Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bernard Britt of Plymouth Obituary

Bernard Britt
BRITT, Bernard J. Of Plymouth, Beloved husband of Anne (Gaffney). Father of Thomas P. Britt and his wife Margaret of Dover, Christopher J. Britt of Plymouth and Robert T. Britt and his wife Rose of Lunenburg. Grandfather of Ryan, Caitlin, Aidan, Robert and Adam. Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Funeral Mass in St. Patrick's Church, 71 Central St, Stoneham on Friday, July 19 at 10 a.m. At the request of the family there are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bernard's name to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, 72 River Park St, Ste. 202, Needham, MA 02494. Bernard was past treasurer and board member of the Plymouth Philharmonic, retired partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and served his country in the US Army during the Korean War. Arrangements by the Cota Funeral Home, 335 Park St, NORTH READING, 978-664-4340. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

"The Terminal" - Remake! Starring Edward Snowden!

Edward Snowden vs. Tom Hanks
The Terminal - Life is waiting.
The Terminal was an American film released in 2004. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It is essentially about a man who becomes trapped in a New York City airport terminal when he is denied entry into the US and cannot return home due to political reasons in his home country. The movie's concept was originally conceived from the true story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian refugee that spent seventeen years living in Terminal 1 inside the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France.

Since today is my birthday, and I have some free time on my hands this morning, I will begin to construct my Kickstarter project where I either remake the original 2004 movie release or perhaps create a sequel. I will be sure to keep updates posted here and will provide a formal link to the Kickstarter campaign. Perhaps I can offer various incentives to those who back the film like Zach Braff did? I don't have the same Hollywood connections as he does, but I do have a unique working knowledge of the position that Snowden put himself in... How much longer do you think Snowden can continue to live on Starbucks and Au Bon Pain? Airport food is expensive, even factoring the Russian Rubles and his financial ties to the US have been severed, along with his passport and citizenship (most likely)... This may be a more interesting 128 minute film than the original.

More to come!

"Snowed In" at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has reportedly sought asylum in 21 countries, aiming to gain protection against US prosecutors. But eleven nations have already rejected the whistleblower's requests, leaving him trapped in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The US has voided Snowden’s passport, making it impossible for him to leave the transit zone in Russia.
John Kiriakou
John Kiriakou - a former CIA agent
According to Wikileaks, Snowden has received outright rejections from five countries: Finland, Brazil, Poland, India, and Germany. Spain, Norway, Italy, Ecuador, and Austria have as well rejected Snowden’s applications, stating that asylum requests cannot be granted unless the applicant is already inside the country. Italy also stated that Snowden’s application was made via fax, which is not allowed. France has also rejected Snowden’s application for asylum, saying that police would have to arrest the whistleblower if he entered the country, due to the US extradition request. Other nations have yet to respond to Snowden’s asylum requests. Those countries include Bolivia, China, Cuba,  Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, and Switzerland. Despite Wikileaks' claim that Snowden has, in fact, sought asylum in China, Beijing said on Tuesday that it is not aware of the request. France has also denied receiving a request in the past. 
He is now the subject of an open letter of support just published from behind bars by John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent currently serving time for sharing state secrets.

In a letter dated June 13 and published Tuesday by Firedoglake, the imprisoned CIA vet salutes Snowden for his recent disclosures of classified documents detailing some of the vast surveillance programs operated by the United States’ National Security Agency.
Thank you for your revelations of government wrongdoing over the past week,” Kiriakou writes. “You have done the country a great public service.”
I know that it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now, but as Americans begin to realize that we are devolving into a police state, with the loss of civil liberties that entails, they will see your actions for what they are: heroic.”
Photograph by Kin Cheung/AP Photo
Photograph by Kin Cheung/AP Photo
A banner supporting Snowden in Hong Kong's business district
Beginning with the June 6 publication of a dragnet court order demanding the phone data of millions of Americans, The Guardian newspaper has released a collection of leaked documents attributed to Snowden for which the US government has charged him with espionage. He is reportedly now hiding in a Moscow airport and has sought asylum from no fewer than 20 countries to avoid prosecution in the US. Should he be sent home and forced to stand trial, however, Snowden will likely find himself in a peculiar position that the former Central Intelligence Agency analyst can most certainly relate to: Kiriakou is currently serving a 36-month sentence at the Loretto, Pennsylvania federal prison for revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent to reporters.
Before Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one count of passing classified information to the media last year, the government charged him under the Espionage Act of 1917. He has equated the prosecution as retaliation for his own past actions, saying the charge wasn’t the result of outing a secret agent but over exposing truths about the George W. Bush administration’s use of waterboarding as an interrogation tool in the post-9/11 war on terror. As in the case of Snowden, Kiriakou’s supporters have hailed him as a whistleblower. As the government sings a very different song, though, the CIA analyst offers advice to Snowden in what is the second of his “Letters from Loretto” published by Firedoglake since Kiriakou’s two-and-a-half-year sentence began earlier this spring.
First, find the best national security attorneys money can buy,” writes Kiriakou. “I was blessed to be represented by legal titans and, although I was forced to take a plea in the end, the shortness of my sentence is a testament to their expertise.”

Second, establish a website that your supporters can follow your case, get your side of the story and, most importantly, make donations to support your defense.” 
Kiriakou goes on to encourage Snowden toward garnering support within members of Congress and other institutions capable of calling attention to his case, such as the American Civil Liberties Union. Before he concludes, however, he bestows on Snowden what he calls “the most important advice I can offer.”
DO NOT, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI,” Kiriakou warns. “FBI agents will lie, trick and deceive you. They will twist your words and play on your patriotism to entrap you. They will pretend to be people they are not — supporters, well-wishers and friends — all the while wearing wires to record your out-of-context statements to use against you. The FBI is the enemy; it’s a part of the problem, not the solution.”
I wish you the very best of luck,” Kiriakou writes before signing off. “I hope you can get to Iceland quickly and safely. There you will find a people and a government who care about the freedoms that we hold dear and for which our forefathers and veterans fought and died.”
NSA Headquarters Fort Meade Maryland
Aerial View of NSA Headquarters
When Snowden first revealed himself to be the source of the leaked documents last month, murmurings quickly began circulating of Iceland possibly extending his way an offer of asylum. The list of countries asked to consider his request reportedly now exceeds 20, and the likes of Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba and Switzerland have all been floated as options. As Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola recalls, though, the Federal Bureau of Investigation likely won’t rule out dirty tricks to try and take down Snowden before he escapes, at least if Kiriakou’s experiences are any indication.
According to Kiriakou, the FBI also tried to set him up,” Gosztola writes. He goes on to cite a January 2013 interview in which the CIA whistleblower recounted a previously untold story about the government’s alleged efforts to indict Kiriakou on even more charges.
In the summer of 2010, a foreign intelligence officer offered me cash in exchange for classified information,” Kiriakou said. “I turned down the pitch and I immediately reported it to the FBI. So, the FBI asked me to take the guy out to lunch and to ask him what information he wanted and how much information he was willing to give me for it.”
After the lunch, I wrote a long memo to the FBI — and I did this four or five times. It turns out – and we only learned this three or four weeks ago – there never was a foreign intelligence officer. It was an FBI agent pretending to be an intelligence officer and they were trying to set me up on an Espionage Act charge but I repeatedly reported the contact so I foiled them in their effort to set me up.”
Kiriakou is one of eight Americans charged under that World War One-era legislation by President Barack Obama, who has prosecuted more people under that law that all previous leaders combined. Snowden became the latest US citizen to have their name added to that list and joins the likes of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning and NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. In a question-and-answer session hosted by The Guardian last month, Snowden celebrated those men as “examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistle-blowing only escalate the scale, scope and skill involved in future disclosures.”
Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they'll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers. If the Obama administration responds with an even harsher hand against me, they can be assured that they'll soon find themselves facing an equally harsh public response,” Snowden said.
In his first statement since entering Moscow more than a week ago, Snowden published a note through WikiLeaks on Monday dismissing the White House’s hunt for leakers, calling their tactics deceptive, unjust and “bad tools of political aggression.”
“In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be,” Snowden wrote. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

AARP vs Verizon Landline Service in New York

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is voicing its concerns over Verizon’s proposal to replace wireline networks in portions of New York and surrounding areas. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the damage that it caused to Verizon’s copper landlines, the service provider plans to turn off those networks in the western portion of Fire Island and some New Jersey Barrier communities, and replace it with wireless Voice Link technology.

AARP is arguing that the proposal Verizon filed with the New York Public Service Commission is too broad and could lead to more widespread shutdowns of Verizon’s wireline services. State director for AARP in New York Beth Finkel said in a statement, "Under the cover of Sandy, this push by Verizon could well work towards advancing the company's corporate strategy of steering customers towards more expensive services, but that doesn't match up to protecting the needs and interests of consumers."

AARP’s primary concerns over the switch to Voice Link include compatibility issues with Life Alert and security systems, the possibility of premature and widespread abandonment of wireline services, limitation of Internet service options for Voice Link customers and the end of access to services like collect calling and “0” dial-in access for operators.

In response, Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said, “As usual, the AARP is crying wolf. Instead of the dire possibilities it suggests, Verizon Voice Link is a robust solution that provides more reliable voice service to customers who have experienced lingering or intermittent wireline service issues. Voice Link uses our tried and true wireless network, which stands up well in emergency situations and which millions of people use millions of times each day. Decades-old copper wiring is far more prone to failure during weather emergencies, unlike advanced wireless networks.”

Bonomo said that Verizon will maintain the copper network where it makes customer service and business sense to do so, adding that the vast majority of Verizon copper customers have no issues at all with their service.

In a guest editorial on Stop the Cap, Tom Maguire, Verizon’s senior vice president of network operations support, said Verizon’s research showed that 80 percent of the voice traffic on Fire Island is already wireless. He argued that the estimated $4.8-$6 million cost to rebuild the network there doesn’t make economic sense without no guarantee that customers will subscribe to it. Maguire admitted that Voice Link doesn’t support data but said that Verizon is working to change that. He added that Voice Link was never intended for customers who subscribe to DSL and that Verizon remains committed to repairing copper whenever a DSL customer’s service is interrupted.

However, I question: What about the taxes, universal service fees, and other telecommunications charges that are added to our home, business, and wireless phones each month? Part of those fees help subsidize and support E-911 for emergency personnel and our local/state/federal government... But don't some of those taxes/fees/surcharges go to the telecommunications company, like Verizon, directly to help build and maintain the network infrastructure in incidences such as this? Those fees go directly to support telephone companies' efforts to provide access to the network in all areas of the country, even rural areas as mandated by the FCC. But since major companies like Verizon and AT&T are trying to force consumers in rural areas off the older and more expensive copper networks and on to a digital or wireless solution, wouldn't that free up additional funds to help subsidize or support this endeavor to fix and repair the damage done by the hurricane? Food for thought...
Voice Link is © 2013 Verizon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Copper Landline Phones vs Digital FIOS / Internet Landline Phones

For several days after Hurricane Sandy, many people struggled to make contact with the outside world. For most people their wireless service failed, rendering their cellphones useless. They also lost power, causing their Internet-based landline to go dead.
But just a few miles away, some individuals, had no problems communicating. They could make and receive calls during the power outage because they still rely on an old form of technology: a corded telephone that runs on copper wires.
The divide beween those people after the storm illustrates one of the major concerns with the reliability of the new telecommunications infrastructure. Phone companies are phasing out their aging copper-line networks and moving customers to either wireless service or landline phones that run over the Internet. But the newer technology relies on something that didn't exist for days across the Northeast: electricity. After the storm, some found that their phones worked only because copper wires carried electricity from the phone companies' offices known as switches or exchanges.
"This storm highlighted that you might want to think twice about removing copper because it provides an alternative source of access," said Christopher White, an attorney with the New Jersey Division of the Rate Counsel, which represents consumers on utility issues.
Phone companies dismiss notions that their old copper networks are more reliable. They say copper lines can be disrupted by falling trees or poles, or get damaged by heavy flooding. Verizon said its newer fiber-optic cables are less vulnerable to water damage.
Phone companies are also trying to get out of their obligation to provide landline phone service in rural areas by saying rural customers can rely on high-speed wireless instead. By freeing themselves from regulations, AT&T and Verizon would no longer need to maintain their aging copper networks. But Hurricane Sandy exposed how vulnerable wireless networks can be in severe weather. After the storm, about a third of all cell phone towers were knocked offline and thousands of wireless customers lost service. 
AT&T has announced to phase out its old, copper-line phone system -- which covers 76 million homes and business in 22 states -- and replace it with a fiber-optic broadband network or high-speed wireless. Verizon has similar plans to abandon its old phone network and move customers to wireless or digital phone service.
"We are not repairing the copper anymore," Fran Shammo, Verizon's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said at an investor conference in August.
On Friday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said the power outages gave the commission "new lessons to learn" about making phone service more reliable after hurricanes, though he did not say whether the agency would introduce new regulations.
Verizon customers who rely on web-based landlines to make calls have eight hours of backup battery power before the lines go dead. Most home consumers use cordless phones that run on electricity, so they could not have made calls during a power outage even if the company still used the old copper system. He suggested that customers use portable generators to keep their phone service running if they lose electricity. The other option is to simply aquire one of the "older" phones that we were accustom to in the 1980's and 1990's that were corded and were not wireless, require a electricity at a base station and a battery on the phone. You can go to Target, Walmart, or RadioShack today and purchase one of these corded telephones for around $5... if you want a CALLER ID display on the corded phone, the corded phone typically costs $10. But in an emergency, would you really care? I have always suggested that people have a basic corded or wired telephone in their emergency kits... even if you have a new digital landline like FIOS from Verizon, Xfinity Voice from Comcast, or VOIP from AT&T/Vonage/Omma etc, you can still connect the wired or corded phone to your digital connection in an emergency as those devices have battery-backup support for around 8 hours after the power goes out.
AT&T, which has 2.7 million digital phone customers, says their customers are responsible for ensuring the backup batteries for their digital landlines, which last for four hours, are operating.
Recent customers have said they recently switched from an old corded phone to Verizon's digital phone service. They said the old phone worked the last time there was a power outage, and they wished they had it last week after the storm. There are others, however, that insist they remain on the old copper network connection...and with good reason!
A great example is Marilyn Askin, 79, of Monroe Township, N.J., as said she never switched to Verizon's digital phone service because she wanted to ensure she could make a phone call if there was an emergency and she lost electricity. After Hurricane Sandy knocked out power in her neighborhood for several days, Askin said her corded telephone kept working, allowing her to contact family and friends. 
The corded phone remained operational because Verizon's copper landline service to her house remained powered. Often phone companies have backup power generators connected to the local exchange or switch (which connects your home to the network via copper wire). They also have backup batteries in place, so that if a generator fails, there will be additional backup battery support for an additional, though not infinite  amount of time. But as for a large-scale disaster? Once the batteries run out of power at the phone company's switch/exchange and the backup generator fails as it consumes all the fuel powering it, even your older or "safer" copper landline will eventually stop working and fail.