Comcast Found ‘Accidentally’ Blocking Legitimate Sites — Including PayPal and Steam

Paul Resnikoff--Scared yet?  Comcast’s Xfinity broadband internet access service has been found blocking a number of legitimate sites through its ‘Protected Browsing’ option.

The internet is full of bad things: malware, phishing attacks, nefarious ads.  And parents are loathe to let their kids surf, thanks to rampant online piracy and pornography.

Comcast’s Xfinity broadband internet service has solution for all of that.  It’s called ‘Protected Browsing,’ and it promises to block the bad stuff.

The only problem is that a lot of good stuff is getting caught in Xfinity’s protective web.  Like Paypal and gaming hub Steam, both of which were recently deemed threats by the Xfinity ‘Protected Browsing’ feature.  The discovery highlights the extreme power that ISPs like Comcast wield over every site and service online, a power that may soon be exploited with net neutrality laws repealed.

The issue was first reported by Torrentfreak, which ironically found itself blocked by ‘Protected Browser’.  Torrentfreak reports on developments in the torrenting and piracy space, including heavy coverage of enforcement, litigation, and latest innovations.

Importantly, Torrentfreak merely reports on stuff related to piracy.  They aren’t running a pirate site.  But Comcast judged them as ‘bad,’ so they were blocked.  End of story.

Additionally, there doesn’t appear to be any process for contesting a blacklisting by  ‘Protected Browsing’.  Again, another really bad sign of things to come.

The good news is that these ‘Protected’ settings can be changed.  The bad news is that Xfinity users may not know that.

In January, the entire ‘Protected Browsing’ feature was totally blocking PayPal (it was ultimately unblocked).  Here’s what a user described in the Xfinity support forums.  The user was previously on the phone with PayPal’s support team trying to troubleshoot.

It had been nagging at me that I had recently found some settings in my Comcast account regarding my router, and I had changed one of them.  “Protected Browsing”. It described that protected rousing was great for you against malware and all kinds of other bad things, and it seemed like a good idea to turn it on.  So I enabled it.  That’s when my problem with PayPal began.  But it took me a while to realize it.  Once I remembered where I had made a setting change, after the days of exchanging emails with the fellow from PayPal, I went to my Comcast account settings and disabled “Protected Browsing”.

Others reported problems accessing the Steam Store, another legitimate destination.  And those are just the massive sites we’ve heard were having issues.

It’s unclear why Comcast would choose to block PayPal.  Though one reason could be that PayPal itself is subject to various financial scams.  Though it’s also a widely-used, legitimate financial tool, and far from a ‘nefarious’ destination.

As for Steam, that’s anyone’s guess.

The ‘accidental’ blocks may offer a preview at our post-net neutrality world.

Indeed, Comcast and other ISPs have absolute power over which sites can be accessed, and which sites are blocked.  In between they also have control over throttling, delivery speed, and who gets ‘fast lanes’.  And despite the FCC’s promise to monitor the situation, it doesn’t look like Comcast will be required to implement a process for review.

Instead, ISPs will effectively become judge, jury and executioner overnight.  They can charge what they want for ‘fast lane’ access, and throttle anyone that doesn’t comply.  And they can change the rules at any time, while prioritizing their own services against competitors.

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Women Who Live Near Fracking Sites Are More Likely To Have Underweight Babies, Says Study

By  Amanda Froelich Truth Theory

Ah, the fracturing (fracking) debate. Truly, it never ends. But now that a new study suggests mothers who live near fracking sites are more likely to give birth to underweight babies, we really can’t let it go.

According to the new study, published in Science Advances, women who live within 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) of a fracking well are more likely to give birth to underweight babies. Mothers who live within a kilometer (0.6 miles) have the highest risk of giving birth to an underweight infant. As a result of this recent study, it is known that approximately 29,000 births occur each year to mothers who live within 1 kilometer of an active fracking site. As IFLScience points out, being underweight is a clear sign of poor health, which is why this finding is concerning.

First, what is fracking? As mentioned above, the process of fracturing is a controversial one. To get to oil and gas, water, sand and undisclosed chemicals are used to “break through” rock. While the process is cost-effective, thanks to advances in technology, it has been proven to be detrimental to the environment, wildlife and — to an extent — people’s health. As a result, debates now rage on whether or not fracking should be allowed.

For the study in question, Professor Janet Currie of Princeton University looked at birth records of approximately 1.1 million babies born in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2013. She also studied the distance between their mothers’ residences and fracking sites. Previous studies on the topic relied heavily on county-level data. However, Currie located the mothers’ exact addresses.Furthermore, Currie also took into account the weight of siblings whose parents lived in the she location before and fracking began (in 2008). This greatly increased the study’s reliability.

It turns out, mothers who lived closest to fracking sites were 25 percent more likely to give birth to underweight babies after fracking began. This was most evident in mothers who lived within 1-3 kilometers of fracturing sites. Currie is unsure which factors, which result from fracking, are to blame. However, leaking gas, fumes from diesel generators, water pollution, air pollution, and some other unknown factor are suspected to play a role.

This is a monumental finding, as science has shown that underweight infants are more likely to die as infants, as well as do badly in school. Underweight infants are also more likely to suffer from asthma — if they survive. As IFLScience reports, a low birth weight also tends to be a sign of broader problems which might occur later in life.

It is now known that fracking triggers medium-sized earthquakes. It has also been concluded that some of the chemicals used to fracture rocks are carcinogenic. Coupled with Currie’s latest finding, it seems clear discussions need to be had on the allowance of fracking at all.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

Read more: Groundbreaking Study Confirms Link Between Fracking and Earthquakes

Image Credit: maxpixel

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Google Wipes 786 Pirate Sites From Search Results

Google and several leading Russian search engines have completely wiped 786 ‘pirate’ sites from their search results. That’s according to telecoms watch Rozcomnadzor, which reports that the search providers delisted the sites after ISPs were ordered by a Moscow court to permanently block them.

Late July, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law which requires local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor to maintain a list of banned domains while identifying sites, services, and software that provide access to them.

Rozcomnadzor is required to contact the operators of such services with a request for them to block banned resources. If they do not, then they themselves will become blocked. In addition, search engines are also required to remove blocked resources from their search results, in order to discourage people from accessing them.

Removing entire domains from search results is a controversial practice and something which search providers have long protested against. They argue that it’s not their job to act as censors and in any event, content remains online, whether it’s indexed by search or not.

Nevertheless, on October 1 the new law (“On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection”) came into effect and it appears that Russia’s major search engines have been very busy in its wake.

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Facebook Police Continue Attacks on Influential Conservative News Sites


After last year’s Presidential election, then President Barack Obama met face to face with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Although the minutes of their meeting are not publicly available, far-left publications shared that Obama warned Zuckerberg about ‘fake news’ –

Former president Barack Obama personally warned Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post-2016 election meeting to check the spread of fake news on the site, but he was told there was no easy fix, according to a Washington Post report on Sunday.

Soon after in January the Washington Free Beacon published a lengthy document relaeased by far left operative David Brock from far left radical website Media Matters. This liberal site is funded by controversial anti-American agitator George Soros.

At a January donor retreat it became clear that liberals weren’t for free speech, they were for liberal approved speech only. The 49 page memo from the retreat outlined how the George Soros-funded groups Media Matters, American Bridge, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Shareblue planned to undermine President Trump’s agenda and help Democrats win control of Congress and the White House by 2020.

The leaked document claimed Media Matters was working with Facebook and Twitter to crack down on pro-Trump articles on social media.

Via The Daily Wire:

The memo decried the “fake news” that spread on social media as a reason why Hillary Clinton lost the election, and then went on to state something alarming: Media Matters obtained “access to raw data from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites” so they can “systemically monitor and analyze this unfiltered data.”

“The earlier we can identify a fake news story, the more effectively we can quash it,” the memo states. “With this new technology at our fingertips, researchers monitoring news in real time will be able to identify the origins of a lie with mathematical precision, creating an early warning system for fake news and disinformation.”

The memo went on to state that Media Matters had a discussion with Facebook on how to crack down on fake news, including Media Matters providing the social media giant with “a detailed map of the constellation of right-wing Facebook pages that had been the biggest purveyors of fake news.” The memo also bragged that Media Matters provided Google with “the information necessary to identify 40 of the worst fake new sites” that would be prevented from using Google’s advertising network.

It was soon clear that what Obama and the far left meant by ‘fake news’ was any conservative information that they did not like.

After Obama’s meeting with Facebook, the Columbia Journalism Review published an article in March that was entitled “Study: Breitbart-led Right-wing Media Ecosystem Altered Broader Media Agenda“.

The article stated that only Breitbart, The Hill and FOX News were more influential to conservative audiences in the months leading up to last year’s election than was the Gateway Pundit.

The conservative right was dominated with trusted online ‘new media’ outlets and liberal media critics that shared the real news that mainstream media would not share.
The left was dominated by biased liberal ‘legacy media’ outlets that have carried water for Democrats for ages.

President Trump tweeted in September that Facebook was never pro-Trump during the election and since –

Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence, Fake News, @NYTimes and @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?

This did not sit well with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who rejected President Trump and per Facebook replied in part –

…After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive. But the data we have has always shown that our broader impact — from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote — played a far bigger role in this election.

We will continue to work to build a community for all people. We will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections. We’ll keep working to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, and to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and force for good in democracy.

Based on Facebook’s actions, Zuckerberg was not honest especially since the election and one of the entities Facebook wants to stop the most is conservative leaning Gateway Pundit.

Before the election it was reported that Zuckerberg and the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg were huge Hillary supporters in the 2016 elections. WikiLeaks released Hillary’s Campaign Manager’s emails which included emails from Zuckerberg asking creepy Podesta for a meeting.

Podesta emails also showed Zuckerberg was working directly with Hillary with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg declaring: “I Still Want HRC to Win Badly. I Am Still Here to Help”.
Here is our recent analysis of Facebook traffic.

In every single Facebook category our numbers are down. In page visits our numbers were sky rocketing before the election. Then in three distinct periods our numbers were cut off. This didn’t have anything to do with the quality of our posts as we have proof that our generic numbers are up and increasing.

The fact is Facebook is doing something to prevent our stories from being shared.

Our Facebook weekly total reach numbers are also way down.

In all statistical categories provided to us by Facebook our current numbers are below linear projections of where we should be even with their robust efforts to shut us down.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are not being honest. They do not want conservative messages to be promoted or shared. President Trump again is right – Facebook always was (and is) anti-Trump!



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USA Betting Sites – Is gambling legal in America?

Population: 324.000.000
Active players: 48.600.000
Currency: US Dollar
Regulated gambling products: State run lotteries, casino games, card games, daily fantasy sports
Operator types: Land based casinos, off shore bookmakers, online casinos in 3 states
Designated authority: Individual gaming boards across the states
Status: Regulated for land casinos, Nevada, New Jersey & Delaware allow online casinos

The United States of America, as we all know, is a federal nation consisting of 50 states & various territories and are considered to be the world’s leading economy. The USA has a short history concerning legalized gambling, mostly revolving around land based casinos, that amount to 1% of the GDP, a staggering $125 billion. Around 15% of the total population engage in gambling activities once a week, however despite the laissez faire nature of the economy, under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), online betting firms are prohibited form operating inside the United States.

Did you know that…

  • No online betting firms are allowed to complete transactions inside the US (online casinos excluded in 3 states)
  • The UIGEA does not prohibit daily fantasy sports
  • Most Americans choose off shore bookies for sports betting
  • Interstate gambling is forbidden (certain card games tournaments are exempted)
  • Legal gambling age depends on the state and varies from 18 to 21

Online betting USA environment


Sports betting has never been legal in the United States, however until 2006 many online bookmakers operated on US soil. According to the UIGEA, the Act specifically prohibits “gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.” This has even lead to the US government leading a hot chase after Calvin Ayre, gambling tycoon, playboy and founder of the sportsbetting, casino and poker platform, Bodog. The allegations, including illegal gambling, money laundering & fraud, have put the Canadian born billionaire among the most wanted fugitives on the Department of Homeland Security list. However, daily fantasy sports are not mentioned in the UIGEA, which has led to the rise of DFS giants, Draftkings and Fanduel. Additionally, according to the S490 2010, online casino games are allowed in the states of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, which may pave the way for the future regulation of USA betting sites.


Due to the outlawing of sports betting, American players nowadays mainly punt on offshore bookmakers regulated in Curacao and Antigua. For reasons of added financial security, they prefer using e-wallets such as Paypal, or virtual currency like bitcoin, given that credit card and bank transactions to foreign countries, are extensively monitored by the Department of Treasury. The two largest betting firms are 5dimes and Bovada, where almost 10%of total punters place their wagers. There are also certain Las Vegas casinos that offer some sportsbook options, mostly about the NBA and NFL, however their odds are generally less than appealing. This has led to a significant rise of illegal bookmaking, that is almost impossible to crack down.


Given that sports betting firms can not operate in the US, the most noticeable competitors are the Daily Fantasy Sports duo, Fanduel and Draftkings. Although before 2009, there had been no organized attempt on DFS, today they generate about $2.6 billion per year, with a project turnover of $14.4 billion by 2020. Players can make predictions on the so called “skill game” regarding the NBANFLMLBNHL, while football is likely to follow, especially after the recent regulatory changes in the Malta Gaming Association, regarding fantasy sports.

Bookspy’s comment

It’s hard to say exactly why online gambling is illegal in the United States. Some point the finger to casino lobbyists, others are claiming that its done to limit money laundering, while a few voices are saying that the inherent puritanism of America is to blame. No matter whose opinion is right, one thing is certain: American bettors are on the receiving end of the UIGEA. Just thing about of it. Enthusiastic bettors from the largest economy in the world, can only place their wagers on a few casinos that have high commission, back-alley bookies or illegitimate bookmakers “licensed” in the Caribbean instead of respected betting sites like a Bet365 USA domain. I honestly fail to see how players are actually benefiting from this. In my opinion, America should look across the Atlantic and take a page from Britain’s book on how iGaming should really be regulated.

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Toxic Waste Sites Flooded in Houston Area

Toxic Waste Sites Flooded in Houston Area

September 3rd, 2017

Via: physorg:

Long a center of the nation’s petrochemical industry, the Houston metro area has more than a dozen Superfund sites, designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as being among America’s most intensely contaminated places. Many are now flooded, with the risk that waters were stirring dangerous sediment.




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Houston’s flooded toxic waste sites pose a public threat, says EPA


At least 13 toxic waste sites, all contaminated with petrochemicals, acid compounds, solvents and pesticides, experienced flooding as a result of Hurricane Harvey, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

The number of affected sites was tallied by the EPA, which assessed 41 superfund sites using aerial images.

Last week three trailers, each of which houses a half-ton of highly flammable materials, exploded at the flooded Arkema plant in Texas due to the of degrading chemicals in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Authorities say it will take 10 to 15 days, by which time floodwaters are expected to recede, to determine the full impact of the damaged sites.

According to a 2014 worst-case-scenario plan – submitted to the EPA in the event of explosion at Arkema – up to 1.1 million people over 23 sq miles (59.5 sq km) could be affected, AP reported.

The six remaining trailers at Arkema were purposely ignited on Sunday so crews could stop waiting for the inevitable and start working on assessing the damage.

“The measure taken did not pose any additional risk to the community,” according to the fire marshal office, however a 1.5 mile evacuation radius around the site remains in place.

A Superfund site is land that is contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the EPA as a candidate for cleanup because of the risk it poses to human health or the environment.

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