Invino Veritas

 All articles on this page were written by Invino Veritas, who, while attempting to make sense of his universe, bubbles outward from the chaos, sometimes submitting to its infinite whirl, and other times raging against its disregard for its own elements. His writings incorporate multiple styles and energies which can be found on his own blog of random things at http://musingsfortheinsane.blogspot.com/.

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The Burden of Proof

From very early on in the history of our country, the idea that all people are innocent until proven guilty has been an important part of our belief system as a nation. It permeates our ideas of freedom and exists, in part, to keep at bay those who would otherwise find it reasonable to inject elements of oppression into our society and upon individuals within our culture. Many Americans have held the presumption of innocence to be a fundamental right that is founded within the U.S. Constitution. However, the fact is that this idea in no way is stated succinctly within that document. It was not until 1895, in the landmark case of Coffin vs. The United States, that the Supreme Court of The United States established the tenet that we are all innocent until proven guilty. How could such an ancient and fundamental belief escape a widely sweeping body of law like the Constitution, a document that we exalt above all others? For those of us who are versed in legal diction and the language of things like the U.S. Constitution, it has been a long-held belief that the presumption of innocence is collectively evident within the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Accordingly, it was from these people that the idea has trickled into our collective consciousness over the years.

It’s been a long time since that groundbreaking case. The country is quite different. As with many cultures throughout history, the presumption of innocence has not been without its own share of contention, over the years. There seems to be a different sort of approach to writing laws and legislative documents, combining vague language and implied assertion in an attempt to subvert the notion that we are innocent until proven guilty. Take, for example, the language provided for us in such recent bills as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Congress has been trying hard to insert language – and has been successful, in some cases – that would allow members of the military and federal government to merely accuse people before detaining or imprisoning them. By creating these processes that ignore the judicial system, those who would otherwise be regarded as the authorities have deemed it necessary to pervert the intent, disavow, ignore, and even deny that anyone and everyone is innocent until proven guilty. At that point, the burden of proof is no longer placed upon those accusers, but rather it is placed upon those who deny the claim(s).

Let’s return, for a moment, to Coffin vs. The United States. As the Supreme Court ruled, in 1895:

     The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.

That’s pretty plain and simple. Here, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) blatantly establishes the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, further concretely establishing the foundation and self-evidence of that tenet as a quality of the criminal law system. Any attempt to legislate and distort this idea, is a perversion of the system, itself. It only serves to warp the mindset and practices of the judicial system, thus removing its relevance and effectiveness. Once the judicial system fails to protect the people, legitimize and interpret the law, and provide foundation for checks and balances between the branches of government, the judicial system becomes superfluous. At that point, it will effectively be deposed, ceasing to exist in any capacity other than as a symbol of impotence and farce.

Recently, you may recall, President Obama, had to be reminded of the purpose of the judicial system. Obama said in a press conference that he didn’t understand how an “unelected group of people” could overturn a law passed by Congress. To add insult to injury, Obama went as far as to refer to the idea as “judicial activism”. It seems to me that someone so well-versed in constitutional law would have a better grasp of why the judicial system exists. On the other hand, to better understand the White House’s position on the purpose of judicial review, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Jerry Smith, ordered “a three-page, single-spaced report explaining President Obama’s views on judicial activism.” Perhaps that’s a little bit of overkill on the court’s part, but maybe it’s not so inappropriate to react in such a way that indicates and exemplifies a behavior more likely to be exhibited by children, rather than the President of the United States. Well, Barack, if you’re going to act like a child, you are going to be treated like a child. Besides, the burden of proof falls on you as the accuser; the courts, as the denier, are innocent of “judicial activism” until proven guilty. Surely, you remember that, don’t you, Mr. President?

Originally Published in the May 23, 2012 Print Edition

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A Dessert Best Served Cold

Throughout history, conflict has played a large role in the evolution of humanity. In the aftermath of our struggles, we have this funny little tendency to repeat ourselves, churning our unfortunate redundancies up from the bottom, like a spatula in a bowl of cake mix. However, all is not sweet in that proverbial batter; mixed in with the sugary goodness is a lump of chips not made of chocolate, but, rather, lemons. Every so often, these lemons rise to the top and leave a sour taste in our mouths. Strangely, it is only during these times that we tend to step back from the bowl and, wincing, say to ourselves “You know, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.” The last four years have been no different, and we haven’t quite reached the point when we have been prompted to reach into the proverbial recipe and pull out those ingredients that shall certainly ruin the outcome.

To make matters worse, it’s an election year – the time when the lemons have risen to the top, to the point that all we can taste, right now, is the overpowering sour tastes that bury the sugar underneath a layer of acidic overtone. In the last four years, we have given up and abandoned the fundamental aspects of this nation’s recipe. Our leaders, the persons who we have (for some reason) chosen to maintain this sacred recipe, have found it necessary to switch from cake to something less indicative of dessert and, instead, serve us a dish that, more or less, resembles moldy sauerkraut. Highlighting the list of ingredients that are certain to pave the road toward dietary destruction are things such as The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), and the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (FRB). But, it doesn’t end there. The war on women is in full swing, as is the right to bear arms. The war against tyranny is being fought, not on one or two fronts, but on many fronts. In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin fiasco, the State of Florida is now reconsidering their “Stand Your Ground” law, as I expected. But, it’s not simply enough to say that one state is seeking to destroy the right to bear arms, but that it’s the federal government, as well. Don’t believe me? Observe:

In 1995, during a C-SPAN interview, Attorney General Eric Holder made the statement that he wanted to change the mindset of people about guns. In the interview, Holder blatantly said, “…every day, some kind of anti-gun, anti-violence message – every day, at every school, at every level…we need to do this every day of the week and really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.” In other words, Holder wished to propagandize anti-gun sentiment to the nation, starting with the most impressionable group: the children. Shortly after being appointed as Attorney General under Obama, Holder  “co-signed an amicus brief [ third-party document offering opinions to courts, to help decide tough legal issues] in support of the District of Columbia’s ban on all handguns and on the use of any firearm for self-defense in the home” (Newsmax, 2008). Following his sentiments in 2009, CBS News reported Holder’s statement regarding the wish to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons. It has long been known and regarded that Mr. Holder wishes to institute stricter laws and policy on gun ownership and possession. For example, Holder wants to bring about 3-day waiting periods on purchases of guns, along with a regulation that would limit the purchase of guns to one per month, per individual.

It has been a long-held belief that, if the common citizen was disallowed the right to bear arms, only criminals would have guns. While that may be a debatable slippery-slope, it brings about the related question that if the criminals are also government agencies and officials, then how could anyone justify giving up the right to bear arms, much less restrict their use and ownership? Eric Holder has proven that he doesn’t mind subverting law, procedure, and morality, when it comes to his agenda. After all, we’re talking about the guy who allowed the ATF to send 2,000 guns into Mexico to the drug cartel, a ploy reputed by several to be an attempt to instigate anti-gun sentiment in the U.S. To make matters worse, he even tried to justify his actions to Congress after a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, was shot and killed by someone using one of those very guns! It’s really no wonder that Rep. Darrell Issa wants to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress for, as CBS News reports, “failure to comply with a Congressional subpoena” and “blocking their efforts to get the facts about [the Fast and Furious scandal]”. At this point, I can’t say this any clearer: Mr. Holder, you are fired.

Now, everybody, let’s have some cake.

Originally Published in the May 16, 2012 Print Edition

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America and the War on Women

It’s strange to think that, at one time in this country, women had few rights. From one perspective, that’s half the population of adult human beings that make up this country. In the beginning, whether for political or religious reasons, people of all walks of life came to this land to escape persecution and oppression. America was a symbol of freedom, but America wasn’t so much a place, as it was an idea – a concept realized by many, in response to the thought that there had to be something more, something greater, and something better. Unfortunately, these sort of things tend to come with their own forms of baggage, dragging with it bits and pieces of the old world into the new. Wherever people travel, they bring parts of themselves along for the ride.

When we talk about what makes this country great, we think of things like the Bill of Rights and The Revolutionary War. We romanticize the battles for freedom fought by such names as George Washington, Nathaniel Greene, and Israel Putnam. We exalt statesmen with names like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. Finally, in 1783, the war had ended and America won its independence, thus cementing its recognition as a separate nation, able and willing to create for itself its own laws, based upon its own ideas, and to govern itself without foreign influence and interference. But, through it all, where were the women? To answer this question, we call upon our memories of the tales of women such as Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, and Martha Washington, each of whom did as much to shape the nation from behind the scenes, as their counterparts who fought the battles on the field. But for some reason, women weren’t recognized as part of the military in The United States, until the formation of the Women’s Army Corps, on May 15th, 1942. While there are several accounts of women fighting in various other conflicts and wars, prior to that time, it was not until that particular moment that women were recognized, fully, as participants in a war effort, as part of the military.

The voice of the people is perhaps, arguably, the most important constituent of being a citizen of this country. This takes form in the right to vote, for this is how the people voice their opinion on policies and the direction that their country takes. It wasn’t until 1920, however, that the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified (after several previous attempts), granting women the right to vote. The law’s inclusion of women in the political process, officially, was a monumental step in recognizing the rights of women and giving rise to the acknowledgement that women were important and had value to provide to a country and people. But, it begs the question: why did it take so long? Didn’t women have value, before 1920? Surely, women didn’t magically become something they had never been before. One can rationalize any answer for this quandary. But, no amount of debate can turn back the clock and adequately explain why the women’s suffrage movement didn’t appear until the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.

Achieving the right to vote in this country was a huge advancement for women’s rights. But, another step had to be taken: the right to serve their country. At that time, in 1920, no woman had been recognized officially as a member of the military. The next reasonable step was to serve as a statesperson or politician. It was in 1917 that the first woman, Jeanette Rankin of Montana, served as a U.S. Representative. But few women ran for the Senate, prior to 1920, and it wasn’t until that year when Rebecca Latimer Felton served on the Senate, for one day, in 1922. But it wasn’t again until 1932 that Hattie Caraway, the first woman to serve in the Senate as an elected official, took her position. To this day, women remain a minority in politics, comprising 17 of the 100 members of the Senate and 75 out of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (17.2%). Either way it’s cut, issues that concern women, in particular, are likely vastly under-represented in the U.S. congress.

It’s been 225 years since this country was formed with the guarantee of freedom. Current politically-charged topics threaten to undo all that we have worked for throughout the years, and certainly one of the most important aspects of that is the rights and freedoms of women. These are undoubtedly the freedom of choice, the freedom of expression, and the right to vote – all these which are rights that are enjoyed by everyone else regardless of race, color, or creed. When we denigrate and otherwise find reason for prejudice and discrimination against one segment of the population, we tarnish and destroy a part of the foundation of that original idea, that concept, and that reason for being. The promise and the dream becomes a farce, a great lie staining us all like a gargantuan melanoma on the face of freedom. To make sure we’re on the same page, we aren’t talking about free in the context of economies and financial transaction, but rather free as in fundamental human rights and prerogatives without penalty. When we set that precedent upon ourselves, we form the foundations of our own moral code, our own standards as a people, nation, and society. The universal truth of reciprocity as a moral compass is as telltale as the rising of the sun to mark the beginning of the day. Guys, women should be able to choose for themselves, individually, what is best for them and their bodies. Women should have the right to voice their opinions and beliefs in both formal and informal arenas. In other words, women have the same basic human rights as men; in all facets of the word equal, without respect to naturally-occurring physical differences. This war on women serves only to divide, dissect, and destroy us all. With this, I assert: we are not merely men and women, we are Americans. It’s time to start acting like it.

Invino Veritas

Originally Published in the May 9, 2012 Print Edition

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Cancer: New Hope, Old Argument

 Since the beginning, mankind has lived alongside the threat of bacteria and viruses. Disease and disorder are found everywhere, stretching from one end of the earth to the other. They range from a moderate case of the “sniffles” to the dreaded contagion, Ebola. One can hardly go a lifetime without contracting the occasional conditions of some form of illness. But, for millions of people, illness is caused not only by an occasional annoyance of a microorganism, but by their own bodies. For years, the human race has been struggling against another kind of disease and disorder: cancer. Cancer research and the search for a cure have been an ongoing effort by thousands of researchers and projects, and for the most part, the one stroke of insight and discovery has eluded mankind.

Until now.

In a recent article published by The Telegraph, science correspondent Richard Gray reports that a “universal’ cancer vaccine” has been developed. In his article, Gray says that the new drug could vastly improve the ability of the patient’s immune system to fight off the otherwise invisible cancerous cells. In normal cases of cancer, the immune system of the people with cancer doesn’t detect the cancer cells as a threat because, well, they are regarded by the immune system as regular cells, existing as part of the body.  However, “preliminary results from early clinical trials have shown the vaccine can trigger an immune response in patients and reduce levels of disease,” says Gray. Furthermore, the vaccine is believed to be “effective against a range of different cancers”; but, the article notes that the developers of the vaccine, Vaxil Biotherapeutics and researchers at Tel Aviv University, wish to conduct more testing before the vaccine is given the stamp of approval. If additional trials are successful, the vaccine could be made “available within six years”, Gray mentions.

Up to this point, the main forms of treatment for cancer have included radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Each form leaves little to be desired, when considering the side effects of these treatments. Recently, a fourth option has been suggested by Bob Doyle of Novocure, a company that specializes in the use of low-level electric fields for producing therapeutic results. In October 2011, Doyle presented his findings at a TED (originally a conference on Technology, Entertainment, and Design, the scope of which has since been broadened) talk, later uploaded to the organization’s website, for all to view. Doyle explains that the electric fields used in the treatment aren’t electric current, but rather “are a field of forces … [that] attract bodies that have an electric charge.” In other words, the patients are not zapped by a strange, arcing beam of bright lightning-like energy, but rather, the area of the body around the tumor(s) are placed within an electrically generated field. These fields will cause the proteins of the cancerous cells to align, and prevent them from dividing. Once the cells fail to divide, they either proceed to a “programmed cell death” or proceed towards apoptosis, a normal process leading to the death of cells. This effect, Doyle explains, has been applied to over twenty variations of cancerous cells and the same effects have been observed in all of them. The best thing? According to Doyle, “these tumor-treating fields have no effect on normal, non-dividing cells.” In April of 2011, the FDA approved the use of electric fields in the treatment of certain types of cancer.

There are no guarantees in life, and there are no absolutes when it comes to health. Anyone who has undergone life-altering trials such as cancer will likely understand this idea. Having had a stroke, I, too, understand research and the availability of treatments to be an important step in the elimination of things like cancer. But there seems to be little mention of these efforts. Surely, the idea that we can eradicate the scourge of cancer would be big news. On the other hand, one concern might be that access to lifesaving treatments and drugs may be halted by pricing schemes practiced by multinational conglomerates. Another concern is whether or not the drug will be produced at all in the interest of perpetuating a more profitable process. These are real concerns, and each raises a serious moral argument. Will patients have to dedicate themselves to a life of debt and poverty to live cancer-free? Who will own the patents? Which is more important: life or money? It is my nature as a skeptic to question the future. While I should certainly revel in the delight of things such as cancer cures, I cannot share that delight with those who prevent transcendence beyond a society with cancer. Ironically, perhaps, that is our own, albeit metaphorical, form of cancer. But, hey, at least we have more options now, right?

Attempting to make sense of his universe, Invino Veritas bubbles outward from the chaos, sometimes submitting to its infinite whirl, and other times raging against its disregard for its own elements. His writings incorporate multiple styles and energies which can be found on his own blog of random things at http://musingsfortheinsane.blogspot.com/.

Originally Published in May 2, 2012 Print Edition

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The Throes of the American Methuselah

Since the birth of our nation, perhaps no single technology has touched so many lives, directly or indirectly, and influenced industry and infrastructure, as the Internet. As ubiquitous as the application of oil has become, over the years, into the products that shape and have shaped our lives, is the importance of the communicative power and influence of the Internet. Every day, this entity becomes more and more interwoven into our daily fabric, as we use it as a means to assist our communications between loved ones, conduct business, perform public services such as early response systems, or merely as a form of entertainment. But with all its advantages, the Internet is not without its casualties, and as much as the Internet may seem otherworldly at times, existing and operating within its own set of rules, it is very much embedded in some simple truths and laws. It is because of this surface appearance that the Internet comes under attack by Methuselahian entities such as the recording industry. As the battle rages on, the complexities of the war between the two becomes increasingly obscure and plagued with misinformation and disinformation, alike.

Now, I’m not going to talk about theories on copyright theft, counterfeiting, or piracy. There are plenty of sources of argument for each side of those discussions. But, rather, I’m going to interject a different perspective to the struggle of the recording industry against the Internet. Since 1995, Gartner, Inc. has used its model (the Gartner Hype Curve) to provide insight into technologies for investors, government agencies, corporations, and technology firms. This model details five general stages that a product or technology undergoes through its lifetime. First, a product is introduced and generally regarded as a sort of breakthrough, quickly moving towards the eruption of a phase-two enthusiasm. After a period, the product’s success begins to wane and slowly fails to meet expectations, falling to what Gartner explains as a Trough of Disillusionment. As that product or technology begins to evolve into one of more practical usage and application, it eventually reaches the fifth stage, where it becomes either ubiquitous in its applications or representing mere niches.

Between the 1950’s and the 1980’s, the recording industries served us new content daily. They were at the height, or peak of their production of things like film, television, music, and even radio. When the 1980’s hit and the production of mediums such as CDs and cassette tapes boomed, the distribution of content rose dramatically. But in the late 1990’s, people were getting their content elsewhere, and the Internet quickly became a major player in the distribution of content. Everybody with a modem and Internet service could find what they wanted, when they wanted it. This caused the volume of distribution to skyrocket. Over the next few years, the recording industry panicked, as its products and antiquated technologies were unable to compete with newer technologies that they did not own. This new distribution of content pushed the archaic industry into the fourth stage of the curve, a more practical application of things like music and movies. With little surprise, this opened up new possibilities for existing content. YouTube videos appeared, with such diverse subject matter as guitar lessons, new music videos made by amateur daredevils, artist homages, and amateur re-interpretations of favorite songs and movies. For a mere thirty bucks a month and a little time per week, the average fan became an artist.

As the horizon of Gartner’s fifth stage broke the new dawn, the recording industry found their methods and products of distribution were barely relevant. DVD sales plummeted, following the path of CDs from just a few years earlier. Unable to compete with the technology of the Internet, the recording industry emitted a long moan, a death throe, towards the legislators of the nation’s government crying “Save us from the hooligans of the Internet!” Responding, the legislators tugged on the leashes of their faithful hounds, but the beasts resisted, biting their leaders and reminding them of the wild nature that slept inside their belly. Together, the recording industry and the legislators approached their neighbors, saying to the leaders of Europe, “Help us beat back these dogs of war, and we will help you do the same!” But the bays of the dogs were ever loud, and the European diplomats paused, looking at the faces and listening to the cries of their own people.

Right now, that’s sort of where the story stands. In short, we have before us a dying industry that can longer control the distribution of its own products. In the past, the content and distribution was controlled and created by the recording industry. But they haven’t been able to keep up with the growing technology. Now, like the Gartner Hype Curve explains, the industry has become irrelevant. False claims by the RIAA and MPAA report the recording industry loses money because of copyright theft. But as comic author Rob Reid explains in a recent speech at Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference, these numbers are false. Reid demonstrates that movie sales across theaters, home rental, and Pay-Per-View are up, while TV, Satellite, and Cable TV revenue has increased as well. “Other content markets, like book publishing and radio are also up”, he says. Of the 58 billion dollars of purported loss due to piracy, only 8 billion dollars of it can be directly correlated. But this can’t be correct, either, as the recording industry previously stated in 1990 that the amount of money lost per song due to piracy is $150,000. This means that an IPod holding 40,000 pirated songs can contain over 6 billion dollars of content on it. The RIAA and MPAA also report that over 370,000 jobs were affected, but that is also false, as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 1998, reported the recording industry as having a mere 270,000 people employed. Summation? Time to start tugging on that leash some more.

Attempting to make sense of his universe, Invino Veritas bubbles outward from the chaos, sometimes submitting to its infinite whirl, and other times raging against its disregard for its own elements. His writings incorporate multiple styles and energies which can be found on his own blog of random things at http://musingsfortheinsane.blogspot.com/.

Originally Published in March 28, 2012 Print Edition

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Return of the Living Fetus

 Saturday began with an outlook not unlike one of a blank slate. I rose that day with pure intentions of letting the day write itself upon my blackboard. I mounted my digital steed, the Internet, early, for some quick headlines, before trading my thirst for knowledge for my poisonous rifle and mystical body armor, to fight the hordes of daemon on the borders between Hell and Earth, with some video games. Thoroughly satisfied, I wiped the sweat from my heroic brow and followed the grumble of my stomach, which was quite empty. (Fighting demons on an empty stomach wears a guy out, let me tell you.) But rather than jump back into the fray after a few slices of last night’s pizza, I decided to check my usual e-mails and social media, and soon found myself reading the second (or perhaps third) wave of news for the day. Then, all of a sudden, like a foul javelin hurled forth by the minions of wretched beasts constructed of fire and brimstone, the stench and sinewy demeanor of National Right to Life (NRL) felled my day.

Not too long ago, Mississippi residents joined together against the infamous Prop 26, along with community leaders of both the religious and medical doctrines, and defeated the proposal to declare unborn children as having equal rights as anyone else under the law of the state. As each side battled, an entire nation held its breath, in anticipation of Mississippi’s conclusion. When the smoke cleared, Prop 26 was defeated, and a nation rejoiced. But today, the corpse of Prop 26 has been re-animated, taking a page from our federal adversaries and constructing a three-headed beast from the corpse of the old proposal, in the form of three bills: House Concurrent Resolution 61, House Bill 857, and State Concurrent Resolution 555.

First, House Concurrent Resolution 61 (HC 61), authored by Andy Gipson, seeks to “provide that the word ‘person’ applies to all human beings from conception to natural death.” Sound familiar? As argued previously, this change would affect a multitude of laws and declarations by the State of Mississippi, authored in the past, present, and future. By itself, HC 61 also makes the distinction that it does not include instances of “contraception, in vitro fertilization, or other methods of reproduction, medical treatment intended to preserve life, or miscarriage, and for related purposes.” As one can see, the language of this bill becomes somewhat vague. But, it doesn’t stop there. The second portion of the Personhood masquerade is a bill known as Senate Concurrent Resolution 555 (SC 555). Introduced by Joey Filligane, SC 555 would make it the policy of Mississippi “to protect every unborn child from conception to birth, to the extent permitted by the Federal Constitution.” Pairing this with a third bill, brought to the table by Alex Monsour, called The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act results in a web that seeks to outlaw abortion, regardless of any ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court (See Roe vs. Wade) and the U.S. Constitution (i.e. the 14th Amendment). To be fair, SC 555 does allow abortion if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, but House Bill 857 removes the ability of an instance happening after 20 weeks. According to several sources, however, Filligane stated that he doesn’t expect SC 555 to pass, and that he wrote the bill as a place-holder for anyone who wanted to push it through.

In January, National Right To Life (NRL) announced its agenda for 2012. “It should not be a surprise to anyone that the top priority for National Right To Life’s Political Action Committee, this year, is defeating Barack Obama and electing a pro-life President,” says NRL President Carol Tobias. Versions of Mississippi’s House Bill 857 have already been introduced and enacted in several states including Nebraska, Oklahoma, the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Idaho, and Kansas. In some cases, there are no differences between the text of the legislation and Mississippi’s own House Bill 857. NRL Legislative Director Douglas Johnson notes the advances in medical science, citing improvements in ultrasound technology, but fails to distinguish the relationship between vaginal ultrasound and whether or not the unborn feel pain. But the NRL wastes no time in taking the offensive against the opposition, stating “there has been no serious legal challenge mounted to any of these laws” and claiming [pro-abortionists] are the ones who insist that society must remain locked in the Dark Ages of ignorance, regarding the capacities of unborn children.”

The first step in overturning Roe v. Wade is to redefine common understanding. HC 61 redefines what a person is to be. House Bill 857 has a lengthy list of items that it redefines or otherwise specifies, with particular re-definition. The second step in overturning Roe V. Wade is to abuse and/or create law and legislation in attempt to destroy due process or distort its function and appearance. In 1973, The United States Supreme court ruled that there exists a “right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution [extending] to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.” But the NRL does little, if anything, to address the relationship between the extension of the right to privacy of mothers in the 14th Amendment and whether or not unborn children feel pain. House Bill 857 attempts to provide the method by which a pregnant woman is to alert her doctor, who then is to report the age of her fertilized, unborn child to the State Department of Health. This directly defies the 14th Amendment, as shown by Roe v. Wade. The third step in overturning Roe v. Wade is subversion. Prop 26 was highly publicized. These three bills? Not so much. While Prop 26 was nationally televised, the same sort of fervor of the NRL’s movement hasn’t received the same sort of attention.

There seems to be a really hard push in state and federal government to restrict or remove the rights of women to make a choice about their own bodies. We can’t really take this with the expectations that one law is going to outlaw or repeal the right to vote or choose by women. Rather, we must take these things in the context of over-regulation, to ensure that those who violate oppressive laws become felons. Felons cannot vote, and once you are a felon, then you are a felon for life. A woman’s voice is just as powerful as any man’s voice, and while Barack Obama may not be pro-life, it does not mean that electing a President that is pro-life is the best choice for everyone to address all the concerns of a nation. You must make that sort of decision based upon what is important for you, and not what you believe is important for others. That’s fascism. We certainly aren’t ever going to have a President we agree with on every point of his or her platform. That is a fairy tale. Now, whether you agree or disagree, go out there and let these men, these legislators, know how you feel rather than how you think other people should feel or behave.

Attempting to make sense of his universe, Invino Veritas bubbles outward from the chaos, sometimes submitting to its infinite whirl, and other times raging against its disregard for its own elements. His writings incorporate multiple styles and energies which can be found on his own blog of random things at http://musingsfortheinsane.blogspot.com/.

 Originally Published in March 14, 2012 Print Edition

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Making Sense of ACTA

Oftentimes, we get distracted by the things that hit close to home or otherwise are local to our own country. But, occasionally, we are reminded that we are part of a larger, global framework. I like to think of the world as a collection of concentric circles marking the towns and cities, countries and provinces around the world, sort of like the dimples on a golf ball. Probably nothing illustrates this as well as the idea of jurisdiction. In the United States, we have ordinances that are only relevant within a single town. At the next level, our county ordinances take precedence over town ordinances. State laws trump county law, and federal law holds jurisdiction over state law (on the whole). But, there’s a different level that we often forget, a higher jurisdiction, if you will. That is, of course, international jurisdiction.

Recent events in our own country have been marked by the unification of the people against tyrannical legislation bent upon destroying basic rights and freedoms in our own country. This is evidenced by the recent opposition to bills such as SOPA and PIPA. These bills were heavily backed not only by politicians, but by corporate agendas and money. Senators and Representatives are generally confined to their own spheres of influence, and thus are subject to the criticisms and the occasional distemper of the people that they are elected to serve. It’s really a simple law of moral transaction – at least in theory. The corporations and organizations who lobby to our politicians, however, aren’t bound to the people in the same manner. Having been beaten away from oppressive agenda-backed legislation, the fight has been taken to the international jurisdictions in the form of The Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA).

Now, an important note about ACTA is that it has been around sing 2006, but it was brought to public light only by the graces of chance releases by individuals and organizations, such as WikiLeaks. The general idea with ACTA is to protect the interests of copyright, trademark, and rights owners with a unified theory and enforcement, by outlawing the trade and transaction of counterfeit goods. I agree, it seems like something that might have been created here at home, but in fact, it was first developed by Japan. In the beginning, seven countries signed the agreement. Eventually, 21 of the 27 countries that make up the European Union (EU) also signed the agreement.

The treaty is not without its opposition, though. On February 17th, The Warsaw Business Journal reported that the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, withdrew his support of ACTA and was sending a letter to the EU, urging them to do the same. “I was wrong,” Tusk said, explaining that “the agreement does not correspond to the reality of the 21st century. The battle for the right to property should also respect the right to freedom.” As a result, Tusk held a seven-hour session with the internet users of his country, in a discussion about ACTA and the concerns of the rights-holders of intellectual property. But, Tusk and Poland are by no means the first cries of outrage from this side of ACTA’s opposition. From the beginning, the rights of the people were in question, when Chief Investigator Kadif Arif, of the European Parliament (EP) resigned shortly after the EU signed on to ACTA. As a news publication, The Guardian, points out, Arif said that ACTA “goes too far” in efforts to reduce the freedoms of individuals on the Internet and blocking potentially lifesaving medications.

Like all repugnant forms of law and legislation, ACTA is not without its vile list of backers. Spearheading support for ACTA is the familiar foe of the people, the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Together, these two demonic institutions have burned a path of radioactive plague behind the scenes of such bills as SOPA and PIPA, waging war against civil liberties and the rights and freedoms of people. A third supporter, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PRMA) represents the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Recently disclosed supporters include a few surprising names and a few not-so-surprising names: Google, eBay, Intel, Dell, News Corporation, Sony Pictures, Time Warner, and Verizon. Other than the fact that each of these companies own patents and trademarks, what is a common thread between these companies? They were all given drafts of the treaty upon signing a non-disclosure agreement, prior to 2010.

Despite the omission of counsel and voices of the opposition, the battle against ACTA continues throughout Europe. For some reason, reports of these activities have not reached the shores of our own country with as much fervor as nations such as Great Britain. Scores of protests dot the landscape of countries such as Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, among others. Meanwhile, our own shoreline seems shielded from the anti-ACTA outcries of the other nations and peoples of the earth. The leaders of the countries involved in ACTA’s process have made attempts to keep their proceedings outside of the view and involvement of civil liberty organizations, changing the schedule in a precarious manner so as to deter, discourage, and make ACTA hearings unreasonably unavailable and otherwise out of reach.

It’s the same old song, from a different device: corporations paying politicians to create laws and legislation that ignore the fundamental rights of people, oppressing the populace, and enacting tyranny, so that they can make more money. See, the Internet represents freedom. It represents an idea. But corporations and industries, like the RIAA, MPAA, and the Pharmaceutical industry can’t control ideas. They can claim ownership, but nobody actually owns an idea. You can’t stick an idea in your pocket and save it for a rainy day. It’s a free, intangible, abstract concept, that thing we know as an idea. Nonetheless, the companies want to own it, and if they can’t own it, they will do their best to destroy it. If they can’t destroy the Internet outright, they will change it in such a way as to make it something almost entirely different. At that point, they claim that whatever the Internet turns out to be is, well, intellectual property, or something of their own design. Therefore, they claim ownership. It’s a long way to Heaven, and a short fall to Hell. We’ve won a few battles, but the war still rages. With that, I leave you with this:

“Man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave, he is learning to do what he sees others do.”

                             -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia

Attempting to make sense of his universe, Invino Veritas bubbles outward from the chaos, sometimes submitting to its infinite whirl, and other times raging against its disregard for its own elements. His writings incorporate multiple styles and energies which can be found on his own blog of random things at http://musingsfortheinsane.blogspot.com/.

Originally Published in March 7, 2012 Print Edition

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You’re No Odysseus, Mr. Smith

Last month, the United States showed a bit of its former pride and glory. The power of this country has always been in the momentary unities throughout history, the periods in time when we, as a nation, banded together against tyranny and oppressive regimes. By this time, I don’t really believe I need to overstate exactly how I feel about this sort of thing. But, in the meantime, we stand vigilant. I, unlike so many other folks, don’t really have a short-term memory, when it comes to this stuff. Also, I don’t typically have the patience for repeat offenders. After all, fool me twice, shame on me. Last month, the country showed a little bit of that beauty that made this country great when a multitude of U.S. citizens and companies banded together to oppose oppressive legislation. Together, we opposed and stopped the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and halted the Protect IP Act (PIPA) from being passed by Congress. One by one, many of SOPA and PIPA’s supporters began to avoid the bills like the plague. America had won the battle. But the war against the internet still rages, as members of Congress attempt to destroy the fundamental characteristics of what is the Internet, and what makes it great: the freedom of expression.

With the recent failure of SOPA, author Sen. Lamar Smith (TX), like Dylan Thomas’ famous poem pleads, has decided to not go gently into that good night, and to rage against the dying of [his] light. His latest assault on the foundations of the Internet is another bill, HR 1981, termed the Protect Children From Internet Pornographers Act (PCFIPA). It is a Trojan horse designed to appear as a humanitarian law, but in fact is just another piece of legislation designed to dismantle the internet and oppress the freedom of expression and the spread of communication in its natural environment. But this bill wasn’t written yesterday. It wasn’t written a week ago or last month. In fact, PCFIPA was written last year and released in October passing the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 19-10. As of January, the bill had 39 supporters. What’s this bill doing now? It’s been put on the calendar for 2012.

According to Ongo.com, the bill will rewrite U.S. Code Chap­ter 18, Section 2703, requiring Inter­net Ser­vice Providers (ISPs) to “store your IP address for at least 12 months, along with any high­ly-sensitive person­al information, such as cred­it card data.” In doing so, it also provides civil protection for ISPs who experience a loss of data storage due to the new requirements. The unfortunate side effect of this requirement is that not only does it treat everyone using the Internet as if they are a sex offender, but it allows government authorities to charge and apprehend individuals, with a subpoena, as sex offenders. It requires no police agency to require a warrant to access your personal information from these ISPs. Once more, this is allowed under the vaguest of circumstances. As Rep. James Sensenbrenner (WI) stated, “It poses numerous risks that well outweigh any benefits, and I’m not convinced it will contribute, in a significant way, to protecting children.”

 And who has to pay for this sort of surveillance and data collecting? Internet users. As the ISPs incur additional costs for data storage, those costs will be transferred directly to the price of Internet service by the ISPs. In a report released in October 2011, it was estimated that the costs of implementing such a bill would be “minimal” to government institutions. But the cost of putting this bill into place would be placed most heavily upon the ISPs, causing them to assume the burden of 200 million dollars in upgrades and additions for such things as servers, physical space to house the new machines, and time spent by the employees of the ISPs implementing and purchasing the new equipment, as well as the time spent coordinating the new volumes of data. In a down economy, now is not the time to impose mandatory cost increases on American businesses, many of which are small businesses.

Lamar Smith seems to be determined to destroy the Internet. Unlike the brave hero Odysseus, Smith’s Trojan horse will not save the day, but will otherwise provide a means to doom it. The Protect Children From Internet Pornography Act provides the tools for any semblance of online privacy to be obliterated. The proposed bill does little, if anything, for children to be protected from pornography. Strangely, the bill protects the members and affiliations of government institutions who wish to abuse this bill. There’s even a mention of the data usage for the purpose of thwarting terrorism in the bill. Really, Mr. Smith? To make matters worse, it has become terribly evident that individuals and organizations with ideas like those of Lamar Smith want to provide these tools to questionable authorities, so that they may spy on the American people, and to apprehend and create circumstances indicative of a police state. We must stand vigilant against the bubbling tyranny in our midst. We must struggle against the boiling seas of oppression. We must put our petty differences aside, and unite against the common enemy of the people. We must help to restore the individuality of the states, and veer it away from the control by a single central government. How can we do that? We can stand together in voice, if not by physical contribution.

For more information regarding this bill, visit the following websites:

HR 1981 Bill Summary and Status:

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.1981:

Protecting Children From Internet Pornography Act of 2011

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protecting_Children_from_Internet_Pornographers_Act_of_2011

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition to oppose HR 1981:

    https://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8175

SignOn.org’s petition to oppose HR 1981:

    http://signon.org/sign/stop-ptfipa-hr-1981

 Originally Published in February 29, 2012 Print Edition

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Fluoride: We’re All Retarded

 According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, aluminum “is the third most abundant element (after oxygen and silicon), and the most abundant metal, in the Earth’s crust.” But, prior to 1886, when the smelting process of aluminum was discovered, this copious metal was somewhat of a rarity. In fact, there were probably a very small number of places worldwide – a single-digit quantity of places – that produced the metal. Discovered by Charles Martin Hall, this new method of producing pure aluminum by electric smelting was put into practice by The Pittsburgh Reduction Company (PRC), in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, in 1891. In 1903, PRC opened production in Niagara Falls, and in 1907 PRC changed its name to The Aluminum Company of America, or ALCOA. Today, this is the primary way that aluminum is processed, and ALCOA is the world’s third-largest producer of aluminum.

As with most industrial processes, the refinement and processing of materials produces additional materials. Hall’s method of electric smelting passes electricity through a substance called crolite, which is a combination of aluminum and sodium fluoride. The by-product is relatively pure aluminum and sodium fluoride. ALCOA soon found that they had an abundance of sodium fluoride. At the time, the remaining substance was disposed by normal means at the times, and verily deposited in the surrounding water and land. In 1931, ALCOA chemist, Harry V. Churchill, proved the evidence of sodium fluoride in the surrounding drinking water as a result of dumping it in the Allegheny River. When approached by the City of Pittsburgh, ALCOA disputed the proof of contamination, by arguing that the levels of natural and unnatural sodium fluoride weren’t significant. Yet by the time the war effort of the 1940’s came about, the pollution of the water had increased, due to the increased production of aluminum. By the end of the decade, dentists began to notice the positive effects of sodium fluoride upon people’s teeth, and therefore ALCOA began to market its sodium fluoride with the Journal of the American Water Works Association, offering their (by-)product for water fluoridation. (Peter Meier, Fluoridation Chemicals)

The aluminum industry isn’t the only producer of fluoride chemicals as a byproduct of their primary processes. Peter Meier goes on to explain that in 1950, the National Institute of Health suggested using sodium fluosilicate, a by-product of the fertilizer industry, to provide sources of fluoride for water fluoridation. This proposal was made without any sort of testing or accounts of the effects of such chemicals in the water supply, but was argued that less of the substance could be used relative to the amounts necessary for sodium fluoride to be used. As a result, Du Pont’s Grasselli Chemicals Department in Wilmington, Delaware released a statement indicating that sodium fluosilicate was toxic. But the decision to discontinue using the term “sodium fluoride” in 1951, in favor of using more descriptive terms such as sodium fluosilicate and hydrofluosilicic acid to refer to the other forms of fluoride, was put into motion by the Wisconsin State Board of Health, when remarks regarding the common use of sodium fluoride as a rat poison were made. In other words, the individuals in favor of putting fluoride into our drinking water didn’t want us to realize that the drinking water contained rat poison, so they stopped referring to it as sodium fluoride.

Wait a minute.

There could be rat poison in our water supply?

For the answer to this burning question, as well as the rest of Invino Veritas’ insightful comments on this subject, please visit our website, www.realstorypublishing.com.

 Attempting to make sense of his universe, Invino Veritas bubbles outward from the chaos, sometimes submitting to its infinite whirl, and other times raging against its disregard for its own elements. His writings incorporate multiple styles and energies which can be found on his own blog of random things at http://musingsfortheinsane.blogspot.com/.

Originally Published in February 22, 2012 Print Edition

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