Archive | human rights RSS feed for this section

Update: Arizona’s Law of Hatred

11 May

On August 24, 2010 Phil Gordon, the Democatic Mayor of the City of Phoenix since 2004, wrote a column in the Washington Post denouncing the anti-immigration law as “ugly” and “discriminatory”. Five days later, Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act into law.

Interesting to me is this quote from Gordon’s column:

“Our state is frustrated. We have become ground zero in the battle over illegal immigration because of years of lapsed federal border security. This week that frustration exploded, thanks to hateful political opportunists such as state Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of the legislation, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is already under investigation by the federal Justice Department for alleged violations of civil rights.

Pearce and Arpaio — two men who are to Arizona law enforcement what George Wallace was to Alabama government — care less about capturing human smugglers and drug cartel gunmen than they do about capturing headlines. And in a state with a far-right legislature that is increasingly out of step with an increasingly moderate population, they’re also out of step with the rules of basic civility.” [Bold is mine]

Posted from Chandler, Arizona, May 11, 2010

Share

Advertisements

Arizona’s Law of Hatred

10 May

Mami is a Mexican-American. Not just an American, but an American with a qualifier: Mexican. The Great Melting Pot has been showing cracks similar to those in the Liberty Bell for a long time, but now a sledgehammer is making some very serious dents in it.

A sledgehammer blow came on Thursday night, April 29, 2010 when Governor Jan Brewer signed an Act “Relating to unlawfully present aliens”. (The full text of the Act is here in .pdf format.) On the last page of the law it says, “This act may be cited as the ‘Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act’”.

Horse manure. Here is the kicker in the Act that gives Arizona lawmen the ability to violate a U.S. citizen’s civil rights:

“For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”

The bolding is mine because these terms are wide open to interpretation both on the street and in a courtroom. Explain to me, for example, what “Beyond a reasonable doubt” means when a judge is instructing a jury. Few, if any, understand it, and that includes yours truly.

Because Mami’s skin color is brown, she is a prime candidate for what boils down to search and seizure of her person. I don’t have to worry about it, though, because my skin color is a sickly, pasty white. This could change sometime in the future, however, if I refuse to salute the neo-Nazi flag.

J.T. Ready, on the left, with Russell Pearce, author of the Immigration Law.

This is where the hatred part comes in. State Representative Russell Pearce, who authored the new law, is a friend of J.T. Ready, who in turn is one of Arizona’s leading neo-Nazis. According to an article on Crooks and Liars.com, “At a June [2010] anti-illegal demonstration at the state Capitol, Ready and Pearce worked the crowd arm-in-arm.”

J.T. Ready, second from the right in the suit, at a neo-Nazi rally in Omaha, Nebraska in 2007.

A report in the Phoenix New Times on September 9, 2007, had this to say about Ready:

“For anyone who’s doubted J.T.’s National Socialist bona fides, especially after he outed himself on NewSaxon.com, the neo-Nazi MySpace, his participation in this rally is about as blatant as it gets.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Add another hate-monger to the group: Sheriff Joe Arpaio is noted for his unannounced “sweeps” of suspected undocumented immigrants in suspected businesses and drop houses. So unannounced that local police departments are not informed and have no idea what illegal activity by the Sheriff’s Department is going on in their own jurisdictions.

U.S.A. founder Rusty Childress with Sheriff Joe, inside the MCSO’s taped-off command post on March 21, 2008.

Does Arpaio have ties to neo-Nazi groups? Yes. Arpaio is friends with Rusty Childress, founder of USA, “United for a Sovereign America”. When pressed by the New Phoenix Times in an exhaustive report on May 14, 2009, Arpaio  said, “Childress is a good guy”.

I have barely touched the tip of a filthy iceberg.  As I was researching this post one link would lead to another link, immersing me in some very dark and sick corners of the Internet. If you have been following dates of photos and articles, the hatred of our elected officials for those of Latino heritage has been around much longer than the law that purports to be about supporting law enforcement and making our neighborhoods safe.  What we have, in effect, is a go to jail free card for anyone with brown skin without any Federal interference.

Criticism of the state of Arizona is more than justified, but don’t be fooled. The state of Texas is considering a similar law, and White Supremacist groups thrive in every state of America. For a country that did not recognize black-skinned people as equal humans until 1964,  it appears that we are regressing rather than progressing.

Posted from Chandler, Arizona, May 1o, 2o1o

Share

A Mandate for the Malicious

19 Aug

 The Register are covering the story of John Pinnington, a former headmaster who has lost his job because an enhanced security check revealed unsubstantiated rumours about him.

“A recent landmark ruling by the High Court takes the UK one step closer to becoming an “informant society” along the lines of the former East Germany or Soviet Union.”

I have no idea about the veracity of the allegations against Mr Pinnington, but the idea that someone’s life can be ruined by little more than tittle tattle is not only shocking, but against everything the UK legal system is supposed to stand for. I have children at school so of course I agree with security checks, but I’m more concerned about dedicated and talented teachers leaving the education system only to be replaced by those who are squeaky clean but otherwise second rate.

Teaching is a poorly paid occupation with, in many cases, a high level of stress and responsibility. At the time of writing, the profession finds it hard to recruit graduates with good degrees. Adding yet another disincentive will only serve to further deter the very people who would be of most benefit to young minds. Why on earth would these people want to teach when they can earn considerably more doing a job which does not expose them to the risk of public humiliation and ruin!

What is (or should be) of concern to us all is the idea that an individual is no longer considered innocent unless proven guilty – a system which has served us well for centuries – instead gossip and spite are seen as proof of guilt. In an ideal world, no one would ever make false allegations against another person. However, out here in the real world people do, even children. The law should serve to protect the innocent from such claims, not to give a mandate to the malicious.

David Davies resigns on point of principle

12 Jun

David Davies, Conservative MP and shadow home secretary has resigned following the government victory in the 42 day detention vote.

“He told reporters outside the Commons: ‘I will argue in this by-election against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government.'”

Read the full story

Why I Must Learn French

16 May

I am thinking that I must learn to speak french. I don’t just mean “Bonjour” and a spattering of phrases I’m talking chattering away in french as if there was nothing to it.

I feel I must because I want the option to get the hell out of the UK when it completes it’s transformation into a nazi state.

They can fingerprint me and record personal data about me if I commit a crime but not otherwise. I do not see a good reason to hand over every form of data about me to a group that can not even keep my name and address a secret.

Let me tell you about that.

When I wrote “Open Letter to The British Government Regarding the Loss of Sensitive Personal Information on every household with a child under 16 years old.” it was with the hope that I would be able to show just how badly the govenment does not understand IT.

I pointed to a free peace of technology that would allow me to store whatever I felt on a hard drive tot he point that all of MI5 with the help of the CIA, the FBI or any number of 1337 script kiddies would never be able to break into with plausible deniability to it’s existence in the first place. I officially have no encrypted volumes and I do not store notes in them.

Meanwhile as regular power users are able to store our data so safely that even if you steal our computers you will find nothing at all the Government idea of secure is text based password. Even vista has disk encryption as standard (if you switch it on).

So let’s talk about your password protect file that I (in theory) have on my theoretical hard drive.

A dictionary attack will open most files inside six minutes – that’s just enough time to fix a cup of coffee. Failing that if I know what some of the locked text says (or if I can see the encrypted password) a rainbow table attack will break most very quickly.

Let’s talk password locks for a moment. Not all password protected files are unreadable it is just that the software asks you to give the password. All I need to know is the file format (or a good guess at it) and I’ll have half the content out of the file while you were scratching your head.

Let me remind you that a dedicated attacker with access to criminal “botnets” (used by many kinds of “cyber criminal” for activities such as blackmail, spamming, Distributed Denial of Service attacks or “brute force” password attempts) or other large co-operative systems might be able to make the work of years in to the work of a few days. With access to a modern Mainframe computer this can be done many times quicker still.

So while the UK govenment does not even understand how to make safe use of passwords I know how to make my files unfindable forever – forget trying to break in – you have to find it first.

No let us talk network security. Most networks are secured using passwords. All I need to break in is (a) to guess your password, (b) trick the password out of you, (c) steal the password using a virus, keylogger or other malware or (d) use “smart” brute force methods to systematically guess a password. If I don’t fancy any of that lot I can look for an exposed computer that is not up to date and exploit it or I could get a job (I have no criminal record) or pay someone else to get a job working inside or I couldblackmail a junior worker, line manager or similar. Frankly there are more ways into a govenment network than there are people working on that network.

If I’m good I might even set up some back doors to the system and document all flaws for next time.

There is no way that a system so badly set up that disks are sent in the post with nothing more than a human generated password to “lock them” is secure. I would bet money that there are right now over one hundred ways into every file the government keeps.

So when they indicate that they want to keep track of enough data that someone with half my skills could get at and then use to pretend to be me I know it is time to give up my citizenship and move out.

Don’t even get me started on the privacy and human rights side of the debate…

Literacy and communication

23 Apr

Google’s blog is highlighting today the importance of World Book Day and The Literacy Project.

Its shocking to think that 1 in 5 adults is illiterate. But as I reminded someone at a party on Saturday night, even if the WHOLE world was literate, a world without books is useless. And Google is doing good by joining UNESCO is attacking the nexus of the problem, books spawn literacy and vice versa, and that is often forgotten.

When I was in High School, I remember going to debate in township schools, and invariably the debate would happen in the ‘library’. I use this term partially, since most of these rooms had few if any reading materials, let alone books. Generally there were government sex education comics, a couple of bibles, and possibly a few donated books; but the sheer LACK of books shocked me, and reminded me that literacy without something to read is useless; it becomes nothing but a perfunctory aspect of government action, and not the development of a educated civic collective.

Couple that shock of a LACK of books, with the abundance of books and bookshops in the UK. I never fail to be amazed at how much reading is going on in the UK. It’s great for the health of that nation, as an outsider, and surely provides them with a national competitive edge far beyond Monty Python sketches and good television.

Literacy with books leads to better communication. And in an increasingly globalised and competitive world driven by information, and subsequently knowledge, we can’t ignore the VITAL nature of good communication (and therefore literacy) in the battle for competitiveness.

Literacy, like the free market, is not a zero sum game. Like trade, the more literate actors in the ‘market’ of ideas communicated in local communities and the world, comes to benefit all communities in ever greater extends.

Considering this then, should we not be considering the inclusion of literacy as a basic human right. To deny someone access to the well of human ideas, is no different to the denial of good drinking water to the thirsting man. He might be able to survive on muddy waters, but he will only thrive if he has access to the true benefits of the written word, and the education that provides.

The revolution of the printing press cannot overthrow the dangerous ideas in the third world until populations are literate and educated.

It then is a great fear that governments hide their populations from truth by keeping them in a perpetual uneducated, yet partially literate (i.e. no books – such as in many [sadly most] schools in South Africa) state, so as to ensure a fearful and sheepish populace which can be stretched, beaten and oppressed without the knowledge that a better existence awaits them should they strive for freedom and the removal of despots and tyranny.

Zimbabwe in a state of intimidation

22 Apr

With arms at sea, it looks like the Zimbabwean government is going to step up the violence and intimidation to ensure that any form of run off election held in the country for the presidency will ensure the sort of land slide victory Robert Mugabe has come to expect.

With 10 opposition supports already murdered, and thousands suffering under brutal violence and intimidation, how can a democratic election be expected to take place in a society in crisis?

With Britain and the West condemning Mugabe, the question has to be asked what can, and what will be done to stop what looks to be an inevitable human rights crisis?

The sad truth is that Zimbabwe is already a human rights crisis: effective inflation of over 100 000% p.a., 80% unemployment, over the half of the country are refugees to other countries in the region, like my home, South Africa; what is left in Zimbabwe to ruin?

It is shocking that in the modern world a catastrophe of governance such as Mugabe’s Zimbabwe should be allowed to remain. If Zimbabwe were next to the vast majority of countries in the world, some act of intervention would have taken place. But South African president Thabo Mbeki has done nothing: and whilst his own party the ANC does nothing to impeach him – even they agree that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe and something must be done.

The miracle of Zimbabwe is that less blood has been shed. It speaks to the levels of institutional oppression and legacy of colonialism in the country that a task master of such evil proportions as Mugabe could go on so long without a street based rebellion. Had South Africa such a criminal leader, the people would riot and oust the dictator, as they would in most states…

This illustrates the need of the military to keep Mugabe in power, and thus protect themselves from prosecution for the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s after the war of independence, instigated by Mugabe and his military chiefs.

It is terrible to see despots and genocidal militarists go free, but it is worse to see a country run to ruin. Whilst on a different level (the Apartheid regime resisted freedom but never slaughtered or perpetuated genocide; simply unequal separation), the Zimbabwean opposition needs to offer a truth and reconciliation style amnesty to the Big Men of Zimbabwe, as South Africa’s ANC did with the Apartheid regime, to grease the wheels of change and heal the wounds of the nation.

It is a cruel irony, that the country known as the bread basket of Africa, is not able to obtain the vast influxes of wealth the country would have seen had it not fallen to ruin, as global wheat and maize prices soar.

Now what remains of Zimbabwe must be guided through the fires of chaos that surround them, and hopefully into a future without despotism and bloodshed.

If that is possible considering Mugabe’s cruel grip on power, is another matter entirely.