Forum, Sept. 13: After the Breach

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
After the Breach

With the Equifax data breach affecting millions of Americans, perhaps 44 percent of the United States’ population has had their personal data compromised. A stolen credit card number can be replaced and the liability is comparatively minimal. But Social Security numbers, birth dates, names, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers, may be with a person for their life. Their entire life. What if my data was not accessed? Will they notify me in the future so I can stop worrying for the rest of my life?

And what does Equifax do? After taking over one month to notify the possible victims, they offer one year free use of their package of credit monitoring services. It’s not like there is a limit, an expiration date for the usefulness of one’s Social Security number, name and date of birth. These facts about one’s personhood remain valid for one’s lifetime. And what if you do not read the news by the deadline for signup for one free year? What if you are sick or otherwise unable to apply for the year of data protection services before their deadline?

To sign up for these services also feels like a ruse. To sign up you must also agree to their terms of service such as accepting arbitration for disputes and agree to allow Equifax to use your personal information for marketing of products or services from them or other financial companies. And then after the free year?

Equifax should offer lifetime access to their credit monitoring services for every person whose data was accessible. Nothing less gives the appearance that Equifax is using this criminal act to line their purse.

Ann Perbohner

West Lebanon

A Support Group Shuts Down

To the Editor:

The Upper Valley Survivors of Suicide Loss support group has come to an end, after almost 24 years of monthly meetings. The incidence of suicide in the United States has increased in recent years, but it seems that people affected by suicide deaths are turning more to social media for support than meetings with small groups of fellow survivors.

According to Google, Heraclitus (535-475 B.C.) was the earliest recorded philosopher to observe that change is continual, and actually the only constant. Other support groups in our area, and nationally, also report declining attendance. Convenience currently seems to be winning out over the richer experience of the back-and-forth conversations and discussions that take place in an actual group setting.

But whatever the reasons, and whatever UVSOSL’s past successes, without participants a support group isn’t viable, and we haven’t had enough participants for real discussions for almost a year. We have historically been a group where participants have valued a regular opportunity for a free exchange of our experiences with others who understand our need to talk, who don’t avoid the topic of suicide or change the subject. But without a critical mass of attendees, we miss the exchange of ideas with others who are a part of a “club” they didn’t choose to join. Our guess is that survivors of suicide loss in the Upper Valley now find the communion they need online or in other places than our group.

We will try to publicize the end of UVSOSL meetings as widely as possible on Upper Valley websites and calendars, and as a last resort will post a message for a few months on the door of the DHMC conference room where we used to meet, for anyone who arrives to find no meeting.

Each of us involved with UVSOSL is familiar with the shock and devastation that deaths by suicide cause, and we hope that new survivors will find the support they will want and need, whether finding fellow survivors by social interactions, or by searching suicide prevention organizations’ websites for info about survivor support resources, or other online searching.

Locally, survivors can turn to private therapists and counselors, or contact West Central Behavioral Health at 603-448-1101.

UVSOSL is grateful for the leadership generously provided by our facilitators over the years: Gina Sonne, Marianne Newcomb, Maris Noble, Sue Hagerman, Mary-Anne Johnson Boyce and Duff Nelson.

Michael Whitman


Traitors and Heroes

I grew up in Boston where the American Revolution began: the Boston Tea Party, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill.

May I refer you to the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson and voted for by New Hampshire’s own Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple and Matthew Thornton. Traitors? I think not. Sometimes we have to pick a side. We chose freedom.

The Civil War was a horse of another color. The inherent brutality and subjugation of a people for the reasons of color and profit is so abhorrent to humanity that we need no further justification for war.

Did Robert E. Lee and the rest of them commit treason? I think so. In retrospect, there are good reasons to eliminate their statues.

Read the Declaration of Independence and see the reasons why we fought England. They are numerous and real.

Why did we need George Washington? Read a history of the war. See how he held us together.

Janet Connolly


Meditation in Prison

Valley Insight Meditation Society has offered a monthly Buddhist study and practice group at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Institute for Men in Berlin, N.H., for over 14 years. As these meditative practices of reflection and kindness have taken root in prison life, we have witnessed a softening in the attitudes of staff, as well as important transformations within individual inmates and in our own hearts.

Volunteers working with our guiding teacher are invaluable in the program. In their words: “The inmates have become true spiritual friends. … Many have exchanged remorse and pain for wisdom and wellness. … Their energy is uplifting. … These friendships have increased our compassion and wisdom. … It is a place where, against the odds, hope arises.”

Join us on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Norwich Public library for The Dhamma Brothers, a film about meditation in a prison. Discussion with Valley Insight prison volunteers follows.

Doreen Schweizer


A Bad Boat Launch Plan

The Sunapee boat launch proposal blocked by Gov. Chris Sununu is not an issue of rich people trying to “keep their lake private.” Look at the real issues and don’t listen to the disparaging statements. Facts speak louder than soundbites.

The Wild Goose proposal would be an environmental disaster. You and I would not be able to clear-cut 3.3 acres abutting any body of water. We would not be able to remove 6,000 yards of soil to lower the site. Nor would we be able to pave an area abutting a lake that could accommodate only 31 trailers. Only when the Department of Fish and Game thumbs its nose at everybody else’s rules could they build this project.

The access would be an accident waiting to happen. The entrance to Wild Goose has had the second most accidents in Newbury; none were vehicles with a trailer in tow. The state of New Hampshire released a road safety audit on Feb. 7 describing in exacting detail the severe problems with site access, noting the limited sight distances.

The cost is absurd. Fish and Game requested to borrow $2,075,000 to construct the project. This does not include almost $1 million in interest payments over the next 20 years. An expenditure of nearly $3 million for 31 trailers would be a waste of the state’s scarce resources, especially with Fish and Game’s budget struggles.

Opposing Wild Goose is not about keeping people from using Lake Sunapee. It is about being fiscally prudent. This is especially true when alternatives exist for less than one-third of the cost. The state Senate saw this when funding was not put into the capital budget this past year. Gov. Chris Sununu stopped Fish and Game from wasting any more money by denying a permit extension. If this is such a good project, it would have been built long ago.

As other solutions exist, it is time to stop this boat wreck and do something that serves all the people of New Hampshire in a manner that is environmentally positive, provides safe vehicular access and is financially sound.

Daniel H. Wolf

New London