Well it was certainly worth the wait for your brilliant EA analysis of Darwin's Venus placement in it's totality. You deftly integrated his natal placement of Venus with it's South and North Nodes within the context of the ongoing evolutionary journey of the Soul of Darwin. Through this interaction of the past leading to the current life of Darwin you correctly used the previous life of Dampier to do so. Your EA reasoning was exceptionally sound for all that you diagnosed. This is how EA is meant to be done and, in so doing, you are helping all those that come to the thread to read and learn from it. The one dynamic/ archetype that was not sufficiently developed relative to his Venus was the sexual one. Our next step in this planetary method will of course be Mars. Thus, we all have the opportunity to develop more deeply and thoroughly the sexual dynamics of the Soul of Darwin.
Simply brilliant EA work Gray.
God Bless, Rad
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I am also definitely still IN....
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06/17/2013 06:09 PM
Obama's Soft Totalitarianism: Europe Must Protect Itself from America
A Commentary by Jakob Augstein
Is Barack Obama a friend? Revelations about his government's vast spying program call that assumption into doubt. The European Union must protect the Continent from America's reach for omnipotence.
On Tuesday, Barack Obama is coming to Germany. But who, really, will be visiting? He is the 44th president of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. He is an intelligent lawyer. And he is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
But is he a friend? The revelations brought to us by IT expert Edward Snowden have made certain what paranoid computer geeks and left-wing conspiracy theorists have long claimed: that we are being watched. All the time and everywhere. And it is the Americans who are doing the watching.
On Tuesday, the head of the largest and most all-encompassing surveillance system ever invented is coming for a visit. If Barack Obama is our friend, then we really don't need to be terribly worried about our enemies.
It is embarrassing: Barack Obama will be arriving in Berlin for only the second time, but his visit is coming just as we are learning that the US president is a snoop on a colossal scale. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that she will speak to the president about the surveillance program run by the National Security Agency, and the Berlin Interior Ministry has sent a set of 16 questions to the US Embassy. But Obama need not be afraid. German Interior Minister Hans Peter Friedrich, to be sure, did say: "That's not how you treat friends." But he wasn't referring to the fact that our trans-Atlantic friends were spying on us. Rather, he meant the criticism of that spying.
Friedrich's reaction is only paradoxical on the surface and can be explained by looking at geopolitical realities. The US is, for the time being, the only global power -- and as such it is the only truly sovereign state in existence. All others are dependent -- either as enemies or allies. And because most prefer to be allies, politicians -- Germany's included -- prefer to grin and bear it.
German citizens should be able to expect that their government will protect them from spying by foreign governments. But the German interior minister says instead: "We are grateful for the excellent cooperation with US secret services." Friedrich didn't even try to cover up his own incompetence on the surveillance issue. "Everything we know about it, we have learned from the media," he said. The head of the country's domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen, was not any more enlightened. "I didn't know anything about it," he said. And Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was also apparently in the dark. "These reports are extremely unsettling," she said.
With all due respect: These are the people who are supposed to be protecting our rights? If it wasn't so frightening, it would be absurd.
Friedrich's quote from the weekend was particularly quaint: "I have no reason to doubt that the US respects rights and the law." Yet in a way, he is right. The problem is not the violation of certain laws. Rather, in the US the laws themselves are the problem. The NSA, in fact, didn't even overreach its own authority when it sucked up 97 billion pieces of data in one single 30-day period last March. Rather, it was acting on the orders of the entire US government, including the executive, legislative and judicial branches, the Democrats, the Republicans, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Supreme Court. They are all in favor. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, merely shrugged her shoulders and said: "It's legal."
A Monitored Human Being Is Not a Free One
What, exactly, is the purpose of the National Security Agency? Security, as its name might suggest? No matter in what system or to what purpose: A monitored human being is not a free human being. And every state that systematically contravenes human rights, even in the alleged service of security, is acting criminally.
Those who believed that drone attacks in Pakistan or the camp at Guantanamo were merely regrettable events at the end of the world should stop to reflect. Those who still believed that the torture at Abu Ghraib or that the waterboarding in CIA prisons had nothing to do with them, are now changing their views. Those who thought that we are on the good side and that it is others who are stomping all over human rights are now opening their eyes. A regime is ruling in the United States today that acts in totalitarian ways when it comes to its claim to total control. Soft totalitarianism is still totalitarianism.
We're currently in the midst of a European crisis. But this unexpected flare-up of American imperialism serves as a reminder of the necessity for Europe. Does anyone seriously believe that Obama will ensure the chancellor and her interior minister that the American authorities will respect the rights of German citizens in the future? Only Europe can break the American fantasy of omnipotence. One option would be for Europe to build its own system of networks to prevent American surveillance. Journalist Frank Schirrmacher of the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper recommended that over the weekend. "It would require subsidies and a vision as big as the moon landing," he argues.
A simpler approach would be to just force American firms to respect European laws. The European Commission has the ability to do that. The draft for a new data privacy directive has already been presented. It just has to be implemented. Once that happens, American secret services might still be able to walk all over European law, but if US Internet giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook want to continue making money off of a half-billion Europeans, then they will have to abide by our laws. Under the new law, companies caught passing on data in ways not permitted are forced to pay fines. You can be sure that these companies would in turn apply pressure to their own government. The proposal envisions setting that fine at 2 percent of a company's worldwide revenues.
06/17/2013 01:46 PM
The German Prism: Berlin Wants to Spy Too
By SPIEGEL Staff
The German government has been largely silent on revelations of US Internet spying. Berlin profits from the program and is pursuing similar plans.
Just a few days ago, the man whom many Germans now see as one of the greatest villains in the world visited Berlin. Keith Alexander, the head of the world's most powerful intelligence operation, the National Security Agency (NSA), had arranged meetings with important representatives of the German government, including top-ranking officials in Germany's intelligence agencies and leading representatives of the Chancellery and the Interior Ministry.
Alexander gave his usual presentation about how the world could be more effectively spied on and allegedly made safer. At such presentations, the NSA chief likes to extol the virtues of his agency's "incredible technical expertise," and he urges allies to invest more in controlling and monitoring today's new technologies. Alexander maintains there has to be more intensive surveillance of the Internet.
But while they were still chatting about the Internet in Berlin government offices, news stories were breaking around the world that Alexander's NSA may already have the Web firmly under its control. A former US intelligence official named Edward Snowden had leaked information to the press on the virtually all-encompassing Prism online surveillance program.
The world soon learned that Alexander's NSA, with the help of direct access to the servers of US Internet giants, is able to secretly read, record and store nearly every type of digital communication worldwide. The public also discovered that the Americans have a preference for spying on Germany -- more so than on any other country in Europe. During the days of the Cold War, when Germans referred to the US as "big brother" it had a positive connotation. Now, that term has an entirely different meaning.
Snowden's leak raises important questions: How much surveillance of the Internet is a free society willing or able to tolerate? Does the fear of attacks justify a comprehensive monitoring of e-mails, search queries on Google and conversations on Skype? And can a country like Germany allow its citizens to be spied on by another country?
'The State Cannot Look Away'
Surveillance cannot be based on blind faith in a democracy, but rather on a wide degree of acceptance by informed citizens, politicians and allied countries. This is by no means the case with Prism.
There are plenty of reasons to venture a confrontation with the Americans over this issue, particularly in Germany, where there has been a greater awareness of the importance of data protection than elsewhere in the world, and where citizens have engaged in heated debates over routine data collection efforts such as the national census.
"When foreign agencies infringe upon fundamental rights on German territory, the state cannot look away," says Dieter Deiseroth, a judge at Germany's Federal Administrative Court. "Accepting the massive collection of private information would be a serious violation of the principle that every state has to defend such rights," he contends.
Will Revelations Disrupt Obama Visit?
Yet the German government and German intelligence agencies are reacting in such a blasé manner to the intrigues of their visitor from the NSA that it's as if they have been told something as banal as the notion that English is "de facto" the official language of the US.
The revelations appeared to be unpleasant for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was presumably concerned that the news could disrupt this week's carefully choreographed visit to Berlin by US President Barack Obama. During an internal discussion, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert reacted almost indignantly when the Justice Ministry urged an inquiry into the matter -- the only German ministry to make such a demand. Publicly, though, Seibert merely said that this "annoying" matter had to be thoroughly examined and that this review process remained ongoing. Furthermore, the Interior Ministry announced that it was discussing the issue with US agencies. Genuine concern would have sounded different.
Why is the German government reacting so calmly to something that it should find alarming? Perhaps because these revelations are nothing new for it? Because the Germans would like to enjoy the same capabilities that Prism affords the Americans? Or because our friends from the other side of the Atlantic so readily share their knowledge about the world and its villains with us?
Germans Would Like To Spy More
All of these motives probably play a role. The truth is that the Germans would love to be able to engage in more online espionage. Until now, the only thing missing has been the means to do so. Consequently, an outraged reaction from Berlin would have seemed fairly hypocritical.
Roughly half a dozen countries maintain intelligence agencies like the NSA that operate on a global scale. In addition to the Americans, this includes the Russians, Chinese, British, French and -- to a lesser extent -- Israelis and Germans. They have all placed the Internet at the heart of their surveillance operations. The vision of a wildly proliferating, grassroots, democratic Internet with totally secluded niches has long since become a thing of the past. Tomorrow's world is a digital habitat where even the most far-flung corners are exposed to outside eyes, and where everything can be stored for posterity -- and actually is stored, as with Prism.
What is surprising about the NSA's program is its size and professionalism. The objective here is also shared by agencies in other countries, above all the BND, Germany's foreign intelligence agency, which is currently significantly extending its capabilities. Last year, BND head Gerhard Schindler told the Confidential Committee of the German parliament, the Bundestag, about a secret program that, in his opinion, would make his agency a major international player. Schindler said the BND wanted to invest €100 million ($133 million) over the coming five years. The money is to finance up to 100 new jobs in the technical surveillance department, along with enhanced computing capacities. This may sound like a pauper's version of the Prism program, but it represents one of the most ambitious modernization projects in the BND's history, and has been given the ambitious German name Technikaufwuchsprogramm (literally "Technological Coming-of-Age Program").
Germany 's Mini-NSA
By the end of 2018, the German agency intends to become a kind of mini-NSA and finally be able to compete in the global espionage business. Legislators have already approved €5 million for 2014, but are still wrangling over the rest of the funding.
"Of course our intelligence agencies also have to be present on the Internet," says Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). "It is unacceptable that criminals are arming themselves technologically, using the Internet more and more efficiently -- and we, the state, can do nothing to stop them," says Friedrich, adding that the German government has to ensure "that we use new legal and technological approaches to compensate for our dwindling control over communications among criminals."
Until now, the monitoring capabilities of the BND have been much more modest than those of its big brother, the NSA, but they basically work according to the same principles. At key junctions for digital traffic in the country, the German foreign intelligence agency has set up its own technical accesses. They work like a police inspection on the Autobahn: A portion of the data stream is diverted to a parking lot and checked. Copies of the flagged-down data are directly forwarded to BND headquarters in Pullach, near Munich, where they are more carefully examined.
The largest traffic control takes place in Frankfurt, in a data processing center owned by the Association of the German Internet Industry. Via this hub, the largest in Europe, e-mails, phone calls, Skype conversations and text messages flow from regions that interest the BND like Russia and Eastern Europe, along with crisis areas like Somalia, countries in the Middle East, and states like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
German law allows the BND to monitor any form of communication that has a foreign element, be it a mobile phone conversation, a Facebook chat or an exchange via AOL Messenger. For the purposes of "strategic communications surveillance," the foreign intelligence agency is allowed to copy and review 20 percent of this data traffic. There is even a regulation requiring German providers "to maintain a complete copy of the telecommunications."
A Daunting Wealth of Information
In contrast to the NSA, though, the German intelligence agency has been overwhelmed by this daunting wealth of information. Last year, it monitored just under 5 percent, roughly every 20th phone call, every 20th e-mail and every 20th Facebook exchange. In the year 2011, the BND used over 16,000 search words to fish in this data stream. According to BND experts, over 90 percent of these are "formal" search criteria like phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses that lead to mobile phones and computers owned by private Internet users or companies that the BND suspects of engaging in illegal activities.
German Internet surfers are officially off-limits. If e-mail addresses surface that end in ".de" (for Germany), they have to be erased. The international dialing code for Germany, 0049, and IP addresses that were apparently given to customers in Germany also pass through the net. The idea here is to avoid infringing upon civil rights that are guaranteed in Germany -- analogous to the US, where the full weight of the surveillance state should not fall on its own citizens, but rather on foreigners.
During day-to-day Internet usage, though, it's hard to differentiate between "German" and "non-German." At first glance, it's not evident where users live whose information is saved by Yahoo, Google or Apple. And how are the agencies supposed to spot a Taliban commander who has acquired an email address with German provider GMX? Meanwhile, the status of Facebook chats and conversations on Skype remains completely unclear.
Following the use of this initial, loosely-woven net, BND investigators cast a finer one. Now, they are looking for concrete keywords. If anything touching on the area of proliferation comes up, for instance, the computer system sounds an alarm, such as when the names of certain chemicals are mentioned, or ingredients that Iran could use in its nuclear program. In recent years, BND officials have continuously refined their investigative methods. In 2010, the BND read some 37 million e-mails, including a torrent of spam. The fine-tuning was somewhat better in 2011, when only 2.9 million e-mails were caught in the net. Last year, only roughly 900,000 e-mails were diverted. While the Germans only sift through and evaluate a portion of the intercepted communication, and store just a fraction of this as relevant, the Americans collect everything, at least according to the recent leaks. In the US the basic principle appears to be that stored data is good data. Data protection authorities say that this basically flies in the face of the right to "informational self-determination."
Nevertheless, the official indignation over Prism has remained largely muted, partly because German authorities often benefit from the Americans' secrets. Information from the NSA has played a role in nearly every major German terrorist case over the past decade. For example, it helped lead to the arrest and conviction of the would-be terrorists in Germany's so-called "Sauerland cell," led by Fritz Gelowicz. In 2006, the NSA intercepted email traffic between Germany and Pakistan. The trail led to a group of German Islamists who were planning deadly bomb attacks in Germany.
All of this is vaguely reminiscent of the CIA's practice of torturing terror suspects. German intelligence agencies gladly accepted the results of "enhanced interrogation techniques," even if they preferred not to know exactly how this information was obtained.
The importance of the NSA to the German government was exemplified not only by agency head Alexander's stopover at the Chancellery, but also by a longer visit by German Interior Minister Friedrich at NSA headquarters in early May.
Still, one has to wonder whether the German government shouldn't better protect its citizens against foreign intelligence agencies like the NSA -- and whether it shouldn't at least show a modicum of interest in its secret programs.
Only One German Minister Criticizes Prism
"There are more questions than answers," says German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party. In a letter sent to European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding, she wrote that the alarming news had "sparked concern and indignation" in Germany. So far, though, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is the only member of the government to openly criticize the NSA practices. "President Obama has to provide a clarification," she says. "I am sure that Chancellor Merkel will ask some critical questions of Obama," she concludes.
Merkel could ask, for instance, why Europe's economic powerhouse is subjected to a similar degree of scrutiny as leading autocracies like China and Iran -- and what the legal basis for this is. She could also ask why the NSA monitors no other European country more intensively than its loyal ally Germany.
In any case, she will have to ask better questions than those posed by Cornelia Rogall-Grothe, a state secretary in the German Interior Ministry, who wrote last Tuesday on behalf of her ministry to the US Embassy in Berlin. Her queries read like an official declaration of helplessness -- or routine devotion to duty. "Are US agencies running a program or computer system with the name Prism?," the Interior Ministry official asked. She could have also asked if New York was located in the US. It sounded like a clueless request from the German government.
A Blind Eye
This attitude has a long tradition. When it comes to the thorny issue of American surveillance of German citizens, German politicians have never been courageous. Claus Arndt is a legal expert who served from 1968 to 1999 on the Bundestag's G-10 Commission, which decides on surveillance measures by intelligence agencies. He says that top politicians have never made an issue of surveillance by the Americans, and that they all "did their best to stick their heads in the sand." Perhaps it is this sense of fatalism that still influences certain government representatives today.
The special relationship between both countries dates back to the days of the Cold War. The Federal Republic of Germany had the Americans to thank for its security, if not for its very existence. In return, the authorities tended to turn a blind eye when American intelligence agencies operated on German soil. During this period, the allies secured wide-ranging surveillance rights in Germany, many of which are still valid today.
The Germans only objected when the Americans became far too brazen. Prior to the visit of US President Gerald Ford in Bonn in 1975, a team from the US intelligence agency insisted that it had to check that everything was in order at Palais Schaumburg, the former Chancellery, to ensure the president's safety. But then two men were caught fiddling with the phone lines. The head of the Chancellery threw the men out of the building.
But kicking someone out the door has become considerably more difficult in this age of online espionage. What's more, it requires wanting to eject someone in the first place.
Edward Snowden: the truth about US surveillance will emerge
In a live chat with Guardian readers, NSA whistleblower says US leaders cannot 'cover this up by jailing or murdering me'
Ewen MacAskill in New York
The Guardian, Monday 17 June 2013 07.27 BST
The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that the truth about the extent of surveillance carried out by US authorities would emerge, even if he was eventually silenced.
In a live Q&A with Guardian readers from a secret location in Hong Kong, Snowden hinted at more disclosures to come and that their publication could not be prevented by his arrest or – more chillingly – his death.
Answering a question about whether he had more secret material, the 29-year-old former National Security Agency contractor wrote: "All I can say right now is the US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."
Snowden, who is hiding in a safe house in Hong Kong, where he remains free despite admitting to the biggest leak of US secrets in a generation, spent nearly two hours taking questions on the Guardian website. His discussed issues ranging from why he picked a Chinese-controlled territory as his hideout to his specific concerns about the Obama administration. He also clarified questions about his salary at Booz Allen Hamilton and the the extent of access he had as a contractor for the NSA.
With opinion in the US divided between those who see him as a traitor and those who view him as a hero, Snowden said he fled the country because he did not believe he had a chance of a fair trial.
"The US government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That's not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it," he said.
Snowden, whose leaked documents opened a debate about the balance between intrusive government surveillance versus security, does not regard himself as having committed a crime but instead as the person exposing alleged criminality on the part of the Obama administration.
In the Q&A session, Snowden said he had initially been encouraged by the public response. "Unfortunately, the mainstream media now seems far more interested in what I said when I was 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than, say, the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history," he said.
Snowden emphatically denied speculation that he had cut a deal with the Chinese government, giving them classified documents in exchange for providing him with an eventual safe haven. In the most colourful quote of the interview, he said: "Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."
He claimed that he had not revealed documents about US operations about legitimate military targets. Snowden said he had focused instead on operations that targeted civilian infrastructure: universities, hospitals and private businesses. "These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target … Congress hasn't declared war on the countries – the majority of them are our allies – but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people."
Snowden, who spent a decade working with various defence contractors on secondment to the CIA and the NSA as a communications specialist, reiterated that he had delayed going public because of his hope that Barack Obama's election would mark a sea change but he had ended up disillusioned.
"Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantánamo, where men still sit without charge," he said.
During interviews in Hong Kong, Snowden expressed a desire once he had gone underground to speak directly to the public through a Q&A.
His choice of Hong Kong has left many puzzled, especially as he could have opted to fly direct to Iceland, which he said was his preferred asylum option and whose legislators have emerged as strong supporters of online freedom and whistleblowing.
Explaining his reasoning, Snowden said it had been risky for him to leave the US, as NSA employees have to declare foreign travel 30 days in advance. "Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current US administration," he said.
Snowden said he had chosen Hong Kong as a based because it provided a "cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained".
Addressing the backlash against him in the US, Snowden said much of it was predictable. He said: "It's important to bear in mind I'm being called a traitor by men like former vice president Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American."
Snowden also clarified a point about his salary, which he had put in an earlier interview at $200,000. His last employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, said he made $122,000 a year. Snowden, who held a number of posts in recent years, said $200,000 was a "salary high" and that he had taken a pay cut to work at Booz Allen.
Edward Snowden 'not a Chinese spy' - Beijing
Remarks follow accusation from Dick Cheney that whistleblower was a 'traitor' who may have had connection with China
Tania Branigan in Hong Kong
guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 June 2013 13.14 BST
China's foreign ministry has dismissed speculation that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden might have spied for Beijing as "completely groundless".
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying, speaking at a regular press briefing on Monday, also urged the US to "pay attention to the international community's concerns and demands and give … the necessary explanation" of its surveillance activities.
Her remarks were in response to questions from two state media organisations. She had previously declined to comment on the 29-year-old's case, or his claims that the US had hacked targets in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland.
On Sunday former US vice president Dick Cheney told Fox News that Snowden was a "traitor" and questioned his decision to travel to Hong Kong.
"I'm suspicious because he went to China. That's not a place where you would ordinarily want to go if you are interested in freedom, liberty and so forth," Cheney said, adding: "It raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this."
Cheney suggested that Snowden could still have confidential data and that the Chinese would "probably be willing to provide immunity for him or sanctuary for him in exchange for what he presumably knows or doesn't know".
Others have suggested that, if anything, Beijing could lean on the Hong Kong government to return him to the US for the sake of bilateral relations.
Hong Kong is part of China but enjoys considerable autonomy under the "one country, two systems" framework. Snowden told the Guardian he chose to go there because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent", and he believed it was one of the few places that could resist the US government.
But he also noted: "I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China."
He checked out of a hotel there to move to an unknown location last Monday, but told the South China Morning Post last week that he would stay and fight any request for his surrender in the territory's courts.
"I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American," he told the paper.
Any surrender request would normally be the decision of the Hong Kong government, but Snowden would be able to challenge it through the territory's legal system. However, lawyers think he would probably be unsuccessful in the end. In theory, Beijing could step in to stop him being sent back, but it would be unlikely to relish an all-out public row with the US.
Earlier on Monday, the populist state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said that agreeing to surrender Snowden to the US "would be a face-losing outcome for both the Hong Kong SAR [special administrative region] government and the Chinese central government".
It added: "Unlike a common criminal, Snowden did not hurt anybody. His 'crime' is that he blew the whistle on the US government's violation of civil rights.
"Extraditing Snowden back to the US would not only be a betrayal of Snowden's trust, but a disappointment for expectations around the world. The image of Hong Kong would be forever tarnished."
The newspaper does not represent the official voice of the government and often runs provocative material such as hawkish military commentaries.
But after years of criticism from the US over its human rights abuses and more recently hacking, Beijing appears to be enjoying its opportunity to turn the tables, with extensive coverage of the growing controversy over US surveillance on television and websites and in newspaper commentaries.
According to the latest revelations from top secret documents uncovered by Snowden and seen by the Guardian, British intelligence agencies intercepted the communications of foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009.
Obama defends 'system of checks and balances' around NSA surveillance
Addressing leaked NSA files, president says Department of Justice is investigating 'possible extradition' of Edward Snowden
Ewen MacAskill in New York
guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 June 2013 23.33 BST
Barack Obama addressed what he described as the public "ruckus" over the leaked National Security Agency surveillance documents on Monday, indicating that the US authorities would pursue extradition from Hong Kong of the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In his first public comments in 10 days about the NSA disclosures, Obama also said he had set an oversight board made up of independent citizens and the ordered the declassification of documents relating to surveillance to allow the public to see the broader context.
The president, who is attending the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, was speaking on PBS's Charlie Rose programme. Asked about Snowden, who remains free in Hong Kong and who took part in an online Guardian Q&A on Monday, the president said: "The case has been referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation … and possible extradition. I will leave it up to them to answer those questions."
Any request for extradition – technically a "surrender" in Hong Kong – would normally be the decision of the territory's government. Snowden would be able to challenge it through the Hong Kong legal system, although lawyers think he would probably be unsuccessful in the end. In theory, Beijing could step in to stop him being sent back, but it would be unlikely to relish an all-out public row with the US. Obama did not offer any more details about the process in his PBS interview.
Instead, he addressed criticism that he has shifted a long way from the liberal positions he championed during his 2008 White House race, and denied that he had adopted the surveillance regime put in place by the previous administration "lock, stock and barrel". Obama said: "My concern has always been not that we shouldn't do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances."
The president it was a "false choice" to say that American freedoms needed to be sacrificed in the goal of national security. "That doesn't mean that there are not tradeoffs involved in any given program, in any given action that we take. So all of us make a decision that we go through a whole bunch of security at airports, which when we were growing up that wasn't the case … To say there's a tradeoff doesn't mean somehow that we've abandoned freedom." He added that it was his job to "make sure that we're making the right tradeoffs".
Obama praised the professionalism of the NSA and insisted that it did not listen to the phone calls or read the emails of US citizens. Only the FBI had that power, and then only with a warrant.
The president conceded that while he was confident the necessary system of checks and balances was in place, the public might not fully be aware of this. "What I've asked the intelligence community to do is see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program."
He also disclosed that he had set up an "oversight board" to examine the issues of privacy. "I've stood up a privacy and civil liberties oversight board, made up of independent citizens including some fierce civil libertarians. I'll be meeting with them." He did not give any further details about the board.
Iceland: ‘Ministers do not respond to Snowden’s request’
18 June 2013
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the vast extent of US monitoring of Internet communications, has asked for political asylum in Iceland.
His request was submitted by Kristinn Hrafnsson, the WikiLeaks spokesman on the island, however, in the columns of Fréttablaðið, the journalist explains that neither the prime minister or the interior minister have yet to respond.
To pursue his application, Snowden will have to be present on Icelandic territory, explains Fréttablaðið. As it stands, the former CIA employee is still in Hong Kong.
Yahoo reveals US surveillance requests
Company follows Facebook, Microsoft and Apple in publishing details of data requests from law enforcement agencies
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 June 2013 08.39 BST
Yahoo has joined the increasing number of technology companies publishing details of how many requests US law enforcement agencies have made for data on their users.
The company gave more details of its dealings with US authorities as it sought to reassure customers in the wake of the scandal surrounding the National Security Agency's Prism surveillance programme.
A blogpost co-signed by Yahoo's chief executive, Marissa Mayer, and general counsel, Ron Bell covers the same period as Apple's disclosure earlier in the week: 1 December 2012 to 31 May 2013.
"During that time period, we received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests, inclusive of criminal, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and other requests," they wrote. "The most common of these requests concerned fraud, homicides, kidnappings, and other criminal investigations."
Mayer and Bell stated that they were legally unable to publish details of request numbers under the FISA. "We strongly urge the federal government to reconsider its stance on this issue," they wrote, before outlining plans for more transparency about the data Yahoo shares with law enforcement agencies.
"Democracy demands accountability. Recognising the important role that Yahoo! can play in ensuring accountability, we will issue later this summer our first global law enforcement transparency report, which will cover the first half of the year. We will refresh this report with current statistics twice a year."
Yahoo's disclosure of US requests between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013 can be compared directly with that of Apple, which said on Monday that it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from federal, state and local authorities in that time period.
Facebook and Microsoft's disclosures covered a different period: the second half of 2012. Facebook said it received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests in that six-month period, while Microsoft said it received between 6,000 and 7,000.
All the companies are fighting hard to regain any trust lost with their users since the Guardian broke the news of the NSA's Prism programme. Their initial public responses focused on denying all knowledge of any programme giving the NSA direct access to their servers.
In recent days, their strategy has shifted to espousing transparency by publishing their US request figures, while seeking to stress that they push back against requests they see as inappropriate.
When Facebook's published its requests data, the general counsel, Ted Ullyot, wrote: "We aggressively protect our users' data when confronted with such requests: we frequently reject such requests outright, or require the government to substantially scale down its requests, or simply give the government much less data than it has requested".
Apple's statement said: "Regardless of the circumstances, our legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities. In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it."
Yahoo's statement falls into that pattern too. "As always, we will continually evaluate whether further actions can be taken to protect the privacy of our users and our ability to defend it," write Mayer and Bell. "We appreciate – and do not take for granted – the trust you place in us."
Edward Snowden's live Q&A: eight things we learned
Key points from the whistleblower's responses to questions about the NSA leak
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 June 2013 12.47 BST
On Monday the whistleblower Edward Snowden gave an exclusive live Q&A to the Guardian to answer questions about the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history and revelations about government surveillance. Here are some key things we learned:
1. There is very little information on private individuals the intelligence services cannot get access to
The reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on – it's all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed …
If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time – and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.
2. Snowden waited to release the documents, hoping Obama would bring change
Obama's campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge.
3. He fears that the US will stop at nothing to silence him
All I can say right now is the US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.
4. Snowden is confident he has the public on side
If the Obama administration responds with an even harsher hand against me, they can be assured that they'll soon find themselves facing an equally harsh public response.
5. But he is less impressed with the media response
Initially I was very encouraged. Unfortunately, the mainstream media now seems far more interested in what I said when I was 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than, say, the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history.
6. Encryption offers protection
Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.
7. He isn't too upset about being called a traitor by Dick Cheney
Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.
8. And if Snowden had been planning to defect to China he'd be petting a phoenix right now
The US media has a knee-jerk 'RED CHINA!' reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.
on: Jun 17, 2013, 08:02 PM
|Started by Rad - Last post by Gray|
Hello Rad and Group,
I also intend to continue participating in this thread, and apologize for not making this post sooner. I've run across a number of obstacles recently in process of trying to write something, and though it is not as in depth as I would have liked, I would at least like to post what I have at this point. Thank you for waiting for me, and if I have the time I may make a few modifications to what I have included below.
Investigating the placement of Venus in the birth chart of Charles Darwin through our “planetary method” means exploring the types of values that Darwin lived from and that influenced his beliefs about the meaning of life. As we have already discussed that the soul intention of Darwin was to investigate the ultimate meaning of life through his intuition, research, and rational scientific method, examining how his Aries Venus influenced his beliefs concerning the meaning of life is very important, as it would influence the way he carried out his scientific method and interpreted the results. With an Aries Venus at the very end of his third house, Darwin had an intense self motivated drive to expand his consciousness and awareness of mental concepts underpinning the nature of reality. This Venusian value system influencing the process of his research methodology goes back lifetimes, because his Aries Venus is the ruler of the South Node of his Moon in his 5th House. As a result his Aries Venus is a major clue to the nature of his past incarnations and their relationship to the life and work of his soul’s incarnation as Charles Darwin.
An Aries Venus can often be narcissistic and intensely focused upon fulfilling desires of the self, and this is clearly the case with the past life ego identities of Darwin as the South Node of the Moon his Venus rules is also in the 5th House, meaning his past life identities had a sense of themselves as being special, with an important destiny to fulfill. In addition his South Node of the Moon is in Taurus, again giving an emphasis toward focusing upon his own internal nature and self-resources as a means to fulfill his special sense of a grand purpose in life. Incarnating as Charles Darwin with an Aries Venus at the end of his third house means that he would again have an intensely narcissistic value system underpinning his beliefs and motivations, and that he would again have a pull toward getting his own way or using others for his own purposes. It also means that his own glamorized sense of this special purpose he had to fulfill in his lifetime would mean that it would be challenging to fully commit his entire being to another in relationship, for fear of losing himself through enmeshment. Thus he would have a fear of not being able to complete his important work as a result of putting the needs of others in relationship at least at the same level as his own desire to complete his purpose, or through somehow losing himself in the relationship and putting completion of his purpose at risk as as a result. So, for example in his marriage while he may have outwardly sustained a committed partnership, internally there would have been a part of him more removed and more independently focused upon his own intellectual pursuits.
However, since Darwin has a skipped step of an Aquarius Chiron squaring his lunar nodal axis and a Scorpio Uranus conjunct his North Node of the Moon, it also means that in past lives Darwin had also begun a process of evolutionary development. However, these symbols indicate that it oftentimes took a crisis, at times even a cataclysmic crisis of intense trauma, to basically force him to move out of his own self-preoccupation and evolve his consciousness forward toward a more objective understanding that there are countless other special people in the world who have just as much right as he does to follow and fulfill their own special purposes in life, as well as that by forming relationships with others he could combine with them toward a more collective purpose instead of his own specialized individual life purpose. In other words, in one way or another he would take his self-obsessed Aries Venus value system and find a way to use his special sense of purpose to serve the greater humanity and fulfill the collective needs instead of his own personal egocentric needs. The Uranus and 11th house signatures combined with Scorpio would also indicate an evolutionary purpose to objectify his intense soul desires and come to a greater wholistic understanding of his nature, ultimately helping him liberate himself from past limitations. Thus these birth chart symbols in totality indicate that Darwin incarnated with an Aries Venus again in order to have the self-focused drive to follow through with his special purpose (which truly was important because of the extraordinary impact it would make upon the consciousness of humankind), but that in this incarnation he would be provided with opportunities to make new choices that would lead to more of a balance between pursuing his own passions and purposes and being aware of the needs, purposes, and passions of loved ones and other fellow humans in his path. His soul coming into its incarnation as Charles Darwin from a series of traumatic lifetimes in which it experienced intense crises, and as Darwin displaying a repressed nature at times that could be interpreted as being frozen in a way from this past life trauma, one reason Darwin had a Venus in Aries was to give him such an intense focus on self and his impulsive desires that he couldn't help but be moved into action at times by his Aries value system in a manner that wasn't just about being obsessed with himself, it would also have the purpose of helping him recover his essential Self from limitations of past conditioning.
Furthermore, the intensity of his past life trauma is so extreme it was like Darwin was operating from a perspective of post-traumatic stress from birth, without even being aware of it. The fact that Chiron is his skipped step, and he was born over a century before the discovery of Chiron, is an additional symbol to me of how unconscious this trauma would have been for him. His birth chart symbols also indicate that in this lifetime he would again face crises and traumas to force himself out of his own bubble and gain greater awareness of the presence and needs of others- since his Aries Venus is conjunct his IC and his fourth house cusp, this issue became important with regards to the marriage and family he created. It has been brought up in this thread that his soul’s previous incarnation was as the famous sea explorer William Dampier, a man who achieved great fame for himself through navigating around the world and publishing written accounts of his adventures that brought him a great following of readers. Dampier had a progression of first being essentially a pirate who would have been focused upon taking from others in order to perpetuate his own survival needs, to eventually a celebrated explorer and author who also took advantage at times of indigenous people he met in order to parade them about society and increase his own fame in the process. Dampier also had to defend himself against charges of cruelty and abuse against members of his own crew, and as a man spending most of his time sailing around the globe, he of course would not have been much of a devoted family man or romantic partner. All of these historical fragments about Dampier lend themselves to a portrait of a man who put a lot of energy and focus into succeeding at his own endeavors and acquiring a great amount of knowledge for himself that he could communicate in a third house manner to the world. In contrast, we can see the placement of Venus in Aries being at the very end of the third house and conjunct the IC and fourth house cusp in the incarnation of Charles Darwin to be a symbol of how Darwin did make choices to sustain a committed marriage and to be part of the life of his children, even though at the same time he was obsessed with his own intellectual pursuits and communication with the world at large. His soul has a deep history of conflicts between home, family, and career pursuits, and in the life of Charles Darwin these conflicts were brought up in sharp relief.
Further information about the influence of previous lifetimes through the placement of Darwin’s Aries Venus can be seen in the fact that the South Node of Darwin’s Venus is in Capricorn in his second house, conjunct his natal Capricorn Moon, as well as the south nodes of Jupiter, Pluto, Saturn, Vesta, and Mercury. The second house placement of this South Node of Venus, as well as the fact his Aries Venus rules his South Node of the Moon in taurus, means that Darwin’s Venus has a deep connection with survival issues going back lifetimes, and the other planetary south nodes indicate his survival resources included his beliefs, communication and perceptual skills, and understanding of ultimate reality. As JWG has written, the archetype of Venus correlates with the archetype of survival in every Soul, however, in the case of Darwin this is an especially strong correlation, since the South Node of his Moon is in Taurus and ruled by his Aries Venus. The soul of Darwin had learned that it could rely upon it’s own internal resources, in particular it’s highly developed mind and communication skills, in order to survive and in some lifetimes even flourish with a degree of fame. However, other symbols associated with his second house, such as his skipped step of Aquarius Chiron squaring his lunar nodes, indicate that he also could have faced traumatic survival issues at times that led him to become even more fixated and locked into looking to himself in order to survive instead of being open to merging with others. Darwin’s strong Capricorn energy in his second house also indicates that the value system his soul developed across lifetimes became heavily conditioned by society, and with a Saturn in the 12th House conjunct Jupiter, also strongly conditioned by dominant religious thoughts and beliefs of the time. At the same time, however, with his evolutionary development in an 11th house direction already partially developed, and with an Aquarius Sun also in his 2nd house, another element of the value system of Darwin’s was that he had an intention to ultimately liberate himself from these conditioned values. Thus, he was a complex character who had highly conditioned values he was living from as well as a value system that led him to want to liberate himself from this same conditioning.
Indeed, part of the evolutionary intention of Darwin having an Aries Venus in his third house is simply the exact placement of Venus itself, as the north node of his Venus is also in Aries and also conjunct the natal placement of his Venus in the third house. Thus, by following the lead of his Aries Venus and all of its aspects, he will be on the evolutionary path of his Venus, which involves helping to liberate him from past conditioning of belief systems dominating the cultures he lived within in past incarnations of his soul. This is partially done through Darwin re-living and re-experiencing past incarnational issues and soul wounds symbolized by the fact that this same Aries Venus is also the ruler of his south node of the Moon and so the themes of his past life ego identity. So his Aries Venus is yet another symbol of this, similar to how his North Node of the Moon is in Scorpio and ruled by his Pluto, meaning he would have an evolutionary intention of re-living and re-triggering past incarnational issues. We can see this in some of the main aspects of his Venus: for one, his Aries Venus being in balsamic semi-sextile to his South Node of the Moon reveals how it's self-centered focus would help him center on more timeless visions his soul had been developing across lifetimes that would lead him to let go of his past conditioning, and open himself to new ideas and impulses that could help move him more toward his evolutionary purpose of serving the collective needs of humanity. Furthermore, since his Aries Venus is in a gibbous inconjunct to his North Node of the Moon and Uranus in Scorpio, it shows how this evolutionary development to serve humanity would involve lessons of humility in which he would find a way to use his special abilities to serve the whole, instead of the narcissistic needs of his Aries Venus. Again, this aspect also indicates that this process would involve experiencing crises, and with his soul history most likely they would at times be crises that would re-trigger deep soul wounds in order to help him adjust and modify his Aries Venus value system to align with the needs of his external social environment. The intensity of his experiences in the end could help him dissolve his limiting past conditioning, and this can be seen in the fact his Aries Venus is also in a first quarter trine to a Sagitarius Saturn conjunct Neptune in his 12th House, a dissolving 12th House conjunction whose planets together rule his Capricorn Moon, South Node of Venus conjunct a stellium of South Nodes of planets, and his Pisces Pluto and Mercury. As a result of being full of himself in a very Aries Venus manner, he would in the end lead himself into intense situations and other experiences that would force him to face his evolutionary issues.
Darwin’s Aries Venus also correlates with the narcissistic and self-absorbed inner relationship his Soul had to himself, which then became the basis for how he related to others. So the past life identity of Darwin that his Aries Venus ruled came into this, and he tended to often relate to others in accord with how they could help him fulfill his own special purpose. Likewise, his own resulting inner magnetism would attract similar figures who would also look to use Darwin to aid their own purposes. So in this way he could have relationships in which he got something out of them in order to help him complete his own missions, and in which he would also help them at other times with their own missions. Thus a strong component of the intense curiosity his Third House Venus would express would be tied into listening to how others could help him. When listening to others in conversation, for example, his perception could be focused upon the information he could glean that would ultimately help him with his own intellectual work, instead of listening out of pure interest in the perspective and experience of the other person. As a result at times this could make Darwin appear to others like a self-obsessed intellectual who was more interested in his own mental pursuits than genuine emotional connection with others. This can be seen in how Darwin decided to get married in part because of a more rational analysis of how a marriage could help him in life, instead of through an intense passionate desire to merge with the being of a lover. Through the mirror side of his internal relationship with himself, it also indicates that in his external relationships he would also be used by others for their own purposes. With the self-focused nature of an Aries Venus, Darwin would be hypersensitive about being used in this way by others upon realizing it, even though he himself may have been doing it at times, and this would contribute to his periods of extreme depression and introspection. As a result he could have a feeling of disillusionment, and this would help explain how he could at times seem so dynamic and persistent about pursuing his special sense of destiny, and at other times appear to be hypersensitive and mired in deep levels of depression and darkness, including making himself ill in the process.
I feel part of the Libra side of Darwin’s Aries Venus can be seen in how not only does Gemini rule the cusp of his seventh house, that his Venus is in his Third House. Combined with the creative and energetic nature of his Venus being in Aries and ruling his South Node of the Moon in Taurus, it would mean that he would be able to form relationships with other narcissistic and self-focused beings who had a strong sense of self and highly developed internal resources. These people would be highly successful in some way in the external world, and with Darwin’s interests most likely in an intellectual capacity in some way. With his Aries Venus, Darwin could be quite charming with these relationships and ingratiate himself with them in a manner that they would follow through with helping him in some way. This can be seen in Darwin’s ability to win over extremely influential mentors and friends and every stage of his lifetime. Another symbol of this would be that his Aries Venus is ruled by a Libra Mars in his 10th House, and that in addition these relationships could trigger old incarnational issues since his Libra Mars squares his Capricorn Moon that is conjunct his stellium of south nodes of planets, including the south node of Venus. One example of a relationship like this would be Alfred Wallace- on the one hand, Darwin made choices to align more with his 11th house soul direction by deciding to help promote Wallace instead of entering open competition with him for developing similar ideas. However, at the same time Wallace could have been triggering for Darwin since while on the one hand they shared commonality in belief and intellectual theorizing, at the same time they had some sharp differences, and Wallace in particular held some beliefs that seemed to strike at the core of some of Darwin’s conditioned beliefs he seemed to have difficulty liberating himself from.
In addition, Darwin’s Aries Venus being in the third house that is associated with the Gemini archetype would bring up the polarity JWG described as a “reactive process” of “thought possibilities” in which he would learn about himself “through cycles of contraction which are induced as a reaction to excessive expansion” (Pluto book II, p. 140). In this way his Venus connects to his deep soul work of intense mental pursuits, going to the extremes of mental curiosity, research, and expression, only to come up against an obstacle or simply a sense to turn back inside in a more internal direction to withdraw and reflect in the face of acquiring an extreme level of new information and knowledge through his variety of mental pursuits. In this way the extremity of intellectual pursuits would enter a process of re-balancing by him also going through periods of solitude and withdrawal from the world and his intellectual striving. In Darwin’s case, again the idea of a crisis forcing this withdrawal at times can be observed, such as his repeated bouts with sickness and illness of one kind or another, as well as the death of beloved children or the risk of death of loved ones through illness.
Finally, Darwin’s Venus correlates with his sense of feelings through the self-absorbed and intellectually obsessed placement of his Venus in Aries and the Third House. Darwin could be hypersensitive and find ways to interpret stimuli in his environment to be about himself, to be a threat or insult to his sense of self in some way. With a Libra Mars in the 10th house that is square to his second house Capricorn Moon, it is almost as if he couldn’t help himself in forming relationships and asserting his Will into his external environment in a way that would ultimately trigger situations that would be deeply wounding to himself. This wounding, however, and extreme hypersensitivity, was serving a purpose of ultimately helping Darwin evolve if he could in the end objectify this emotional process and come to more of an understanding of the folly of him taking everything so personally on an emotional level.
Sexually, I feel the paradox of Darwin appearing to have been very repressed sexually, yet having an Aries Venus which can often correlate with a strong sexual nature and magnetism, can be better understood through the placement of Venus being at the end of the third house, and so still connected in some way with the Gemini archetype and so there could have been a more mental orientation to his sexuality. So in this way, part of his liberation from past sexual conditioning could have happened to a degree within in his own mind, with him thinking about various sexual scenarios and doing various sexual thought experiments in a way in which he would consider in his mind a wide variety of sexual experiences and even techniques. Thus his Venus being in Aries would on an instinctual level bring more thoughts of sexuality into his mind, so that even though he may not have been acting upon these sexual desires, there would have still been an internal process of liberating himself from past sexual conditioning occurring inside himself.
peace and love,
on: Jun 17, 2013, 05:40 PM
|Started by Rad - Last post by mirta|
I am in Rad.
on: Jun 17, 2013, 04:07 PM
|Started by Rad - Last post by ari moshe|
I'm definitely still in!
on: Jun 17, 2013, 12:43 PM
|Started by Rad - Last post by Upasika|
Hi Rad, I'm still keen.
on: Jun 17, 2013, 07:44 AM
|Started by Rad - Last post by Rad|
I would like to know how many of you wish to continue developing this thread.
God Bless, Rad
on: Jun 17, 2013, 07:39 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
In the USA...
US looks to G8 summit to build consensus over Syria
Washington in talks with allies over radical options including no-fly zone as plan for small arms support meets lukewarm reaction
Dan Roberts in Washington, Miriam Elder in Moscow, Richard Norton-Taylor in London and Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
The Guardian, Saturday 15 June 2013
The White House will use next week's G8 summit to seek international support for further intervention in Syria that may go beyond the limited military assistance announced on Thursday night, in an attempt to force the Assad regime and its Russian allies into meaningful peace talks.
Discussions are under way between the US and key foreign allies over a range of options, including a no-fly zone, and are likely to come to a head during the G8, when Obama is also scheduled to have bilateral discussions with President Putin.
As apparent US plans to provide small arms to rebel forces met with a disappointed reaction among commanders on the ground, attention is shifting in Washington to building consensus for more radical options.
"This is a fluid situation so it is necessary for [Obama] to consult with leaders of the G8 about the types of support that we are providing for the opposition," the deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said in a press conference on Friday.
On Friday night, Obama discussed the situation in Syria in an hour-long video conference with British prime minister David Cameron, French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian prime minister Enrico Letta ahead of next week's summit in Lough Erne.
However, the option of using western air power to impose a no-fly-zone is still seen as fraught with difficulties, according to diplomats in Washington, who say the US and Britain remain wary of becoming embroiled in an escalating military conflict.
Hopes of swiftly persuading the Russians not to oppose such a move were also dashed on Friday when Moscow said it did not believe new US claims of chemical weapons use by Syrian government forces and warned that even arming the rebels with guns would jeopardise peace talks.
Yury Ushakov, foreign policy adviswr to Vladimir Putin, said American officials had briefed Russia on Assad's alleged deployment of chemical weapons. "But I will say frankly that what was presented to us by the Americans does not look convincing," he said. "It would be hard even to call them facts."
Syria's foreign ministry accused the US of lying about chemical weapons use to give it an excuse to intervene. "The White House ... relied on fabricated information in order to hold the Syrian government responsible for using these weapons, despite a series of statements that confirmed that terrorist groups in Syria have chemical weapons," a spokesman said.
Instead, US diplomatic sources say Washington is likely to work with European and Arab allies to assess how much further it can go in supporting the rebels without triggering a wider international conflict.
"The Russians have been awful on this all along, so it's not surprising they are being difficult now," said one US government official.
David Cameron said Britain welcomed the changed US position over chemical weapons and military support, but UK officials said any decision to impose a no-fly zone or "safe havens" would need an international agreement.
"I think it, rightly, puts back centre stage the question, the very difficult question to answer but nonetheless one we have got to address: what are we going to do about the fact that in our world today there is a dictatorial and brutal leader who is using chemical weapons under our noses against his own people," said the prime minister in an interview with the Guardian.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the UN security council should meet urgently to reach a joint position on Syria. "We hope the security council will achieve a united approach," she told the BBC, adding that it would still be best to attempt an international Syrian peace conference.
But without the support of Russia, a permanent member of the security council, such consensus remains difficult.
Syrian rebels reacted with disappointment to the US announcement of military suppor", saying it would have limited impact if – as is widely understood in Washington – it was currently limited to small arms and ammunition.
Captain Ammar Jamal, an FSA commander in Damascus, said: "We need to know what kind of weapons. Are they going to send me a gun? What am I going to do with a gun?"
"We want anti-aircraft launchers and anti-tanks missiles would be great," he added.
Government forces are shortly expected to begin a major offensive against the rebel-held city of Aleppo, a factor that the White House said had helped prompt its decision to intervene.
But security analysts in Washington said the US decision to provide unspecified military support was unlikely to make much difference on its own.
Barry Pavel, a former senior director for defence policy and strategy on the National Security Council under President Obama, said: "It looks like this was an agreement to arm the rebels with small arms and possibly anti-tank missiles, but in light of what others are throwing at them, including Hezbollah and possibly Iran, I don't think it's going to help – these are baby steps."
Anthony Cordesman, who was director of intelligence assessment in the office of the secretary of defence and who now works at the Center for Stategic and International Studies, said Thursday's announcement should not be read too carefully and was likely just a first step in attempts to reposition the US.
"There is probably a reason for not saying too much before the G8 where there will be a final attempt to work with the Russians and be clear about what level of Arab support you have," he said.
"What is unclear to everyone in DC is whether the administration is going to go on doing too little too late to have meaningful effect. The problem is this is a White House that remains deeply divided."
On Thursday night, the White House hinted at the diplomatic tightrope walk to come.
"We're also going to be consulting in the days ahead with both Congress and the international community," Rhodes added.
"The president will also be consulting with his G8 partners in the United Kingdom beginning next week, and we'll continue to have discussions both with friends and allies, including those who have joined us and the Friends of the Syrian People and at the United Nations where we are sharing this information."
French officials are to meet for discussions this weekend with the head of the Free Syrian army, Salim Idriss, and the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, will hold telephone talks with John Kerry.
"Any final decision will be up to the three heads of state – France, the UK and US – at the G8," a French official said.
On the issue of any decision on military support, the official said: "We are waiting for talks at the G8. The acknowledgement from the US that Syria has 'crossed clear red lines', and the fact that France and the UK announced last week solid proof of the use of chemical weapons is changing things."
On Friday, France said that establishing a no-fly zone in Syria was unlikely for now because of opposition from some members of the UN security council.
Philippe Lalliot, the foreign ministry spokesman, said: "The problem with this type of measure is that it can only be put in place with approval from the international community. A decision from the United Nations security council is needed, and not just any decision."
A Chapter 7 resolution authorising military action was needed and that was unlikely to be passed, he said.
France, whose foreign minister said last month that "all options were on the table" in terms of responding to Syria's use on chemical weapons, will continue talks with the Syrian opposition this weekend.
Paris, which has channelled large amounts of medical and humanitarian aid and built on contacts in liberated zones, is concerned at Syrian government gains this month, including the taking of the former rebel stronghold of Qoussair, and the implications for the balance of force in the run-up to July's Geneva talks.
Apple releases figures on government data requests
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, June 17, 2013 7:05 EDT
U.S. tech giant Apple revealed on Monday it received between 4,000 and 5,000 data requests in six months from US authorities, days after Facebook and Microsoft released similar information.
Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and several other top Internet and technology companies have come under heightened scrutiny since word leaked of a vast, covert Internet surveillance program US authorities insist targets only foreign terror suspects and has helped thwart attacks.
In a statement on its web site, Apple said in the period between December 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013, federal, state and local law enforcement had requested customer information up to 5,000 times, related to between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices.
Most commonly, these requests were related to criminal investigations, searches for missing children or patients with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide, Apple said.
But the iPhone maker said it works vigorously to protect the privacy of its users and only provides information by court order.
“Regardless of the circumstances, our legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities,” it said, noting that sometimes the requests were denied altogether.
Apple also specified certain types of communications are protected, such as FaceTime and iMessage conversations, which are “protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them.”
“Apple cannot decrypt that data,” the statement said.
“Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.”
Facebook said Friday it had received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests for user data affecting 18,000 to 19,000 accounts during the second half of last year, while Microsoft said it had received 6,000 to 7,000 requests affecting 31,000 to 32,000 accounts during the same period.
Both firms said they were prohibited by law from listing a separate tally for security-related requests or secret court orders concerning terror probes.
Internet freedom group The Center for Democracy & Technology praised the release as an “important step” but urged the government to allow the companies to release further details.
There has been a public backlash for the tech companies since government contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of PRISM, a vast program that saw nine companies turn over user data to the US National Security Agency.
Leaked details of the program — first published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post — have reignited debate over the trade-offs between privacy and security more than a decade after the September 11 attacks.
The companies have denied claims the NSA could directly access their servers. US authorities have said the program was legal and limited.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers last week the program could have prevented 9/11 and said the leaks had caused “significant harm to our nation and to our safety.”
He also confirmed that Snowden was the subject of a criminal investigation.
Snowden, a 29-year-old IT technician, has gone to ground in Hong Kong, where he had surfaced for media interviews after the leaks were published. He has vowed to contest any extradition order in court.
Detainees’ defense lawyers want Red Cross’ secret Guantanamo files
Monday, June 17, 2013 8:56 EDT
By Jane Sutton
GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) – Lawyers for five prisoners accused of plotting the September 11 attacks in 2001 have asked to see confidential reports made by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross who visited the defendants at the Guantanamo detention camp.
The issue is one of dozens on the docket for a week-long pretrial hearing set to start on Monday in the death penalty case against the alleged mastermind of the hijacked plane attacks on the United States, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-defendants accused of funding and training the hijackers.
The judge will also be asked to decide whether the defendants can be excluded from the courtroom during pretrial discussions of classified material and whether military jailers are meddling in attorney-client communications, which are supposed to be confidential.
ICRC delegates have made more than 90 visits to the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba since the detention camp was opened in January 2002 to hold men captured in U.S. counterterrorism operations overseas.
The Geneva Conventions, the international treaties that govern the treatment of captives held during armed conflicts, authorize the Geneva-based group to make such visits to ensure that captives are treated humanely.
The ICRC keeps its findings strictly confidential, working privately with detaining authorities to improve conditions for captives.
“The ICRC is as secretive as the CIA,” joked Navy Commander Walter Ruiz, a lawyer who represents alleged al Qaeda money courier Mustafa al Hawsawi.
The 9/11 defendants, and about 10 other captives who were previously held in secret CIA prisons, are housed separately from the general prisoner population at Guantanamo, in a maximum-security facility known as Camp 7. The judge overseeing the trial ruled in January that defense lawyers could inspect the camp, but those visits still have not been arranged.
Defense lawyers want to see ICRC reports about conditions at Camp 7 to ensure they do not interfere with the defendants’ ability to help prepare a defense. The reports about their clients’ treatment could also yield mitigating information that might spare the defendants from execution if they are convicted of the most serious charges against them, which include terrorism, hijacking and murdering 2,976 people.
ICRC WILL OPPOSE REQUEST
The ICRC takes no position as to whether the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals comply with international law, the group’s lawyers said in a court document. But they will argue against releasing their reports to the defense lawyers, even though they have said they would not make them public.
“This absolute right to non-disclosure of the ICRC’s confidential information, including the right not to be compelled to testify in judicial proceedings, has been recognized consistently by international tribunals and by the international community,” the ICRC said.
The ICRC has said previously that its tenacious and confidential scrutiny of the Guantanamo detention operation has resulted in improvements in prisoners’ treatment. The group normally opens its archives after 40 years but can withhold personal details such as detainees’ names.
In a leaked memorandum in the New York Times in 2004, the ICRC accused the U.S. military of using tactics “tantamount to torture” on prisoners at Guantanamo. The Pentagon rejected the allegations of psychological and physical abuse and the ICRC declined to confirm or deny their authenticity.
President Barack Obama, who recently reiterated his intent to close the Guantanamo detention camp, has ordered the military to comply with the Geneva Conventions’ standards for humane treatment.
The State Department is expected shortly to announce the appointment of veteran Washington lawyer Cliff Sloan to oversee the closure of the Guantanamo prison, sources familiar with the decision said late on Sunday.
Bernie Sanders Strikes a Blow for Privacy With New Bill To Limit the Patriot Act
By: Jason Easley
Jun. 14th, 2013
Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation that would put strict limits on the domestic surveillance powers of the FBI and NSA.
In a statement, Sen. Sanders said, “We must give our intelligence and law enforcement agencies all of the tools that they need to combat terrorism but we must do so in a way that protects our freedom and respects the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.”
The legislation puts limits on what records can be search, and requires agencies to have reasonable suspicion based on specific information in order to obtain a warrant. There would be no more data mining through open ended court orders, and agencies would have to have reasonable suspicion to justify searches for each record or document. The bill would increase congressional oversight, and eliminate the presumption that anyone who is known to a suspect is relevant to an investigation.
Sen. Sanders is proposing a return to sanity. There is absolutely no justifiable reason for the open ended surveillance powers in the Patriot Act. It has been 12 years since 9/11. It is time to look past the hysteria that allowed a horribly flawed piece of legislation to be passed, renewed, and renewed again.
Bernie Sanders is doing something that his critics on the right are too afraid to do. He is challenging the status quo. Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden have let this story devolve into an agenda driven circus. The reason why I have been critical of the motives of both of these men is because Sen. Sanders’ legislation was exactly what I wanted to see. Glenn Greenwald is moving back to the fringe where he belongs, and I don’t care if Snowden is hiding out on the moon. The real issue here has always been the Patriot Act.
Greenwald over hyped his story, and completely missed the real value of what he was reporting. What the NSA is doing isn’t a scandal. It isn’t proof that Obama is the root of all evil. It is a great opportunity to demonstrate what the Patriot Act continues to do to our liberties.
Congress is full of national security cowards. Sen. Sanders is serving with people who recently voted to protect rapists in the military, because they didn’t want to take sexual assault investigation out of the chain of command. This legislation has zero chance of ever being passed, but this could be the most significant legislative effort to limit the Patriot Act that the country has ever seen.
The con men, the media whores, and the wanna be martyrs will continue to spin this and stumble down the wrong path. Real change will have to come from Congress, and Bernie Sanders took the first important step towards victory in the battle to restore our liberties.
Marco Rubio Embarrasses Himself While Trying to Bash Obama on Syria
By: Jason Easley
Jun. 16th, 2013
Sen. Marco Rubio embarrassed himself yet again on national television by putting his ignorance on full display while trying to bash President Obama on Syria.
Transcript from ABC’s This Week:
KARL: Thank you. so you have been pushing for a long time for the U.S. to arm the rebels. Is this going to make a difference?
RUBIO: Well, let me just say that in politics or in foreign policy, timing matters. So these were options that were there for us a year and a half ago, before this thing kind of became this chaotic. It behooved us to kind of identify whether there were any elements there within Syria fighting against Assad that we could work with, reasonable people that wouldn’t carry out human rights violations, and could be part of building a new Syria. We failed to do that. This president failed to do that.
So now your options are quite limited. Now the strongest groups fighting against Assad, unfortunately, are al Qaeda-linked elements. That doesn’t mean that they all are, but it certainly — this group has become the most organized, the best armed, the best equipped. Our options are now really narrower than they were a few months ago.
So look, I think we should continue to search to see if there are any elements fighting against Assad that are reasonable, that we can work with, that will respect human rights and hopefully build a new Syria. I just think it’s a lot tougher now when you’ve got Hezbollah running around and Russia fully arming Syria, and Iran fully engaged in this as well. I think that the fact that it’s taken this White House and this president so long to get a clear and concise policy on Syria has led us — has left us with the worst possible scenario right now.
KARL: OK, so we’re here now though. What would President Rubio do right now? Would you commit U.S. forces to — to a no-fly zone?
RUBIO: First of all, if I was in charge of this issue, we never would have gotten to this point. We would have identified elements that we could have worked with, and we would have made sure that those elements, not the al Qaeda elements, were the best armed, best equipped and best trained. That being said, I think we need to continue to search for elements on the ground that we can work with, and we should try to do the best we can to increase their viability and their strength so that even when Assad falls, and we hope that he still will, they will be the ones on the ground with — with the best ability to kind of manage a future, hopefully democratic Syria, and peaceful Syria.
Sen. Marco Rubio’s big plan for Syria is to find the good guys and work with them. That’s it. Finding the good guys equals victory. This “strategy” sounds an awful lot like George W. Bush’s strategy to win in Iraq. Rubio later goes on to show that he knows nothing about what he is talking about by suggesting that he would have done the same thing that President Obama is doing, but he would have done it sooner.
Rubio’s problem was that he HAD to find a way to bash Obama for doing exactly what he supported in the past, so he invoked the GOP’s silly find the good guys sooner criticism and ran with that. Marco Rubio demonstrated that he has very childlike view of the world. He and his party still believe that there are good guys and bad guys, and all we have to do is find the good guys in order to win.
In the real world, there are no black hats and white hats. In the case of Syria the Assad regime is the black hat, and the people fighting him are various range from black to gray hats. Sen. Rubio was pretending that if Obama would have acted sooner the pro-Islamist rebels who don’t want democracy would have been transformed into an entirely different kind of rebel force, but reality is much more complicated that Marco’s fantasy.
A UN investigation found that most Syrian rebels don’t want democracy, and that both Assad and the rebels are committing war crimes. As UN investigator Paulo Pinheiro put it, “There is a very complicated distinction between the bad and the good rebels.”
Sen. Rubio sacrificed facts in order to bash the president, and his answer was so embarrassing that it demonstrated why Rubio should never be taken seriously as a potential presidential candidate.
Rand Paul Claims Liberal Elites Want to Exterminate Christians
By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson
Jun. 15th, 2013
Rand PaulSen. Rand Paul (R-KY) went off the deep end this week at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to the Majority Conference. Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., he doubled down on the old War on Christianity meme that wears so well among the faithful. Despite shoving their religion down our throats for 2,000 years, we are to believe these poor bigots are in danger of extinction – whoever the Islamists don’t get, the liberal elites will.
Watch Courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
“It saddens me to see these countries that are supposedly our allies that they continue to persecute Christians,” he said, ignoring the persecution of non-Christians BY Christians here at home, in America.
It angers me to see my tax dollars supporting regimes that put Christians to death for blasphemy against Islam, countries that put to death Muslims who convert to Christianity and counties who imprison anyone who marries outside their religion.
Mr. Paul apparently thinks it is perfectly okay for Christians to treat non-Christians in these ways, for example, the “Kill the Gays” legislation in Uganda, or reducing the LGBT community and non-Christians to second-class citizen status here at home.
It angers me that my tax dollars go toward propping up the Church, when the First Amendment clearly states that the government shall make no law establishing religion.
“I say no more money to countries that are doing that to Christians.”
I say no more money to Christian organizations that harass and persecute anyone they don’t approve of.
“There is a war on Christianity,” he told his audience, well ahead of the Christmas season. “Not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide.”
By war on Christianity, he means we have the nerve to tell him we don’t feel his religious beliefs trump or own. The audacity!
“And your government, or more correctly you are having to pay for it. You are being taxed to send money to countries that are not only intolerant of Christians but openly hostile…”
Other countries, you say? Our tax dollars don’t have to leave these shores to support a religion that is not only intolerant of non-Christians (or the wrong kind of Christians) but openly hostile.
He kinda misses the entire point of the First Amendment, doesn’t he?
Rand Paul doesn’t care about the persecution of gays and lesbians, or of transgenders. He doesn’t care about the persecution of Pagans or secularists or of atheists. He doesn’t care about anyone but Christians.
Christians have never been the target of persecution in the Western world since the fifth century, and before that, they were persecuted for less than ten years total. Less than ten years. Christianity has been systematically persecuting people since the fifth century and it is still doing so today, right here at home Right in front of Rand Paul’s eyes. Right in front of his audience’s eyes.
By campaigning against the First Amendment, Rand Paul has shown himself to be completely unsuitable for high office. His job is to represent everyone in his district, not only Evangelical Christians. His job as president would be to represent the interests of ALL Americans, not only Evangelical Christians.
But Rand Paul can’t and won’t do that. Rand Paul is a tool of the Religious Right and his avowed fears of an Islamic Caliphate fall just a little flat when he himself aspires to be a Caliph here at home. The presidency is a secular – not a religious – office, and Rand Paul and his supporters would do well to remember that in an age of declining church membership and young people increasingly tired of the persecution of their friends.
The Republican tent has gotten very small, and unfortunately for the GOP, Republicans seem to embrace that fact, using language that, while sure to appeal to the base, alienates the rest of America. Their problem in an ecumenical sense, is similar to their immigration problem.
Pragmatically, it would benefit them to tone down the holy war rhetoric but they can’t. This sort of thing builds up a momentum of its own. There is no backtracking from either/or propositions. They have declared the rest of us to be evil, and you cannot compromise with evil.
Pragmatism is a dinosaur in the Republican Party, as you can see from some of the crazy remarks coming out of this year’s conference. US News & World Report gives us a quick rundown:
“We gotta put some salsa sauce on the Republican party.” – Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, calling for more Latino outreach by the Republican party. He also encouraged delegates to “just reach out and grab that brown hand.”
“Immigrants are more fertile.” – former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, making the case for immigration reform
“College campuses are indoctrination camps for the abortion industry.” – Kate Obenshein, vice president of Young America’s Foundation, in a panel on advancing the pro-life movement. She also called Planned Parenthood “barbarians.”
“We are at a tipping point the likes of which we have never seen in civilization.” – Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., on government spending.
“Allen West is a real American … We should really take something from his gene pool and put it everywhere across this great country.” – actor and conservative speaker John Ratzenberger, best known as “Cliff” from the TV show “Cheers,” introducing West to the convention crowd.
“We lost because Obama won crushing, lopsided majorities among Americans who are single, poor, irreligious … There are people who are all three.” – Michael Medved, conservative radio talk show host, on why Republicans lost the 2012 presidential election.
John Ratzenberger wanting to spread of Allen West’s sperm is disturbing enough, and contrary to Ann Coulter, it is not Marco Rubio (ironically, a past speaker at the conference) and the other Republicans who support immigration reform who will destroy the Republican Party. It is the religious bigots like Rand Paul, Michele Bachmann, and others.
Paul and his audience won’t see that – their religious zealotry has blinded them to our shared reality and to cause and effect. They are blinded by hatred for humanity, and if this is their battle cry for 2016, they have lost already.
The Republican Party Is Teaching Hate by Passing Their Bigotry Down To The Next Generation
Jun. 16th, 2013
Americans love to mark specific days to celebrate and honor important American achievements and various members of society, and cynics often state the obvious that days honoring children, grandparents, mothers, and fathers are promoted mercilessly by commerce to guilt consumers into spending their hard-earned cash. In 1910, as a complement to the day honoring mothers, a day celebrating fatherhood and to honor male parenting began humbly in Spokane Washington, and after a slow start, it has become a commercial success and for many, the one day each year they express gratitude for their fathers. There is little doubt that fathers play a crucial role in how their children grow and develop into adults, and it is true that one can learn a great deal about a father through their children’s attitudes, work ethic, and morality whether for the better or worse, and after recent revelations two Republican legislator’s sons posted vile bigoted remarks on social media, it informs they are, if not their fathers’ sons, they are certainly Republican Party sons.
First, it is important to acknowledge that not all Republicans are racists, homophobes, anti-immigrant, and sexist sycophants, but there is no denying the Republican Party made great use of coded, but glaringly obvious, references to lazy African Americans, dangerous immigrants, and homosexuals ripping apart the moral fiber of America before, during, and after the campaigns in the 2012 election. None of the references were accidental, and they catered to the significant number of bigoted voters Republicans counted on to win their respective elections whether it was for state or national legislatures or the presidency of the United States. It cannot be disputed that Republicans would not risk alienating minority, immigrant, women, or gay voters if they were not certain their supporters would have little trouble decoding not-so-subtle bigotry and show up at the ballot box to support candidates that shared their bigotry. Subsequently, Republican politicians’ children learned to recognize GOP dog whistles to racists, homophobes, anti-immigrant, and sexist voters and two examples are Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Representative Joe Heck’s (R-NV) sons.
Jeff Flake’s son, Tanner, chose the moniker “n*ggerkiller” for an online game, made comments on YouTube freely using the n-word, referred to Mexican Americans as “the scum of the Earth,” and used “f*ggot” and “Jew” freely on social media outlet Twitter. Heck’s son, Joey, revealed he learned from Republicans’ coded bigotry and used words such as “f*ggot” and “n*gga,” and demeaned Mexican Americans claiming New York Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez “can hop the border faster than he can throw the ball.” He also parroted Republican anti-gay rhetoric that, “there are gays everywhere. Maybe that’s god’s way of thinning the population because faggots can’t have babies.” The young Heck also assailed presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz as unqualified because of her gender, and that Willard Romney “made Barack Obama his ‘slave.’” He also asserted President Obama was “promoting the sports of spear chucking and rock skipping; sports they do in his home country.” Now, it is impossible to know for sure whether Flake and Heck’s sons learned their bigotry while campaigning with their dad’s or in the backyard playing catch, but they certainly noticed the dog whistles the fathers’ party used during the 2012 campaign.
Republicans made frequent use of terms their constituency understood to demean African Americans and minorities with words such as “illegals,” Newt Gingrich decrying Obama as the “food stamp President,” Romney claiming Obama supporters want “handouts,” and “welfare;” especially during the Republican primaries in Southern states. Although not repeated openly by Republicans in Congress, GOP leaders never tamped down claims by right-wing conspiracy theorists questioning the President’s citizenship, or assertions he was a “Muslim, power-mad socialist, dumb affirmative-action baby,” or that he won the presidency because of promotion by “a race-crazed, condescending liberal elite.” In a more direct form of racial animus, Republicans at all levels have been exposed for sending racist emails they dismissed as “politically inspired jokes” and never racially insensitive. It is likely that after four years of Republican propaganda, the racial hostility targeting the President did rub off on Flake and Heck’s sons, and it seems obvious they failed to condemn the racial animus at home or their children would not feel comfortable spreading hate on visibly open social media forums that were sure to be exposed.
It is entirely possible that Senator Flake and Representative Heck are not bigots in Republican ranks, and it is true their supporters do not define the politicians, but it is curious they never condemned the racial animus of their supporters. Republican fathers must understand that every time they address supporters decrying the gay threat, lazy African Americans stealing wealth from white people, immigrants polluting America, and the African
American President who “needs to learn to be an American,” their children standing behind them absorb every word as gospel. Perhaps men like Flake and Heck spent quality time teaching their sons that part of campaigning is repeating bigoted rhetoric and just politics as usual and not their true sentiments, but based on their sons’ openly bigoted remarks, it is doubtful they were doing anything but parroting what they spent their short lives learning at home and on the campaign trail.
It is truly tragic that the majority of bigotry both adults and children express openly was passed down from father, and mother, to children over generations. Children are not naturally bigoted, prejudiced, or full of hate, but they are natural sponges and they pick up every bigoted remark their parents utter whether it is demeaning gays, minorities, or a religion other than Christianity. Politicians’ children are not immune from their fathers’ rhetoric, and neither are children of parents parroting demeaning remarks made during the long and perpetual campaigns Americans suffer through. The Republican Party is guilty of perpetuating racial animus, anti-gay sentiments, and the hateful intolerance toward immigrants to garner support from the current and next generation of bigoted voters. Fathers cannot control what Republican politicians do in words and deeds, but they can shield their sons and daughters from their bigoted rhetoric; unless they are Republican politicians themselves and in that case, they have already programmed the next generation of bigots. Happy Father’s Day.
This Is What Happens When Common Sense Invades the Republican Party
By: Black Liberal Boomer
Jun. 14th, 2013
Being found in possession of even a sliver of conscience and an ounce of common sense is proving to be a serious liability for certain Republican leaders.
You may have seen the stories in recent weeks about how Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer are both throwing their political weight behind Medicaid expansion – and thereby helping thousands of poor people in their states and cooperating with the sin of Obamacare at the same time - which has put them in direct head-to-head conflict with the frustrated wishes of those perpetual ankle biters we all know and love so well known as the Tea Party.
This is a rather comical dilemma to observe to anyone who is even remotely familiar with these two political characters. Brewer, of course, is now known for being the disrespectful little twit of a Governor who had the nerve to wag her finger in the face of the President of the United States in front of all available cameras as if he were some sort of errant schoolchild. Tea Party types and other related dimbulbs took great delight in watching Brewer pose as someone who wasn’t afraid to disrespect the nation’s Commander in Chief. As for Snyder, he has gained nationwide recognition – and appreciation from those same Tea Party types – for hijacking democracy in his own state while gleefully ignoring the will of the voters as he works to transform the rights and privileges of his office to better resemble something more befitting the king he believes himself to be.
But now, at this late date, the confounding duo has made the decision to exercise a bit of decency and common sense, possibly hoping against hope that even the Tea Party would be able to understand why denying the benefits of Medicaid to lower income people in their economically troubled states might not be an intelligent decision at this time. But, alas, the Tea Party section of the Republican party is where hope goes to lay down and die.
From the Detroit Free Press:
As the state House of Representatives begins debating a new Medicaid expansion bill, tea party activists are fighting back.
A coalition of tea party groups sent an open letter to Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday, saying he risks losing their support for re-election for his embrace of Medicaid expansion as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
They said that support and his invitation to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the state to push the expansion, “Is the straw that has broken the camel’s back for grassroots activists and in no way represents conservatives.”
“Governor Snyder has gone too far by seeking help from one of the most polarizing figures in modern history, a representative of the most destructive American President of our history as a nation,” the letter says.
From Think Progress:
Brewer is far from the only Republican official to endorse expansion. But the combative governor’s tenacious — and often aggressive — pursuit of expanding Medicaid has taken many political observers by surprise.
While promoting Medicaid expansion in March, Brewer warned that the “human cost” of failing to expand the program ”can’t be calculated.” At another rally, she sounded defiant in the face of Republican political blowback. “This is a fight worth fighting for. Are we going to win? Darn right, we are going to win,” she told a cheering crowd.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that expanding Medicaid would cut Arizona’s uninsurance by almost a third. That means that about 50,000 poor Arizonans would have access to basic and specialty health care, including diagnostic and clinical services, as well as care for the disabled and the mentally ill.
Brewer has followed up on her tough rhetoric with action. She recently vetoed five bills in quick succession to show her displeasure with the legislature’s inaction, following through on a threat she made to shut down lawmaking until Medicaid and the budget issue was resolved.
The arm-twisting appears to have worked, despite sharp criticism from conservatives in her own party. The chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee called Brewer a “rogue governor” in a letter warning Republican state senators not to buck the traditional party line on Medicaid. Tea Party activists have dismissed her actions as “tyranny.”
Stay tuned. This could be fun.
Bill Clinton Brilliantly Eviscerates the Blind Stupidity of The Tea Party
By: Jason Easley
Jun. 14th, 2013
Former President Bill Clinton called out the tea party for discouraging bipartisanship by wanting people to check their brains at the door.
Alex Wagner: Do you think bipartisanship is dead? Governor Christie is going to speak at CGI America. He plays a boardwalk game with President Obama and it is a national issue. They go and tour the state of New Jersey after devastating storms He’s hand-in-glove with the president on recovery efforts and the Republican Party is furious. What is going to happen to Chris Christie when he comes — and again, is pledging to work with the efforts — work in hand with former Democratic president?
President Clinton: Well, it’s interesting. I think in the culture of the Northeast, if you’re a Republican and want to get elect and re-elected, bipartisanship is imperative. In sort of the way we’ve separated out our cultures, in the Deep South and some of the intermountain west, if you want to do that, you get creamed. I mean I saw that this Republican woman who was a third-generation I think owner of a general store that sold guns and had 100% NRA record was the chairman of the committee in the Tennessee legislature that referred a bill to committee, she basically killed the bill for the session that the NRA wanted that said you could carry your loaded concealed weapon anywhere and leave it in any parking lot. Any parking lot at all. And they ran pictures of her and her district with President Obama and beat her by 16 points in the primary. In other words, they’re basically trying to get everybody to check their brain at the door.
Bob English got beat in South Carolina because he said he realized he didn’t have to hate the president to disagree with him. And that global warming was real. Boy, those were non-starters. He gets beat more than 2 – 1 in the primary. So there are cultures in which this is happening.
But in the end, this constant conflict, this ideological war, is wildly ineffective at getting anything done. It won’t work in the modern world. So I think that where bipartisanship is possible, you just have to keep working on it. Congress cannot function. Part of this, to be fair, it is reapportionment. but a part of it is, look at the media. Why are you successful? Finally people think we’ve got an answer to Fox. Why are all these things being broken up in niche networks? We’re sorting ourselves out by what we believe. I tell everybody now it is America’s last remaining bigotry. We’re less racist, sexist, homophobic than we used to be. We just don’t want to be around anybody that disagrees with us.
Notice that Clinton mentioned two examples where more extreme right wingers punished Republicans for daring to express bipartisan thoughts or defying the will of the NRA. The same closed mindedness also exists on the extreme left, but the difference is that the far left doesn’t primary Democrats who they feel run afoul of their agenda.
President Obama and congressional Democrats spent years reaching out to Republicans in a bipartisan way. Their efforts were regularly rebuffed by congressional Republicans who are terrified that any expression of bipartisanship will get them primaried.
The main reason why the far right has been able to kill bipartisanship is that the Republican Party has gotten smaller. Reagan’s big tent has been replaced with a one idea pup tent. Chris Christie stands out because he is one of the last of an endangered species. He is a Republican that will express the occasional bipartisan thought.
Too much ideological rigidity is a bad thing. I cringe every time Obama offers to compromise with Republicans and the far left goes on their tea partylike rant about how the president is caving. Politics shouldn’t viewed as the zero sum game that many see it as today. President Clinton understands the problem and the solution. The hard part is going to be getting the country back to where it needs to be.
on: Jun 17, 2013, 07:17 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
Valentina Tereshkova became first woman in space 50 years ago
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, June 16, 2013 0:49 EDT
On June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly into space in a major propaganda coup for the Soviet Union.
Two years after Yuri Gagarin’s historic first manned flight, Tereshkova blasted off in a Vostok-6 spaceship, becoming a national heroine at the age of 26.
She remains the only woman ever to have made a solo space flight.
In April 1962, officials narrowed down the candidates for the flight to five. In a top-secret process, they picked two engineers, one school teacher, one typist and one factory worker who had performed 90 parachute jumps: this was Tereshkova.
After seven months of intensive training, they chose Tereshkova, who grew up in a peasant family and was a Communist Youth (Komsomol) leader at her textile factory in the historic city of Yaroslavl, around 280 kilometres (174 miles) from Moscow.
Tereshkova was not allowed to confide even in family members, who only learnt of her exploit when Moscow announced it to the entire world.
When she blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, another Soviet spaceship, Vostok-5, was already in orbit for two days, piloted by cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky.
During her three-day mission, Tereshkova circled Earth 48 times. On the first day, she communicated with Bykovsky and even sang him songs. Their communication was then interrupted as the two spaceships moved further away from each other.
Her flight experienced numerous glitches which were only made public after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“A problem appeared on the first day of the flight,” Tereshkova said at a press conference in Star City, home to a cosmonaut training centre, earlier this month.
“Due to a technical error, the spaceship was programmed not for a landing but for taking the ship into a higher orbit,” she said, meaning that the ship was heading further and further from Earth.
The error was corrected, but chief constructor Sergei Korolyov asked Tereshkova not to tell anyone.
“I kept the secret for 30 years,” she said.
Tereshkova wrote in her official report that her spacesuit hurt her leg and that her helmet weighed down her shoulders and scratched her head. She also said she vomited during the flight.
This information was also kept under wraps in order not to spoil the triumph of the first woman in space.
Tereshkova’s landing also prompted concerns at mission control. She had difficulty in guiding her spaceship and her communications were cut off just before descent began, Soviet general Nikolai Kamanin, who was in charge of the space sector at the time, revealed later.
Tereshkova catapulted out of her space capsule — as was then standard procedure — and parachuted down to land in Altai in southern Siberia.
But mission control did not know Tereshkova’s location for two hours after she landed, spaceship constructor Boris Chertok admitted in his memoirs.
Rescuers finally found her tens of kilometres away from the expected spot.
Tereshkova has said in interviews that during the landing her nose smashed against the visor of her helmet and she had to cover up the bruise with make-up at official ceremonies.
After her accomplishment, the second woman to go into space in 1982 was also from the Soviet Union, Svetlana Savitskaya. In 1983 the first American woman, Sally Ride, followed.
Since then more than 40 women from the US have gone into space, but just one other Russian, Yelena Kondakova, in 1994 and 1997.
Doctor Yelena Dobrokvashina trained for 14 years for space and was set to take part in an all-female mission with Savitskaya that was eventually dropped.
“It was probably because of male chauvinism,” Dobrokvashina, now employed at the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems that works with cosmonauts, told AFP.
“When we were training at Star City, the space industry chiefs were divided: some supported the all-female project, while others could not stand the idea.”
Now another would-be cosmonaut, Yelena Serova, 36, is training for a six-month mission to the International Space Station next year.
Speaking to AFP, she called Tereshkova “a heroic personality, the woman of the century”.
“If all goes well and my flight goes ahead, that will be a signal to encourage more and more women to try their strength in space,” she said.
Like Gagarin, Tereshkova made just one space flight.
Several months afterwards, she married a cosmonaut, Andriyan Nikolayev. Their marriage was “probably useful for politics and science”, wrote General Kamanin.
In 1964 she gave birth to a daughter Yelena. The couple later divorced and Tereshkova remarried.
After occupying various honorific roles during the Soviet period, at 76 Tereshkova is a lawmaker for the ruling United Russia party.
But the adventurous spirit remains: she said this month that she would be “ready” to fly to Mars, even if it were a one-way trip.