Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Substitute Teacher Torpedoed By Spyware - And Then Legally Screwed

This story went straight to my heart strings and played a sad little tune called "How My Computer Illiteracy Doomed Me."

From the Washingtonpost.com (hat tip Sandmonkey)

"Substitute Teacher Faces Jail Time Over Spyware

A 40-year-old former substitute teacher from Connecticut is facing prison time following her conviction for endangering students by exposing them to pornographic material displayed on a classroom computer."

Local prosecutors charged that the teacher was caught red-handed surfing for porn in the presence of seventh graders. The defense claimed the graphic images were pop-up ads generated by spyware already present on the computer prior to the teacher's arrival. The jury sided with the prosecution and convicted her of four counts of endangering a child, a crime that brings a punishment of up to 10 years per count. She is due to be sentenced on March 2.

I had a chance this week to speak with the accused, Windham, Conn., resident Julie Amero. Amero described herself as the kind of person who can hardly find the power button on a computer, saying she often relies on written instructions from her husband explaining how to access e-mail, sign into instant messaging accounts and other relatively simple tasks.

On the morning of Oct 19, 2004, Amero said she reported for duty at a seventh grade classroom at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Conn. After stepping out into the hall for a moment, Amero returned to find two students hovering over the computer at the teacher's desk. As supported by an analysis of her computer during the court proceedings, the site the children were looking at was a seemingly innocuous hairstyling site called "new-hair-styles.com." Amero said that shortly thereafter, she noticed a series of new Web browser windows opening up displaying pornographic images, and that no matter how quickly she closed each one out, another would pop up in its place.

"I went back to computer and found a bunch of pop-ups," Amero said. "They wouldn't go away. I mean, some of the sites stayed on there no matter how many times I clicked the red X, and others would just pop back up."

Amero said she panicked and ran down the hall to the teacher's lounge to ask for help. "I dared not turn the the computer off. The teacher had asked me not to sign him out" of the computer, she recalled. Amero said none of the teachers in the lounge moved to help her, and that another teacher later told her to ignore the ads, that they were a common annoyance. Later on, prosecutors would ask why she hadn't just thrown a coat or a sweater over monitor. On that day Amero hadn't worn either.

Several children told their parents about the incident, who in turn demanded answers from the school's principal. Three days later, school administrators told Amero she was not welcome back. Not long after that, local police arrested her on charges of risking injury to several students. "

Um, yea. It sounds like the substitute teacher isn't exactly brainy, and that she basically was too startled to think clearly...such as, oh, I don't know, turn off the monitor?

But to be convicted of these charges is simply ridiculous. She was simply a computer illiterate and generally ignorant person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The jury who convicted her, however, is more than ignorant...they's just stoopid.

Russian Special Forces Used Image of Litvinenko For Farget Practice

I have posted before about the despicable murder of Alexander Litvenenko, which was highly suspicious, with Russia as suspect #1.

Well, apparently an elite training ground for Russian special forces uses Litvenenko's picture on their firing range...as a target. If that doesn't sound like the Russians were literally gunning for Alexander, I don't know what does.

Methinks the Russians are just as evil and deadly as they always have been...but their talent for secrecy is beginning to lose its color.


Hezbollah Leader Enjoys Irony

Hassan Nasrallah, "supreme leader" (or whatever) of Hiz'b'Allah, is at it again. This time he is blaming BUSH for the violence in Lebanon. Right. Okay. Sure. I can see that. You, Nasrallah, have infested a sovereign nation (Lebanon) with your soldiers for more than 20 years, who have been abducting and killing Lebanon's political elite (who are against you) for just as long, and who is determined to sacrifice any number of people for your OWN personal gains...you are blaming George Bush for all this?!

"BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused
President Bush' Tuesday of creating chaos in Lebanon, rejecting his charge that the militant group and its allies were causing the violence. " and

""The one who fomented chaos in Lebanon, who destroyed Lebanon, who killed women and children, old and young in Lebanon, is George and (Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice who ordered the Zionists to launch the war on Lebanon," Nasrallah said in a fiery speech."

When it comes to irony, Mr. Nassy, you're all spades.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Saudi Arabia In Iraq

This morning I read that Saudi Arabia is going to send troops to Iraq (but now I can't find any news sites with that article.) I wondered to myself, why? That doesn't make sense!

Then I read Sandmonkey's latest post, and it all came together for me. Shame on me not realizing the situation before. http://www.sandmonkey.org/2007/01/15/that-train-wont-be-late/

Specifically, SM says, "The people who read me regularly and know me personally know that I am a believer that the next war in the middle-east won't be fought between the arabs and the jews, but rather between the Sunnis and the Shia. Iran seems to be overstepping its influence in the region, with meddeling in Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain, which is freaking Saudi and the other sunni gulf states out, and for some reason Egypt's as well. It makes sense that the gulf states would want Mubarak to join the effort, since Egypt is the only country in the region wih population to equal Iran's and a military in par with it (What is Egypt now if not a big ,yet not very efficient, military structure?). "

In other words, Iraq is a boiling point of Shiite and Sunni animosity, and now that Iran is exploiting it to no end, the other Sunni nations are getting worried. Then, I found this random thought:

S Mohanakrishnan
How ironical that Bush is sending more troops to Iraq to bolster a Governemnt dominated by Shiites when Iran (which is a Shiite nation) is America’s arch-enemy. While most of the other oil powers in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Kuwiit, etc which are friends of USA are Sunni nations. And American troops are going to battle and kill Sunni militia members. The devil must be having a hearty laugh. Wonder how this will play out?

VERY interesting. Because, it raises the question of what U.S. troops are doing over there in the first place. I mean, once Sunni and Shiite go all out against each other, America will have to pick sides. And not the side of Iraq. So yea, how WILL this play out?

When Pharmacists Decide Your Religion For You

This just in: If the FDA can't tell you how to live your life, then maybe your local pharmacists can.

This is regarding the Morning After Pill, otherwise known as Plan-B, that prevents pregancies up to 72 hours after sex. It was stuck in FDA Purgatory for years before finally getting approval...why? Not because it constituted a health risk, hazard, or was generally unsafe, but because, "The FDA rejected the application...saying it did not have enough information about the possible consequences on teenagers younger than 16." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083101271.html

In other words, the FDA was judging the pill's impact on society. However, is the FDA supposed to work that way? The answer is NO. Here is the FDA's mission statement:

"FDA's Mission Statement

The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health." (bold added by me)

Predicting the effect of a drug on 16 year olds and possible orgies they might get into (yes, that was the reason behind that statement) has nothing to do with the safety of Plan B (whether it'll cause heart attacks if you take it), the efficacy (whether or not it will serve its intended purpose), or the security (whether the drugs themselves are safe from tampering or outside sources.)

Yet, it was the politics of America's conservative (religious) right that has kept Plan-B off the shelves.

So, finally, after years of delay, Plan-B is approved for over the counter sales (even though they are kept BEHIND the counter so that pharmacists can make sure you're the legal age of 18 to buy it.)

So, naturally, MORE roadblocks come into play. Enter Brent Beams, pharmacist a Wal-mart in Columbus, who recently denied selling a couple Plan-B. He said, "he denied the couple's request for the contraceptive pills because "I do not believe in ending life, and life begins at conception." The article goes on to say,

"After the pharmacist turned them down, O'Neill and Byrd asked for a store manager who "came over and said, 'The pharmacist has the law on his side,' " O'Neill said."

Um, under WHAT law does the pharmacist have on their side, Mr. Manager? I can understand refusing service to someone...but what specific right does the pharmacist have to spout religious beliefs in someone's face, at his place of business (that he doesn't own), which directly affect someone else's life? I'm still listening...

Also in the news is the TOP official handling women's issues at the FDA has RESIGNED over the Plan-B fiasco, among other items:

"FDA Official Quits Over Delay on Plan B
Women's Health Chief Says Commissioner's Decision on Contraceptive Was Political

By Marc KaufmanWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, September 1, 2005; Page A08

The top Food and Drug Administration official in charge of women's health issues resigned yesterday in protest against the agency's decision to further delay a final ruling on whether the "morning-after pill" should be made more easily accessible.

Susan F. Wood, assistant FDA commissioner for women's health and director of the Office of Women's Health, said she was leaving her position after five years because Commissioner Lester M. Crawford's announcement Friday amounted to unwarranted interference in agency decision-making.

"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled," she wrote in an e-mail to her staff and FDA colleagues.

Crawford said last week that unresolved regulatory issues made it impossible to approve expanded use of the emergency contraceptive. Wood said the decision was widely seen in the FDA as political.

"Many colleagues have made it known that they are deeply concerned about the direction of the agency," she said in an interview."

So says the women who was the FDA's pick to "be a champion for women's health."

In other words, YES, a political (and religious) agenda is driving the agency in charge of safeguarding this country's medicine and drugs. Boy, is that a relief! Oh, wait, those are the basic sentiments of what fueled the Inquisition...doh!

And get this. Says one opponent of Plan B:

"Wendy Wright, policy director for Concerned Women for America and a critic of easier access to Plan B, welcomed Wood's resignation.

"Thank goodness there is now one less political activist at the FDA who puts radical feminist ideology above women's health," she wrote in a statement. "Now that Susan Wood has some free time on her hands, she can look at the studies from countries that have made the morning-after pill available without a prescription. She'll find it creates a public health hazard, with no decrease in pregnancies, no decrease in abortion, but a substantial increase in sexually transmitted diseases." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083101271.html

Oh, does it, Ms. Wright? First of all, for you to cite Susan Wood as a radical feminist is the crazy pot calling the kettle purple. This coming from a religious ideologue!!

Also, where exactly are your studies, information, and statistics coming from in those countries with the morning after pill?

Personally, I think the morning after pill should be available, at least with a prescription. But to have it pass through the FDA, and then have individual pharmacists sticking their noses into other people's business is simply unacceptable. That pharmacist should be fired so a lesson can be made. I mean, who made the decision to stock Wal-Mart stores with Plan-B? The pharmacist should take it up with HIM, not Wal-Mart's customer's, for God's sake. I mean, stocking the pill and then not selling it is not a very good business practice. It's like buying Humvee's for your car dealership and then not selling them because of the environment.

America the free, indeed.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Why Muslims Deny The Holocaust

Here is an interesting link to a blog that posits why Muslim's around the world deny the Holocaust. In short: They were never told about it.


Hat Tip Free Thoughts: http://freethoughts.wordpress.com/

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Bird Eye View Of The Prospect of "Palestine"

The Middle East is a quagmire of age old hatreds, bigotry, dictators, and self-fulfilling prophecies of violence that are perpetuated by families, spiritual leaders, and mafia like government officials.

Israel was planted as a seed there to help the world's Jewish community grow and re-build from the devastation of the Holocaust and WW2. The majority of the nations making up the membership of the U.N. voted for it - with a Palestinian state right alongside of it.

However, that Palestinian state was just not meant to be. Before giving it a chance to even be put on maps, surrounding Arab nations decided they just didn't want Israel to be a part of the picture, and immediately moved to wipe the new born state from the map.

Fortunately, history shows us this didn't work. Nor has it worked when tried again, and again, and again. http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0804479.html

These events have pretty much shown that a viable Palestinian state has always taken the backburner to the desire for the destruction of Israel. So, the question is, is a Palestinian state, as envisioned by the U.N. in 1948, still possible TODAY?

Idealists, left wingers, liberals, and the like will say YES, of course, if Israel ends the occupation and harsh treatment of Palestinians! However, this blogger's standpoint is that Israel's treatment of the situation has NEVER been the issue. Instead, if the Palestinians would simply stop trying to kill Israeli's, then MAYBE there could be peace and two states living in peace, side by side, like Canada and the U.S.

Then I see a well thought out and plainly non-favoritist article like this one...which says BOTH of those camps are wrong. I am persuaded by this author's arguments that the answer to the queston of a viable Palestine, unfortunately perhaps...is NO...and yes Regis, thats my FINAL answer:

(Hat tip to Rantings of a Sandmonkey: http://www.sandmonkey.org/)


"A sovereign Palestine? No chance

Three young brothers, Salam, 4, Ahmed, 7, and Osama, 9, were gunned down outside their school on the morning of December 11. They had just arrived by car when they and the driver died in a wild spray of gunfire. Four other schoolboys who happened to be nearby were wounded.

It was an assassination attempt, and it failed. The target was the boys' father, Bala Ba'lousheh, but he wasn't in the car. He was a senior Fatah official with the Palestinian Authority's intelligence service in Gaza City, and his would-be assassins were almost certainly from Hamas, the rival Palestinian political party which won power in last year's election. After the shootings, demonstrations erupted in the West Bank and Gaza. Within 48 hours, a prominent Hamas leader was shot to death in the Gaza Strip.

The level of conflict between the Palestinian parties simmers just below the level of civil war, even as the spoils keep shrinking. The open wound inspires strong reactions among millions of people around the world with no direct stake in the problem.

For the sake of reality, let's put aside whatever views and prejudices you may hold on the Palestinian question. Put aside any animosity about grasping Jews or murderous Arabs. Put aside the Holocaust, and Muslim anti-Semitism. Put aside hopes and judgements. Simply look at what has happened on the ground. Stripped of all emotion and prejudice, right and wrong, one reality becomes clear: there is no chance of a sovereign, autonomous Palestinian state. Not within our lifetimes. No chance. None.

Not only won't there be a sovereign Palestinian state, there can't be.

It's no longer viable. At every historic juncture since Israel was created in 1948, rhetoric has taken precedence over pragmatism in the Arab world. As a result, every one of these historic junctions has resulted, without exception, in material defeat for the Palestinians.
In 1948, roughly 700,000 Palestinian Arabs - the number remains contested and inexact - heeded calls from the Arab world and fled their homes in the newly proclaimed Israel. The result? The Palestinian position of 1948 now looks infinitely superior to the Palestinian position of today.

In 1967, Israel was invaded by its Arab neighbours in the Six Day War. The result? The Arabs lost control of the holy city of Jerusalem and the Palestinians went from Arab rule to Israeli control.

In 1982, after the Palestinians sparked a civil war in Lebanon, Israel invaded Lebanon and Jordan's army attacked the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The result? The Palestinians were crushed in Lebanon and Jordan and Israel fortified its position in the West Bank.

In 1987, the first Palestinian intifada began at the instigation of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and suicide bombings came to Israeli life. It lasted almost five years. The result? Israel again fortified and expanded its positions and the West Bank was divided into military-controlled subdivisions.

In 2000, Arafat launched the second intifada, his response to Israel's final offer in the Oslo peace accords. It lasted six years. The result? What the Palestinians were offered in 2000 is now impossible today, because Israel has since encircled Jerusalem with settlements housing 100,000 Jewish settlers. And Israel began building the Wall.

In 2006, Hezbollah attacked Israel, in the cause of Palestine, and Hamas and other militant elements fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, as political opposition was Islamicised. The result? Some 175 Israelis were killed by Hezbollah, for which Lebanon paid with more than 1500 dead, and Hezbollah lost its military control of southern Lebanon. It thus lost its strategic forward position for no strategic gain.

In the West Bank, the dividing fence and wall became a reality, effectively halting suicide bombings but also annexing more sections of the West Bank. Israeli military control became more intense. According to B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 1065 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in 2006, while 23 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

Everyone I spoke to while visiting Israel recently hates the wall. One prominent Palestinian moderate, Khaled Abu Toameh, who once worked for the PLO and now writes for The Jerusalem Post, told me in Jerusalem: "The wall is a tragedy. The wall is bad. It is the direct result of Yasser Arafat's intifada. It will become the wailing wall for both sides. I'm not optimistic. Not at all."

A conspicuous critic of the wall is the former US president Jimmy Carter, who, in his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, writes: "An enormous imprisonment wall is now under construction, snaking through what is left of Palestine to encompass more and more land for Israeli settlers. In many ways, it is more oppressive than what blacks lived under in South Africa during apartheid."

Compare this fenced-off community of today with 20 years ago, before the intifadas. The Palestinian workforce was integrated into the Israeli economy, with relatively free movement into Israel. Education and health systems were built, universities opened, local governments were functioning, corruption was minimal, and life expectancy had soared from 47 under Arab rule to 68. Then came Yasser Arafat and Fatah.

"Fatah is the mafia," Abu Toameh told me. "It is responsible for most of the anarchy on the West Bank. Fatah is a monster." Nor does he think much of Hamas, though he thinks it is much less corrupt, much more competent, and more pragmatic. He believes the West erred shockingly in trusting and subsiding Fatah and has now mishandled the transition to Hamas.
"But on the Muslim side, the message has always been 'No', and 'No', and 'No'. They quote the Koran: God is on the side of the patient . . .

"And what is the West Bank now? It is six Arab cities, two refugee camps, 150 villages. A series of cantons, with no economic base. And Gaza? An awful place."

And Israel? Through all the wars, terrorist bombings and threats of annihilation, and despite intense internal divisions, Israel has grown into a muscular economy of almost 7 million, with a per capita gross domestic product far higher than any Arab neighbours, including Saudi Arabia. The Jewish population has grown from 600,000 to 5.3 million, with a birthrate higher than those in Western Europe. Per capita, Israel has the most engineers and the most high-tech economy in the world.

Untold damage would be done to this economy if one anti-aircraft missile, fired from the West Bank, brought down an airliner flying out of the futuristic new Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel can't afford to let this happen.

Sixty years of years of "No" has put an end to a sovereign Palestinian state, indefinitely. This pawn has been sacrificed in a much larger game.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Condem The Saddam Hussein Execution

I hereby state that I condemn Saddam's execution, and I don't believe that the U.S. and its partners have so far acted in good faith when it comes to this situation.

Yes, Saddam Hussein is responsible for hundreds and thousands of deaths. However, I oppose our attacking his regime, arresting him, and executing him, for the same reason I oppose the incarceration of nazi's in Europe.

The reason is: why him? There are hundreds and thousands, and probably more, of leaders and other people who do as much or more harm then him. Darfur, Somalia, China, India...all these places have brutality that barely see's the light of day. So why did we single out Saddam for punishment? Because it served our own agenda. Because we could. Because Saddam was an embarrassment to the world...and its partially America's fault...at LEAST partially. We're the ones who helped his struggle against Iran...and then in turn helped Iran so Saddam couldn't really defeat them.

And then we turn around 20 years later and invade his country on FALSE PRETENSES. Yes, lets remember the fact that the reason Saddam has been executed is because the U.S. led an invasion into his country that:

1. Was predicated on fabricated evidence, i.e. WMD
2. Has led to a sectarian war that has killed close to or more than 100,000 iraqis...more than Saddam EVER KILLED
3. Has actually ruined America's position and dominance in the world, and led to a greater call for Jihad.

So, I am inclined to oppose the right of our country to that initial invasion, and everything that followed after. I just don't see it as justified.

Oh, and the reason I don't condone the arresting of nazi's in Europe is...why just them? There are nazis all around the the world, especially surrounding Israel (or the equivalent of nazis), but they are given carte blanche to hate Jews and conspire against them. So, I don't think its fair that Jew haters in Europe have to pay for their stupidity while others around the world don't. For example, nazis aren't arrested in America! So, I just see it as a mechanism for Europe to continually expunge its guilt for the role it played in WW2. But it doesn't really serve justice, so no, I don't think it should could continue.

UN Chief A Hollow Puppet

The UN specifically stands against the death penalty...as I do. So, the recent Saddam spectacle should be condemned by both them and myself...except the the new UN Chief, Ban Ki-Moon, might not actually be aware of the UN's position...even though he is now Chief of that world body:

"THE new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has backed away from the UN's opposition to the death penalty, saying the execution of Saddam Hussein was a matter for individual countries.

Addressing reporters on his first day as Secretary-General he said: "Saddam Hussein was responsible for committing heinous crimes and unspeakable atrocities against the Iraqi people." However, he added that all countries should pay due regard "to all aspects of international humanitarian laws".

This contrasts with a long-held position of the UN of opposing the death penalty."

I had my doubts about this guy, Mr. Moon that is, from the start. I know nothing about this guy...but what I DO know is that the UN is one of the most corrupt organizations on the planet, run by scoundrels, and the last Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has more dirty skeletons in his closet than Richard Nixon. Hell, the Oil-For-Food scandal blew up all around him, but he didn't get touched...probably because he had dirt on so many people that no one dared finger him.

(The Oil-For-Food scandal involved the funnelling of billions of dollars through the UN and to UN officials to make them see past Saddam's illegal selling of oil for personal profit, rather than diverting that profit to help the citizens of his country.)

So, the above history leads me to believe that no UN official in their right mind would want to a Secretary General that WASN'T corrupt. So, Ban Ki-Moon is highly suspect. Not to mention his personal bungling of the UN's long-held ban on the death penalty.

So, Mr. Moon, I'll be watching you...and you don't fool me.