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A History of the Eugenics Movement – Tripod.com

 Eugenics  Comments Off on A History of the Eugenics Movement – Tripod.com
Sep 022015
 

EUGENICS

Five items appear below:

1 Editorial 72 2 A Brief History of the Eugenics Movement (Dr Bergman) 72 3 Reply to Bergman on Eugenics (Dr Potter) 73 4 Is the Orthodox History of Eugenics True? (Dr Bergman) 77 5 Reply to Bergman: Some Tangential Points (Dr Potter) 77

EDITORIAL: INVESTIGATOR 72; 2000 May

Jerry Bergman has donated the article A Brief History of the Eugenics Movement. Dr Bergman’s conclusion on Eugenics (= racial improvement by scientific control of breeding) are reminiscent of the conclusions of “Anonymous” on the related topic Social Darwinism. (Investigator 33)

Social Darwinism was the theory that “societies and classes evolve under the principle of survival of the fittest.” With eugenics such evolution toward better/fitter societies could in principle be speeded up.

Dr Bergman shows that eugenic ideas were supported by many scientists, were contrary to the Bible, discouraged help to the poor, culminated in the Holocaust, and became untenable with newer scientific research. “Anonymous” showed the same of Social Darwinism.

A Brief History of the Eugenics Movement

(Investigator 72, 2000 May)

Dr Jerry Bergman

ABSTRACT

Eugenics, the science of improving the human race by scientific control of breeding, was viewed by a large segment of scientists for almost one hundred years as an important, if not a major means of producing paradise on earth. These scientists concluded that many human traits were genetic, and that persons who came from genetically ‘good families’ tended to turn out far better than those who came from poor families. The next step was to encourage the good families to have more children, and the poor families to have few or no children.

From these simple observations developed one of the most far-reaching movements, which culminated in the loss of millions of lives. It discouraged aiding the sick, building asylums for the insane, or even aiding the poor and all those who were believed to be in some way ‘genetically inferior’, which included persons afflicted with an extremely wide variety of unrelated physical and even psychological maladies. Their end goal was to save society from the ‘evolutionary inferior’. The means was sexual sterilization, permanent custody of ‘defective’ adults by the state, marriage restrictions, and even the elimination of the unfit through means which ranged from refusal to help them to outright killing. This movement probably had a greater adverse influence upon society than virtually any other that developed from a scientific theory in modern times. It culminated with the infamous Holocaust and afterward rapidly declined.

THE HISTORY OF THE MOVEMENT

The eugenics movement grew from the core ideas of evolution, primarily those expounded by Charles Darwin.1 As Haller concluded:

‘Eugenics was the legitimate offspring of Darwinian evolution, a natural and doubtless inevitable outgrowth of currents of thought that developed from the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.’ 2

Eugenics spanned the political spectrum from conservatives to radical socialists; what they had in common was a belief in evolution and a faith that science, particularly genetics, held the key for improving the life of humans.3

The first eugenics movement in America was founded in 1903 and included many of the most well known new-world biologists in the country: David Star Jordan was its chairman (a prominent biologist and chancellor of Stanford University), Luther Burbank (the famous plant breeder), Vernon L. Kellog (a world renowned biologist at Stanford), William B. Castle (a Harvard geneticist), Roswell H. Johnson (a geologist and a professor of genetics), and Charles R. Henderson of the University of Chicago.

One of the most prominent eugenicists in the United States was Charles Benedict Davenport, a Harvard Ph.D, where he served as instructor of biology until he became an assistant professor at the University of Chicago in 1898.4 In 1904, he became director for a new station for experimental evolution at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island. Even Edward Thorndike of Columbia University, one of the most influential educational psychologists in history, was also involved. His work is still today regarded as epic and his original textbook on tests and measurements set the standard in the field.

Other persons active in the early eugenics society were eminent sexologists Havelock Ellis, Dr F. W. Mott, a leading expert in insanity, and Dr A. F. Tredgold, an author of a major textbook on mental deficiency, and one of the foremost British experts on this subject. Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw, author H. G. Wells, and planned parenthood founder Margaret Sanger were also very involved in the movement.5

As the eugenics movement grew, it added other prominent individuals. Among them were Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone who was ‘one of the most respected, if not one of the most zealous participants in the American Eugenics Movement.’ 6He published numerous papers in scholarly journals specifically on genetics and the deafness problem, and also in other areas.

Of the many geneticists who are today recognized as scientific pioneers that were once eugenicists include J. B. S. Haldane, Thomas Hunt Morgan, William Bateson, Herman J. Muller, and evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley.7 Professors were prominent among both the officers and members of various eugenics societies which sprang up in the United States and Europe. In virtually every college and university were professors ‘inspired by the new creed,’ and most of the major colleges had credit courses on eugenics.8 These classes were typically well attended and their content was generally accepted as part of proven science. Many eugenicists also lectured widely and developed new courses, both at their institutes and elsewhere, to help educate the public in the principles of eugenics.’ According to Haller:

‘the movement was the creation of biological scientists, social scientists, and others with a faith that science provided a guide for human progress. Indeed, during the first three decades of the present century, eugenics was a sort of secular religion for many who dreamed of a society in which each child might be born endowed with vigorous health and an able mind.’ 10

The eugenics movement also attacked the idea of democracy itself. Many concluded that letting inferior persons participate in government was naive, if not dangerous. Providing educational opportunities and governmental benefits for everyone likewise seemed a misplacement of resources: one saves only the best cows for breeding, slaughtering the inferior ones, and these laws of nature must be applied to human animals. If a primary determinant of mankind’s behavioural nature is genetic as the movement concluded, then environmental reforms are largely useless. Further, those who are at the bottom of the social ladder in society, such as Blacks, are in this position not because of social injustice or discrimination, but as a result of their own inferiority.11

THE FOUNDER FRANCIS GALTON, DARWIN’S COUSIN

The first chapter in the most definitive history of the eugenics movement12 is entitled ‘Francis Galton, Founder of the Faith’. Influenced by his older cousin, Charles Darwin, Galton began his lifelong quest to quantify humans, and search for ways of genetically improving the human race in about 1860. So extremely important was Darwin’s idea to Galton, as Hailer states, that within six years of the publication of The Origin of Species

‘…Galton had arrived at the doctrine that he was to preach for the remainder of his life.., this became for him a new ethic and a new religion.’13

Galton openly stated that his goal was ‘to produce a highly gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations’. 14In an 1865 article, he proposed that the state sponsor competitive examinations, and the male winners marry the female winners. He later suggested that the state rank people according to evolutionary superiority, and then use money ‘rewards’ to encourage those who were ranked high to have more children. Those ranked towards the bottom would be segregated in monasteries and convents, and watched to prevent them from propagating more of their kind.15

Galton concluded that not only intelligence, but many other human traits were primarily, if not almost totally, the product of heredity. He believed that virtually every human function could be evaluated statistically, and that human beings could be compared in a quantitative manner on many hundreds of traits. He was also fully convinced that the survival of the fittest law fully applied to humans, and that it should be under the control of those who were most intelligent and responsible. Galton himself coined the word eugenics from the Greek words meaning well born. He also introduced the terms nature and nurture to science and started the nature/nurture argument which is still raging today. His goal was to produce a super race to control tomorrow’s world, a dream which he not only wrote about, but actively involved himself in promoting his whole life.

In 1901 he founded the Eugenics Education Society based in the Statistics Department at the University College of London.16 This organization flourished, later even producing a journal called Biometrika, founded and edited by Galton and later Pearson. It is still a leading journal today, but it has since rejected the basic idea behind its founding.

Galton, himself a child prodigy, soon set about looking for superior men by measuring the size of human heads, bodies and minds. For this purpose, he devised sophisticated measuring equipment which would quantify not only the brain and intelligence, but virtually every other human trait that could be measured without doing surgery. He even constructed a whistle to measure the upper range of hearing, now called a Galton whistle, a tool which is still standard equipment in a physiological laboratory. His work was usually anything but superficial much of it was extremely thorough. He relied heavily upon the empirical method and complex statistical techniques, many of which he developed for his work in this area.

In fact, Galton and his coworker, Karl Pearson, are regarded as founders of the modern field of statistics, and both made major contributions. Their thorough, detailed research was extremely convincing, especially to academics. German academics were among the first to wholeheartedly embrace his philosophy, as well as the theory of Darwinian evolution.

The idea that humans could achieve biological progress and eventually breed a superior race was not seen as heretical to the Victorian mind, nor did it have the horrendous implications or the taint of Nazism that it does today. All around Galton were the fruits of the recent advances in technology and the industrial revolution that had dramatically proved human mastery over inanimate nature. 17 They knew that, by careful selection, farmers could obtain better breeds of both plants and animals, and it was logical that the human races could similarly be improved. 18

Galton’s conclusion was that, for the sake of mankind’s future, pollution of the precious superior gene pool of certain classes must be stopped by preventing interbreeding with inferior stock. The next step was that we humans must intelligently direct our own evolution rather than leave such a vital event to chance. And Galton was not alone is this conclusion. All of the major fathers of modem evolution, including Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace (often credited as the co-founder of the modern theory of evolution), Edward Blyth, as well as E. Ray Lankester, and Erasmus Darwin, inferred that ‘evolution sanctioned a breeding program for man’. 19

The route to produce a race of gifted humans was controlled marriages of superior stock.20 In an effort to be tactful in his discussion of race breeding, he used terms such as ‘judicious marriages’ and ‘discouraging breeding by inferior stock.’ He did not see himself as openly cruel, at least in his writings, but believed that his proposals were for the long term good of humanity. Galton utterly rejected and wrote much against the Christian doctrines of helping the weak, displaying a tolerable attitude toward human fragilities and also showing charity towards the poor. Although this response may seem cold the mind of the co-founder of the field, Karl Pearson, has often be described as mathematical and without feeling and sympathy it must be viewed in the science climate of the time.21 Galton received numerous honours for his work, including the Darwin and Wallace Medals, and also the Huxley and the Copley Medals. He was even knighted by the British government and thus became Sir Francis Galton.

Understanding the eugenics movement requires a knowledge of how evolution was viewed in America and Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many scientists had concurrently applied Darwinian analysis to various racial’ groups, concluding that some ‘races’ were more evolutionarily advanced than others. If this claim was valid, the presence of certain racial groups in the United States and Europe constituted a threat to ‘the long-run biological quality of the nation.’ Consequently, it was concluded that ‘selective breeding was a necessary step in solving many major social problems’.22

We are today keenly aware of the tragic results of this belief; most people are now horrified by such statements when quoted by modern day white supremacists and racist groups. Many of the extremist groups today often quote from, and also have reprinted extensively, the scientific and eugenic literature of this time.

THE MAKING OF GALTON

From this point on, Galton’s ideas about eugenics rapidly catalyzed. The knowledge he obtained from his African travels confirmed his beliefs about inferior races, and how to improve society. This conclusion strongly supported the writings of both his grandfather and his first cousin, Charles Darwin. Galton, highly rewarded for his scientific contributions, likely felt that his eugenics work was another way that he could achieve even more honours. He concluded that his work was more important than that which he had completed for the various geographical societies, and more important than even his research which helped the fingerprint system become part of the British method of criminal identification.

The history of eugenics is intimately tied to the history of evolution. Hailer, the author of one of the most definitive works on the history of the eugenics movement, stated

Galton called the method of race analysis he developed ‘statistics by intercomparison.’ It later became a common system of scaling psychological tests. This scale permitted Galton

‘very nearly two grades higher than our own that is, about as much as our race is above that of the African Negro’. 27

Around the turn of the century, eugenics was fully accepted by the educated classes. As Kelves states:

‘Galton’s religion [became] as much a part of the secular pieties of the nineteen-twenties as the Einstein craze.’ 28

Books on eugenics became best-sellers Albert E. Wiggam wrote at least four popular books on eugenics, several were best-sellers29-32 and the prestigious Darwinian family name stayed with the eugenics movement for years the president of the British Eugenics Society from 1911 to 1928 was Major Leonard Darwin, Charles’ son.

The impact of the eugenics movement on American law was especially profound. In the 1920s, congress introduced and passed many laws to restrict the influx of ‘inferior races,’ including all of those from Southern and Eastern Europe, and also China. These beliefs were also reflected in everything from school textbooks to social policy. American Blacks especially faced the brunt of these laws. Inter-racial marriage was forbidden by law in many areas and discouraged by social pressure in virtually all. The eugenicists concluded that the American belief that education could benefit everyone was unscientific, and that the conviction that social reform and social justice could substantially reduce human misery was more than wrong-headed, it was openly dangerous.34

According to Hailer, it was actually between 1870 and 1900 that

ENTER KARL PEARSON

The second most important architect of eugenics theory was Galton’s disciple, Karl Pearson. His degree was in mathematics with honours from Kings College, Cambridge, which he completed in 1879. He then studied law and was called to the bar in 1881. A socialist, he often lectured on Marxism to revolutionary clubs. He was later appointed to the chair of applied mathematics and mechanics at University College, London, and soon thereafter established his reputation as a mathematician. His publication The Grammar of Science also accorded him a place in the philosophy of science field.

Pearson, greatly influenced by Galton, soon began to apply his mathematical knowledge to biological problems. He developed the field now known as statistics primarily to research evolution specifically as it related to eugenics. Pearson vigorously applied the experimental method to his research. Kevles concludes that Pearson was cold, remote, driven, and treated any emotional pleasure as a weakness. Challenging him on a scientific point invited ‘demolishing fire in return’. Pearson ‘like so many Victorian undergraduates, was beset by an agony of religious doubt’.38

Pearson concluded that Darwinism supported socialism because he assumed that socialism produced a wealthier, stronger, more productive, and in short, a superior nation. And the outcome of the Darwinian struggle results in the ascendancy of the ‘fittest’ nation, not individuals. Achievement of national fitness can better be produced by national socialism, consequently socialism will produce more fit nations that are better able to survive. Pearson carried his conclusions of heritability far beyond that which was warranted by the data. He stated to the anthropological institute in 1903 that

When Galton died in January of 1911, the University College received much of his money and established a Galton eugenics professorship, and a new department called applied statistics. The fund enabled Pearson to be freed from his ‘burdensome’ teaching to devote full time to eugenics research. The new department blossomed, and drew research workers from around the world. Pearson now could select only the best scientists and students who would immerse themselves in eugenic work. His students helped to manage the dozens of research projects in which Pearson was involved.

Pearson’s students and those who worked under him had to be as dedicated as he was or they soon were forced to leave. Some, trying to emulate Pearson’s pace, suffered nervous breakdowns.43 The laboratory’s goal was the production of research, and produce they did.

Between 1903 and 1918, Pearson and his staff published over 300 works, plus various government reports and popular expositions of genetics. Some of his co-workers questioned the idea that the only way to improve a nation is to ensure that its future generations come chiefly from the more superior members of the existing generation, but if they valued their position, most said nothing.” As Kevles added,

CHARLES DAVENPORT, THE AMERICAN LEADER

The next most important figure in the eugenics movement was an American, Charles Davenport. He studied engineering at preparatory school, and later became an instructor of zoology at Harvard. While at Harvard, he read some of Karl Pearson’s work and was soon ‘converted’. In 1899 he became an assistant professor at the University of Chicago. During a trip to England, he visited Galton, Pearson and Weldon, and returned home an enthusiastic true believer.

In 1904 he convinced the Carnegie Institute to establish a station for ‘the experimental study of evolution’ at Cold Spring Harbor, some thirty miles from New York City. Davenport then recruited a staff to work on various research projects ranging from natural selection to hybridization. He argued that hereditability was a major influence in everything from criminality to epilepsy, even alcoholism and pauperism (being poor).

Among the many problems with his research is that he assumed that traits which we now know are polygenic in origin were single Mendelian characters. This error caused him to greatly oversimplify interpolating from the genotype to the phenotype. He ignored the forces of the environment to such a degree that he labelled those who ‘loved the sea’ as suffering from thalassaphilia, and concluded that it was a sex-linked recessive trait because it was virtually always exhibited in males! Davenport even concluded that prostitution was caused not by social, cultural or economic circumstances, but a dominant genetic trait which caused a woman to be a nymphomaniac. He spoke against birth control because it reduced the natural inhibitions against sex.

He had no shortage of data for his ideas when the Cold Spring Harbor was founded in 1911 to when it closed in 1924, more than 250 field workers were employed to gather data and about three-quarters of a million cases were completed. This data served as the source of bulletins, memoirs, articles and books on eugenics and related matters. Raised a Congregationalist, Davenport rejected his father’s piety,

‘replacing it with a Babbitt-like religiosity, a worship of great concepts: Science, Humanity, the improvement of Mankind, Eugenics. The birth control crusader, Margaret Sanger recalled that Davenport, in expressing his worry about the impact of contraception on the better stocks, “used to lift his eyes reverently, and with his hands upraised as though in supplication, quiver emotionally as he breathed, “Protoplasm. We want more protoplasm”‘.49

AND THE MOVEMENT GREW AND PROSPERED

There are few individuals more important in the field of educational psychology and educational measurement and evaluation than Edward Lee Thorndike. He wrote many of the college texts which were the standards for years (and many still are), not only in educational psychology but also in measurement and child psychology. Yet, he was largely unaware of, or ignored, the massive evidence which had accumulated against many of the basic eugenic views.

When Thorndike retired in 1940 from Columbia Teachers’ College, he wrote a 963-page book entitled Human Nature and the Social Order. In it, he reiterated virtually all of the most blatant misconceptions and distortions of the eugenicists. As Chase states,

‘at the age of sixty-six, he was still peddling the long discredited myths about epilepsy that Galton had revived when Thorndike was a boy of nine… Despite Thorndike’s use of such twentieth-century scientific words as “genes” and his advocacy of the then current Nazi eugenics court’s practice of sterilizing people who got low marks on intelligence tests and for “inferior” morals, this [book] was, essentially, the 1869 gospel of Galton, the eugenical orthodoxy that all mental disorders and diseases were at least eighty percent genetic and at most twenty percent environmental.’ 59

THE REASONS FOR THE GROWTH OF EUGENICS

Part of the reason that the eugenics movement caught on so rapidly was because of the failures of the many innovative reformatory and other programmes designed to help the poor, the criminal, and people with mental and physical problems. Many of those who worked in these institutions concluded that most people in these classes were ‘heredity losers’ in the struggle for existence. And these unfit should not be allowed to survive and breed indiscriminately. Evolution gave them an answer to the difficulties that they faced. Charles Loring Brace

The translation of the eugenics movement into policy took many forms. In America, the sterilization of a wide variety of individua1s who were felt to have ‘heredity problems,’ mostly criminals, the mentally retarded, mentally ill and others, were at the top of their list. The first sterilization laws in the United States were in Indiana. They required mandatory sterilization of

Although the American courts challenged many of the eugenic laws, only one case, Bell versus Buck, reached the Supreme Court of the United States.

In an eight to one vote, the high court upheld sterilization for eugenic reasons, concluding that ‘feeblemindedness’ was caused by heredity and thus the state had a responsibility to control it by this means! The court’s opinion was written by none other than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who used his no small knowledge of science in his erudite opinion. He forged a link between eugenics and patriotism, concluding that eugenics was a fact derived from empirical science. A rash of sterilization laws which were passed in half of the states soon followed, many of which were more punitive than humanitarian.53

Many eugenicists also believed that negative traits that one picked up in one’s lifetime could be passed on. The theory of acquired characteristics was widely accepted, and was not conclusively refuted until the work of August Weismann of Germany. The new view, called neo-Darwinian, taught that acquired characteristics could not be inherited, and thus

And much of this research was on the so-called simple creatures such as the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). Secondly, it was realized that, as a human is produced from between 50,000 and 100,000 genes, it is extremely difficult to determine if any one is ‘superior’ to another. At best, one could try to make judgments relative to the superiority of one specific trait compared to another. This is most easily done in the case of a mutation. A person who had the mutation for hemophilia could be considered inferior for that trait compared to the person who does not.

On the other hand, this method considers only one gene, which means that a person without the genetic defect for hemophilia will be genetically inferior in some other way compared to the one with it. He may have the mutation for retinoblastoma, for example, and develop eye cancer later in his life.

Even a person who has certain traits, such as below average intellect, may as a whole be genetically superior, a determination which we cannot make until all 100,000 genes are mapped and then compared with the whole population. And even then comparative judgments cannot be made except on simplistic grounds, such as counting the total number of ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ genes.

This falls short in that certain single genes can cause far more problems than others, or conversely, can confer on the person far more advantages than most other genes. It would then be necessary to rate each individual gene, something that is no easy task. In addition, many so-called inferior genes are actually mutations which were caused somewhere in the human genetic past, and were since passed on to the victim’s offspring. Of the unidentified diseases, about 4,000 are due to heritable mutations and none of these 4,000 existed in our past before the mutation for it was introduced into the human gene pool. This is de-evolution, an event which is the opposite of the eugenics goal of trying to determine the most flawless race and limit reproduction to them. This goal is flawed because the accumulation of mutations tends to result in all races becoming less perfect.56

Although the validity of many of the eugenic studies and the extent of applicability to humans were both seriously questioned, the demise of the eugenics movement had more to do with social factors than new scientific discoveries. Haller lists

Many of the people involved in the eugenics movement can best be summarized as true believers, devoted to the cause and blissfully ignoring the evidence which did not support their theories. Yet many knew that its basic premise was unsound, and often tried to rationalize its many problems. Galton

The importance of studying the eugenics movement today is not just to help us understand history. A field which is growing enormously in influence and prestige, social biology, is in some ways not drastically different from the eugenics movement. This school also claims that not only biological, but many social traits have a genetic basis, and exist from the evolutionary process. Although many social biologists take pains to disavow any connections, ideologically or otherwise, with the eugenics movement, their similarity is striking. This fact is a point that its many critics, such as Stephen J. Gould of Harvard, have often noted.60

In the late nineteenth century, ‘when so many thought in evolutionary terms, it was only natural to divide man into the fit and the unfit.’ 61 Even the unfortunates who because of an unjust society or chance, failed in business or life and ended in poverty, or those who were forced to live from petty theft, were judged ‘unfit’ and evolutionarily inferior.62 There was little recognition of the high level of criminality among common men and women, nor of the high level of moral virtuousness among many of those who were labelled criminals. They disregarded the fact that what separates a criminal from a non-criminal is primarily criminal behaviour. Because they are far more alike than different is one reason why criminal identification is extremely difficult.

The eugenicists also usually ignored upper class crime and the many offenses committed by high ranking army officers and government officials, even Kings and Queens, all of whose crimes were often well known by the people. They correctly identified some hereditary concerns, but mislabelled many which are not (such as poverty) and ignored the enormous influence of the environment in moulding all of that which heredity gives us. They believed that since most social problems and conditions are genetic, they cannot be changed, but can only be controlled by sterilization.63, 64

CHRISTIANITY AND EUGENICS

In contrast, the teaching of Christianity presented quite a different picture. It declared that anyone who accepted Christ’s message could be changed. The Scriptures gave numerous examples of individuals who were liars, thieves, and moral degenerates who, after a Christian conversion, radically turned their life around. The regeneration of reprobates has always been an important selling point of Christianity. From its earliest days, the proof of its validity was its effect on changing the lives of those who embraced the faith. Helping the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, the unfortunate, the crippled, and the lame was no minor part of Christianity. Indeed, it was the essence of the religion, the outward evidence of the faith within. If one wanted to follow Christ, one was to be prepared, if necessary, to ‘go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor’ (Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21).

The rest is here:

A History of the Eugenics Movement – Tripod.com

Fourth Amendment Body Search Home Search You rights …

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Fourth Amendment Body Search Home Search You rights …
Aug 302015
 

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fourth Amendment protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” was adopted as a protection against the widespread invasions of privacy experienced by American colonists at the hands of the British Government. So-called “writs of assistance” gave royal officers broad discretion to conduct searches of the homes of private citizens, primarily as a way of discovering violations of strict British customs laws. This practice led to a unique awareness among our Founding Fathers of the threat to individual liberty and privacy that is created by unchecked government search powers.

Today, the Fourth Amendment has lost its preferred status among our cherished Bill of Rights Protections. In recent decades, growing concerns regarding crime and public safety in America have forced our Courts to balance the privacy rights contained in the Constitution with the ever-expanding needs of law-enforcement officers whose duty it is to investigate and arrest dangerous criminals. The Supreme Court’s rulings in Fourth Amendment cases demonstrate the challenge involved in reconciling these competing ideals.

Ultimately, the Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures has been trimmed-down in recent years and tailored to suit the needs of modern law enforcement as we wage war against drugs and terrorism. For this reason, it is important for conscientious citizens to be familiar with the lawful parameters of police authority to conduct searches, as well as the legal doctrines by which that authority is limited.

The Fifth Amendment: Self-incrimination Clause

“…No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself or be deprived of life liberty or property without due process of law…”

* The Supreme Court has made a new ruling that you must tell the police officer that you will NOT talk to him, you request a lawyer and then keep your mouth shut.

The right against self-incrimination has ancient roots in common law dating back to biblical times. While most provisions of the Fifth Amendment, such as the right to a jury trial and the right against double jeopardy, impose restrictions upon our courthouses, the right against self-incrimination has a profound effect upon the behavior of law-enforcement officers as they investigate crimes. For this reason, the meaning of the self-incrimination clause has remained one of the most controversial issues in criminal procedure since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Miranda v. Arizona.

At this time, it is required by the Supreme Court that police inform all criminal suspects of their right to remain silent prior to interrogation. This right extends from the point of arrest throughout the suspect’s involvement in the criminal justice system. While many in the law-enforcement community feel that this restriction unfairly limits the ability of police and prosecutors to obtain convictions, studies have shown that conviction rates have not changed significantly since the Court first required police to inform those arrested of their right against self-incrimination.

The Sixth Amendment: Right to Counsel Clause

“In all criminal proceedings, the accused shall enjoy the right to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a critical component of the Bill of Rights in that it provides the accused with an advocate who is trained in the legal process and can provide a safeguard against violations of the suspect’s other Bill of Rights protections. Interestingly, it was not until 1963 that the Supreme Court held that states must provide a lawyer for all felony suspects, ending disparities in legal representation based on economic class.

Today, all person charged with a serious crime in the United States enjoy the assistance of a defense attorney regardless of economic status. State-employed public defenders represent clients who cannot afford their own attorneys, and contrary to popular belief, achieve roughly equal outcomes for their clients as do the more expensive privately-hired lawyers.

The Relationship Between Self-incrimination and the Right to Counsel

Many Americans, particularly young people, have become cynical about police practices and our legal system. It is not uncommon to lose hope when arrested or even become angry at the officer or the law he is enforcing. It is an important reality however, that our legal system does provide services for the accused. It cannot be overstated how important it is to wait for legal advice before attempting to discuss a criminal charge with police. The subtleties of the legal process require careful decisions about what to say and how to say it. A lawyer will help you prepare for tough questions and can emphasize your positive qualities to the judge, including qualities you didn’t know you had.

The constitution includes protections for criminal suspects because the legal system is incredibly complex, involving rules and regulations that everyday people would not understand. If you are charged with a crime, take advantage of the protections the constitution gives you. Don’t talk to police about what happened until you have spoken with a lawyer and discussed how to present your side of the story.

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Fourth Amendment Body Search Home Search You rights …

Genetic Engineering – humans, body, used, process, plants …

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Genetic Engineering – humans, body, used, process, plants …
Aug 272015
 

Photo by: Gernot Krautberger

Genetic engineering is any process by which genetic material (the building blocks of heredity) is changed in such a way as to make possible the production of new substances or new functions. As an example, biologists have now learned how to transplant the gene that produces light in a firefly into tobacco plants. The function of that genethe production of lighthas been added to the normal list of functions of the tobacco plants.

Genetic engineering became possible only when scientists had discovered exactly what is a gene. Prior to the 1950s, the term gene was used to stand for a unit by which some genetic characteristic was transmitted from one generation to the next. Biologists talked about a “gene” for hair color, although they really had no idea as to what that gene was or what it looked like.

That situation changed dramatically in 1953. The English chemist Francis Crick (1916 ) and the American biologist James Watson (1928 ) determined a chemical explanation for a gene. Crick and Watson discovered the chemical structure for large, complex molecules that occur in the nuclei of all living cells, known as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

DNA molecules, Crick and Watson announced, are very long chains or units made of a combination of a simple sugar and a phosphate group.

Amino acid: An organic compound from which proteins are made.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid): A large, complex chemical compound that makes up the core of a chromosome and whose segments consist of genes.

Gene: A segment of a DNA molecule that acts as a kind of code for the production of some specific protein. Genes carry instructions for the formation, functioning, and transmission of specific traits from one generation to another.

Gene splicing: The process by which genes are cut apart and put back together to provide them with some new function.

Genetic code: A set of nitrogen base combinations that act as a code for the production of certain amino acids.

Host cell: The cell into which a new gene is transplanted in genetic engineering.

Human gene therapy (HGT): The application of genetic engineering technology for the cure of genetic disorders.

Nitrogen base: An organic compound consisting of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen arranged in a ring that plays an essential role in the structure of DNA molecules.

Plasmid: A circular form of DNA often used as a vector in genetic engineering.

Protein: Large molecules that are essential to the structure and functioning of all living cells.

Recombinant DNA research (rDNA research): Genetic engineering; a technique for adding new instructions to the DNA of a host cell by combining genes from two different sources.

Vector: An organism or chemical used to transport a gene into a new host cell.

Attached at regular positions along this chain are nitrogen bases. Nitrogen bases are chemical compounds in which carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms are arranged in rings. Four nitrogen bases occur in DNA: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).

The way in which nitrogen bases are arranged along a DNA molecule represents a kind of genetic code for the cell in which the molecule occurs. For example, the sequence of nitrogen bases T-T-C tells a cell that it should make the amino acid known as lysine. The sequence C-C-G, on the other hand, instructs the cell to make the amino acid glycine.

A very long chain (tens of thousands of atoms long) of nitrogen bases tells a cell, therefore, what amino acids to make and in what sequence to arrange those amino acids. A very long chain of amino acids arranged in a particular sequence, however, is what we know of as a protein. The specific sequence of nitrogen bases, then, tells a cell what kind of protein it should be making.

Furthermore, the instructions stored in a DNA molecule can easily be passed on from generation to generation. When a cell divides (reproduces), the DNA within it also divides. Each DNA molecule separates into two identical parts. Each of the two parts then makes a copy of itself. Where once only one DNA molecule existed, now two identical copies of the molecule exist. That process is repeated over and over again, every time a cell divides.

This discovery gave a chemical meaning to the term gene. According to our current understanding, a specific arrangement of nitrogen bases forms a code, or set of instructions, for a cell to make a specific protein. The protein might be the protein needed to make red hair, blue eyes, or wrinkled skin (to simplify the possibilities). The sequence of bases, then, holds the code for some genetic trait.

The Crick-Watson discovery opened up unlimited possibilities for biologists. If genes are chemical compounds, then they can be manipulated just as any other kind of chemical compound can be manipulated. Since DNA molecules are very large and complex, the actual task of manipulation may be difficult. However, the principles involved in working with DNA molecule genes is no different than the research principles with which all chemists are familiar.

For example, chemists know how to cut molecules apart and put them back together again. When these procedures are used with DNA molecules, the process is known as gene splicing. Gene splicing is a process that takes place naturally all the time in cells. In the process of division or repair, cells routinely have to take genes apart, rearrange their components, and put them back together again.

Scientists have discovered that cells contain certain kinds of enzymes that take DNA molecules apart and put them back together again. Endonucleases, for example, are enzymes that cut a DNA molecule at some given location. Exonucleases are enzymes that remove one nitrogen base unit at a time. Ligases are enzymes that join two DNA segments together.

It should be obvious that enzymes such as these can be used by scientists as submicroscopic scissors and glue with which one or more DNA molecules can be cut apart, rearranged, and the put back together again.

Genetic engineering requires three elements: the gene to be transferred, a host cell into which the gene is inserted, and a vector to bring about the transfer. Suppose, for example, that one wishes to insert the gene for making insulin into a bacterial cell. Insulin is a naturally occurring protein made by cells in the pancreas in humans and other mammals. It controls the breakdown of complex carbohydrates in the blood to glucose. People whose bodies have lost the ability to make insulin become diabetic.

The first step in the genetic engineering procedure is to obtain a copy of the insulin gene. This copy can be obtained from a natural source

Phototake

(from the DNA in a pancreas, for example), or it can be manufactured in a laboratory.

The second step in the process is to insert the insulin gene into the vector. The term vector means any organism that will carry the gene from one place to another. The most common vector used in genetic engineering is a circular form of DNA known as a plasmid. Endonucleases are used to cut the plasmid molecule open at almost any point chosen by the scientist. Once the plasmid has been cut open, it is mixed with the insulin gene and a ligase enzyme. The goal is to make sure that the insulin gene attaches itself to the plasmid before the plasmid is reclosed.

The hybrid plasmid now contains the gene whose product (insulin) is desired. It can be inserted into the host cell, where it begins to function just like all the other genes that make up the cell. In this case, however, in addition to normal bacterial functions, the host cell also is producing insulin, as directed by the inserted gene.

Notice that the process described here involves nothing more in concept than taking DNA molecules apart and recombining them in a different arrangement. For that reason, the process also is referred to as recombinant DNA (rDNA) research.

The possible applications of genetic engineering are virtually limitless. For example, rDNA methods now enable scientists to produce a number of products that were previously available only in limited quantities. Until the 1980s, for example, the only source of insulin available to diabetics was from animals slaughtered for meat and other purposes. The supply was never large enough to provide a sufficient amount of affordable insulin for everyone who needed insulin. In 1982, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved insulin produced by genetically altered organisms, the first such product to become available.

Since 1982, the number of additional products produced by rDNA techniques has greatly expanded. Among these products are human growth hormone (for children whose growth is insufficient because of genetic problems), alpha interferon (for the treatment of diseases), interleukin-2 (for the treatment of cancer), factor VIII (needed by hemophiliacs for blood clotting), erythropoietin (for the treatment of anemia), tumor necrosis factor (for the treatment of tumors), and tissue plasminogen activator (used to dissolve blood clots).

Genetic engineering also promises a revolution in agriculture. Recombinant DNA techniques enable scientists to produce plants that are resistant to herbicides and freezing temperatures, that will take longer to ripen, and that will manufacture a resistance to pests, among other characteristics.

Today, scientists have tested more than two dozen kinds of plants engineered to have special properties such as these. As with other aspects of genetic engineering, however, these advances have been controversial. The development of herbicide-resistant plants, for example, means that farmers are likely to use still larger quantities of herbicides. This trend is not a particularly desirable one, according to some critics. How sure can we be, others ask, about the risk to the environment posed by the introduction of “unnatural,” engineered plants?

The science and art of animal breeding also are likely to be revolutionized by genetic engineering. For example, scientists have discovered that a gene in domestic cows is responsible for the production of milk. Genetic engineering makes it possible to extract that gene from cows who produce large volumes of milk or to manufacture that gene in the laboratory. The gene can then be inserted into other cows whose milk production may increase by dramatic amounts because of the presence of the new gene.

One of the most exciting potential applications of genetic engineering involves the treatment of human genetic disorders. Medical scientists know of about 3,000 disorders that arise because of errors in an individual’s DNA. Conditions such as sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s chorea, cystic fibrosis, and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome result from the loss, mistaken insertion, or change of a single nitrogen base in a DNA molecule. Genetic engineering enables scientists to provide individuals lacking a particular gene with correct copies of that gene. If and when the correct gene begins functioning, the genetic disorder may be cured. This procedure is known as human gene therapy (HGT).

The first approved trials of HGT with human patients began in the 1980s. One of the most promising sets of experiments involved a condition known as severe combined immune deficiency (SCID). Individuals with SCID have no immune systems. Exposure to microorganisms that would be harmless to the vast majority of people will result in diseases that can cause death. Untreated infants born with SCID who are not kept in a sterile bubble become ill within months and die before their first birthday.

In 1990, a research team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) attempted HGT on a four-year-old SCID patient. The patient received about one billion cells containing a genetically engineered copy of the gene that his body lacked. Another instance of HGT was a procedure, approved in 1993 by NIH, to introduce normal genes into the airways of cystic fibrosis patients. By the end of the 1990s, according to the NIH, more than 390 gene therapy studies had been initiated. These studies involved more than 4,000 people and more than a dozen medical conditions.

In 2000, doctors in France claimed they had used HGT to treat three babies who suffered from SCID. Just ten months after being treated, the babies exhibited normal immune systems. This marked the first time that HGT had unequivocally succeeded.

Controversy remains. Human gene therapy is the source of great controversy among scientists and nonscientists alike. Few individuals maintain that the HGT should not be used. If we could wipe out sickle cell anemia, most agree, we should certainly make the effort. But HGT raises other concerns. If scientists can cure genetic disorders, they can also design individuals in accordance with the cultural and intellectual fashions of the day. Will humans know when to say “enough” to the changes that can be made with HGT?

Photo Researchers, Inc.

Despite recent successes, most results in HGT since the first experiment was conducted in 1990 have been largely disappointing. And in 1999, research into HGT was dealt a blow when an eighteen-year-old from Tucson, Arizona, died in an experiment at the University of Pennsylvania. The young man, who suffered from a metabolic disorder, had volunteered for an experiment to test gene therapy for babies with a fatal form of that disease. Citing the spirit of this young man, researchers remain optimistic, vowing to continue work into the possible lifesaving opportunities offered by HGT.

The commercial potential of genetically engineered products was not lost on entrepreneurs in the 1970s. A few individuals believed that the impact of rDNA on American technology would be comparable to that of computers in the 1950s. In many cases, the first genetic engineering firms were founded by scientists involved in fundamental research. The American biologist Herbert Boyer, for example, teamed up with the venture capitalist Robert Swanson in 1976 to form Genentech (Genetic Engineering Technology). Other early firms like Cetus, Biogen, and Genex were formed similarly through the collaboration of scientists and businesspeople.

The structure of genetic engineering (biotechnology) firms has, in fact, long been a source of controversy. Many observers have questioned the right of a scientist to make a personal profit by running companies that benefit from research that had been carried out at publicly funded universities. The early 1990s saw the creation of formalized working relations between universities, individual researchers, and the corporations founded by these individuals. Despite these arrangements, however, many ethical issues remain unresolved.

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The Order of the Illuminati: Its Origins, Its Methods and Its …

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Aug 232015
 

The Order of the Illuminati is often at the center of debates about the impact of secret societies on human history. Is the Illuminati a myth or does it truly secretly rule the world? As the number of people asking that question has grown, facts about the Order have become diluted with misconceptions and disinformation, making objective research on the subject difficult. This article attempts to shed some factual light on the Order of the Illuminati by reviewing some of the most important documents on the subject.

The world Illuminati is thrown around rather freely to describe the elite group that is secretly running the world. Most have a general idea of the meaning of the term, but are confused about the concepts and the ideas relating to it. Is the Illuminati the same thing as Freemasonry? What are their goals? What are their beliefs? Why do they act in secret? Do they practice occultism? Attempting to objectively research the subject can become an arduous task as most sources end up being either dismissive disinformation pieces that deny (and even ridicule) anything related to the Illuminati or, at the other end of the spectrum, espouse ill-informed fear mongering based on rumors and misconceptions. In both cases, the researcher ends up with the same result: a distorted version of the truth.

Considering that Secret Societies are supposed to be, by definition, secret, and that history is often rewritten by those in power, obtaining the unbiased truth about the Illuminati is a challenge. This article does not claim to reveal or expose everything that is to be known about the Illuminati; it rather attempts draw a more precise picture of the Order by citing authors who have extensively studied the subject. Whether they are, at the end of the day, critics or apologists of the Illuminati, these authors base their thoughts on credible facts. Some of the most interesting documents on the Illuminati were written by initiates of Secret Societies as they understood the philosophical and spiritual undercurrent driving the movement forward. Using these works, we will look at the origins, the methods and the impacts of the Illuminati on world history.

Although several groups called themselves Illuminati in the past, the most influential and memorable of them was the Bavarian Illuminati. Founded on May 1, 1776, the organization created by Adam Weishaupt blurred the line between spiritual and political Secret Societies. By mixing the occult sciences of Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism while conspiring to achieve precise political goals, the Illuminati became an actor on the world stage. While most Secret Societies of the time catered to rich people and their fascination with occultism, the Bavarian Illuminati actively sought to profoundly change the world.

Secret Societies have existed throughout the course of history, each of them with different aims and with different roles in society. While the Egyptian mystery schools were part of the Egyptian institution, other groups were secret due to their subversive and conspiratorial aims. These two next quotes, written by two famous political figures, describe these opposing views on Secret Societies:

A mystical Fraternity, who, in an earlier age, boasted of secrets of which the Philosophers Stone was but the least; who considered themselves the heirs of all that the Chaldeans, the Magi, the Gymnosophists, and the Platonists had taught; and who differed from all the darker Sons of Magic in the virtue of their lives, the purity of their doctrines, and their insisting, as the foundation of all wisdom, on the subjugation of the sense, and the intensity of Religious Faith? Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, 1884 [1. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Zanoni]

The governments of the present day have to deal not merely with other governments, with emperors, kings and ministers, but also with the secret societies which have everywhere their unscrupulous agents, and can at the last moment upset all the governments plans. British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, 1876

These quotes describe different realms of influence of Secret Societies. The first one refers to the spiritual side while the second describes the political side. Not all Secret Societies dwell in the spiritual and not all of them get involved in political machinations. The Bavarian Illuminati operated in both realms.

Spiritual brotherhoods are pledged to Wisdom and guiding humanity towards the realm of the Infinite; Political brotherhoods [are comprised]of power-seekers who cloak their manipulative agenda in darkness. ()

All secret societies share certain fundamental themes. Membership is restricted to those who have an abiding interest in the subject. Thus, a spiritual group will attract people seeking more knowledge of a particular teacher or type of practice. The student is aware of the subject matter in advance and will approach the group for further instruction. More rarely, an individual may be tapped by the group because of a perceived affinity to its purpose.

In a political secret society, membership is restricted to those who share an ideological affinity with the goals the group represents. At the furthest end of the political spectrum, the mission will be revolution. Such a society will go to great lengths to defend itself. ()

The Illuminati are perceived by many as spanning the chasm between the spiritual and the political secret society. Often credited (or blamed) for influencing the French Revolution in 1787, the Illuminati taught a doctrine of social and political liberation that hinged on the equality of man, the embrace of rationalism, and the denial of crown and church as the legitimate institutions for the regulation of social and moral values. () While the views of the Illuminati may sound quite advanced for the time, the European revolutions they are believed to have encouraged degenerated into brutal bloodbaths whose singular lack of moral compass was appalling. [2. James Wasserman, The Mystery Traditions]

While some believe that Adam Weishaupt was the sole mastermind of the Illuminati and that his organization rose to glory and died in less than twelve years, most researchers initiated in occultism believe that the Bavarian Illuminati was the rare appearance of an ancient Brotherhood that could be traced back to the Knight Templars of the Middle-Ages.

Manly P. Hall, a 33rd Degree Freemason and prolific author, described in his pamphlet Masonic Orders of Fraternity an Invisible Empire that has been silently working for centuries towards social change. It periodically became visible throughout History, through different organizations who bore different names. According to him, these groups have a great yet silent impact on society, even transforming the educational system to form future generations.

The direct descent of the essential program of the Esoteric Schools was entrusted to groups already well-conditioned for the work. The guilds, trade unions, and similar protective and benevolent Societies had been internally strengthened by the introduction of a new learning. The advancement of the plan required the enlargement of the boundaries of the philosophic overstate. A World Fraternity was needed, sustained by a deep and broad program of education according to the method. Such a Fraternity could not immediately include all men, but it could unite the activities of certain kinds of men, regardless of their racial or religious beliefs or the nations in which they dwelt. These were the men of towardness, those sons of tomorrow, whose symbol was a blazing sun rising over the mountains of the east. ()

It was inevitable that the Orders of Fraternity should sponsor world education. () The program included a systematic expansion of existing institutions and the enlargement of their spheres of influence.

Slowly, the Orders of Universal Reformation faded from public attention, and in their places appeared the Orders of World Brotherhood. Everything possible was done to prevent the transitions from being obvious. Even history was falsified to make certain sequences of activity unrecognizable. The shift of emphasis never gave the impression of abruptness, and the motion appeared as a dawning of social consciousness. The most obvious clues to the secret activity have been the prevailing silence about the origin and the impossibility of filing the lacunae in the records of seventeenth- and eighteenth- century fraternal Orders. ()

The Orders of Fraternity were attached by slender and almost invisible threads to the parent project. Like earlier Schools of the Mysteries, these Fraternities were not in themselves actual embodiments of the esoteric associations, but rather instruments to advance certain objectives of the divine plan. [3. Manly P. Hall, Masonic Orders of Fraternity]

Here, Hall mentions a silence and lack of information regarding the workings of Secret Societies during the 17th and 18th century, the epoch during which the Bavarian Illuminati was active. It is during this time period that Secret Societies took action, causing revolutions, overthrowing Monarchical and Papal powers and taking hold of the banking system. Was the Bavarian Illuminati part of the Invisible Empire described by Hall? Is it still active today? Lets first look at Adam Weishaupt and his infamous Secret Society.

Adam Weishaupt was born in Ingolstadt, Bavaria on February 6, 1748. His father died when he was seven and his godfather, Baron Ickstatt, entrusted his early education to the most powerful group of the time: the Jesuits. Known for its subversive methods and conspiratorial tendencies, the Society of Jesus had a stronghold on Bavarias politics and educational system.

The degree of power to which the representatives of the Society of Jesus had been able to attain in Bavaria was all but absolute. Members of the order were the confessors and preceptors of the electors; hence they had a direct influence upon the policies of government. The censorship of religion had fallen into their eager hands, to the extent that some of the parishes even were compelled to recognize their authority and power. To exterminate all Protestant influence and to render the Catholic establishment complete, they had taken possession of the instruments of public education. It was by Jesuits that the majority of the Bavarian colleges were founded, and by them they were controlled. By them also the secondary schools of the country were conducted. [4. Vernon L. Stauffer, The European Illuminati]

The inner-workings of the Society of Jesus was quite similar to the occult Brotherhoods it was apparently working against. It functioned with degrees, initiation rites, elaborate rituals and esoteric symbols and had been suppressed countless times in several countries due to its subversive tendencies.

In 1773, Weishaupts godfather used his great influence at the University of Ingolstadt to place his godson as chair of canon law. At that time, the institution was under heavy Jesuitical dominance and that particular position was traditionally held by influential Jesuits. Weishaupts growing embrace of Age of Enlightenment philosophies placed him at odds with the Jesuits and all kinds of political drama ensued. Despite this fact, Weishaupt learned a lot from the Jesuits organization and their subversive methods to obtain power. It is during this time that the idea of a Secret Soceity began to enter Weishaupts thoughts.

Brilliant, and well trained in the conspiratorial methods of access to power, young Weishaupt decided to organize a body of conspirators, determined to free the world from the Jesuitical rule of Rome. [5. Peter Tomkins, The Magic of Obelisks]

While some authors believe that the Jesuits (who were suppressed by papal bull in 1773) used Weishaupt to perpetuate their rule, others state that he was seeking to overthrow their powerful hold on Bavarian. On a wider scale, he was convinced that the world would profit from the overthrow of all governmental and religious institutions in the world to replace them by a world-wide, yet secretive, committee of initiates. To acheive his aims, he would use Jesuit methods against the Jesuits.

As Weishaupt pursued his studies, he also became knowledgeable in occult mysteries and Hermetism. He recognized the attractive power of this mysterious knowledge and understood that Masonic lodges would be the ideal venue to propagate his views. He therefore sought to become a Freemason, but was quickly disenchanted with the idea.

His imagination having taken heat from his reflections upon the attractive power of the Eleusinian mysteries and the influence exerted by the secret cult of the Pythagoreans, it was first in Weishaupts thought to seek in the Masonic institutions of the day the opportunity he coveted for the propagation of his views. From this, original intention, however, he was soon diverted, in part because of the difficulty he experienced in commanding sufficient funds to gain admission to a lodge of Masons, in part because his study of such Masonic books as came into his hands persuaded him that the mysteries of Freemasonry were too puerile and too readily accessible to the general public to make them worthwhile. [6. Stauffer, Op. Cit.]

Weishaupt soon realized that, to achieve his aims, it would be necessary for him to create his own secretive group, composed of powerful individuals who would embrace his views and help him propagate them.

He deemed it necessary, therefore, to launch out on independent lines. He would form a model secret organization, comprising schools of wisdom, concealed from the gaze of the world behind walls of seclusion and mystery, wherein those truths which the folly and egotism of the priests banned from the public chairs of education might be taught with perfect freedom to susceptible youths. [7. Ibid.]

The goal of Weishaupts organization was simple yet monumental: to overthrow all political and religious institutions in order to replace it with a group of Illuminati initiates. According to him universal happiness complete and rapid could be achieved by disposing of hierarchy, rank and riches. Princes and nations will disappear without violence from the earth; the human race will become one family; the world will be the abode of reasonable men. On May 1, 1776, the Order of the Illuminati was founded.

Weishaupts Illuminati began humbly with only five members, but after a few years and with powerful connections, the Order became a major political force across the world. Influential deciders, rich industrials, powerful noblemen and mysterious occultists joined the Order and participated in its conspiratorial objectives. Some historians claim that the Orders quick rise to success was due to a secret meeting between Weishaupt and a mysterious figure named Cagliostro, the most powerful occultist of the time.

In Ingolsstadt, Cagliostro is believed to have met Adam Weishaupt, professor of philosophy and canon law at the university, who in 1776, had founded the sect of Illuminati. Calling themselves heirs to the Knights Templar, they declared their interest in using celestial intervention as achieved by Cagliostro for the furtherance of a program of worldwide religious reform, but one more radical than Cagliostros, committed to avenging the death of the Templars Grand Master Molay by reducing to dust the triple crown of the popes and disposing of the last of the Capet Kings.

Cagliostro obliged, and described in prophetic detail the decapitation of Louis XVI, an event hardly to be envisaged at that time as anything but improbable. [8. Tompkins, op. cit.]

The Bavarian Illuminati was originally comprised of three primary grades: Novice, Minerval and Illuminated Minerval. Each grade was designed to achieve particular objectives while assuring complete control and dominance to the apex of the pyramid. Heres a brief look at each grade.

Entry-level members of the Bavarian Illuminati were attracted and introduced to the Order using attractive vocabulary (the quest for wisdom and betterment) and occult lore. They were however introduced to a highly monitored and controlling hierarchy, one that resembles the system of the Jesuits. There was no mention of the Orders political aims.

Once enrolled, the instruction of each Novice was to be in the hands of his enroller, who kept well hidden from his pupil the identity of the rest of his superiors. Such statutes of the order as he was permitted to read impressed upon the mind of the Novice that the particular ends sought in his novitiate were to ameliorate and perfect his moral character, expand his principles of humanity and sociability, and solicit his interest in the laudable objects of thwarting the schemes of evil men, assisting oppressed virtue, and helping men of merit to find suitable places in the world. Having had impressed upon him the necessity of maintaining inviolable secrecy respecting the affairs of the order, the further duties of subordinating his egoistic views and interests and of according respectful and complete obedience to his superiors were next enjoined. An important part of the responsibility of the Novice consisted in the drawing-up of a detailed report (for the archives of the order), containing complete, information concerning his family and his personal career, covering such remote items as the titles of the books he possessed, the names of his personal enemies and the occasion of their enmity, his own strong and weak points of character, the dominant passions of his parents, the names of their parents and intimates, etc. Monthly reports were also required, covering the benefits the recruit had received from and the services he had rendered to the order. For the building-up of the order the Novice must undertake his share in the work of recruitment, his personal advancement to the higher grades being conditioned upon the success of such efforts. To those whom he enrolled he became in turn a superior; and thus after a novitiate presumably two years in length, the way was open for his promotion to the next higher grade. [9. Stauffer, op. cit.]

When a Novice proved to his superiors to be worthy of advancement, he was initiated to the grade of Minerval.

Minerval seals of the Bavarian Illuminati. These pendants, worn around the necks of Minerval initiates, featured the Owl of Minerva . Also known as the Owl of Wisdom, this symbol is still found today in powerful places: around the White House, hidden on the dollar bill or on the insignia of the Bohemian Club.

The term Minerval is derived from Minerva who was the Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the music. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl, which symbolizes her ties to wisdom. An ancient symbol of the mysteries, Minerva is prominently featured in places such as the Library of Congress and the Great Seal of California.

The second grade of the Illuminati was one of indoctrination. The initiates were lectured on the spiritual principles of the Order but had little information regarding the true aims of Weishaupt and his close circle of administrators.

The ceremony of initiation through which the Novice passed into the grade Minerval was expected to disabuse the mind of the candidate of any lingering suspicion that the order had as its supreme object the subjugation of the rich and powerful, or the, overthrow of civil and ecclesiastical government. It also pledged the candidate to be useful to humanity; to maintain a silence eternal, a fidelity inviolable, and an obedience implicit with respect to all the superiors and rules of the order; and to sacrifice all personal interests to those of the society. [10. Ibid.]

Minervals were permitted to meet some of their superiors (Illuminated Minervals) and to engage in discussions with them. This privilege alone was a great source of motivation for the new initiates.

Selected from among the Minerval, the Illuminated Minerval were given specific tasks to accomplish in order to prepare them to take action in the real world. Most of their work consisted in the study of mankind and the perfection of methods to direct it. Each Illuminated Minerval was entrusted with a small group of Minervals who were scrutinized, analyzed and lead towards specific directions. Lower-grade members of the Order therefore became test subjects for techniques that might be applied to the masses in general.

To the grade Illuminated Minerval were admitted those Minervals who in the judgment of their superiors were worthy of advancement. Elaborate initiatory ceremonies fixed in the candidates mind the notions that the progressive purification of his life was to be expected as he worked his way upward in the order, and that the mastery of the art of directing men was to be his special pursuit as long as he remained in the new grade. To accomplish the latter, i.e., to become an expert psychologist and director of mens consciences, he must observe and study constantly the actions, purposes, desires, faults, and virtues of the little group of Minervals who were placed under his personal direction and care. For his guidance in this difficult task a complicated mass of instructions was furnished him.

In addition to their continued presence in the assemblies of the Minervals, the members of this grade came together once a month by themselves, to hear reports concerning their disciples, to discuss methods of accomplishing the best results in their work of direction and to solicit each others counsel in difficult and embarrassing cases. In these meetings the records of the assemblies of the Minervals were reviewed and rectified and afterwards transmitted to the superior officers of the order. [11. Ibid.]

From this basic structure, the Illuminati began its expansion. Everything was in place for Weishaupt to achieve an important goal: the infiltration of Freemasonry.

In 1777, the year following the creation of the Illuminati, Weishaupt joined the Masonic lodge of Theodore of Good Counsel in Munich. Not only did he successfully propagate his views into the lodge, he also managed to get the lodge to bevirtually absorbed into the Illuminist order almost immediately. [12. Hall, op. cit.]

A definite alliance between the Illuminati and Freemasonry became possible in 1780 when a prominent figure by the name of Baron Adolf Franz Friederich Knigge was initiated into Weishaupts Order. The German diplomats Masonic connections and organizational skills were promptly put to use by the Order. Knigge would go on to accomplish two important tasks for the Illuminati: He revised the hierarchy of the Order, created new higher grades and allowed the full integration of Masonic lodges into the system.

Two weighty consequences promptly followed as the result of Kinigges advent into the order. The long-sought higher grades were worked out, and an alliance between the Illuminati and Freemasonry was effected. [13. Ibid.]

Knigge, an influential North German diplomat and occultist joined the Illuminati in 1780. He is here shown displaying the sign of the Hidden Hand (see the article entitled The Hidden Hand that Shaped the World on the Vigilant Citizen).

Knigges influence upon the Order was profound and immediate. The new system he devised attracted Freemasons and other powerful figures, which gave the movement great momentum. Heres the system devised by Knigge:

Knigges kept the Orders original grades untouched but added new grades above them. The second level of the Illuminati incorporated the grades of Freemasonry making therefore the Brotherhood simply a part of the wider Illuminist superstructure.

The grade Novice (a part of the system only in a preparatory sense) was left unchanged by Knigge, save for the addition of a printed communication to be put into the hands of all new recruits, advising them that the Order of the Illuminati stands over against all other forms of contemporary Freemasonry as the one type not degenerate, and as such alone able to restore the craft to its ancient splendor. ()

The three symbolic grades of the second class seem to have been devised solely for the purpose of supplying an avenue whereby members of the various branches of the great Masonic family could pass to the higher grades of the new order. [14. Ibid.]

The highest grades of the Order were restricted to a select few and included powerful individuals and influential figures. The grade of Prince held within its ranks National Inspectors, Provincials, Prefects and Deans of the Priests. At the top of the pyramid were the Magus (also known as Areopagites), which comprised the supreme heads of the Order. Their identities were safely guarded and are still difficult to confirm today.

Knigges strategy gave impressive results and allowed the Illuminati to become an extremely powerful movement.

The new method of spreading Illuminism by means of its affiliation with Masonic lodges promptly demonstrated its worth. Largely because of the fine strategy of seeking its recruits among the officers and other influential personages in the lodges of Freemasonry, one after another of the latter in quick succession went over to the new system. New prefectures were established, new provinces organized, and Provincials began to report a steady and copious stream of new recruits. () Students, merchants, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, judges, professors in gymnasia and universities, preceptors, civil officers, pastors, priests all were generously represented among the new recruits. Distinguished names soon appeared upon the rosters of the lodges of the new system. Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, Duke Ernst of Gotha, Duke Karl August of Saxe-Weimar, Prince August of Saxe-Gotha, Prince Carl of Hesse, Baron Dalberg, the philosopher Herder, the poet Goethe, the educationist Pestalozzi, were among the number enrolled, By the end of 1784 the leaders boasted of a total enrollment of between two and three thousand members 106. and the establishment of the order upon a solid foundation seemed to be fully assured. [15. Ibid.]

Weishaup, however, did not enjoy his Orders success for long. Suspicions of Illuminati conspiracy against governments and religious arose across Europe. Seeing a credible threat against its power, the Bavarian government launched an edict outlawing all communities, societies and brotherhoods that existed without due authorization of the law. Furthermore, internal disagreements between Weishaupt and the higher ups of his Order lead to disputes and dissension. In the midst of it all, some members went directly to the authorities and testified against the Order, an opportunity that was not missed by the Bavarian government.

Out of the mouths of its friends, the accusations which its enemies made against the order were to be substantiated. By the admissions of its leaders, the system of the Illuminati had the appearance of an organization devoted to the overthrow of religion and the state, a band of poisoners and forgers, an association of men of disgusting morals and depraved tastes. [16. Ibid.]

By 1788, through the use of aggressive legislation and criminal charges, the Bavarian Illuminati was apparently dissipated and destroyed by the government. While some see here the conclusion of the story of the Illuminati, one must not forget that the tentacles of Illuminism had the time to spread way beyond to confines of Bavaria to reach Masonic lodges across Europe. In other words, the Illuminati was never destroyed, it simply went underground. A year later, an important event would prove that Illuminism was more alive and potent then ever: the French Revolution.

The violent overthrow of the French Monarchy in 1789 symbolizes to many the victory of Jacobinism and Illuminism over the traditional institutions of the time. The adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights officially recorded Masonic and Illuminist values into the core of the French government. The countrys new motto Libert, galit et Fraternit (Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood) was said to be a famous Masonic saying that was used in French lodges for centuries.

The official document of the Declaration of Human Rights contains several occult symbols referring to Secret Societies. First, the symbol of the All Seeing Eye within a triangle, surrounded by the light of the blazing star Sirius, is found above everything else (this symbol is also found on the Great Seal of the United States). Underneath the title is depicted an Ouroboros (a serpent eating its own tail), an esoteric symbol associated with Alchemy, Gnosticism and Hermetism, the core teachings of Masonry. Right underneath the Ouroboros is a red phrygian cap, a symbol representing Illuminist revolutions across the world. The entire Declaration is guarded by Masonic pillars.

If though Bavarian Illuminati was said to be dead, the ideas it promoted still became a reality. The Freemasons and Rosicrucians were still thriving, and the Illuminati appeared to be living through them. Europe was undergoing profound turmoil as a new class of people took the helms of power. Critics began to emerge, revealing to the masses the secret forces behind the changes they were witnessing.

Leopold Hoffman, a Freemason who was convinced that the Illuminati corrupted his Brotherhood, published a series of articles in his journal entitled Wiener Zeitschrift. He claimed that the lower grades of the Illuminati had been dissolved, but the highest degrees were still active. He also added that Freemasonry was being subjugated by Illuminism and transformed to serve its ends. He also stated that the French Revolution was the result of years of Illuminist propaganda.

In 1797, John Robinson, a Scottish physician, mathematician and inventor (he invented the siren) published a book entitled Proofs of a Conspiracy against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of the Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies. This devout Freemason became disenchanted when he realized that his brotherhood had been infiltrated by the Illuminati. Heres an excerpt of his book:

I have found that the covert of a Mason Lodge had been employed in every country for venting and propagating sentiments in religion and politics, that could not have circulated in public without exposing the author to great danger. I found, that this impunity had gradually encouraged men of licentious principles to become more bold, and to teach doctrines subversive of all our notions of moralityof all our confidence in the moral government of the universeof all our hopes of improvement in a future state of existenceand of all satisfaction and contentment with our present life, so long as we live in a state of civil subordination. I have been able to trace these attempts, made, through a course of fifty years, under the specious pretext of enlightening the world by the torch of philosophy, and of dispelling the clouds of civil and religious superstition which keep the nations of Europe in darkness and slavery.

I have observed these doctrines gradually diffusing and mixing with all the different systems of Free Masonry; till, at last, AN ASSOCIATION HAS BEEN FORMED for the express purpose of ROOTING OUT ALL THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENTS, AND OVERTURNING ALL THE EXISTING GOVERNMENTS OF EUROPE. I have seen this Association exerting itself zealously and systematically, till it has become almost irresistible: And I have seen that the most active leaders in the French Revolution were members of this Association, and conducted their first movements according to its principles, and by means of its instructions and assistance, formally requested and obtained: And, lastly, I have seen that this Association still exists, still works in secret, and that not only several appearances among ourselves show that its emissaries are endeavouring to propagate their detestable doctrines, but that the Association has Lodges in Britain corresponding with the mother Lodge at Munich ever since 1784. . . The Association of which I have been- speaking is the order of ILLUMINATI, founded, in 1775 [sic], by Dr. Adam Weishaupt, professor of Canon-law in the University of Ingolstadt, and abolished in 1786 by the Elector of Bavaria, but revived immediately after, under another name, and in a different form, all over Germany. It was again detected, and seemingly broken up; but it had by this time taken so deep root that it still subsists without being detected, and has spread into all the countries of Europe [17. John Robinson, Proofs of a Conspiracy]

Augustin Barrel, a French Jesuit priest also published in 1797 a book linking the French Revolution to the Bavarian Illuminati. In Mmoires pour servir lhistoire du Jacobisime, he traced back the slogan Liberty and Equality back to the early Templars and claimed that, in the higher degrees of the order, liberty and equality is explained not only by war against kings and thrones but by war against Christ and his altars. He also provided details pertaining to the Illuminist take-over of Freemasonry.

Barruel charged that not only the lower order of Masonry were duped by Weishaupt, but also those of Weishaupts own Illuminati, for whom he had provided another top-secret level of direction known as the Aeopagus, a withdrawn circle of directors of the whole order, who alone knew its secret aims. To Barruel, such revolutionary leaders as La Rochefoucauld, Lafayette, and the duc dOrlans, had become Illuminati agents and dupes of more extreme radicals such as Danton, provocateurs who sparked the Illuminati-directed rebellion. Barruel further charged that the entire French Masonic establishment had been converted to Weishaupts revolutionary ideas, its lodges turned into secret committees which planned bloodshed. [18. Tompkins, op. cit.]

Most of Americas Founding Fathers were part of Secret Societies, whether the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians or others. Some of them travelled to Europe and were well versed in the doctrines of the Illuminati.

From 1776 to 1785 when the Bavarian Illuminati was openly active Benjamin Franklin was in Paris serving as the ambassador of the United States to France. During his stay, he became Grand Master of the lodge Les Neufs Soeurs which was attached with the Grand Orient of France. This Masonic organization was said to have become the French headquarters of the Bavarian Illuminati. It was particularly influential in organizing of the French support for the American Revolution and was later part of the process towards the French Revolution.

In 1799, when German minister G.W. Snyder warned George Washington of the Illuminati plan to overthrow all governments and religion, Washington replied that he had heard much of the nefarious and dangerous plan and doctrines of the Illuminati. He however concluded his letter by stating: I believe notwithstanding, that none of the Lodges in this country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the society of Illuminati.

In another letter to Snyder, written a month later, Washington continued on the topic:

It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am.

The idea that I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies, endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of separation). That Individuals of them may have done it, or that the founder, or instrument employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects; and actually had a separation of the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be questioned.

Part of the original letter written by George Washington regarding the Illuminati

Judging by this letter, George Washington was obviously well aware of the doctrines of the Illuminati And even if he did not believe that the Masonic institutions of the United States propagated its doctrines, he concedes that individuals might have undertaken that endeavour. After the Bavarian Illuminati

Today, the term Illuminati is used to loosely describe the small group of powerful individuals who are working towards the creation of a World Government, with the issue of a single world currency and a single world religion. Although it is difficult to determine if this group descends directly from the original Bavarian Illuminati or that it even uses the term Illuminati, its tenets and methods are in perfect continuation of it. As stated above, the name that is used to describe the occult elite can change. And, ultimately, the name is irrelevant; what needs to be recognized is the underlying current that has existed for centuries.

According the Manly. P Hall, the Bavarian Illuminati was part of what he calls the Universal Brotherhood, an invisible Order at the source of most Hermetic Secret Societies of the past. It has worked for centuries towards the transformation of mankind, guiding it through a worldwide alchemical process. The same way the alchemical Great Work seeks to turn crude metals into gold, it claims to work towards a similar metamorphosis of the world. According to Hall, the Universal Brotherhood sometimes makes itself visible, but under the guise of different names and symbols. This would mean that the Knights Templars, Freemasons, Rosicrucians, and Illuminati are temporary visible manifestations of an underlying force that is infinitely more profound and more powerful. However, human beings being what they are weak toward greed and power-lust these movements often become corrupted and end up conspiring against the masses for more power and material gain.

Certainly there was an undercurrent of things esoteric, in the most mystical sense of the word, beneath the surface of Illuminism. In this respect, the Order followed exactly in the footsteps of the Knights Templars. The Templars returned to Europe after the Crusades, bringing with them a number of choice fragments of Oriental occult lore, some of which they had gathered from the Druses of Lebanon, and some from the disciples of Hasan Ibn-al-Sabbah, the old wizard of Mount Alamut.

If there was a deep mystical current flowing beneath the surface of Illuminism, it is certain that Weishaupt was not the Castalian Spring. Perhaps the lilies of the Illuminati and the roses of the Rosicrucians were, by a miracle of Nature, flowing from the same stem. The old symbolism would suggest this, and it is not always wise to ignore ancient landmarks. There is only one explanation that meets the obvious and natural requirements of the known facts. The Illuminati were part of an esoteric tradition which had descended from remote antiquity and had revealed itself for a short time among the Humanists of Ingolstadt. One of the blossoms of the sky plant was there, but the roots were afar in better ground. [19. Hall, op. cit.]

Hall concludes that the Illuminati existed long before the advent of Weishaupts Order and that it still exists today. It was under the guise of defeat and destruction that the Illuminati realized its greatest victories.

Weishaupt emerged as a faithful servant of a higher cause. Behind him moved the intricate machinery of the Secret School. As usual, they did not trust their full weight to any perishable institution. The physical history of the Bavarian Illuminati extended over a period of only twelve years. It is difficult to understand, therefore, the profound stir which this movement caused in the political life of Europe. We are forced to the realization that this Bavarian group was only one fragment of a large and composite design.

All efforts to discover the members of the higher grades of the Illuminist Order have been unsuccessful. It has been customary, therefore, to assume that these higher grades did not exist except in the minds of Weishaupt and von Knigge. Is it not equally possible that a powerful group of men, resolved to remain entirely unknown, moved behind Weishaupt and pushed him forward as a screen for its own activities?

The ideals of Illuminism, as they are found in the pagan Mysteries of antiquity, were old when Weishaupt was born, and it is unlikely that these long-cherished convictions perished with his Bavarian experiment. The work that was unfinished in 1785 remains unfinished in 1950. Esoteric Orders will not become extinct until the purpose which brought them into being has been fulfilled. Organizations may perish, but the Great School is indestructible. [20. Ibid.]

The Great Seal of the United States features the unfinished Great Pyramid of Giza, a symbol of the unfinished work of the Esoteric Orders: a New World Order. The Seal was adopted on the American dollar by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a 32nd Degree Freemason and a Knight of Pythias with ties Manly P. Hall.

If the Illuminist Agenda is still alive today, what form does it take? From the esoteric and spiritual point of view, some modern Secret Societies such as the O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis) have claimed to be the heirs of Illuminism. Other researchers stated that there exists hidden Orders above the 33 visible degrees of Freemasonry that form the Illuminati. As they are, by definition, secret, obtaining details about these Orders is quite difficult.

The political side of modern Illluminism is a lot more visible and its plans are obvious. An increasingly restrictive and concentrated group is being entrusted with the creation of important decisions and policies. International committees and organizations, acting above elected officials are today creating social and economic policies that are applied on a global level. This phenomenon is rather new in world history as a rather than kingdoms or nation-states, a non-elected shadow government, composed of the worlds elite, is gradually becoming the center of world power.

On another political plane are ideological groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations, or participants in the World Economic Forum. Here we find leaders in politics, business, finance, education, and the media who share a belief in the value of global solutions; are in position of high authority and influence; and represent different levels of involvement with the inner circle of the group. Most members simply welcome the opportunity to associate with other well-known luminaries and are honored by being offered membership or attendance privileges. Yet, the ideology at the highest levels of such groups supports a world government to be administered by a class of experts and planners, entrusted with running centrally organized social and political institutions. Although members may be persuaded to add their considerable voices to certain transnational political and economic policies, they may bot be as supportive (or even aware) of the long-range ambitions of the inner circle. While these groups quite often hold their meetings in secret, their membership lists are a matter of public record. It is the central agenda that is disguised. [21. Wasserman, op. cit.]

The main elite groups and councils are: the International Crisis Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum, the Brookings Institution, Chatham House, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group. The Bohemian Club is known to hold informal gatherings of the world elite punctuated with strange ceremonies and rituals. The Clubs insignia is an Owl similar to the one found on the Bavarian Illuminatis Minerval seal.

Insignia of the Bohemian Club

If one would carefully study the members and attendees of these exclusive clubs, one would notice that they combine the most powerful politicians, CEOs and intellectuals of the time with lesser known individuals with famous names. They are descendants of powerful dynasties that rose to power by taking over vital aspects of modern economies, such as the banking system, the oil industry or mass media. They have been associated with game changing events, such as the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. This act completely modified the banking system of the United States, placing it in the hands of a few elite corporations. A proof of this is the court decision of 1982 stating that The Reserve Banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of the FTCA [the Federal Tort Claims Act], but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations.

In his book Bloodlines of the Illuminati, controversial author Fritz Springmeier claims that todays Illuminati is formed from the descendants of thirteen powerful families whose ancestors had close or distant ties to the original Bavarian Illuminati. According to Springmeier, the 13 bloodlines are: the Astors, the Bundys, the Collins, the DuPonts, the Freemans, the Kennedys, the Li, the Onassis, the Reynolds, the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Russells and the Van Duyns. [22. Fritz Springmeier, The Bloodlines of the Illuminati]

There is no doubt that by virtue of the material and political resources they own, some of these families have a great deal of power in todays world. They appear to form the core of what we call today the Illuminati. However, are they conspiring to create a New World Order? Heres a quote from David Rockefellers memoirs that might answer some questions:

For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as internationalists and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it. [23. David Rockefeller, Memoirs]

The story of the Illuminati has been repressed or revealed, debunked or exposed, ridiculed or exaggerated countless times all depending on the point of the authors and whether they are apologists or critics. To obtain the absolute truth about a group that was always meant to be secret is quite a challenge and one must use a great deal of judgment and discernment to differentiate the facts from the fabrications. As it is not possible to answer all of the questions relating to the Illuminati, this article simply attempted to draw a more precise picture of the Order and to present important facts relating to it.

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Illuminati – RationalWiki

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Aug 232015
 

The Illuminati, originally called The Order of Perfectibilists, was a small freethinker society founded in 1776 in Bavaria by a man named Adam Weishaupt. Among the group’s goals were the opposition of prejudice, superstition, and abuse of political power. In the universe that rational people agree to recognize as reality, the Illuminati ceased to exist in 1787, when Karl Theodor, Prince-Elector of Bavaria, had the group banned for conduct inciting people to rebel against state authority after some of the organization’s writings were intercepted.

In the parallel universe where the likes of Henry Makow and David Icke hang their hats (and the snakes living therein), they not only have continued to exist, but have developed such enormous capacity for secrecy, power, and control that the complete absence of evidence for their existence, power, and control …proves their existence, power, and control.

The spread of the Illuminati legend and continued belief in them today can be traced back to the book Proofs of a Conspiracy by John Robinson, a 1798 anti-Freemasonry book (the Freemasons and Illuminati are often regarded as one and the same by conspiracy theorists). Proofs of a Conspiracy has become a source of inspiration to many conspiracy theorists since its initial publication and has been reprinted by, among others, the John Birch Society. Many modern variations of the Illuminati conspiracy have them being a controlling influence in the New World Order. Another influential series was Mmoires pour Servir a l’Histoire du Jacobinisme by Abb Augustin de Barruel (1799).

The alleged continued existence of the “Illuminati” looms large in many conspiracy theories, tall tales by evangelical Satanic Panic-fakers like Mike Warnke and John Todd, crank anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic writings, pseudolaw theories, etc. Depending on which version of the “Illuminati” story one believes, they are either a Satanic, Masonic, Zionist, atheist, reptilian,[2] or secular financial conspiracy. Despite the many different versions of the conspiracy, each version claims to have evidence that they are correct. They secretly control world events and their symbol, the all-seeing eye, is on the back of the U.S. $1 bill. This belief, in whatever version, is patently ridiculous but it persists. When the Founding Fathers designed the Great Seal, the all-seeing eye was proposed by members of design committees who were not Freemasons (since conspiracy theorists regard Freemasons and the Illuminati to be practically the same). It was also not named the “all-seeing eye,” as the cranks believe, but rather the “eye of providence,”[3][4] a symbol for God[5].

Several 20th century conspiracy theory books such as those by William Guy Carr and Des Griffin combined John Robinson’s allegations about the Illuminati and Freemasonry with those of the hoax book, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, to come up with an explicitly anti-Semitic version of the Illuminati theory. Jack Chick and Alberto Rivera on the other hand promoted an anti-Roman Catholic variant of the theory, alleging the Illuminati was a creation of the Vatican.

Pat Robertson’s version, on the other hand, is just plain weird since it somehow touches on both the French Revolution and gay marriage.[6]

Robertson, it seems, has company among other theocratic media weirdos personalities. Rick Wiles is under the impression that the Illuminati is not only linked to the 9/11 attacks but that the new One World Trade Center is actually a tribute to what he terms the “Free Mason/Illuminati New World Order.”[7]

Mike Warnke and John Todd, mentioned above, are two fake “ex-Satanist” Protestant evangelists. They have both described the Illuminati as the highest level of Satanism. Warnke claimed he learned of the Illuminati when attending a high-level conference of Satanists and Witches, shortly before he dropped out of Satanism to join the Navy and convert to Christianity. Todd claimed to have been a member of the Illuminati himself, which he said was a high council of druids secretly working to destroy Christianity and make witchcraft the official religion of the United States. Belief in the Illuminati as a Satanic conspiracy continues to be held by many evangelical Christians, despite both Warnke and Todd being exposed as frauds.

To the true believer, exposing them as frauds only goes to show how far the Illuminati are willing to go to malign opponents.

To this day there are many Youtube videos of people claiming to be “ex-Illuminati” members, whistleblowers, etc. The only problem is why there are so many. Why doesn’t the Illuminati take these videos down? Oh, something as simple as an auto correct of “NWO” to “NOW” in the comments section will make people say the Illuminati doesn’t want people to know about the NWO, but they refuse to take down people who are blatantly saying they exist! Another problem is that all the stories have contradictions with each other. You would think these guys would be telling the same story, but no two stories are the same!

The Illuminati plays a role in books like Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, and the joke religion of Discordianism.

It is also a kick-ass card game put out by Steve Jackson Games.

Not to mention video games that flat out depict the Illuminati as either an actual faction or even a playable one, such as Funcom’s “The Secret World”.

The Illuminati are “well-known” to be behind Hollywood[8] and the fnord Ford Motor Company.[9] It would seem that just about any organization you can name has been accused of being an Illuminati front.

They also have a “tendency” to put hidden symbols and clues to their existence around the world, and on money, for no apparent reason.[10] Nearly every popular culture icon, including television shows, politicians, musicians and any celebrity, are said to be somehow connected to the Illuminati in some way, from something as normal as a triangle[11] to a hand sign.[12][13] Maybe it’s because they want you to know their evil plans, or maybe it’s because they’re bored at their broadcasting job.[14]

Probably the best example of this would be Tupac Shakur, whose last album issued before his death, entitled The Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory, led to many theories.[15] The word “killuminati” (a portmanteau of the words “kill” and “Illuminati”) is interpreted as Pac saying that he is speaking out against them and killing Illuminati. The truth being that he heard about them in prison and used logic the majority of these conspiracy nuts lack, that is: “If this organisation is so secret, how the fuck does everyone know about it?”[16] There is also the claim that Tupac faked his death and will be coming back (since 2003[17])[18]. This is mainly because a while before he died, Tupac was planning on permanently changing his rap name to Makaveli after the 15-16th century writer Niccol Machiavelli.

An equally good example would be rapper Jay-Z, who is supposedly very high in the Illuminati’s hierarchy of celebrities. The hand gesture that he flashes has been cited as “proof” (in a very, very loose sense of the word) even though it’s meant to represent the diamond of Roc-a-fella Records and is thrown up as frequently as the “East” or “West” hand signs. Some has compared it to that Temple of Astarte logo.[19] He is also accused of selling his soul, amongst other things.[20] As with Tupac, theorists just turn to bullshit to prove their points, interpreting that the name of his newborn daughter, Blue Ivy, backwards (Yvi Eulb) is Latin for “Lucifer’s daughter,” even though there is nothing to imply this.[21] (Even the Church of Satan debunks this! [22] Jay Z has denied all these claims; his response to the conspiracy theorists can be heard in Rick Ross’s song “Free Mason.”[23]

It can be very difficult to find anyone who isn’t actually connected with the Illuminati. All of the claimed affiliations involve an occult symbol in a music video or photo (usually the “all-seeing eye,” the Star of David, or a Pentagram). This is most likely to get people talking and get publicity. For example, if Rihanna has a newspaper cutout that says “Princess of the Illuminati” in a music video, millions of people will go watch the video. In fact, there are even whole websites like this that are dedicated to finding pop stars who are part of the Illuminati. Basically, everyone.

Michael Jackson is a very interesting case. One faction of the conspiracy community considers him a member of the Illuminati, employed to brainwash the public. Another faction, however, says that Jackson was not a member, but actually was fighting to expose their control of the music industry and media. Jackson was supposedly killed for this very reason. Either way the theorists have all the bases covered.

Spelling Illuminati in reverse and entering it as an URL leads to the NSA website.[24] This is merely someone purchasing that domain and redirecting it to a government website as “inconclusive proof” even though anyone can do so.[25]

And finally, there is the trend of blaming the Illuminati for the death of apparently anybody with any degree of fame. This is usually explained as the assassination of those who were just about to expose the conspiracy, or as one of the Illuminati’s ritualistic, demonic “sacrifice.”[26]

Whenever so-called symbolism is refuted, the Conspiracy theorist usually says that the Illuminati “created” that refutation as a cover-up to make the symbolism less blatant.[27]

One has to wonder… If the Illuminati controlled all the media, why won’t they censor websites like PrisonPlanet and Vigilant Citizen? There are whole websites dedicated to “exposing” the Illuminati, but those are generally left alone!

There are many Youtube videos claiming that a popular singer like has “sold their soul” to the Devil. However, there are four major problems with this:

And the most obvious and common:

One popular type of Youtube video is to cherrypick what celebrities say in speeches, and shoehorn the Illuminati into it, even when the Illuminati have nothing to do with what they’re saying.[29]

If the UN even ACKNOWLEDGES a music video, then, that video is Illuminati.[30]

Celebrities are getting a lot of attention from this, so they’re getting less and less subtle with the imagery. Rihanna went as far as to have a music video with the words “Illuminati Princess”, and of course Mark Dice caught on to this before anyone else.[31] Lady Gaga is taking advantage of it to the point where she is starting to claim she’s having dreams about the Illuminati: though what she is exactly dreaming about varies.[32][33] Celebs are even going so far as to use terms such as “I swear to Lucifer” instead of “I swear to God”[34] and Katy Perry jokes about selling her soul to the Devil.[35]

When Amy Winehouse was killed, CTs made a big deal of how she made joke of refusing to “be molded into a triangle” in her last interview.[36] Of course, coincidences happen all the time, so this isn’t exactly proof on its own.

Often, theories will be made of symbolism over speculation. For example when Kim Kardashian was undecided on what to name her baby, everyone decided to throw in their shoehorning.[37] Only, they were blatantly wrong and didn’t even get the name right.

The Deus Ex series of games feature the Illuminati, though they are constantly fighting other shadowy organizations at the same time like the UN New World Order, or the Knights Templar, or a Corporate Takeover of Earth or something, or FEMA death camps (or were those run by the Illuminati?).

Unsurprisingly, whenever anyone tries to show evidence against the Illuminati, or refute bogus evidence for the Illuminati, said person is called a shill to spread disinformation,[citationneeded] or that the evidence against them was created by the Illuminati to keep people from believing they exist. This makes the theory unfalsifiable.

Youtube is the only website where you can blow the whistle and expose The Powers That Be without worrying about being assassinated. Due to this, it is advised that you only use Youtube[38] as a source, as you don’t have to worry about misinfo.

Seriously, though… Youtube is a horrible place to get evidence for… well, anything. It’s probably THE largest repository of crank videos, despite the fact that Google is often accused of being in the cahoots with the Illuminati. It’s a great place to find Conspiracy Documentaries and even lower-quality homemade ones. Some are as little as two-minute long montages of Mainstream Media[39], most stretch across about three hours of content, and a select few can be tens of hours long!

The bad thing about Youtube is that it actually gives nutjobs a way to get to otherwise sane, yet weak-minded skeptics. The type of “evidence” can range from a celebrity almost as crazy as them claiming the Illuminati Exist[40], those celebrities siblings claiming the same[41], and pretty much everything else. Expect every interview by the POTUS/Google/UN to be quote-mined, and expect a shitton of Illuminati whistleblowers too (And every other Conspiracy Theory too, actually).

Yes, these people can be fun to watch sometimes, but dear god, please tread lightly, don’t stay for too long, and make sure you aren’t logged in if you absolutely must watch these videos. And you’ll probably be better off if you steer clear from the comments, but that generally applies to any Youtube video that has comments anyway.

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Illuminati – RationalWiki

Tor Browser – Free Download

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on Tor Browser – Free Download
Aug 212015
 

Open network of private data tunnels, which preserves anonymity and fights censorship

TOR is a software that is used by people who wish to protect their anonymity while they participate in online activities. The TOR software allows for anonymity by directing online traffic through a series of relays that thwarts any surveillance attempts. By doing so, it becomes very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to trace a TOR user’s online activities. The NSA has called TOR the leader in Internet anonymity software, with no other immediate contenders to their throne.

TOR uses several different layers of encryption, TOR is actually an acronym for The Onion Router. TOR enables users to hide their IP address by sending traffic through a series of digital relays. Each relay further increases the level of obscurity until it becomes virtually impossible to trace back the traffic to the actual user. This is all done without the original IP address ever being revealed.

Pros:

Cons:

Developed by AnchorFree, this software application lets people connect to the internet via Virtual Private Network

FREE 10GB VPN: ZPN Connect VPN for WiFi Hotspot

At the time of downloading you accept the EULA and privacy policies stated by Jaleco. The download will be executed through a download manager that belongs to Jaleco. The mentioned download manager doesn’t have any relationship with the author. It can be downloaded as well freely from the author’s website. Jaleco aims to offer downloads free of viruses and malware.

The download manager is part of our virus and malware filtering system and certifies the file’s reliability. Additionally, the download manager offers the optional installation of a toolbar.

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Tor Browser – Free Download

SEO Services | Web.com

 SEO  Comments Off on SEO Services | Web.com
Aug 202015
 

Let our team of SEO experts develop & execute a plan to improve your SEO rank on Google, Yahoo & Bing.

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*Customers on a monthly billing cycle are billed every four weeks. Full Service SEO is only available for US and Canadian customers. Payment method for Full Service SEO is limited to credit card. PayPal is not accepted for this product at this time.

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Best SEO Companies | SEO Services Agency Reviews

 SEO  Comments Off on Best SEO Companies | SEO Services Agency Reviews
Aug 202015
 

Looking for the best SEO agency for your business? Then look no further. Our experts have spent hours researching the best agencies by client satisfaction, rankings, and the overall results. Our SEO professionals compile our lists based on proven results for organic placement for their clients.

Finding the right SEO agency can be a difficult and lengthy task. Not every business can benefit from every company. At SEO Agency Ratings, we are a group of SEO industry veterans that will take into account exactly what type of business you have and what results that you will need. We know that many people need help sailing the murky waters of SEO. There are many organizations and companies that do not stand by what they claim to guarantee. Its easy for people to be taken advantage of when they do not have an advocate looking out for what is best for them.

Businesses of all sizes can have problems finding the best SEO firm to help them in their rankings. Although there are a lot of consulting agencies out there that can help, many of them do not consider the client longevity of the SEO agency and the methods that they use to rank. While every business likes to see a big jump up in the rankings, it wont mean much if you fall from the first to the fourth page because the SEO Agency you hired used unethical methods. You have to find an SEO company that has a slow steady climb that will help you maintain your status and keep your website out in front of your customers.

We know that SEO is not your primary focus in your business and it shouldnt have to be. Your time is better spent working on improving your business and providing support for your customers. You shouldnt have to spend hours and days trying to find the best internet marketing agency for you. Our team is comprised of industry experts that have worked for decades in the SEO industry. We want the visitors to this site to recognize that SEO is not a one size fits all standard but that you can find the right company at the best price to work towards the goals that you have in mind for your website. We can help steer you in the right direction so that you can get the results that you need. We can even provide you a customized suggestion based on our experts reviewing your site.

At SEO Agency Ratings, we are constantly reviewing each organization on our lists on a weekly and a monthly basis. We work comparing and contrasting their different values, client retention rates, client satisfaction checks, and most importantly the quality of their SEO strategies and campaigns. Its because of our rigorous rating system that so many businesses have seen their website rankings improve. We use our expert opinion to assist you in finding the best company for your needs. Let us help you find which agency is best for your business.

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How the Bitcoin protocol actually works | DDI

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on How the Bitcoin protocol actually works | DDI
Aug 182015
 

Many thousands of articles have been written purporting to explain Bitcoin, the online, peer-to-peer currency. Most of those articles give a hand-wavy account of the underlying cryptographic protocol, omitting many details. Even those articles which delve deeper often gloss over crucial points. My aim in this post is to explain the major ideas behind the Bitcoin protocol in a clear, easily comprehensible way. Well start from first principles, build up to a broad theoretical understanding of how the protocol works, and then dig down into the nitty-gritty, examining the raw data in a Bitcoin transaction.

Understanding the protocol in this detailed way is hard work. It is tempting instead to take Bitcoin as given, and to engage in speculation about how to get rich with Bitcoin, whether Bitcoin is a bubble, whether Bitcoin might one day mean the end of taxation, and so on. Thats fun, but severely limits your understanding. Understanding the details of the Bitcoin protocol opens up otherwise inaccessible vistas. In particular, its the basis for understanding Bitcoins built-in scripting language, which makes it possible to use Bitcoin to create new types of financial instruments, such as smart contracts. New financial instruments can, in turn, be used to create new markets and to enable new forms of collective human behaviour. Talk about fun!

Ill describe Bitcoin scripting and concepts such as smart contracts in future posts. This post concentrates on explaining the nuts-and-bolts of the Bitcoin protocol. To understand the post, you need to be comfortable with public key cryptography, and with the closely related idea of digital signatures. Ill also assume youre familiar with cryptographic hashing. None of this is especially difficult. The basic ideas can be taught in freshman university mathematics or computer science classes. The ideas are beautiful, so if youre not familiar with them, I recommend taking a few hours to get familiar.

It may seem surprising that Bitcoins basis is cryptography. Isnt Bitcoin a currency, not a way of sending secret messages? In fact, the problems Bitcoin needs to solve are largely about securing transactions making sure people cant steal from one another, or impersonate one another, and so on. In the world of atoms we achieve security with devices such as locks, safes, signatures, and bank vaults. In the world of bits we achieve this kind of security with cryptography. And thats why Bitcoin is at heart a cryptographic protocol.

My strategy in the post is to build Bitcoin up in stages. Ill begin by explaining a very simple digital currency, based on ideas that are almost obvious. Well call that currency Infocoin, to distinguish it from Bitcoin. Of course, our first version of Infocoin will have many deficiencies, and so well go through several iterations of Infocoin, with each iteration introducing just one or two simple new ideas. After several such iterations, well arrive at the full Bitcoin protocol. We will have reinvented Bitcoin!

This strategy is slower than if I explained the entire Bitcoin protocol in one shot. But while you can understand the mechanics of Bitcoin through such a one-shot explanation, it would be difficult to understand why Bitcoin is designed the way it is. The advantage of the slower iterative explanation is that it gives us a much sharper understanding of each element of Bitcoin.

Finally, I should mention that Im a relative newcomer to Bitcoin. Ive been following it loosely since 2011 (and cryptocurrencies since the late 1990s), but only got seriously into the details of the Bitcoin protocol earlier this year. So Id certainly appreciate corrections of any misapprehensions on my part. Also in the post Ive included a number of problems for the author notes to myself about questions that came up during the writing. You may find these interesting, but you can also skip them entirely without losing track of the main text.

So how can we design a digital currency?

On the face of it, a digital currency sounds impossible. Suppose some person lets call her Alice has some digital money which she wants to spend. If Alice can use a string of bits as money, how can we prevent her from using the same bit string over and over, thus minting an infinite supply of money? Or, if we can somehow solve that problem, how can we prevent someone else forging such a string of bits, and using that to steal from Alice?

These are just two of the many problems that must be overcome in order to use information as money.

As a first version of Infocoin, lets find a way that Alice can use a string of bits as a (very primitive and incomplete) form of money, in a way that gives her at least some protection against forgery. Suppose Alice wants to give another person, Bob, an infocoin. To do this, Alice writes down the message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin. She then digitally signs the message using a private cryptographic key, and announces the signed string of bits to the entire world.

(By the way, Im using capitalized Infocoin to refer to the protocol and general concept, and lowercase infocoin to refer to specific denominations of the currency. A similar useage is common, though not universal, in the Bitcoin world.)

This isnt terribly impressive as a prototype digital currency! But it does have some virtues. Anyone in the world (including Bob) can use Alices public key to verify that Alice really was the person who signed the message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin. No-one else could have created that bit string, and so Alice cant turn around and say No, I didnt mean to give Bob an infocoin. So the protocol establishes that Alice truly intends to give Bob one infocoin. The same fact no-one else could compose such a signed message also gives Alice some limited protection from forgery. Of course, after Alice has published her message its possible for other people to duplicate the message, so in that sense forgery is possible. But its not possible from scratch. These two properties establishment of intent on Alices part, and the limited protection from forgery are genuinely notable features of this protocol.

I havent (quite) said exactly what digital money is in this protocol. To make this explicit: its just the message itself, i.e., the string of bits representing the digitally signed message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin. Later protocols will be similar, in that all our forms of digital money will be just more and more elaborate messages [1].

A problem with the first version of Infocoin is that Alice could keep sending Bob the same signed message over and over. Suppose Bob receives ten copies of the signed message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin. Does that mean Alice sent Bob ten different infocoins? Was her message accidentally duplicated? Perhaps she was trying to trick Bob into believing that she had given him ten different infocoins, when the message only proves to the world that she intends to transfer one infocoin.

What wed like is a way of making infocoins unique. They need a label or serial number. Alice would sign the message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 8740348. Then, later, Alice could sign the message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 8770431, and Bob (and everyone else) would know that a different infocoin was being transferred.

To make this scheme work we need a trusted source of serial numbers for the infocoins. One way to create such a source is to introduce a bank. This bank would provide serial numbers for infocoins, keep track of who has which infocoins, and verify that transactions really are legitimate,

In more detail, lets suppose Alice goes into the bank, and says I want to withdraw one infocoin from my account. The bank reduces her account balance by one infocoin, and assigns her a new, never-before used serial number, lets say 1234567. Then, when Alice wants to transfer her infocoin to Bob, she signs the message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 1234567. But Bob doesnt just accept the infocoin. Instead, he contacts the bank, and verifies that: (a) the infocoin with that serial number belongs to Alice; and (b) Alice hasnt already spent the infocoin. If both those things are true, then Bob tells the bank he wants to accept the infocoin, and the bank updates their records to show that the infocoin with that serial number is now in Bobs possession, and no longer belongs to Alice.

This last solution looks pretty promising. However, it turns out that we can do something much more ambitious. We can eliminate the bank entirely from the protocol. This changes the nature of the currency considerably. It means that there is no longer any single organization in charge of the currency. And when you think about the enormous power a central bank has control over the money supply thats a pretty huge change.

The idea is to make it so everyone (collectively) is the bank. In particular, well assume that everyone using Infocoin keeps a complete record of which infocoins belong to which person. You can think of this as a shared public ledger showing all Infocoin transactions. Well call this ledger the block chain, since thats what the complete record will be called in Bitcoin, once we get to it.

Now, suppose Alice wants to transfer an infocoin to Bob. She signs the message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 1234567, and gives the signed message to Bob. Bob can use his copy of the block chain to check that, indeed, the infocoin is Alices to give. If that checks out then he broadcasts both Alices message and his acceptance of the transaction to the entire network, and everyone updates their copy of the block chain.

We still have the where do serial number come from problem, but that turns out to be pretty easy to solve, and so I will defer it to later, in the discussion of Bitcoin. A more challenging problem is that this protocol allows Alice to cheat by double spending her infocoin. She sends the signed message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 1234567 to Bob, and the messageI, Alice, am giving Charlie one infocoin, with [the same] serial number 1234567 to Charlie. Both Bob and Charlie use their copy of the block chain to verify that the infocoin is Alices to spend. Provided they do this verification at nearly the same time (before theyve had a chance to hear from one another), both will find that, yes, the block chain shows the coin belongs to Alice. And so they will both accept the transaction, and also broadcast their acceptance of the transaction. Now theres a problem. How should other people update their block chains? There may be no easy way to achieve a consistent shared ledger of transactions. And even if everyone can agree on a consistent way to update their block chains, there is still the problem that either Bob or Charlie will be cheated.

At first glance double spending seems difficult for Alice to pull off. After all, if Alice sends the message first to Bob, then Bob can verify the message, and tell everyone else in the network (including Charlie) to update their block chain. Once that has happened, Charlie would no longer be fooled by Alice. So there is most likely only a brief period of time in which Alice can double spend. However, its obviously undesirable to have any such a period of time. Worse, there are techniques Alice could use to make that period longer. She could, for example, use network traffic analysis to find times when Bob and Charlie are likely to have a lot of latency in communication. Or perhaps she could do something to deliberately disrupt their communications. If she can slow communication even a little that makes her task of double spending much easier.

How can we address the problem of double spending? The obvious solution is that when Alice sends Bob an infocoin, Bob shouldnt try to verify the transaction alone. Rather, he should broadcast the possible transaction to the entire network of Infocoin users, and ask them to help determine whether the transaction is legitimate. If they collectively decide that the transaction is okay, then Bob can accept the infocoin, and everyone will update their block chain. This type of protocol can help prevent double spending, since if Alice tries to spend her infocoin with both Bob and Charlie, other people on the network will notice, and network users will tell both Bob and Charlie that there is a problem with the transaction, and the transaction shouldnt go through.

In more detail, lets suppose Alice wants to give Bob an infocoin. As before, she signs the message I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 1234567, and gives the signed message to Bob. Also as before, Bob does a sanity check, using his copy of the block chain to check that, indeed, the coin currently belongs to Alice. But at that point the protocol is modified. Bob doesnt just go ahead and accept the transaction. Instead, he broadcasts Alices message to the entire network. Other members of the network check to see whether Alice owns that infocoin. If so, they broadcast the message Yes, Alice owns infocoin 1234567, it can now be transferred to Bob. Once enough people have broadcast that message, everyone updates their block chain to show that infocoin 1234567 now belongs to Bob, and the transaction is complete.

This protocol has many imprecise elements at present. For instance, what does it mean to say once enough people have broadcast that message? What exactly does enough mean here? It cant mean everyone in the network, since we dont a priori know who is on the Infocoin network. For the same reason, it cant mean some fixed fraction of users in the network. We wont try to make these ideas precise right now. Instead, in the next section Ill point out a serious problem with the approach as described. Fixing that problem will at the same time have the pleasant side effect of making the ideas above much more precise.

Suppose Alice wants to double spend in the network-based protocol I just described. She could do this by taking over the Infocoin network. Lets suppose she uses an automated system to set up a large number of separate identities, lets say a billion, on the Infocoin network. As before, she tries to double spend the same infocoin with both Bob and Charlie. But when Bob and Charlie ask the network to validate their respective transactions, Alices sock puppet identities swamp the network, announcing to Bob that theyve validated his transaction, and to Charlie that theyve validated his transaction, possibly fooling one or both into accepting the transaction.

Theres a clever way of avoiding this problem, using an idea known as proof-of-work. The idea is counterintuitive and involves a combination of two ideas: (1) to (artificially) make it computationally costly for network users to validate transactions; and (2) to reward them for trying to help validate transactions. The reward is used so that people on the network will try to help validate transactions, even though thats now been made a computationally costly process. The benefit of making it costly to validate transactions is that validation can no longer be influenced by the number of network identities someone controls, but only by the total computational power they can bring to bear on validation. As well see, with some clever design we can make it so a cheater would need enormous computational resources to cheat, making it impractical.

Thats the gist of proof-of-work. But to really understand proof-of-work, we need to go through the details.

Suppose Alice broadcasts to the network the news that I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 1234567.

As other people on the network hear that message, each adds it to a queue of pending transactions that theyve been told about, but which havent yet been approved by the network. For instance, another network user named David might have the following queue of pending transactions:

I, Tom, am giving Sue one infocoin, with serial number 1201174.

I, Sydney, am giving Cynthia one infocoin, with serial number 1295618.

I, Alice, am giving Bob one infocoin, with serial number 1234567.

David checks his copy of the block chain, and can see that each transaction is valid. He would like to help out by broadcasting news of that validity to the entire network.

However, before doing that, as part of the validation protocol David is required to solve a hard computational puzzle the proof-of-work. Without the solution to that puzzle, the rest of the network wont accept his validation of the transaction.

What puzzle does David need to solve? To explain that, let be a fixed hash function known by everyone in the network its built into the protocol. Bitcoin uses the well-known SHA-256 hash function, but any cryptographically secure hash function will do. Lets give Davids queue of pending transactions a label, , just so its got a name we can refer to. Suppose David appends a number (called the nonce) to and hashes the combination. For example, if we use Hello, world! (obviously this is not a list of transactions, just a string used for illustrative purposes) and the nonce then (output is in hexadecimal)

The puzzle David has to solve the proof-of-work is to find a nonce such that when we append to and hash the combination the output hash begins with a long run of zeroes. The puzzle can be made more or less difficult by varying the number of zeroes required to solve the puzzle. A relatively simple proof-of-work puzzle might require just three or four zeroes at the start of the hash, while a more difficult proof-of-work puzzle might require a much longer run of zeros, say 15 consecutive zeroes. In either case, the above attempt to find a suitable nonce, with , is a failure, since the output doesnt begin with any zeroes at all. Trying doesnt work either:

We can keep trying different values for the nonce, . Finally, at we obtain:

This nonce gives us a string of four zeroes at the beginning of the output of the hash. This will be enough to solve a simple proof-of-work puzzle, but not enough to solve a more difficult proof-of-work puzzle.

What makes this puzzle hard to solve is the fact that the output from a cryptographic hash function behaves like a random number: change the input even a tiny bit and the output from the hash function changes completely, in a way thats hard to predict. So if we want the output hash value to begin with 10 zeroes, say, then David will need, on average, to try different values for before he finds a suitable nonce. Thats a pretty challenging task, requiring lots of computational power.

Obviously, its possible to make this puzzle more or less difficult to solve by requiring more or fewer zeroes in the output from the hash function. In fact, the Bitcoin protocol gets quite a fine level of control over the difficulty of the puzzle, by using a slight variation on the proof-of-work puzzle described above. Instead of requiring leading zeroes, the Bitcoin proof-of-work puzzle requires the hash of a blocks header to be lower than or equal to a number known as the target. This target is automatically adjusted to ensure that a Bitcoin block takes, on average, about ten minutes to validate.

(In practice there is a sizeable randomness in how long it takes to validate a block sometimes a new block is validated in just a minute or two, other times it may take 20 minutes or even longer. Its straightforward to modify the Bitcoin protocol so that the time to validation is much more sharply peaked around ten minutes. Instead of solving a single puzzle, we can require that multiple puzzles be solved; with some careful design it is possible to considerably reduce the variance in the time to validate a block of transactions.)

Alright, lets suppose David is lucky and finds a suitable nonce, . Celebration! (Hell be rewarded for finding the nonce, as described below). He broadcasts the block of transactions hes approving to the network, together with the value for . Other participants in the Infocoin network can verify that is a valid solution to the proof-of-work puzzle. And they then update their block chains to include the new block of transactions.

For the proof-of-work idea to have any chance of succeeding, network users need an incentive to help validate transactions. Without such an incentive, they have no reason to expend valuable computational power, merely to help validate other peoples transactions. And if network users are not willing to expend that power, then the whole system wont work. The solution to this problem is to reward people who help validate transactions. In particular, suppose we reward whoever successfully validates a block of transactions by crediting them with some infocoins. Provided the infocoin reward is large enough that will give them an incentive to participate in validation.

In the Bitcoin protocol, this validation process is called mining. For each block of transactions validated, the successful miner receives a bitcoin reward. Initially, this was set to be a 50 bitcoin reward. But for every 210,000 validated blocks (roughly, once every four years) the reward halves. This has happened just once, to date, and so the current reward for mining a block is 25 bitcoins. This halving in the rate will continue every four years until the year 2140 CE. At that point, the reward for mining will drop below bitcoins per block. bitcoins is actually the minimal unit of Bitcoin, and is known as a satoshi. So in 2140 CE the total supply of bitcoins will cease to increase. However, that wont eliminate the incentive to help validate transactions. Bitcoin also makes it possible to set aside some currency in a transaction as a transaction fee, which goes to the miner who helps validate it. In the early days of Bitcoin transaction fees were mostly set to zero, but as Bitcoin has gained in popularity, transaction fees have gradually risen, and are now a substantial additional incentive on top of the 25 bitcoin reward for mining a block.

You can think of proof-of-work as a competition to approve transactions. Each entry in the competition costs a little bit of computing power. A miners chance of winning the competition is (roughly, and with some caveats) equal to the proportion of the total computing power that they control. So, for instance, if a miner controls one percent of the computing power being used to validate Bitcoin transactions, then they have roughly a one percent chance of winning the competition. So provided a lot of computing power is being brought to bear on the competition, a dishonest miner is likely to have only a relatively small chance to corrupt the validation process, unless they expend a huge amount of computing resources.

Of course, while its encouraging that a dishonest party has only a relatively small chance to corrupt the block chain, thats not enough to give us confidence in the currency. In particular, we havent yet conclusively addressed the issue of double spending.

Ill analyse double spending shortly. Before doing that, I want to fill in an important detail in the description of Infocoin. Wed ideally like the Infocoin network to agree upon the order in which transactions have occurred. If we dont have such an ordering then at any given moment it may not be clear who owns which infocoins. To help do this well require that new blocks always include a pointer to the last block validated in the chain, in addition to the list of transactions in the block. (The pointer is actually just a hash of the previous block). So typically the block chain is just a linear chain of blocks of transactions, one after the other, with later blocks each containing a pointer to the immediately prior block:

Occasionally, a fork will appear in the block chain. This can happen, for instance, if by chance two miners happen to validate a block of transactions near-simultaneously both broadcast their newly-validated block out to the network, and some people update their block chain one way, and others update their block chain the other way:

This causes exactly the problem were trying to avoid its no longer clear in what order transactions have occurred, and it may not be clear who owns which infocoins. Fortunately, theres a simple idea that can be used to remove any forks. The rule is this: if a fork occurs, people on the network keep track of both forks. But at any given time, miners only work to extend whichever fork is longest in their copy of the block chain.

Suppose, for example, that we have a fork in which some miners receive block A first, and some miners receive block B first. Those miners who receive block A first will continue mining along that fork, while the others will mine along fork B. Lets suppose that the miners working on fork B are the next to successfully mine a block:

After they receive news that this has happened, the miners working on fork A will notice that fork B is now longer, and will switch to working on that fork. Presto, in short order work on fork A will cease, and everyone will be working on the same linear chain, and block A can be ignored. Of course, any still-pending transactions in A will still be pending in the queues of the miners working on fork B, and so all transactions will eventually be validated.

Likewise, it may be that the miners working on fork A are the first to extend their fork. In that case work on fork B will quickly cease, and again we have a single linear chain.

No matter what the outcome, this process ensures that the block chain has an agreed-upon time ordering of the blocks. In Bitcoin proper, a transaction is not considered confirmed until: (1) it is part of a block in the longest fork, and (2) at least 5 blocks follow it in the longest fork. In this case we say that the transaction has 6 confirmations. This gives the network time to come to an agreed-upon the ordering of the blocks. Well also use this strategy for Infocoin.

With the time-ordering now understood, lets return to think about what happens if a dishonest party tries to double spend. Suppose Alice tries to double spend with Bob and Charlie. One possible approach is for her to try to validate a block that includes both transactions. Assuming she has one percent of the computing power, she will occasionally get lucky and validate the block by solving the proof-of-work. Unfortunately for Alice, the double spending will be immediately spotted by other people in the Infocoin network and rejected, despite solving the proof-of-work problem. So thats not something we need to worry about.

A more serious problem occurs if she broadcasts two separate transactions in which she spends the same infocoin with Bob and Charlie, respectively. She might, for example, broadcast one transaction to a subset of the miners, and the other transaction to another set of miners, hoping to get both transactions validated in this way. Fortunately, in this case, as weve seen, the network will eventually confirm one of these transactions, but not both. So, for instance, Bobs transaction might ultimately be confirmed, in which case Bob can go ahead confidently. Meanwhile, Charlie will see that his transaction has not been confirmed, and so will decline Alices offer. So this isnt a problem either. In fact, knowing that this will be the case, there is little reason for Alice to try this in the first place.

An important variant on double spending is if Alice = Bob, i.e., Alice tries to spend a coin with Charlie which she is also spending with herself (i.e., giving back to herself). This sounds like it ought to be easy to detect and deal with, but, of course, its easy on a network to set up multiple identities associated with the same person or organization, so this possibility needs to be considered. In this case, Alices strategy is to wait until Charlie accepts the infocoin, which happens after the transaction has been confirmed 6 times in the longest chain. She will then attempt to fork the chain before the transaction with Charlie, adding a block which includes a transaction in which she pays herself:

Unfortunately for Alice, its now very difficult for her to catch up with the longer fork. Other miners wont want to help her out, since theyll be working on the longer fork. And unless Alice is able to solve the proof-of-work at least as fast as everyone else in the network combined roughly, that means controlling more than fifty percent of the computing power then she will just keep falling further and further behind. Of course, she might get lucky. We can, for example, imagine a scenario in which Alice controls one percent of the computing power, but happens to get lucky and finds six extra blocks in a row, before the rest of the network has found any extra blocks. In this case, she might be able to get ahead, and get control of the block chain. But this particular event will occur with probability . A more general analysis along these lines shows that Alices probability of ever catching up is infinitesimal, unless she is able to solve proof-of-work puzzles at a rate approaching all other miners combined.

Of course, this is not a rigorous security analysis showing that Alice cannot double spend. Its merely an informal plausibility argument. The original paper introducing Bitcoin did not, in fact, contain a rigorous security analysis, only informal arguments along the lines Ive presented here. The security community is still analysing Bitcoin, and trying to understand possible vulnerabilities. You can see some of this research listed here, and I mention a few related problems in the Problems for the author below. At this point I think its fair to say that the jury is still out on how secure Bitcoin is.

The proof-of-work and mining ideas give rise to many questions. How much reward is enough to persuade people to mine? How does the change in supply of infocoins affect the Infocoin economy? Will Infocoin mining end up concentrated in the hands of a few, or many? If its just a few, doesnt that endanger the security of the system? Presumably transaction fees will eventually equilibriate wont this introduce an unwanted source of friction, and make small transactions less desirable? These are all great questions, but beyond the scope of this post. I may come back to the questions (in the context of Bitcoin) in a future post. For now, well stick to our focus on understanding how the Bitcoin protocol works.

Lets move away from Infocoin, and describe the actual Bitcoin protocol. There are a few new ideas here, but with one exception (discussed below) theyre mostly obvious modifications to Infocoin.

To use Bitcoin in practice, you first install a wallet program on your computer. To give you a sense of what that means, heres a screenshot of a wallet called Multbit. You can see the Bitcoin balance on the left 0.06555555 Bitcoins, or about 70 dollars at the exchange rate on the day I took this screenshot and on the right two recent transactions, which deposited those 0.06555555 Bitcoins:

Suppose youre a merchant who has set up an online store, and youve decided to allow people to pay using Bitcoin. What you do is tell your wallet program to generate a Bitcoin address. In response, it will generate a public / private key pair, and then hash the public key to form your Bitcoin address:

You then send your Bitcoin address to the person who wants to buy from you. You could do this in email, or even put the address up publicly on a webpage. This is safe, since the address is merely a hash of your public key, which can safely be known by the world anyway. (Ill return later to the question of why the Bitcoin address is a hash, and not just the public key.)

The person who is going to pay you then generates a transaction. Lets take a look at the data from an actual transaction transferring bitcoins. Whats shown below is very nearly the raw data. Its changed in three ways: (1) the data has been deserialized; (2) line numbers have been added, for ease of reference; and (3) Ive abbreviated various hashes and public keys, just putting in the first six hexadecimal digits of each, when in reality they are much longer. Heres the data:

Lets go through this, line by line.

Line 1 contains the hash of the remainder of the transaction, 7c4025…, expressed in hexadecimal. This is used as an identifier for the transaction.

Line 2 tells us that this is a transaction in version 1 of the Bitcoin protocol.

Lines 3 and 4 tell us that the transaction has one input and one output, respectively. Ill talk below about transactions with more inputs and outputs, and why thats useful.

Line 5 contains the value for lock_time, which can be used to control when a transaction is finalized. For most Bitcoin transactions being carried out today the lock_time is set to 0, which means the transaction is finalized immediately.

Line 6 tells us the size (in bytes) of the transaction. Note that its not the monetary amount being transferred! That comes later.

Lines 7 through 11 define the input to the transaction. In particular, lines 8 through 10 tell us that the input is to be taken from the output from an earlier transaction, with the given hash, which is expressed in hexadecimal as 2007ae…. The n=0 tells us its to be the first output from that transaction; well see soon how multiple outputs (and inputs) from a transaction work, so dont worry too much about this for now. Line 11 contains the signature of the person sending the money, 304502…, followed by a space, and then the corresponding public key, 04b2d…. Again, these are both in hexadecimal.

One thing to note about the input is that theres nothing explicitly specifying how many bitcoins from the previous transaction should be spent in this transaction. In fact, all the bitcoins from the n=0th output of the previous transaction are spent. So, for example, if the n=0th output of the earlier transaction was 2 bitcoins, then 2 bitcoins will be spent in this transaction. This seems like an inconvenient restriction like trying to buy bread with a 20 dollar note, and not being able to break the note down. The solution, of course, is to have a mechanism for providing change. This can be done using transactions with multiple inputs and outputs, which well discuss in the next section.

Lines 12 through 14 define the output from the transaction. In particular, line 13 tells us the value of the output, 0.319 bitcoins. Line 14 is somewhat complicated. The main thing to note is that the string a7db6f… is the Bitcoin address of the intended recipient of the funds (written in hexadecimal). In fact, Line 14 is actually an expression in Bitcoins scripting language. Im not going to describe that language in detail in this post, the important thing to take away now is just that a7db6f… is the Bitcoin address.

You can now see, by the way, how Bitcoin addresses the question I swept under the rug in the last section: where do Bitcoin serial numbers come from? In fact, the role of the serial number is played by transaction hashes. In the transaction above, for example, the recipient is receiving 0.319 Bitcoins, which come out of the first output of an earlier transaction with hash 2007ae… (line 9). If you go and look in the block chain for that transaction, youd see that its output comes from a still earlier transaction. And so on.

There are two clever things about using transaction hashes instead of serial numbers. First, in Bitcoin theres not really any separate, persistent coins at all, just a long series of transactions in the block chain. Its a clever idea to realize that you dont need persistent coins, and can just get by with a ledger of transactions. Second, by operating in this way we remove the need for any central authority issuing serial numbers. Instead, the serial numbers can be self-generated, merely by hashing the transaction.

In fact, its possible to keep following the chain of transactions further back in history. Ultimately, this process must terminate. This can happen in one of two ways. The first possibilitty is that youll arrive at the very first Bitcoin transaction, contained in the so-called Genesis block. This is a special transaction, having no inputs, but a 50 Bitcoin output. In other words, this transaction establishes an initial money supply. The Genesis block is treated separately by Bitcoin clients, and I wont get into the details here, although its along similar lines to the transaction above. You can see the deserialized raw data here, and read about the Genesis block here.

The second possibility when you follow a chain of transactions back in time is that eventually youll arrive at a so-called coinbase transaction. With the exception of the Genesis block, every block of transactions in the block chain starts with a special coinbase transaction. This is the transaction rewarding the miner who validated that block of transactions. It uses a similar but not identical format to the transaction above. I wont go through the format in detail, but if you want to see an example, see here. You can read a little more about coinbase transactions here.

Something I havent been precise about above is what exactly is being signed by the digital signature in line 11. The obvious thing to do is for the payer to sign the whole transaction (apart from the transaction hash, which, of course, must be generated later). Currently, this is not what is done some pieces of the transaction are omitted. This makes some pieces of the transaction malleable, i.e., they can be changed later. However, this malleability does not include the amounts being paid out, senders and recipients, which cant be changed later. I must admit I havent dug down into the details here. I gather that this malleability is under discussion in the Bitcoin developer community, and there are efforts afoot to reduce or eliminate this malleability.

In the last section I described how a transaction with a single input and a single output works. In practice, its often extremely convenient to create Bitcoin transactions with multiple inputs or multiple outputs. Ill talk below about why this can be useful. But first lets take a look at the data from an actual transaction:

Lets go through the data, line by line. Its very similar to the single-input-single-output transaction, so Ill do this pretty quickly.

Line 1 contains the hash of the remainder of the transaction. This is used as an identifier for the transaction.

Line 2 tells us that this is a transaction in version 1 of the Bitcoin protocol.

Lines 3 and 4 tell us that the transaction has three inputs and two outputs, respectively.

Line 5 contains the lock_time. As in the single-input-single-output case this is set to 0, which means the transaction is finalized immediately.

Line 6 tells us the size of the transaction in bytes.

Lines 7 through 19 define a list of the inputs to the transaction. Each corresponds to an output from a previous Bitcoin transaction.

The first input is defined in lines 8 through 11.

In particular, lines 8 through 10 tell us that the input is to be taken from the n=0th output from the transaction with hash 3beabc…. Line 11 contains the signature, followed by a space, and then the public key of the person sending the bitcoins.

Lines 12 through 15 define the second input, with a similar format to lines 8 through 11. And lines 16 through 19 define the third input.

Lines 20 through 24 define a list containing the two outputs from the transaction.

The first output is defined in lines 21 and 22. Line 21 tells us the value of the output, 0.01068000 bitcoins. As before, line 22 is an expression in Bitcoins scripting language. The main thing to take away here is that the string e8c30622… is the Bitcoin address of the intended recipient of the funds.

The second output is defined lines 23 and 24, with a similar format to the first output.

More here:
How the Bitcoin protocol actually works | DDI

Freedomtexas.org – Texas Secession, Texas independence …

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedomtexas.org – Texas Secession, Texas independence …
Aug 172015
 

TEXANS, ITS TIME SOMEONE SPEAKS THE TRUTH

I know that this article will catch lots of grief and criticism, but I and millions of Texans are fed up with the rhetoric, misleading reporting, and just plain naivete or stupidity of the press in the handling of Obama and the present Islamist situation we have in this world.

Every day we actually watch the truth of the Muslim world on TV. My God, when you see it, how can you not believe it? Radical Islam has declared war worldwide! Now, from Bill OReilly to our local news reporters, everyone – including the retired generals interviewed about the subject – all say the same thing: We cannot understand why Obama does not do more about the violence from Islamist radicals. We dont understand why Obama will not engage. Why does Obama want to raise taxes and continue to write mandates through executive orders that harm America? All I hear is that he is a good family man, and nice guy, and maybe he just doesnt understand.

Fellow Texans, he not only understands, but he knows exactly what he is doing! Did you read his book Dreams From My Father? He hates America! He hates a red Texas. He is a supporter of the Muslim religion. He orchestrated the Arab Spring and covered it up with a move for democracy. Those countries wouldnt know democracy if they stepped in it! It was a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, and was supported by Obama. The political correctness and nice guy reporting must stop, and people better wake the hell up because we are sliding into a cesspool that we will never get out of.

Obama is a socialist, Islamist apologist, America-hating radical who is pulling off what he told all of us when he got elected the first time: We will fundamentally change America. Can everyone wake up and see that he is doing exactly that?

To the Governor of Texas, the legislature in Texas, the spineless Congress in Washington DC: I know the majority of you only care about power, money, and your next elected office, but you damn well better start telling the truth about Obama, his administration, and his ultimate goal of destroying America, or as they say in the not listened too part of America, the you-know-what will hit the fan! We common everyday folks can see through this like a glass door and will not stay quiet any longer!

When the SHTF scenario begins – and it will – all of you from the press to the sitting elected plutcocrats will have no one to blame but yourselves. We all know that you will label patriots as home-grown terrorists, right wing radicals, Bible toting gun lovers, but, in reality, they are good people who saw through the BS of this government a long time ago; people who will not give up their freedom and liberty at any cost. It will be the People who understand that Obama and his minions are evil!

We in Texas demand of those who can make a difference: stand up! Take care of Texas by getting us out of this situation. The next two years of this administration will cause the fall of all the states and the US government, or worse yet, a civil war that will make the Civil War of 1861 look like a skirmish!

Can we return to a small government led by and founded on the God-given rights as laid out by our Founding Fathers? Will you say the truth of the real evil that runs DC now? Will you stop lying to the people who know that what you say are lies? If not, people of Texas, it is time to get off the couch, take firm action with our elected leaders, and do not surrender our beloved home, our Texas, to those that lie and refuse to act!

Deny this if you will, but most know it to be true. Those that know will be enough to change things. I believe that, because there is nothing else left to believe in anymore!

God Bless Texas, Cary Wise Freedom Texas

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Freedomtexas.org – Texas Secession, Texas independence …

The Futurist: The Singularity

 The Singularity  Comments Off on The Futurist: The Singularity
Aug 152015
 

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) seeks to answer one of the most basic questions of human identity – whether we are alone in the universe, or merely one civilization among many. It is perhaps the biggest question that any human can ponder.

The Drake Equation, created by astronomer Frank Drake in 1960, calculates the number of advanced extra-terrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy in existence at this time. Watch this 8-minute clip of Carl Sagan in 1980 walking the audience through the parameters of the Drake Equation. The Drake equation manages to educate people on the deductive steps needed to understand the basic probability of finding another civilization in the galaxy, but as the final result varies so greatly based on even slight adjustments to the parameters, it is hard to make a strong argument for or against the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence via the Drake equation. The most speculative parameter is the last one, fL, which is an estimation ofthe total lifespan of an advanced civilization.Again, this video clip isfrom 1980, and thus only 42 years after the advent of radio astronomy in 1938. Another 29 years, or 70%,have since been added to the ageof our radio-astronomy capabilities, and the prospect of nuclear annihilation of our civilization is far lower today than in was in 1980. No matter how ambitious or conservative of a stance youtake on the other parameters, the value offLin terms of our own civilization, continues to rise.This leads us to our first postulate :

The expected lifespan of an intelligent civilization is rising.

Carl Sagan himself believed that in such a vast cosmos, that intelligent life would have to emerge in multiple locations, and the cosmos was thus ‘brimming over’ with intelligent life. On the other side are various explanations for why intelligent life will be rare. The Rare Earth Hypothesis argues that the combination of conditions that enabled life to emerge on Earthare extremely rare. The Fermi Paradox, originating back in 1950, questions the contradiction between the supposed high incidence of intelligent life, and the continued lack of evidence of it.The Great Filtertheorysuggests that many intelligent civilizations self-destruct at some point, explaining their apparent scarcity. This leads to the conclusion that the easier it is for civilization to advance to our present stage, the bleaker our prospects for long-term survival, since the ‘filter’ that other civilizations collide with has yet to face us. A contrarian case can thus be made that the longer we go without detecting another civilization, the better.

But one dimension that is conspicuously absent from all of these theories is an accounting for the accelerating rate of change. I have previouslyprovided evidencethat telescopic power is also an accelerating technology. After the invention of the telescope by Galileo in 1609, major discoveries used to be several decades apart, but now are onlyseparated by years. An extrapolation of various discoveries enabled me to crudelyestimate that our observational power is currently rising at 26% per year, even though the first 300 years after the invention of the telescope only saw an improvement of 1% a year. At the time of the 1980 Cosmos television series, it was not remotely possible to confirm the existence of any extrasolar planet or to resolve any star aside from the sun into a disk. Yet, both were accomplished by the mid-1990s. As of May 2009, we have now confirmed a total of 347 extrasolar planets, with the rate of discovery rising quickly. While the first confirmation was not until 1995, we now arediscovering new planets at a rate of 1 per week. With a number of new telescope programs being launched, this rate will rise further still. Furthermore, most of the planets we have found so far are large. Soon, we will be able to detect planets much smaller in size, including Earth-sized planets. This leads us to our second postulate :

Telescopic power is rising quickly, possibly at 26% a year.

This Jet Propulsion Laboratory chart of exoplanet discoveries through 2004 is very overdue for an update, but is still instructive. The x-axis is the distance of the planet from the star, and the y-axis is the mass of the planet. All blue, red, and yellow dots are exoplanets, while the larger circles with letters in them are our own local planets, with the ‘E’ being Earth. Most exoplanet discoveries up to that time were of Jupiter-sized planets that were closer to their stars than Jupiter is to the sun. The green zone, or ‘life zone’is the area within which a planet is a candidate to support lifewithin our current understanding of what life is. Even then, this chart does not capture the full possibilities for life, as a gas giant like Jupiter or Saturn, at the correct distance from a Sun-type star, might have rocky satellites that would thus also be in the life zone. In other words, if Saturn were as close to the Sun as Earth is, Titan would also be in the life zone, and thus the green area should extend vertically higher to capture the possibility of such large satellites of gas giants. The chart shows that telescopes commissioned in the near future will enable the detection of planets in the life zone. If this chart were updated, a few would already be recordedhere.Some of the missions and telescopesthat will soon be sending over a torrent of new discoveries are :

KeplerMission : Launched in March 2009, the Kepler Mission will continuously monitor a field of 100,000 stars for the transit of planets in front of them. This method has a far higher chance of detecting Earth-sized planets than prior methods, and we will see many discovered by 2010-11.

COROT : This European mission was launched in December 2006, and uses a similar method as the Kepler Mission, but is not as powerful. COROT has discovered a handful of planets thus far.

New Worlds Mission: This 2013 mission will build a large sunflower-shaped occulter in space to block the light of nearby stars to aid the observation of extrasolar planets.A large number of planets close to their stars will become visible through this method.

Allen Telescope Array: Funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the ATA will survey 1,000,000 stars for radio astronomy evidence of intelligent life. The ATA is sensitive enough to discovera large radio telescope such as the Arecibo Observatory up to a distance of 1000 light years. Many of the ATA components are electronics that decline in price in accordance with Moore’s Law, which will subsequently lead tothe development of the…..

Square Kilometer Array: Far larger and more powerful than the Allen Telescope Array, the SKA will be in full operation by 2020, and will be the most sensitive radio telescope ever. The continual decline in the price of processing technology will enable the SKA to scour the sky thousands of times faster than existing radio telescopes.

These are merely the missions that are alreadyunder development or even under operation. Several others are in the conceptual phase, and could be launched within the next 15 years. So many methods of observation used at once, combined with the cost improvements of Moore’s Law, leads us to our third postulate, which few would have agreed withat the time of ‘Cosmos’ in 1980:

Thousands of planets in the ‘life zone’ will be confirmed by 2025.

Now, we will revisit the under-discussed factor of accelerating change. Out of4.5 billion years of Earth’s existence, it has only hosted a civilization capable of radio astronomy for 71 years.But asour own technology is advancing on a multitude of fronts, through the accelerating rate of change and the Impact of Computing,each year, the power of our telescopes increases and the signals of intelligence (radio and TV) emitted from Earth move out one more light year. Thus,the probability for us to detect someone,and for us to be detected by them, however small, is now rising quickly. Our civilization gained far more in both detectability, and detection-capability, in the 30 years between 1980 and 2010, relative to the 30 years between 1610 and 1640, when Galileo was persecuted for his discoveries and support of heliocentrism, and certainly relative to the 30 years between 70,000,030 and 70,000,000 BC, when no advanced civilization existed on Earth, and the dominant life form was Tyrannosaurus.

Nikolai Kardashev has devised a scaleto measure the level of advancement that a technological civilization has achieved, based on their energy technology. This simple scale can be summarized as follows :

Type I : A civilization capable of harnessing all the energy available on their planet.

Type II : A civilization capable of harnessing all the energy available from their star.

Type III : A civilization capable of harnessing all the energy available in their galaxy.

The scale is logarithmic, and our civilization currently would receive a Kardashev score of 0.72. We could potentially achieve full Type I status by the mid-21st century due to a technological singularity. Some haveestimated that our exponentialgrowth could elevate us to Type II status by the late 22ndcentury.

This has given rise to another faction in the speculative debate on extra-terrestrial intelligence, a view held by Ray Kurzweil, among others. The theory is that it takes such a short time (a few hundred years) for a civilization to go from the earliest mechanical technology to reach a technological singularity where artificial intelligencesaturates surrounding matter, relative to the lifetime of the home planet (a few billion years), that we are the first civilization to come this far. Given the rate of advancement, a civilization would have to be just 100 years ahead of us to be so advanced that they would be easy to detect within 100 light years, despite 100 years being such a short fraction of a planet’s life. In other words, where a 19th century Earth would be undetectable to us today, an Earth of the22nd century would be extremely conspicuous to us from 100 light years away, emitting countless signals across a variety of mediums.

A Type I civilization within 100 light years would be readily detected by our instruments today. A Type II civilization within 1000 light years will be visible to the Allen or the Square Kilometer Array. A Type III would be the only type of civilization that we probably could not detect, as we might have already been within one all along. We do not have a way of knowing if the current structure of the Milky Way galaxy is artificially designed by a Type III civilization. Thus, the fourth and final postulate becomes :

A civilization slightly more advanced than us will soonbe easy for us to detect.

The Carl Sagan view of plentiful advanced civilizations is the generally accepted wisdom, and a view that I held for a long time.On the other hand,the Kurzweil view is understood by very few, for even in the SETI community, not that many participants are truly acceleration aware. The accelerating nature of progress, which existed long before humans even evolved, as shown in Carl Sagan’s cosmic calendarconcept, also from the 1980’Cosmos’ series, simply has to be considered as one of the most critical forces in any estimation of extra-terrestrial life.I have not yet migrated fully to the Kurzweil view, but let us list our four postulates out all at once :

The expected lifespan of an intelligent civilization is rising.

Telescopic power is rising quickly, possibly at 26% a year.

Thousands of planets in the ‘life zone’ will be confirmed by 2025.

A civilization slightly more advanced than us will soonbe easy for us to detect.

Asthe Impact of Computingwill ensure that computational power rises 16,000X between 2009 and 2030, and that our radio astronomy experience will be 92 years old by 2030, there are just too many forces that are increasing our probabilities of finding a civilization if one does indeed exist nearby. It is one thing to know of no extrasolar planets, or of any civilizations. It is quite another to know about thousands of planets,yet still not detect any civilizations after years of searching.Thiswould greatlystrengthen the case against the existence of such civilizations, and the case would grow stronger by year. Thus, these four postulates in combinationlead me to conclude that :

Most of the ‘realistic’ science fiction regarding first contact with another extra-terrestrial civilization portrays that civilization being domiciled relatively nearby. In Carl Sagan’s ‘Contact’, the civilization was from the Vega star system, just 26 light years away. In the film ‘Star Trek : First Contact’, humans come in contact with Vulcans in 2063, but the Vulcan homeworld is also just 16 light years from Earth. The possibility of any civilization this near to us would be effectively ruled out by 2030 if we do not find any favorable evidence. SETI should still be given the highest priority, of course, as the lack of a discovery is just as important as making a discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

If we do detect evidence of an extra-terrestrial civilization, everything about life on Earth will change. Both ‘Contact’ and ‘Star Trek : First Contact’ depicted how an unprecedented wave of human unity swept across the globe upon evidence that humans were, after all, one intelligent species among many. In Star Trek, this led to what essentially became a techno-economic singularity for the human race. As shown in ‘Contact’, many of the world’s religions were turned upside down upon this discovery, and had to revise their doctrines accordingly. Various new cults devoted to the worship of the new civilization formed almost immediately.

If, however,weare alone, then accordingto many Singularitarians, we will be the ones to determine the destiny of the cosmos.After a technologicalsingularity in the mid-21st century that merges our biology with our technology, we would proceed to convert all matter into artificial intelligence,make use ofall the elementary particles in our vicinity, and expand outward at speeds that eventually exceed the speed of light, ultimately saturating the entire universe with out intelligence in just a few centuries. That, however, is a topic for another day.

See more here:

The Futurist: The Singularity

Nazi eugenics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Eugenics  Comments Off on Nazi eugenics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aug 152015
 

Nazi eugenics were Nazi Germany’s racially based social policies that placed the biological improvement of the Aryan race or Germanic “bermenschen” master race through eugenics at the center of Nazi ideology.[1] Those humans targeted were largely living in private and state-operated institutions, identified as “life unworthy of life” (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to prisoners, degenerate, dissident, people with congenital cognitive and physical disabilities (including feebleminded, epileptic, schizophrenic, manic-depressive, cerebral palsy, neuroatypicals, muscular dystrophy, deaf, blind) (German: erbkranken), homosexual, idle, insane, and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while more than 300,000 were killed under Action T4, a euthanasia program.[2][3][4]

After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it was spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals.[5] By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s.[6]

In 1927, The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology (KWIA), an organization which concentrated on physical and social anthropology as well as human genetics, was founded in Berlin with significant financial support from the American philanthropic group, the Rockefeller Foundation.[7] German professor of medicine, anthropology and eugenics, Eugen Fischer, was the director of this organization, a man whose work helped provide the scientific basis for the Nazis’ eugenic policies.[8][9] The Rockefeller Foundation even funded some of the research conducted by Josef Mengele before he went to Auschwitz.[5][10]

Upon returning from Germany in 1934, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe bragged to a colleague:

“You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.”[11]

Eugenics researcher Harry H. Laughlin often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the 1935 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws.[12] In 1936, Laughlin was invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing”. Due to financial limitations, Laughlin was unable to attend the ceremony and had to pick it up from the Rockefeller Institute. Afterwards, he proudly shared the award with his colleagues, remarking that he felt that it symbolized the “common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics.”[13]

Adolf Hitler read racial hygiene tracts during his imprisonment in Landsberg Prison.[14]

Hitler believed the nation had become weak, corrupted by the infusion of degenerate elements into its bloodstream.[15]

The racialism and idea of competition, termed social Darwinism in 1944, were discussed by European scientists and also in the Vienna press during the 1920s. Where Hitler picked up the ideas is uncertain. The theory of evolution had been generally accepted in Germany at the time but this sort of extremism was rare.[16]

In his Second Book, which was unpublished during the Nazi era, Hitler praised Sparta, (using ideas perhaps borrowed from Ernst Haeckel),[17] adding that he considered Sparta to be the first “Vlkisch State”. He endorsed what he perceived to be an early eugenics treatment of deformed children:

“Sparta must be regarded as the first Vlkisch State. The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short, their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject, and indeed at any price, and yet takes the life of a hundred thousand healthy children in consequence of birth control or through abortions, in order subsequently to breed a race of degenerates burdened with illnesses”.[18][19]

In organizing their eugenics program the Nazis were inspired by the United States’ programs of forced sterilization, especially on the eugenics laws that had been enacted in California.[20]

The Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, enacted on July 14, 1933, allowed the compulsory sterilisation of any citizen who the opinion of a Genetic Health Court” suffered from a list of alleged genetic disorders and required physicians to register every case of hereditary illness known to them, except in women over 45 years of age.[21] Physicians could be fined for failing to comply.

In 1934, the first year of the Law’s operation, nearly 4,000 persons appealed against the decisions of sterilization authorities. A total of 3,559 of the appeals failed. By the end of the Nazi regime, over 200 Hereditary Health Courts (Erbgesundheitsgerichte) were created, and under their rulings over 400,000 persons were sterilized against their will.[22]

The Hadamar Clinic was a mental hospital in the German town of Hadamar used by the Nazi-controlled German government as the site of Action T4. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics was founded in 1927. Hartheim Euthanasia Centre was also part of the euthanasia programme where the Nazis killed individuals they deemed disabled. The first method used involved transporting patients by buses in which the engine exhaust gases were passed into the interior of the buses, and so killed the passengers. Gas chambers were developed later and used pure carbon monoxide gas to kill the patients.[citation needed] In its early years, and during the Nazi era, the Clinic was strongly associated with theories of eugenics and racial hygiene advocated by its leading theorists Fritz Lenz and Eugen Fischer, and by its director Otmar von Verschuer. Under Fischer, the sterilization of so-called Rhineland Bastards was undertaken. Grafeneck Castle was one of Nazi Germany’s killing centers, and today it is a memorial place dedicated to the victims of the Action T4.[23]

The Law for Simplification of the Health System of July 1934 created Information Centers for Genetic and Racial Hygiene, as well as Health Offices. The law also described procedures for ‘denunciation’ and ‘evaluation’ of persons, who were then sent to a Genetic Health Court where sterilization was decided.[24]

Information to determine who was considered ‘genetically sick’ was gathered from routine information supplied by people to doctor’s offices and welfare departments. Standardized questionnaires had been designed by Nazi officials with the help of Dehomag (a subsidiary of IBM in the 1930s), so that the information could be encoded easily onto Hollerith punch cards for fast sorting and counting.[25]

In Hamburg, doctors gave information into a Central Health Passport Archive (circa 1934), under something called the ‘Health-Related Total Observation of Life’. This file was to contain reports from doctors, but also courts, insurance companies, sports clubs, the Hitler Youth, the military, the labor service, colleges, etc. Any institution that gave information would get information back in return. In 1940, the Reich Interior Ministry tried to impose a Hamburg-style system on the whole Reich.[26]

After the Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, it became compulsory for both marriage partners to be tested for hereditary diseases in order to preserve the perceived racial purity of the Aryan race. Everyone was encouraged to carefully evaluate his or her prospective marriage partner eugenically during courtship. Members of the SS were cautioned to carefully interview prospective marriage partners to make sure they had no family history of hereditary disease or insanity, but to do this carefully so as not to hurt the feelings of the prospective fiancee and, if it became necessary to reject her for eugenic reasons, to do it tactfully and not cause her any offense.[27]

Excerpt from:

Nazi eugenics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edward Snowden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 NSA  Comments Off on Edward Snowden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aug 152015
 

Edward Snowden Born Edward Joseph Snowden (1983-06-21) June 21, 1983 (age32) Elizabeth City, North Carolina, U.S. Residence Russia (temporary asylum) Nationality American Occupation System administrator Employer Booz Allen Hamilton Kunia, Hawaii, US (until June 10, 2013) Knownfor Revealing details of classified United States government surveillance programs Title Rector of the University of Glasgow Term February 18, 2014 present Predecessor Charles Kennedy Criminal charge Theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person (June 2013). Awards Sam Adams Award,[1] Right Livelihood Award (2014)[2] Stuttgart Peace Prize (2014)[3]

Edward Joseph “Ed” Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American computer professional, former CIA employee, and former government contractor who leaked classified information from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. The information revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.

Snowden was hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, an NSA contractor, in 2013 after previous employment with Dell and the CIA.[4] On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at a NSA facility in Hawaii and in early June he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill. Snowden came to international attention after stories based on the material appeared in The Guardian and The Washington Post. Further disclosures were made by other newspapers including Der Spiegel and The New York Times.

On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.[5] On June 23, he flew to Moscow, Russia, where he reportedly remained for over a month. Later that summer, Russian authorities granted him a one-year temporary asylum which was later extended to three years. As of 2015, he was still living in an undisclosed location in Russia while seeking asylum elsewhere.[6]

A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot, and a traitor. His disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy.

Edward Joseph Snowden was born on June 21, 1983,[7] in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.[8] His maternal grandfather, Edward J. Barrett,[9][10] was a rear admiral in the United States Coast Guard who became a senior official with the FBI and was in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 when it was struck by an airliner hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists.[11] Edward’s father, Lonnie Snowden, a resident of Pennsylvania, was also an officer in the Coast Guard,[12] and his mother, Elizabeth B. Snowden, a resident of Ellicott City, Maryland, is chief deputy at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.[13][14][15] His older sister, Jessica, became a lawyer at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington. “Everybody in my family has worked for the federal government in one way or another,” Snowden told James Bamford in a June 2014 interview published two months later in Wired. “I expected to pursue the same path.”[16] His parents divorced in 2001,[17] and his father remarried.[18] Friends and neighbors described Snowden as shy, quiet and nice. One longtime friend said that he was always articulate, even as a child.[14] “We always considered Ed the smartest one in the family,” said his father, who was not surprised when his son scored above 145 on two separate IQ tests.[16] Snowden’s father described his son as “a sensitive, caring young man” and “a deep thinker.”[19]

In the early 1990s, while still in grade school, Snowden moved with his family to Maryland.[20]Mononucleosis caused him to miss high school for almost nine months.[16] Rather than return, he passed the GED test[21] and enrolled in Anne Arundel Community College.[13] Although Snowden had no bachelor’s degree,[22] ABC News reported that he worked online toward a master’s degree at the University of Liverpool in 2011.[23] In 2010, while visiting India on official business at the U.S. embassy,[24] Snowden trained for six days in core Java programming and advanced ethical hacking.[25] Snowden was reportedly interested in Japanese popular culture, had studied the Japanese language,[26] and worked for an anime company domiciled in the U.S.[27][28] He also said he had a basic understanding of Mandarin Chinese and was deeply interested in martial arts; at age 20, he listed Buddhism as his religion on a military recruitment form, noting that the choice of agnostic was “strangely absent.”[29] Snowden told The Washington Post that he was an ascetic, rarely left the house and had few needs.[30]

Before leaving for Hong Kong, Snowden resided in Waipahu, Hawaii, with his longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.[31] According to local real estate agents, they moved out of their home on May 1, 2013.[32] Mills had reportedly blogged on March 15, 2013 that the couple had “received word that we have to move out of our house by May 1. E is transferring jobs.”[33] In October 2014, Glenn Greenwald reported at The Intercept that Mills had moved to Moscow in June 2014 to live with him and that Snowden was “now living in domestic bliss.”[34] Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena added that the couple visits Russian cultural sights together but that Mills does not live in Russia full-time due to visa restrictions.[35][36]

Snowden has said that in the 2008 presidential election, he voted for a third-party candidate. He has stated he had been planning to make disclosures about NSA surveillance programs at the time, but he decided to wait because he “believed in Obama’s promises.” He was later disappointed that President Barack Obama “continued with the policies of his predecessor.”[37]

A week after publication of his leaks began, technology news provider Ars Technica confirmed that Snowden, under the pseudonym “TheTrueHOOHA,” had been an active participant at the site’s online forum from 2001 through May 2012, discussing a variety of topics.[38] In a January 2009 entry, TheTrueHOOHA exhibited strong support for the United States’ security state apparatus and said he believed leakers of classified information “should be shot in the balls.”[39] However, in February 2010, TheTrueHOOHA wrote, “Did we get to where we are today via a slippery slope that was entirely within our control to stop? Or was it a relatively instantaneous sea change that sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy?”[40]

In accounts published in June 2013, interviewers noted that Snowden’s laptop displayed stickers supporting internet freedom organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor Project.[21] Snowden considers himself “neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”[41]

In 2014 Snowden stated that “women have the right to make their own choices” and supported providing “a basic income for people who have no work, or no meaningful work”.[42]

On May 7, 2004, Snowden enlisted in the United States Army Reserve as a Special Forces candidate through its 18X enlistment option, but he did not complete the training.[7][43] He said he wanted to fight in the Iraq War because he “felt like [he] had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression.”[21] Snowden said he was discharged after breaking both legs in a training accident.[44] He was discharged on September 28, 2004.[45]

He was then employed for less than a year in 2005 as a “security specialist” at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language, a non-classified facility.[46] In June 2014, Snowden told Wired that this was “a top-secret facility” where his job as a security guard required a high-level security clearance, for which he passed a polygraph exam and underwent a stringent background check.[16]

In 2006, after attending a job fair focused on intelligence agencies, Snowden was offered a position at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),[16] which he joined.[47] He was assigned to the global communications division at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.[16]

In May 2006, Snowden wrote in Ars Technica that he had no trouble getting work because he was a “computer wizard.”[29] After distinguishing himself as junior man on the top computer team, Snowden was sent to the CIA’s secret school for technology specialists, where he lived in a hotel for six months while studying and training full-time.[16]

In March 2007,[16] the CIA stationed Snowden with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was responsible for maintaining computer network security.[48] Assigned to the U.S. mission to the United Nations, Snowden was given a diplomatic passport and a four-bedroom apartment near Lake Geneva.[16] According to Greenwald, while there Snowden was “considered the top technical and cybersecurity expert” in that country and “was hand-picked by the CIA to support the president at the 2008 NATO summit in Romania.”[49] Snowden described his CIA experience in Geneva as “formative,” stating that the CIA deliberately got a Swiss banker drunk and encouraged him to drive home. Snowden said that when the latter was arrested, a CIA operative offered to help in exchange for the banker becoming an informant.[50]Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation for the year 2013, in June of that year publicly disputed Snowden’s claims. “This would mean that the CIA successfully bribed the Geneva police and judiciary. With all due respect, I just can’t imagine it,” said Maurer. The revelations were said to have come at a sensitive time as the U.S. was pressing the Swiss government to increase banking transparency.[51] In February 2009, Snowden resigned from the CIA.[40]

In 2009, Snowden began work as a contractor for Dell,[21] which manages computer systems for multiple government agencies. Assigned to an NSA facility at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Snowden instructed top officials and military officers on how to defend their networks from Chinese hackers.[16] During his four years with Dell, he rose from supervising NSA computer system upgrades to working as what his rsum termed a “cyberstrategist” and an “expert in cyber counterintelligence” at several U.S. locations.[52] In 2011, he returned to Maryland, where he spent a year as lead technologist on Dell’s CIA account. In that capacity, he was consulted by the chiefs of the CIA’s technical branches, including the agency’s chief information officer and its chief technology officer.[16] U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the investigation said Snowden began downloading documents describing the government’s electronic spying programs while working for Dell in April 2012.[53] Investigators estimated that of the 50,000 to 200,000 documents Snowden gave to Greenwald and Poitras, most were copied by Snowden while working at Dell.[4]

In March 2012, Dell reassigned Snowden to Hawaii as lead technologist for the NSA’s information-sharing office.[16] At the time of his departure from the United States in May 2013, he had been employed for 15 months inside the NSA’s Hawaii regional operations center, which focuses on the electronic monitoring of China and North Korea,[4][54] the last three of which were with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.[55][56] While intelligence officials have described his position there as a “system administrator,” Snowden has said he was an “infrastructure analyst,” which meant that his job was to look for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world.[57] On March 15, 2013three days after what he later called his “breaking point” of “seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress”[58]Snowden quit his job at Dell.[59] Although he has stated that his “career high” annual salary was $200,000,[60] Snowden said he took a pay cut to work at Booz Allen,[61] where he sought employment in order to gather data and then release details of the NSA’s worldwide surveillance activity.[62] According to a Reuters story by Mark Hosenball, while in Hawaii, Snowden “may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers” to give him their logins and passwords “by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator.”[63] NBC News reported that the NSA sent a memo to Congress and “[w]hile the memo’s account is sketchy, it suggests that, contrary to Snowden’s statements, he used an element of trickery to retrieve his trove of tens of thousands of classified documents.”[64][65][66] This report was disputed,[67] with Snowden himself saying in January 2014, “With all due respect to Mark Hosenball, the Reuters report that put this out there was simply wrong. I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers.”[68][69] The day after Snowden publicly took responsibility for the NSA surveillance revelations, Booz Allen terminated his employment “for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy.”[70]

A former NSA co-worker told Forbes that although the NSA was full of smart people, Snowden was “a genius among geniuses,” who created a backup system for the NSA that was widely implemented and often pointed out security bugs to the agency. The former colleague said Snowden was given full administrator privileges, with virtually unlimited access to NSA data. Snowden was offered a position on the NSA’s elite team of hackers, Tailored Access Operations, but turned it down to join Booz Allen.[71]

A source “with detailed knowledge on the matter” told Reuters that hiring screeners for Booz Allen had found some details of Snowden’s education that “did not check out precisely,” but decided to hire him anyway; Reuters stated that the element which triggered these concerns, or the manner in which Snowden satisfied the concerns, were not known.[22] The rsum stated that Snowden attended computer-related classes at Johns Hopkins University. A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins said that the university did not find records to show that Snowden attended the university, and suggested that he may instead have attended Advanced Career Technologies, a private for-profit organization which operated as “Computer Career Institute at Johns Hopkins.”[22] The University College of the University of Maryland acknowledged that Snowden had attended a summer session at a UM campus in Asia. Snowden’s rsum stated that he estimated that he would receive a University of Liverpool computer security master’s degree in 2013. The university said that Snowden registered for an online master’s degree program in computer security in 2011 but that “he is not active in his studies and has not completed the program.”[22]

Snowden said that, using “internal channels of dissent”, he had told multiple employees and two supervisors about his concerns that the NSA programs were unconstitutional. An NSA spokeswoman responded, saying they had “not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention”.[30] Snowden elaborated in January 2014, saying “[I] made tremendous efforts to report these programs to co-workers, supervisors, and anyone with the proper clearance who would listen. The reactions of those I told about the scale of the constitutional violations ranged from deeply concerned to appalled, but no one was willing to risk their jobs, families, and possibly even freedom to go to through what [Thomas Andrews] Drake did.”[69][72] In March 2014, during testimony to the European Parliament, Snowden wrote that before revealing classified information he had reported “clearly problematic programs” to ten officials, who he said did nothing in response.[73] In a May 2014 interview, Snowden told NBC News that after bringing his concerns about the legality of the NSA spying programs to officials, he was told to stay silent on the matter. Snowden said:

The NSA has recordsthey have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities. I had raised these complaints not just officially in writing through email, but to my supervisors, to my colleagues, in more than one office. I did it in Fort Meade. I did it in Hawaii. And many, many of these individuals were shocked by these programs. They had never seen them themselves. And the ones who had, went, “You know, you’re right. But if you say something about this, they’re going to destroy you”.[11]

In May 2014, U.S. officials released a single email that Snowden had written in April 2013 inquiring about legal authorities but said that they had found no other evidence that Snowden had expressed his concerns to someone in an oversight position.[74] In June 2014, the NSA said it had not been able to find any records of Snowden raising internal complaints about the agency’s operations.[75] That same month, Snowden explained that he himself has not produced the communiqus in question because of the ongoing nature of the dispute, disclosing for the first time that “I am working with the NSA in regard to these records and we’re going back and forth, so I don’t want to reveal everything that will come out.”[76]

In his May 2014 interview with NBC News, Snowden accused the U.S. government of trying to use one position here or there in his career to distract from the totality of his experience, downplaying him as a “low level analyst.” In his words, he was “trained as a spy in the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseaspretending to work in a job that I’m notand even being assigned a name that was not mine.” He said he’d worked for the NSA undercover overseas, and for the DIA had developed sources and methods to keep information and people secure “in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world. So when they say I’m a low-level systems administrator, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d say it’s somewhat misleading.”[11] In a June interview with Globo TV, Snowden reiterated that he “was actually functioning at a very senior level.”[77] In a July interview with The Guardian, Snowden explained that, during his NSA career, “I began to move from merely overseeing these systems to actively directing their use. Many people dont understand that I was actually an analyst and I designated individuals and groups for targeting.”[78] Snowden subsequently told Wired that while at Dell in 2011, “I would sit down with the CIO of the CIA, the CTO of the CIA, the chiefs of all the technical branches. They would tell me their hardest technology problems, and it was my job to come up with a way to fix them.[16]

Of his time as an NSA analyst, directing the work of others, Snowden recalled a moment when he and his colleagues began to have severe ethical doubts. Snowden said 18- to 22-year-old analysts were suddenly “thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility, where they now have access to all your private records. In the course of their daily work, they stumble across something that is completely unrelated in any sort of necessary sensefor example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation. But they’re extremely attractive. So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker and sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by all of these other people.” As Snowden observed it, this behavior was routine, happening “probably every two months,” but was never reported, being considered among “the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.”[24]

The exact size of Snowden’s disclosure is unknown,[79] but Australian officials have estimated 15,000 or more Australian intelligence files[80] and British officials estimate at least 58,000 British intelligence files.[81] NSA Director Keith Alexander initially estimated that Snowden had copied anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 NSA documents.[82] Later estimates provided by U.S. officials were on the order of 1.7 million,[83] a number that originally came from Department of Defense talking points.[84] In July 2014, The Washington Post reported on a cache previously provided by Snowden from domestic NSA operations consisting of “roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.”[85] In June 2015, Vice News reported that, according to a declassified U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Snowden took 900,000 Department of Defense files, more than he downloaded from the NSA.[84]

In March 2014, Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee, “The vast majority of the documents that Snowden exfiltrated from our highest levels of security had nothing to do with exposing government oversight of domestic activities. The vast majority of those were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques and procedures.”[86] When retired NSA director Keith Alexander was asked in a May 2014 interview to quantify the number of documents Snowden stole, Alexander answered, “I don’t think anybody really knows what he actually took with him, because the way he did it, we don’t have an accurate way of counting. What we do have an accurate way of counting is what he touched, what he may have downloaded, and that was more than a million documents.”[87]

According to Snowden, he did not indiscriminately turn over documents to journalists, stating that “I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest. There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over”[88] and that “I have to screen everything before releasing it to journalists If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country.”[62]

In June 2014, the NSA’s recently installed director, U.S. Navy Admiral Michael S. Rogers, stated that while some terrorist groups had altered their communications to avoid surveillance techniques revealed by Snowden, the damage done was not significant enough to conclude that “the sky is falling.”[89] Nevertheless, in February 2015, Rogers said that Snowden’s disclosures has a “material impact” on the NSA’s ability to “generate insights as to what counterterrorism, what terrorist groups around the world are doing.”[90]

In April 2015 the Henry Jackson Society, a British neoconservative think tank, published a report claiming that Snowden’s intelligence leaks negatively impacted Britain’s ability to fight terrorism and organized crime.[91][92]Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, criticized the report and said it “presumes that the public are idiots and that we only became concerned about privacy after Snowden.”[93]

The New York Times’ James Risen reported that Snowden’s decision to leak NSA documents “developed gradually, dating back at least to his time working as a technician in the Geneva station of the CIA.”[94] Snowden first made contact with Glenn Greenwald, a journalist working at The Guardian, in late 2012.[95] He contacted Greenwald anonymously as “Cincinnatus”[96] and said he had “sensitive documents” that he would like to share.[97] Greenwald found the measures that the source asked him to take to secure their communications, such as encrypting email, too annoying to employ. Snowden then contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in January 2013.[98] According to Poitras, Snowden chose to contact her after seeing her New York Times documentary[99] about NSA whistleblower William Binney. The Guardian reported that what originally attracted Snowden to both Greenwald and Poitras was a Salon article written by Greenwald detailing how Poitras’ controversial films had made her a “target of the government.”[97][100]

Greenwald began working with Snowden in either February[101] or April 2013, after Poitras asked Greenwald to meet her in New York City, at which point Snowden began providing documents to them.[95]Barton Gellman, writing for The Washington Post, says his first “direct contact” was on May 16, 2013.[102] According to Gellman, Snowden approached Greenwald after the Post declined to guarantee publication within 72 hours of all 41 PowerPoint slides that Snowden had leaked exposing the PRISM electronic data mining program, and to publish online an encrypted code allowing Snowden to later prove that he was the source.[102]

Snowden communicated using encrypted email,[98] and going by the codename “Verax”. He asked not to be quoted at length for fear of identification by stylometry.[102]

According to Gellman, prior to their first meeting in person, Snowden wrote, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end.”[102] Snowden also told Gellman that until the articles were published, the journalists working with him would also be at mortal risk from the United States Intelligence Community “if they think you are the single point of failure that could stop this disclosure and make them the sole owner of this information.”[102]

In May 2013, Snowden was permitted temporary leave from his position at the NSA in Hawaii, on the pretext of receiving treatment for his epilepsy.[21] In mid-May, Snowden gave an electronic interview to Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum which was published weeks later by Der Spiegel.[103]

After disclosing the copied documents, Snowden promised that nothing would stop subsequent disclosures. In June 2013, he said, “All I can say right now is the US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”[104]

On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong,[88] where he was staying when the initial articles based on the leaked documents were published,[105] beginning with The Guardian on June 5.[106] Greenwald later said Snowden disclosed 9,000 to 10,000 documents. [107]

Within months, documents had been obtained and published by media outlets worldwide, most notably The Guardian (Britain), Der Spiegel (Germany), The Washington Post and The New York Times (U.S.), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), and similar outlets in Sweden, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Australia.[108] In 2014, NBC broke its first story based on the leaked documents.[109] In February 2014, for reporting based on Snowden’s leaks, journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman and The Guardians Ewen MacAskill were honored as co-recipients of the 2013 George Polk Award, which they dedicated to Snowden.[110] The NSA reporting by these journalists also earned The Guardian and The Washington Post the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service[111] for exposing the “widespread surveillance” and for helping to spark a “huge public debate about the extent of the government’s spying”. The Guardian’s chief editor, Alan Rusbridger, credited Snowden, saying “The public service in this award is significant because Snowden performed a public service.”[112]

The ongoing publication of leaked documents has revealed previously unknown details of a global surveillance apparatus run by the United States’ NSA[115] in close cooperation with three of its Five Eyes partners: Australia (ASD),[116] the United Kingdom (GCHQ),[117] and Canada (CSEC).[118]

The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger said in November 2013 that only one percent of the documents had been published.[119] Officials warned that “the worst is yet to come”.[120][121]

Media reports documenting the existence and functions of classified surveillance programs and their scope began on June 5, 2013, and continued throughout the entire year. The first program to be revealed was PRISM, with reports from both The Washington Post and The Guardian published an hour apart. PRISM allows for court-approved direct access to Americans’ Google and Yahoo accounts.[113][122][123] The Post’s Barton Gellman was the first journalist to report on Snowden’s documents. He said the U.S. government urged him not to specify by name which companies were involved, but Gellman decided that to name them “would make it real to Americans.”[124] Reports also revealed details of Tempora, a British black-ops surveillance program run by the NSA’s British partner, GCHQ.[122][125] The initial reports included details about NSA call database, Boundless Informant, and of a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand the NSA millions of Americans’ phone records daily,[126] the surveillance of French citizens’ phone and internet records, and those of “high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.”[127][128][129]XKeyscore, an analytical tool that allows for collection of “almost anything done on the internet,” was described by The Guardian as a program that “shed light” on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements: “I, sitting at my desk [could] wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”[130]

It was revealed that the NSA was harvesting millions of email and instant messaging contact lists,[131] searching email content,[132] tracking and mapping the location of cell phones,[133] undermining attempts at encryption via Bullrun[134][135] and that the agency was using cookies to “piggyback” on the same tools used by internet advertisers “to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.”[136] The NSA was shown to be “secretly” tapping into Yahoo and Google data centers to collect information from “hundreds of millions” of account holders worldwide by tapping undersea cables using the MUSCULAR surveillance program.[113][114]

The NSA, the U.S. CIA and GCHQ spied on users of Second Life and World of Warcraft by creating make-believe characters as a way to “hide in plain sight.”[137] Leaked documents showed NSA agents spied on their “love interests,” a practice NSA employees termed LOVEINT.[138][139] The NSA was also shown to be tracking the online sexual activity of people they termed “radicalizers,” in order to discredit them.[140] The NSA was accused of going “beyond its core mission of national security” when articles were published showing the NSA’s intelligence-gathering operations had targeted Brazil’s largest oil company, Petrobras.[141] The NSA and the GCHQ were also shown to be surveilling charities including UNICEF and Mdecins du Monde, as well as allies such as the EU chief and the Israeli Prime Minister.[142]

By October 2013, Snowden’s disclosures had created tensions[143][144] between the U.S. and some of its close allies after they revealed that the U.S. had spied on Brazil, France, Mexico,[145] Britain,[146] China,[147] Germany,[148] and Spain,[149] as well as 35 world leaders,[150] most notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said “spying among friends” was “unacceptable”[151] and compared the NSA with the Stasi.[152] Leaked documents published by Der Spiegel in 2014 appeared to show that the NSA had targeted 122 “high ranking” leaders.[153]

The NSA’s top-secret “black budget,” obtained from Snowden by The Washington Post, exposed the “successes and failures” of the 16 spy agencies comprising the U.S. intelligence community,[154] and revealed that the NSA was paying U.S. private tech companies for “clandestine access” to their communications networks.[155] The agencies were allotted $52 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.[156]

An NSA mission statement titled “SIGINT Strategy 2012-2016″ affirmed that the NSA plans for continued expansion of surveillance activities. Their stated goal was to “dramatically increase mastery of the global network” and “acquire the capabilities to gather intelligence on anyone, anytime, anywhere.”[157] Leaked slides revealed in Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide, released in May 2014, showed that the NSA’s stated objective was to “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All,” “Partner it All,” “Sniff it All” and “Know it All.”[158]

Snowden stated in a January 2014 interview with German television that the NSA does not limit its data collection to national security issues, accusing the agency of conducting industrial espionage. Using the example of German company Siemens, he stated, “If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to US national interestseven if it doesn’t have anything to do with national securitythen they’ll take that information nevertheless.”[159] In August 2014, German national newspaper Die Welt reported that, in the wake of Snowden’s revelations and in response to an inquiry from the Left Party, Germany’s domestic security agency Bundesamt fr Verfassungsschutz (BfV) investigated and found no “concrete evidence” (Konkrete Belege) that the U.S. conducted economic or industrial espionage in Germany.[160]

In February 2014, during testimony to the European Union, Snowden said of the remaining “undisclosed programs”: “I will leave the public interest determinations as to which of these may be safely disclosed to responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders.”[161]

In March 2014, documents disclosed by Glenn Greenwald writing for The Intercept showed the NSA, in cooperation with the GCHQ, has plans to infect millions of computers with malware using a program called “Turbine.”[162] Revelations included information about “QUANTUMHAND,” a program through which the NSA set up a fake Facebook server to intercept connections.[162]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information furnished by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, message texts, and online accounts, that support the claim.[163]

In an August 2014 interview, Snowden for the first time disclosed a cyberwarfare program in the works, codenamed MonsterMind. The program would “automate the process of hunting for the beginnings of a foreign cyberattack”. The software would constantly look for traffic patterns indicating known or suspected attacks. What sets MonsterMind apart was that it would add a “unique new capability: instead of simply detecting and killing the malware at the point of entry, MonsterMind would automatically fire back, with no human involvement”. Snowden expressed concern that often initial attacks are routed through computers in innocent third countries. “These attacks can be spoofed. You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”[16]

Snowden’s identity was made public by The Guardian at his request on June 9, 2013.[101] He explained: “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong.”[21] He added that by revealing his identity he hoped to protect his colleagues from being subjected to a hunt to determine who had been responsible for the leaks.[164] According to Poitras, who filmed the interview with Snowden in Hong Kong, he had initially not wanted to be seen on camera, because “he didn’t want the story to be about him.”[165] Poitras says she convinced him it was necessary to have him give an account of the leaked documents’ significance on film: “I knew that the mainstream media interpretation would be predictable and narrow, but because to have somebody who understands how this technology works, who is willing to risk their life to expose it to the public, and that we could hear that articulated, would reach people in ways that the documents themselves wouldn’t.”[165] Snowden explained his actions saying: “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things [surveillance on its citizens] I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”[166] In a later interview Snowden declared:

For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished. I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed.[30]

Snowden said that in the past, whistleblowers had been “destroyed by the experience,” and that he wanted to “embolden others to step forward” by demonstrating that “they can win.”[167] In October, Snowden spoke out again on his motivations for the leaks in an interview with The New York Times, saying that the system for reporting problems does not work. “You have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it,” Snowden explained, and pointed out the lack of whistleblower protection for government contractors, the use of the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute leakers, and his belief that had he used internal mechanisms to “sound the alarm,” his revelations “would have been buried forever.”[94][168]

In December 2013, upon learning that a U.S. federal judge had ruled the collection of U.S. phone metadata conducted by the NSA as likely unconstitutional, Snowden stated: “I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”[169]

In January 2014, Snowden said his “breaking point” was “seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress.”[58] This referred to testimony on March 12, 2013three months after Snowden first sought to share thousands of NSA documents with Greenwald,[95] and nine months after the NSA says Snowden made his first illegal downloads during the summer of 2012[4]in which Clapper denied to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA wittingly collects data on millions of Americans.[170] Snowden said, “Theres no saving an intelligence community that believes it can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programs.”[171] In May 2014, Vanity Fair reported that Snowden said he first contemplated leaking confidential documents around 2008, but that “Snowden held back, in part because he believed Barack Obama, elected that November, might introduce reforms.”[4] Snowden stated that he had reported policy or legal issues related to spying programs to more than 10 officials, but as a contractor had no legal avenue to pursue further whistleblowing.[172]

In May 2013 Snowden took a leave of absence, telling his supervisors he was returning to the mainland for epilepsy treatment, but instead left Hawaii for Hong Kong[173] where he arrived on May 20. Snowden told Guardian reporters in June that he had been in his room at the Mira Hotel since his arrival in the city, rarely going out.[59] On June 10, correspondent Ewen MacAskill said “He’s stuck in his hotel every day; he never goes out. I think he’s only been out about three times since May 20th and that was only briefly.”[174] Mira staff told Wall Street Journal reporters, however, that Snowden did not check in to the hotel until June 1.[59][175]

Snowden vowed to challenge any extradition attempt by the U.S. government, and engaged a Canadian, Hong Kong-based human rights lawyer Robert Tibbo, as his legal adviser.[176][177][178] Snowden told the South China Morning Post that he planned to remain in Hong Kong until “asked to leave,”[179] adding that his intention was to let the “courts and people of Hong Kong” decide his fate.[180] While in Hong Kong Snowden told the Post that “the United States government has committed a tremendous number of crimes against Hong Kong. The PRC as well,”[181] going on to identify Chinese Internet Protocol addresses that the NSA monitored and stating that the NSA collected text-message data for Hong Kong residents. Glenn Greenwald explained the leak as reflecting “a need to ingratiate himself to the people of Hong Kong and China.”[182]

In late August, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Snowden was living at the Russian consulate shortly before his departure from Hong Kong to Moscow.[183] Ben Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and legal adviser to Snowden, said in January 2014, “Every news organization in the world has been trying to confirm that story. They haven’t been able to, because it’s false.”[184] Likewise rejecting the Kommersant story was Anatoly Kucherena, who became Snowden’s lawyer in July 2013, when Snowden asked him for help with seeking temporary asylum in Russia.[185] Kucherena stated that Snowden “did not enter into any communication with our diplomats when he was in Hong Kong.”[186][187] In early September 2013, however, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that, a few days before boarding a plane to Moscow, “Mr. Snowden first appeared in Hong Kong and met with our diplomatic representatives.”[188] In June 2014, investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein wrote that a U.S. official had told him that on three occasions in June 2013, Snowden had been observed on CCTV cameras entering the Hong Kong tower where the Russian consulate is located.[59]

On June 22 (18 days after publication of Snowden’s NSA documents began), U.S. officials revoked his passport.[189] On June 23, Snowden boarded the commercial Aeroflot flight SU213 to Moscow, accompanied by Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks.[190][191] Hong Kong authorities said that Snowden had not been detained as requested by the United States, because the United States’ extradition request had not fully complied with Hong Kong law,[192][193] and there was no legal basis to prevent Snowden from leaving.[194][195][Notes 1] On June 24, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said “we’re just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official. This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant though the Privacy Act prohibits me from talking about Mr. Snowden’s passport specifically, I can say that the Hong Kong authorities were well aware of our interest in Mr. Snowden and had plenty of time to prohibit his travel.”[198] That same day, Julian Assange said that WikiLeaks had paid for Snowden’s lodging in Hong Kong and his flight out.[199]

In October 2013, Snowden said that before flying to Moscow, he gave all the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, and did not keep any copies for himself.[94] In January 2014, he told a German TV interviewer that he gave all of his information “to American journalists who are reporting on American issues.”[58] During his first American TV interview, in May 2014, Snowden said he had protected himself from Russian leverage “by destroying the material that I was holding before I transited through Russia.”[11]

On June 23, 2013, Snowden landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport.[200] WikiLeaks stated that he was “bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum.”[201] Snowden had a seat reserved to continue to Cuba[202] but did not board that onward flight, saying in a January 2014 interview that he was “stopped en route” despite an intention to be “only transiting through Russia.” He stated, “I was ticketed for onward travel via Havanaa planeload of reporters documented the seat I was supposed to be inbut the State Department decided they wanted me in Moscow, and cancelled my passport.”[184] He said the U.S. wanted him there so “they could say, ‘He’s a Russian spy.'”[203] Greenwald’s account differs on the point of Snowden being already ticketed. According to Greenwald, Snowden’s passport was valid when he departed Hong Kong but was revoked during the hours he was in transit to Moscow, meaning “he could no longer get a ticket and leave Russia.” Snowden was thus, Greenwald says, forced to stay in Moscow and seek asylum.[204]

According to one Russian report, Snowden planned to fly from Moscow through Havana to Latin America; however, Cuba informed Moscow it would not allow the Aeroflot plane carrying Snowden to land.[205] Anonymous Russian sources claimed that Cuba had a change of heart after receiving pressure from U.S. officials,[206] leaving him stuck in the transit zone because at the last minute Havana told officials in Moscow not to allow him on the flight.[207]Fidel Castro called claims that Cuba would have blocked Snowden’s entry to his country a “lie” and a “libel.”[202]The Washington Post said “[t]hat version stands in contrast to widespread speculation that the Russians never intended to let the former CIA employee travel onward.”[208] Russian president Putin said that Snowden’s arrival in Moscow was “a surprise” and “like an unwanted Christmas gift.”[209] Putin said that Snowden remained in the transit area of Sheremetyevo, noted that he had not committed any crime in Russia, and declared that Snowden was free to leave and should do so.[210] He denied that Russia’s intelligence agencies had worked or were working with Snowden.[209]

Following Snowden’s arrival in Moscow, the White House expressed disappointment in Hong Kong’s decision to allow him to leave,[211] with press secretary Jay Carney stating, “We very clearly believe that Mr. Snowden ought to be returned to the United States to face the charges that have been set against him,”[212] and the director of the State Department’s press office concurred: “We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the authorities in Hong Kong to permit Mr. Snowden to flee despite a legally valid U.S. request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the U.S.-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement. We hope that the Russian Government will look at all available options to return Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he’s charged.”[198] An anonymous U.S. official not authorized to discuss the passport matter told AP Snowden’s passport had been revoked before he left Hong Kong, and that although it could make onward travel more difficult, “if a senior official in a country or airline ordered it, a country could overlook the withdrawn passport.”[213] In a July 1 statement, Snowden said, “Although I am convicted of nothing, [the US government] has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”[214]

After Snowden received asylum in Russia, international criminal defense lawyer Douglas McNabb commented that “absent of Mr. Snowden attempting to travel to Latin America, as long as he stays in Russia, hes apparently safe.”[215]Julian Assange agreed with this assessment, saying in a December 2013 Rolling Stone interview, “While Venezuela and Ecuador could protect him in the short term, over the long term there could be a change in government. In Russia, he’s safe, he’s well-regarded, and that is not likely to change. That was my advice to Snowden, that he would be physically safest in Russia.”[173] According to Snowden, “the CIA has a very powerful presence [in Latin America] and the governments and the security services there are relatively much less capable than, say, Russia…. they could have basically snatched me….”[216]

Four countries offered Snowden permanent asylum: Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela.[215]ABC News reported that no direct flights between Moscow and Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua exist, and that “the United States has pressured countries along his route to hand him over.” Snowden explained in July 2013 that he decided to bid for asylum in Russia because he did not feel there was any safe travel route to Latin America.[217] Snowden said he remained in Russia because “when we were talking about possibilities for asylum in Latin America, the United States forced down the Bolivian Presidents plane”, citing the Morales plane incident. On the issue, he said “some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.”[218] He said that he would travel from Russia if there was no interference from the U.S. government.[184]

In an October 2014 interview with The Nation magazine, Snowden reiterated that he had originally intended to travel to Latin America: “A lot of people are still unaware that I never intended to end up in Russia.” According to Snowden, the U.S. government “waited until I departed Hong Kong to cancel my passport in order to trap me in Russia.” Snowden added, “If they really wanted to capture me, they would’ve allowed me to travel to Latin America, because the CIA can operate with impunity down there. They did not want that; they chose to keep me in Russia.”[219]

On July 1, 2013, president Evo Morales of Bolivia, who had been attending a conference of gas-exporting countries in Russia, suggested during an interview with Russia Today that he would be “willing to consider a request” by Snowden for asylum.[220] The following day, Morales’ plane en route to Bolivia was rerouted to Austria and reportedly searched there after France, Spain and Italy denied access to their airspace.[221] U.S. officials had raised suspicions that Snowden may have been on board.[222] Morales blamed the U.S. for putting pressure on European countries, and said that the grounding of his plane was a violation of international law.[223]

In April 2015, Bolivia’s ambassador to Russia, Mara Luisa Ramos Urzagaste, accused WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange of putting Morales’s life at risk by intentionally providing to the United States false rumors that Snowden was on the Morales’s plane. Assange responded that the plan “was not completely honest, but we did consider that the final result would have justified our actions. We can only regret what happened.”[224]

Snowden applied for political asylum to 21 countries.[225] A statement attributed to him contended that the U.S. administration, and specifically Vice President Joe Biden, had pressured the governments to refuse his asylum petitions. Biden had telephoned President Rafael Correa days prior to Snowden’s remarks, asking the Ecuadorian leader not to grant Snowden asylum.[226] Ecuador had initially offered Snowden a temporary travel document but later withdrew it;[227] on July 1, President Rafael Correa said the decision to issue the offer had been “a mistake.”[228]

In a July 1 statement published by WikiLeaks, Snowden accused the U.S. government of “using citizenship as a weapon” and using what he described as “old, bad tools of political aggression.” Citing Obama’s promise to not allow “wheeling and dealing” over the case, Snowden commented, “This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile.”[229] Several days later, WikiLeaks announced that Snowden had applied for asylum in six additional countries, which WikiLeaks declined to name “due to attempted U.S. interference.”[230]

The French interior ministry rejected Snowden’s request for asylum, saying, “Given the legal analysis and the situation of the interested party, France will not agree.”[231] Poland refused to process his application because it did not conform to legal procedure.[232]Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said the government “does not plan to respond” to Snowden’s asylum request. Germany, Finland and India rejected Snowden’s application outright, while Austria, Ecuador, Norway and Spain said he must be on their territory to apply.[233] Italy cited the same reason in rejecting his request,[234] as did the Netherlands.[235] In November 2014, Germany announced that Snowden had not renewed his previously denied request and was not being considered for asylum.[236]

Putin said on July 1, 2013, that if Snowden wanted to be granted asylum in Russia, he would be required to “stop his work aimed at harming our American partners.”[237] A spokesman for Putin subsequently said that Snowden had withdrawn his asylum application upon learning of the conditions.[238]

In a July 12 meeting at Sheremetyevo Airport with representatives of human rights organizations and lawyers, organized in part by the Russian government,[239] Snowden said he was accepting all offers of asylum that he had already received or would receive in the future, noting that his Venezuela’s “asylee status was now formal.”[240] He also said he would request asylum in Russia until he resolved his travel problems.[241] Russian Federal Migration Service officials confirmed on July 16 that Snowden had submitted an application for temporary asylum.[242] On July 24, Kucherena said his client “wants to find work in Russia, travel and somehow create a life for himself.” He said Snowden had already begun learning Russian.[243]

Amid media reports in early July 2013 attributed to U.S. administration sources that Obama’s one-on-one meeting with Putin, ahead of a G20 meeting in St Petersburg scheduled for September, was in doubt due to Snowden’s protracted sojourn in Russia,[244] top U.S. officials repeatedly made it clear to Moscow that Snowden should immediately be returned to the United States to, in the words of White House press secretary Jay Carney, “face the charges that have been brought against him for the unauthorized leaking of classified information.”[245][246][247] Snowden needed asylum, according to his Russian lawyer, because “he faces persecution by the U.S. government and he fears for his life and safety, fears that he could be subjected to torture and capital punishment.”[248]

In a letter to Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov dated July 23,[249]U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sought to eliminate the “asserted grounds for Mr. Snowden’s claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise.” Holder asserted that the theft and espionage charges against Snowden do not carry the possibility of a death penalty and that the United States would not seek the death penalty “even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes.” Holder said Snowden is free to travel from Moscow despite the June 22 revocation of his U.S. passport. He is, Holder explained, immediately eligible for a “limited validity passport” good for direct return to the United States. Holder also assured Konovalov that Snowden would not be tortured. “Torture is unlawful in the United States,” Holder wrote. “If he returns to the United States, Mr. Snowden would promptly be brought before a civilian court convened under Article III of the United States Constitution and supervised by a United States District Judge. Mr. Snowden would be appointed (or if so chose, could retain) counsel.”[250] The same day, the Russian president’s spokesman reiterated the Kremlin’s position that it would “not hand anyone over”; he also noted that Putin was not personally involved in the matter as Snowden “has not made any request that would require examination by the head of state” and that the issue was being handled through talks between the FSB and the FBI.[251]

In March 2015, journalist Glenn Greenwald reported at The Intercept that Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor of Germany, told him the U.S. government had threatened to stop sharing intelligence if Germany offered Snowden asylum or arranged for his travel there.[252]

On June 14, 2013, United States federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Snowden, charging him with theft of government property, and two counts of violating the Espionage Act through unauthorized communication of national defense information and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”[5][249] Each of the three charges carries a maximum possible prison term of ten years. The charge was initially secret and was unsealed a week later.

Snowden was asked in a January 2014 interview about returning to the U.S. to face the charges in court, as Obama had suggested a few days prior. Snowden explained why he rejected the request: “What he doesn’t say are that the crimes that he’s charged me with are crimes that don’t allow me to make my case. They don’t allow me to defend myself in an open court to the public and convince a jury that what I did was to their benefit. So it’s, I would say, illustrative that the President would choose to say someone should face the music when he knows the music is a show trial.”[58][253] Snowden’s legal representative, Jesselyn Radack, wrote that “the Espionage Act effectively hinders a person from defending himself before a jury in an open court, as past examples show,” referring to Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou and Chelsea Manning. Radack said that the “arcane World War I law” was never meant to prosecute whistleblowers, but rather spies who sold secrets to enemies for profit. Under this law, she states, “no prosecution of a non-spy can be fair or just.”[254]

Snowden left the Moscow airport on August 1 after 39 days in the transit section. He had been granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year;[255] the asylum grant can be extended indefinitely on an annual basis.[256] According to his Russian lawyer, Snowden went to an undisclosed location kept secret for security reasons.[257] In response to the asylum grant, the White House stated that it was “extremely disappointed,” and cancelled a previously scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.[258][259] Additionally, Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham urged President Obama to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but House Speaker John Boehner, also a Republican, rejected that idea as “dead wrong.”[260]

In late July 2013, Lon Snowden said he believed his son would be better off staying in Russia, and didn’t believe he would receive a fair trial in the U.S.[261] In mid-October, he visited his son in Moscow, later telling the press that he was pleased with Edward’s situation, and still believed Russia was the best choice for his asylum, saying he wouldn’t have to worry about people “rushing across the border to render him.” Snowden commented that his son found living in Russia “comfortable,” and Moscow “modern and sophisticated.”[262] Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, announced on October 31 that his client had found a website maintenance job at one of Russia’s largest websites, but refused to identify the site for “security reasons.” Jesselyn Radack, one of Snowden’s American lawyers, said she was “not aware” of any new job.[263] Asked about this by The Moscow Times in June 2014, The Guardian correspondent Luke Harding replied, “Kucherena is completely unreliable as a source. We [The Guardian] did the rounds of Russian IT companies when he made that claim last year and none of themnone of the big ones, at leastconfirmed this.”[264]

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who had traveled to Russia to give Snowden a whistleblower award, said that Snowden did not give any storage devices such as hard drives or USB flash drives to Russia or China, and that the four laptops he carried with him “were a ‘diversion’ and contained no secrets.” U.S. officials said they assumed that any classified materials downloaded by Snowden had fallen into the hands of China and Russia, though they acknowledged they had no proof of this.[265] In an October 2013 interview, Snowden maintained that he did not bring any classified material into Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest.” He added, “There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents.”[94] In June 2015, however, The Sunday Times reported that British government officials anonymously claimed to the paper that Russia and China had cracked an encrypted cache of files taken by Snowden, forcing the withdrawal of British spies from live operations.[266] The BBC also stated that their sources told them British intelligence assets had been moved as a precaution after the Snowden leaks.[267] Several prominent media outlets and persons have disputed the validity of The Sunday Times’s story. The Intercept’s Greenwald said the report had “retraction-worthy fabrications,” and “does […] nothing other than quote anonymous British officials,” and notes that parts of the Times’s report was removed from the original post without the Times saying it did so;[268]The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple stated that CNN reporter George Howell may have unknowingly damage the report’s credibility in an on-air interview with the story’s lead author Tom Harper “by asking obvious questions about the story.”[269]

WikiLeaks released video of Snowden on October 11 taken during the Sam Adams Award reception in Moscow, his first public appearance in three months. Former U.S. government officials attending the ceremony said they saw no evidence Snowden was under the control of Russian security services. The whistleblower group said he was in good spirits, looked well, and still believes he was right to release the NSA documents.[270] In the video, Snowden said “people all over the world are coming to realize” that the NSA’s surveillance programs put people in danger, hurt the U.S. and its economy, and “limit our ability to speak and think and live and be creative, to have relationships and associate freely” as well as putting people “at risk of coming into conflict with our own government.”[271]

On October 31, German lawmaker Hans-Christian Strbele traveled to Moscow to meet with Snowden, whom he invited to testify before the German parliament to assist investigations into NSA surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone since 2002.[272][273][274] After the visit, Snowden indicated a willingness to testify, though not from Moscow as Germany requested. Snowden said he would rather give testimony before the U.S. Congress, his second choice being Berlin.[275]

Also in October, journalist Glenn Greenwald commented on Snowden’s Russian asylum: “[Snowden] didn’t choose to be there. He was trying to get transit to Latin America, and then the U.S. revoked his passport and threatened other countries out of offering Snowden safe passage.”[276] WikiLeaks representative Sarah Harrison, who accompanied Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow, left Russia in early November after waiting until she felt confident he had “established himself and was free from the interference of any government.”[277]

On December 17, 2013, Snowden wrote an open letter to the people of Brazil offering to assist the Brazilian government in investigating allegations of U.S. spying, and added that he continued to seek, and would require, asylum.[278] Snowden wrote, “Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!”[279] Brazil had been in an uproar since Snowden revealed that the U.S. was spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, her senior advisors, and Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras.[280] Rousseff and officials of the Brazilian foreign ministry said in response that they could not consider asylum for Snowden because they had not received any formal request.[281] A representative of the foreign ministry said that a fax requesting asylum had been sent to the Brazilian embassy in Moscow in July but it had not been signed and could not be authenticated.[282] David Miranda, the Brazilian partner of Glenn Greenwald, launched an internet petition urging the Brazilian president to consider offering Snowden asylum.[283]

Snowden met with Barton Gellman of The Washington Post six months after the disclosure for an exclusive interview spanning 14 hours, his first since being granted temporary asylum. Snowden talked about his life in Russia as “an indoor cat,” reflected on his time as an NSA contractor, and discussed at length the revelations of global surveillance and their reverberations. Snowden said, “In terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated.”[30] He commented “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.” On the accusation from former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden that he had defected, Snowden stated, “If I defected at all, I defected from the government to the public.”[30] In 2014, Snowden said that he lives “a surprisingly open life” in Russia and that he is recognized when he goes to computer stores.[203]

According to BuzzFeed, in January 2014 an anonymous Pentagon official said that he wanted to kill Snowden, claiming that By [Snowden] showing who our collections partners were, the terrorists have dropped those carriers and email addresses.”[284] Other intelligence analysts expressed their anger to BuzzFeed as well, with an Army intelligence officer complaining that Snowden’s leaks had increased his “blindness” and expressing his hope that Snowden would be killed in a covert way. When asked about the BuzzFeed story, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said death threats were “totally inappropriate” and had no place in our discussion of these issues.”[285]

On Meet the Press in late January 2014, speculation arose from top U.S. officials in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that Snowden might have been assisted by Russian intelligence,[286] prompting a rare interview during which Snowden spoke in his defense. He told The New Yorker “this ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd,” adding that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”[184]The New York Times reported that investigations by the NSA and the FBI “have turned up no evidence that Mr. Snowden was aided by others.”[287] Days later, Feinstein stated that she had seen no evidence that Snowden is a Russian spy.[288] Germany’s Der Spiegel suggested the accusations were part of a “smear campaign” by U.S. officials. For Snowden, the smears did not “mystify” him; he said that “outlets report statements that the speakers themselves admit are sheer speculation.”[289]

In late January 2014, US attorney general, Eric Holder in an interview with MSNBC indicated that the U.S. could allow Snowden to return from Russia under negotiated terms, saying he was prepared to engage in conversation with him, but that full clemency would be going too far.[290]

Snowden’s first television interview[291] aired January 26, 2014 on Germany’s NDR. In April 2014, he appeared on video from an undisclosed location during President Putin’s live annual Q&A exchange with the public. Snowden asked, “Does Russia intercept, store, or analyzein any waythe communications of individuals?” Putin replied, “Russia uses surveillance techniques for spying on individuals only with the sanction of a court order. This is our law, and therefore there is no mass surveillance in our country.”[292] Reactions were split. Critics said it looked like a “highly-scripted propaganda stunt for Vladimir Putin”[293] and that Snowden is “bought and paid for entirely by the Russians.”[293][294] Snowden insisted his question was designed to hold the Russian president accountable.[295] In an op-ed for The Guardian, Snowden said his question was intended “to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion.” Snowden called Putin’s response “evasive”.[296] A few days later, The Daily Beast reported that Snowden himself “instantly regretted” asking Putin the “softball question”, which was crafted with several of his key advisers, and that he was mortified by the reaction. Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s legal advisers, told the Beast that Snowden hadn’t realized how much his appearance with Putin would be seen as a Kremlin propaganda victory. “I know this is hard to believe,” Wizner acknowledged. “I know if I was just watching from afar, I’d think, ‘Wow, they forced him to do this.’ But it’s not true. He just fucking did it.”[297] Asked six months later about the incident, Snowden conceded, “Yeah, that was terrible! Oh, Jesus, that blew up in my face. And in the United States, what I did appearing at that Putin press conference was not worth the price.”[219]

In March 2014, the international advocacy group European Digital Rights (EDRi) reported that the European Parliament, in adopting a Data Protection Reform Package, rejected amendments that would have dropped charges against Snowden and granted him asylum or refugee status.[298]

In May 2014, NBC’s Brian Williams presented the first interview for American television.[299] In June, The Washington Post reported that during his first year of Russian asylum, Snowden had received “tens of thousands of dollars in cash awards and appearance fees from privacy organizations and other groups,” fielded inquiries about book and movie projects, and was considering taking a position with a South African foundation that would support work on security and privacy issues. “Any moment that he decides that he wants to be a wealthy person,” said Snowden’s attorney Ben Wizner, “that route is available to him,” although the U.S. government could attempt to seize such proceeds.[300]

Also in May, the German Parliamentary Committee investigating the NSA spying scandal unanimously decided to invite Snowden to testify as a witness.[301] In September, opposition parties in the German parliament filed constitutional complaints to force the government to let Snowden testify in Berlin. Snowden had refused a proposed video conference from Moscow, saying he wants to testify only in Berlin and asking for safe conduct.[302][303][304]

On July 13, 2014, The Guardian published its first story based on an exclusive, seven-hour interview newly conducted with Snowden in a Moscow city centre hotel. Snowden condemned the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill announced to the UK’s House of Commons on July 10[305] bolstering the state’s right to keep personal data held by Internet and phone companies. Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass such emergency legislation except during total war. “I mean we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbor. It defies belief.”[306] The Daily Mail reported that Snowden had “caused fury” by attacking Britain. “His critics said the new surveillance Bill was being pushed through Parliament today largely because of his treachery in leaking Britain’s spy secrets.”[307] On July 13 and 17, The Guardian posted video clips, of about 2 minutes[306] and 14 minutes[308] in length, excerpted from the full interview. On July 18, The Guardian published a nearly 10,000-word “edited transcript” of their Snowden interview.[78] A year after arriving in Moscow, Snowden said he is still learning Russian. He keeps late and solitary hours, effectively living on U.S. time. He does not drink, cooks for himself but doesn’t eat much. “I don’t live in absolute secrecy,” he says. “I live a pretty open lifebut at the same time I don’t want to be a celebrity.” He does not work for a Russian organization, yet is financially secure thanks to substantial savings from his years as a well-paid contractor and more recently numerous awards and speaking fees from around the world.[24]

On August 7, 2014, six days after Snowden’s one-year temporary asylum expired, his Russian lawyer announced that Snowden had received a three-year residency permit. “He will be able to travel freely within the country and go abroad,” said Anatoly Kucherena. “He’ll be able to stay abroad for not longer than three months.” Kucherena explained that Snowden had not been granted political asylum, which would allow him to stay in Russia permanently but requires a separate process.[309] “In the future,” he added, “Edward will have to decide whether to continue to live in Russia and become a citizen or to return to the United States.”[310] In May 2015, The New York Times reported, “Snowden’s main source of income is speaking fees, which have sometimes exceeded $10,000 for an appearance.”[311]

A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a hero,[312][313][314] a whistleblower,[315][316][317][318] a dissident,[319] a patriot,[320][321][322] and a traitor.[323][324][325][326] His release of NSA material was called the most significant leak in U.S. history by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg,[327][328] who said, “Snowden’s disclosures are a true constitutional moment” enabling the press to hold the Executive branch of the U.S. federal government accountable, while the legislative and judiciary branch refused to do so.[329] On January 14, 2014, Ellsberg posted to his Twitter page: “Edward Snowden has done more for our Constitution in terms of the Fourth and First Amendment than anyone else I know.”[330]

On June 9, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper condemned Snowden’s actions as having done “huge, grave damage” to U.S. intelligence capabilities.[331] On June 27, 2013, The Monterey Herald reported that the United States Army had barred its personnel from access to parts of the website of The Guardian after that site’s revelations of Snowden’s information about global surveillance.[332] The entire Guardian website was blocked for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[333]

Journalist Naomi Wolf in June 2013 questioned the authenticity of Snowden’s story. She elucidated her “creeping concern that the NSA leaker is not who he purports to be, and that the motivations involved in the story may be more complex than they appear to be”, and in what was called a “conspiracy theory”, presented a series of questions concerning the official narrative. “From the standpoint of the police state and its interests,” she asks, “why have a giant Big Brother apparatus spying on us at all times unless we know about it?”[334][335][336]

Read more here:
Edward Snowden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Town of Liberty, NC

 Liberty  Comments Off on Town of Liberty, NC
Aug 132015
 

Welcome tothe official Townof Liberty NCwebsite.

We believe you will find it informative and we encourage any and all suggestions to make it even better. Liberty is a charming, inviting, friendly rural Town in the Piedmont region that is convenient to larger cities.Liberty is hometo The Liberty Antiques Festival held twice a year, located20 miles northeastfrom Asheboro and the North Carolina Zoo; 20 miles southwestfrom Burlington and excellent shopping; 20 miles southfrom Greensborowith major transportation hubs; 30 miles from High Point and the semi-annual Furniture Market; and regionally accessible to the State Capital of Raleigh and surrounding areas.

Our Mayor, Town Council, and Administrative Staff along with the invaluable assistance of the many great citizens who sit on our advisory boards and others who volunteer their time and services, all work diligently to make our community a great place to be in North Carolina. Please enjoy our web site and our town, and feel free to contact town hall at any time. The Liberty Team looks forward to serving you and making Liberty an even better place to live, work, visit and play.

Liberty Mission Statement

Liberty is an All American town in the Heart of N.C. We are rooted in our heritage, embracing the present while moving towards the future. We are a diverse community united in our efforts to promote growth, leadership, economic development and family values.

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Town of Liberty, NC

NATO – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aug 082015
 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), or North Atlantic Alliance, the Atlantic Alliance, the Western Alliance, is a defence alliance. It was established in 1949, by the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington, D.C., USA, on April 4, 1949. Its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium. Its other official name is the same name in French, Organisation du Trait de l’Atlantique Nord (OTAN).

NATO has two official languages, English and French, defined in Article 14 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Its members in 1949 were: The United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Three years later, on 18 February 1952, Greece and Turkey also joined.

When West Germany joined the organization on 9 May 1955 it was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Minister of Norway at the time.[2] Indeed, the result was the Warsaw Pact, signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union and its satellite states as response to NATO.

After the Cold war in 1999 three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland joined the NATO. On 29 March 2004 seven more Northern European and Eastern European countries joined NATO: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and also Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Croatia and Albania received NATO membership invitation on 3 April 2008. Republic of Macedonia received only conditional invitation because it was vetoed by Greece due to Republic of Macedonia’s name dispute with Greece.

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NATO – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 3/8/2015 Whats …

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 3/8/2015 Whats …
Aug 062015
 

The weekend brought pain for Bitcoin, but that was always on the cards. My Fridays Bitcoin price technical analysis Palpable Strain concluded on a bearish note saying that a close below $286 could bring in further decline, and as can be seen, the cryptocurrency did slump intraday to $276.57 before taking support from near the previous consolidation level of $275.

Bitcoin is currently trading at $281.26.

Now, the important question that must concern the trading community is: Is this relief from the support level for real or is it a trap? This analysis will aim to provide some answers.

Image: https://www.tradingview.com/x/qpzvELmb/

Bitcoin Chart Structure The recent decline from $298 to $276 diminishes the probability of an immediate higher top. A careful observation of the above-presented daily BTC-USD price chart reveals that Bitcoin is in a descending triangle a bearish technical chart pattern which successfully matures 60-70% of the time. The Resistance has been marked by the downward sloping red line while the Support is horizontal.

Fibonacci Retracements As stated previously many times, the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement level of $280 did provide aninterim cushion to the Bitcoin. A decisive breach below this should set the next target at $268 the 50% retracement.

Moving Average Convergence Divergence The Histogram has sunk lower in the negative territory as MACD extends its slide. The latest values of Histogram, MACD and Signal Line are -2.3278, 3.9254 and 6.2531 respectively.

Momentum The Momentum indicator has a present value of -7.7500.

Money Flow Index As stated in theprevious analysis, the divergence between MFI and price has brought losses to Bitcoin. The MFI now reads 59.7792.

Original post:
Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 3/8/2015 Whats …

Fourth Amendment – the Text, Origins, and Meaning

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Fourth Amendment – the Text, Origins, and Meaning
Jul 242015
 

Yellow Dog Productions/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Text of Amendment:

Writs of Assistance:

The Fourth Amendment was written directly in response to British general warrants (called Writs of Assistance), in which the Crown would grant general search powers to British law enforcement official.

These officials could search virtually any home they liked, at any time they liked, for any reason they liked or for no reason at all. Since many of the founding fathers were smugglers, this was an especially unpopular concept in the colonies.

Limited Power:

In practical terms, there is no means by which the government can exercise prior restraint on law enforcement officials. If an officer in Jackson, Mississippi wants to conduct a warrantless search without probable cause, the judiciary is not present at the time and can’t prevent the search. This meant that the Fourth Amendment had little power or relevance until 1914.

The Exclusionary Rule:

In Weeks v. United States (1914), the Supreme Court established what has been known as the exclusionary rule. The exclusionary rule states that evidence obtained through unconstitutional means is inadmissible in court and cannot be used as part of the prosecution’s case. Before Weeks, law enforcement officials could violate the Fourth Amendment without being punished for it, secure the evidence, and use it at trial.

The exclusionary rule establishes consequences for violating a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights.

The rest is here:
Fourth Amendment – the Text, Origins, and Meaning

BTC Guild – Bitcoin Mining Pool

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on BTC Guild – Bitcoin Mining Pool
Jul 242015
 

BTC Guild will be shutting down its mining servers on June 30th, 2015 at 23:59 UTC. Users will still be able to log in and retrieve their history (CSV exports on the settings page) and request withdrawals until September 30, 2015. Why is BTC Guild Shutting Down? This is the second time BTC Guild has announced closure, but this time the decision will not be reversed. The reasons have not changed much since the original announcement.

As mining has become more centralized, BTC Guild has continuously shrunk in proportion to the network, now being less than 3% of the network hash rate. The costs of running the pool have not changed, and the amount of funds at risk in the event of a compromise is significantly higher than what the pool could ever recover from. When the pool was 20-30% of the network, the amount of funds at risk was slightly higher, but the ability for the pool to recover from that loss was present. At 3% of the network, the pool would not be able to recover from such a loss.

Additionally, the NYDFS BitLicense regulations have now become finalized, and the final regulations have enough gray area that BTC Guild is at risk. The fact that BTC Guild is not in New York does not matter, since it would be doing business with New York residents while they are physically in New York. This fact makes it possible for New York to attempt to claim jurisdiction to enforce regulations. Whether or not BTC Guild could win in defense of such an attempt is irrelevant, since the cost of defending the pool would be greater than any income the pool is expected to generate going forward.

Finally, I have been growing concerned for some time now about attempts to defraud pools. The pool’s luck has been on a decline for over a year. The luck on a few other pools has also shown a negative trend. While it is not impossible that it’s a coincidence, this is something I have been constantly made aware of and am helpless against. There is no way to know whether it’s just bad luck, a small bug in older miners (BTC Guild probably has the highest percentage of first/second generation ASICs) resulting in a few % of block-solving shares to disappear, or a large pool trying to hurt the competition (many of the largest pools have large private mining operations now). It would only take a fraction (1 PH/s or less could do it) to cause significant harm to a competing pool, and that activity could be masked by proxies and multiple accounts to be impossible to catch.

The PPLNS shift length will be steadily reduced starting June 16th. This means that more shifts will likely end with 0 blocks, but shifts that find blocks will receive a larger amount than they would have previously. It is not recommended that users wait until the last minute to change pools.

The minimum balance for a manual withdrawal is reduced to 0.0001, and will not require a transaction fee to be paid in order to request the withdrawal.

Users will have until September 30, 2015 to issue the request for their final withdrawals.

The risk of users being cheated or stolen from as a result of transferring pool ownership is not something I am willing to accept. This is part of the reason the pool is closing in the first place: Risk of users losing funds because the pool would not be able to cover losses in the event of compromise.

I will not be entertaining offers on purchasing the pool this time around. There is no (reasonable) price the pool would be sold for.

Thank you to all the users and the Bitcoin community for making BTC Guild a success for the last four years. It has been hard to finally make this call a second time with the determination to not reverse the decision. You will still be able to find me around the Bitcoin Talk forums (outside of the Pools subsection for once), and on IRC in #btcguild (and probably #bitcoin once the pool winds down).

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BTC Guild – Bitcoin Mining Pool




Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism