Tuesday, July 15, 2014

u/161719 Explains the harmful effects of government surveillance and dispels the "i have nothing to hide" argument. (np.reddit.com)

From Reddit I live in a country generally assumed to be a dictatorship. One of the Arab spring countries. I have lived through curfews and have seen the outcomes of the sort of surveillance now being revealed in the US. People here talking about curfews aren't realizing what that actually FEELS like. It isn't about having to go inside, and the practicality of that. It's about creating the feeling that everyone, everything is watching. A few points: 1) the purpose of this surveillance from the governments point of view is to control enemies of the state. Not terrorists. People who are coalescing around ideas that would destabilize the status quo. These could be religious ideas. These could be groups like anon who are too good with tech for the governments liking. It makes it very easy to know who these people are. It also makes it very simple to control these people. Lets say you are a college student and you get in with some people who want to stop farming practices that hurt animals. So you make a plan and go to protest these practices. You get there, and wow, the protest is huge. You never expected this, you were just goofing off. Well now everyone who was there is suspect. Even though you technically had the right to protest, you're now considered a dangerous person. With this tech in place, the government doesn't have to put you in jail. They can do something more sinister. They can just email you a sexy picture you took with a girlfriend. Or they can email you a note saying that they can prove your dad is cheating on his taxes. Or they can threaten to get your dad fired. All you have to do, the email says, is help them catch your friends in the group. You have to report back every week, or you dad might lose his job. So you do. You turn in your friends and even though they try to keep meetings off grid, you're reporting on them to protect your dad. 2) Let's say number one goes on. The country is a weird place now. Really weird. Pretty soon, a movement springs up like occupy, except its bigger this time. People are really serious, and they are saying they want a government without this power. I guess people are realizing that it is a serious deal. You see on the news that tear gas was fired. Your friend calls you, frantic. They're shooting people. Oh my god. you never signed up for this. You say, fuck it. My dad might lose his job but I won't be responsible for anyone dying. That's going too far. You refuse to report anymore. You just stop going to meetings. You stay at home, and try not to watch the news. Three days later, police come to your door and arrest you. They confiscate your computer and phones, and they beat you up a bit. No one can help you so they all just sit quietly. They know if they say anything they're next. This happened in the country I live in. It is not a joke. 3) Its hard to say how long you were in there. What you saw was horrible. Most of the time, you only heard screams. People begging to be killed. Noises you've never heard before. You, you were lucky. You got kicked every day when they threw your moldy food at you, but no one shocked you. No one used sexual violence on you, at least that you remember. There were some times they gave you pills, and you can't say for sure what happened then. To be honest, sometimes the pills were the best part of your day, because at least then you didn't feel anything. You have scars on you from the way you were treated. You learn in prison that torture is now common. But everyone who uploads videos or pictures of this torture is labeled a leaker. Its considered a threat to national security. Pretty soon, a cut you got on your leg is looking really bad. You think it's infected. There were no doctors in prison, and it was so overcrowded, who knows what got in the cut. You go to the doctor, but he refuses to see you. He knows if he does the government can see the records that he treated you. Even you calling his office prompts a visit from the local police. You decide to go home and see your parents. Maybe they can help. This leg is getting really bad. You get to their house. They aren't home. You can't reach them no matter how hard you try. A neighbor pulls you aside, and he quickly tells you they were arrested three weeks ago and haven't been seen since. You vaguely remember mentioning to them on the phone you were going to that protest. Even your little brother isn't there. 4) Is this even really happening? You look at the news. Sports scores. Celebrity news. It's like nothing is wrong. What the hell is going on? A stranger smirks at you reading the paper. You lose it. You shout at him "fuck you dude what are you laughing at can't you see I've got a fucking wound on my leg?" "Sorry," he says. "I just didn't know anyone read the news anymore." There haven't been any real journalists for months. They're all in jail. Everyone walking around is scared. They can't talk to anyone else because they don't know who is reporting for the government. Hell, at one time YOU were reporting for the government. Maybe they just want their kid to get through school. Maybe they want to keep their job. Maybe they're sick and want to be able to visit the doctor. It's always a simple reason. Good people always do bad things for simple reasons. You want to protest. You want your family back. You need help for your leg. This is way beyond anything you ever wanted. It started because you just wanted to see fair treatment in farms. Now you're basically considered a terrorist, and everyone around you might be reporting on you. You definitely can't use a phone or email. You can't get a job. You can't even trust people face to face anymore. On every corner, there are people with guns. They are as scared as you are. They just don't want to lose their jobs. They don't want to be labeled as traitors. This all happened in the country where I live. You want to know why revolutions happen? Because little by little by little things get worse and worse. But this thing that is happening now is big. This is the key ingredient. This allows them to know everything they need to know to accomplish the above. The fact that they are doing it is proof that they are the sort of people who might use it in the way I described. In the country I live in, they also claimed it was for the safety of the people. Same in Soviet Russia. Same in East Germany. In fact, that is always the excuse that is used to surveil everyone. But it has never ONCE proven to be the reality. Maybe Obama won't do it. Maybe the next guy won't, or the one after him. Maybe this story isn't about you. Maybe it happens 10 or 20 years from now, when a big war is happening, or after another big attack. Maybe it's about your daughter or your son. We just don't know yet. But what we do know is that right now, in this moment we have a choice. Are we okay with this, or not? Do we want this power to exist, or not? You know for me, the reason I'm upset is that I grew up in school saying the pledge of allegiance. I was taught that the United States meant "liberty and justice for all." You get older, you learn that in this country we define that phrase based on the constitution. That's what tells us what liberty is and what justice is. Well, the government just violated that ideal. So if they aren't standing for liberty and justice anymore, what are they standing for? Safety? Ask yourself a question. In the story I told above, does anyone sound safe? I didn't make anything up. These things happened to people I know. We used to think it couldn't happen in America. But guess what? It's starting to happen. I actually get really upset when people say "I don't have anything to hide. Let them read everything." People saying that have no idea what they are bringing down on their own heads. They are naive, and we need to listen to people in other countries who are clearly telling us that this is a horrible horrible sign and it is time to stand up and say no.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Racist GOP Senate Candidate: Only White People are ‘Traditional’ Americans (Video) (via Americans Against The Tea Party)

North Carolina State House Speaker Thom Tillis, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, took the opportunity provided in an interview with the Carolina Business Review to whine about minorities taking over the country. Host Chris William…

Friday, June 13, 2014

Warren Olin obituary

Warren G. Olin, 92, of Owego, died at his home on June 8, 2014. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Emilia D. Olin; his son, Edward D. Olin; his daughter and son-in-law, Judith L. and Michael J. Sarnoski; and his grandchildren Caitlyn and Michael. Also surviving are his siblings: Glenn R. Olin, Ethel J. Oliver, Ann J. (Richard) Powell, Lois M. (Forrest) Meredith, David E. (Shirley) Olin; several nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, George O. and Leona Ruland Olin, he was predeceased by his sister Vera R. Throop and brother Donald E. Olin.

Warren was a graduate of Harpursville High School Class of 1939 and served in the US Air Force during WWII. As an IBM employee for 38 years, he and Emilia lived in several locations including Poughkeepsie and Endicott before establishing Owego as their permanent home. There, in addition to his employment at IBM, he became a gentleman farmer and an outstanding worker for Tioga County.

Countless volunteer hours were devoted to: The Planning Board, the Historical Society, the Senior Citizens Newsletter (editor), Cooperative Extension (4-H and Family Debt Counseling), and to the Tioga County Bicentennial Celebration. He authored dozens of articles for local newspapers and national magazines and assisted in coordinating and compiling "SEASONS OF CHANGE" for the Tioga County Bicentennial celebration.

Services will be private and held at the convenience of the family. For those who wish, kindly direct memorials to the Tioga County Historical Society in memory of Warren G. Olin. MacPherson Funeral Home, Newark Valley is assisting with arrangements. Condolences and memories may be written in his guest book at macphersonfh.com - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/pressconnects/obituary.aspx?n=warren-g-olin&pid=171292854&fhid=13299#sthash.FcO2vaF1.dpuf

Friday, March 07, 2014

Buzzfeed descriptions of Superman and Lincoln

Superman: You were the type of cool kid in high school who invited everyone to sit at their lunch table or come to their party, because the idea of shunning people just because they were different than you made absolutely no sense. You’re a natural leader, and you stick to your guns, with the hopes that if you do the right thing, other people will follow.

Lincoln: You certainly don’t give up when times are tough. You are persistent, and that persistence usually pays off. You have a big heart, and an even bigger passion for learning. You may have faced some tough times, but you manage...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Arizona Senate Bill 1062, amending statutes "relating to the free exercise of religion"





Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1.  Section 41-1493, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
41-1493.  Definitions
In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
1.  "Demonstrates" means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.
2.  "Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
3.  "Government" includes this state and any agency or political subdivision of this state.
4.  "Nonreligious assembly or institution" includes all membership organizations, theaters, cultural centers, dance halls, fraternal orders, amphitheaters and places of public assembly regardless of size that a government or political subdivision allows to meet in a zoning district by code or ordinance or by practice.
6.  "Political subdivision" includes any county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district, any board, commission or agency of a county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district or any other local public agency.
7.  "Religion‑neutral zoning standards":
(a)  Means numerically definable standards such as maximum occupancy codes, height restrictions, setbacks, fire codes, parking space requirements, sewer capacity limitations and traffic congestion limitations.
(b)  Does not include:
(i)  Synergy with uses that a government holds as more desirable.
(ii)  The ability to raise tax revenues.
8.  "Suitable alternate property" means a financially feasible property considering the person's revenue sources and other financial obligations with respect to the person's exercise of religion and with relation to spending that is in the same zoning district or in a contiguous area that the person finds acceptable for conducting the person's religious mission and that is large enough to fully accommodate the current and projected seating capacity requirements of the person in a manner that the person deems suitable for the person's religious mission.
9.  "Unreasonable burden" means that a person is prevented from using the person's property in a manner that the person finds satisfactory to fulfill the person's religious mission.
Sec. 2.  Section 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
41-1493.01.  Free exercise of religion protected; definition
A.  Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.
B.  Except as provided in subsection C, government OF THIS SECTION, STATE ACTION shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
C.  Government STATE ACTION may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it THE GOVERNMENT OR NONGOVERNMENTAL PERSON SEEKING THE ENFORCEMENT OF STATE ACTION demonstrates that application of the burden to the person PERSON'S EXERCISE OF RELIGION IN THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE is both:
1.  In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.
2.  The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
D.  A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT IS A PARTY TO THE PROCEEDING.
F.  THE PERSON ASSERTING A CLAIM OR DEFENSE UNDER SUBSECTION D OF THIS SECTION MAY OBTAIN INJUNCTIVE AND DECLARATORY RELIEF.  A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.
E.  G.  In FOR THE PURPOSES OF this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Anna's middle name is Green, by Broome Spiro

Posted on Broome Spiro's Facebook page:
Anna's middle name is Green. But of course there is a story, I love stories and everything should have one. So here is the story of Anna's middle name. When I was in my second year of law school Penny came to work at the library. I used to hang out in the "employee" part of the library and met her and we became friends. Penny was married and I was living with someone and we did a few things as couples, but mainly Penny was a "friend" that I only saw at work.
My relationship floundered about a year later and about three months later Penny moved out of their apartment after 12 years of marriage. I had no idea that they were having any problems and it was quite a shock.
After about 10 weeks I decided to ask her on a date (scary, because trying to make something more out of a decent friendship is scary) Anyway I was just about to start a new job, I was going to law school, working at Prisoners Legal Services and I got a job working at a comic book store. The day I was supposed to start, the Bread and Puppet Theater (http://breadandpuppet.org/) was giving a free lunchtime performance.
I was supposed to start work at 11am and the performance was at noon for an hour and I wanted to invite Penny to see them as a first date, not as a friend.
I went to my new boss, Roger

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Arlo Guthrie on Pete Seeger, January 28, 2014

I usually do a little meditation and prayer every night before I go to sleep - Just part of the routine. Last night, I decided to go visit Pete Seeger for a while, just to spend a little time together, it was around 9 PM. So I was sitting in my home in Florida, having a lovely chat with Pete, who was in a hospital in New York City. That's the great thing about thoughts and prayers- You can go or be anywhere. I simply wanted him to know that I loved him dearly, like a father in some ways, a mentor in others and just as a dear friend a lot of the time. I'd grown up that way - loving the Seegers - Pete & Toshi and all their family. I let him know I was having trouble writing his obituary (as I'd been asked) but it seemed just so silly and I couldn't think of anything that didn't sound trite or plain stupid. "They'll say something appropriate in the news," we agreed. We laughed, we talked, and I took my leave about 9:30 last night. "Arlo" he said, sounding just like the man I've known all of my life, "I guess I'll see ya later." I've always loved the rising and falling inflections in his voice. "Pete," I said. "I guess we will." I turned off the light and closed my eyes and fell asleep until very early this morning, about 3 AM when the texts and phone calls started coming in from friends telling me Pete had passed away. "Well, of course he passed away!" I'm telling everyone this morning. "But that doesn't mean he's gone."