Category Archives: security

America is a land of heroes and honor

Vigil held in rememberance of September 11th

How has our Nation changed since the attacks on September 11th, 2001? Did Osama Bin Laden’s death bring any closure for us?

I had often wondered how our Country would react when Osama Bin Laden was captured or killed and that day finally came.

Now the 10 year mark, or anniversary, of the attack on our Nation is just days away. This tragedy is often talked about and looked at on a large scale as something that happened to our Nation, as one, and in a way it did. Many parts of our national security have been changed.

However, the effects that linger on in our Nation are something that can be looked at individually. Life, for many has taken on new meaning. The individual security we once had, as well as a great deal of conveniences, has been changed. What was once thought to be a simple weekend get-a-way or business trip isn’t the same anymore.

Those passengers aboard United Flight #93 did not hand over their boarding pass knowing they would be called upon to make a decision to save countless lives and go down in history as heroes to so many. Was it a decision or did they just carry out a selfless act as they would have in any situation put in front of them any other day of their life?

At Ground Zero that day, the first responders grabbed their gear and set out to save lives as tragedy continued to unfold around them and around our Nation, yet none of us really knew just how horrific these moments would turn out to be even as they happened in front of our eyes. Like I said, this was unimaginable to us, at the time.

Alongside those first responders at Ground Zero were many everyday men and woman, now referred to as heroes, helping each other and doing whatever they could to assist the city’s firefighters, police and other rescue workers, offering a hug or an arm to someone who was too weak to walk or plenty of people who were consumed by dust. Were they trained to do this? How could they have known they would be needed in this situation? But, they helped in any way they could. That makes them heroes, to me.

On September 11th, 2001, something we never imagined could happen to our Country, the United States of America, did. As one plane after another flew into incredible buildings taking them down and thousands of lives with them, our lives were forever changed.

However, the response across America, overwhelming and almost instantly was brotherhood, heroism, united efforts, strangers reaching out to strangers, and people offering one another peace in a time of grief and utter devastation. In a time of chaos, when people could have been at their worst, the united response was to rise up and come out giving comfort and show that together we can get through anything.

America is a land of opportunity, a land of ideas and solution, heroes and honor. All of this goes together when we all come together, to stand strong, united.

On this September 11th, let’s keep our unity strong so America can flourish, strengthen and together, move forward.

Below is a song/video Tribute “America Stand Strong” – Tribute to 9/11 which you can use this link if the video area doesn’t appear. Please feel free to share your comments on the tribute or how 9/11 affected you, where you were on that day or how you live life differently now.




The song, “America Stand Strong”, was written and composed on September 12, 2001 by Myron Solomon.


Myron is a U.S. Army Veteran who now serves with the Department of Homeland Security


Past article on September 11th attacks written in 2010

“Looking back and moving forward on 9/11”

TSA: Protecting America?

Over 600 million people fly each year <BR> Photo by: Andrei Dimofte

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created shortly after 9/11 as a part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act passed by the U.S. Congress.Prior to its creation, airport security screening was handled by private companies through contracts.



TSA also oversees the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS). Air Marshals blend in with other passengers on boarded flights using their training to detect criminals and/or terrorists behavior and can react with precise firearm accuracy if needed.

Before 9/11, the U.S. felt different to most people and although time has passed, the desire of those wanting to do harm inside the U.S. and to American citizens has not. There are continuous threats.

As time has passed, there have been further incidents of people trying to bring things on board planes to bring them down over U.S. soil. Although these attempts have not been successful, some of them have gotten more media attention than others.

Most people have heard about the “Underwear bomber” and his attempt to bring down an American Airline plane over Detroit in December 2009. Al Qaeda took credit for this attempted attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23 year old Nigerian.

The bomb packet was six inches long and sewn in his underwear containing a highly explosive chemical, PETN weighing approximately 80 grams, enough to blow a hole in the side of a plane.

In December 2001, Richard Reid, also known as the “Shoe Bomber” tried to detonate a bomb in his shoes aboard his flight from Paris to Miami but due to the smell of smoke and his having difficulty lighting the fuse, he was subdued by several passengers, administered a tranquilizer and arrested upon arrival at Logan International Airport. The chemical found in his shoe was also PETN weighing about 50 grams, also enough to bring down a plane.

TSA continues to adapt in order to protect the nation’s transportation systems. That is not a clear or set strategy that can or should be spelled out and released because part of real security is the unknown and the inability for someone with a desire to do harm to preplan their moves through security measures.

It is understandable that people have felt uncomfortable with changes or certain parts of security procedures but blaming this on the TSA is not taking into account what they have already prevented from happening and continue to set out to prevent.

TSA officers have stopped countless weapons, chemicals, drugs and wanted criminals from boarding airlines. News coverage typically covers only the negative events as seen in these past few days and weeks and most recently since 23 year old John Tyner told a TSA officer, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”

John Tyner had first checked on TSA’s website to see if the airport he would be flying out of had the full body scan machines as he didn’t want to go through one. He said the website didn’t list his airport. When he arrived at the airport and realized they did use the full body scanners, he tried to stay in a line that would use the metal detectors. But, he was called out to go through the full body scanner.

He then used his cell phone to record the rest and refused the full body scanners and as the dialogue went on he was told he would have a “pat down” instead. After speaking to a supervisor about not wanting the pat down and being told he wouldn’t be able to fly without one, he said, “I don’t understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying.”

Going to the airport and preparing to fly out does mean a person will go through security measures and can be put through random and continuous security searches. When buying a ticket and arriving at the airport, this is made very clear.

The point is security is more secure with not knowing every detail prior to the actual arrival at the checkpoint. TSA has been very upfront with the possibilities of what procedures travelers may encounter however. These procedures have been put into place for good reason and that is to protect America and every person flying.

Terrorists have figured out how to make bombs using things that won’t show up in standard metal detectors, wands or screening belts at airports.

Keeping America safe is a priority for everyone. It shouldn’t take another 9/11 or a single incident of a few lives lost on a flight to raise awareness of how important raised security is to be taken seriously and to understand it is for the benefit of every traveler, everyone family member of those traveling and every employee at the airport. Many lives are affected by decisions being made at those checkpoints.

In America, profiling is not an option in many circumstances other than by behaviors of odd ticket purchasing techniques, luggage check- in or the lack of, one way travel, cash purchases and many more behavior detection profiling that may cause concern but security works on many levels and a great number of officers are watching passenger behavior as well.

TSA also works internationally with many other countries to ensure international rules are clear and consistent to enable passenger clarity and therefore safer flying.

It is being said that the new full body scans or the new enhanced pat-down procedure is going too far and this is causing quite a bit of hype and anger.

Airports, across the country this week, will have millions of holiday travelers which is already a concern to security and families waiting for their loved ones to arrive.

On Wednesday, which is one of the busiest traveling days of the year, online groups are calling for a National Opt-Out Day in response to TSA’s new enhanced security techniques. Their idea is for people to opt out of the full body scanner forcing TSA officers to pat them down.
According to Jim Babb, co-founder of this National Opt-Out Day, this should cause chaos at airport checkpoints and deliver a message to agency officials, politicians and the airline industry.

This is unimaginable that anyone would want to cause any type of chaos at an airport especially with the intention to cause issues with security measures and even more appalling is the desire to do this after what happened on 9/11. This is putting peoples’ lives at risk intentionally or at least asking others to do so as Jim Babb has said he will not be traveling on Wednesday.

Over 600 million people fly each year along with millions of bags that go along with them. It is up to TSA’s officers at 700 checkpoints using the latest techniques and up-to-date technology to stop the unthinkable. However, what is unthinkable to one is in the planning stages to another.

Terrorists continue to threaten America and Americans abroad. One life lost is one life too many. Security is everyone’s responsibility.

Freedom – What is it worth?

Freedom
Photo by: Moe

More often it seems people are concerned about what is happening to their freedoms or one person’s freedom is standing in the way of another person’s freedom.

One person’s freedom of speech can become bullying or harassment to another which has been making headlines recently across the nation even inspiring the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Freedoms have been fought for throughout America’s history but when one person’s freedom has become a source of disrespect, intolerance, hate or the cause of a crime, this is no longer just someone exercising their freedoms but instead it is an act against someone else’s rights.

What exactly is a freedom and what is a right? Where should the line be drawn and who should draw the line?

A freedom is very difficult to just flat out define but it is being free willed, making one’s own choices, having liberty, not being physically bound or confined or not having one’s future pre-determined. Freedom is being able to have something that is yours and know you will be able to hold on to it.

A right is the freedom to do something or the justifiable claim or entitlement to something. Some may say a right is something you are born with and die with like the rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. However, this has been something that is argued that these are more a privilege because they can be taken away from you. For example, prisoners lose many of their rights. However, we are looking at this primarily as freedoms.

Can a person have too much freedom? Is it possible for freedom to be taken too far or to be misinterpreted?

If a person had 100% freedom to do absolutely anything he/she wanted this could and most likely would begin to infringe on those around them. Each person having their own freedoms would expect to have the same apply to them, 100% freedom for themselves. This couldn’t work.

It’s very easy to come up with a quick example that is not extreme but more or less a day to day example. Imagine a busy supermarket, long lines at the register and everyone is on their cell phones, talking loudly and in no hurry to get off. That includes the cashier, the person ahead of you and the person ahead of them. Everyone is just freely talking. It may seem rude but is it breaking the law?

Putting one’s freedoms aside to respect another person and/or their freedoms has made life not only tolerable but has made America a place where people feel safe enough to speak up, be religious or choose not to practice religion, pick and represent political parties, vote, chase their dreams or follow in the footsteps of previous generations.

But, is this America being pushed aside as more individuals are consumed by personal freedoms instead of overall respect, safety and equality?

Not too long ago, in the top of the news was the Islamic Center in NYC. The issue originally stated that people were concerned with it being so close to Ground Zero.

However, once the media became more involved, the issue became more against Islam and the NYC Islamic Center wasn’t the only one having issues with people not wanting to see it built.

Another proposed Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee ran into extreme debates even though they had been in the community for two decades. Their plans were for a larger center than their already existing one. However, opponents went to court to try to put a halt to their plans.

This past week, Chancellor Robert Corlew III denied the opponents of the Mosque an emergency injunction that would block construction so for now, it looks like plans can move forward.

What happened to freedom of religion? Who decides where the line of freedom is drawn? Then, is it really freedom?

Remember the Florida Pastor, Terry Jones? He was willing to go against top brass in the military, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell and General David Petraeus, as well as multiple religious and community leaders who urged him to reconsider his plans to burn the Holy Book of Islam, the Qu’ran, on September 11th of this year.

Why would he do such an act? Because he felt Islam was of the devil and he wanted to express how he felt.

Once his story reached the news and the news spread worldwide what he was planning to do, safety for American troops in the Middle East was a great concern as well as the safety for Americans abroad due to retaliation for what Terry Jones was planning to do. However, with these details, Terry Jones did not want to back down.

Was he breaking the law or was he just exercising his right to free speech and to share how he felt about Islam?

Terry Jones changed his mind at the last minute after all of the attention and after a great deal of fear had set in due to riots in the Middle East. This was going on at the same time as the issue over the Islamic Center in NYC and the one in Tennessee was going on. Tensions were already high. In the U.S., many people were debating different views and politicians had become involved as the 2010 mid-term elections were approaching.

When does one person’s freedom hinder another person’s freedom?

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas have gone to military funerals across the country but not to pay respects to the families or say goodbye to a friend or loved one. They are armed with signs that say, “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. They feel America’s war casualties are God’s wrath for tolerating homosexuality. Is this really the time or place for a protest or picketing? Again, are they breaking a law? Do they have the right to do this? Do these families have the right to peacefully say goodbye to their loved ones?

Freedom is something that has set the U.S. apart from many other countries around the world. Many countries do not allow near as many freedoms as the U.S. allows and although this sets us apart, this can also be a wedge that drives a great divide through the nation. The more one person’s freedom takes away from another person’s freedom, the nation loses its freedom and therefore what separates the U.S. from many countries around the world.

Freedoms lost today may not affect you, as it happens to one person or a group of people today it can happen to another tomorrow and then more people over time.

Americans must understand that every freedom we have today has come to us through someone’s great effort, fight and even death. Freedoms that have been gained over time can also be lost. They’re never to be taken lightly or for granted; not your own freedoms or someone else’s.

To be truly free requires the respect of the freedom of others and to know the limits of our freedoms. Then we, and those around us, can have a more meaningful and lasting freedom.

PRIVACY MATTERS


The year is 2010.

I am typing this on a laptop while using a WIFI Network in my home. No I am not willing to give my social security number like the Life Lock Commercial on TV because I think that would just be ridiculous for me to do so, irresponsible.

Since I am an Internet user, I have to know what risk may come along while using the Internet. Not just while ON the Internet but the entire time my Internet access is available.

Understandably there are a lot of people that are either too young or not “Internet Savvy” understand fully what the risk, or benefits, of the Internet may be.

So, is there a solution to this problem or is the problem bigger than a solution?

We know there are problems. Here are just a few.

“Google: Google Street View Cars Sniffed Wi-Fi Networks”

You know how we like to be able to look at those Street Views on Google Maps when we look up an address or GPS location?? Well, they get there somehow and oops… a little too much info was gathered in the process.

Facebook: Problems again…
Some users taking matters into their own hands.

Facebook has changed their privacy policies and security tools so many times, it lets you know it is something you need to keep an eye on constantly. I tell people that are friends of mine on Facebook or new to Facebook that the smartest thing to do with Facebook or other online accounts is to change their passwords often and whatever you do, don’t click on links from people you don’t know (heck, don’t click on a bunch of links-one can send you into Virus Hell!) Is it worth it??

“The Top Facebook Privacy Settings You Should Know”

 Want to learn more about Facebook? Stay on top of how things are changing ALL the time? Click here.

MySpace was the trend for so long and is still there and very much used. It just doesn’t seem to change so often.

Facebook launched on February 4, 2004 it wasn’t heard of in the media, around schools or much anywhere for that matter.

When I joined in 2007, it was hard for me to locate people on Facebook even then. The idea of finding people via a High School website was still new so I had to start my own.

Since then, Facebook has boomed! There are groups for everything from schools, workplaces, regions of towns, states, nations and countries. There is a group if you like to do something or if you don’t like to do something. There are groups of people fighting for cures for cancer, helping finding missing people, getting petitions signed, trying to form a group, trying to break up a group, name a group, even a group for people that have joined too many groups.

What do you do on Facebook? Are you worried about your messaging? Your photos? Your privacy overall? Or do you just use Facebook as a “light source” of staying in touch and reconnecting? To me, that is what it should be and this is why I feel that way.

Facebook has over 400 million users logging on and off daily.

About 70% of them reside outside of the U.S.

The average user has over 130 friends.

There are more than 550,000 active applications currently on the Facebook Platform and

There are more than 250,000 websites that have integrated with Facebook Platform

Click here for the above statistics and more.

And… if you think Facebook and MySpace, emailing, Google, Bing is what the Internet is about, there is much more coming through the Internet which is why it is very important you stay informed, daily.

On the lines of what can go wrong with meeting the wrong people, cyber bullying, giving out too much information, going too far… comes along “Chat Roulette”. Please watch this Video Clip.

If you are a parent and you have a computer in your house, there are HUGE responsibilities that go along with this.

“Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation”

Know what is going on at all times on that computer. Don’t let computers be in the bedrooms or away from plain site.

A lot of times, children in the house understand the usage of a computer more than their parents. A computer can be a fantastic tool of education, information, fun and entertainment even. But, too many times, boredom and the Internet can lead to trouble.

Good kids can find themselves in a bad position and do something they regret or too many times something they can’t get out of. There are also a good amount of children that know they can outsmart their parents and do as they please online because they understand the Internet far better, therefore, they can do whatever they wish and cover up whatever they are doing. This can lead to some very serious problems. We all watch the news. Kids meet people on line. They think they are safe, they think they know who the person is, send a picture or agree to meet somewhere and suddenly everything turns bad. This may seem like someone else’s child but this can be anyone. If you don’t know 100% it isn’t your child and what your child is doing, you have to know. It is our job as parents.

WiredSafety.org (GREAT SITE!). This is a must read for everyone, not just parents. Read around the site, click the links. More and more, this is affecting more children, more teens daily. Bookmark the site as it is updated.

Here is another site to check out as this is really becoming a bigger and bigger issue both during and after school. Remember this is online and cellphones.

http://stopcyberbullying.org/

Your child can have a blog going that is pouring out their heart that is asking for help and if someone knew what was being said, help could be offered. If someone knew how much time was being spent on the computer, someone could be spending that time preventing the need for filling that empty space. I read a blog being written by a 15 year old girl the other day that was just heartbreaking. She never did pinpoint why she felt so bad but she very much shared how alone she felt, everyday. At school, at home, in some groups she was part of. This blog had been written over a period of at least a year. There were no comments.

It’s not that children don’t hear about the dangers of being online or sharing to much information online, or that they don’t know of other kids that are doing the same things. It is a lot of times either they don’t see themselves in a situation that can go so far that it will lead to trouble or that they are so caught up in a situation, it isn’t clear enough to them to see they are at a point they need help.

Sometimes, they are doing certain things, even by being in a dangerous situation online to reach out for help. But, they are kids. As much as they want to be grown up so much and be treated like adults, they aren’t.

The fact is that each child is different and to assume that one “would never” do something that we hear others are doing online is the same as thinking that a person’s private information would be perfectly safe in a world where hundreds of millions of people are all sharing information back and forth on the World Wide Web (the name alone should be something to tell us to use it with caution).

If we aren’t willing to put our SS# or your bank account information on Facebook, the Internet or anything that can be found via the Internet now or in the coming days without being extra guarded or just not doing it at all, why would we put our children on there without keeping a close eye and being extra guarded and responsible??