Americans should learn from Snowden about ‘surveillance society’

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
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Americans should learn from Snowden about ‘surveillance society’

Put a frog in a pot of cold water on a hot stove and as the water warms, the frog quietly accepts its dying fate. Is this an accurate picture of Americans today?

The world is dangerous, but do our security measures magnify the problem? Iran and Afghanistan are wars to nowhere. Civilian deaths that inflame hatred toward America in foreign lands do little to dampen Obama’s affection for drone attacks.

Government officials routinely lie and exaggerate dangers to cover ill-considered decisions. The success of old-fashioned police work successfully stopping terror plots is down layed to give luster to the expansion of Orwellian surveillance on all citizens.

Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange have dark sides, like the rest of us, but their actions put us frogs on alert to the kind of surveillance society we live in and the kinds of failed policies government labels success stories.

No government should be safe from leaks — and no society is safe without them. Let the discussion begin!

John A. Ekman

Saratoga Springs

For safety, bicyclists need to stay out of the road

There seems to be a lot of letters vilifying car drivers for making the cyclists life more dangerous. A July 6 letter I just read uses the word “peril.” It also seems to me that every time there’s a car/bike tragedy, the car driver is automatically to blame.

When’s the last time these cyclists thought about the danger they put themselves in? Just a month or so ago a friend of mine was driving around a blind curve. All of a sudden, we see several cyclists in the middle of the road. This road is a state road, 55 miles an hour. Thankfully she braked in time.

But what if she couldn’t have? Do we stay on the road and hit the cyclists? Swerve into the other lane and head-on another car? Steer ourselves off the road and into a ditch?

I’ve seen dozens and dozens of cyclists cruising down the middle of the road. Even roads with extremely wide shoulders. Why aren’t they on the shoulder? Isn’t there a minimum speed limit on roads with the state maximum?

I know they’re breaking no laws, but I also know they’re supposed to follow all laws and they don’t. How about having them registered, inspected and insured so when there is an accident everybody’s covered?

Plus, who uses all these bike trails that our tax dollars spend millions on? Only kids, as far as I can tell.

And usually lesson one for kids riding bikes is to stay out of the road.

Mickey Marcella


Time to bring back Scotia’s emergency fire whistle

Years ago, the whistle at the Scotia firehouse on Mohawk Avenue would blow religiously at noon. Growing up in the village, I, like many, knew that the blasts of the whistle would also indicate where a fire was reported.

My dad was a volunteer fireman in Scotia for 25 years, and we were very aware of the assigned codes for different fire boxes in the village. They were on a little card, so we would know where the emergency was. No matter where we were, we would count the eerie sound of the whistle to know where the firemen were headed.

One day it stopped, and I asked about it and was told that a part needed to be replaced and that it was too expensive to repair. That was many years ago. Now we’re seeing other emergencies in our communities. Lately we’ve had flooding from the banks of the Mohawk and we’ve also had tornado warnings. Wouldn’t it be worth looking into replacing this device so that we could warn the people of an impending disaster?

I think I’d rest easier knowing that there was a plan in place to alert us if something major were about to hit our community. Most of these things hit during the night when we’re sleeping and this could avert potential loss of life. It would also be nice for the nostalgic of Scotia to hear it once more!

Shirley Crane


Gazette circulation gain good news for readers

I have been a Gazette reader and subscriber my entire life. I read it cover to cover every day. So of course I noticed your May 17 chart about your increased readership during the last year.

Congratulations! I know what an amazing and important accomplishment this is, considering the hardships your industry is facing. Just two hours west of us in Syracuse, their primary daily newspaper, the Post-Standard, is only being delivered to subscribers three days a week. This has been a difficult adjustment and unfortunate loss for Central New Yorkers who relied on the daily newspaper in the ways I rely on the Gazette.

I hope the news that your readership continues to grow means we can depend on the Gazette for many years to come. Keep up the good work!

Ann Kulkus


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July 9, 2013
7:39 a.m.
muggy says...

John. I use that same "frog getting boiled" analogy often. We, the people, are getting boiled and we don't know it. We've grown to accept it as inevitable. Why? There are cameras at many intersections (often taking pictures of infractions for revenue), they're going to put black boxes inside cars to monitor your driving, computer chips inside refrigerators, washing machines, TV's. Can you think of any business or item in your house that doesn't have the hand of government in/on it? Now the IRS is taking a closer look at your tax returns if you're of the wrong ideological persuasion. BUELLER, BUELLER, BUELLER!!???

July 9, 2013
10:10 a.m.
Will1960 says...

John Kerry came out and stated the Eric Snowden has put American lives at risk. What is the proof of that claim? Obama hasn't produced any evidence yet plants that seed in the public's mind that somehow Eric Snowden has evil motives behind his actions. That spin has been put out by the Obama administration ever since the NSA leaker story went public. I voted for Obama in 2008. He brought change alright. Change from what he envisioned during the campaign. I have been sorely disappointed with his tendency to do the opposite of what he promised as candidate Obama. Ironically, only Foxnews' Eric Bolling has been the only pundit to raise this issue, the rest of the media has been asleep at the switch as Obama's hypocrisy goes unchallenged.

July 9, 2013
2:39 p.m.
ChuckD says...

Mickey Marcella, I'd like to see your letter proofread for problems of logic. But in any case, you don't sound like you see both sides of this.

First and foremost, these recent letters this past two weeks have been concerning a very, very questionable "investigation" over a car-bike tragedy where the "investigator" essentially shot himself in the foot by misstating the rules of the road as laid out by NYS showing a clear bias. What I think came from the article were letters from others, myself included, of cowardly people in cars who appear to have feelings of rage for cyclists and the bias of law enforcement for them.

But to address your points:
Just because the posted speed limit is 55 doesn't *require* you to drive that speed. it's up to the driver to use their own judgement as to what's safe especially on rural state roads where you may find farm equipment, horses and buggies, livestock (yes, I've seen that around here) or cyclists. Minimum speed limits apply to interstates, not state roads. It sounds like your friend didn't have that in mind.
"Bike paths" are the familiar term for what are technically Multi Use Paths (MUPs) which means you can find all manner of non-motorized users on them including dog-walkers, joggers, families with children, inline skaters, etc. Most of the grown-up cyclists I'm acquainted with ride at speeds in the teens to twenty miles per hour. MUPs are completely impractical for us.
Instead of telling kids to 'stay out of the road', how about we take the responsibility of teaching the right way to use the road on their bikes (assuming we're familiar with them, I guess)? Common sense says cyclists are very vulnerable and need to hyper-aware of motor vehicles. Where practical, cyclists should stay to the right as far as is safe, and on many state roads the shoulders are as good as being in the lane. But it's *not* up to the motorized public to enforce their perception of what's safe.

July 10, 2013
1:48 a.m.
jdar777 says...

In addition to ChuckD comments, the speed limit is just that.. "limit", meaning this fast and no faster. Every state has a "Basic Speed Law" stating that the driver is responsible for driving for the conditions. Driving around a "blind curve" at the "limit" is unwise and irresponsible. If you don't know what is on the the other side of the curve or hill, the responsible thing to do is reduce the risk of a crash by reducing your speed. Driving requires continual anticipation of potential risk and is a demanding task. It's human nature to want to blame "accidents" on everything but our own behavior.

July 13, 2013
8:44 p.m.
robbump says...

Cyclists often hear the cry, "Get off the road! Stay on the sidewalk (or bikepath)" from motorists who think tax-paying cyclists (yes, we, often affluent, frequently pay more taxes than you) should pay for motorists' EXCLUSIVE use of traffic-free roads.
If you don't like having cyclists on the roadways you use, you might want to stay on the Thruway or interstate? We built those traffic-free roads for you, so why don't you use them?
Maybe because they don't go where you want to be, or in as direct path? EXACTLY the same reason cyclists often shun a bikepath. Roads and streets, with the exception of interstates, were built for the movement of people and goods, with no regard to the mode of transportation, be it foot, buggy, stagecoach, bus, bike or car. Traffic laws are exactly that, TRAFFIC laws, not MOTOR VEHICLE laws. Horses, walkers, cyclists, and motorists are all traffic.
About your blind curve ... suppose a large rock had been in that roadway? Does happen. I'd would have ruined your day, no?
As I tell organizations that solicate me in efforts to lobby for car-free cycling facilities:
"New York State cyclists from the days before cars have succeeded in building the best network of bike routes in the country. We call them "roads" and even agreed to share them with cars."

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