|(Natural News) With reports that the United Nations is moving towards handing control of the internet over to dictatorial regimes such as China, thus ‘legitimizing’ the censorship of free speech and ensuring internet blackouts whenever the ‘globalist overlords’ see fit as Paul Joseph Watson reported in this recent story over at Summit News, we get a small taste of what…|
|(Natural News) Back on December 19, I wrote a column in this space on J.K. Rowling’s decision to tweet out her support of Maya Forstater, a 45-year-old tax expert who was recently fired for expressing her view that women could not become men and men could not become women simply by saying so. An employment tribunal rejected…|
|(Natural News) Anxiety is linked to various mental and physical disorders, especially those caused by stress. Many natural therapies offer relief, but a recent study suggests that maintaining a healthy gut microbiota as a novel treatment for anxiety. In a review, a team of scientists from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China examined the relationship between the gut…|
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Taking on Google, the biggest monopoly the world has ever seen, is no small task, but 50 state attorneys general are making the effort, having launched an antitrust investigation in September 20191 that will reportedly be expanded to include Google’s search and Android businesses as well.2
The probe, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, initially focused on the company’s advertising arm and its use of consumer data, but as noted by Recode editor-at-large Kara Swisher in the November 14, 2019, CNBC interview above, it’s virtually impossible to look at Google’s advertising business without entering into search and Android as well, since everything the company does is interconnected.
“You’re going to see a lot of action everywhere, sort of coalescing around the same things, because some of these problems can be met with regulation, some of them with fines, some of them with antitrust action and some of them with breakup.
But this is the beginning phase of investigation, and you have to look at search and Android if you’re going to look at advertising when it comes to Google and Facebook and other companies,” Swisher says.
The legal sidebar document, “Regulating Big Tech: Legal Implications,”3 issued by the Congressional Research Service in September 2019, lists a number of proposed policy changes and what they would accomplish from a legal standpoint.
Google Moves Into Banking
Who knows, the attorneys’ general investigation may need to expand even further, as Google is branching into banking as well. Through a partnership with Citigroup and a San Francisco University credit union, the company is planning to offer checking accounts tied to Google Pay sometime in 2020. As reported by CBS News November 13, 2019:4
“Google’s move into checking comes at a time when other Big Tech companies like Apple and Facebook are looking to dive deeper into consumer banking and financial services.
It’s also happening at a time when consumer watchdogs and lawmakers increasingly warn that those same companies are getting too large and may have too much control over Americans’ personal data.
‘When competition expands that’s a good thing,’ said Mike Moebs, a financial services consultant who specializes in bank accounts … ‘Big question that it raises is will Google share that data, and that is a big privacy concern,’ Moebs said …
Checking accounts could offer Google plenty of new consumer data, including how much people are paid, how much they spend and where and when they spend.”
When asked for a comment on Google’s expansion into checking accounts, Swisher says, “They just keep going. That’s the thing about these companies … they need growth, and the areas that are big are finance and health care, and you see [them] move into both of these areas in a strong way.”
Google Files for Order of Protection
According to CNBC,5 “States can be more aggressive in antitrust investigations than federal regulators, because they are less constrained by the lobbying and political forces that consume Washington, D.C.” That said, Google is also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
Whether any of these probes will lead to significant changes remain to be seen, however. Previous U.S. investigations have fizzled and been dropped.6 The European Union has taken a far stronger stance against the monopoly thus far, issuing a $5 billion fine in July 2018 for Android antitrust abuse.7
Google was ordered to cease favoring its own company by forcing Android manufacturers to exclusively pre-install the devices with a suite of Google apps. In 2017, the EU also fined Google $2.7 billion for unfairly favoring its own shopping service over its competitors.8 According to CNBC:9
“With that track record, the attorneys general investigating Google likely already have a broad vision of the case they wish to pursue against Google.
They will use their CID [civil investigative demand] requests to seek materials like emails and strategy documents to support that view, while looking for evidence of clear anti-competitive behavior. The requests can be a means of filling in holes in evidence, or a tactic to build up pressure on a company in hopes of forcing a settlement.”
Personally, I doubt fines will ever set Google on the right path. It’s so big, even fines in the billions of dollars end up being too small to act as a deterrent. The company can make up for such losses in too short a time.
As reported by CNBC,10,11 Google is also trying to block access to certain information, having filed an order of protection against Texas CIDs requesting information the company deems confidential. In its filing, Google claims two consultants hired by the attorney general have working relationships with competitors, and might misuse the information.
Internet Companies Seek Protection in Trade Agreements
Google and other Big Tech companies are also pursuing legal protection via various free trade agreements. As reported by the Los Angeles Times October 16, 2019:12
“A bipartisan group of lawmakers is stepping up efforts to have U.S. trade officials eliminate a legal liability shield that tech companies are pushing to keep in new agreements, including a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement awaiting approval by Congress …
The lawmakers … were examining whether tech giants should continue to benefit from Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which provides internet platforms liability protection for user-generated content.
Online platforms such as Google and Facebook Inc. prize the provision of U.S. law, and their trade groups are also pushing for the extension of similar protections internationally that would unify policy among countries in trade deals such as the pact to replace NAFTA and a proposal for a deal with Japan …
But Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, chairwoman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, told reporters … that language similar to Section 230 has no place in a trade agreement.
‘It is a uniquely American law, and we’re in the midst of a discussion about it, and this is a gift to Big Tech to insert it into trade agreements,’ Schakowsky said …
The hearing comes amid growing skepticism among lawmakers about whether social media companies should keep the legal protection as a part of U.S. law as they struggle to stem drug and gun sales and offensive content on their platforms.
Tech companies value the measure because it saves them from having to review users’ posts before they’re published online and then shields them from lawsuits if that content turns out to be problematic, which critics say allows the companies to avoid taking responsibility for dangerous and illegal content.
Yet the companies emphasized that the law also can protect their moves to remove violence and misinformation, which they say is needed to police their online spaces.”
The Problem With Global Expansion of Section 230
The main reason Big Tech wants to insert privileges mirroring those of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act into all future trade deals is to shield them from foreign regulators, The New York Times says, noting that:13
“Europe has enacted tough policies to curb the behavior of companies like Facebook and Google and passed laws to deal with privacy, hate speech and disinformation. China has largely cordoned itself off from the rest of the internet, allowing Beijing to censor political content and bolster Chinese tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent.
In India, Indonesia, Russia and Vietnam, governments are introducing regulations to ostensibly protect their citizens’ privacy and build domestic internet industries that critics say will stymie the ability of American companies to provide services in those countries. The United States wants its more permissive rules to form the basis for worldwide regulation.”
American legislators have become increasingly critical of Section 230 in light of Google and other internet platforms’ apparent political biases and ability to hinder the free flow of information from both sides of the political aisle.
To be clear, a primary problem with Section 230 — and its expansion globally through trade agreements — is that it allows Google, YouTube and Facebook to filter out and essentially censor whatever they want while still qualifying as a platform rather than a curator of content. As reported by R Street:14
“By clarifying that platforms are not the publisher or speaker of user-generated content, the law allows platforms to moderate user content that serves to harass or stifle the speech of others while giving them the flexibility to leave up potentially controversial but legitimate posts without fear that they will be sued.”
In short, the law facilitates Google’s bias, and its hiding of bias. That said, Section 230 is also in large part what allows for true free speech online, as illustrated in a July 2019 Reason article,15 and its elimination would make online discussions far riskier, from a legal standpoint, for everyone. As noted by Reason:16
“Section 230 stipulates, in essence, that digital services or platforms and their users are not one and the same and thus shouldn’t automatically be held legally liable for each other’s speech and conduct …
Without it, they would face extraordinary legal liability. A world without Section 230 could sink all but the biggest companies, or force them to severely curtail the speech of their users in order to avoid legal trouble.”
Do a Google Detox
Clearly, these are complex issues with no clear and simple answers. While some view Section 230 as a gift to Big Tech, others argue that its removal would impact smaller platforms to a far greater degree than Google, and would stifle free exchange of opinions for fear of liability for offensive content posted by users.
Whatever happens, if you care about your privacy and unbiased access to information, especially health information, you’d be wise to minimize your Google footprint by ditching its services. Suggestions on how to minimize Google’s influence over your life include:
- Stop using Google search — Options include Qwant,17 DuckDuckGo18 and Startpage19
- Stop using Chrome — Use Brave as an alternative browser. It is based on the same software, chromium, so it is easy to switch your favorites and bookmarks over, but it preserves your privacy
- Stop using Gmail — ProtonMail,20 which provides end-to-end encryption and less spam, is an excellent option
- Switch from an Android phone (powered by Google) to an iPhone — While not perfect, iPhone is slightly better of the two in terms of privacy protections
There are alternatives for most if not all Google products, and by using these other companies, we can help them grow so that Google becomes less and less relevant. Also, stop using Google docs (Digital Trends has published an article suggesting a number of alternatives21) and if you’re a high school student, do not convert the Google accounts you created as a student into personal accounts.
Like the human body, the environment involves multiple systems and complex interrelationships among them. It is next to impossible to trigger an effect on one system without it affecting several others. From the smallest living organisms in the soil and water to the largest mammals in the sea, a ripple effect is often felt through the food chain with any type of change.
The world population doubled from 3.03 billion in 1960 to 6.06 billion in 1999.1 During the same period urban population grew from 1.02 billion to 2.14 billion; some believe the number living in rural areas is affected by large corporations taking over small farms.
The population growth and movement to cities has led to the development of what many see as a disposable society, creating more garbage than can be safely contained. Plastics, chemicals, toxins and fabric fibers are making their way into local waterways and out to the oceans where they impact the reproduction of wildlife and ultimately the food chain.
Agrochemical companies supply nitrogen fertilizers, GMO seeds and pesticides — all impacting soil biodiversity and gradually reducing the topsoil. As the nitrogen and chemicals wash off into the waterways wildlife are affected.
Runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) poisons croplands. Changes to the way farms are run, how products are manufactured and how life is lived have all had devastating effects on the Earth.
Small Farms Facing Bankruptcy as Suicide Rates Climb
The small farmer has been a fixture in America since the country was first settled. For centuries, farms have been passed down from generation to generation and have survived droughts, floods and price variations. But the current crisis is nothing like what’s happened in the past.
Small dairy farmers are amassing large debt to keep their farms going. Time magazine2 reports one family is nearly $300,000 in debt with bill collectors calling on a regular basis. This is happening to many families who have successfully managed their farms for decades. For example, the price of milk has plummeted nearly 40% in the last six years, and as a consequence more farmers are losing their inheritances.
Time also reports that Chapter 12 bankruptcies on small farms increased by 12% across the Midwest from July 2018 to June 2019; This pales in comparison to the 50% increase seen in the Northwest during the same time period. From 2011 to 2018, 100,000 farms closed their doors. Farm debt is at an all-time high with more than half reporting losses every year since 2013.
Small corn and soybean farmers are also feeling the pinch, squeezed by the trade war with China and climate change.3 Heavy spring rains and an early fall snow shut down operations for Ben Riensche at his Blue Diamond Farming company. Sales by small farmers have plummeted, which has opened markets in South America to expand their production.
As reported by a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer, this is unfortunate as the market in China took years to develop, and the trade war causes instability.4 Case in point: From January to August in 2019, China imported $8 billion U.S. agricultural products, which is far less than $19.5 billion purchased in 2017 before the trade war began.5
An often-underreported effect of farm loss is the rising number of suicides. The CDC reported that the suicide rate for those in the agricultural field is 1.5 times higher than the national average. CNBC reports farm income in Wisconsin plunged 50% in six years, culminating in a record 915 suicides in 2017.6
Randy Roecker is a dairy farmer from Wisconsin.7 He has faced depression and had a neighbor who committed suicide after he was forced to sell his 50 dairy cows. Roecker said, “It hits you so hard when you feel like you’re the one who is losing the legacy that your great-grandparents started.” He estimates his own farm is losing $30,000 every month.
Rural America Disappearing as Agribusiness Buys Small Farms
The Trump administration has assigned $16 billion in financial assistance to farmers who have suffered the consequences of trade to China. But small farmers are not hopeful this will save their farms, as most of the money is going to big producers who report large losses.8
The severity of the crisis currently facing farmers suggests independent farming may be a thing of the past. In 2017, small farms contributed 25% of food production, a reduction of nearly 50% from 1991. The dairy industry is even lower, contributing just 10% of production.9
As a result of technology and globalization, prices began to fall in 2013, and small farmers began selling out to large corporate agribusinesses. Technology made large producers more efficient by increasing scale. While many farms disappeared from 1948 to 2015, the total output from American farms more than doubled.
This flooded the market with a rising food supply that continued to drive down prices and hurt the remaining small farmers who could not compete. While transitioning to organic farming may help save some local farms, some small farmers are so far in debt the switch is not an option. Some ranchers in Wyoming are trying to help the family farmer by changing the way they farm the land.
Farmers are experimenting with seed varieties and sustainable methods of farming to counteract the effects of droughts and floods triggered by climate change. To help, they have partnered with advocacy and policy groups across the country such as the Family Farm Alliance. This advocacy group partners with farmers and ranchers on water supply in irrigation issues.
Other groups are working with farmers to counteract the effect farming has on climate warming and the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One crop alternative used is hemp, as it is not susceptible to the wild swings in weather like corn and soybeans are.
Family Farm Collapse Creates a Fragile Food Chain
The loss of the small family farm affects more than the farmer. As farmers sell to larger agribusinesses, local businesses dependent on the farmer must also close their doors. Pharmacies, restaurants, farm equipment repair and other small businesses have all closed as small farmers go out of business.
From 2011 to 2015, nearly 4,400 schools in rural districts had to close their doors as they no longer had the students or the tax dollars to support them. By contrast, suburban areas added nearly 4,000 schools. Farmers who used to have neighbors they knew are now living next to farms run by large corporations.
It’s estimated nearly 70% of Americans will live in 15 states by 2040 with much of the population concentrated in metropolitan areas. Jim Goodman, president of the National Family Farm Coalition, contemplates what the future of rural America may look like.10
“We have to think about what we really want rural America to look like. Do we want it to be abandoned small towns and farmers who can’t make a living, and a lot of really big farms that are polluting the groundwater?”
Biodiversity Loss Hastening Extinction
Loss of family farms has a large impact on local environments as large agribusinesses take over America’s heartland and destroy local environments with genetically engineered seed, heavy applications of pesticides and animal waste runoff.
Other negative effects have included biodiversity losses, widespread degradation of land and water systems and a growing supply of cheap food responsible for driving down prices and small farmers out of business. These changes have contributed to the phenomenal loss of environmental biodiversity in just one arena.
The Amazon rainforests are burning, destroying plant and animal life across the largest rainforest in the world normally responsible for slowing the pace of global climate change.11 The fires are used to clear the land, and although a ban on setting fires is currently in effect, the level of deforestation has not slowed.
Science director for the nonprofit Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Ipam) believes the level of loss in 2019 is likely 30% higher than the estimated 7,747 sq km (2,991 sq miles) of rainforest cleared.
The Cerrado savanna, also in Brazil, is home to 40% of animals and plants not found in other areas of the world. According to the Ipam, nearly 50% of the land has been lost to soybean farming.
One study12 from 2017 conducted by Stanford scientists paints a bleak picture of biological annihilation. The researchers believe the disappearance of thousands of species is only part of the story of the impact humans have had on the Earth.13
The loss of animal populations and biodiversity of the Earth matters as it robs humans of crucial ecosystems that have for centuries pollinated plants, controlled pests and purify waters in the wetlands. The scientists believe the loss of these intricate networks will lead to the development of less resilient systems.
Opportunity Lost at Recent COP25: What Can You Do?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, over the past 10 years 467 species have been named extinct.14 One team of researchers from Europe estimated it would take 3 to 7 million years for evolution to replace 300 extinct mammal species. The Stanford researchers believe the current mass extinction event is more severe than it is perceived. They write:15
“Our data indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization.
The massive loss of populations is already damaging the services ecosystems provide to civilization. When considering this frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization, one must never forget that Earth’s capacity to support life, including human life, has been shaped by life itself.
Thus, we emphasize that the sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short, probably two or three decades at most. All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life.”
After two weeks of talks in Madrid, delegates from almost 200 nations ended the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25). The planned 12-day summit was called to define the rules of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The meeting ended in disappointment as many of the most pressing agenda items were deferred until 2020.16 UN chief António Guterres was disappointed in the results, but called for the global community to not give up, saying he is:17
“more determined than ever to work for 2020 to be the year in which all countries commit to do what science tells us is necessary to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 and a no more than 1.5 degree temperature rise.”
You can have a positive effect on your local ecosystem and contribute to the global community through your purchases. Consider getting your produce, meat and dairy products from local organic, regenerative farmers where the process of producing food reduces the overall impact on the environment and doesn’t contribute to it; and, the food is safer and healthier.
Although plastic has become an integral part of our lives, its use is at dangerous levels when considering your health and the environment. A stroll through the grocery story reveals the extent of society’s dependence on plastic.
Most plastic is not recycled but instead ends of up in the waterways, negatively affecting the environment. Discover tips on how to reduce your dependence on plastic in my article, “Why Is Food Wrapped in Plastic Inside Plastic?“
|(Natural News) Part of keeping your garden healthy is taking care of the soil. Soil health is a vital part of agriculture and its condition affects the plants that grow in it. It also influences the ecosystems of microorganisms living within the soil, including small animals like worms and bacteria. If you’re having trouble with…|
Thought a few might enjoy this. I’m not keeping up too closely with this, but GAoG posted this article. Remember, too, that each of us are undergoing some types of “internal fires”, perhaps burning up old, unneeded things (paradigms) in our consciousness.
It’s only right to share the warm appreciation coming through for all the compassionate Prayer Warriors doing the Cosmic Rain Dance for our friends in Oz…
We want to thank you for doing this.
I woke to rain today, for the first time in a long time. Soft, gentle, ground-soaking rain. Some rain is also forecast for an area of my state that is suffering from severe fires.
We are very grateful for you posting this and organising it.
Knowing how many animals have experienced unimaginable suffering is very distressing. There are limits to the practical assistance people can offer, especially when they’re not allowed in to help wildlife.
Having rain fall on the fires is a wonderful outcome.
Thanks for putting out that call for prayer! Here’s what I just sent to my network, based on info from yours. Please let me know what kind of responses you receive to your alert. I think a powerful miracle just might be on the way to happening, especially if we spread all the good news we can right now.
Dear Friends, Good News!
“While the wind change will initially bring dangerous fire weather, it will bring a rapid temperature drop and lead into a cool Sunday and Monday…. In addition, a rainband looks to pass over VIC and NSW from Sunday, providing most places with a few millimeters of welcome rain over the next few days. ” — Southerly Buster Roars up the East Coast
A bit of rain fell on the south coast on Saturday. Here’s a source to check weather there:
Look for updates at this Australian site with the same place/time schedule as Cornflower used.
More details from Farmonlineweather
Showers and storms for NSW’s ranges early next week
14:16 AEDT A low pressure trough will draw moist air from the Tasman Sea over eastern parts of New South Wales over the next few days.
· 13:20 AEDT Tropical Cyclone a high chance of developing
· 11:59 AEDT Cold front brings showers and rain to southwest WA
· 11:40 AEDT Southerly Buster Roars up the East Coast
· 20:48 AEDT Tropical cyclone risk increasing for WA
Our friend in Milano sent a weather forecast for today along the south coast.
Let’s be sure to give thanks to all the thousands of people all around the world who are praying with us to restore the balance in Australia.