Sunday, August 24, 2014

Northern California Earthquake - South Napa 6.1

At around 3:20 A.M. this morning, the Northern California area was shaken by one of the largest earthquakes since the late 90s. The USGS told ABC News that dozens of aftershocks followed, with one reaching 3.6 magnitude. Many thousands of people are without gas and electric service, per the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa has been receiving dozens of injured people from this event, minor injuries are so far numbered at 70. No deaths have been reported, but we do know of 2 MAJOR injuries in which those victims are said to be in critical condition.

"I've been through a few of these and I've never seen anything like this, particularly in downtown Napa," Dodd said, according to ABC News Radio. "The county building is just in total disrepair, and they've moved it down to the sheriff's office -- so that's where the coordinating all the emergency services for the county."

The fault that generated this quake has been dormant of activity for 1.6 MILLION years. The Earthquake Track website is reporting that there have been multiple earthquakes from northern to southern California over the last few days.

See these screen shots below detailing activity for the last 48 hours previous to today's event:

ABC Television News has this video: 

Watch more news videos | Latest from the US


Published on August 24, 2014 @ 10:38:55 UTC
Northern California Seismic System (NCSS) operated by UC Berkeley and USGS
Version 0: This report supersedes any earlier probability reports about this event.

Magnitude: 5.96 Mw (A strong quake)
Time: 24 Aug 2014 03:20:44 AM, PDT
24 Aug 2014 10:20:44 UTC
Coordinates : 38 deg. 12.85 min. N, 122 deg. 19.15 min. W 38.2142 N, 122.3192 W
Depth: 6.7 miles ( 10.8 km)
Quality: Excellent
Location: 4 mi. ( 6 km) NW of American Canyon, CA
8 mi. ( 13 km) NNW of Vallejo, CA
Event ID: NC 72282711

STRONG AFTERSHOCKS (Magnitude 5 and larger) - At this time (immediately after the mainshock) the probability of a strong and possibly damaging aftershock IN THE NEXT 7 DAYS is approximately 54 PERCENT

EARTHQUAKES LARGER THAN THE MAINSHOCK - Most likely, the recent mainshock will be the largest in the sequence. However, there is a small chance (APPROXIMATELY 5 TO 10 PERCENT) of an earthquake equal to or larger than this mainshock in the next 7 days.

WEAK AFTERSHOCKS (Magnitude 3 to 5) - In addition, approximately 30 to 70 SMALL AFTERSHOCKS are expected in the same 7-DAY PERIOD and may be felt locally.

This probability report is based on the statistics of aftershocks typical for California. This is not an exact prediction, but only a rough guide to expected aftershock activity. This probability report may be revised as more information becomes available.

Background Information About Aftershocks

Like most earthquakes, the recent earthquake is expected to be followed by numerous aftershocks. Aftershocks are additional earthquakes that occur after the mainshock and in the same geographic area. Usually, aftershocks are smaller than the mainshock, but occasionally an aftershock may be strong enough to be felt widely throughout the area and may cause additional damage, particularly to structures already weakened in the mainshock. As a rule of thumb, aftershocks of magnitude 5 and larger are considered potentially damaging.

Aftershocks are most common immediately after the mainshock; their average number per day decreases rapidly as time passes. Aftershocks are most likely to be felt in the first few days after the mainshock, but may be felt weeks, months, or even years afterwards. In general, the larger the mainshock, the longer its aftershocks will be felt.

Aftershocks tend to occur near the mainshock, but the exact geographic pattern of the aftershocks varies from earthquake to earthquake and is not predictable. The larger the mainshock, the larger the area of aftershocks. While there is no "hard" cutoff distance beyond which an earthquake is totally incapable of triggering an aftershock, the vast majority of aftershocks are located close to the mainshock. As a rule of thumb, a magnitude 6 mainshock may have aftershocks up to 10 to 20 miles away, while a magnitude 7 mainshock may have aftershocks as far as 30 to 50 miles away.

Northern California Earthquake Summary

Location and Magnitude contributed by: Northern California Seismic System, UC Berkeley and USGS Menlo Park

Event Time

2014-08-24 10:20:44 UTC
2014-08-24 03:20:44 UTC-07:00 at epicenter
2014-08-24 05:20:44 UTC-05:00 system time


38.215°N 122.318°W depth=10.7km (6.6mi)
Nearby Cities

6km (4mi) NW of American Canyon, California
9km (6mi) SSW of Napa, California
13km (8mi) NNW of Vallejo, California
14km (9mi) SE of Sonoma, California
82km (51mi) WSW of Sacramento, California

The earthquake is located between two major, largely strike-slip fault systems. The Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system, which is approximately 7 km (4 miles) west of the site, generated damaging earthquakes in 1868 and probably in 1898. The Concord-Green Valley Fault system, which is 12 km (7 miles) east of the site, produced a M5.5 earthquake in 1954; while it has not generated a large historical event, there is strong evidence for recent pre-historic activity. The 1999 Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WG99, 1999) concluded that the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system has a 32 percent probability of generating a large earthquake (M6.7 to 7.4) by the year 2030, and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system has a 6 percent chance of generating a large earthquake (M≥6.7) in the same time period.

The earthquake occurred near the north shore of San Pablo Bay. The bayshore areas in the San Francisco Bay region are underlain by landfill and bay mud and have experienced disproportionately greater damage during historic earthquakes. Such damage is caused by soil failure in the fills and amplification of ground shaking by the soft bay mud.

Incoming On-Scene facts:

Credible news sources, and those on the scene in the northern California historic district are saying that historic buildings have sustained significant to major damage in this morning's earthquake.

Rail Service Infrastructure: 

The Amtrak Capitol Corridor service has been shut-down between Roseville and San Jose' due to track inspections and to keep Amtrak passengers and personnel safe.

Evacuation  centers: 

Napa High School gym

Grace Church

Communications Infrastructure:

Communications instructions: DO NOT USE LANDLINES! Emergency agencies are stating that those in the area affected by this event should use other means of communications.

Amateur Radio Service Activity: None heard on the Win System, and no reports of amateur radio playing any role in this event at this time.

This coverage will be updated as more information is verified. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chicago Police Unlawful Arrest - Video Recording

These two sworn members of the Chicago Police Department might very well find themselves in more legal trouble than they bargained for. There is video of this incident, but it starts out AFTER police come on-scene, and the context of this event is hard to establish. At the beginning of the video, we see a man talking calmly as he says "I been there for all my life", followed by a woman speaking calmly, professionally, and with great personal restraint with the on-scene police supervisor. The Supervisor appears to be a Captain.

The audio of the woman starts with "Cause you're in a tough area....I need to figure out a way to address this. Honesty..." Captain interrupts and says "I  understand what you're saying." The woman goes on to remark "we just can't keep, like right now, everybody's leaving and tomorrow's another day. Everybody's gonna come back here tomorrow and it's gonna be the same thing."

As the woman continues to speak, she says "so, we really, just address it so we can do whatever you want us to do." The Captain's response is "Right now, we're just trying to reduce crowds, reduce any potential for violence. So, these guys out here drinking and smoking weed, that's the potential for violence."

Woman: "Well, my thing defense to what you're saying, you'd need to check the call records as far as calls that you get where there has been calls where there's been violence or fighting or anything. Everybody up here is like a family, so, if we do see something that is out of line or out of place, people speak up, this is a like a community, so, I really do not understand, I feel like this is not justified. If there's kids drinking..." and she's interrupted by someone else at the scene saying something that can't be easily made out.

The man doing the video recording now turns the camera to a while car leaving the scene, and says "Alright man, got y'all, for the people, baby" and now a police squad drives by with a uniformed officer inside. The cameraman was already seen by dozens of officers who are quite aware that he's doing the video recording, and they say nothing to him, and the Captain says nothing the entire time.

The woman stats speaking after the squad passes by "where, like, you disperse us, and then everybody goes back, like when you have ten officers walking up and down this area...there's never been a problem with that. I feel like if you've got everybody in one area where they know, they see your presence, and and, you know, that's been going on. And there's nothing going on, you can be here, we don't mind you guys getting out the cars and walking up and down the blocks, and engaging and interacting with us. We don't mind that. We don;t want you to come here and say hey...everybody just leave, because we have nowhere else to go. This is our last place to go where we feel safe. We don't want to go anywhere else on somebody's block where now we're in a range where we can get shot. There's too much shooting going on. But, over here, this is out safety.

I've been doing massage, if you look at this chair, I've been doing massage here for Chicago Public Schools. I service 70 Chicago Public Schools, I service 2,000 teachers. So, hat chair, I wouldn't be here with my chair if I didn't feel like I was safe here, that I could turn my back an do a..."

At this time, a plainclothes female officer with dark black hair pulled back, wearing a grey t-shirt with a black bulletproof vest on top of it, and her name tag on her right on the front of the vest, get out of car# 6408 (car has no beat tag on top, a violation of Chicago Police Department policy), and she yanks the phone / camera out of the camera man's hands, cuffs him, and ask him if he had her permission to record her. The officer then starts speaking spanish in reference to his I.D. The video ends there.

The Legal Aspects of This Case  

In 2012, 300 arrests were thrown out in reference to Chicago public parks, trespassing, and closing hours, after that number of protesters were arrested for being present in a Chicago Public Park. The court held that the statute was unconstitutional on its face and as applied. This is explained by Attorney Jerry Boyle in this video: 

The City of Chicago is appealing this case, and the case is still in court. Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas M. Donnelly ruled that the city unfairly singled out protesters for violating an 11 p.m. curfew in Grant Park on October 2011, when police arrested hundreds of people. The judge said the curfew itself was a violation of the public's right to free assembly.

This piece of case law applies because we don't see the police rounding up anyone else, just these people, and for reasons that are unclear and overly vague. When it comes to time and place restrictions on gatherings, free speech, gathering and dissemination of information, and other protected activities, police have to give orders that are clear, and have a compelling governmental interest. Without such, the police order to disperse is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional on its face and as applied.

Saying that there is a mere potential for x, y, or z, is not a factual finding of a reasonable person in any capacity, it's conjecture and speculation. THAT IS a factual finding of any reasonable person. The police seem to think that a person has to be an attorney to defend themselves or argue factual findings at circumstance, and factual findings at law. Illinois requires that the laws be such that a person of ordinary intelligence can read them, understand them, and make factual findings about what conduct is prohibited, when it's prohibited, and why it's prohibited.      

There are also these pieces of case law in regards to the Illinois Eavesdropping and Wiretapping acts, which also apply directly to this incident: 

People of the State of Illinois Vs. Malongo, which references the court case in which the Cook County State's Attorney got her rear end handed to her by the circuit court, appellate courts, and finally, State Attorney Alvarez's appeal was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in a clear statement made by way of the rejection itself.

The Supreme Court denied certiorari to Anita Alvarez v. ACLU of Illinois in its list of orders, allowing to stand a federal appeals court’s injunction against the law, which prohibits audio recording of any part or all of a conversation unless all parties agree to the recording. In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois challenged the legislation when applied to recording police officers conducting official duties, saying the First Amendment protects individuals’ right to openly record the officers.

In the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in May, Judges Diane Sykes and David Hamilton stopped short of overturning the law entirely, but prohibited enforcing the law while it was sent it back to lower courts. Sykes wrote: “The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free-press guarantees.” Judge Richard Posner dissented. (While the appeal was pending, several news organizations filed a brief urging the 7th Circuit panel to block enforcement of the law.)

See U.S. Supreme Court denial of certiorari here on line 12-318 (PDF File)

Relevant portions of Malongo in the Illinois State Supreme Court:

¶ 20
The constitutionality of a statute is a question of law that we review de novo
People v. Madrigal
, 241 Ill. 2d 463, 466 (2011). We presume that a statute is constitutional and, thus, the party challenging its constitutionality bears a burden of clearly establishing that the statute violates the constitution.

People v. Kitch
, 239 Ill. 2d 452, 466 (2011). In addition, if it is reasonably possible to construe the challenged statute in a manner that preserves its constitutionality, we have a duty to do so.

People v. Hollins
, 2012 IL 112754, ¶ 13.
¶ 21 As an initial matter, we reject the State’s suggestion that the trial court’s ruling in the present case was based entirely on due process. The defendant’s motion raised a first amendment challenge. The trial court gave careful consideration and significant weight to the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Alvarez, a first amendment case. Finally, in its written order, the trial court specifically described the statute as “vague” and noted that it subjects innocent conduct to prosecution; in effect, the court found the statute to be overbroad. While vagueness and overbreadth may be considered in a due process challenge, they are also properly applied in the first amendment context. See,
People v. Sharpe
, 216 Ill. 2d 481,
527 (2005) (if first amendment rights are not at stake in a vagueness challenge, “due process is satisfied if: (1) the statute’s prohibitions are sufficiently definite, when measured by common understanding and practices, to give a person of ordinary intelligence fair warning as to what conduct is prohibited, and (2) the statute provides sufficiently definite standards for law enforcement officers and triers of fact that its application does not depend merely on their private conceptions” (internal quotation marks omitted));

City of Chicago v. Pooh Bah Enterprises, Inc.
, 224 Ill. 2d 390, 442 (2006) (“[W]hen a law threatens to inhibit the exercise of constitutionally protected righ ts such as those protected under the first amendment, the Constitution demands that a more stringent vagueness test be applied. In such a scenario, a statute is void for vagueness if it reaches a substantial amount of constitutionally protected conduct.”).

Moving forward, there are also these gems from case law archives: 

People v. Ceja, 204 Ill. 2d 332, 349-50 (2003) (holding that consent under the eavesdropping statute may be express or implied; implied consent is consent in fact, inferred from the surrounding circumstances that indicate the individual knowingly agreed to the recording). Clark, 2014 IL 115776, 22. and United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. 460, 473 (2010) (a statute may be invalidated as overbroad if a substantial number of its applications are unconstitutional when judged in relation to the statute’s legitimate sweep). 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chicago Amateur Radio Operator Openly Admits to Abusing Neighborhood Watch Position

Earlier today,  one of the more popular amateur radio operators in Chicago, Illinois, was heard conversing on the Chicago FM Club UHF amateur (ham radio) repeater system (443.750Mhz), when he openly stated that he routinely "hides and peeks around local street corners" then saying this: "I have a cell phone, ya know, and I call 911 for the neighborhood watch, we help the police and they appreciate it. We have a cellular phone network. We patrol and sneak around, we follow people around to see what they're doing, and then we call the police when they commit a crime."

The radio op is not being named to protect his safety.

1. Following people around creates BIG problems!! According to Illinois Law, said operator admitted to placing people under unlawful surveillance, hence, (720 ILCS 5/12-7.3) (from Ch. 38, par. 12-7.3)Sec. 12-7.3. Stalking. 

(a-3) A person commits stalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, on at least 2 separate occasions follows another person or places the person under surveillance or any combination thereof

2. When people do this, the police oftentimes find that the cases they worked so hard on end up getting dismissed due to the stupidity of their so-called "supporters".  This includes those 911 calls that result in arrests, all because the defense attorney finds out that some ill-informed and badly trained volunteer from "neighborhood watch" did something such as place people under unlawful surveillance by way of following the defendant around without proper training or proper authorization.

3. The CPD beat facilitators and Court Advocacy committee has repeatedly told these neighborhood watch types about taking things too far, about placing themselves at risk they don't need to take, and about the impact it has on various cases the police are actively working on. Too many times we walk into the court room just to find that the ASA, the arresting officer, and others involved in the case have had their time wasted in the court room because the defense attorney did his homework and found out that the neighborhood watch screwed everything up by acting outside of their simple task of only being a set of eyes and ears.

When we have to explain to the victim and their family that their offender is going free because neighborhood watch screwed up, we ALL look bad! Each time someone is arrested, the system goes into debt, because that 911 call costs money, the response costs money, the paperwork costs money, the paperwork processing costs money, locking up the defendant costs money, the court proceedings cost money for the work done by the ASA, the Judge, the Court Reporter, the Sheriff's Department personnel who man our courtrooms, and prisoner transport costs money.

The next issue is this: neighborhood watch calling 911 for misdemeanors that fall well below the priority level CPD is currently functioning at! STOP Calling 911 for STUPID things and start worrying about the bigger felony problems such as felony violence (things like shootings, attempted murder, armed robbery, felony gang crimes, felony narcotics offenses that involve a huge dealing operation or involve weapons, human trafficking, and those sorts of things)

Calling 911 because someone is black or hispanic, or a group of young people who are non-white but not doing anything more than simply existing is a HUGE problem with CPD neighborhood watch, and the operator being referred to has been guilty of making these sorts of calls.

The things that neighborhood watch calls in as "suspicious" are usually things that no one else in a reasonable frame of mind would even associate with suspicious activity. Examples of some of the sillier things that get called in by neighborhood watch: a black guy pulls out a pack of smokes and grabs one for his friend, hands it to him, and all of a sudden the watch folks think it's a "drug deal", then there's the car with a couple people sitting in it waiting for a friend to come out from their house so they can go grab a bite to eat together, and the parent at the park with their kid who has a facial disfigurement, or the gender non-conforming person whose only crime is being gender non-conforming and being out in public going from point - A to point - B. There's also the calls made about people the watch folks don't particularly like, so they make something up and call 911. How about the innocent diabetic community member who is only guilty of taking his/her insulin injection in public, but to the watch folks, they're a drug abuser until proven otherwise.

Oh, can't forget the calls made to 911 about a metally ill community resident who hasn't done anything wrong except to go out in public, but no, neighborhood watch can't have that, they have to call this innocent person in and make sure they hassle them simply for being mentally ill. GET A CLUE: The mentally ill are more likely to be a VICTIM than an offender!! 

Nice set of values at CPD neighborhood watch, huh?  
Court Advocacy has its own problems such as Court Advocates not paying attention to violent felony offenses, and opting to go to misdemeanor court instead to deal with petty quality of life crap. This problem is widespread through CPD, and someone at 35th street needs to start getting on top of this. Victims of violent crime, including the deceased who pass away from victimization, and their families are going without the support they need because Court Advocacy is too busy paying attention to less important things.

The bottom line is that you don't abuse your position of public trust, even if it IS a volunteer gig.You don't use it to judge people and discriminate, you don't use it to hassle people, you defintely don't use it to play "special agent" and follow people around with your cell phone at the ready to call 911 when you have no clue what you're looking at!!! LOOK, LISTEN, and THINK before you call in someone and cause them all sorts of unneeded trouble. Would be nice to see some of these over-the-top watch people get charged with false calls to 911 sometimes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SCOTUS Set to Hear Arguments in 1ST Amendment Case - U.S. Vs. Elonis

What is U.S. Vs. Elonis, and WHY is it SO IMPORTANT? 

Anthony Elonis is an individual in the commonwealth country of Pennsylvania who was arrested after what he says was simply the act of "venting" on Facebook.  Elonis wrote status updates such as:
"Did you know that it's illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife?
It's illegal.
It's indirect criminal contempt.
It's one of the only sentences that I'm not allowed to say.
Now it was okay for me to say it right then because I was just telling you that it's illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife."
According to Elonis, he obtained the above words from The Whitest Kids U' Know, in which comedian Trevor Moore begins "Did you know that it's illegal to say, 'I want to kill the president of the United States of America.' "

Elonis was subsequently arrested, tried, and convicted. The court gave Elonis 44 months in prison, followed by a term of supervised community release. Criminologist Rob D'Ovidio of Drexel University is watching this case closely.

Pennsylvania isn't part of the U.S.? 

Yes, the term "commonwealth country" was used in place of the term "state". Legally, a commonwealth is not a state and does not enjoy state status in the union of U.S. States. The reason for a commonwealth being only that has to do with how much of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Bill of Rights was ratified by a territory wishing to become a state and enjoy full status as a state in the union of U.S. states. There also needs to be a constitutional convention in which one third of state legislatures vote on things such as which territory can join the union of U.S. states.

For exactly these reasons, Shortwave America is treating Pennsylvania as a separate country within U.S. borders until there is evidence to suggest otherwise. SCOTUS cases involving commonwealth territories are always difficult for the court because a commonwealth draws their own law, and their laws are usually out of date and out of synch with the current day. Commonwealth territories are almost always more concerned about tradition and image than balancing the rights of people. 

The 1st Amendment, Threats, Misconduct, and Reasonable Restrictions on Speech

Elonis' case has traversed the court system, and now the U.S. Supreme Court says they'll hear the case and make a decision. Right from the Official SCOTUS Blog, Shortwave America has this tracking available: 

DateProceedings and Orders
Dec 20 2013Application (13A695) to extend the time to file a petition for a writ of certiorari from January 15, 2014 to March 7, 2014, submitted to Justice Alito.
Jan 6 2014Application (13A695) granted by Justice Alito extending the time to file until February 14, 2014.
Feb 14 2014Petition for a writ of certiorari filed. (Response due March 21, 2014)
Mar 12 2014Order extending time to file response to petition to and including April 21, 2014.
Mar 21 2014Brief amici curiae of Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, et al. filed.
Apr 21 2014Brief of respondent United States in opposition filed.
May 5 2014Reply of petitioner Anthony Douglas Elonis filed.
May 6 2014DISTRIBUTED for Conference of May 22, 2014.
May 27 2014DISTRIBUTED for Conference of May 29, 2014.
Jun 2 2014DISTRIBUTED for Conference of June 5, 2014.
Jun 9 2014DISTRIBUTED for Conference of June 12, 2014.
Jun 16 2014Petition GRANTED In addition to the question presented by the petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: "Whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U. S. C. §875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten."

As we can see, SCOTUS is looking at what is known as "statutory interpretation". This encompasses statutory scheme, statutory design, and statutory intent and spirit just to start with. The statutory interpretation of a threat is usually narrowed down to whether or not a person on the receiving end of a threat could reasonably feel as if they were going to be in reasonable jeopardy of being battered, and if he person making such threat did so knowingly, intentionally, and without legal justification.

The issue before SCOTUS is now precisely the following: (1) Whether, consistent with the First Amendment and Virginia v. Black, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten, as required by the Ninth Circuit and the supreme courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont; or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening, as held by other federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort; and (2) whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten.

How do you go about proving beyond the shadow of a doubt (remember, this is a criminal case from which the SCOTUS involvement has arisen)  that someone INTENDED to threaten someone such that they were in real and reasonable fear of receiving a battery? There usually needs to be what we know as intent to further the crime instead of an act of actual furtherance. 

In some states, the legal term for a threat varies. One state may call it simple assault, while another may call it something like "terroristic threats" or "making a threat to commit battery", or something similar along these lines. Many have questioned the constitutionality of laws against making threats for the reason that deciphering real intent to further the act versus something said in a moment of anger and other resulting high emotions is most times extremely difficult because it creates a "hear say" situation whereby it is simply one person's word against another person's word. 

The Supreme Court will consider if Elonis' language was a "true threat," which the lower court defined as speech that is so clearly objectionable, any objective listener could be scared.

The question here that should hopefully be taken in by the court is: If any reasonable objective listener could be scared, is it really a threat, or is it more along the lines of disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct? Both of these named things are criminal acts, but of lower seriousness. 

In all of these details, do the way these laws are prefaced and written rise to such a level that the first amendment to freedom of expression is violated? Do we need to raise the bar for defining a real threat versus conduct that is only mildly to moderately scary / disturbing? 

When looking at speech, no matter where it's done, we always refer to two things: The Miller Test (also called the Three Prong Obscenity Test) in MILLER v. CALIFORNIA, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)
413 U.S. 15
, and Time and Place Restrictions applied to the first amendment. Also, as shown above, the Virginia Vs. Black in 538 U.S. 343 , 155 L.Ed.2d 535 is being looked at when balancing the matters of this case.  

Virginia Vs. Black was based upon the following facts:  "Respondents were convicted separately of violating a Virginia statute that makes it a felony "for any person ..., with the intent of intimidating any person or group ..., to burn ... a cross on the property of another, a highway or other public place," and specifies that "[a]ny such burning ... shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to intimidate a person or group." When respondent Black objected on First Amendment grounds to his trial court's jury instruction that cross burning by itself is sufficient evidence from which the required "intent to intimidate" could be inferred, the prosecutor responded that the instruction was taken straight out of the Virginia Model Instructions. Respondent O'Mara pleaded guilty to charges of violating the statute, but reserved the right to challenge its constitutionality."

Communication while in a psychological state of emotional turmoil (anger, high anxiety, passion arising from a closely held belief system, etc) and behavioral criminality are almost always dependent upon context in each different situation since the police, prosecutors, and even the court knows that no situation is the same. 

When looking at whether nor not a statute is unconstitutional, we look at two elemental questions: 

1.Is it unconstitutional on its face? Meaning we ask "is it unconstitutional no matter what?"  
2. Is it unconstitutional as applied? Meaning we ask: "was one person or one group of people treated differently than another in the same or substantially similar conduct?" 

First amendment reasonable restrictions on speech: Time, Place, and Manner attach to the first amendment in a four part test.

1.  Does the regulation serve an important governmental interest?
2.  Is the government interest served by the regulation unrelated to the suppression of a particular message?
3.  Is the regulation narrowly tailored to serve the government's interest?
4.  Does the regulation leave open ample alternative means for communicating messages?   

What the court (SCOTUS) does is to take all of this together, and sometimes they may even consider whether or not something new needs to be added, enhanced, modified, or even taken out. The court will also be looking at the usual standard of taking the speech all together with the totality of facts and circumstances, and deciding what was reasonable under law and what wasn't. 

Media and Entertainers Could Get Swept - Up in a Bad SCOTUS Decision

If SCOTUS decides that a threat is defined exactly by what Elonis did, then various media and entertainment people can get caught up in the aftermath of bad interpretations, bad legislation that will surely follow, and lots of people will end up losing their freedom and liberty because all it will take is some overly - sensitive individual or a smart aleck to say they "feel threatened" and that defendant will be arrested, held in jail, and tried. The circuit courts across our nation will be overrun with threat cases, and everyone will have to worry about what they say. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Open Letter To The U.S. Amateur Radio Community and The ARRL - Field Day, Contesting, and Emergency Communications

This is directed at amateur radio operators from the West coast to the East coast of the U.S. and the ARRL. If this makes you uncomfortable, or otherwise finds you severely upset in regards to content, no one really cares. Go complain to someone who'll play their tiny violin for you.

This author, like many others in amateur radio, got into this for the love of radio and learning the science of radio communications since it teaches a LONG list of useful, practical, and needed communications and research skills. Amateur radio can help teach mathematics, geography, culture, earth and space sciences, etc. Radio can also be a form of useful medical and mental health therapy for those with chronic illnesses who are sometimes house-bound, or otherwise can't always get out and about. Radio gives these folks a way to be part of the outside world because it is a form of human interaction.

However, a collective of many amateur operators have found that the whole emergency aspect has been over-blown, and made to be the holy grail of amateur radio, especially the yearly nationwide "Field Day" event held by the ARRL! The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) has been dishonest about what Field Day really is.

Field Day is billed by the ARRL as being all about emergency communications. What a line of Bullshit! Field Day is a CONTEST and has nothing to do with practicing emergency communications skills. Field Day brings out two different crowds...the "whackers" or what we otherwise call the "whack-out and whack-off crew" who falsely think of themselves as THE experts, and also tend to look ridiculous in all of their unneeded emergency garb, coming awful close to false personation of emergency personnel.

The next crew in the emcomm "Field Day" crowd are your contesters. These are your technically adept, highly skilled, but rude and obnoxious people with zero social or conversational skills who love nothing more than making meaningless contacts where everyone is 5/9, and all you have to do is make a quick exchange of callsigns and tactical or logistical information that sounds EXACTLY like this: Operator callsign followed by operation class, and their state with their city.
THAT is NOT practicing emcomm skills, it's contesting!

The same exchange happens with Digital modes as well. Then there's always the argumant that it "exposes new amateur operators to radio", amateur operators don't need to be "exposed" to radio, they need to start using their license, whatever class they hold, to start learning the science and art of communications.

For far too long, amateur radio has been all about the boys. Amateur radio has been overrun for a long time with meatheaded, super macho - jocks, republican and libertarian conspiracy junkies who need serious psychiatric help, rich libs and neo-libs who want everyone censored if it doesn't tow the ARRL party line, and who also subscribe to the "separate but equal" and NIMBY mentalities. These are factual observations made over a period of years.

Chicago / Suburban Amateur Radio Culture as Example of Rampant Social and Political Dishonesty 

Earlier today, this very discussion about field day and emcomm vs. contesting took place on the NS9RC repeater in Chicago, Illinois between two parties who will not be named, but when the party divulging these facts set henceforth, the  "repeater trustee", Don - KK9H, openly censored the radio op on the air and said "why don't you keep your opinions to yourself, you can't say that on THIS repeater, and we don't want to hear it" Obviously, the op struck a nerve and the repeater organization can't deal with hearing the truth, and so they now call truth an opinion and tell people to be quiet. Typical liberal side-stepping from the rich, far north, suburban spoiled brats. What we have here is a good old case of "affluenza" where entitlement tries to overrun facts by using brute force to unfairly stifle meaningful and needed discussion in the amateur radio community.

Don - KK9H, is your typical one-way conduit of information type of guy who is backed by his fellow sufferers of affluenza at the North Shore Radio Club. What they do is to create a false dichotomy, and a one - way tolerance in which they'll have you around for so long as you buy their brand of bullshit and never talk about what's real in the wider amateur radio community outside of secret closed door discussions. THAT is also a DIRECT show of culpability towards intentional dishonesty and goes to a lack of upstanding collective character. This is something CFMC used to be known for.

In being communicators, is it not part of our mission to have these discussions about HOW and WHY we use communications, the issues at hand, and bring things into the light even if it's unpopular and uncomfortable? Turning your head or burying your head in the proverbial sand doesn't help anyone, nor does it go to helping any certain cause. What it does is allow community-wide problems to fester as the open, gushing wound it is. The necessary first-aid for this is to stop the bleeding, and prevent infection. This is done only by dealing with the problems instead of practicing avoidance, except when and where avoidance is used only AFTER the issues have been dealt with as a sort of preventative care.

ARRL Field Day Rules Prove Field Day To Be About Contesting

The ARRL sets up rules for all of the so - called "radio sports" they get into and offer to the amateur radio community at large. These are what we know as contests. Contests are in the factual sense, the bane of amateur radio because of the behavior on display, and because they take up significant portions of the bands, and therefore use up unnecessary bandwidth. 

ARRL Official Field Day websiteOfficial ARRL Field Day Rules for 2014. Let's see, shall we? Yes, just as suspected, the website when used in conjunction with the ARRL rules proves beyond the preponderance of the evidence that Field Day is about contesting, not the practice and art of emergency communications.

What other things are missing to make Field Day about emergency communications? For starters, there are no specific emergency drills or practice emergency scenarios involved which would facilitate the basis, need, and foundation for emergency communications "practice" to be held.

With that HUGE element missing, there can be no other steps taken to have a practice emcomm session such as Field Day.

Now, if the ARRL wanted to be factually honest, they would re-brand field day as a family friendly event to present amateur radio and all of its involved / associated sciences to families and individuals from all walks of life. Get rid of the emcomm moniker, replace it with a slower tempo, non-contest, relaxing and fun sort of experience, and it can be at least 90% guaranteed that amateur radio will see new licensees. There should be testing sessions at each moderate to large scale Field Day event so people can obtain new licenses, upgrade their current licenses, etc. 

How about having some seminars on radio basics?  Talks involving multi-media presentations about being able to hear people from all over the world right from your home or your car, your bike, and making contacts with those people. How about interactive community relationship - building experiences whereby the public can see all the different aspects of amateur radio at play, including satellite stations? 

Young people from the earliest of ages, to the young adult 20s and 30s crowds are heavily involved in computers today. We should be teaching them how to use amateur radio to set up new and innovative uses for radio in respect to computers and social networking so that when there is no cellular signals, and / or no internet, radio will have a new use. This will also give the radio community ideas for emcomm drills that can be practiced, especially in the event of cyber-terrorism. 

The advanced world has made the mistake of not properly securing various internet and computer related things, so it would be entirely possible that because our electrical systems, our water systems, our mail systems, payment and banking systems, automotive applications and various other important parts of electronic infrastructure is, for the most part, tied together by way of computers, if a cyber-terror group were to attack with any sort of strong, directed, sustained attack, amateur radio could be there as the final means of communication that cyber-criminals / cyber-terrorists wouldn't be able to screw with.
Closing Remarks

Given the points made in the above three sections, and the facts presented, the amateur radio community nationwide, and the ARRL would be well-served to be more realistic about where they belong in the scheme of our nation's emergency communications infrastructure, stop playing the immature ego games, start discussing and addressing real problems in a public and visible manner so as to be 100% transparent, and start painting an honest picture about what amateur radio is and isn't, especially in regards to Field Day and emcomm.  

Stop censoring open discussion on the air simply because it makes a few jerks uncomfortable. The jerks who are uncomfortable have the option of turning the dial, turning the radio off, or going to do something else. Pandering to uptight, over-privileged, bratty, closed-minded ignoramuses is only making things worse.

Reject racial profiling, ethnic, disabillity, sex based / orientation based, gender based, and other types of already illegal discrimination in all aspects of amateur radio. Take a stand against cliques, against political and social bullying, and take a solid stand against on-air censorship when and where there are no FCC violations committed.

Take a clear stand against amateur radio ops who have certain available technology, but attempt to limit its use to "their group". We are already seeing this happen with things like TDMA, where a few individuals who may or may not be a clique or group of some sort feel they need to "approve" of someone before they mentor them in this newest radio technology and help them learn where and how to obtain the programing software, equipment, etc. Self-policing does not mean hogging an entire technology or using it to separate other ops out of amateur radio.

Overly aggressive gate-keeping needs to stop if we are to be taken seriously as today's FCC described "existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts." and if we are to provide what the FCC mandates as "Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Entercom Sets Industry Standard For On-Air Responsibility and Communications Ethics

May 22nd started out as a glim day for those who had the unfortunate experience of listening to Kimberly and Beck in Rochester, New York on 98.9 - The Buzz. The topic of discussion on Kimberly and Beck's show was medical insurance coverage for Transgender city employees in Rochester.

What should have been a mature fact - filled discussion quickly became one false statement after another intended to shame and embarrass transgender persons, as the show aired irresponsible memes about trans persons that rose to the level of psychological violence, and possibly could have had the effect of inciting violence against trans persons simply based on old, worn out, untrue, and disproven political talking points.

Entercom Entertainment quickly fired the two show hosts, saying this: "This morning Entercom fired Kimberly and Beck effective immediately. Their hateful comments against the transgender community do not represent our station or our company. We deeply apologize to the transgender community, the community of Rochester, and anyone else who was offended by their hateful comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership."

Kimberly and Beck called transgender people "nut jobs," trivialized the need for transgender health care, and played Aerosmith's Dude Looks Like A Lady throughout the segment. When a caller expressed disappointment in the hosts' transphobic commentary, another host responded "thank you, sir," in an attempt to mock the caller's gender.

1. Kimberly and Beck ignored the fact that Gender Dysphoria is a serious medical problem that is rooted in biological basis, requiring safe and effective medical treatment.

2. Kimberly and Beck did absolutely no research into what gender dysphoria is, or what it means to be transgender. Their abusive, vitriolic speech, and dangerous use of their place in the public spotlight highlighted their blatant disregard for the rights of fellow human beings.

3. The show hosts conflated gender identity with other things that are not related at all to the development of sex and gender.

4. Kimberly falsely used the presence of reproductive anatomy to spread misinformation about development of sex and gender. Playing to the false notion that trans persons, specifically transwomen, have "testosterone" and are therefore stronger than "women" gave rise to losing the fact that all women have some level of testosterone in their system.

5. Misogyny and trans-misogyny in the form of tasteless reference to female reproductive anatomy as a "back-up glove".

6. Kimberly and Beck fell so low as to introduce the "political correctness" argument when and where they say they are "used to all the nuances of desensitization".

Not ONLY were Kimberly and Beck fired, the consequences were even farther reaching for Entercom. "Critical Mass swiftly and overwhelmingly spoke out in support of transgender rights, and  advertisers were quick to pull their financial support from the program and the station." - Huffington Post

"The rallying cries of the transgender community are no longer heard only by left-leaning, insular groups without a stake in commerce, business or popular culture. Rather, issues of importance to the ever more visible transgender community are playing out on NBC and CNN, on the New York Times bestseller list and Netflix, and in the pages of this very paper." - Huffington Post

What we see here are the consequences of reckless and violent behavior. The social media reaction across the internet included volumes of transphobic responses that devolved into threats of sexual assault, and murder. In-between the violent responses to this sad event, were found thoughtful, caring, understanding, and educational comments advocating for the utmost of human rights and human decency towards transgender persons. 
Little did the transgender community know that BIG BUSINESS would have their back on that fateful May 22nd. While Kimberly and Beck were screaming about their "freedom of speech" which doesn't apply in the workplace, everyday people and well-known, multi-billion dollar businesses were voting with two powerful things: their money and their radio dials.

The standard of decency towards those with medical needs was given a HUGE one-up by Entercom in the best of all possible ways, as Entercom stepped - up in real time, and took a stand against hate radio for not only their own business interests, but, it made a statement that being transgender or being a person with any valid medical need is NOT a reason for ignorant, irresponsible, immature bashing of real human beings by pompous radio show hosts.   

The standard for on-air reponsibility and professional usage of communications ethics has been set by Entercom. Civility, skill, willingness to do research before presenting a discussion or a bit, and common - sense decency are called for in today's world of mass radio communications. Hopefully, this becomes a trend. 

Here are some good questions for Kimberly and Beck:

Would you have gone on the same rant if Rochester had introduced insurance coverage for lesser known, but serious medical conditions?

Would you have played a song in the background against any other legally protected group of people, simply because they have more unique medical needs than the general public?

Would you have gotten on the mic and lambasted a woman who was born without a vagina, and had to have surgery to install one after it was made for her in a lab? Surely you would have told her to pay for it out of her own pocket?

Did you know that the sort of tirade you went on is what trans people, most often trans women and ESPECIALLY trans women of color hear just moments before they are murdered for being trans?

Were you aware that screeds like you went on LIVE to who knows how many listeners, was a trigger for an untold number of transgender people? Surely, you knew that any given number of trans people with a history of surviving horrid abuse of various types, and those with severe challenges otherwise, could have been lost to suicide or their conditions made worse by hearing you dehumanize them without remorse?    

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Problem With Northern Illinois "Skywarn" - Part 1 in a Series

For the past 25 years and possibly longer in Northern Illinois, there has been a pattern of abuse happening within the Skywarn community. Anyone who has listened to and observed Skywarn up-close in Northern Illinois will have to honesty tell you that Skywarn is a front for a crew of rather rich, white, privileged, racist, bourgeois, xenophobic, suburban neo-fascists with racial and financial privilege that gets them places in regards to local and regional politics.

The Problem Starts With Ego, Selfishness, and Exclusion

What happens when you grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth, grow old, and have been given the unchecked privileges that come with being white, raised in the suburbs, given social preference based on your race and region of residence, handed a college education which led to an overpaid career that was already pre-arranged for you by someone, and your friendships, your very social standing depends on towing the party line and excluding certain groups of people?

You get a show of ego, selfishness, and exclusion. Amateur Radio has been used by a large group of folks at Skywarn from affluent suburbs as their personal playground, and they have given themselves authority to decide who can participate and who can't. This same group has also decided which areas / regions get the protection of skywarn spotters in regards to ground coverage and what reports get relayed to the NWS (National Weather Service) without delay based on a number of factors that rise to being patently illegal discrimination.

The Chicago Way 
Anyone who knows anything about the amateur radio scene in Chicago and the link to certain suburbs, especially the far northern burbs, knows that there are certain players who have brought the "Chicago way" to amateur radio and the public service aspect. First, it is important to note that public agencies have no real need for amateur radio. Public service agencies have their own equipment, they have their own official relationships with trusted agencies, and they are all trained by their respective governments or respective agencies. It doesn't matter if they're municipal, county, state, or federal. It also matters not whether they are an NGO (non-governmental agency) or NFP (not for profit).

Realistically speaking, the "public service" aspect of amateur radio is the clever jargon used to conceal the real intent of these folks: to bring a new level of nosiness into play. See, this crowd are mostly believers in a paranoid motto that says "In God We Trust, All Others We Monitor". They actually believe they have a right to listen in to a wide range of frequencies and to decode all different manner of electronic radio communication modes under the guise of being associated with "amateur radio public service".

They actually believe that they have a right to be involved in huge events such as the Bank of America 5K Run, certain big bicycle events, and all sorts of other things. The "public service" they provide could easily be done by the event organizers or an outside contractor with staff that actually specialize in that sort of business practice.

All of this started with things like Skywarn, and it quickly became a situation where they were given an inch and they took a mile. The very motivation and sole reason was because these people are engaging in a sick form of nosiness that resembles voyeurism. Observing their personalities, behaviors, and practices tells a story of people who have a pre-occupation with needing to feel as if they are in possession of information and other things that no one else has or can obtain.

The reality is that anyone can find out all of this stuff with a few keystrokes or simply by listening to a combination of trustworthy news sources, amateur radio frequencies, and doing a little bit of investigating.

Investigative Journalism, Criticism, Truth Telling, and Dissent Are Easily Silenced

Earlier today on the North Shore Radio Club UHF repeater (442.575Mhz +114.8PL), this reporter was on with Jan - NE2AR, and we were talking about the differences and disparities between Chicago and certain suburban regions in regards to emergency response after major storms and other emergencies. This author pointed out that those disparities go to to racial, financial, and political privilege. My exact comment was that I observed how everyone goes running to the rescue of the mostly white and financially affluent areas of concern when disaster happens, but no one comes running to the rescue of other areas where there is a mix of people. 

Don - KK9H happened to be participating in the conversation when I did this, thinking he would be intelligent enough and honest enough to admit that this problem exists. I mean, after all, he IS the former Mayor of Northbrook, Illinois, and is now a financially loaded financial business professional.

KK9H comes back on and respectfully gives his disagreement with what I said. I immediately see that he's defensive, as his voice tone and other voice characteristics tell that story. He wasn't just defensive, he's annoyed and offended. The truth tends to lead to these sorts of behaviors, and especially when someone has something to protect. Given Don's association with NSRC, his former political career, his current career, and his social following, he has a status quo and more to protect.

One should note the conversation went on after Don left the conversation even though he was on company time at his workplace. See, Don keeps an HT or something by his side so he can "monitor the repeater". Jan - NE2AR, and myself continued our conversation in which I mentioned certain facts about Northern Illinois Skywarn and how they operate. I linked it with suburban, racial, and social privilege. Don came back on and specificaly said "This is an inappropriate conversation, and I woud like you to keep your opinions off of this repeater. I'm about this close to shutting off this repeater." (funny how facts now become opinions, unless it supports the group, then it's just fine)

My so-called offensive comments? Those will be told in the next section when I tie it all together. The investigative journalism comes in when and where I have asked a lot of questions and attempted lots of research into a dangerous pattern of behavior that could potentially leave the Romeoville NWS Office on the hook for civil damages even though they likely have no clue what's happening.

The questions I've asked have been mostly met with silence, being witness to buck passing, attempted deception by dishonest or misleading answers, ignored e-mails, etc. There have been times when honest, genuine, criticism has been given and was again met with being silenced / shamed. Truth telling about any given subject has been answered by the "community" with the equivalent of Don's above words, or even worse. There has even been private phone calls from certain people high up the chain at NSRC where there was actual dictation of what could and could not be talked about.

The list of "approved" conversation topics pretty much left this, and other operators with literally two topics: emergency traffic, and check - in to nets. BUT, it was ok for everyone else to talk about anything and everything. This operator was told repeatedly that certain "listeners" of the repeater were gravely offended by simple, ordinary, enlightened, factual, conversations such as weather, gardening, traffic, everyday mundane banter between operators, and everything else you can imagine. 
The funny fact is that these "complaining" stations never even use the repeater! Not even on net night! These same stations don't check in or anything. They sit and listen, then they complain to everyone who will bend to their psychotic thought process instead of turning the dial and exercising choice. When dissent is expressed on ANY matter, even when it is done diplomatically, the reaction is shaming and silencing of that voice of dissent.
The "Offensive" and "Non-Existent"  Truth Revealed 
For twenty five years, this reporter and other people have listened to the Skywarn operations in Northern Illinois, operations that comprise the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Will, Grundy, DeKalb, Boone, McHenry, and Lake.

The fact is that Illinois is segregated by race, ethnicity, religion, financial status, and popularity. Northern Illinois Skywarn ops all report to one central repeater system that then forwards their reports from their local area repeater net control to the National Weather Service. In deploying weather spotters, and deciding which reports are sent to the NWS first, the clusters of popular amateur operators who are from high income, white majority communities are given preference. Areas with mixed race, mixed ethnicity, and areas that are not so financially well-off are either given poor to marginal deployment of spotters deployed by each amateur radio group, or their areas are completely neglected altogether, and those spotters who are not with a specific group who are from mixed race / mixed ethnicity neighborhoods with a variance of financial standings see a delay in their reports being handed over to the central repeater group that passes information on to the NWS.

All of this leads to specific groups of white, financially affluent amateur operators and their friends representing a "priority cluster" which provides and experiences the protection and core benefit of early severe weather warning reporting.

These facts lead a person in a reasonable state of mind to conclude that preponderance of the evidence proves that this rises to a level of cruel, wanton, civil rights violation by specific FCC licensed amateur radio operators and their groups which could end up with the NWS taking legal heat, even though there is no evidence that they are even aware of these practices in the field and at net control stations. 
Does The National Weather Service NEED Amateur Radio Operators or Spotters At All? 

The simple and factual answer is a resounding, NO. Given the presence of  local, county, and state employees on the streets representing government operations such as law enforcement, emergency fire and emergency medical services, public works, railroad, mass transit, and other trained weather spotters with access to better, more reliable radio communications, cell phones, internet access, etc, there is no need for amateur radio involvement other than the need for even the whitest and most financially well-off people to play God and decide who gets early weather warnings first, and who never gets them at all.