Denver - This past week at school was as advertised; heavy on math, procedures, and understanding manual processes that have been largely computerized across the aviation industry. Nevertheless, the work is challenging, I understand the reasons behind it, and I appear to be holding my own. All of my test scores have been 90 or above so far.
We get into navigation this week, which doesn't look like a picnic either. While this is going on I'll be starting to review the material from previous weeks in preparation for the class final and FAA written exam in just under two weeks. I'll be here until at least then.
I apologize in advance for having to limit myself in the frequency of my posts while I'm at school, but it's necessary. Here's some things that caught my eye over the last week:
Senator Russ Feingold introduced the JUSTICE Act (Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts) last week. According to an excellent overview by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this bill is "the perfect vehicle for reform of the surveillance powers in the PATRIOT Act, as well as the much broader and more dangerous FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the warrantless surveillance law that was passed by Congress last summer". More information is available through the Good Law Tracker in the sidebar of this blog.
It seemed less than coincidental to me that the government would announce arrests in five separate, reportedly unrelated terrorism cases during the same week that this legislation was introduced. This included the Najibullah Zazi case that made so much of last week's news here in Denver and elsewhere. Sunday's Denver Post also included a Page 1 story about some of the tools that may have been used to monitor Zazi and his activities.
Regardless of what tools were used and to what level of success they achieved, they require additional scrutiny and control when they are used, especially if they involve the lawful activities of U.S. citizens. The JUSTICE Act will also remove the telecom company immunity included in the FAA last year, so that they can be held accountable for their actions in supporting surveillance of citizens that has been held as unconstitutional.
The act deserves serious consideration and support from those on all sides of the political spectrum who value individual liberty.
The canal roads are truly beautiful in places, but the provincial nature of the irrigation companies to deny access to them, and legally thwart the City's efforts to use them for other purposes, is kind of ridiculous.
Gene's post today about the Regional Center combined his personal knowledge as a volunteer and parent of a special-needs child with his passion for assuring that these all too easily forgotten members of our society receive the care they deserve.
Gene made a bold assertion - that moving some of these patients will cost them their lives - but I think he knows about what he speaks, at least about this topic. I also think it's great that Libby is a therapy dog. She's a little sweetheart.
The G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh went off without a hitch, but the surrounding protest activities will likely keep lawyers, courts, and bureaucrats busy for some time.
The protests were both innovative (hanging a banner from the West End Bridge - nice) and confrontational. The police exercised restraint in some areas and stupidity in others. As Denver experienced with police handling of the DNC last year, it appears that some of the rules of engagement (for lack of a more acceptable term) include subdue and arrest first, settle out of court later.
It has been reported by several media outlets that students at Pitt and other passers-by were taken down, tear gassed, and shot with bean bag rounds for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad form...
The backlash has already started, and doesn't look as if it will quiet down until some form of punitive action against over-reacting police is secured, as well as substantive change in local tactical planning for these types of events. Being familiar with some of the players, such as the Thomas Merton Center and a very potent local ACLU chapter, there won't be any letting up.
But he who perverts his ways will become known.
Matt and Meredith on NBC were blathering on about Roman Polanski while I was reading this, so I guess that inane morning television contributed to this line of thinking on my part. It could have been worse; Fox and Friends, who needs enemies?
Anyway, I tried to think about what motivates someone to try to become predatory in the way that Polanski did, or Johnnie Walker thought he was doing. I came up empty. It's just not worth the time or effort to me to try to figure these people out.
Polanski certainly had it harder than most, with his pregnant wife being murdered and all, and I certainly couldn't do the job of the District Attorney in continuing to pursue this after 30-plus years. I guess it comes down to what you really want in the end.
Leslie asks me that question all the time - what do you want? Peace, tranquility, and fulfillment, being with her, and seeing our children grow up around us honorably, is definitely part of it, but otherwise I haven't a clue. All I know is that the path I've found myself on is sometimes a hell of a way to go about it.