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Right Use of Data


“Those who do not move

 do not notice their chains.”

                  ― Rosa Luxemburg





If we survive long enough … eventually the people of this planet will come to the realization that WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF THIS PLANET …  and then we will take responsibility for our welfare. And surely one of the things we will do – is to declare that war is illegal.

But for now we are still in the awkward stage – we really haven’t made up our mind to survive.  We lack hope … and we lack unity.


We all agree that killing is wrong (& illegal) … and that people get killed in wars; but we have not yet declared war to be illegal.


Of course we all realize that every municipality assumes this responsibility (of establishing a police force to protect people … and to see that laws are obeyed)


We don’t have World Peace yet … because we don’t (yet) want it.


It’s bound to come though … (simply) because it’s the only option that makes any sense.


And we now find ourselves IN THE DIGITAL AGE.  And our relationship with that fact is similar to our relationship with realizing that we are ALL A SINGLE FAMILY.


And so – we are in (yet another) awkward stage regarding our relationship with our Personal Data.


That’s why we are currently in the GOLDEN AGE OF SURVEILLANCE.  – We have the technology. (and virtually NO regulation) The public is largely ignorant.  And we have not yet (as a society) grappled with the situation … to understand it … and then balance our need for information (for purposes of legitimate protection against real dangers) against the cost to our privacy (particularly the cost to our most vulnerable people) 


Here is a good introduction –

    (Edward Snowden  on the Importance of Privacy, [3 ½ min.])



Also this –



And there’s more here –



 (Edward Snowden “Data Security and Privacy in the Age of Surveillance”,  [1 hr. 22 min.])


Snowden says that will solve our problems by choosing to … and through engineering (rather than my laws)    Though I think we should try to humanize our laws.


We should be aware of what has already happened … and we should try to understand our (current) situation. –


 (Chris Wylie [on CNN] :  ‘We tested Trump slogans in 2014’, [20 min.])


Part of our Situation  is that there unscrupulous companies (people) which/who are altogether willing to manipulate electoral outcomes … for a fee.


(I have read that these Grey Men first appeared during the Napoleonic Wars … when certain bankers began to exploit war … for profit  (not interested in the outcome of the war. Just a means to make money)


There is a remarkable (apparent) difference between the poor toothpaste salesman Alexander Nix here –

  (Cambridge Analytica boss under fire from MPs)


                             and the Alexander Nix here –

   (Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica – on ‘Big Data’ and Psychographics and their use in elections)


[It strikes me that Nix and Trump are quite similar … in that they are both quite willing to pretend WHATEVER they think they may be able to get away with … and have NO loyalty to the truth.]


Is this what it means … to be a Modern Man?


We need to figure out  … what we need to do – so that our Personal Data is not misused  (used against us).

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(Trump &) Snowden


I respect faith, but 

doubt is what gets you an education.                          

                                                –    Wilson Mizner




At the time of last week’s writing I promised myself I would MOVE ON.


and I will do it … (just not immediately)


Our president [the POTUS] is an accomplished showman and, (I will admit) quite a Spectacle.  


Our (current) president is truly

                               without precedent.


I hesitate (to move on) mainly because of his extreme incomprehensibility.

I think this is because his type of insanity is strange to us … and so we (simply) have no way to recognize it. 

[because – recognition always occurs on the basis

              of (an original) cognition]



Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig are (both) Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists; and together they wrote :  “A Very Stable Genius   Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America”. [The first part of the title comes from one of Mr. Trump’s (own) descriptions of himself; but I admit, I am sorry that the authors chose to use it in the title … as irony is often simply lost on many people.  And most people don’t read books]  … anyway


Stephanie Ruhle conducts a very good interview of these two authors (on The Washington Post Live) :

   (Stephanie Ruhle interviews Philip Rucker & Carol Leonnig  re [their book] “A Very Stable Genius”)



Also you may wish to see:

   (Report: Donald Trump Has ‘Stubborn Disregard’ For Intelligence Briefings) 




 (George Will Considers The President An ‘Embarrassing Wreck Of A Man’)




  (Governor Gavin Newsom      on Suing President Trump)


The reason I chose the epigram I did for today’s essay  – is that it pertains to our Mr. Trump’s wonderful lack of interest in (and even disdain for) Learning … including Intelligence Briefings.  This is very difficult to make sense of … so here is what I suggest: Imagine this – Suppose YOU were the president. And suppose also that your ability to doubt your own opinion had (somehow) been reduced to ZERO … which is what would happen if at some point you had concluded that your believing something made it True.  Once you can no longer distinguish between Reality   and Your View of Things … once these two things seem equivalent … then you will have lost all motivation to educate yourself!   Even if some Senior Advisor from our (multi-billion dollar) National Intelligence industry offers you some information … if your own opinion happens to be different from what he’s telling you … you’ll just think HE’S WRONG!


There is a saying (much used within the Conscious Transformation community):  “Don’t believe everything you think.”    Such counsel is OF NO USE to anyone in Donald Trump’s condition.  The advice has arrived TOO LATE. It is (now) meaningless.


And – Mark Twain’s counsel – that

“Those who do not read have no advantage over those who can’t.”

… is likewise completely useless to someone in Trump’s condition.  As far as self-education goes – he may as well be illiterate.


But let’s not make our life about Donald Trump.  There is much to be set right in this world, and it’s clear that HE will not be the one to look to for ANY of that.


Before a few weeks ago I was (nearly completely) ignorant of Edward Snowden … and, as Kabir says –  “Knowing nothing shuts the iron gates”.


I was very glad to (finally) learn something about him.

Let me suggest you watch these videos … (this first one, by Noam Chomsky, is only 5 minutes)

                  (Chomsky says –  that Snowden should be honored)



   ( Edward Snowden On Trump, Privacy, and Threats To Democracy  [54 min.])  


It seems to me that Edward Snowden is intelligent … decent … and patriotic actually.  He loves the United States; and he cares about what happens here.


He thinks that a government should be afraid of its citizenry, not the other way round. 

     (What an idea!)


And he thinks that our personal data should belong to us  /  the property of EACH INDIVIDUAL … (NOT belong the state, or to some corporation.)  


And he seems to think that this goal can be achieved.


I suggest (if you’re interested in the ‘privacy issue’ regarding our Personal Data) – that you have a look at –



and (of course) the film –

          “The Great Hack”  (2019, with Brittany Kaiser & David Carroll)









    (I just now watched) –

Silicone Valley’s Computer History Museum’s  Live presentation on the issues presented in “The Great Hack”.


which, by the way, includes a clip from ‘The Great Hack’      wherein David Carroll says that – “70 thousand voters, in 3 states, decided the (2016) election.”


How much did the Trump campaign pay Facebook (and Cambridge Analytica) to pull this off?


Perhaps one day we will find out?



Edward Snowden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden-2.jpg
Edward Joseph Snowden

June 21, 1983 (age 36)

Nationality American
Occupation Computer security consultant
Known for Revealing details of classified United States government surveillance programs
Lindsay Mills (m. 2017)
Awards Right Livelihood Award
Website Edit this at Wikidata
Edward Snowden signature 2013.svg

Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American whistleblower who copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and subcontractor. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments, and prompted a cultural discussion about national security and individual privacy.

In 2013, Snowden was hired by an NSA contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, after previous employment with Dell and the CIA.[1] Snowden says he gradually became disillusioned with the programs with which he was involved and that he tried to raise his ethical concerns through internal channels but was ignored. On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii, and in early June he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists Glenn GreenwaldLaura 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 publications including Der Spiegel and The New York Times.

On June 21, 2013, the United States Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property,[2] following which the Department of State revoked his passport.[3] Two days later, he flew into Moscow‘s Sheremetyevo Airport, where Russian authorities noted that his U.S. passport had been cancelled, and he was restricted to the airport terminal for over one month. Russia later granted Snowden the right of asylum with an initial visa for residence for one year, and repeated extensions have permitted him to stay at least until 2020. In early 2016, he became the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization that states its purpose is to protect journalists from hacking and government surveillance.[4] As of 2017 he is married and living in Moscow.[5][6]

On September 17, 2019, his memoir Permanent Record was published.[7] On the first day of publication, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Snowden over publication of his memoir, alleging he had breached nondisclosure agreements signed with the U.S. federal government.[8] Former The Guardian national security reporter Ewen MacAskill called the civil lawsuit a “huge mistake”, noting that the “UK ban of Spycatcher 30 years ago created huge demand”.[9][10] The memoir was listed as no. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list that same day.[11] In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! on September 26, 2019, Snowden clarified he considers himself a “whistleblower” as opposed to a “leaker” as he considers “a leaker only distributes information for personal gain”.[12]


Childhood, family, and education

Edward Joseph Snowden was born on June 21, 1983,[13] in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.[14] His maternal grandfather, Edward J. Barrett,[15][16] a rear admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard, became a senior official with the FBI and was at the Pentagon in 2001 during the September 11 attacks.[17] Snowden’s father, Lonnie, was also an officer in the Coast Guard,[18] and his mother, Elizabeth, is a clerk at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.[19][20][21][22][23] His older sister, Jessica, was a lawyer at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. Edward Snowden said that he had expected to work for the federal government, as had the rest of his family.[24] His parents divorced in 2001,[25] and his father remarried.[26] Snowden scored above 145 on two separate IQ tests.[24]

In the early 1990s, while still in grade school, Snowden moved with his family to the area of Fort Meade, Maryland.[27] Mononucleosis caused him to miss high school for almost nine months.[24] Rather than returning to school, he passed the GED test[28] and took classes at Anne Arundel Community College.[21] Although Snowden had no undergraduate college degree,[29] he worked online toward a master’s degree at the University of Liverpool, England, in 2011.[30] He was interested in Japanese popular culture, had studied the Japanese language,[31] and worked for an anime company that had a resident office in the U.S.[32][33] 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.”[34] In September 2019, as part of interviews relating to the release of his memoir Permanent Record, Snowden revealed to The Guardian that he married Lindsay Mills in a courthouse in Moscow.[7]

Political views

Snowden has said that, in the 2008 presidential election, he voted for a third-party candidate, though he “believed in Obama’s promises.” Following the election, he believed President Barack Obama was continuing policies espoused by George W. Bush.[35]

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.[28] A week after publication of his leaks began, Ars Technica confirmed that Snowden had been an active participant at the site’s online forum from 2001 through May 2012, discussing a variety of topics under the pseudonym “TheTrueHOOHA.”[36] In a January 2009 entry, TheTrueHOOHA exhibited strong support for the U.S. security state apparatus and said leakers of classified information “should be shot in the balls.”[37] However, Snowden disliked Obama’s CIA director appointment of Leon Panetta, saying “Obama just named a fucking politician to run the CIA.”[38] Snowden was also offended by a possible ban on assault weapons, writing “Me and all my lunatic, gun-toting NRA compatriots would be on the steps of Congress before the C-Span feed finished.”[38] Snowden disliked Obama’s economic policies, was against Social Security, and favored Ron Paul‘s call for a return to the gold standard.[38] In 2014, Snowden supported a basic income.[39]


Feeling a duty to fight in the Iraq War to help free oppressed people,[28] Snowden enlisted in the United States Army Reserve on May 7, 2004, and became a Special Forces candidate through its 18X enlistment option.[40] He did not complete the training[13] because he broke both legs in a training accident,[41] and was discharged on September 28, 2004.[42]

Snowden was then employed for less than a year in 2005 as a security guard at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language, a research center sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA).[43] According to the University, this is not a classified facility,[44] though it is heavily guarded.[45] In June 2014, Snowden told Wired that 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.[24]

Employment at CIA

After attending a 2006 job-fair focused on intelligence agencies, Snowden accepted an offer for a position at the CIA.[24][46] The Agency assigned him to the global communications division at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.[24]

In May 2006, Snowden wrote in Ars Technica that he had no trouble getting work because he was a “computer wizard”.[34] After distinguishing himself as a junior employee 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.[24]

In March 2007, the CIA stationed Snowden with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was responsible for maintaining computer-network security.[24][47] Assigned to the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations, a diplomatic mission representing U.S. interests before the UN and other international organizations, Snowden received a diplomatic passport and a four-bedroom apartment near Lake Geneva.[24] 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”.[48] 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.[49] Ueli MaurerPresident 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.[50] In February 2009, Snowden resigned from the CIA.[51]

NSA sub-contractee as an employee for Dell

In 2009, Snowden began work as a contractee for Dell,[52] 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.[24] Snowden looked into Mass surveillance in China prompted him to investigate and then expose Washington’s mass surveillance programme after he was asked in 2009 to brief a conference in Tokyo.[53] During his four years with Dell, he rose from supervising NSA computer system upgrades to working as what his résumé termed a “cyberstrategist” and an “expert in cyber counterintelligence” at several U.S. locations.[54] 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.[24] 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.[52] 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.[1]

In March 2012, Dell reassigned Snowden to Hawaii as lead technologist for the NSA’s information-sharing office.[24] At the time of his departure from the U.S. 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,[1] the last three of which were with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.[55] 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.[56] On March 15, 2013 – three days after what he later called his “breaking point” of “seeing the Director of National IntelligenceJames Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress”[57] – Snowden quit his job at Dell.[58] Although he has said his career high annual salary was $200,000,[59] Snowden said he took a pay cut to work at Booz Allen,[59] where he sought employment in order to gather data and then release details of the NSA’s worldwide surveillance activity.[60] An anonymous source told Reuters that, while in Hawaii, Snowden may have persuaded 20–25 co-workers to give him their login credentials by telling them he needed them to do his job.[61] The NSA sent a memo to Congress saying that Snowden had tricked a fellow employee into sharing his personal public key infrastructure certificate to gain greater access to the NSA’s computer system.[62][63] Snowden disputed the memo,[64] saying in January 2014, “I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers.”[65][66] Booz Allen terminated Snowden’s employment on June 10, 2013, one month after he had left the country.[67]

A former NSA co-worker said that although the NSA was full of smart people, Snowden was a “genius among geniuses” who created a widely implemented backup system for the NSA and often pointed out security flaws 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 hackersTailored Access Operations, but turned it down to join Booz Allen.[64] An anonymous source later said that Booz Allen’s hiring screeners found possible discrepancies in Snowden’s resume but still decided to hire him.[29] Snowden’s résumé stated that he 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 that operated as the Computer Career Institute at Johns Hopkins University.[29] The University of Maryland University College acknowledged that Snowden had attended a summer session at a UM campus in Asia. Snowden’s résumé 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 was inactive as a student and had not completed the program.[29]

Snowden has said that he had told multiple employees and two supervisors about his concerns, but the NSA disputes his claim.[68] 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 through what [Thomas Andrews] Drake did.”[66][69] 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.[70] 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. He asserted that the NSA had copies of emails he sent to their Office of General Counsel, oversight and compliance personnel broaching “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.”[17]

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.[71] 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.[72] That same month, Snowden explained that he himself has not produced the communiqués 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.”[73]

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 overseas—pretending to work in a job that I’m not—and 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.”[17] In a June interview with Globo TV, Snowden reiterated that he “was actually functioning at a very senior level.”[74] 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 don’t understand that I was actually an analyst and I designated individuals and groups for targeting.”[75] 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.”[24]

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 sense—for 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 happened routinely every two months but was never reported, being considered one of the “fringe benefits” of the work.[76]

Global surveillance disclosures

The exact size of Snowden’s disclosure is unknown,[77] but Australian officials have estimated 15,000 or more Australian intelligence files[78] and British officials estimate at least 58,000 British intelligence files.[79] NSA Director Keith Alexander initially estimated that Snowden had copied anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 NSA documents.[80] Later estimates provided by U.S. officials were on the order of 1.7 million,[81] a number that originally came from Department of Defense talking points.[82] 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.”[83] A U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report declassified in June 2015 said that Snowden took 900,000 Department of Defense files, more than he downloaded from the NSA.[82]

In March 2014, Army General Martin DempseyChairman 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.”[84] When asked in a May 2014 interview to quantify the number of documents Snowden stole, retired NSA director Keith Alexander said there was no accurate way of counting what he took, but Snowden may have downloaded more than a million documents.[85]

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”[28] 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.”[60] Despite these measures, the improper redaction of a document by the New York Times resulted in the exposure of intelligence activity against al-Qaeda.[86]

In June 2014, the NSA’s recently installed director, U.S. Navy Admiral Michael S. Rogers, said 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.”[87] Nevertheless, in February 2015, Rogers said that Snowden’s disclosures had a material impact on the NSA’s detection and evaluation of terrorist activities worldwide.[88]

On June 14, 2015, UK’s Sunday Times reported that Russian and Chinese intelligence services had decrypted more than 1 million classified files in the Snowden cache, forcing the UK’s MI6 intelligence agency to move agents out of live operations in hostile countries. Sir David Omand, a former director of the UK’s GCHQ intelligence gathering agency, described it as a huge strategic setback that was harming Britain, America, and their NATO allies. The Sunday Times said it was not clear whether Russia and China stole Snowden’s data or whether Snowden voluntarily handed it over to remain at liberty in Hong Kong and Moscow.[89][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] Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, criticized the report for, in his opinion, presuming that the public became concerned about privacy only after Snowden’s disclosures.[92]

Release of NSA documents

Snowden’s decision to leak NSA documents developed gradually following his March 2007 posting as a technician to the Geneva CIA station.[93] Snowden first made contact with Glenn Greenwald, a journalist working at The Guardian, on December 1, 2012.[94][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 article about NSA whistleblower William Binney.[99] What originally attracted Snowden to both Greenwald and Poitras was a Salon article written by Greenwald detailing how Poitras’s controversial films had made her a target of the government.[97]

Greenwald began working with Snowden in either February[100] or April 2013, after Poitras asked Greenwald to meet her in New York City, at which point Snowden began providing documents to them.[94] Barton Gellman, writing for The Washington Post, says his first direct contact was on May 16, 2013.[101] 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.[101]

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.[101]

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.”[101] 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.”[101]

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.[28] In mid-May, Snowden gave an electronic interview to Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum which was published weeks later by Der Spiegel.[102]

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.”[103]


On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong,[104] 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 Guardian′s 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 Guardians chief editor, Alan Rusbridger, credited Snowden for having performed a public service.[112]


Slide from an NSA presentation on “Google Cloud Exploitation” from its MUSCULAR program;[113] the sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where user data resides.[114]

Data visualization of U.S. intelligence black budget (2013)

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 four Five Eyes partners: Australia’s ASD,[116] the UK’s GCHQ,[117] and Canada’s CSEC.[118]

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like MicrosoftGoogleAppleYahooFacebook and YouTube.

On June 5, 2013, media reports documenting the existence and functions of classified surveillance programs and their scope began and continued throughout the entire year. The first program to be revealed was PRISM, which allows for court-approved direct access to Americans’ Google and Yahoo accounts, reported from both The Washington Post and The Guardian published one hour apart.[113][119][120] Barton Gellman of The Washington Post 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.”[121] Reports also revealed details of Tempora, a British black-ops surveillance program run by the NSA’s British partner, GCHQ.[119][122] The initial reports included details about NSA call databaseBoundless Informant, and of a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand the NSA millions of Americans’ phone records daily,[123] the surveillance of French citizens’ phone and Internet records, and those of “high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.”[124][125][126] 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.”[127]

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,[128] and revealed that the NSA was paying U.S. private tech companies for clandestine access to their communications networks.[129] The agencies were allotted $52 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.[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 accessing 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 CIA and GCHQ spied on users of Second LifeXbox Live and World of Warcraft, and attempted to recruit would-be informants from the sites, according to documents revealed in December 2013.[137][138] Leaked documents showed NSA agents also spied on their own “love interests,” a practice NSA employees termed LOVEINT.[139][140] The NSA was shown to be tracking the online sexual activity of people they termed “radicalizers” in order to discredit them.[141] Following the revelation of Black Pearl, a program targeting private networks, the NSA was accused of extending beyond its primary mission of national security. The agency’s intelligence-gathering operations had targeted, among others, oil giant Petrobras, Brazil’s largest company.[142] The NSA and the GCHQ were also shown to be surveilling charities including UNICEF and Médecins du Monde, as well as allies such as European Commissioner Joaquín Almunia and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.[143]

In October 2013, Glenn Greenwald said “the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.”[144] In November, The Guardians editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger said that only one percent of the documents had been published.[145] In December, Australia’s Minister for Defence David Johnston said his government assumed the worst was yet to come.[146]

By October 2013, Snowden’s disclosures had created tensions[147][148] between the U.S. and some of its close allies after they revealed that the U.S. had spied on Brazil, France, Mexico,[149] Britain,[150] China,[151] Germany,[152] and Spain,[153] as well as 35 world leaders,[154] most notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said “spying among friends” was unacceptable[155][156] and compared the NSA with the Stasi.[157] Leaked documents published by Der Spiegel in 2014 appeared to show that the NSA had targeted 122 high-ranking leaders.[158]

An NSA mission statement titled “SIGINT Strategy 2012-2016” affirmed that the NSA had plans for continued expansion of surveillance activities. Their stated goal was to “dramatically increase mastery of the global network” and to acquire adversaries’ data from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.”[159] 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.”[160]

Snowden said 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 said, “If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to US national interests—even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security—then they’ll take that information nevertheless.”[161] In the wake of Snowden’s revelations and in response to an inquiry from the Left Party, Germany’s domestic security agency Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) investigated and found no concrete evidence that the U.S. conducted economic or industrial espionage in Germany.[162]

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.”[163]

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.[164] Revelations included information about QUANTUMHAND, a program through which the NSA set up a fake Facebook server to intercept connections.[164]

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.[165]

In an August 2014 interview, Snowden for the first time disclosed a cyberwarfare program in the works, codenamed MonsterMind, that would automate detection of a foreign cyberattack as it began and automatically fire back. “These attacks can be spoofed,” said Snowden. “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?”[24]


File:PRISM - Snowden Interview - Laura Poitras HQ.webm

Snowden speaks about the NSA leaks, in Hong Kong, filmed by Laura Poitras.

Snowden first contemplated leaking confidential documents around 2008 but held back, partly because he believed the newly elected Barack Obama might introduce reforms.[1] After the disclosures, his identity was made public by The Guardian at his request on June 9, 2013.[100] “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” he said. “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”[104]

Snowden said he wanted to “embolden others to step forward” by demonstrating that “they can win.”[101] He also said that the system for reporting problems did not work. “You have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it.” He cited a lack of whistleblower protection for government contractors, the use of the Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute leakers, and his belief that had he used internal mechanisms to “sound the alarm,” his revelations “would have been buried forever.”[93][166]

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 said, “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.”[167]

In January 2014, Snowden said his “breaking point” was “seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress.”[57] This referred to testimony on March 12, 2013—three months after Snowden first sought to share thousands of NSA documents with Greenwald,[94] and nine months after the NSA says Snowden made his first illegal downloads during the summer of 2012[1]—in which Clapper denied to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA wittingly collects data on millions of Americans.[168] Snowden said, “There’s 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.”[169] In March 2014, Snowden said he had reported policy or legal issues related to spying programs to more than ten officials, but as a contractor had no legal avenue to pursue further whistleblowing.[70]

Flight from the United States

Hong Kong

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[170] 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. On June 10, correspondent Ewen MacAskill said Snowden had left his hotel only briefly three times since May 20.[171]

Hong Kong rally to support Snowden, June 15, 2013

Snowden vowed to challenge any extradition attempt by the U.S. government, and engaged a Hong Kong-based Canadian human rights lawyer Robert Tibbo as a legal adviser.[1][172][173] Snowden told the South China Morning Post that he planned to remain in Hong Kong for as long as its government would permit.[174][175] Snowden also told the Post that “the United States government has committed a tremendous number of crimes against Hong Kong [and] the PRC as well,”[176] 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 said Snowden was motivated by a need to “ingratiate himself to the people of Hong Kong and China.”[177]

After leaving the Mira Hotel, Snowden was housed for two weeks in a number of apartments by other refugees seeking asylum in Hong Kong, an arrangement set up by Tibbo to hide from the US authorities.[178][179] The Russian newspaper Kommersant nevertheless reported that Snowden was living at the Russian consulate shortly before his departure from Hong Kong to Moscow.[180] 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.”[181] Likewise rejecting the Kommersant story was Anatoly Kucherena, who became Snowden’s lawyer in July 2013 when Snowden asked him for help in seeking temporary asylum in Russia.[182] Kucherena said Snowden did not communicate with Russian diplomats while he was in Hong Kong.[183][184] In early September 2013, however, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that, a few days before boarding a plane to Moscow, Snowden met in Hong Kong with Russian diplomatic representatives.[185]

On June 22, 18 days after publication of Snowden’s NSA documents began, officials revoked his U.S. passport.[186] On June 23, Snowden boarded the commercial Aeroflot flight SU213 to Moscow, accompanied by Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks.[187][188] Hong Kong authorities said that Snowden had not been detained for the U.S. because the request had not fully complied with Hong Kong law,[189][190] and there was no legal basis to prevent Snowden from leaving.[191][192][Notes 1] On June 24, a U.S. State Department spokesman rejected the explanation of technical noncompliance, accusing the Hong Kong government of deliberately releasing a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant and after having sufficient time to prohibit his travel.[195] That same day, Julian Assange said that WikiLeaks had paid for Snowden’s lodging in Hong Kong and his flight out.[196]

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 kept no copies for himself.[93] In January 2014, he told a German TV interviewer that he gave all of his information to American journalists reporting on American issues.[57] During his first American TV interview, in May 2014, Snowden said he had protected himself from Russian leverage by destroying the material he had been holding before landing in Moscow.[17]

In January 2019, Vanessa Rodel, one of the refugees who had housed Snowden in Hong Kong, and her 7-year-old daughter were granted asylum by Canada. Five other people who helped Snowden still remain in Hong Kong awaiting a response to their asylum request.[197]


Ecuador embassy car at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow on June 23, 2013

On June 23, 2013, Snowden landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.[198] WikiLeaks said he was on a circuitous but safe route to asylum in Ecuador.[199] Snowden had a seat reserved to continue to Cuba[200] but did not board that onward flight, saying in a January 2014 interview that he intended to transit through Russia but was stopped en route. He asserted “a planeload of reporters documented the seat I was supposed to be in” when he was ticketed for Havana, but the U.S. cancelled his passport.[181] He said the U.S. wanted him to stay in Moscow so “they could say, ‘He’s a Russian spy.'”[74] Greenwald’s account differed 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, preventing him from obtaining a ticket to leave Russia. Greenwald said Snowden was thus forced to stay in Moscow and seek asylum.[201]

According to one Russian report, Snowden planned to fly from Moscow through Havana to Latin America; however, Cuba told Moscow it would not allow the Aeroflot plane carrying Snowden to land.[183] Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Cuba had a change of heart after receiving pressure from U.S. officials,[202] leaving him stuck in the transit zone because at the last minute Havana told officials in Moscow not to allow him on the flight.[203] The Washington Post contrasted this version with what it called “widespread speculation” that Russia never intended to let Snowden proceed.[204] Fidel Castro called claims that Cuba would have blocked Snowden’s entry a “lie” and a “libel.”[200] Describing Snowden’s arrival in Moscow as a surprise and likening it to “an unwanted Christmas gift,”[205] Russian president Putin said that Snowden remained in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport, had committed no crime in Russia, was free to leave and should do so.[206] Putin denied that Russia’s intelligence agencies had worked or were working with Snowden.[205]

Following Snowden’s arrival in Moscow, the White House expressed disappointment in Hong Kong’s decision to allow him to leave.[207][208][195] An anonymous U.S. official not authorized to discuss the matter told AP Snowden’s passport had been revoked before he left Hong Kong, but that a senior official in a country or airline could order subordinates to overlook the withdrawn passport.[209] U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Snowden’s passport was cancelled “within two hours” of the charges against Snowden being made public[3] which was Friday, June 21.[2] In a July 1 statement, Snowden said, “Although I am convicted of nothing, [the U.S. 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.”[210]

Four countries offered Snowden permanent asylum: Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela.[211] No direct flights between Moscow and Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua existed, however, and the U.S. pressured countries along his route to hand him over. Snowden said in July 2013 that he decided to bid for asylum in Russia because he felt there was no safe way to reach Latin America.[212] 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 President’s 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.”[213] He said that he would travel from Russia if there was no interference from the U.S. government.[181]

Four months after Snowden received asylum in Russia, Julian Assange commented, “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.”[170] 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….”[214]

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.”[215]

Morales plane incident

Spain, France, and Italy (red) denied Bolivian president Evo Morales permission to cross their airspace. Morales’s plane landed in Austria (yellow).

On July 1, 2013, president Evo Morales of Bolivia, who had been attending a conference in Russia, suggested during an interview with Russia Today that he would consider a request by Snowden for asylum.[216] The following day, Morales’s plane, en route to Bolivia, was rerouted to Austria and landed there, after France, Spain, and Italy denied access to their airspace. While the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and asked to search the plane but they were denied permission by Morales himself.[217] U.S. officials had raised suspicions that Snowden may have been on board.[218] 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.[219]

In April 2015, Bolivia’s ambassador to Russia, María Luisa Ramos Urzagaste, accused Julian Assange of inadvertently putting Morales’s life at risk by intentionally providing to the U.S. false rumors that Snowden was on Morales’s plane. Assange responded that “we weren’t expecting this outcome. The result was caused by the United States’ intervention. We can only regret what happened.”[220][221]

Asylum applications

Snowden applied for political asylum to 21 countries.[222][223] 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.[224] Ecuador had initially offered Snowden a temporary travel document but later withdrew it,[225] and Correa later called the offer a mistake.[226]

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.”[227] Several days later, WikiLeaks announced that Snowden had applied for asylum in six additional countries, but declined to name them, alleging attempted U.S. interference.[228]

After evaluating the law and Snowden’s situation, the French interior ministry rejected his request for asylum.[229] Poland refused to process his application because it did not conform to legal procedure.[230] Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said the government planned no response to Snowden’s asylum request. Germany and India rejected Snowden’s application outright, while Austria, Ecuador, Finland, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain said he must be on their territory to apply.[231][232][233] In November 2014, Germany announced that Snowden had not renewed his previously denied request and was not being considered for asylum.[234] Glenn Greenwald later reported that Sigmar GabrielVice-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.[235]

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.”[236] A spokesman for Putin subsequently said that Snowden had withdrawn his asylum application upon learning of the conditions.[237]

In a July 12 meeting at Sheremetyevo Airport with representatives of human rights organizations and lawyers, organized in part by the Russian government,[238] Snowden said he was accepting all offers of asylum that he had already received or would receive. He added that Venezuela’s grant of asylum formalized his asylee status, removing any basis for state interference with his right to asylum.[239] He also said he would request asylum in Russia until he resolved his travel problems.[240] Russian Federal Migration Service officials confirmed on July 16 that Snowden had submitted an application for temporary asylum.[241] On July 24, Kucherena said his client wanted to find work in Russia, travel and create a life for himself, and had already begun learning Russian.[242]

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,[243] top U.S. officials repeatedly made it clear to Moscow that Snowden should immediately be returned to the United States to face charges for the unauthorized leaking of classified information.[244][245][246] His Russian lawyer said Snowden needed asylum because he faced persecution by the U.S. government and feared “that he could be subjected to torture and capital punishment.”[247]

In a letter to Russian Minister of Justice Aleksandr Konovalov dated July 23, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder repudiated Snowden’s claim to refugee status, and offered a limited validity passport good for direct return to the U.S.[248] He further asserted that Snowden would not be subject to torture or the death penalty, and would receive trial in a civilian court with proper legal counsel.[249] The same day, the Russian president’s spokesman reiterated that his government would not hand over Snowden, noting that Putin was not personally involved in the matter and that it was being handled through talks between the FBI and Russia’s FSB.[250]

Criminal charges

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 of 1917 through unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.[2][248] 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.[57][251]

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.” She said that the “arcane World War I law” was never meant to prosecute whistleblowers, but rather spies who betrayed their trust by selling secrets to enemies for profit. Non-profit betrayals were not considered.[252]

Civil lawsuit

On September 17, 2019, the United States filed a lawsuit against Snowden for alleged violations of non-disclosure agreements with the CIA and NSA.[253] The complaint alleges that Snowden violated prepublication obligations related to the publication of his memoir Permanent Record. The complaint lists the publishers Macmillan and Holtzbrink as relief-defendants.[254]

Asylum in Russia

On June 23, 2013, Snowden landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport aboard a commercial Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong.[255][187][256] On August 1, after 39 days in the transit section, he left the airport and was granted temporary asylum in Russia for one year.[257] A year later, his temporary asylum having expired, Snowden received a three-year residency permit allowing him to travel freely within Russia and to go abroad for up to three months. He was not granted permanent political asylum.[258] In January 2017, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry wrote on Facebook that Snowden’s asylum, which was due to expire in 2017, was extended by “a couple more years”.[259][260] Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said the extension was valid until 2020.[261]

As of October 2019, Snowden had been granted permanent residency in Russia, which is renewed every three years. He secretly married Lindsay Mills in 2017. By 2019 he no longer felt the need to be disguised in public and lived what was described as a “more or less normal life”, able to travel around Russia and make a living from speaking arrangements (locally and over the internet). His memoir Permanent Record was released internationally, and while U.S. royalties were expected to be seized, he was able to receive the advance.[6] According to Snowden, “One of the things that is lost in all the problematic politics of the Russian government is the fact this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world” with “friendly” and “warm” people.[6] In another interview, Snowden went on to say: “There’s a way to criticize the Russian government’s policies without criticizing the Russian people who are ordinary people, who just want to have a happy life; they just want to do better. They want the same things that you do.”[262]


United States

A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a hero,[263][264][265] a whistleblower,[266][267][268][269] a dissident,[270] a patriot,[271][272][273] and a traitor.[274][275][276][277] Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg called Snowden’s release of NSA material the most significant leak in U.S. history.[278][279]

Government officials

Numerous high-ranking current or former U.S. government officials reacted publicly to Snowden’s disclosures.


  • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper condemned the leaks as doing “huge, grave damage” to U.S. intelligence capabilities.[280] Ex-CIA director James Woolsey said that if Snowden were convicted of treason, he should be hanged.[281]
  • FBI director Robert Mueller said that the U.S. government is “taking all necessary steps to hold Edward Snowden responsible for these disclosures.”[282]

  • House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger said a classified Pentagon report written by military intelligence officials contended that Snowden’s leaks had put U.S. troops at risk and prompted terrorists to change their tactics, and that most files copied were related to current U.S. military operations.[283]
  • President Barack Obama said that “our nation’s defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation’s secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy.” Obama also objected to the “sensational” way the leaks had been reported, saying the reporting often “shed more heat than light.” He went on to assert that the disclosures had revealed “methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations.”[284]
  • Former congressman Ron Paul began a petition urging the Obama Administration to grant Snowden clemency.[285] Paul released a video on his website saying, “Edward Snowden sacrificed his livelihood, citizenship, and freedom by exposing the disturbing scope of the NSA’s worldwide spying program. Thanks to one man’s courageous actions, Americans know about the truly egregious ways their government is spying on them.”[286]
  • Mike McConnell—former NSA director and current vice chairman at Booz Allen Hamilton—said that Snowden was motivated by revenge when the NSA did not offer him the job he wanted. “At this point,” said McConnell, “he being narcissistic and having failed at most everything he did, he decides now I’m going to turn on them.”[287]
  • Former president Jimmy Carter said that if he were still president today he would “certainly consider” giving Snowden a pardon were he to be found guilty and imprisoned for his leaks.[288]
  • Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said, “[W]e have all these protections for whistleblowers. If [Snowden] were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate…it struck me as…sort of odd that he would flee to China, because Hong Kong is controlled by China, and that he would then go to Russia—two countries with which we have very difficult cyberrelationships.” As Clinton saw it, “turning over a lot of that material—intentionally or unintentionally—drained, gave all kinds of information, not only to big countries, but to networks and terrorist groups and the like. So I have a hard time thinking that somebody who is a champion of privacy and liberty has taken refuge in Russia, under Putin’s authority.”[289] Clinton later said that if Snowden wished to return to the U.S., “knowing he would be held accountable,” he would have the right “to launch both a legal defense and a public defense, which can of course affect the legal defense.”[290]
  • Secretary of State John Kerry said Snowden had “damaged his country very significantly” and “hurt operational security” by telling terrorists how to evade detection. “The bottom line,” Kerry added, “is this man has betrayed his country, sitting in Russia where he has taken refuge. You know, he should man up and come back to the United States.”[291]
  • Former vice president Al Gore said Snowden “clearly violated the law so you can’t say OK, what he did is all right. It’s not. But what he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the U.S. constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed. In the course of violating important law, he also provided an important service. … Because we did need to know how far this has gone.”[292]
  • In December, President Obama nominated former deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter to succeed outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Seven months before, Carter had said, “We had a cyber Pearl Harbor. His name was Edward Snowden.” Carter charged that U.S. security officials “screwed up spectacularly in the case of Snowden. And this knucklehead had access to destructive power that was much more than any individual person should have access to.”[293]


In the U.S., Snowden’s actions precipitated an intense debate on privacy and warrantless domestic surveillance.[294][295] President Obama was initially dismissive of Snowden, saying “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”[296][297][298] In August 2013, Obama rejected the suggestion that Snowden was a patriot,[299] and in November said that “the benefit of the debate he generated was not worth the damage done, because there was another way of doing it.”[300]

In June 2013, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont shared a “must read” news story on his blog by Ron Fournier, stating “Love him or hate him, we all owe Snowden our thanks for forcing upon the nation an important debate. But the debate shouldn’t be about him. It should be about the gnawing questions his actions raised from the shadows.”[301] In 2015, Sanders stated that “Snowden played a very important role in educating the American public” and that although Snowden should not go unpunished for breaking the law, “that education should be taken into consideration before the sentencing.”[302]

Snowden said in December 2013 that he was “inspired by the global debate” ignited by the leaks and that NSA’s “culture of indiscriminate global espionage … is collapsing.”[303]

At the end of 2013, however, The Washington Post noted that the public debate and its offshoots had produced no meaningful change in policy, with the status quo continuing.[139]

In 2016, on The Axe Files podcast, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Snowden “performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made.” Holder nevertheless said that Snowden’s actions were inappropriate and illegal.[304]

In September 2016, the bipartisan U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence completed a review of the Snowden disclosures and said that the federal government would have to spend millions of dollars responding to the fallout from Snowden’s disclosures.[305] The report also said that “the public narrative popularized by Snowden and his allies is rife with falsehoods, exaggerations, and crucial omissions.”[306] The report was denounced by Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, who called it “aggressively dishonest” and “contemptuous of fact.”[307]

Presidential panel

In August 2013, President Obama said that he had called for a review of U.S. surveillance activities before Snowden had begun revealing details of the NSA’s operations,[299] and announced that he was directing DNI James Clapper “to establish a review group on intelligence and communications technologies.”[308][309] In December, the task force issued 46 recommendations that, if adopted, would subject the NSA to additional scrutiny by the courts, Congress, and the president, and would strip the NSA of the authority to infiltrate American computer systems using backdoors in hardware or software.[310] Panel member Geoffrey R. Stone said there was no evidence that the bulk collection of phone data had stopped any terror attacks.[311]

Court rulings

On June 6, 2013, in the wake of Snowden’s leaks, conservative public interest lawyer and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit claiming that the federal government had unlawfully collected metadata for his telephone calls and was harassing him. In Klayman v. Obama, Judge Richard J. Leon referred to the NSA’s “almost-Orwellian technology” and ruled the bulk telephone metadata program to be probably unconstitutional.[312] Snowden later described Judge Leon’s decision as vindication.[313]

On June 11, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, alleging that the NSA’s phone records program was unconstitutional. In December 2013, ten days after Judge Leon’s ruling, Judge William H. Pauley III came to the opposite conclusion. In ACLU v. Clapper, although acknowledging that privacy concerns are not trivial, Pauley found that the potential benefits of surveillance outweigh these considerations and ruled that the NSA’s collection of phone data is legal.[314]

Gary Schmitt, former staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote that “The two decisions have generated public confusion over the constitutionality of the NSA’s data collection program—a kind of judicial ‘he-said, she-said’ standoff.”[315]

On May 7, 2015, in the case of ACLU v. Clapper, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that Section 215 of the Patriot Act did not authorize the NSA to collect Americans’ calling records in bulk, as exposed by Snowden in 2013. The decision voided U.S. District Judge William Pauley’s December 2013 finding that the NSA program was lawful, and remanded the case to him for further review. The appeals court did not rule on the constitutionality of the bulk surveillance, and declined to enjoin the program, noting the pending expiration of relevant parts of the Patriot Act. Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch wrote that, given the national security interests at stake, it was prudent to give Congress an opportunity to debate and decide the matter.[316]

USA Freedom Act

On June 2, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed, and President Obama signed, the USA Freedom Act which restored in modified form several provisions of the Patriot Act that had expired the day before, while for the first time imposing some limits on the bulk collection of telecommunication data on U.S. citizens by American intelligence agencies. The new restrictions were widely seen as stemming from Snowden’s revelations.[317][318]


Hans-Georg Maaßen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic security agency, speculated that Snowden could have been working for the Russian government.[319][320] Snowden rejected this insinuation,[321] speculating on Twitter in German that “it cannot be proven if Maaßen is an agent of the SVR or FSB.”[322]

International community

Demonstration at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin during Barack Obama’s visit, June 18, 2013

Crediting the Snowden leaks, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution 68/167 in December 2013. The non-binding resolution denounced unwarranted digital surveillance and included a symbolic declaration of the right of all individuals to online privacy.[323][324][325]

Support for Snowden came from Latin American leaders including the Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.[326][327]

In an official report published in October 2015, the United Nations special rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of speech, Professor David Kaye, criticized the U.S. government’s harsh treatment of, and bringing criminal charges against, whistleblowers, including Edward Snowden. The report found that Snowden’s revelations were important for people everywhere and made “a deep and lasting impact on law, policy and politics.”[328][329] The European Parliament invited Snowden to make a pre-recorded video appearance to aid their NSA investigation.[330][331] Snowden gave written testimony in which he said that he was seeking asylum in the EU, but that he was told by European Parliamentarians that the U.S. would not allow EU partners to make such an offer.[332] He told the Parliament that the NSA was working with the security agencies of EU states to “get access to as much data of EU citizens as possible.”[333] The NSA’s Foreign Affairs Division, he claimed, lobbies the EU and other countries to change their laws, allowing for “everyone in the country” to be spied on legally.[334]

In July 2014, Navi PillayUN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a news conference in Geneva that the U.S. should abandon its efforts to prosecute Snowden, since his leaks were in the public interest.[335]

Public opinion polls

A rally in Germany in support of Snowden on August 30, 2014

Surveys conducted by news outlets and professional polling organizations found that American public opinion was divided on Snowden’s disclosures, and that those polled in Canada and Europe were more supportive of Snowden than respondents in the U.S. although more Americans have grown more supportive of Snowden’s disclosure. In Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Spain more than 80% of people familiar with Snowden view him positively.[336]


For his global surveillance disclosures, Snowden has been honored by publications and organizations based in Europe and the United States. He was voted as The Guardians person of the year 2013, garnering four times the number of votes as any other candidate.[337]

Teleconference speaking engagements

In March 2014, Snowden spoke at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive technology conference in Austin, Texas, in front of 3,500 attendees. He participated by teleconference carried over multiple routers running the Google Hangouts platform. On-stage moderators were Christopher Soghoian and Snowden’s legal counsel Wizner, both from the ACLU.[338] Snowden said that the NSA was “setting fire to the future of the internet,” and that the SXSW audience was “the firefighters.”[339][340][341] Attendees could use Twitter to send questions to Snowden, who answered one by saying that information gathered by corporations was much less dangerous than that gathered by a government agency, because “governments have the power to deprive you of your rights.”[339] Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) of the House Intelligence Committee, and later director of the CIA, had tried unsuccessfully to get the SXSW management to cancel Snowden’s appearance; instead, SXSW director Hugh Forrest said that the NSA was welcome to respond to Snowden at the 2015 conference.[339]

Speaking via telepresence robot, Snowden addresses the TED conference from Russia.

Later that month, Snowden appeared by teleconference at the TED conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. Represented on stage by a robot with a video screen, video camera, microphones and speakers, Snowden conversed with TED curator Chris Anderson, and told the attendees that online businesses should act quickly to encrypt their websites. He described the NSA’s PRISM program as the U.S. government using businesses to collect data for them, and that the NSA “intentionally misleads corporate partners” using, as an example, the Bullrun decryption program to create backdoor access.[342] Snowden said he would gladly return to the U.S. if given immunity from prosecution, but that he was more concerned about alerting the public about abuses of government authority.[342] Anderson invited Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee on stage to converse with Snowden, who said that he would support Berners-Lee’s concept of an “internet Magna Carta” to “encode our values in the structure of the internet.”[342][343]

On September 15, 2014, Snowden appeared via remote video link, along with Julian Assange, on Kim Dotcom’s Moment of Truth town hall meeting held in Auckland.[344] He made a similar video link appearance on February 2, 2015, along with Greenwald, as the keynote speaker at the World Affairs Conference at Upper Canada College in Toronto.[345]

In March 2015, while speaking at the FIFDH (international human rights film festival) he made a public appeal for Switzerland to grant him asylum, saying he would like to return to live in Geneva, where he once worked undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency.[346]

In April 2015, John Oliver, the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, flew to Moscow to Interview Edward Snowden.[347]

On November 10, 2015, Snowden appeared at the Newseum, via remote video link, for PEN American Center’s “Secret Sources: Whistleblowers, National Security and Free Expression,” event.[348]

In 2015, Snowden earned over $200,000 from digital speaking engagements in the U.S.[349]

On March 19, 2016, Snowden delivered the opening keynote address of the LibrePlanet conference, a meeting of international free software activists and developers presented by the Free Software Foundation. The conference was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was the first such time Snowden spoke via teleconference using a full free software stack, end-to-end.[jargon][350][351][352][353]

On July 21, 2016, Snowden and hardware hacker Bunnie Huang, in a talk at MIT Media Lab‘s Forbidden Research event, published research for a smartphone case, the so-called Introspection Engine, that would monitor signals received and sent by that phone to provide an alert to the user if his or her phone is transmitting or receiving information when it shouldn’t be (for example when it’s turned off or in airplane mode), a feature described by Snowden to be useful for journalists or activists operating under hostile governments that would otherwise track their activities through their phones.[354][355][356][357][358]

The “Snowden effect”

In July 2013, media critic Jay Rosen defined The Snowden Effect as “Direct and indirect gains in public knowledge from the cascade of events and further reporting that followed Edward Snowden’s leaks of classified information about the surveillance state in the U.S.”[359] In December 2013, The Nation wrote that Snowden had sparked an overdue debate about national security and individual privacy.[360] In Forbes, the effect was seen to have nearly united the U.S. Congress in opposition to the massive post-9/11 domestic intelligence gathering system.[361] In its Spring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, the Pew Research Center found that Snowden’s disclosures had tarnished the image of the United States, especially in Europe and Latin America.[362]

Jewel v. NSA

On November 2, 2018, Snowden provided a court declaration in Jewel v. National Security Agency.[363][364][365]


In popular culture

Snowden’s impact as a public figure has been felt in cinema,[368] television,[369] advertising,[370] video games,[371][372] literature,[373][374] music,[375][376][377] statuary,[378][379] and social media.[380][381]

Snowden gave Channel 4’s “Alternative Christmas Message” in December 2013.[6]

The film Snowden, based on Snowden’s leaking of classified US government material, was released in 2016.[382] The documentary Citizenfour won Best Documentary Feature at the 87th Academy Awards.[383]

See also


  1. ^ Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen argued that government officials did not issue a provisional arrest warrant for Snowden due to “discrepancies and missing information” in the paperwork sent by U.S. authorities. Yuen explained that Snowden’s full name was inconsistent, and his U.S. passport number was also missing.[193] Hong Kong also wanted more details of the charges and evidence against Snowden to make sure it was not a political case. Yuen said he spoke to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder by phone to reinforce the request for details “absolutely necessary” for detention of Snowden. Yuen said “As the US government had failed to provide the information by the time Snowden left Hong Kong, it was impossible for the Department of Justice to apply to a court for a temporary warrant of arrest. In fact, even at this time, the US government has still not provided the details we asked for.”[194]

[I do not include the (383) References, or the suggestions for Further Reading, or the External Links

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Truth = Reality


You who build these altars now 

to sacrifice these children, 

you must not do it anymore. 

A scheme is not a vision 

and you never have been tempted 

by a demon or a god. 

You who stand above them now, 

your hatchets blunt and bloody, 

you were not there before, 

when I lay upon a mountain 

and my father’s hand was trembling 

with the beauty of the word. 

        –   Leonard Cohen 
              (from ‘The Story of Isaac’)




When we think of ‘the Truth’, we may well think of Telling the Truth … of NOT LYING.  

(and we have a name for people who speak the truth (and do not deceive);  we say that they are HONEST.


But if we are to have any chance of understanding the mind of our current president (the POTUS) … we will need to understand his relationship to (both) TRUTH … and REALITY.


But before trying that, let’s take a few steps back … for some CONTEXT.


The Requirements of Living confront us ALL.


We are (always) in some Situation or another.  And besides the particular situation, we are in a

‘Generic’ … a general situation.  Let’s call it the Basic Human Situation.  (And it’s to an aspect of this Basic situation … that I now draw your attention.)


The Tasks of Living are several  (five, perhaps). The first one is – that we are confronted with is the necessity of comprehending the Nature of our Situation.


So –

What’s the Nature of my Situation?

What are my Alternatives of Action?

How will the world unfold … if I choose this path, or that one?

What do I care about? / (Who do I love?)

Taking action.


Suppose, for example, that you are driving a car.  You’re driving at the speed of the cars around you (which happens to be pretty fast) … and then you come to a curve in the road.  Now, if the road surface happens to be slippery (with rain, or snow, or ice) then you would do well to take into account that your situation has changed.  It may be that reducing your speed is the choice that is needed to keep your car from skidding off the road or into the lane of oncoming traffic.  


We (routinely) depend upon a clear assessment of our Situation … to keep ourselves ALIVE.  


We should also take good care of our Repertoire of Choices … (and tend it as we would a rose garden.)  When we are driving, we should ask ourselves (often) – “Am I leaving enough distance in front of me? (leaving enough space between my car and the one ahead?)   “Am I driving slow enough?” Such choices keep us alive (and/or keep us from killing someone else !)


If we are driving, and our FAMILY is riding in our car, then we are especially careful.  Why? Because we love them.


As Rumi says –


Someone who does not run

toward the allure of love

walks a road where nothing lives. 


Life is ours

in as far as our lives are love-driven and love oriented.


And we strive to comprehend the Truth because we understand

that therein lies the power to make choices … to cause the events of the world

to unfold in such a way that the people we love will enjoy good health and (we hope) be happy.


And Truth has to do with Reality.

“Truth” is our apprehension of Reality.

When our comprehension of the nature of Reality approaches the way it really IS … then we say that we comprehend the truth.


Reality is what ‘The Truth’ is (always) ABOUT !


Truth = Reality.       Mmm?


And – by “Reality” … we mean:  That which IS.   That which exists ON ITS OWN.


The fact that Science exists (as a collective enterprise – a cooperative effort to understand the natural world) bears witness to our need (and the value) to understand Reality (the Truth).


And this Pursuit of the Truth (always) takes place in (what I described last week) as the Zone of Philosophy.


Normal people have a USE for (and are routinely INVOLVED in) the pursuit of truth (trying to understand the nature of our Situation / the nature of Reality.


Did you notice the emboldened line in the epigram?    (‘A scheme is not a vision’)?


Cohen is telling us – that when we are love-oriented (and we have a plan … a goal) to make the world better for its (beloved) inhabitants  … THAT IS A VISION. (such as Deganawida’s [deliberate] efforts to create the Iroquois Confederacy … and the Great Peace. This is an example of a Leader wanting [and creating] a better world.  A Vision.



What if you are completely Selfish?  Then all your plans and goals will be only to serve yourSELF !     In such a case, the best you will be able to come up with is … a “Scheme”!   Mmm?


THIS is why our Mr. Trump can not be a leader … Because he DOES NOT LOVE.


He has no Visions … only SCHEMES    (because he is Completely Selfish) He thinks everything is ABOUT HIM !



Adulation (& admiration, & fealty) are a poor substitute for Love.  But it’s the best thing he can come up with.


You can say that he is ‘narcissistic’ … or that he is a ‘pathological liar’ … but these terms will probably NOT help you to understand him.


He’s BEYOND that really.


He SAYS he is ‘Very Normal’ … but he is NOT normal.


As long as we think that he is (basically) like US … we will not understand him.


[If you want to understand him … I suggest you study ‘Lucifer’ (in the Urantia Book.  Info at end of essay.)]

Trump does NOT LIE … not in the way WE understand lying.  He does not have ANY relationship with the Truth.  

Because his sense of Reality (within his personal Schematic … his sense of his own Basic Situation) is completely disrupted    (or perhaps it’s been destroyed)

We have all heard people refer to “my truth” / (“It’s true for me.”) … which implies that we DO NOT LIVE IN THE SAME WORLD … that we do NOT SHARE A PUBLIC REALITY.

Donald Trump (the way he is RIGHT NOW) shows us where this line of thinking is heading.     For he has arrived.


We (most people) have a use for the truth.  We want to understand reality better, because we want to make our LIVES better.


But this is NOT how our Mr. Trump functions. He has NO INTEREST in the truth.  AT ALL.   BECAUSE he (thinks he) has NO USE for Reality.  


Everything (from his point of view) is ABOUT HIM.  He’s an emotional four-year old … who simply Wants what he Wants.  And he’s going to GET it, if he CAN.


And what does he want?  Money. Power. Influence.  Followers. Approval. Fealty.  Adulation.


Perhaps he has been “eaten” by (modern) Social Media.  Consider his Tweets.  I think THAT’S real to him.  He wants a following.  I think he has substituted (his base’s) perception of him for Reality.  For him – Perception is primary.


In the last few decades I have observed a shift in how this society regards Reality.  There has been a marked increase in the view that Perception is an important form of Primary Reality.  [Consider our increasing dependence upon public opinion polls.   Donald Trump has simply (within his own psyche) carried this trend to its (logical) conclusion.]


Each and every ONE of us knows something about Selfishness & Self-Absorption … because we are ALL afflicted with it.  We all do it.



(That is … not Selfishness as we know it)




Compulsive Liar?


I suppose so … but none of these terms are adequate.


I think that “where he is”  (WHO he has become) … is now probably beyond our comprehension.


But I’m pretty sure – that it would NOT be worth going there

 … just in order to find out what it’s like.



53. The Lucifer Rebellion

1. The Leaders of Rebellion
2. The Causes of Rebellion
3. The Lucifer Manifesto
4. Outbreak of the Rebellion
5. Nature of the Conflict
6. A Loyal Seraphic Commander
7. History of the Rebellion
8. The Son of Man on Urantia
9. Present Status of the Rebellion

54. Problems of the Lucifer Rebellion

1. True and False Liberty
2. The Theft of Liberty
3. The Time Lag of Justice
4. The Mercy Time Lag
5. The Wisdom of Delay                                            Twelve reasons

6. The Triumph of Love

– (excerpted from the Contents of The Urantia Book)

~ ~ ~


Story of Isaac

  by    Leonard Cohen

The door it opened slowly, 

my father he came in, 

I was nine years old. 

And he stood so tall above me, 

his blue eyes they were shining 

and his voice was very cold. 

He said, “I’ve had a vision 

and you know I’m strong and holy, 

I must do what I’ve been told.” 

So he started up the mountain, 

I was running, he was walking, 

and his axe was made of gold. 


Well, the trees they got much smaller, 

the lake a lady’s mirror, 

we stopped to drink some wine. 

Then he threw the bottle over. 

Broke a minute later 

and he put his hand on mine. 

Thought I saw an eagle 

but it might have been a vulture, 

I never could decide. 

Then my father built an altar, 

he looked once behind his shoulder, 

he knew I would not hide. 

You who build these altars now 

to sacrifice these children, 

you must not do it anymore. 

A scheme is not a vision 

and you never have been tempted 

by a demon or a god. 

You who stand above them now, 

your hatchets blunt and bloody, 

you were not there before, 

when I lay upon a mountain 

and my father’s hand was trembling 

with the beauty of the word. 

And if you call me brother now, 

forgive me if I inquire, 

“Just according to whose plan?” 

When it all comes down to dust 

I will kill you if I must, 

I will help you if I can. 

When it all comes down to dust 

I will help you if I must, 

I will kill you if I can. 

And mercy on our uniform, 

man of peace or man of war, 

the peacock spreads his fan.


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The First Law of Ideas (Reconsidered)



Much have I talked about the Great War of Ideas and its importance in our lives.


And several times have I spoken or written about the First Law of Ideas [ –  that ANY idea can be wrong] … and how that law ‘falls out’ of an understanding of the Essential Nature of Ideas ( –  namely – that all Ideas and perceptions are, in effect, already wrong … since they are a MODEL of what they are an idea [or perception] OF; and they are useful to us – due to the RESEMBLANCE they bear to their referent.)



For the past few weeks I’ve undertaken the task of explaining our Mr. Trump’s relationship with the Truth … and I’m no longer satisfied to call (the above described) Law …  ‘The First Law’.

(I mean – I still think it’s TRUE … but I’m no longer willing to say that it’s “first”)  There is (I have come to realize) something more essential and fundamental governing our thinking.


[When we talk about the “Laws” of Physics … or the “Laws” of Nature … we are NOT (of course) talking about some form of Legality (such as Tax Law, Immigration Law, or Divorce Law).  We talk about the ‘Law’ of Gravity (for example) – as a way of regarding the everywhere-ness (and reliability) of (any) Natural Law.  It’s our (perhaps quaint) way of describing the fundamental NATURE of a phenomenon.  Mmm?]


Our first big High-Dollar job – as a Philosopher – is one we do in the middle of our first year of life:  we POSTULATE the EXISTENCE of The WORLD! (Piaget, of course, explains this transition by our ‘learning to ascribe the property of object permanence’ to things; but I think this denigrates the outrageousness, the magnificence, and the audacity of our postulation.  It’s Big!) And on the BASIS of it … we (gradually) walk away from our Infancy. We begin then to function as a PARTICIPANT in the Events of the World.


It’s the Great Transition (demarcating the end of Infancy and the beginning of Childhood)  Even as an infant, we were “conscious”; but we did not know what we were conscious OF. But (eventually) we GET it:  It’s THE WORLD!


Before we were having an experience (eyes open) of our surroundings.  We were having a (high fidelity) ‘dream’ of our surroundings … but we still lacked the Initial Cognition (of ‘Reality’ … or ‘The World’) … so our experience was JUST a DREAM.  But – once we dared to Imagine the WORLD … all of a sudden – the World became visible to us and we could begin to (actually) participate in it.


The difference between an Infant … and a Child … it’s a HUGE difference.   And we ALL DID IT.


And the fact that this landed us smack into Ignorance Consciousness (the naive realism of the Waking State, wherein we think that we (actually) see the World ) is (usually) not of Primary Importance.

I mean – it’s important … but nobody complains about the fact that mortar keeps the bricks apartThe reason we USE mortar (and what’s good about it) is that it CONNECTS the bricks!


Right now I’m inclined to think that the (actual) First Law (of Thought) is this image … the Understanding ITSELF – (of our Basic Situation) … a sort of schematic of the Basic Human Situation.  I see it as : Three Zones –

The first zone (the ‘near’ one) is the zone of the (abstract) Self … the experiencer … our Consciousness.

The second zone is inhabited by our thoughts and our perceptions.  This is the Zone of Philosophy.

The third zone is “Reality”, symbolized by “The World”.  (and I say ‘symbolized’ … because there is more to reality than the physical.  Also – we each have a physical body – which is part of the world … which is why I do not say that the First Zone is inhabited by our Ego – which would include the physical body.  Better to regard it simply as the Experiencer (abstract).

So – you see – that we are connected to reality BY our thoughts and perceptions (by our Philosophy) … in much the same way that the bricks in a structure are connected to the foundation by mortar … even though the mortar also separates.


I think that what falls out of this image – is the realization that to understand the World … well, it’s a Big Job … it’s quite a challenge!    Thus – The Truth is understood to be a Precious Commodity.


And, even though we all started out (from the age of half a year) thinking that we’re in Direct Contact with Reality … as we mature we are able to make increasingly better allowance for other people’s points of view.  We learn that the other person may be right … that there’s nothing ‘special’ (or privileged) about our own point of view.  We become more respectful. And we achieve this even without understanding the nature of the (great) illusion [that we are in direct contact with Reality … that we (actually) see the world … that our sight goes out from our eye]


But sometimes

We go the other way.  We might be (entirely) taken in by the Great Projection … the Great Illusion … the sense that WHAT we are seeing is ACTUALLY REALITY.

When THIS happens, it creates a (major) rearrangement in our comprehension of our Basic Situation.  And we no longer have access to the First Law. (we have REPLACED it) The Truth seems to disappear … and so there is NO WAY to pursue it (or respect it, or value it … or wonder whether we are in possession of it … ANY of it.  It’s just GONE.


Once you’ve convinced yourself that if you think something … if you believe it – then IT’S TRUE.  If you stay on this path (whether you’re a Human Being … or a Primary Lanonandek Son, such as Lucifer, our one-time System Sovereign) … you’re in Big Trouble.  You’re flirting with Cosmic Insanity.  

And return may not be possible.


In the book – “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”   the authors are able (through knowledge, experience, & training) to evaluate a person WITHOUT projecting their own ways of functioning onto the subject.  The are quite familiar with Projection. But MOST of us … we could Very Easily look at our Mr. Trump … and ascribe to him what OUR motives would have been if WE had done what he (just) did.


And I do not consider that Cosmic Insanity is widely understood, nor is it easy to understand.


But the First Law bears heavily on it:  that ‘our relationship with the Truth … is Primary.



And as a culture – our relationship with the Truth … we are painting these days (for the whole world to see) … and with Bold Strokes.


Tomorrow I’m pretty sure that our Senate (the Senate of the United States !) will acquit their guy (Donald Trump).  (The Majority)- remembering that they are Republicans … and forgetting that they are the Senate.


And the Truth?   Also forgotten.   [as Don McLean sings – “And the three men I admired most – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost … caught the last train for the coast … the day the Music died.”]


And our Republican Senators (who are able to forget they are Senators) also bring to my mind the story of Jumping Mouse … who, having traveled very far, across the great prairie, to the foot of the Sacred Mountain … met a wolf.  And this wolf had a problem – he would forget that he was a wolf.

It’s a good story.  We should all read it … especially our “senators”.      [info at end of essay]


Today (of course) was the State of the Union Address.  And for those who would appreciate a description of the actual state of our union, I offer this (reprint)  from TruthOut’s Sasha Abramsky –

The Senate appears poised to acquit President Trump at his impeachment trial, and to essentially greenlight any and all presidential actions as being literally above the law and outside congressional restraining powers. What would an honest third-party observer say if they were invited to give the State of the Union on February 4 in lieu of Donald Trump?

As we approach the 2020 election, it’s time to give an honest accounting of Donald J. Trump’s time in office.

Let’s start with the bottom line: dollars and cents. On the surface, the economy is humming along — based in large part on mechanisms put in place during the Obama administration, as well as this administration’s relentless focus on the short term — though the escalating global coronavirus outbreak could easily cause economic mayhem over the coming months.

The decent economic indicators of the past few years, however, hide deep, systemic problems. The Trump administration summarily discounts all the future harm caused by deregulating workplace safety; undermining environmental rules; opening up public lands to the fossil fuel industry; turbocharging inequality through tax cuts skewed to the rich and cuts to public services used by the poor; eviscerating our public rainy day funds by running historically unprecedented deficits during boom times, thus leaving nothing in reserve for smoothing out the rough edges during the next recession; and pushing to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, (ACA) to further reduce spending on the safety net, leaving a million more people without insurance in 2019 than in 2018, and creating the possibility that, at Trump’s urging, the U.S. Supreme Court will, soon after the election, strike down the entire ACA edifice.

Unemployment stands at 3.5 percent and median income is on the rise (although, notably, the gulf between rich and poor continues to grow, and the “recovery” has disproportionately benefitted the rich). Some of the ongoing growth is the legacy of Obama’s careful stewardship of the economy in the post-recession years. Partly it is also due to the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates historically low. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except in part it’s the consequence of Trump bludgeoning the Fed’s chair, Jerome Powell, to keep those interest rates low, at least through the November election, no matter the long-term cost. Low interest rates during boom times — priming an already primed pump — turbocharges investment and borrowing but can stack up a host of inflation-related problems down the road. The long term, however, as repeatedly demonstrated by Trump’s malign business practices before he became president, has always been viewed by The Donald as being for losers. In Trump’s mental universe, only the now matters — only the instant gratification. Only the consumption, the grabbing of whatever is near enough to grab.

But truth be told, it’s not the economy that seems to get Trump’s juices flowing. And, in all fairness, why should he be excited by good economic indicators when a majority of the public doesn’t buy the argument that the good data is enough to qualify him for re-election? In normal years, if a president were presiding over an economic boom like this, that president’s popularity would be stratospheric. But Trump’s isn’t; instead, his support hovers at somewhere between 38 and 44 percent.

No, what gets Trump excited is the fact that his base loves him – and always will. To a depressingly large degree, his 2016 prognostication — when he infamously said he could shoot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and those guys would stick with him — has been proven right. Yet his supporters have been outnumbered by people who have hated him and his administration from day one. In fact, Adam Schiff’s legally compelling presentations at the Senate impeachment trial have resulted in majorities of Americans now saying he ought to be removed from public office. He won’t be, we all know that; but that has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence over the Ukraine quid pro quo. It has much more to do with the GOP’s willingness to be complicit in his myriad crimes. His attorney, Alan Dershowitz, has advanced the breathtaking argument, apparently now bought into by the vast majority of GOP senators, that anything Trump does to advance his personal interests as president can be conceived as being in the public interest. L’etat c’est moi, as the French kings used to say — not that Trump, in his tasteless MAGA cap, can or wants to speak a foreign language.

Trump’s as guilty as sin on the Ukrainian “drug deal,” but Mitch McConnell’s happy to keep him along for the ride, to cater to his vastly inflated ego, so long as he keeps delivering up fanatically conservative judicial nominees whom the Senate can then process onto the benches at factory-line speed to eviscerate voting rights, undermine anti-poverty programs, attack immigrants and, of course, shred a person’s right to reproductive choice. And even if Mitch-the-Machiavellian weren’t enjoying how much raw power Trump’s handed him, the GOP in Congress is now so scared of the president’s cultist base — and The Donald’s ability to use Twitter to instantly turn mobs against whoever opposes him — that most GOP senators probably wouldn’t convict the president even if he sexually assaulted someone on camera (as opposed to just boasting about it on a hot mic).

Throughout his life Trump has been dogged by allegations of violence, including bullying while at school, sexual assault charges as an adult, and the hectoring and intimidating of employees. These days, what he seems to really enjoy as he sits at the apex of power is the utter debasement of one public institution after the next, the bending of regulatory agencies, and the manipulation of the other branches of government to his personal will. There’s something deeply Nietzschean about it; Trump views himself as the Übermensch, the superman above of and outside of all normal moral limits. Despite the fact that he almost never smiles, Trump seems to genuinely revel in the fact that he has the power to get Bill Barr’s Justice Department to investigate his political opponents, to get the Pentagon to reinstate convicted war criminals, to get the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite climate change science and the national weather service to support his lies about the path a hurricane might take.

More than three years into his presidency, Trump is glorying in the corrosion and degradation of public discourse; in the establishment of what a few smart alecks back in 2017 and 2018 were calling a “Kakistocracy,” a realm where the shit rises to the top, where the crudest, cruelest people are amply rewarded for their service, and where humane world visions are replaced by loyalty, fealty, devotion to the Dear Leader, the man with, as he so piquantly put it, “great and unmatched wisdom.”

Trump is clearly enjoying the implosion of empathy and human rights, seen most prominently in how the country and its bureaucracies now treat immigrants: caging children; enforcing mandatory DNA and pregnancy tests; bottling would-be asylum seekers up in fetid, disease-riddled, violent camps; sending asylum seekers from Guatemala to Honduras, and from Honduras to El Salvador. The president appears to be having fun seeing immigration attorneys in fits of horror at new public charge rules that essentially impose wealth tests on those seeking to make the U.S. their home. He seems to be at his happiest when flirting with the idea of dramatically expanding the Muslim travel ban — now that the Supreme Court has given him carte blanche on that front — or proposing new ways to lock down the southern border.

The scale of this political tragedy is vast. Every time Trump journeys to a conference or a summit or a meeting of allies overseas, he ends up pissing off yet another leader from yet another country that we have enjoyed close ties to for the better part of a century. He has asserted his unilateral authority to assassinate foreign officials he doesn’t like — and to threaten to obliterate their countries’ cultural and population centers if they dare to respond. He has scrapped the INF nuclear arms control treaty, and threatens to withdraw from the treaties limiting intercontinental ballistic missiles, increasing the likelihood of an atomic Armageddon. Now the world stands on the precipice of what the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists calls “midnight,” that moment when nuclear proliferation ceases to be controllable.

Trump’s nuclear recklessness is matched only by his appalling disregard for the environment and for the perils of climate change. He is doing everything in his power not just to roll back Obama-era environmental rules aimed at tackling climate change, but also to actively push policies that would further increase CO2 in the atmosphere rapidly. He is even ending California’s authority to regulate tailpipe emissions, even though many of the world’s biggest car manufacturers had agreed to design more fuel-efficient, less-polluting cars that would meet those standards.

Internationally, in embracing Brexit and its aims, Trump and his nationalist team have managed to undermine the coherence of the European Union and put the post-war stability of Europe at risk. On a near daily basis, for reasons that often seem as random as whether Trump woke up on the right or wrong side of the bed that morning, he throws wrenches into the works of international trade systems and partnerships. His negotiators work on trade agreements with other countries only for Trump to arbitrarily threaten to impose tariffs on erstwhile partners. And as the U.S.’s commitment to these relationships fades, trade spats around the globe, including between allies like South Korea and Japan, are escalating.

Because of McConnell’s Faustian bargain, overseas governments and criminal enterprises will implicitly be given free rein to interfere in U.S. elections as much and as often as the president demands it.

Domestically, white supremacist violence is on the rise across the U.S., and neo-Nazi groups such as The Base and Atomwaffen are on the march — openly participating in gun-pride events and using the internet to threaten race war. For these groups, Trump is a talisman, a symbol of how their worldview can triumph.

But, while Trump flirts with white nationalism, he’s also, primarily, concerned with numero uno. He self-deals shamelessly, channeling business to his hotel in D.C., to his golf courses and resorts in Florida, to his overseas properties in Scotland, in Turkey and elsewhere.

He loves the Saudi government’s leadership. Since Saudi Arabia buys huge amounts of American weaponry, Trump forgives its government for its involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He wants to do more business with Turkey and thus doesn’t think twice about giving Turkey free-range to attack and kill the Kurds in Syria. He feels simpatico with the strong-man leadership style of China’s President Xi, and thus refuses to say more than a few milquetoast words in support of Hong Kong’s democracy protesters.

Three years in, Trump increasingly views himself as all-powerful. He has articulated a political doctrine that Article II of the Constitution allows him as president to do “whatever I want,” and he has sent his lawyers to court to argue that he is literally unindictable, that he is definitionally above the law. The Senate will, in its acceptance of Dershowitz’s arguments, give its imprimatur to this. Seeking to leverage their short-term power, McConnell and the rest of his gang will weaken the long-term ability of Congress to function as a co-equal branch of government, thus signing off on Congress’s own demise, in much the same way as Roman senators, in the dying days of the Republic, divided into a series of warring factions and ceded power to strongmen and dictators, thus paving the way for imperial rule.

From here on in, because of McConnell’s Faustian bargain, overseas governments and criminal enterprises will implicitly be given free rein to interfere in U.S. elections as much and as often as the president demands it. They will be vultures pecking at the corpse of U.S. democracy.

Trump is like Charlie Chaplin’s tyrant-character in The Great Dictator, dreamily playing with an inflated world globe. He jokes about ruling for life, but, drunk on his own power, he no longer knows where humor ends and longing begins. His entire presidency is a Rorschach test. And each day he remains in office speaks volumes to the real state of the union — and to where it is heading.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  [for our Senators] :

How many legs does a dog have

if you count the tail as a leg?


Calling the tail a leg

does not make it a leg.

                –   Abraham Lincoln



Lincoln also said –  “I have learned that most men can withstand adversity.  If you would test a man’s character, give him power.”






The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President”   – by Bandy X. Lee , Jeffrey Sachs, et al.


The story of Jumping Mouse is from –  “Seven Arrows”   by Hyemeyohsts Storm 


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Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to prosecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing

                                                                                                 –  Vaclav Havel






As always, the Great War of Ideas continues to rage (both) around us and in us.


Last week the essay was about our president’s impeachment.  This week I would like (if I am able to do so) to say some things to contextualize our understanding of our relationship with the Truth … (particularly in regard to our Mr. Trump’s ‘love affair’ with the Truth)


Last week I made use of an interview of Bill Moyers  ( )     wherein he said that President Trump is a “solipsist”.  I think this is actually a very helpful comment. (I’m assuming now – that our ‘shared goal’  is to better understand what’s happening)

[And, in case you want to make use of it, I’ll include at the end of this essay – the link to the Wikipedia page on ‘Solipsism’]


But I feel that it is inadequate (simply) to name the condition (‘He’s a solipsist’)  I’m hoping we can understand it a bit deeper.


M. Scott Peck wrote a book called “The People of the Lie”.  Here’s a brief summary –






I would like to acquaint you with (the basics of) ‘Relativity’ (as I learned something about it during my 17 years in a religious order)


‘Intellectual Relativism’ believes that “All truth is relative” … that one belief is as good as another … and that (finally) there IS no TRUTH.  It’s just ‘my word against yours’ … and that’s all there is to it. It essentially DENIES the existence of Absolutes (of Absolute Truth). And (of course) it puts an end to all discussion before it even begins.


‘Moral Relativism’ takes the position – that  there IS NO right or wrong.  (And – there is No evil.)  Ever hear the expression – “It’s all Good”?  (Quite a bit of New Age thought comes from Relativity … and deserves to be reconsidered)


But now I should warn you – that the next couple references contain mention of numerous (non-human) orders of beings.  (this does not trouble me, but it may trouble you) –


[If you’d like to make use of it – “The Cosmic Family  Volume I” offers a pretty good summary, beginning on pp.23 & 24  – ‘The Fall of our System Sovereign and Planetary Prince’          { availability:  at end of essay } ]


In The Urantia Book there is considerable information in Papers 53 & 54 (‘The Lucifer Rebellion’  and ‘Problems of the Lucifer Rebellion’)     Here are a couple excerpts –


2. The Causes of Rebellion

53:2.1 (602.4) Lucifer and his first assistant, Satan, had reigned on Jerusem for more than five hundred thousand years when in their hearts they began to array themselves against the Universal Father and his then vicegerent Son, Michael.

53:2.2 (602.5) There were no peculiar or special conditions in the system of Satania which suggested or favored rebellion. It is our belief that the idea took origin and form in Lucifer’s mind, and that he might have instigated such a rebellion no matter where he might have been stationed. Lucifer first announced his plans to Satan, but it required several months to corrupt the mind of his able and brilliant associate. However, when once converted to the rebel theories, he became a bold and earnest advocate of “self-assertion and liberty.”

53:2.3 (602.6) No one ever suggested rebellion to Lucifer. The idea of self-assertion in opposition to the will of Michael and to the plans of the Universal Father, as they are represented in Michael, had its origin in his own mind. His relations with the Creator Son had been intimate and always cordial. At no time prior to the exaltation of his own mind did Lucifer openly express dissatisfaction about the universe administration. Notwithstanding his silence, for more than one hundred years of standard time the Union of Days on Salvington had been reflectivating to Uversa that all was not at peace in Lucifer’s mind. This information was also communicated to the Creator Son and the Constellation Fathers of Norlatiadek.

53:2.4 (602.7) Throughout this period Lucifer became increasingly critical of the entire plan of universe administration but always professed wholehearted loyalty to the Supreme Rulers. His first outspoken disloyalty was manifested on the occasion of a visit of Gabriel to Jerusem just a few days before the open proclamation of the Lucifer Declaration of Liberty. Gabriel was so profoundly impressed with the certainty of the impending outbreak that he went direct to Edentia to confer with the Constellation Fathers regarding the measures to be employed in case of open rebellion.

53:2.5 (603.1) It is very difficult to point out the exact cause or causes which finally culminated in the Lucifer rebellion. We are certain of only one thing, and that is: Whatever these first beginnings were, they had their origin in Lucifer’s mind. There must have been a pride of self that nourished itself to the point of self-deception, so that Lucifer for a time really persuaded himself that his contemplation of rebellion was actually for the good of the system, if not of the universe. By the time his plans had developed to the point of disillusionment, no doubt he had gone too far for his original and mischief-making pride to permit him to stop. At some point in this experience he became insincere, and evil evolved into deliberate and willful sin. That this happened is proved by the subsequent conduct of this brilliant executive. He was long offered opportunity for repentance, but only some of his subordinates ever accepted the proffered mercy. The Faithful of Days of Edentia, on the request of the Constellation Fathers, in person presented the plan of Michael for the saving of these flagrant rebels, but always was the mercy of the Creator Son rejected and rejected with increasing contempt and disdain.


53:5.6 (606.2) “There was war in heaven; Michael’s commander and his angels fought against the dragon (Lucifer, Satan, and the apostate princes); and the dragon and his rebellious angels fought but prevailed not.” This “war in heaven” was not a physical battle as such a conflict might be conceived on Urantia. In the early days of the struggle Lucifer held forth continuously in the planetary amphitheater. Gabriel conducted an unceasing exposure of the rebel sophistries from his headquarters taken up near at hand. The various personalities present on the sphere who were in doubt as to their attitude would journey back and forth between these discussions until they arrived at a final decision.

53:5.7 (606.3) But this war in heaven was very terrible and very real. While displaying none of the barbarities so characteristic of physical warfare on the immature worlds, this conflict was far more deadly; material life is in jeopardy in material combat, but the war in heaven was fought in terms of life eternal.


[Though it says (in 53:5.6) that – ‘ the dragon and his rebellious angels fought but prevailed not.’ … I once heard the Bright and Morning Star of Salvington (- Gabriel, who argued for God  and against the rebellion) say … that, when at last this great debate ended … he thought he had lost.]


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I believe that the ‘correct’ way to understand ANY person … is to keep in mind – that whatever that person did … we are ALL capable of it.


George Will wrote – “Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic,” Will stated at the end of his column. “Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.”


Now, I like George Will very much, and I respect and value him; but I think he is wrong to think that Donald Trump (simply) IS what he IS.  


Having done some studying (and thinking) about Lucifer’s downfall, I feel confident that Trump (also) made a choice.  He CHOSE to scorn the Truth … to prefer his own beliefs … or (perhaps) to think that his beliefs (simply) ARE the truth.


I suspect that such a choice … amounts to a denial of Reality.


What we mean by ‘Reality’ is that – it does NOT depend upon us (our beliefs or awareness).  I think my house is real. By that – I mean that even when no person is in the house … or if I forget about the house … that the house STILL EXISTS.  That its existence is INDEPENDENT from me (or my awareness of it).


I think Trump must have made a choice to ‘reclassify reality’, as it were.  I suspect that he no longer regards it as having an independent existence (from him).

I’m pretty sure that Lucifer made a similar choice.

But – what’s going to happen, do you think, when a person is no longer able to distinguish between REALITY … and WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS TRUE?

Well … it’s going to be a real mess!

And this is probably why such a condition is regarded (among the celestials) as COSMIC INSANITY.


This is NOT an easy thing to understand … yet we should apply ourselves  … help each other. We should TRY.


I recommend you watch 



Ms. Warren talks about how we ALL are involved (every day, in many ways) in self-deception.


But – our Mr.Trump has taken self-deception to such an extreme … that it’s scary.





The Cosmic Family, Vol. I    is available from  –

                    or through Amazon




How many legs does a dog have

if you count the tail as a leg?


Calling the tail a leg

does not make it a leg.


                –   Abraham Lincoln



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How many legs does a dog have

if you count the tail as a leg?


Calling the tail a leg

does not make it a leg.


                                  –   Abraham Lincoln







Will our (Republican dominated) senate muster up the necessary tunnel vision (ignoring the facts, ignoring their oath) to acquit our Mr. Trump of his betrayal of the public trust?  

It looks like it.

Is not such Tunnel Vision really a form of arrogance?  [thinking that we’re so important that we are at liberty to ignore whatever does not pertain to Republican Party politics.  (Who cares about Context?  Who cares about the nature of the Broader Situation?)  As though we were our own Primary Reality!]


But suppose they don’t.  Suppose for a minute they find him guilty (of the crimes indicated by the facts)

Do you imagine that Donald Trump will admit that he did wrong?   Mmm?




Donald Trump is Our Problem.  He’s US, really. He’s the Arrival our society has been heading toward for quite some time.


And … WHICH do you think is more important?  President Trump being on trial? …. or the fact that our Entire Society is on Trial before the World?


WHAT is our relationship with the Truth?   (and how has that relationship been developing during the last couple centuries?)


We treat Knowledge as though it were a disease.  In our public schools, we teach our children that if they can just pass (a certain) test … they will then be “immune” to the knowledge covered in the test … and they won’t have to bother with it further.  (Once you’ve had the measles, you won’t have to deal with it again. You’ll then be immune.)


And – what about the “sport” of Debate?  We’ve been doing (formalized) debate since 1892   (a century and a quarter)   


What do these competitions tell us about our society’s relationship with the Truth?

(quite a bit, I think) –


Does a formal (inter-collegiate) debate (or the preparation for it) even vaguely resemble a truth-seekers’ Think-Tank?  (A cooperative striving to come closer to the truth.  An earnest attempt to understand some particularly elusive aspect of reality)?




It’s all about persuasion. 

The Reality (of the real World) … the Truth of the matter … such considerations have long ago faded into the mist … somewhere now over the horizon, perhaps hidden by the (modern-cognitive) curve of the earth.


Instead … it’s Salesmanship.


We have traded in Reality (and the Truth) … for MARKETING.


And so we have (through long labor) produced a man with a heightened sense of How he Looks / of Appearance … and NO sense of the Truth.  (and we have made him our PRESIDENT)


And now (as we struggle over whether to relieve him of his position) we display – for all the world to see … just HOW FAR (from the Truth) … we have come.


(Such an achievement!)



Impeach the President?        It’s WE who are on trial.




[Please take note of Bill Moyers’ comments about Václav Havel, near the end of his talk.]



 (Noam Chomsky –

The Most Dangerous Organization in Human History)


 (Bill Moyers – on The Dangers Of So Much Dishonesty)


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Too Little


It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limits of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.

                                                                                                                     –    C. W. Leadbeater





We are highly (highly) resistant to believing in things we have not directly experienced.


We all know what a unicorn is.  But (I think) very few people believe they are real … (me too). 

But, did you know – that, even as late as 1900, very few people believed that gorillas were real (despite the fact that they knew about them … they knew what they were)  People did not believe in gorillas TILL THEY WERE CAPTURED AND PRESENTED, IN PERSON (as it were).


We tend to make direct experience into a requirement (for belief).


But, I think there’s more to it than that …  (that is – more to why our resistance to belief is so strong)


Maybe watch this video, wherein a medical doctor (and skeptic, Justin Coleman) fails to be convinced that actual healing is taking place … EVEN THOUGH he is a direct witness to the ‘healings’.  And I think it’s because he is fond of his belief structure (which [he believes] he himself created) … and is unable to make sense of what he sees – IN TERMS OF that STRUCTURE. And so … he REMAINS A SKEPTIC.




I think, too – that a good portion of our resistance to belief comes from the fact that it seems to us that our “sight” goes out from our eyes … and strikes (and apprehends) our environment … out there, where the things are.  This (all day, every day) experience … leaves us (STUCK with) the impression … that we “SEE THE WORLD” … that we are in direct contact with reality !  (which we are NOT) 

Most of us (actually DO) realize – that the direction of perception is INward.  … But, since we EXPERIENCE it as outward … we operate under the illusion that … we are in DIRECT CONTACT with reality.          (I have discussed this [powerful and persistent] illusion in previous essays)

Anyway, I quite suspect – that this same illusion is partly responsible for the fact that we have such (great) resistance … to believing in anything which we have not (personally and) directly experienced.


But in any case …  it’s still a mistake.  (a malfunction)



There may be quite a number of things that I believe in (believe to be real) … which you may not.


But, let’s just consider a couple :  angels … and crop circles.


The MAIN reason I believe in angels – is because I am able to respect the (personal, reported) direct experience OF OTHERS.

I do not own all the experience in the world.  Should we not respect the experience of others?  (and make use of it?)











7. The Talk About Angels

167:7.1 (1840.6) As they journeyed up the hills from Jericho to Bethany, Nathaniel walked most of the way by the side of Jesus, and their discussion of children in relation to the kingdom of heaven led indirectly to the consideration of the ministry of angels. Nathaniel finally asked the Master this question: “Seeing that the high priest is a Sadducee, and since the Sadducees do not believe in angels, what shall we teach the people regarding the heavenly ministers?” Then, among other things, Jesus said:

167:7.2 (1841.1) “The angelic hosts are a separate order of created beings; they are entirely different from the material order of mortal creatures, and they function as a distinct group of universe intelligences. Angels are not of that group of creatures called ‘the Sons of God’ in the Scriptures; neither are they the glorified spirits of mortal men who have gone on to progress through the mansions on high. Angels are a direct creation, and they do not reproduce themselves. The angelic hosts have only a spiritual kinship with the human race. As man progresses in the journey to the Father in Paradise, he does traverse a state of being at one time analogous to the state of the angels, but mortal man never becomes an angel.

167:7.3 (1841.2) “The angels never die, as man does. The angels are immortal unless, perchance, they become involved in sin as did some of them with the deceptions of Lucifer. The angels are the spirit servants in heaven, and they are neither all-wise nor all-powerful. But all of the loyal angels are truly pure and holy.

167:7.4 (1841.3) “And do you not remember that I said to you once before that, if you had your spiritual eyes anointed, you would then see the heavens opened and behold the angels of God ascending and descending? It is by the ministry of the angels that one world may be kept in touch with other worlds, for have I not repeatedly told you that I have other sheep not of this fold? And these angels are not the spies of the spirit world who watch upon you and then go forth to tell the Father the thoughts of your heart and to report on the deeds of the flesh. The Father has no need of such service inasmuch as his own spirit lives within you. But these angelic spirits do function to keep one part of the heavenly creation informed concerning the doings of other and remote parts of the universe. And many of the angels, while functioning in the government of the Father and the universes of the Sons, are assigned to the service of the human races. When I taught you that many of these seraphim are ministering spirits, I spoke not in figurative language nor in poetic strains. And all this is true, regardless of your difficulty in comprehending such matters.

167:7.5 (1841.4) “Many of these angels are engaged in the work of saving men, for have I not told you of the seraphic joy when one soul elects to forsake sin and begin the search for God? I did even tell you of the joy in the presence of the angels of heaven over one sinner who repents, thereby indicating the existence of other and higher orders of celestial beings who are likewise concerned in the spiritual welfare and with the divine progress of mortal man.

167:7.6 (1841.5) “Also are these angels very much concerned with the means whereby man’s spirit is released from the tabernacles of the flesh and his soul escorted to the mansions in heaven. Angels are the sure and heavenly guides of the soul of man during that uncharted and indefinite period of time which intervenes between the death of the flesh and the new life in the spirit abodes.”

167:7.7 (1841.6) And he would have spoken further with Nathaniel regarding the ministry of angels, but he was interrupted by the approach of Martha, who had been informed that the Master was drawing near to Bethany by friends who had observed him ascending the hills to the east. And she now hastened to greet him.


The reason, by the way, that Jesus told Nathaniel (in the 1st paragraph of p. 1841 of the Urantia Book) that humans do not become angels when we die … is because – that was a common belief in those days (just as it still is today).


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Let us consider the phenomenon of Crop Circles.








Though I have never (personally) seen a crop circle … even so, I feel they are real … and (often) exquisitely beautiful.  Nor do I doubt – that they are created for us (humans) as a form of communication … from some (higher, and benevolent) race (or races) of beings.  I believe they care about us … and hope for our survival. I’m sure they are aware of the considerable hazards (of self-destruction) which confront us; and I think they are pulling for us.


And … it has occurred to me – that (maybe) – simply gazing at these wonderful designs (even if we apparently do not ‘understand’ what they mean) … still it may be helping us in some way.  Once we’ve seen such patterns … we’re not quite the same as we were.          Mmm?    (balls of light   forming crop circles)    (UFO’s making crop circles)




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I will (yet again) quote William Irwin Thompson :


We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: we cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions.  We do not live in reality; we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality; but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us.



The world we live in … that is, the world that we imagine that we live in … is very much smaller (and duller) than the one we actually live in.


We believe (in) too little.




film – Heaven Is For Real   (2014   Greg Kinnear  et al.)    (EBENs etc.  – Linda Moulton Howe )

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At the end of your earth life you will all expect mercy;

therefore do I require of you during your mortal life that 

you show mercy to all of your brethren in the flesh.

                                                                  –  Urantia Book, p. 1571.4





~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The song –  “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie”  is attributed to Lead Belly.


[ ]


It’s a simple song –



My (current) suspicion as to why this song is (so) touching … is that – it is about Mercy.


I have read that Huddie Bedbetter (Lead Belly) knew how to work hard.  He picked cotton on a prison farm : Lead Man, in the Lead Row, in the highest-producing work-farm in Texas.  I’m pretty sure he knew what it was like to be thirsty … to crave a simple drink of water.

Also (in general) he knew about suffering (and being in Need of Mercy) … as every black person in America has known that.  And their (white) masters have not been famous for their mercy.


The poignancy in the request for water … comes from the intensity of the suffering from which the request is made.


Blacks were fed a steady diet of brutality and degradation  –





Joel Chandler Harris is credited as “author” of (the many) “Uncle Remus” stories; but Harris says – he did not make up one word of them.  He simply wrote them down as he heard them.

And these tales were a part of the black oral tradition (from the times of slavery in America).  There are many characters in these tales (and most of these are ‘animals’); but the two main ones are  – Bre’r Fox and Bre’r Rabbit. The blacks, you see, identified with the rabbit. And they’re the ones who made up these tales. … And the Fox (they all knew) represented their white masters.  Foxes and rabbits have lived in this world for a long time. And, of course, a fox will sometimes eat a rabbit … if he can catch him. But the rabbits are still here … and they survive (largely) by their wits.  So the slaves (made up and) told each other these stories … about how the rabbit would (usually) outwit the fox, and sometimes even make a fool out of him.

They fully realized that they were at a tremendous disadvantage in their (many) interactions with their white masters.  But in the stories, they were at liberty to best their (evil and formidable) adversary … in any way they could imagine. I’m sure it gave them many a laugh.  These tales gave them some relief, and perhaps kept them from complete discouragement and the depths of depression.

They comprise a noteworthy body of literature … and a good many of them are very funny indeed.


I would suggest –        The Favorite Uncle Remus

                                       by Joel Chandler Harris and A. B. Frost 





When I saw the film “The Sting”  (the scene where Robert Redford is walking alone along the city streets at night … accompanied by certain song (a Scott Joplin piece) – I was astonished that a piece of instrumental music could be (so clearly) compassionate.  Then I found out that the name of that song is …  “Solace” !

So – a song need not (even) have lyrics … to convey the energy of Mercy.





But … no doubt the real question is –  WILL WE BE CONVEYORS OF MERCY ?


For the purposes of this essay, we should acknowledge that MERCY is (approximately) equivalent to Loving Kindness.  


A good example is – the way the Samaritan treated the stranger he came across (who had been robbed, beaten, and left by the wayside) –

“A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of cruel brigands, who robbed him, stripped him and beat him, and departing, left him half dead. Very soon, by chance, a certain priest was going down that way, and when he came upon the wounded man, seeing his sorry plight, he passed by on the other side of the road. And in like manner a Levite also, when he came along and saw the man, passed by on the other side. Now, about this time, a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed down to Jericho, came across this wounded man; and when he saw how he had been robbed and beaten, he was moved with compassion, and going over to him, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and setting the man upon his own beast, brought him here to the inn and took care of him. And on the morrow he took out some money and, giving it to the host, said: ‘Take good care of my friend, and if the expense is more, when I come back again, I will repay you.’ Now let me ask you: Which of these three turned out to be the neighbor of him who fell among the robbers?” And when the lawyer perceived that he had fallen into his own snare, he answered, “He who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

                                                                                                                                             – UB   p. 1810


He had never met him before … yet he treated him like Family   (with mercy, with loving kindness)


Are we (ever) going to grow up and learn to treat each other … like Family?


Well … our values (to some extent, at least) –  fall out of our beliefs … out of ‘what we think is true’.   Mmm?


The fact that we (still) live in a “dog-eat-dog” world … indicates that we (still) believe that this is just ‘how the world is’.



…one of the things that’s become clear to me (just from watching certain YouTube videos over the last couple years) – is that ANIMALS are (also) loving!


[Love is not something that’s peculiar to humans]

Cats + owls … sharks + people … meerkats … whales … dolphins … crows … parrots … octopus … rhinos … alligators … bears … horses … lions … tigers … chimps and gorillas.


New videos roll in to YouTube … at the rate of 300 hours (of new video footage) EVERY MINUTE.


With so many ‘eyes’ now on the world around us – it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny – that we LIVE IN A LOVE-INFUSED UNIVERSE.


Maybe it’s time we gave up our “It’s a dog-eat-dog world” story (and the selfishness it seems to justify)  … Mmm?


As Stephen Hawking says –        The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance,

                                                                   it is the illusion of knowledge.


People like Simon Sinek (who teach leaders of big companies how to ‘create Family’ within their microculture and why they need to) … find themselves going up the ‘down’ staircase.  

Our current (dominant) management model / world view is (still) Productivity and Profits   over  People and Sustainability.     {Money over Mercy}


But I’m sure – this isn’t the best we can do …


Compassion is not at all weak.  It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world.  Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear;  it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of compassion … is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with sympathy for all living beings, without exception.    

                                                                                                   –     Sharon Salzberg


It’s up to us.        We can choose … (and we do).

So –

What if a society has the wherewithal to ease the suffering of their most disadvantaged members … but they choose not to?


Then what?



Brer Fox Holds the Horse

African American


One day Brer Rabbit was going along the road studying how he was going to hold his own with Brer Fox when he saw a great big horse lying stretched out flat on his side in the pasture. He crept up, he did, to see if this horse had gone and died. He crept up, and he crept around, and by and by he saw the horse switch his tail, and then Brer Rabbit knew he wasn’t dead. With that, Brer Rabbit loped back to the big road, and almost the first man he saw going by was Brer Fox.

Brer Rabbit, he took after him, and hollered, “Brer Fox! O Brer Fox! Come back! I’ve got some good news for you. Come back, Brer Fox,” he said.

Brer Fox, he turned around, he did, and when he saw who was calling him he came galloping back, because it seemed like this was just as good a time as any to nab Brer Rabbit. But before he got within nabbing distance, Brer Rabbit, he up and said, “Come on, Brer Fox! I just found the place where you can lay in fresh meat enough to last you plumb until the middle of next year,” he said.

Brer Fox, he asked where it was, and Brer Rabbit, he said, “Right over there in the pasture,” and Brer Fox asked what it was, and Brer Rabbit said it was a whole horse lying down on the ground where they could catch him and tie him up.

With that, Brer Fox said, “Come on,” and off they went.

When they got there, sure enough, they lay the horse all stretched out in the sun fast asleep, and then Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit had a dispute about how they were going to fix the horse so he could not get loose. One said one way and the other said another way, and so it was until after a while Brer Rabbit said, “The only plan I can think of, Brer Fox, is for you to go down there and let me tie you to the horse’s tail,” he said. “If I were a big man like you are,” said Brer Rabbit, “you could tie me to the horse’s tail, and if I didn’t hold him down, then Joe’s dead and Sal’s a widow. I just know that you can hold him down,” said Brer Rabbit. “But if you are afraid, we had just better drop this idea and study out some other plan,” he said.

Brer Fox was sort of dubious about this, but it pleased him to play biggity in front of Brer Rabbit, and he agreed to the plan. Then Brer Rabbit, he took and tied Brer Fox to the horse’s tail, and after he had him tied there hard and fast, he sort of stepped back, he did, and put his hands akimbo, and grinned, and then he said, “If there ever was a caught horse then it is this one that we caught. It sort of looks like we put the bridle on the wrong end.”

With that Brer Rabbit cut himself a long switch and trimmed it up. When he had it fixed, he stepped up and hit the horse a rap — pow! The horse was so surprised at this that he made one jump and landed on his feet. When he did that, there was Brer Fox dangling in the air.

Brer Rabbit, he darted out of the way and hollered, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down! I’ll stand out here and not get in your way. Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down!”

Of course, when the horse felt Brer Fox hanging there on his tail, he thought something was the matter, and this made him jump and rear worse and worse, and he shook up Brer Fox just like he was a rag in the wind, and Brer Rabbit, he jumped and hollered, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down! You’ve got him now! Hold your grip, and hold him down!” he said.

The horse, he jumped ,and he jumped, and he ripped, and he reared, and he snorted, and he tore. But Brer Fox kept hanging on, and Brer Rabbit kept skipping around hollering, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! You’ve got him where he can’t get away. Hold him down, Brer Fox!” he said.

By and by, when Brer Fox got the chance, he hollered back, he did, “How in the name of goodness am I going to hold the horse down unless I get my claws in the ground?”

Then Brer Rabbit, he stood back a little further and hollered a little louder, “Hold him down, Brer Fox! Hold him down! You’ve got him now! Hold him down!”

By and by the horse began to kick with his hind legs, and the first thing you know, he fetched Brer Fox a lick in the stomach that fairly made him squall, and then he kicked him again, and this time he broke Brer Fox loose, and sent him a-whirling; and Brer Rabbit, he kept on a-jumping around and hollering, “Hold him down, Brer Fox!”

“Did the fox get killed, Uncle Remus?” asked the little boy.

“He wasn’t exactly killed, honey,” replied the old man, “but he was next door to it. He was all broken up, and while he was getting well, it sort of came across his mind that Brer Rabbit had done and played a trick on him.”



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Some Context


If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.  Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. The better the answer he has, the more of a person he is.

                                                                               –  Thomas Merton  




Archaic Torso of Apollo


We have no idea what his fantastic head

was like, where the eyeballs were slowly swelling.  But

his body now is glowing like a lamp

whose inner eyes, only turned down a little,

hold their flame, shine.  If there weren’t light, the curve

of the breast wouldn’t blind you, and in the swerve

if the thighs a smile wouldn’t keep on going

towards the place where the seeds are.

If there weren’t light, this stone would look cut off

where it drops so clearly from the shoulders,

its skin wouldn’t gleam like the fur of a wild animal,

and the body wouldn’t send out light from every edge

as a star does … for there is no place at all

that isn’t looking at you.  You must change your life.

                                             –   Rainer Maria Rilke  

                                                                       (transl: Robert Bly) 




Burning the Old Year


Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   

Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   

transparent scarlet paper,

sizzle like moth wings,

marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   

lists of vegetables, partial poems.   

Orange swirling flame of days,   

so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   

an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   

I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   

only the things I didn’t do   

crackle after the blazing dies.


                                                        –    Naomi Shihab Nye                 




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We live on a planet where the chief life form is genuinely confused as to whether his grandfather was God … or a monkey.    

                                                                                                                                        – Archy [the cockroach] / Don Marquis



We know that we are killing the planet we live on, but we have not yet made up our mind to stop.



We could choose to survive.



From most points of view, THIS is another planet.




The Great War of Ideas continues to rage   all around us … and IN us.   (We are ALL participants)



There are planners … and there are plannees.             – Ursula Franklin


The Super Rich     are NOT our friends.   They keep us from living in a state of (universal) affluence.   They have undermined our education system and reshaped our society to suite their (own, sleezy) purposes.   (Our hope in defeating them lies in  educating ourselves … coming to understand them and our situation   BETTER than they understand us.)        [please see the Chris Hedges video at the end of this essay]



Everyone has 24 hours (every day)  – in which to do the things that are the most important.



We do not know who we are.   We are (as William Irwin Thompson says)   ‘like flies crawling around on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.’           The greatest miracles are invisibly close.


We are multi-dimensional beings living in a multidimensional universe.  (our experience ranges from Selfless Love … to diarrhea)


‘You are not a human being having a spiritual experience, you are a spirit being having a human experience.’


Despite the fact that most people BELIEVE that happiness comes from the outside … it is not so.   Our happiness comes from WITHIN us.   We need to learn to take responsibility for our own feelings (and not blame others).


We are always training SOMETHING.   I need to adjust my habits & daily routine   to align with and support my goals & aspirations.


Our failures and our achievements are less important than our aspirations and habits.                

  [ref;  ]     



In the affairs of men’s hearts the Universal Father may not always have his way; but in the conduct and destiny of a planet the divine plan prevails. …”                –   The Urantia Book,  p. 51


Nature bats last.



We COULD adopt laws which prohibit destruction of the planet.



       [Please do not fail to watch this following video.  It’s true. It’s relevant. And it’s less than five minutes long.]     (Change Your Life)



The Only New Year’s Resolution I Ever Make

A new year means New Year’s resolutions for many people. I want to share with you the only New Year’s resolution I ever make.  This one New Year’s resolution is all encompassing – it will take care of all your other resolutions in one go, whether that’s to find love, lose weight, be healthier, make more money, or whatever it is you want for 2020.

Be positive!

Make a promise to yourself to be as positive as you can possibly be.  Make a promise to yourself to be more positive than you’ve ever been in your life.  At the beginning of each day promise yourself: “Today, wherever I go and whatever I’m doing, I will be positive!”

Being positive means that you will look for the positive things in people, circumstances, and all things.

Being positive means that if any negative words come out of your mouth, you will stop mid-sentence and immediately turn the sentence into a positive one.

Being positive means that you will have fewer negative emotions, and even if a negative emotion arises you will be positive about it too by allowing the negative emotion to be rather than trying to push it away.

Being positive means that you will automatically focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

Being positive means that you will become an attractive force for what you want.

Being positive means that negative thoughts and words will begin to fall away.

Being positive means that you will begin to feel happier and happier each day.

Being positive means that you will have fewer problems.

Being positive means that life will go smoothly for you, everyday events will fall into place, and things will go your way.

Being positive means that you will feel good!

Make a commitment to change your entire life in 2020 through the simple, singular act of being positive!

Wishing you a Happy, Positive New Year for 2020!

                                                                                                                      — Rhonda Byrne








[If we had to ‘sail into the mystic’  to get to here … then WHERE are we NOW? ]

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Christmas 2019



Jesus came here –  to reveal the Father … and not just for us, but for the people of some 6,000 other worlds in Nebadon (and eventually, I guess, the full 10,000 worlds of his creation, which by and by will be “inhabited”.  A world is not counted as ‘inhabited’ until such time as there are God-knowing people living there … that is – ‘adjuster-indwelt’.)


[Sometime you should read the ‘adjuster papers’ in the Urantia Book – (papers 107-111).  Everyone should.]


Anyway, there was a certain incident (which you may not know about) – involving Jesus and the young John Mark (who years later wrote the Gospel of Mark)

Just two days before the (well-known) Last Supper, Jesus had decided to take himself off into the hills alone to prepare himself for the (tremendous) ordeal which he knew awaited him. 

[Incidentally, Jesus had been informed 8 months earlier (on the Mount of the Transfiguration) –  that the requirements for his final bestowal had been met; and he could have elected to end his bestowal THEN.  But he chose not to do this.   If you wish to read about this transaction (on your own) … it’s here :      ]


Anyway, despite Jesus’ plan to go alone into the hills … John Mark gets Jesus to take him along!


THAT’S the way God is!       [Wonderful!      Amazing! ]


Have a look –  :

The Urantia Book

Paper 177

Wednesday, the Rest Day

177:0.1 (1920.1) WHEN the work of teaching the people did not press them, it was the custom of Jesus and his apostles to rest from their labors each Wednesday. On this particular Wednesday they ate breakfast somewhat later than usual, and the camp was pervaded by an ominous silence; little was said during the first half of this morning meal. At last Jesus spoke: “I desire that you rest today. Take time to think over all that has happened since we came to Jerusalem and meditate on what is just ahead, of which I have plainly told you. Make sure that the truth abides in your lives, and that you daily grow in grace.”

177:0.2 (1920.2) After breakfast the Master informed Andrew that he intended to be absent for the day and suggested that the apostles be permitted to spend the time in accordance with their own choosing, except that under no circumstances should they go within the gates of Jerusalem.

177:0.3 (1920.3) When Jesus made ready to go into the hills alone, David Zebedee accosted him, saying: “You well know, Master, that the Pharisees and rulers seek to destroy you, and yet you make ready to go alone into the hills. To do this is folly; I will therefore send three men with you well prepared to see that no harm befalls you.” Jesus looked over the three well-armed and stalwart Galileans and said to David: “You mean well, but you err in that you fail to understand that the Son of Man needs no one to defend him. No man will lay hands on me until that hour when I am ready to lay down my life in conformity to my Father’s will. These men may not accompany me. I desire to go alone, that I may commune with the Father.”

177:0.4 (1920.4) Upon hearing these words, David and his armed guards withdrew; but as Jesus started off alone, John Mark came forward with a small basket containing food and water and suggested that, if he intended to be away all day, he might find himself hungry. The Master smiled on John and reached down to take the basket.

1. One Day Alone with God

177:1.1 (1920.5) As Jesus was about to take the lunch basket from John’s hand, the young man ventured to say: “But, Master, you may set the basket down while you turn aside to pray and go on without it. Besides, if I should go along to carry the lunch, you would be more free to worship, and I will surely be silent. I will ask no questions and will stay by the basket when you go apart by yourself to pray.”

177:1.2 (1920.6) While making this speech, the temerity of which astonished some of the near-by listeners, John had made bold to hold on to the basket. There they stood, both John and Jesus holding the basket. Presently the Master let go and, looking down on the lad, said: “Since with all your heart you crave to go with me, it shall not be denied you. We will go off by ourselves and have a good visit. You may ask me any question that arises in your heart, and we will comfort and console each other. You may start out carrying the lunch, and when you grow weary, I will help you. Follow on with me.”

177:1.3 (1921.1) Jesus did not return to the camp that evening until after sunset. The Master spent this last day of quiet on earth visiting with this truth-hungry youth and talking with his Paradise Father. This event has become known on high as “the day which a young man spent with God in the hills.” Forever this occasion exemplifies the willingness of the Creator to fellowship the creature. Even a youth, if the desire of the heart is really supreme, can command the attention and enjoy the loving companionship of the God of a universe, actually experience the unforgettable ecstasy of being alone with God in the hills, and for a whole day. And such was the unique experience of John Mark on this Wednesday in the hills of Judea.

177:1.4 (1921.2) Jesus visited much with John, talking freely about the affairs of this world and the next. John told Jesus how much he regretted that he had not been old enough to be one of the apostles and expressed his great appreciation that he had been permitted to follow on with them since their first preaching at the Jordan ford near Jericho, except for the trip to Phoenicia. Jesus warned the lad not to become discouraged by impending events and assured him he would live to become a mighty messenger of the kingdom.

177:1.5 (1921.3) John Mark was thrilled by the memory of this day with Jesus in the hills, but he never forgot the Master’s final admonition, spoken just as they were about to return to the Gethsemane camp, when he said: “Well, John, we have had a good visit, a real day of rest, but see to it that you tell no man the things which I told you.” And John Mark never did reveal anything that transpired on this day which he spent with Jesus in the hills.

177:1.6 (1921.4) Throughout the few remaining hours of Jesus’ earth life John Mark never permitted the Master for long to get out of his sight. Always was the lad in hiding near by; he slept only when Jesus slept.

2. Early Home Life

177:2.1 (1921.5) In the course of this day’s visiting with John Mark, Jesus spent considerable time comparing their early childhood and later boyhood experiences. Although John’s parents possessed more of this world’s goods than had Jesus’ parents, there was much experience in their boyhood which was very similar. Jesus said many things which helped John better to understand his parents and other members of his family. When the lad asked the Master how he could know that he would turn out to be a “mighty messenger of the kingdom,” Jesus said:

177:2.2 (1921.6) “I know you will prove loyal to the gospel of the kingdom because I can depend upon your present faith and love when these qualities are grounded upon such an early training as has been your portion at home. You are the product of a home where the parents bear each other a sincere affection, and therefore you have not been overloved so as injuriously to exalt your concept of self-importance. Neither has your personality suffered distortion in consequence of your parents’ loveless maneuvering for your confidence and loyalty, the one against the other. You have enjoyed that parental love which insures laudable self-confidence and which fosters normal feelings of security. But you have also been fortunate in that your parents possessed wisdom as well as love; and it was wisdom which led them to withhold most forms of indulgence and many luxuries which wealth can buy while they sent you to the synagogue school along with your neighborhood playfellows, and they also encouraged you to learn how to live in this world by permitting you to have original experience. You came over to the Jordan, where we preached and John’s disciples baptized, with your young friend Amos. Both of you desired to go with us. When you returned to Jerusalem, your parents consented; Amos’s parents refused; they loved their son so much that they denied him the blessed experience which you have had, even such as you this day enjoy. By running away from home, Amos could have joined us, but in so doing he would have wounded love and sacrificed loyalty. Even if such a course had been wise, it would have been a terrible price to pay for experience, independence, and liberty. Wise parents, such as yours, see to it that their children do not have to wound love or stifle loyalty in order to develop independence and enjoy invigorating liberty when they have grown up to your age.

177:2.3 (1922.1) “Love, John, is the supreme reality of the universe when bestowed by all-wise beings, but it is a dangerous and oftentimes semiselfish trait as it is manifested in the experience of mortal parents. When you get married and have children of your own to rear, make sure that your love is admonished by wisdom and guided by intelligence.

177:2.4 (1922.2) “Your young friend Amos believes this gospel of the kingdom just as much as you, but I cannot fully depend upon him; I am not certain about what he will do in the years to come. His early home life was not such as would produce a wholly dependable person. Amos is too much like one of the apostles who failed to enjoy a normal, loving, and wise home training. Your whole afterlife will be more happy and dependable because you spent your first eight years in a normal and well-regulated home. You possess a strong and well-knit character because you grew up in a home where love prevailed and wisdom reigned. Such a childhood training produces a type of loyalty which assures me that you will go through with the course you have begun.”

177:2.5 (1922.3) For more than an hour Jesus and John continued this discussion of home life. The Master went on to explain to John how a child is wholly dependent on his parents and the associated home life for all his early concepts of everything intellectual, social, moral, and even spiritual since the family represents to the young child all that he can first know of either human or divine relationships. The child must derive his first impressions of the universe from the mother’s care; he is wholly dependent on the earthly father for his first ideas of the heavenly Father. The child’s subsequent life is made happy or unhappy, easy or difficult, in accordance with his early mental and emotional life, conditioned by these social and spiritual relationships of the home. A human being’s entire afterlife is enormously influenced by what happens during the first few years of existence.

177:2.6 (1922.4) It is our sincere belief that the gospel of Jesus’ teaching, founded as it is on the father-child relationship, can hardly enjoy a world-wide acceptance until such a time as the home life of the modern civilized peoples embraces more of love and more of wisdom. Notwithstanding that parents of the twentieth century possess great knowledge and increased truth for improving the home and ennobling the home life, it remains a fact that very few modern homes are such good places in which to nurture boys and girls as Jesus’ home in Galilee and John Mark’s home in Judea, albeit the acceptance of Jesus’ gospel will result in the immediate improvement of home life. The love life of a wise home and the loyal devotion of true religion exert a profound reciprocal influence upon each other. Such a home life enhances religion, and genuine religion always glorifies the home.

177:2.7 (1923.1) It is true that many of the objectionable stunting influences and other cramping features of these olden Jewish homes have been virtually eliminated from many of the better-regulated modern homes. There is, indeed, more spontaneous freedom and far more personal liberty, but this liberty is not restrained by love, motivated by loyalty, nor directed by the intelligent discipline of wisdom. As long as we teach the child to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven,” a tremendous responsibility rests upon all earthly fathers so to live and order their homes that the word father becomes worthily enshrined in the minds and hearts of all growing children.



Let us NOT get tangled up in details.

I expect it’s true – that our reckoning (as to when Jesus came here) is flawed.  Jesus was born (in Bethlehem) in the summer … not in December. In fact by our calendar, he was born in August of 7 BC !

But these are details.   Mmm?

Keep in mind (as you make decisions as to what to do … on this Christmas Day (or on any other, subsequent day) – that there are certain ‘events’ for which (as Joseph Campbell points out) – it does NOT MATTER WHETHER OR NOT IT HAPPENED.  What matters is – that it’s ALWAYS HAPPENING.


It is in THIS light that I wish to suggest – that it is our task … to tend to ourselves … to prepare ourselves to receive the Christ.   —






O my deare hert, young Jesu sweit,                                (Oh my dear heart, young Jesus sweet)

Prepare thy creddil in my spreit,                                                 (Prepare your cradle in my spirit)

And I sall rock thee to my hert,                                                  (And I shall rock you to my heart)

And never mair from thee depart.                                               (And nevermore from you depart)


But I sall praise thee evermoir                                                        (But I shall praise you forever)

With sanges sweit unto thy gloir;                                                  (With sweet songs of your glory)

The knees of my heart sall I bow,                                            (The knees of my heart I shall bend)

And sing that richt Balulalow!                                                                 (And sing that right lullaby)


[Here’s the music]



[This, by the way, is one of the songs from “A Ceremony of Carols”  by Benjamin Britten]

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And here is an excerpt –  from Paper 100 (of the Urantia Book)    :

7. The Acme of Religious Living

100:7.1 (1101.5) Although the average mortal of Urantia cannot hope to attain the high perfection of character which Jesus of Nazareth acquired while sojourning in the flesh, it is altogether possible for every mortal believer to develop a strong and unified personality along the perfected lines of the Jesus personality. The unique feature of the Master’s personality was not so much its perfection as its symmetry, its exquisite and balanced unification. The most effective presentation of Jesus consists in following the example of the one who said, as he gestured toward the Master standing before his accusers, “Behold the man!”

100:7.2 (1101.6) The unfailing kindness of Jesus touched the hearts of men, but his stalwart strength of character amazed his followers. He was truly sincere; there was nothing of the hypocrite in him. He was free from affectation; he was always so refreshingly genuine. He never stooped to pretense, and he never resorted to shamming. He lived the truth, even as he taught it. He was the truth. He was constrained to proclaim saving truth to his generation, even though such sincerity sometimes caused pain. He was unquestioningly loyal to all truth.

100:7.3 (1101.7) But the Master was so reasonable, so approachable. He was so practical in all his ministry, while all his plans were characterized by such sanctified common sense. He was so free from all freakish, erratic, and eccentric tendencies. He was never capricious, whimsical, or hysterical. In all his teaching and in everything he did there was always an exquisite discrimination associated with an extraordinary sense of propriety.

100:7.4 (1102.1) The Son of Man was always a well-poised personality. Even his enemies maintained a wholesome respect for him; they even feared his presence. Jesus was unafraid. He was surcharged with divine enthusiasm, but he never became fanatical. He was emotionally active but never flighty. He was imaginative but always practical. He frankly faced the realities of life, but he was never dull or prosaic. He was courageous but never reckless; prudent but never cowardly. He was sympathetic but not sentimental; unique but not eccentric. He was pious but not sanctimonious. And he was so well-poised because he was so perfectly unified.

100:7.5 (1102.2) Jesus’ originality was unstifled. He was not bound by tradition or handicapped by enslavement to narrow conventionality. He spoke with undoubted confidence and taught with absolute authority. But his superb originality did not cause him to overlook the gems of truth in the teachings of his predecessors and contemporaries. And the most original of his teachings was the emphasis of love and mercy in the place of fear and sacrifice.

100:7.6 (1102.3) Jesus was very broad in his outlook. He exhorted his followers to preach the gospel to all peoples. He was free from all narrow-mindedness. His sympathetic heart embraced all mankind, even a universe. Always his invitation was, “Whosoever will, let him come.”

100:7.7 (1102.4) Of Jesus it was truly said, “He trusted God.” As a man among men he most sublimely trusted the Father in heaven. He trusted his Father as a little child trusts his earthly parent. His faith was perfect but never presumptuous. No matter how cruel nature might appear to be or how indifferent to man’s welfare on earth, Jesus never faltered in his faith. He was immune to disappointment and impervious to persecution. He was untouched by apparent failure.

100:7.8 (1102.5) He loved men as brothers, at the same time recognizing how they differed in innate endowments and acquired qualities. “He went about doing good.”

100:7.9 (1102.6) Jesus was an unusually cheerful person, but he was not a blind and unreasoning optimist. His constant word of exhortation was, “Be of good cheer.” He could maintain this confident attitude because of his unswerving trust in God and his unshakable confidence in man. He was always touchingly considerate of all men because he loved them and believed in them. Still he was always true to his convictions and magnificently firm in his devotion to the doing of his Father’s will.

100:7.10 (1102.7) The Master was always generous. He never grew weary of saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Said he, “Freely you have received, freely give.” And yet, with all of his unbounded generosity, he was never wasteful or extravagant. He taught that you must believe to receive salvation. “For every one who seeks shall receive.”

100:7.11 (1102.8) He was candid, but always kind. Said he, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” He was frank, but always friendly. He was outspoken in his love for the sinner and in his hatred for sin. But throughout all this amazing frankness he was unerringly fair.

100:7.12 (1102.9) Jesus was consistently cheerful, notwithstanding he sometimes drank deeply of the cup of human sorrow. He fearlessly faced the realities of existence, yet was he filled with enthusiasm for the gospel of the kingdom. But he controlled his enthusiasm; it never controlled him. He was unreservedly dedicated to “the Father’s business.” This divine enthusiasm led his unspiritual brethren to think he was beside himself, but the onlooking universe appraised him as the model of sanity and the pattern of supreme mortal devotion to the high standards of spiritual living. And his controlled enthusiasm was contagious; his associates were constrained to share his divine optimism.

100:7.13 (1103.1) This man of Galilee was not a man of sorrows; he was a soul of gladness. Always was he saying, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” But when duty required, he was willing to walk courageously through the “valley of the shadow of death.” He was gladsome but at the same time humble.

100:7.14 (1103.2) His courage was equaled only by his patience. When pressed to act prematurely, he would only reply, “My hour has not yet come.” He was never in a hurry; his composure was sublime. But he was often indignant at evil, intolerant of sin. He was often mightily moved to resist that which was inimical to the welfare of his children on earth. But his indignation against sin never led to anger at the sinner.

100:7.15 (1103.3) His courage was magnificent, but he was never foolhardy. His watchword was, “Fear not.” His bravery was lofty and his courage often heroic. But his courage was linked with discretion and controlled by reason. It was courage born of faith, not the recklessness of blind presumption. He was truly brave but never audacious.

100:7.16 (1103.4) The Master was a pattern of reverence. The prayer of even his youth began, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.” He was even respectful of the faulty worship of his fellows. But this did not deter him from making attacks on religious traditions or assaulting errors of human belief. He was reverential of true holiness, and yet he could justly appeal to his fellows, saying, “Who among you convicts me of sin?”

100:7.17 (1103.5) Jesus was great because he was good, and yet he fraternized with the little children. He was gentle and unassuming in his personal life, and yet he was the perfected man of a universe. His associates called him Master unbidden.

100:7.18 (1103.6) Jesus was the perfectly unified human personality. And today, as in Galilee, he continues to unify mortal experience and to co-ordinate human endeavors. He unifies life, ennobles character, and simplifies experience. He enters the human mind to elevate, transform, and transfigure it. It is literally true: “If any man has Christ Jesus within him, he is a new creature; old things are passing away; behold, all things are becoming new.”

~~~~                [“Urantia” is what the celestials call this planet (which we call ‘Earth’) ]


I am told – that I (personally) knew Jesus (in the first century when he was here) … but that I failed to recognize him as a divine son.  I was (unfortunately) too full of myself … too taken with the greatness of my own intellect.

What a loss !


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Some Children See Him

                                                                                  –      Wihla Hutson and Alfred Burt

Some children see Him lily white,

the baby Jesus born this night.

Some children see Him lily white,

with tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,

The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,

with dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,

this Savior whom we kneel beside.

some children see Him almond-eyed,

with skin of yellow hue.

Some children see Him dark as they,

sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.

Some children see him dark as they,

and, ah! they love Him, too! 

The children in each different place

will see the baby Jesus’ face

like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,

and filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing

and with thy heart as offering,

come worship now the infant King.

‘Tis love that’s born tonight!


[Here’s the music  –




When I was a kid (in northwest Ohio) I had an older and a younger brother.  And every Christmas (from before I was born) our parents sent out (maybe a hundred) “Christmas cards”   … which were, each year – a photo of the family.

Dad knew a little photography, and would take these himself, develop the negative, put it in the enlarger, and expose the sheets of photographic paper.  Then (when we got old enough to help) we would develop these ourselves in trays in the dark room which Dad had put together in the corner of the basement … [red light, moving the photos from tray to tray … the smell of acetic acid]  Then these were mailed to friends & family. Black & whites, of course.

But Alfred Burt (who wrote the music to the above song) … would (as his ‘Christmas card’ each year) – write a Christmas carol … and (somehow) send it out to his friends.        How about THAT ?

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We often say (or we hear it said) – that  “if only we could be as loving ALL YEAR … as we are at Christmas” …

But –  let’s NOT give up on that too glibly.

The FACT that we (the people of this Earth) are ABLE to function at (this) Higher Level of Consciousness   (if only for a couple days, at Christmas) … MEANS  – that we are CAPABLE  of it.



Intention is a powerful thing.


Rumi says –


                     Love is a bridge between you … and everything.