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Manure Overload in Minnesota, Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ on Military Bases and More

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This week, EWG released a report that shows how manure from 23,000 Minnesota animal feedlots threatens to overload nearby cropland with chemicals that can pollute lakes, streams and aquifers, including drinking water sources. EWG also mapped where 49 million tons of manure is applied to the state’s cropland as fertilizer.

Friday, May 29, 2020 By Robert Coleman, Project Manager

This week, EWG released a report that shows how manure from 23,000 Minnesota animal feedlots threatens to overload nearby cropland with chemicals that can pollute lakes, streams and aquifers, including drinking water sources. EWG also mapped where 49 million tons of manure is applied to the state’s cropland as fertilizer.

“For the first time, we can clearly see the extent to which farmers are overloading land in Minnesota’s farm country with animal manure and fertilizer – and where the problem is the worst,” said Sarah Porter, senior GIS analyst with EWG and co-author of the report. “This new tool illuminates why water quality across the state is declining at an alarming rate.”

For the first time in 135 years, the U.S. consumed more energy from renewable sources than coal, according to new data from the federal Energy Information Agency.

“It’s basic economics,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Renewable energy is cheaper, cleaner and abundant. There is simply no way for coal to compete. And there is no Wall Street analyst who would risk their clients’ portfolio by investing in an industry in freefall.”

EWG also looked at the toxic fluorinated compounds, known as PFAS, which contaminate military bases across the nation. Right now, the Department of Defense claims there are roughly 678 contaminated military sites ­– but the military is focusing on the two most ubiquitous PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFAS. New Freedom of Information Act data analyzed by EWG shows that at least eight different PFAS compounds have been detected in groundwater or drinking water or both at military bases.

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Children’s Health

Dr. Greene: Chemicals and Pregnant Women: Taking Care of Your Unborn Baby

This study reminds me of the study I helped design and launch with the Environmental Working Group in 2005, where we found an average of 200 industrial chemicals already in babies at the moment of birth. Environmental chemicals weren’t just polluting air, soil, and water “out there” somewhere; they were polluting the innermost sanctum of the womb. 

Minnesota Manure Overload Report

The Guardian: Animal feedlots are a likely threat to drinking water in Minnesota, says report

In “almost all of Minnesota’s farm counties” the combined use of manure plus commercial fertiliser, is “likely to load too much nitrogen or phosphorus or both on to crop fields, threatening drinking water and fouling the state’s iconic lakes and rivers”, found the report by the US NGO, the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Star Tribune (Minneapolis): Manure, fertilizers overload parts of Minnesota with nitrogen, mapping project finds

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) report links nitrogen overload to the proliferation and concentration of large-scale livestock farms in Minnesota.

Meatpacking Plants and COVID-19 Map

The Washington Post: The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick — and shortages may get worse.

In Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, coronavirus cases linked to meat workers represent 18, 20 and 29 percent of the states’ total cases, respectively, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization. Reprinted by MSNSF GateHouston Chronicle, and 14 others

Business Insider: A North Carolina hair salon banned Tyson workers as meat processing plants become coronavirus hot spots

Analysis by the Environmental Working Group released in mid-May found that counties with or near meat processing plants have almost twice the rate of known COVID-19 infections, compared to the national average. Reprinted by USA News Posts

The Hill: 11,000 coronavirus cases tied to three meat processors: report

Twenty-nine percent of South Dakota’s total cases are linked to processing plant workers, as are 20 percent of Nebraska’s cases and 18 percent of Iowa’s cases, according to the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by LipstickAlley

New York Magazine – Grub Street: Horrifying Problems Continue to Plague the Meat Industry

According to the Environmental Working Group, counties with meatpacking plants report coronavirus infection rates twice the national average.

Agri-Pulse: Next meatpacking guidance may address testing of workers

Citing the Environmental Working Group, she said in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, “coronavirus cases linked to meat workers represent 18, 20 and 29 percent of the states’ total cases, respectively.” North Carolina “leads the nation with the number of meatpacking plants facing an outbreak — with the state Department of Health and Human Services reporting that at least 23 plants have outbreaks with more than 1,300 worker infections,” she said.

Daily Mail (U.K): Cases of meat plant workers with coronavirus soars from 3,700 to more than  15,000 in a month – as experts warn meat supply could drop by a THIRD and prices could spike by 20%

In Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, coronavirus cases linked to meat plants account for 18, 20 and 29 percent of the states’ total cases, respectively, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy organization. Reprinted by What’s New 2 Day

Lincoln Journal Star (Neb.): Local View: Meat-processing workers deserve better

In fact, a study from the Environmental Working Group has found that Nebraska and Iowa have the highest number of meat-industry related COVID-19 cases in the country.

Trump Administration Farm Bailout

The Fence Post: House members urge Pelosi, McCarthy to use CCC to help farmworkers

Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein and Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook in a joint news release both praised Panetta for his leadership and said they supported the legislation.

Reason: Is Record USDA Farm Aid Another Permanent ‘Temporary Solution’?

This week, the Environmental Working Group criticized the farm bailout, noting “most of the money won’t go to small family farmers but to the largest and wealthiest farms, which need the money the least.”  

Algae Blooms

Township Journal (N.J.): As our lakes reopen, NJ must do more to protect them

A report from the Environmental Working Group last year showed levels of cyanotoxins in lakes, rivers, and other water bodies across the country at levels higher than EPA health guidelines.

Reprinted by Sparta Independent (N.J.)

Asbestos in Talc-Based Cosmetics

Global Cosmetics News: Tests Find Asbestos in Make-Up Palettes Sold via Amazon and Ebay

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Washington, D.C., commissioned the testing as part of a wider assessment on the safety of children’s products and released the results to the public.

Pharma Intellegence: J&J’s Baby Powder Announcement Renews NGO Calls For Industry, FDA To End Use Of Talc In Cosmetics

The Environmental Working Group and US PIRG suggest that beauty and personal-care firms should avoid using talc in loose powders, if not all cosmetic products, and that the US FDA should consider banning the ingredient due to the potential for asbestos contamination, among other concerns.

Cleaning Products

Sacramento Magazine: The Dirt on Laundry

As for those notorious “tough-to-remove” stains, the Environmental Working Group details how you can make your own removers using such ingredients as lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide.

Lexington Herald-Leader (Ky.): As we use disinfectants to stop coronavirus transmission, we also have to weigh the risks

Finally, Environmental Working Group has a very useful database of over 2,500 cleaning products, their ingredients, and health/environmental concerns.

The Healthy: 12 Things You Need to Clean After Returning From the Outside World

“When reaching for an antimicrobial cleaning product, it’s important to consider that optimal effectiveness of disinfectants — typically a 99.9 percent reduction in particular pathogens—will only be achieved when used according to the label instructions,” warns Samara Geller, senior research and database analyst for the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “Too often, one or more key disinfection factors are overlooked by the user.”

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Mind Body Green: Crystal Deodorant: What’s The Deal With This Antiperspirant Alternative? 

This is not a widely studied ingredient (even though most groups, including the Environmental Working Group, deem it safe), and thus we don’t know how effective they are outside of anecdotal evidence.

Medium: Everyday products are full of harmful chemicals. Can green chemistry lead the way to safer alternatives?

Nneka Leiba, vice president for healthy living science at Environmental Working Group (EWG), says she’s seen “monumental changes in the last five years” in the personal care sector. “Companies have avoided some ingredients, some of the worst ones, like paraben, phthalates and formaldehyde,” she says, adding that “they may still have other ingredients of concern.”

The Zoe Report: The Best Cream Bronzers To Try This Summer If Powder Formulas Just Aren’t Your Thing

“Clean,” non-toxic makeup has made major strides over the past couple of years, but sometimes, it still falls a little short. That’s not the case with this W3LL People bronzing stick, which is free of parabens, phthalates, fragrance, and verified by the Environmental Working Group for non-toxic health and safety.

Bug Repellents

Pulse: Is DEET Actually Bad for You? Here’s What to Know.

R 3535: The Environmental Working Group suggests that this provides good protection against ticks. While it does protect against mosquitos, the EWG suggests it may offer a bit less protection from these than other repellents do. Reprinted by Men’s Health

Food Scores

Business Insider: The best canned, jarred, and preserved seafood to eat and cook beyond just tuna

Your best bet is to compare and contrast the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch’s full list of recommended species (the MSC can be helpful, too, but maintains slightly looser regulations around fishing methods) and the EWG’s database of scores for canned fish.

Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change + Health

Good Housekeeping: Everything You Need to Know About the Pescatarian Diet

Better for the environment: According to the Environmental Working Group, the carbon footprint of tuna and salmon is significantly lower than cheese or meat.

Reprinted by MSN

PFAS Military Map

Detroit Free Press (Mich.): Restrictions expanded near former Wurtsmith air base after PFAS found in most wildlife

report last month by the Washington-based nonprofit Environmental Working Group, using Department of Defense data, found 678 military facilities nationwide with known or suspected PFAS contamination in the ground or water. Reprinted by Stars and Stripes

PFAS Tap Water Contamination

Florida Today: Father urges Congress to fund filters to remove Air Force Base cancer-causing fire-foam chemicals from drinking water

“In this case, industry has known at least since the ’60s that these substances were toxic,” said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs. Reprinted by MSN

Water Online: EPA Decides Perchlorate Regulation Isn’t Necessary

“The science on perchlorate is very clear: It harms infants and the developing fetus,” said Olga Naidenko, senior science adviser for children’s environmental health at the Environmental Working Group, according to The Hill. “Instead of taking action to lower the levels of this rocket fuel chemical in drinking water, the administration’s plan will endanger the health of future generations of kids.” 

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Healthy Directions: 5 Causes of Chronic Inflammation and How to Prevent Them

Preventing environmental exposures: Buy organic (especially foods in the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen”)

Kiwi Magazine: The 2020 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”

Every year the Environmental Working Group analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA to highlight foods that test positive for the most and the least amounts of pesticides—known as the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.”

KAKE (Wichita, Kan.): What grocery shopping was like the year you were born

The Environmental Working Group released its first “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists in 2004 to help concerned consumers avoid pesticides in their foods, according to Rachel Koning Beals of MarketWatch.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Today: Is your sunscreen toxic or a hormone disruptor? Ingredients, studies spark debate

It’s understandable why consumers would be confused, said Nneka Leiba, vice president of healthy living science at the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog nonprofit based in Washington. Reprinted by MSN.

Prevention: 15 Best Moisturizers With SPF for Every Skin Type, According to Dermatologists

This silky moisturizer earned a high rating from the Environmental Working Group. Thanks to its top-notch ingredients (most of which are organic), like aloe vera, cocoa seed extract, and niacinamide, your face will feel calm and hydrated without skimping on broad spectrum protection.

WebMD: Consumer Reports Ranks Top Sunscreens for 2020

A new report from the Environmental Working Group recommends consumers avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone because of a lack of safety data. Reprinted by Medscape.

Marin Mommies: Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG’s 2020 Sunscreen Guide

Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group’s 14th annual Sunscreen Guide is available to help sort the good sunscreens from those that won’t help much or are actually harmful to our health. Reprinted by Blogarama

Mindful Momma: Non-Toxic Sunscreen to Protect the Whole Family

Fortunately advocacy groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have evaluated thousands of sunscreens for safety and created a ratings scale that allows us to make safer choices. Each year the EWG comes out with a Sunscreen Guide, which is definitely worth a read.

WZOZ 103.1 (Oneonta, N.Y.): Your Guide to the Best and Worst Sunscreens of 2020

The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreens is a fantastic website that breaks down each type of sunscreen and its individual benefits.

Fox 13: WTVT Tampa Bay (Fla.): Sunscreen report: SPF above 50 likely not providing more protection

EWG is an advocacy organization that just released a review of more than 1,300 products containing SPF.

WAFB 9 (Baton Rouge, La): What’s really in a bottle of sunblock anyway?

“In particular, we are concerned about ingredients like oxybenzone, which is common in ingredients,” said Dr. David Andrews, the senior scientist for Environmental Working Group.

WKYC (Cleveland): How to pick the best sunscreen on the market

A research group called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released its guide to finding the best sunscreens on the market.

Source: Environmental working Group

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Editorials

Screen addiction, there’s still hope

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Screen consumption by girls, boys and young people is rising in the scale of concern among mothers, fathers and education professionals about the risks that it entails in the mental health of this age group. Attention is the starting point and therefore there is still hope.

By Marco Trivelli, Seed Foundation, Santiago, Chile

The business objective of the applications is to generate addiction in such a way that people are interacting with the platforms for as long as possible. With more hours in front of the screen, the greater the audience to whom to expose to the publicity.

Like the gambling, tobacco, sugar, alcohol or trans fat industries, social networks have no incentive to limit consumption and face the dilemma of privileging the common good and protecting their consumers or being carried away by greed by appealing to the freedom to develop economic activities whose only limitation is not to transgress morals or good customs.

In an investigation of the prestigious Wall Street Journal newspaper carried out on the basis of studies carried out within Facebook, the largest and most powerful social network in the world, they found that there was a list of powerful characters to whom the rules of conduct were not applied and therefore the posts were not lowered or their accounts were suspended. Facebook thus avoided the bad publicity of censoring a powerful and generated traffic or views.

Famous is the case of soccer player Neymar who responded to an accusation of rape by publishing intimate images and texts on his WhatsApp without consent and which were later replicated on Facebook and Instagram. They had 56 million views before being downloaded from the web.

Internal Facebook documents also revealed the damage Instagram is doing to the mental health of millions of young people around the world. Instagram is toxic for one in three young people with an effect on eating disorders, anxiety, depression and suicides. Even when these results were generated by the company itself, Instagram defended itself by pointing out that the network did more good than bad.

The United States Congress has requested to know the internal studies carried out by Facebook as have academics and independent study centers, but the company has refused to do so, noting that the results are not conclusive. The answer turns out to be the same as other industries gave in the past.

Becoming aware that the risks of screen addiction in children and young people is decisive for their future is an excellent opportunity for the problem to be addressed in the political processes that we are experiencing in Chile. The screen requires regulation.

At Fundación Semilla we believe that self-regulation or regulation by the State is essential, but not enough. Formal and family education needs to be redesigned by offering constructive and entertaining alternatives. As a personal testimony, I can point out that the spring wind that blew on the national holiday weekend allowed us to fly a large kite together with my grandchildren. We all enjoyed ourselves and were away from the screen for an entire afternoon. Regulation and creativity gives us hope in the task of preventing screen addiction.

Marcelo Trivelli, Seed Foundation, Santiago, Chile

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The Foreign Policy We Need

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Foreign policy is an essential component of any national development strategy. If it changes, external political and trade relations will have to change. Thirty years of a neoliberal strategy have led to an unmediated trade opening to the world economy, while our diplomacy has enthusiastically approached developed countries, distancing itself from Latin America and the countries of the South. The presidential candidate of the left, Gabriel Boric, announces that this must change.

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The free-market logic that reigns within our economy has been fully deployed in the field of foreign relations. A radical opening to the world has been imposed, without protection of the internal market and without regulations in favour of sectors of productive transformation. As a result, trade policy has exacerbated export extractivism, closing off opportunities for productive diversification. Policy has been subordinated to big capital, and not only within our country, but also in our relations with the outside world. The economic policy of “every man for himself”, which destroyed Chilean industry and closed the doors to small business entrepreneurs, was complemented by an indiscriminate opening up of foreign trade.

The incorporation of our country into the global economy has not helped development. Growth, which businessmen, politicians and establishment economists have deified, has generated precarious employment, extreme inequalities, environmental depredation and the depletion of our natural resources. Foreign policy has been functional to this perverse growth. And this kind of growth has held back development.

After a few brief years in the early 1990s, when Chile strengthened its economic and political ties with Latin America, the Concertación governments became dizzy with height. They opted to privilege relations with developed and Asia-Pacific countries. Not to discuss the substantive political issues on the international agenda, but to establish economic and commercial commitments in free trade agreements (FTAs). Foreign policy was subordinated to FTAs. Thus, thanks to FTAs, developed countries and transnational corporations have secured their interests through the indiscriminate liberalisation of goods and services, as well as the extended protection of their investments and intellectual property, in exchange for access for our exports to large markets. This logic was also imposed in our negotiations with middle-developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and became the undisputed common sense in international organisations.

It is true that it is in the interest of small countries to open up economically to the world. The narrow internal space makes it difficult for the economy to reproduce itself more broadly. But in the case of Chile, economic expansion through FTAs with developed countries has not turned out to be a good deal (I mean for the country, for the people of Chile). Of course, the primary responsibility does not lie in trade policy, but in economic policy. Indeed, our economic policy does not encourage productive transformation or help to diversify exports and, at the same time, the unregulated opening of trade through FTAs has favoured the attraction of foreign investment, but it has done so in the primary and service sectors. Thus, the FTAs have served to stimulate extractivism, multiplying exports, but not natural resource exports.

In short, our country has consolidated a productive matrix that exports natural resources, and this has been favoured by trade policy. Thus, foreign policy, especially since the 2000s, has supported rapprochement with developed countries, distancing us from our neighbours. This policy, together with the commitments contained in the FTAs, hinders any joint efforts with the countries of the South to act jointly with the world powers on key issues on the international agenda: uncontrolled financial flows, intellectual property, corporate-state disputes, the environment, among others.

Consequently, if the Boric government promotes a change in the productive structure of our economy, it will also have to modify foreign policy and, in particular, foreign trade policy. It will have to introduce substantive changes. Whether unilateral or negotiated (FTA), it will be necessary to regulate the movement of goods, services and capital, in favour of the productive and social priorities proposed by the new development strategy. This has been well highlighted by Petersen and Ahumada, in reply to Ignacio Walker, who staunchly defends the type of globalisation promoted by Chilean governments (see La Tercera of 2 September 2021).

If effective productive diversification is to take place, both unilateral foreign trade policies and trade agreements cannot be neutral in terms of tariffs, financial capital, foreign investment and intellectual property. Discrimination should be made in favour of industrial sectors or those productive processes that add value and knowledge to the new productive matrix. Gabriel Boric’s programme proposes a review of existing trade agreements to assess their relevance to productive diversification. This is not an easy task, but neither is it impossible. This will require renegotiations that will demand goodwill and mutual respect between our country and its counterparts. This was emphasised by the presidential candidate in his meeting with the ambassadors of the European Union (7 September).

On the other hand, faced with the reality of globalisation and the uncertainties that have arisen with the new protectionism, our country will have to recover multilateralism, which is the best defence of small countries against powerful countries. But this policy will be effective if we are able to act as a whole, united with the countries of Latin America and eventually with other regions of the South. In short, a new government of transformations has the difficult task of strengthening the negotiating strength of “developing countries” to support the international agenda on issues of concern to us: protection of ecosystems, feminism, demilitarisation, peace, solidarity with migratory processes, among others.

At the same time, multilateralism in the economic sphere should aim to promote a fairer international trade and financial system, including: the regulation and control of financial transactions and tax havens; flexible and less costly forms of access to cutting-edge technologies; the reduction of deadlines for the protection of intellectual and industrial property, among other issues.

Our project as a country, and the possibility of having a greater presence in the international context, is linked to Latin America and the developing world. Chile must have a foreign policy of rapprochement and economic and diplomatic cooperation with that part of the world with which it shares interests and problems, even in the midst of the difficulties presented by regional institutions. And it should do so independently of political changes in Latin American governments. It is true that the issue is complex. Relations with the countries of the region, and in particular with our neighbours, are not easy.

Determined efforts will have to be made to attend with special concern to political and economic relations with neighbouring countries. Chile’s security and stability, and consequently our own democracy, are linked to the need to eliminate all sources of tension with our neighbours. This is of prime importance. Diplomatic, political and economic conflicts with neighbouring countries exalt chauvinism and stimulate arguments in favour of armament in certain sectors of our society, with high financial costs. Renewed bilateral efforts are therefore needed to foster mutual trust and, above all, to move forward with simultaneous demilitarisation initiatives.

Chile’s border understandings with Argentina in the mid-1990s have recently been obscured by the dispute over the maritime shelf on the continental ice. At the same time, the disputes with Peru and Bolivia, resolved at the Hague Court, do not lessen the historical resentments of Bolivians and Peruvians and Chileans. This must be overcome. It is necessary to embark on a determined path to put an end to tensions in order to ensure diplomatic rapprochement and peace between our countries.

Finally, there is the complex issue of regional integration, where serious difficulties have arisen in recent years. This sets limits to the deepening of Chile’s relations with the countries of the region and at other times leads to uncomfortable disputes. Consequently, it might be necessary to prioritise sub-national integration initiatives, between Chile’s regions with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. This may be more effective and, in line with the decentralising interest, would allow for interesting citizen and territorial links between neighbouring countries. This, at the same time, would favour the development of mutual trust between our countries, based on regional governments and social organisations.

This does not mean renouncing plurinational integration schemes. Firstly, it is necessary to revalue ALADI, which has allowed tariff liberalisation between all the countries of the region, especially in the 1990s; but unfortunately, in recent years, it has had little political support. Second, Chile has the opportunity to play an interesting role in converging plurilateral integration initiatives between the Atlantic (Mercosur) and Pacific (the Andean Development Community and the Pacific Alliance) schemes. Finally, the new government should support CELAC as the political integration body for Latin American and Caribbean countries. And, as recently proposed by Mexican President López Obrador, CELAC should hopefully become a replacement project for the OAS.

Foreign policy and trade policy are indispensable instruments for promoting a new development project in our country. Both must intelligently accompany productive changes, as well as economic and social policies, in order to break with neoliberalism.

Source: Pressenza

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The Spy Who Phoned In

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Is the phone in your pocket spying on you? As cell phones have become ubiquitous, government intelligence agencies have poured vast resources into hacking them, remotely stripping people of their privacy in the name of national security. Now, a burgeoning industry has emerged, generating huge profits for shadowy corporations that specialize in developing ever-more innovative ways to secretly infect digital devices with spyware. Activists, journalists, human rights defenders and dissidents the world over have been surveilled and in a number of cases arrested, tortured or killed. This week, Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity research organization based at the University of Toronto, revealed the existence of a “zero-click” exploit that exposed 1.65 billion Apple iPhone and other Apple devices to a complete and almost undetectable takeover by the spyware known as Pegasus, produced by NSO Group, a private company.

By Amy Goodman

Pegasus spyware grants unlimited access to all of an infected device’s content, from chat messages to emails to phone calls, allows control of the phone’s microphone and camera, and shares the phone’s location in real time.

“NSO Group is a mercenary surveillance company based in Israel,” Ronald Deibert, director of Citizen Lab, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. “NSO Group first came on our radar back in 2016, when we discovered it was being used by the United Arab Emirates to target a human rights defender named Ahmed Mansoor. Since then, we and others have documented extensive abuses of this company’s technology.”

If you believe NSO Group’s founders, the software is only legally deployed to catch criminals, terrorists, pedophiles and the like. Not convinced, Amnesty International and 155 other civil society organizations and technology experts issued a joint letter calling for an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology: “NSO Group’s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale,” the letter states. “It has become clear that its technology facilitates systemic abuse…if the recent allegations about the use of Pegasus are even partly true, then that red line has been crossed again and again with total impunity.”

Among the cases cited by Amnesty is that of Cecilio Pineda Birto, a Mexican journalist shot dead on March 2nd, 2017. He had been receiving death threats, and just that morning announced a forthcoming report on corrupt local officials colluding with organized crime figures. In 2021, Pineda’s phone number appeared on a leaked list of about 50,000 cell phone numbers from all over the world, said to be targets of the Pegasus software. Scores of journalists from the Forbidden Stories collaboration and Citizen Lab reported on the leaked list, which included hundreds of journalists and activists as well as many world leaders.

“If you don’t do anything to stop the sale of this technology, it’s not just going to be 50,000 targets. It’s going to be 50 million targets,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told the Guardian last month. “And it’s going to happen much more quickly than any of us expect. The way we do that is to halt the trade of this technology.”

Pegasus was used to target phones owned by family members of Jamal Kashoggi, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist, both before and after his brutal murder by a Saudi kill team inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd, 2018.

Another victim of the NSO Group’s spyware is Omar Radi, an independent journalist in Morocco who has long reported on corruption, land expropriation and human rights abuses by the Moroccan government. In 2020, Amnesty International issued a report with proof that Radi’s iPhone had been infected by Pegasus spyware.

“Pegasus is a silent program. You don’t feel it,” Omar Radi told us on Democracy Now! in July, 2020, just two weeks before he was arrested by Moroccan police. “It can use your microphone, it can use your keyboard, it can use your screen, and get any information that is stored in your phone. I don’t know the amount of information they’ve stolen from my phone.” Omar Radi was recently sentenced to six years in prison.

“NSO Group is merely one among many mercenary spyware companies that exist globally,” Citizen Lab’s Ron Deibert said. “Governments that have deep pockets can simply go and purchase this type of despotism as a service off the shelf. We’ve never seen anything like that historically, the privatization of this type of digital espionage.”

Apple issued a software update that supposedly fixed this problem. But hackers will certainly find more holes in these digital device operating systems. Without a ban on Pegasus and spyware like it, human rights defenders, journalists and others will continue to be targeted, spied on, beaten, arrested and killed.

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Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy finds that existing coal, oil and gas production puts the world on course to overshoot Paris climate targets.

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COMMUNITY MEDIA EVENTS

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About Mobilized

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See the opportunity to return to the sacred

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Climate Change and Earth Overshoot: Is there a better “Green New Deal?”

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