During a virtual conversation with SXSW attendees in Austin on Saturday, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange railed against the overreaching surveillance programs under the "rogue agency" NSA and stressed that citizens need to be aware of the growing "militarization" of the internet by governments.
“Now that the internet has merged with human society … the laws that apply to the internet apply to human society,” Assange said. “This penetration of the internet by the NSA and [British intelligence agency] GCHQ is the penetration of our human society. It means there has been a militarization of our civilian space.”
Assange warned of the U.S. and other governments’ efforts to introduce “a new international regime of censorship” with various trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership. He also spoke at length about how it is no longer viable for everyday citizens to ignore privacy and security concerns.
“It’s not the case any more that you can hide from the state, and keep your head down, and hope that by sucking up or by being innocuous you can be spared,” Assange said. “So we have no choice but to try to manage the behaviour of the state that we have been forced to be part of.”
Towards the end of the talk, Assange briefly touched on future plans for Wikileaks, saying that it is preparing an “important” new release of material, but warned that he prefers not to give “the alleged perpetrator” the ability to prepare with “counter-spin” on what will be released.
Queen Elizabeth II has gone the entirety of her reign without any involvement in LGBT charities nor voiced support of equal rights. All of that has now changed as she surprised London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard on their 40th anniversary with a message of congratulations, saying, “Best wishes and congratulations to all concerned on this most special anniversary.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, London Mayor Johnson, and Labour leader Ed Miliband all added their voices of support as well to the organization, Cameron saying,
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard on reaching its 40th anniversary.
Since 1974 there has been real progress towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. Voluntary organisations, such as the Switchboard, have made a vital contribution to that progress. The government continues to work to create a fairer and more equal society by removing the barriers to equality that LGBT people face.
Rand Paul won the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll, the WaPo reports:
Paul won 31 percent of the vote (compared with the 25 percent he won last year), beating a crowded field of more than two dozen names, including a number of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders. He crushed second-place finisher Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who came in with 11 percent.
Rounding out of the top finishers in the poll, which was voted on by 2,459 CPAC attendees, were former neurosurgen Ben Carson (9 percent) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (8 percent).
Paul's father Ron and Mitt Romney have been the top picks in the CPAC straw polls since 2007.
On a SXSW panel discussion about the intersection of LGBT issues and sports, Athlete Ally’s Hudson Taylor shared his thoughts on the surprising lack of Olympic athletes who publicly spoke out in Sochi about Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Taylor said he was originally optimistic about using the international spotlight of the Olympic platform to advocate for LGBT equality and pointed to the numerous current and former athletes (and even Rihanna) who embraced his Principle 6 protest campaign before the Games began. Ultimately, however, Taylor said that the dozen or so Olympic athletes who both competed in Sochi and were also backers of his Principle 6 campaign failed to garner the medals that would have provided them with the necessary media coverage to truly make a lasting statement.
Taylor also pointed to the iconic 1968 Olympic photo of John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising their fists in protest of racial injustice and lamented the reality that a similar push for gay rights failed to materialize in Sochi.
But despite the missed opportunity, Taylor said he was looking ahead to the 2018 World Cup in Russia) and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as future opportunities to use an international sporting event to shine a light on discriminatory laws. Qatar remains one of the countries where homosexuality is still illegal.
In the meantime, Taylor stressed the need for LGBT athletes and their straight allies to stand up and speak out against the culture of homophobia in sport. He pointed to fellow panelist Brittney Griner (who was there discussing her new book In My Skin) as a great example of an athlete who is changing the sporting world just by being out and proud. Ultimately, however, Taylor said there is much work to be done in order to make the sporting world a more comfortable place for LGBT athletes.
“While the reality is we’ve seen a lot of progress in the sports world over the last few years, we still have a long way to go,” Taylor said. “There are still a lot of closeted athletes. There are still people being bullied, being isolated because of their sexual orientation. We still only have one [gay athlete] in the NBA and maybe one in the [upcoming] NFL.”
Madonna is recording with Swedish EDM maestro Avicii according to a note she wrote accompanying the above photo on Instagram:
"Doing some house work after 4 hours of sleep which is why i cant spell! On my way to the studio to work with Avicii! #clean"
In other news, Avicii just plopped down $15.5 million for a sick mansion in the Hollywood Hills.
Cirque du Soleil performers Les Beaux Freres offer a dance of strategically-placed towels on the French TV Show The Worlds Greatest Cabaret hosted by Patrick Sebastien.
Enjoy, AFTER THE JUMP...