Daily Archives: December 14, 2012

US Government Plans To Install Sophisticated Audio Surveillance On Public Buses

businessinsider.com | Dec 10, 2012

by Michael Kelley

bus-15The U.S. government is quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to listen to conversations of passengers, Michael Brick of The Daily reports. 

“With the new systems, experts say, transit officials can effectively send an invisible police officer to transcribe the individual conversations of every passenger riding on a public bus,” Brick writes.

The initiative raises questions about privacy in public as it opens the door for transit officials and law enforcement agencies to listen to conversations without search warrants or court supervision.

“This is very shocking,” privacy law expert Anita Allen told The Daily. “It’s a little beyond what we’re accustomed to. The adding of the audio seems more sensitive.”

Even in light of emerging surveillance technologies such as speech and facial recognition being installed by the FBI, the biometrics analysis of TrapWire, the electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and GPS location data that the government considers fair game, this certainly seems to raise the bar.

Documents obtained by The Daily reveal that the technology is in the process of being implemented in Eugene, Ore.; San Francisco; Athens, Ga.; Baltimore; Traverse City, Mich.; Hartford, Conn.; and Columbus, Ohio.

In San Francisco the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided a grant that covers a $5.9 million contract to install the surveillance system on 357 buses and trolley cars over four years, with an option for 613 more vehicles.

“This technology is sadly indicative of a trend in increased surveillance by commercial and law enforcement entities, under the guise of improved safety,” an independent security consultant who reviewed the specs of the audio surveillance system told The Daily.

Public Buses That Listen To Passengers’ Conversations Have Been Around For Five Years

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Public buses are getting more public

By Kashmir Hill

Forbes | Dec 11, 2013

The Daily had an interesting report this week — picked up by Wired — about “government officials quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers.” I know what you’re thinking: “Woo! More epic bus fight scenes that come with audio.”

The Daily points to millions of dollars worth of contracts to outfit buses with audio-video surveillance in cities across the country, including San Francisco, and suggests that the systems could be connected with “existing data from ticketing machines, global positioning systems, speech recognition software and face recognition software.” (I’m just hoping they can get connected to apps like NextBus so I know when the next one is coming.) We’re used to having video cameras trained on us at all times, but when the recording includes audio, we become more sensitive to the capture under the assumption that what we have to say is more revealing than what we look like when we say it. Technological advances are making it easier and easier to collect information about us, and everyone from governments to advertisers to transit systems are taking advantage of the new collection opportunities.

Two of the bus systems mentioned by the Daily already have their audio mikes in operation so I called them up. Butch McDuffie, transit director for Athens, Georgia, says his city has had microphone-enabled buses for over five years.

 

“We only pull the audio and video when we have an accident or a complaint investigation,” says McDuffie (who complained that the bus featured in the Daily story isn’t one of his — “There’s no Macon route in Athens.”). “When there are passenger complaints, the recording will either exonerate them or convict them.”

Each bus has three mikes, 6-8 cameras and a sign telling riders the bus is “under audio and video surveillance.” The recordings last for 14 days and then get recorded over — a privacy protective measure resulting from limited storage space on the buses’ hard drives. The video does not go to the cloud.

McDuffie called the Daily article “overkill” and “blown out of proportion.” “I don’t have the time or money to watch and listen to all of that footage,” he says. “I got other things to do with my time.”

The other bus system mentioned by the Daily that is currently rocking the mike is Baltimore‘s. Ten of their buses have audio recording as of October and they plan to expand to over 300 more of their fleet. Their buses keep recordings for 30 days and then start recording over the old audio and video footage. If this video and audio were to go to the cloud, these transit systems would need to think more seriously about data retention and coming up with limits when they’re not imposed by the technology.

“Video images are an essential tool for investigations, but in certain instances they’re limited,” says Terry Owens, spokesperson for the Maryland Transit. “If the camera is blocked or a person of interest is turned away from the camera, for example. When you marry audio and video, it provides a more full tool for investigators.”

Owens says the system’s New Flyer buses already had cameras with audio capability installed. “It was just a matter of flipping the switch on,” says Owens.

They see it as a problem deterrent — with signs warning people that they’re being recorded with video and audio — as a training tool — for teaching drivers how to deal with certain situations — and as a investigatory tool. “You can hear the tone of voice and the exact nature of the exchange,” says Owens. “We see it as a win-win, safeguarding passengers and drivers.”

So ideally, something like this doesn’t happen. Privacy advocates obviously don’t see this as a win-win. “It’s one thing to post cops, it’s quite another to say we will have police officers in every seat next to you, listening to everything you say,” Washington University law professor Neil Richards tells The Daily. “You [now] have a policeman in every seat with a photographic memory who can spit back everything that was said.”

“We only pull the audio/video if it’s required for an investigation. It’s not being monitored in real time,” says Owens. “We certainly understand the concerns raised and we’ve done what we can to allay them.”

Owens could not think of a time that the audio had been pulled in the last two months. McDuffie says they pull audio/video “four or five times per month.”

Increasingly, we live in a world of constant recording. And increasingly, it’s being suggested that recordings involve our conversations. Once the technology exists, it seems irresistible to install it and thus the surveillance state grows.

5 creepiest surveillance tactics

cameras

Mannequins that watch you shop. Buses that hear you chat. Modern surveillance has taken a page right out of Orwell

Alternet | Dec 13, 2012

Since the erosion of Americans’ civil liberties depends on high levels of public apathy, some of the most dangerous privacy breaches take place incrementally and under the radar; if it invites comparisons to Blade Runner or Orwell, then someone in the PR department didn’t do their job. Meanwhile, some of the biggest threats to privacy, like insecure online data or iPhone GPS tracking, are physically unobtrusive and therefore easily ignored. And it’ll be at least a year or two until the sky is overrun by spy drones.

So when a method of surveillance literally resembles a prop or plot point in a sci-fi movie, it helps to reveal just how widespread and sophisticated commercial and government monitoring has become.  Here are five recent developments that seem almost unreal in their dystopian creepiness.

1. Buses and street cars that can hear what you say.

You can’t really go anywhere in America without being tracked by surveillance cameras. But seeing what people do is not enough; according to a report by the Daily, cities all over the country are literally bugging public transportation.

In San Francisco, city officials have plans to install surveillance cameras that record sound on 357 buses and trolley cars, the Daily reported. Eugene, Oregon and Columbus, Hartford and Athens, Georgia, also have audio recording plans in the works. The systems have the capacity to filter background noise and hone in on passengers’ conversations.

Officials have said that the system is merely intended to help resolve disputes between bus riders. San Francisco officials did not comment, but the Daily found a similar justification in procurement documents for the technology. “The purpose of this project is to replace the existing video surveillance systems in SFMTA’s fleet of revenue vehicles with a reliable and technologically advanced system to increase passenger safety and improve reliability and maintainability of the system.”

It’s nice that the Department of Homeland Security, which covered the entire cost of San Francisco’s system, is so committed to ensuring pleasant bus rides for passengers.

2. Mannequins that can see you.

A handful of retailers in the US and Europe are installing mannequins in their stores that can determine customers’ age, gender and race, Bloomberg reported last month. Don’t worry, the face recognition-equipped camera is hidden, so there is no way to tell whether the giant plastic dolls in the store are watching you as you shop. The company that developed the mannequins (named EyeSee) sells their attributes thusly:

This special camera installed inside the mannequin’s head analyzes the facial features of people passing through the front and provides statistical and contextual information useful to the development of targeted marketing strategies. The embedded software can also provide other data such as the number of people passing in front of a window at certain times of the day.

They are also developing audio technology that can pick up key words from customer conversations to help them tailor their marketing plans. A screen that displays advertising geared specifically to each customers’ demographic is also in EyeSee’s future.

Really, wouldn’t the ideal marketing scenario be if human customers were replaced by mannequins programmed to buy everything the other mannequins were selling?

3. Biometric time clocks.

For too long, employers lacked the ability to extract every second of labor from their workers with scientific precision. Thanks to the wonders of face recognition technology, many employees in low-wage workplaces are now required to log in to work on face recognition readers instead of using key cards or codes. Biometric time clocks like FaceIn, most commonly used at construction sites, create an avatar of the workers’ face that the machine keeps forever and that ages alongside the employee. Allegedly, it can tell twins apart.

Meanwhile, many fast food restaurants and retailers have started using biometric time clocks that record digital fingerprints, like the creepily named U.are.U digital fingerprint reader, to prevent employees from coming in late or giving out discounts.

4. Tagging children.

It’s probably best to train people in robotic discipline early, and many US schools, aided by surveillance technology vendors, are on it. Last month, a Texas sophomore sued her school district for making students carry RFID chips that tracked their movements, but that’s just the start. School administrators all over the country use CCTV cameras, RFID chips, and GPS tracking to moniter where students go and what they do, as David Rosen reported for AlterNet. One pilot program for middle schoolers used GPS to make sure kids aren’t late: 

Each school day, the delinquent students get an automated “wake-up” phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time. In addition, five times a day they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations: as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8pm. These students are also assigned an adult “coach” who calls them at least three times a week to see how they are doing and help them find effective ways to make sure they get to school.

5. Biometric databases.

Federal agencies ranging from the DoD to the FBI to the DHS are revamping their databases to include iris scans, voice patterning, measures of gait, face recognition, and records of scars and tattoos. They also have a mandate to indiscriminately share this information between agencies and with unnamed foreign entities.

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Police could soon be armed with handcuffs that electrocute and drug detainees

shock 1
‘The augmented detainee restraint’: Police could soon be armed with handcuffs that are able to administer electric shocks to prisoners. An image from the patent filing is pictured above

The shocking future of handcuffs: Police could soon be armed with restraints that electrocute prisoners

It could also be used to administer drugs as well as electric shocks

Device can be activated automatically or controlled by another human

Daily Mail | Dec 11, 2012

By Damien Gayle

Police could soon be armed with handcuffs that deliver an electric shock to arrested people who refuse to go quietly.

A U.S. firm has applied for a patent for a new kind of restraint that can literally shock detainees into submission if they refuse to cooperate.

The design is not limited to handcuffs, but also could be applied equally to ankle cuffs, straight jackets, restraining belts, neck collars and even facial restraints.

And the company behind it envision not only delivering electric shocks, but also provide for systems that could administer sedative drugs to those held captive.

The idea is likely to shock civil liberties groups and could spark a new debate regarding how far force can be legitimately used to keep detainees quiet.

Patent Bolt, which first broke the story, commented: ‘Whether you’re in law enforcement or in an activist group, it’s an interesting read that will keep your interest.

‘Yes, the cuffs are designed to restrain “the bad guys,” but it sure looks as though there’s potential here for abuse in the form of mild torture.

‘This kind of invention will have to be carefully monitored and legislated to exacting standards so that the “good guys” walk the line on this one.’

shock
Boundary control: The device could also be linked to a sensor that can automatically deliver an electric shock to its wearer when they move inside or outside a predetermined perimeter

U.S. Patent Application 20120298119 describes a ‘system for restraining detainees through devices attached to the detainees and configured to administer electrical shocks when certain predetermined conditions occur.’

The cuffs, developed by Arizona-based firm Scottsdale Inventions, could be controlled internally using various sensors that indicate when the person locked in them starts to misbehave.

Alternatively, whoever is guarding the captive could choose when to administer electric shocks, or a signal could be sent automatically when, for example, the detainee moves beyond a certain range.

According to the patent application, safety mechanisms could be included in the control mechanism of the cuffs to stop the detainee from receiving too much current too quickly.

In one embodiment, it could be equipped with sensors to determine just how much electrical current a detainee can take, so that they are not inadvertently killed by the device.

For example, if the sensors determine that the captive has a health issue like a weak heart, a warning could be issued to the person or system controlling the device.

A further feature of the device envisioned by Scottsdale inventions is a drug delivery system that, according to the patent filing, could administer ‘an irritant, a medication, a sedative, a transdermal medication or transdermal enhancers such as dimethyl sulfoxide, a chemical restraint, a paralytic, a medication prescribed to the detainee, and combinations thereof’.

This could word either by means of a moveable needle or gas injection system, the patent says, and could be in addition or in place of electric shocks.

The patent includes a number of schematic-type drawings of the planned device.

However it also includes one image that stood out as appearing like a photograph of an actual prototype, suggesting that electric handcuffs could be available to a police force near you soon.

9/11 Truth group adopts stretch of highway in St. Louis

A Missouri state transportation official is wary of potential negative publicity but says that doesn’t outweigh the advantages of clean roads.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Dec 13, 2012

By Adam Edelman

truthA half-mile stretch of highway running through the city has been adopted by The St. Louis 9/11 Questions Meetup Group, which will have its name posted along the segment it’s committed to keep litter-free.

A conspiracy-touting group alleging that 9/11 was an “inside job” has been granted permission to adopt a stretch of highway in Missouri, the state’s Department of Transportation confirmed Thursday.

Under the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, the small but controversial organization — called the St. Louis 9/11 Questions Meetup Group — will have its name posted on a sign along a half-mile stretch of highway in St. Louis, according to an official at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The sign will go up in January.

In return, the group will maintain and keep clean the stretch of highway.

According to the group’s website, members of the group claim to be “residents of the Greater St. Louis Area (and other areas) concerned about the many disturbing aspects of the 9/11 attacks, adding that, “we have many disagreements, but we agree that 9/11 is worth inquiring into. We are inclusive as opposed to exclusive. Generally, we believe that when gravity causes an object to move, the object goes down, not upwards and outwards in an arc.”

On its website, the group sells T-shirts that say “The 9/11 debacle was an Inside Job!” along with other shirts featuring photos of the collapse of the World Trade Center with text that raises questions about the details of the destruction. The group’s organizer, Donald Stahl, could not be reached for comment.

Tom Blair, a MoDOT assistant district engineer, said he’s wary of any negative publicity the controversial group will bring to the state, but that the value of clean roads — and the savings the program brings to taxpayers — ultimately outweigh any bad attention.

“Well, I’m concerned about the attention, but we need the program,” Blair said. “I’m concerned any time negative attention goes to the program, but it’s a solid program and it’s important to remember that. And anyone, whatever their motivations, can apply for it, as long as they just pick up the trash.”

According to the MoDOT website, approved groups adopt a stretch of highway at least a half-mile long and agree to collect litter at least four times a year. The state saves about $1 million a year from the volunteer efforts, Blair said.

Televisions killing record number of American children

Kill-TV

Tipping televisions kill record number of U.S. kids, gov’t warns

CBS News | Dec 13, 2012

by Ryan Jaslow

A record number of curious kids are getting hurt by falling televisions in their homes, a government report warns.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report on Thursday that estimates about 43,000 people are injured in a television or furniture tip-over related incident each year, more than 25,000, or 59 percent, of whom are children.

“Small children are no match for a falling dresser, wall unit or 50- to 100-pound television,” the CPSC said.

TV-gunThe report also showed that 349 people were killed between 2000 and 2011 by a falling television, appliance or piece of furniture — 84 percent of them were kids younger than 9 years old. Falling televisions were more deadly, accounting for 62 percent of these fatalities. Last year alone, a record 41 tip-over related fatalities occurred.

The worrisome trends the report spotlighted indicated that three children are injured by a tip-over every hour — or 71 children per day — and one child is killed every two weeks. Seventy percent of injuries involving children were caused by televisions, followed by 26 percent caused by furniture like dressers or tables.

Known causes of tip-overs included climbing (36 percent of cases involving children), hitting or kicking (14 percent) or playing nearby (7 percent). The report also suggests that some of these incidents are occurring as families swap out their heavier, older TVs for flat-screen models. The CPSC received reports that older, heavier television were moved to other areas of the house like the bedroom, where they were placed without a proper stand or anchoring device.

Government officials said these injury and fatality rates may climb even higher in the future.

“I urge parents to anchor their TVs, furniture and appliances and protect their children,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a press release. “It takes just a few minutes to do and it can save lives.”

tv_mind_control1Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, tells CBSNews.com in an email that children younger than 3 years are especially likely to be curious and reach for or try to hold onto a television. Potential injuries include traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries and abdominal trauma such as to the liver or spleen.

The CPSC also reported incidents of fractures, bruises and cuts caused by the tip-overs.

“If a TV cannot be anchored or mounted on a wall properly, then it’s safer to place the TV on a low sturdy base,” Glatter recommends.

Other recommendations from the CPSC include keeping remote controls, toys and other items that might attract children off of television stands and furniture and making sure cords and cables are out of reach. Anti-tip brackets should also be installed on televisions and freestanding kitchen ranges, ovens and other appliances, the agency said.

Speed camera gives ticket to stationary car

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This is not the speed camera in question. But it is a speed camera. (Credit: CC David Bleasdale/Flickr)

A speed camera in Baltimore declares that a Mazda is doing 38 mph in a 25 mph zone. It wasn’t. It was standing still at a red light.

CNET | Dec 13, 2012

by Chris Matyszczyk

Something’s wonky about technology in Baltimore.

Earlier this week, I shivered at the idea that the city had been at the forefront of putting audio surveillance in its buses.

Now I hear that its speed cameras appear to have been buying street drugs from extremely disreputable sorts.

You see, a Baltimore camera issued a ticket to Daniel Doty. It claimed that he and his Mazda wagon were going 38 mph in a 25 mph zone.

I hadn’t been aware that Mazda wagons could go that fast. Doty, on the other hand, hadn’t been aware that you can go 38 mph while standing completely still.

As the upstanding Baltimore Sun has it, the photograph that Doty received with his $40 citation showed that his Mazda wasn’t moving. At all.

It showed its brake lights offering an illuminating detail to the scene. Doty told the Sun that it was “shockingly obvious” his Mazda wasn’t moving.

For its part, the city was incapable of explaining how it might possibly be that such an injustice could occur.

It seems that citations go through not one, but two reviews — just in case, you know.

Some might experience involuntary spasms on hearing that one of those reviews involves an actual police officer who must swear that this car was going at least 12 mph over the limit.

Oh, and he or she must swear it “based on inspection of the recorded images.”

Speed cameras have often been criticized for their ineffectiveness — or merely for their utterly venal purposes.

But the city of Baltimore has withheld comment — beyond describing any error as “unacceptable” — until a task force meeting on Friday.

I imagine that Doty may have a good chance of contesting the ticket. Conveniently, he happens to be a lawyer.

 

The Royal Presidency: Obama lives better than kings

obama and the queen may 24, 2011

nationalreview.com | Dec 8, 2012

From the New York Daily News:

“Snooki Gives Kate Middleton Advice on Being a New Parent.”

Great! Maybe Kate could return the favor and give Snooki and her fellow Americans some advice. About fiscal prudence, for example. Say what you like about a high-living, big-spending, bloated, decadent, parasitical, wastrel monarchy, but, compared to the citizen-executive of a republic of limited government, it’s a bargain. So, while the lovely Duchess of Cambridge nurses her baby bump, the equally radiant president of the United States nurses his ever more swollen debt belly. He and his family are about to jet off on their Christmas vacation to watch America slide off the fiscal cliff from the luxury beach resort of Kailua. The cost to taxpayers of flying one man, his wife, two daughters, and a dog to Hawaii is estimated at $3,639,622. For purposes of comparison, the total bill for flying the entire royal family (Queen, princes, dukes, the works) around the world for a year is £4.7 million — or about enough for two Obama vacations.

According to the USAF, in 2010 Air Force One cost American taxpayers $181,757 per flight hour. According to the Royal Canadian Air Force, in 2011 the CC-150 Polaris military transport that flew William and Kate from Vancouver to Los Angeles cost Her Majesty’s Canadian subjects $15,505 per hour — or about 8/100ths of the cost.

Obamas get royal treatment in Britain

2012 Selection ‘Surprise’: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are Cousins

Expensive massages, top shelf vodka and five-star hotels: First Lady Michelle Obama accused of spending $10m in public money on her vacations

Unlike a republic, monarchy in a democratic age means you can’t go around queening it. That RCAF boneshaker has a shower the size of a phone booth, yet the Duchess of Cambridge looked almost as glamorous as Snooki when she emerged onto the steps at LAX. That’s probably because Canada’s 437 Squadron decided to splash out on new bedding for the royal tour. Amanda Heron was dispatched to the local mall in Trenton, Ontario, and returned with a pale blue and white comforter and matching pillows. Is there no end to the grotesque indulgence of these over-pampered royal deadbeats? “I found a beautiful set,” said Master-Corporal Heron. “It was such a great price I bought one for myself.”

Nevertheless, Canadian journalists and politicians bitched and whined about the cost of this disgusting jet-set lifestyle nonstop throughout the tour. At the conclusion of their official visit to California, Their Royal Highnesses flew on to Heathrow with their vast entourage of, er, seven people — and the ingrate whining Canadians passed the baton to their fellow ingrate whiners across the Atlantic. As the Daily Mail in London reported, “High Fliers: Prince William and his wife Kate spend an incredible £52,000 on the one-way flight from LA to London for themselves and their seven-strong entourage.” Incredible! For £52,000, you couldn’t take the president from Washington to a state visit to an ice-cream parlor in a Maryland suburb. Obama flew Air Force One from Washington to Williamsburg, Va., requiring a wide-bodied transatlantic jet that holds 500 people to ferry him a distance of a little over 100 miles. And, unlike their British and Canadian counterparts, the American media are entirely at ease with it.

Just for the record, William and Kate actually spent an “incredible” £51,410 — or about $80,000 — for nine business-class tickets on British Airways to Heathrow. At the check-in desk at Los Angeles, BA graciously offered the Duke and Duchess an upgrade to first class. By now you’re probably revolted by this glimpse of disgusting monarchical excess, so, if it’s any consolation, halfway through the flight the cabin’s entertainment consoles failed and, along with other first-class passengers, Their Highnesses were offered a £200 voucher toward the cost of their next flight, which they declined.

By contrast, in a republic governed by “we, the people,” when the president of the United States wishes to watch a film, there are two full-time movie projectionists who live at the White House and are on call round the clock, in case he’s overcome by a sudden urge to watch Esther Williams in Dangerous When Wet (1953) at two in the morning. Does one of them accompany the first family on Air Force One? If the movie fails halfway across the Pacific, will the president and first lady each be offered a $2 million voucher in compensation?

In his recent book Presidential Perks Gone Royal, Robert Keith Gray, a former Eisenhower staffer, revealed that last year the U.S. presidency cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion. Over the same period, the entire royal family cost British taxpayers about $57 million. There’s nothing “royal” about the current level of “presidential perks”: The Obama family costs taxpayers more than every European royal house put together.

In the American republic, even the dogs cost more. The Queen is a famous corgi lover and has been breeding them since she was a young girl. Now in her late 80s she’s slowing down and only keeps four. The president has one pooch, a photo-op accessory called Bo, who unlike the corgis requires a full-time handler. In contrast to the stingy remuneration offered by the royal household, the presidential dog-walker is one of 226 White House staff earning over $100,000 a year. For many centuries, the King had a courtier whose somewhat intimate duties were reflected in his title: the Groom of the Stool, a position abolished in 1559. Now, after two and a third centuries, the American presidency has evolved to the point that it has a full-time six-figure Groom of the Canine Stool. Will he be accompanying the president on Air Force One to liaise with the Keeper of the Privy Flatscreen over screenings of Lassie?

In 2003, the advance team for President Bush informed Buckingham Palace that he would only be able to stay there if they took out all the windows and replaced them with blast-proof glass. The Queen, keeping a straight face, politely refused, and the president was forced to spend three nights in an insecure palace. Happily, in Hawaii, the flood-the-zone “security” can proceed unimpeded by cheeseparing monarchs who feel the job of head of state entails assuming a modest amount of risk or at least a passing acquaintance with reality. So local residents who will never catch a glimpse of their hermetically sealed-off sultan are expected to put up with walled-off neighborhoods, closed beaches, and residential streets clogged by 40-car motorcades. The Secret Service is installed in luxury hotels, no doubt with their Colombian hookers, and their hookers’ Colombian glaziers, fresh from installing bombproof windows on Bo’s kennel.

The fish rots from the head down, and so do republics. A $1.4-billion president has a defense secretary with a private plane to fly him home every weekend, and a chair of the “White House Council on Women and Girls” with her own Secret Service detail, and all of them ever more detached from the rhythms of American life. In the wake of the Cartagena hooker scandal, the Secret Service with predictable obtuseness imposed a new rule prohibiting agents from having “foreign nationals” in their rooms. The salient fact surely wasn’t that they were “foreign” but that they were hookers. Yet now, at the luxury Moana Surfrider resort, Obama staffers passing through the lobby and bumping into minor princesses and arch-duchesses staying in the cheap rooms on the lower floors won’t even be able to ask them up to their federally mandated ocean-view suites for tips on deficit reduction. In the Brokest Nation in History, it would be unreasonable to expect the president to pretend to have a regular all-American family Christmas for less than five million bucks.

As Ben Franklin famously said: “A republic, if you can keep it in the style to which it’s become accustomed.”

NYPD whistleblower who exposed arrest quotas, corruption blasts DA’s claim that locking him up in psych ward was legal

NYPD Tapes Update: Queens DA Richard Brown’s Report on Whistleblower Cop Raises More Questions Than It Answers

villagevoice.com | Dec 13, 2012

By Graham Rayman

nypdtapechadgriffith_300Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s announcement last week that neither the police nor Jamaica Hospital committed any crimes when NYPD Tapes whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft was dragged from his apartment by police and involuntarily held in a psych ward raises a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Schoolcraft’s father, Larry, and their lawyer blasted the announcement as “a violation of the public trust,” and “deeply disappointing.”

Schoolcraft, a police officer assigned to Bed-Stuy’s 81st Precinct, is known for secretly recording his colleagues over two years in an effort to build evidence of misconduct. (See the Voice’s award-winning NYPD Tapes series.) On Oct. 31, 2009, a deputy chief and a dozen police forced him out of his apartment in handcuffs and put him in the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for six days–three weeks after he had made misconduct allegations against his bosses. In 2010, he filed a federal lawsuit alleging that police had retaliated against him for making those allegations.

While the NYPD painted Schoolcraft as a malcontent with psychological issues, and therefore, unreliable, an internal police investigation proved most of his claims. The NYPD buried that blockbuster report for more than 18 months. Its conclusions finally surfaced exclusively in the Voice.

Brown concludes in a terse one-page statement on his investigation, which he called “comprehensive”: “After thoroughly reviewing all of the available evidence and considering all applicable provisions of law we have concluded that there is no credible evidence to support the filing of criminal charges in this matter.”

In an interview with the Voice, Larry Schoolcraft, Adrian’s father, said this: “Brown and his staff, Jack Ryan, Jim Liander, and Michelle Cort have done nothing more than take the public’s money with one hand and betray the public trust with the other. Brown and his office have violated their oath to the citizens of Queens.”

Schoolcraft adds: “You can’t just say it’s comprehensive, and not prove it. How big a truck do we need to pick up the mountain of documents from a 37 month internal investigation? The proof is in the pudding. Produce the documents that you stand behind.”

Peter Gleason, recently hired as the Schoolcrafts’ new lawyer along with Bruce Gilbert, said he was “deeply disappointed” with Brown’s conclusion. “The fact of the matter is what Adrian has already brought to the table is factual and tremendously credible,” he said. “Clearly, this investigation was cookie cutter. His civil rights in this matter were clearly violated, and if the Queens District Attorney doesn’t care about it, perhaps there are other agencies willing to take a look at it.”

We communicated these comments and a series of questions to Brown’s spokesman Kevin Ryan. “The ADA who handled the Schoolcraft investigation has not yet returned to the office, and, as such, we are unable to comply with your request for comment at this time,” he said yesterday.

Now, to the questions: First, why did it take three years to conclude? Larry Schoolcraft first filed a detailed complaint about his son’s treatment with prosecutor Michelle Cort of Brown’s Public Integrity Unit all the way back on Nov. 4, 2009. (Larry had also contacted the Justice Department, the FBI, and other oversight agencies.)

Full Story

NYPD cop secretly records evidence of a ticket and arrest quota system

NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft secretly records NYPD top brass giving orders that tickets must be written and arrest must be made or there will be hell to pay. He goes on to say that orders were given to harass people so vigorously that they will not even want to step foot outside in fear of being arrested or ticketed.

 

Ambush

Based on true events, Adrian Schoolcraft is confronted in his home after scrupulously recording his superiors suspicious behaviour.

He is arrested and forced against his will to Jamaica Hospital’s psychiatric ward for six days, in order to discredit his testimony against the 81st precinct for false arrests and illegally tampering with crime reporting systems.