Tag: Terrorism

It only took 80 years to get here…

It only took 80 years to get here…

There it is. The magic phrase.

“It is believed that Bowers acted alone.”

Found it here, on Pittsburgh’s CBS Local website:

11 Dead, Several Others Shot At Pittsburgh Synagogue

So, lone wolf narrative is it? Continue reading “It only took 80 years to get here…”

Slippery slope…

Slippery slope…

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Clearly I’ve struck some nerves recently and folks are beginning to ask for my opinion. That makes me feel less like I’m shouting into the wilderness. Which is good, except that this might be a very short term opportunity to get the point across if the government gets its way with Net Neutrality…But I digress.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think government is great for a lot of things, most notably caring for its citizens and ensuring that we’re treated fairly and safely. Except, well, when we’re not, because we’re not something we should be.

See, here’s the thing: This inconvenient clause in the Constitution that protects us from self-incrimination, the Fifth Amendment (part of the Bill of Rights) is supposed to keep us safe from harm. Combined with the Fourteenth Amendment, which covers equal protection under the law, and we ought to have ways to ensure that we are covered in case another citizen within the reach of government decides we’ve done something wrong.

Some of us have come to expect the safety of due process, and the value of privacy. Unfortunately, others view these same things as hindrances to Truth, Justice and The American Way TM.

We are seeing the argument play out right now, in the public eye, as the FBI exerts pressure on Apple to crack its iPhone privacy code, so that the former can investigate the contents of the iPhone discarded by the San Bernardino shooter whose name remains undisclosed here.

Well, okay, so maybe they have a point. After all, it’s possible the contents of that phone could hold valuable data. Certainly it was used for a variety of things, which the FBI wants to see. Even Bill Gates has some concerns about the issue, though considering the sheer weight of snoop involved in Win10, I’m surprised he was willing to weigh in at all.

The question is, where does it stop?

The FBI says it’s focused on finding and following any leads it can.

“Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists. Maybe it doesn’t,” FBI Director James Comey said in a statement released Sunday night.

89.3 KPCC: What the FBI might be looking for on San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

See, if it was just this one phone, and just this one time, it might be okay, just this once. But, and I can’t say this clearly enough, it’s NOT this one phone, this one time.

No. In fact, as far as we know right now, there are over a dozen phones IN ADDITION TO this one phone, that they’d love to check if they can only figure out how to crack Apple’s security.

And that, friends, is what has me worried.

Have you read the USA PATRIOT Act? The capitalization is not an accident. It’s an acronym that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

According to the Department of Justice’s archive, the Act was passed with bipartisan support by both the Senate (98-1), and the House (357-66). This legislation has damaged the right to privacy guaranteed by the above-listed amendments to the Constitution, and the Act’s provisions used repeatedly in controversial ways I’m certain the Founding Fathers would have rejected out of hand.

(Don’t like Wikipedia? Great. Follow the footnotes and go read WHY these items exist in the entries the way they do.)

Fast forward to December 3, 2015 and the guy who finally had enough of the racist remarks that he and his wife decided to make their Bonnie and Clyde-style exit, 2A-protected guns a-blazing, and now all of a sudden we see that we need yet another way to infringe on our rights to privacy because his phone might lead to other Lone Wolf shooters.

Not, you know, like this one, or this one, or even this one. Nope.

Tell me, because I’m really curious, just what unlocking one–or even a dozen–iPhones will do to protect your safety or mine? How much do YOU use YOUR cellphone every day, for all sorts of things, like figuring out how to get from Home to Work, or to the school, or the doctor’s office, or any of hundreds of different locations? How often do you search for things on your phone that might be questioned?

Imagine: I write these articles after I search for material. Sometimes Duck Duck Go won’t produce the results I want, and I don’t always (mostly never) remember to use Google’s Incognito function.

Am I a terrorist? Hardly. I don’t even own a gun, though I do know how to shoot and when I was younger I was fairly good at it.

Idealist? Yeah, but more pragmatic, really. Cynical, even, which is why I view this latest push the same way I view those innocuous cameras that watch us EVERYWHERE, on the road, at the ATM, at Walmart, buying dinner at McDonald’s. And why every time I pull out my ATM card, I worry that the next time I could make a mistake and discover that I can’t buy a thing because I no longer have access to my money.

It’s not that I’m fearing for my own life, really. I make a relatively small noise in a really REALLY HUGE pond, so I’m not that concerned I’m suddenly going to attract the sort of scrutiny that makes one fear jail time. Not at the moment, at any rate. But with the USA PATRIOT Act still in place, all this time, and knowing what we do know about the effects of extremism at home and abroad, it does make one wonder just what the authorities would do if they could peek into the dark corners. It certainly makes me think that curtains on the windows aren’t just for blocking sunlight.

If you think these issues of privacy are overblown, I invite you to (re)read George Orwell’s book 1984 and see if you still hold that opinion afterward. You could simply read this letter written by Orwell to Noel Willmett in May, 1944, three years prior to writing the book.

How did Orwell know?

Je suis Charlie…

Je suis Charlie…

Hi. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Yes, yes, I know. Busy, distracted. My, how time flies.

Truth is that I’ve been tied up in knots between a new job I started in August and keeping my head above water with classes in the fall. And, truthfully, it was feeling just a bit like I was shouting into the wilderness in here. So? I withdrew to FB and kept most of my ranting there.

Since then, we’ve had a sweep of the House and Senate, and now the GOP is unleashing every bit of stored up agenda against the American People for the sake of American Business and I’m counting the days until the Presidential Election to see if they take the third branch as well, or if we finally wake up in this country and do something about our so-called leaders.

It’s funny, though. Here I sit, cozy in a house full of books and movies, connected at whim to the Internet where I can write whatever I like, so long as I’m not telling lies, and nobody will come to my place and shoot me for writing these things.

Right?

Isn’t that what every journalist believes? Isn’t that the truth we all understand – that we are entitled to say what we want and to speak the truth, so long as we aren’t hurting anyone else?

Yeah.

Tell that to the ten journalists and two cops who died in Paris yesterday. Or to the journalists in the past year who’ve been beheaded. Or to those who were shot in South America. Or, in fact, anywhere else in the world, just for speaking out. Ever.

There are no links to other sources in this post. There’s no reason to link elsewhere. You want facts? You can Google them yourself and find what Google wants you to find, and present it as truth. Wikipedia? Ditto. I know. I do it all the time. And (truthfully) I’m righteously sanctimonious when I do it, too. Because I’m right and you’re wrong. Or I’m right and you’re merely uninformed.

I think it’s completely ironic that in the Islamic State’s desire to silence its critics, it has chosen the one industry that will say what it pleases, dig in its heels and cry out for more truth, even in the face of guns, bombs or knives.

In taking on journalism, they have created a hydra all their own. We ARE all Charlie.

Every Blogger. Every Twitter user. Every FB and LJ and WordPress and Pinterest user. Every last one of us who puts a finger to a keyboard – we are all capable of crying out TRUTH. In a radical version of a religion that supposedly values martyrdom, what on earth were they thinking when they took on journalism and free speech? Did they somehow think they would silence the voices simply by killing the cartoonists?

I haven’t been posting because life overwhelmed me for a bit. I may not post again for a while because next week classes start all over again, and I’ll be busy. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking and observing, even as I have to turn the input devices off so I can concentrate on my work.

Tune in and pay attention. That’s all I’ve ever asked. Look around at what they’re saying to you.

Is it truth? How do you know?

And when you figure it out, say something about it. BE Charlie.

Keeping it to yourself doesn’t help anyone else.

See you soon.

On the 15th of April…

On the 15th of April…

I have had thoughts over the last week or so on my next post here, but my brain has been overtaken by residual grief wrapped up in losing my dad 3 years ago today.

All the highly personal whining I could do about missing him pales, sadly, in comparison to today’s events in Boston.

I don’t have a lot to say (yet) on the subject. Earlier, I posted this on Facebook:

Aside from the marginally humorous Eff-You PSA messages in replacement for DJ chatter, Jack FM has one thing to go in favor of it. I had zero idea of what was going down in Boston until I checked my feed while selling records at CD Depot. I’ve finally gone back the requisite 5 hours and change to see the chain of events.

I refuse to discuss or analyze anything until I hear something concrete regarding motive and responsible parties. There simply isn’t enough information to gather anything other than that it’s likely a group effort. WHO that group is/was and WHY they did it should not receive speculation.

And a comment: In other areas of the world, bombs go off every single day. As horrified as we are when it happens here, we should remember that we’re lucky (some might even say blessed) it doesn’t happen more often.

I think I’ve heard from everyone I might have known there today. Regardless, my heart goes out to the victims, their families and friends, and to the thousands who were not hurt physically but were there and will remember this day forever, with pain, in Boston and elsewhere.

And I hope for peace, everywhere, soon.

No matter what happens now, the truth – people injured, maimed, killed;  many of them, children – should serve as a reminder of how fragile life really is, more than anything else, and how much we often take for granted waking up each day.

It’s easy to descend into self-indulgent speculation, but such philosophical navel-gazing accomplishes nothing except to anger the falsely accused and give you a sense of false control over a situation for which there is no sane or reasoned explanation.

I hope this is not the start of something terrible. It’s all I can hope for at the moment, until we know more about what happened and why.

And there’s an end in itself. We wait.

In the meantime, take care of yourself and those you love, and in a week or so, when the fury and immediacy have died away, go to the Red Cross and give blood.

This is going to sound crass, so please forgive me in advance…

This is going to sound crass, so please forgive me in advance…

…and please understand that I think *any* life wasted is a crime….

But why is it that we’re suddenly so very shocked at the bombs that have gone off today? After all, there were decades when bombs went off in London, which got barely a notice on our own local news. But then, that was the IRA, and it was England’s problem. Nothing to do with us.

Now that we’re in the “War on Terrorism” the press is having a field day. Continue reading “This is going to sound crass, so please forgive me in advance…”

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