- The Facts:
The long voting lines caused by the breakdown and malfunctioning of our voting machines is characterized in the mainstream as a complicated, multi-faceted and difficult to solve problem, rather than being founded on one simple fact.
- Reflect On:
Can we use the reality of voting machine malfunction as another entry point into the realization that we are living in a thinly-veiled deception that actually makes a mockery of true democracy?
If you follow mainstream media, the answer to the question of why election voting machines break down so much is ‘complicated.’ Much too complicated, in fact, for us to come up with any kind of permanent solution. An article like Wired’s ‘Voting Machine Meltdowns Are Normal—That’s The Problem,’ will fill us with the nitty-gritty details: paper ballot scanner malfunctions, machines actually ‘flipping votes’ because of some kind of ‘bug’, machines running with ‘outdated’ Windows operating systems, about which the article states, “it stands to reason these antiquated systems would break down under pressure.” But far and above all this was the detailed explanation that the rain may have had something to do with votes not getting processed properly:
Simply replacing old machines with new ones wouldn’t guarantee an incident-free election, though. Take the claim that the rain messed with people’s ballots—it isn’t just an excuse. Kings County in New York and Madison County in Alabama both use an optical scanner machine called the DS-200. According to its operating manual, Stewart says, it’s designed to operate in 10 to 15 percent humidity. In both Kings County and Madison County on Tuesday, the humidity was more like 98 percent. The irony there, Stewart says, is the DS-200 isn’t one of the old machines we always hear about becoming obsolete. It came out at the end of 2015. “It’s a more persnickety piece of equipment, giving you greater security,” Stewart says. But that sophistication clearly comes with unforeseen consequences.
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More on this later. But even as budgetary issues, late delivery of funds or new machines or other bureaucratic matters are also pointed out as having an impact on the problem, the articles concludes that even these problems of neglect, incompetence, and disorganization, as with the voting machine issues, have to be accepted as the “new normal.”
Bull Cookies, as M*A*S*H*’s Colonel Sherman Potter used to say.
True Source Of The Problem
The true source of the problem is so simple. The people that have long held the power in the United States don’t want us living in a true democracy. They certainly want us to believe we live in a democracy, and think we have true freedom and representation; the fact is that in all realms of society, we have long been living in an oligarchy controlled by a wealthy elite who is more than happy to keep the ‘democracy’ charade going for as long as it suits them.
A thorough background check on who gets to make the voting machines and the kinds of profits they get for the sale of these pathetic contraptions, and who approves the purchase and implementation of these machines and on what basis they are approved as anchor points of the democratic process reveals of litany of self-service, conflict of interest, fraud, greed, intimidation, and corruption of the highest kind.
Then there are the machines themselves and the ridiculous extent to which they are not secure from hacking and external manipulation. As this New York Times article points out,
In the 15 years since electronic voting machines were first adopted by many states, numerous reports by computer scientists have shown nearly every make and model to be vulnerable to hacking. The systems were not initially designed with robust security in mind, and even where security features were included, experts have found them to be poorly implemented with glaring holes.
Let me get this straight: systems that were built to be at the heart of American Democracy ‘were not initially designed with robust security in mind’? Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous in your life? And we are supposed to believe that this was some kind of ‘oversight’ and not part of the hidden agenda of the powers that be in America to manipulate voting results?
The fact of the matter is, it is not only obvious that airtight security should be one of the prime characteristics of voting machines even before they get off the drawing board, and would be if true patriots were in the positions of power in the country; it also needs to be stated that creating a secure voting machine that works 100% of the time for decades would be one of the simplest-to-make machines known to man, an unchallenging two-week homework project for a first-year mechanical engineering student.
If We Had A True Democracy
I am sure many people have devised a voting system while waiting for a bus or getting a haircut that would be a vast improvement over the one currently in place. Please indulge me as I explain how easy it would be–if, indeed, the powerful forces in our country actually valued democracy over their own personal agendas.
- There would be one system country-wide that would be agreed on at the Federal level in cooperation with state representatives that proved to be the best, most secure, most reliable, and easiest to operate and use. While I am a strong advocate of decentralization of power and the rights of local and state governments over the Federal government, I still believe an independent Federal election agency would be the best thing for implementation of this system (Of course, this is contingent on it being an honest, uncorruptable agency)
- Funding matters we hear about are all hogwash. Not only would overall funding be significantly reduced through the mass production of a single model of voting machine of the highest quality that would be readily available as needed, the cost would further be slashed tremendously if there were no special interests and middle-men gaining huge amounts of money in these transactions. With an honest Federal agency getting the best price for the American people, the cost would be an absolute pittance, a drop in the bucket, and would likely be touted as one of the most important and worthwhile expenditures in the federal budget.
- The machine itself simply needs to help the user fill in a simple online form. Each machine would be linked to a State database (that could be off the internet, if this was a security concern) which would contain one read-only database file with the ballot information (candidate, party, referendum questions, etc) and one read/write file to record the voter’s identification and their votes on candidates and proposed laws.
- Each voter would work with a touch-screen to make their choices, laid out clearly, one-by-one on the screen. When they had finished, they would be able see all their votes on the screen and ‘CONFIRM’. Then they would get a paper copy of all their votes under their vote id (consisting of, for example, a combination of State code, District code, Polling Station, Machine number, and timestamp), and would again be able to check if their paper copy exactly matched the screen, before pressing ‘END’.
- Each machine would record transactions on their own hard drive as well as sending them to the state database. Vote-counting would be instantaneous for each state, complied by secure programs accessing the state database. This information could then be securely uploaded to the internet on a federal government website. All citizens would be able to see their own vote as part of a detailed list of vote count by state, by district, by polling station, even by machine, based on their vote id.
I’m sure there are better systems out there, which is fine. This is really just off the top of my head. My personal preference would be a system through which voters names were made public on the internet, and verification of fraud would become much simpler, but that is a matter for a later discussion. Suffice it to say that, solely based on my 8 years as a computer programmer/analyst in earlier days, making secure software for reliable machines grounded in a reliable system seems like a simple project to me, let alone for the technological wizards in the country who could be brought into such a project, if only the sole motivation was the proper functioning of this aspect of the democratic process.
If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you will recall that I have said there is no good reason to waste your time voting under the current circumstances, because indeed, I don’t believe we are currently living in a representative democracy, but rather a thinly-veiled, poorly disguised mockery of it. But I wrote this article in order to bring forth the idea that our democracy is not failing due to the haphazard incompetence, laziness, or even greed of our elected officials, vendors, technicians, and bureaucrats. Our democracy is failing because many of the citizens of this country have stayed asleep while the powerful elite has continued to push its agenda of control and domination right under our collective noses.
I believe the Founding Fathers had great wisdom and the best of intentions setting up the Republic in the way they did through the Constitution; they were very well aware of the dangers posed to our liberty by the powers that are afforded to centralized governments and the undue external influence that is brought to bear upon them. If we are to honor the Founding Fathers and be part of the process of reclaiming our liberty, we will do so by awakening collectively to the veil of illusion that we live under now, and creating the conditions through which such deception is no longer possible.
COVID Vaccine Hesitancy Widespread, Even Among Medical Professionals
- The Facts:
Public health groups, including the World Health Organization, are making a concerted effort to reduce COVID vaccine hesitancy, as many medical professionals and minority groups remain doubtful about safety and efficacy.
- Reflect On:
Why is information about vaccines sometimes labeled by the mainstream as an "anti-vax conspiracy theory?" Why are concerns never really addressed properly and constantly ridiculed or unacknowledged?
It’s no secret that vaccine hesitancy is at an all time high, even among many physicians and scientists. This has actually been observed for a while. For example, one study published in the journal EbioMedicine in 2013 outlines this point, stating in the introduction:
Over the past two decades several vaccine controversies have emerged in various countries, including France, inducing worries about severe adverse effects and eroding confidence in health authorities, experts and science. These two dimensions are at the core of vaccine hesitancy (VH) observed in the general population. VH is defined as delay in acceptance of vaccination, or refusal, or even acceptance with doubts about its safety and benefits, with all these behaviours and attitudes varying according to context , vaccine and personal profile, despite the availability of vaccine services VH presents a challenge to physicians who must address their patients’ concerns about vaccines and ensure satisfactory vaccination coverage.
At a 2019 conference on vaccines put on by the World Health Organization this fact was emphasized by Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project. She is referenced, as you can see, by the authors in the study above. At the conference, she emphasized that safety concerns among people and health professionals seem to be the biggest issue regarding vaccine hesitancy.
She also stated,
The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…
We have to ask ourselves the question, why? Vaccines are not a one size fits all product, in the US alone nearly $4 billion has been paid out to families of vaccine injured children, and a number of studies are calling into question their safety. Aluminum, for example, seems to be a concern. You can and read about why here, but that’s just one of multiple examples.
Here’s an example of a vaccine injury I recently wrote about regarding the HPV vaccine.
Below is an article that was recently published Jeremy Loffredo, a reporter for The Defender. It goes into details about vaccine hesitancy among health professionals when it comes to the new COVID vaccines that are about to hit the market.
As details on the latest COVID vaccine contenders flood the news cycle on a daily basis, reports of concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine are widespread among many demographics, even including the professional medical community.
As vaccine hesitancy grows agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), are stepping up efforts to build vaccine confidence through public relations and communications campaigns.
Surveys reveal vaccine hesitancy
Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles’ Karin Fielding School of Public Health surveyed healthcare personnel working in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. As the Washington Post reported, they found that two thirds (66.5%) of healthcare workers “intend to delay vaccination,” meaning they do not intend to get the COVID vaccine when it becomes available. They plan instead on reviewing the data once it’s widely administered and proven safe.
Seventy-six percent of the vaccine-hesitant healthcare workers cited the “fast-tracked vaccine development” as a primary reason for their concerns. Typically, vaccines take between eight to 10 years to develop, Dr. Emily Erbelding, an infectious disease expert at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an article titled, “The timetable for a coronavirus vaccine is 18 months. Experts say that’s risky.”
The coronavirus vaccine frontrunners — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — are expected to make their debut in January. The pharmaceutical giants have exponentially accelerated the average safety and review timeline for vaccine development and production, to get the vaccines to market in under a year. Erbelding admitted that the accelerated pace will involve “not looking at all the data.”
Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, said in a video that the number of physicians expressing hesitancy was “unprecedented” and “posed a real risk” to public confidence in vaccines.
A recent Gallup poll showed that only 58% of Americans plan on getting the COVID vaccine when it’s available. An October poll conducted by Zogby found that nearly 50% of Americans have concerns about the safety of the coming COVID vaccines.
A new collaborative survey project by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Langer Research found that Black and Latinx Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about the coming COVID vaccine.
The survey, as reported in the Washington post, claims to be “one of the largest and most rigorous conducted on this topic to date.” It found that only 14% of Black Americans trust that a vaccine will be safe, while only 34% of Latinx Americans trust it will be safe.
The survey also found, in the context of COVID, only 19% percent of Black Americans trust drug companies, while less than a third trust the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “look after their interests.”
According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fears surrounding the painful or harmful side-effects of the COVID vaccine are rooted in reality.
According to CNBC, during a virtual Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ meeting on Nov. 23, Dr. Sandra Fryhofer told fellow CDC officials that patients need to be aware that the side effects from the COVID vaccines “will not be a walk in the park.” Fryhofer acknowledged that side effects from the vaccines have been reported to mimic symptoms of a mild case of COVID, including muscle pain, fever, chills and headache.
Fryhofer, who explained that both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID vaccines require two doses, worries that her patients might not come back for a second dose after experiencing potentially unpleasant side effects after the first shot.
As a participant of the Moderna vaccine trials noted “it was the sickest I’ve ever been.”
Health officials try to combat vaccine hesitancy
Despite this, officials at the forefront of the COVID response plan to combat vaccine safety concerns and hesitancy using, what some are calling, questionable psychological techniques.
For example, the WHO, which named “vaccine hesitancy” as the top global public health threat, has hired the PR firm Hill + Knowlton to identify micro-influencers, macro-influencers and “hidden heroes” on social media who could covertly promote the organization’s image as a COVID authority in order to “ensure WHO’s advice and guidance is followed.”
Cass Sunstein, the chairman of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Behavioral Insights, recently wrote an article in Bloomberg in which he promoted the use of popular celebrities, athletes and actors as tools for vaccine persuasion against those who “lack vaccine confidence.”
“Trusted politicians, athletes or actors — thought to be ‘one of us’ rather than ‘one of them’ — might explicitly endorse vaccination and report that they themselves have gotten the vaccine,” Sunstein wrote.
Then there’s the “Guide to COVID-19 Vaccine Communications,” developed by the University of Florida and the United Nations that aims to help governments improve COVID vaccine uptake. The authors of the guide promote the tactic of covertly using trusted community leaders to help with pro-vaccine information.
Citing vaccine hesitancy among the African American community, the guide suggests that barber shops and hair salons in predominantly black neighborhoods might be tapped to help disseminate approved vaccine messaging.
Senator Questions Mark Zuckerberg On Censorship After Facebook Whistleblower Comes Forward
- The Facts:
In a recent Judiciary Committee Hearing, Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled by Sen. Josh Hawley about whether or not Facebook collaborates with Google and Twitter to censor information. Hawley also mentions he was contacted by a Facebook Whistleblower.
- Reflect On:
Why are some "experts" given the limelight and mainstream media air time, while others are censored and ridiculed? Why is there such a battle to control human perception on a variety of different topics today?
The amount of censorship of information taking place on the internet today is truly staggering. It may not seem that way to your everyday person, but here at Collective Evolution, which has been operating for nearly twelve years now, we’ve experienced it first hand. Some of our articles have been wrongfully “fact-checked” despite the fact that there is no misinformation or misinterpretation, and we’ve also been subjected to constant Facebook/Youtube algorithm changes and demonetization. As a result of this censorship, we had to create CETV, this is the only thing that’s sustaining us and allowing us to continue to do what we do.
It seems that any type of information which threatens the status quo or any information exposing wrong-doings of or threatens the interests of governments and big corporations is subjected to censorship. When it comes to COVID-19, for example, we’ve seen a large majority of doctors and scientists all over the world being censored by social media giants simply because their information and opinion opposes the World Health Organization and recommendations that governments are making. Not only are these voices silenced and completely unacknowledged by mainstream media, they are also heavily ridiculed.
In our opinion what’s taken place and happened to not only us, but to other platforms as well, has been very illegal, unethical and immoral. It’s happened on an even larger scale with Julian Assange, for example. To think that someone who has exposed war crimes and other wrongdoings of multiple governments and big corporations is currently fighting for his life is very disheartening. What does this say about the world we live in, when those who expose crimes, immoral and unethical actions by powerful entities are locked up? It’s easy to feel quite powerless in the face of Big Tech censorship, they can basically censor any piece of content they please and not only that, they can provide a new “fact-checked” article that tells a completely different story, and then spread it as if it were truth.
In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour… – Edward Snowden (source) (More on Snowden’s thoughts here)
Below is a clip from a recent Judiciary Committee Hearing, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled by Sen. Josh Hawley about whether or not his company collaborates with Google and Twitter to censor information. Hawley brings up the fact that he was contacted by a Facebook whistleblower, and goes into more detail about questions about censorship that Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to have an answer for.
Final Thoughts: At the end of the day, censorship of information only seems to have more people questioning what’s going on. If information is clearly false, why does it need to be “fact-checked” and censored? Why is there, as I’ve said before, a digital authoritarian Orwellian fact checker going around the internet telling people what is and what isn’t? Should people not have the right to examine information for themselves and determine what they wish to believe? Why are Big Tech companies working so closely with governments to control the narrative and shape our perception about what’s really going on?
Why do we hold on to ideas even when new evidence tells us it’s time to question them? What state of being identified so strongly with ideas of the mind that we think those ideas are our identity, and that there is no other possibility? Why do we become so polarized in our beliefs, be it about COVID or even politics? Why can’t we all come together and have appropriate discussions instead of having Big Tech companies regulate information in the way they do, and literally have us on one side or the other?
Ultimately, it’s time to ask the bigger questions, which is why I’m sharing the video below from CE founder, Joe Martino.
Edward Snowden On Big Tech Companies, Like Facebook, Censoring & Controlling Information
- The Facts:
Glenn Greenwald interviews NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about Big Tech censorship of information, and the muzzling of journalists who go against the grain.
- Reflect On:
f your perception is built by mainstream media, do you truly know what is going on in the world if they are often working to hide or censor stories that would dramatically change your perception?
Glenn Greenwald is no stranger to censorship, he’s the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden (NSA mass surveillance whistleblower) to put together his story and release it to the world while working for the Guardian. He eventually left the Guardian and co-founded his own media company, The Intercept, an organization that would be free from censorship and free to report on government corruption and wrong-doings of powerful people and corporations. He recently resigned from The Intercept as well due to the fact that they’ve now censored him, and is now completely independent. You can find his work here.
Anybody who reports on or sheds a bright light onto immoral and unethical actions taken by governments and the powerful corporations they work with has been subjected to extreme censorship. In the case of Edward Snowden, he’s been exiled, and Julian Assange of Wikileaks is currently clinging to his life for exposing war crimes and other unethical actions by multiple governments and corporations. There are many other examples. What does it say about our civilization when we prosecute those who expose harm, corruption, immoral/unethical actions by governments and war crimes?
Greenwald recently interviewed Snowden about internet censorship and the role big tech companies and governments are playing. Greenwald explains that in one of his earliest meetings with Snowden, he (Snowden) explained that he was driven in large part by the vital role the early internet played in his life, “one that was free of corporate and state control, that permitted anonymity and exploration free of monitoring, and, most of all, fostered unrestrained communication and dissemination of information by and among citizens of the world without corporate and state overlords regulating and controlling what they were saying.
This is what he and Snowden go into in the interview posted below. Prior to that I provide a brief summary of Snowden’s key thoughts.
Snowden starts off by mentioning government surveillance programs and the companies they contracted to do this work and compares them to modern day Big Tech giants censoring information on a wide range of topics. We see this today with elections/politics, to medical information dealing with coronavirus and vaccines, for example.
“In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour… – Snowden
So basically, these Big Tech companies have become slaves, if you will, to the governments will, or at least powerful people situated in high places within the government. Snowden brings up the fact that many of these companies are hiring people from the CIA, who come from the Pentagon, who come from the NSA, who have top secret clearances…The government is a customer of all the major cloud service providers. They are also a major regulator of these companies, which gives these companies the incentive to do whatever they want.
This is quite clear if you look at Facebook, Google and Amazon employees. There are many who have come from very high positions within the Department of Defense.
In no case is this more clear than Amazon – Snowden
Amazon appointed Keith Alexander, director of the NSA under Barack Obama.
He was one of the senior architects of the mass surveillance program that courts have repeatedly now declared to be unlawful and unconstitutional….When you have this kind of incentive from a private industry to maintain the warmest possible relationship with the people in government, who not just buy from you but also have the possibility to end your business or change the way you do business…You now see this kind of soft corruption that happens in a constant way. – Snowden
Snowden goes on to explain how people get upset when government, especially the Trump government, tries to set the boundaries of what appropriate speech is by attempting to stop big tech censorship, he then says,
If you’re not comfortable letting the government determine the boundaries of appropriate political speech, why are you begging Mark Zuckerberg to do it?
I think the reality here is…it’s not really about freedom of speech, and it’s not really about protecting people from harm…I think what you see is the internet has become the de facto means of mass communication. That represents influence which represents power, and what we see is we see a whole number of different tribes basically squabbling to try to gain control over this instrument of power.
What we see is an increasing tendency to silence journalists who say things that are in the minority.
You can watch the full conversation between Greenwald and Snowden below, the conversation is about 40 minutes long.
Closing Comments: This kind of information almost begs the question, are we ready as a society to truly create and disseminate journalism that is honest, integral and bi-partisan? Why is it that these types of organizations fail or struggle? How do some media companies fail? Well, they no longer stay true to their mission. They fall to the pressure of politics and fall into ideology. How many other times did ideology change what media outlets reported? Yes, it’s almost impossible to have zero bias, but how close can we get to zero? How can we achieve this when media outlets who do not fit within the accepted framework and disseminate information that challenges the popular opinion are constantly being punished for simply putting out information?
As Snowden mentioned above, these Big Tech companies in collusion with governments are literally attempting to not only censor information, but change the behaviour of people as well, especially journalists. When you take away one’s business or livelihood as a result of non-compliance, you are in a way forcing them to comply and do/say things you they way you want them done/said. We’ve experienced massive amounts of censorship and demonetization here at Collective Evolution, but we haven’t changed as a results of it. We simply created CETV, a platform that helps support our work as a result of censorship.
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