Thursday, July 07, 2005

It Can Happen Here

Bombings in London, 33 killed to date, 700 hundred injured.

Can it happen here?

Not can it happen here, but when will it happen here? I've spent a good chunk of my life working in the anti-terrorism field and I'm certain that we'll get hit--again and again. Security has always been a function of a society's willingness to pay a price both in terms of money and in terms of sacrificing basic human rights. After D.B. Cooper hijacked a Northwest Airlines flight in 1971, airline pilots called for stronger cockpit doors. The airlines, backed by the FAA, resisted the changes until after 9/11. The rationale: The modifications cost too much. $300 to modify a cockpit door versus 5,000 dead on 9/11. You do the math. Essentially the same thing occured after the destruction of a Pan Am flight over Lockerby, Scotland in 1988. Afterwards,experts called for the X-ray of all checked luggage. The FAA and the airlines resisted. Too expensive, they said.

Israel has one of the best anti-terrorism programs in existence, but they know too well that a terrorist who is willing to sacrifice his or her life armed with a few pounds of C-4 becomes a terrible and almost unstoppable weapon. We're learning that lesson the hard way in Iraq.

Terrorists are opportunists. I was in Paris during a series of bombings on the Metro in the 90s. Every trashcan hade been removed or bolted shut. Armed troops stood on every corner. If you were black or looked Arab, you were stopped and questioned repeatedly. The bombings continued for a while, then the bombers moved onto easier targets. They look for soft targets. Lots of them here in the USA, they just haven't cashed in on them yet.

The paradox is that clamping down on human rights to stop terrorism only creates more terrorists. Like our war against drugs, the war against terror cannot be won unless we are willing to address the root causes; the disaffection of the masses, poverty, oppression, religious and ethnic bias. Unfortunately, attacking the symptoms rather than the causes carries more political weight these days. The terror will continue.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Securing a copyright

Here's a quick and dirty lesson on securing a copyright that I worked up for my brother-in-law who is working on a book:

Copyright is automatically assigned to you by law from the moment you set pen to paper or otherwise record your creative work. But, there are some things you can do to protect yourself further if you feel the need:

First on all copies that you send out, provide notice of copyright:

The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the following three elements:

1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; and

2. The year of first publication of the work. In the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and

3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.

Example: © 2002 John Doe (

Note: Some people try to just use (C) as a copyright symbol which is not sufficient.

Next, seal a copy of your work in an envelope and send it to yourself via registered mail/return receipt requested. When the envelope comes, do not open it, but store it unopened along with the return receipt in a safe place. This will provide proof that you created the work prior to a certain date.

Finally, you can register the copyright through the copyright office. The forms are available online and it costs $30.00 to register your work. However, if you provide notice of copyright and retain proof that the work is yours, registering isn't all that necessary. You can always go back and retroactively register your work if a problem comes up. Don't bother with the copyright registration companies that you see on the web. They're ripoffs and do exactly the same thing you can do yourself. Most times, when you find someone to publish your articles or book, they will handle the copyright registration, though in the case of articles or short stories, you might want to have the rights reassigned back to you after publication. Here is a good FAQ site for copyrights.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Death of James Jahar Perez

March 28, 2004
24 seconds after Portland Police officers notified their dispatch center that they had stopped a vehicle, Jahar Perez was shot and killed. 24 seconds. Of all the shooting incidents that I've examined, this is the one that confuses me the most. Perez was hinky, reaching around, being suspicious. Cops run into hinky dudes all the time. Guys that reach under the seat as the officer approaches the vehicle or those who poke around in the glove box with the cop at their window. Not the wisest thing to do, but not unusual. There are three generally accepted methods of reacting to this knucklehead behavior: First, verbal command: "Hands on the steering wheel, motherfucker." Second, verbal command while screwing the barrel of your handgun in the driver's ear (not recommended but effective) or third, beat a tactical retreat and access the situation from adequate cover. For some reason, Jason Sery and his partner, Macomber went to option four, grapple with the guy and then shoot him.

What I want to know is what happened in that police car between the time the officers spotted Perez and the time they initiated the stop? Something happened in that car between; a conversation between Sery and Macomber that caused them to approach Perez ready to rock and roll. I've looked through the old news reports, but haven't found anything. Sery has resigned and I'm sure his partner is keeping mum. Maybe it'll come out at the civil trial, but I'm not hopeful.