Local News Since 1890 Now Online!

Archive for September, 2014|Monthly archive page

AG collecting BMV data: Who’s watching the watchers?

In Local News, Media, Opinion, Politics, sociology, Uncategorized on September 30, 2014 at 9:31 am

DIH LOGOApparently the National Security Administration (NSA) isn’t the only government agency collecting information on American citizens without oversight. According to multiple news sources, including CNN, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has just disclosed that Ohio driver license photos have been uploaded to a facial recognition database for criminal identification.

According to DeWine, the program allows police to quickly compare photographs of suspects or crime victims to an electronic pool of mug shots and driver license photos in the Ohio database. Comparisons are made of facial measurements from one image to the next in search of a match. The problem with all of this is that it’s been active since June – in secret.

With no rules or written regulations governing the use of this information, the AG can do whatever he wants with it. No official should have such wide-sweeping access to personal information on citizens.

Photo Courtesy RawStory.Com.

Ohio AG Mike DeWine    Photo Courtesy RawStory.Com.

Neither DeWine, nor any of his cronies, has any right to dig through the records of Ohio citizens without due process. Within moments of disclosing this information, the American Civil Liberties Union pounced on the situation, and, for a change, rightfully so.

ACLU Associate Director Gary Daniels issued a statement calling upon DeWine to, “Pull the plug” on the system. “This system needs to be shut down until there are meaningful, documented rules in place to keep this information secure, protect the privacy of innocent people, and prevent government abuse of this new tool,” Daniels said.

According to his statement at the press conference revealing this program, DeWine said, “Misuse of the facial recognition system is a felony offense.” But how can he make a statement like that when there are currently no written rules to govern its use?

As he told The Enquirer, it’s the AG’s opinion that he didn’t need to inform the public when the system was launched because 26 other states already have similar databases in operation. Only now, after the information was prematurely uncovered by the press, has DeWine decided to publicly form an expert advisory panel of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement representatives to create rules preventing privacy abuse.

Where is the state legislature in that list of “experts?” Our state representatives should be the ones governing the rules of operation for such a system, not those who already have control over it and the ability to exploit the information.

All this begs the question, if DeWine is uploading identification photos, what else is he collecting? Every photo is part of a larger database of names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. So who is looking at all of that and how much access do they have? Even more importantly, what can be done to control its use?

Protecting the public is what an attorney general is supposed to do. Sadly, when the person holding that office has an overwhelming sense of omnipotence, the public has to protect itself instead from him. Then, only the state legislature can take the proper action to limit DeWine’s reach with such sensitive data.

People need to call, email, fax, write to their state representative and demand they act immediately to avoid mishandling of this information and force the AG to disclose every detail of this program to the public. The idea that he felt he was not obligated to tell anyone only emphasizes the need for extensive regulation by the State House.

In the meantime, be aware that likely anyone in the AG office has access to any and all personal information collected by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles without proper due process of law, warrant or oversight. It’s not good enough that we’re supposed to simply “trust” Mike DeWine’s policies, especially knowing now that he has hidden this program for months. If he has concealed this, then what else could he be he hiding?

 

 

Do your homework before voting this election.

In Jobs, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on September 29, 2014 at 11:26 am

DIH LOGOHere we are in election season again, when liberals and conservatives alike spend millions of dollars trying to convince voters to either keep them in office or replace the incumbent.  As always, when they’re not kissing your baby, they’re stealing his lollypop. With so many candidates running who are essentially, “the lesser of who cares,” how will you decide at the ballot box?

A common theme of election strategies is the tired old, “let’s bash the other guy,” method, which is exactly as it sounds. In the months and weeks preceding the election, voters are inundated with television commercials, fliers and post cards all declaring the treachery of the opposing candidate, regardless of the validity of the claims. The goal is to “scare” you away from that candidate for fear he or she will bring about the end of democracy as we know it.

Another popular method of political marketing is the “two chickens in every pot” promise. The goal here is to simply convince you that no matter how you are living now, vote for “me” and I’ll make your life better, and the themes follow trends.

In the years following 9/11, for example, candidates promised better homeland security. After the recession hit, they promised banking reform and more jobs. In reality, however, politicians have little to do with any of that.

When you read about a lower unemployment rate, chances are it’s because many jobless simply stopped reporting their status or benefits have run out. Unemployment numbers fluctuate, organically, not because some politician changed the face of the workforce with the swath of a pen. Please try to keep this in mind: government does not, has not, and never will create jobs in the real world. Regardless of how much they hype job-creating policies, no politician can create jobs in private industry.

Probably the most famous photo of Truman. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Probably the most famous photo of Truman. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

In fact, the majority of political interference just impedes business and slows workforce development – unless you have a nice, fat check to send them at election time. Then you get all the help you want until your money runs out.

The rest of the time, business owners must contend with the result of what these self-serving bureaucrats do best. Invasive regulations, ever-increasing taxes and other legislative roadblocks usually just muck up the works and prevent small businesses from growing – or hiring.

Local government interference can make things even worse, because that’s where the real decisions are made. When local politicians have a “pal” in a particular industry and a competitor comes in to try to set up shop, it can be harder to get official processes pushed through, like location approvals, licensing, and so on. It does happen, and far more often than you might think.

What gets even more annoying is the level to which some politicians try to convince people they are “regular folks,” when most of them are millionaires many times over. Great examples are Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Congressman John Boehner, and many of their compatriots, on both sides of the aisle, each of whom are super-wealthy and many up for re-election. None of them have a clue what it would be like to have to survive paycheck to paycheck like so many of their constituents.

Whatever the ploy, a politician is a business selling a product in the same way that any company would try to get you to buy their brand of soap or corn flakes. It’s all marketing, and knowing that people make political decisions emotionally rather than based on any logic or facts, the more frightening the ad campaign the better.

The same goes for choosing to approve or deny the various ballot issues. Just because they send kids to bang on your door with big sad eyes and a long sad tale of how the children will suffer without passing a tax increase (while the kid has no idea what they’re shilling for, because they’re kids), that doesn’t mean you should pull vote “yes.”

Best advice, ignore the advertisements. If every voter did a little homework on the candidates and issues instead of voting a party line or from fear or guilt, there would be a marked improvement in the quality of our leadership.
The Jamestown Comet.com editor / publisher, Gery L. Deer, is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

Think Pink Motorcycle Poker Run to sponsor cancer survivor in Susan G. Komen walk

In Business, Charities, Local News, Sports News, Travel, Uncategorized on September 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm

IMG_0476DAYTON, OH – In 2010, Dayton area resident Karen Clary became one of America’s 2.9 million breast cancer survivors. This year, she hopes to be one of the thousands across the country to participate in the 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walk. To support her participation, the Miami Valley Victory Riders motorcycle club and Motor Sports of Dayton are sponsoring the 2nd Annual “Think Pink” Poker Run, Saturday, September 27. The event will help raise awareness and generate the $2,300 Clary needs to attend the 3-day, 60 mile the race.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure series of 5K runs and fitness walks attracts people of all ages and fitness levels, from walkers to elite runners. Celebrating breast cancer survivors and honoring those who have lost their battle with the disease, the series began in 1983 with a single race with 800 participants in Dallas. Today, it has grown into a global series of more than 140 Races with 1.5 million runners.

Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists working to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure® and the Komen 3-Day, the organization has invested more than $2.2 billion, making it the largest worldwide source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.

Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds raised by the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® help support Komen’s global research program, the largest nonprofit source of breast cancer research funding outside of the U.S. government. Money raised also supports large public health programs that address critical issues in breast cancer treatment and care. The remaining 25 percent stays in the local community, funding financial, social and medical needs.

Two years ago, Clary and her daughter, Jen, attended the San Francisco 3-day race together. “My daughter asked me to do the 3-day walk with her in 2012,” Clary says. “At first I thought she was crazy; 60 miles in three days? I eventually decided to go because it looked like so much fun and because of how much this means to others who shared my experience, and their families.”

Beginning at 10AM from Motor Sports of Dayton, 2135 Dayton-Lakeview Rd., in New Carlisle (45344), riders will collect a card from each stop, trying for the highest hand at the end of the ride. From Motor Sports of Dayton, riders will make stops at Moose Lodge in Beavercreek, Buckminn’s D&D Harley Davidson in Xenia, Little River Café in Oregonia, Whiskey Barrell in Oregonia, and finally end up at Jack Ass Flats in Huber Heights. The rider with the highest poker hand at the end of the run will win the grand prize. Single riders can participate for $15, doubles for $20, or buy an extra hand at $5 each. Other activities during the event include a 50/50 drawing, raffle prizes, silent auction, door prizes and entertainment.

“My first walk was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and also the most awesome,” Clary says. “Jen wanted to do the walk for me and, because I have given her a greater chance of getting cancer, I wanted to do it for her. Hopefully we can all help to wipe it out.” For more information, call Karen Clary at (937) 620-8597 or email her at teampol@aol.com.

 

Local festivals must evolve to continue.

In Charities, Economy, Entertainment, Holiday, Local News, Media, Opinion on September 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm

DIH LOGOVirtually every community festival I’ve been involved with around Ohio this season has reported steadily decreasing attendance. Some of them have run for more than a half-century, others only a few years, but regardless of their endurance, the people just aren’t coming like they used to. Could it be time to mothball the town festival and pool resources into larger, joint events like county fairs?

Over the course of the last couple of decades I have participated annually in more than a dozen different festivals and similar community events. Since 2002, I’ve produced the Western Arts Showcase performances at the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville, Ohio, an event that’s been running for more than 50 years. Sadly, I’ve watched the attendance at these events dwindle year after year to the point where even the vendors aren’t coming.

I hate the idea of our local festivals shutting down, but it’s not possible to perpetuate an event on good intentions. It must evolve with the times. With that in mind, and for those interested in trying to breathe new life into a long-running festival, here are a few ideas to consider.

First, whether you want to think of it this way or not, a town festival is like any other product you’re trying to sell to the public, from toothpaste to breakfast cereal. Consumers have options and getting them to choose your event over another takes effort and money.

Poor marketing on the part of festival organizers is common and usually the result of inadequate funding. It’s simply not enough to pin up cookie-cutter fliers that look the same year after year. Like any business venture, it takes real advertising and legwork to get the word out.

Could deteriorating attendance kill local festivals?

Could deteriorating attendance kill local festivals?

Community organizers should consider another question too, “What is the purpose of the festival?” If the reason is just to have one, then maybe that’s part of the problem. Every event should have an end goal, whether it’s charitable fundraising or increased awareness of what the community has to offer.

Successful events tend to seek out corporate sponsorships; not from local merchants but larger resources. For example, instead of going to the local Pepsi retailer, contact Pepsi’s corporate office and ask to speak to regional marketing reps or district managers. Tell them what you need and they can often direct you to the right department.

Those advanced funds should go toward better marketing and, most importantly, high-end feature entertainment, the real draw to any community event. Organizers should strongly resist the trend toward using the local bluegrass garage band.  Grants are also a potential funding option, but carry oversight burdens and restrictions on festival content.

Financially, local residents don’t provide enough of a revenue base to sustain an event year after year. To keep people coming in, you have to reach outside the area to draw attendees to your event with something to set it apart from all of the others – feature entertainment, unique exhibits, something. Let’s face the facts, there’s no difference between the funnel cakes at your event and those at any other.

Finally, one organizer I spoke to recently suggested that the major roadblock to growing his local festival was the old guard’s resistance to fresh ideas, complicated by an unbreakable, well-established good old boy system – a common problem in small communities. Organization committees are generally manned by those who show up or others who need to feel powerful. If that’s the case, and the argument given against change is often something like, “We’ve done it this way for 20 years and …” and nothing has improved! It’s probably time for new blood.

If no one is willing to change, it may be hard to maintain an event and people will just stop coming. If you belong to an organization that’s trying to decide whether to keep an event running, and few are open to change, ask this simple question. After the bills are paid this year, is there enough money left over from the event to cover start up costs on next year’s festival? If the answer is no, it may be time to hang it up. Remember, nostalgia won’t pay the bills.
The Jamestown Comet.com Editor / Publisher Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com

Support religious freedom by defending rights of atheists

In Education, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on September 3, 2014 at 11:24 pm

dih-logo-SEFor what is apparently the first time ever, an openly atheist candidate is running for United States Congress this fall. James Woods, an atheist Democrat, is seeking election in the Arizona 5th Congressional District, a region well known as strictly Republican. According to a CNN op-ed piece by columnist Carlos S. Moreno, Woods will be the only congressional candidate to ever run after outing himself as a non-believer.

As it turns out, under the constitutions of eight American states, atheists are banned from holding public office: Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas (Source: The Washington Post). More accurately, the restriction applies to those who deny the existence of, “a Supreme Being,” or “Almighty God,” the wording varies.

Regardless of whether people agree with it, such bans would seem to violate Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It’s probable that any related civil suit would eventually land at the feet of the United States Supreme Court which would undoubtedly have to rule these laws unconstitutional.

Even so, most atheists stay, “in the closet,” so to speak, to avoid social repercussions and public scrutiny and rarely do they attempt to run for political positions. It might be assumed that the anti-atheist rules were originally established to ensure that public servants would have a predictable moral fiber.

But, the very idea that the religious are inherently “moral,” is, in a word, ridiculous. History is full of religiously-sanctioned violations of God’s moral commandments, from centuries of open warfare to decades of child abuse. As usual, many of the devout try to pretend none of it ever happened. So, in a completely predictable act of contradiction, violations of God’s laws are fine so long as they serve a “higher purpose.”

Likewise, the moral character of a politician is supposed to be part of the reason why people choose to elect him or her to office. Sadly, a disturbing lack of morality is evident in many high-ranking politicians, who spend much of their time lying, cheating and stealing. These are the same men and women who, at some point, stood up in front of their God and everyone else and swore to their personal integrity and commitment.

Easy examples come to mind like John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, who were known to be serial adulterers, and it could be argued that the very definition of politician should include, “liar.” In any case, one needn’t be a Christian, nor a member of any other religion, to have a well-aligned moral compass.

Put simply, being frightened into morality by the threat of fire and brimstone only goes so far in keeping people on the straight and narrow, particularly those who crave power and believe themselves at some point to be above retribution. It seems like it would be better to have a public servant who has found his or her own moral direction rather than having it lorded over them by fear of suffering in the hereafter.

Regardless of how the devout are behaving when no one is looking, however, what Americans need to understand from all of this is that freedom from religion must be protected in order to preserve its uninhibited practice. The fine balance between freedom “from” and “of” religion is necessary to ensure every citizen can practice his or her faith openly, all while any other may enjoy none at all. It goes both ways.

Put another way, no one likes to have religious groups going door to door pedaling their ideology. So why is it alright for anyone else to do the same thing simply using more socially acceptable methods, such as being coerced into declaring a religion before qualifying for political office?

Up until now a great many public servants who have affirmed a religious affiliation and filled speeches with thanks to God for their success have managed to shame both their religion and their office with shaky morality. In the end, the most devout Christian can take the same oath as their atheist counterpart and guarantee no greater a moral platform. If history is any indicator, it might even be less.

 
Gery L. Deer is the editor and publisher of The Jamestown Comet.com and a syndicated independent columnist.

 

Amateur radio classes offered September 7

In Dayton Ohio News, Education, Entertainment, Media, News Media, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on September 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

The number of amateur radio operators continues to grow as more people realize the role that ham radio can play in providing emergency communication during natural disasters. To help those interested in obtaining a ham radio license, the Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (GCARES) is offering three free Amateur Radio license courses. In addition to GCARES, the courses are supported by the Bellbrook  Amateur Radio Club (BARC), the Upper Valley Amateur Radio Club (UVARC) and the Xenia Weather Amateur Radio Network (XWARN).

radios     The nine week courses will prepare students to take the FCC test for the entry-level technician, the intermediate level general, or the top level extra class licenses. Classes will meet from 7–9 p.m. Sundays beginning Sept. 7.  The exams for all three licenses will be given at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9. There is no charge for the courses or the test.

   The entry level technician class course will be held in the TrainingCenter at the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club Clubhouse, Room 1 Sugarcreek Elementary School, 51 South East Street in Bellbrook.  No experience is required and there is no minimum age required to earn a technician class license.  Morse code no longer is required for any amateur radio license.

    The general class course and the test session will be held in the training room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61 located at 1298 Dayton-Xenia Road just west of Orchard Lane.

     The extra class course will be held in the training room at Fairborn Fire Station 2 located at 2200 Commerce Center Blvd just south of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.

      Students are encouraged to have a copy of the respective ARRL License Manual. For more information about obtaining a manual go to gcares.febo.com.

     To register for one of the courses or for more information, please contact Bill Watson, K8WEW,  by email at wwatson4@att.net or by phone between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. at (937) 426-2166.