Mistakes & Gratitude

A smile, a blessing. There have been days when the leaves flicker under sunshine bringing new hope and joy. I have been called upon to watch them, listen to them and pay attention to them. Make their presence worthy in this world. They seem to bless the earth but they go unnoticed widely. We, fool human beings, take the beauty for granted. Their loveliness, their color, their presence is divine.

Then there comes a gloom in some dry cold country. A lonely place. An abandoned countryside. Old people are roaming there, still, hoping and clinging to their motherland. The country is known for its art. Art made ages ago. A remembrance of the past. Past full of crusades, wars, and famine. Yet, people are proud. Because they are ignorant. Birds shriek in dryness. The dryness that conquers the air. It is heavy and the sound is gloomy. The day settles at 15 and the darkness evades the entire village. Sun disappears behind the mountain and those bare valleys let it sunk deep within them. Swallowing it like a demon of darkness evades the light. People hide in their hood shutting themselves. Blinds fell and the artificial lights illuminate.

Then the memory works, fabrication initiates. His smile came back and his memory conquers the mind. That was a beautiful day. A heavenly presence was blessing me. Blessed me for a single day and left me behind as a cursed demon forced to live without his presence. May he be happy. May he reaches heights.

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Lost Love Saga

 

New eve new love
White flakes brown shrubs
Sun dwindles children mingles
It’s a happy day

Smiles are shining
Beauty is lurking
Still, the heart is sad
the lack is vast
colossal & heavy

Body is depressed
and these eyes are suppressed
chalky-white with a wild-rest

How this void will be filled
That’s the question whispered with a thrill

O my dear
My dearest
Emotions are curses
I say
love is evil

Yet, I desire to
ignite the flames
initiate our love tale
but I fear
it will end me up
in a mournful cage

This way concludes
A love saga that happened to be
AS COMMON AS STUPID

Mental illness: error & profit

Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic — Thomas Szasz

History is full of bizarre events filled with wild beliefs and strange practices. Science hasn’t remained immune when it comes to getting influenced by the socio-cultural views of the time. But being wrong is a part of science, right?!

Let’s dig into some examples narrowing down to the lane of the medical field. One of the commonly known ones is classifying homosexuality as a mental illness. Then, people were pathologized because they failed to comply with the authority. Let’s not forget that political disobedience would have been enough to send someone to an asylum. Women had been diagnosed as hysterical for having sexual urges.

Lobotomy, a wise method invented by professionals to treat schizophrenia, depression, and backaches. Sadly, this procedure created memory loss, more mood problems and once even lead to death due to the brain hemorrhage.

Now I guess I’ll have to tell ‘em
That I got no cerebellum
— The Ramones, “Teenage Lobotomy”

Dysaesthesia aethiopica, an example of scientific racism that explained the laziness among slaves. This is how it’s founder explains it- “much more prevalent among free negroes living in clusters by themselves, than among slaves on our plantations, and attacks only such slaves as live like free negroes in regard to diet, drinks, exercise, etc.” — indeed, according to Samuel A. Cartwright, “nearly all [free negroes] are more or less afflicted with it, that have not got some white person to direct and to take care of them.”

Let’s listen to his cure: The best means to stimulate the skin is, first, to have the patient well washed with warm water and soap; then, to anoint it all over in oil, and to slap the oil in with a broad leather strap; then to put the patient to some hard kind of work in the sunshine.

Alas, he didn’t think that sickness might exist in the way that the structure of society than in the head of poor slaves.

Fortunately, most of these ridiculous practices have been recognized as pseudoscience. This happened not necessarily due to any scientific evidence. Biology played little to no role whatsoever. Like in the case of homosexuality, it was declassified in 1973 due to the pressure from activists.

Still, we are becoming ‘sicker’ and there are few and few people left who aren’t having any disorder. Those thoughts and feelings that were considered normal previously are deserving a diagnosis now. Normal behavior is being diagnosed as a mental disorder.

DSM, the bible of psychiatry has listed over 300 disorders and some of these can be very misleading. Oppositional defiant disorder, as it is the one who argues with the authoritative figures and denies or refuses to comply. Bingeing, eating a large quantity of food in a short time is also considered an illness now. Disruptive mood dysregulation, a disorder that turns temper tantrums into mental illness. The periods of sadness, or worry, grief, drinking too much caffeine or having caffeine withdrawal are pathologized today. These normal trials of life have been accepted as illnesses and are being propagated by ‘experts’.

The writing is on the wall. ‘Normal’ badly needs saving; sick people desperately require treatment. But DSM-5 seems to be moving in just the wrong direction, adding new diagnoses that would turn everyday anxiety, eccentricity, forgetting, and bad eating habits into mental disorders. Meanwhile, the truly ill would be even more ignored as psychiatry expanded its boundaries to include many who are better considered normal- Allen
Frances

When it comes to diagnosing mental illnesses, there are no medical tests, no scans, no bloodwork, no physiological tissue damage that can diagnose anybody with a mental disorder. Summing up, there is no laboratory measure. So, DSM plays a huge role as the most commonly used manual by clinicians to diagnose any illness. Recently there have been many protests against psychiatry and against its bible. Many of the diagnoses included can label normal people and encourage inappropriate medication use. This brings a rise in the prescription of stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin.

On a per capita basis, inflation-adjusted retail prescription drug spending in the U.S. increased from $90 in 1960 to $1,025 in 2017.

Millions of Americans are being labeled as mentally ill. Prescriptions for antidepressants have tripled in America in the last decade while prescriptions for scientific drugs used to treat anxiety, bi-polar, ADHD, and a myriad of other psychiatric illnesses in infants, children, and adults are increasing exponentially across America. (Blummer and Marcus, 2009). To combat these diseases, daily doses of dangerous and addictive psychiatric drugs are being prescribed. Follow up study on people who take stimulants show the shrinkage in their brain, addiction to the tranquilizers and shortening of the lifespan in case of sedatives. People who have prescribed the sedatives for the life-long period are predicted to have their life cut short up to 20 years.

‘ The scientific literature shows that many patients treated for a milder problem will worsen in response to a drug- say have a manic episode after taking an antidepressant — and that can lead to a new and more severe diagnosis like bipolar disorder.’ Robert Whitaker

Labeling people or stigmatizing the human experience as mentally ill can’t bring some hope. Having problems in life is normal but one shouldn’t label it or try to earn from it. But the reports are indicating the opposite. The pharmaceutical industry is profiting from mental healthcare and even distorting psychiatry practice. One of the pitfalls of science that shows the desperate need to fill in.

It has nothing to do with biology. It has to do with power and control and what we think is appropriate or not appropriate behavior- Toby Watson

Trolls, LulzSec & Weev

I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money — Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev

With a rise in technology, sophisticated cyber attacks won’t lag behind. And neither would troll. One of well known is LulzSec, short for laughs and security. They have close ties with Anonymous but as like Anonymous, they are not in hacking for political reason but simply for the laughs. Laughs at the inadequate security.

For the past 50 days (50 days of Lulz), we have been disrupting and exposing corporations, governments and the general population itself and quite possibly everything in between. Just because we could; all to selflessly entertain others.

 

They did an eight-month-long campaign in 2011: began by targeting Fox.com, hacked US broadcaster PBS and planted a fake story saying that Tupac and Biggie Smalls are in fact alive and live in New Zealand. In another attack, they stole personal information of about more than 24.6 million Sony users forcing them to take down their website for several days. Hacking the Infragardpages, they posted:

It has come to our unfortunate attention that NATO and our good friend Barrack Osama-Llama 24th-century Obama [sic] have recently upped the stakes with regard to hacking. They now treat hacking as an act of war. So, we just hacked an FBI affiliated website (Infragard, specifically the Atlanta chapter) and leaked its user base. We also took complete control over the site and defaced it.

Say hello to the insides of the PBS servers — LulzSec

 

After some time, the launched an operation with Anonymous AntiSec to launch attacks on numerous government websites or agencies (Govt. of BrazilArizona Department of Public Safety, Petrobras). But soon, Lulzsec retired and in their last post shared:
Our crew of six wishes you a happy 2011, and a shout out to all our battlefield members and supporters across the globe.

Less than a month later, the group reconvened and announced that it was behind more hacks like the attacks on the British newspaper The Sun and The Times, posting about the death of the publication’s owner Rupert Murdoch.

Fake story created about the death of the media mogul

 

Soon, they found themselves followed by law enforcement authorities as well other hackers. From June 2011, LulzSec members began to be suspected by both the US and UK police and arrests were made— Ryan Cleary, Jake Davis, Mustafa al-Bassam and Ryan Ackroyd. Despite this, there were statements after the arrests suggesting that LulzSec is not a mere group of people but more like an idea that is hard to eradicate.

It’s ridiculous to believe that by arresting members of LulzSec, you have stopped us. You haven’t stopped us. You have merely disrupted the active faction- Anonymous

You cared nothing for the privacy of others but did everything you could through your computer activities to hide your own identities while seeking publicity- Judge Taylor

 

Let’s take a quick turn to another troll — Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev, who is well-known for his dedicated trolls, advocating genocide of non-whites and usual messing with large corporations. He was a leader of the Goatse security, a grey hat group that uncovers security holes for ‘the benefit of the public at large’. He took the disruptions by LulzSec and Anonymous to another level starting something broad against authority. Although he disagrees with LulzSec by saying, ‘ They’re publishing people’s authentication data, which puts the average member of the public at risk.’ and further stating that, ‘ I would never do that. They are the people we have to defend.’

 

He believes that we need to toughen up as we are too pampered and that’s one of the reason that ‘the western society is sick; diseased’. When in an interview he was questioned about his tweet – You’re fat and your kid has autism, he started, ‘ I believe that tweet is pretty fair. I believe that person is fat and that child did have autism…
I think the problem with our society is that everybody is so politically incorrect because they have grown up in a bubble- official price, rounded corners, and bright colors. We are costume animals telling nobody anything that might hurt their feelings. Kids these days, they should be out welding, they should work with caustic chemicals, you know control demolition, like learn to be real people living in a real world and not these insulated morons who can’t ever hear anything that might hurt their feelings.
Get over it, grow up, and learn to deal with people on the internet not liking you. And if you don’t like it, shut down your FB page, make your Twitter private, don’t engage in a public discussion and you’ll never run into a conversation where I can say something that can hurt your feelings.’

He regularly writes for The Daily Stromer that is a ‘ neo-Naziwhite supremacist and Holocaust denial website’. In one of his post on this commentary, he expressed his hate towards Jews and black people revealing giant swastika tattoo on his chest.

Weev with a swastika tattoo on his chest

 

“I unequivocally support the killing of children. I believe that our enemies need such a level of atrocity inflicted upon them and their homes that they are afraid to ever threaten the white race with genocide again. We will not relent until far after their daughters are raped in front of them. We will not relent until far after the eyes of their sons are gouged out before them. We will not relent until the cries of their infants are silenced by boots stomping their brains out onto the pavement.”

“Please, Donald Trump, kill the Jews, down to the last woman and child. Leave nothing left of the Jewish menace. It is all on you, my glorious leader.”
— “Kikes Tried to Frame Me for Synagogue Threats a Second Time,” Daily Stormer, March 2017.

— From a flyer Auernheimer sent to 50,000 computer printers across the country, August 2016.

Even though his mother said that Weev comes from a large-mixed raced family with Jewish relatives on “both sides of his family,” as well as Native American blood. After serving his sentence, he is reported to move to eastern Europe as the Department of Justice is still looking for him. He said that he misses America every day and is living a sort of miserable and despairing life in Transnistria. Still, he consistently uses the Internet to troll and shares his sort racist beliefs.

 

Trolling which now seems an everyday superficial and impulsive action is rather a ‘dark’ psychological phenomenon which has a further strong association with the darkest aspects of personality — including sadism, psychopathy, and manipulativeness. Furtherthe web provides the users the opportunity to shape and develop this aspect of the personality which might otherwise remain hidden from our neighbors and friends. This gives the advantage of remaining anonymous and not suffer from face to face social impacts that such kind of action might bring.

Luke Goode, researcher, and writer about new media technologies summed up this phenomenon:
It is also a symptom of our hyper-individualistic culture. Schools, the media and the self-help industry devote tremendous energy to telling people they are extraordinary individuals whose calling is to make their unique mark on the world. When the rest of humdrum social reality reneges on this promise, internet trolling offers a temptingly simple, though illusory, escape from feelings of powerlessness, insignificance, and boredom.

Incel and love deprivation

As the phrase that I had coined goes: If I cannot join them, I will rise above them; and if I cannot rise above them, I will destroy them- Elliot Rodger, the perpetrator of the 2014 Isla Vista Massacre.

There is loneliness. A yearning to find someone. Fulfilling the basic need for love. But when the desires never actualize in reality. When the immense craving stays within and suffocates one to the core. The frustration and doubt ensue. Hatred and a contempt for the society arise. And when they further get a platform to connect and express anger things can really take an ugly turn.

In 1997, Alana wanted to create a supportive forum for lonely people. People who struggle to find love. A friendly place for people like her. So she created a simple website to post some articles and ran a mailing list. This site came to be known as ‘Incel’, an abbreviation for ‘involuntary celibate’. After setting up the forum, she eventually moved away from it, satisfied and thinking that it can continue without her.

 

Things changed and so did the meaning of the term and the content of this innocuous website. Discussions were characterized by hatred, violence, racism, and misogyny. Incels believe that social norms are destroying them. This online community of celibate men convinces themselves to be ugly and socially awkward. And they believe that this is the reason they are unable to find any potential partner. Misogynists blame the women and conclude that they are the victims. There were discussions about raping and torturing women and this kind of content was accepted, to say the least. Evidently, a toxic place to frequent.

A lot of these guys are pretty young, and I think some of it stems from standard adolescent insecurities and sexual frustration and anger at being rejected by girls- David Futrelle

 

Incel received a momentum in 2014 when Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old man killed six people and then himself in California. He had a narcissistic personality and even wrote a 137-page manifesto filled with his grandiose fantasies and delusions. As Berit Brogaard, a professor of philosophy noticed, Roger was preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love. He was obsessed with finding ‘love’.

Elliot Rodger, an incel hero

 

In his last video, Elliot expressed,

You will finally see that I’m in truth the superior one- the true alpha male…
From now, I’ll be the god compared to you. You are animals and I’ll slaughter you. I’ll be a god exacting my retribution for all those who deserve it. And you do deserve it, just for the crime of living a better life than me.

Then on April 23 of this year, Alek Minassian posted on Facebook — the Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the supreme gentleman Elliot Rodger.

Chad and Stacy are the popular, attractive and sexually active men and women while Becky is the ‘average’ women

 

Alek then got a rented van and targeted pedestrians on the North York City Centre – killing 10 and injuring 16. Another similar case is of Chris Harper-Mercer who killed nine people in a community college in 2015. He stated, ‘Here I am, 26, with no friends, no job, no girlfriend’.

There is a new crisis in masculinity, or that we need to take a special focus on redeeming our Millenial ‘lost boys’- the losers of a changing social hierarchy who posted once on 4chan as teenagers and turned into a neo-Nazis as adults. It is more worthwhile to think about this as a problem of nihilism (Drew Brown)

 

Incels brood hate for society and for themselves too. They blame others for their defeat and the feeling of unworthiness. As the relationships expert Hunt Ethridge notice, “The fox couldn’t reach the grapes, so he convinced himself the grapes were sour and he didn’t want them anyway.” Their despair and belief that women have some functions on a superficial level only dehumanize the perspective of the opposite gender. And when they find these online corners to connect and share their ideologies with no external perspective, ‘the validation can fuel aggression’.

 

When they allow all these isolated and alienated people to unite and for once feel a sense of connectivity, acceptance, and understanding to share their sense of shame and self-condemnation. But it also allows for a perfect storm of not only self-hatred but vitriol, rage, and a desire to inflict harm on others whereby victims can also experience first-hand the grief and suffering which Incels feel they’ve had to endure for a lifetime.”-Sam Louie, Psychology Today

Isolation and lack of normal social
relationships

Alana was sad and angry when she learned what her innocent creation ended up being. She, then, created a project named Love not Anger to research how these lonely people might find respectful love and leave behind their state of anger and hopelessness. This is an important step towards awareness and recognition of the problem. The alienation from society and a subsequent loss of reality can pose a real threat. There is a need to stand in, challenge and dismantle the toxic ideologies through the practical actions. Gathering support and extending a helping hand to get out of the toxic environment before the things take an ugly turn. Change in mentality can change the lives.

 

The greatest generation of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind- William James

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Internet’s folk hero

“Think deeply about things. Don’t just go along because that’s the way things are or that’s what your friends say. Consider the effects, consider the alternatives, but most importantly, just think.”

Aaron Swartz, an internet legend, it’s own boy — a tech genius. Dropped out of school at the age of 14, he earned an early success as a programmer. He developed Reddit at the age of nineteen and took a turn toward political activism devoting his short life to the idea of free internet.

He was against the corporate influence. He believed that ideas should be freely available on the Internet favoring the free access of all sources. Academic publications are bound within the notions of copyright. Information published in the scientific and cultural field are digitized and monopolized by few private corporations. These large corporations, he wrote, are ‘blinded by the greed’ and the restricted access is a ‘private theft of public culture’.

Scholarly researched literature which is funded by taxpayers is available to only some well-known universities in the developed world. The general public would have to pay a subscription fee to go through an article. In 2013, Aaron was a research fellow at the Harvard University which provided him an access to the JSTOR account. JSTOR is a digital library that contains full-text research of almost 2,000 journals on various disciplines. He downloaded a close to two-thirds of the JSTORE archive through the MIT computer network (which can be equivalent to the subscription fee of fifty thousand dollars). This lead to his capture and an eventual trial. Federal prosecutors charged him with a ridiculous 35 years sentence in prison and a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fine. However, the plea bargain was offered which Swartz and his attorney denied in the end.

Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar and whether you take documents, data or dollars- Carmen M. Ortez, U.S. Attorney & Prosecutor of Aaron Swartz

On 11th January, two days later, Swartz hanged himself with his belt in a New-York apartment leaving no suicide note behind. Contrary to the idea that he was depressed, his family members and near ones claimed that he has been indirectly killed by the government. His girlfriend Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman wrote,

“I believe that Aaron’s death was not caused by depression…I say this because, since his suicide, as I’ve tried to grapple with what happened, I’ve been learning. I’ve researched clinical depression and associated disorders. I’ve read their symptoms, and at least until the last 24 hours of his life, Aaron didn’t fit them.

…I believe Aaron’s death was caused by exhaustion, by fear, and by uncertainty. I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a persecution and a prosecution that had already wound on for 2 years (what happened to our right to a speedy trial?) and had already drained all of his financial resources. I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a criminal justice system that prioritizes power over mercy, vengeance over justice; a system that punishes innocent people for trying to prove their innocence instead of accepting plea deals that mark them as criminals in perpetuity; a system where incentives and power structures align for prosecutors to destroy the life of an innovator like Aaron in the pursuit of their own ambitions.”

Aaron Swartz was a significant part of the free culture movement. He was fighting furiously to make the information accessible to everyone. Restriction over valuable research in developing countries seemed intolerable to him, “Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.”

This meant that researchers and doctors treating patients with cancer or other diseases in remote regions of Africa could not access complete articles that describe the latest results in the treatments even if the research is done locally.

And if you decide to pay, you won’t know the article is relevant as the abstracts don’t always make it clear enough what is contained there. And restricted access journals are also prone to spurious results. You might cover the costs to read a peer-reviewed journal but receive some junk crafted by long technical phrases. Predatory and ‘unacademic’ articles are, overall, building a real obstacle in scientific development. For instance, an analysis done by Gopalkrishan Seethapathy and colleagues from the University of Oslo judged 350 journals (published in the year 2015–2016 alone) as predatory. In brief, prestigious and restricted sites aren’t completely flaw-free.

Coming back to Free-culture movement, it doesn’t concern academic publication exclusively but targets the restriction over music, art, and software industry also. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation shared his opinion by stating,

Works of practical use should be free. Works regarding points of view should be shareable but not changeable and works of art or entertainment should be copyrighted.

Maybe we do need a free access to research done by our predecessors in order to appease our curiosity and as an initial point for our own discovery. Just like they used the knowledge and discoveries of others to build themselves up. Openness helps in the discovery.

Standing on the shoulders of the giants.

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Failure of justice

 

We fail ourselves if the wrong person is in jail. Police, prosecutors, and judges are society’s agents: what they do in our name, rightly or wrongly measures us as a people. One wrongful conviction would be too many if you were the one: imagine for a moment that it’s you locked behind bars, innocent – Bill Rowling, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia

We have the freedom to cherish. We feel protected and safe within a system that guarantees us the legal rights. This system composed of human beings like you and me is an ultimate source of support and relief. But as they say to err is human. And an error made during criminal convictions can destroy lives, relationships and mental health with no real compensation for the lost years and liberty. And the question of compensation arises only if one is lucky enough to be exonerated. Or else, many innocent prisoners never make to clear their offenses and stay unrecognized by the justice system. As the study shows that 4.1% of inmates awaiting execution on death row in the US are innocent and that at least 340 innocent people may have been executed since 1973.

 

The matter becomes more disturbing when someone from the justice system intentionally works against innocents and frame them. Prosecutors who are focused on securing convictions, a police officer who isn’t reliable and a judge who is reluctant to overturn the case can end up putting an innocent behind the bars. They can use controversial techniques to get the confessions and have their work done without caring whatsoever about the truth. As happened with Jeffrey Mark Deskovic who was convicted of raping, beating and strangling a classmate at the age of 17. According to the police, he had a suspicious behavior as he was emotionally distraught over her classmate’s death and was an awkward kid without many friends. Jeffrey described his experience during the police interrogation that eventually leads him to the imprisonment for 17 years.

 

“They got me to agree to take a polygraph test telling me that there was some new information in the police file that they wanted to share with me but the only way they could do that if only I took and passed the polygraph examination…

They put me in a small room. I didn’t have an attorney present. I wasn’t given anything to eat the entire time I was there. There were three police officers who I knew were police officers and then there was the polygraphist who actually was a county sheriff’s investigator dresses like a civilian pretending not to be a cop. They strapped me to the polygraph machine and before beginning the polygraph examination they gave me countless cups of coffee, the purpose of which was to get me nervous. So after about 20 mins, pretending to align the machine, the interrogator started interrogating me using the third-degree tactic. He invaded my personal space, he raised his voice at me, he kept asking me the same questions over and over again as each hour passed so did my fear increase in proportion to the time. Towards the end of the examination, the polygrapher made a statement. What do you mean you didn’t do it? You just told me through the polygraph test result that you did. We just want you to verbally confirm it.

When he said that to me, it really shot my fear through the roof. At that point who should make a grand appearance other than the police officer who was pretending to be my friend. He informed me that the other officers were going to harm me but he was holding them off but could not do so indefinitely. You have to help yourself here, you understand.

Considering that I have maintained my innocence for previous six and a half to seven hours. It was clear what he meant by that. They wanted me to confess. When it was added that if I did as they wanted, not only the would stop what they are doing but I could go home afterward. Being young, naive, frightened sixteen years old, not thinking about the long-term implications, just being concerned about my safety right then right there, in fear of my life, painfully conscious of the fact that I knew that nobody knew where I was and then there was the push-pull dynamic. One one hand, the officer is threatening me with harm bait, on the other, he’s throwing me the false life preserver telling me that I’m not gonna be arrested. Being totally overwhelmed emotionally and psychologically. I took out what they offered and I made up a story based upon the information which they had given me in the course of interrogation.”

Jeffrey is one the 205 men and one woman who have been exonerated through DNA evidence since 1989 in which 53 have been convicted of murder.
Another alarming case is of Lawrence McKinney, 62, who spent half of his life in prison after he was wrongly convicted of raping a woman and stealing her television in 1978. After 31 years in jail, an evidence was found indicating that he was not even present on the scene. He was issued $75 in compensation and it took him another three months to cash it as he had no ID. Pretty shame paying $2 for each year he spent in prison.

 

I don’t have no life, all my life was taken away.

After release begins the struggle of reconnecting with people and making a living. A trauma that proceeds with grief for lost years.

 

When I came out I was very paranoid and I thought people were out to get me -it was like everybody was staring at me. For the first six months after I was released from prison, I tried to work with other people in similar circumstances to me to secure the release, but I ended up in the hospital because I was having a nervous breakdown. — Michael O’Brien

In 2012, convictions of more than 1100 cases were overturned due to separate 13 police corruption scandals, most of which involved the planting of drugs or guns on innocent defendants.

It’s not that rare that the prosecutors and police ignore key evidence and intentionally withhold information from the defense. Prosecutors have immense power in determining who will be subjected to criminal punishment. And some misuse this power and fail to reveal the evidence. They have absolute immunity against civil suits and they rarely receive the conviction for their errors. Indeed, a study conducted in 5 states found that in 660 cases where courts had confirmed prosecutorial misconduct the number of prosecutors disciplined was only one. Some prosecutors even receive bonuses for achieving a high conviction.

Kwame Ajamu exonerated after 40 years spent in prison

When people in power turn a blind eye to the crime and let some innocent rot in the prison for a lifetime, we can’t help losing our faith in humanity and justice system. But the struggle will go on, striving for the truth and for the meritable freedom. Finishing with Voltaire, the priority must be to protect the innocent.

It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.

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Pleasure of reading

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Sleep is good, he said, and books are better- George Martin

“What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright…Haven’t you ever happened to come across in a book some vague notion that you’ve had, some obscure idea that returns from afar and that seems to express completely your most subtle feelings?” – Gustave Flaubert

 

Image result for book and fireplace pinterest melancholy

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott

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Italy’s fight on migration

‘We don’t need to have new slaves’, said the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy likening African immigrants to slaves.

The anti-migrant party known as the League is dominating the political realm of Italy since March of 2018 in coalition with the populist Five Star Movement, with its leader Matteo Salvini claiming the post of interior minister. He immediately started to work to curb the country’s migration policies and just a few weeks back received a success by getting his decree approved by the cabinet. His enthusiasm for anti-migration provoked a tiny outburst from Luxemburg foreign minister last month which he shared gleefully with his 3 million followers on Facebook.

 

In Luxembourg, sir, we have dozens of thousands of Italians! They came as migrants, they worked in Luxembourg so you in Italy would have money for your children.

 

Salvini using the aggressive tones for immigrants isn’t doing great work in maintaining peace in the country where there has always been a trivialization regarding racism and fascism. He is accused of inciting a climate of hatred towards migrants and there is an explosive of racist attacks in recent months including an assault on Italian athlete Daisy Osakue. She is born to Nigerian parents and was training for the European Championships when a motorist threw an egg at her in the northern city of Turin on July 30. The assault resulted in the discus-thrower nearly losing her eye and she was hospitalized with a corneal injury.

 

“I do not want to use the race or sexism card, but in my opinion, they were looking for a black person,” she said.

 

Another instance is the killing of a Moroccan man. He was chased by a car of Italians who suspected him of being a thief. The man ran for his life, injured himself, and was eventually beaten to death. There was an attack on a one-year-old Romani infant who was shot with a pellet damaging her lungs and risking her to stay paralyzed for the rest of her life.

 

But Salvini argues that there has been no increase in racist acts in Italy. With the government taking this tolerant stand, there aren’t any great initiatives to stop these hate crimes or to even recognize them in the least. Moreover, there isn’t any organization in Italy that keep proper records of the crimes that can have the religious or ethnic hatred as a motivation. Instead of making efforts for integration, there exists the war of words whipped with hatred and frustration which makes everyone the enemy of everyone else.

 

“The risk is that he is legitimizing the worst impulses of this country. Up until a few years back, people were ashamed of saying certain things about migrants, of speaking openly about earning the right to shoot a burglar. With Salvini there’s total freedom. From a cultural perspective, he has opened the gates to very negative impulses that maybe were always around but weren’t visible.”

– Salvini’s biographer Matteo Pucciarelli

 

Maybe the violence and killing of the migrants aren’t true after all as he said that racism is the mere invention of the left.

Internet Theft

Yesterday as I was going through the latest episode of one of my favorite podcast Reply All, the story shared struck me slightly and I decided to write this piece as I feel this is something that concerns most of us who are members of this strange Internet world.

The story was about a woman named Lizzie who got her Snapchat account hacked and sold further by some OG user using the method of Sim Swapping. She was finally able to get the account back but all her contacts and archived photos had been deleted at the time. In addition, she received several threats from the new account holder that made her stop using the app at once as she experienced so closely this violation of her personal security.

The person who originally stole the account sold it for 100$. The reason he targeted Lizzie specifically was due to her unique username Lizard. The username was without any numbers or characters and as a common English noun with a slight edginess, it was a valuable source to sell.

Lizzie is obviously not a first person to fall prey to this system and neither she will be a last one. This is something that these hackers regularly do without thinking about the person connected to the account whatsoever. Accounts can be cracked quite easily using social engineering techniques. Using these techniques hacking can be done without using any code and with a simple vishing call.

Vishing is a voice solicitation. You use the phone to extract information or data points that can be used in a later attack. — Jessica Clark, Social Engineering Hacker

Accounts get hacked by a fairly simple method of Sim-Swapping. Hackers can seize Instagram handles, card details, and cryptocurrency by controlling the victim’s phone number and resetting the login credentials to get access to their account.

The scam begins with a fraudster gathering details about the victim, either by use of phishing emails, by purchasing them from organized criminals, or by directly socially engineering the victim. Once the fraudster has obtained these details they will then contact the victim’s mobile telephone provider. The fraudster will use social engineering techniques to convince the telephone company to port the victim’s phone number to the fraudster’s SIM. For example, by impersonating the victim and claiming that they have lost their phone. (Wikipedia)

With this sophisticated type of fraud, we are vulnerable enough to get exploited by the attackers who can even compromise the methods like two-factor identification to get their thing done.

We use 2FA thinking that it will keep our accounts secure and prevent attackers to enter our system. But this system can be easily exploited by social engineering techniques and won’t stand up longer against a pro or sophisticated user. But when it comes to nothing or 2FA, go for the latter one. At least, it will add the extra layer of protection to your accounts.