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On A Parent's Death And Minding Your Tongue In The U.S.A

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I'll be quite frank. I'm never completely comfortable in discussing certain persons, such as Fidel Castro, on the phone, nor forwarding e-mail content concerning them, such as his Visiones Alternativas Reflections of Fidel: The moment of truth about the recent Copenhagen events. Certainly, it would be so much easier to simply avoid certain topics altogether in communications because there so often are direct or indirect repercussions for involvements in particular matters, as is inferred at Ex-Snoop Confirms Echelon Network 60 Minutes CBS News:

"Everywhere in the world, every day, people's phone calls, emails and faxes are monitored by Echelon, a secret government surveillance network. No, it's not fiction straight out of George Orwell's 1984. It's reality."

We learn more fully about this spy activity from a Transcript of 60 Minutes on Echelon:

"KROFT: " Is it possible for people like you and I, innocent civilians, to be targeted by Echelon?

"Mr. FROST: Not only possible, not only probable, but factual. While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, "Oh, Danny really bombed last night,' just like that. The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.

"KROFT: This is not urban legend you're talking about. This actually happened?

"Mr. FROST: Factual. Absolutely fact. No legend here.

(Vintage footage of Fonda; Spock; King; congressional hearing; the Capitol building)

"KROFT: (Voiceover) Back in the 1970s, the NSA was caught red-handed spying on anti-war protesters like Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock, and it turns out they had been recording the conversations of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King in the 1960s. When Congress found out, it drafted strict new laws prohibiting the NSA from spying on Americans, but today, there's enough renewed concern about potential abuses that Congress is revisiting the issue.

"Representative BOB BARR (Republican, Georgia): (From C-SPAN) One such project known as Project Echelon engages in the interception of literally millions of communications involving United States citizens.

(Footage of Barr; NSA sign; Goss and Kroft)

"KROFT: (Voiceover) But even members of Congress have trouble getting information about Echelon. Last year, the NSA refused to provide internal memoranda on the program to Porter Goss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee""

Meanwhile, my mother, who died last month, knew of the prospective backlash for stating certain taboo words of the sort that Danny's relative, who was discussed above, had used. She, also, knew of outcomes for being outspoken or involved in social activism. So she repeatedly asked me, during her last several years, about whether I was making sure that I was being sufficiently self-protective when passing along information on the internet or phone.

As a former friend of left-leaning individuals like Howard Fast, Andy Goodman and other remarkable martyrs, she knew well about the tragic consequences stemming from one's bucking the status quo. In addition, she, over the years, became increasingly worried for others' well-being when they did so because it was her opinion that the U.S.A. was likely turning into a fascist police state.

She had further reasons to be apprehensive since she well remembered the U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy and had refused to sign loyalty papers while serving as a junior high school teacher during the Second Red Scare. Similarly, she realized that huge amounts of funds were currently being transferred by the federal government to internet service providers and telecommunications companies in exchange for records of their customers, as is discussed in The Secret State's Surveillance Machine. Further, she was aware that such collected information is stored in perpetuity to build profiles, as can be deduced from the report at FISA Salon.com:

"This summer, on a remote stretch of desert in central Utah, the National Security Agency will begin work on a massive, 1 million-square-foot data warehouse. Costing more than $1.5 billion, the highly secret facility is designed to house upward of trillions of intercepted phone calls, e-mail messages, Internet searches and other communications intercepted by the agency as part of its expansive eavesdropping operations. The NSA is also completing work on another data warehouse, this one in San Antonio, Texas, which will be nearly the size of the Alamodome."

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Emily Spence is a progressive living in MA. She has spent many years involved with assorted types of human rights, environmental and social service efforts.

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