Getting a Chokehold on the Internet

Internet Kill Switch

Leaders everywhere fervently pray for a “kill switch” for the Internet. Many of them undoubtedly have projects underway, or perhaps have completed such projects, within the bounds of their reach. Governments and like entities that would exercise control over information have good reason to be concerned about control of the Internet, in the wake of Wikileaks and the Arab Spring. As a result, we, the people who would be controlled in such a manner, should become more aware of Internet control issues.

The Internet was designed, perhaps diabolically in the minds of the military industrial complex that funded its development, to resist being cut off or broken. Internet protocols will try endlessly to find any route possible that will get around road blocks and interruptions that are thrown in the way of the flow of information. The Internet (capital I) is not one network, but a network of thousands of smaller internets (lowercase i) that are autonomously operated. These smaller networks include cable companies, phone companies, Internet transit companies such as Level(3), and “ISP”s, all of which are potentially dispensable and not critical to the operation if the Internet. Even users have choice in how they connect. If you home connection is shut off, there is the Internet cafe, etc. This decentralized design was intentional, and does have the effect of resisting centralized control. And who would want centralized control anyway? Only those who would control the flow of information. Just what we don’t want. Right? One would hope.

This was all very obvious to users of the early Internet. But many users have come on board since the commercialization of the Internet who have no clue what the Internet really is, how it works, or why it was designed the way it is. This lack of awareness is, as is often the case, a threat to our freedom. Some education is in order. The need, and a partial solution, is manifested in the recently formed “Chokepoint Project“.

Introducing the Chokepoint Project

On February 27th, 2011, the order was given to “turn off” the Internet in Egypt, limiting communications and voiding commerce conducted online. Egyptian Internet services resumed on February 2nd. Fastforward just a few weeks later, this time Libya commences its disconnect February 18th, with a blackout occurring March 4th.

Shutting down the Internet in two countries sent shock-waves across the world. We also  heard people like American Senator Liberman asking for access to a similar kill switch. These actions force us all to ask ‘Who owns The Internet?” and what are the implications of the said controls over connectivity and scenarios for their use?

If you believe the Internet is not something that can or should be soley controlled by politicians or people inside the higher echelons of nation states, resulting in situations like Egypt and Libya, we’d love to tell you about what we are building.

The Choke Point Project addresses the events of recent months with the clear aim of mapping nodes of Internet connectivity and who maintains their control and what this may mean. We believe there is the need for a more decentralized Internet beyond the complete control of nation states and corporate influence.

A quick look at the Chokepoint Website leaves the impression that it is produced by individuals who never knew a world without the Internet, and do not fully grasp what it is or how it fits (and does not fit) with the world in which we live. Nor are the issues of privacy and control apparently fully grasped. But it’s an important start. It’s important work, and there are many who need to be educated to the threat that controlling power poses. One is immediately concerned that a road map is being produced that will greatly assist those who would exercise control over the Internet. But knowledge is power, more so when placed in the hands of the public than when placed in the hands of insulated power-mad bureaucrats and their minions.

Choke Point Project Introductory Video

Still Here, No Rapture

It’s now 45 minutes after the time scheduled for the start of “the rapture” by Family Radio.

I’m still here, in the New York City area, and there’s no sign of the rapture.

Perhaps it’s just arriving late.

Not that I think “the rapture” would be a bad thing. It’s just that it’s not happening right now.

Keeping ’em honest.

– Rex

Medical Marijuana a States Rights Issue

Just after completing the “How “Medical Marijuana” Scams Pot Users” blog, I scanned the Denver Post and found an article about the clash between states with medical marijuana laws and federal law, which criminalizes marijuana. As mentioned in the previous blog, this puts registered users at considerable risk. Perhaps greater risk than if they continued to use black market pot, instead of coming in from the cold.

It’s not to difficult to find articles about “medical marijuana” or just “marijuana” in The Denver Post. Search for it, and you’ll come up with an average of two articles a day. That’s nearly twice the number of articles found in the New York Times, with its national scope. The more local New York Post ran only one story in the past week where marijuana was the main topic. But, The Star Ledger in New Jersey, where marijuana possession is even more rigorously prosecuted than in New York, averaged over two stories daily in which marijuana played a prominent role over the past week.

Meanwhile, the states rights issue is the elephant in the room when it comes to medical marijuana and the conflict between state and federal law.

Ever since the 16th Amendment to the constitution was floated, allowing for the establishment of the IRS, discontent has festered in some corners of the Union. Wikipedia lists Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah as states that rejected that amendment and never ratified it. Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia never even considered the amendment. By accounts other than Wikipedia, there were other states that did not ratify the amendment either.

The issue has not gone away, and continues to be at the top of states rights issues. In 2009, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told and anti-tax rally crowd at Austin City Hall that “…the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending, and debit”. He was met with shouts of “Secede!” Texans have other beefs with the feds that have elevated the prospect of secession, as well.

Similar rumblings have been heard in many corners of the United States, and some say that there is a quiet agreement among a dozen or more states that formal moves to secession will be made should states rights face further erosion at the hands of the feds. Meanwhile, it is generally felt by many that the federal government has destroyed the 10th Amendment, which says that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

All of this seems to underlay the uneasy truce between the feds and the states when it comes to prosecution of marijuana users in states with medical marijuana, or liberal marijuana laws. The Denver Post article concluded with a statement from Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who studies the intersection of medical-marijuana and federal power:  “To some extent, the Department of Justice is simply trying to draw a line in the sand.” — they’re not trying too hard though, probably because no one wants to force the states rights issue to the point where desires for secession in many states come to the surface. It’s something that wouldn’t benefit either states or feds… at this particular moment. And that could change at any time.



How “Medical Marijuana” Scams Pot Users

Medical marijuana reforms hold out the promise that the criminality of illegal drug distribution can be replaced by peace and safety to users when regulated by the government.  Many people, including non-user me, see marijuana as a relaxing substance that is far less dangerous than socially-acceptable and legal alcohol. Proponents of legalization say taxation is “worth it” when the marijuana market is brought into the light of commerce  (shady as that might be).

This is an outright lie and scam that could only be overlooked by someone who is either very stoned, or who foolishly believes that everything the government does is for the common good.

State Medical Marijuana reforms require users to be licensed. That creates a database of users. In Colorado, one of the states with a medical marijuana law, there are 123,890 people (March, 2011) on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry.

Federal law still views marijuana use as criminal. Feds use the IRS to arm-wrestle national scale companies into compliance at the HR level, raising the specter of licensed users being unable find employment except by mom-and-pop state-level companies. And what’s to stop the Feds from coming to the door of those 123,890 registered users in Colorado with an arrest warrant?

I had already started writing this blog when another story hit the news in Colorado. I’ve already made the point I wanted to make: that having your name in a database as a user of a drug that is still illegal under Federal law is no form of freedom that I can see, it’s only an invitation to get arrested. But, the new story in the news in Colorado takes this a step further.

The Colorado law does NOT protect you from being fired from your job if you are discovered by your employer to be a (licensed) medical marijuana user.

Take the case of Paul Curry of Denver. He worked for seven years at Miller/Coors. Then the other day…

“They just told me to pack my bags. They brought in security, I emptied out my locker, and they told me to go home,” he said.

While MillerCoors will not comment on the decision to let Curry go, Curry says he was told he was being fired because he had just tested positive for marijuana. He says it’s not a surprise.

“I’ve been on the [medical marijuana registry] for about a year,” he said.

“All he had was one single positive UA for THC which means that he had used marijuana in that last 30 days. That’s all it means,” Curry’s attorney Rob Corry said.

Corry has made a living advocating on behalf of medical marijuana users over the last few years.

“He’s a medical marijuana patient. He’s trying to follow his doctor’s orders, and he’s trying to do everything he can to manage his [pain],” Corry said.

Corry and Curry insist that the one-time MillerCoors maintenance mechanic was not “high” in any way at the time of the test. They also say his usage was never a factor in his job performance.

As of Tuesday afternoon, MillerCoors had yet to respond to numerous inquiries from 9NEWS, KUSA TV in Denver (Gannett), but because the issue falls into the realm of “personnel matters,” it was unlikely to say much about its decision to let Curry go regardless.

On Tuesday, Curry and his attorney went to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in an effort to secure Curry unemployment benefits. Curry has previously been denied the benefits because of the nature of his dismissal.

Amendment 20 (the amendment to the Colorado Constitution that allows the use of medical marijuana on the state level) does include language that offers at least some insight into the situation. It reads, in part, “Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place.”

So… will “medical marijuana” put users into an economic jail by denying them the possibility of employment? And will those in government bent on regulating every aspect of personal life find other ways to marginalize those they don’t agree with if they’re unable to simply throw them into prison? It seems likely if the recent past can be a guide.

Portions of the above are based on 9news reporting (see video below).

Communication and the Gender War

You’ve probably heard – from your girlfriend – or you’ve told your boyfriend – that women are great communicators, and that men are lousy listeners. But you’ve probably never heard it from a woman quite as honestly as you will here…

A Blind Spot in the Gender Debate

Guest correspondent: Lori Gottlieb (NPR)

If you liked that, here is more you may enjoy from Lori: