Saturday, August 31, 2013

One, Two, Three, Four, When Are We Going to Go to War? Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Are You Out of Your F__king Mind! (What We Should Know Before Waging War on Syria)

I. Introduction

Everything is politics, from what we eat to what we drink, from what society deems acceptable behavior to what it considers a criminal offence, from who we interact with to how we interact with them. Politics decides if we are free or if we live as slaves in bondage.

Politics determines what our children are taught in school, how we treat the ecosystem, what theories scientists investigate, how art is perceived (video), what version of history we recall, and how the future will remember us.

In essence, politics governs our thoughts, our understanding of reality, and how we and our society evolve. It is, therefore, essential that we participate in the political process, may it be through demonstrations, whistleblowing, elections, activism, disobedience or a myriad of other forms of direct action, or may it be through simple analysis so that we have a full understanding of what is being done in our name.

At present, one of the main issues of our time is if we should go to war with Syria. The war drums are pounding and it appears that war is all but certain. A crucial time, indeed, considering the gravity of the situation and where this is going to lead us. The question is, should we continue to intervene in the political affairs of other nations (2) or should we mind our own business and tend to our own problems?

Below you will find some questions that we should be asking ourselves regarding this war. Some of the answers to these questions, or at least some additional information, have been itemized as well as provided as hyperlinks. If you would like to have a brief synopsis of the premise of what’s being presented, the following lecture by Scott Ritter provides it. The lecture, which in my opinion should be mandatory viewing for every American and part of every high school curriculum, explains what took place in the buildup to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the opening of Pandora's Box.
“The US ambassador to Baghdad conceded yesterday [2006] that the Iraq invasion had opened a Pandora's box of sectarian conflicts which could lead to a regional war and the rise of religious extremists who ‘would make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play’.”

Scott Ritter - Iraq Confidential

II. Questions

Just a few questions that we should be asking ourselves before we begin another war:

1) Haven’t we done this before? 2) Are we about to bomb another country? 3) Are we targeting Muslims? 4) What are the repercussions of this? 5) How will this affect our relationship with other countries? 6) Are we going this alone? 7) Will there be any blowback? 8) Will the world regard this as a crusade? 9) What are our reasons for going to war? 10) Did someone use forbidden weapons of war? 11) Do we have any proof of this? 12) What does U.S. intelligence say? 13) Do we know who used them? 14) Are we being told the truth? 15) What’s really going on? 16) Who’s pushing for this war? 17) Who are some of the beneficiaries? 18) Do Syrians want us to intervene in their civil war? 19) Will we be able to contain this? 20) Who are some of the other players we should be concerned about? 21) What do some of the dissenting voices have to say? 22) Could this be a false flag? 23) Are we here again?

III. Answers

  1. Transcript of Powell's U.N. presentation - 6 February 2003

  2. United States bombings of other countries - 1950 to 2011

  3. Eye-Opening Graphic: Map of Muslim Countries that the U.S. and Israel Have Bombed - 13 December 2011

  4. The Syrian refugee crisis in numbers - video animation - 25 July 2013

  5. Russia sends warships to Mediterranean as Syria tension rises - 13 August 2013

  6. Obama Left With France as Ally in Syria Fight - 30 August 2013

  7. U.S. shuts more than 20 embassies in Muslim countries amid ‘the most serious threat’ in years - 13 August 2013

  8. The Bush Crusade - 3 September 2004

  9. Wesley Clark ( US 4 Star General ) US will attack 7 countries in 5 years. (video) - 3 October 2007

  10. Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran - 26 August 2013

  11. Syria chemical weapons attack blamed on Assad, but where's the evidence? - 29 August 2013

  12. US Finally Admits What Ron Paul Said: "Nobody Knows Who Set Off The Gas" - 29 August 2013

  13. Syria asks UN to immediately investigate 3 new ‘chemical attacks’ by rebels - 28 August 2013

  14. Anderson Cooper and CNN have been caught staging fake news about Syria to justify military intervention. - 30 August 2013

  15. The Syrian Regional War: NATO on deck! - 28 August 2013

  16. Bill Kristol Is Getting the Band Back Together - 27 August 2013

  17. Lockheed Martin shares up amid news of chemical weapons pretext for war in Syria - 27 August 2013

  18. Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media - 17 January 2012

  19. Lest we forget, an attack on Syria is an attack on Iran and a threat to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization - 9 January 2013

  20. Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria - 27 August 2013

  21. George Galloway - 2013-08-29 Parliament on Syria - 29 August 2013

  22. Ron Paul: Syria is a “false flag” - 30 August 2013

  23. Bush "Fool Me Once..." - June 2006

IV. References

For some additional information, here are the references from the introduction:
  • Dead Prez - Talib Kweli – Sharp Shooters Lyrics

  • Did Monsanto Trick California Voters?

  • The Shocking Story of How Aspartame Became Legal

  • A Domestic Surveillance Scandal at the DEA? Agents Urged to Cover Up Use of NSA Intel in Drug Probes

  • Conservatives slam Trudeau over marijuana legalization stance, saying drugs have ‘harmful effect’

  • Exclusive: As Judge OKs Force-Feeding, California Prisoner on 47-Day Hunger Strike Speaks Out

  • Pirate Bay decade: Fighting censorship, copyright monopolies bit by bit

  • Chris Hedges: Monitoring of AP Phones a "Terrifying" Step in State Assault on Press Freedom

  • The 2005 Bankruptcy Bill: Knowing a Financial Crisis Was Imminent, Banks Lobbied Government to Pass Laws to Preserve Their Wealth

  • Saul Says B.C. Education Cuts Bleed Democracy

  • Commodification of Water, the Quintessential Issue of Our Time

  • Frank Zappa: Statement To Congress, September 19, 1985

  • Part 1 - Frank Zappa at PMRC Senate Hearing on Rock Lyrics

  • Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States

  • Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?

  • TED Backs Down: People Power Wins Against Censorship

  • U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans

  • Paradigm Shift in Education: Krishnamurti on the Educator, RAW on Ignorance, Gato on the System, and Hamming on Learning

  • “Flash Mob of Protests”: “No War With Syria” Rallies Planned in Over 70 Cities for Saturday

  • Why the U.S. Government has such a hard-on for Edward Snowden

  • Washington State and Colorado Join the Fray: Cannabis Legalized

  • Aaron Swartz, America’s Mohamed Bouazizi: We’re in the midst of a revolution, which side are you on?

  • Bradley Manning and the trial of the United States Military

  • Direct action

  • The future of Africa looks bleak, here is why

  • “War Is A Racket” by Major General Smedley Butler

  • Target Iran: What Bombing Syria Is Really About

  • Brzezinski: ‘Global Political Awakening’ Making Syrian War Difficult

  • World War III began in May 2006: Building the New Map of the Middle East in Real Time

  • Iran, not Syria, is the West's real target

  • Iran moves to sue US over 1953 coup

  • 25 Quotes About The Coming War With Syria That Every American Should See

  • Why Stocks Have Risen: Stimulus, Stimulus, and Indefinite-Stimulus, i.e., Transfer of Wealth from Main Street to Wall Street

  • Scott Ritter

  • US envoy to Iraq: 'We have opened the Pandora's box'

  • Talk - Scott Ritter - Iraq Confidential

  • Update: Adding a Song

    Country Joe McDonald - "Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die"

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    The 2005 Bankruptcy Bill: Knowing a Financial Crisis Was Imminent, Banks Lobbied Government to Pass Laws to Preserve Their Wealth

    Our government representatives would like us to believe that the subprime mortgage crisis (2, 3, 4, 5) could not have been predicted. The truth is, the collapse was expected and authorities were well aware that crimes were being committed.

    I. Introduction

    It is said that if you want to find the corrupt, follow the money. This catchphrase, however, cannot be used as a preventative measure; it can only be used in retrospect to punish perpetrators of a crime. It does very little to protect us from predators. This is unfortunate when applied to our current crony capitalistic system; a wrong decision in our personal finances can mean the difference between living a life of debt servitude or one of freedom.

    In our current centralized economic system, the best way to avoid pitfalls and preserve wealth, improving lifestyle, is to pay close attention to changes in laws and be mindful of their implications. Take, for example, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA):
    “Referred to colloquially as the ‘New Bankruptcy Law’, the Act of Congress attempts to, among other things, make it more difficult for some consumers to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7; some of these consumers may instead utilize Chapter 13…. It was hailed at the time as the banking lobby's greatest all-time victory.”

    Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention, Consumer Protection Act Signed

    The Bill: 119 STAT. 23, and general comparison of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy (pdf).

    Elizabeth Warren on the Bankruptcy Bill: "Elizabeth Warren vs. Hillary Clinton (2004)"

    Considering the timing of the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill, its passing coinciding with the largest economic crisis in contemporary history, one can infer that it came into effect to protect Wall Street from the full impact of the looming financial crisis; to transfer the liabilities of the shady business practices of the banks to the citizenry. The information presented below should shatter any delusions for the steadfast that this bill was made into law for any other reasons than to preserve Wall Street’s capital. The banks were, after all, the ones that bundled toxic debt, sold them to their clients as triple-A securities, and then bet against them:
    “Pension funds and insurance companies lost billions of dollars on securities that they believed were solid investments, according to former Goldman employees with direct knowledge of the deals who asked not to be identified because they have confidentiality agreements with the firm.

    “Goldman was not the only firm that peddled these complex securities — known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s — and then made financial bets against them, called selling short in Wall Street parlance. Others that created similar securities and then bet they would fail, according to Wall Street traders, include Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, as well as smaller firms like Tricadia Inc., an investment company whose parent firm was overseen by Lewis A. Sachs, who this year [2009] became a special counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.”

    How Goldman secretly bet on the US housing crash

    Related Articles: “How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash” and “Why did Goldman stop scrutinizing loans it bought?”

    II. The Scam

    In 1999, the New York Times reported that the easing of credit requirements on loans would mean that Fannie Mae would be “taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's… ‘If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.’”

    Ron Paul Predicts Housing Bubble/ $2000k Gold In 2001!

    In 2004, a top FBI official warned of widening mortgage fraud, but resources were focused elsewhere:
    “Long before the mortgage crisis began rocking Main Street and Wall Street, a top FBI official made a chilling, if little-noticed, prediction: The booming mortgage business, fueled by low interest rates and soaring home values, was starting to attract shady operators and billions in losses were possible. ‘It has the potential to be an epidemic,’ Chris Swecker, the FBI official in charge of criminal investigations, told reporters in September 2004. But, he added reassuringly, the FBI was on the case. ‘We think we can prevent a problem that could have as much impact as the S&L crisis,’ he said.”

    Peter Schiff Was Right 2006 - 2007

    In 2008, Jonathan Weil stated: “When the history is written on the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it will go down in the annals of corporate scandals as one of the greatest accounting scams committed in broad daylight.”

    We are currently in the year 2013 and very few would have predicted the extent of corruption in the system that has been revealed. Since 2008 we have been privy to: the Federal Reserve funneling trillions into hedge funds through bailouts (2) and unlimited quantitative easing to the tune of $85 billion of monthly asset purchases which has helped the top 7% gain $5.6 trillion in net worth, LIBOR and its many sisters, the student debt bubble, the ‘fix’ to the STOCK Act, robo-signing of mortgages and credit card debts, HSBC’s laundering billions for drug cartels, locking up whistleblowers in high-security psychiatric hospitals, the retirement gamble, the intricacies of shadow banking (2 pdf), and much much more.

    Those Who Predicted the Economic Crisis now Giving New Warnings

    III. The Bill

    So what did our regulators, politicians, and institutions do to protect the average American citizen from these scams? In 2005, they created debt slavery by passing The Bankruptcy Bill.
    “It was widely claimed by advocates of BAPCPA that its passage would reduce losses to creditors such as credit card companies, and that those creditors would then pass on the savings to other borrowers in the form of lower interest rates. These claims turned out to be false. After BAPCPA passed, although credit card company losses decreased, prices charged to customers increased, and credit card company profits soared.”

    Debt Slavery? Congress Approves Bush’s Bankruptcy Bill

    Segment of interest begins at 11:30. Full transcript available at Democracy Now!

    After years of lobbying, the “dream bill for credit card and financial service companies” finally came into effect. The bill was “the biggest rewrite of U.S. bankruptcy law in a quarter century”. It was also conveniently or inconveniently, depending on your perspective, introduced at a time when US household debt was at an all-time high.

    click to enlarge - source - additional data

    Those who were wise enough to realize what the consequences of the bill would be declared bankruptcy before it took effect. For those of us unfortunate enough to be ensnared by this law, it has become clear that we live in a system of slave wage and debt slavery; a system where corporations have more rights than we do (2, 3, 4, 5).

    Overturning Citizens United: Is a Constitutional Amendment the Best Path to Limit Dark Money?

    IV. The Effects

    Personal bankruptcies peaked in 2005 before the law took effect and then declined sharply for the next two years, until the housing bubble burst, resulting in personal bankruptcies rising 29% in the first half of 2008.

    click to enlarge - source

    One of the most striking and revealing features of the bill were the modifications to the dischargeability of student loans in bankruptcies, specifically:
    “…in 2005, President George W. Bush signed into law The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act [BAPCPA] which no longer allowed debtors to discharge their private student loans. Prior to BAPCPA, student loans originating from private lenders could be discharged.”
    The consequences of these changes have been profound as “the federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education - saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy.” The student loan crisis and the cost of education is of special interest to me, for obvious reasons, so we’ll return to this topic in the future. For now, the following chart is worth a thousand words, (pay special attention to where the red line deviates from the blue line - it begins in 2005):

    click to enlarge - source

    As for everyone else, the reforms made it much harder and costly to file for bankruptcy. It is important to note, these laws came into effect a year after the FBI stated that they were investigating shady dealings in the mortgage sector, and despite all the warnings that a financial crisis was fast approaching (see “The Scam” above for details).

    Report Shows Bankruptcy Reforms Raised Costs For Consumers and Creditors

    V. The Implications

    Some would argue that the timing of the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill, making it much harder for people to ease their financial burdens during the buildup to the largest economic crisis in recent history and thereafter, was just coincidence. That belief, however, does not belong in this reality.

    Those in control of the economy and their minions in government have access to all the economic data that is required to make well-informed financial decisions based on proven mathematical models. That’s their job. It is inconceivable to assume that the tens of thousands of people that are hard at work keeping the global economic machine churning would falter on such a grand scale. How could they not see this coming, especially with all the warnings?

    It is, however, more plausible that those busy working the system realized that they were fast approaching the limits of their lucrative models, and to protect their interest they successfully lobbied governments to pass laws to reduce their liabilities, transferring the burden to the masses, thus saving their own skin. That is, after all, exactly what took place!

    If we continue to function under this system (pdf), where money is used to place representatives in government to pass laws so that money can beget more money, then we are screwed. The remedy for our ills, the psychotic behavior of those in power and the apathy of the governed, will require unwavering commitment from the masses. To begin with, countless laws must be repealed, three of which are: the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill, the Patriot Act, and Prohibition. These laws might not appear to be related, but they are. As for other avenues available to bring about positive changes, the following lecture by Lawrence Lessig offers one, there are others:

    Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

    Information related to this talk at: The Outsiders Movement to Restore our Republic (home page:

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison: Short Video Interview and Some Comments from Legal and Human Rights Organizations (UPDATES)

    Below you will find a short video interview with David Swanson explaining the implications of Manning’s sentence as well as reaction from three legal and human rights organizations:

    David Swanson: Private Manning becomes latest victim of President Obama's war on whistleblowers

    Statement from The Center for Constitutional Rights:
    “We are outraged that a whistleblower and a patriot has been sentenced on a conviction under the Espionage Act. The government has stretched this archaic and discredited law to send an unmistakable warning to potential whistleblowers and journalists willing to publish their information. We can only hope that Manning’s courage will continue to inspire others who witness state crimes to speak up.

    “This show trial was a frontal assault on the First Amendment, from the way the prosecution twisted Manning’s actions to blur the distinction between whistleblowing and spying to the government’s tireless efforts to obstruct media coverage of the proceedings. It is a travesty of justice that Manning, who helped bring to light the criminality of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being punished while the alleged perpetrators of the crimes he exposed are not even investigated. Every aspect of this case sets a dangerous precedent for future prosecutions of whistleblowers – who play an essential role in democratic government by telling us the truth about government wrongdoing – and we fear for the future of our country in the wake of this case.

    “We must channel our outrage and continue building political pressure for Manning’s freedom. President Obama should pardon Bradley Manning, and if he refuses, a presidential pardon must be an election issue in 2016.”

    Statement from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
    "When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it's also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate."

    News from Amnesty International:
    “President Obama should commute US Army Private Bradley Manning’s sentence to time already served to allow his immediate release, Amnesty International said today.

    “Military judge Col Denise Lind today sentenced the Wikileaks source to 35 years in military prison – out of a possible 90 – for leaking reams of classified information. He has already served more than three years in pre-trial detention, including 11 months in conditions described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as cruel and inhumane.

    “‘Bradley Manning acted on the belief that he could spark a meaningful public debate on the costs of war, and specifically on the conduct of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. His revelations included reports on battlefield detentions and previously unseen footage of journalists and other civilians being killed in US helicopter attacks, information which should always have been subject to public scrutiny,’ said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

    “‘Instead of ‘sending a message’ by giving him a de facto life sentence the US government should turn its attention to investigating violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the context of the ill-conceived ‘war on terror’.

    “Some of the materials Manning leaked, published by Wikileaks, pointed to potential human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law by US troops abroad, by Iraqi and Afghan forces operating alongside US forces, and by military contractors. Yet the judge had ruled before the trial that Private Manning would not be able to defend himself by presenting evidence that he was acting in the public interest.

    “‘Manning had already pleaded guilty to leaking information, so for the US to have continued prosecuting him under the Espionage Act, even charging him with ‘aiding the enemy,’ can only be seen as a harsh warning to anyone else tempted to expose government wrongdoing.’ said Brown.

    “‘More than anything else, the case shows the urgent need to reform the USA’s antiquated Espionage Act and strengthen protections for those who reveal information that the public has a need and a right to know.’

    “Manning’s defence counsel is expected to file a petition for clemency shortly with the U.S. Department of Justice office that reviews requests for pardons and other acts of clemency before passing them on to the President for a final decision. Such requests are normally made after all appeals are exhausted, but the President may grant clemency at any time.

    “‘Bradley Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pre-trial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial. The President doesn’t need to wait for this sentence to be appealed to commute it; he can and should do so right now,’ said Brown.”

    Statement from Julian Assange:
    "Today the well-known whistleblower Bradley Manning has been ordered by a military court in Maryland to spend a minimum of 5.2 years in prison with a 32 year maximum (including time already spent in detention), for revealing information about US government behaviour to the public.

    "This hard-won minimum term represents a significant tactical victory for Bradley Manning’s defense, campaign team and supporters. At the start of these proceedings, the United States government had charged Bradley Manning with a capital offence and other charges carrying over 135 years of incarceration. His defense team is now appealing to the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals in relation to this sentence and also for due process violations during the trial.

    "While the defense should be proud of their tactical victory, it should be remembered that Mr Manning’s trial and conviction is an affront to basic concepts of Western justice. On Mr Manning’s arrest in May 2010, he was immediately subjected to punitive incarceration by the US government, which was found to be "cruel, inhumane and degrading" by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, and even found to be unlawful by US military courts.

    "The period Mr Manning has already spent in prison will be subtracted from the sentence, and dispensations for good behaviour, parole and other factors mean that it is likely he will now spend less than ten years in confinement. Mr Manning’s defense team are now seeking to reduce this sentence further on appeal. US military law stipulates that the sentence can only be reduced. It is important that support for Bradley Manning continues during this time.

    "The only just outcome in Mr Manning’s case is his unconditional release, compensation for the unlawful treatment he has undergone, and a serious commitment to investigating the wrongdoing his alleged disclosures have brought to light.

    "Mr Manning’s treatment has been intended to send a signal to people of conscience in the US government who might seek to bring wrongdoing to light. This strategy has spectacularly backfired, as recent months have proven. Instead, the Obama administration is demonstrating that there is no place in its system for people of conscience and principle. As a result, there will be a thousand more Bradley Mannings."

    Top Comment from an Article on Vice (direct link):
    Instead of giving my opinion about Manning, let me offer a summary of some of the very significant (if over-looked) things his leaks revealed, to help everyone make up their own minds.

    He showed a lot more than just the Collateral Murder video and some "embarrassing" diplomatic revelations.


    1) Tens of thousands of extra murders of civilians by US forces that the military lied about (claiming they weren't even counting).

    2) Systematic use of torture by allied forces, whereby the US would turn over people it had rounded up somewhat arbitrarily to Iraqi (etc) forces for regular and brutal torture.

    3) Broad use of bribes and threats by the US against poor countries in the UN, for example to prevent them for pushing for more serious approaches to preventing climate change through international regulation.

    4) Most prisoners in Guantanamo are not considered guilty even by US officials.

    5) The US supports and helps install brutal and corrupt regimes around the world.

    Many people could claim to have "known" all of this before (I didn't), but it's still far different reading the government admit these things officially in their own documents.

    Thus the leaks were historic, and helped kick off a new era in the struggle for world peace and progress.


    1) The Iraq War ended ONLY because the Iraqi parliament revoked immunity for US forces there. Obama wanted to extend the war far beyond but wouldn't risk scores of US soldiers and officers sent to jail for their routine crimes.

    What did several members of Iraqi parliament cite in helping them realize the need to hold US forces accountable for crimes? Manning's leaks to WL.

    2) Many leaders of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt have cited info about their country from Manning's leaks as an important catalyst for the overthrow of dictatorships there.

    Local media ran in-depth exposes of dictatorship crimes, as recounted in US cables, and groups like Anonymous helped spread the message by rerouting local government websites to descriptions of abuses from the leaks.

    The Arab Spring went on to inspire social justice movements around the globe and awaken what even authoritarian thinkers have admitted is a new era of mass protest including Occupy and Los Indignados.

    3) While press coverage in the US has been limited and focused on Manning's personality and so-called wrong-doing, global media coverage has exploded with stories based on the leaks, UP TO THIS DAY.

    For instance, we can learn (if we choose to read foreign media) how the US has played a large part in the recent wars and famine in the Horn of Africa, something that brought suffering to millions that we wouldn't have known about without the leaks.

    So much of the leaked info doesn't even concern the US directly, but gives information about serious wrongdoing by foreign govts and groups that is highly relevant to local people.

    Serious shifts in public opinion and even electoral changes can be traced to outrage over information revealed in the leaks, some of which refer all the way back to events of the 1960s.

    4) It is now slightly more difficult for our government (or any government or even company) to wage injustice, as all institutional criminals are now aware of the power of whistle-blowers and open-source leaks to shine a light on their crimes.

    5) As a side benefit reaction to these leaks has helped us see the "true colors" of politicians and journalists across the board, and forced many previously "non-political" people to confront the unjust nature of their own governments and the complicity of the media like never before.

    So is Manning a traitor to the US government? If that's your answer, then consider what the powers he is "betraying" stand for.

    Video Statement and Article from Chris Hedges:

    "The swift and brutal verdict read out by Army Col. Judge Denise Lind in sentencing Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison means we have become a nation run by gangsters. It signals the inversion of our moral and legal order, the death of an independent media, and the open and flagrant misuse of the law to prevent any oversight or investigation of official abuses of power, including war crimes. The passivity of most of the nation’s citizens—the most spied upon, monitored and controlled population in human history—to the judicial lynching of Manning means they will be next. There are no institutional mechanisms left to halt the shredding of our most fundamental civil liberties, including habeas corpus and due process, or to prevent pre-emptive war, the assassination of U.S. citizens by the government and the complete obliteration of privacy.

    "Wednesday’s sentencing marks one of the most important watersheds in U.S. history. It marks the day when the state formally declared that all who name and expose its crimes will become political prisoners or be forced, like Edward Snowden, and perhaps Glenn Greenwald, to spend the rest of their lives in exile. It marks the day when the country dropped all pretense of democracy, obliterated checks and balances under the separation of powers and rejected the rule of law. It marks the removal of the mask of democracy, already a fiction, and its replacement with the ugly, naked visage of corporate totalitarianism. State power is to be, from now on, unchecked, unfettered and unregulated. And those who do not accept unlimited state power, always the road to tyranny, will be ruthlessly persecuted. On Wednesday we became vassals. As I watched the burly guards hustle Manning out of a military courtroom at Fort Meade after the two-minute sentencing, as I listened to half a dozen of his supporters shout to him, “We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley! You’re our hero!” I realized that our nation has become a vast penal colony."

    continued at truthdig: "Bradley Manning and the Gangster State"

    Statement from Vijay Prashad:

    Statement from Manning's attorney, David Coombs:

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Two Lectures and One Interview: Eric R. Kandel on learning, memory, and individuality; Elon Musk on the Future of Energy and Transport; and Ladar Levison on Lavabit

    Two lectures and one interview well worth the watch:
    1. Eric R. Kandel

    2. Elon Musk

    3. Ladar Levison

    I. Eric R. Kandel: The Molecular Biology of Memory Storage and the Biological Basis of Individuality

    The root cause of our society’s ills is how we deal with education, and the following lecture by Eric Kandel underscores this point. The argument is made that evolving, learning, memory; our humanity should be looked upon in a holistic manner. That our genes do not necessarily decide who we become; our culture, our methods of learning and teaching, our setting is what decides our individuality, and we, in large part, are in control of our future.

    II. Elon Musk: the Future of Energy & Transport

    Tesla Motors and Elon Musk have been all the rage lately, and rightfully so considering Tesla just blew away their quarterly earnings and Musk just revealed details of Hyperloop (pdf), a “hypothetical mode of high-speed transportation” which he has proposed. We could be privy to a paradigm shift if much of what Musk envisions comes to be, and if you would like to find out what his vision of the future is, then you will find the following lecture very informative.

    III. Ladar Levison: Owner of Snowden's Email Service on Why He Closed Lavabit Rather Than Comply With Gov't

    Ladar Levison is the owner of Lavabit, the secure private encrypted email provider that recently was forced to shut down after 10 years of operation because they decided not to abide by the demands made by the United States government to spy on their 400,000 plus users. Below you will find an interview with Levison explaining what took place.

    continued at: Former Internet Provider Gagged by National Security Letter Recounts How He Was Silenced for 6 Years

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Heads-up to the festival community, thieves are working the circuit; here is one of their scams

    1. The Festival

    2. The Setting

    3. The Scam

    4. The Outcome

    5. How to Protect Yourself

    I. The Festival

    I was lucky enough to win tickets through ION Magazine to attend Bass Coast, an international electronic arts music festival that’s been held in British Columbia, Canada since 2009. My many thanks to Ion Magazine for partnering with Bass Coast to give away tickets and to the organizers for putting together this amazing event, I will definitely be attending again. For those interested, the following video featuring some of the musicians and artists that have attended the festival is a great introduction to what awaits you.

    Unfortunately, no matter how amazing an event turns out to be, there are always bad elements present. The best festivals are ones that promote a sense of culture and community, it’s the best way to ensure safety and security, a central theme for Bass Coast. Even with the amazing vibe of this gathering, some minor predators ended up filtering through. Below you will find the scam that we caught them preforming.

    II. The Setting

    It has been my experience that imagination enhancers are more prevalent at electronic music festivals as opposed to other gatherings. To my delight, Bass Coast was no exception.

    At these events, much like all other music festivals, the dance floor is where the energy is concentrated and where attendees can let loose and dance to their hearts content, letting the music take control, pounding the ground, losing themselves in the beats and the fluidity of the crowd. This is where we found our thieves hard at work applying their trade.

    I’m not sure if it’s a testament to the brilliance of the sound we were exposed to or the sense of camaraderie present at the festival that made the thieves believe that they could get away with their scam unscathed. Maybe they were just taking advantage of the goodwill, a one off event, noobs falsely believing that a self-induced shift in perception of their targets would be sufficient to allow them to get away with their crime. Either way, here is what they did.

    III. The Scam

    The scam occurred at night and there were at least two thieves involved. Thief #1 (assumed) would walk around the dance floor and position himself beside a pile of bags and purses - note: at festivals where there is camping, most people carry their valuables with them, which means that when they feel like dancing they drop their belongings on the ground, usually in a pile with others. This gives them the freedom to let loose without having to carry a heavy burden. Thief #1 would then pull out a small handheld laser with kaleidoscope and shine it into the crowd. The laser would be pointed towards the group that the bags and purses belonged to. In general no one would be the wiser since one of the main features of electronic shows is the visuals.

    The laser pointer had a dual purpose. First, it provided pretty patterns for those under the influence to zone out on. Second, it blinded those looking at the pile of bags and purses, allowing thief #2 to enter the scene. Thief #1 stayed stationary for a few minutes, making sure that everyone in the vicinity was comfortable and use to his presence as well as that of the pretty patterns he was projecting. Once everyone was at ease with the newly introduced element, thief #2 would enter the scene and ransack the pile.

    Brilliant little scam. I say brilliant because we caught them doing this at around 3 a.m. on the third night of a three day festival, which means that they had probably gotten away with what they were doing for the previous two nights – when I talked to security they confirmed that there had been a lot of thefts reported in the previous 24 hours.

    IV. The Outcome

    I won’t bother telling you what took place after that, suffice it to say, we took them to security, police arrived, thief #2 was only arrested for being drunk in public which I can assure you he was not. Thief #1 was allowed to leave since there was no proof that he was connected to a crime.

    They were both straight and very focused on their task. They were good at what they did and knew that the consequences of being caught would be minimal, at this gathering anyway since non-violence is a prevalent theme with this community. I doubt very much that they would have been lucky enough to be able to walk away from their crime at other types gatherings, and rightfully so.

    They both had their wristbands, i.e. tickets, which means they had done the math and figured it was worth paying approximately $250 a pop, $500 total, to buy entry into the festival and begin their work. I’m also assuming that this was not their first festival this year and that they had gotten away with it until now. Unfortunately, the odds are that they had flimflammed other festival goers in previous years as well.

    V. How to Protect Yourself

    Just some suggestions to protect yourself and your community:
  • Next time you see someone on the dance floor making pretty little patterns with a laser pointer, keep an eye out for their partner.

  • Pass on the word and make sure your friends are aware of this scam.

  • If you see someone ransacking a pile of purses and bags, check with the people dancing in the vicinity to make sure that they belong to them.

  • Travel light and leave your valuables at home.

  • I hate to be the one to point this out, but do not be a victim, always keep one foot in reality. The world is full of bad people; protect yourself by not disassociating too far from reality in large gatherings, i.e., don’t get too wasted.

  • When possible, be accompanied by friends.

  • Even if you don’t know someone, keep an eye out for them. Maybe someday your good deeds will be rewarded and others will protect you when you are in need.

  • Keep an eye on your belongings.

  • If you drove to the festival, lock your valuables in the car.

  • Make friends at festivals and enjoy yourself. The more of a community vibe that is created, the lesser the odds are that predators will try their luck at making a score.

  • Ps. If you want to know what an electronic music festival is like you might enjoy some videos I put together in 2007 and 2008 from Soundwave, another West Coast electronic music festival that unfortunately is no longer being held. Videos can be found at Soundwave 2007 and Soundwave 2008. If you’d like a sample, below you’ll find three of the sets from 2008: Daega Sound, Thugfucker , and Junction SM . Hope you enjoy. Peace, chycho.

    Soundwave 2008: Sunday Afternoon (Daega Sound)

    Soundwave 2008: Monday Morning (Thugfucker)

    Soundwave 2008: Junction SM (Dandy Jack & Sonja Moonear)

    Saturday, August 10, 2013

    Raccoon Fight in a Tree

    On 6 August 2013 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, from around 5:30 am until 7 am, the following two raccoons decided to have an epic fight. The area is full of raccoons and fights do at times break out, but I’ve never seen one in a tree during the day and thought it was worth documenting.

    During this one and a half hours battle, the raccoons would go at it for a few minutes, than break. The raccoon with no tail would move back, sometimes disappearing in the tree, giving the appearance that he was leaving. The raccoon with the tail that was pinned down at the end of the branch would then slowly try to make his way out of a very dangerous spot to only meet fierce resistance from the no tail raccoon.

    An hour and a half later, the battle ended and both raccoons went their separate ways. As far as I could tell, the only damage done was that most of the neighbourhood was rudely awakened in the wee hours of the morning by some serious raccoon screams.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Update from La Belle Besogne Farm for May, June, and July 2013: Math in Real Life, Food and Farming, CSA

    Below you will find a short update and a beautiful poster put together by Marv on what's been taking place at La Belle Besogne Farm in May, June, and July. The video series for this section of Math in Real Life can be found at Food and Farming, Section 1: Community Supported Agriculture, CSA.
    "Greetings from the Eastern seaboard. Here's a photo update of what's growing out here. It's been hot dry and crusty followed by a biblical downpour. The bugs and weeds are thriving, the hard-drive is making strange noises, so video work will have to wait until the fall (also I barely have time to take a shit, let alone edit videos). I'm finally getting an idea of what people mean when they say they are too busy. I feel like scratching my back till there's nothing left. But all in all things are great!

    "...You'll be happy to know we're keeping records and should have some numbers for you soon. Things are scrawled in different places but it looks to be a pretty good picture of harvest amounts etc.

    "There are also quite a few losses, a whole bed of Bok Choi that got eaten by cabbage moth, a half-bed of broccoli that went to flower before we could harvest it and about thirty feet of spinach that barely germinated. There's plenty of backup crops for our shares and market tho. Looking back on the spring it feels like we were just planting out tons of extra stuff expecting everything to fail. But the weather seems to have stabilized, lots of sun and lots of rain, the soil is looking great and we're crushing bugs (the bad ones only) every chance we get.

    "Oh and the tobacco plants are getting huge! One is almost four feet high, thanks for that. (The slugs love the huge leaves) So anyway, as soon as we get a bit of time for data entry, I'll send that stuff your way. Till then, take care and enjoy the summer that seems to be flying by way too fast."