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Fri, 29 Sep 2023
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The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz

© Photograph: Michael Francis Mcelroy/AP
The internet activist Aaron Swartz, seen here in January 2009, has died at the age of 26.
Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer and internet freedom activist, committed suicide on Friday in New York at the age of 26. As the incredibly moving remembrances from his friends such as Cory Doctorow and Larry Lessig attest, he was unquestionably brilliant but also - like most everyone - a complex human being plagued by demons and flaws. For many reasons, I don't believe in whitewashing someone's life or beatifying them upon death. But, to me, much of Swartz's tragically short life was filled with acts that are genuinely and, in the most literal and noble sense, heroic. I think that's really worth thinking about today.

At the age of 14, Swartz played a key role in developing the RSS software that is still widely used to enable people to manage what they read on the internet. As a teenager, he also played a vital role in the creation of Reddit, the wildly popular social networking news site. When Conde Nast purchased Reddit, Swartz received a substantial sum of money at a very young age. He became something of a legend in the internet and programming world before he was 18. His path to internet mogul status and the great riches it entails was clear, easy and virtually guaranteed: a path which so many other young internet entrepreneurs have found irresistible, monomaniacally devoting themselves to making more and more money long after they have more than they could ever hope to spend.

But rather obviously, Swartz had little interest in devoting his life to his own material enrichment, despite how easy it would have been for him. As Lessig wrote: "Aaron had literally done nothing in his life 'to make money' . . . Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good."


Light Saber

White House rejects Death Star petition

Death Star
© Wookieepedia
The White House has pledged its allegiance to the Force.

The U.S. government has issued an official response to a petition requesting construction of a Death Star, like the planet-destroying space battle station featured in the film Star Wars.

The petition requested the government begin construction on a Death Star by 2016 to create jobs, explore space and bolster national defence. A serious argument for a science-fiction proposal but that hasn't stopped the White House from having a laugh.

The response posted on We the People, a website designed to foster engagement with the government through petitions, shoots down all hope for a Star Wars reality from the very beginning.

"This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For," reads the title, cheekily echoing a moment from the first film: "These aren't the droids we're looking for."

Bizarro Earth

Explosion levels house in Texas

The leveled structure in Lewisville, Texas
Lewisville, Texas - An explosion Friday in a North Texas neighborhood leveled a home that is part of a nonprofit group's affordable housing program, injuring three men and scattering debris.

Authorities were still trying to determine what caused the blast inside the home in Lewisville, about 20 miles northwest of Dallas. Two firefighters who were standing on the street near the home and another man who was inside were injured.

Lewisville Assistant Fire Chief Brian Freed said crews will search the debris, but officials believe they've accounted for everyone who might have been in the duplex. The injured man is believed to live alone, based on what neighbors told firefighters, Freed said.

Firefighters had waited to search the debris until a natural gas line near the home was shut down.

The injured men were taken to Medical Center of Lewisville. Freed said the man who lived in the home was in intensive care after surgery. One of the firefighters was hospitalized with chest pains but was expected to recover. The other firefighter had been treated and released. None of the men were immediately identified.

The home is owned by Christian Community Action, which rents it out to families who are struggling financially, said Ron Batts, president and CEO of the nonprofit group.

Freed said firefighters had first gone to the home around 10 a.m. Friday after a gas leak was reported. Natural gas provider Atmos Energy worked on the leak for about 2 1/2 hours when the home, which was next to the line being worked on, exploded.


Tax Trap: Florida ministerial couple imprisoned for declining participation in Government ponzi scheme


Kent Hovind
"Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands."

~ Learned Hand, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit (1872-1961) Gregory v. Helvering 69 F.2d 809, 810 (2d Cir. 1934), aff'd, 293 U.S. 465, 55 S.Ct. 266, 79 L.Ed. 596 (1935)

To write an article that casts the Internal Revenue Service in a bad light may have its obvious consequences - retaliation by the IRS. So this report is written anonymously.

Sadly, America is fast becoming a fascist country without recognition by its citizens. Public anger is misdirected and divides the nation, which insulates the government from public pressure. Division is how government keeps the pressure off of itself - rich vs. poor, black vs. white, immigrant vs. non-immigrant, union vs. non-union worker. In the following report, it's tax-payer vs. tax evader.

Furthermore, government can even violate the Constitution with impunity because it picks off dissenters one by one, breaching the rights of one, not all. It was Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), born in Lippstadt, Germany, who wrote the following:
"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."
The story of a tax evader versus the IRS is generally not sufficient to attract the attention of most Americans. Most Americans don't side with tax evaders, feeling they are cheating others. Furthermore, most Americans cannot distinguish tax evasion from tax avoidance. Pay your fair share of taxes, just like all the rest of us! That is the common sentiment.

Even when Americans are asked if they know of any specific law which requires citizens to pay income taxes, most Americans look perplexed as to why a law would be needed in the first place. What is often heard is that every good American citizen should pay their taxes regardless of whether there is a law or not.

America has drastically changed from its earliest beginnings. America actually started out as a tax protest, the Boston Tea Party being the best specific example. Today, protest taxes and you are considered unpatriotic!


San Diego manhunt leads to movie theater shooting

© Credit: Shauntel Lowe
An armed man trying to evade police after threatening his girlfriend at her job was shot in a San Diego movie theater, where he had slipped into a screening film to hide among more than a dozen moviegoers, police said Saturday.

No one other than the suspect was injured, police said, but scores of people were evacuated from the theater and the search required a large deployment of officers and a helicopter. It was the second shooting at a San Diego County movie theater in less than 24 hours.

The incident began just after 2 p.m. when the suspect confronted and grabbed his girlfriend while she was on a lunch break in the parking lot at her job in a Rancho Carmel Drive shopping center, said Capt. Terry McManus, of the San Diego Police Department, during a press conference.

"They have had ongoing domestic violence-type problems," McManus said.


Rising middle-class in no-man's land as battle rages for the soul of Belfast

© Photo: PA
Loyalist Protestors converge at Belfast city hall
On O'Neill Road in Newtownabbey, just north of Belfast, a deeply distressed pensioner pleaded with the flag protesters to be allowed past. His wife lay dying in the hospital on the other side of their roadblock.

"If your wife was dying, what would you be doing?" he shouted. "Protestants? You don't own us. Take yourselves home - show a bit of respect for people."

They took no notice. Well, they laughed. "We're not in the hospital," one of them told him. Then the crowd started cheering. "Here we are, here we are, here we are," they chanted.

Not long afterwards, the bricks, the bottles and the petrol bombs started to come over, smashing on the paint-splotched Tarmac at our feet.

When the rain came, putting the petrol-bombs out of action, primary schoolchildren started trying to break up the kerbstones to throw them at the police Land Rovers, instead.


America's finest: The story of a Marine rape


Isn't it just glorious?
In 2010 our friend was raped/sexually assaulted by a U.S. Marine she was dating and had just come back from deployment to Camp Pendleton. She didn't go to the police immediately because this Marine used a tactic he was taught by the Marines to premeditate and get out of being reported. And this was by their own admission.

We knew something was wrong when she came back from the trip because she wasn't acting like herself and was having trouble being out with friends immediately. She also told us the sex was scary. We didn't know about the rape/sexual assault until she knew she had to contact the base after continued threats and erratic and unstable behavior, she told us she was going to have to tell them what he did to her. It took months for us to learn the details, and lots of crying and alcohol. We knew she had been concerned about his mental health during deployment from things she had started to witness before he deployed. He had started to use drugs again, his behavior was slightly erratic and she wasn't sure if it was fear or his mental health. He was saying how they would tell them women would cheat and break up with them during deployment all the time, and things like his facebook page saying his political view was "killing bodies." (Click here)

But before we go into the story know that this Marine had a criminal record for drugs before he enlisted. (Click here) He told our friend this month's after they started dating and had said he was clean. However this Marine continued to do them along with several other Marines while they served our country under the guise of heroes.

Comment: Visit the site to check out more articles on similar crimes taking place up and down the chain of command in the US military:



India: Six held over new gang rape on a bus

A woman is kidnapped and raped through the night - just four weeks after the gang rape and murder of a Delhi student on a bus.

The attack took place in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab province
Six men have been arrested over another gang rape of a woman who was travelling on a bus in northern India.

The victim had boarded the service to visit her in-laws when she was abducted and driven on a motorbike to a house in Gurdaspur district, bordering the city of Amritsar, in Punjab province, on Friday evening.

Five men, including the driver and conductor, took it in turns to rape the woman before dropping her off near the village where her in-laws lived the following morning.

The alleged attack comes just weeks after the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in Delhi which has sparked nationwide protests about violence against women.

"Six men have been arrested on allegations of having raped a 29-year-old woman ... after forcibly taking her to an unknown location on the night of January 11," local police officer Raj Jeet Singh said, adding that a seventh suspect was being hunted.

"The lady, after being kidnapped, was raped brutally throughout the night by the seventh accused," he continued.

"After raping the victim throughout the night, one of the accused dropped her near her in-laws' house the next morning where she narrated the whole incident to her sister-in-laws."

The extent of the victim's injuries are yet to be established, the police officer added.


WalMart empire clashes with China's new labor movement

walmart protest china
© Joe Lynde, Capitol Connection
Typically when we hear "WalMart" and "China" in the same sentence, we picture the "made in" labels on our toys, gadgets, and the other mass-produced stuff that we grab off the shelves at low, low prices. But WalMart's vast retail empire has a whole other wing in the Middle Kingdom. As the brand has expanded aggressively into the coveted China market, it has engendered a new wave of Chinese shoppers--and legions of workers to serve them. The rise of a Westernized consumer culture has also generated familiar tensions around labor, inequality and workplace rights.

Just in time, too: As demonstrations have mushroomed at WalMart stores and warehouses nationwide, a disgruntled WalMart employee has led a small uprising in the coastal boomtown of Shenzhen. His agitating and organizing work has been bolstered by a partnership with SACOM, a Hong Kong-based labor rights organization that has previously taken on the notorious Apple manufacturer Foxconn.

The conflict began last summer when Wang Shishu, a 52-year-old WalMart store employee and outspoken labor activist, helped lead a campaign against plans to cut pay and slash benefits. When a small strike involving about forty workers broke out, the management cracked down. According to SACOM's petition:


13-year-old boy drives across two European state borders without being stopped by police

© AFP Photo / Csaba Segesvari
No checks - an EU border post.
A 13-year-old runaway travelled 1,000 kilometers across Europe behind the wheel of his adoptive father's Mercedes without a hitch in a bid to see a biological relative.

"He looks like a 16-year-old, but still! He managed to fuel up and pass two borders. It's just incredible," Eleonora Spadati from the police department in Montebelluna, where the boy had been living for the past two years, told AFP news agency.

The teenager is Polish by birth, but was adopted by an Italian family.