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Is temporarily slowing down a website a legal form of protest? Current US law says it isn’t, but hacktivists want the White House to make changes that would force the government to reconsider their witch-hunt against alleged computer criminals.
In the latest WhiteHouse.gov petition to go viral, the Obama administration is asked to make a method of momentarily crippling a website comparable to real word demonstrations, essentially allowing for a whole new legal form of online protest.
“With the advance in internet technology comes new grounds for protesting,” writes ‘Dylan K’ of Eagle, Wisconsin.
Dylan’s petition, uploaded this week to the White House’s We the People page, is the most recent of these electronic pleas on the website to generate national headlines. A series of petitions in late 2012 demanding the peaceful secession of certain states from the US garnered nearly one million signatures from across the country, and just this week the Obama administration was prompted to respond to one popular request to depot CNN host Piers Morgan over his outspoken anti-gun views. That call for action, advocated by Second Amendment proponents and firearm owners concerned over a possible rifle ban, eventually accumulated around 110,000 electronic signatures.
When the White House responded to the petition to deport Morgan this week, press secretary Jay Carney said Americans shouldn’t let “arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First.”
Those rallying for new computer laws say that current legislation limits those very constitutional rights, though, and that one electronic form of action should be covered under the First Amendment — the provision that provides for the freedom of speech, protest and assembly.
In the latest instance, the White House is asked to evaluate a federal rule that currently makes it unlawful to engage in distributed denial-or-service, or DDoS, attacks — a harmless but effective way of flooding a website’s server with so much traffic that it can’t properly render pages for legitimate users.
Performed by both seasoned hackers and novice computer users alike, DDoS-ing a website essentially makes certain pages completely unavailable for minutes, hours or days. Unlike real world protests, though, demonstrators don’t even have to leave the house to protest. Instead, humongous streams of information can be sent to servers with a single mouse click, only for that data to become so cumbersome that the websites targeted can’t properly function.
Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a DDoS assault is highly illegal. For those familiar with the method, though, they say it’s simply a matter of voicing an opinion in an online format and should be allowed.
“Distributed denial-of-service is not any form of hacking in any way,” states the petition. “It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage.”
Overloading a targeted website with too much traffic, says Dylan K, is “no different than any ‘occupy’ protest.” According to him and the roughly 1,100 cosigners, there is much common ground between the two. “Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time,” he says.
For companies that are hit with DDoS assaults, though, they sing a different song. In 2006, controversial radio host Hal Turner had his website taken offline after members of the then-infant hacktivist movement Anonymous used denial-of-service attacks to shut down his site to visitors. Turner said the bandwidth overflow cost him thousands of dollars in fees from his hosting company.
When Turner tried to sue those he blamed for the DDoS attack, a federal judge for the United States District Court in New Jersey eventually dismissed his claim. Other “hackers,” however, haven’t been so lucky.
When PayPal, Visa and MasterCard announced in 2010 that it would no longer accept funds for the website WikiLeaks, Anonymous and others responded with a DDoS attack on the payment service providers. The following summer, the US Department of Justice filed an indictment against 14 Americans they accused of participating in shutting down PayPal.
That same year, a homeless hacker using the alias “Commander X” was charged with waging a DDoS attack on the official government website of Santa Cruz, California because he opposed the city’s policy that outlawed sleeping in public space. X could have been sentenced to serious time for committing a felony, but he escaped the United States, allegedly seeking refuge in Canada where he is reported to be in hiding today.
“For a 30-minute online protest I’m facing 15 years in a penitentiary,” he told the National Post last year while on the run. According to an interview he gave last month with Ars Technica, he also participated in OpPayBack — the Anonymous-led assault PayPal and others over their WikiLeaks blockage.
California attorney Jay Leiderman has represented X, and has gone on the record to compare DDoS attacks with real life sit-ins.
“A DDoS is a protest, it’s a digital sit it. It is no different than physically occupying a space. It’s not a crime, it’s speech,” he told Talking Points Memo in 2011. “They are the equivalent of occupying the Woolworth's lunch counter during the civil rights movement," The Atlantic quoted him saying last year.
Speaking specifically of the operation against the companies that cut funding to WikiLeaks, the lawyer said online action is equivalent to peaceful protest.
“Take PayPal for example, just like Woolworth's, people went to PayPal and said, I want to give a donation to WikiLeaks. In Woolworth's they said, all I want to do is buy lunch, pay for my lunch, and then I'll leave. People said I want to give a donation to WikiLeaks, I'll take up my bandwidth to do that, then I'll leave, you'll make money, I'll feel fulfilled, everyone's fulfilled,” he said. “PayPal will take donations for the Ku Klux Klan, other racists and questionable organizations, but they won't process donations for WikiLeaks. All the PayPal protesters did was take up some bandwidth. In that sense, DDoS is absolutely speech, it should absolutely be recognized as such, protected as such, and the law should be changed.”
Leiderman added that he considers the use of DDoS not to be an “attack” in some circumstances, but actually legitimate protest.
“[T]he law should be narrowly drawn and what needs to be excised from that are the legitimate protests,” he said. “It's really easy to tell legitimate protests, I think, and we should be broadly defining legitimate protests,” he said.
New York attorney Stanley Cohen, who is representing one of the accused “PayPal 14” hackers responsible for the Anonymous-led operation, agrees.
“When Obama orders supporters to inundate the switchboards of Congress, that’s good politics, when a bunch of kids decide to send a political message with roots going back to the civil rights movement and the revolution, it’s something else,” Cohen told TPM in 2011. “Barack Obama urged people to shutdown the switchboard, he’s not indicted.”
“It’s not identity theft, not money or property, pure and simple case of an electronic sit in, at best,” he said.
So far over 1,100 people agree on WhiteHouse.gov, and hope the Obama administration will get their point. Until then, though, Commander X and others face upwards of a decade in prison apiece for violating a clause in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that makes it unlawful to “knowingly cause the transmission of a program, information code or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damages without authorization to a protected computer.”
With attorneys like Leiderman and Cohen arguing that the damages in questions aren’t quite criminal, the White House may have to respond to the latest WhiteHouse.gov petition. The Obama administration is mandated to respond if it can garner 25,000 signatures in the next month. Until then, though, proponents of DDoS as free speech can cite what Jay Carney said when petitioners rallied for the deportation of Piers Morgan for his call to ban assault weapons.
“The Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press – fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy,” said Carney.
Meanwhile, exercising constitutional rights by way of overloading web servers isn’t being accepted as such by the government. That doesn’t mean that Anonymous or other so-called ‘hacktivists’ will change their ways: just last month, members of the hive-mind computer collective waged a DDoS attack on the website of the Westboro Baptist Church after the religious group announced plans to picket the funerals of mass shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut. Anonymous waged a similar wave of attacks on the Church of Scientology in 2008, the result of which landed a number of Anons in prison for violating federal law.
Prior to the recent national elections in
“Repression and displacement, often violent, of remaining rural populations, illness, falling local food production have all featured in this picture. Indigenous communities have been displaced and reduced to living on the capital's rubbish dumps. This is a crime that we can rightly call genocide - the extinguishment of entire Peoples, their culture, their way of life and their environment.” (19)
“Big business lobbies on both sides of the Atlantic view the secretive trade negotiations as a weapon for getting rid of policies aimed at protecting European and US consumers, workers and our planet. If their corporate wish-list is implemented, it will concentrate even more economic and political power within the hands of a small elite, leaving all of us without protection from corporate wrongdoings.”
“The proposed investor rights in the transatlantic trade deal show what it is really about: It’s a power grab from corporations to rein in democracy and handcuff governments that seek to regulate in the public interest. It’s only a matter of time before European citizens start paying the price in higher taxes and diminished social protection.”
“We hope that the disturbing evidence we provide will show why all concerned citizens and parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic need to urgently mobilise against the proposed EU-US trade deal. We have to derail this corporate power grab that threatens to worsen the livelihood of the millions of people already seriously affected by the financial crisis and by the crippling consequences of
Europe's austerity reforms.”
|Photo by Claude Renault|
The EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is something that could fundamentally restructure Indian society and impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians. It is being negotiated ‘on the behalf of the public’ in secret by politicians and bureaucrats on both sides. Negotiations began in 2007, covering a wide range of areas, including various goods, products and services, as well as investment rules, government procurement; and intellectual property rights. After 16 rounds of talks, the issues are still being fine tuned.
The Wall Street Journal headlined “An Internet Activist Commits Suicide.”
New York’s medical examiner announced death by “hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment.”
Lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? He was one of the Internet generation’s best and brightest.
He advocated online freedom. Selflessly he sought a better open world. Information should be freely available, he believed. A legion of followers supported him globally.
Alive he symbolized a vital struggle to pursue. Death may elevate him to martyr status but removes a key figure important to keep alive.
The New York Times headlined “Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide.”
He was an Internet folk hero. He supported online freedom and copyright reform. He advocated free and open web files. He championed a vital cause. He worked tirelessly for what’s right.
Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called him “steadfast in his dedication to building a better and open world. He is among the best spirits of the Internet generation.”
Who’ll replace him now that he’s gone? He called locking up the public domain sinful. He selflessly strove to prevent it.
In July 2011, he was arrested. At the time, he was downloading old scholarly articles. He was charged with violating federal hacking laws. MIT gave him a guest account to do it.
He developed RSS and co-founded Reddit. It’s a social news site.
He was found dead weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial. He was targeted for doing the right thing. He didn’t steal or profit. He shared. His activism was more than words.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) defends online freedom, free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights. It “champion(s) the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.”
On January 12, it headlined “Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an extraordinary hacker and activist.” It called him “a close friend and collaborator.” Tragedy ended his life.
Vital questions remain unanswered. Supporters demand answers. So do family members.They blame prosecutors for what happened. Their statement following his death said the following:
“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”
Swartz did as much or more than anyone to make the Internet a thriving open knowledge ecosystem. He strove to keep it that way. He challenged repressive Internet laws.
He founded Demand Progress. It “works to win progressive policy changes for ordinary people through organizing and grassroots lobbying,” he said.
It prioritizes “civil liberties, civil rights, and government reform.” It ran online campaigns for justice. It advocated in the public interest. It challenged policies harming it.
He mobilized over a million online activists. His other projects included RSS specification, web.py, tor2web, the Open Library, and the Chrome port of HTTPS Everywhere.
He launched Creative Commons. He co-founded Reddit. He and others made it successful. His Raw Thought blog discussed “politics and parody.” He had much to say worth hearing.
In 2011, he used the MIT campus network. He downloaded millions of journal articles. He used the JSTOR database. Authorities claimed he changed his laptop’s IP and Mac addresses. They said he did it to circumvent JSTOR/MIT blocks.
He was charged with “unauthorized (computer) access” under the Computer and Abuse Act. He did the equivalent of checking out too many library books at the same time.
Obama prosecutors claim doing so is criminal. They’ve waged war on Internet freedom. They want Net Neutrality and free expression abolished. They want fascist laws replacing them.
They usurped diktat power. They spurn rule of law principles and other democratic values. They enforce police state authority. They prioritize what no civil society should tolerate.
They claimed Aaron intended to distribute material on peer-to-peer networks. He never did. It hardly mattered. Documents he secured were returned. No harm. No foul. Federal authorities charged him anyway.
In July 2011, a Massachusetts grand jury indicted him. He was arraigned in Boston US District Court. He pled not guilty to all charges. He was freed on a $100,000 unsecured bond.
If convicted, he faced up to 35 years imprisonment and a $1 million dollar fine. He wanted scientific/scholarly articles liberated. They belong in the public domain. He wanted everyone given access. It’s their right, he believed.
He wanted a single giant dataset established. He did it before. He wasn’t charged. Why now?
“While his methods were provocative,” said EFF, his goal was “freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it.”
EFF calls it a cause everyone should support. Aaron was politically active. He fought for what’s right. Followers supported him globally.
In the “physical world,” at worst he’d have faced minor charges, said EFF. They’re “akin to trespassing as part of political protests.”
Doing it online changed things. He faced possible long-term incarceration. For years, EFF fought this type injustice.
Academic/political activist Lawrence Lessig called Aaron’s death just cause for reforming computer crime laws. Overzealous prosecutors are bullies. They overreach and cause harm.
EFF mourned his passing, saying:
“Aaron, we will sorely miss your friendship, and your help in building a better world.” Many others feel the same way.
Did Aaron take his own life or was he killed? Moti Nissani is Wayne State University Department of Biology Professor Emeritus. “Who Killed Aaron Swartz,” he asked?
He quoted Bob Marley saying: “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?” He listed reasons why Obama administration scoundrels wanted him dead.
His death “was preceded by a vicious, totally unjustified, campaign of surveillance, harassment, vilification, and intimidation.”
CIA/FBI/Mossad/MI5 assassins expertly “mak(e) murder look like suicide.” Numerous “enemies of the state” die under suspicious circumstances. Media scoundrels don’t explain.
US authorities “had excellent reasons to kill” Aaron. He was legendary in his own right like John Lennon, MLK, Malcolm X and others. He threatened status quo dominance. He denounced Obama’s kill list and anti-Iranian cyber attacks.
Powerful government and business figures deplored him. In 2009, FBI elements investigated him. Charges didn’t follow.
Despite extreme pressure, he pressed on. He defied prosecutorial authority. In October 2009, he posted his FBI file online. Doing do “probably signed his own lynch warrant,” said Nissani.
Two days before his death, JSTOR, his alleged victim, declined to press charges. It went further. It “announced that the archives of more than 1,200 of its journals would be available to the public free.”
Aaron had just cause to celebrate. “Are we to believe” he hanged himself instead?
Government officials and corporate bosses “had plenty of reasons” to want him dead. He challenged their totalitarian agenda. “He was creative, idealistic and unbendable.”
“He was young and admired by many.” Did “invisible government” elements kill him?
“They did so either indirectly through constant harassment….or, most likely, directly by hanging him and” blaming him for their crime.
“All this raises a dilemma for those of us possessing both conscience and a functioning brain.” How much longer will we stand by and do nothing?
How long will we tolerate what demands condemnation? When will we defend our own interests?
Freedom is too precious to lose. Preserving it depends on us. No one will do it for us. It’s not possible any other way. It never was. It never will be.
Aaron’s Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto
His own words say it best.
“Information is power,” he said. “But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”
“The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations.”
“Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.”
“There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it.”
“But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.”
“That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them?”
“Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.”
” ‘I agree,’ many say, but what can we do?’ The companies hold the copyrights. They make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal – there’s nothing we can do to stop them. But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.”
“Those with access to these resources – students, librarians, scientists – you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out.”
“But you need not – indeed, morally, you cannot – keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.”
“Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.”
“But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.”
“Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it – their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.”
“There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.”
“We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive.”
“We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerrilla Open Access.”
“With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge – we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?”
Does Aaron’s manifesto sound like someone planning suicide?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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The National – 11 May 2014
Israel is facing its first digital mutiny in the ranks. And the issue fuelling the soldiers’ discontent could not be more revealing about the self-harming character of Israeli society.
This month, a social-media campaign went viral in defence of David Adamov, an Israeli conscript caught on camera pointing his cocked rifle at a 15-year-old Palestinian in Hebron who dared to argue with him. He also threatened to put “a bullet in the head” of another young Palestinian for filming the confrontation.
Outraged by media reports that Adamov had been jailed for 20 days, hundreds of male and female soldiers posted photos on social media sites holding placards in front of their faces – to avoid punishment – expressing support for their comrade in arms.
Within hours, a Facebook page backing Adamov had attracted more than 100,000 likes. A senior government minister, Naftali Bennett, joined the outcry, declaring on his own page that the soldier “did the right thing”.
The ironies mounted as the campaign unfolded. Fellow soldiers have styled Adamov “David of Nahal”, a reference to his army brigade and, it seems, an allusion to the Bible. In his supporters’ eyes, Adamov is the victim-hero of an unlikely Goliath – a mouthy, unarmed Palestinian minor.
The military chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has admitted that the incident raises matters of “military ethics”, but only because of the insubordination expressed in the social media campaign, not because of Adamov’s misuse of his firearm. And more revealing still, the army responded to the uproar by pointing out that Adamov had not been jailed for abusing the Palestinian youth but because, in an unrelated matter, he assaulted his commanding officer.
The Nahal brigade had been in the news a few weeks earlier. Its soldiers were discovered to have designed and printed a graduation T-shirt with a hate-filled message for Palestinians. The shirt featured an image of a Nahal soldier in the city of Nablus above the slogan “Nablus, we’re coming!” and a warning to Palestinian mothers that their sons’ fate would be decided by the brigade.
The problems at the heart of these two incidents were underscored in a recent Amnesty International report titled Trigger Happy. The human rights group identified a disturbing pattern of behaviour: Israeli soldiers were targeting unarmed Palestinians, including children, with live ammunition, in some cases as they fled. Amnesty called the army’s use of force mostly “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal”.
Amnesty found that, after a lull in Palestinian deaths following the end of the second intifada in the mid-2000s, the rate of killings and injuries is dramatically on the rise.
Unlike the situation a decade ago, Palestinians were often being killed at largely non-violent demonstrations against land confiscations. Stone throwing, even when it posed no danger to soldiers, was routinely greeted with live ammunition.
Amnesty described army investigations into the killings as “woefully inadequate”. It could not identify a single soldier who had been convicted of the “wilful killing” of a Palestinian in the occupied territories in the past 25 years.
Of course, in no period in its history did the “most moral army in the world” come close to justifying its self-promoted reputation. But the transformation of the occupation into a permanent state of affairs, as well as recent technological innovations, appear to be making a dire situation even worse.
What the Amnesty report highlights is an entrenchment of prejudices shared equally by the higher and lower ranks. It has not helped that over the past decade extremist settlers have come to dominate the officer class.
Palestinians, including children, have become dehumanised in the eyes of Israeli society. And long-standing impunity means soldiers understand that reckless or malevolent behaviour will rarely if ever land them in trouble.
Paradoxically, technology – particularly cameras in mobile phones – has only compounded these ugly trends.
Shortly after the Adamov incident, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a press conference to deplore young Israelis’ obsession with their phones and the “selfie”, arguing that Israeli youth were “slaves” to technology.
Although he did not set out his reasoning, it is not too difficult to fathom. Israeli soldiers, like teenagers around the world, love to boast online about their exploits. The difference is that some Israelis posing for a selfie may be committing a war crime as they do so.
Young Palestinians are using their smartphones for similar purposes: to document their abuse and humiliation at the hands of armed Israeli teenagers. The ensuing photos and videos now feed the outrage of a watching world and regularly embarrass Israel’s image-makers.
Strangely, Israeli soldiers are behaving no more cautiously. In fact, they seem to be exaggerating their cruelty for the reality show that is their military service. And their commanders, faced with endless discomfiting episodes, seem more committed than ever to avoid setting a precedent by punishing them.
Possibly through overexposure, wider Israeli society seems to have rapidly become more inured to this kind of gratuitous violence.
The paradoxes run deeper still. The ever greater transparency of the occupation fuels the soldiers’ sense of victimhood and oppression. If they are now to be denied the title of “the most moral in the world”, then they seem to believe their army ought to be dubbed “the most misunderstood”.
This mirrors a more general ideological shift to the right in Israeli society as global sympathy for the Palestinians grows. The world may consider us oppressors, say Israelis, but we refuse to act the part of the guilty: we will proudly parade our tyranny instead.
Israeli society, like its soldiers, is caught in a self-destructive cycle: its very sensitivity to criticism pushes it ever more resolutely towards outcast status.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP – previously known as TAFTA, Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement) is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the
“The EU’s current trade and investment policy is a recipe for disaster for people around the world. The EU is leading an aggressive agenda to open markets for global agri-business. This is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. Excessive investor rights take away much needed policy space. We need to break away from this corporate driven agenda.”
“EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few rich corporations. People who are affected by these deals, both in the EU and abroad, are not consulted. We need MEPs to stand up for an open and democratic EU trade policy-making process which is controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than being driven by unelected technocrats and corporate lobby groups.”
“At a time of multiple global crises, the European Parliament needs MEPs who will support trade rules that work for people and the planet. We need MEPs who will bring trade deals out of the shadows and into the light. We call on MEP candidates to stand up for democratic trade and investment rules that serve people, the economy and the environment at large – not just the profit interests of a few.”
Supporter organisations: ActionAid Netherlands, Africa Roots Movement (Netherlands), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), ASEED Europe, Attac Denmark, CEE Bankwatch Network (headquatered in the Czech Republic), Clean Clothes Campaign Netherlands, Confédération paysanne (France), Dutch section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF – Netherlands), European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), FAIR TRADE HELLA (Greece), FIOM-CGIL (Metalworkers Federation – Italy), FIAN Netherlands, FNV Netherlands, France Amérique Latine (France), Friends of the Earth Europe, Glopolis (Czech Republic), Hegoa (Spain), Indian Committee of the Netherlands, Milieu Defensie (Netherlands), National Peace and Justice Network (UK), OIKOS (Netherlands), Philippinenbüro (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consumer (Netherlands), Platform for an economy based on sustainability and solidarity (Netherlands), Respect Network in Europe, STRO (Netherlands), Supermacht (Netherlands), Traidcraft (UK), Transnational Migrant Platform (TMP), TRUSTED Migrants (Netherlands), La Via Campesina Europe, Wemos (Netherlands), XminY (Netherlands)
The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the
“Those who reject the undemocratic and dangerous investor-state dispute settlement system will have no opportunity in this consultation to voice their opposition because the Commission’s biased questions provide no option for that. The Commission should make itself available for a real debate, not a cowardly advertising campaign for its corporate agenda.”
“The Commission’s so-called reform agenda does nothing to address the basic flaws of the investor-state dispute settlement system. Therefore foreign companies will continue to have greater rights than domestic firms and citizens. And international tribunals consisting of three for-profit lawyers will continue to decide over what policies are right or wrong, disregarding domestic laws, courts and democracy.”
“The investor-state arbitration system cannot be tamed. Profit-greedy law firms and their corporate clients will always find a way to attack countries for actions that threaten their profits. The corporate super-rights should be abolished – and people in
Europeshould not miss this crucial opportunity to tell the Commission to do so.”
- "Theft of government property;
- Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information (and)
- Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person."
- "Theft of Government Property
- Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information (and)
- Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person."
- a fake shoe bomber;
- fake underwear bomber;
- fake Times Square bomber;
- an earlier one there;
- fake shampoo bombers;
- fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake mass casualty attacks on New York landmarks;
- fake Oregon bomber;
- fake armed forces recruiting station bomber;
- fake synagogue bombers;
- fake Chicago Sears Tower bombers;
- fake FBI and other building bombers;
- fake National Guard, Fort Dix and Quantico marine base attackers;
- fake 9/11 bombers;
- fake Boston bombers; and
- numerous others.
- former acting CIA head Michael Morell;
- former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism Richard Clarke;
- former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein; Francis Boyle calls him a neocon;
- Democrat party connected/political advocacy group Center for American Progress member Peter Swire; and
- University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone.
By Susan Duclos
The news that broke yesterday was that Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the incredibly popular A&E show, expressed his opinion on homosexuality, then A&E suspended him from the show that averages over 14 million viewers, for said opinion.
Below the commentary will be the A&
E company information, along with a page where you can leave a comment, and contact information as well as information on their parent company Hearst.
When did having a belief, based in one's religion and using the constitutional right of free speech to give that opinion become a punishable offense?
His GQ quotes:"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
"Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
"It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."
Robertson also said and this is what most people are ignoring:
Whether you agree with his beliefs or not, everyone should be standing up for his right to express them... it is a basic constitutional right!
Many didn't agree with him, many do not share his belief, but how does their right not to have their feelings hurt become more important than his free speech rights and freedom of religion?
I see nowhere in the constitution where a person has the right not to have their feelings hrut or where because someone's words offended them they have the right to punish them.
A&E's statement shown below:We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
Well, I can tell A&E that they have 14 million viewers and countless free speech proponents, along with an untold number of people who believe in freedom of religion, "extremely disappointed" in their stance all in the name of political correctness.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR A&
E, HEARST AND DISNEYCustomer Service page where you can add a comment (many already are) found HERE.
235 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017
Hearst is the parent company behind the network, so you can give them a call with a problem, concern or compliment about A&E customer service.
- Hearst Television: 1-212-887-6800
[UPDATE] Hearst Corporation's number is (212) 649-2000.
Hearst also claims on a phone call that Disney owns half of A&E Television, so the Disney contact number is 818-460-7477
The Walt Disney Company contact form to leave message on is found HERE.
When calling Hearst, it seems they deny involvement with A&E, but go to the Hearst website at the bottom and click the "more Hearst sites," the A&E website is listed clearly. Also Hearst's own contact page gives the same number and also, BONUS, offers a contact form.
Cross posted at Before It's News
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If you live in the United States, you live in a high tech surveillance grid that is becoming more oppressive with each passing day. In America today, the control freaks that run things are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. If we continue on the path that [...]
The Shocking Reasons that Americans Are Right to Be More Afraid of Bad Government Policy than Terrorism Preface: I am not so much anti-government as anti-stupid policy. (Moreover, the problem is not solely “bad government” or “corrupt corporations”. The deeper … Continue reading →
Stupid Government Policy Is More Dangerous than Terrorism was originally published on Washington's Blog
On May 27, 2010 the planet Uranus entered Aries and in December of that same year, in Tunisia, Tarek Bouazizi self-immolated himself after his electronic scale and the fruit he had bought on credit were confiscated from him by a corrupt policewoman. That spark sent flames throughout the Middle East, toppling regimes from Libya to Yemen. Uranus would make its definitive entry into Aries on the fateful day of March 11, 2011, coinciding almost to the hour with the earthquake and ensuing disaster at Fukushima. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and the most self driven while Uranus is the planet that represents revolution, innovation and change- together they make a radical, ego driven cocktail.
Uranus reflects many of the traits of the time it was discovered, 1781, when the American Revolution was in full bloom and the French variant was ready to boil over. The last time the restless Uranus had passed through the cardinal sign of Aries was between 1927 and 1935, a time when two of the most revolutionary (Uranus), and megalomaniacal (Aries) leaders in history consolidated power. Uranus will not definitively leave Aries until March 6, 2019, by which time the world will have undergone profound changes. We cannot say with certainty whether another calamitous dictator will appear on the world stage, but, at least in the West, we are devoid of inspired political, cultural and spiritual leadership and someone with exceptional qualities could become the focal point of a world thirsty for meaning and direction.
On one level, astrology is understanding cycles and knowing how to distinguish relevant themes from the noise. Astrologically speaking, the synodic cycle between Uranus and Pluto lasts approximately 128 years, which means that it takes that much time for the two planets to circle each other once. Since Uranus (84 year orbit around the sun) moves much faster than Pluto (245 year orbit around the sun) the synodic cycle describes how long it takes Uranus to ‘lap’ Pluto in their ‘race’ around our star. Astrologers measure these events from the moment the two planets are exactly together (conjunct) and pay special attention to when the two planets are at hard angles: opposed to each other (180 degrees) and square (45 degrees). The story begins with the conjunction and slowly unfolds at the first square, reaches a climax at the opposition, and resolves itself at the second square before coming full circle and beginning again.
The Pluto/Uranus Cycle
This current synodic cycle between Pluto and Uranus began when the two planets met between 1962 and 1968 in the sign of Virgo. A conjunction in astrology refers to a more congenial blend of the planetary forces, but in the case of these two transpersonal superpowers, even when cooperating, their force can seem overwhelming. Uranus is the symbol of revolt, change and technical innovation while Pluto is the lord of death and debt- the cosmic enforcer and the ultimate symbol of power.
When these two met in the 1960’s all hell broke loose. Pluto waged war in Vietnam and set off the Cultural Revolution in China while Uranus instigated the sexual revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, the May of 1968 unrest in France, the Prague Spring, and the space age. Some would say the dark Plutonian forces won out when the Prague Spring was crushed, the Kennedys and Martin Luther King were assassinated just as the Uranian energy was devolving into Mansonian madness. The Apollo Program was one of the few areas where the Uranian revolutionary technology meshed well with Plutonian brute force. But each planet also reached into the sphere of the other, the helicopter in Vietnam had a very Uranian flavor to it while the gods of Rock & Roll certainly had a Plutonian, underworld feel to them.
The key to unraveling where we are now is to uncover the seeds sown in the 1960’s and discover what fruits they have borne so far and how these forces will continue to interact, albeit in a more antagonistic and adversarial way as we pass through a long series of squares. Pluto is now in Capricorn, the sign of governments, armies, corporations, bureaucracy and culture. Pluto is certainly at home wielding all this power and the Plutonian compulsion to vaporize all that is weak, superfluous and temporary is implacable. Just as Pluto entered Capricorn for the first time in January of 2008 the financial crisis began, and by his second entry into Capricorn in November of 2008 the world financial system was teetering on the edge of disaster.
As Pluto was shaking out the fraudulent bankers like a mafia Don knocking off underlings who had their hands stuck in the cookie jar, Uranus in Aries was creating a quirky brand of revolutionaries such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Eric Snowden. The police state that emerged out of 9/11 has a very strong Plutonian flavor which is being opposed by this eccentric band of techno-freedom fighters very much in the Uranian mold.
On November 1, 2013 we reached the apex, or fourth of the seven direct squares between Pluto and Uranus, where the two planets will be at an exact 45 degree angles to each other. Four was the number of endings, of life without spirit for the ancients, and dividing the 360 degree zodiac into four gives us the most malignant of aspects, the 90 degree square. On the other hand, the zodiacal circle divided by the benefic number three gives us the most harmonious aspect of 120 degrees, or a trine.
Adding emphasis to the importance of this moment, we had a total solar eclipse on November 3, 2013 in the very Plutonian sign of Scorpio which could portend a resolution much like the one we had in the 1960’s. The cosmic call to attention will become even more intense in December with the ominous entrance of the comet ISON, which could potentially put on a brilliant show across the winter nights. The last exact square of Pluto and Uranus will be in March of 2015, at which point the two planets will move apart and the cycle will look for new themes when the planets reach opposition in 2043.
What will be the outcome of this great battle? One place to look is the last time Pluto was in Capricorn, over two hundred and thirty-years ago during the American Revolution. At that time the strong hands were the colonists who overcame the weight of the of Capricornian British Empire, but they had someone on their side, which was Jupiter. Jupiter is Zeus, the great benefic, giver of good fortune, opposing Pluto in Capricorn. Jupiter was in Cancer during the American Revolution. Cancer is a very feminine, lunar sign representing the individual, the home, roots and directly opposes the authority and bureaucracy of Capricorn.
The United States has come full circle and once again, as in 1776, we have Jupiter in Cancer, and Pluto in Capricorn, only this time, instead of the enemy being the British Empire, the enemy is the US Government itself, with its NSA, CIA, Federal Reserve, and military sprawled across the world reeking havoc and chaos on the entire planet. But it seems clear, especially after the failed attempt to attack Syria, that US power is on the wane and some major event will drive home the need for a change of the global guard.
The plan to attack Syria had a definite Plutonian flavor, not only through the gruesome massacres and filmed barbaric acts, but with the way many governments of the world quickly closed ranks to carry out the attack on Assad. Only the Uranian rebelliousness of the British Parliament and the American voters stopped them short. But as the sixties showed, Pluto can never be stopped, only momentarily diverted. What started in Libya as Uranian restlessness wound up in a horrific, filmed and very Plutonian fratricide. How will Pluto counterattack in Syria? We should remember that Pluto was discovered in 1930; the historic background of the Depression and the rise of fascism should give us pause when considering the essence of Pluto’s meaning.
This tension will come to a head on April 20, 2014, when Jupiter in Cancer goes head to head in opposition (180 degrees) with Pluto in Capricorn, with both planets square (45 degrees) Uranus in Aires. Astrologers refer to this aspect as a T-Square, and it is considered the most tense and conflictive aspect that three planets can form. The Plutonian force is the NSA scooping up every email and phone conversation in the world; Pluto has no limits, and as he works his way through Capricorn, the sign of time and culture, he is shredding all the false claims of security and patriotism. He is the Egyptian military storming its way back into power, he is the Saudis doing all that is necessary to oust the Assad regime in Syria. Pluto doesn't do body counts. It was Pluto who wiped Osama bin Laden off the face of the earth without trace.
Uranus is the Middle Eastern youth tired of oppression and corruption, facing down the old regime, he's the Occupy Movement and the mad rush for technology. He’s Eric Snowden escaping to Moscow with thousands of Plutonian files. Uranus is the upsurgent alternative media that refuses to believe the Plutonian mainstream propaganda. Something has to give, and that is the beauty of three.
Esoterically, the unity of ones falls into the duality of two, which becomes the resolution of three. Jupiter, the philosophical benefic, friend of man, is in Cancer where he is exalted. Exaltation in astrology means the sign where a planet reaches its higher resonance. The beauty and love of Venus becomes the love of God in Pisces. The violence of Mars becomes a standing army in Capricorn, and Jupiter’s genius, philosophy and pride serve man in Cancer. Maybe we saw Jupiter's hand in the diffusing of the American attack on Syria, though one shouldn't count Pluto out on that score; he’ll be back to try to complete his agenda. Jupiter is Zeus, the ruler of the Olympians, including Pluto, and through his higher thinking there still might be a way out.
The easy answer is to call for the much lauded happy medium- a little Uranian eccentric individualism, a smattering of Plutonian force behind Capricornian order, and of course the Jupiterian law and philosophy aiding the man in his Cancerian home. But a battle of this magnitude will not end in a smoke filled room but rather a bloody, smoked covered battlefield. The stakes have become too high. The Capricornian financial system has created a Plutocracy never before witnessed and this regime will either conquer all or be conquered, there is no negotiating with Pluto; it will be winner take all.
The concentration of power that we are witnessing in the world, financially, culturally and militarily, in many ways is a direct result of the Uranian technological advances of the 20th century. We can see the Uranus/Pluto relationship perfectly in the Internet. On one hand it’s anarchistic and liberating, but by the same token it allows the Plutonian Big Brother a clear view directly into almost every moment of our lives.
For the United States nothing captured the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the Summer of Love better than the Uranian liberation of Haight-Ashbury and the Plutonian violence of the Vietnam War. The Uranian desire for change and innovation led spiritual seekers of the sixties to turn their acid trips into PC’s and the Internet, while the humbled military industrial complex bounced back, putting soldiers in over eighty countries and killing people by remote control. Both of these forces have made enormous strides in the dehumanization of man, from Chinese factories to Wall Street speculators, even to the point where West Coast, Uranian hipsters are playing footsie with the NSA by giving them access to literally all of humanities digital communications. The answer to this truly Cardinal T-Square is Jupiter, Lord of Olympus, wielding his thunderbolts from the very personal and human sign of Cancer.
Astrology is very much like Schrodinger's cat in that until we open the door, we don’t know whether the poor feline is alive or dead. The same goes with this T-Square. Only by actively seeking an answer in the cardinal sign of Cancer, temporary home to Jupiter, will the options begin to emerge. The consciousness we bring to it will create not only the solutions but the synchronicities that confirm them.
The meaning we give, and the connection we make between our lives and the earth's life will finally confirm the reality we help create by unmistakable signs in the heavens and on earth. We treat dogs differently then we do rocks and we approach a plant more subtly than we do a hill of sand. What astrology is begging us to remember is that not only are we alive, but so is the earth, our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. When we finally see ourselves as living beings, fractals of what is above, reflections of what is below, only then will we find our way.
Cancer represents the most basic feminine principle of form and being. By denying that our very home and common mother breaths the same life we do has allowed us to drift so far on this misguided, patriarchal adventure. The wisdom of Jupiter illuminating the primeval feminine Cancer might awaken us again to this long forgotten truth.
As we feel more and more squeezed between the financial, militaristic, and corporate Plutocracy on one hand, and the gadgetized, ever evolving, egocentric and meaningless technological void of Uranus on the other, Jupiter in Cancer may well help us re-encounter our common soul, Anima Mundi.
One analogy used by Graham Hancock is that of televisions. Are we all creating and watching our own programming, or are we receiving a cosmic signal and each decoding it in our own manner? If we reject the unique separation model, than our true selves lie in the signal, not the dumb terminal of the mind. Awakening to our unified soul against a materialistically dogmatic backdrop is the great challenge of our time. What type of cosmic event could change our focus, moving us away from the mundane to the cosmic?
With the Sun in Scorpio, on November 1st we had the fourth exact square between Uranus and Pluto and on November 3rd a total solar eclipse. What other events could await us as we reach the peak of activity for the current Solar cycle? It wouldn't be surprising if in the final weeks of Scorpio we were given one more synchronicity, one more reminder that our souls lie beyond our heads, the circus that captivates us and the money we so desperately seek. One more powerful synchronicity might reawaken the awareness of our common soul and liberate us from the prison of false isolation. One potent sign born out of the cosmic duality that moves our attention upward and beyond the mundane with such a powerful force that few could doubt its significance.
Robert Bonomo is a blogger, novelist and esotericist. Download his latest novel, Your Love Incomplete, for free here.
12 Years Before Edward Snowden, High-Level NSA Whistleblower Warned Congress About Mass Surveillance by...
- "Collect(ing, including through clandestine means), process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions;
- Acting(ing) as the National Manager for National Security Systems as established in law and policy, and in this capacity be responsible to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director, National Intelligence; (and)
- Prescrib(ing) security regulations covering operating practices, including the transmission, handling, and distribution of signals intelligence and communications security material within and among the elements under control of the Director of the National Security Agency, and exercise the necessary supervisory control to ensure compliance with the regulations."
- "Align (it) with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004;
- Implement additional recommendations of the 9/11 and WMD Commissions; (and)
- Further integrate the Intelligence Community and clarify and strengthen the role of DNI as the head of the Community; Maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberties protections."
- the Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). It relates to foreign intelligence gathering, and
- the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD). It protects US information systems.