Tag Archives | Politics

Wife, daughter, and writer of controversial FEMA camp movie ‘Gray State’ dead in ‘murder-suicide’

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Anti Media via WTF News:

The lead writer of a controversial movie was found dead along with his wife and daughter in a Minnesota home Saturday afternoon. Officers went to the house Saturday after a neighbor called to report bodies inside. Three people were found dead and have been identified as screenwriter David Crowley, his wife, Komel, 28, and their 5-year-old daughter.

A statement from Apple Valley police Sunday morning said the case would be considered “an apparent murder-suicide” and the deaths would be investigated as suspicious.

Next-door neighbor Collin Prochnow said he went to the house on Saturday to ‘gather packages that were sitting on the front steps’ when he looked inside and saw the bodies. Prochnow told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the family had not been seen since Christmas and that a dog was also in the house.

David Crowley had been the lead screenwriter for the movie Gray State which depicts a violent police state in post-crisis America as people reject government policy en masse in frustration over economic collapse and the breakdown of society.

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Security is Not a Crime—Unless You’re an Anarchist

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Jannes Pockele (CC BY 2.0)

Nadia Kayyali and Kattza Rodriguez write at Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Riseup, a tech collective that provides security-minded communications to activists worldwide, sounded the alarm last month when a judge in Spain stated that the use of their email service is a practice, he believes, associated with terrorism.

Javier Gómez Bermúdez is a judge of Audiencia Nacional, a special high court in Spain that deals with serious crimes such as terrorism and genocide. According to press reports, he ordered arrest warrants that were carried out on December 16th against alleged members of an anarchist group. The arrests were part of Operation Pandora, a coordinated campaign against “anarchist activity” that has been called an attempt  “to criminalize anarchist social movements.” The police seized books, cell phones, and computers, and arrested 11 activists. Few details are known about the situation, since the judge has declared the case secret.

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Elon Musk is spending $10 million to save us from an evil robot takeover

Via Quartz:

Elon Musk may be a tech guru, but it turns out he’s just as scared of robots taking over the world as anyone else who grew up watching Terminator movies. So the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX announced yesterday that he is giving $10 million to fund research that ensures artificial intelligence will be used for good, not evil.

He donated the money to the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit research group, which will distribute the money in grants. In a video that the organization released, Musk talks about his motivations [via the Verge]:

Read more.

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Inequity is at a boiling point in today’s America

Amir Farshad Ebrahimi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Amir Farshad Ebrahimi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via Times-Standard

Communities all over the country are struggling to find answers to the issue of the increasing numbers of homeless people and people living in poverty. Most of those communities are themselves struggling with budget problems and, at best, are only able to come up with Band-Aid solutions. What’s happening here in the richest country in the world? Do we just have a lot of lazy people?

Let’s take a look at some numbers (compiled by Bill Moyers and Company): families of 4 living on less than $11,510 (poverty level for one person) number 20.4 million, that’s 1 in 15 Americans, 7.1 million are children; 25 percent of U.S. jobs pay below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000/year; in 2011 28 percent of all workers earned poverty level wages. Overall 50 percent of U.S. workers earn less than $34,000/year.

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Welcome To The Matrix: Enslaved By Technology And The Internet Of Things

Via Western Journalism

“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore.
Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me.’” ― Philip K. Dick

If ever Americans sell their birthright, it will be for the promise of expediency and comfort delivered by way of blazingly fast Internet; cell phone signals that never drop a call; thermostats that keep us at the perfect temperature without our having to raise a finger; and entertainment that can be simultaneously streamed to our TVs, tablets, and cell phones.

Likewise, if ever we find ourselves in bondage, we will have only ourselves to blame for having forged the chains through our own lassitude, laziness, and abject reliance on internet-connected gadgets and gizmos that render us wholly irrelevant.

Indeed, while most of us are consumed with our selfies and trying to keep up with what our so-called friends are posting on Facebook, the megacorporation Google has been busily partnering with the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, and other governmental agencies to develop a new “human” species, so to speak.

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Ted Cruz, Longtime Foe Of NASA And Science, Will Oversee NASA And Science In New Congress

Via The Huffington Post:

Following the ratification of Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) as chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committtee last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was named chair of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, where he will oversee NASA and science programs.

Appointed Jan. 8, Cruz is expected to be confirmed to the new role by the end of the month as one of many changes to the new Republican-controlled Congress. But the Republican senator’s words and actions during his time in office have painted him to be a far cry from an advocate for the sciences, leaving many concerned about the future of space and science funding.

Cruz’s infamous hours-long speech in September 2013 led to a 16-day government shutdown barring 97 percent of NASA employees from appearing for work. Interns to the agency were temporarily displaced when the NASA-provided housing was closed during the shutdown, and many have said the agency suffered lasting damage due to the freeze.

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Bread and Circuses

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Pollice Verso by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Via San Diego Reader

Roman leaders mollified the masses by providing food handouts and violent games to enjoy. Is this happening again in America?

Bread and circuses. Back in the Roman Empire, those were the keys to diverting the public’s attention from political greed and corruption — and, particularly, from the massive gap between the rich and the poor.

Rome won so many wars that it was overrun with captured slaves, and they performed the physical labor. Idle, unemployed Romans were restive. Julius Caesar perfected the ideal appeasement: give them wheat to eat and violent entertainment to savor — or, bread and circuses (panem et circenses).

It worked. Generally, the plebeians neither starved nor rioted. Salivating, they would watch gladiators slaughter animals and each other. Those gladiators were mainly slaves, but as they won laurels, they could win their freedom and rake in donations from the crowd.

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Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers

Frédéric BISSON (CC BY 2.0)

Frédéric BISSON (CC BY 2.0)

Via the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

PEN America published a report this week summarizing the findings from a recent survey of 772 writers around the world on questions of surveillance and self-censorship. The report, entitled “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” builds upon a late 2013 survey of more than 500 US-based writers conducted by the organization.

The latest survey found that writers living in liberal democratic countries “have begun to engage in self-censorship at levels approaching those seen in non-democratic countries, indicating that mass surveillance has badly shaken writers’ faith that democratic governments will respect their rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and that—because of pervasive surveillance—writers are concerned that expressing certain views even privately or researching certain topics may lead to negative consequences.”

Specifically, more than 1 in 3 writers living in “free” countries (as classified by watchdog Freedom House) stated that they had avoided speaking or writing on a particular topic since the Snowden revelations, and only seventeen percent of writers in these countries felt that the United States offers more protection for free speech than their countries.

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Lee Camp: Using Comedy to Uncover the Truth

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Un-Redacted: Activist comedian Lee Camp and his news show, Redacted Tonight use comedy to uncover the truth by covering all the stories you won’t see in either comedy or on the news.

How do you make School of the Americas, climate change, the military and prison industrial complexes, corporate personhood and income inequality funny? And perhaps more importantly, why should they be made funny?

Lee Camp, activist comedian and ‘intrepid newshound’ host of the news comedy show, Redacted Tonight, explains.

“A lot of these issues I try to tackle are simply too depressing when tackled straight on. People avoid them or look the other way,” he says.

“But with comedy, people will listen longer, they’ll forward it to friends, they’ll not feel completely defeated by everything we’re facing. Even people that disagree with me are willing to watch a comedy show.”

Art killing apathy, as it were; engagement through entertainment.… Read the rest

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“Superstition sets the whole world in flames” – Voltaire

J.D. Falk (CC BY-SA 2.0)

J.D. Falk (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via BBC

Historian Tom Holland was one of those who tweeted Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in the wake of the deadly attack on the magazine’s office. Here he explains the ramifications of defending free speech.

Religions are not alone in having their martyrs. On 1 July, 1766, in Abbeville in northern France, a young nobleman named Lefebvre de la Barre was found guilty of blasphemy. The charges against him were numerous – that he had defecated on a crucifix, spat on religious images, and refused to remove his hat as a Church procession went past.

These crimes, together with the vandalising of a wooden cross on the main bridge of Abbeville, were sufficient to see him sentenced to death. Once La Barre’s tongue had been cut out and his head chopped off, his mortal remains were burned by the public executioner, and dumped into the river Somme.

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