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Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans – Part 1

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans – Part 1
Aug 292015
 

The human body is not perfect. Some are created with inherent faults and others break down before their time. Science has the potential to make good these problems by altering how humans are made. This is genetic engineering, and this article looks at the pros and cons of the technology in humans

This is part one of a two-part series. Here I will look at a definition of genetic engineering and the pros of human genetic engineering. In part two the cons and the ethics of human genetic engineering are discussed.

Before weighing up the pros and cons of genetic engineering in humans, it’s worth taking the time to understand just what is meant by the idea. Simply put, it’s a way of manipulating our genes in such a way as to make our bodies better. This alteration of a genome could take place in the sperm and egg cells. This is known as germline gene therapy and would alter the traits that a child is born with. The changes would be inheritable and passed down through the generations. It is currently illegal in many countries.

The other way to change our genome is to swap our bad genes for good ones – in cells other than the sex cells. This is known as somatic cell gene therapy. This is where a functioning gene could be fired into our bodies on a viral vector to carry out the functions that a faulty gene is unable to. This technology is permitted, though it has enjoyed a very limited success rate so far (largely because it is technically very difficult). Nonetheless, it still holds out a great deal of promise.

There are many potential advantages to being able to alter the cells in our bodies genetically.

To make disease a thing of the past

Most people on the planet die of disease or have family members that do. Very few of us will just pop up to bed one night and gently close our eyes for the last time. Our genomes are not as robust as we would like them to be and genetic mutations either directly cause a disease such as Cystic fibrosis, or they contribute to it greatly i.e. Alzheimer’s. Or in the case of some conditions such as the heart disease Cardiomyopathy, genetic mutations can make our bodies more susceptible to attack from viruses or our own immune system. If the full benefits of gene therapy are ever realised we can replace the dud genes with correctly functioning copies.

To extend life spans

Having enjoyed life, most of us want to cling on to it for as long as possible. The genetic engineering of humans has the potential to greatly increase our life spans. Some estimates reckon that 100-150 years could be the norm. Of course gene therapy for a fatal condition will increase the lifespan of the patient but we’re also talking about genetic modifications of healthy people to give them a longer life. Once we fully understand the genetics of ageing it may be possible to slow down or reverse some of the cellular mechanisms that lead to our decline – for example by preventing telomeres at the ends of chromosomes from shortening. Telomere shortening is known to contribute to cell senescence.

Better pharmaceuticals

The knowledge gained by working out genetic solutions for the above could help with the design of better pharmaceutical products that are able to target specifically genetic mutations in each individual.

So What’s the Downside?

As deliriously exciting as some people believe genetic engineering to be – there are several downsides and ethical dilemmas. Click the link to read the cons.

This two part series explores some of the pros and cons of human genetic engineering.

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Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans – Part 1

Astronomy | Science | The Guardian

 Astronomy  Comments Off on Astronomy | Science | The Guardian
Aug 292015
 

A blue moon rose in the skies for first time in three years on Friday. The event occurs when there are two full moons in one calendar month, roughly every two to three years. This summer it is especially interesting as its also a supermoon, when the moon is at its closest approach to Earth, making it appear very big and bright

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Astronomy | Science | The Guardian

Second Amendment News, Photos and Videos – ABC News

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Second Amendment News, Photos and Videos – ABC News
Aug 292015
 

Taking Aim Over ‘Open Carry’ Laws

in his bedroom closet all loaded, his, his wife’s and their children’s. Grisham says he went from gun enthusiast to gun rights advocate after this confrontation caught on the police officer’s dashboard camera. I was arrested last year. My son and

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Second Amendment News, Photos and Videos – ABC News

7th Circuit Court: Illegal Immigrants Have Second …

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on 7th Circuit Court: Illegal Immigrants Have Second …
Aug 292015
 

In a wordillegal immigrants have Second Amendment rights too.

The case was titled United States v. Meza-Rodriguez, and the decision was handed down on August 20.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that the decision was written by Judge Diane Wood for a panel that included Judges Frank Easterbrook and Joel Flaum.

As for the background to the case, Wood explained that Mariano Meza-Rodriguez, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested in August 2013 [and found to be] carrying a .22 caliber cartridge. Because he did not have documentation to show that he was in the United States lawfully, he was charged as being in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5), which forbids illegal immigrants from possessing firearms in the United States.

Meza-Rodriquez was indicted. He then challenged the indictment by claiming 922(g)(5) impermissibly infringed on his rights under the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin rejected Meza-Rodriquezs claim, thereby upholding the indictment. He appealed the District Courts decision, thus bringing the case to the 7th Circuit.

In working through the case, Wood indicated that certain aspects of the language inDistrict of Columbia v. Heller (2008) support the view that all people, including non-U.S. citizens, whether or not they are authorized to be in the country, enjoy at least some rights under the Second Amendment.

She elaborated:

In a post-Heller world, where it is now clear that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no second-class entitlement, we see no principled way to carve out the Second Amendment and say that the unauthorized (or maybe all noncitizens) are excluded.No language in the Amendment supports such a conclusion, nor, as we have said, does a broader consideration of the Bill of Rights.

Yet the 7th Circuit upheld the District Courts rulingwhich upheld Meza-Rodriguezs indictmenton the grounds that the Second Amendment does not preclude certain restrictions on the right to bear arms, including the one imposed by 922(g)(5).

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

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Genetic Engineering In Humans

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Genetic Engineering In Humans
Aug 272015
 

Human genetic engineering is one of the most controversial aspects of a science, which is itself highly controversial, and it is still very much in its infancy. There have been a few isolated cases where an illness has been successfully cured by the use of genetic therapy, but there have also been other cases where patients have contracted diseases such as leukemia through experimentation with this type of therapy. At this stage it is impossible to say exactly what the future will hold, or exactly what the consequences of these developments will be.

So far, the only successes which the method has are in treating conditions relating to the human immune system. This is an obvious application of the technology, as the condition is caused purely by genetic factors. By replacing a gene which gives the patient a proclivity towards the disease with a healthy one a cure can be effected. This is more than just theory, as the numbers of cases where this has been successfully carried out is now into double figures, and is constantly increasing. The challenge lies in overcoming the potentially catastrophic side effects which can occur if the treatment does not work.

One of the most controversial of all applications of this technology is in allowing infertile mothers to conceive. This is done by using the eggs from a different mother, leaving the child with the genetic blueprint inherited from three people. This will then be passed on through future generations, leading to untold potential complications. It is still far too early to judge the potential consequences of the use of this type of genetic technology, but if there are any negative side effects they are likely to be far reaching and extremely damaging.

There have been many arguments put forward concerning human genetic engineering, some strongly in favor and some equally strongly against. The potential is there for diseases caused by genetics to be eliminated completely, and this is there area in which fewest dissenting voices will be heard. The use of genetics purely to overcome fertility is far more controversial, especially when you consider the permanent effect that this has on all future generations of that family. There are also many dissenters against the possibility of parents deciding features of their children using an advanced form of this technology, which cannot be used yet but which may be perfectly possible in the future.

If this technology is left unchecked it will definitely have far reaching consequences. There is no doubt that wealthy families would take advantage of such technology to try to give their children every advantage in their future life, and there could be several possible outcomes of this. One would be a rise in productivity and creativity which would penetrate through society, raising the standard of society for everyone and creating more opportunities. It is also possible that poor families who could not afford this technology would be left even further adrift, leading to sharp increases in crime rates, social disorder, and economic chaos.

Even though strong opinions are held on both sides of the argument, the truth is that it is far too early to know for sure exactly what is involved with human genetic engineering. There are some philosophical and moral arguments which will prove exceedingly difficult to resolve one way or another, but there are potential consequences which cannot possibly be known until more research has been carried out. The arguments over this technology are certain to rage for a great many years to come, and it is unlikely there will ever be universal agreement on human genetic engineering.

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Genetic Engineering In Humans

Human Nature on Collision Course with Genetic Engineering …

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Human Nature on Collision Course with Genetic Engineering …
Aug 272015
 

Human Nature on Collision Course with Genetic Engineering

Human genetic engineering could be the next major battleground for the global conservation movement, according to a series of reports in the latest issue of World Watch magazine, published by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization. While previous struggles have involved protecting ecosystems and human societies from the unpredicted consequences of new technologies, this fight over high-risk applications of human genetic engineering is a struggle over who will decide what it means to be human.

Many countries have already banned reproductive cloning, and the U.N. is working on a global treaty to ban it, but even more powerful and much more dangerous are the related technologies to modify the genes we pass on to our children, says Ed Ayres, Editor of World Watch magazine. The contributors to this special issue call on the U.N. and national governments to ban the technology known as inheritable genetic modification.

Many uses of human genetic technology could be beneficial to society, but as political scientist Francis Fukuyama writes in the magazine, our understanding of the relationship between our genes and whatever improvements we might seek for our children (and their descendants) is dangerously deficient. Fukuyama warns that the victim of a failed experiment will not be an ecosystem, but a human child whose parents, seeking to give her greater intelligence, will saddle her with a greater propensity for cancer, or prolonged debility in old age, or some other completely unanticipated side effect that may emerge only after the experimenters have passed from the scene.

Human genetic engineering has ramifications that reach far beyond the life of a single child. Several contributors highlight the disastrous results of the last serious effort to engineer genetic perfection. In the early part of the 20th century, scientists and politicians in the United States relied on the alleged science of eugenics to justify the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of people who were judged to be feebleminded, mentally defective, or epileptics. Hitler passed his own sterilization law soon after taking office in 1933, heading down the path toward the Holocaust. The U.S. biotechnology industry-which dominates the global industry-has become an increasingly powerful economic and political force, with revenues growing fivefold between 1989 ($5 billion) and 2000 ($25 billion). Aided by the equally rapid revolution in computing, laboratories that once took two months to sequence 150 nucleotides can now process over 30 million in a day, and at a small fraction of the earlier cost. The number of patents pending for human DNA sequences has gone from 4,000 in 1991, to 500,000 in 1998, to several million today.

We are publishing this special issue because we dont want to lose the opportunity to decide openly and democratically how this rapidly developing technology is used, says Ayres. This isnt a fight about saving whales, or the last rain forests, or even the health of people living today. The question is whether we can save ourselves from ourselves, to know and respect what we do not know, and to put the breaks on potentially dangerous forms of human genetic engineering.

Excerpts from the authors of the Beyond Cloning issue of World Watch

About World Watch magazine: This bimonthly magazine is published by the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization, based in Washington, DC. Launched in 1988, the magazine has won the Alternative Press Award for investigative journalism, the Project Censored Award, and a number of Utne Reader awards. Recent editions have featured articles on the imminent disappearance of more than half of the worlds languages, airport sprawl, and the rapid growth of organic farming. Please visit: http://www.worldwatch.org/mag/.

The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization that works for an environmentally sustainable and socially just society, in which the needs of all people are met without threatening the health of the natural environment or the well-being of future generations. By providing compelling, accessible, and fact-based analysis of critical global issues, Worldwatch informs people around the world about the complex interactions between people, nature, and economies. Worldwatch focuses on the underlying causes of and practical solutions to the worlds problems, in order to inspire people to demand new policies, investment patterns, and lifestyle choices. For more information, visit: http://www.worldwatch.org.

Disclaimer: Please note that the statement by eight leaders of environmental NGOs, which appears on page 25 of the magazine, represents the views of the individuals quoted, not necessarily of the organizations they lead.

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Human Nature on Collision Course with Genetic Engineering …

NATO Chief: Too Early to Say If Georgia Joins NATO

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO Chief: Too Early to Say If Georgia Joins NATO
Aug 272015
 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on a visit Thursday to Georgia that it is too early to tell whether the former Soviet republic will be invited to take the final step toward NATO membership.

NATO members voted in 2008 to accept Georgia as a member, but since then the South Caucasus nation has denied been entry into the Membership Action Plan, the last condition for membership.

NATO says Georgia must strengthen its institutions, step up justice reforms and fully respect the rule of law before it is accepted into the action plan. Tbilisi, however, claims that NATO is dragging its heels because of the frozen conflict in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Speaking at the opening of a joint NATO-Georgia training center, Stoltenberg said Georgia already has “the necessary tools to continue to move toward membership.”

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said the training facility would “in no way be directed against any of the neighboring countries,” an apparent attempt to assuage Russia’s fears about a NATO presence close to its border. Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over South Ossetia in 2008.

Moscow reacted angrily to the ceremony in Georgia, saying that the NATO presence would tip the balance in the region.

“We consider this move as a continuation of the provocative policy of the alliance aimed at expanding its geopolitical influence,” Russian Foreign Minister spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow. “Placing this NATO military facility in Georgia will become a substantial destabilizing factor for security in the region.”

Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.

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NATO Chief: Too Early to Say If Georgia Joins NATO

NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

 NSA  Comments Off on NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Aug 272015
 

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001. Since this was first reported on by the press and discovered by the public in late 2005, EFF has been at the forefront of the effort to stop it and bring government surveillance programs back within the law and the Constitution.

History of NSA Spying Information since 2005 (See EFFs full timeline of events here)

News reports in December 2005 first revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans phone calls and Internet communications. Those news reports, combined with a USA Today story in May 2006 and the statements of several members of Congress, revealed that the NSA is also receiving wholesale copies of American’s telephone and other communications records. All of these surveillance activities are in violation of the privacy safeguards established by Congress and the US Constitution.

In early 2006, EFF obtained whistleblower evidence (.pdf) from former AT&T technician Mark Klein showing that AT&T is cooperating with the illegal surveillance. The undisputed documents show that AT&T installed a fiberoptic splitter at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that makes copies of all emails web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides those copies to the NSA. This copying includes both domestic and international Internet activities of AT&T customers. As one expert observed, this isnt a wiretap, its a country-tap.

Secret government documents, published by the media in 2013, confirm the NSA obtains full copies of everything that is carried along major domestic fiber optic cable networks. In June 2013, the media, led by the Guardian and Washington Post started publishing a series of articles, along with full government documents, that have confirmed much of what was reported in 2005 and 2006 and then some. The reports showed-and the government later admittedthat the government is mass collecting phone metadata of all US customers under the guise of the Patriot Act. Moreover, the media reports confirm that the government is collecting and analyzing the content of communications of foreigners talking to persons inside the United States, as well as collecting much more, without a probable cause warrant. Finally, the media reports confirm the upstream collection off of the fiberoptic cables that Mr. Klein first revealed in 2006. (See EFFs How It Works page here for more)

EFF Fights Back in the Courts

EFF is fighting these illegal activities in the courts. Currently, EFF is representing victims of the illegal surveillance program in Jewel v. NSA,a lawsuit filed in September 2008 seeking to stop the warrantless wiretapping and hold the government and government officials behind the program accountable. In July 2013, a federal judge ruled that the government could not rely on the controversial “state secrets” privilege to block our challenge to the constitutionality of the program. On February 10, 2015, however, the court granted summary judgment to the government on the Plaintiffs allegations of Fourth Amendment violations based on the NSAs copying of Internet traffic from the Internet backbone. The court ruled that the publicly available information did not paint a complete picture of how the NSA collects Internet traffic, so the court could not rule on the program without looking at information that could constitute state secrets. The court did not rule that the NSAs activities are legal, nor did it rule on the other claims in Jewel, and the case will go forward on those claims.This case is being heard in conjunction with Shubert v. Obama, which raises similar claims.

In July, 2013, EFF filed another lawsuit, First Unitarian v. NSA, based on the recently published FISA court order demanding Verizon turn over all customer phone records including who is talking to whom, when and for how longto the NSA. This so-called metadata, especially when collected in bulk and aggregated, allows the government to track the associations of various political and religious organizations. The Director of National Intelligence has since confirmed that the collection of Verizon call records is part of a broader program.

In addition to making the same arguments we made in Jewel, we argue in First Unitarian that this type of collection violates the First Amendment right to association. Previously, in Hepting v. AT&T,EFF filed the first case against a cooperating telecom for violating its customers’ privacy. After Congress expressly intervened and passed the FISA Amendments Act to allow the Executive to require dismissal of the case,Hepting was ultimately dismissed by the US Supreme Court.

In September of 2014, EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, joined the legal team for Anna Smith, an Idaho emergency neonatal nurse, in her challenge of the government’s bulk collection of the telephone records of millions of innocent Americans. In Smith v. Obama, we are arguing the program violated her Fourth Amendment rights by collecting a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations. In particular, we focus on challenging the applicability of the so-called third party doctrine, the idea that people have no expectation of privacy in information they entrust to others.

First Unitarian v. NSAEFFs case challenging the NSAs phone metadata surveillance Jewel v. NSAEFFs case challenging the NSAs dragnet surveillance Hepting v. AT&TEFFs case that challenged AT&Ts complicity in illegal NSA spying Smith v. ObamaEFF’s appeal with the ACLU of an Idaho nurse’s challenge to the NSA’s phone metadata surveillance.

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NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Court Rules Illegal Aliens Have Second Amendment Rights …

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Court Rules Illegal Aliens Have Second Amendment Rights …
Aug 272015
 

A recent decision by theU.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that says illegalalienswhat the left likes to call undocumented immigrantsenjoy a Second Amendment right to bear arms, even if their presence in this nation is criminal.

In the case of a Milwaukee man deported over a single .22 caliber cartridge, a federal appeals court ruled last week that even unlawful immigrants can be part of the public that enjoys a Second Amendment right to keep a gun for self defense.

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeas said even undocumented immigrants can be part of the people protected by the Bill of Rights, though it upheld the mans conviction on a specific law that prohibits most such persons from having guns.

It is now clear that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no second-class entitlement, (and) we see no principled way to carve out the Second Amendment and say that the unauthorized (or maybe all noncitizens) are excluded, Judge Diane Wood wrote for a panel that included judges Richard Easterbrook and Joel Flaum.

No language in the Amendment supports such a conclusion, nor, as we have said, does a broader consideration of the Bill of Rights.

Because four other federal circuit courts have come to the opposite conclusion, legal commentators were quick to suggest the issue of whether undocumented immigrants have Second Amendment rights could now be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

While rejecting the idea that undocumented immigrants could never have any rights under the Second Amendment, Wood noted that even for citizens, those rights are not unlimited. She found that a federal law tailored to keep guns out of the hands of undocumented immigrants like gun restrictions imposed on felons and those convicted of domestic violence was constitutional, and upheld the conviction on those grounds.

My basic, over-riding belief on the Second Amendment is that any case involving the right to keep and bear arms should be held to the legal standard of strict scrutiny, and that all law-abiding citizens and legal resident aliens should have the right to keep and bear arms.

This case, however, is stating that criminals who arent citizens nor legal resident aliens have Second Amendment rights and Im having a hard problem with that. Im apparently not alone, as the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Circuit court arent buying the argument, either. The split among the courts suggests that the basic issue will head to the U.S. Supreme court at some point.

Something that makes me even more leery about this case is that the progressives at Think Progress gleefully predict that if the Seventh Circuits views hold, they could use it to win even more rights for illegal aliens. In specific, theyre hoping these illegals will get expanded First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment protections if United States vs. Meza-Rodriguez holds. Put another way, theyre hoping this Second Amendment case will turn into an anchor baby that makes it more difficult to send criminal aliens back home.

Call me a butter if you want, but I dont think for a second that the Founding Fathers would support the concept of granting criminal invaders the same legal status as legal immigrants, legal resident aliens, and citizens. Lets hope that when this case makes it to the Supreme Court that the justices with the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth circuit courts.

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Court Rules Illegal Aliens Have Second Amendment Rights …

TOR Bundle Download – Tor Project: Anonymity Online

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on TOR Bundle Download – Tor Project: Anonymity Online
Aug 262015
 

You need to change some of your habits, as some things won’t work exactly as you are used to.

Tor does not protect all of your computer’s Internet traffic when you run it. Tor only protects your applications that are properly configured to send their Internet traffic through Tor. To avoid problems with Tor configuration, we strongly recommend you use the Tor Browser. It is pre-configured to protect your privacy and anonymity on the web as long as you’re browsing with the Tor Browser itself. Almost any other web browser configuration is likely to be unsafe to use with Tor.

Torrent file-sharing applications have been observed to ignore proxy settings and make direct connections even when they are told to use Tor. Even if your torrent application connects only through Tor, you will often send out your real IP address in the tracker GET request, because that’s how torrents work. Not only do you deanonymize your torrent traffic and your other simultaneous Tor web traffic this way, you also slow down the entire Tor network for everyone else.

The Tor Browser will block browser plugins such as Flash, RealPlayer, Quicktime, and others: they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address. Similarly, we do not recommend installing additional addons or plugins into the Tor Browser, as these may bypass Tor or otherwise harm your anonymity and privacy.

Tor will encrypt your traffic to and within the Tor network, but the encryption of your traffic to the final destination website depends upon on that website. To help ensure private encryption to websites, the Tor Browser includes HTTPS Everywhere to force the use of HTTPS encryption with major websites that support it. However, you should still watch the browser URL bar to ensure that websites you provide sensitive information to display a blue or green URL bar button, include https:// in the URL, and display the proper expected name for the website. Also see EFF’s interactive page explaining how Tor and HTTPS relate.

The Tor Browser will warn you before automatically opening documents that are handled by external applications. DO NOT IGNORE THIS WARNING. You should be very careful when downloading documents via Tor (especially DOC and PDF files) as these documents can contain Internet resources that will be downloaded outside of Tor by the application that opens them. This will reveal your non-Tor IP address. If you must work with DOC and/or PDF files, we strongly recommend either using a disconnected computer, downloading the free VirtualBox and using it with a virtual machine image with networking disabled, or using Tails. Under no circumstances is it safe to use BitTorrent and Tor together, however.

Tor tries to prevent attackers from learning what destination websites you connect to. However, by default, it does not prevent somebody watching your Internet traffic from learning that you’re using Tor. If this matters to you, you can reduce this risk by configuring Tor to use a Tor bridge relay rather than connecting directly to the public Tor network. Ultimately the best protection is a social approach: the more Tor users there are near you and the more diverse their interests, the less dangerous it will be that you are one of them. Convince other people to use Tor, too!

Be smart and learn more. Understand what Tor does and does not offer. This list of pitfalls isn’t complete, and we need your help identifying and documenting all the issues.

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TOR Bundle Download – Tor Project: Anonymity Online

A Comprehensive Guide to the Illuminati, the Conspiracy …

 Illuminati  Comments Off on A Comprehensive Guide to the Illuminati, the Conspiracy …
Aug 262015
 

Why did Jay-Z and Beyonc name their kid “Blue Ivy”? What was the deal with Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show? Why did Whitney Houston die? Some people might say that “famous people are weird and sad” is the answer to all three questions. But no, the answer is: The Illuminati. Who? Allow us to explain.

Note: to best service our readers, we’ve divided this guide into two sections first, the believer’s guide; second, the skeptic’s guide.

What is the Illuminati? The Illuminati is an ancient and shadowy group of elites who control nearly every aspect of life on this planet from finance and government to religion and culture.

Who is in the Illuminati? The Illuminati is made up of the world’s political and financial elite, and also, rappers. Theoretically, membership rolls are kept secret, but most YouTube intellectuals agree that the following people are members:

What do the Illuminati do? Oh, you know, conspiracy stuff. Assassinations, currency manipulation, Super Bowl halftime shows. All executed through puppet institutions and groups like the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Freemasons, and Def Jam Recordings. And all carefully controlled and hidden to ensure that their meddling in world affairs will remain secret.

This is sounding more plausible by the minute. What’s the end goal of the Illuminati? The end goal of the Illuminati is to establish a one-world authoritarian government known as the New World Order.

…and then? Here, theories differ. Some of the internet’s finest minds, writing on scholarly websites like Yahoo Answers, believe that forced conversion to homosexuality will be a top agenda item in the New World Order. Others claim the first order of business will be to round all non-Illuminati up into FEMA camps, possibly as part of a deal struck with aliens in Roswell. Many, if not most, experts believe that the New World Order will be a front for the rise of the Antichrist.

The Antichrist? Yes. The Illuminati is made up of Satanists.

Even the Pope? I can see how it’s confusing. The Pope is actually a Satanist, just like Jay-Z and the Queen of England. (He might even be the Antichrist.) In fact, the whole Catholic church is just a continuation of Babylonian paganism, didn’t you know? They keep demons trapped inside the Pentagon, which is why it’s, you know, pentagonal.

Okay. How can I tell who’s in the Illuminati? I know this sounds counterintuitive, but prominent Illuminati members frequently flag their Illuminati connections. Like how in Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” video, there’s that goat head-shaped star formation? Or have you ever seen Jay-Z’s video for “On to the Next One”? It has a goat skull in it. Goats, bro.

Goat heads are an Illuminati symbol? Goat heads represents Baphomet, the goat-headed god beloved by 19th-century occultists. It’s not the only weird occult reference in “On to the Next One.” The creepy guy with the crow, Jay throwing devil horns, the, uh, actual Masonic symbol all of Hov’s (that’s right: Hov) videos are filled with Illuminati and occult symbolism. So are Lady Gaga’s: that pink triangle and unicorn that you thought was some campy gay reference? Actually symbols of the immaculate conception of a new order of humanity. So are Kanye’s videos, especially “Power.”

But how will the Illuminati possibly pull off their plan for secret world domination if they’re constantly advertising their own existence? Hey! Did I tell you about Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show?

Ooh, no, tell me. It was obviously a Satantic ritual. The color scheme was red and black. She had horns on her helmet. The show happened within 48 hours of the full moon. Her male dancers formed a pyramid, a Masonic symbol. It ended with the phrase “World Peace” as in, “New World Order Peace.” And LMFAO was there.

LMFAO is Illuminati? Can you think of any other reason for their success?

But why would the Illuminati hold a Satanic ritual during the biggest television even of the year? To celebrate the upcoming assassination of Whitney Houston.

The Illuminati killed Whitney Houston? But… why? For two reasons: one, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, and two, to make room in the Illuminati for Blue Ivy Carter.

Who else have the Illuminati killed? Oh, you name it J.F.K., 2Pac, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson. Heath Ledger’s death was a ritualistic sacrifice. Aaliyah was killed by Dame Dash so he could become famous.

Wow. That makes sense. I know. And there’s stuff we haven’t even covered!

There’s stuff we haven’t covered? Just a couple, things, like the Bilderberg Group, reptoids, clockwork elves, the Greys, the Rosicrucians, the Knights Templar, and Planet X.

I really feel like I’ve learned a lot from this guide. Where can I learn more about the Illuminati? I highly recommend reading the very factual Behold a Pale Horse and The Biggest Secret but you can also find a lot of information on such rigorous and learned websites as Godlike Productions, Vigilant Citizen, Above Top Secret and Prison Planet, the website of Austin radio host Alex Jones. Finally, of course, a great deal of important information is distributed on Twitter, YouTube, and Yahoo Answers.

What is the Illuminati? A defunct German secret society of freethinkers, humanists and Enlightenment academics, founded in 1776 and infiltrated and shut down by Bavarian authorities about a decade later.

There hasn’t been an Illuminati in 200 years? Well, it’s been in use as a conspiracy theory ever since it was first founded, mostly by monarchists, right-wingers, and religious Christians looking for explanations as to why things aren’t going their way.

So who believes in the Illuminati? Generally speaking, Ron Paul voters, people who are in militias, washed-up rappers, teenage R&B fans on Twitter, and that one guy from high school who is always posting links to Erowid “experiences” to Facebook.

That’s kind of a broad range of people, isn’t it? Yeah. Weird, huh?

I don’t get it. If it’s this right-wing Christian conspiracy, how do rappers start believing in it? That’s kind of the million-dollar question. Columbia professor Marc Lamont Hill says that conspiracy theories are a natural response by African-Americans to their disenfranchisement: “There have always been questions and conspiracies about the structure and nature of power by African-Americans, and naturally those questions have made their way into hip-hop,” he told the Philadelphia Weekly in 2010. “[In the 1990s] people were going to black book stores… and buying books like Behold a Pale Horse… They were talking about the Illuminati and the Rothschilds and Bilderbergs.”

So Alex Jones and Prodigy were reading the same fucked-up conspiracy books? That’s wild, man. Dude, Prodigy is going to to vote for Ron Paul.

This is pretty nuts. Can I read more about it somewhere? Yeah here’s a good Philadelphia Weekly story about the rap Illuminati phenomenon. Here’s a Slate column about pop music and Illuminati. Here’s an XXL timeline of Illuminati references in rap music. The New Yorker has a really awesome long article about conspiracy theories in America from 1995, but it’s subscriber only. Animal has been tracking the Illuminati for years. And this was my favorite book when I was in high school, though it’s unfortunately out of print. Oh, and dude, you have to read Foucault’s Pendulum. And the Illuminatus! trilogy!

Yo, while we’re here, can we talk about reptoids? No.

[illustration by Jim Cooke; secret Masonic handshake to Animal’s Bucky Turco.]

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A Comprehensive Guide to the Illuminati, the Conspiracy …

NJ SEO Company – New Jersey Seach Engine Optimization

 SEO  Comments Off on NJ SEO Company – New Jersey Seach Engine Optimization
Aug 262015
 

Looking for NJ SEO Services? The Simple Truth

Advertising used to be simple. Put an ad in the paper the phone rings and people walk through your door.

But put yourself in todays consumer shoes for a second when was the last time you picked up a phone book or flipped through a newspaper to find a local business?

Do you think thats where potential customers are finding you?

Fact 97% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses (Google)

So if your business doesnt show up on the front page of local search engine rankings, then youre losing hundreds of sales opportunities daily.

With 1.8 billion searches made by consumers looking for local businesses every month, someone is always looking for your products or services.

Having a website is a good start, but if it doesnt show up on the first page of natural search engine rankings, then youre losing potential sales to local companies listed above you.

As a business owner, can you really afford to sit back and let the other guy take money out of your pocket?

Youth Noise will help your business thrive in the digital age, and local search engine optimization (SEO) is a great place to start.

We develop proven online strategies that drive local traffic to your website utilizing the best in proven local SEO practices to ensure you dont miss out on sales opportunities.

Local SEO is a cost effective, high results return on investment when compared to other advertising methods.

Using specific key words and phrases to attract qualified visitors to your website, a local search engine optimization program puts your business in front of customers who are ready to buy today!

Youth Noise will help you climb the competitive search engine ladder in your city for a fraction of the cost of larger firms. We develop custom solutions to meet every clients unique set of needs.

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Eugenics – definition of eugenics by The Free Dictionary

 Eugenics  Comments Off on Eugenics – definition of eugenics by The Free Dictionary
Aug 252015
 

.

The study or practice of attempting to improve the human gene pool by encouraging the reproduction of people considered to have desirable traits and discouraging or preventing the reproduction of people considered to have undesirable traits.

eugenic adj.

eugenically adv.

1. (Genetics) (functioning as singular) the study of methods of improving the quality of the human race, esp by selective breeding

[C19: from Greek eugens well-born, from eu- + -gens born; see -gen]

n. (used with a sing. v.)

a science concerned with improving a species, esp. the human species, by such means as influencing or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have desirable genetic traits.

[188085]

eugenicist (- sst) n.

the science of improving a breed or species through the careful selection of parents. eugenicist, n. eugenic, adj.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:

Translations

n. eugenesia, ciencia que estudia el mejoramiento de la especie humana de acuerdo con las leyes biolgicas de la herencia.

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Repeating Islands | News and commentary on Caribbean …

 Islands  Comments Off on Repeating Islands | News and commentary on Caribbean …
Aug 252015
 

This article by Bill Plaschke appeared in theLos Angeles Times.

Fifty years ago this weekend, the San Francisco Giants Juan Marichal brought a baseball bat down upon the head of the Dodgers John Roseboro in a pounding moment in sports history.

It was a brawl that forever defined one of sports fiercest rivalries, with an ugliness that offered a new and frightening definition of sports violence.

Yet, 50 years later, the most enduring memory of baseballs most famous fight is that it did not define the men.

Monday marks the 13th anniversary of a far more powerful moment, one occurring at Roseboros funeral, when, in a hall filled with old Dodgers, an old Giant suddenly walked to the lectern.

It was Marichal, who wanted to say goodbye, and thank you.

Johnnys forgiving me was one of the best things that happened in my life, Marichal told the surprised gathering. I wish I could have had John Roseboro as my catcher.

Youve surely seen the photo, the Neil Leifer image of Marichal swinging his bat above his head while Roseboro falls helplessly to the ground.

It was a Sports Illustrated cover that seemingly has been reprinted for 50 years. It was a picture that actually adorned the program at Roseboros funeral.

Yet Morgan Fouch, one of Roseboros daughters, said its not even the most iconic photo in her home.

The photos that I have are the ones of my father and Juan Marichal standing together smiling, she said.

The brawl was included in the first line in Roseboros obituary when he died in August 2002, listed even above this four All-Star games, three Dodgers World Series championships, and his role in two Sandy Koufax no-hitters.

Yet when his son Jaime talks about his late fathers toughness, it has to do not with the actual fight, but its aftermath.

When I think about guts, I think about what my father did in becoming friends with Marichal, he said. If its me, I dont know if I forgive him. Someone basically comes into your house and swings a bat at your head? My father was a bigger man than me.

John Roseboro stood only 5 feet 11, weighed less than 200 pounds, but he was absolutely huge, the immovable boulder who helped form the Dodgers foundation through their early glory days in Los Angeles. He spoke so infrequently, he was jokingly called Gabby. But his presence was so strong that Koufax considered him perhaps the greatest Dodgers catcher ever.

To me, John Roseboro was the catcher, Koufax once told me. With him out there, I felt like I was never alone.

It was no surprise, then, that Roseboro was in the middle of the blast furnace that was the weekend series finale between the Dodgers and Giants on Aug. 22, 1965, at Candlestick Park. The teams were in the heat of a pennant race, and there had already been an incident between the Giants Matty Alou and Roseboro earlier in the series that ended with Marichal screaming at Roseboro from the dugout steps.

If he doesnt shut his big mouth, hell get a ball right behind his ear, Roseboro shouted back about Marichal, according to John Rosengrens book, The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseballs Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption.

On Sunday afternoon, after Marichal and Koufax had exchanged brushback pitches to Maury Wills and Willie Mays, respectively, Marichal took it a step further by throwing at Ron Fairly, at which point Roseboro told Koufax he would take care of it.

Sure enough, with Marichal batting, Roseboro returned the ball to Koufax by throwing it behind Marichals head, allegedly clipping his ear. Marichal questioned the catcher, then Roseboro cursed the pitcher and stepped toward him, at which point Marichal raised the bat above his head and brought it down upon Roseboros bare head, the lumber landing above his left eye, causing a two-inch gash and raising a welt.

Stung the hell out of me, blood everywhere, Roseboro told me in 1990.

The ensuing tussle lasted 14 minutes, yet the vision of Marichal pounding Roseboro with the bat will live forever. Whenever any young Dodgers or Giants minor leaguer asks why their teams dont like each other, old-timers bring up that moment.

Marichal was suspended for eight days, barred from joining the Giants at Dodger Stadium for two late-season games, and fined $1,750. Roseboro, who required 14 stitches and suffered headaches the rest of the season, sued Marichal, settled out of court for $7,500, and that was the end of it. Or so everyone thought.

The perception cast Marichal as the villain and Roseboro as the victim, and Roseboro embraced that, but then he felt guilty for it, Rosengren said in an interview.

Ten years after the brawl, the two men shook hands for the first time since then, when they met at a Dodgers old-timers game. By that time, Marichal actually had joined the Dodgers briefly, as a free agent at the end of his career. Their meeting was cordial, they even participated in a joint television interview during which Marichal apologized for the incident and Roseboro responded with, You cant keep a grudge.

But a chill still lingered when, 17 years after the brawl, Marichal phoned Roseboro with a request.

According to Roseboros wife Barbara, who died in 2012, heres how the conversation went.

John, are you still mad?

No.

John, I need your help.

Marichal was embarking on a third consecutive attempt to enter the Hall of Fame after not receiving enough votes in his first two seasons of eligibility. He was certain that his fight with Roseboro was the reason for his exclusion.

Marichal needed a man whom he once could have killed to help make him immortal. He had come to the right place.

My father was the most easily forgiving person I knew, and this situation was really like any other, Fouch said. If I ever did anything wrong, I would say, Daddy, Im so sorry, and he would say, OK, lets go get ice cream.’

Within weeks, Roseboro had flown with his family to the Dominican Republic to appear in Marichals golf tournament and announce to the world that all was forgiven. Within months, Roseboros phone was ringing again, Marichal again. He had just been voted into the Hall of Fame, and soon both men were crying.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Marichal said.

That gratitude was felt by Roseboro for the rest of his life. As the catcher lay dying from a failing heart at age 69 in the summer of 2002, Marichal phoned me from the Dominican Republic with desperation in his voice.

Please tell John to hang on, Marichal said. Please tell him Im praying for him.

Marichals voice broke as he added, A wonderful, wonderful man. I have long ago forgiven him and I truly hope he has forgiven me.

Upon Roseboros death on Aug. 16, 2002, Marichal continued to honor him by flying to Los Angeles to serve as an honorary pallbearer and deliver one of the eulogies at his funeral.

At that moment, the power of forgiveness was stronger than that of an angrily swung baseball bat. One of the ugliest chapters in this sometimes senseless Dodgers-Giants rivalry had finally ended, and for once, the human spirit had won.

For the original report go tohttp://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-roseboro-marichal-plaschke-20150823-column.html

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In Defense of Posthuman Dignity – Nick Bostrom

 Posthuman  Comments Off on In Defense of Posthuman Dignity – Nick Bostrom
Aug 222015
 

ABSTRACT. Positions on the ethics of human enhancement technologies can be (crudely) characterized as ranging from transhumanism to bioconservatism. Transhumanists believe that human enhancement technologies should be made widely available, that individuals should have broad discretion over which of these technologies to apply to themselves, and that parents should normally have the right to choose enhancements for their children-to-be. Bioconservatives (whose ranks include such diverse writers as Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama, George Annas, Wesley Smith, Jeremy Rifkin, and Bill McKibben) are generally opposed to the use of technology to modify human nature. A central idea in bioconservativism is that human enhancement technologies will undermine our human dignity. To forestall a slide down the slippery slope towards an ultimately debased posthuman state, bioconservatives often argue for broad bans on otherwise promising human enhancements. This paper distinguishes two common fears about the posthuman and argues for the importance of a concept of dignity that is inclusive enough to also apply to many possible posthuman beings. Recognizing the possibility of posthuman dignity undercuts an important objection against human enhancement and removes a distortive double standard from our field of moral vision.

Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades, and can be viewed as an outgrowth of secular humanism and the Enlightenment. It holds that current human nature is improvable through the use of applied science and other rational methods, which may make it possible to increase human health-span, extend our intellectual and physical capacities, and give us increased control over our own mental states and moods.[1] Technologies of concern include not only current ones, like genetic engineering and information technology, but also anticipated future developments such as fully immersive virtual reality, machine-phase nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.

Transhumanists promote the view that human enhancement technologies should be made widely available, and that individuals should have broad discretion over which of these technologies to apply to themselves (morphological freedom), and that parents should normally get to decide which reproductive technologies to use when having children (reproductive freedom).[2] Transhumanists believe that, while there are hazards that need to be identified and avoided, human enhancement technologies will offer enormous potential for deeply valuable and humanly beneficial uses. Ultimately, it is possible that such enhancements may make us, or our descendants, posthuman, beings who may have indefinite health-spans, much greater intellectual faculties than any current human being and perhaps entirely new sensibilities or modalities as well as the ability to control their own emotions. The wisest approach vis–vis these prospects, argue transhumanists, is to embrace technological progress, while strongly defending human rights and individual choice, and taking action specifically against concrete threats, such as military or terrorist abuse of bioweapons, and against unwanted environmental or social side-effects.

In opposition to this transhumanist view stands a bioconservative camp that argues against the use of technology to modify human nature. Prominent bioconservative writers include Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama, George Annas, Wesley Smith, Jeremy Rifkin, and Bill McKibben. One of the central concerns of the bioconservatives is that human enhancement technologies might be dehumanizing. The worry, which has been variously expressed, is that these technologies might undermine our human dignity or inadvertently erode something that is deeply valuable about being human but that is difficult to put into words or to factor into a cost-benefit analysis. In some cases (e.g. Leon Kass) the unease seems to derive from religious or crypto-religious sentiments whereas for others (e.g. Francis Fukuyama) it stems from secular grounds. The best approach, these bioconservatives argue, is to implement global bans on swathes of promising human enhancement technologies to forestall a slide down a slippery slope towards an ultimately debased posthuman state.

While any brief description necessarily skirts significant nuances that differentiate writers within the two camps, I believe the above characterization nevertheless highlights a principal fault lines in one of the great debates of our times: how we should look at the future of humankind and whether we should attempt to use technology to make ourselves more than human. This paper will distinguish two common fears about the posthuman and argue that they are partly unfounded and that, to the extent that they correspond to real risks, there are better responses than trying to implement broad bans on technology. I will make some remarks on the concept of dignity, which bioconservatives believe to be imperiled by coming human enhancement technologies, and suggest that we need to recognize that not only humans in their current form, but posthumans too could have dignity.

The prospect of posthumanity is feared for at least two reasons. One is that the state of being posthuman might in itself be degrading, so that by becoming posthuman we might be harming ourselves. Another is that posthumans might pose a threat to ordinary humans. (I shall set aside a third possible reason, that the development of posthumans might offend some supernatural being.)

The most prominent bioethicist to focus on the first fear is Leon Kass:

Most of the given bestowals of nature have their given species-specified natures: they are each and all of a given sort. Cockroaches and humans are equally bestowed but differently natured. To turn a man into a cockroachas we dont need Kafka to show uswould be dehumanizing. To try to turn a man into more than a man might be so as well. We need more than generalized appreciation for natures gifts. We need a particular regard and respect for the special gift that is our own given nature[3]

Transhumanists counter that natures gifts are sometimes poisoned and should not always be accepted. Cancer, malaria, dementia, aging, starvation, unnecessary suffering, cognitive shortcomings are all among the presents that we wisely refuse. Our own species-specified natures are a rich source of much of the thoroughly unrespectable and unacceptable susceptibility for disease, murder, rape, genocide, cheating, torture, racism. The horrors of nature in general and of our own nature in particular are so well documented[4] that it is astonishing that somebody as distinguished as Leon Kass should still in this day and age be tempted to rely on the natural as a guide to what is desirable or normatively right. We should be grateful that our ancestors were not swept away by the Kassian sentiment, or we would still be picking lice off each others backs. Rather than deferring to the natural order, transhumanists maintain that we can legitimately reform ourselves and our natures in accordance with humane values and personal aspirations.

If one rejects nature as a general criterion of the good, as most thoughtful people nowadays do, one can of course still acknowledge that particular ways of modifying human nature would be debasing. Not all change is progress. Not even all well-intended technological intervention in human nature would be on balance beneficial. Kass goes far beyond these truisms however when he declares that utter dehumanization lies in store for us as the inevitable result of our obtaining technical mastery over our own nature:

the final technical conquest of his own nature would almost certainly leave mankind utterly enfeebled. This form of mastery would be identical with utter dehumanization. Read Huxleys Brave New World, read C. S. Lewiss Abolition of Man, read Nietzsches account of the last man, and then read the newspapers. Homogenization, mediocrity, pacification, drug-induced contentment, debasement of taste, souls without loves and longings these are the inevitable results of making the essence of human nature the last project of technical mastery. In his moment of triumph, Promethean man will become a contented cow.[5]

The fictional inhabitants of Brave New World, to pick the best-known of Kasss examples, are admittedly short on dignity (in at least one sense of the word). But the claim that this is the inevitable consequence of our obtaining technological mastery over human nature is exceedingly pessimistic and unsupported if understood as a futuristic prediction, and false if construed as a claim about metaphysical necessity.

There are many things wrong with the fictional society that Huxley described. It is static, totalitarian, caste-bound; its culture is a wasteland. The brave new worlders themselves are a dehumanized and undignified lot. Yet posthumans they are not. Their capacities are not super-human but in many respects substantially inferior to our own. Their life expectancy and physique are quite normal, but their intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual faculties are stunted. The majority of the brave new worlders have various degrees of engineered mental retardation. And everyone, save the ten world controllers (along with a miscellany of primitives and social outcasts who are confined to fenced preservations or isolated islands), are barred or discouraged from developing individuality, independent thinking and initiative, and are conditioned not to desire these traits in the first place. Brave New World is not a tale of human enhancement gone amok but a tragedy of technology and social engineering being used to deliberately cripple moral and intellectual capacities the exact antithesis of the transhumanist proposal.

Transhumanists argue that the best way to avoid a Brave New World is by vigorously defending morphological and reproductive freedoms against any would-be world controllers. History has shown the dangers in letting governments curtail these freedoms. The last centurys government-sponsored coercive eugenics programs, once favored by both the left and the right, have been thoroughly discredited. Because people are likely to differ profoundly in their attitudes towards human enhancement technologies, it is crucial that no one solution be imposed on everyone from above but that individuals get to consult their own consciences as to what is right for themselves and their families. Information, public debate, and education are the appropriate means by which to encourage others to make wise choices, not a global ban on a broad range of potentially beneficial medical and other enhancement options.

The second fear is that there might be an eruption of violence between unaugmented humans and posthumans. George Annas, Lori Andrews, and Rosario Isasi have argued that we should view human cloning and all inheritable genetic modifications as crimes against humanity in order to reduce the probability that posthuman species will arise, on grounds that such a species would pose an existential threat to the old human species:

The new species, or posthuman, will likely view the old normal humans as inferior, even savages, and fit for slavery or slaughter. The normals, on the other hand, may see the posthumans as a threat and if they can, may engage in a preemptive strike by killing the posthumans before they themselves are killed or enslaved by them. It is ultimately this predictable potential for genocide that makes species-altering experiments potential weapons of mass destruction, and makes the unaccountable genetic engineer a potential bioterrorist.[6]

There is no denying that bioterrorism and unaccountable genetic engineers developing increasingly potent weapons of mass destruction pose a serious threat to our civilization. But using the rhetoric of bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction to cast aspersions on therapeutic uses of biotechnology to improve health, longevity and other human capacities is unhelpful. The issues are quite distinct. Reasonable people can be in favor of strict regulation of bioweapons while promoting beneficial medical uses of genetics and other human enhancement technologies, including inheritable and species-altering modifications.

Human society is always at risk of some group deciding to view another group of humans as fit for slavery or slaughter. To counteract such tendencies, modern societies have created laws and institutions, and endowed them with powers of enforcement, that act to prevent groups of citizens from enslaving or slaughtering one another. The efficacy of these institutions does not depend on all citizens having equal capacities. Modern, peaceful societies can have large numbers of people with diminished physical or mental capacities along with many other people who may be exceptionally physically strong or healthy or intellectually talented in various ways. Adding people with technologically enhanced capacities to this already broad distribution of ability would not need to rip society apart or trigger genocide or enslavement.

The assumption that inheritable genetic modifications or other human enhancement technologies would lead to two distinct and separate species should also be questioned. It seems much more likely that there would be a continuum of differently modified or enhanced individuals, which would overlap with the continuum of as-yet unenhanced humans. The scenario in which the enhanced form a pact and then attack the naturals makes for exciting science fiction but is not necessarily the most plausible outcome. Even today, the segment containing the tallest ninety percent of the population could, in principle, get together and kill or enslave the shorter decile. That this does not happen suggests that a well-organized society can hold together even if it contains many possible coalitions of people sharing some attribute such that, if they ganged up, they would be capable of exterminating the rest.

To note that the extreme case of a war between humans and posthumans is not the most likely scenario is not to say that there are no legitimate social concerns about the steps that may take us closer to posthumanity. Inequity, discrimination, and stigmatization against, or on behalf of, modified people could become serious issues. Transhumanists would argue that these (potential) social problems call for social remedies. One example of how contemporary technology can change important aspects of someones identity is sex reassignment. The experiences of transsexuals show that Western culture still has work to do in becoming more accepting of diversity. This is a task that we can begin to tackle today by fostering a climate of tolerance and acceptance towards those who are different from ourselves. Painting alarmist pictures of the threat from future technologically modified people, or hurling preemptive condemnations of their necessarily debased nature, is not the best way to go about it.

What about the hypothetical case in which someone intends to create, or turn themselves into, a being of so radically enhanced capacities that a single one or a small group of such individuals would be capable of taking over the planet? This is clearly not a situation that is likely to arise in the imminent future, but one can imagine that, perhaps in a few decades, the prospective creation of superintelligent machines could raise this kind of concern. The would-be creator of a new life form with such surpassing capabilities would have an obligation to ensure that the proposed being is free from psychopathic tendencies and, more generally, that it has humane inclinations. For example, a future artificial intelligence programmer should be required to make a strong case that launching a purportedly human-friendly superintelligence would be safer than the alternative. Again, however, this (currently) science-fiction scenario must be clearly distinguished from our present situation and our more immediate concern with taking effective steps towards incrementally improving human capacities and health-span.

Human dignity is sometimes invoked as a polemical substitute for clear ideas. This is not to say that there are no important moral issues relating to dignity, but it does mean that there is a need to define what one has in mind when one uses the term. Here, we shall consider two different senses of dignity:

On both these definitions, dignity is something that a posthuman could possess. Francis Fukuyama, however, seems to deny this and warns that giving up on the idea that dignity is unique to human beings defined as those possessing a mysterious essential human quality he calls Factor X[8] would invite disaster:

Denial of the concept of human dignity that is, of the idea that there is something unique about the human race that entitles every member of the species to a higher moral status than the rest of the natural world leads us down a very perilous path. We may be compelled ultimately to take this path, but we should do so only with our eyes open. Nietzsche is a much better guide to what lies down that road than the legions of bioethicists and casual academic Darwinians that today are prone to give us moral advice on this subject.[9]

What appears to worry Fukuyama is that introducing new kinds of enhanced person into the world might cause some individuals (perhaps infants, or the mentally handicapped, or unenhanced humans in general) to lose some of the moral status that they currently possess, and that a fundamental precondition of liberal democracy, the principle of equal dignity for all, would be destroyed.

The underlying intuition seems to be that instead of the famed expanding moral circle, what we have is more like an oval, whose shape we can change but whose area must remain constant. Thankfully, this purported conservation law of moral recognition lacks empirical support. The set of individuals accorded full moral status by Western societies has actually increased, to include men without property or noble decent, women, and non-white peoples. It would seem feasible to extend this set further to include future posthumans, or, for that matter, some of the higher primates or human-animal chimaeras, should such be created and to do so without causing any compensating shrinkage in another direction. (The moral status of problematic borderline cases, such as fetuses or late-stage Alzheimer patients, or the brain dead, should perhaps be decided separately from the issue of technologically modified humans or novel artificial life forms.) Our own role in this process need not be that of passive bystanders. We can work to create more inclusive social structures that accord appropriate moral recognition and legal rights to all who need them, be they male or female, black or white, flesh or silicon.

Dignity in the second sense, as referring to a special excellence or moral worthiness, is something that current human beings possess to widely differing degrees. Some excel far more than others do. Some are morally admirable; others are base and vicious. There is no reason for supposing that posthuman beings could not also have dignity in this second sense. They may even be able to attain higher levels of moral and other excellence than any of us humans. The fictional brave new worlders, who were subhuman rather than posthuman, would have scored low on this kind of dignity, and partly for that reason they would be awful role models for us to emulate. But surely we can create more uplifting and appealing visions of what we may aspire to become. There may be some who would transform themselves into degraded posthumans but then some people today do not live very worthy human lives. This is regrettable, but the fact that some people make bad choices is not generally a sufficient ground for rescinding peoples right to choose. And legitimate countermeasures are available: education, encouragement, persuasion, social and cultural reform. These, not a blanket prohibition of all posthuman ways of being, are the measures to which those bothered by the prospect of debased posthumans should resort. A liberal democracy should normally permit incursions into morphological and reproductive freedoms only in cases where somebody is abusing these freedoms to harm another person.

The principle that parents should have broad discretion to decide on genetic enhancements for their children has been attacked on grounds that this form of reproductive freedom would constitute a kind of parental tyranny that would undermine the childs dignity and capacity for autonomous choice; for instance, by Hans Jonas:

Technological mastered nature now again includes man who (up to now) had, in technology, set himself against it as its master But whose power is this and over whom or over what? Obviously the power of those living today over those coming after them, who will be the defenseless other side of prior choices made by the planners of today. The other side of the power of today is the future bondage of the living to the dead.[10]

Jonas is relying on the assumption that our descendants, who will presumably be far more technologically advanced than we are, would nevertheless be defenseless against our machinations to expand their capacities. This is almost certainly incorrect. If, for some inscrutable reason, they decided that they would prefer to be less intelligent, less healthy, and lead shorter lives, they would not lack the means to achieve these objectives and frustrate our designs.

In any case, if the alternative to parental choice in determining the basic capacities of new people is entrusting the childs welfare to nature, that is blind chance, then the decision should be easy. Had Mother Nature been a real parent, she would have been in jail for child abuse and murder. And transhumanists can accept, of course, that just as society may in exceptional circumstances override parental autonomy, such as in cases of neglect or abuse, so too may society impose regulations to protect the child-to-be from genuinely harmful genetic interventions but not because they represent choice rather than chance.

Jrgen Habermas, in a recent work, echoes Jonas concern and worries that even the mere knowledge of having been intentionally made by another could have ruinous consequences:

We cannot rule out that knowledge of ones own hereditary features as programmed may prove to restrict the choice of an individuals life, and to undermine the essentially symmetrical relations between free and equal human beings.[11]

A transhumanist could reply that it would be a mistake for an individual to believe that she has no choice over her own life just because some (or all) of her genes were selected by her parents. She would, in fact, have as much choice as if her genetic constitution had been selected by chance. It could even be that she would enjoy significantly more choice and autonomy in her life, if the modifications were such as to expand her basic capability set. Being healthy, smarter, having a wide range of talents, or possessing greater powers of self-control are blessings that tend to open more life paths than they block.

Even if there were a possibility that some genetically modified individuals might fail to grasp these points and thus might feel oppressed by their knowledge of their origin, that would be a risk to be weighed against the risks incurred by having an unmodified genome, risks that can be extremely grave. If safe and effective alternatives were available, it would be irresponsible to risk starting someone off in life with the misfortune of congenitally diminished basic capacities or an elevated susceptibility to disease.

Similarly ominous forecasts were made in the seventies about the severe psychological damage that children conceived through in vitro fertilization would suffer upon learning that they originated from a test tube a prediction that turned out to be entirely false. It is hard to avoid the impression that some bias or philosophical prejudice is responsible for the readiness with which many bioconservatives seize on even the flimsiest of empirical justifications for banning human enhancement technologies of certain types but not others. Suppose it turned out that playing Mozart to pregnant mothers improved the childs subsequent musical talent. Nobody would argue for a ban on Mozart-in-the-womb on grounds that we cannot rule out that some psychological woe might befall the child once she discovers that her facility with the violin had been prenatally programmed by her parents. Yet when it comes to e.g. genetic enhancements, arguments that are not so very different from this parody are often put forward as weighty if not conclusive objections by eminent bioconservative writers. To transhumanists, this looks like doublethink. How can it be that to bioconservatives almost any anticipated downside, predicted perhaps on the basis of the shakiest pop-psychological theory, so readily achieves that status of deep philosophical insight and knockdown objection against the transhumanist project?

Perhaps a part of the answer can be found in the different attitudes that transhumanists and bioconservatives have towards posthuman dignity. Bioconservatives tend to deny posthuman dignity and view posthumanity as a threat to human dignity. They are therefore tempted to look for ways to denigrate interventions that are thought to be pointing in the direction of more radical future modifications that may eventually lead to the emergence of those detestable posthumans. But unless this fundamental opposition to the posthuman is openly declared as a premiss of their argument, this then forces them to use a double standard of assessment whenever particular cases are considered in isolation: for example, one standard for germ-line genetic interventions and another for improvements in maternal nutrition (an intervention presumably not seen as heralding a posthuman era).

Transhumanists, by contrast, see human and posthuman dignity as compatible and complementary. They insist that dignity, in its modern sense, consists in what we are and what we have the potential to become, not in our pedigree or our causal origin. What we are is not a function solely of our DNA but also of our technological and social context. Human nature in this broader sense is dynamic, partially human-made, and improvable. Our current extended phenotypes (and the lives that we lead) are markedly different from those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. We read and write; we wear clothes; we live in cities; we earn money and buy food from the supermarket; we call people on the telephone, watch television, read newspapers, drive cars, file taxes, vote in national elections; women give birth in hospitals; life-expectancy is three times longer than in the Pleistocene; we know that the Earth is round and that stars are large gas clouds lit from inside by nuclear fusion, and that the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old and enormously big. In the eyes of a hunter-gatherer, we might already appear posthuman. Yet these radical extensions of human capabilities some of them biological, others external have not divested us of moral status or dehumanized us in the sense of making us generally unworthy and base. Similarly, should we or our descendants one day succeed in becoming what relative to current standards we may refer to as posthuman, this need not entail a loss dignity either.

From the transhumanist standpoint, there is no need to behave as if there were a deep moral difference between technological and other means of enhancing human lives. By defending posthuman dignity we promote a more inclusive and humane ethics, one that will embrace future technologically modified people as well as humans of the contemporary kind. We also remove a distortive double standard from the field of our moral vision, allowing us to perceive more clearly the opportunities that exist for further human progress.[12]

[1] N. Bostrom et al. 2003. The Transhumanist FAQ, v. 2.1. World Transhumanist Association. Webpage: http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/faq.html.

Homepage: http://www.nickbostrom.com

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In Defense of Posthuman Dignity – Nick Bostrom

Software-update: Tor Browser 5.0.1 – Computer – Downloads – Tweakers

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Aug 212015
 

Verleden week is versie 5.0 van Tor Browser is uitgekomen en inmiddels is er ook al een update verschenen. Tor staat voor The Onion Router en is een netwerk dat gebruikt kan worden om redelijk anoniem over internet te surfen. Al het tcp-verkeer van gebruikers wordt langs verschillende Tor-routers geleid, waarna het voor de ontvanger vrijwel niet meer mogelijk is om na te gaan wie de oorspronkelijke verzender was. Binnen het Tor-netwerk is die informatie nog wel aanwezig, zodat antwoorden, uiteraard ook weer via het stelsel van routers, uiteindelijk weer op de juiste plek aankomen.

Nieuw in versie 5.0, die opExtended Support Release versie 38.2 van Firefox is gebaseerd, is onder meer dat updatesautomatisch op de achtergrond opgehaald kunnen worden.

All Platforms

This release also brings us up to date with Firefox 38-ESR, which should mean improved support for HTML5 video on Youtube, as well as a host of other improvements. Controversial and hard-to-audit binary components related to EME DRM were disabled, however.

The release also features new privacy enhancements. In particular, more identifier sources that appeared in Firefox 38 (or were otherwise disabled previously) are now isolated to the first party (URL bar) domain. This release also contains defenses from the 5.0-alpha series for keystroke (typing) fingerprinting and some instances of performance/timing fingerprinting.

Regrettably, our new defenses for font and keyboard layout fingerprinting did not stabilize in time for this release. Users who are interested in helping us improve them should try out 5.5a1.

This release also will reset the permanent NoScript whitelist, due to an issue where previous NoScript updates had added certain domains to the whitelist during upgrade. The whitelist is reset to the default for all users as a result, and future updates to the whitelist by NoScript have been disabled.

Starting with this release, Tor Browser will now also download and apply upgrades in the background, to ensure that users upgrade quicker and with less interaction. This behavior is governed by the about:config pref app.update.auto, but we do not recommend disabling it unless you really know what you’re doing. Here is the complete changelog since 4.5.3:

All Platforms

See more here:
Software-update: Tor Browser 5.0.1 – Computer – Downloads – Tweakers

Download Tor Browser 5.0.1 / 5.5 Alpha 1 (Mac) – Softpedia

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on Download Tor Browser 5.0.1 / 5.5 Alpha 1 (Mac) – Softpedia
Aug 212015
 

Tor is a free software and open network specially designed to help you protect your privacy and defend against various forms of network surveillance.

The Tor project is based on the Onion Routing, once a secret project of the U.S. Naval Research Lab, and is developed and maintained by a open-source community.

Tor prevents the monitoring of your Internet connection by hiding your identity and preventing IP address-tracking back to your Mac.

In order to protect your connection, Tor uses various servers from around the world and reroutes your URL request through multiple servers to hide the path from your Mac to the destination URL.

Tor Browser is a simple an easy-to-use package that installs and help you manage the Tor project software on your Mac. The installation process is pretty straightforward, you just have to download the ZIP archive, extract and launch the application.

The Tor Browser app is based on Firefox and includes the Vidalia network connection utility. Thanks to Vidalia the connection to the Tor network is automatically achieved every time you launch Tor Browser.

The Vidalia Control Panel enables you to configure and manage your connection to the Thor network. You also have the option to Use a New Identity, view the Bandwidth Graph, open the Message Log and View the Network.

Tor Browser’s interface is similar to Firefox 17.0.8 with the exception of the Tor-specific features such as NoScript, the Torbutton and SSL Observatory. From the Torbutton slide menu you can request a new identity, open the Cookie Protection manager and the Preferences window.

By accessing the Torbutton Preferences window you can configure the proxy settings and enable or disable various security settings such as “Disable browser plugins”, “Restrict third party cookies” and more.

Another useful feature is the portability of the application. Tor Browser Bundle is self contained and, as a result, it can be run off a USB flash driver without the need of installing the app.

As it turn out from our tests, Tor Browser is smooth-running and easy-to-use. However, you will notice a speed drop when it comes to internet browsing caused by the constant traffic rerouting.

However, despite the decrease of the speed of your Internet connection, Tor Browser is worth installing if you want to hide your location and value your privacy.

Read the rest here:
Download Tor Browser 5.0.1 / 5.5 Alpha 1 (Mac) – Softpedia

Blogs | The Tor Blog

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Aug 212015
 

Welcome to the thirtieth issue in 2015 of Tor Weekly News, the weekly newsletter that covers whats happening in the Tor community.

Nick Mathewson announced the second alpha release in the Tor 0.2.7.x series. This version includes improvements to the handling of Tors identity keys, which now use the Ed25519 elliptic curve signature format. It also allows onion service operators to specify a higher number of introduction points with a special configuration option, if the service is coming under heavy load, at the cost of making it more visible that the hidden service is facing extra load.

For full details of the many other developments in this release, please see Nicks announcement. The source code is available as usual from Tors distribution directory.

The Tor Browser team put out their fourth alpha release in the 5.0 series of the privacy-preserving anonymous browser. Most notably, this release contains an experimental defense against font fingerprinting by using an identical set of shipped fonts on all supported platforms, wrote Georg Koppen. This version also fixes some of the issues created by the update to Firefox 38ESR, which brings us very close to a stable Tor Browser 5.0, which we aim to release next week.

Get your copy of the new alpha from the project page, or via the incremental updater if you are already using the alpha Tor Browser series.

One of the weaknesses of the current onion service design is that parts of it (such as the relays chosen by a service to upload its descriptor) rely on a list of Tor relays which is generated in a predictable way. This makes it possible for people with malicious intentions to insert their bad relays into the list at points of their choosing, in order to carry out attacks such as denials-of-service (as some researchers proved earlier this year). A good way of preventing this is to make Tors directory authorities jointly come up with a random number as part of their regular voting procedure, which is then used by onion services to choose the directories to which they will upload their descriptor information, and by clients to find those same directories. It could also be used by other systems as a shared source of randomness.

George Kadianakis published a draft proposal describing how this procedure could work. For a period of twelve hours, the directory authorities send each other a commitment, consisting of the hash of a 256-bit value. Once all authorities are aware of the others commitments, they then reveal to one another the values they committed to, for another twelve-hour period. At the end of that time, the revealed values are checked to see if they correspond to the commitments, and then they are all used to compute that days random value. This works because although you can use the commitment hash to verify that the value revealed is the same as the one decided upon twelve hours ago, you cannot derive the value itself from the commitment.

Please see the draft proposal in full for discussion of the finer points of the proposed system, or if you are a fan of ingenious solutions.

The Guardian Project put out a full release of CameraV (or InformaCam), a nifty smartphone application that lets you capture and share verifiable photos and video proof on a smartphone or tablet, all the while keeping it entirely secure and private. It allows you to prove the authenticity of your photos by using the built-in sensors in modern smartphones for tracking movement, light and other environmental inputs, along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular network information to capture a snapshot of the environment around you and bundling this information into the picture file.

As you would expect, InformaCam is fully compatible with the Guardian Projects Tor software offerings for Android, so whether youre a citizen journalist or a keen phone photographer who values privacy, take a look at the CameraV page and try it out for yourself!

The wave of regular monthly reports from Tor project members for the month of July has begun. Pearl Crescent released their report first (for work on Tor Browser development), followed by reports from David Goulet (on onion service research and development), Georg Koppen (working on Tor Browser), Isabela Bagueros (for overall project management), Karsten Loesing (working on Tor network tools and organizational tasks), Damian Johnson (on Nyx and stem development), and Juha Nurmi (on ahmia.fi development).

The students in this years Tor Summer of Privacy also sent updates about their progress. Donncha OCearbhaill gave news of the OnionBalance load-balancing project, while Jesse Victors did the same for the OnioNS DNS-like system, Cristobal Leiva for the relay web status dashboard, and Israel Leiva for continuing development of the GetTor alternative software distributor.

Finally, the Tails team published their June report, bringing updates about outreach, infrastructure, funding, and ongoing discussions relating to the anonymous live operating system.

The participants in the recent onion service hackfest in Washington, DC published a summary of the exciting progress they made during the meeting.

Arturo Filast announced that an OONI-related hackathon entitled ADINA15: A Dive Into Network Anomalies will be held on October 1-2 in the Chamber of Deputies at the Italian Parliament in Rome. This means that you are all invitedto put your design and data analysis skills to the test!

David Fifield published the regular summary of costs incurred by the infrastructure for meek.

Nathan Freitas explored possible routes to an Android-compatible version of Ricochet, the exciting new privacy-preserving instant messaging application based on Tor onion services.

Want to continue reading TWN? Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteers to watch the Tor community and report important news. Please see the project page, write down your name and subscribe to the team mailing list if you want to get involved!

Read more:
Blogs | The Tor Blog

Tor Browser – Free Download

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on Tor Browser – Free Download
Aug 212015
 

Open network of private data tunnels, which preserves anonymity and fights censorship

TOR is a software that is used by people who wish to protect their anonymity while they participate in online activities. The TOR software allows for anonymity by directing online traffic through a series of relays that thwarts any surveillance attempts. By doing so, it becomes very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to trace a TOR user’s online activities. The NSA has called TOR the leader in Internet anonymity software, with no other immediate contenders to their throne.

TOR uses several different layers of encryption, TOR is actually an acronym for The Onion Router. TOR enables users to hide their IP address by sending traffic through a series of digital relays. Each relay further increases the level of obscurity until it becomes virtually impossible to trace back the traffic to the actual user. This is all done without the original IP address ever being revealed.

Pros:

Cons:

Developed by AnchorFree, this software application lets people connect to the internet via Virtual Private Network

FREE 10GB VPN: ZPN Connect VPN for WiFi Hotspot

At the time of downloading you accept the EULA and privacy policies stated by Jaleco. The download will be executed through a download manager that belongs to Jaleco. The mentioned download manager doesn’t have any relationship with the author. It can be downloaded as well freely from the author’s website. Jaleco aims to offer downloads free of viruses and malware.

The download manager is part of our virus and malware filtering system and certifies the file’s reliability. Additionally, the download manager offers the optional installation of a toolbar.

Read the original here:
Tor Browser – Free Download

Onion Browser on the App Store on iTunes – Apple

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on Onion Browser on the App Store on iTunes – Apple
Aug 212015
 

Description

Onion Browser is a Tor-powered web browser that helps you access the internet with more privacy.

Featured in: The New York Times, The Guardian, Salon, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Boing Boing, Lifehacker, Macworld, & others.

——————–

Internet access tunneled over the Tor network: – Websites do not see your real IP address. – ISPs and insecure wireless networks cannot see your browsing. – Access .onion websites: anonymous “hidden service” sites only accessible through Tor. – Can access websites, even behind some types of internet filters and censors. (See DISCLAIMERS below.)

Fight online tracking: use a new IP address and clear your cookies/history/cache in one button.

Block third party cookies or all cookies.

Disable scripts and multimedia content that can be used to track you.

DISCLAIMERS: Web browsing is much slower than through a normal web browser due to relaying through the Tor anonymization network.

Multimedia can bypass Tor and compromise your privacy; video files and video streams are not supported and are blocked by default.

Onion Browser does not function in China, Iran, and other locations that actively block Tor with “deep packet inspection” technology. Internet providers who use such filtering/censorship technology may also prevent Onion Browser from working. If you find that the app does not work, visit the Help/Support page to see what you can do.

Onion Browser is open-source software and relies on other projects including The Tor Project and OpenSSL. Use of Onion Browser is at your own risk; sensitive data does not always belong on a mobile device. More information is always available at onionbrowser.com

Allow pasting in the bridges.torproject.org text blob to set bridges, like the Tor Browser launcher.

Allow scanning QR code from bridges.torproject.org to set bridges.

On first run, allow user to configure bridges before trying to connect to Tor.

Tor updated to 0.2.6.5-rc.

OpenSSL updated to 1.0.2a.

Redesigned “Connecting…” prompt when opening the app.

I’ve been using Onion Browser for 2+ years, and I can say that it’s truly the BEST implementation of Tor on the iPhone, from a security standpoint. It’s stable, it works (I’m looking at you, reviewer who claimed it didn’t), the features that leak the most information and stray data are turned off (video and audio streaming, among other things), and Mr. Togas promptly updates OB when new versions of Tor are released.

What some are seeing are most likely the messages that indicate that a Tor site has been taken down by it’s owner. These are not an indication of the browser not working, these are dead sites.

This is the only TOR client I would trust in my iPhone since it is open source, peer reviewed and been through 3rd party security audits. The reviewers that say this app doesn’t work are doing something wrong (I suggest you try bridging) because I have no problem with this app, and you can even run it on top of a trustworthy VPN service to add an additional layer of security if so desired

Been a big fan but core needs to be updated to latest version. Major update promised in March has not materialized.

This is the only TBB though that’s been through a security audit with a 3rd party firm. All the others are not as secure as you think.

By nature Tor browser is slow. If it doesn’t work, chances are your ISP or network are blocking Tor. Not the browsers fault! Same thing would happen with any other available on the App Store

Read more:
Onion Browser on the App Store on iTunes – Apple




Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism