Friday, June 15, 2012

Protect Yourself from Cyber Stalkers

StalkerStalking preceded the 1980 murder of John Lennon, and John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981. Such high-profile cases raised the public’s awareness of this crime. While stalking can be committed by both genders against both genders, the majority of stalking victims are ordinary women, who are being pursued, monitored or threatened by someone with whom they have had a prior relationship. Often, the stalking begins when the victim attempts to break off an intimate relationship. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that approximately 3.4 million U.S. adults were victims of stalking in 2006. Individuals who are divorced or separated are at the greatest risk for stalking. Many victims of stalking suffer financial difficulties due to missed work, having to move, or court costs.

In recent times, online stalking has become a frequent occurrence. Thus, many cyber stalking cases include elements of both computer crime and domestic violence.

Many stalkers are motivated by a desire to intimidate and exert control over their victims and engage in more than one types of behavior to accomplish this end. A cyber stalker might post offensive statements on public websites encouraging others to harass the victim, divulge sensitive information about the victim with the intention of humiliating or endangering her, or falsely claim to be married or intimate with the victim. A cyber stalker may also send manipulative, threatening, lewd or harassing emails from an assortment of email accounts. Cyber stalking is often committed in a psychological state of obsessive rage or lust, and can cause serious emotional distress to the victim who will usually feel deeply violated. Stalking can lead to an assault or even murder. 

Stalkers may also commit identity theft against victims – including taking money from bank accounts, charging purchases to a victim’s credit card, and hijacking email accounts. This can be very easy to do to a spouse, when passwords and account numbers have been shared in the past, but computer hacking or sabotage by an estranged spouse is also becoming a frequent occurrence, motivated by revenge, a desire to discover evidence of an affair, or to prevent a domestic abuse victim from getting help or support from the community. Electronic Privacy expert Frederick Lane says that about 45 percent of divorce cases involve some snooping — and gathering — of email, Facebook and other online material. For this reason it is important to change or secure all personal accounts before announcing a divorce or separation or even earlier, when domestic abuse or neglect becomes apparent.

Once a stalker has accessed your email account, he will have access to all your personal emails, past and future. He will also have access to any other accounts that are linked to that account such as Facebook, dating sites, yahoogroups and PayPal. He can send out emails or post on websites impersonating you, subscribe or unsubscribe you from mailing lists, or erase your contacts. One stalker even set up a firewall preventing his estranged wife from accessing the internet service she had paid for! A stalker may not change your password right away, in order to continue to monitor your personal life without your knowledge. But once he has changed your password, it will be nearly impossible for you to gain access to your own account unless you use a paid email service.

However, there are things you can do ahead of time to protect your privacy. Never ask anyone else to check your email for you. Install spyware software. Don’t use cyber cafes. Keep your passwords secret and change them often. Check your recovery information diligently, since this could be used to regain access to your password after you have changed it. Change the answers to your secret questions. Leo Notenboom suggests in an online advice column that the answers that you choose don’t have to match the questions (you might say your mother’s maiden name is “Microsoft”, for example). All that matters is that the answers that you give match the answers that you set here if you ever need to recover your account.

In 2011, a Michigan woman, Clara Walker brought felony charges against her ex-husband, Leon Walker for hacking into her private emails during their marriage, but in most cases cyber stalking is not treated as a criminal offense unless it includes threats of violence or sexual coercion, or is in violation of a previously existing restraining order.

Because of the difficulty of protecting citizens from stalking, police detectives strongly encourage spouses to seek a restraining order at the first sign of alarming behavior rather than waiting to see if things will calm down. However, divorce lawyers often advise otherwise, since resentment over restraining orders can get in the way of profitable negotiations and parental visits. It is often hard to predict how low someone would go to harass you and how long it will continue. 11% of victims are stalked for 5 years or more, according to US Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, the longer a victim waits after the first credible threat the harder it is to demonstrate immediate danger in order get a restraining order.

If harassment continues after you have asked the person to stop, contact the harasser’s Internet Service Provider (ISP). Most ISP’s have clear policies prohibiting the use of their services to abuse another person. Often, an ISP can try to stop the conduct by closing their account. If you receive abusive e-mails, identify the domain (after the “@” sign) and contact that ISP. Most ISP’s have an e-mail address such as abuse@(domain name) or postmaster@(domain name) that can be used for complaints.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Should We Boycott Israeli Art?

Sarah Gillespie started an interesting debate on with her article, “The BDS Cultural Boycott and Integrity.” BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. She opposes the call by the BDS to sabotage or ban any mode of expression delivered by state-enforced Israeli artists, musicians and thinkers because “art has the capacity to transcend the binary world of ‘placard politics’ (‘for’ this or ‘against’ that) and deliver the transforming might of pathos, spirit, sadness and beauty… We should boycott Israeli products, not art, spirit and ideas.”

While I share her reservations about why only Israeli-born Zionists are being boycotted, the inevitable ethical inconsistencies that arise in trying to avoid supporting any type of organized violence, especially when that would include boycotting one’s own country, and the funding by George Soros of the BDS movement, I disagree with her that “Art” is something that should never be boycotted.

Art is a luxury product. Jewish gift stores give a lot of legitimacy to Israel’s folk narrative by selling Israeli made handicrafts and clothes. People who shop there are usually buying those products in order to help support the financial existence of illegal settlers in Occupied Palestine.

Likewise, the Israeli government purposely promotes Israeli artists and musicians, considering them ambassadors for the legitimization of the Zionist State of Israel. The Shakespeare play shown in London, which Gillespie opposed boycotting, was not only funded by the State of Israel but was rewritten in order to generate more sympathy for the Jewish character, transforming it into a standard work of propaganda.
Boycotters make exceptions for those Jewish Israelis who are openly opposing Zionism, yet it would be ridiculous not to assume that all Israelis who are selling us products whether art or plastic storage boxes are participating in Zionism. In any case, they are paying taxes to the Israeli government and are at the very least in that way participating in genocide.

If we apply the same morals to Jews as we do to others, all Jews as a group, if they do not consciously defect from the Zionist racist movement, are guilty of participating in Zionist aggression, preventing public comment, or letting racist violence happen without comment.

It is quite standard to revile an artist or academic if he has ever been a member of any other racist organization.

For example, mainstream media consistently refers to former Congressman David Duke without his Doctor title as a way of belittling him, even though he has claimed that the KKK in his town was nothing more than a neighborhood organization. Nobody starts jumping up and down fuming at the mouth when someone condemns or boycotts a former member of the KKK, insisting, “But not all KKK members are violent!” Most people simply accept that the KKK is a purveyor of racist violence and try to avoid supporting it, even indirectly.

Yet we are asked to distinguish carefully between a non-violent Zionist and Zionism as a movement, even though all Israelis are required to serve in the Israeli military and are thus guilty of participating in organized crime.

The question of whether or not boycotting a theater production would ever end the Israeli state needs to be looked at in context of the American Jewish lobby. Any Palestinian poet who tried to book a show in New Jersey would automatically find himself canceled and playing outside the cafe in the street due to a deluge of angry phone calls from Zionist Jews, even if his poster had a picture of a dove on it.

It would probably be wise for more Americans to become similarly aggressive about getting Zionist performances cancelled. That way, the theater will learn to either avoid all controversial performances OR they will be forced to adopt a more balanced approach (for example showing both Palestinian and Israeli art productions). What happens when only Jews protest, the Jews get what they want while others just stew.
It is impossible to boycott entirely a country in which you live, but you can still make wisest choices about how to spend your money. I would only encourage a foreigner to spend money on American artists if I knew for sure that this artist’s world view supported something that person could morally accept. Paintings are a dime a dozen. If all you want is a pretty picture, frame a calendar photo. You should buy a painting because you are supporting a revolutionary movement – you want to give money to a particular artist because you want them to continue in their struggle for truth and beauty.

There are Israeli musicians and writers I support because they are outspoken anti-Zionists. But if some random Israeli musician was playing at my children’s elementary school I would oppose it, because that would be giving a public message that Israelis are cute and cuddly, that we should bond with them emotionally and give them our tax dollars and feel sorry for them because they are such good musicians.
The main idea behind a boycott is to delegitimize the fake Zionist narrative. There were a couple kids in my elementary school whose parents forbade them to participate in Israeli folk dances and it made long lasting impressions on their fellow students. At first we did not understand why these students opposed Israel, but eventually we figured it out.

One can only imagine with trepidation a world where no one ever spoke truth in the face of power and privilege.