Sunday, December 23, 2007

"I Am Not Afraid" campaign

Downsize DC has an area on their web site which allows people to compose an email to their U.S. representatives telling them that Congress has overreacted to the events of 9/11.

To quote from the web site:
There is really only one way to win a war on terrorism. Stop being afraid!

Achieving this victory does not require large armies, invasions, illegal spying, torture, detention camps, Kangaroo courts, or multi-billion dollar Congressional appropriations. Neither does it require us to shred the Bill of Rights or the Geneva Conventions. All it requires is a little backbone. And a little common sense.

The minute the first politician proposed the first imposition on the Bill of Rights, or the first call to invade Iraq, or the first request for large new bureaucracies to fight the anemic mosquito, the terrorists won, and we lost.

And they've been winning, and we've been losing, ever since.

Can we stop being afraid?

Can you?

It might do some good to let your Congressional representatives know your opinion in this matter. I would recommend going to this web site and completing the email and sending it in. The web site makes it very easy to do. Just click on the title of this post to go to the site.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Teen records interrogation - Detective may land in jail

A teen suspect's snap decision to secretly record his interrogation with an MP3 player has resulted in a perjury case against a veteran detective and a plea deal for the teen.

Unaware of the recording, Detective Christopher Perino insisted under oath at a trial in April that suspect Erik Crespo wasn't questioned about a shooting in the Bronx.

But the defense confronted the detective with a transcript it said proved he had spent more than an hour unsuccessfully trying to persuade Crespo to confess.

Perino was arraigned today on 12 counts of first-degree perjury and freed on bail.

It is getting easier to watch the watchers. We must insist on as much openness and transparency in government as possible. Police interrogation rooms should always been equipped with audio and video recording equipment, just like many police cars are these days.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

"Prevention of Thought Crimes" bill

Some people are planning demonstrations in front of the offices of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Monday, December 10, which is International Human Rights Day. The demonstrations are to protest H.R. 1955 and S. 1959, "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act". This Act was passed by the House on October 23 of this year and now awaits action in the Senate. The protesters of the bill are calling it the "Prevention of Thought Crimes" bill.

I have read the bill and I don't see what all the fuss is about. I don't see anything in the bill that attempts to get people to stop thinking radical thoughts. Rather, I think it is merely an attempt to understand why people become radicalized.

First of all the bill establishes a Congressional Commission whose job it will be to hold hearings on why and how people living in the United States might become radical and consider terrorizing or blowing things up. The Commission is to issue two interim reports, the first one 6 months after the Commission is established, and the second one 6 months later. The Commission is to cease to exist 30 days after it submits its final report.

Secondly, the bill asks the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish or designate a university-based Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown terrorism in the United States. The purpose of the Center is to conduct research to "better understand the origins, dynamics, and social and psychological aspects of violet radicalization and homegrown terrorism;" and "on the motivational factors that lead to violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism."

Where there might be some concern is the Center is also being asked to "contribute to the establishment of training, written materials, information, analytical assistance and professional resources to aid in combating violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism." I am very skeptical of any attempt to try to reach someone who is contemplating blowing up a building and with training, written materials, etc., persuading him to do otherwise. To me this is more a waste of time, money, and resources than a threat to our rights. Studying never hurt anything. It is when action might be contemplated on the results of the studies that we might need to be concerned.

The Secretary of Homeland Security is also tasked with cooperating with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General in learning how other countries are dealing with homegrown terrorists in their countries.

There is even a section in the bill stating that the actions to prevent "ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism" "shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents." Assurance of this is provided by an office within the Department of Homeland Security called the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Office which is tasked with reporting to Congress annually of audits of compliance with this provision.

I don't see any problem with gathering information. Let's just hope it doesn't cost us much in terms of money.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Indian Gynaecologist charged

Dr. Mangala Telang has had her license suspended for performing an ultrasound scan for a pregnant woman. Dr. Telang is a top gynaecologist in India.

Medically-assisted sex selection is illegal in the UK and in India where an estimated 7 million girls have gone missing over the past 25 years. Indians often view a girl child as inferior to a boy. A bride's dowry can also cripple a family financially.

Dr. Telang is accused of agreeing to perform the scan to determine the sex of the unborn baby, even though she had the required sign posted in her office stating that giving such information is illegal. When another doctor in the office informed the couple that the baby would be a boy, that doctor also violated the law.

For now, the doctor's clinic has been sealed shut by the government, and the doctor can not be located.

The government, as usual, is trying to treat the symptom rather than the cause.

Ultrasound scans should be freely available to all who want them, parents have the right to use the latest technology to make sure that their baby is going to be healthy, and doctors should have the ability to provide these services to their patients with restrictions only relating to the safety of those involved.

The cause of the problem is economic. When society gives equal status to both men and women so that women earn as much as men in the marketplace, the families might begin to see that women are as valuable as men. The dowry was required in the past to help the young groom get a start at life supporting his wife. If the woman is a bread-winner, the large dowry becomes obsolete.

India and Britain need to look at solving the problem of equal economic status for women.

I have opinions, too

I'm sure everyone has their opinions about happenings around the world every day. I just have pretty much kept my opinions to myself. Up until now. With this blog, I get to let my opinions be known. If some people read my postings, great. If not, oh well. It's not like these postings will change world opinion. But at least I will no longer be among the "silent".

Basically, I'm a Libertarian. I've known I am a Libertarian since my dad first introduced me to Reason magazine in the early 1970's. This year I changed my voting registration to Republican so I can vote for Ron Paul in the Maryland primaries. I'll change my registration back after the primaries.

Are you a Libertarian? Take this short quiz to find out --

The title of my blog expresses my frustration with the current mindset in the U.S. For years it seems most people in the U.S. have been so concerned about living comfortably, that they are completely willing to give up their freedom to do so. They look to the government as their Mommy and Daddy who will take care of them, shelter them from all harm, and provide for their every need. It has only gotten worse since 9/11. My only hope is that it doesn't get completely repressive before it starts to get better.