Why Julian Assange Is 2010 Person Of The Year

December 9, 2010
19 notes


He said he wouldn’t mind prison. Julian Assange sort of looked forward to it, even. He’d read a nice, long book in peace. And he’d get to sleep in the same bed for the first time in years.

Assange got his wish when he surrendered to British authorities Tuesday. He is charged with allegedly sexually assaulting two women during a lecture stop in Stockholm this August. The first court appearance was predictably messy. He refused to be photographed, finger-printed, or DNA swabbed. And that was before the judge asked Assange for his current address. He gave some post office at first. Then some place in Australia he hadn’t visited in four years.

To be fair, you can’t really ask Julian Assange where he lives. He moved 34 times by the age of 14. A quarter century later, he is even more nomadic. The most connected man in the world lives a rootless existence. He says he resides in airports and has virtually no material possessions, save for his Australian passport and a laptop.

He doesn’t have a red button but an all-powerful Touchpad. Since 2006, Assange has orbited the globe with the power to sink politicians, companies or wars with a key-stroke. He has released more confidential documents than the rest of the world press combined. He is an information “terrorist” who deals in government memos and cables, setting their own words back on them for all the world to see. Even behind bars now, Assange warns he has a “poison pill” that is impossible to stop. It’s filled not with cyanide but venomous cables about Guantanamo Bay and the BP oil leak.

Julian Assange is the purported founder of WikiLeaks.org, the website that released more than 250,000 State Department cables. He gave us the seedy underbelly of American foreign policy. We saw beyond the glossy press releases and photo-ops and peered into how the American Empire works behind closed doors. The cables exposed our diplomats’ raw, unfiltered feelings about the rest of the world.

A few of the revelations are disturbing: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered the State Department to spy on the UN; Washington tried to bargain off Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Belgium like poker chips; Saudi Arabia wanted the U.S. to bomb Iran.

But nothing is veritable Abu Ghraib bomb-shell material. The cables are more embarrassing then they are enlightening. They are the juicy tidbits of diplomats’ water cooler talk: Qaddahafi always travels with a “voluptuous blonde” nurse; German chancellor Angela Merkel is boring and “rarely creative”; and, unsurprisingly, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is “vain” and should not be Italy’s Prime Minister.

Drunk Heads of State


Russia’s blustery Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is steamed our diplomats see him as the “Batman” to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s “Robin”. But Putin is an exception, not an example. Most foreign leaders and diplomats have brushed aside the cables. We knew already why they shrugged: we’ve called each other worse.

Hillary Clinton has stoically maintained the State Department will “get through this”. But deep down she knows it will never be the same. She will never be able to look French President Nicholas Sarkozy in the eye the same way again after he knows the State Department thinks he’s thin-skinned.

Sarah Palin wants Assange hunted down like Osama Bin Laden. And to many, Assange is a terrorist. He deals not in car bombs but information dumps. Assange similarly hopes to open Western governments. But he seeks to implode them from within. As they tell it, WikiLeaks will force governments to clamp down and centralize to keep their secrets within. But the governments will ultimately topple under their own Orwellian Big Brother weight and “more open forms of governance” will emerge

The debate about Julian Assange is a debate about have we reached a point of too much information? Yes, WikiLeaks will clean up American embassies. Heads will roll. His alleged “terrorism”? Truth. He’s simply releasing the real story of tales the government doesn’t want you to know. He’s the savior for the X-Files Truth is Out There information hounds.

Election Violence in Kenya


But there’s the other side. The peril of world without no secrets. Assange admits a Kenyan memo he leaked “flipped the [nation’s 2007] election” that triggered a massacre that killed over 1300. Hillary Clinton argues he put American soldiers’ lives at stake by releasing the cables. The Pentagon points out Afghan families are mentioned in the cables. The Taliban knows who and where they are, and they will hunt them down. The cables will inevitably serve as an anti-American recruiting tool for al Qaeda and splinter cells across the globe.

WikiLeaks has next set its sights on a major U.S. bank in early 2011 (probably Bank of America). Assange has already warned the event will unleash an investigation of Enron-esque proportions.

Governments and companies have never had to reckon with a force like Julian Assange before. He is a rogue committed to truth and transparency who can reach billions with a click of a button. And even if Assange never sees the light of day again, he’s already won. Julian Assange will not be the end. The next wave of younger and better hackers will take his place. Nations and corporations must accept a new, more transparent world order. A world order where anything they say can and will be used against them.

For striking fear into the heart of every crooked politician and banker and for showing us the gift—and the curse—of too much information, Julian Assange is 2010’s Person of the Year.

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Originally posted on ProseBeforeHos: Julian Assange, 2010’s Person Of The Year

The 2010 Year In Review, Part 1

December 7, 2010
9 notes
It may be the most creative way to quit a job in American history.

A baby had been crying since take-off. Two female passengers had been fighting about overhead bin space since boarding in Pittsburgh. As soon as the Jet Blue plane touched down at JFK, one of the women hopped up to grab her bag. Never mind that the fasten seatbelt sign was on. Never mind that flight attendant Steven Slater had repeatedly told her to wait until the plane taxied into the gate. She told him to go sleep with himself and whipped out her suitcase, accidentally whacking him in the forehead. And that’s when Steven Slater lost it.

He stormed back to the intercom system. He cursed out the passengers before grabbing two brews from the drink cart. He then ripped open the emergency exit, bounced down the emergency slide to the tarmac, and drove home.

Steve Slater Jetblue


Steven Slater is no longer employed by JetBlue Airlines. He has, however, enjoyed the fruits of 15 minute celebrity. He was offered a reality TV show. He even made a (heinous) rap video.

Slater’s eruption was hardly the stuff of Rosa Parks, but he struck a chord with many as a working class hero. He’s a totem of a disillusioned American working-class sick and tired of the same old in 2010. 138,000 people liked the Steven Slater Facebook page within 48 hours. Republicans evoked Slater’s grand exit in a campaign ad to mirror Democrats bailing from President Obama.

Steven Slater had the audacity to do what every annoyed employee has only dreamed of. He wasn’t going to take it anymore. He’d been patient. He tried to be civil. But nothing changed. It just got worse. So enough already, Steven Slater said. Enough with the forced smiles. Enough with the whiny passengers with too much baggage for overhead. Enough with corporate. Slater said he died a little on the inside the first time he had to charge a passenger for a sandwich. Enough with the same old.

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If 2008 was the year of Too Big To Fail and 2009 was ballyhooed as the year of Change, 2010 was More Of The Same. The recession is only over to economists and Wall Street. Firms are back to record profitability, but the unemployment rate still hovers around 10 percent. Our troops are still in Afghanistan and will be for another four years.

Historians may look back 2010 as another driftless year of the American Empire. A wasted year where a paralyzed Congress squabbled over semantics and swallowed up the once-promising Obama presidency. Meanwhile, China quietly passed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and bought up vast swathes of Africa and the Middle East.

Now, it wasn’t all bad in 2010. One billion people tuned in to see the 33 Chilean miners rescued after 69 days entombed 2,000 feet underground. Myanmar’s beloved politician Suu Kyi was released after 15 years under house arrest. Drew Brees and an unthinkable onside kick right after half-time delivered New Orleans a Super Bowl title five years after Katrina. The BP oil spill, while tragic, was not nearly as devastating as feared. Turns out the Gulf of Mexico is far tougher than we gave her credit for. We had the World Cup and even a Winter Olympics we forgot about. And, of course, there was Season 2 of ABC’s “Modern Family”.

Modern Family TV Show

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2010 was an especially good year for these guys:

2010’s Person Of The Year: Julian Assange

He’s the second most wanted man in the world. He has divulged more confidential documents than the rest of the world press combined. Not bad for a pale, 39 year old hacker.

Julian Assange moved 34 times by the age of 14. A quarter century later, he is even more nomadic. The most connected man in the world lives a rootless existence. He says he resides in airports and has virtually no material possessions, save for his Australian passport.

He doesn’t have a red button but an all-powerful Touchpad on his laptop. Assange orbits the globe with the power to sink politicians, companies or wars with a key-stroke. He is an information “terrorist” who deals in official government memos, not bullets. He sets their own words back on them for all the world to see.

Julian Assange 2010 Person Of The Year


Assange is the purported founder of WikiLeaks.com, the website that released more than 250,000 State Department cables. He gave us the seedy underbelly of American foreign policy. We saw beyond the glossy press releases and photo-ops and peered into how the American Empire works backdoors. The cables exposed our diplomats’ raw, unfiltered feelings about the rest of the world.

A few of the revelations are disturbing: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered the State Department to spy on the UN. Washington tried to bargain off Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Belgium like poker chips . Saudi Arabia wanted the U.S. to bomb Iran.

But nothing is veritable Abu Ghraib bomb-shell material. The cables are more embarrassing then they are enlightening. They are the juicy tidbits of diplomats’ water cooler talk: Qaddahafi always travels with a “voluptuous blonde” nurse. German chancellor Angela Merkel is boring and “rarely creative”. And, unsurprisingly, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is “vain” and should not be Italy’s Prime Minister.

Vlad Putin Riding A Horse Shirtless


Russia’s blustery Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is steamed our diplomats see him as the “Batman” to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s “Robin”. But Putin is an exception not an example. Most foreign leaders and diplomats have brushed aside the cables. We knew this already, they shrugged. We’ve called each other worse.

Hillary Clinton has stoically maintained the State Department will “get through this”. But deep down she knows it will never be the same. She will never be able to look French President Nicholas Sarkozy in the eye the same way again after he knows the State Department thinks he’s thin-skinned.

Interpol placed Assange on the wanted list last Wednesday. An international manhunt is underway for Assange over alleged attacks on two women during a lecture stop in Stockholm this August. Justice Department lawyers are pouring over the 1917 Espionage Act to see how they can arrest him.

Sarah Palin wants Assange hunted down like Osama Bin Laden. And to many, Assange is a terrorist. He deals not in car bombs but information dumps. Assange similarly hopes to topple Western governments. But he seeks to implode them from within. As they tell it, WikiLeaks will force governments to clamp down and centralize to keep their secrets within. But the governments will ultimately topple under their own Orwellian Big Brother weight and “more open forms of governance” will emerge.

The debate about Julian Assange is a debate about: have we reached a point of too much information? Yes, WikiLeaks will clean up American embassies. Heads will roll. His alleged “terrorism” is truth. He’s simply releasing the real story of tales the government doesn’t want you to know. He’s the savior for the X-Files Truth is Out There information hounds.

But there’s the other side. The peril of no secrets. Hillary Clinton argues Assange put lives at stake by releasing the cables. The Pentagon points out Afghan families are mentioned in the cables. The Taliban knows who and where they are, and they will hunt them down. Their lives are at risk because Assange clicked the button. The cables will inevitably serve as an anti-American recruiting tool for al Qaeda and splinter cells across the globe.

WikiLeaks has next set its sights on a major U.S. bank in early 2011 (probably Bank of America). Assange has already warned the event will unleash an investigation of Enron-esque proportions.

Governments and companies have never had to reckon with a force like Assange before. He is a rogue truther who can reach billions with a click of a button. And even if Julian Assange is arrested or disappears under mysterious circumstances, he will not be the end. The next wave of younger and better hackers will take his place. Nations and corporations must accept a new, more transparent world order. A world order where anything they say can and will be used against them.

For striking fear into the heart of every crooked politician and banker. For showing us the gift—and the curse—of too much information, Julian Assange is 2010’s Person of the Year.

Runners-Up: This 8 Year Old Break-Dancer



Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Before the debate was: should the European Union let Turkey join? Now it’s: why would Turkey even want to?

John Boehner: The Republican comeback kid is tough as nails. It’s what happens when you grow up with eleven siblings and one bathroom. Boehner’s down-to-Earth, folksy candor is what happens when you start working at the family bar at age eight. He was the first in his family to go to college, and this January he will be the first in his family to become Speaker of the House.

Since becoming House Majority Leader in 2006, the perma-tan John Boehner shook off President George W. Bush’s legacy and revived the moribund Republican party. He recast Republicans as the party of tax-cuts for all and small government versus President Obama’s sweeping Big Government plans. Boehner deployed the filibuster and hard knock gamesmanship to cut short Obama’s honeymoon and bring the president to his knees.

You can question his methods. Boehner has been closely linked to lobbyists. He infamously once handed out checks on the House floor back in 1996. But you can’t argue with his success. With his war chest and folksy charisma, John Boehner has the White House in his sights. Bathroom lines shouldn’t be an issue. The White House has 35.

The 33 Chilean Miners: For reminding us to never give up.



Snoop Dogg: Snoop Dogg tried to rent Liechtenstein to film a music video. “California Gurls” was on repeat all summer. And he recently penned his latest hit “Wet” for Prince William’s bachelor party. The Queen was unavailable for comment.

Tim Lincecum: He has the goofiest pitching delivery in baseball, looks like a grown-up version of the little kid in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”, and throws the filthiest curveball on Planet Earth. At age 26, Tim Lincecum has already racked up 2 Cy Young awards and cemented himself as the best pitcher in the game. The Freak’s “alternative” lifestyle has further endeared him to certain San Francisco’s fans. Last Fall, Tim Lincecum picked up a marijuana citation. This Fall? The World Series trophy.

Lady Gaga: Because school recitals will never be the same…



Honorable Mention: Justin Bieber, Brazil, Drew Brees, Stephen Colbert, Kevin Durant, James Franco, “Inception”, Steve Jobs, Kim Kardashian, The Old Spice Guy, Sarah Palin, The Situation, Spanish athletes, Mark Zuckerberg

The 2010 Year In Language

“Oil spill” was the most searched term on Yahoo in 2010. The nearly as unfortunate “Justin Bieber” was #8.

“Refudiate” was 2010’s word of the year, according to The New Oxford American Dictionary. The word was made famous by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Palin wanted the Obamas to “refudiate” the NAACP’s assertion that the Tea Party was racist. She tweeted the word again days later in connection to the Ground Zero mosque controversy. Scholars maintain “refudiate” is a cross of “refute” and “repudiate.”

2007 Quote Of The Year: “Don’t tase me, bro!

2008 Quote Of The Year: “Yes, we can!

2009 Quote Of The Year: “There’s an app for that.”

2010 Quote The Year: “Don’t touch my junk!”, in response to TSA pat-downs.

The Other Top Quotes Of 2010

“Refudiate. English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it.” - Sarah Palin, the former half-term governor of Alaska turned reality TV star, likening herself to William Shakespeare.

“Are you serious?” - Lindsay Lohan, after a judge sentenced the diva to 90 days in jail for violating her probation stemming from a 2007 drunk driving charge.

“F—- my victims. I carried them for 20 years and now I’m doing 150.” - Bernie Madoff

“I’ll do my f——- best.” - Lady Gaga, asked if she would limit her coarse language in her next show.

“I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” – LeBron James, on The Decision

“This is a big f——— deal!” - Joe Biden on the passage of healthcare reform

“It’s better to like beautiful girls than to be gay.” - Silvio Berlusconi, after a 17 old girl reported unbridled “bunga bunga” orgies she saw at his mansion.

“I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought over me but God won. I think I had extraordinary luck.” - Mario Sepulveda, one of 33 Chilean miners

“Dude, you have no Koran” - Skateboarder Jacob Isom after saving a Koran from a book burning

Top 3 Tweets Of 2010

3) Newark’s mayor Cory Booker after Jersey Shore star Snooki tweeted about getting a ticket.

Cory Booker Snooki Tweet


2) Arnold poking fun at Sarah Palin’s geography.

Arnold on Sarah Palin Facebook


1) Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson, blaming God, not his hands, after dropping what would have been the game-winning TD catch.



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Check back next week for the 2010 Losers Of The Year and see the 2010 Half-Year In Review.

What Is The Motivation Behind WikiLeaks?

December 2, 2010
7 notes
Julian Assange and Wikileaks


Have you had seen the cartoon where the hero repeatedly avoids disaster by a whisker? Meet Julian Assange. He looks more like the evil nemesis to Austin Powers than a man who strikes fear into the hearts of world leaders. Tall, skinny and pasty white, he makes you want to rush him to the hospital for an infusion of Vitamin D. Whatever he is, Australian Julian Assange has captured the imagination of the world with his release of 250,000 diplomatic cables from the US Department of State.

Many wonder how he’s able to fly unimpeded in this day of increased airport security. He regularly travels internationally with the ease of a foreign dignitary, yet in April Wikileaks released a classified video of a US Apache helicopter firing indiscriminately on Iraqi civilians. Two Reuters News Service employees were shown killed in the attack.



The video was leaked to Assange by Pfc. Bradley Manning who now faces 52 years in prison under Articles 92 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and awaits an Article 32 hearing. While Manning languishes in a Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia, Assange travels throughout the world unmolested.

That leak was followed by the release of 92,000 documents known as the Iraq and Afghan War Diaries in July. While Assange’s source in this leak has yet to be identified, no charges have been filed against him in this matter, either.



Only this week WikiLeaks released 250,000 classified US State Department cables, revealing some of the most sensitive and embarrassing material yet. A warrant for his arrest has finally been issued, not by the United States but by Sweden, who issued a warrant on a month old rape allegation. Despite the fact that he illegally possesses hundreds of thousands of classified US documents, it’s a sexual deviancy charge that’s landed him on Interpol’s most wanted list.

There are those who say it’s impossible to charge Assange with the crime of espionage because the laws governing it have become antiquated. The absurdity of that claim is laughable. Assange is in possession of classified US State Department and military documents in violation of several existing criminal codes, and could be arrested and tried for his actions. Possession is possession, whether it’s a piece of paper or bits and bytes.

He’s in violation of laws for which he can be arrested in the United States, and he’s visited countries with whom America has mutual extradition treaties, so why doesn’t America attempt to arrest him? He’s committed crimes against the United States, a country that openly practices extraordinary rendition and torture. How can he still be alive, let alone free? There are three possible explanations:

The first, Assange is exactly as he appears: one of the most providential men on the face of the earth. Despite living in a world filled with satellite technology, traveling openly on his own passport, and having one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, somehow he’s just slippery enough that he manages to escape in the nick of time. Virtually every police agency in the world covets him, yet by sleeping on the couch at a friend’s apartment he confounds them all. Anyone who’s ever tried to avoid an ex-wife knows the fallibility of that strategy.

Second, maybe he has a benefactor greasing the skids for him. Is there any single individual, George Soros or Rupert Murdoch perhaps, that has the influence to protect Assange? How about a consortium of corporations? It appears, even though many of these things happened on George W. Bush’s watch, that the timing has been most inopportune for Barack Obama. Could it be a Republican assault on the president? Certainly, someone in Assange’s position that’s brazen enough to appear on TEDGlobal 2010 in front of a live audience in July has an unnatural sense of invulnerability, but is it being provided by a third party?



Third, and the one I’m personally pulling for, is that Assange possesses a digital weapon of mass destruction, rigged with a dead man’s switch that makes him unassailable by outside parties. Possibly he’s come into possession of information that, if revealed, would so completely disrupt the status quo that nobody knows what to do about him. If you watched Clinton as she denounced Assange and his document release, you could see that she was visibly shaken. Politicians live for face time in front of the camera — it’s how they spread their brand. However, it was obvious Clinton wanted to be anywhere other than where she found herself.



Bolstering this possibility could be Assange’s connection with Peiter Zatko, who currently works at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is trying to find a way to stem the flow of leaks. When asked about their past relationship, Assange replied, “No comment.” You have to wonder if these two still talk, and if so, what about. Could Assange’s boldness have something to do with his relationship with Zatko? You can’t get much further inside than DARPA.

There is another possibility, and that is Assange is purely political theater, established to distract people and make them believe they had a real hero out there. Like the WWE has good guys and bad guys, he would give us someone to root for while really doing little of consequence. However, after watching Clinton’s performance, she appears too rattled for that to be the case. This can’t be theater.

Assange’s lifestyle should make his disappearance easy. If he went missing, a majority people would assume that he came to his senses and slipped into hiding. There would be conspiracy theories, but nothing could ever be proved unless they found a body.

In fairness, the United States has not been the sole target of Assange’s efforts. His revelations of the illegal activities of Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi shifted the polls by 10 points and cost Moi the election. He also revealed concerns about Iceland’s intelligence organization, and helped that country to establish an international media haven for whistleblowers:

Reykjavik, Iceland; 4:00 UTC, June 16th 2010: The WikiLeaks advised proposal to build an international “new media haven” in Iceland, with the world’s strongest press and whistleblower protection laws, and a “Nobel” prize for Freedom of Expression, has unanimously passed the Icelandic Parliament.


So Assange has not restricted his efforts to the United States, though recently it seems to have been his main focus. Wikileaks will soon release information on a “major American bank,” stating the information to be leaked is “like the Enron e-mails,” and much more voluminous than anything he’s released on a private company in the past. He claims it’s possible this leak will bring the bank down, and have a profound change on worldwide banking in the future.

It’s hardly hyperbolic to say that the people at whom Assange so cavalierly thumbs his nose have no problem killing to protect what’s theirs. Medgar Evers, John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King were all eliminated for being obstacles and roadblocks to the interests of the upper class. Assange has surely crossed over into the same territory as those icons, yet he lives, at least so far. He either has a guardian angel or he knows where all the bodies are buried in Washington, DC.

As if to drive home the point that he’s untouchable, Assange gave an interview to Time magazine via Skype on Tuesday regarding his recent document release, and suggesting that Hillary Clinton should resign as Secretary of State. He’s on Interpol’s most wanted list, yet he still gives interviews. This guy is holding trump cards and he acts like he knows he has a winning hand.

For all of our sakes, I hope he’s right.

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