Recently in Privacy Category

Funding Alternative: Combat Human Trafficking

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As I enter year three of a well-funded total assault on my life, I thought I would begin offering concrete suggestions for other destinations for the wasted funds. (This weekend's street theater/car shenanigans were a complete, absurdly funny waste, btw. Sad. Thank goodness an appreciation of the absurd and ironic can't be stolen and are nearly impossible to harass out of a person.) An aspect of surviving has been tempering daily horrors or irritations with the knowledge that people are living much more hellish existences in the world, this country, this state, this town, possibly on my block. As I survive my plight, I recognize the importance of taking responsibility for the plights of others.

We hear about human trafficking, but I think it's too overwhelming for most of us to come to terms with. This Frontline documentary on sexual slavery had me in tears. Watch it, and then imagine that five years ago it was estimated that 600,000 - 800,000 people are trafficked annually, and most of them for sexual purposes. Imagine if your wife or daughter were stolen. It's happening at malls and outside of schools.

We have to work with estimates when discussing this issue.  If there were around 13,000 women shipped into the U.S. publicly this year, examined in the town square, and sold to pimps (aka slaveholders), of course decency would never allow it. But shipping them in secretly, and providing access to 7 johns a night in suburban neighborhoods is apparently acceptable to us. If 10,000 girls and women are providing services across this country each day, that's 70,000 men who seek pleasure from and thus allow (through denial or sickness) sexual slavery. In a single day.  (I lectured a few men in Thailand who justified their sex tourism to themselves -- just because a woman is smiling, faking an orgasm for you and saying all you want to hear doesn't mean she's there willingly or actually getting paid for the "pleasure." Men need to know that these women have no control over their lives.) That doesn't count the mercenary men and women who buy and sell human beings.

In mainstream U.S. culture we allow the exploitation of sex to sell everything from deodorant to jeans. It was completely acceptable for elderly former presidential candidate Bob Dole to joke about getting an erection from watching a young Britney Spears jiggle and shake because it was in a Pepsi commercial! So creepy! And yet, there it was on prime time. (And we wonder why someone who was marketed as jail bait and grandpa fodder has had issues to work out!) But as we mainstream this sort of wink-wink creepiness and Girls Gone Wild videos go like hot cakes, we are also completely puritanical/obsessed about it (i.e. Ted Haggard) or hysterical (i.e. sex offender witch hunts).

Yet we remain in a complete state of denial about the fact that sexual exploitation through molestation and rape are factors in so many of our sexual identities (the statistic that's always thrown around is that 1 in 5 girls is molested). We have to begin to discuss sex honestly and openly so that the sexual deviance that is exploiting vulnerable girls and women isn't such a booming industry. It's not a "women's issue." Hurting/exploiting other people emerges from having experienced abuse or indifference or very bad socialization. We have to ask ourselves how our societal conception of sexuality is skewed to allow this kind of domination to be accepted/desired by so many men and women. There must be an alternative to this fascination/obsession vs. moral posturing polarization. Sexuality is one of the most beautiful aspects of human existence and we seem hell bent on making it as ugly and problematic as possible. (Maybe Meaghan McCain will help usher in some genuine Republican sex positivity.)

As someone who has been an unknowing and unwilling star of government-funded, secretly filmed porn, and is an involuntary part of a 24-hour peep show (Yep! that's where funding $ are going! And how someone - or ones - seems to make a living. That's what you're associating yourself with!), I can attest to the fact that these changes need to occur at the top (apparently in local and federal government). Maybe human trafficking is ignored because people who crave and maintain power are disproportionately sadistic. 

Also, apparently, as a culture, we still believe that brown and slavic-speaking people from all over the world should happily, silently and cheaply pick our food, build and clean our buildings and diaper our babies.

So, those of you who have worked so hard to ruin every aspect of my life and keep on a-tryin', how about funding one of these organizations? Or this one. How about working to ensure that there are no prisoners or slaves on your block -- not me or anyone else.

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Getting on the Right Side of History

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11_-Hollar-Nuremberg.jpgAll of those quaking in fear of Obama’s supposed dictatorial/Socialist impulses should feel unsettled today. His waffling “indefinite detention” stance, as far as I can tell, still allows “enemy combatants” to be detained without charge. (I don’t know the specifics of how this relates to the Military Commissions Act – will wait for more analysis to better understand. But as far as I know any U.S. citizen could still be subject to Gitmo-like limbo detention.) Rather than keeping us safe, this ongoing half repudiation of the last administration’s inhumane and unconstitutional policies means that we and future generations are all still vulnerable to the excesses of unfettered executive privilege.

Under a bad (but not worst) case scenario, Obama and his cabinet could become paranoid about, oh, say, potential homegrown terrorism based on recent Homeland Security reporting about right wing extremist threats.  Or there could be a right wing extremist attack much more spectacular than the church shootings, clinic bombings and community massacres that we’ve become accustomed to. Just as the last administration ignored the 4th amendment rights of every single US resident by monitoring all of our electronic communications, 2nd amendment rights could conceivably go out the window with as much ease if we are terrified into a state of hysteria because of the actions of a few NRA members. (Montanans are actually stocking up on guns as if they were swine flu vaccine.)

The specter of unchecked executive power should unite all of us in a nonpartisan desire to investigate (and if necessary prosecute) the abuses of the last administration. Though I don’t believe the above Obama scenario is anything to fear, that belief is based on faith. It shouldn’t be. All of us should go to sleep at night secure in the knowledge that constitutional guarantees will be enforced -- no matter which party helms the White House. That’s why we must demand truth, transparency, and justice.

I don’t know yet what type of commission or investigation would be best. I’m still trying to work out how to deal with my own lack of 4th amendment rights and ongoing conspiracy against my rights and illegal detention. I do know that it’s hard for anyone (intelligence analyst, senator, flooring contractor, insurance agent) to admit to being wrong.  People who were convinced to take action based on manufactured intelligence, or reluctantly submitted to cronyism, now have the chance to decide whether cowardly self-preservation is more important than truth and justice.  It’s never too late to get on the right side of history.
 
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Homegrown Terror: Change We Can No Longer Believe In

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lichtdom.jpgAlmost exactly four years ago I wept during a layover in Pennsylvania as a jubilant fellow diner gushed about the election results in a noisy air port sports bar. I was on my way to present at a graduate student conference in Germany.

Within about 15 hours I had landed in Munich, ridden a train, napped on the conference organizer's futon, and found myself touring the Museum of National Socialism in Nuremberg. The excursion wasn't my idea -- I actually really didn't know where I was going, but took a fellow presenter up on the idea of sight seeing. Soon we were immersed in the ascent and horrors of the Nazi era.

Jet lagged and deflated by the specter of a second Bush term, I wandered through exhibits that provided a visceral understanding of how the National Socialists gradually seized power, arrogated rights, and eventually created a continent-wide horror show. The beginnings of the exhibit felt unnervingly familiar. For the first time ever, in that bizarre post-election continent-jumping jumble, I believed that "It Could Happen" in the U.S.

Before then, the Bush/Hitler rhetoric seemed like much of the reactionary Left propaganda.  What I had been exposed to was, actually, because it hadn't been tied to any thorough or legitimate critique. It took walking through the history stage by stage to understand how the U.S. population could become vulnerable. I wouldn't use the word fascism to describe what was happening in the U.S. for another three years, but somewhere I knew that there were seeds of it in the post-9/11 Bush presidency's bulging PR budget, "with us or against us" domestic and international rhetoric, and Patriot Act excesses.

Little did I know at the time that most of the people in my life were government or private intelligence operatives and that someone had been assigned to befriend me at the conference and completely scrutinize the trip. Do many grad students take time off from work to fly to Germany to present at a conference? If you feel like you need to compensate for years of career indecision by presenting as much as possible to get into the PhD program of your choice, you do. Maybe you do even if you just love to travel.

The fascism I was already living with would eventually be administered by unsupervised private contractors who clearly needed to come up with some sinister alternate narrative to make up for the fact that they had spent millions of dollars creating a Truman Show-like existence for an innocent person. Trips like mine remain suspect years after the fact, fodder for elicitation (Why was the tile guy assigned to elicit about it as recently as August? What was I supposed to have been cooking up in Nuremberg?).

This cowboy "intelligence" community allows sociopath contractors free reign to project all of their fears and hatreds in the name of patriotism. It allows those working at the behest of corporations to have access to your government file, to all of your medical and other records so that they can wreak havoc in your life to protect their profits. It allows them to manipulate the prejudices of Good Americans who will gladly elicit information, plant substances, or sabotage work if they are convinced that the object of their derision is a terrorist or an enemy of God. In America, this is what fascism looks like. Neither the contractors nor the hapless everyday joes they manipulate see themselves as fascist collaborators, but part of the gang, foot soldiers for God, good citizens. Or they just don't care because the money's good.

Here we are four years later. Tonight it's hard to imagine flitting off to Germany. I continue leading a largely sequestered existence, most recently to avoid the locals who have been trained to see me as an enemy of Christ or communist/terrorist and have so far failed in their attempts at vigilante justice. In this context, I wept for joy at Obama's victory. As we look toward this transition, there is no vague feeling of dread -- dread has constituted most days for the last 1.5 years. Rather, I look forward with the stark consciousness of having faced banal evil day after day. I know what it looks like, what it does to a community and to a life.

I hope and pray that we can reverse much of the radical change of the last eight years, that the rule of law can be restored, that we all say "It Can't Keep Happening Here." The price of liberty, after all, is eternal vigilance. I didn't learn as much in the Nuremberg museum; it took a homegrown campaign of terror to teach me what liberty is all about.

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When Chuck McGee's Wife Hates You...

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Pulp Woman.jpg...You may find yourself on "the list." Is it possible that a high school grudge can result in costly and surreal political pay-back? Maybe.

Until a few days ago I had never heard of Chuck McGee or the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal for which he served prison time.

Last week a high school friend inadvertently indicated that a woman we went to school with is very likely involved in some aspect of my surveillance/harassment situation. Because my case is so epic and absurd, there were many times when I wondered if there was a personal vendetta at play. This woman, Carrie, was my then best friend's twin sister and hated me with passionate intensity. She was a right-wing and militantly pro-life Catholic, and though most of my friends were evangelical or Mormon, Carrie always seemed to have the least tolerance for my pro-choice, gay-friendly, and nearly all other views. (There were personal aspects, having to do with her sister's and my friendship, and our shared school activities, that seemed to propel her anger in ways I didn't understand.) The last few times I saw her she didn't speak to or acknowledge me. When I heard the things she said about me, I was always baffled.

I knew that her husband was a Republican big wig in New Hampshire, but that was all. During my reunion weekend in 2003 I stayed at her sister's house, where a picture of Carrie and her husband with President Bush hung on the fridge. This didn't surprise me. Such a trajectory totally made sense for her. I thought about Carrie rarely -- in the course of reflecting on my relationship with her sister, occasionally through my academic work, and the personal process of trying to  break out of conventional left/right thinking and build my own tolerance for people with very different views.

For the last month plus I've dealt with a new wave of elicitation centered around Christians, Mormons, my mother's finances, and a local ski area developer. (It's kind of a Keystone Cops situation -- I don't understand why they don't think we'll notice when multiple people attempt to get our thoughts on these topics in quick succession. Especially people who are supposed to be installing tile or kitchen cabinets rather than playing 20 Questions.) This thread is not new -- my surveillance seems to have been funded by anti-environmentalists and the religious right, as well as tax payers -- I've noticed multiple attempts to get me to malign evangelical Christians. (I think perhaps private contractors use these recored conversations for fund-raising purposes.)

It was reflecting on this most recent wave that led to my friend's inadvertent revelation about Carrie's possible involvement, which led me to find out exactly who her husband is. Who knew he would turn out to be notorious? In the course of my research, I found this summary from Chuck McGee's interview with the FBI, detailing the genesis of his plan to prevent Democrats from voting:

Netroots: What Did You Expect from Obama?

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clinton-drawing.jpgI haven't blogged in a while, as I've needed every spare hour to piece my life back together after surviving a 4th Amendment-free year.

This Wired article inspired me, though
. Netroots activists are pissed at Obama's FISA flip-flop. So was I.  I'm glad that MoveOn and the independent activists who have generated support and money for Obama are trying to use their leverage to influence him now. But why did they hop on the "Change" bandwagon so nimbly and readily in the first place?

Though Hillary lost my primary vote once and for all when she didn't bother to show up for the February FISA vote, I wasn't ready to throw myself into the Obama camp. In fact, I'll be so self-congratulatory as to quote my February self:

If you're feeling the warm and fuzzy Obama-as-second-coming vibe, I hope you'll cool down and make sure he knows that you're in his corner because he believes that a renewed America means an unwavering devotion to our founding documents. "Change" must mean the restoration of our democracy.
Later, I hoped that action on the Homegrown Terrorism Bill might prove a decent litmus test. Nope.

I remember feeling bummed when I received the MoveOn endorsement ballot. Shouldn't there have been a set of criteria? Why just give away the endorsement without it meaning anything? And then, why continue to flood our inboxes with the cheer leading Obama "Change" rhetoric?
When we suddenly say we're all about Obama and "Change" don't we put ourselves in a sort of ridiculous predicament? For one, we assume that people can't be motivated to vote with the truth: the man is a politician. No matter how noble his intentions, we can bet that many of his life decisions (like turning down lucrative positions to move to an electorally significant state to create a grassroots support base) have been calculated. He will disappoint us because he can't possibly be all things to all Americans. Just because he may be the best option right now doesn't mean we have to leap into absurd fairy tale rhetoric about his somehow having magical powers to enact sweeping change. Once we give over to the rhetoric, anything he does to deviate from our fantasies of what he stands for invariably disappoints.

We've already been to a place called Hope. Young voters don't know what it's like to have a preternatural politician grab their hearts with rhetoric and then become a whopping, co-opted, double talking disappointment. Are our memories so short? Do we really want to do that again and lead another generation to the kind of apathy that allowed the current administration to enter the White House?

Let's be honest. An Obama administration will mean a world of difference no matter what. But he's a politician. We are the change agents. We can't just walk to a voting booth, dimple a chad, and expect America to be a safer, fairer, more just place. We have to change. We have to get out of our comfort zones, and remain active, engaged citizens.

The moment our 4th Amendment protections truly become more important to Americans than our sofa patterns or TV schedules, we will see what change means.

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rankin.jpgNow I have an inkling of how it feels to be Britney Spears. The girl is a walking economic stimulus agent. Her very existence supports thousands of individuals -- from paparazzi to copy editors to advertising executives. My case has been that of an unwitting commodity for intelligence contractors who have given nearly everyone in my life the opportunity to make some cash off of information, solicitation or entrapment.

These are people with bumper stickers like "Live Simply So Others May Simply Live." People who take their dogs on generous afternoon hikes on the sides of mountains before studying the I Ching. Individuals who ride their bikes, buy organic, and play benefit concerts in their quasi-hipster alt-country bands. Who among them would like to think of themselves as akin to Nazi collaborators? I can't even simply equate them with "Good Germans" who stood by and did nothing as the Jews were dehumanized and eventually carted off. They were/are modern day willing executioners.

Apparently a vast cross-section of Americans have become too enamored of the "good life" to bother with cultivating silly qualities like moral fortitude. Seeing me humiliated or jailed was worth money for a new guitar or in vitro fertilization. My ruin was only a pit stop on individual aspirational highways. Even in so-called "progressive" circles, claiming one's own piece of the American dream is more important than rights, the law, or decency. Maybe if I were an abstract, distant, deserving indigenous Ecuadoran Amazonian? Perhaps then I would have merited solidarity?

The people in Missoula who have collaborated with tax payer- and corporate-funded contractors didn't expect that I would return for good. I left suddenly after one of the only people I trusted got sloppy and outed himself as a mole last fall. In the mean time, it seems I was supposed to be entrapped in some sort of drug-related incident. Our tenant/property manager (who has turned out to be a fake, industry-funded "global warming activist") has certainly behaved as though my mother's house was meant to be confiscated. My former friends and new acquaintances must have been assured I would never discover their complicity, and if I did I would be completely discredited anyhow: as a nut case or a criminal.

I can count 15 over 100 people in Missoula who either work for government agencies, for corporations, or were just hired as agents for either, who entered my life under false pretenses or were paid to use their proximity to me over the last year and a half. (That number leaves out many people like hair dressers and estheticians.) Now I will see these people at the farmers' market with their children, friends, husbands and wives. There is no Truth and Reconciliation Commission for victims of illegal corporate and government spying.

I know I am not like those Chileans who have to sit at the opera near their former torturers. I was not in a concentration camp. I am not a former Guantanamo detainee. 

Rather, I have faced the banal evil of America's 21st century. Those who live in opposition to the Bush administration and its policies, who would decry Chevron's genocidal ruin of the rain forest, would also take money from either to help destroy an innocent person -- so that they can have the shiny things they've always wanted or grasp the "American dream" they believe they deserve.

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Government-Funded Porn!

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Carrie_Chapman_Catt.jpgSince puberty I've struggled with two major sexuality-related themes: how to be both smart and happily sexual, and how to get out from under the culturally-ingrained notion of my sexuality as some sort of commodity.

Ironically, my sexuality seems to have literally become a commodity in the form of tape(s) purchased by government contractors. The reason? My environmentally- and rights-preoccupied brain.

While all of this surveillance/harassment has been happening in the last year, I've constantly tried to piece together why. Now a number of events have made clear that at least part of it was an aspect of the $250 million anti-environmental PR industry that was trying to recruit me. This makes so much more sense than a variety of other explanations, and actually makes me feel a lot more hopeful about the dismal state of civil liberties in the U.S. I wasn't targeted just because of my political beliefs, but because of my very specific theory/activism/PR skill set, and the fact that my course of study had the potential to do great damage to anti-environmental PR efforts.

Now it has. After circumventing Herculean efforts to prevent me from filing my thesis for May graduation, I released a shortened version of it to a variety of journalists. The work exposes Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus as very likely funded by anti-environmental industries (there's a link to it at the bottom of this post). After their work is investigated, I have very little doubt that they and others will be discredited. Of course, this means that I must be discredited too.

Since efforts to frame me as a would-be assassin or entrap me using drugs have failed, I do expect that some day the compromising images I've been taunted with repeatedly over the last year will make their way onto the Internet.

The NSA Gives me the "Glomar Response"

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dod-large.pngI don't know exactly why I didn't submit an NSA FOIA request when I became aware of being spied on. Looking back at all of the articles about domestic spying, it would have been the obvious choice. Since all of the craziness seemed so connected to my international travel, I assumed at first it was the CIA. Wanting to cover my bases, I made requests to a variety of agencies last summer, getting the runaround from the FBI (sending me to a variety of field offices, giving conflicting responses), semantic weirdness from the CIA (something akin to "we have nothing filed under your name in our automated indices"), and denials elsewhere.

Finally, last December I realized the NSA was most likely the agency offended by my Jackie Kennedy costume and Jesus shopping bag and so asked my lawyer to make a request. Until a few weeks ago I thought he had. But he only pretended to. That's right. When he was unable to produce either correspondence with the NSA or a Case Number, I made my own request (after firing him, of course).

Yesterday, I received my very own Glomar Response. Never did any of the other agencies I sought records from use Glomar. This means that, yes, I've been spied on with the NSA's blessing (seemingly by off-the-charts unethical and unprofessional Booz Allen Hamilton employees for the most part). But the details of just how my 4th Amendment rights have been completely disregarded and I've pretty much been imprisoned for a year without having been charged with any crime (etc.)? Those are too precious to national security to divulge.

Read all of the fun government speak after the jump. And, if you think you've sniffed out spooks in your midst, do your own FOIA request. Those of us who have been Glomared under this administration will have recourse one day, methinks.

Getting "On the List"

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Jackie Kennedy.jpg
The most "radical" act I have ever taken part in is one I organized. It was a miserable failure, and I was embarrassed by it. I write about it now not out of pride, but as a way of letting readers know what it takes to get "on the list."

You may remember the lead-up to the Iraq war as a frustrating, heartbreaking time. Many of us believed that preemptive aggression was a way to further agitate people who hated the U.S. and would only make future terrorist attacks more likely. We could see right through all of the pretextual explanations for war. At the same time, as I wrote last fall, the anti-war movement seemed frustratingly ineffectual.

So -- what was my brilliant response to the impending bloodshed and the lackluster antiwar movement? To dress up like Jackie Kennedy and carry around shopping bags with Jesus on them. Though this may seem a bit off, I think history will prove this brand of "radicalism" much more sane than Dick Cheney's. Why the Jackie Kennedy imagery?
Abigail_adams.jpg
People in states that have yet to hold primaries should insist that Clinton and Obama take a stand on the frightening Homegrown Terrorism Bill before they give either candidate a vote.

All the Michigan/Florida controversy and Superdelegate issues aside, it seems like forcing the Democratic contenders to fight for their right to represent is better for all of us than the early anointing that generally happens. If they address actual issues, rather than engaging in irritating "red phone" banter, that is. They don't have so many differences (on Iraq, health care, the economy) that will affect our everyday lives, but their willingness to address our civil liberties emergency - or not - will reverberate for generations.

Right now, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is mulling over the Homegrown Terrorism Act. Obama is on the Committee and as of late last year had not taken a position on this bill that will create vast new arenas for the monitoring of U.S. citizens.

After nearly eight years of unchecked lawlessness and abuse of executive privilege, it's time make sure the next president knows that we will watch him or her like hawks, not grant extended powers in our already endemic surveillance society for monitoring everyday people who oppose a given administration's policies. Essentially, these candidates, who have pledged their lives to public service, are agreeing to be monitored by us and it's our job to do so.

Right now, the most important questions to many are, "Will you take the lead in repairing our looted and vandalized systems of government?" "Will you restore the rule of law?" "Will you resurrect our image in the eyes of the world?"

I am looking at both Obama and Clinton right now, and though Obama seems more promising, and had the mettle to take a stand on telecom immunity, I'm still not convinced that he is prepared to lead us out of our civil liberties emergency.

Rather than simply giving candidates our support or not, we could hold to the notion that it is our job not just to get excited by a speech, go to a voting booth, and cling to a fantasy that vacant campaign promises will become policy. Rather, with our vote we are giving them permission to be accountable to us.

We can promise the candidates that we will remain active stewards of democracy. We will insist that basic Constitutional safeguards remain in place. We are not afraid to press for impeachment, to protest, to create new parties whose representatives - unlike Congressional Democrats - will do what they were voted in to do.

If your state hasn't voted, contact Clinton and Obama's campaign offices and ask whether or not they will at the very least ensure that the vague language that could threaten first amendment rights is removed from the Homegrown Terrorism Bill and that independent civil liberties oversight of the commission is provided.

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Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

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