The Spin: Mad Cow, Terrorist almanacs, and the Patriot Act 2

by Mike Shea on 30 December 2003

Mike's most interesting news reporting:

Despite constant CNN coverage, not a single American has died from Mad Cow disease. Seven hundred thousand Americans die every year from heart disease, however. The FBI is warning law enforcement officials that almanacs could be a sign of terrorism because they aid in planning. They will be coming after pens and paper next.

On the same day as the capture of Saddam Hussain, George Bush signed the Patriot Act 2. Magicians refer to this as misdirection. Want to stop the madness? Donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and write to your congressmen.

Why is the Patriot Act 2 bad? This EFF analysis of the Patriot Act 2 does the best job of explaining it. The feds can grab financial records, share information from a variety of sources without needing to prove a connection, monitor electronic devices without needing to ask permission, request personal records from sources without needing to prove probable cause, extend punishment for the use of data encryption, force a gag order on those who are forced to give up personal information so they can't notify the person being investigated. The Patriot Act uses "terrorism" as a vehicle for the legislation but has very little to do with foreign terrorism threats. It can be used across the board on any form of crime they decide to use it with. We will suffer under it indefinitely.

If I shouldn't worry about mad cows, what should I worry about? The following outlines some statistics of deaths in the US. Most statistics come from National Center for Health Statistics for 2002.US Automobile Deaths: 43,778 Deaths related to SARS: 774 (source) US firearm deaths: 28,663 Total deaths related to Mad Cow disease in Europe: 143 (source) US heart disease deaths: 700,142 Deaths related to Mad Cow disease in America: 0 (source) AIDS deaths: 14,175 US cancer deaths: 553,768 US deaths in Iraq since the beginning of "Iraqi Freedom": 471 (source) US murders: 16,000 (FBI)Despite all of my efforts, I couldn't get an official statistic on US deaths in 2002 related to terrorism. While the FBI has gone through great pains to separate various motives for murder, terrorism wasn't one of them.

If you want to help keep the country free, Tell your friends. Ignore the mass marketed news and read off of the beaten path.