-- Educate Yourself --

Friday, July 12, 2013

His Name Is Barrett Brown

"Some of the most important things that have... had the most far-reaching influence and have been the most important in terms of what’s been discovered, not just by Anonymous, but by the media in the aftermath, [are] the result of hacking. That information can’t be obtained by institutional journalistic process, or it can’t be obtained or won’t be obtained by a congressional committee or a federal oversight committee. For the most part, that information has to be, you know, obtained by hackers." 

-Barret Brown, from the documentary film We Are Legion      

          In a case that presents broad ramifications for journalists, activists, and even ordinary internet users, journalist and activist Barret Brown faces over 100 years in prison for sharing a single link.

"So, I have no choice left but to
defend my family, myself, my girlfriend,
my reputation, my work, my activism,
my ideas, the revelations that my friends
are going to prison. So that we can
have a chance to get out for other people.
So That they would matter."
          For years now, many throughout the nation and world have consistently brought attention to the illegal, unconstitutional actions of the U.S. govt in its efforts to institute greater security through the control and dissemination of information. We have learned from outlets like WikiLeaks of a great many things, including details of U.S. activity in Afghanistan and Iraq, dirt on shady bank dealings, and, well, you name it. Recently, whistle-blower Edward Snowden, a former employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, a private contractor working with the National Security Agency, revealed after receiving an approved order from the FISA Court to obtain the records of millions of Americans from Verizon the existence of a massive program of intelligence collection and data-mining in the U.S. Naturally, he has been on the run ever since, looking for asylum, and although he may find refuge in Venezuela, as yet he has not formalized any agreements with the Venezuelan govt. Wikileaks founder Julian Asange has been holed-up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the U.K. for over a year. And, of course, who can forget the case of Bradley Manning, a U.S. solder who leaked the documents on the war in Afghanistan now oh-so-long ago (He's still in prison, BTW, just now getting his day in "court"). Similarly, most of us, those who pay attention at least, know of the amorphous group Anonymous and their cyber-activism and hacking of targets ranging from Mexican drug cartels to governments worldwide; a few of us know of their involvement in aiding and facilitating the Arab Spring.
          These facts are generally known, some more than others, oft discussed in internet fora and chat-rooms, publicized by the cyber and dead-tree press both.
          Less well known, or at least less well publicized, is the interesting and tragic story of journalist and activist Barret Brown, who although not a hacker himself often acted as a spokesman for Anonymous, disseminating information worldwide to journalists as well as the general public. Brown has been jailed now for nearly a year, and faces a likely sentence of over 100 years for trumped-up charges of credit fraud that are being used to obfuscate the true significance of his actions and distract from the nature of the activities for which he is actually being persecuted.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

While You Were Being Gay

The Supreme Court has crippled the Voting Rights Act, paving the way for gerrymandering, voter discrimination, and the imminent disenfranchisement of undesirables from the electorate.

          On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States of America, in a 5-4 split decision, struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as being strictly between one man and one woman and therefore denied equal rights to same-sex married couples throughout the nation. The decision, considered a large victory for the gay rights movement, was hailed throughout the country. CNN reports that over 30% of the United States’ population will be affected by the ruling, as same-sex married couples gain equal access to 1138 federal marriage benefits.
            This of course is a good thing, something long in coming, ever since President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law way back in 1996. And although the court’s ruling does not affect state marriage definitions and laws, same-sex couples are right to feel that they have been handed a long over-due victory, that they have realized some measure of equality in the eyes of the federal govt.
            The ruling was of course met with much celebration. Facebook superstar and homosexual Star Trek alumnus George Takei released a flurry of memes and posts, and throughout the nation gay couples, as well as their friends, families, and supporters, could be seen and heard on the internet and the streets voicing their relief and happiness.
            Go gay rights.
            Gay rights FTW.
            However, what was far less publicized, what was met with a much less vocal reaction, and what American’s do not see in their news feeds or from their preferred media outlets, was the court’s ruling the day before.
            On Tuesday, June 25, 2013, in another 5-4 split decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Liberalism in America: Freedom, Duty, Guns, and Posterity

The following question arose the other day in a discussion, and it seems right to me to begin this Blog here.

Is it possible for a liberal to oppose gun control?

            The first thing to tackle is “What does it mean to be liberal?”
            As far as I know the word was first used in a political sense to denote what is now known as classical liberalism, a political and social ideology sprung from Enlightenment ideals of natural rights, social contracts... the newly developing freedom of the day. On this level, in terms of guns/violence, liberals are rational proponents of the use of force to defend the dignity and freedom of men. That these men believed in social contract entailed that they also believed that citizens should take action to defend their rights if the contract were broken. Of course, the classical liberals who founded our nation were pretty big into their weapons, as they saw themselves establishing and defending a place of freedom, in which people's natural rights would be respected and the social contract would be observed, and so they chose to amend the document limiting the powers of their new government, specifically specifying that citizens of the new republic would never have their rights to self defense infringed upon.
            That is what “liberal” meant 200 years ago.
            This movement, although positively based on principles of freedom and rights, was nonetheless even then negatively opposed to the monarchical, despotic governments of the past. And somehow over the intervening years between then and now “liberal” has lost much of its original meaning and instead has acquired the relative determination we use today, whereby it is used to denote progressivism, as opposed to reactionaryism, this latter which has taken the name of “conservative”.
            Progress, however, is a meaningless term in itself, as there are of course always innumerable places to which to progress.
            To me, being liberal is an implicit and explicit acceptance that people have (on some level of conceptualization) natural rights, that the government exists through a contract with its people, solely, and that if this contract is broken the people have the duty to rectify the situation. The thing with having rights, “natural” or not, is that for every right there is a duty without which the right will not only quickly cease to exist but will be empty and without worth as well.

Epoch - Book 1

Epoch - Book 1
a novel