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Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
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News and Opinion


A must read.  I excerpted some of it, but you owe it to yourself and to the author to click and go over and read it.

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Aaron Swartz

Three stories, different yet the same. All about important American tech innovators who broke the law. In Jobs’ case running a business that profited by denying phone companies revenue from long distance phone calls. In Zuckerberg and Swartz’s case violating the security rules of a university’s computer system in Massachusetts. All broke the law yet only one faced an unremitting campaign of personal destruction. Why? How was Swartz different?

Jobs was notorious for his lack of civic engagement not even bothering with the standard CEO photo op philanthropy. He absurdly asserted his products were his great contribution to humanity no other offering was necessary - child slave workers notwithstanding.

On the other hand, Zuckerberg has diligently worked to ingratiate himself with the powers that be – forging relationships with media barons, funding right-wing political projects, and now diving head first into partisan politics. Zuckerberg is playing the game and winning.

But Swartz did not want to play the game, at least not that game and unlike Jobs he did believe in participating in civil society. Yet Swartz’s beliefs in an open society and open information also put him beyond the myopic Silicon Valley policy agenda of more STEM education and easier work visas for foreign engineers. So after cashing out at reddit he chose to dedicate himself to a life of strong progressive activism outside the limited option of promoting entrepreneurship the go to issue for those in the tech community who want to be involved in politics but not be political.

Kiriakou and Stuxnet: the danger of the still-escalating Obama whistleblower war
The only official punished for the illegal NSA program was the one who discussed it. The same is now true of torture

To understand the Obama White House's obsession with punishing leaks - as evidenced by its historically unprecedented war on whistleblowers - just consider how virtually every significant revelation of the bad acts of the US government over the last decade came from this process. Unauthorized leaks are how we learned about the Bush administration's use of torture, the NSA's illegal eavesdropping on Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the secret network of CIA "black sites" beyond the reach of law or human rights monitoring, the targeting by Obama of a US citizen for assassination without due process, the re-definition of "militant" to mean "any military age male in a strike zone", the video of a US Apache helicopter gunning down journalists and rescuers in Baghdad, the vastly under-counted civilians deaths caused by the war in Iraq, and the Obama administration's campaign to pressure Germany and Spain to cease criminal investigations of the US torture regime.

Choice of Mary Jo White to Head SEC Puts Fox In Charge of Hen House

 It didn't take long for Morgan Stanley to work its way up the SEC chain of command. Within three days, another of the firm's lawyers, Mary Jo White, was on the phone with the SEC's director of enforcement. In a shocking move that was later singled out by Senate investigators, the director actually appeared to reassure White, dismissing the case against Mack as "smoke" rather than "fire." White, incidentally, was herself the former U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York — one of the top cops on Wall Street . . .

Aguirre didn't stand a chance. A month after he complained to his supervisors that he was being blocked from interviewing Mack, he was summarily fired, without notice. The case against Mack was immediately dropped: all depositions canceled, no further subpoenas issued. "It all happened so fast, I needed a seat belt," recalls Aguirre, who had just received a stellar performance review from his bosses. The SEC eventually paid Aguirre a settlement of $755,000 for wrongful dismissal.

It got worse. Not only did the SEC ultimately delay the interview of Mack until after the statute of limitations had expired, and not only did the agency demand an investigation into possible alternative sources for Samberg's tip (what Aguirre jokes was like "O.J.'s search for the real killers"), but the SEC official who had quashed the Mack investigation, Paul Berger, took a lucrative job working for Morgan Stanley's law firm, Debevoise and Plimpton, just nine months after Aguirre was fired.

Only Three Choices for Afghan Endgame: Compromise, Conflict, or Collapse

The first, compromise, suggests the possibility of reaching some sort of almost inconceivable power-sharing agreement with multiple insurgent militias.  While Washington presses for negotiations with its designated enemy, “the Taliban,” representatives of President Hamid Karzai’s High Peace Council, which includes 12 members of the former Taliban government and many sympathizers, are making the rounds to talk disarmament and reconciliation with all the armed insurgent groups that the Afghan intelligence service has identified across the country. There are 1,500 of them.

One member of the Council told me, “It will take a long time before we get to Mullah Omar [the Taliban’s titular leader].  Some of these militias can’t even remember what they’ve been fighting about.”

The second scenario, open conflict, would mean another dreaded round of civil war like the one in the 1990s, after the Soviet Union withdrew in defeat -- the one that destroyed the Afghan capital, Kabul, devastated parts of the country, and gave rise to the Taliban.

The third scenario, collapse, sounds so apocalyptic that it’s seldom brought up by Afghans, but it’s implied in the exodus already underway of those citizens who can afford to leave the country.  The departures aren’t dramatic.  There are no helicopters lifting off the roof of the U.S. Embassy with desperate Afghans clamoring to get on board; just a record number of asylum applications in 2011, a year in which, according to official figures, almost 36,000 Afghans were openly looking for a safe place to land, preferably in Europe.  That figure is likely to be at least matched, if not exceeded, when the U.N. releases the complete data for 2012.

FDR's Four Freedoms: Diminished and Defiled

In a 1941 Message to Congress Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to explain what it means to be free. He outlined the "four essential human freedoms":

The first is freedom of speech and expression...
The second is freedom of every person to worship...
The third is freedom from want...
The fourth is freedom from fear.
The 2013 version shows how our freedoms have been diminished, or corrupted into totally different forms.




Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest









Marvin Gaye - Medley
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