Author Topic: Internet activist, programmer Aaron Swartz "committed suicide" at age 26.  (Read 9488 times)

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Offline Banker Bob

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Internet activist and computer prodigy Aaron Swartz, who helped create an early version of the Web feed system RSS and was facing federal criminal charges in a controversial fraud case, has committed suicide at age 26, authorities said on Saturday.

Police found Swartz’s body in his Brooklyn, New York, apartment on Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the city’s chief medical examiner, which ruled the death a suicide by hanging.

Swartz is widely credited with being a co-author of the specifications for the Web feed format RSS 1.0, which he worked on at age 14, according to a blog post on Saturday from his friend, science fiction author Cory Doctorow.

RSS, which stands for Rich Site Summary, is a format for delivering to users content from sites that change constantly, such as news pages and blogs.

Over the years, he became an online icon for helping to make a virtual mountain of information freely available to the public, including an estimated 19 million pages of federal court documents from the PACER case-law system.

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves,” Swartz wrote in an online “manifesto” dated 2008.

“The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. …haring isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy,” he wrote.

That belief – that information should be shared and available for the good of society – prompted Swartz to found the nonprofit group DemandProgress.

The group led a successful campaign to block a bill introduced in 2011 in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Stop Online Piracy Act.

The bill, which was withdrawn amid public pressure, would have allowed court orders to curb access to certain websites deemed to be engaging in illegal sharing of intellectual property.

Swartz and other activists objected on the grounds it would give the government too many broad powers to censor and squelch legitimate Web communication.

But Swartz faced trouble in July 2011, when he was indicted by a federal grand jury of wire fraud, computer fraud and other charges related to allegedly stealing millions of academic articles and journals from a digital archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to the federal indictment, Swartz – who was a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics – used MIT’s computer networks to steal more than 4 million articles from JSTOR, an online archive and journal distribution service.

JSTOR did not press charges against Swartz after the digitized copies of the articles were returned, according to media reports at the time.

Swartz, who pleaded not guilty to all counts, faced 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted. He was released on bond. His trial was scheduled to start later this year.

On Saturday, online tributes to Swartz flooded across cyberspace.

“Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill and intelligence about people and issues,” Doctorow, co-editor of the weblog Boing Boing, wrote on the site.

Doctorow wrote that Swartz had “problems with depression for many years.”

Swartz also played a role in building the news-sharing website Reddit, but left the company after it was acquired by Wired magazine owner Conde Nast. Recalling that time of his life, Swartz described his struggles with dark feelings.

In an online account of his life and work, Swartz said he became “miserable” after going to work at the San Francisco offices of Wired after Reddit was acquired.

“I took a long Christmas vacation,” he wrote. “I got sick. I thought of suicide. I ran from the police. And when I got back on Monday morning, I was asked to resign.”

Swartz also had been a fellow at a Harvard University research lab on institutional corruption, according to his website.

Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited as the most important figure in the creation of the World Wide Web, commemorated Swartz in a Twitter post on Saturday.

“Aaron dead,” he wrote. “World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep.”

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Doina Chiacu and Philip Barbara)
You can't make up this SH*T!!

Offline redcinderroad

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One of the main guys responsible for helping to stop SOPA is dead, an major player against internet censorship. I'm not sure how to respond to it but something doesn't seem right here. Journalists might want to look into this a bit more, if they would.

R.I.P Aaron Swartz
Knowledge equals Power, Power equals Control, Control equals Success, Success equals Money, and all are interchangeable.

Offline Liberty4all

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This is what I got 10 hrs ago :'(

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Demand Progress’s Aaron Swartz. Friends and family have issued a statement and created a memorial page, here.

We are conferring with Aaron's family, friends, and colleagues about several ways in which we might honor him and help ensure that the injustices that weighed so heavily on him are addressed.  We will have more news to share in the coming days.

You can click here to sign up for updates about how we intend to move forward.

Aaron was a dear friend, and an ideological brother in arms. As others have spoken to at great length, he was indeed a passionate advocate for access to information and for a free and open Internet. He believed in these things for their own sakes, but moreover as means towards the even deeper end of building a world defined by social and economic justice.

He resisted the impulse to presume that he alone was responsible for his brilliance or should benefit therefrom, and he wasn’t a techno-utopian: He was a communitarian, somebody who was deeply aware of our world’s injustices and who understood the constant struggle that is necessary to even begin to remedy them. That’s why this organization exists.

We’ve worked closely with Aaron over the last two or three years, but have not known him for as long as have some others who’ve written profoundly moving tributes to him and his life’s work. We met him as a genius, but not as the boy-genius that Larry and Cory and many others knew, and we would suggest reading their pieces, which may be found at the bottom of our home page, for deeper insight into his personal and professional evolution.

We first encountered Aaron through our executive director’s unsuccessful run for Congress in 2010. Aaron became a fixture in the campaign office, rigging up cheap ways to do polling and robo-calls and helping give the uphill effort a fighting chance. But it was never about just one campaign: He was honing skills and tools he wanted to use to build capacity for much broader social movements that would create fundamental, structural change. He’d taken to calling himself an “applied sociologist.” He was trying to hack the world, and we were happy to help in what small ways we could.

That campaign work quickly transitioned into Demand Progress and Aaron’s conception of the initial petition in opposition to the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, and then the ensuing 18 months of activism that helped bring down SOPA and PIPA. There are so many stories to tell about that effort: trudging around the halls of the Capitol, getting under the skin of intransigent senators, generally scrapping away as we struggled to build a movement against all odds. Many of them are best told by Aaron himself, here.

But Aaron’s legal troubles began approximately commensurate with the launch of that anti-COICA petition, and it was clear that his persecution by an institutionally corrupted criminal justice system weighed heavily on him throughout the last two years, and certainly more so of late.

As we noted above, we are working with Aaron’s friends, family, and colleagues to determine how best to pay tribute to him — it will surely entail engaging in political activism in service of making this world a more just one. We will be in touch with our members and the general public in the near future to offer suggestions about ways to move forward. Tragically, we’ll have to continue to stifle the visceral impulse to run our half-formed ideas by Aaron, to help us make them better ones.

Click here if you’d like to receive updates from us.

In the meantime, Aaron had deep respect for GiveWell. Those seeking to donate in his name might consider giving to the charities they recommend.

Please forward this email along to others who'd like to join our efforts, or use these links to let them know:

   If you're already on Facebook, click here to share with your friends.
   If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet
In Solidarity.

-Demand Progress


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I see they are running this story on Russia Today.

Offline Banker Bob

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Here is Carmen Ortiz with her 'crime' boss.

There is a petition to remove her.

Also looks like the prosecutor Heyman is involved in another hackers death.

Internet Activist's Prosecutor Linked To Another Hacker's Death

How funny whom ever these two prosecute ends up dead.

found this

Heymann received the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service for "directing the largest and most successful identity theft and hacking investigation and prosecution ever conducted in the United States."
You can't make up this SH*T!!

Offline Banker Bob

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Aaron Swartz: How We Stopped SOPA

Speech 5 months ago before 'supposedly' being depressed and killing himself. Laughing and joking, talking about how they defeated SOPA and the irregularities inside the bill. Does not look slightly depressed as the media constantly repeats.

SOPA Irregularities.

Bill had congressman signatures on the bill BEFORE it was introduced. 6'30".

Bill was passed ANONYMOUSLY 2 DAYS after it was introduced. 7'30"

Gave companies law enforcement capabilities shutting down web sites anywhere in the world. 8'00"

Both Republicans and Democrats mysteriously dropped all differences and debate; "who ever was behind this was good". 8'30"

HINTS AT ROCKEFELLER being behind the bill with comparing it to the passage of the social security bill. 9'00"

Was told directly 'THE BILL IS GOING TO PASS UNANIMOUSLY' ahead of time. 10'30"

How massive petitions were ignored. 11'30"

How congress members voted for the bill even-though they said they opposed it. 12'30"

How the bills name was changed to PIPA. 13'30"

Points out to politicians hippocratic and the control freak, "tyrant" attitude. 16'51"

How press REFUSED to cover the story, names Chris Dodd as main sponsor responsible for the bill. 20'41"




But Tom Dolan, husband of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, took a different approach on Twitter that some are calling insensitive. Late Monday night, the former executive at IBM began tweeting in defense of his wife -- by criticizing Swartz's grieving family.

    Tom Dolan @tomjdolan

    @mkapor Truly incredible that in their own son's obit they blame others for his death and make no mention of the 6-month offer.
    14 Jan 13

Dolan did not immediately respond to requests for comment made via IBM and LinkedIn. As of 2:30 p.m. EST, his Twitter page is inaccessible, meaning he may have taken it down. We will update with any comment.

"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy," the family wrote in a statement. "It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death."

Swartz was offered a bargain that would have sent him to prison for six months in exchange for pleading guilty to 13 crimes, his lawyer told the Boston Globe. He declined. By going to trial, Swartz faced 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine allowed under federal law.

The Syndicate had excellent reasons to kill Aaron Swartz

In an online “manifesto” dated 2008, Aaron wrote:  “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”   He dedicated his life precisely to the goal of depriving the Syndicate of this power.

According to Wikipedia,

Swartz co-authored the “RSS 1.0″ specification of RSS, and built the website framework and the architecture for the Open Library.  Swartz also focused on sociology, civic awareness, and activism.

“Swartz’s Web savvy took him from Internet entrepreneur to online activist, co-founding Demand Progress, a group that campaigns for progressive public policy — in particular fighting against Internet censorship.  His crusades boosted his status as something of a folk hero.”  Demand Progress  had over one million members.

This figure of 1,000,000 is extremely important, for it shows, beyond all doubt, that, like John Lennon and President Kennedy, Aaron posed a real threat to the status quo.  This threat is acknowledged by the Syndicate’s own indoctrination organs.  For instance, National Propaganda Radio put it thus:

“Swartz had an enormous following in the technology world” and was one of the “most influential figures in talking about technology’s social, cultural and political effect.”  The independent Electronic Frontier Foundation concurs:  Swartz “did more than almost anyone to make the internet a thriving ecosystem for open knowledge, and to keep it that way.”

As well, Aaron spoke against US President Barack Obama’s “kill list” and cyber attacks against Iran.

Aaron was “a frequent television commentator and the author of numerous articles on a variety of topics, especially the corrupting influence of big money on institutions including nonprofits, the media, politics, and public opinion.  From 2010-11, he researched these topics as a Fellow at the Harvard Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption.  He also served on the board of Change Congress, a good government nonprofit.”

Syndicate harassment

As mentioned, government assassinations of dissidents are often preceded by a campaign of terror, intimidation, slander-mongering, litigation, physical intimidation, and incarceration.  Aaron’s “suicide” fits this pattern perfectly.

The Syndicate made it clear that Aaron was in its crosshairs.  Thus, Syndicate members, especially “the Motion Picture Association of America and United States Chamber of Commerce, have stated their opposition to Demand Progress on numerous occasions, mainly in respect to [its] stance on internet censorship.”

In 2009, the FBI put Aaron under “investigation” (a euphemism for harassment of activists) for publicly releasing 20% of United States Federal Court documents.  The “case” was closed two months later, without filing any charges but, in the process, making Aaron pay dearly for his idealism.

The entire exercise had nothing to do with breaking laws, or justice, but a warning:  “Stop harassing us,” the Federal Bureau of Intimidation was telling him, “or else!”  And yet, just like a tree standing by the waters, Aaron was not moved.  Despite the extreme pressure he was under, Aaron Swartz (like Bradley Manning and many other unsung heroes) remained defiant and, in late October 2009, posted his FBI file on the internet. With this single act of defiance, Aaron probably signed his own lynch warrant.

In connection with his public-spirited Open Library project, whose goal is “to create a free webpage for every book ever published” and to have as many books as possible freely available, Swartz allegedly downloaded four million restricted-access academic articles from the website of a non-profit organization called JSTOR, with the intention, according to the American government, of making these articles freely available to the world’s people (as, by the way, they would have been in any half-civilized society—can anyone imagine Archimedes or Aristarchus or Euclid or Sappho copyrighting their works?), for which “crime” he faced a potential 50(!) years behind bars.  Swartz, however, denied the Syndicate’s allegations.

JSTOR, the organizational “victim” of Aaron’s theft, not only declined to press charges against him but, two days before his death, “announced that the archives of more than 1,200 of its journals would be available to the public for free.”  Yet, that act of generosity and public spiritedness meant nothing to the Syndicate’s “justice” system, which continued to turn Aaron’s life into a living hell.  And there is yet another curious aspect of this act.  Most of us spend entire lifetimes without ever accomplishing anything like it: cajoling a huge organization to place the public interest above its own.  Are we to believe that, just two days after this momentous victory, instead of being jubilant, Aaron was depressed enough to hang himself?

"How long will they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?"   Marley, Bob   
You can't make up this SH*T!!

Offline Freebird100

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Outrage is growing over the U.S. Justice Department’s prosecution of the 26-year-old who committed suicide last week just weeks before he was to go on trial. Pioneering computer programmer and cyber activist Aaron Swartz was facing up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted for using computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download millions of academic articles provided by the nonprofit research service JSTOR. As the chief prosecutor Carmen Ortiz defends her actions, we speak to Swartz’s partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, and computer security consultant Alex Stamos, who would have been the chief expert witness at Swartz’s trial. We invited representatives from the U.S. attorney’s office and MIT to join us, but they declined.
"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

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Offline jofortruth

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Stephen Heymann should resign! He and his buddies have blood on their hands! This guy doesn't represent justice, he represents injustice! He even looks like a thug!

It appears that this type is all the DOJ hires these days! Where do they find such lowlifes, including Eric Holder, Mr Fast and Furious!  Sickening!

Don't believe me. Look it up yourself!

Offline Banker Bob

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Stephen Heymann should resign! He and his buddies have blood on their hands! This guy doesn't represent justice, he represents injustice! He even looks like a thug!

It appears that this type is all the DOJ hires these days! Where do they find such lowlifes, including Eric Holder, Mr Fast and Furious!  Sickening!


They are all bonifide cork soakers, GOD help us all.
You can't make up this SH*T!!

Offline jofortruth

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Don't believe me. Look it up yourself!