Edward Snowden writes at the Guardian:
On Thursday, I questioned Russia’s involvement in mass surveillance on live television. I asked Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, a question that cannot credibly be answered in the negative by any leader who runs a modern, intrusive surveillance program: “Does [your country] intercept, analyse or store millions of individuals’ communications?”
I went on to challenge whether, even if such a mass surveillance program were effective and technically legal, it could ever be morally justified.
The question was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion. (See a side-by-side comparison of Wyden’s question and mine here.)
Clapper’s lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability.
The word abomination seems to have come up several times recently on this site. First, in several comments from a fellow disinfonaught, then again in this article. So I find it particularly ironic/amusing that I would then stumble upon this most glorious discovery, courtesy of The Huffington Post:
Scientists say they’ve discovered four species of Brazilian cave insects with sex-reversed genitalia. The females possess a penis-like organ, the males a vagina-like organ. This is the first documented example of animals with sex-reversed genitalia.
Sex-role reversal has been observed previously in animals — such as in African antelopes. But the “female penis” seen in the four species, all of which are in the genus Neotrogla, is a “completely novel structure,” Kazunori Yoshizawa, an associate professor at Hokkaido University and one of the scientists behind the new finding, told The Verge.
How do these insects have sex? During copulation, the female Neotrogla inserts a “highly elaborate” penis-like organ, dubbed the “gynosome,” into the male’s vagina-like opening.
By the Pilion Trust:
Contributor to The Quest For Gnosis and all around cool guy, Anthony Peake presents the extraordinary science of what happens when we die.
Can there ever be a scientifically satisfactory explanation as to what happens to human consciousness at the point of death? Anthony Peake, acclaimed author on the matter of consciousness, believes there is. Pulling together the latest evidence from the fields of quantum physics, neurology, consciousness studies and psychology, Peake presents a compelling, original theory to explain what exactly happens when we die.
Editor’s Note: This opinion piece was written by a contributor. It examines substance addiction, a controversial topic. No endorsement is implied by its publication. The Disinformation Company encourages you to speak with your medical provider(s) regarding this or any other health-related topic.
An old drinking buddy of mine overdosed on heroin recently. He moved out to the Pacific Northwest to skate or die, and wound up doing both, joining a hundred other Americans who go out that way every day. I hadn’t seen or thought about him in years, but by coincidence, I was in town when he passed. A mutual friend told me there would be a memorial at a local skate park. I stopped by to pay my respects.
I found a bundle of droopy balloons hovering over beer can tabs, a condom wrapper, and a melted candle. Mourners had written dedications all over the squeaky balloon skins.… Read the rest
Josh Harkinson writes about the ugly side of marijuana as a cash crop for Mother Jones via Medium:
STARTING ABOUT 90 MILES northwest of Sacramento, an unbroken swath of national forestland follows the spine of California’s rugged coastal mountains all the way to the Oregon border. Near the center of this vast wilderness, along the grassy banks of the Trinity River’s south fork, lies the remote enclave of Hyampom (pop. 241), where, on a crisp November morning, I climb into a four-wheel-drive government pickup and bounce up a dirt logging road deep into the Six Rivers National Forest. I’ve come to visit what’s known in cannabis country as a “trespass grow.”
“This one probably has the most plants I’ve seen,” says my driver, a young Forest Service cop who spends his summers lugging an AR-15 through the backcountry of the Emerald Triangle—the triad of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties that is to pot what the Central Valley is to almonds and tomatoes.
I would not accept a free vacation at the luxury hotel the Italy hopes will be built on this spot. Via the Telegraph:
Dubbed one of the most haunted places in the world, Poveglia, which was sealed off after it was hit by the plague, is to be auctioned off to raise money for Italy.
The 17-acre island became a quarantine station for ships arriving at Venice in the 18th century. After a plague was discovered on two ships, the island was sealed off and used to host people with infectious diseases, leading to legends of terminally ill Venetians waiting to die before their ghosts returned to haunt the island.
A hospital for the elderly which opened in 1922 and operated until 1968 is rumoured to have hosted experiments on the mentally ill, including crude lobotomies, carried out by a director who was driven mad by ghosts before throwing himself from the hospital’s tower.
April is indeed one of the most exciting months of the year. On April 19 we have the pleasure of celebrating Bicycle Day, and on April 20 we follow it up with 420.
April 20 has been designated as global cannabis appreciation day. It is a day to let the world know that this beautiful plant genus is part of our society and one of the most important bounties of nature. As our civilization expands and evolves, it has become essential for us to recognize and celebrate this day and share the wealth and knowledge that comes from harvesting and consuming what we have so generously been provided.
As for how this day came to be chosen as an official holiday for the 420 community, in the following 2002 interview, Steven Hager, at the time the editor-in-chief of High Times magazine, explains its origins.
“The earliest use of the term began among a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California in 1971, calling themselves the Waldos, because ‘their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school’.
What are the facts in this case? What law is supposedly broken by Cliven Bundy? Is violating an immoral, illegal and irrational law a crime? Who owns the land in question, the federal government or the state of Nevada? Is Senator Harry Reid (D – Nevada) implicated in using his political influence to broker sweetheart deals with Chinese solar firms? Is this really all about protecting tortoises? Questions that demand answers amidst a swarm of apologist mainstream media spin, are parsed here by David Knight.