Pete Seeger: 1919-2014

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
     There is a season (turn, turn, turn),
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.

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We will fill our stomachs with stones….

“We don’t want to eat. We do not want your food or your aid supplies. We want to break the siege. There is nothing here anymore!”

On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, yet more testimony that the human race — that we — have learned nothing from history.

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On Pardoning Edward Snowden….

While I find the word “pardon” offensive when applied to a person who did the right thing in the face of significant consequences and who should by all rights win our thanks and a medal, I support the Guardian and the New York Times editorials calling for Edward Snowden to be pardoned. I believe that this is the very least we can do for a man who exposed a dangerous pattern of governmental overreach that threatened our democracy at significant personal cost.

Thanks to both papers. I just wish I thought that President Obama and Congress were likely to listen. :/

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Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

As everybody and his brother has said today, Nelson Mandela was a great man, one of the greatest of the 20th century. I’d like to point out that, unlike many great men, Nelson Mandela was also by almost any measure a good man.

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Ladar Levison and Lavabit

I’ve been too busy elsewhere to blog here much, but did not want to let the story of Ladar Levison and his secure email service Lavabit go unremarked. Edward Snowden isn’t the only good guy who refuses to let an overreaching government dictate terms to him and try to prevent him from telling his tale. :(

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Edward Snowden

I had planned to wait to post about Edward Snowden, because my feelings about him and what he exposed are too strong at the moment. I don’t want to talk rationally. I want to scream: not at Snowden, but at my own government. Even more, I want to scream at a rather large number of lazy, disinterested, scared, cowardly U.S. citizens who tacitly approved while the government of the United States created an intolerable mass surveillance apparatus and regimen in the (former?) “land of the free”.

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Dennis Tito (Remember Him?) Planning Trip to Mars in 2018?

According to SpaceREF.com, American investment manager Dennis Tito (who caused a huge kerfluffle at NASA in 2001 when he paid the Russian Federal Space Agency to fly him to the International Space Station as a tourist) has now announced that he will shortly be announcing plans for a trip to Mars in 2018. The press conference is scheduled for next Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 1:00 PM at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

This sounds so ambitious as to be insane, but Tito has managed to do things in the past that “the experts” thought could not or should not be done. Unfortunately there appear to be no plans to stream the press conference, but I’ll be watching for the accompanying press release and stories.

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Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons

Washington Post columnist George Will, a politically conservative columnist whom I often agree with about limited government and fiscal responsibility, but often disagree with on human rights issues, today posted a thoughtful and quite pointed op-ed on the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. He clearly considers it a type of torture. If I had not already come to the same conclusion previously, I think he would have convinced me in this article.

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On Donating to Charity After a Disaster

People tend to be generous in the wake of a disaster, whether it be a hurricane (Sandy) or a massacre (Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut). Unfortunately criminals know this, and take advantage of it. Neil Schwartzman, a friend and fellow antispammer, blogged today on CircleID on how to give to charity safely, without feeding the criminals. I’ll have some detailed things to say about the spammers who do this over on the MainSleaze Spam blog later today. Meanwhile, I recommend reading, and heeding, Neil’s post.

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The National Conversation We Need to Have: Mental Health

After a young man who reportedly had autism spectrum disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome) and a personality disorder shot his mother and a Connecticut school full of five-to-ten year old children, their teachers and their principle, voices are being heard all over demanding stricter gun laws. This is understandable: we prefer easy answers to difficult, complex ones, and guns are the easier target. They would just require banning a few “assault weapons” and we can all feel better. A few people are making the harder, but better, call: we *must* fix this country’s abysmal failure to deal with mental illness.

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