(TMU) — Iraq’s parliament voted last month to expel the U.S. troops who have been occupying the country for nearly twenty years. However, the United States government has refused to comply with the order and has threatened harsh sanctions if they are forced to leave.
The presence of the United States military is unwelcome in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, but they have shown no signs of slowing down the so-called “war on terror.”
On Friday, massive crowds of protesters poured into the streets of Baghdad to protest against U.S. occupation and demanded that western troops to be sent home. Foreign sources including Press TV estimated the crowds at over a million, while CNN suggested that hundreds of thousands were involved in the protests. The Wall Street Journal gave the smallest estimation at “tens of thousands.” However, video and images from the protest show that actual numbers were far higher.
The protest came together after the powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for a “Million Man March” in response to the ongoing occupation.
“We will exhaust all peaceful, political, economic, social, cultural and popular means to achieve our main goal, which is scheduling the departure of the occupation forces,” a representative for Mr. Sadr said during the protest.
The streets were flooded with Iraqis from different age groups and demographics. Children held up signs that said “no, no to America” and “no, no to occupation” as they walked with their families. The crowds were filled with Iraqi flags and signs condemning Donald Trump and the U.S. military.
Iraqi President Barham Salih tweeted an image of the protest with the caption, “Iraqis insist on a state with complete sovereignty that will not be breached, serving its people and expressing their independent national will, free from interference and dictates from abroad, a state that guarantees their security and rights in a free and dignified life, a state in security and peace with its neighbors.”
العراقيون مصرون على دولة ذات سيادة كاملة غير منتهكة، خادمة لشعبها ومعبرة عن إرادتهم الوطنية المستقلة بعيدا عن التدخلات و الإملاءات من الخارج، دولة ضامنة لأمنهم وحقوقهم في الحياة الحرة الكريمة، دولة في أمن و سلام مع جيرانه. pic.twitter.com/C3xo7d2Ovg
— Barham Salih (@BarhamSalih) January 24, 2020
This is just the largest and most recent protest in a series of demonstrations that have taken place on a regular basis since last year against U.S. military occupation and influence in Iraq.
Edward Snowden Applies For Russian Citizenship As He Announces He’s About To Be A Dad
U.S. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has announced that he is going to be a dad and that he has applied for Russian citizenship due to the coming change in his life. Snowden said the move is to prevent separation from his unborn son.
Snowden and his wife are applying for Russian citizenship in order not to be separated from their future son in an era of pandemics and closed borders, he said on Monday. Snowden’s wife, Lindsay, is expecting a child in late December, the RIA news agency said, citing his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, Reuters reported.
Snowden fled the U.S. and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret NSA files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency where he was a contractor. Snowden exposed various capabilities by the NSA by revealing various extensive privacy violations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently found one such program was unlawful and that the U.S. intelligence directors who publicly defended it had lied to the public. The court determined that the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
U.S. authorities have for years wanted Snowden to return to the U.S. to face criminal charges on espionage brought against him in 2013.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” Snowden wrote on Twitter. “Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love, including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited. Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home.”
Russia has already granted Snowden permanent residency rights, his lawyer said last month, a requisite step towards Russian citizenship.
Snowden’s wife recently publicly announced her pregnancy last week in a photograph posted to Instagram. “A long time in the making,” she wrote. “Our greatest collaboration coming soon.” Snowden said; despite applying for Russian citizenship, he hopes to one day return to the U.S. to reunite his family.
Proud Boys group furious after gay community takes over #ProudBoys hashtag ‘to reclaim our pride’
(TMU) – It’s been less than a week since President Donald Trump name-dropped the far-right Proud Boys group, an organization known for their political violence against left-wingers. And now, the group is trending for reasons entirely out of their control.
And after having their name hijacked by the gay community on Twitter, the surly group of boys are less proud than they are supremely pissed off.
Over the weekend, gay Twitter executed a glorious plan to use the tag #ProudBoys to share uplifting stories and images of love rather than the sort of hatred and violence the far-right group has become known for.
Star Trek star and LGBTQ activist George Takei was one of the first to suggest the subversive trend, writing in a Thursday tweet:
“I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this. What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys. I bet it would mess them up real bad. #ReclaimingMyShine”
I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this. What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys. I bet it would mess them up real bad. #ReclaimingMyShine
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 1, 2020
Over the weekend, the viral campaign swept across Twitter as thousands of users ranging from celebrities to politicians and even the Canadian military used the hashtag.
Take posted a photo of himself with his husband, explaining:
“Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now. And we’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that.”
— Christopher Ubiadas (@TheRealUbiadas) October 5, 2020
Rep. Carlos G. Smith, the first LGBTQ Latino legislator from Florida also tweeted that he and his husband Jerick Mediavilla were “Proud Boys” ready to vote. He tweeted:
“@JerickFL and I are joining thousands of gay men on social media to reclaim #ProudBoys from white supremacists and bigoted neo-nazis,” he tweeted. “Let’s replace the hashtag with images of love, positivity, and true PRIDE! Your two favorite #ProudBoys are here standing by, ready to VOTE!”
The Canadian Armed Forces in the USA also participated in the trend, and shared a photo of two men kissing, one of whom is a corporal called Brent Kenny, accompanying their post with the simple caption: “#ProudBoys.”
— Royal Canadian Navy (@RoyalCanNavy) October 4, 2020
Naturally, for the Proud Boys – a males-only group obsessed with proving their masculinity through feats of violence and milk-guzzling rituals – the trending hashtag was anything but welcome, especially after Twitter cleansed the platform of their presence.
Members of the so-called “pro-western fraternal organization” have been posting about their displeasure over seeing same-sex love on the much smaller rival app Parler.
As is typical for an organization that has been labeled a hate group by numerous monitors, online Proud Boys spouted homophobic, anti-gay hatred that they’ve long peddled and banked on.
— Allana Harkin (@AllanaHarkin) October 5, 2020
While most people hadn’t heard about the Proud Boys, the infamous group earned their 15 minutes of fame after Donald Trump name-dropped them in a notorious moment from last Tuesday’s first presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Trump clearly had trouble denouncing political violence by his far-right supporters when he was asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he would “condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities.”
Instead, Trump said “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
The Proud Boys are a group of nationalist extremists who describe themselves as “western chauvinists” and are known for their anti-Muslim, misogynistic rhetoric, as well as their frequent brawls with left-wing opponents.
However, the group denies being racist, despite its numerous links with alt-right, neo-fascist organizations.
After the group’s name was hijacked over the weekend, Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio complained that “the left” had turned the group’s name into a “slur” in an attempt “to drown out the voices of our supporters.”
The Esoteric Meaning Behind Neo’s Interrogation Scene in The Matrix
More than 20 years old now, The Matrix is recognized by fans across the world as being one of the most brilliant films in history, most notably for its deeper meaning and esoteric philosophy.
One scene that is particularly intriguing, considering the social climate of today, is Neo’s interrogation by the Agents of the Matrix.
Now, before we dig into the potential hidden meaning here, as I perceive it, and how Neo found himself in this uncomfortable position to begin with, let’s first establish some key points in relation to the overall story line that will help us to appreciate the implications behind this scene a little bit more.
What Does The Character Neo Represent in the Matrix?
Neo in ancient Greek (νέος) means new/young one. This is an important piece of the puzzle to help us understand what the directors of the film are trying to communicate to us. With that said, when we assess Neo’s character in the first film, we find that he is a solitary individual that keeps to himself and is struggling to find deeper meaning in this world by constantly searching the internet.
What Does The Character Morpheus Represent in the Matrix?
Morpheus in Greek mythology is a messenger of the gods. He appears to humans through dreams with the intention of delivering divine Knowledge and Truth. In the Greek mythos, he can appear in almost any form in people’s dreams, which could be because anyone, regardless of race, gender, or outward appearance, can be a messenger of enlightenment and Truth.
The First Matrix Film is About The Beginning of the Journey to Awakening
With the understanding of the deeper meaning behind what Neo and Morpheus’ characters represent in the film, we can now appreciate the intro scene of Neo sleeping (whilst searching for Morpheus) through a different lens of perception and awareness.
You see, Neo sleeping whilst searching online for Morpheus represents the early stages of the Truth seekers journey — “asleep” but still searching for deeper meaning in life — and hoping to find that meaning by seeking out a “messenger” of higher Knowledge and Truth.
Truth is Terrorism in the Empire of Lies
Through his incessant efforts, Neo begins to get closer and closer to finding the elusive Morpheus. This, however, also attracts the unwanted attention of the Agents in the Matrix, which represent the enforcers of the shadow government of this system. Their job is to ensure that no one exposes what the Matrix really is, and how it turns unsuspecting every day human beings into useful resources that it can use and exploit.
The Agents proceed to apprehend Neo and interrogate him, where they make it very clear that they’ve been spying on him and keeping meticulous records of his activities, both online and offline, for quite some time now. As we all know very well today, all around the world intelligence agencies are doing exactly that — tracking what we view online and keeping meticulous records on many of our movements.
The agents, however, do not see Neo as being a major threat to the Matrix system, as he is still in the early stages of his awakening and does not know enough to be a major threat. Instead, they offer him a deal where they will be willing to “wipe the slate clean” on his illegal activities online, if Neo will simply help them track down the man they call Morpheus, who they claim is “a known terrorist” that is “considered by many authorities to be the most dangerous man alive”.
This represents that the single greatest threat to this manipulative system — which is overwhelmingly ruled by deception and exploitation — is any messenger of higher Knowledge and Truth that can potentially awaken those who are still “asleep” to what the proverbial Matrix really is. In fact, one could argue this sort of power struggle has been going on for thousands of years, and is possibly why Socrates was accused of “corrupting the youth” by the ruling class more than 2,000 years ago and subsequently sentenced to death; or why Fred Hampton was assassinated by government authorities in 1969; or, in more recent history, why civilians that were peacefully protesting against Wall Street and the bankers for their part in destroying the world economy in 2008, were targeted by the FBI and even labelled as potential “domestic terrorists“.
Simply put, Truth is terrorism in the empire of lies.
Neo, still being somewhat naïve and unbegun in his journey, rejects the Agent’s offer and demands he get a phone call because “I know my rights!”
To this, Agent Smith retorts, “tell me Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?”, which results in Neo’s mouth warping in the most eerie of ways.
This scene represents a lesson that all genuine Truth seekers eventually come to learn — this system is not concerned with human rights nor is it concerned with upholding authentic justice. Instead, it inculcates these beliefs and misperceptions into our minds from a very young age, because it serves to help legitimize its unnecessary existence in the eyes of the unsuspecting public and indoctrinate us as to why we think we need it. But in reality, our government guaranteed “rights” can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye.
In relation to current events, for example, many thousands of people worldwide have been arrested for violating curfew orders; In one Indian state, civilians were told they must take selfies every hour and send it to the authorities to prove that they are staying indoors; in South Africa, some have been fined for not wearing masks while driving their cars; In Boston in the United States, people have even been told that they will be fined if they walk “the wrong direction” down the street; Homeless people in France have reportedly been fined for not staying indoors; Some people have been arrested for attending funerals of loved ones because it violated lockdown orders; Others (including doctors and scientists) have had their right to freedom of speech censored online; In Australia, a pregnant woman was actually arrested in her home for facebook posts that encouraged protesting against the lockdown; According to the International Labor Organization, tens of millions are being pushed into unemployment; and travel all around the world has been severely restricted by these authorities who have taken it upon themselves to be the rulers of this planet by dictating what the rest of us can and cannot do. Whether you agree with these policies or not, these things cannot logically be called “rights” since they are so very easily violated and taken away from us.
There are many other examples that demonstrate how our government given “rights” are more of a comforting illusion than an actual reality, such as the CIA’s secretive Black Site torture programs, which have been done in cooperation with other intelligence agencies and authorities throughout the world. In these programs, people have been kidnapped — without any legal criminal charge or trial — and then taken to undisclosed secret locations where many of them are tortured for many months on end, in ways that are considered to be in violation of international law and basic human rights. The CIA, of course, simply claims they are suspected terrorists. In 2014, however, a Senate Intelligence Committee Report found that at least 26 of the people that were kidnapped and tortured were actually “wrongfully detained”.
Wake Up Neo — You Are the One
Fortunately, Neo manages to escape this unthinkable situation without any serious injury or harm. Soon after, he is contacted by Morpheus, where he is told that he was very lucky that the Agents underestimated his great potential and spared him, because if the Agents had known the great secret that Morpheus knows, then Neo would probably be dead.
Confused by the obvious strangeness of everything taking place, Neo asks Morpheus what the hell is going on, and what exactly is he talking about?? Without hesitation, Morpheus replies to him, “You are the one Neo — You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.”
This is perhaps the most important lesson the new Truth seeker must eventually come to learn — We are the ones we have been waiting for to change this corrupt world my friends; and we must stop looking for heroes and human leaders to absolve us of this very serious responsibility. Instead, we must all take on the role of Morpheus — which is to awaken as many Neo’s (new minds) as we possibly can, whilst also taking on the role that represents the journey of Neo, by challenging ourselves to become the best version of who we authentically are.
By doing this, we will help to awaken and unleash the unique creative forces of each individual’s problem solving imagination; and we will also find unity in our shared struggle against the injustices, and corruption, of this inhumane system which invariably exploits us all.
If not us, then who? And if not now, then when?
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