SOPA & PIPA

Tomorrow is the Big Day. There will be an internet blackout by some sites in protest of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). I won’t be online tomorrow. If I can figure out how to make my whole blog private I’ll do that, unless I figure out how to post a protest banner or something. The technical stuff gets ahead of me. But free speech, I understand.

A lot has already been written about what this is and why folks are upset, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. But for those of you who may live in other countries and don’t know what all the fuss is about, I’ll say this: We already have laws against content piracy with consequences for the thief. I’ve heard of people going to jail for downloading music illegally. In my opinion, that’s pretty harsh. What more do they want? Hollywood wants providers to be held accountable. So, sites that have something posted that has been stolen could be shut down without a trial or anything.

We have already seen our government hold people in detention without charges, and now they have written it into our laws, so American citizens can be held indefinitely without charges. Last night in a political debate we heard Mitt Romney tell us we are supposed to trust him and President Obama with indefinite detention! We are mauled by TSA agents and exposed to radiation and humiliation by scanning machines at our airports in order to “keep us safe” while our Constitutional rights against unlawful searches are ignored. Our government has even had European governments protesting when  they wanted the internet providers who are located in Europe to keep records of emails for longer than EU law allows. The laws in Europe concerning this take a person’s right to privacy into account. We are seeing our rights chipped away bit by bit. If they are able to pass these bills, or any others like them, we could see sites shut down supposedly because they contained pirated content, while the effect would be to stifle our ability to speak to each other concerning our government. Some of us can easily envision our government, who thinks we need to be humiliated at airports and held without charges, (and even more, but isn’t this enough?), shutting down the internet site by site in order to keep public peace. I read that Occupy Wall Street set up their website in Canada to keep the US from shutting them down. See what we are facing here?

I’m only one person, but I’m not the only one. Even if I was, I’d still protest. I’m going to go now and catch up on some email. I won’t be online tomorrow.

ADDENDUM: I just read a blog by Reddit that explains a lot more about this than I previously understood. This is bad in so many ways. Here’s a quote: “SOPA and PROTECT IP contain no provisions to actually remove copyrighted content, but rather focus on the censorship of links to entire domains.” Please go here and read this blog; it’s really good!

ADDENDUM II: I managed to get the Stop SOPA ribbon that WordPress provided on my Home Page. Now I’ll just clean a closet or do some art or something tomorrow. When the protest is over, I plan to come back and write about some birds.

We’ve Gone Completely Berserk in This Country

Our government mauls citizens at airports, and Janet Napolitano is at Walmart telling shoppers to watch out for anything suspicious, and to report whatever they think they see. And now they have come to the Interstate highways. Are we not making a loud enough protest? Are people scared stupid? Do they think this is necessary? What country is this?

Occupy Wall Street

This is just a quick little post with my thoughts on Occupy Wall Street. I’ve seen some discussion regarding the participants. There is quite a variety of people in this group. It seems to have been started by Adbusters. (And no, George Soros is not involved.) If you go to their “Campaigns” page and scroll down to July 13th, you can read their announcement of OWS. There is a live video feed going on the Home Page as I’m writing this. I don’t know if that is constant or not.

What I read before it ever started is that it was supposed to be world-wide (and it is) and there are Marxists and Socialists in the mix. I read (wish I could find that!) that the intention is to shut Wall Street down; they were calling for a redistribution of wealth. I tend to believe it was probably started by the Marxists because when something goes world-wide they are usually behind it.

On the news I’ve seen one guy stomp on the American flag and say that it represents evil to him. I saw others talk about how some have a lot more of this world’s goods than others and that isn’t fair. I also saw a guy holding up a sign that said “End the FED – Ron Paul 2012” and another guy who just wants a JOB. He is in Boston and just got a college degree and now has $60,000 in student loans and can’t get more than temp or part-time work. This looks like a pretty big mix of people.

I think it’s interesting to watch. I think it was started by Marxists and/or folks with Marxists leanings, but now everybody and their dog is into it. Adbusters compares this to the revolutions in the Middle East. I’d say that so far, it’s like that in that what is started by one group can be taken over by another. Everyone who wants change gets into it, but who comes out on top is the question. And if it was indeed started by Marxists, I hope someone else comes out the winner here.

ADDENDUM: Good grief! I really was in a hurry when I wrote this while ago! I hope the RON PAUL folks come out on top of the heap when this is all over.

ADDENDUM II: I really shouldn’t write in a hurry. I just read something on World Net Daily that said George Soros’ Open Society Institute donates to Tides Center, which donates to Adbusters. That’s pretty round-about to me. Make of it what you will.

Internet Privacy Issues

I know from conversations that I’ve had with friends, as well as things that I’ve read, that internet and privacy don’t go well together, and that we should never expect what we say, or where we go on the net, to be our personal business. We all know that everything is subject to prying eyes, whether we like it, or not.

Last night I was reading an old issue of World Magazine, (Dec 2010), that had a short piece about “sentiment analysis.” The article said that businesses have been using “sentiment analysis” and that political campaigns are beginning to catch on and use it, too. “Sentiment analysis” is when a software program is used to crawl the web for certain items, such as a product or a candidate’s name. Each time the item is found the program tries to determine if the mention is positive, or not so positive. It’s thought that this is a more accurate way to get opinions than phone polls because apparently more republicans have land lines than other groups. Does this bother me? Not too much. I’m thinking this is not grabbing any personally identifying information. It does make me want to be perfectly clear in my remarks about candidates though, since the article said sometimes the programs aren’t good at picking up sarcasm.

On the same page, I read about a study that was done on how people make friends. The study was published in “American Journal of Sociology.” I wanted to look into this, but I don’t have the right affiliations, and I’m not going to pay $14.00 to buy it so I can read it. Anyway, all I want to know is which university gave out the students’ names. I did find out that the authors of the study are Andreas Wimmer from University of California, Los Angeles, and Kevin Lewis, of Harvard. They “tracked a class of new university students” (wish I knew which school…so curious…) to see how they made friends. They used their photos on Facebook to determine the students’ criteria, whether it was race, or common interests, or friends in common, or what. I’m thinking the university probably sold the list to the sociologists. I doubt that it was given it to them for free. Whichever university this was, along with Facebook, thought it was just fine to do this. The students never knew they were studied. Well, no doubt how I feel about that. It’s very intrusive.

I guess we have to get our news from the United Kingdom, since so many things like this story come from there and not our own media. The UK Guardian had this story about how our government snoops through our email. There are 12,000 orders a year for phone and internet data to be picked up by government snoopers in the US. At least Google lets people know their emails have been handed over. We sure do need to update our old laws that pertain to what we say and what we write.

What I wonder is this: Would the students care if they found out today that they were studied without their knowledge? Does anyone read things any more like “1984” and “Animal Farm”? Does anyone in our government think about the difference between snooping and investigating? I remember when I was about six years old I heard that the Russians had a satellite that could see a matchbox on the sidewalk. I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of my house and thinking about how they could be watching me at that very moment. I didn’t care for the idea. That is snooping and it’s what bad governments do. This earth is populated by flawed human beings, and governments are made up of flawed human beings who need laws to keep them in check. We better make some changes and make them pretty quick.

One Christian’s Thoughts on Revolution in the Middle East

So the whole Middle East seems to be in an uproar. Starting in Tunisia and spreading to Egypt, and with rumblings in Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, and who knows where else? I have a friend in Iraq (who is working on bringing our soldiers home) who says everyone is in the streets demonstrating for electricity and clean water. Even in Iraq? They have a democracy, but it’s corrupt, and that’s why they don’t have decent utility service. I think that makes a good case for privately owned utilities, but that’s a different subject.

Everybody seems to think they know who started the uprising, and who is in control, and who will be running things once it’s all settled. As far as who started all this, I’ve heard everything from an executive at Google named Wael Ghonim, to George Soros, to the Muslim Brotherhood, to everyday people who are fed up with low wages, food shortages, and police and government brutality. I’ve even seen that supporters of George Bush give him credit for his “Freedom Agenda” causing all this. Boy, that’s a stretch.

So, here’s what I think: Revolution is very risky business. Any time a revolution starts it will either be instigated by people with a noble purpose, or people with an evil purpose. As things progress both groups will be involved. How it turns out may be nothing like the ones who started it had hoped for. Instigators, noble or otherwise, can lose control. I am praying for God to use this for His glory and the increase of His Kingdom. And for His Church world-wide to be able to say “It is well with my soul” and to remember that joy is our strength.

 

Something We Ought to All Agree On

I like to get my news from a variety of sources. I don’t want to be anyone’s malleable mushy little mouth with no brain. So – I check out the liberal and the conservative. And in the process, I notice that even though we have different views – I never completely agree with either one – I do find that I can stand right next to either one in solid agreement on some things. I wonder if Naomi Wolf – who I admire for her intellect and courage, and Gordon Robertson – who I love as a brother in Christ – were to sit down and have a conversation about WikiLeaks…well, would they agree on anything?

Naomi Wolf said the court determined during the trial of Daniel Ellsburg that it’s not illegal to print classified material. He gave something called the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times back in 1971, and the government freaked out. It all had to do with Vietnam and how congress had been lied to and of course, the public had been lied to as well. The court said the person or persons who print the material have not broken any laws. The one in trouble would be the one who stole the classified material – not the one who received and published it. The court said the benefit to the public was greater than the risk to the government.

Gordon Robertson said (700 Club, 12/10/2010) the State Department has been rumored to be behind the companies (PayPal, Amazon, MasterCard, Visa) not doing business with WikiLeaks and if they are, it might be because they know a court case would be risky for them. They stand a good chance of losing because of the precedent set in the Daniel Ellsberg case. If they can shut off funding to WikiLeaks, they can shut down WikiLeaks without a trial, which besides they would probably lose, would be very complicated since Julian Assange is not a US citizen. Besides all this, Gordon Robertson pointed out that whether the decision to not do business with WikiLeaks comes from the government, or from the companies, it’s all being done without a trial and only because the government – or whoever – doesn’t like Julian Assange’s ideas.

I think a conversation between them would show agreement on one thing for sure. Both Naomi Wolf and Gordon Robertson have said that this is how societies shut down. They control the sharing of ideas and information. On this, they agree. Gordon went on to talk about how the cash flow, which is all electronic and not actually cash, is cut off. This is a way of controlling who can buy and sell based on a person’s ideas and beliefs. If you are familiar with his interpretation of Revelation, you can see where he is going with this.

If you have been upset with Julian Assange, I think your outrage is misplaced. The one who broke the law is the one who gave the information out. (And how on earth did a Private (!) get this stuff? Is he somebody’s fall guy? If the private who is accused did this, did he have enough brains to know what he was doing?) The ones we ought to be really upset with are those in the government who hide things from us that they don’t want us to know because they shouldn’t be doing those things. Like we have been secretly bombing Yemen. Like our State Department seems to have helped in a cover up of some disgusting activity that one of our contractors was involved in over in Afghanistan. And then there are the juicy little comments some of our diplomats made about world leaders. Haven’t people learned that if you don’t want it to be repeated, you don’t put it in print in any way, shape or form? Apparently not.

Well, it seems to me that liberals and conservatives ought to be in agreement here. (I wouldn’t expect this of the neo ones of either view in government or newstainment – that would jeopardize their power. I’m talking about you and me – regular everyday US citizens.) To restrain someone in any way because you don’t like what they have said or thought is a very dangerous road to travel. Naomi Wolf and Gordon Robertson can agree on that. And I agree with both of them. Can you?

Who Owns Your Body?

When you buy a plane ticket, do you think you are giving up your Constitutional right that prohibits unreasonable search? Do you think you ought to be ogled and groped by the government? Many Americans, including myself, are appalled by the behavior of  TSA  (Transportation Security Administration) in our airports. (I know – CBS did a poll that says 80% are OK with this. Eighty percent of Americans don’t fly. Someone rightly said they should ask those who have been through airport security recently.)  TSA says we do give up our rights. They are, as of yesterday, trying to back-pedal a bit and say they will come up with some less objectionable practices. I will object as long as TSA  is in our airports at all, and here is why.

What is the foundation of this right not to be ogled and groped by the government? The Fourth Amendment says “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Looks to me like private property is the basis of this. What belongs to you is yours and you have control over it. If they have no reason to suspect you of a committing a specific crime, they have no right to rifle through your things, or inspect your body.

Who owns your body? Should the government tell you what vitamins or herbs you can take? Should they tell you how much salt you are allowed to consume? Or, fat? Or, if you are allowed to buy raw milk? Or, whether or not you can smoke tobacco? Or, consume anything else that you choose?

Who owns the airports? Not the federal government. Federal construction funds probably opened the door to all this mess, but they do not own airports. Most airports in the US are private property and are controlled by local government, such as cities and counties, along with the airlines and the federal government. Before 9/11 the airlines handled baggage and check in. They still ought to be doing that, rather than the federal government. That brings us to another Amendment to our Constitution – the 10th Amendment. It’s short and to the point and says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That means if the Constitution does not give authority to the federal government to make a law or institute a tax, or whatever other measure of control they envision, they should not be allowed to do so by the States or by the people.

As a Christian and as an American, I object to the government having any control over my body. And as the old saying goes, “Give them an inch, and they will take a mile.” Private property ownership is the basis of the freedom we are supposed to have in this country. When the government and the people forget about private property rights, we have all kinds of problems. I don’t think our government schools emphasize this for some reason or other, so I just thought I’d bring it up, for those who might want to consider it.