platforms include Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, among other heavy hitters.
As it turns out, 2014 was a rough year for internet surveillance, as that was the year in which the government also decreed that anyone connecting to a public wi-fi network had to do so using their official government ID. They then stored that information for up to six months.
There are no signs of things slowing down either.
In 2016 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Yarovaya Law into existence. This law requires telecom companies and ISPs throughout Russia to keep a record of all user communications for up to three years.
At any time, the government can demand access to these records without a court order.
And as recently as July 2018, the government demanded that all messaging, social media, and email services that use encryption to protect its data must give the government access on demand without a court order.
North Korea

If you like having any fun online, you should definitely not vacation in North Korea anytime soon.
That's because every aspect of a North Korean's existence is monitored by the oppressive government of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
For starters, outdoor microphones are used to monitor conversations on the street. Someone is always listening when you're out in public.
Computers, for those lucky enough to have them, must be registered with the government and are subject to random monitoring by the authorities.
Most North Korean computers are only able to access a national intranet called the Kwangmyong. They restrict external sources of the internet to government officials, elite students, and military leaders.
Internet surveillance in North Korea extends beyond the country's borders. Officials that are stationed abroad have their internet access monitored by staff members.
North Korea is another country that encourages its people to spy on other citizens. The country has even incentivized the process, rewarding informants with gifts.
Freedom is not one of them.
All telephone conversations in North Korea are subject to monitoring by the Ministry of Public Service, one of three major surveillance organizations within the government. The other two are the State Security Department and the Military Security Command.
United Kingdom

Ah, the UK.
Home of good football and terrible food.
It turns out, your late night run to that awful kebab shop down the street wasn't quite as secretive as you thought.
Because despite being a relatively small area, they have over 1.5 million CCTV cameras that watch your every move.
That's not even the worst part, though.
Many different legislations outline the legal framework for what the UK considers ‘lawful interception of communications data' and how they store it.
This is all spelled out in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, and then crystallized in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act of 2014, which allows security services to access phone and internet records of private citizens.
The act swept through parliament at breakneck speed, drawing criticism from some. It cleared the lower chamber in just one day, which was described as "entirely improper" by Conservative MP David Davis.
The UK is a part of the Five Eyes Surveillance Alliance, which is an agreement between the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to pool their collective intelligence information.
These five nations agree to share espionage data collected, so if one government has information on you, it is accessible to the other four (and possibly ten more).
The UK government has the ability to intercept targeted communications. It can collect this data in bulk and store it. A judge is required to review any warrants signed by a minister as it pertains to the interception of information.
In 2016, the government passed the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016, which shone some light on the mass surveillance techniques it once kept secret. It also created an Investigatory Powers Commission that oversees the use of all investigations which utilize mass surveillance tactics.
This commission is made up of serving and former senior judges.
The 2016 act also gave police and intelligence agencies the right to engage in targeted equipment interference, which boils down to hacking into devices remotely to collect data.
When it's a matter of a ‘foreign investigation,' police can use bulk equipment interference.
The UK maintains a long list of authorities that are allowed to access internet connection records without first obtaining a warrant. These records show what websites a person visited, but not the particular pages they saw or the full browsing history.
The 2016 act mandated that all communication service providers keep this information for one year.
Mass Surveillance in the United States

The September 11th terrorist attacks unfortunately opened the floodgates of mass surveillance in the US.
After that horrific event, the federal government began tracking the calls of hundreds of millions of Americans, spying on international calls, text messages, email correspondence, and web browsing activity.
All of this was made possible thanks to a number of key laws, including the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the Patriot Act, and Executive Order 12,333.
FISA passed through the US House of Representatives in 2008 with a vote of 293 to 129. It was momentarily delayed in the Senate thanks to a filibuster by Senators Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd.
Feingold stated that the bill threatened civil liberties, while Dodd argued against a provision that granted retroactive immunity, stating that it would undermine the rule of law.
Dodd requested that they strike the immunity provision, but the Senate soundly rejected him. The bill cleared the Senate with a vote of 69 to 28. It was subsequently signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 10, 2008.
Originally, FISA was set to expire in 2012, but the House and Senate voted to extend the law for another five years. That passed approval from President Barack Obama on December 30, 2012.
In January of 2018, the Senate approved another six-year extension from FISA Section 702, which gives intelligence organizations the right to monitor the communications of non-US citizens abroad.
This decision has come under fire as it can also be used to eavesdrop on the private communications of American citizens.
The phrase "warrantless wiretapping" became a household term in 2005, thanks to an article published by the New York Times. The piece shed light on the government's actions, including the unwarranted spying on phone communications of American citizens. They supposedly discontinued the practice in 2007.
Yup. Suuuuuuuure.
Following the Times article, more than 40 Americans attempted to fight back against telecom companies, claiming that the Bush administration was illegally monitoring their calls and emails.
The largest single revelation regarding mass surveillance by the US government came from former CIA employee Edward Snowden who leaked classified information detailing the surveillance programs run by the NSA in 2013.
Snowden released over 1.7 million US intelligence files, and thousands from Australian and British agencies as well, which he obtained through the Five Eyes Surveillance Alliance.
Snowden's revelation detailed an advanced spying program undertaken by the NSA that monitors internet and telephone conversations from over a billion people throughout the world.
We also learned that an automated program for suspicious keywords scans just about every email that is sent from the US overseas.
""They (the NSA) can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer. I cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely such a program infringes on that degree of privacy that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,' would be aghast."
Edward Snowden

You'd think after the Snowden leak that US intelligence agencies would lie low for a while.
Unfortunately, you couldn't be further from the truth.
Since then, the US has lightened the intensity of its data collection efforts. In 2015, the USA Freedom Act ended the bulk collection of phone metadata by the NSA but called for the retention of data by phone companies, which the government could obtain on a case by case basis if need be.
The frightening thing about US mass surveillance is how incredibly advanced it is.
I bet you laughed earlier at North Korea, rolling old school with a bunch of microphones everywhere.
Well, you'll wish a junky Radio Shack mic was the worst thing to watch out for.
Speech to text programs allow computers to monitor phone correspondence instead of human beings, which allows for a far higher volume.
Facial recognition software can identify an individual through their facial features and their walking gait.
Magic Lantern and CIPV systems can be used to remotely monitor a person's computer activity.
Like, real James Bond crap.
They even use social networks in their espionage efforts. Facebook alone has turned over the private information of almost 19,000 users to law enforcement.
This doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. By 2020, it is expected that there will be 300,000 unmanned drones deployed throughout the US for the purposes of surveillance.
Mass Surveillance on a City Level

Not all mass surveillance comes from large, shadowy government organizations.
The birth of "smart cities" throughout the world opens us up to more threats against our right to privacy.
In a smart city, governments can monitor citizens using a series of sensors. Data gathered there can then be transmitted and analyzed by law enforcement of government agencies. This leads to a rise in what's known as predictive policing, wherein crime prevention information is analyzed to make a police force more effective.
Also, the cheesy plot to Minority Report.
Data collected within a smart city can have other uses as well, such as management of traffic issues, use of energy, and the reduction of waste products.
But all of this data transmission has people worried that "big brother" is getting a lot bigger.
City governments are continuing to use advanced technology to gather intel on citizens. Take an instance in Memphis TN, for example. The Memphis Police Department was creating fictitious social media accounts to spy on the whereabouts and private posts of noted Black Lives Matter activists.
The California DMV, without a doubt the least likely place for any tech innovation, is unveiling digital Driver's Licenses and digital license plates. You couldn't think of a better GPS to track your whereabouts.
And this is not a uniquely American issue, either.
Smart city advances in Amsterdam compile vast amounts of data. With more than 70 smart city projects collecting information throughout the city, the local government has a massive collection of data stored on its common IP infrastructure.
While this data is being used to improve city life, many are worried that it could also be a threat to their personal privacy. That's why many Canadian citizens are opposing Google plans to build a smart city in Toronto.
But this question ultimately boils down to the trade-off.
The Big Question
Do the benefits of such advanced technology outweigh the potential for privacy invasion?
One example on US soil dates back to 1996 in Montgomery County, Maryland. At that time, they were looking to integrate their health and human services departments by sharing data between them. This would make the departments far more efficient, as patients would no longer have to waste time writing out the same information from scratch.
Despite privacy laws initially preventing them from sharing this data, they were eventually able to find a solution by basing their goals on four criteria to preserve the privacy of citizens.
1.The use of shared data was for the purposes of treatment only.
2.The use of data was limited to only what is necessary for treatment.
3.Only specific people could access shared data.
4.No one involved could be asked to violate their rules of professional ethics.
Whether or not that happens on a large scale is up for debate. And unfortunately, the signs aren't encouraging.
Our interconnected world is both good and bad.
It only takes a few keystrokes to holler at ‘Ye.
But those same tweets are being gathered and compiled by just about every big corporation and government, every single day.
The only thing we do know about mass surveillance, based on where the last few years have been trending, is that it's only going to get worse.
A lot worse.
When governments and corporations are actively working against you, doing everything in their power to steal your private data, you can only trust yourself.
And that starts by locking down your internet connection before they ever get a chance. Get a good VPN service now!
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*** Advisory
This Is What Americans Consider a Life-Changing Amount of Money
- Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool
Many people dream of winning the lottery and taking home millions. But in reality, it takes a lot less money than that to change the typical U.S. adult's life. In fact, the average American considers $19,800 a life-changing sum, according to a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Self Lender.
Not only that, but most Americans would use that sort of money wisely if they were to magically receive it. A good 51% claim they'd stick that cash directly into savings. Meanwhile 31% say they'd use it to pay off credit card debt, 30% would start a business, and 27% would use the funds for retirement.
If you're of the opinion that $19,800 would change your life for the better, here's some good news: You don't need to win the lottery to attain that sum. If you make lifestyle changes and save consistently, you can amass close to $20,000 and use that money to meet whatever financial goals you choose to set for yourself.
It's all about choices
Chances are, nobody's going to knock on your door in the coming days and offer you nearly $20,000. But that doesn't mean you can't carve out that money on your own. If you're willing to make an effort to lower your spending and boost your earnings, you can eke out that sum yourself over time and use it toward whatever objectives you have in mind.
First, let's talk about spending less. There are plenty of things you can do to free up a substantial amount of money in your budget, so think about the things you currently spend money on and consider how important they really are to you. Maybe you love going out and exploring new restaurants, and so the idea of never dining out seems downright terrible. If that's the case, you might consider downsizing to a less expensive home, or giving up a car you enjoy having but can technically do without.
Or, the opposite might be true -- you hate living in cramped quarters and love the convenience of a car. In that case, you might cut back on dining out, leisure, clothing, cable, and other luxuries that don't have quite the same impact on your quality of life.
Imagine you're able to reduce your spending to the point where you free up $500 a month. If you currently buy lunch every day, order takeout several times a week, pay for a gym membership you rarely use, and have the priciest cell and data plan out there, then that's doable if you agree to cut back. It's also doable if you move to a cheaper home or unload the mega-expense that is owning a car. Either way, in less than 3.5 years, you'll have saved up $19,800.
But wait -- if you're able to boost your income, you might hit that goal in half that amount of time or less. And while you can't just march into your boss's office and insist on a raise, you can increase your earnings by getting yourself a side hustle. Millions of Americans are doing it these days, and an estimated 36% of folks with a second gig bring home over $500 a month as a result. Therefore, if you're willing to take on a side hustle and cut back on expenses to the tune of $500 a month, you might actually bank $1,000 a month or more -- in which case you could hit the $19,800 mark in roughly a year and a half.
Of course, the speed at which you save money will depend on how many sacrifices you're willing to make and how much extra time you're willing to spend working. It'll also depend on how many hiccups you encounter along the way -- think unexpected expenses that force you to take a step backward. But know this: If $19,800 is a life-changing sum, you don't need to sit back and pray for a winning lottery ticket to get it. You just need to work hard, make smart choices, and perhaps exercise a bit of patience as you push toward that goal.
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*** Over 70% of Swedes Don't Want Cashless Society
Country potentially cash-free by 2023
- Sputnik
Both young and old alike want to keep cash circulating, despite predictions that Sweden could go completely cashless as early as 2023. Only a fifth of the Swedish population is ready to embrace the change, a survey shows.
Amid the Swedish government's ambitions to become the world's first cashless society, more and more Swedes would like to retain the traditional way of payment in the future.
A total of 72 percent of Swedes are in favor of keeping traditional crisp banknotes, a new survey conducted by pollster Sifo on behalf of Bankomat AB, a chain of ATMs run in collaboration between a number of banks, has indicated. This marks a 4 percent increase compared with the previous year, when 68 percent of Swedes exhibited nostalgia for traditional bills in an increasingly digitized society.
At the same time, the proportion of Swedes who want a completely cashless society has fallen from 25 percent a year ago to 21 percent today.
Senior citizens over 65 appeared to be the most cash-positive group. There, as many as 85% opted for keeping cash. At about two million out of Sweden's 10 million-strong population, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Owen Shroyer breaks down how society will soon become cashless and dependent on your smart phone.
Among the younger populace aged between 18 and 29, that is the group that is most used to digital payment, a solid 62 percent wanted to keep their cash, while 29 percent chose a completely cashless society.
In 2017, Niklas Arvidsson, associate professor of industrial dynamics at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) predicted that Sweden will go cashfree in 2023 and was specific enough to name a date, March 24. His study has unleashed a debate about the future of payments.
"I believe that the recent debate on the issue has made more people aware of the risks that come with a completely cashless society", Bankomat AB manager Johan Nilsson explained. "Despite the fact that more and more people are choosing to pay digitally, support for retaining cash as a way of paying also increases. As long as there is a need for cash, we at Bankomat will do all in our power to keep it available", Nilsson pledged.
Nilsson stressed that over 1 million Swedes currently live in digital exclusion. For them to be able to handle their payments in an increasingly digitized society, the state must shoulder greater responsibility for maintaining the cash infrastructure, Nilsson said, calling it "socially important."
As of today, four out of five purchases in Sweden (around 80 percent) are made electronically, and Sweden's Central Bank, Riksbanken estimates that in the years 2012 to 2020, cash in circulation will have declined by up to 50 percent. Swedes mainly use debit cards and payment apps, such as Swish. In a study by KTH, the popular app has already been credited with reducing the amount of cash in circulation.
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Shamrock's Missive:

Who's making money from your DNA?
If you've sent off your DNA to an ancestry or health-screening company, do you know how the data is being used – and should you worry?
This story is from Who's monetising your DNA?, an episode of Business Daily on BBC World Service. It was presented by Manuela Saragosa and produced by Laurence Knight. To listen to more episodes of Business Daily, please click here. Adapted by Philippa Fogarty.
If you've ever sent off your DNA to an ancestry or health-screening company for analysis, chances are your DNA data will be shared with third parties for medical research or even for solving crime, unless you've specifically asked the company not to do so.
The point was brought home in late January when it emerged that genetic genealogy company FamilyTreeDNA was working with the FBI to test DNA samples provided by law enforcement to help identify perpetrators of violent crime. Another DNA testing company, 23andMe, has signed a $300m deal with pharmaceuticals giant GSK to help it develop new drugs.
But are customers aware that third parties may have access to their DNA data for medical research? And do these kinds of tie-ups bring benefits – or should we be concerned?
Opting in
23andMe is a California-based company that analyses customers' DNA and provides them with reports on ancestry and health. It says it has more than five million customers, more than 80% of whom have agreed to participate in its research, creating a huge store of genetic data.
In a blog post when the deal with GSK was announced last year, CEO Anne Wojcicki said she believed combining 23andMe's genetic research with GSK's drug development expertise would accelerate the development of scientific breakthroughs.
So with this deal, has the company changed its focus to monetising its genetic database?
"I would really say not," says Kathy Hibbs, 23andMe's chief legal and regulatory officer. "The way we look at our business is as a virtuous circle. We have consumers who are interested and motivated around their own health – how our genetics might influence our risks for certain conditions."
The concept, she says, is to make discoveries that give customers more information they can use to inform their health decisions.
She rejects the idea that customers don't understand whether they are agreeing to share their data, pointing to a "very explicit" three-part consent document that asks whether customers want to consent to research, and whether they consent to this research being shared with third parties. The key thing, she says, is that their research relies on people answering survey questions. "Their genetic information, if they don't provide the survey information… is really not interesting to us. So not only do they knowingly consent, they have to affirmatively participate in these studies."
Hibbs says the partnership with GSK will allow a far wider pool of researchers to study the data they have. Her company can also work with academics and public institutions if there is no conflict of interest with GSK, she adds.
'Greater good'
Of course, there are plenty of countries that are developing public DNA databases as opposed to the private ones owned by companies like 23andMe. In the UK it's being done by Genomics England, established by the government's Department of Health and Social Care.
It runs the 100,000 Genomes Project, which aims to sequence genomes from patients with a rare disease and their families, as well as patients with cancer. All the patients are with the NHS public health service and the focus is on improving treatment rather than developing profitable new drugs.
Mark Caulfield, chief scientist for Genomics England, says the project has multiple benefits, citing the example of a 10-year-old girl with severe recurrent chicken pox.
"This is not only a transformation for the individual but it's also a huge saver of funds for the NHS" - Mark Caulfield
"We found a change in her DNA which altered her immune system. This allowed us to select the bone marrow transplant which has cured her of her condition," he says. "This is not only a transformation for the individual but it's also a huge saver of funds for the NHS, because she was recurrently being admitted and having intensive care."
He says that genomics can help build up a much more detailed picture of a person's life course – something which may help scientists begin to identify who is at risk of disease.
Governments around the world are developing their own DNA databases – but can struggle to keep up with the scale of those provided by the private sector (Credit: Getty Images)
Everyone in the database joins under the basis of informed consent, involving written materials and a consultation with a healthcare professional, and the organisation does work with other nations and private companies, something Caulfield points out has benefits.
Where patients are suffering from very rare diseases, getting an answer may hinge on sharing data with other nations, he says. Interacting with private firms who are developing drugs, meanwhile, can help make a hugely expensive process cheaper.
"Many of us possess the risk of an adverse reaction because of our genetic make-up. And because 80% of medicines fail in development, actually using the genome to try to get safer medicines first time could reduce the cost of those medicines when they come forward into the health system."
"The kinds of people who can afford to buy these private diagnostic tests look similar in lot of ways" - Kayte Spector-Bagdady
He highlights the key role identifying the gene behind familial high cholesterol, a condition causing heart disease at an early age, played in developing the drug to treat it.
"[Drug company] Amgen estimate that the work in genomics shortened the development of that medicine and its entry to patient-benefiting trials by three years. If I could bring something live that would avoid death or harm to somebody much faster through this public-industry partnership, then I think that is a greater good for society."
Why diversity is needed
It's worth noting that the 100,000 Genomes Project has sequenced exactly that – 100,000 genomes. It's a fraction of the information held by 23andMe's database. The fact that private companies dominate DNA databases worries Kayte Spector-Bagdady, assistant professor at the University of Michigan's medical school.
"There's potential for data monopolies and also private industry acting in ways that might exclude public data banks," she says. She cites the example of Myriad Genomics, which obtained a patent on two genes associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. That meant it could monopolise testing, something opponents argued stifled research and blocked development of cheaper tests.
In 2013, the US Supreme Court declared the patent invalid. But because they'd had a monopoly for so long, Myriad still had the best data set. Now, says Spector-Bagdady, third parties are working together to "compete with the gigantic Myriad data set".
She says profit considerations can skew research. "If you think about these companies like 23andMe, their valuation isn't based on the ability to sell $200 test kits; their valuation is based on their ability to collect and sell data. That data becomes one of their greatest business assets and that asset is protected as any other asset would be."
Consent issues aside, her biggest worry is that the way the data is collected means segments of society are not represented.
"The kinds of people who can afford to buy these private diagnostic tests look similar in lot of ways – they're often very well educated, they're often Caucasian, they're often wealthy," she says. "So when we populate private data sets with those kind of people, even if we're doing good research that makes excellent advances in medicine, the kinds of communities that those advances are going to be applicable to are the kinds of people that are in the data sets to begin with."
She believes creating more diverse public databases accessible to researchers, like the All of Us research programme initiated by the Obama administration, would serve society better.
"The challenge is that they only have about 150,000 people so far and they have been doing it for years," she says. Part of the problem is that public programmes have to meet stringent federal requirements around consent, making it costlier and more time-consuming to recruit participants.
23andMe says that although percentage-wise its customer base tends to be more European, on a pure numbers basis it has some of the largest cohorts of traditionally under-represented research populations including African-Americans, Latinos and others. It also participates, it says, in projects targeting gaps in the genetic records.
The direct-to-consumer genetic testing market is flourishing, KPMG noted in a report last year. That being the case, the debate around issues of privacy, consent, diversity and benefit can only deepen as more of us choose to find out our deepest biological secrets.
The above article first appeared at BBC.
See you next issue
"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion."
- Edmund Burke, 1784