Author: winter b

Morning Feature: The Rights We’ve Always Had?

Community college student Yassir Afifi didn’t want a legal debate on privacy. He just wanted an oil change. After his mechanic found an odd device on the car, Afifi posted a photo online asking if anyone recognized it. Then the FBI came to his apartment. They wanted their GPS tracker back. (More) Yassir Afifi had no idea the FBI had installed a GPS tracker in his car. Neither did a judge, because the FBI had no warrant. Under a Ninth Circuit decision, U.S. v. Pineda-Moreno (2010), law enforcement agents don’t need a search warrant to sneak into your driveway at night and install a GPS tracker under your car. Well, they might if you’re rich. If you have a fence or hedges that enclose your front lawn and driveway, then the 9th Circuit said you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. But if you’re an ordinary American whose driveway is open to the street, apparently you can’t afford the Fourth Amendment. As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in dissent to the 9th Circuit’s denial of en banc rehearing: The very rich will still be able to protect their privacy with the aid of electric gates, tall fences, security booths, remote cameras, motion sensors and roving patrols, but the vast majority of the 60 million people living in the Ninth Circuit will see their privacy materially diminished by the panel’s...

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Furthermore! – The Trophy takes a Trophy

This is a progressive site, and therefore it’s hardly surprising to find out I’m a tree-hugger who absolutely loathes trophy hunting and trophy hunters. But what happens when the trophy takes a trophy? And what do we learn from this? (More) My notion of trophy hunters is probably incredibly biased, and negatively so. Have at me if you want. But it seems to me people who can spend multiple thousands of dollars to go to Africa (the dream of a lifetime for me, never to be afforded) probably have more time and money on their hands than they know what to do with. Particularly so those for whom this isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime trip. They certainly show little compassion for animals, little concern for the environment. They are motivated primarily by the thrill of killing something, the hunt, the stalking, and — let’s face it — the idea of having a trophy to hang on the wall and some great stories to tell friends over brandy. That’s really what it’s all about. I don’t want to hear about how it’s man at his most natural, and it’s sporting. It stopped being sporting when we developed the rifle. You want to be sporting, you go out and go hand-to-paw or head-to-horn with that animal. Don’t stand safely off in the distance, sight in with your high-powered scope and shoot the thing while it’s lazing around....

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Midday Matinee – Privacy… Got any?

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. How much does your privacy mean to you? Apparently it’s not worth much. We’ve all seen the “paranoid” movies like The Net or Enemy of the State and probably enjoyed the suspense and adventure. And then we went home and forgot about it. And I know I, for one, have taken comfort in the fact that no matter how big the computers get, there’s still too much data to be analyzed, even by a machine. Think of the embarrassment of the agents who showed up at a woman’s house after she’d made the mistake of e-mailing a friend that her child’s play had been a bomb. In fact, I make it a habit on the phone any time I use a word like that, or start getting hot under the collar about some political issue, to pause and say, “Hello, NSA. How are you guys today?” Just because it amuses me. My life is a pretty open book. I don’t have any secrets: print it all on the front of my local paper. I’ve committed no crimes, I am involved in no nefarious plots, and my underwear is all white cotton, a few with holes. I take prescription medications, I haven’t had a pain pill for anything in well over...

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Midday Matinee – Waffen SS?

Richard Iott, Republican candidate for Congress in Ohio, has gotten some flack for his weekend hobby of WWII reenactment. He said it was something his son was interested in and he did it as a “bonding experience.” Puh-leeze. (More) Civil War reenactors probably don’t understand all the hoopla, because, as one said, “you need two sides to reenact a battle.”  True. We’ll leave aside for the moment the glorification of war that comes from these things … although I’m fairly sure I’ll get back to it eventually. A lot of people are upset because Iott chose to be a Nazi. Others claim he was just playing a German soldier, and it was for the purposes of reenactment. I’ll be the first to say I have no beef with the ordinary German footsoldier. He was a man called to the service of his country, just as many others were from many other countries. But that brings me back to the whole problem of reenactment. (See, I said I’d get back to it.) Reenactment isn’t real. It doesn’t even approach real. It’s a bunch of people who put on uniforms and go out and play in the woods for a day or a week. They shoot blank rounds at each other, march around, pretend to get wounded, pretend to win. Pretend is the operative word here. There is not one single...

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Midday Matinee – Stranger in a strange land

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. I’ve been getting tired lately, emotionally tired. It’s really vexing me, though, because I never wanted to turn into one of those crabby old ladies who remember the past nostalgically and condemn the present with the words, “In my day…” Sadly, I’m in danger of getting there. I look around me now and see a level of incivility, a level of ugliness in public discourse that was seldom tolerated when I was younger. I find myself wondering just where we went wrong, at what point it became okay for someone driving a Mercedes to roll down her car window and spew invective at a beggar holding a sign on a corner. When did it become okay for people to push and shove, criticize others’ appearance, yell at counter clerks, and just generally turn the atmosphere even more toxic than it is already? It’s been exhausting lately. I’m tired of it. I want to hunker down away from people and simply lick my wounds, or at best not risk another set simply by going out among humanity. Unfortunately, I”m making calls for GOTV, which kind of puts me on the hook. I have to make contact with my fellow earthlings. But what happened to a polite hang-up, rather than a cuss word and a slam? Guess that vanished...

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