The Week That Was in Doom June 1, 2014

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964Off the keyboard of Surly1

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 1, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.



“The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. …  They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. 

“You know what they want? Obedient workers ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all… It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

― George Carlin


It has been a week less potent with news events than with movements and shifts with long term consequences. Not sure than anyone outside the Beltway has begun to wrap their minds around the consequences of the Russia-China energy and trade deal. Besides having a trillion dollars of planned trade not settled in petrodollars, what do you suppose having China as a trading partner is going to do the bite of sanctions? And how will the EU feel when they are shivering in the dark, waiting for the endless flow of fracked hydrocarbons from Saudi America? Mammon remains hungry, as a mounting toll of senseless and preventable deaths reflects our appetite for weapons and lack of common sense. And the Bildaboogers were at it again, enjoying a gathering you weren’t invited to, not that you’re bitter. You’re not in the club. Welcome to “The Week That Was in Doom-” a fascinating week, so let’s go right to the videotape.

Last week, we wrote about Fukushima, and the environmental catastrophe unfolding on the Pacific Rim. All of which will, in the fullness of time, be playing At a Theater Near You. More recent news from the Far East: China and Russia inked a little deal that some say herald the beginning of a new “Eurasian century.”

“Geopolitical Earthquake” That Is Historic China Russia Agreement Not Appreciated

The agreement between Putin and Jinpeng last week is historic, not only because trade between the two economic superpowers will not be carried out in dollars, but also because locking in China as a customer for all of those Russian hydrocarbons throws a trump on NATO’s plan to use sanctions to punish the Russians for what they are doing (or thinking about doing) in Ukraine.

The deal goes beyond just hydrocarbons. The two countries are considering joint construction of power plants in Russia, including nuclear power plants. Yes, in Russia. What could possibly go wrong? The Chinese are also making suggestions to the Germans that they use existing rail lines to decrease cargo travel time from eastern China to Europe.

And what potential quid for the pro quo might China exact? You might recall China flexing its  muscles lately with Japan in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, and this past week with Vietnam in the Paracels (see below). A little Russian help with the Security Council vis-à-vis Japan couldn’t hurt. From the Russian perspective, having another friendly face (and vote) at the UN in re Ukraine, Syria, and Iran might prove useful in further negotiations with Western neocon – controlled regimes.

According to a report in Goldcore, Russia will sail $1 trillion worth of natural gas to China, all of which will be settled in rubles and yuan. If you are scoring at home, you might remember that in July, the BRICS Development Bank was announced as an alternative to the IMF for the developing world. None of which is good news for the petrodollar. If you read the Goldcore article, these guys positively are giddy about the prospects for gold, what with Ukraine simmering and the usual unrest in the usual sewers in the Middle East. Not to mention the potential flight into safety of American wealth as the rentier class wakes up to what the rest of the world is acting like it already knows. Given the state of what passes for media in this country, that won’t be happening anytime soon.


Situation in Paracels- China Attacks, Sinks Vietnamese Fishing Vessel

On Tuesday, as China pressed oil drilling claims in the South China Sea off the Paracel Islands (waters which Vietnam also claims). China had amassed a virtual armada of over 70 vessels around the Paracels around its oil rig. Yahoo Japan reported that “a Vietnamese fishing vessel is sunk after being rammed by a Chinese vessel and the 10 fishermen have been rescued.” Stern communiqués ensued. Here’s Vietnam’s:

According to new information received, at 16 am on 26/5, the Chinese fishing boat collided number 11209 90 152 DNA sinking fishing boats of fishermen in South southwest of Da Nang, Hai Duong rig – rig by 981 and 17 nm , is a traditional fishing grounds, under the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam.

In 10/10 fishermen on board the ship Da Nang we picked and safe rescue.

At the time of the incident, there are 40 Chinese fishing boats surrounded unruly group of our vessels.

ZeroHedge reported the “verbal grenades” tossed by both sides of the dispute:

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry held a press conference on Friday when officials stressed the country’s historical claim to the Paracels.

“Historical and legal evidence shows that Vietnam has absolute sovereignty in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos,” said Tran Duy Hai, deputy head of Vietnam’s National Border Committee.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang disagreed.

“Seeing that the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry held a press conference last Friday on the subject, I felt it was extremely ridiculous,” he said at a briefing on Monday. “The Paracels are the indisputable territory of the Chinese people.”

At other times, a face-off between fleets of fishing vessels might seem to be a fit subject for musical comedy. But things are a bit antsier today. Think ahead to the end game: the prospect of the United States intervening to help Vietnam assert territorial claims vis-à-vis mainland China? View that through the lens of someone whose friends and relatives served in the war in Vietnam, and get back to me.


The post-Sandy Hook toll of gun violence continues without respite here in the FSoA, where any suggestion of common sense or political will to curtail the availability of automatic weapons and other mass killing devices is met with the snarling fury of the National Rifle Association, lobbyist for the weapons manufacturers. Any attempt to limit the availability of such weapons is met with righteous indignation as curtailing “our freedom.”  Your scribe looks on wistfully, wishing that the ardor brought in defense of the Second Amendment might have been utilized in defense of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth. Just sayin’.

Even before Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista California, there were at least 80 gun related deaths across the country, according to Huffington Post.

That these shootings failed to garner the national attention that the one in Isla Vista did shouldn’t shock anyone who has followed the gun control debate. High-profile instances of gun violence are more likely to grab the spotlight than the everyday scourge of gun-related killings. And certainly, the shooting of three (and stabbing of three others) by the 22-year-old son of a Hollywood director who happened to leave a dark, depressing trail of self-made YouTube videos qualifies as high-profile.

But instances such as the one at UC Santa Barbara are rare in respect to gun-related homicides. In fact, FBI data shows that there were 900 people who died in mass shootings from 2006 through 2012. By contrast, firearms were used in 11,078 homicides in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Huffpo article notes that many of the shootings failed to garner press attention outside of their own localities. Perhaps we have become as inured to them as acceptable “background noise” for our insane culture as we have to “greed is good.” Both violence and greed are BAU in the FSA.

No need for an alternative blog to mention the work of The Grey Lady, but the New York Times’ Joe Nocera has been publishing “The Gun Report.” It is poignant to read for the matter of factness of it all; pulled from local news reports, the blog recounts in declarative journalistic style the people, many of them children, killed and injured by gun violence the past week. It concludes: 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 7,650 people have been injured by gun violence in America and 4,358 have been killed since Jan. 1, 2014. That number includes 15 police officers killed, 475 children injured or killed and 355 instances of defensive gun use.

To which I’ll add this local item that I came across this morning:

James Andrew Brown II, of Norfolk, Va. was previously charged with assaulting an officer and carrying a loaded weapon, but but he got the charged reduced to a misdemeanor, so that he could exercise his Second Amendment rights, and continue to “open carry”. He was known around his neighborhood as “Wyatt Earp” because he always carried a gun on his hip. Friday May 30 Mr. Brown randomly killed a 17-yr old high school junior and an on-duty police officer, wounded a second police officer, before a third officer killed Brown. Everybody thought he was just another “good guy with a gun”. 

Res ipsa loquitur.




The Bilderburgers were it again this week, with all the hue and cry, hand wringing and consternation that their meeting generates. There are those who insist that this notoriously secretive gathering of the world’s most powerful bankers, politicians and business people meet behind closed doors to create a new world government. For its part, the official Bilderberg website is as mild as mother’s milk:

Bilderberg is an annual conference designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America.
Every year, between 120-150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media are invited to take part in the conference. About two thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America; one third from politics and government and the rest from other fields.
The conference is a forum for informal discussions about megatrends and major issues facing the world. The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which states that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s) nor of any other participant may be revealed.
There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.

Much was made on RT and some other sites about the so-called “secret agenda” leaked. If you really want to know here it is:

1. Nuclear diplomacy and the deal with Iran currently in the making.
2. Gas deal between Russia and China.
3. Rise of nationalist moods in Europe.
4. EU internet privacy regulations.
5. Cyberwarfare and its potential effect on internet freedoms.
6. From Ukraine to Syria, Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
7. Climate change.
8. The new architecture of the Middle East
9. Ukraine
10. The future of democracy and the middle class trap

Read RT’s reporting here, and The Guardian’s snark at not being able to get inside here. The Bilderberg Group has been at this for six decades, and any gaggle of the world’s most influential individuals, politicians, officials, businessmen, academics and European royalty (dare we say Illuminati?) who regularly gather to discuss global policy issues is going to attract critics. And there is little doubt that these days this group is under far more scrutiny than before. Some see them as acting as a shadow unelected government, de facto rulers of the world, making decisions affecting billions him behind closed doors, with little regard for the needs or wishes of mere proles. What is ironic is that, of the subjects listed on the so-called “secret agenda,” most have been addressed in this space over the past weeks. But then ironies abound.


And in closing–

Real Life Mosquito Tornado Is Far More Terrifying Than Sharknado

Photo credit: Ana Filipa Scarpa

Damn…  and from io9, this:

While visiting Leziria Grande at Vila Franca de Xira in Portugal recently, photographer Ana Filipa Scarpa noticed something off in the distance that resembled a funnel cloud. But it wasn’t a tornado, or even a funnel for that matter. Rather, it was something… alive.

What you’re seeing here is an insect swarm. A swarm of mosquitoes, to be exact.

“It was a very high funnel swinging to the left and to the right. I pointed my camera and began shooting before it hit me. But the funnel did not move toward me — and I thought it was so strange — so I got into my car and started to drive towards it, and that’s when I realized it was a mosquito twister.”

As she drove nearer, the mosquitoes actually started entering into her car.

Leziria Grande de Vila Franca de Xira is a highly fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, Scarpa told me, because there are many water branches to assure water to animals and harvests.

Scarpa says the swarm extended about 1,000 feet high and was nearly a quarter mile (300 meters) from her position.


And if the rest of this week’s analysis is not left your skin crawling, this last item certainly will.

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and a shifting menagerie of women both young and young at heart.


Death Part II: Suicide East of Eden

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on Reverse Engineering  January 2011


Discuss this article at the Frosbite Falls Insider Table Inside the Diner

I didn’t really cover Suicide in much detail in Part I, because it didn’t really fit the definition of the type of Death I was looking at, which was Death unwillingly forced on one person by another. However, if you look at the type of suicide you are talking about which is actually caused as a reaction to the behavior of others, kind of a deprivation of Spiritual Resources if you will, then it does fit the definition, so it should have been included. I’ll make an addendum to the post here to cover this.

When you say “take me out first” rather than last and reference the Donner Party, I am looking at that as a form of Suicide rather than Murder, since you basically are giving up your life without a fight, even though the actual taking of your life might come at the hand of another. You are “voluntarily” quitting the game, so to speak. In the case of the Donner Party, at least according to the legend anyhow, your self-sacrifice also is going to physically help feed the remaining members of the party via Cannibalism.

I put “voluntary” in quotations because its only voluntary in the sense that given the parameters you are faced with, you would choose death rather than live in a world of Wolf Packs and become one of the Wolves. However, the fact that the world did become that way forces you to make this choice on a philosophical level, so its not truly voluntary.

In point of fact, many people are already taking the Suicide Option Out. I’m not going to try to Google them all up, but in the last 3 years I have read stories about increasing Seppuku over in Japan around some traditional Mountain where people go to Walk themselves into the Great Beyond, and quite recently a story about increasing Suicide among FSofA War Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Theatres. Add to that the occasional individual suicide which has some facet that attracts the MSM to report it, like the Tunisian fellow who sparked the riots and collapsed Da Goobermint by Self-Immolation when his Fruit Stand was confiscated because he didn’t have a Goobermint Permit.

Suicide Bombers and Postals fall into a slightly different category, since in the course of quitting the game such a person takes a few others with him into the Great Beyond. So here you are both voluntarily ending your own life while also engaging in involuntarily ending the lives of some other folks. That puts you more in the Lone Wolf category. At least in this country so far, the Lone Wolves are still pretty rare, and individual Suicides are more common. However, over in the Middle East, Suicide Bombings occur on such a regular basis these days they may be approaching the numbers of individual Suicides in those countries. Hard to say since you never get any kind of valid statistics on any of these things, you just have to extrapolate based on anecdotal stories and consider what is likely to occur in such environments.

Another type of event is the Mass Suicide, which recently was reported over in India as many small farmers (the number exceeded 10,000 as I recall) facing ruin from debt problems committed suicide, I think that was in 2009. Going back to a prior era when there were vast problems in the society, you had Jim Jones Walking a whole bunch of his followers into the Great Beyond via Mass Suicide, and I would not be at all surprised to see a similar Cult Mass Suicide occur here as we spin down further, in fact I will be surprised if such a scenario does not occur.

The result here is that the “take me first” personal solution is bound to increase amongst those people who neither wish to fight nor have the means by which to further support themselves. This happens even among people who thought they had the means, when they lose all they had suddenly as a result of being defrauded or in a stock market crash, etc. That is the Falling Stockbrokers Syndrome. I catalogued a few of those back on Peak Oil back in 2008, a German Banker and an heir to a fortune pre-dating the French Revolution among them. Over here, there was a corporate executive in VA who either committed suicide or was offed by a squad of cleaners, and there was another Oil Sheik whose Glider mysteriously crashed. You always have to view some of those “suicides” with a jaundiced eye, because they might be clandestine murders.

Is Suicide a more Moral Choice than becoming a Wolf? I think that depends on the situation. In a hopeless situation where there are no external enemies to fight such as was the case for the Donner Party, Suicide is clearly the more moral choice than taking the life of another unwillingly in the party so that you yourself could live. However, in a case where your Tribe (at minimum Loved Ones, Family and Friends) might be Saved by taking the fight to the Enemy rather than committing Suicide, becoming a Wolf is the more Moral choice. If you succeed in doing that and give up your life to save loved ones and they do survive, you go out as a HERO. Everlasting Glory in the Kingdom of Heaven is your reward for that one.

For most people here in the Fascist States ofAmerica, most of us as of yet are not really faced with the same kind of deprivation and choices that folks in the Middle East are making on a daily basis. However, increasing numbers of people here are falling off the economic cliff as their 99 Week UE bennies expire, and while they might be able to survive on a SNAP Card in a Homeless Shelter, Suicide might seem to them a better choice than becoming a member of the Free Shit Army. This is a good question to ask yourself about what you would do if you lost everything and your only choices were to commit Suicide, become a Lone Wolf or accept Goobermint Aid and become a member of the Free Shit Army? I wonder how many people here would answer that question Honestly?

For myself, as long as it is functioning, my choice would be to become a member of the FSA. I don’t see a need to commit Suicide when there is still really plenty of food to go round here in the FSofA, and I don’t see the point in fighting an unwinnable battle as a Lone Wolf as long as the Conduits are still functioning, which they must be for SNAP cards to still be available. In my community, it would have to go even further, to the point I could not fish up enough to survive, or find some means to trade for what we harvest up here for my sustenance. Only at that point, once all other means have been exhausted would I make the choice between Suicide or becoming either a Pack Wolf or a Lone Wolf. I don’t know which one of those I would choose, its such an extreme situation that I do not know what my mind set would be at that point. To know what you would do when you have reached the End of your Rope, you really have to BE at the end of your rope.

In any event, like all the other forms of DEATH we are faced with here like Abortion, War and Starvation, Suicide is yet another one that will increase in its frequency during the spin down, regardless of whether we think suicide is a moral choice or not. In some Religious belief, Suicide is a Mortal Sin, and under no circumstances should you do it as it would condemn your Soul to Everlasting Damnation Burning in the Fires of Hell.  I do not subscribe to that idea. In certain situations, Suicide is a very valid choice, and in those situations if you choose it, you will not be Damned, you will go to Everlasting Glory in the Kingdom of Heaven.

See You on the Other Side.


Follow Up Response to Stuck in New Jersey in this thread:

Stuck, on one keyboard hand you argue that I am advocating for a return to the Garden of Eden, but then on the other keyboard hand you argue that I advocate for a system which legitimizes Murder, which clearly is not Garden of Eden living. So which one is it here? You cannot argue both at the same time.

In my response to OS, I covered some of the inherent conflicts that come from Suicide in a resource constrained environment. Essentially, some people are FORCED into committing suicide, so you can turn this around and say that they did not truly commit Suicide, but were in fact Murdered by the society around them. Who do you pin the Murder on though? The entire population still alive after the person offs himself?

Tribal living in a resource constrained environment is clearly NOT the Garden of Eden. In fact it is quite a tough environment overall, but for the most part a more fair system with a more equitable distribution of power. People will still be people, there will still be arguments, there will still be violence. These things will not disappear, so it is not the Garden of Eden.

The two most difficult Moral Questions to resolve in this type of system come at the beginning and end stages of life. At the beginning stage of life, the Death comes from Abortion and/or Exposure. At the end stage of life, the Death comes from Suicide or Exposure also. Just like infants are sometimes left on a mountaintop to die and be consumed by Wolves, so also will the tribe sometimes pack up in the middle of the night and leave behind sleeping one of their Elderly members who slows them down on the trail and no longer can contribute hunting or gathering. Given I accept both of these as inevitable consequences of living in a resource constrained environment, I hardly see how you can argue that I am either “sugar coating” this or advocating for a return to the Garden of Eden. I am doing neither.

My hope would be that after a period of time passes and the population gets knocked down to whatever minima the resource constraints demand, the environment will begin to heal, there will be fewer resource constraints, and then the population begins to grow again. At this point the two most difficult Moral Questions of Infanticide and Elderly Suicide can be removed from the mix, to be substituted for by more careful reproductive control of some form, and not allowing the growth of the population to exceed the growth of the resource base on a Pay-as-you-Go basis. Given where we are at NOW however, with a population well into Overshoot resulting from the exploitation of the one-time “Gift” of the Thermodynamic Energy of Fossil Fuels and the fact that those fuels are in a depleting state relative to the size of the population, we are a long ways away from being able to convert to such a relatively benign form of maintaining a steady state population in balance with the available resources. This is why I
maintain that we will not get from here to there without a considerable amount of pain.

We will likely never be returning to the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden came some 70,000 years ago for the 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs that survived the cataclysmic bottleneck of the population of Homo Sapiens in the aftermath of the Toba Supervolcanic Eruption. Once the atmosphere cleared and the environment surrounding them healed itself, that Tribe had the entire surface of the Earth to expand onto, to “Go Forth and Multiply”, and they sure did that, to the tune of around 6.3B people living here now. There were no wars then, because if you were dissatisfied in your community and sought Freedom you could just walk a few miles to the next valley over and start your own little community. Then do it again, and again and again, until all these communities started bumping up against each other with nowhere left to go for the Freedom Seekers. The Garden of Eden lasted for quite some time, to around 5000 years ago when Agriculture began to suck resource out of the land faster than it could be replenished. Then of course and right up until today, all HELL broke loose with the endless War of the Haves and the Have Nots.

The general paradigm of Warfare amongst conflicting Tribes and incipient Civilizations developing from Agriculture began 5000 years ago as most of the surface of the Earth was populated by Homo Sapiens, but the End for Freedom Seekers did not come really until about 1000 years ago, when a few Polynesian Navigators plying the Pacific Ocean in Sail Rigged Canoes came upon the Big Island of Hawaii. That was the very LAST vestige of the Garden of Eden, a place with sufficient food resources devoid of any prior population of Homo Sapiens living there that had to be displaced by Warfare. Once that last space was taken up, the last 1000 years has been all about consolidation and one group of people becoming powerful enough to displace another group of people. Accessing the thermodynamic energy of fossil fuels gave one set of people vast advantage, and asymmetry developed in the aftermath of that. Industrial living VERY quickly became the only way to live anywhere, it really only took 200 or so years for this paradigm to overrun the earth. About ALL Hunter Gatherers disappeared through this period, and Agriculture itself became Industrialized. Thing is here, once the Fossil Fuels are unavailable, this 200 year experiment in Industrial Civilization will collapse in a Heartbeat in the grand scheme of 70,000 years since the Garden of Eden. It will not even take a Century for this collapse to occur. That is about 0.3% of the entire timeline since the Toba Bottleneck.

To return to the Garden of Eden, we literally would have to shrink back down in population size to 10,000 Human Souls and give Gaia 10,000 years to heal herself, and even I do not project that as likely. In the absence of a cataclysm on the order of Toba, Natural or Man Made, I do not see it likely that even with a massive Undershoot of population we would shrink down past 100M or so. There will be remaining tribes everywhere there is sufficient water and arable land or access to a fecund fishery. Those tribes will bump up against each other and there will be border wars. There will be no place for Freedom Seekers to go that both provide enough food in the environment and also are vacant of people. It is how those populations steward their environment and the principles upon which they base their community which will determine how Just they are and how successful. I maintain that the best means of doing that is to base the economy on Giving rather than Taking.

On the question of how you prevent those nasty Human Traits like Greed and Avarice from taking root and flourishing, the answer is Education. In childhood, these traits manifest themselves in children all the time. 3 year olds will grab a toy from another and say “MINE!”. Do not allow that behavior, Punish it quickly, it does not take much when a child is 3 years old to punish such behavior. Reward the child for Sharing and being generous. Do not reward Adults for Greedy behaviors, because children witness this and inculcate it into their developing brains as the way to be. Punish adults who take more than they need, Shun them to begin, if they don’t learn the lesson,  Hang ’em High.  Certainly do not put them up on a Pedestal on the pages of People Magazine or Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. You will never entirely wipe Greed out of course, but you can Squash it down through the Culture and the Education of children. This is a cultural decision it is within our power to make.

In our lifetimes, and in the lifetimes of generations yet unborn, it will not be possible to escape the consequences of Overshoot, and the pain that is to come as the population must shrink in size to come back into Balance with what Nature provides on a Pay-as-you-Go basis. The tough Moral Questions of Abortion, Suicide, Murder and War will all be a part of our collective lives. Death comes in many ways, and the Grim Reaper will have the Greatest Harvest of all time in this go round. Your only choices in this revolve around where you will park your butt and whether you will be a Sheeple or a Wolf when the Big Show Comes to a Theatre Near You. If you Run Away NOW, run away FAR, you might avoid the worst of these choices for the rest of your natural life. I am as far out as you can GET and still have a connection to the Internet. I HOPE to live out what is left of my life in relative Peace, but as it stands at the moment, unless I die relatively quickly, the Big Show will Come to my Theatre and force me to make my choice. I do not know right now what that choice will be, Suicide, Lone Wolf or Pack Wolf? I won’t go to the Great Beyond as a Sheeple though. I won’t know the answer to this question until I am at the End of my Rope, and I am not there yet.

Come the Horsemen.

See You on the Other Side.


Aaron Swartz: Suicide or Murder?

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on January 17, 2013

Discuss this article at the Heros of the Revolution table inside the Diner

Advocates of online openness and freedom lost a committed champion. The Economist said to call him “gifted would be to miss the point. As far as the internet was concerned, he was the gift.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation called him an “Internet freedom rock star.”
An official family statement called him “(o)ur beloved brother, son, friend, and partner….We are in shock, and have not yet come terms with his passing.”
His “insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable – these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter.”
“Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge.”
“He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place.”
“His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.”
“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
“Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.”
“Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”
“Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.”
Lawrence Lessig is an academic, political activist, online freedom proponent, former University of Chicago/Harvard Law School Professor, and current Professor of Law at Stanford. He founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society.
He knew Aaron as a friend and lawyer. On January 13, he headlined “Prosecutor as Bully,” saying:
Whatever Aaron did wasn’t for personal gain. He did what he thought right. JSTOR understood. “They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron.”
They asked prosecutors to drop charges. “MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear.”
Prosecutors took full advantage. They got the excuse they wanted to target Aaron. They wrongfully criminalized him.
“From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way.”
It suggested he downloaded academic and scholarly articles for profit.
“But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.”
“Aaron had literally done nothing in his life ‘to make money.’ ” Whatever he earned wasn’t by intent.
“(W)e live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis, (notorious despots, and other scoundrels) regularly dine at the White House.”
“(W)hy (was) Aaron labeled a ‘felon?’ ” Prosecutors bled him dry. “(W)e need to get beyond the ‘I’m right so I’m right to nuke you’ ethics that dominates our time.”
“That begins with one word: shame. One word, and endless tears.”
A previous article questioned the official suicide story. It quoted Aaron extensively in his own words. It asked if he sounded like someone planning suicide.
He advocated online openness and freedom. He called information “power.” He wanted it in the public domain. He wanted everyone able to share it freely and openly. Failure is “too high a price to pay,” he said.
It’s “outrageous and unacceptable,” he added. Possessors of information are obligated to share it. They’re morally bound not to “keep this privilege for (them)selves.”
“(S)haring isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.”
“Large corporations….are blinded by greed.” Politicians are “bought off to back them.” Legislation follows. It’s immoral and unjust.
“There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.”
Aaron advocated open access. He wanted information everyone has the right to know made public. Download them from scientific journals, he urged. Upload them to file sharing networks.
Make privatization of knowledge a thing of the past. He asked everyone to join him in a struggle for what’s right. He did it because it matters.
He paid with his life. New York’s medical examiner allegedly conducted an autopsy. He pronounced death by “hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment.”
A previous article said lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? Why would he throw it away?
Why was no private autopsy and forensic examination done? Why aren’t questions raised about a potential coverup? Why isn’t independently determined full disclosure demanded?
Prosecutors notoriously lie. Medical examiners help them. So do media scoundrels.
Did Aaron take his own life or was he murdered? America has a dark history of eliminating noted figures it wants silenced.
Aaron perhaps is the latest. His death raises obvious suspicions. He appears a victim of capitalist greed. His open access advocacy had to be silenced. What better way than by making murder look like suicide.
Was he drugged and then hanged? Was eliminating him planned long ago? Was it done to avoid protracted headline-making trial proceedings?
Many of Aaron’s global followers would have reported them daily. Doing so would have revealed prosecutorial injustice. Dark forces perhaps decided not to risk it.
Prosecutors hounded him. His attorney, Elliot Peters, accused them of doing it to gain publicity. They cooked up alleged computer crimes against him.
They targeted his advocacy for what’s right. They wanted him silenced. They wanted him put away for decades. They wanted him out of sight and mind.
They crossed ethical and moral lines, said Lessig. They did what they did because they can. They made him a martyr in the process. He’s internationally recognized for fighting for what’s right.
Internet freedom is at stake. In 2008, candidate Obama promised to “(s)upport the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.”
As president he’s waged war to destroy it. He wants open access advocates criminalized. He calls doing so investing in America’s future. He wants censorship replacing First Amendment rights.
He and likeminded Washington extremists support an alphabet soup of federal and international freedom-destroying measures.
Various cybersecurity acts threaten constitutional freedoms. SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA, and TPP are stealth pro-corporate, anti-populist schemes.
Secrecy and misbranding conceal their harshness. Activists know what’s going on and say so. At issue is unchallenged global corporate empowerment regulation free.
Internet freedom, popular rights, and national sovereignty are too important to lose. They’re on the chopping block for elimination.
Profits alone matter. Compromising civil liberties is a small price to pay. So are public knowledge, privacy, and other fundamental rights free societies should champion. Democratic values are too important to lose.
Obama has other ideas in mind. Aaron and likeminded open access advocates challenged him. Doing so targeted him for elimination. Others are likewise threatened.
Doing the right thing is dangerous. Everyone involved is closely monitored. FBI, CIA and other national security files are maintained.
Lawless warrantless surveillance watches like Big Brother. Phones are tapped. Emails and other private communications are monitored, collected and stored. Stealth videos at times are used. There’s no place to hide.
Doing the right thing is hazardous. America’s unfit to live in. For many, it’s dangerous. Other Western societies operate the same way. The best, brightest and most dedicated are targeted.
Some are marked for elimination. Odds suggest Aaron was one. A fitting epitaph should read killed by capitalist greed.
He’s gone but by no means forgotten. Others continue his struggle for open access justice. Doing so is the only chance to have it. The alternative is too intolerable to accept.
A Final Comment
On January 15, Russia Today said Massachusetts federal court charges were dropped. Why pursue a dead man. A simple statement read:
“Pursuant to FRCP 48(a), the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen M. Ortiz, hereby dismisses the case presently pending against Defendant Aaron Swartz.”
“In support of this dismissal, the government states that Mr. Swartz died on January 11, 2013.”
Omitted was full disclosure about how and most important why. Aaron was no ordinary Internet freedom advocate. His prominence made him a marked man. It cost him his life.
JSTOR didn’t press charges. MIT pursued a civil suit. Repercussions remain ongoing.
On January 14, the global hacktivist collective, Anonymous, broke into MIT’s website. It replaced its front page. A simple line read: “In Memoriam, Aaron Swartz.”
A statement followed. It called the Justice Department’s prosecution “a grotesque miscarriage of justice” and “a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for.”
“We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered Internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all,” it added.
Aaron grew up in suburban Chicago. On January 11, he died in his Brooklyn apartment. He was 26 years old.
On January 15, suburban Chicago’s Highland Park Central Avenue Synagogue was filled to capacity.
Family, friends and supporters came to honor him. Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman spoke for others, saying “Aaron wanted so badly to change the world. He wanted it more than money. He wanted it more than fame.”
“When things are hard – and he said it is the important things that are hard – you have to lean into the pain.”

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