Aaron Swartz Unlikely To Face Jail Or Conviction... Until Feds Decided To 'Send A Message'

from the prosecutorial-discretion dept

Things just keep looking worse and worse in the Carmen Ortiz/Stephen Heymann vendetta against Aaron Swartz. Now it's come out that state prosecutors, who were originally looking into the case had no interest in pursuing felony charges or prison time... until Carmen Ortiz and her team showed up. Instead, state prosecutors had focused on the initial charges: "breaking and entering in the daytime" which they expected "would be continued without a finding, with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner." Instead, the report notes:
Tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send “a message.”
In case you were wondering what "continued without a finding" means, Harvey Silvergate (author of Three Felonies a Day) explained to Declan McCullagh:
"Continuance without a finding" was the anticipated disposition of the case were the charge to remain in state court, with the Middlesex County District Attorney to prosecute it. Under such a disposition, the charge is held in abeyance ("continued") without any verdict ("without a finding"). The defendant is on probation for a period of a few months up to maybe a couple of years at the most; if the defendant does not get into further legal trouble, the charge is dismissed, and the defendant has no criminal record. This is what the lawyers expected to happen when Swartz was arrested for "trespassing at MIT." But then the feds took over the case, and the rest is tragic history.
The report above also notes that Ortiz is in some additional hot water, as another one of her overreach cases, involving an attempt to seize a family-owned motel in Massachusetts by claiming that it was "facilitating drug crimes" has failed miserably, tossed out by the magistrate judge. Not only was it noted that there were only 15 drug-related incidents over a 15 year period (during which 196,000 rooms were rented out), but also, the motel owners worked closely with local police to deal with drug issues and that other local businesses that had drug incidents were not targeted by Ortiz.


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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:44pm

    Mike Masnick unlikely to be honest about anything, unable to discuss any of his beliefs in detail.

    Milk, milk, milk. When are you going to grow a pair and actually discuss the issues with me? Stop being such a baby.

     

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      alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:55pm

      Re:

      what a pathetic troll. Your sole mission in life appears to be to come here to lambast Mike. It's like you are a worthless maggot if not for your blabbering. Because seriously, you find this valuable use of your time? You have no capacity to contribute intelligent dialogue to a topic?

      Sad little mind you've got there...

       

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        Donnicton, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 8:03pm

        Re: Re:

        Still better than dealing with a Facebook comment system.

         

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        •  
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          alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 8:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          As much as I would generally agree, for many reasons, it would be a lot more fun to have a buffer from the rants and diatribes of stupidity once in a while,so I'm almost tempted to disagree on that. Almost, however, is not enough to sway me in favor of the invasive Facebooking of the world...

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The censored comment was supposed to be taken as sarcasm.

            However when it's truthful, sarcasm fails to be recognized as such.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2013 @ 12:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's not sarcasm if it's constantly spammed on threads regardless of relevance. At that point it becomes obvious trollbait.

               

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          Kenneth Michaels, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

          IMPORTANT

          Because the prosecution of Swartz was discretionary, it is important to send a message to the prosecutors. That is why the White House petition actually MATTERS in this case. The prosecutors won't be so crazy in the future if they think they will piss off the internet. SIGN THIS PETITION:

          https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-assistant-us-attorney-steve-heymann/RJKSY2nb

          A lthough the petition to fire Ortiz has passed the threshold, the petition to fire Heymann has 14.5k signatures to go. Come on!

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:16am

        Re: Re:

        He actually did contribute to a lively and interesting debate for a while. However, he couldn't help resorting to intermittent trollish attacks on Mike at the same time. But when he was soundly pummeled in the debate, he apparently got his feelings hurt and went into full on troll mode.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          All Mike has to do is have an honest discussion about his beliefs. I know, I know. Never happen. What kind of a man shits on everyone else's beliefs while pretending like he has none of his own? Mike. That's who.

           

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      Rikuo (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 8:07pm

      Re:

      I'd actually like to know why exactly you're so obsessed with getting a person whom you've never met in person (I hope Mike has never had the displeasure of meeting you) to answer a question, and of being obsessed over a period of YEARS.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

      Re:

      A baby is orders of magnitude more mature than you.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 8:27pm

        Re: Re:

        And less thirsty. : /

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:27am

        Re: Re:

        A baby is at least honest. Do you believe that Mike really doesn't have an opinion on whether we should have any copyright? I don't. I think we all don't. I think we all know that Mike is extremely opinionated about copyright. Yet, he sits on the fence, refusing to put any skin of his own in the game.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I just think you're a delusional obsessive troll, actually.

           

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          Ron, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why does it matter to you so much? I think there should be no copyright. There, I said it everyone. Can you now go away and stop being a turd?

           

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          shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Mike has publicized a lot of people who openly would like to do away with or drastically reduce copyright, but he has also given voice to people who have less extreme solutions. I believe I read about the book Copyfraud by Jason Mazzone here, and it certainly comes far short of promoting the end of IP.

          I think frankly it is highly unlikely Mike wants IP done away with completely. I do... I don't think he does though. But if he does, really, so what?

           

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      btrussell (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 10:14pm

      Re:

      Milk! It does a body good!

      So what's the problem? It is past-your-eyes-duh!

       

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      apauld (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 10:20pm

      Re:

      why should Mike discuss anything with such a pathetic twit? You have never shown any evidence that you are worthy of engaging. You are a walking advertisement for castration.

       

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      Trails (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 10:52pm

      Re:

      My God, just confess your love for Mike and move on.

       

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      Dave, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:30am

      Re:

      I am not usually given to uttering expletives but this moron is enough to try the patience of a saint and would cause ANYONE to lose their cool. May you rot in some singularly appropriate hell-hole for the rest of your days.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:29am

        Re: Re:

        Nah, I think I'll just keep reminding the world that Mike pretends like he has no opinion on whether authors should have any exclusive rights. Funny how Mr. Opinionated pretends like he has no opinion. Seems like we all know what his opinion is. He's just too scared to say what we already know. I've got dozens of other questions about his beliefs too that I know he won't answer. Funny how you guys look up to a guy who is so critical of others but unable to be criticized himself.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You know, you're actually making me reconsider removing anonymity from all websites. Good job, sport!

           

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          weneedhelp - not signed in, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Funny how" - Funny how, despite a really easy to use search tool, you regurgitate the same ol Mike has no position.

          "Funny how" "unable to be criticized himself." - You criticize him on his blog, about not being able to take criticism.

          "Funny how" - Funny how, you feel ignored, but come here day after day, year after year.

          I dont know what mental deficiency you have that compels you to come here everyday but I am pretty sure they have meds for that now. You probably cant afford them and there will never be a generic due to the mechanisms you defend. I am sure the irony eludes you.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

      Re:

      The fact that you despise the life of a human being shows how copyright is bad.

       

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      JMT (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:17pm

      Re:

      "When are you going to grow a pair and actually discuss the issues with me? Stop being such a baby."

      Did you take a master class in irony or something, because you're really good at it!

      If you had a pair you'd publish your nonsense under your real name and occupation just like Mike does. Instead you hide behind anonymity because we all know you'd never have the guts to say it in public. You know your behavior here is incredibly anti-social and you'd be deeply embarrassed (I hope) if your friends and colleagues knew what you wrote. You're in no position to tell anyone to "grow a pair", at least not until you do the same. Why would anyone, let alone Mike, bow to your constant rude demands? You know you'd be ignored, punched in the face or fired if you acted like that in person. So's who's really the baby here?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 4:26am

      Re:

      Swartz was hacking US gov sites.

      Offed himself when he got caught.

      A coward in every single sense of the word.

       

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      weneedhelp - not signed in, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 2:01pm

      Re:

      Whaaa Mike wont talk to me whaaaaa whaaaa. LOL.
      "Stop being such a baby." - Says the whining baby.

       

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      PT (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 10:57am

      Re:

      As long as people won't stop feeding the trolls, may we please have a system where, when the trollish comment is flagged, the entire fucking response thread disappears? That way I won't have to waste my time looking through the next 40 column inches of witless arguing to find another relevant comment.

       

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    anonymous coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:45pm

    Wow!! I rest my case your honor. Or rather..... Let's keep on piling it on for her sake.

     

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    Jesse (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:51pm

    Send a message

    Evidently the message Carmen was sending is:

    "I have more power than I can responsibly handle and someone desperately needs to rein me in."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:59pm

    I keep wondering when our troll is going to grow up and reach kid status. Speaking of babies...he's back commenting again before searching for a new nick that will work for a short time. Till then, he will continue to have my report vote each and every time he swerves out of the topic and off into his little temper tantrum world.
    -------------------------------

    The facts are coming to light. Ortiz's attempts at saying nothing to see here is having some well needed light shined on the activities and what was being done. After this revelation her presence in the justice system begins to look more like a public disgrace than someone they can depend on to do the job properly. Obviously ethics is one of the required topics in school she must have skipped.

    One would hope she gets to chance to rediscover them while looking at 4 walls for an extended period of time.

     

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    alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:59pm

    Pranda Ortiz Carreon

    Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to our next great candidate for the venerable Darwinian legal stupidity award..

     

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    Keroberos (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 9:15pm

    Sadly this isn't just an isolated case of one misguided prosecutor. It's just the tip of the iceberg of the massive proprietorial over-reach that has been carried out for years by our criminal justice system, and has filled our prison system with petty offenders doing hard time.

    This is what happens when you tell your politicians that you want them to get "tough on crime" instead of the more reasonable "let's all look into how we can lower crime"--you just gave them too much power and you got unexpected and unwanted consequences as a result.

     

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      alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 9:56pm

      Re:

      "You just gave them too much power and you got unexpected and unwanted consequences as a result."

      Very good point. I think this is a symptom of the societal pendulum that swings back and forth in direct proportion to the vocal push. It's beyond challenging to get the pendulum to settle in on the middle ground balancing opposing views.

       

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      Rebelready (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:10am

      Re:

      Aaron Swartz was a thorn in the side of a corrupt government and a VERY CORRUPT FEDERAL COURT SYSTEM! Harassment over the PACER incident simply led Aaron to pursue another form of information release where as an academic he knew common sense would prevail because who in their right mind was going to object to the flurry of free knowledge? The "persecution" that led to the death of Aaron was the DOJ seeing the MIT - JSTOR incident as a perfect storm to carry retaliation over the PACER incident. THIS malicious prosecution could ensure a FELONY conviction if they could get a guilty plea (a jury conviction was very doubtful); a computer crime conviction would bar Aaron from computers & his open records campaign. What you are seeing is RISK MANAGEMENT by the CORRUPT!! Public servants have a fiduciary responsibility to the tax payer; the aforementioned includes a responsibility to provide HONEST SERVICE. Appointed, or simply hired on, your responsibility when you live off the tax payer's dollar is no less than if you were an elected official. What our high level public servants stated during the DiMasi trial as reported in the local papers follows: "The judge said DiMasi inherited a responsibility to serve in office honorably and should have been aware that his actions were breaking the law,.." "Which person is more dangerous in our country,'' Wolf asked, "someone who is doing what everyone he knows does, selling crack on a corner, or people who are undermining our democracy by successfully conspiring to sell their public office?'' After Judge Wolf spoke Carmen Ortiz spoke: "You heard what Judge Wolf said inside, that somehow it's striking that elected officials think their good works (make the case) that a little corruption is OK. It's not OK," she said. "I am hoping by these prosecutions, the sentences that have been given out, that all elected officials — not just on Beacon Hill, but in the state of Massachusetts — will realize that these are serious crimes." Overreach in the prosecution of a good citizen when the only intent was to make the world better while ignoring the undermining of our democracy by lower tier public servants does not meet the standard!! The most dangerous criminals in our society are very low lying fruit! The corrupt US justice system is robbing Americans of life, liberty and property. The citizens of this country want their rights back; they are tired of living in fear and having all for which they worked taken away on the whim of a corrupt public servant(s). http://www.scribd.com/tired_of_corruption

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 9:58pm

    State officials are able to enforce state law, and federal officials federal law. I rather doubt that Massachusetts has any counterpart laws that even remotely approach the provisions of federal law applicable to the case.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 10:16pm

    WOW! I had been following the Motel Caswell case. Can't believe it turns out to be driven by the same POS attorney Ortiz. The owner was getting completely railroaded—he had cooperated with police a few times allowing them to run stings out of his motel and then they held that against him, apparently using the crimes brought in by the stings to say he was facilitating drug crimes. Just crazy.

     

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      btrussell (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 11:14pm

      Re:

      Sound familiar?


      .com

       

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      That One Guy (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 12:13am

      Re:

      See, that's not just shooting your foot, that's shooting your foot and the feet of anyone even related to you.

      If they used the evidence they gathered from the stings he helped them on, against him, that is going to seriously screw over the police in that area in the future, as no one would be able to trust that helping them wouldn't end up with the 'helpful citizen' in the crosshairs right along with the actual criminals.

       

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        Jay (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:49am

        Re: Re:

        That's a misunderstanding.

        The area around this motel owner is owned by larger corporations that had more drug crimes. Ortiz didn't punish Walmart or target another place with larger crimes.

        She went for the little guy to bully. That is her MO. Pile on the criminal charges and get them to summit to civil asset forfeiture then use the money for law enforcement.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 10:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The area around this motel owner is owned by larger corporations

          I Wonder which one of them was looking to expand?

           

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        Jay (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:52am

        Re: Re:

        That's a misunderstanding.

        The area around this motel owner is owned by larger corporations that had more drug crimes. Ortiz didn't punish Walmart or target another place with larger crimes.

        She went for the little guy to bully. That is her MO. Pile on the criminal charges and get them to summit to civil asset forfeiture then use the money for law enforcement.

         

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      Richard (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:27am

      Re:

      e had cooperated with police a few times allowing them to run stings out of his motel and then they held that against him, apparently using the crimes brought in by the stings to say he was facilitating drug crimes. Just crazy.

      Just like Megaupload!

       

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    Matthew Cline (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 10:27pm

    he had cooperated with police a few times allowing them to run stings out of his motel and then they held that against him, apparently using the crimes brought in by the stings to say he was facilitating drug crimes.
    What?! I mean, holy crap, that gives a whole new meaning to the term "chutzpah".

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 11:58pm

    Don't hate the player, hate the game... well and her too.

    The legal system at DOJ has been boiled down to statistics.
    A win is worth x points.
    A bigger win is worth more points.
    A case that can be showcased to show how much they 'care' about the public is worth way more points.
    The bigger and harder you go, the more advancement you get.

    The DOJ had to make a rule pointing out hiding evidence from the defense was a bad thing. This is basic to the law, but they needed a special rule telling them to do it... or else. The problem is the or else is toothless, it was a publicity stunt.

    People want to think the legal system is fair and balanced, it helps maintain the illusion of Justice.
    A fair speedy trial... like Manning is getting.
    A fair speedy trial... like MegaUpload got.
    A fair speedy trial... like Aaron got.
    A fair speedy trial... like Dajaz1 got.
    The list goes on and on, they are more about getting headlines than actual justice. They are lying, cheating, and abusing their power to get people to cave regardless if they are actually guilty or dangerous.

    Manning - Terrorist sympathizer! or giving us proof of the evil being done in our name that is being covered up.

    MegaUpload - Evil pirate conspiracy! or a service the cartels hate and wanted removed at any cost.

    Aaron - Super Hacker of Evil! or someone to put a cyberwar feather in her cap so she can advance.

    DaJaz1 - Copyright infringer! or people who were given things to share by the same people who called them thieves for doing what was asked.

    Wall Street - Not enough proof! or a lawyer afraid of a hard case with pressure from above to do nothing.

    We now need to look at every case, every settlement, every conviction and wonder is it actually real. I mean its not like a high profile case was ever botched.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/25/secret-hearings-chandra-levy/1865877/

    Secret hearings where we might not know how deep the corruption went?

    How many people have the Innocence Project had cleared?
    West Memphis Three... but don't sue us for railroading you to jail or the "deal" is off.
    People put to death, only to be proven innocent later.
    People put to death because the Governor undermined the investigative team looking at problems in the case.

    Justice is more about headlines and soundbites rather than truth. When the Justice system is the problem, society is fucked. We need to fix this and keep it from ever being abused like this again. It is time to stop blindly trusting authorities, they have proven themselves to not me worthy of it and we deserve better.

     

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    lisp user, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 12:45am

    Stupid Americans

    This is the exact type of thing that lends credence to the phrase "Stupid Americans". If they can do this to one of their own what are they doing to everyone else. Mega servers are not going to allow connections from america, so too are many peer to peer sites cutting off american access. What are they going to do when the americans are cut off from the rest of the world? Well? If Americans want to be taken seriously in future stop this stupid idiotic stuff and treat everyone with respect and stop criminalizing normal behaviour. I for one have cut off any American connections from my corporate server on request from management. That says it all there, and we are just a normal business not even based on the web. How long before the American economy goes into freefall because of their stupid patent stuff. Its happening now if you care to look. How many companies have now decided not to do business with America because there will be no money there in the near future. Again Stupid Americans.

     

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      alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:54am

      Re: Stupid Americans

      it's not just stupid Americans. It's systemic where power exists. Not necessarily in the exact same form or manifestation, yet just look at the world and how completely insane things are. Much of Europe has been on the edge of financial collapse just as long as America.

      SOPA, human rights, the list of power/corruption/greed/control based problems plaguing most countries around the world is endless.

      Of course, I do admit that this country I live in is most often at the top of the list (along with Russia) for imperialistic manipulation of other countries. Yet there are plenty of self-induced cases around the globe.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 12:05am

        Re: Re: Stupid Americans

        it's not just stupid Americans. It's systemic where power exists.


        This.

        The power center is multinational corporations, and various nations (and other groups) are all too often used to express corporate power. Governments can make law, war, and all kinds of other things that are very useful to them.

        US power is the most useful, because it is, at the moment, the most effective, but the corruption and control exists wherever there is power to be wielded.

        The US is no worse, and no better, than any other nation in this respect. It simply has a larger impact than any other nation, for better and worse.

        This is as it has always been for as long as societies have existed. The names change, but the behavior remains the same.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 6:16am

          Re: Re: Re: Stupid Americans

          Exactly. And this is why Citizens United must be overturned before these sorts of problems will end in the US.

           

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      shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:09am

      Re: Stupid Americans

      While I agree this is despicable, I defy you to show me a country with a much better track record. At this point, I have even found gaping holes in the presentation of the Nordic Model countries being bastions of human rights.

      I think folks take things a little too far in demonizing the entire country while other nations still have open and flagrant discrimination, church and state separation issues continue to linger in Europe, human rights violations proliferate in China, and on and on.

       

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    anonymous dutch coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:35am

    land of the free home of the brave

    land of the free? i am not sure, but you have to be brave to live there. without trolling; is overreacting part of the american psyche or is this just a part of a society degenerating?

     

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      alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:57am

      Re: land of the free home of the brave

      Over-reaction is a natural out-growth of societal oppression, regardless of where on the globe that oppression has occurred. In many countries, the masses of the population are overwhelmingly poor and controlled, so in those cases, the overreaction comes in the form of "militant uprising".

      Inevitably, it leads to civil war. Or, in a "lighter, gentler, more peaceful" situation, just a military coup, or lately, the uprising buzz-word is "Arab spring".

       

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        Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 10:42am

        Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

        Over-reaction is a natural out-growth of societal oppression,
        An interesting observation if true since, to outside eyes, it looks like the US as a country has been overreaching for at least 80 years if not more.

         

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          shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:12am

          Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

          Over reaching and over reacting are two separate things. I am not even sure which the original post meant, actually. If anything, I think the reaction to Aaron's treatment has been a tad too tame. Someone needs to light a fire under the DoJ to get this woman suspended pending some investigation as to her conduct as a prosecutor.

          I don't think the prosecutor is "over reacting". I think she knew good and well what really was going on, and was pushing the envelope for political reasons, not out of fear of what Aaron had done might proliferate.

           

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            alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

            Aaron's passing is a critically tragic symptom of a massively broken systemic bullying mentality within the government, and I'm not sure that "a tat too tame" is accurate. My perspective is that in any significant sea-change movement, it starts with a ground-swell, and increases until it becomes a wave.

            From there, the wave either continues on until it's a tsunami and unstoppable, or dispersed through opposing pressure.

             

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            Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

            Over reaching and over reacting are two separate things.
            True, my bad. Though in hindsight I'd have to say "Except if you're the US goverment when they seem to go hand-in-hand".
            was pushing the envelope for political reasons
            I think this is why I may have used -reach instead of -react... I'd read her action as more overreaching than overreacting.

             

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          alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

          Overreaching all the way back to the elimination of the gold-standard, in fact. Give or take a couple decades.

           

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            shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

            There was never enough gold to cover the money in circulation since well before Nixon. Nixon just did what needed to be done to keep the U.S. from being manipulated by foreign interests. When I read about Nixon's actions I almost never see any mention of partial reserve practices. There is not even a mention of it in the Wikipedia article even though Wikipedia also has extensive information on fractional reserve banking and central banks.

            The U.S. does its fair share of over reaching, no doubt, but don't think that Europe and others are not playing the same game.

             

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              alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

              "to keep the U.S. from being manipulated by foreign interests."

              Made it illegal for private citizens to own gold. Translation? Consolidated power through monetary means. And yes, European powers are complicit in the global manipulation of society through monetary methods. And equally responsible for the financial upheaval as well...

               

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                shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:41pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                That's not really a trick unique to Nixon though. In fact I am not seeing it in Executive Order 11615 at all, but I am not as familiar as perhaps I should be with that whole issue. Roosevelt did limit personal gold ownership though, and I had read something about Obama attempting to regulate the sale of gold, though that might just be a rumor.

                To my mind, the unique thing Nixon did was in response to European countries simultaneously leaving Bretton Wood, but then still demanding gold for their dollars at a pegged price. That's just silly. International currency exchanges playing games with fixed exchange rates for gold go way back though. The whole thing is nothing but nonsense in my view, so I have little sympathy for those who feel Nixon somehow short changed them.

                But you apparently are familiar enough with it all, and I think in general terms we agree anyhow. So you win. LOL!

                 

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 3:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

            Gold has value as money in the same way as paper money, it is based on a belief that their are goods and services that it will purchase. In some respects the gold standard was based on digging a metal out of a hole in the ground, and then storing in another hole in the ground. Yes gold has some value as an industrial good, and in making jewellery etc., but these derive from its use, and its value here comes from competition to obtain some from a limited resource.

             

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              shane (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 11:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

              I want to start off by saying that, despite having studied this fairly thoroughly, I am not trying to assert I am 100% right, and you are 100% wrong. Nevertheless.....

              I'm sorry, but this part at least is not true. Gold has a value for several reasons that led to its use as money. It is highly valued for its appearance and for the fact that it does not oxidize. It's value as a commodity is high enough that a relatively small amount of it can be used in trade for much bulkier goods, so it is useful as money in that it is relatively easy to transport in relation to its perceived value.

              Moving on to the less well documented and more just my opinion and that of many others who have studied the issue, modern paper money's value lies strictly in the government's threat of sanctions if you do not use it in the prescribed manner.

              This is an important distinction. If we did not have to pay taxes in money - if we could pay them in kind or through labor for example - the entire dynamic of money being the central focus of the economy would change.

              Gold became relatively fake only when fractional reserve lending became commonplace. It is not really, literally, "creating money form nothing," but it operates in a way that is difficult to distinguish and is really just as fraught with problems.

              Fractional reserve lending is re-lending the same money over and over again in a sort of chain. It compounds the interest rate basically, so that what appears on its face to be reasonable interest is in fact usurious in every sense of the word. That is to say, it is not just "usury" in the sense that any interest is "usury", it is "usury" in the sense of being abusively high.

              At a 10% reserve rate, a 2.5% interest rate becomes an effective 25% interest rate.

              Additionally, by relending the money, the chances get higher and higher that someone is not going to be able or willing to meet their obligation. Since there is no literal chain, everyone is equally affected, but it still magnifies the risk to the system as a whole that a substantial portion of money lent out will not find its way back.

              Bottom line, you do not appear to me to understand the topic you're discussing, and the proliferation of this continued ignorance in our society repeatedly has put us in danger over the years. I sincerely hope you will re-evaluate the situation.

              I may be wrong, obviously. If I am, please feel free to try to set me right. But what you said just seems about a thousand miles off from my present understanding of the topic.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                Money, whether actual gold, paper based on gold, or simply paper is a means of exchange. An economy works so long as the exchanges keep on happening, and the amount of money in circulation is in reasonable balance with the goods and service available. If the available goods and services exceeds the amount of money in circulation, then a depression occurs. If too much money is chasing too few goods and services then inflation becomes rampant.
                Using gold as currency due to its value as a commodity is simply using it as a barter good. It was convenient while the amount of gold in circulation had a value equivalent to the goods and services being traded.
                Paper money, as title to gold or silver held in a bank vault arose when merchants were dealing with goods whose total value was such too much weight in coinage was involved. Paper was much easier, and safer to carry arou8nd than hundreds of pounds weight of precious metal.
                The use of precious metals as money began to fail when the industrial revolution caused increased production of goods. Their was not enough new gold being mined to keep up with the value of goods being produced. Fractional banking was the solution to this problem, as the alternatives were either limit the size of the economy to the amount of gold in circulation, or let the value of gold rise to exorbitant heights, where its only use was as money.
                Once the direct link between the amount of gold in circulation, or held in vaults, was partially decoupled from the value of the economy, it was only a matter of time before it was given up as a basis for money in circulation.
                A gold standard can only work where the value of gold is the same as the economy, and while keeping the commodity value of gold at a reasonable level so that it can be used in industrial processes and for decorative items. Direct barter is too restrictive for a large economy, because the gold standard was too limiting on economies.

                 

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                  nasch (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 5:26pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                  If the available goods and services exceeds the amount of money in circulation, then a depression occurs.

                  That may be a little bit strong, but that's the definition of deflation, and it does tend to have a depressive effect on an economy. Good summary of money, the gold standard and why we left it though.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2013 @ 3:01am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                    My bad, writing late at night and I got the wrong opposite to inflation. :-)

                     

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                      nasch (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 6:32am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                      My bad, writing late at night and I got the wrong opposite to inflation. :-)

                      Ah I see. Well that was pretty coherent for a late night post.

                       

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                  shane (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 9:31am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                  I understand and agree on almost every point except your last, which you seem to assert without anything like the historical founding you used for the rest of your post.

                  Direct barter, in and of itself, is not restrictive. What it is is uncentralizable, if I may be allowed to coin a phrase. Direct barter done in a market style would result in a sort of "money" based on credits whose values would be formulated on the comparative value of goods and services, and this is in fact what exists any time some central authority is forbidden from centralizing control over a required medium of exchange.

                  We are constantly told direct barter is bad, or clunky. The truth is artificially mandated money is what is bad and clunky. It is simplicity itself to have market places with brokers who help people arrange beneficial trades of goods and services for other goods and services, but that sort of decentralization does not serve the ends of those who desire power. People use money because they are threatened with force if they do not.

                  Money is not power. Power is power. Money is what you get when power wants to control the market place.

                   

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                    nasch (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 9:55am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                    Direct barter done in a market style would result in a sort of "money" based on credits whose values would be formulated on the comparative value of goods and services

                    Once you use money, that's no longer direct barter, whether that money is issued by a central authority or not.

                    We are constantly told direct barter is bad, or clunky. The truth is artificially mandated money is what is bad and clunky.

                    Direct barter is clunky, inefficient, and not suitable for a lot of types of transactions. What is bad and clunky about centrally controlled money? Are you familiar with the early history of money in the US? Every bank issued its own money, and storekeepers had to have big books telling them how much to discount money from any particular bank. Different books in different stores of course, because the farther you go from your bank, the less your money is worth. Go too far, and it won't be accepted at all. There are very good reasons the US government decided to centralize control of money.

                     

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                      shane (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 11:19am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                      I'm bemused, if not entirely surprised, at your lack of response to the model I put forward. Direct barter leads to the evolution of honest money, at which point, obviously, yes, you are not talking about strict direct barter anymore. This honest process has been undercut by centralized systems. As for your account of the benefits of central banking, the failures of the centralized system are obvious and pervasive. Centralized systems lead to undemocratic control and abuse.


                      Sure, independent banks don't work. Banking doesn't work. Free silver failed because even silver turned out to be too easy to dig up. Is the book keeping necessary for an open market really more complex than that needed for a centralized fiat currency system? I would say that the development of supply chain management software speaks volumes about the shortcomings of a system where all you know is how much money you have and how much what you want costs strictly in terms of that artificial commodity. People in the know already seek to find out the relative relationships from the ground up. The rest of us are told not to worry about it when in fact it is precisely what we need to worry about.

                      I don't see a whole lot of new info coming from this conversation, and I hate to keep bugging you, so I'll drop it. I'll keep poking around. I do thank you for the time you have taken though.

                       

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                        nasch (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 11:57am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                        You're not bugging me at all. So if the informal system of organizations (whether it's banks or something else I think doesn't matter) issuing their own money doesn't work, and barter doesn't work very well, and you claim government fiat money doesn't work, I'm actually not sure what it is you're proposing.

                        Localized informal money can work great, but it doesn't really scale well, does it? I like being able to easily buy something from someone across the country or the world and know that the dollar in my wallet is the same as the dollar on the price listing. What do you suggest that provides that? Don't think I'm trying to shout you down or anything, it's just that you seem to really have an idea in mind here, I'm just not clear on what it is.

                         

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                          shane (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:26am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                          I did not say all informal systems of organizations don't work.

                          I first became aware of this sort of thing reading through Congressional records for the 1893 silver debate where it was pointed out that locally some folks had had success with what they were terming as "clearing houses". Today, a clearing house is mostly concerned with "financial" transactions, but the process could be used for goods and services as well, and apparently was. Instead of having it informal and local, it can be formalized and scaled for local, regional, national, and international trade.

                          International trade is sort of key. Much of modern inequality stems from the strength of western money in comparison to money in other parts of the world. It is no, in reality, "cheaper" to do things overseas. Rather, due to exchange rates and the fact that western money is the de facto international intermediate trade good, it costs less in Dollars, Euros, Pounds, etc, to do a lot of things overseas.

                          Point being, banks already just create credits. They might as well be forced to create them in accordance with real transactions and real goods and services, rather than just creating them and assigning them to whoever they suppose is the best risk. In the process of overseeing all these transactions, it will be possible to work out how much things are worth in comparison to other things, and just assign the credits while the clearing takes place behind the scenes.

                          I imagine before long it would look the same to the casual user as the present system, only it would not leave so much power in the hands of the few folks running the show.

                           

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                            shane (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:33am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                            I need to sit down and work out how to present this. I said, "They (banks) might as well...." What I really meant was "we". Although I suppose such clearing institutions could still be called "banks". Banks seem to have been the ones organizing the clearing in the 1893 example I was referencing.

                             

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2013 @ 11:26am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                    See the other reply for the money issue.

                    Direct barter works so long as the goods you have can be directly exchanged for the goods that you want, or the people involved know each other, so one can promis a future delivery of something.
                    Life become complicates when you have to indulge in multiple trades to convert a high value item to a many different low value items or trade want you have for something that the person who has what you want wants.

                     

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                      shane (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:14am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                      That's why I mentioned organizations and brokers to replace banks.

                      Banks are essentially just another layer of complexity added on top of existing trade exchanges. This stuff people are trying to say is so complicated goes on behind the scenes all the time. Futures trading, options, buyers and sellers for various organizations - they all work this stuff out already, using all sorts of information gathering techniques to try to find the most advantageous trades.

                      Just get rid of the bank portion of it and have these trades recorded and managed by brokers, with the option of assigning credits. Have the system, obviously, regulated and well watched over.

                      Instant non-centralized "money".

                       

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                        nasch (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:20am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                        If it's not centralized, how do you avoid fragmentation? West Coast money and East Coast money and midwest money and Texas money and so on?

                         

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                        Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:33am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                        There is no difference between your proposal and a banking system as a means of managing transactions, as the brokers will require a central clearing house. Further like the use of credit cards, it will mean that all transactions are recorded, identifying all parties to the transaction. This data will be of great interest to a governments.
                        Cash, or an electronic equivalent where the information passed is the amount transferred from the payers bank, is highly desirable for privacy reasons. That is the Banl records that you put x amount on your card. The seller record say that it received Y amount from your bank, which is deducted from the balance on your card, without recording which card it came from. The sellers bank aggregates transaction with a given bank, and the banks settle up the difference. Note in this system neither the seller, or the banks can tie any particular transaction to any particular buyer.
                        Either actual money, or a system like the one outlines is required to maintain personal privacy, especially in the digital age, to avoid governments being able to trace every transaction made by every citizen.

                         

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                          shane (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 11:43am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                          There is a very obvious difference. The central bank does not get to pick and choose where the money goes in the system I am talking about. All the privacy concerns you have can be addressed through the mechanisms used.

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                            I think you are confusing banks as managers of money, and their involvement with other forms of financial transactions, that is their activities as commercial banks. The root cause of the financial crisis was the use of derivatives in financial markets. Stocks are a useful way of financing large projects, but the derivatives based off of them only benefit the financial markets.
                            If you wish to claim that the financial markets are badly broken, and need reform than I would agree with you, but they are different from the banking services needed for day to day market transactions.

                             

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                              shane (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                              I'm not confusing them. I am suggesting purposefully conflating them so that there is no one in control of money. There is no need of artificial money. Comparative values can be worked out in the market, and whatever generic credits need to exist can be managed in that way instead of allowing any person or group of people to control the "money" supply.

                              People are constantly reminding us that money is not real.

                              Good, then bypass it and go straight to the source - relative trade values.

                               

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                                Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:48pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                                A distinction needs to be made between the deposit and loan level of banking, and financial transaction related to business investment. In many respect new institutes like credit unions are moving in to the personal banking arena. They are providing the sort of banking service people require while avoiding risking the depositors money in the stock market.
                                Most of the damage to economies have been done because of the use of derivatives and other fincial instruments. High speed trading is alo a perversion of the stock market.
                                The origin of the stock markets was as the means of allowing investors to buy and sell shares in companies. These used to be considered a long term investments.
                                Derivatives are best described as a form of gambling that multiplies the risk. Where with a stock, you can onl;y lose the money you paid for them, a bad bet with a financial instrument can require a large outlay to fulfil the contract of the instrument.
                                Note no money was lost from the economy, just transferred to the winners of the gamble, with the public left to rescue the banks.
                                What I am trying to say, is that money, and deposit and loan banking is a reasonable way of running an economy, so long as no insane risks are taken with loans. Basic stock market transactions are also a useful function, so long as the banks do not get directly involved.
                                Letting deposit and loan banks get involved in the financial market, and especially in the gambling with derivatives, is a dangerous practice because they are gambling with other people money.
                                Derivatives are probably a bad idea, because they do not support business activities, but only money making by gambling with money.

                                 

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                                  shane (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:59pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                                  Derivatives come in a lot of differrent shapes and sizes, and all they amount to is contracts. Futures, options, swaps - there's nothing wrong with these, and they are not the cause of the financial failure. The reason for these repeated failures is the tie between the bank and the money supply. When banks threaten to go under, they threaten to take the entire economy down with them because the money associated with them literally disappears from circulation.

                                  THAT is the issue. Otherwise there would be no need for government bailouts of banks.

                                  The solution being bandied about now is basically to go back to the old "Chicago Plan" where the government controls the money supply directly. This, to me, is little better than the current regime whereby banks control it through a combination of regulatory and market pressures. The bottom line is some oligarchy somewhere is in charge of the money supply, and while this system has a long and glorious tradition, it is mostly a long and glorious tradition of abuses and catastrophes.

                                  That's my take on it.

                                  My suggestion is probably reflective of something far more refined and well developed that someone has proposed before and that has been burried under a blizard of opposing scholarship. So far I haven't found it, but I have certainly found a ton of stuff indicating that we were actually more free and self directed in Medieval times than we are now, for example.

                                  I think banking, Intellectual Property, and Limited Liability work together to effect fascist forms of government that look less centralized than they actually are. The banking part is possibly the trickiest, but I know there is a better way.

                                  I once heard a fairly simplistic solution to base money on something akin to stock market.

                                  And while I was looking for that, found this instead.

                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_credit

                                  So yeah, it's nothing new. It just needs to be expanded and regulated. Note specifically this - "the money supply expands and contracts as needed, without any managing authority"

                                   

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                                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 5:15am

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                                    The financial crisis was not caused by use of money at the level of transaction by individuals, but by banks gambling with individuals money. The result of this gamble was that the banks were short of money, and the people who squired the money were not going to lend it to the banks. The banks had demonstrated that they were not a safe haven for large amounts of money.
                                    The crisis was not caused by lack of money, but rather money being transferred from the majority of people to a few people by the banks gambling.
                                    Mutual_credit, like barter works at a small scale, and over small areas. Scaling it up to enable capital intense industries, and trade over large areas, results in the recreation of modern money.
                                    Avoiding economic disasters requires that the large scale economy is manage properly, and not the small scale economy that the proposed alternatives support. If economies are limited to local areas only, then local areas have to be self sufficient, as the cannot buy in goods from remote areas.
                                    I think you are looking at microeconomics to solve problems that exist in macroeconomics. They have to be linked by a common medium of exchanges, that is some token to represent the value of labour and goods, whether it is called money or mutual credits.

                                     

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                                      shane (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 9:36am

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: land of the free home of the brave

                                      Banks do not gamble with people's money. When they gamble at all, they create new money to do it with. In fact, though, it is not bank gambling that set this off. Banks have to use very specific types of things in order to create new money. Real estate mortgages do not count.

                                      When banks could no longer unload real estate morgages, the financial system seized up. It seized up because banks are the source of our money. Bank failures mean the money itself is sucked from the system, as money IS one of the things banks can reserve that gives them the authority to create new money.

                                      There is no need for the government to step in and regulate private contracts such as derivatives that you (and many others I have heard) seem so frightened of. If the monetary system itself were not tied to this, then investors, banks, indeed entire municipalities, states, and even nations could go bankrupt without the monetary system itself being hurt. This is what I am addressing.

                                      I am not worrying with microeconomics, nor are the people who are thinking of returning money production and destruction to the government. What I and others are looking at is divorcing money creation and destruction - in effect the money supply itself - from banking.

                                      So thanks, but it would appear you are not understanding the object here. Again, the main benefit I see with a system of LETS organizations is, "the money supply expands and contracts as needed, without any managing authority."

                                      What I am discussing has nothing to do with microeconomic forces.

                                       

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      alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:58am

      Re: land of the free home of the brave

      And to further add to my comment, overreaction by government is a natural out-growth of the initial overreaction by the people. The pendulum swinging phenomena...

       

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    European, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 2:31am

    The United States is more and more bevomming a Banana Republic! Look what happens with justice., with social care, with business. Look what is happening with the stocks of the most valuable (American) in the world! Apple is being bashed bu investots and the media alike. And the stupid Americans are buying cheap plastic Korean smart phones. Instead of supporting their own economy. Stupid Americans stole the android operating system and give the Koreans a free ride with it. This to the disadvantage of their own flagship company. What more do i need to say?

     

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      Karim, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:07am

      Re:

      Not everyone wants to spend $600+ on a phone. "Stole" the Android operating system? I can't tell if this is sarcasm.

       

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      shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      I have read up enough on how Europe cannibalized Yugoslavia to know that the US really still doesn't hold a candle to Europe in terms of cynical profiteering. Nor are they innocent of the blood in Africa and the Middle East, among other places.

      Your comment about the Android operating system is incoherent.

       

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    S. T. Stone, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:42am

    Y’know, if she does get booted from her current position, I hear Prenda might have a few job openings soon…

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:24am

    Poor Mike. Too dishonest to state an opinion on whether he thinks there should be any copyright at all. He claims he needs tons more data before he could come down on either side of the fence. That's funny, he's the most opinionated person on earth when it comes to copyright, yet when asked his opinion about whether we should have any copyright he's all the sudden unable to say. Weird. Almost like he's just lying. I'll be here ready to discuss things directly and on the merits, Mike. Too bad you're to scared to do the same. Keep criticizing everyone else's beliefs while you're too scared to state your own. Nothing dishonest about that.

     

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    hester (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    prosecutors

    I guess the question is who decided that the feds should be involved?

     

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      alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:36am

      Re: prosecutors

      The feds decided. Who else? When they smell blood in the water, they swarm.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:38am

      Re: prosecutors

      Look among those really pushing SOPA/PIPA.

       

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        Ed C,, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re: prosecutors

        Interesting point. It's possible that the MAFIAA, or other morally bankrupt entity, wanted to simply use Aaron Swartz as a scapegoat to set a favorable precedent. It could also be that Ortiz is just a slimy US attorney looking to climb the ladder--not that the two scenarios are mutually exclusive.

         

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    Rebelready (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    Outrageous government conduct by design of conspiracy to take down someone talented enough to expose them - Aaron died because he was a victim of conspiracy! IMO That says felony and prison for many including ORTIZ

     

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    bshock, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    The Message Ortiz Sent

    The federal government is a predator. Non-wealthy citizens are prey.

     

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    shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    Mergh

    Disappointing that this has not already filled its quota. As the new quota is like 100,000, further efforts are going to have to be even more strenuous.

    I haven't gotten email from Demand Progress lately either.... I subscribe to their site... that is a little unusual.

     

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    ModernDemagogue, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    I'm not sure why this is relevant.

    The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a Federal Statute. Massachusetts likely has no specific computer hacking law, nor are JSTOR's servers located necessarily located in Massachusetts and therefore State Prosecutors would not have jurisdiction or even a crime to charge him with.

    It sounds like the system was working as intended here; State Prosecutors handle the aspects of the crime which were local in nature, and Federal Prosecutors handle the elements of the crime which were interstate and affect society on a broader level.

    Are you intentionally ignoring that this is how the legal system works to press a position which has no merit?

    Swartz broke the law and acted on beliefs which are incompatible with out established social contract. Not only did he legally deserve to be punished, but morally he did as well. If restorative or reformative approach would have been more successful, than I can agree jail time should not have been sought. But are you really arguing that he would have changed his mind about whether or not information should be free, or at least restrained from acting on those beliefs in the future? If someone refuses to change their behavior for the future, how can society be asked to accept the threat he poses?

     

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      shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

      Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

      Perhaps you'd prefer to aim your comments at the originator of the argument rather than the messenger?

       

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        shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

         

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        ModernDemagogue, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:18pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

        I'm confused. Is Masnick not putting forth this piece of information as relevant? He pretty clearly is to me, as is the author of the article linked to (whose statements share a whole host of problems). I think my question is relevant for him to answer, so I'm not sure what your point is.

         

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          shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

          You seem to be pretending Mike has some unique take on this that is weak. The argument is actually pretty straight forward, and if there are weaknesses in it, you have yet to demonstrate them.

          The law in question was written decades ago to deal with wire fraud and the like, not high speed downloading of already free documents. The use of this law, and especially the extent to which they piled on, is more and more being seen as an abuse Ortiz in fact appears to have a history of abusing her position.

          http://bostonherald.com/comments/1062280931?page=8

          So yeah, I think you trying to paint Mike as somehow misleading is really more misleading than anything he might be doing.

          I did notice him sort of dodge an issue concerning the six month offer from Ortiz a few days back, but the belligerence of the person calling him to the carpet over it made his refusal to come back and acknowledge his mistake more than understandable to me, and he of course has since posted multiple articles that cite the 6 month plea offer, so...

          Most the people trying to paint Mike in a bad light here seem to paint themselves into a corner in the effort.

           

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      alanbleiweiss (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:37pm

      Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

      "on beliefs which are incompatible with out established social contract:.

      See, that's the thing. This "social contract you refer to, yeah, that's the 20th century contract that modern humans rejected as the 21st century was ushered in on the shoulders of giants like Aaron, Tim Berners Lee, and many others who helped take the interwebs and grow it into the vehicle critical to human evolution that was needed at this exact time in history.

       

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        shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 3:55pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

        Social contract theory is not anything anyone can look objectively at anyhow. ModernDemagogue's use of it in this context is specious. I think you're right, at least to some extent, but there is no real knowing what precisely the "social contract" actually is at any given point, especially when democratic institutions have been short circuited as badly as they currently are, not just here in America but all around the world.

         

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          ModernDemagogue, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

          It is not specious because the part of the "social contract" my argument relies upon is the idea of intellectual property and agreements enforcing artificial scarcity which certainly exist objectively.

          US economic dominance (relevant for appreciating why we habitually prosecute such acts), and really, the continued existence of our entire civilization currently depends on information having value since we have no technological means of overcoming scarcity in the physical world, yet we rely on information which is no longer necessarily scarce as a substantial of our economy.

          While I share the ideal of a world where information can eventually be shared, I feel like ideologues like Swartz, and even Masnick, propose their ideas in a vacuum and do not consider what the short to medium term consequences of their actions would be to humanity as a whole. I genuinely do not believe he and others have thought this through— though I am of course open to hearing arguments as to why and how we would maintain a stable society. My guess is they're more interested in achieving a fair society, and ignore that some tradeoffs are often practically necessary for the greatest good.

           

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            shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

            All of this is assertion without an explanation. The real reason for copyright originally appears to have been to give the government control of printing by banning printing except through government approved outlets. This is hardly an example of the social contract in practical application. The fact that so many object to the draconian measures being taken against even the smallest infraction against huge corporate interests' interpretations of IP infringement strongly suggests that it is in actuality the other way around inasmuch as it is at all possible to document something as esoteric as the social contract.

            I feel that you are the one not considering consequences. The slow breakdown of ideas of intellectual property has actually given industry plenty of time to adapt, but instead they are attempting to legislate their way out of the impending collapse. It is simply too east to make copies of things now. To stop it will require ever increasing violations of personal privacy and human rights. Now is the time to start working on change before things actually do get to a place where precipitous change will cause chaos.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

            As if the person who posted this is open to rationality:

            http://www.reddit.com/r/Music/comments/17bq98/kavinsky_nightcall/c844b0u

            "Google and Reddit should be shutdown for this type of flagrant disregard of copyright law. It is clearly unlicensed commercial use of the material to generate a profit; both for YouTube and Reddit, and wrapping the content in their branding rather than transmitting it blindly breaks their DMCA safe harbor protections. I really don't understand why r/Music thinks this type of rent seeking behavior is acceptable. Musicians have a hard enough time making money from their music these days, sharing high quality copies of songs like this, despite the added publicity, only hurts the artists further. It's no help being famous if you can't feed your kids."

             

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            Karl (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 10:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

            It is not specious because the part of the "social contract" my argument relies upon is the idea of intellectual property and agreements enforcing artificial scarcity which certainly exist objectively.

            1. Most of the articles Swartz downloaded were not copyrighted. They were public domain. JSTOR locks them up and charges for them anyway.

            2. If copyright really were a "social contract," then society at large should be able to change it or do away with it. If Congress truly represented the will of the people, they would, since the majority of people now believe that non-commercial infringement is not a social evil. Certainly, most people seem to believe that what Swartz did was not morally wrong; or at least not enough to deserve jail time.

            3. There is nothing "objective" about copyright. The fact that the "scarcity" (actually, monopoly - the goal is not scarcity, but wider distribution to the public) is artificial means that it is not objective. It does not exist in nature; copyright laws are not securing any natural right. It is purely a creature of legal statutes, and is exactly as "objective" as the "right" to make a right turn at a red light.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

              then society at large should be able to change it or do away with it.

              Society CAN do that. They overwhelmingly choose not to.

              the majority of people now believe that non-commercial infringement is not a social evil.

              Bullshit. Everyone that pirates knows that it's wrong, but they're selfish and greedy and they simply try to rationalize away their abuse of someone else's rights. Examples of such abound on this site every day.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 5:23pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

                It's hard to choose to when you pay each year to have it extended by a couple of decades, because somehow you're making money off Steamboat Willie.

                You're also joking if you think that most people think that non-commercial, personal downloads warrant penalties up to the tune of $150,000 per download.

                 

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        ModernDemagogue, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

        You just compared Aaron Swartz as on the same level as Tim Berners Lee. Are you kidding me?

        What is this obsession with lionizing someone who didn't really do all that much. And before you ask what I did, that has nothing to do with anything. There are hunderds of thousands who have contributed to the project of the internet, and while Swartz did something, I can't help but view this martyring as self-serving and unjustified. He killed himself for whatever private reasons we cannot speculate to, and it had nothing to do with the US government justly prosecuting him for a criminal action. He did not need to act on his beliefs and infiltrate the JSTOR network after being stopped repeatedly; the consequences of his actions are 100% on him.

        Sure, it is a critical vehicle; but until we overcome scarcity in the real world, we cannot ignore or dismantle the idea of intellectual property and artificial scarcity imposed on information.

        And I'm really not sure why you so back these ideas anyway. It's not like the Google's of the world are doing anything but extracting surplus value fromt he collective work of humanity. It's not like the internet is really a non-profit research and communication tool as it was originally conceived to be. This 21st century social contract is just a more efficient form of capitalism, where now, you don't even have to pay your data entry slaves because they do it for you, and you have the DMCA protecting you from liability.

        You need to think your position through a little more carefully.

         

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          shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

          I think the PR war to present Aaron's prosecution as legitimate is already lost. I see nothing but negative press on it now. It is fairly obviously another abuse by a prosecutor with a slowly unfolding history of such abuse.

          Hilarious of you to characterize people's voluntary contributions to something assumed to be maintained as a communal resource with unpaid data entry. It is precisely this business model that you support that makes it impossible for most people to work strictly on projects in which they can have any lasting stake. Everything of lasting value belongs to the rich. To even get a sliver of that pie requires years of painstaking savings, much of which can be wiped out by bank fiascos such as our recent housing bubble.

          I'm not as confident as some of the folks here that lasting positive change is on the way, but characterizing the current business model as anything but a mockery of justice is pretty sloppy thinking in my view.

           

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            ModernDemagogue, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 5:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

            Fighting a losing battle doesn't mean I'm wrong. The "internet" made sure to cast the story in a particular light, but similarly, a horde mentality or popularity of an opinion doesn't speak to its correctness. Even if the prosecution took place in the context of other abuses, you need to make the case that this instance was part of the pattern. I view the prosecution to be just.

            I don't understand your sentence about what you find hilarious. Clarify? Particular the vague terms "something." I was referring to entities like Facebook and Google which extract surplus value and convert it to capital for the few.

            Justice is a lot more complex. Things which appear on the surface to be incredibly unjust, can become just because of other things they make possible. Capitalism is an inherently unjust economic system, yet it led to the development and globalization of the internet, and may lead to all sorts of other benefits to humanity.

            Where we would be without the evolution of our current system, which began roughly with the Magna Carta, I don't know, but is the world more just than it was back then? Is the more good? Are we better off? I like to thinks so; hell, we can actually have this conversation and speculate as to what might be possible in the future, as opposed to raiding each others castles.

             

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              btrussell (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:02pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

              "The "internet" made sure to cast the story in a particular light,.."

              Which is why the SOPA protest was so prevalent in mainstream media.

               

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              shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

              "Something" is the internet. People put stuff on it for free because they anticipate it remaining there. Google in particular profits by making it supposedly easier to find things you want, though increasingly I don't really believe they are doing that. Facebook is not truly "the internet" so much as a site on it, and their business model is based on making it easier for people to have a sort of "home page". Those of us who have been on the net a while tend to have a blog or web page of some sort. People not interested in putting that much effort into get a Facebook page. Then the rest of us get one so we can talk to them. It's not really all that diabolical.

              Capitalism is not a definable thing. If what you mean by "Capitalism" is a free market, and people being allowed to trade what they want when they want to, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with it at all. If by "Capitalism" you mean a market controlled by capital, which itself is centrally controlled, what you have is something not so very different from socialism, and indeed most economies in the west these days are "mixed" in whatever sense contrasting capitalism with socialism makes any sense at all. Ultimately most everything you say about economics makes no sense.

              Magna Carta is about limiting the power of the privileged, and the history of this earth is really nothing but the back and forth between privilege and common life. I frankly don'y see a whole lot of difference between life today and life 2000 years ago. Our current system is almost indistinguishable from fuedalism. Fiefdoms are not corporations. The larger corporations represent more powerful fiefdoms, smaller ones more akin to knights. There are a handful of professionals that operate like free artisans and merchants and the like, and the vast bulk of people work for wages in a way not at all unlike peons of old. If anything, there seems to be growing evidence peasants in medieval times actually had more self determination, seeing as the gap between the well to do and the poor was narrower. Court rolls document peasants being able to rise and fall economically, live outside of town (and hence outside of their lord's direct monitoring) for a small fee. Travel was far from unheard of.

              Technical know how has made the average person's life much better, but the limit on the number of people allowed into such fields makes demigods of those people, which is just one more reason I despise IP laws. A modern Magna Carta would limit the ability of corporations and governments to dictate who can and cannot compete, and under what circumstances. Research would either be a community driven thing, or it would not happen. Doing research to find out how to save a man's life only to then use that knowledge to leverage work out of him is just plain, old fashioned, unadulterated greed, and there's nothing about it to suggest it drives progress.

               

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          btrussell (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

          "...artificial scarcity imposed on information."

          What is societies benefit regarding that?

           

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          nasch (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 11:48am

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

          He killed himself for whatever private reasons we cannot speculate to, and it had nothing to do with the US government justly prosecuting him for a criminal action.

          If you believe he did it for private reasons that nobody knows, then why do you claim to know something isn't a reason he did it? In the same sentence, no less.

           

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          Rain Day, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 11:59am

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

          "You just compared Aaron Swartz as on the same level as Tim Berners Lee. Are you kidding me?" ~ ModernDemagogue

          Hey, maybe you should read the tribute that Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave for Aaron Swartz. I think they both qualify as great and humble men, both tremendously valuable.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9800147/Sir-Tim-Berners-Lee-pays-tribute-to- Aaron-Swartz.html

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:04pm

      Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

      What threat?

       

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        shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:29pm

        Re: Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

        Why, the threat that enough people would become informed that they would stop letting people fleece them left and right, of course.

        We all know how dangerous it is to let the general populace see the kind of information the government uses to make policy.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 5:13am

      Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

      Swartz broke the law and acted on beliefs which are incompatible with out established social contract. Not only did he legally deserve to be punished, but morally he did as well

      That is a justification used by all totalitarian institutes to maintain their grip on power. Note that such contracts usually boil down to:-
      "we are in power so just do as we say".
      It goes along with re-education camps, arbitrary use of the justice system, secret police, and massive surveillance of the population.
      If members of a society are not allowed to question that society, then sooner or latter it will explode in violence.

      By the way, as far as I can see Aaron Swartz was guilty of a minor abuse of a generous network policy of a university. The FEDS proceeded to magnify normal action to debug a problem into as many acts of felony that the could find the slightest evidence for to try and force a plea bargain. That is a much bigger breach of social contracts, the one where people expect an even handed application of the law.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 8:47am

      Re: I'm not sure why this is relevant.

      Swartz broke the law


      And being threatened with 35+ years in federal prison is totally commensurate with trespassing.

      acted on beliefs which are incompatible with out established social contract


      You throw this out there like it's established fact, when it's just your opinion. You'll need to explain how his beliefs are incompatible.

      But are you really arguing that he would have changed his mind about whether or not information should be free, or at least restrained from acting on those beliefs in the future?


      Nobody on either side of this issue is arguing that.

      If someone refuses to change their behavior for the future, how can society be asked to accept the threat he poses?


      You see, there's the rub. He posed no threat.

       

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    The Real Michael, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:55pm

    My gut feeling is that the recent hack on the gov's website was an inside job to coincide with the announcement yesterday that a cyber-attack was "imminent". Even if Anonymouse was or still is a real group, it's just too easy for someone to pull off a hack and then pose as this group for political gain, similar to a false-flag attack. This style of attack can be used for political leverage, to push through onerous bills which compromise more of our rights and privacy.

    Funny how whenever something bad happens, We, the People, take the fall for it. Think about that.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:35pm

      Re:

      You mean how the FBI keeps setting up terrorists to catch in a media spectacle that people lap up?
      Like the same hysteria that swept the country that every daycare was just a front for Satan worshiping people?
      They put a guy in jail and held him, people are still convinced he had to have done it... even after it was proven he hadn't been near the state it took place during the time one of his accusers was coached to remember horrific abuse.
      But the headlines for breaking up these satanists were like a drug, bigger and bigger claims that had no real basis in reality. Honestly the children spoke of being taken in tunnels and then put on planes and flown far away, abused, then returned... all in the space of 8 hours. There was no tunnel, but some members of the public are still digging looking for it. The Good Guys(tm) told them this was true, even as the convictions were overturned and the adults who coached the kids faced slaps on the wrist. The Bad Guys(tm) did nothing wrong but run a good day care, but their lived are ruined. The accusation is damaging enough to get them isolated from society, increasing the hype and fanciful claims just was kicking them trying to get a confession so they could record their points on the board.

       

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        shane (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:24pm

        Re: Re:

        I remember that. I forget now who but not too long ago there was a guy STILL in jail, and the governor of his state was STILL refusing to set him free....

        It's disheartening to see what people will do, and I am not able to really understand why they do it... It's surreal.

         

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          That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 12:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They will tell you because they had their day in court and were found guilty. If you override them you undermine the law! Except it undermines the law more to have an innocent man spend a single day in jail.

          If you remember who that Governor is I bet you will find out he is a former prosecutor or has ties to the case. The reputation of the prosecutor is more important than Justice, and we need to end that.

          They didn't go after Wall Street because the lead lawyer is scared of not winning, they found Aaron and worked the system to score points. The system is broken beyond repair, trying to pretend we live in a country of laws when the rich get a pass and the regular folk are crushed in a system designed to break their will and get them to accept things they shouldn't because its faster and headline making.

           

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 11:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The reputation of the prosecutor is more important than Justice, and we need to end that."

            This is the key point that people need to understand. Showing that a prosecutor 'broke the law' or 'pushed too hard' on one case, can result in the thousands of other cases they have tried over the years being questioned and scrutinized for similar issues or instances of abuse.

            The powers that be do not want that to happen, the prosecutors are TOO BIG TO FAIL (now where have we heard this before.....) and thus their actions, even when illegal, immoral, unjust, and downright dirty are swept under the rug and brushed over... nothing to see here folks, just move along, after showing me your papers first, you do have your papers, right?

            We live with a broken government system and have to try and figure out ways to point out the injustice without becoming targets ourselves, which with the widespread gathering of information (illegally) by our government, this is becoming more and more difficult.

            What would Aaron do???

             

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      identicon
      Anonymous, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 5:35am

      Re:

      The United Way set up a page for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The odd thing is that, according to the date given on Google, the page was set up 3 days BEFORE the shooting!

       

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    keith (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 4:49am

    Comment on Anonymous Actions

    I am not a teckie at all, but stumbled upon "the video," loved the ballistic missile section and truly was touched by who and what these people are trying to do. I do tend to be a tea part conservative (Rand Paul is my Hero) and feel that this country is becoming something that I am scared of. Please do not get me wrong about politics, my original view (never heard anyone repeat this) is that we do need a "Mommy" party -the Dems, and a "Daddy" party - the Republicans. I always wondered why the country could be so split at election time on ideas that were essentially far apart. This theory explained it. Bear with me - we all have a Mommy and we all have a Daddy. So we as citizens tend to go either in the (D) sensitive, caring, compassionate direction (Feminine) or the (R) Protective, Strong, Rules-R-Rules, Masculine party. WE NEED BOTH!! What we have now are evil Dems and Evil Republicans out for self and out for greed and we are in the middle of a collective divorce as a country . OK, I had to give that as background. I am scared and I wanted to see the power that has been granted to a warped, degenorate government watered down a bit. There is abuse. Aaron Swartz was abused. He was threatened. My guess is that he had a choice: rat out friends or go to prison (i think for up to 50 yrs). My wife said to me " he didn't seriously think he would be sent that long, did he? " I answered - Yes, He killed himself. I do not know the answer but this country is becoming more and more evil - god help us!

     

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      identicon
      balaknair, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 11:00am

      Re: Comment on Anonymous Actions

      That actually makes sense, about the mommy and daddy parties. Except it seems more like step parents or foster parents now, with both favouring their own kids (campaign contributors) rather than the American public.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    without any shadow of doubt, what Ortiz and her team did was for nothing less than personal glory, trying to get herself on another, higher, rung of the political ladder. it's this type of behaviour that deserves far worse punishment than anything that may have happened to Swartz. as for the previous incidents where she chose to target only certain places, businesses and people, that shows how narrow minded her focus is, not for executing justice or the law, just executing as strong a sentence as possible! i dont condone the action being taken by Anonymous at the moment, but surely it must highlight the desperate need to change the justice system and the punishments being handed out for what are very minor crimes, if crimes at all and how civil issues have been mutated into criminal issues, all at the behest of the Entertainment Industries?

     

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    nasch (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    What hot water?

    The report above also notes that Ortiz is in some additional hot water

    What hot water is that? I haven't heard about Ortiz facing any consequences for this at all. Unless you mean angry blog posts, which I wouldn't characterize as being in hot water.

     

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    identicon
    dev, Jan 28th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Send Carmen Ortiz a message

    Let's send a message ourselves and make sure she never becomes governor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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