Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for independence.
-- C.A. Beard
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On last month's Fix;
the answer to last month's Fix,
"What clues can you see in this image of the female Iraqi militia that all may not appear as it seems? [There will be a reward for the best answer.] "
If you'll note, none of the AK47s the women in the picture are carrying have a clip in them. But, in the background of the picture there are armed Iraqi army soldiers - watching. On a more subtle note, one may point out that the uniforms the "militia" women are wearing fit poorly, and are obviously fresh out of the box - hence it is unlikely that any the women in the picture were actually fitted for these uniforms or wore them prior to this photo. You may also note if their is any bias likely from the photographer - Awad Awad.
Sadly, no one submitted an entry this month - ergo no prize.
On safe driving;
Ever get to the point when you are leaving a tavern, and you wonder if you should drive? Here is a test that most cops will use. Stand up, close your eyes, lift one foot off the ground for 15-20 seconds. Then place that foot down and try to raise the other for 15-20 seconds. If you tip during the transition between feet, you will likely be run in for DUI.
Next, if you have to drive on the freeway at night, stay in the right
lane. If a DUI turns the wrong way onto the freeway, they will also likely
stay in what they think is the right line to go slow, which is really the
fast lane. If you see headlights, pull to the right ASAP to avoid a head-on.
As a lesson in the pitiless cruelty of the human race, Sept. 11 was up there with Pol Pot's mountain of skulls in Cambodia or the skeletal bodies stacked like garbage in the Nazi concentration camps.
An unspeakable act so cruel, so calculated and so utterly merciless that surely the world could agree on one thing -- nobody deserves this fate.
Surely there is consensus: The victims were truly innocent, the perpetrators truly evil.
But to the world's eternal shame, 9-11 is increasingly seen as America's comeuppance.
There has always been a simmering resentment to the USA -- too loud, too rich, too full of themselves and so much happier than Europeans -- but it has become an epidemic.
And it turns my stomach.
America is this country's greatest friend and our staunchest ally. We are bonded to the United States by culture, language and blood.
A little over half a century ago, around half a million Americans died for our freedoms, as well as their own. Have we forgotten so soon?
And a year ago, thousands of ordinary men, women and children -- not just Americans, but from dozens of countries -- were butchered by a small group of religious fanatics. Are we so quick to betray them?
What touched the heart about those who died in the twin towers and on the planes was that we recognized them. Young fathers and mothers, somebody's son and somebody's daughter, husbands and wives. And children. Some unborn.
And these people brought it on themselves? And their nation is to blame for their meticulously planned slaughter?
The truth is that America has behaved with enormous restraint since Sept. 11.
Remember the gut-wrenching tapes of weeping men phoning their wives to say, "I love you," before they were burned alive. Remember those people leaping to their deaths from the top of burning skyscrapers.
Remember, remember -- and realize that America has never retaliated for 9-11 in anything like the way it could have.
So a few al-Qaida tourists got locked without a trial in Camp X-ray? Pass the Kleenex.
So some Afghan wedding receptions were shot up after they merrily fired their semi-automatics in a sky full of American planes? Maybe next time they should stick to confetti.
America could have turned a large chunk of the world into a parking lot. That it didn't is a sign of strength.
We should thank the stars that America is the most powerful nation in the world. I still find it incredible that 9-11 did not provoke all-out war. Not a "war on terrorism." A real war.
The fundamentalist dudes are talking about "opening the gates of hell," if America attacks Iraq. Well, America could have opened the gates of hell like you wouldn't believe.
The campaign in Afghanistan may have been less than perfect and the planned war on Iraq may be misconceived.
But don't blame America for not bringing peace and light to these wretched countries.
I love America, yet America is hated. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle. But I would rather be a dog in New York City than a prince in Riyadh. America is hated because it is what every country wants to be -- rich, free, strong, open, optimistic.
Not ground down by the past, or religion, or some caste system. America is the best friend this country ever had, and we should start remembering that.
Or do you really think the USA is the root of all evil? Tell it to the loved ones of the men and women who leaped to their death from the burning towers.
Tell it to the nursing mothers whose husbands died on one of the hijacked planes.
And tell it to the hundreds of young widows whose husbands worked for the New York Fire Department. To our shame, George Bush gets a worse press than Saddam Hussein.
Remember, remember, Sept. 11. One of the greatest atrocities in human history was committed against America.
No, do more than remember. Never forget.
It does not get any more eloquent then this
2. Oakland, March 21: Dem. state Sen. Don Perata has introduced a bill to tax disposable diapers at a rate of 1/4 cent per. Estimates are that it would cost an additional $15 per child and add millions to the state budget. Said Perata with a straight face, "Most environmental movements start in California."
1. March 23: NASA administrators have disclosed that the solar output has increased 0.05% since the early 1970s. The admit that this could have a possible effect on global warming.
Government seeks freedom to snoop
By Declan McCullagh
Special to ZDNet
February 10, 2003, 5:05 AM PT
General John Ashcroft wants even more power to snoop
on the Internet, spy on private conversations, and install secret microphones,
spyware and keystroke loggers.
Ashcroft's Justice Department has quietly crafted a whopping
120-page proposal that
represents the boldest attack yet on our electronic privacy in the name of thwarting future
terrorist attacks. The nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity posted the draft legislation,
which reads like J. Edgar Hoover's wish list, on its Web site Friday.
Called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA), the
legislation has not been
formally introduced in Congress, and a spokeswoman for Ashcroft indicated Friday that it's a
work in progress. But the fact that it's under consideration already, before we know the
effects of its USA Patriot Act predecessor, should make us realize that the Bush
administration thinks "homeland security" is the root password to the Constitution.
Don't believe me? Keep
reading and check out some
of DSEA's highlights:
• The FBI and state police would be able to eavesdrop on
what Web sites you visit, what you search for with
Google, and with whom you chat through e-mail and instant messaging--all without a court order for up
to 48 hours. That's if you're suspected of what would become a new offense of "activities threatening the
national security interest."
• Currently police can seek a warrant to "require the disclosure
by a provider of electronic
communication service of the contents of an electronic communication." Under existing law,
police must notify the target of an investigation except in rare cases such as when witnesses
would be intimidated or a prospective defendant might flee. DSEA allows police to delay
notification for three months simply by citing "national security."
• When investigating a computer crime or other serious
felonies, prosecutors would be able to
serve secret subpoenas on people ordering them to hand over evidence and testify in person.
If served with a secret subpoena, you'd go to jail if you "disclosed" to anyone but your lawyer
that you received it.
• Police would be able to ask a judge to issue search warrants
valid for anywhere in the
United States if someone is suspected of computer hacking. Previously that law applied only
to "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life."
Other portions of DSEA are devoted to unshackling the mighty
Surveillance Act (FISA), a post-Watergate law that was intended to be used against foreign
FISA isn't limited to traditional phone wiretapping. There's
an entire section devoted to
electronic surveillance, permitting "the installation or use of an electronic, mechanical or other
surveillance device." That's a flexible definition that stretches to include the FBI's Carnivore
Net-surveillance system, keystroke loggers and remotely installed spyware like the FBI's
Magic Lantern spyware.
"I think the Department of Justice has concluded that it
wants the ability to use these
techniques in virtually every situation," says Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic
Privacy Information Center. "This is breathtakingly bad. Apart from the dramatic expansion
of government surveillance authority and government secrecy, (DSEA) transfers enormous
power from the Congress and the judiciary to the executive branch and gives the attorney
general absolutely unprecedented authority. This is more than an assault on constitutional
liberty--it is an attack on the constitutional system of checks and balances."
Another worrying part of DSEA is a section that targets
encryption. It would create a new
federal felony of willfully using encryption during the commission of a felony, punishable by
"no more than five years" in prison plus a hefty fine.
When encryption eventually becomes glued into just about
every technology we use, from
secure Web browsing to encrypted hard drives, DSEA would have the effect of boosting
maximum prison terms for every serious crime by five years. It'll be no different--and no
more logical--than a law that says "breathing air while committing a crime" is its own offense.
A leaked Justice Department document suggests that Ashcroft
already forwarded a copy of
DSEA to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Vice President Dick Cheney last month.
Unfortunately, with a Congress as supine as ours happens to be, Ashcroft will likely get what
he wants. After all, the USA Patriot Act passed the House by a 6-to-1 margin and ran into
only one dissenting vote in the Senate.
Many of DSEA's new powers will go--surprise!--to agents
in FBI field offices. That
possibility should worry anyone with an appreciation of history, which reveals that time and
again, the FBI and other law enforcement organizations have ignored the law and spied on
Americans illegally, without court authorization.
In the past, government agencies have subjected hundreds
of thousands of law-abiding
Americans to unlawful surveillance, illegal wiretaps and warrantless searches. Eleanor
Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., feminists, gay rights leaders and Catholic priests were
spied on. The FBI used secret files and hidden microphones to blackmail the Kennedy
brothers, sway the Supreme Court and influence presidential elections.
It's true that our current FBI appears to be more trustworthy
than the bureau during its dark
years of the 1950s and 1960s. But the possibility that future FBI directors may misuse
DSEA's vast powers--and transform America into a tech-enabled surveillance state--means
that we should be extraordinarily cautious about acquiescing to Ashcroft's demands.