Monday, October 15, 2018

John James puts Nazi swastika in new campaign ad


Republican candidate for the United States Senate John James released a new campaign ad this week that is entitled "Ready to Serve." The ad has appeared on television in the Detroit media market and presumably elsewhere in the state. It's also available on YouTube here.

The thing that is profounding troubling is that there is a Nazi swastika hidden in this campaign ad. The Nazi symbol appears 11 seconds into this 30-second video on the bulletin board that appears on the screen.

I have to ask: why in the world would someone like John James - a Republican candidate for the United States Senate - put a Nazi swastika in his campaign ad?

Members of my family served in the 13th and 101st Airborn Divisions of the U.S. Army during World War II. My family fought the Nazis in Europe. They parachuted into Normandy, France on D-Day; survived the Battle of the Bulge and a Nazi prisoner of war camp.

When they defeated Adolf Hitler and Nazis in Europe, they came home to Detroit to raise a family and live the American dream. They never expected to see Nazis show up in Michigan.

They certainly never expected to see a Nazi swastika show up in a campaign ad for a Republican who wants to serve in the United States Senate.

All of this begs the question: why in the world John James and his campaign for the U.S. Senate chose to include a swastika in their commercial?

I reached out to the John James campaign for a comment earlier today. As of posting this, I have not received a response from them.

If and when John James or his campaign reply with an explanation for the Nazi swastika, I will provide it on this blog in a follow-up.

Update @ 7:26 p.m.
I want to acknowledge that Chris Savage of Electablog published a similar story to mine one hour and 56 minutes before I did. I did not see his story before publishing my version of it. However, I believe it's worth noting that he did independently notice the swastika in that commercial for John James before I did.

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow


The Friends of Rouge Park, a nonprofit advocacy group that works for the betterment of the largest park in Detroit, will have a general membership meeting tomorrow evening. The group will meet at 6 pm at the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Bramell St.), which is near West Chicago and Outer Drive. Their meeting is expected to last approximately one hour.

The agenda for this meeting includes board elections for the group as well as:

  • Opening of the Sorensen Interpretive Trail;
  • Goals for 2019; and
  • General updates on Rouge Park.
Anyone who is interested in the preserving and protected Rouge Park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Travel tip: Use a resort pass to take a vacation on the cheap

Tropical vacation - Stock photo from Pixabay
Looking to get away at a resort this winter but not break the bank?

Consider using a resort pass for a day from DayCation.  What is a resort pass? It’s a pass that gives you access to a resort or hotel’s amenities for a single day without having to book a stay at full price. This way you can lounge at the pool or go to the spa as if you were a regular guest.

Daycationapp.com offers great deals on resort passes in popular locations such as Miami, New York, and even Nassau, Jamaica.

A resort pass (also known as a day pass) is basically the best way to enjoy a daycation without spending a fortune. For instance, you can stay at a lower tiered hotel but access the facilities of a nearby luxury resort of your choosing. This allows you to save money for other aspects of your trip or vacation. Or, if you live in the local area, a resort pass is a great way for you to take a quick staycation, but still feel like you are getting away from the daily grind.

How does a day pass work? First, you locate the hotel/resort that has the amenities you want and book your ticket.  Second, you check in at the front desk as you would as if you were a normal guest. You will need to bring your ID and show a confirmation e-mail. Third, enjoy the amenities for the rest of the day! It’s that easy.

A resort pass is the most affordable option for travelers on any budget, whether you want to check out a cabana in Miami or go to a spa in a luxurious New York hotel. With a resort pass, you can relax and enjoy a hotel for a day. 

Enjoying a DayCation is your tip of the week for the week of October 15.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Gabe Leland indicted on bribery charges

Gabe Leland at a Warrendale Community Organization meeting
Photo by Frank Nemecek
According to a published report in The Detroit News, Gabe Leland has been indicted on bribery charges by a federal grand jury. Leland has represented the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhood as a state legislator and city councilman for more than a decade.

Leland allegedly received more than $15,000 in cash and services in exchange for his help with a real estate deal, according to this indictment. The full story is available here.

On a personal note, I have known, trusted, and supported Gabe Leland since the beginning of his political career. I've always found him to be a hard-working public servant who has done much to help the Warrendale neighborhood. I'm both shocked and disappointed by this news.

I will have more on this story as it continues to develop.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

District 7 fall meeting announced

Meeting - Stock Photo courtesy of Pixavy
The fall meet and greet for the District 7 area, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood, has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 3. This meeting will happen in the Adams-Butzel Recreation Center (10500 Lyndon) at 6 p.m.

This meeting will consist largely of general updates from the District 7 staff.

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by phone or email to the District 7 manager Ray Solomon at (313) 236-3516 / solomonr [at] detroitmi [dot] gov or the deputy manager Mona Ali at (313) 236-3540 / alim [at] detroitmi [dot] gov.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow

Rouge Park on a foggy day - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The non-profit advocacy and service group Friends of Rouge Park will have their next meeting tomorrow evening. They will meet at the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Brammel St.) from 6 - 7 pm on Tuesday, September 18.

Anyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

FBI warns about cyber risk to students

Cyber-threats - Stock image by Pete Linforth/Pixabay

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a statement recently encouraging public awareness of cyber threat concerns related to K-12 students. The US school systems’ rapid growth of education technologies, which is also known as EdTech. This technology has led to the widespread collection of student data could have privacy and safety implications if compromised or exploited.

EdTech can provide services for adaptive, personalized learning experiences, and unique opportunities for student collaboration. Additionally, administrative platforms for tracking academics, disciplinary issues, student information systems, and classroom management programs, are commonly served through EdTech services.

The types of data that are collected can include personally identifiable information as well as:
  • biometric data;
  • academic progress;
  • behavioral, disciplinary, and medical information;
  • Web browsing history;
  • students’ geolocation;
  • IP addresses used by students; and
  • classroom activities.
Malicious use of this sensitive data could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children. Therefore, the FBI is providing awareness to schools and parents of the important role cybersecurity plays in the securing of student information and devices.

Sensitive Student Data
The widespread collection of sensitive information by EdTech could present unique exploitation opportunities for criminals. For example, in late 2017, cyber-actors exploited school information technology systems by hacking into multiple school district servers across the United States. They accessed student contact information, education plans, homework assignments, medical records, and counselor reports, and then used that information to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and release of their personal information. The actors sent text messages to parents and local law enforcement, publicized students’ private information, posted student PII on social media, and stated how the release of such information could help child predators identify new targets. In response to the incidents, the U.S. Department of Education released a Cyber Advisory alert in October 2017 stating cybercriminals were targeting school districts with weak data security or well-known vulnerabilities to access sensitive data from student records to shame, bully, and threaten children.

Cybersecurity issues were discovered in 2017 for two large EdTech companies, resulting in public access to millions of students’ data. According to security researchers, one company exposed internal data by storing it on a public-facing server. The other company suffered a breach and student data was posted for sale on the Dark Web.

Inter-connected Networks and Devices
EdTech connected to networked devices or directly to the Internet could increase opportunities for cyber actors to access devices collecting data and monitoring children within educational or home environments. Improperly secured take-home devices (e.g. tablets, laptops) or monitoring devices (e.g. in-school surveillance cameras or microphones), particularly those with remote-access capabilities, could be exploitable through cyber intrusions or other unauthorized means and present vulnerabilities for students.

Recommendations
The increased use of connected digital tools in the learning environment and widespread data collection introduces cybersecurity risks of which parents should be aware.

The FBI recognizes there are districts across the United States who are working hard to address cybersecurity matters in their schools to protect students and their data. For districts seeking assistance, there are numerous online resources, consortiums, and organizations available that can provide support on data protection matters and cybersecurity best practices.

The FBI encourages parents and families to research existing student and child privacy protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and state laws as they apply to EdTech services.
Discuss with their local districts about what and how EdTech technologies and programs are used in their schools.

Families should also research parent coalition and information-sharing organizations that are available online for those looking for support and additional resources as well as school-related cyber breaches which can further inform families of student data vulnerabilities. The FBI also recommends that families consider credit or identity theft monitoring to check for any fraudulent use of their children’s identity. Parents should also regularly search the Internet for their children’s information to help identify the exposure and stop it from spreading.

If you have evidence your child’s data may have been compromised, or if you have experienced any of the Internet crimes described in this PSA, please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Protecting your children from the latest EdTech cyber-risks is your Tip of the Week for the week of September 17.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram for more great content as @fnemecek.