29 May 2015

Your chance to terminate the NSA

The Blog

A chance to destroy the NSA by nullifying its pitiful excuses to violate the US Constitution presents itself to Americans. Now is an important opportunity for the NSA to stop terminating people's privacy and be terminated.

The NSA is completely dependent upon its illegal and unconstitutional mass wiretapping and confiscations of Americans' private communications. It is terrified of being denied this ability or punished for its actions. Such steps would utterly destroy the rogue and isolated agency that flagrantly carried out the largest civil liberties violation of the Twenty-First Century under the arrogant and contradictory pretext of protecting Americans' liberties from apparent terrorists.

The key to this termination of the criminal agency's activities lies in the prevention of the renewal of Section 215 of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act due to take place on 1 June 2015 - just three days from now. It is not too late.

This abomination, this violation of the values Americans hold dear, can be terminated by steadfast opposition to it.

Demand Progress has provided the following link

Fight for the Future is also calling people to write to lawmakers calling for them to refuse to renew the PATRIOT Act

C4SS offered the following analysis on the urgency to put an end to this legislation:
The USA PATRIOT Act is set to expire June first, absent congressional action. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has expressed opposition to renewing the act without reforms that would end or limit the National Security Agency’s bulk spying on the phone data of American Citizens. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeks an extension for the act as is, Senate Democrats and some Republicans, including Rand Paul, threaten to filibuster a renewal without reforms. This follows a Federal Court Ruling that the NSA’s mass phone data collection program, exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013, is illegal. The house has responded by passing USA Freedom Act, which would end the phone surveillance program, but expand other surveillance programs and reauthorize the patriot act. 
With this bill heading to the Senate critics, such as Fight For the Future, argue that, “It completely fails to meaningfully curtail mass surveillance and actually codifies some of the worst modern spying practices into law.” One example they bring up is that the bill would permit surveillance of video chats. It is also generally accepted that the surveillance state will take any bill that is passed to it limits as it did with the PATRIOT Act. This is especially true if the state can do so in secret, as it did before Snowden’s revelation.

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26 May 2015

Wallerstein: "Brexit" may collapse EU

The Blog

Despite winning the UK election, PM David Cameron faces a bitter future for the United Kingdom, world-systems theorist Immanuel Wallerstein predicts.

In a commentary at his widely syndicated column, titled "Post-Britain", Wallerstein uses his famed world-systems analysis to look at the UK as a former "hegemon" of the world-system. It compares with the former United Provinces, now the Netherlands, whose empire similarly dissolved anticlimactically to give way to a new superpower. The last of the Netherlands' power in the world from its days of global dominance was financial, much as the last of Britain's power today is financial.

Wallerstein wrote that David Cameron's government is faced with difficult scenarios and is extremely unlikely to get its way:
Step (a) is to press the EU to “defederalize” further, allowing Great Britain to exempt itself from even more requirements of membership. Step (b) is to call the referendum he has promised the Conservative Party by 2017, but as late as possible. Step (c) is to defeat the referendum, and thus remain in the EU. 
Cameron’s step (a) of further exemptions from EU requirements is unlikely because of strong resistance from other EU members, and notably Germany. Step (b) of defeating the referendum thereby becomes even more unlikely. And therefore step (c) of a Brexit becomes highly likely.
In Wallerstein's analysis, Cameron's government - and its desire to keep Britain as a major financial power - represents the interests of what he calls Britain's financial elite.

The consequences of Britain leaving the EU, an outcome Wallerstein concluded to be likely under the Cameron government, would be severe for the European Union at such a delicate time in its history:
Adding a Brexit to this mix of difficulties might be just too much for the EU. The EU and the eurozone are a house of cards, which might simply collapse.
And of Cameron's fate, Wallerstein concludes:
To go back to the beginning of this analysis, Cameron should savor his unexpected victory in the British elections because he (and Great Britain’s financial elites) may actually come to regret it – quite soon.

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Hold the autopsy, gimme life extension

Mony Price

After looking into life extension products, I've become fascinated by cryonics. In the off-chance you've never heard of it, notice that Michael Jackson got buried. Forced into a mandatory autopsy, the court stripped his brain down for parts. Instead of being frozen, he went to ground and broke his date with the future.

While I think it's naive to assume I'll die intact, I certainly don't want my brain snatched in a made-for-TV court drama. With nanotechnology just getting started, the idea of cheating death is more entertaining. Besides. Who needs funeral pyres and boring burials, when we have cryotoriums and space caskets?
"By 2020 we'll have computers powerful enough to simulate the human brain. But we won't be finished yet, with reverse-engineering the human brain and understanding its methods." ~ Ray Kurzweil, Futurist
Ray Kurzweil: The Coming Singularity

Screw tradition.

We know that the human brain is inching close to the day it's mapped. So given the option, I'll gamble on mind-uploading before the pathologist cracks my chest. I don't care if the cops haul out the yellow tape. Sign me up for neuro-suspension, and put me on the first flight out to Alcor!

But don't stop there. Nanoparticles already target "specific cells" to "deliver medicines," and that's just the tip of the iceburg. Even the cryogenics industry hopes to reap the benefits of nanotech. Just give it another fifty years. From, "medicine, communications, computing, energy, and robotics," to Lord knows what ... our minds are about to get blown.[1]

We've come a long way since 1970, when the late Dr. Robert J. White rocked the world with the first brain transplant. From one monkey's body to another, who would have thought an entire head could be chopped off and replaced by another? "Dr. Butcher" or not, White got straight to the point. The seven-day experiment "proved" it could happen to humans.

We live in a world where bladders grow in labs, and human-animal hybrids (chimeras or parahumans) pop up from time to time. While naysayers and proponents weigh in on the probability of mind uploading, rat neurons really do run robots. And human versions are next. Like it or not, these things happen around the world. Even the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009 failed in Congress.

I guess it was just a matter of time before someone claimed a, "human head transplant is now possible."

But who knew there would be investors.

So maybe now you'll understand why I think my brain is worth preserving. And let's face it: it ain't like I have anything to lose anyway.

To be continued....


1. Shoffstall, G. (2010). Freeze, wait, reanimate: Cryonic suspension and science fiction. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30(4). DOI: 10.1177/0270467610382704

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22 May 2015

The NATO-neo-Nazi axis in Ukraine

The Blog

The Daily Agenda, a British dissident blog, has drawn attention to how NATO works to legitimize neo-Nazis in Europe to support anti-Russian sentiment.

The proliferation of violent neo-Nazi movements in Eastern Europe has accompanied every stage of NATO enlargement, the blog argued on May 17, quoting the Eurasion Observatory for Democracy and Elections (EODE) watchdog. The observations are not only from this watchdog, however. Many commentators have watched with caution as NATO was drawn into a public alliance with neo-Nazi thugs and illegal fighters in the ongoing Ukrainian Civil War.
The Nazification of the Ukrainian military, supported by NATO thugs and spies seeking to offend and provoke Russia, has become an established doctrine of the Ukrainian regime. Neo-Nazi criminals are offered influential positions, while pro-Russian "enemies of the state" are beaten and killed with NATO support and blessing. Bans are issued against old Soviet Union symbolism and celebrations of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany in World War 2, while Nazi collaborators are now given state recognition as heroes.

In a recent scandal, NATO was found to be directly involved in witch-hunts and assassinations of political figures in Ukraine's internal affairs. Such aggression is not unprecedented for the so-called alliance, which - since its disastrous war killed of 60,000 civilians in Libya - has constantly crept away from its mission of collective-defense and towards arbitrary involvement in foreign civil wars. Ignoring the priority of collective defense emphasized in the North Atlantic Treaty, the current "NATO" alliance no longer addresses member states' security and instead tries to persuade member states to fight in the civil wars of non-member states beyond the boundaries of the North Atlantic area.

Revision of history to exclude the Soviet Union's role in World War 2 and the role of Ukrainian Nazis in the Holocaust has become part of the regime's attempts to gain legitimacy. It has also been used to justify the continued murders of pro-Russian civilians in the country's east, which Russians regard as tantamount to a repeat of Nazi German atrocities.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently denounced the Minsk peace deal and demanded that the bloodshed must continue.

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Mohammed left Assyria's ruins alone

The #LOrdre Blog

Islamic State militants, also known by their Arabic acronym Daesh, believe they are superior to Islam's Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

This is the assessment of the L'Ordre blog based at the top world religious website Beliefnet. Attention is drawn to the way Islamic State militants are ironically "assaulting lifeless monuments" dating to the ancient Assyrian civilization as a way of seeking attention for themselves. Such acts are ironically Pagan and idolatrous in themselves, the analysis claims, as these Muslims are "obsessing over lifeless monuments and self-indulgent beliefs, by a further demonstration of their own such stupidity".

The blog argues that Mohammed would feel ashamed of the Islamic State's self-indulgence and idiocy, and that Islamic State followers are doomed to "die like flies" before they realize they have deviated from their religion:
The Islamic State’s followers claim to idolize the Prophet Mohammed. They are lucky he isn’t alive to say what he would think of them. To the man who actually brought Islam to the world, the so-called Islamic State would appear filthy and deserve nothing but contempt. For the “Islamic State” to presume that Mohammed’s work was incomplete, and parade itself around and claim to finish his work, as if they are truer Muslims than their own Prophet, is the gravest possible offense that can be perpetrated against the memory of Islam’s founder. 
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/05/islamic-state-is-too-good-for-its-own-prophet.html#ixzz3aPE0xUfy 
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/05/islamic-state-is-too-good-for-its-own-prophet.html#wQUgddfOCJykmVfY.99

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19 May 2015

The Christian fundamentalist bloodbath

The Blog

Islam does not stand out as having the worst problem of extremism, an op-ed at Counterpunch argues

Penned by Robert Fantina for the 15-17 May issue of the US-based investigative publication, the op-ed titled "Dueling Fundamentalisms: Christian and Islamic" argues that reactionary politics has created a bloodbath for which Christians have more responsibility than Muslims:
So it seems that both Christian fundamentalists and fundamentalist Muslims all operate on fear, encouraging their followers to flout law in the name of a god of their own creation. Both cause death and suffering, fundamentalist Muslims on a small scale, with Christian fundamentalists drowning in the blood of their millions of victims.
The op-ed defies a current at the heart of reactionary political movements currently trying to represent Islam as an exceptionally grave threat to civilization. Although Christians are not prone to go around using knives to kill the people they hate, many are still filled with hate and encourage state-sanctioned violence that has killed more innocent people than all the terrorism in the world:
1) Christian fundamentalists encourage war, and vote for government officials who will perpetuate it. The number of people killed in their name and by their actions far exceeds anything ISIL has done or could do if it operated for a century.
Bloodthirsty ramblings by the Christian reactionaries of the United States compare with the most violent sermons of Islamist terrorists. The only difference is that the former have a state at their disposal to legitimize their murderous crusade, whereas the latter only have their own bare hands. In reality, the Christian right of America is morally equivalent to the so-called Islamic State, even if it is more heavily equipped to pursue and justify its dreams of a medieval bloodbath.

This fits with the following video from TYT, which notes the clear parallels between Christian extremists and Islamist extremists, in particular ridiculing the way that both demand each other "convert or die".

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Visit the CI Breaking blog today

The Blog

One of CI Circulation's support blogs has made changes to keep its feed more active.

Find the latest posts coming through the CI Circulation family of blogs - which includes The clubof.info Blog as its lead website - by visiting CI Breaking today. This result comes as part of the increased cooperation between the Wave Chronicle and CI Circulation sites agreed in secret Mont Order round tables.

The latest from CI Breaking can be found on Twitter, and the latest headlines can be seen by following the Twitter account @CI Breaking.

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15 May 2015

The Arrogance of the Powers


As European countries uphold sanctions against Russia, it is not a coincidence that they seek to remove sanctions against Iran.

In case it was not known before, it should be obvious by now. The United States and its allies cannot afford to sanction too many countries. Europeans know that cutting ourselves off from equitable relations with too many countries, especially in Asia, is an austere path that cannot be walked.

When it comes to energy supplies, the above conclusion is especially unavoidable, but it is also true of other sectors of the economy. For many years, European countries lamented their dependence on natural gas from Russia, as it forced them to curtail their arrogant colonial attitude of national and racial superiority over Asia. This had one consequence that would have embarrassed the previous White House administration in its Eurasian policy, but was factored into the plans of the more realistic Obama administration. Europeans must turn to Iran as their only alternative supplier of natural gas, if they really wish to isolate Russia.

Try to picture a penalty box containing "sanctioned" countries. Whether a geopolitical rival power is under sanctions by the US and its allies has less to do with whether the rival power violated international law than whether the US and European economies can afford to use sanctions against it. Rather, it depends on how much room there is in the penalty box for the geopolitical enemy. The Russian bear is very big, so the cage must be empty if the US is to cram the bear fully inside. Unfortunately for them, it means that they have no choice but to let Iran out, thus lifting all sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

So we Europeans, after helping to bully Iran for years economically, are begging for anti-Iran sanctions to be lifted. Also paradoxical, European companies seem to be more desperate for this outcome than the Iranians themselves.

The paradox of unilateral sanctions is something that has become increasingly apparent to commentators, especially now that an economy as large as Russia has been arrogantly added to the blacklist. As I recently wrote, this year's new sanctions on Russia and Venezuela coincide exactly with the Obama administration's efforts to remove sanctions against Iran and Cuba. Russia replaces Iran as the enemy in Asia, Venezuela replaces Cuba as the enemy in Latin America.

Obama is concerned that sanctioning too many countries at once will "boomerang", to use Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's term, and hurt the European and North American economies themselves. Iran and Cuba have to be let out of the penalty box, quickly and unconditionally. Negotiations are simply a way for the US to dignify its surrender to the Iranian and Cuban peoples, who asked for many years that the US and its allies return to normal and equitable relations.

Understood in this way, the pleading of hawkish US politicians and pundits to maintain sanctions against Iran appear especially absurd. Such demands run contrary to the gambits of US hegemony itself, to maintain such sanctions while sanctioning yet further countries such as Russia. In reality, the US has no choice but to remove its sanctions against Iran because such sanctions tie its own hands and prevent it from completing its scheme to isolate Russia. Isolating both Iran and Russia simultaneously cannot be done, from a European perspective. Such simultaneous enmity would essentially cut Europe off from all of Asia, in terms of energy supplies. There would be no remaining route to obtain natural gas desperately needed by Europe.

As reported in Iranian media, Iran's National Petrochemical Company (NPC) noted that European countries are eager for sanctions against Iran to be lifted so that they may invest in the Iranian petrochemical industry. European countries are determined to develop Iran's ability to supply natural gas in particular. This reporting follows earlier comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Iranian energy development is not yet sufficient to decisively supply Europe and replace Russian natural gas supplies.

European interest in developing Iranian natural gas supplies to Europe only became apparent after heated disagreements with Vladimir Putin's government over the 2014 Crimean referendum and the consequent implementation of anti-Russian sanctions over the course of 2014 and 2015. This deterioration of relations seems to have soured the taste of the Russian natural gas that Europe remains dependent on for much of its energy needs, causing Europeans to desire an alternative source of energy.

Commentators have argued that the eagerness of European countries to invest in Iran's petrochemical industry is an attempt to rectify European dependence on Russian natural gas. The hope is that, once sanctions against Iran are lifted (and they are going to be lifted, no matter what happens in the nuclear talks), Iranian natural gas supplies may replace Russian supplies.

In an insightful analysis at the American investigative publication Counterpunch by Mike Whitney on 20 April, the Obama administration's strange scheme to develop Iranian energy supplies to Europe as a way to nullify European dependence on Russian gas is exposed. The article in question, titled "Another Idiotic Plan to Hurt Russia", argues that easing sanctions against the Islamic Republic is nothing to do with Iran surrendering to US pressure. Rather, it is an "attempt to weaken and isolate Russia", by "allowing Iranian gas to replace Russian gas in Europe".

The vast majority of English-speaking media sources have labored to falsely portray Iran as begging for sanctions relief from the US and European powers and caving in to US pressure by committing to reduce the number of its nuclear centrifuges. In reality, the beggars at this table are not the Iranians but the Americans and Europeans.

The term for the United States and its collective imperialist allies in the Iranian theory of international relations is the "arrogant powers", and the easing of sanctions against Iran should not ease the use of this term to describe them. The arrogant powers may remove sanctions from Iran, but their scheming behind such steps remains still rooted in their arrogant desire to subdue yet more countries.

Iranian negotiators realize that they are not working from the dishonorable position of subservience demanded by the US regime through all its failed attempts to undermine the Islamic Revolution, but a position of strength against the crumbling of an arrogant scheme. It should also be clear to the Iranian people that the scheme to isolate Russia is an arrogant plan led by the United States.

Clearly, the United States would believe that it can deceive the leadership of Iran into serving its plan to isolate Russia, and this is consistent with the historic colonial mindset of blockade and aggression. Now, they have turned from blackmail against Iran to bribery, with their promises of sanctions relief and European investment in Iran's petrochemical industry.

Sanctions against Iran and Russia are doomed to failure because both countries are great powers. The United States and Europe cannot maintain hostility to them without being on guard against the consequences. The toll of arrogance is that it causes regimes to punch above their weight in the international system of governance. It is easy for such arrogant powers to become beggars and finally expose themselves to counter-sanctions if their schemes fail.


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12 May 2015

Substances and sites get banned, why?

The Blog

The case for eliminating the criminalization of drug use isn't about being pro-drug, a Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) post argues.

Going beyond the stereotypes of the libertarian arguing that marijuana is a miracle cure and the conservative pundit striking back about the libertarian being "stoned", Joe Szymanski lends the opinion that drug users should seek rehab and that drug use is not a virtue. However, making such use a criminal offense is still absurd.

The reasoning given follows a strikingly similar path to the ethics of morphological freedom at the heart of the techno-liberation philosophy transhumanism, as well as the mainstream pro-choice position that a woman should be allowed to make the final decisions about her own body.

In his conclusion, Szymanski presents this same argument succinctly, and will bring a smile to any transhumanist reader: "The only authority that holds the right to regulate what someone decides to put or not put into their body is that very person; no other person or institution has that privilege."

While drugs can indeed be harmful, alcohol can be far more harmful and yet isn't illegal, and responsible adults are consistently given the right to be responsible for their own health in almost every domain except drugs. Szymanski, an antistatist, argues that the reason the state makes an exception for alcohol and medical drugs, refusing to outlaw them, is that they serve special interests of the wealthy whereas illegal drugs do not.
Indeed, the rationale of making something (including new and "disruptive" technologies) illegal due to adverse health or environmental effects tends to be oddly restricted only to possessions that endanger the elite's hold on power and wealth, and perhaps empower other entities that are no less arbitrary such as drug cartels or perceived criminal individuals like Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.

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Iran deal positives outweigh negatives

The Blog

"In the case of this potential [Iranian nuclear] accord, I hope an agreement is reached, since its positives far outweigh its negatives", comments American historical social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein.

This is the conclusion of a commentary authored by Wallerstein on 15 April and published at his widely syndicated column. The commentary was not referring to existing details of the agreement in question, but to the goal of achieving a deal. In the International Relations commentary, Wallerstein addressed a number of negotiations taking place between different states, and laid great emphasis on negotiations not taking place between some states experiencing continued forms of hostility.

The existing negotiations given significance in this analysis were:

  • United States - Cuba
  • United States - Iran
  • United States - Venezuela
  • Colombia - FARC rebels

"Pre-negotiations" taking place that may relieve violent conflict zones:

  • United States - China
  • Afghan central government - Taliban
  • Russian Federation - European Union
  • Ukrainian central government - Luhansk People's Republic
  • Ukrainian central government - Donetsk People's Republic

Negotiations NOT taking place that should take place:

  • Israel - Palestine
  • Saudi Arabia - Iran
  • Japan - China
While expressing the fact that innocent people perpetually suffer where peace deals fail to be inked between warring sides, Wallerstein blamed external forces for the inability of states to negotiate in the third category shown above. In all such cases, the United States is usually putting pressure on factions not to negotiate and to instead attack one another to further the US's own aims in a chessboard-like strategy. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the prime example of such a conflict as, despite their shared Islamic heritage, the US pressures the Saudi military to show off to Iran in a sectarian battle over war-torn Yemen.

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8 May 2015

The Snowden Files and a chopping block

Harry J. Bentham

Journalist Luke Harding's 2014 book, The Snowden Files, offers the finest available British journalistic analysis of the significance of US whistleblower Ed Snowden's leaks exposing the controversial mass surveillance programs of America's post-9/11 National Security Agency.

Within weeks of the dramatic 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Internet was transformed by the NSA and British equivalent GCHQ into what Julian Assange would label the "greatest spying machine the world has ever seen" (p. 85). Edward Snowden's bold leaks to the international media in 2013 confirmed what the Internet's cryptographic elite had already suspected, as we read in Assange's pre-Snowden book Cypherpunks (2013).

Harding's well-received book came to my attention when it emerged that Oliver Stone will produce a much-anticipated thriller called Snowden, based primarily on this book's account. The book is notably favorable towards Snowden, unlike the narrow-minded majority of newspapers in the UK (minus The Guardian who published the first Snowden stories, of course).

The book contains a number of disappointments that will be duly explained here, too. Most egregious, in my assessment, is the way the author attempts to justify entirely irrelevant conspiracy theories and other politics using Snowden. On some pages, this leads him to insinuate that the Russian government's surveillance exceeds the US's and should be the real focus of global condemnation, and the book also uses innuendo to suggest Snowden discredits himself by being trapped in Russia. This, even though Snowden's exile was solely the result of the US preventing his movement out of Russia and Russia was never Snowden's choice of destination.

In the book, we see mostly emotional depictions focused on personalities, which I suppose makes good source material for Stone's movie. At times, the book reads like a novel, as if trying to exploit the characteristically British boyishness and cultural prejudice of Harding's intended English-speaking readership. The book's coverage of the journalistic implications of the publication of the Snowden files is striking, and makes it vital reading for all in that profession.

The formation of Snowden as a whistleblower is the focus of much attention, revealing the kind of person he is: shy, technically minded, humble, idealistic (p. 111). Libertarians and netizens who idolize Snowden will be especially happy with the picture drawn, showing a young man who was inspired by videogames, specifically the concept of the "everyman-warrior battling evil against the odds" (p. 38). Here was a man who saw an opportunity to use his unique privilege, his mastery of technology, to become a superhuman rebel standing up the world's most powerful state. A robot of Snowden would later say in a TED talk that he "won" this battle, the first historic victory of a lone technocrat-rebel against a superpower government. Harding's book fits with this evaluation. The government, despite its bluster that it had "mastered the Internet", reacted with inflexibility, incompetence and incredulity, unable to prevent the rapid circulation of information about its surveillance programs through the Internet.

Snowden turned against the Obama administration for a number of good reasons. The administration had failed to close Guantanamo Bay or end the unilateral drone attacks and other human rights violations started by the Bush administration. Obama pledged to end illegal wiretapping in 2007, only to expand it by voting in favor of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) 2008, giving legal cover to the past illegal actions of the NSA. To quote Snowden, "leadership is about being the first to act" (p. 39). In that measure, Obama failed as Commander in Chief, while Snowden bore the burdens of true leadership through his zealous personal defense of the Constitution of the United States.

Using internal channels would not have worked to address Snowden's grievances, as all prior examples showed that dissent in the intelligence community was met with punishment rather than change. Snowden was not merely deterred by what had happened to Chelsea Manning, but had personally undergone punishment when he tried to suggest minor changes at the CIA. In response to him attempting to suggest minor changes, he was only bullied relentlessly by his superiors, who felt their egos bruised by anyone suggesting they had made a mistake (p. 36-37). The NSA is filled with dissent, but the leadership surrounds itself with sycophants who enforce fear and craven obedience to prevent the more lowly employees speaking out (p. 52). We can only assume that these forms of control have been escalated since Snowden's actions. There was no single abuse that compelled Snowden to blow the whistle on the NSA, but repeated instances of government figures lying and persecuting people who wanted to stop them (p. 52-53).

While Harding's book accepts that the "dark trajectory of US security policy after 9/11" is at fault, his analysis perhaps focuses too much on Snowden's personal quirks rather than accepting that Snowden's actions were inevitable. If these actions had not been taken by him, someone else would have taken them. This should be all too clear from prior occurrences, such as Chelsea Manning's story or the less known Thomas Drake (p. 51). It is likely that the profile Harding built of Snowden will be used by elements in the media who prefer to see Snowden as a perverse individual motivated by ideology or his problems rather than someone who saw the writing on the wall and acted in the passionless spirit of inevitability.

Whatever we may think of Snowden, it is hard to deny the observation that skilled individuals are now capable of springing out of nowhere and implementing massive changes in society, thanks to the responsibility endowed by new technologies. It is this trajectory that I believe should be of most consequence to transhumanist and libertarian commentators rendering their judgments on Edward Snowden. Transhumanists and futurists must understand what this man represents, not in his own right but as a model individual.

Snowden wasn't the first person to sound the battle cry of freedom against the NSA, denouncing its role as tantamount to tyranny. In the 1970s, a Senator Frank Church had already been warning that the NSA could "make tyranny total in America" (p. 86). Even as far back as the American Revolution, the rejection of "general warrants", arbitrary searches of private correspondence, justified rebelling against British rule and was one of very reasons for the founding of the United States (p. 97).

Harding points out that Britain's political climate has always been less favorable to privacy rights and freedom of speech than the climate in the US, since in Britain we are protected by no Constitution. GCHQ takes advantage of our lack of a Constitution, to arbitrarily violate freedoms "legally" whenever it wishes, simply by "interpreting" legislation (p. 88, 125-127). Similar interpretation led to journalists such as Snowden files reporter Glen Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, being held and questioned as "terrorist" suspects in the UK. Harding's illustration of how flawed the UK political system is in this regard, even compared to the US, will not fail to convince British readers and does fit with existing civil society demands for a British constitution.

The US government tried to block publication of Snowden documents by using intimidation and arguments from authority, refusing to explain how publication could be harmful. At one point, the White House's team frothed at the mouth and shouted down their phones at Guardian staff not to publish, expecting that the publication would surrender to them (p. 131).

Harding's book argues that the reason for the secrecy of US and British surveillance programs was never to protect intelligence sources and methods as claimed, but to prevent their criminal and unconstitutional behavior being spotted by lawmakers or the public (p. 90). GCHQ's internal documents specified "high level political fallout" i.e. debate, as the justification for secrecy, rather than terrorists getting hold of the material (p. 164). Top intelligence officials repeatedly lied and hid details of their work's illegality and unconstitutionality from lawmakers, even while all involved were hidden behind the curtain of state secrecy. The program STELLAR WIND, for example, was kept secret from its own internal watchdog for a year, only to be retroactively approved by the watchdog later. What is exposed by such facts is a cynical mindset. Even behind closed government doors, the NSA was terrified of any debate about its actions. It would spurn any form of oversight by the very government it claimed to serve, as if such oversight were tantamount to enemy espionage.

How can such actions tally with the claim that the NSA's secrecy is a necessary evil to protect against terrorists who might exploit knowledge of its sources and methods? For someone like Dianne Feinstein to support a regime that tries to trick her and keep her ignorant of its own details is a testament to some of the worst levels of willful ignorance or stupidity. Only the NSA has sufficient clearance to know if the Constitution isn't being adhered to, and let the law be damned.

Whether or not we like the US Constitution or think an old piece of paper is worth preserving, forward-looking people should realize that national security is no longer a valid excuse but a cop-out used by politicians. It enables a government to patronize its subjects and avoid being held accountable, without saying anything.

The claim by the high molesters of the British government that they needed to monitor the intimate details of people's lives to fight pedophiles, is comedy (p. 164). Perhaps they should have investigated their own voyeuristic online viewing habits before they investigated others. Their insinuations that the journalists who exposed their traitorous intelligence sharing arrangements with a foreign power (the US) (p. 168-169) don't "love their country" (p. 327) sound utterly sarcastic.

The book is skeptical of Julian Assange, insinuating that he is an agent of Russia and citing that his opponents see him as an "insufferable narcissist" (p. 222). However, exactly the same smearing is used against Snowden, making it difficult to see why Harding decided that these criticisms are valid against Assange but not Snowden.

Harding accuses Assange of spreading Russian "propaganda" via the Kremlin-funded RT network (p. 223-224) and dividing the world for or against him, in the same manner George W. Bush did with his "with us or against us attitude" (p. 224). The blame for dividing the world for or against the US is laid by Harding on Assange's shoulders rather than the US government's, allowing him to ignore the fact that the US government actually issued the polarizing quote he is referring to (p. 222).

Harding will similarly slide from talking about repression in the US to singling out Russia rather than the US as the world's "mafia state" (p. 275) because some of its surveillance programs resemble the US programs. The Americans, who invaded your country, kicked your door in, stripped you naked, made you wear a bag on your head, and left you chained and emaciated until you dropped dead of cold or starvation, are not the "mafia state".

Even if all Harding's incriminating talk of Russia is true - and I honestly don't care for that question - I would submit that it is simply irrelevant to the subject of the book. It has no bearing on the lives of the English-speaking readers Harding intended to reach, since Harding proves that we have our own mafia state to worry about. We can worry about the little "evil empire" of Vladimir Putin after we have dealt with the vast supranational "evil empire" of the United States.
The value judgment that Harding tries so hard to not understand is obvious. The American government is more retrograde and ready for the chop than any other regime in the world, including the Russians. Snowden knew this, Assange understands it well, and the rest of us on the blogosphere are closer to grasping it than the "informed" Luke Harding and his fellow respected journalists.

Harry J. Bentham

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Anti-Assange rhetoric gets busted

The #LOrdre Blog

The 2014 book The Snowden Files by Guardian journalist Luke Harding contains anti-Assange rhetoric and insinuates that WikiLeaks Editor Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden are serving Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a vitriolic post that went live ahead of a review to appear at The clubof.info Blog, the L'Ordre blog denounces what it calls "bizarre" insinuations in the book that mar Harding's otherwise compelling case for the elimination of the US surveillance state. Particularly troubling is Harding's injections of anti-Assange rhetoric into his book, which the L'Ordre blog tried to expose and bust. From the blog:
Assange is bizarrely likened to George W. Bush (the “with us or against us” quote is juxtaposed with odd readings of Assange’s behavior, almost as if arguing that he was the one who said it), Putin’s repression is bizarrely likened with far worse torture, disappearances and surveillance perpetrated by the US, and Harding then offers warped conclusions that Assange and Putin are somehow bigger problems than the very regime Harding is comparing them with. It is Harding himself who illustrates in the book that US repression is unprecedented and an assault on democracy, so it seems bizarre for him to try to then manipulate the reader to focus on the much lesser dictatorship of Vladimir Putin as the biggest problem in the world. Harding also insists that rather than the US being authoritarian or hypocritical, it is just “similar” to authoritarian countries, and also accused of hypocrisy by nefarious harpies and Assanges who can’t possibly be right. Somehow, Harding finds it too radical to actually conclude what his own analysis was screaming in his face: the US is authoritarian and hypocritical, and his book offers an overwhelmingly good case for both conclusions. 
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/05/assange-spreads-russian-propaganda-assange-is-like-george-w-bush-and-more-gibberish.html#ixzz3Z4twK5PH 
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/05/assange-spreads-russian-propaganda-assange-is-like-george-w-bush-and-more-gibberish.html#FluGPuC1JAQTskmu.99
The blog also defended Assange's use of the Russian alternative media network RT to express his views, while using such appearances as a reason to ridicule claims by western countries that they are the only regimes willing to give a platform to persecuted dissidents:
The insinuation is that failing to shut Assange up or take his “Kremlin-funded propaganda” off air caused lots of people to think – wrongly – that the US was hypocritical (America has its own multi-billion dollar propaganda machine. Why is it so weak that it is overpowered by a single network with an altenrative point of view!?) 
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/05/assange-spreads-russian-propaganda-assange-is-like-george-w-bush-and-more-gibberish.html#ixzz3Z4vGTm4X 
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre/2015/05/assange-spreads-russian-propaganda-assange-is-like-george-w-bush-and-more-gibberish.html#FluGPuC1JAQTskmu.99
The post also made some efforts to absolve British authorities of much of their role in US repression of journalists, laying all blame on the United States, saying "I’d argue we British aren't to blame for the Americans who exploit our “special relationship”, especially the part about us not having a First Amendment".
It is worth noting that the leaked documents the British authorities were most embarrassed by were the ones that exposed the United Kingdom to be selling its services to the foreign NSA, making their allegations that journalists reporting on the documents do not "love this country" especially ironic.

The Snowden Files argument structures make a strong effort to deflect rage away from the US government specifically and towards the British, Chinese and Russian governments instead. The British are criticized for their lack of a First Amendment, although it was the US that enthusiastically abused this and pressured the UK to negate many of the values that the British people had in fact been faithful to in the past.

The #LOrdre Blog

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5 May 2015

US election to result in betrayal again?

The Blog

Voters will be "fooled again", if they think Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will lead the US and its mighty armies away from destructive empire-building policies.

This is the warning issued at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) by antistatist political commentator Kevin Carson. The warning was overall aiming to discourage participation in electoral politics, which the antistatist regards as little more than the cynical coronation of a ruling elite that is incapable of fulfilling its word.
People "who think the Red/Blue divide reflects a serious disagreement in principle over issues like corporate power, U.S. military aggression and Empire" are being duped, Carson wrote in a commentary on the coming US presidential election. As a neoliberal and a fanatic for American aggression and encroachment on foreign powers like Russia and China, Clinton is a dangerous warmonger and no different from any of the Republican candidates.

Clinton's foreign policy has no progressive character and is based upon demagoguery, hegemony and superpower arrogance, Carson argues. Voting for Clinton would be tantamount to voting for a liar who smeared herself in innocent blood in Bosnia, Libya, Syria and other countries in the name of America's phony revolutions on behalf of international oligarchy.

Clinton cannot be described as a "progressive" but a a greedy oligarch from a family of oligarchs serving corporate power, who seeks to spread the US government's greed, self-righteous conquest, and conspicuous trail of international destruction further. In Carson's assessment, Obama, despite his faults and his dwindling popularity, is preferable over the morally illiterate Hillary Clinton:
at least Obama in 2008 could do a plausible impression of someone who actually meant what he said. Hillary Clinton can’t for the life of her. Typically, three days after Clinton answers a question with her “I’m glad you asked me that” smile, news emerges proving it was a lie.

The Blog

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Baltimore resistance, a human right

The Blog

Armed resistance is not morally equivalent to armed oppression, but a "human right" celebrated for leading great strides in social and political liberation.

This the view expressed emphatically by human rights activist Ajamu Baraka, author of Killing Trayvons, writing in Counterpunch's last issue of April 2015. He was commenting on the recent turbulent events in Baltimore, where mutinous protests erupted against US police violence. Baraka describes the US government as a "racist, settler-colonialist" regime that continually justifies violence around the world but cowers and denounces it if this regime's victims try to fight back.
The subtext of Baraka's short op-ed is that the incumbency of US President Barack Obama, the US's first Black President, will not be enough to excuse the continued "anti-Black racism" that still commands the institutions of the US government.

On the US government's pleas for protesters to refrain from violence, Baraka argued that violence is "fundamental to the U. S. colonial project" and that it has no moral right to condemn the violent resistance of oppressed peoples. These oppressed peoples, Baraka argues, encompass the Palestinians in Gaza, and the Yemeni people. Both of these groups took up arms against domination by their oppressors and were condemned by the US as terrorists

Baraka insists that he does not support violence, however. The violence is ultimately the fault of an oppressive regime cultivating it in all facets of life. Baraka argues that "violence is structured into the everyday institutional practices of all oppressive societies". When the oppressed resort to violence of their own, their mutiny cannot be condemned as spontaneous violence because it is simply a reaction to the perpetual application of violence by a regime.

The argument from Baraka is that inequality enforced by an unjust state should be recognized a form of violence, and resisting it is a mutiny against the practice of such violence itself. Therefore, in some sense, spontaneous instances of armed resistance to this murdering regime cannot be condemned as the systematic application of violence for a political aim (terrorism, in essence) but as resistance against such terrorism that is being applied by a regime against a race.

The Blog

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1 May 2015

Bloggers purvey new global reformation

The L'Ordre Blog

The dismissal of blogs as illegitimate authorities and their authors as charlatans is a cry from the throes of a dying elite, the L'Ordre blog reports.

A digital equivalent of the Protestant Reformation is almost beginning to take place, the blog - based at leading website on religious issues, Beliefnet - suggests. The blog goes on to encourage the formation of societies and networks of solidarity between bloggers, citing the Mont Order as an example of such a project:
If single bloggers can form a chorus enough to prevent wars or encourage social and political change merely by recognizing a shared truth, it is clear that greater coordination between them would only increase this capability. Thus the idea of collectives, affiliations or clubs of bloggers is a potent idea. I am trying to help exactly such a clan in the form of the Mont Order, for whom I intend to set up and promote a shared blog to popularize as a new kind of dissident society. 
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre#ixzz3YRCHfXvL 
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/lordre#X62hmK7AJlexH0zy.99
The Mont Order recently set up a new shared website at the lordre.net domain on Sunday.
The revolution in alternate media has often been compared with the printing press that led to the Protestant Reformation. The L'Ordre blog praises this comparison, arguing further that the crossroads of radicalism and technology will bring positive social change. "Thanks to ubiquitous technology, many people have gone from voiceless to wielding a disproportionate ability to lobby world opinion", the blog observes.

The L'Ordre Blog

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TTIP and TTP threatening democracy

The Blog

The TTIP and TPP are secret trade deals not discussed by mainstream media, which would enable foreign companies to sue national governments - i.e. enable rich stakeholders to sue a government for representing its citizens.

A short video published at the Representative Press YouTube channel breaks down the controversy surrounding the TTIP and TPP for netizens, where previously the secret deals were only criticized in left-wing circles or among students of International Relations. One argument presented holds that foreign investors would gain a greater say than citizens over government policy through such trade deals, turning governments into devices serving foreign commercial interests rather than the people. The hijacking of health and environmental policies to maintain profits of distant actors with little interest in your well-being or your community would quickly follow.

In addition to these concerns, TTIP and TTP also contain the same pernicious legislation as SOPA and PIPA, which sought to censor the Internet. The result has been that online activist movements such as Fight for the Future's Battle for the Net campaign in the US and 38 Degrees in the UK are trying to mobilize netizens against these deals, calling upon Internet users to influence lawmakers to that end.
A petition to the White House recently failed to achieve sufficient signatures, suggesting a need to increase publicity for this cause, but other mechanisms of activism exist to challenge the secret negotiations.

In sum, the TTIP and TTP are an assault on the ability of democracy to function, reducing governments to foreign-controlled dictatorships making decisions based on the concerns of foreign stakeholders rather than their own people.

UK and US authority figures dismiss the public as uninformed and unaware of what is best for it, and try to override any form of pressure exerted by the public. In the case of the UK, their attitude is well-demonstrated in this striking recording back in November 2014, in which MPs shout down public concerns over the TTIP, dismissing them for not being "privy" to special information "bought in" by UK politicians to influence their decisions.

The clubof.info Blog

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