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Monday, November 25, 2002

ASHCROFT AGAINST 'NET SNOOPING?

"The FBI wants access to decode, digest, and discuss financial transactions, personal e-mail, and proprietary information sent abroad -- all in the name of national security." -John Ashcroft

But he's spoken out more against the Internet privacy invasion, a lot more..."There is a concern that the Internet could be used to commit crimes and that advanced encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?" -John Ashcroft

"The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. Two hundred years of court decisions have stood in defense of this fundamental right. The state's interest in effective crime-fighting should never vitiate the citizens' Bill of Rights." -John Ashcroft

"I believe that moving forward with the president's policy... would be an act of folly, creating a cadre of government "peeping toms"..." -John Ashcroft

"The administration's interest in all e-mail is a wholly unhealthy precedent, especially given this administration's track record on FBI files and IRS snooping. Every medium by which people communicate can be subject to exploitation by those with illegal intentions. Nevertheless, this is no reason to hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our e-mail diaries, open our ATM records, read our medical records, or translate our international communications." -John Ashcroft

Okay, here's the punchline, he also said this:

"The Clinton administration would like the Federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications."

Yes, that's correct, Ashcroft said all of this back when he was a Senator for Missouri, back in October of 1997. Four years before the Homeland department of extreme digital snooping was even considered by Republicans. Interesting, though, how things change. It seems like those in power want more power. Those not in power want to curtail the power of those in power.

Well, things are different now. Ashcroft might argue. Are they? Isn't America still America? in 1997 America was just as much at risk as it was in 2001 or in 1993 when the World Trade Center was attacked the first time. Intelligence circles were fully aware that America could be a target for terrorism and had been. Yet, Ashcroft in 1997 did not believe these extreme measures were a good idea.

Check it out, in October 2001, four years to the month from his comments against such behavior, Ashcroft said this:

"Law enforcement will begin immediately to seek search warrants to obtain unopened voice mail stored on a computer, just as they traditionally have used search warrants to obtain unopened e-mail. They will also begin to use new subpoena power to obtain payment information such as credit card or bank account numbers of suspected terrorists on the Internet."

In April of 2002, Privacy International awarded John Ashcroft it's Big Brother award for "Worst Public Official for attacking privacy and freedom of information".

This is a far cry from the John Ashcroft who was just a mere senator, back in 1997. Now, he's America's top cop and he's in charge. I guess Ashcroft discovered the same thing his boss did when his boss said "If this were a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier � just so long as I was the dictator."

When you're the top cop and can get laws changed in your favor, that's exactly what you are...

To read Senator John Ashcroft's statements regarding Internet privacy from 1997, go here.

To read Attorney General John Ashcroft's more recent comments about Internet privacy, click here.

To check out Privacy International's web site or to find out who else got Big Brother awards in 2002, check out this link.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR PROMOTING DILDONICS

Yep, that's right, in the state of Texas, promoting the sale or use of objects that simulate a sexual organ or are primarily used for stimulating sexual organs is illegal. To get more specific, posession of more than six such objects is considered intent to promote. Now how absurd is this? Well, think about it - who uses these types of objects? Just off the top of my head (no pun intended), I'd say women and homosexuals. Hm... what does this sound like to you?Yep, that's right, the Texas State Legislature is legislating the sex lives of women and homesexuals. Are we living in the dark ages? Is Texas colonial Salem where women doing drugs and having orgasms without their men was labeled witchcraft? Or is this just the most sublte form of a kind of racism? Not racism, really, but 'sexism' is too tame a word for it. Gender domination? Obsessive control over another gender? Something like that...

After all, why would promoting these kinds of items be a bad thing? Well, let's examine that. Okay, so dildoes are promoted as a good thing. Women and homosexuals buy them and use them. (Sure, straight men can be into jamming things where the sun doesn't shine, but for the sake of argument, lets assume that most don't...) Women and homosexuals use discover that they are indeed very useful and buy more of them. What does this mean? It means that regular old fashioned men are not required for women to get off and if gay men use these items, it's just disgusting!!

So, if men aren't needed to get women to have orgasms, what are men good for?

Good question...

Now, if you're a mature person, adult or not, you realize that there are plenty of reasons to keep men around. First off, they're stronger than women. That's a fact, there's nothing wrong with women, they're just different. Another thing men are needed for is to actually do the impregnating so the human race can continue. (Although I've read that artificial sperm does exist, but surely, the real thing is best.) The point is, men have a purpose and everyone knows it. So, why this law then?

Simple: To control the women. For centuries (even millennia), women around were told by religious 'authorities' that sex was not for enjoyment. In fact, men would go to great lengths to make sure that women did not 'accidentally stumble upon an orgasm' by the institution of female circumcision or what some have come to call Female Genital Mutilation. I won't go into details, but let's just say most versions of the procedure remove enough of a woman to allow her to miss out on all the fun of sexual intercourse. It's a practice that goes back centuries and while it is no where as prominent as it was, it still occurs often in Africa and many other parts of the globe (even western countries). The idea of this procedure is to curb promiscuity, adultery and women losing their virginity too early.

Now, this is a far cry from banning the promotion of dildos, but how far is it really? Isn't the intent of control over a woman's body still evident? Sure, women aren't mutilated, but the male dominated state government of Texas is still trying to tell women what they can and can't do with their own bodies. Only this isn't about abortion, or even drugs. It's about pleasuring one's self. Why should anyone be able to tell a woman (or a man) how to touch themselves and to limit what they touch themselves with?

How the hell did a law like this get into the legislature in the first place?!?? Isn't it a woman's own damn business what she does in her own pants?

Maybe we are still living in the dark ages...

Read more about female circumcision at the Nazareth College web site and at Wikipedia.org.

Read the News-Journal.com article covering the woman who was arrested for possesion of 17 objects that either resembled a sexual organ or was primarily used for the stimulation of the genitals.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

FAR FROM HEAVEN

Entertaining? YES! A modern film about interacial and homosexuality issues wearing the flawless skin of a 50s movie - very cool!
Technically any good? Hits the 50s movie-style on the head but deals incredibly well with modern issues. Very well written, directed and performed!
How did I feel as the credits rolled? So, so sad! But in a great way - it's a tragic love story, really. But it's funny, too.
Final Rating? GSN!!

DIE ANOTHER DAY

Entertaining? YES!! Insanely so. It was great to see Bond get back to real adventuring.
Technically any good? FX were on the weak side, but still impressive. Story more complex than most but characters were lacking (especially Jinx - weak! I liked her character better when she was played by Michelle Yeoh!) Physics were out the window, but then, it's a Bond movie.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Pretty immensely satisfied. The plot does get convoluted and the film does substitute solid story for amazing stunts and glitz, but nobody ever said spectacle is ALL bad.
Final Rating? GSN (a real crowd pleaser!)

Saturday, November 16, 2002

JFK CONSTANTLY MEDICATED TO SURVIVE

The New York Times has reported that a small group of Kennedy family associates have finally allowed a historian and a medical consultant to examine John Fitzgerald Kennedy's medical records from what was easily his most stressful years alive. What they found was pretty scary. According to the historian, Robert Dallek who is writing a book about JFK, the assassinated president was taking a daily cocktail of as many as eight different drugs. At various times throughout his time as President, JFK was taking...

Thursday, November 14, 2002

BILL MOYERS IS A SMART GUY

Have you heard of Bill Moyers? I have. He's a newsman who's been around for a very many years. I think he used to be on one of the major broadcast networks, but as they got more shallow and he got older, he had to move on. He's now on PBS, the only network that isn't scared of losing their money because they beg for it at least once a year. It's stunning to read the words of such an experienced newsman when he says negative things against the US Government. When's the last time you heard someone respected in the News industry say bad things about the US Government?I can't remember the last time I heard a real journalist talk (or type, I guess) the way Moyers did in a November 2002 commentary over at PBS.org. It's impressive. He has his facts in order and has formulated reasonable judgements.

And best of all, he agrees with me...

I'll pass on the URL for the article at the end of this article and you can see for yourself. But my main point is that if a man like Bill Moyers is saying that things are bad, chances are, they are. And how scary is that? When a reasonably paid, established journalist tells you that your freedoms have slowly started to ebb away and that your government is going to quietly dissolve the separation of Church and State without telling anyone or even passing a law about it, how should this make us feel? When someone who is white and about as 'mainstream' as they come tells you there's little difference between politics, religion and money, should we be concerned?

I say... yes.

[http://www.pbs.org/now/commentary/moyers15.html|Go read Moyer's commentary] and see what you think. Then, if it worries you as much as it did me (which it should), come back here and post your comments on it.

And don't worry - it's not the end of the world... yet...

From PBS.org:
11.08.02

Bill Moyers on Election 2002

Way back in the 1950's when I first tasted politics and journalism, Republicans briefly controlled the White House and Congress. With the exception of Joseph McCarthy and his vicious ilk, they were a reasonable lot, presided over by that giant war hero, Dwight Eisenhower, who was conservative by temperament and moderate in the use of power.

That brand of Republican is gone. And for the first time in the memory of anyone alive, the entire federal government — the Congress, the Executive, the Judiciary — is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate.

That mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives.

It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.

It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable.

And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what's coming.

And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture. These folks don't even mind you referring to the GOP as the party of God. Why else would the new House Majority Leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote 'a Biblical worldview' in American politics?

So it is a heady time in Washington — a heady time for piety, profits, and military power, all joined at the hip by ideology and money.

Don't forget the money. It came pouring into this election, to both parties, from corporate America and others who expect the payback. Republicans outraised Democrats by $184 million dollars. And came up with the big prize — monopoly control of the American government, and the power of the state to turn their ideology into the law of the land. Quite a bargain at any price.

That's it for this week.

For NOW, I'm Bill Moyers.