Tag Archive | "ACLU"

The Trojan Horse in Your Home

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According to the legendary ancient Greek epic poet Homer, during the ten-year siege of Troy, the Greeks plotted to invade their enemies by leaving a giant wooden horse at the gates of Troy.  This “gift horse” was carefully timed to coincide with what appeared to be a recession of the Greek fleet.  Assuming that the gargantuan equine was a peace offering, the Trojans opened their gates and rolled the horse inside.  In the dead of night, a team of thirty select Greeks quietly stole out of the horse and reopened the gates to their own armada that destroyed Troy.


Since that time, the term “Trojan Horse” refers to trickery or sleight-of-hand conducted with ill intent.  In the computer world, a “Trojan Horse” refers to malevolent computer programs (“malware”) that appear to be useful or harmless.  They induce the user to install and run them and thereby, seriously compromise, crash, or totally obliterate the user’s system.


Herein lies the crux of this article.  By having a computer system linked to the World Wide Web, have we invited foes into our homes?


I recently heard on the radio that a school in Pennsylvania gave every one of its students a free Apple laptop computer without notifying them that it could reveal what the students were doing at school or home, whenever the school decided to access its video cameras linked to those laptops.  The school’s treachery was revealed when its administrators interrogated one student concerning his use of drugs.  Needless to say, when the student informed his parents of this occurrence, the question arose as to whether or not this constituted a violation of the student’s civil rights.


If this could happen to a student, via a body of adults that he and his parents trusted implicitly, the question arises as to how widespread this problem may be. Legally, the issue impacts not only the unwary user but also the manufacturer(s) of the computer and videocam, the Internet provider, and those who supplied the laptop to the student.   If you think you’re immune to such deception, consider how many times you have agreed to terms of software utilization and access, via the Internet, without actually reading all of the terms.


The PC may be the greatest learning tool in recent history, but at what cost?  Is your personal business at risk? Once the foe has access to your home and its possessions, you are at his mercy.  It’s twenty-six years after George Orwell’s prognostications about “1984” have come and gone, and it appears that the author was correct.  “Big Brother” is indeed watching!


Our Constitution guarantees us freedom from illegal searches and seizures, but how many times have you heard that someone who has been accused of a crime has had his computer impounded by law enforcement authorities?  If the presumption of “innocent until found guilty” is the basis for our law, and if the Constitution protects us against invasions of this nature, what exactly is going on here, and why is it going on?  Is this part of the Patriot Act now expanding into avenues it was never intended to survey?


Finally, we have a subject into which the ACLU can really sink its sharp little incisors.  If the ACLU is so concerned with safeguarding our inalienable rights, let them examine the legality of cyberspace agreements and malware programs.   Let them then push to institute laws that would protect PC users — nearly every American above the age of two — from pitfalls such as these.


Your files on your PC contain what you are and who you are: your thoughts, your opinions, your desires, the sites you enter, the products you purchase, your banking documents, ad infinitum.  You may consider these aspects of your life to be highly personal and accessible only by the use of a password.  Consider again how private they really are if a Trojan Horse in the guise of a malicious program or an unscrupulous party should be left at your gateway to the Internet. 

Nailed to the Cross: Christianity Under Attack

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Nailed to the Cross

In the latest annals of “Let’s get real,” we turn to the travesty that occurred recently in Italy.  Recently, an Italian court was forced to remunerate “moral damages” of 5,000 lire (approximately $7,400 in U.S. dollars) to one Soile Latusi, a Finnish immigrant who had achieved Italian citizenship and who had sued the nation for the right to remove crucifixes displayed in her children’s public school classrooms.   The ruling in favor of Latusi (who is not, as you may suspect Catholic) came not from an Italian tribunal but from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg. Said court declared that the image of Christ upon the cross sullied the principles of secular education, as per their following proclamation:

 

“The presence of the crucifix could be … disturbing for pupils who practiced other religions or were atheists, particularly if they belonged to religious minorities. The compulsory display of [such symbols] … restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”

 

How could this happen in Italy, a country so staunchly Catholic that the most pious of all earthy realms, the Vatican, chose to establish itself within The Boot’s own borders?  It happened, ostensibly, out of a need to shield young minds from iconography that differed from their own, from exposure to a religion not their own.  Beyond the ostensible, what really happened in Italy last week?  And what, in fact, has been happening to Christianity over the last decade?   Christianity is, in this writer’s eyes, under systematic attack.

 

Before anyone snatches up a sword and a shield to set off on a Crusade, bear with me while I make this honest confession, prior to supporting my convictions with further proof.  Born into the Catholic faith, I made a well-considered decision to leave the Church many years ago.  I hold no allegiance to the Catholic Church, or rather, to the men designated by other men to direct the faithful here on the earthly plane.  I do, however, hold fast to my intelligence as well as my spirituality, the latter of which is defined by my personal relationship with God, and not by any organized religion.

 

What occurred in Italy recently had its precedent established in October 2003 when a zealot, Mr. Adel Smith of the Union of Muslims of Italy, demanded that the crucifixes hanging in the secular classrooms of his child be removed.  In addition to the elimination of the crucifixes, Smith (a convert of Islam hailing from a Scots heritage) insisted that prayers from the Koran be displayed in his child’s school.  He made additional demands deeply insulting to Catholicism, Italian culture, and Renaissance art, demands that were refuted.  The victory that he did win, however, was the obliteration of Christ, hanging in silent effigy over the school children, depicting the moment after he commended his spirit unto the Lord.

 

Hold onto your outrage for one more moment, please, because what happened on our own shores surely must have put the wind beneath Adel Smith’s wings along with the bats in his belfry.  In the summer of 2000, a court in Wyandotte county removed a statue of the Ten Commandments adorning a public area in Kansas City.  The court took this extraordinary action so as to waylay a lawsuit threatened by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), which was once, in my estimation, an organization of integrity and good intent.  The ACLU, you see, asserted that since the Commandments violated the Constitution’s edict of separation between church and state, God’s law must topple from public display.

 

Applying the Wyandotte wedge, the ACLU later achieved the same dismantling at a courthouse in Miles City, Montana (September 2003).  Two month later, it repeated this act when it convinced U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to remove the Commandments in the State judicial building in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence, who chooses to read the Ten Commandments objectively rather than as a religious manifesto, can see that they represent a code of honor, a code upon which our justice system is based — particularly the directives that address theft, slander, and murder.

 

The Bible postulates that the Commandments, emblazoned on two stone tablets, were handed down directly from God (Yahweh) to Moses.  If we remove the Commandments as Commandments, we thus remove God from the equation.  And if we remove God from the justice system as well as our school systems — if we, in effect, obliterate a higher power — to whom, then, are human beings accountable?  To each other?  To those who wage war upon each other in the name of religion?

 

Islam, for those uneducated in is tenets, is not a violent religion; Mohammed never established it as such.  He founded the Five Pillars of his religion upon the Golden Rule manifested in the Ten Commandments and further strengthened by the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Mohammed urged his followers to honor the prophets of both Judaism and Christianity; for upon the beliefs of those faiths, he created his own.  Any disciple of Islam who truly follows the Koran, as opposed to propaganda that oppresses and twists its truths, knows this to be true.

 

Christianity was born out of the belief in a God that did not judge; a God that forgave.  No records exist of Jesus Christ’s whereabouts between his 30th and 33rd years upon this earth (the 33rd being the year that he was crucified). Conjecture has it that during that time, Jesus made a pilgrimage to the East, to study religion there.  The very principles of Christianity seem to support the thinking that this faith is based not completely, but largely, upon the doctrines of Buddhism.

 

If the world’s great faiths are truly interrelated, if all of them honor a being or beings greater than ourselves, what then, is all the fuss about?  In honoring Mohammed as well as Jesus Christ and Buddha, the crucifixes must remain in place, as must the Ten Commandments.  If the human race cannot see past the icons and rituals of individual religions to the very heart of each faith, and the increasingly pressing need to live by that Golden Rule, we are forever doomed to wage jihads and crusades.  We are forever doomed to walk this earth in a deep-seated mistrust, resentment, and ultimately, hatred of each other.  We are forever doomed to a world besieged by violence conducted in the name of religion.  Is this the world that we want to leave our children?

 

For those interested in my sources for this article, I provide you with the following few links:

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8340411.stm

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/03/italy-classroom-crucifixes-human-rights

 

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j7ePwV7h1sb1YI9XU_nt7Ui3m_iAD9BO3LR01

 

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1103/p06s24-woeu.html

 

http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/10-26-2003-46959.asp

 

http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/08/27/ten.commandments/

 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,98267,00.html

 

http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=5235

Choices, Choices!

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Language Choices

Considered Unconstitutional, our politically correct society shuns certain words, phrases, and symbols as if they were nuclear waste.  However, these same phrases are not only allowed to exist, but seem to be celebrated in everyday transactions.

 

Consider, for instance, how often an automated telephone system, a check-out station at the supermarket, or the U.S. Postal Service asks you to choose between, ” English or Español.”  A tide of immigrants hailing from many lands built the United States.  Therefore, one wonders what happened to the rest of the ethnic groups that comprise our country.  Could these omissions be discriminatory?

 

In other nations, when one wishes to conduct everyday transactions, there is simply no choice of language.  Allow me to illustrate.  In 2001, I journeyed to Spain and Portugal.  In Spain, I purchased some merchandise, which I attempted to mail home via the postal service.  To perform this ordinary act, I was required to fill out a document in Spanish:  a task beyond my ability, as I possessed no knowledge of that language.  I asked for help, but no one in the postal service spoke English.  As a last resort, I threw myself upon the mercy of the desk clerk at my hotel; having been schooled in my native tongue, he was able to assist me.  Political correctness had nothing to do with my transaction; I simply had no other choice.

 

On home soil, it is a different story.  Evidently, the ACLU has turned a blind eye to the right to choose in the business world.  While attempting to pay for my groceries at a self-service station in a local supermarket, the machine asked me to choose “English or Español.”  Although the only real choice I could make was English, I still felt as if I’d been given the cold shoulder by the PC (Politically Correct) who walk among us.  As an Italian-American, my ethnic group was not represented.   Why was no love shown for those whose ancestors gave the world the Sistine Chapel, baked ziti, and Sophia Loren?

 

While we’re on the subject, why was no love shown for Indians, Africans, or the remaining plethora of our melting pot culture?  A person could get a serious complex trying to pay for his groceries!   Just think of all the potential lawsuits claiming mental cruelty by those of us left out in the cold.   To remedy this situation, checkout options should be altered to “English or the Language of your Choice.”   Imagine the delight of the multicultural throngs welcomed by machines speaking their native tongues.  Imagine the joyous noise made by the cash registers as thousands flock to buy preservatives, I mean, groceries.  More sales mean more jobs.  Now that’s a Stimulus Package if ever I saw one!

 

Envision the added benefits.  At the touch of a button, or a hundred buttons, shopping would become an educational experience.  In the time that it takes their wares to be scanned and bagged, young and old alike could learn different languages.    Forget store coupons; think of the savings to be had when one is not constrained to purchase the Rosetta Stone series of linguistic lessons.

 

The benefits could be multiplied if shoppers were given the choice of paying in dollars, yen, rubles, shekels, rupees, or other currencies; they would learn the true value of the money they possess.   Wouldn’t this be loads more fun that simply shelling out our hard-earned cash?   With all of these choices, we’d feel like contestants on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” 

 

But why confine the fun to the grocery store?  We should spread the entertainment around, starting with the wonderful world of credit cards.  Dialing our credit card companies, the robot could advise us to press 1 for English, 2 for Portuguese, 3 for Swahili, 4 for Norwegian, 5 for Native American (5-a for Sioux, 5-b for Navajo, 5-c for Chippewa, etc.), 6 for Mongolian, ad infinitum.   As an added bonus, the extra time we’d spend on the line waiting for our language to pop up would generate higher phone bills, thus putting more money into the hands of the underprivileged telecom providers.  Thus, we can pay our debts and contribute to humanity in one fell swoop.  What a party that would be!

 

So, if you want to make this world a better place and have a barrel of fun while doing so, write to your Congressman or Congresswoman.  Put the screws to them to change “Español” to “Language / Currency of Your Choice!”

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