Oil Spill in Santa Barbara 5-20-2015


Photo by Edward McCabe


On Wednesday an oil pipeline ruptured and spilled oil that eventually made its way to the ocean and along the Santa Barbara area coastline. Estimates so far are that approximately 105,000 gallons of oil were spilled. The oil spilled for a few hours before it was shut off. The pipeline that ruptured moved oil from an onshore oil facility to processing plants in other areas. The oil spilled into a culvert, then went under a highway and into a storm drain that spilled into the ocean.

Scenic coastline was effected and two state beach parks were closed over the Memorial Day weekend. The oil spill was not as huge as the previous oil spill in 1969 that had a disastrous effect on wildlife and tourism. Crews have been busy containing the oil spill at sea while others are cleaning up the beaches. Environmentalists are trying to save the lives of wildlife such as sea birds. There are two species of sea birds in the area that are considered to be endangered species. There is a snowy plover reserve in the area that is off limits to people specifically to save this endangered species.

This oil spill comes at a time directly after the voters of Santa Barbara County voted against a measure on the ballot to not allow fracking in the county for either onshore or offshore oil extraction. The fact that citizens had to work so hard to collect enough signatures to put it on the ballot only to be defeated by millions of dollars of direct mail advertising from the oil companies is an example of the flaws in the democratic process of government. Voters in the North County where people are employed in onshore oil drilling operations may have been fooled by the claims of the oil companies that not allowing fracking would destroy jobs. This claim of course was not true because conventional oil extraction provides the local jobs and there would be no significant increase in oil production jobs by allowing fracking.

The oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969 is credited by many as starting the environmental movement. Conservative Republican, Bob Lagomarsino, who was the representative from the district changed his views about environmentalism because of the 1969 oil spill. Rep. Lagomarsino who was on the powerful defense committee was primarily interested in bringing jobs to the area with military bases and defense contractors. He not only changed his views about environmentalism but he, also, decided that the area needed a better economic base than relying on federal defense contracts.

This new oil spill may not be as huge as the 1969 oil spill but it will supply more fuel in the local area to environmentalism and the need for political reform by bringing back painful memories. The heartbreaking imagery of the oil contaminated beaches and dying sea life are back and it must make people shake their heads, asking the question, “How could this happen again?”

Reflections on The Poet’s Vow by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Photo by George Hodan


Reflections on The Poet’s Vow by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Essay by Mark A Y Nuñez

During the course of settling the estate of my deceased parents I received back a volume of poetry that I had given to my sister. She said that she did not read poetry much anymore. Being alone in the empty home of my parents I started reading. I read The Seraphim and then The Poet’s Vow. It was a strange experience. I felt that I was reading the poetry for the first time and yet at a point I noticed that there seemed to be familiarity. I felt at home with the poetry much as I felt at home in the empty house that I had not visited for years. Then it occurred to me that I had read the first poems in the book before giving it as a Christmas gift so long ago to my sister.
I was amazed at how powerful of a poem The Poet’s Vow is. It had a very powerful effect on me. I pondered on the reasons why. I couldn’t help but think that the poet in the story was the opposite of myself. In the poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning the poet is so incensed by the moral weaknesses of his fellow human beings that he makes a vow to live alone and have no contact with any of his fellow humanity thereby purging himself of being soiled by their spiritual shortcomings. I, myself, have always tried to embrace humanity. The balance of trying to be a positive influence in people’s lives while not allowing people to have a corruptive influence on me has been my life’s challenge.
I am certainly writing this essay with the influence of events and my reflections about them that are current in my life and what I am observing in the world now. Not the least of these reflections has to do with interacting with my brothers, sisters and extended family during the course of selling this house and settling the inheritance. What this has to do with The Poet’s Vow is about interactions with people. Then in the time of Mrs. Browning as now at the beginning of this 21st century the moral and poetic principles are the same.
I observed after reading this powerful and sadly beautiful poem that Elizabeth’s poetic work gets much of its power from Christian religious references such as mention of God and angels. These religious influences of course are still with us today from our European heritage even here in America. I thought that in Elizabeth’s time this was the only avenue of spirituality that was open to her to use in her work. She may have gone against the grain in a sense by being a woman poet in a time when men had careers and women supported them in their careers. To this day however in our modern times when I had mentioned Elizabeth Barrett Browning to men they snidely made reference to her poem, How Do I Love Thee, as if to dismiss women poets as inferior. However in spite of going against the grain in that sense she seems to be very traditional for her times and not a counter cultural person. However putting the strong Christianity aside I simply can enjoy her work with the sense of universality to spirituality that is common to all peoples in all times. Her work would not be so powerful without the references to the absolutes of spirituality.
It was fascinating that the theme of the bond between a man and a woman as absolute was more meaningful to me because of being from a woman’s perspective. This negated any thought of the writing being like a sexist man using religion as a tool for keeping a woman in bondage to a man. It spoke more of the universality of the strong emotional ties in romance that become rooted deep in the psychology of a person. The fact that Elizabeth chose to use death as the absolute that would clearly show how powerful a force the love between a man and woman can be is what gives this poem so much emotional impact.
Once again when it comes to romance I seem to be the opposite of the poet in the story. I have declared my love to more than one lady but the circumstances of my life were not conducive to developing a lasting love relationship. The rivalries and jealousies among the ladies only contributed to the problems. The Poet’s Vow however makes me think of the hearts I broke along the way without intending to do so. It is definitely a reminder of the intense pain a human can feel when there appears to be a bond growing between a man and woman.
In the end The Poet’s Vow impressed on me how beautiful and awesome in her power as a poetess that Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s work is to this day. The universality of the themes about people needing people and the powerful bond between a man and woman transcend any differences in times and cultures. Credit has to be given to the poetess for her ability to make us reflect on the experiences of our own lives and bring out our emotions and thoughts concerning romance. Perhaps I am not in a stately mansion like the Hall of Courland, like the poet in the story but in this empty home where the clouds from the sea speed overhead to the inland areas the absolutes of the power of Nature make the experience of reading this poem even more meaningful.

Burglary at the House on Wednesday

The House 001Photo by Mark A Y Nunez
I left my sister’s house on my bicycle after dark on Wednesday and arrived at my parent’s house around nine at night. My parent’s house is being sold and is mainly vacant except for a few of my things. Some of my family members still have some things in the garage. Most of my possessions are in the garage. The garage is detached from the house and faces out on the alley. I had been staying overnight at my parents house but had been staying away for a few days because the real estate agent who is, also, the buyer would be coming through with appraisers. I saw the wooden gate on the side of the house was slightly open but that happens because it doesn’t latch well and there is always wind. When I went into the back yard and looked at the garage door it was open!I went into the garage and saw that a large speaker for my professional music amplification system was missing. The microphone case with my best microphone had been moved. I opened it and the microphone was missing. Strangely my best acoustic guitar was there. I went and saw that the big wooden gates for the driveway at the side of the garage were closed but the wooden board that secured it to keep the wind from blowing it open was set off to the side. Whoever had entered the garage had pushed the door with such force that the bolts had broken through the wood of the doorway.

I called my sister to tell her and was asking her if she thought I should call the police. I decided to call the police and report it because I felt that if people saw that the police came the people who were responsible would be less likely to come back. Others who might think of breaking in would, also, stay away. When I went to call the police I was standing in front of the big, wooden gates of the driveway next to the garage. I heard a voice saying, “Excuse me”. It was a neighbor man with his wife. They were saying they saw people in our yard and that they had a break in on Sunday with things stolen from them. They said they wanted to see in the garage because they knew the house was vacant and they thought the criminals may be storing stolen merchandise in the garage.

In the meantime I was already talking to the police and a police unit was on the way. I opened the gate and let the police talk to the man. He lived a few houses up on the other side of the alley. I introduced myself to the young man and his wife. Their names are Yesinia and Andy. They are Chicanos. The man said he saw six people in the yard. This was at 5:30. When he saw them coming out carrying the speaker he said to them, “I see you!” and they dropped the speaker. He said the police had taken the speaker. He handed me my lost microphone. Apparently they had dropped it on the ground.

A black policeman came in a big SUV truck. He took the report after we all went into the garage. When I told him that the neighbors had been burglarized on Sunday he asked them if they had reported it. They said, “No”. He asked if they wanted to report it now. They said, “Yes”. They said they had a bicycle and two TVs stolen. The neighbors said five of the people had been arrested but one had gotten away. The policeman asked the neighbors to describe them. They said they were all tall and medium build and they were all Hispanic. They described their clothes including a Raiders hat. They said they were around twenty except that two were teenagers around 16 and 17. They said the one that got away had a full beard and was scruffy looking. Yesenia said he always hangs out on E street and she knows where he lives on F street. The couple said they got a good look at all the guys and they know who they are.

The policeman asked them to describe the police officer who took my speaker. They said he was a white guy and he was tall and slim. The police officer came with my speaker. I asked if he needed it for evidence and he said no, I could have it. The first police officer went off to talk more with the couple. The second police officer offered to help me secure the door to the garage for the night. He explained that some of the hardware is ornamental and has small screws. He found longer screws in the garage to secure the metal to hold the bolt in place. He said that would make it impossible for someone to push on the door and break the wood. The piece of metal didn’t line up right so he asked if he could remove the molding to put the metal piece on the side of the doorway. This temporary fix worked.

Since then I have fixed the door and replaced the molding around the door. I have tested the speaker and microphone and they work. I thought the microphone clip to clip the microphone to a microphone stand was missing but I found it with one of my other microphones. I called and left a message with the policeman who took the report saying there are fingerprints on the little glass window on the door. I noticed a hand print on the door when the officers were there but the texture of the door wouldn’t allow for fingerprints.

I haven’t heard anything from the police officers but I assume they will get the gang members to plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a court case. It is more likely I might be called in as a witness to the previous burglary on Sunday with my neighbors if they can find proof that it is the same people responsible. I was very lucky that my neighbors were looking out for the burglars and stopped them when they did. This is not a good thing to happen in the middle of selling a house. Now I am spending every night at the house. My sister can’t complain that I am wasting electricity by leaving the outside light on that is on the garage next to the alley or the back patio light.

Former CIA Agent Sentenced for Leaking Secrets to Journalist


Photo by Tiago Moisés

Jeffrey Sterling received a lighter sentence than the 20 years prosecutors wanted for leaking secret information to a writer. He only received 3 1/2 years. The writer, James Risen, published a book with the information in 2006 called ‘State of War.” The secret information was about a CIA asset from Russia, code named Merlin, who in 2000 gave flawed plans to build nuclear weapons to Iran in the hopes of delaying their nuclear weapons program according to the report from NBC news.

Just as I was taught that the Russian people didn’t believe what they read in their own press during the Cold War I question this piece of journalism in the American media. First it really bothers me that we have an agency of the government known as the CIA that has been proven to have infiltrated the American press as well as everything else to propagandize the American people with their own political philosophies. To accomplish this they have perpetrated information campaigns full of outright lies to deliver to the American people. Worse yet in our current times mainstream media news services now openly admit they receive information directly from the CIA and consider their liaison with the secret, spy agency indispensable to carry out their function of delivering information to the American people. It has recently been reported that the CIA edits and approves scripts for television and movies.

During the Ronald Reagan administration CIA agents were planted in the Los Angeles Times as reporters .   They were sent to Central America to report on the Contras in Nicaragua.  They returned only to deliver the slant that the Reagan administration was giving to the people.   They were discovered and fired by the Los Angeles Times.

The American people at one time understood that their military used Army and Navy intelligence during time of war.  With the invasion of Iraq the American people have now been treated to the spectacle of the mainstream media and the American government speaking openly about this “secret” organization being involved in daily military operations.  Like the reporters who were “embedded” with American soldiers during the invasion the CIA has now become embedded in the minds of Americans as indispensable to military operations.

In this world of espionage clearly the CIA feels it has the right to control information.  How do I know that this entire escapade of selling bad blueprints for building nuclear weapons to the Iran government isn’t just another CIA media campaign?

Source: http://www.theneeds.com/news/n8100679/ex-cia-spy-gets-3-1-2-years-nbcnews

Democrats Who Voted For The Keystone XL Pipeline

oil firePhoto from Library of Congress

Perhaps many Americans are unaware of the importance of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project and its political importance in both Canada and America.  In fact it is an issue that puts a spotlight on everything that is wrong in American politics right now.

First, it is important to understand what the project consists of and why environmentalists are adamantly opposed to it.  The oil development project consists of extracting oil from sands that are saturated with tar.  This tar is known as bitumen.  This is nothing like normal oil operations.  This involves oil extraction techniques known as fracking.   Vast amounts of heat, water and chemicals are used to extract the tar from the sand, silt and clay.  Already in California it has been discovered that oil companies have illegally dumped three billion gallons of toxic water polluted by fracking into California’s aquifers.  Aquifers are underground water supplies.   In addition the amount of water used for fracking in drought stricken California is a scandal in and of itself.

Just recently there has been a natural gas leak that forced people to be evacuated from their homes in eastern Ohio due to a fracking incident.  Last summer a fire broke out in eastern Ohio at a Halliburton fracking site that spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into an Ohio river.  Last October in eastern Ohio a rupture spread natural gas and methane forcing the evacuation of over 400 families.  One worker was killed in a fire.  In another rupture several acres of woods caught on fire.  In Canada indigenous people have been removed from their land and have fallen victim to rare cancers and other diseases due to tar sands oil extraction.


Illustration by Dominique Chappard

The Keystone XL Pipeline project has become a lens into the current dirty politics at work in Washington.  It was used to keep long-term unemployed people from receiving the Federal Unemployment Extension after their state unemployment benefits ran out.  Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to allow a bi-partisan Senate passed bill to renew it for five months with retroactive payments as an emergency measure to help the unemployed by passing it on to President Obama asking him to add a jobs creation bill to it.  This is the first time in American history that the House of Representatives has not passed a Federal Unemployment Extension benefits bill after it has passed the Senate.  These are nasty times in American politics and the long-term unemployed have been used as a bargaining chip.

President Barack Obama did not even bother to call John Boehner on the issue.  One of his greatest failures as president is his inability to work with the Republican leadership.  Unfortunately the jobs creation bills that were passed by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives all included approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, tax cuts for the largest corporations and wealthiest people and reductions in environmental laws.  This is why the Senate which until recently was under Democratic control would not allow a vote on these House passed bills.  Meanwhile all of the jobs creation bills sponsored and approved by the Democrats and Obama have not been allowed to come to a vote in the House under the leadership of John Boehner.

In fact the leadership of the Republican party has been taken over by the Tea Party, a group that pretends to be grassroots but is really funded by the multi-billionaire Koch brothers.  When David Koch ran for president as the Libertarian candidate he had a platform that included abolishing minimum wage, social security, unemployment payments and privatizing the post office.  The Koch brothers heavily fund the political campaigns of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.  Mitch McConnell is now the Senate majority leader.  He is known for his extreme right wing views.  He was tape recorded in a conversation with the Koch brothers in which he bashed minimum wage, unemployment benefits and student loans.  He is known for bashing consumer financial protections and environmental protection laws.

Democrat Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana voted for the Keystone XL pipeline.  In Louisiana’s primary system if no single candidate gets enough votes there is a run off election between the top two candidates in December.  The Democrats failed to supply Mary L. Landrieu’s campaign with the promised one million dollars to defeat Republican candidate, Bill Cassidy, choosing instead to use the money in other campaigns.  This shows how in the current American system financial contributions to political campaigns from the districts or states in which a candidate is running do not win elections.   Not only can multi-billionaires such as the Koch brothers help to decide elections in small states like Kentucky where right wing Mitch McConnell is from but the Democratic National Convention and its Republican counterpart can help to decide local elections with their treasure chest of campaign money.  The only reason I can think of that Mary Landrieu would vote for the environmentally unsafe Keystone XL pipeline which would terminate at a processing plant in nearby Texas is to appear to be pro-business and pro-jobs .  This, in spite of the fact that nationally the pipeline would create few jobs and displace farmers.  She had lost much of her electoral base because Hurricane Katrina caused many blacks who traditionally voted Democrat to leave the state.  Mary Landrieu lost in the runoff election.

Among the other Democrat senators who voted for the Keystone XL pipeline were: Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Thomas Carper, D-Del., Robert Casey, D-Pa., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Jon Tester, D-Mont., John Walsh, D-Mont., Mark Warner, D-Va.

In March of 2015 the Senate failed to override President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill that passed the Congress after the Republicans took control of the Senate at the beginning of the year.  The reason for this article is to remove the certainty that the mainstream mass media seems to put in people’s minds that the two major political parties always vote in a block without dissension in their ranks.  I, also, wanted to point out that without dissension within the ranks of the political parties there really is no democracy.  This is compounded by the current  system of financing political campaigns that undermines the ability of voters within voting districts to decide on who their representatives are.




Computers, Internet, Privacy and Security Basics


Photo by Irina Pechkareva


I recently saw an article on LinkedIn by a man who said he was a marketing expert about privacy and security on the Internet. I was struck by two things about the article. The first was that I wondered how a man who is supposed to know about how marketers use analytics to gather information about Internet traffic and website visitors for Internet marketing purposes could not mention anything about that in an article about computer privacy. The second was that in the article he seemed very confused and didn’t seem to know what he was talking about.


I thought to myself that if a person who is supposed to be an expert doesn’t understand the most basic information about Internet security then what hope is there for most Internet users. Perhaps the man had a stake in keeping people ignorant about how companies track information or perhaps he wasn’t such an expert as he pretended to be. So I will be happy to share the knowledge I have acquired over the years from both Internet marketing and working in online banking. With some basic knowledge a person can feel much safer when being on the Internet.


At a certain point in helping people with their Internet issues I became aware that people often do not even know the difference between an Internet service provider and a web browser. Maybe this is understandable since both of these are things that are used to get on the Internet. I will explain.  An Internet service provider is the company that a person pays in order to have Internet service. This company assigns a person an I.P. address when they access the Internet. I.P. stands for Internet provider. This number is not only trackable it even shows what country and region of a country of where the Internet user is.   A web browser is a piece of software known as a program or application that is installed on a person’s computer. It is used to bring up a “window” or a “page”, often known as a “home page” that people use to go to websites on the Internet. Web browsers usually have well known names such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome or with a Mac computer Safari.


Unfortunately these home pages often have a place to type into prominently on the page that says “search” on it. First time Internet users often use this to type in a website address only to find a listing of search results. Sometimes they get frustrated trying to get to the right website. That is why they have to go to the top of the page for a white area that says address off to the side. In this white area or “field” in the left it says http://. Here is where an exact website address is typed to go directly to a website.


Even though people can start typing the address beginning with www or even just type something like website.com officially most website addresses start with http:// or https://. This website address is often referred to as a URL which stands for universal resource locator. The “s” in https:// literally stands for “secure”. Should you be worried if a website address does not start with https://? No, it is only necessary on websites that collect or contain sensitive private information on visitors for required reasons. This would include for instance bank websites that users access for online banking with a login to view their financial information. This would include any website with which a person can login into that would include private information including financial account information such as a credit card number. The typical website that you would visit to just get news, information or entertainment is not to worry about. The “s” in https:// is a security certificate that a website owner pays for through their domain name service provider. This is the company they use to be able to put a website on the Internet. Websites that take payments online always have a symbol showing the company that certifies the security of the website.


Photo from dreamstime.com

This leads to a very important principle about websites gathering information on visitors to their websites that is very difficult to understand. People often speak of temporary Internet files and something called “cookies” getting on their computers from activity on the Internet. The first issue is the temporary Internet files. Often these files are necessary because of people’s activities on the Internet. This could include an Active X file to complete some action on the Internet. This could include a file that helps a person download something from the Internet that they need. The confusion is in the fact that there is one type of file that goes directly on the computer. The other type of temporary Internet file is only on the web browser. This is confusing indeed because the web browser itself is a program that is on a person’s computer so one could say either type of temporary file is on the computer. The difference becomes clear however once a person understands how to remove these temporary Internet files. The most important reason for removing them is to free up memory on the computer. Excessive activity on the Internet will cause more and more of the memory to be used up. This will make a person’s computer and Internet very slow and difficult to use.


The type of temporary Internet file that needs to be cleared from the computer the most often is the type that is on the Internet browser. Typically a person pulls up the home page from which they start at or they can do this while they are on a website. At the very top of the window there is a toolbar. This toolbar should be the toolbar of the browser itself, not an added toolbar. That is if the browser is Internet Explorer it should be the Internet Explorer toolbar. From here a person typically goes to “tools” and clicks on it. A menu of options will appear. In this menu a person is looking for “Internet options” or “clear cache”. Sometimes, including on cell phone Internet browsers, a person will go to “history”, press the button for options and click “clear all”.  Sometimes a person is looking for “delete temporary Internet files”. This will clear up a lot of memory on the computer and get rid of unwanted files that may still be there from getting on an undesirable website that may be harmful. This should make a computer work faster and more efficiently.


Sometimes when people do this they will, also, see the option to clear cookies at the same time. Should a person clear cookies? It is a good idea sometimes to clear cookies as well. However keep in mind that some websites track returning visitors for legitimate reasons. For instance if a person clears cookies they may find that the websites that they go to are asking them to answer security questions to prove who they are. This is because websites add cookies to a person’s “web browser” in order to know if it is the same person logging into the website from the same computer. Some websites such as social networking websites require a user i.d. and password to log in but will allow the option to stay logged in so that a person doesn’t have to login each time. This only works when a person is on the same computer using the same browser because this process works with cookies on the web browser. A person can be on the same computer but if they use a different web browser then they will have to login. So what is the logical thing for most people to do? Usually it is a good idea to clear the browsing history and the cookies at times but it is more important to clear the history, temporary Internet files or cache whichever it is called more frequently. Sometimes people have a little box checked in their Internet options on their browser that says “clear browsing history on exit”. This means that they will always be asked security questions and have to login each time on websites. The websites will not even automatically put in their user i.d. for logging in because it will not recognize them.  If a person wants a website to remember them they need to uncheck this box.

digital-grunge-computerPhoto by Dawn Hudson

What about the other type of temporary Internet files that get directly on the computer? It is a good idea at times to do a complete clean up of unneeded files on the computer to free up memory and keep the computer running well. This will, also, keep a computer safer. To do this a person has to click on the start button of their computer and get to the control panel of their computer. From here a person can click on the hard drive which is usually the “C drive” and see how much of their computer memory is being used. In the control panel depending on what type of computer and what kind of operating system a person has to find a way to delete temporary files. This could be tricky because a person does not want to delete the program files that are necessary for the operation of the computer. Fortunately some computers have a user friendly “disk cleanup” option that clears temporary files very easily. Clearing the temporary Internet files and temporary files from the browsers and from the computer will free up memory and improve a computer.

Once a person understands these basic principles the questions about websites spying on people and tracking them still remains. There is of course more involved than what I have described so far but it is important to understand these basics first. What about what I was describing about marketers collecting information for Internet marketing purposes? Internet marketers use sophisticated systems known as analytics only to be able to track visitors to their websites. Analytics systems can see a visitor’s I.P. address, the country or with more sophistication what region of the country the visitor is from. They can see a person’s Internet service providing company, what web browser they were using to visit the site and if they clicked on a link from another website to get to the site. When a website has a link to another website on it this is known as a “referrer” website. With analytics an Internet marketer can see if a person got to their website from a search engine or social networking website. By keeping track of I.P. addresses and using cookies analytics can track how long a person is on the website, whether they clicked to go to other pages on the website and if the same person returns to the website. With analytics companies keep track of the visitors they get with paid advertising or with free website traffic such as through search engine searches, social networking website searches or from their own social media web pages or blogs. They want to see what is more effective and cost effective. They want to know what their ROI is (Return On Investment) for their labor costs and advertising costs.


This should make people feel better that this tracking is for legitimate business purposes but it seems like it could be abused. On the less scary side people used to be concerned about getting their physical mailboxes filled with junk mail by getting on mailing lists with people selling information about them to other companies such as their shopping habits. Now people are concerned about basically the same thing with being on the Internet. Keep in mind that many people go to physical businesses (known as brick and mortar businesses) and join shopping clubs to get rewards and discounts. When they do this they willingly giving up an email address, phone number, name and physical address to get a magnetic card to swipe at the merchants’ locations that collects information on their buying habits.

When people sign up for a social networking website they are asked their date of birth, gender and marital status. This may sound harmless but this is for marketing purposes. I actually find many of the ads I see on these websites very offensive because I know they are aimed at single men. What is scarier are some of the people who set up profiles on these websites for illicit purposes. In the end a lot of our security on the Internet depends on our own personal decisions. If we happen on a scary site it is important to remember that the shorter of a time a person is on the site the less trackable they are to the owners of the website and the less likely they will be to get something harmful on their computer or web browser. It is good to know about clearing the temporary files, cache and cookies on the browser when this happens.


Many are concerned that the companies that provide web browsers, computer operating systems and even computer security systems could abuse their power. Many of the ads on websites are targeted by sophisticated systems provided by Google advertising services. This means that if you visit a website that is an online store by clicking on an advertising link you may notice that ads for that store keep showing when you are on one of your favorite websites such as a social networking website. If you do an Internet search you may notice you keep getting ads that have something to do with your search. Of course if you read an article on a website about a certain subject there will be related advertising. This is how publishing and advertising works. This is why some people are concerned about using a web browser called Google Chrome because of how much information it can collect since it is a program installed on someone’s computer. Since Google has Google Maps it may ask for permission to track your location on your smart phone to locate you when using the maps. It will mention something about how it can better target ads for local businesses to you when it does this. This doesn’t seem so scary if someone thinks that maybe they would like to know something about the local businesses in the area they are in. Some businesses such as banks have difficulty with Google Chrome because of the way it is constantly updating itself when someone is on the Internet. This makes it impossible for the website developers to stay compatible with the browser so some websites may become difficult to use on Chrome.

There are even more concerns with some computer and Internet companies. Some people believe that Apple devices with touch screens capture people’s fingerprints in order to track people, devices such as iPhones and iPads. This does not seem so far fetched when one considers that companies are advocating using fingerprint recognition or retina scans to identify a user for security reasons.  In fact Android has just come up with a phone that unlocks by recognizing the user’s fingerprint. Some have said that the main security service used by McIntosh users, McGafee, has denied access to certain websites, warning users they are harmful because they did not like the investigative journalism that is on the websites. Many people prefer Firefox which is a web browser provided by a non-profit organization committed to Internet privacy.


Probably a lot of people do not feel they have too much to worry about with privacy if law enforcement does not ask for records that would bring up their information. Many would feel that if they are not doing anything wrong they have nothing to worry about. Others question a world in which law enforcement could have access to their emails and other Internet activity without having to have a court issued warrant or being able to show probable cause for such search and seizure. Some would say this is necessary for security. Others would say the government or certain factions within government could spy on political opponents and political dissenters. In fact those engaged in criminal activity could be using spying to protect themselves from being exposed. Some have said that there is a patent on software that can turn on a camcorder or microphone on Apple computers even when the computer is off and spy on people. It is believed that the NSA (National Security Agency) has used this.

digital-grunge-computer-1391718819NtfPhoto by Dawn Hudson

Probably for most people the most likely threat for them is hackers. Hackers can access computer information by cruising through neighborhoods with a laptop computer looking for people who are on the Internet with a wireless network that is not secured and so does not require a login with a password for a person to get onto the wireless network. A person was doing this in my neighborhood and was able to get user i.d.s, passwords and security question answers to login to people’s online banking and transfer funds from their accounts. The money was then quickly wired to Africa. Sometimes when people are on the Internet a type of malicious software will be put on their computer that can capture their key strokes on their computer keyboard in order for the criminals to be able to hack their accounts and steal funds. In online banking I was successfully able to stop fraud by seeing I.P. addresses that were from Africa so having the ability to track visitors to a website in some cases can be a very good thing.

Sometimes people who commit fraud commit identity theft. They can go through someone’s trash to find bank statements and get account information. With a person’s name, address, phone number, social security number and driver’s license number along with a bank account number they can answer a lot of questions to get information on people’s accounts by calling customer service or they can even set up online banking for a person who did not have online banking. If they can hack someone’s existing account they can call customer service for help if they get locked out because of a security question. Sometimes a person who has the access to commit fraud is someone that a person knows, perhaps even a family member who would have their personal information.


Many have heard of a notorious computer virus known as a Trojan. This type of virus gets on people’s computers when their Windows operating system is downloading updates while they are on the Internet. When this happens a person will notice slowness and problems with their computer. Then they will have a warning pop up on their screen with a loud, harsh, ringing noise. The warning message will say that their computer has a malicious software on it and that they need to buy a computer security system to protect themselves from it. This is a scam. This message is not coming from your computer. It is coming from the virus. If people click on this message it will take them to a website that wants their credit card number to purchase this security software. This will not take away the virus on their computer. A person will only be robbed. When this happens a person should do a full virus scan on their computer. The virus scan will inform you that it has found the virus and will ask you if you want it removed. You click that you want it removed and your computer will return to normal.


It is good to clear temporary Internet files and clear cookies at times as well as do a regular virus scan to keep away files on the computer and browser that could be sending outgoing messages while someone is on the Internet. Do not have two firewalls on a computer or neither one will work. Do not have two anti-virus, anti-malicious software programs running on your computer at the same time. Delete unneeded programs and files on your computer to free up computer memory. The more programs and files that are on your computer the more locations the virus scan has to scan and the more places there are for malicious software to hide.


Some people have too much security on their computers! This interferes with the normal operations people need to do on their computers. Go to the Internet browser and lower the security settings from high to medium allowing for third party cookies. Otherwise a website will never remember you when you come back to visit it. If you go to your computer’s control center you can not only see how much memory your computer has free but you can go to the security center to check on your computer’s security. From here you can lower the security levels to medium and allow for third party cookies, also. You can allow trusted sites and block sites.

Often people will connect their social networking profile to other websites for certain reasons. They will get a message asking to access information from their social networking website. Remember that your security and the security of others are dependent on the decisions that you make. I hope that this knowledge takes away some of the fear and makes it easier to enjoy the Internet by showing how it takes knowing when to trust and when not to trust.











A Mass Grave For Unwanted Children In America Today

Changing Love Artwork 1

A Mass Grave For Unwanted Children In America Today

By Mark Alberto Yoder Nuñez


Abandoned children found dead or dying

Unidentified, put in foster care

Buried in a mass grave today

Cremated ashes in little boxes

Given dignity in death

Kindly people give a last name

For the grave marker

In Fresno, California

In America today



This poem was inspired by this recent article: http://www.bubblews.com/news/9941509-burying-unwanted-children

May Day 2015


Photo from Library of Congress

May Day is a holiday that is mainly ignored by most people in the United States of America. People act rather oblivious to any mention of it. When it is mentioned some will say, “That’s when they dance around the May Pole, right?” If I mention something about an international workers solidarity day they will say, “There was a riot called the Haymarket Riot wasn’t there?”

In fact May Day started as a celebration of the beginning of Spring. Its roots go back to pagan times in Europe. Some say it began with the Greeks and Romans and the Roman celebration honored Flora, the goddess of Spring. The holiday spread throughout Europe. In some celebrations the dance around the May Pole created a pattern of ribbons of different colors.

In America it is said that the Puritans suppressed the May Day celebrations because of their pagan origins. The Puritans, it is said, disliked the fertility connotations of the Spring ritual thinking them to be licentious.

Unfortunately May Day for many Americans has come to represent radical elements among the labor movement because of the scandal of the Haymarket Riot of 1886. No one has been able to prove who was responsible for the bomb that exploded when labor activists met to protest police brutality that resulted in one death during a labor strike in Chicago. In 1889 labor organizers in Paris declared May Day as International Workers Day calling for an eight hour work day.

This May Day there are many labor rallies and protests planned. In America organizers are adding the issues of immigration reform, racism and police brutality to workers’ rights issues.

Just as many turn their noses up at mushrooms because Christianity persecuted and even executed natural healers who used mushrooms for medicinal purposes as being pagan priests and priestesses so Americans turn their noses up at any notion of celebrating May Day due to prejudices going back to ancient times.

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