Snow & Zuck

There’s a WebCam
Hidden in the Toilet

Edward Snowden and Mark Zuckerberg shared a week in the headlines. The whistleblower who exposed the National Security Agency’s dirty secrets has a memoir out. And the Facebook’s inventor was caught on tape expressing fears of a future of greater scrutiny and accountability.
Apart from that, their notoriety, and the fact they were born within a year of each other, they’ve got little in common. One, whose daring act cost him his freedom, is an example of moral clarity, while the other embodies the very disregard for principles driving the ownership class.
The fate of their parallel lives, however, is an imperfect but still fitting metaphor for these times: follow your conscience and face exile and the hounds of the establishment. Use your privilege to generate wealth and soon you’ll get to rub elbows with the rich and the powerful.
Snowden‘s ‘Permanent Record,’ rather than boasting his ‘good guy’ image, as a slayer of sinister state-surveillance agencies, zeroes in on the fractured and the personal. It’s a humble account of surviving the pushback while still honoring ethical and private choices.
The leaked audio of Zuckerberg‘s raging about presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, throws a glare on his shrewd political calculations. As in the 2016 elections, he’s prepping his social media mammoth to play again the role of king’s maker.

TWO WHO REWROTE OUR TIMES
Six years ago this November, they were the focus of a Colltales’ Curtain Raiser, an excerpt of which is adapted and reposted below. To many, Snowden’s woes have somehow anticipated our current reality, where a U.S. president uses the government to go after his political enemies.
Or that Facebook, which Zuck started in 2004 – a decade before the NSA scandal broke – would go on to become more powerful than many nations. After all, free, non-regulated access to private citizen’s data is now as common as using cellphones to track people down.
As in 2014, they’re still frozen together in amber: Snowden in the White House’s hit list, unlikely to receive a fair trial if he ever comes back from Russia to fight for his rights; and Zuckerberg, who along the top 0.01% of the population, controls 80% of all the planet’s resources.

CHANGE THE WORLD OR MAKE A BUCK
‘The Big Brother age has produced its first titans whose duality mirrors the ambiguity and radical change of the way we live now. Born within a year of each other, Snow and Zuck have perhaps unwittingly, defined the times: a reboot of government accountability, or our downgrade to a totalitarian society.
They made their choices and so will we. Zuck’s created FB with one thought on his mind, besides getting dates: get rich. He achieved that by eliminating early collaborators and potential competitors, and swiftly establishing his wraparound, impenetrable hold of a niche market.
He succeeded beyond his most outlandish visions of power by conceiving and enforcing the tenet of his business model: the complete eradication of any notion of personal privacy, except his, and (more)
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Sugar Blues

Woman Goes Nuts At Baker
For Running Out of Cupcakes

It turns out that one of the worst eating addictions of Americans has also a hold on people across the pond (and we say this looking anxiously over our shoulders; unlike women issues or politics, this is bound to attract a lot of passionate reader Continue reading

Egypt Reborn

As Ruler Exits the Stage,
People Dream of a New Day

Congratulations, people of Egypt.
This is your moment, don’t let anyone
take it away from you.

Circus Fired

China Bans Acts
With Wild Animals

Perhaps the announcement was made to coincide with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the U.S. Knowing the topic of human rights violations by his country would be on the table, for example, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to imagine some political wrangling over how to divert the pressure, at least for now.
But be it as it may, the recent ban on circuses’ use of wild animals by the Chinese government does represent a step closer to a new attitude in our relationship with wild animals. In fact there’s a growing movement advocating an end for all instances of captivity of great beasts, regardless if it’s for educational or entertainment purposes.
China’s ban on all wild animal shows in some 300 state-owned Continue reading

Whale Blood

Iceland Disregards Ban,
Steps Up Illegal Whaling

Word by word, you could have read this headline in the 1970s and the 1980s: Commercial Whaling Will Drive Whales to Extinction. Thirty years have passed and the story hasn’t changed much. Despite an official, global, U.N.-sanctioned ban on whaling first established in 1986, the practice of hunting, killing and profiting from the slaughtering of whales continues as bloody and senseless as ever.
Iceland now, as then, leads the nations breaking the law (yes, Continue reading

He Shot the Sheriff

New Mexico Won’t
Pardon Billy the Kid

JUST IN: Facing a firestorm of controversy with the prospect of settling a 130-year case by pardoning Billy the Kid, departing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson backed down. The pressure from history buffs, including from descendants of Billy’s killer, Sheriff Pat Garrett, was way too much and, in the end, Richardson concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to justify a governor’s pardon just yet.
Legend has it that Billy killed anywhere from eight to 22 people before he was captured and shot in 1881 by Garrett. While in jail, he was offered a deal by then Governor Lew Wallace to go free in exchange for testifying in court. He kept his side of the bargain until the moment it became clear the state wouldn’t hold its end. Billy, then escaped and shot dead two law enforcement deputies, the crime that, once again, prevented a final reconciliation between his legendary status as a folk hero and a clean name in the court books.

Pat Garrett Family

Celebrates Decision

Almost 130 years after the Sheriff of Lincoln County killed The Kid, descendants of the iconic figures of the Old West are still battling to protect their legacies. Garrett’s family, along with those related to Sheriff William Brady, who was shot by the outlawed in 1878, invoke his reputation as a cop killer and a thief to fight any attempt to officially pardon him.
For those on The Kid’s side, there are historical documents showing that then Governor Lew Wallace promised him clemency in exchange Continue reading

Eye on the Year

RECORDS BROKEN &
VERY LITTLE CHANGE

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The Earth Shook & Burn But
The World Only Moved Sideways
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A year of extremes but no breakthroughs. Records of the wrong kind (U.S.’s longest armed conflict in Afghanistan and worst environmental disaster ever, highest temperature indexes in several regions of the world, increased infection diseases mortality rates in the Caribbean and Africa, and staggering drug trafficking casualties in Latin America) plagued the world, with the additional bonus of a certified freak: a snowstorm in the middle of the Australian summer.
But there was no progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; no curbs on Iranian and North Korean authoritarian antics or scary nuclear ambitions; no meaningful proposals to solve political impasses in the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria or Zimbabwe.
Disturbing tactics did get deployed, though, by the world’s superpowers but with the only intention of curbing whistle blowers and freedom of information acts such as WikiLeaks. It gave civil rights activists of every stripe a chilling pause to see Continue reading