Category Archives: Police State/Big Brother USA

Cops Being C**ts: Officer kicks, trips, and shoves high school students celebrating at soccer match

Inmates to strike in Alabama, declare prison is “running a slave empire”

Josh Eidelson writes for Salon:

Credit: Free Alabama MovementInmates at an Alabama prison plan to stage a work stoppage this weekend and hope to spur an escalating strike wave, a leader of the effort told Salon in a Thursday phone call from his jail cell.

“We decided that the only weapon or strategy … that we have is our labor, because that’s the only reason that we’re here,” said Melvin Ray, an inmate at the St. Clair correctional facility and founder of the prison-based group Free Alabama Movement. “They’re incarcerating people for the free labor.” Spokespeople for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his Department of Corrections did not respond to midday inquiries Thursday. Jobs done by inmates include kitchen and laundry work, chemical and license plate production, and furniture-making. In 2011, Alabama’s Department of Agriculture reportedly discussed using inmates to replace immigrants for agricultural work; in 2012, the state Senate passed a bill to let private businesses employ prison labor.

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Illinois Police Launch Anti-Terror Style Manhunt For Owner of Parody Twitter Account That Mocked Mayor

From I Acknowledge:

A006

[...] Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said officers were investigating the creator of the Twitter account for false personation of a public official. It’s hard to believe but true that the offense is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.

The @Peoriamayor account has only been around since late February or early March, had just 50 followers and had issued around the same number of tweets.  The account bore a photo of Ardis and a bio that stated he enjoyed serving the city and included his city email address.

The content of tweets, or entries on the account, mocked the Mayor over sex and drugs — comparing Ardis to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (Ford’s drug use while in office became public).   By March 10, the bio of the Twitter account was changed to indicate it was a parody account.

The account was even suspended by twitter by the end of March so there was no risk of further tweets. But this didn’t stop local police launching anti-terror style raids on homes and workplaces, seizing personal property, for the sake of the Mayor’s fragile ego.

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Who Goes To Jail? Matt Taibbi on American Injustice Gap From Wall Street to Main Street

‘Award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi is out with an explosive new book that asks why the vast majority of white-collar criminals have avoided prison since the financial crisis began, while an unequal justice system imprisons the poor and people of color on a mass scale. In “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap,” Taibbi explores how the Depression-level income gap between the wealthy and the poor is mirrored by a “justice” gap in who is targeted for prosecution and imprisonment. “It is much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else,” Taibbi says.’ (Democracy Now!)

Talib Kweli Breaks the Set on the Obama Presidency, the Prison Industrial Complex & Real Hip Hop

Abby Martin features an exclusive interview with hip hop artist Talib Kweli, discussing the role of government, Obama’s presidency, the prison industrial complex, and establishment hip hop.’ (Breaking the Set)

Jim Hightower: NSA Spying Is Here to Stay

Jim Hightower writes for Creators.com:

[...] The three billion phone calls made in the U.S. each day are snatched up by the agency, which stores each call’s metadata (phone numbers of the parties, date and time, length of call, etc.) for five years. Each day telecom giants turn over metadata on every call they have processed. Every out-of-country call and email from (or to) a U.S. citizen is grabbed by NSA computers, and agents are authorized to listen to or read any of them.

The agency searches for and seizes nearly everything we do on the Internet. Without bothering with the constitutional nicety of obtaining a warrant, its XKeyscore program scoops up some 40 billion Internet records every month and adds them to its digital storehouse, including our emails, Google searches, websites visited, Microsoft Word documents sent, etc. NSA’s annual budget includes a quarter-billion dollars for “corporate-partner access” – i.e., payments to obtain this mass of material from corporate computers.

Snowden says that in his days as an analyst, he could sit at his computer and tap into any American’s Internet activity – even the President’s. The sheer volume of information sucked up by the agency is so large that as of 2008, it maintained 150 data processing sites around the world. NSA’s budget is an official secret, but a Snowden document shows that it gets about $11 billion a year in direct appropriations, with more support funneled through the Pentagon and other agencies.

President Obama recently announced an “overhaul” of the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records. The reform may require phone companies to store metadata it collects for 18 months for the NSA’s use with the approval from a special court. This might sound reasonable, but it is still gathering bulk data on millions of innocent Americans – by corporations for the government. And what about Internet, email and other surveillance? NSA is too heavily vested in its programs; it is not going to give up spying on us.

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Privacy fears over FBI facial recognition database

From BBC News:

FaceCampaigners have raised privacy concerns over a facial recognition database being developed by the FBI that could contain 52m images by 2015. The civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) obtained information about the project through a freedom of information request. It said it was concerned that images of non-criminals would be stored alongside those of criminals. The FBI say the database will reduce terrorist and criminal activities.

The facial recognition database is part of the bureau’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme which is a large biometric database being developed to replace the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The programme, which is being rolled out over a number of years, will offer “state of the art biometric identification services” according to the bureau’s website. As well as facial recognition images the programme is being developed to include the capture and storage of finger prints, iris scans and palm prints.

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New York Police End Muslim Surveillance Program

Jake Pearson and Tom Hays report for AP:

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, FileA special New York Police Department unit that sparked controversy by tracking the daily lives of Muslims in an effort to detect terror threats has been disbanded, police officials said Tuesday.

NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis confirmed that detectives assigned to the unit had been transferred to other duties within the department’s Intelligence Division.

An ongoing review of the division by new Police Commissioner William Bratton found that the same information collected by the unit could be better collected through direct contact with community groups, officials said.

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United States Is Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading to Poor, UN Report Charges

Evelyn Nieves writes for AlterNet:

The U.N. Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Thursday condemned the United States for criminalizing homelessness, calling it “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” that violates international human rights treaty obligations. It also called upon the U.S. government to take corrective action, following a two-day review of U.S. government compliance with a human rights treaty ratified in 1992. “I’m just simply baffled by the idea that people can be without shelter in a country, and then be treated as criminals for being without shelter,” said Sir Nigel Rodley, chairman of the committee in closing statements on the U.S. review. “The idea of criminalizing people who don’t have shelter is something that I think many of my colleagues might find as difficult as I do to even begin to comprehend.”

The Committee called on the U.S. to abolish criminalization of homelessness laws and policies at state and local levels, intensify efforts to find solutions for homeless people in accordance with human rights standards and offer incentives for decriminalization, including giving local authorities funding for implementing alternatives and withholding funding for criminalizing the homeless.  Those recommendations run counter to the current trends in the nation. Laws targeting the homeless—loitering laws that ban sleeping or sitting too long in one public spot, or camping in parks overnight—have become increasingly common in communities throughout the country as homelessness has skyrocketed.

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Police testing ‘a live version of Google Earth, only with TiVo capabilities’

G.W. Schulz and Amanda Pike write for The Center for Investigative Reporting:

When sheriff’s deputies here noticed a burst of necklace snatchings from women walking through town, they turned to an unlikely source to help solve the crimes: a retired Air Force veteran named Ross McNutt.

McNutt and his Ohio-based company, Persistent Surveillance Systems, persuaded the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to use his surveillance technology to monitor Compton’s streets from the air and track suspects from the moment the snatching occurred.

The system, known as wide-area surveillance, is something of a time machine – the entire city is filmed and recorded in real time. Imagine Google Earth with a rewind button and the ability to play back the movement of cars and people as they scurry about the city.

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DoJ finds majority of fatal shootings by Albuquerque Police were unreasonable, no apologies offered

U.S. police raid innocent family because of indoor garden, spied on their purchases and dug through trash

Could Nevada Ranch Standoff be the next Waco Tragedy?

UPDATE: Feds Halt Roundup of Rancher’s Cattle, Fearing for Safety

‘Abby Martin reports on the Bureau of Land Management’s siege of a Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada over cattle grazing on federal land, which has escalated into a heavily militarized standoff between the agency and protestors defending the rights of the rancher.’ (Breaking the Set)

NSA Said to Have Used Heartbleed Bug, Exposing Consumers

Michael Riley reports for Bloomberg:

Credit: Reuters/Kai PfaffenbachThe U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said. The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts.

Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest glitches in the Internet’s history, a flaw in the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world’s websites. Its discovery and the creation of a fix by researchers five days ago prompted consumers to change their passwords, the Canadian government to suspend electronic tax filing and computer companies including Cisco Systems Inc. to Juniper Networks Inc. to provide patches for their systems.

Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.

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Missouri DoT to use LRAD devices against speeding drivers

Lawsuit alleges police gave Occupy protesters drugs

Infographic: The Militarization of U.S. Police Forces

Police_Design03

SOURCE: ARRESTRECORDS.COM

 

“Sheriff”

What do you get when you cross a taser with a drone? A taser drone of course!

Wearable Tech: The Surveillance Grid Of The Future?

Daniel Taylor writes for Old-Thinker News:

Smartphones are fading. Wearables are next” – CNN Money

Edward Snowden’s now infamous NSA leaks have sparked intense debate across the world. The leaks confirmed what many already knew; The NSA is listening to our phone calls, monitoring social networks and more.

This is only the beginning of an Orwellian, Minority Report future.

In the near future, consumers will be adorning themselves with wearable technology that will weave an incredibly detailed picture of their lives. A cloud of information will float around you with details on sleep habits, what you ate for breakfast, who you are meeting for dinner, your heart rate, and much more. Insurance companies will likely harvest this data to adjust your rates. Governments will undoubtedly hack into this cloud of personal data to track down dissidents. Marketers will have access to a goldmine of personalized information that will be used to market products.

These wearables are sold to the public as a means of making life easier, which they undoubtedly will. With that convenience there will be a price to pay in privacy.

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The heir, the judge and the homeless mom: America’s prison bias for the 1%

Sadhbh Walshe writes for the Guardian:

dupont heir arizona homeless momIn 2009, when Robert H Richard IV, an unemployed heir to the DuPont family fortune, pled guilty to fourth-degree rape of his three-year-old daughter, a judge spared him a justifiable sentence – indeed, only put Richard on probation – because she figured this 1-percenter would “not fare well” in a prison setting.

Details of the case were kept quiet until just the other day, as Richard’s ex-wife filed a new lawsuit accusing him of also sexually abusing their son. Since then, the original verdict has been fueling some angry speculation – shock, horror – that the defendant’s wealth and status may have played a role in his lenient sentencing.

I hate to shatter anyone’s illusions, but inequality defines our criminal justice system just as it defines our society. It always has and it always will until we do something about it, beyond just getting upset at local news stories.

America incarcerates more people than any other country on the planet,with over 2m currently in prison and more than 7m under some form of correctional supervision. The people who make up this outsize correctional population do not typically come from the Delaware trust-fund-creep demographic: more than 60% are racial and ethnic minorities, and the vast majority are poor.

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NSA chief General Keith Alexander officially retires

Spencer Ackerman writes for the Guardian:

Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images[...] Alexander came to the NSA in 2005, as one of the service’s first digitally proficient general officers. For most of his tenure he expanded the agency’s powers and influence tremendously, and in 2010 he added to his duties as the first leader of Cyber Command, a new organization devoted to defending military networks and nearly inextricable from NSA.

But Alexander’s run at the NSA will be forever linked to the revelations of its global surveillance dragnets. Snowden’s leaks to the Guardian, the Washington Post, First Look and other news outlets made the NSA infamous worldwide and yielded a consensus domestically against the bulk collection of US phone data. Defense secretary Chuck Hagel said the Snowden leaks had created “one of the most challenging periods” in the NSA’s history.

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The Face of Poverty: Homeless Jobless Single Mother With Lousy Options Arrested For Being Homeless Jobless Single Mother Who Chose One of Them

Abby Zimet writes for Common Dreams:

The awful story of Shanesha Taylor is what’s wrong with the state of our union: The mother of two from Scottsdale, Arizona got called to a job interview she urgently needed. With no place to leave her two young kids – no neighbors because she’s homeless, no co-workers because she’s jobless, no paid childcare because she has no money, no free childcare because our government, which at the same time is trying to restrict birth control so women have to have more kids they don’t have the resources to care for – she left them in her car, with the windows cracked, at naptime. When she came back from the interview 45 minutes later, someone had called the police, who arrested her, charged her with two child abuse felonies, put her in in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Jail, and put her kids in state custody.

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Mind-reading breakthrough can recreate the faces you see in your brain

Graham Templeton writes for Geek:

mri faces headA team of Yale researchers, led by a then-undergraduate student, have made an astonishing step forward in brain science. The (perhaps unsettling) breakthrough allows scientists to use a medical imaging machine and a well-trained algorithm to visually reconstruct faces seen by test subjects. As seen below, their technique returns some results with a truly astonishing level of accuracy. Oddly, their results seem to have been possible specifically because the brain processes faces in such a unique and distributed way. This study takes the field’s greatest and most intractable problem and leverages it to truly impressive effect.

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Bringing the big guns to U.S. borders

Tom A. Peter reports for Al Jazeera:

Robot at security expo

Credit: Matt York/AP

Scores of security companies selling everything from Taser-resistant clothing to armored vehicles packed a convention center here this week. Outside the showroom, speakers from the top of organizations like Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security gave talks to members of the security industry about their organizations’ operations and needs.

Now in its eighth year, the Border Security Expo may be more important than ever for the security industry. With America’s foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over or coming to a close, many security companies are now forced to look for new markets to maintain their business levels.

Many within the security industry have turned to border security, a potentially lucrative alternative to fill in the gaps. Still, it remains to be seen just how much, if anything, the border region can offer the security industry.

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This Man Went to Prison for Collecting Rainwater

Abby Martin talks about the crackdown on individuals who choose to live ‘Off the Grid’ citing a examples such as a man in Oregon who faced jail-time for collecting rainwater and a Florida woman who was forced to re-connect to the state’s electrical grid.’ (Breaking the Set)

Police Shoot Homeless Man Camping In Albuquerque, Protesters Demand Justice

Bridgeport man faces felony after speaking too long at township board meeting

Brad Devereaux reports of Michigan Live:

Mark AdamsMark A. Adams, 59, was arraigned Friday, March 14, by Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank on a felony charge of resisting and obstructing a police officer and a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace.

Adams was arrested during a March 4 Bridgeport Township meeting by three Bridgeport Township police officers after violating the township’s three-minute time limit set for people making public comments and refusing to stop talking when township officials told him to.

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Reports of the Death of a National License-Plate Tracking Database Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Dan Froomkin writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Reports of the Death of a National License-Plate Tracking Database Have Been Greatly ExaggeratedIn a  February 19 front-page story, the Washington Post appeared to be breaking news of yet another massive federal surveillance program invading the privacy of innocent Americans. The Department of Homeland Security, the story said, had drawn up plans to develop a national license-plate tracking database, giving the feds the ability to monitor the movements of tens of millions of drivers — a particularly intrusive form of suspicionless bulk surveillance, considering how strongly we Americans feel it’s none of the government’s business where and when we come and go.

The next day, however, the Post called off the alarm. The plan, the newspaper reported, had been canceled. Threat averted. Move along. But the Post had gotten it all wrong. DHS wasn’t planning to create a national license-plate tracking database — because several already exist, owned by different private companies, and extensively used by law enforcement agencies including DHS for years. The only thing actually new at DHS — the solicitation for services the Post decided was front-page news — was a different form of paperwork to pay for access.

And far from going away, the databases are growing at a furious pace due to rapidly improving technology and ample federal grant money for more cameras and more computers. Tens if not hundreds of millions of observations per month are streaming into bulging electronic archives, often remaining there indefinitely, for a vast array of clients in both the public and private sector. So rather than being the tale of an averted threat, the bulk license-plate tracking saga is actually a story about yet another previously unimaginable loss of privacy in the modern information age.

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Domestic Drones Are Inevitable

Lucy Steigerwald writes for Antiwar:

As the weekly – sometimes daily – news stories never tire of telling us, domestic drones are coming. And as ABC News reported on March 17, they are arriving faster than the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can suss out the rules over their use. Though it’s technically illegal, and the FAA may issue fines if they catch you, ABC reports that commercial use of drones is starting to happen whether or not the government approves – as long as it doesn’t notice.

In February, the FAA sent a cease and desist letter to the Lakemaid Brewing Company – the beer makers may not use drones to send ice fishermen a six-pack of cold ones. Even for such a charming purpose, their commercial use is banned at least until 2015, when the FAA will issue rules on drone integration into U.S. airspace. The FAA is also currently appealing a judge’s decision rejecting the $10,000 fine it tried to levy against a Virginia filmmaker for unauthorized drone flights. At this point, the US is actually trailing far behind the rest of the world in terms of domestic drones – we’re skittish about their dystopian potential, and our privacy laws are (relatively) strong compared to some.

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