Random Thoughts (Political Edition)

GRtak

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New security cameras to keep eye on Muni buses

With a $6 million federal Homeland Security grant, hundreds of San Francisco?s Muni buses will soon have high-tech video surveillance cameras the transit agency can survey in real-time.

While the transit system uses a surveillance system now, it is more than 10 years old, requires much upkeep, and footage is stored on tapes within each vehicle that must be brought to an office and viewed.

The grant will pay for the installation of video surveillance systems on 358 Muni buses, according to city documents. The project also includes installation of wireless networks, computers and servers at three bus yards ?that will enable SFMTA personnel to view, download and store the captured video images wirelessly and view them in real-time or through the Internet.?

?Having a more reliable camera system will help us improve safety, reduce and more effectively manage claims and prosecute crimes,? said Kristen Holland, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni. ?Surveillance footage has and will continue to be one of the key elements of our efforts to reduce vandalism and all crimes on Muni.?

According to city documents, ?the new system will provide real-time viewing of images, inside and outside the bus, by law enforcement officers, emergency responders and other authorized personnel on a real-time basis from a distance of about 500 yards in case the bus is hijacked and used for terrorism activities.?

These new high-tech cameras will be the latest addition to live-recording technology around The City. Taxi cabs have installed new recording devices capturing activity inside and outside the vehicle. In 2005, The City began installing police surveillance cameras, and 71 cameras now monitor 24 locations.

There have been heated debates about allowing law enforcement to monitor these cameras in real time, but opposition has fought the idea.

Staff attorney Linda Lye with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said the proposal raises a number of questions.

?The rights of privacy mean the government doesn?t get a blank check,? she said. ?What is being done with the information, how long is it being retained and how is it being disseminated??

Those details have yet to be hashed out by the agency.

?We will have to evaluate how any new features of the system will be integrated into our operations,? Holland said. ?However, [real-time viewing] is not a capability that we envision using on a full-time basis.?


Really, they used the terrorism excuse for wanting cameras on buses? I am now covinced that the group running the DHS are the most paranoid scare mongers ever.
 

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Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Both sides see victories in hard-fought contests (WI recall elections FINALLY took place; GOP retains Senate majority by one. Two Dem-held seats to be contested August 16)
Great. Now we get to hear more of this "WE HAVE A MANDATE LOL" bullshit from the GOP.

I honestly don't know which party is worse anymore. Democrats can't even tie their shoes at this point, but Republicans yell at everyone that the government can't make them tie their shoes.
 
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nomix

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The GOP is so obsessed that the government shouldn't tie their shoes that they don't tie their shoes. On principle. Just to make effing sure.

If the government issued a warning for people not to stab themselves in the chest with a butcher's knife, they'd do it just to be safe.
 

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Really, they used the terrorism excuse for wanting cameras on buses? I am now covinced that the group running the DHS are the most paranoid scare mongers ever.
Lawsuit over bus cameras seeing into private apartments/businesses in 4...3...2...
 

thevictor390

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Really, they used the terrorism excuse for wanting cameras on buses? I am now covinced that the group running the DHS are the most paranoid scare mongers ever.
Lawsuit over bus cameras seeing into private apartments/businesses in 4...3...2...
The article glosses over the fact that the busses already have cameras, they're upgrading the system already in place.
 

Blind_Io

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The article glosses over the fact that the busses already have cameras, they're upgrading the system already in place.
Buses in many cities have cameras on the inside, and there are typically stickers on the door telling you this before you get on. If you don't want to be on camera, don't get on the bus. Also, most those cameras can't be monitors in real-time. Currently buses don't act as rolling surveillance trucks monitoring street activity.
 

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Democrats can't even tie their shoes at this point, but Republicans yell at everyone that the government can't make them tie their shoes.
The GOP is so obsessed that the government shouldn't tie their shoes that they don't tie their shoes. On principle. Just to make effing sure.
They want to bring back the real America. The America before socialist shoe-tying policies. A more shoeless America.

:lmao:

If the government issued a warning for people not to stab themselves in the chest with a butcher's knife, they'd do it just to be safe.
:think:

Buses in many cities have cameras on the inside, and there are typically stickers on the door telling you this before you get on. If you don't want to be on camera, don't get on the bus. Also, most those cameras can't be monitors in real-time. Currently buses don't act as rolling surveillance trucks monitoring street activity.
Yep. Current transit buses have cameras inside and out, but they can (usually) only be activated by the driver or an accident. Or turning kind of hard. Or braking hard. Or hitting a curb. (FUUUUUUUU.jpg)
 

nomix

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They want to bring back the real America. The America before socialist shoe-tying policies. A more shoeless America.
A time when people pulled themselves up by their boot straps!
 

Interrobang

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Operation Trojan T-shirt

EXIT-Germany has caused a stir among the extreme right with a Trojan shirt. The organisation had
T-shirts distributed at the right-wing ?Rock for Germany? festival in Gera on August 6th. The true purpose of the shirts was only revealed in the privacy of the owners? homes.

EXIT-Germany supports people who want to turn their back on the extreme right-wing scene, helping them to drop out. To reach the target group, the EXIT team employed the special method of a Trojan T-shirt. EXIT had 250 T-shirts produced with a print that vanished when the shirts were washed. Before washed, they sported a skull and the inscription ?Hardcore Rebels? as well as the woven flags of unaffiliated right-wing groups. Underneath that, there was a non-washable inscription that said, ?You, too, can accomplish what your T-shirt can do ? we will help you get away from the extreme right? and the EXIT contact data. The trick: the true message only appeared once the shirt was washed in the washing machine. To make sure the Trojans reached their proper target group, EXIT created a fictitious person and contacted the organiser, the NPD Thuringia, on his behalf. Pretending to be anonymous support, the T-shirts were offered as a donation for the right-wing ?Rock for Germany? festival (Rock f?r Deutschland, RfD). On August 6th the festival organisers then distributed the Trojan T-shirts among the first visitors.

Twenty-four hours after the festival ended the first bulk SMS distributors received the following warning for distribution: ?Attention, sham! Yesterday T-shirts were given away at RfD with a message from Exit, the government?s dropout programme, underneath the inscription ?Hardcore Rebels?. This message only becomes visible after the item has been washed for the first time.
Here Exit has wasted several thousands of the taxpayer?s euros [sic!].? Bernd Wagner, the founder of EXIT-Germany, comments this campaign as follows: ?We wanted to use the T-shirts to publicise our services on that scene, mainly addressing the young right-wingers who are not so staunch yet.? That this attempt was successful is demonstrated by the comments on the Facebook page, which is no longer available. The user ?Arno Nymer? for example wrote: ?but you have to give them credit for having good ideas sometimes;)?.

This year the NPD?s ?Rock for Germany? festival was held for the ninth time already. About 600 neo-Nazis attended the concert.
http://www.exit-deutschland.de/EXIT/Top-Themen/Operation-Trojaner-T-Hemd-E1285.htm

:D
 
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GRtak

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Purple Heart Came C.O.D.

The purple heart is one of the highest medals of honor in our nation's military.

It's awarded to any members of the armed forces who are wounded in battle. But how one soldier from South Dakota received his purple heart he says was anything but honorable.

Freedom isn't free and apparently neither are Purple Hearts. As retired Sergeant Major in the Army Rob Dickerson found out, they too can come with a price.

"C.O.D. Is how I received my Purple Heart," retired Army Sergeant Major Rob Dickerson said.

Dickerson, who was seriously wounded in a rocket blast while serving in Iraq in 2007, finally got his Purple Heart in the mail, four years late, and on top of it all was billed over $21.00 for postage. He couldn't believe it.

"This is not a matter of money, this is a matter of principle," Dickerson said.

Dickerson says because of a snafu with paperwork, he never got his Purple Heart when he should have. He has spent the last two years trying to prove to the Army he was injured in combat.

"It's a very prestigious award, nobody wants it, but unfortunately with war, it happens," Dickerson said.

And when it happens, recipients are usually surrounded by military members and their family during a pinning ceremony.

"There are only two medals of the Army that you are a recipient of, you're not awarded, you don't earn, that's the Purple Heart and the Congressional Medal of Honor," Dickerson said.

Dickerson says this is not about him, but other soldiers who may have the same thing happen to them. He says they should get better treatment from the United States Military, especially after laying their lives on the line while serving their country.

"I don't want you to think I'm whining and complaining, because I'm not, I really don't want this to happen to another soldier or any service member of the United States, it's degrading," Dickerson said.

Dickerson did get an apology and a money order for his out of pocket costs, but he says he couldn't cash it, because it was made out to Roy Dirksen, not Rob Dickerson.
 

GRtak

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The president is not much better. He is bought by the same groups that the rest of the congress are. And that really is the problem, those groups want tools that are pretty so the are easier to elect and can be controlled. Our "leaders" don't have a back bone that can support anything more than a breifcase full of cash.
 

GRtak

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Ignore the funny headline.


Dicks office aims for meeting with Border Patrol over ?concerns' from public


PORT ANGELES ? Staff members from the North Olympic Peninsula's congressional delegation plan to meet this month with the U.S. Border Patrol's top supervisor for the Blaine sector to discuss a sore point among some Peninsula residents: stepped-up Border Patrol activities in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

John C. Bates, chief of the Blaine Border Patrol Sector, was unaware of any such plans as of Friday, said spokesman Richard Sinks, though he said Bates is ?of course? open to meeting with congressional staff members.

George Behan, spokesman for 6th District U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, said staffers want to review with Bates the staffing and mission of the agency in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

?Very obviously, there are concerns on the Peninsula,? Behan said.

?We want to get an update on the current activities and future plans, including the concern that the Border Patrol office in the area could be overstaffed,? he continued.

?We obviously would be asking [the Border Patrol's] purposes and how that fits into the mission.?

Behan said the meeting would be held by Aug 31.

Staff members for U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray will be invited to the meeting, Behan said, adding that he expects representatives of one or both senators to attend.

The Blaine sector covers Alaska, Oregon and the western half of Washington, including the North Olympic Peninsula.

Dicks' constituency includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, and his staff is planning the get-together.

A date and location for the meeting, which is being arranged by Dicks' staff, have not been set, but a rough agenda has, Behan said.

Behan said he will ask Bates how many agents staff the Port Angeles station and may ask for arrest data but said information may not be made public ? if he even gets answers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol's parent agency, has refused a Freedom of Information Act request for current agent staffing numbers and arrest data from the Peninsula Daily News, citing national security concerns.

The agent staff grew from four in 2006 to 24 by April 29, 2009. Two weeks ago, Border Patrol Agent Christian Sanchez of Port Angeles said there are more than 40 agents stationed in Port Angeles.

He made the assertion, and several allegations against the Border Patrol, in a statement he read during a Government Accountability project panel discussion in Washington, D.C., on July 29, titled ?Making Whistleblowing Work.?

Sanchez claimed the Port Angeles station was a ?black hole? staffed by more than 40 agents ?with no purpose, no mission.?

The Port Angeles Border Patrol station will relocate by April 14 from downtown Port Angeles to a new, $5.7 million headquarters with room for up to 50 agents at 110 S. Penn St., about two miles east of downtown.

The meeting being arranged by Dicks' staff represents a change of course for Dicks, the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee on Defense and a congressman deeply involved in homeland security issues, Behan said.

Customs and Border Protection is part of the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Four days after Sanchez made his allegations, Behan referred to Sanchez's situation as ?a personnel matter? and said it was unlikely the congressman would get involved.

Behan said then that Sanchez was represented by counsel and may file legal action, so it made more sense to ?await the results.?

On Wednesday, Behan said the last time Dicks' staff met with Border Patrol supervisors for the North Olympic Peninsula was in 2008, adding that community sentiment on Border Patrol activities has turned negative among some residents.

Border Patrol agents are active throughout Clallam and Jefferson counties and often assist law enforcement on traffic stops with backup and translation help.

Behan said the agency's ?main target is terrorism.?

Port Angeles Border Patrol station supervisor Jose Romero told the Forks City Council on Monday that the agency's mission is multi-pronged.

?When we talk about partnerships, it's not just about finding illegal immigrants,? Romero said then.

?It's not just about finding terrorists. But we also deal with narcotics. That's part of our authority. It's any type of contraband.?

Agents were assisting the U.S. Forest Service during a traffic stop May 14 when 43-year-old Benjamin Roldan Salinas ran away and jumped into the Sol-Duc River.

The West End Hispanic community engaged in a massive search for Roldan Salinas before his body was discovered four miles downstream June 4.

Border Patrol agents also have stopped drivers and boarded public buses on the North Olympic Peninsula to ask for identification in searches for illegal immigrants.

?We see a lot of anger in the community about some of these activities, and we don't know enough about the purposes and the plans [of the Border Patrol], and thus we need to have more information,? Behan said.

?That's one of the reasons why we're doing this.

?But another is we need to have an ongoing dialogue with the federal agency on the Peninsula because the congressman is representing the Peninsula.?

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Port+Angeles,+WA&hl=en&ll=48.265827,-123.478775&spn=0.298932,0.668106&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=45.284089,85.517578&z=11

And a link to the place I found the story with a nice pic that shows how foolish this is.

http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2011/08/14/dhs-wasting-taxpayers-money-again/

That is where Congress could save a few bucks.
 
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Blind_Io

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http://techdailydose.nationaljournal.com/2011/08/fcc-probing-wireless-blocking.php

The Federal Communications Commission is investigating actions last week by the transportation authority in San Francisco which interrupted wireless service in commuter stations in an effort to foil protesters who had planned demonstrations.


FCC spokesman Neil Grace said in a statement on Monday that the agency is "continuing to collect information" about the actions by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and "and will be taking [steps] to hear from stakeholders about the important issues those actions raised."
In particular, Grace alluded to potential public safety problems that could arise when the authorities interrupted service, an action that has caused a national outcry over whether BART exceeded its authority.


The incident prompted a cyber-attack on Sunday against BART's website by so-called "hacktivist" group Anonymous, spurring on BART critics who have rallied around the hashtag #opbart on Twitter. Critics have frame the interruptions as an infringement on civil liberties.
The FCC's statement is the first indication of attention to the issue from federal regulators.


"Anytime communications services are interrupted, we seek to assess the situation," Grace said.

BART acknowledged in a statement Friday that it has purposefully interrupted wireless service at transport stations in an effort to subdue protests that disrupted have commuter service last week. The protesters were calling attention to a fatal shooting at a BART station in July allegedly involving police.


"Organizers planning to disrupt BART service on August 11, 2011 stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police. A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators," BART said in a statement.


The statement also noted that cell services were not interrupted outside the stations.

Permalink
TL;DR:
  • BART cops shoots and kills man (again). The video, I believe, shows the homeless man throwing away his knife.
  • People plan to protest the killing of the homeless man and will coordinate via Twitter and other social networks
  • BART shuts down the WiFi in their stations (not really a problem), and also cut the power to four cell towers in the area - essentially shutting down wireless service to a good chunk of San Francisco
  • FCC opens investigation into BART's actions
  • People are now more pissed than ever.
  • Anonymous is now on board.
So BART got themselves into a PR hole and has started to dig. It sounds like they will hit bedrock and break out the cratering charges before this is over.
 

Quiky

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http://techdailydose.nationaljournal.com/2011/08/fcc-probing-wireless-blocking.php

TL;DR:
  • BART cops shoots and kills man (again). The video, I believe, shows the homeless man throwing away his knife.
  • People plan to protest the killing of the homeless man and will coordinate via Twitter and other social networks
  • BART shuts down the WiFi in their stations (not really a problem), and also cut the power to four cell towers in the area - essentially shutting down wireless service to a good chunk of San Francisco
  • FCC opens investigation into BART's actions
  • People are now more pissed than ever.
  • Anonymous is now on board.
So BART got themselves into a PR hole and has started to dig. It sounds like they will hit bedrock and break out the cratering charges before this is over.
Let's go from more sources than just slanted National Journal, shall we?
On Friday afternoon, BART officials said that they had switched off the transit system's base stations, disabling its underground wireless network. (They initially claimed they had asked wireless service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T, to disable service, and later acknowledged that they had cut service themselves). As a result, for approximately three hours, commuters riding BART trains were unable to surf the web, use their phones or dial 911.

BART's wireless service is provided by a company called WiFi Rail. According to its website, the WiFi Rail network utilizes a backbone of fiber-optic cables that run throughout the underground transit system. These connect a network of wireless access points, routers and switches. Because BART owns and operates this underground network, BART officials have the power to switch it off.
http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/bart-cellphone-service-1941/
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/08/15/national/a100506D63.DTL&tsp=1

BART disabled internally operated and owned cell repeaters-- not carrier operated towers. During that time, emergency phones and call-boxes were fully operational.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/bart-san-francisco-cut-cell-services-to-avert-protest/2011/08/12/gIQAfLCgBJ_blog.html
Cell phone service was not interrupted outside BART stations. In addition, numerous BART Police officers and other BART personnel with radios were present during the planned protest, and train intercoms and white courtesy telephones remained available for customers seeking assistance or reporting suspicious activity.
Digging back a bit further, BART equipped their tunnels with the wireless repeater units beginning in 2005;
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/19/MNGF2FR6C11.DTL

TL;DR for you: BART disabled underground signal repeaters, not towers, and did NOT disable cell service to "a good chunk of San Francisco".

Also, see the nice "non-violent" protests that were held in 2009;
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/photo-galleries/2010/09/01/bart-shooting-protests-turn-violent/
http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-01-08/news/17195522_1_bart-police-police-officer-demonstrators

And a few weeks ago, another peaceful protest;
http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/07/protesters-storm-bart-slow-commute-out-san-francisco
 

Blind_Io

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Sorry, a good chunk of the SF train network. It's still the same PR hole they find themselves in.

They also didn't get permission from the cell carriers to turn off the equipment. My understanding is that BART doesn't have the authority to mess with the cell repeaters but they do have the ability to turn the power off because it is fed off the BART power system.

EDIT: Apparently BART shut down several stations today.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20092760-245/sf-subway-closes-stations-during-peaceful-protest/

Anonymous claimed a new accomplishment today: its first physical denial-of-service attack.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit District police closed at least four San Francisco subway stations this evening following a short, peaceful protest at the Civic Center stop, forcing hordes of commuters to trudge up and down Market Street in search of an open station or an alternate way home.
Cell service remained accessible this evening. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said earlier today that it would review BART's shutting off cell service in its stations last week.

The online activist collective Anonymous called for the demonstration at Civic Center station to protest fatal BART police shootings and the subway operator's cutting off of cell service last Thursday afternoon in an attempt to head off a previous protest.

Protesters are angry about the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Charles Blair Hill on July 3 by BART officers in Civic Center station, and the January 1, 2009, fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by BART officers. His shooting--while he was restrained, unarmed, and on the ground--was captured on video from cell phones and cameras and widely distributed on the Internet. About a dozen or so visible protesters, some carrying signs and one in a Guy Fawkes mask, showed up shortly after 5 p.m. PT today in the Civic Center station, surrounded by members of the media. "It's like a media circus down here," one bystander remarked, no doubt echoing what must have been going through a few minds at the event.

After protesters chanting "No Justice No Peace, Disband the BART police" tried to hold the doors open to a train, BART police cleared out the station and shut it down around 5:30 p.m.

No arrests were made, said Dan Hartwig, deputy chief of police at BART. "We shut down the station because we didn't want to jeopardize the safety of passengers and BART employees," he told reporters. "The platform was becoming (crowded and) unsafe... I'm not opposed to them expressing their First Amendment Rights."

While the Anonymous group publicized the event (and likely was behind an intrusion into a BART Web site over the weekend), many of the protesters seemed to be unaffiliated with the activists.

"I'm not part of any group," said a college student who wanted to be identified only by last name of "Capurro." "I'm just disgusted by the violence we've seen from the BART police."

 
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