Daily Archives: February 17, 2011

Kim Jong-Il’s son skips father’s birthday celebrations…to go to Eric Clapton gig

Enjoying the show: Kim-Jong Chol, pictured in the crowd at the concert, is a big Eric Clapton fan who previously saw him live in Germany

Daily Mail | Feb 17, 2011

While North Koreans celebrate the birthday of their leader Kim Jong-Il, one of his sons has apparently been indulging his music tastes at an Eric Clapton concert in Singapore.

Kim-Jong Chol, the second son of the North Korean president, was apparently caught on camera by the Korean Broadcasting System entering the concert, which took place on Monday.

Other footage saw the 30-year-old – dressed in black T-shirt and trousers – cheering and swaying along with the audience at the show, which took place at Singapore’s Indoor Stadium.

It is the second time that Jong-Chul has reportedly been seen at an Eric Clapton concert.

He previously saw the British singer and guitarist perform in Germany in 2006, and is said to have invited Clapton to perform in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

Jong-chul was an early favourite to succeed his father but has since lost out to his younger sibling.

As he continued his stay in Singapore, back home North Koreans celebrated the country’s biggest holiday to mark the 69th birthday of Kim Jong-il, the isolated state’s reclusive and ailing leader who is trying to smooth the path for a third generation of family rule.

Kim’s youngest son Jong-un, in his late 20s, has been identified to succeed him, and was in 2010  appointed to senior military and political posts, along with Kim’s sister and husband, who are widely seen as key caretakers for the hand-over.
Jong-un has been named vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission, which his father heads as state leader, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo daily quoted a source who is familiar with the North as saying. South Korean officials could not confirm it.

The move could give the junior Kim additional credentials to take over power in a society that values seniority and official titles but analysts say no public post carries as much weight as being the current leader’s son and hand-picked successor.

Kim Jong-il is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 and was away from public view for months. He was frail and gaunt when he reappeared months later, although last year he twice travelled to China and visited dozens of factories and military sites at home.

The North has becoming increasingly hostile to its southern neighbour over the past two years, and has conducted nuclear and missile tests, staged military attacks and revealed advances in its nuclear programme.

Analysts say Kim Jong-il uses these acts to boost his own, well as his son’s image as iron rulers.
Staged festivities are scheduled throughout the week, including exhibitions of Kimjongilia, a hybrid flower named after the leader, as well as ice-skating, acrobatics and musical shows.

The capital’s streets were festooned with lanterns, state news agency KCNA reported.

‘The venues of the events are pervaded with deep trust in Kim Jong-il who has led the Korean revolution only to victory, true to the will of President Kim Il-sung,’ KCNA reported, referring to his father and the state’s founder.

In the South, politicians released balloons with anti-Pyongyang messages across the border, while in the capital, Seoul, protesters burnt posters of Kim Jong-il and his son.

While birthday celebrations continue…North Korean citizen baffles authorities after crossing border into South Korea undetected

Officials in South Korea are baffled as to how a North Korean citizen walked across the heavily mined border into South Korea while the rest of the country was celebrating Kim Jong-Il’s birthday/

The unidentified man managed to walk across the 4-km (2.5-mile) wide minefield – known as the Demilitarised Zone – and past North Korean guards.

He was being interrogated by authorities after being picked up by South Korean guards late on Tuesday, an official said.

The Demilitarised Zone border that has divided the Korean peninsula since the end of the 1950-53 conflict has been rarely travelled, except through two corridors cleared for passage by officials and civilians after ties between the countries began warming in 2000.

Hundreds of North Koreans flee the impoverished country each year across its northern border with China and most make their way to the South, with more than 20,000 having found refuge in the wealthy capitalist neighbour.

Most cite economic hardship and political persecution as the main reasons for leaving home.

While defections are cause for deep embarrassment for the North Korean authorities, the country’s masses do not hear or read about such acts as the media is state controlled and used exclusively for propaganda.

Group working to build a statue of RoboCop cyborg in Detroit

The group working to build the Robocop statue has reached its fundraising goal of $50,000 with the help of a social networking campaign Photo: REX

A group working to build a statue of the fictional crime-fighting cyborg RoboCop in the city said it has reached its fund-raising goal of $50,000 (£31,000) after a social networking campaign exploded in support of the project.

Telegraph | Feb 17, 2011

The next step: convincing the mayor and city officials it’s a good idea.

“I am very positive that it’s gonna happen,” organiser Brandon Walley said on Wednesday.

The 10-day-old RoboCop saga started innocently enough when Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s social media manager answered a Twitter query about a possible statue. That response – “There are not any plans to erect a statue to Robocop. Thank you for the suggestion” – led to a firestorm of commentary online, with Twitter users making it a top trending topic for days.

As recently as Wednesday morning, “RoboCop” was still one of the 10 most-searched terms on Yahoo!

Imagination Station, a Detroit-based non-profit that latched on to the topic’s viral fervour, set up a way for backers to donate to the project via the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.

The effort yielded more than $25,000 in donations. A private source matched the funds, and now Imagination Station has the $50,000 it has been told it would take to erect such a statue.

Bing, for his part, remains sceptical, and no timetable exists for construction.

“My own personal opinion is that I don’t see where we get a lot of value from that,” the mayor said.

Walley said he sees potential for the planned 7-foot (2.13-meter) sculpture in the city’s tourist district, hoping RoboCop would draw the curious, just as the Rocky Balboa likeness does in Philadelphia and the Fonzie statue known as “Bronze Fonz” does in Milwaukee.

Plus, it’s just a cool idea, said Walley, 35, who lives in the city.

“There’s definitely a pop icon, kitsch factor to it, for sure, but it’s definitely in the light-humorous end. It’s not funny in that it’s a joke on Detroit or anything like that,” he said, referencing fears the statue would play to the perception that Detroit is plagued by crime and violence.

The 1980s science fiction film was set in a futuristic Detroit in which crime ran rampant and centred on police officer Alex Murphy (played by Peter Weller), who is killed in the line of duty and resurrected as an alloy-encased part-man, part-machine being prone to equal parts crime-fighting and butt-kicking.

Weller, who was recently nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award along with the other members of the “Dexter” cast and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance art history at UCLA, was clear on one issue: He doesn’t care about the statue depicting him personally.

“I think it’s a great thing as far as a public service. As far as a personal emblem, it doesn’t make any difference to me,” he said.

Whistleblower: Putin funneled $1 billion of dirty money into personal palace

Imposing: the palace has allegedly cost $1billion to build and has interior floor space of eight million square feet

Through the keyhole at the £600m Italianate palace with casino, amphitheatre and helipad whistleblower claims will be ‘Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea bolt hole’

Daily Mail | Feb 16, 2011

They say money can’t buy taste – and if an outlandish £600million palace linked to Vladimir Putin is anything to go by, they are right.

Pictures have emerged of the eight million square foot mansion –  all in a classical Italianate style akin to France’s Palace of Versailles – which was allegedly built on the Black Sea coast for the Russian prime minister.

It features intricate ceiling murals and gold leaf throughout, a casino, amphitheatre, casino, swimming pool, cinema and a helipad in its 74 hectare grounds.

Whistleblower businessman Sergei Kolesnikov claims Mr Putin directed funds for the palace through his Kremlin office when he was president in 2005. And Russian newspaper Novaya Gazetta says it has proof that the palace was approved by Kremlin property chief Vladimir Kozhin.

It says documents approving the construction of the palace, which features a Russian coat of arms on its gold-plated gates, were signed by Kozhin’s deputy.

Mr Kolesnikov claimed in an open letter to Russian president Dimitry Medvdev: ‘A palace is being built on the Black Sea coast for the personal use of the Russian prime minister.

‘As things stand, the cost of the palace is $1billion. The funds were mostly raised through a combination of corruption bribery, and theft.

‘Corrupt officials building themselves personal palaces at a time when when children are dying due to lack of funds is Russia’s shame.’

Putin’s spokesman denies the allegations.
But Kolesnikov told the Moscow Times that he was involved in the construction of the mansion

A contract published by Novaya Gazeta lists the Office of Presidential Affairs and a company called Lirus as behind the construction of the mansion near the city of Gelendzhik.

Khozin told the Moscow Times that the Black Sea project ‘has nothing to do with our office or the head of the government. We never did any construction there and aren’t planning any.’

A New level of surveillance: Atlanta police to multiply eyes, ears citywide

Crystal Jones, a Midtown Blue dispatcher, changes the view of one of 44 cameras she monitors. Atlanta’s new center will use data supplied by public and private entities. Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

New level of surveillance: Video hub to cull footage from security cameras.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Feb 14, 2011

By Marcus K. Garner

Someday very soon, if you stroll through Piedmont Park, travel the Downtown Connector, hit one of the bars or restaurants in Midtown or visit the Georgia Dome or the Philips Arena, you’ll have an invisible companion: the Atlanta Police Department.

This spring, the department will open a video integration center designed to compile and analyze footage from thousands of public and private security cameras throughout the city. Images from as many as 500 cameras in downtown and Midtown are expected to be flowing into the center by mid-summer.

Several metro Atlanta police agencies use cameras to bolster public safety, but the city’s new venture, which will integrate data supplied by private entities such as CNN, America’s Mart and Midtown Blue as well as public agencies such as the Federal Reserve, MARTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation, represents a whole new level of electronic surveillance.

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner pointed to the case of Charles Boyer, gunned down outside a Virginia-Highland apartment building in November, to show what cameras can do. Footage from a security camera, which captured images of men refueling a vehicle similar to one described by witnesses to the shooting, contributed to the arrest five days later of the three men charged with Boyer’s murder.

“How successful were we in solving that crime because of the video we had?” Turner asked in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s an example of how this will work.”

In fact, the technology installed in the new center will be capable of much more, according to David Wilkinson, president of the Atlanta Police Foundation, which funds a camera network operated by the private security agency Midtown Blue.

The foundation raised a half-million dollars to supplement the $2.6 million in federal funds the city will use to build its new center. The federal money came from Homeland Security grants and Justice Department seizure funds.

Wilkinson said the center will use software that can identify suspicious activity and guide officers right to the scene of a crime as it’s occurring. In effect, the software will multiply the eyes and ears of the five to seven people per shift who will initially monitor video footage around the clock.

“Monitoring is somewhat of a fallacy,” Wilkinson said. “Analytics will help control the cameras.”

The software includes a program called “Gun Spotter,” which automatically cues up cameras in the vicinity of the sound of gunfire, so dispatchers can get a quick jump on what happened. Other software will send images to the officers’ in-car computers and even to the screens of web-enabled smart phones.

“The real goal is to prevent the crime,” Wilkinson said. “You do that by setting up police patrols, cameras, things that deter criminal from ever committing crime.”

Facial recognition systems, license plate reading and automatic tracking programs also are available, although cities such as Chicago, which has pioneered citywide video surveillance, has reported those technologies are not yet ready for prime time.

Atlanta is modeling its surveillance network after Chicago’s, which integrates data from a 10,000-camera network. This week, the Illinois ACLU issued a report demanding a moratorium on further expansion of Chicago’s system on the grounds that it represents an unacceptable threat to personal privacy.

“Cameras do not deter crime, they just displace it,” said Adam Schwartz, a lawyer for the Illinois ACLU. “It’s difficult to see where the benefits of using cameras outweighs the costs — including a vast amount of money, potential privacy invasion and a potential chilling of free speech.”

With the promise of integrated surveillance capabilities in the hands of Atlanta police, Georgia’s ACLU is voicing similar concerns.

“We always hope for strong oversight and regulation to make sure there are no violations of privacy,” Georgia 
ACLU attorney Chara Fisher Jackson said. “But until we see it [at work], we won’t say what actions we might take.”

Greg McGraw, who lives in East Cobb and works in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, isn’t too worried about police looking over his shoulder.

“People expose themselves so much on Facebook, privacy is a joke,” McGraw said. “If it’s going to make people safer, I’m for it.”

Megan Larion, who lives in Buckhead and manages a Virginia-Highland apartment complex, is OK with the cameras, too, especially when she thinks about Boyer’s slaying.

“I guess those folks who think these cameras mark the end of the world will be upset, but that’s all,” Larion said. “I think it’s a good thing. It’ll improve our industry, and people will feel more safe.”

For a preview of how Atlanta’s proposed network will function, you just have to look at the nearly 50 video screens that flicker above the front office of Midtown Blue. When someone calls in to report suspicious activity, a video dispatcher can remotely pan, tilt or zoom any one of the $13,000 cameras, tracking the suspect and directing an officer to the spot.

“When you have a dispatcher sitting here, you can actually catch crimes before they occur,” said Col. Wayne Mock, a retired Atlanta policeman who manages Midtown Blue.

If a crime does occur, the cameras make excellent witnesses, he said. “The video tells you what actually happened and doesn’t get excited like the average witness might.”

Other local police agencies also are using cameras to bolster the impact of their officers.

“We were convinced that this was an effective force multiplier,” said Lilburn police Chief John Davidson.

But cities in other states have encountered glitches. Cincinnati is currently on its second video surveillance network; the first system, started in 2005, proved ineffective. And Orlando’s system failed to deliver on its promise when the city ran short of funds for the necessary software.

In Chicago, even with cameras on every corner, as Mayor Richard M. Daley famously said he wants, video has its limits, said Jonathan Lewin, managing deputy director of the city’s emergency management office.

“It provides an overall positive effect if you can saturate the area,” Lewin said. “But it’s not going to provide the panacea that will completely eliminate crime.”

Atlanta Surveillance “Matrix” Expected Online by Late Spring

11alive.com | Feb 8, 2011

By Doug Richards

A jogger looking for solitude on a winter day won’t necessarily find it in Piedmont Park. More than a half dozen video cameras in the park monitor everything. And the absence of total privacy extends into the public streets and sidewalks of Midtown, and beyond to private businesses. The surveillance systems are scattershot.

The Atlanta police department aspires to integrate them all into a single law enforcement matrix. “It’s going to help us solve crimes,” said Dave Wilkinson, CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation. “But as importantly, I think it’s going to help us prevent crimes.”

The Atlanta Police Foundation is spearheading the system, which could eventually cost as much as $40 million. Cameras run by private businesses would voluntarily integrate into a system that includes government-run cameras, like those used by DOT. The Foundation expects to have as many as 500 cameras online by the start of summer– observed and recorded, not by human eyeballs, but by crime detection software.

“With the analytics, you can literally target areas of the city and target things such as fast movements,” said Wilkinson. “Packages being placed and left unattended. People doing things such as fighting. This software will pick these things up.”

Atlanta is patterning its system after one developed in Chicago. Civil libertarians there protested that system. Here in Georgia, the ACLU director, Chara Jackson, says she, too, is not convinced that an expensive video matrix is a cost-effective way to fight crime.

But Chief George Turner says he expects it to pay off, enhancing street level crimefighting with technology that’s mostly already in place anyway.

CBS Acquires Minority Report-like Show From J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams’ new television show is all about preventing crimes before they happen, but not with Tom Cruise.

escapistmagazine.com | Feb 11, 2011

by Mike Thompson

J.J. Abrams wants to prevent future crimes. On TV, that is. That’s right, the man behind Fringe, Cloverfield, and Star Trek is teaming up with Jonah Nolan (director Christopher Nolan’s brother) to create a new show that seems to be taking a note from Minority Report, and CBS is Officially Interested in the show.

Nolan wrote the pilot script for a show called Person of Interest, which CBS has just ordered a pilot episode for. The plot apparently “centers on an ex-CIA hitman and a scientist who team up to prevent crimes before they happen.” Nolan and Abrams are going to serve as executive producers for the show, too.

If I were just going on the plot summary alone, I’m not sure I’d be super-interested in Person of Interest. But it’s written by one of the co-writers of The Dark Knight and has J.J. Abrams involved with it, too, so I’m actually kind of enthusiastic about it.