Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New FBI internet snooping on massive scale

1/31/07 UPDATE: DOJ replies to author of article in this news.com post. They say they follow the law, and the sources quoted in McCullagh's story are incorrect. Let's hope so, because the idea of massive government surveillance is a disgusting one and it's really time the law was shown some respect in this country. Journalism is all about verifying your sources and statements. Given the Bush Administration track record on telling the truth, it's pretty hard to believe anything they say these days tho.

Do you like living in a free society?

Hey wow, Big Brother has been watching over your shoulder as you email, web surf, conduct e-commerce, even, potentially, as you tap away at your keyboard at your job.

Wow, and all this time I thought our government was there to represent and serve us.

ZDNet's Declan McCullagh has published this article detailing the new "vacuum cleaner" approach the FBI has adopted to surveiling U.S. internet traffic, and by proxy, those millions and millions of U.S. citizens who use the internet.

Writin' your Momma? In touch w/ your partner, maybe writing a sexy letter to her or him while he or she is out of town? Chatting w/ co-workers, blowing off steam about the boss, joking with friends, seducing lovers? Reading up on anything, anything at all? Reading up on BushCo? Hmm. Looking at Pr0n?? Hmm?? Buying new shoes, looking at videos on uTube, visiting the iTunes store? Doing anything? The FBI is "recording" internet traffic at ISP's across the nation. Warrants barely enter into it- it is as if they were routinely recording any community's telephone and mail traffic for no reason at all.

Who allowed this? Take a guess. We sure didn't allow this. I don't remember a vote on it.

Why should the government be allowed to snoop at random? Is this because we have a massively unpopular president and administration who fear the very people they are supposed to represent?

Is this our government or not? Just whose government is this?

Is the FBI in charge of protecting us against large scale crime, or are they jailkeepers now?

Or now maybe our lovely government can become judge, jury and executioner?

Don't let's forget that people who work for the government are public servants, they work for us, and they are human beings. We pay their salaries, AND we don't have to put up with them, or anyone, looking into our business every time we cut a fart, step out for breath of fresh air, or walk down the road, or in this case, walk down what used to be referred to as the information superhighway.

In case you think snooping is OK, or that BushCo is not really a threat to freedom, or that your rights don't matter, now might be a good time to read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Especially a good time to read George Orwell's 1984. Or maybe read a book on this history of Argentina, because I think that is where we're headed unless we quit feeling helpless in face of BushCo transgressions.

How the fuck does it make you feel to have everything do on the internet recorded by the FBI for posterity? Look up "chilling effect" in a legal dictionary. Think of the government recording each of your phone calls, or photocopying each piece of mail you send or receive. Think of the government recording everything you buy. Ask, why?

Is the internet that much of a threat? Is information that much of a threat? Why should it be treated as such? What minds, in all their managerial genius, have come up with this paranoid nonsense? Is there a bit of an intimidation factor going on here?

There are too many of us for them to mind everyone's business, and real FBI agents and real cops, who give a shit about this country, are worried about catching people who are your worst nightmare- those types who murder, torture, break into our homes kidnap families, and worse.

However, not everybody in this country is a suspected criminal. But this is, unfortunately, the approach Bush, Gonzales and all the other clowns responsible for this mindless stormtrooping seem to be adopting. In their actions, they are more and more treating each United States citizen as a criminal suspect, based on nothing, no fucking evidence at all.

It is time for us to put our collective foot down and not tolerate warrantless searches and random snooping. Write your congressperson, tell the whole world what you think about this misuse of public servants and tax dollars. Remember, your life is nobody's business but your own and privacy is a constitutional guarantee. Privacy never needs an excuse, and privacy is a component of a free society.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

War protests in DC

Tens of thousands turned out Saturday 1/27 in Washington, D.C. to protest the war. The story is covered here in My Way News by the AP. I have an uncertain feeling about this protest being covered in tomorrow's Arizona Daily Star. We'll see, I guess, but the point is opposition to the Iraq "war" is huge. People have had it with Bush, the invasion, being lied to, and the general stupidity, incompetence, wastefulness, and destructive behavior of the Bush Administration. Something has to change with the fucking moron and his merry band of bloodthirsty criminals. Otherwise we could end up in World War III, and nobody's going to win that one. And for what?

A 74 year old career Air Force pilot named Frank Houde summed it up very well:
"The fact is war doesn't work," he said. "Iraq is not going to work. The war was started for reasons that turned out to be false."
People from all over the country turned out, from all backgrounds and ages and professions. Make your voice heard. Do not be intimidated by imitators of highly-paid right wing mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh and the like. It's up to all of us to call for an end to the unnecessary use of the U.S. military and the subsequent waste of life.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mesa city coucilperson threatened for not pledging

Mesa, Arizona city councilperson Tom Rawles received threats after not standing during the pledge of allegiance. He's refusing to stand and pledge until the U.S. backs out of the so-called war in Iraq. The story is relayed in the 1/26/07 Arizona daily star article here.

I guess it's the kind of thing that could happen in any state, but to me it seems like another one of those "welcome to life in Arizona" things. Just a state where stupidity runs wild like the wolf used to. Stupidity and moronism as wild entities in a place where they get plenty of support.

I guess the argument made toward Rawles is that he's some kind of traitor for not buying the BushCo ready-made conceptual distortions lock stock and barrel. Like Rawles is against the United States. A counter argument would be that the military is for our defense, and Iraq was not a threat. Why weaken the military by sending half of it over there? And if the U.S. is all about freedom, what is wrong with people demonstrating that they are sick of the lies and deceptions the Bush Administration has pushed on us? Recruitment is also an important thing in the armed forces, and how are the best and brightest going to choose the service if they get sent overseas for no good reason?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

San Manuel smelter towers come crashing down

For many of us in Arizona copper mining is a symbol of environmental destruction and pollution and the rape of the wilderness. At the same time, mines like the one in San Manuel, northwest of the 9000 foot Catalina mountains that tower over Tucson, created a nice town, lots of jobs with decent pay, and a facet of Arizona culture where people came together and did what people are best at doing- being people, working, sharing peace love and family time, and of course, beer. Lots of beer, I'm sure of that.

The 500 foot twin towers of the San Manuel mine were blown up yesterday January 17 2007, as the mine up there finally was shut down by its Aussie parent company. You can watch the video here at the Arizona Daily Star and see a thousand linear feet of smoke belching industrial equipment hit the dirt. I'd post it to uTube but I don't have Quicktime Pro.

I don't have data on the weight of the pollutants this mine and these towers put into the air. I don't have data on the extent of the mine's effort to clean and scrub the material that went into the air. I do not have data on the toxics that can be found underneath the tailings ponds of the mine.

I can tell you that in the late 70s and early 80s when local miners were on strike the air around Tucson was crystal clear and it looked like a whole different town. I can tell you that as some of the major mines have shut down the air has become clearer and clearer, but in the past 5 or so years more and more filled with auto exhaust. I can tell you that today mining companies continue to do everything they can, here and in northern Mexico, to get at their copper, to leave a wasteland behind, and pay their public relations folks pretty good salaries. I have also heard that precious stones are their real income, while copper is just their gravy, but that is only a rumor.

The venerable Arizona Daily Star published this nostalgic public relations puff-piece, which looks like it could have been written by copper company pr-types, the other day. The piece, which is factual but leaves out lots, also includes some great photos from the Star archives, some of which look like they were shot by Jack Sheaffer, a Star photographer who worked at the Star for around 30 years and whose photos did a nice job of capturing the essence around here somehow.

Arizona restaurant gets fined $5000 for dancing

Dale Bell, the owner of a Phoenix area bar and grill, said he'll take it step by step.

Read the story published in the Arizona Daily Star here.

The gist is that this guy was fined 5000 dollars because people were dancing at his restaurant. Welcome to Arizona, everybody! You can really see the dark ages in motion here, folks. Come to Arizona for your own history lesson!! I'm sure the Phoenix chamber of commerce is jumping all over this.

The restauranteur has enlisted the help of the Arizona chapter of the libertarian Institute for Justice. Hear hear. The Institute's main page states "IJ Litigates nationwide on behalf of individuals whose rights are being violated by government."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Charles Bowden sums up America in one paragraph

Bowden also does a good job assessing the illegal immigration scene in the Southwest in this article in Mother Jones.

Here is the paragraph that sums up the U.S. and the world at large these days:
In America

The birds can no longer be trusted. Our government suspects a duck or a goose, perhaps that rare swan, will bring plague to our shores. The ice is melting, also. The polar bears are fated to die, the seas are guaranteed to rise and flood our coasts. The skies have mutinied and new monster winds whip off the ocean. We've already lost one city and there is concern about future storms. We worry about nuclear weapons that are not controlled by white people. The government eavesdrops on many people and says this is necessary for our protection. The enemies can be anywhere and appear as almost anything.
Bowden is the author of about a dozen books, mostly on the Southwest, and used to be a reporter here in Tucson.

So far I've read Desierto, Frog mountain blues, and am now reading Blood orchid : an unnatural history of America. All highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the West, Mexico, that whole nexus of cultures and related past present and future.