There were several things which happened or transpired last week which really should call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. I'll share one in some detail, and a couple of others in passing. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."
When I saw the headline "Terrorism concerns: Chase Bank stops dog owner's check over pet's suspicious name," I knew it deserved some looking into. Firstly, in the story but left out of the headline was the fact that this was a service dog. "Bruce Francis depends on his dog, a nine-year-old pitbull mix named Dash, for more than just companionship. Francis has a rare form of M.S. and Dash is a certified service dog." To their credit, both Raw Story and AlterNet put this information into their headlines. But to continue –
"Earlier this month, as was his routine, Francis paid Dash’s dog walker using his online banking account with Chase. On the memo line for the check Francis had typed Dash’s name." The next thing Francis heard was that the dog walker had not received the check. He went on line to look at his account, and found a message, "Please explain what Dash means. To OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control, an office of the US Treasury)."
Francis called OFAC and was informed that the transaction had been flagged because "Dash" is similar to Daesh. The bank stopped payment on the check. Francis says he thought, "Great, they're stopping the world's stupidest terrorist."
KTVU, which originated the story, is a Fox affiliate, so I must give them credit for seeking comment from Edward Hasbrouck of Identity Project, a civil liberties group, who pointed out that many (perhaps most) people don't realize that "banks are required to scan all the financial transactions of their customers and turn over anything suspicious to the Treasury Department." So Chase was simply following the law here. (A pity, because I had hoped to be able to bring Jamie Dimon into this, but it looks like he is off the hook.) But the law itself is questionable to Hasbrouck, because it's all done in secret. He says, "What happens is that the government requires the banks to become in effect, outsourced spies for the government.”
A spokesman for Chase told KTVU, “If a name on the OFAC list appears on a payment, we are required to review it. This is an important part of ensuring that crime does not filter through the us banking system. In this instance, the payment was flagged, reviewed and eventually released.” Oh, yes, the dog walker did eventually get paid.
Francis himself says, “I think anything we can do to stop the terrorists and the funding of terrorists, let’s do it. And if it means an inconvenience to me and my dog walker then that’s a price I’m totally willing to pay.” I think that's very understanding and kind of him. I'm not (willing to pay that price).
As Hasbrouck points out, because this is all done in secret, no one but OFAC and the banks know what is on the list. Are these terms, all IMO conceivable names of pet or service animals, on the list? Brand, Alice, Baker, Ace, Deuce, Barnes, Brother, Knight, Duke, Pioneer, Storm, Hammer, White. All these words come from the SPLC list of Hate Groups and have, or could have, some connection to one or more white supremacist hate group(s). Because, if they are not, point one, that is discriminatory; and point two, more importantly, we are not really being protected from real dangers.
Dear ladies, Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone, I apologize for not having done all the detective work here. But I am only a citizen. There are secrets that I can't access. So, first, could you check out the list I compiled against the OFAC list? And, second, could you find out what law or laws (I have suspicions of the Patriot Act, but there could well be others) dictated the existence of the OFAC list. And then – well, you know what to do, probably better than I do. After all, I am only a citizen.
In other news, there's a fellow in Florida who likes to play with guns. A bit under two years ago, he was trying to show his guests how he could quick draw "like a cowboy" and ended up sending a bullet into the temple of a pregnant woman, killing her and incidentally the potential baby. He was not charged. He claimed to have sworn off firearms for life, but this month, he was caught trying to "teach his girl friend's daughter (16) how to shoot" and was therefore discharging a shotgun into the air. At least this time he was arrested. Convicting him of a felony would at least prohibit him from owning or purchasing firearms. There's a petition to that effect. If we can get enough signatures, the Furies may not have to go deal with him.
And one last thing – Lamar Seeligson Smith (R-TX) is the chairman of the House Science Committee. Last year, he started a campaign, intending to discredit all legitimate scientsts, which is a tall order, but he could make them so tied up in red tape that he could slow down their work. He subpoenaed thousands of emails – any email which contained the word "climate," "change," and "temperature." Supported by people and organizations, the NOAA refused to release them. But now Smith is asking (did I say "asking"? I should have said "demanding") again. And, yes, he is still wrong. I'm sure the Furies can instruct him.
The Furies and I will be back.