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The dark side of the wireless fix

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
February 21, 2001


"You can take a monster and put the face of Jesus on it, and it is still a monster." — Cheryl Snyder Hall

All over San Diego County churches have decided to sell out by renting their houses of worship to the multinational communication interests. Having long forgot the story about Christ running the money changers from the temple, the people in the God business have discovered that turning the other cheek easily translates into turning a deaf ear.

For those of you slow on the uptake, I have a major issue with all things cellular. Not only do I recognize them to be a major health threat, I also see them as just one more nail in the coffin of humanity. They are visual blights, encroachments on privacy, and a surefire way of pitting neighbors against neighbors, and residents against timid elected officials unwilling to rock a few corporate boats.

This is a Federal issue so I am not talking about small municipalities like those of coastal Southern California. Although there is more local officials could do to help raise grassroots awareness of the power being given the wireless communication industry, in regards to local planning, under the scope of the Federal Communications Commission. It's very scary, when one looks beyond the convenience of car phones and full coverage self entitlement. I told you I had issues.

Last week I had the dubious pleasure to attend a bitch session regarding the placement of cell towers in the city of Encinitas. I could call the 3 hour meeting a workshop but that would be a lie. The cellular representatives in attendance made it quite clear they would only entertain conversations regarding aesthetics. Sponsored by the Olivenhain Town Council, and held in that communities historic meeting hall, I felt like I was in some cheesy movie of the week and the bad guys had just come to town.

To the city of Encinitas's credit a foreword thinking city council, and city staff, are attempting to reign in these communication mavericks with an ordinance that wireless telecommunication networks are completed with the fewest possible facilities, in the least visible fashion, and with the least disruptive impact on the neighborhoods and communities of Encinitas.

 The proposed ordinance would consider the health of residents, public safety, and the aesthetic preservation of the City of Encinitas. Of course companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are opposed to such an ordinance because it would get in the way of their brave new world. Full saturation is the only option.

On a related manner, the world has been a buzz about, a global spy network created by US National Security Agency (NSA) and supported by their international allies. Known as ECHELON, this system is used to intercept ordinary E-mail, fax, telex, and telephone communications carried over the world's telecommunications networks. At least ten Echelon monitor sites are currently passing on intercepted telephone and satellite communications on to US and British covert intelligence agencies.

This is more than just protecting against terrorist threats, nobody is safe from Big Brother, Wayne Madsan a former agent for the NSA told the London Sunday Times that Princess Diana was a Echelon target due to her international efforts to ban landmines. Other terrorist organizations being monitored are Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and Christian Aid.

A report by The European Parliament says that the network, code-named Echelon, infringes rights to privacy. It coincides with a number of European investigations charging the US with industrial espionage and increasing French distrust of the close intelligence cooperation between the "Anglo-Saxon" alliance of the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Now I understand why the French discourage the use of English.

Knowing that the Federal Government is involved in this type of cold war activity should make all of us very nervous. Knowing that The Federal Communications Commission gives American cities no say regarding the numbers of communication facilities cited in their neighborhoods is downright frightening. I have always assumed Americans lived in a polite police state, know I know it. The cold war is not over, it has just changed it's focused. America is no longer free when private communications between citizens are constantly monitored by the Federal government.

By the way I do not own a cell phone. I will never own a cell phone. And I suggest others consider the same disconnect. Big Brother may not be watching, he is however listening.

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