The Final Days of Free Email

I remember that day.

I chose to allow Comcast to start charging for email. It didn’t happen quickly, but after the FCC repealed net neutrality the service providers started offering “packages”. These packages included items that were once unrestricted, but soon they were considered a typical part of the “basic” plan. For only another $5 per month, you could also get unrestricted access to Netflix, Hulu, and Facebook. They were the last holdout – Facebook. The others were bought by the ISP’s as they’re market value soon plummeted. Tor disappeared. Never heard a word about it – but then the media websites were controlled by the ISP’s, so why would we hear even a peep?

Slowly, over the course of decades, every single packet of information became filtered and taxed. The voices of the masses were quelled by a deafening silence – the sound of censorship. We allowed it to happen because nobody ever thought it would come to this. We used to get these prank messages, that we had to forward this message or post something on our page, to prevent from being charged by Facebook – and we did it. Happily – out of mere caution. Little did we know that the government would endorse such an act. They did. They did it. Now we pay extra for everything, and can’t speak up to change it. They won’t permit it, and the people that used to govern us are powerless to stop it!

Repealing net neutrality is a grave error.

If Internet service providers are permitted to influence our activity, it will serve to chill our freedoms. We have all moved our communication and expression to the Internet. We email, we tweet, we like, we blog. Americans are digital. Allowing any corporate entity to affect this communication will affect our freedom of that expression, and this would be a violation of our most important right.

The FCC must enforce and maintain net neutrality.

We cannot, as Americans, allow any possibility of infringement on our right to free speech. This repeal could be considered a violation of our fundamental constitutional rights. The panic of websites charging for emails and messaging would become real – and beyond our span of control. Corporations are legally created “people”, and permitting a “person” the power to restrict our freedom without due process is unlawful. The US government is in no way authorized to do this.

If the electric company charged us more for cooking than lighting, it would impact our eating habits. If the water utility charged us more for bathing than drinking, it would influence our hygiene. If the phone company charged us more for calling our friends, it would reduce our social behavior. An Internet service provider cannot be allowed any opportunity to influence our speech, and they would do just that. Don’t get it confused!

So send a message,  STOP THEM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

This is NO JOKE. A failure to act now may lead to these very stories (at the top) being shared with your grandkids. 2 minutes is all it takes! Do it!

Homelessness in Kissimmee

Homeless Steve

My latest mission is to explore and document the homeless situation in Kissimmee.

It’s hard to believe the numbers I’m turning up – and deeply saddens me.

I work with the homeless every day, and the problem right here in Walt Disney World’s backyard is tragic.

The government reports good trends. The news repeats it. It’s a lie – I see it every day. It’s NOT getting better near me, and the people on the street are seeing the problem only get worse.

I’m currently assembling interviews from the local homeless population and preparing to query local resources.

Stay tuned! If you’d like to help in any way please contact me here. I need all the help I can get.

Florida vs. Wanda Reyes, a tale of Polk County

There was nothing for Wanda to fear.

She was an innocent librarian hanging out with a friend. The red and blue lights pulled up behind Wanda Reyes and her friend while parked on the side of the road. The Polk County deputy strolled up to the driver’s side of the car. It turns out that she did have something to fear, though – the cop decided they smelled like marijuana, and that is enough for a drug conviction in Polk County. She felt in physical jeopardy – threatened. The officers insinuated sexual impropriety – that she was a prostitute. An hour later, merely in jail, the state charged Wanda with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Her friend had absentmindedly left a “roach” on the floorboard under his seat of his car. Wanda was detained for two weeks before she was located and bonded out.

Stuck in a hole.

Wanda would miss her orientation at Disney World the next day. She was unable to contact anybody – who remembers phone numbers these days? Even if she had a number to call, it would have to be collect – and only certain cell phone carriers accept them. Her friend was also arrested and he had no way to know who to contact for her. It takes three weeks to qualify for “indigent status” in many Florida counties and receive postage for outgoing mail. Day by day her hope diminished – she was forgotten, abandoned. Locked in a cage with violent criminals, crying herself to sleep every night. She’d violated no laws, yet law enforcement had given the power of “conviction by instinct” to its officers. Surely, this power could not be abused?

No way out.

Her lawyer, public defender Carmalita Lall (FL BAR #0109159) would appear before the judge and fail to argue the lack of probable cause. How could this be? Certainly, this was a mistake. After her release, Wanda went to her arraignment, and her lawyer advised her to take probation? It would seem that her arrest was not a mistake after all, that there is a deliberate and willful abuse of power in Polk County. And it would seem the whole system is in on it. Why wasn’t she released ROR? Why is the Public Defender’s office loathe to fight for her? Her co-defendant accepted the consequences of his bad judgment and has been sentenced! He informed the state’s attorney of his culpability. The case has not been dropped.

Polk County doesn’t play.

I can understand that Polk County would want peace. I also understand that areas of criminal activity interrupt that peace. Drug possession is currently criminal activity in the state of Florida, and I believe drug use is a substantial problem. I believe that Sheriff Grady Judd believes that reducing crime is his mandate. I believe this is just and fair. I do not believe, however, that any and all measures should be leveled against criminal activity. This is where he and I apparently disagree.

Dismiss the charges!

In the state of Florida, it is currently illegal to possess marijuana without a prescription. It is not illegal to smell like marijuana or even smoke marijuana. In the deputy’s sworn affidavit, he acknowledges that Wanda was not in actual or constructive possession of either an illegal substance or paraphernalia. Further, he affirms that her co-defendant confessed to his crimes at the scene, absorbing all guilt. So why, WHY was she arrested? And why should she feel threatened by the presence of law enforcement? What is wrong here?

How does Wanda Reyes’ story make you feel?

20151022_164053

Case: 2016MM007525A000BA filed: 8/29/16

FSS 893.13(6)(b) Possession of Cannabis

FSS 893.147(1) Possession of Narcotic Paraphernalia

Judge Robert G Fegers

Arrest report# 160038961: arrested on 8/27/16 by Deputy William Alexis Pastor-Cotto

UPDATES:

10/31/2016 – Wanda is back in jail, her bond revoked for failing to appear. Her docket hearing for trial is on December 1, 2016. The state has no probable cause to hold her, but she remains detained until trial by jury.

11/16/2016 – Wanda has been released. She pled “no contest” and adjudication has been withheld. Not the perfect scenario, but just. She’s now on the hook for court costs and the damage inflicted by her unlawful arrest. This nonsense has to stop – when will we be able to count on law enforcement OFFICERS to truly protect our rights again?