Vodpod videos no longer available.
Orwellian U.K. Angers People With Tree
Cameras, Snooping Kids
.By Caroline Alexander and Howard Mustoe
Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) — Hidden in foliage next to a path in the southeast England seaside town of Hastings are digital cameras. Their target: litterbugs and dog walkers.
The electronic eyes feed images to a monitoring unit, where they’re scanned and stored as evidence to prosecute people who discard garbage or fail to clean up after pets, a spokeswoman for the town council said.
“It’s becoming a bit Big Brother-like,” said Sandra Roberts, 50, a Hastings kiosk manager, invoking George Orwell’s 1949 book “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” about a Britain where authorities pry into all aspects of citizens’ lives.
Local authorities are adopting phone-record logging, e-mail taps and camera surveillance to police such offenses as welfare fraud, unlawful dumping of waste and sick-day fakery. Telecommunications companies are about to join the list of crime monitors. Already, 4.5 million closed-circuit cameras watch public places across Britain, or about 1 camera for every 15 people, the highest ratio in the world.
“There’s too much of it now, all this spying,” said Ivor Quittention, 80, a retired owner of three hardware stores who lives in Hastings. The town’s spokeswoman, who declined to be identified, said spying is the most effective way of dealing with something residents complain about most.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, dubbed “the snoopers charter” by London-based civil-rights group Liberty, was passed by the ruling Labour Party in 2000 to legislate methods of surveillance and information gathering. The purpose of the law, known also as Ripa, was to help prevent crime, including terrorism, according to the Home Office.
`Too Much Power’
Initially, only security and intelligence services could invoke the Act’s provisions. In 2003, Parliament extended powers to the 474 local councils in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as to 318 other state bodies, including 11 Royal Parks, the Post Office and Chief Inspector of Schools.
Since then, local authorities have been expanding their use of the provisions to dozens of lesser offenses.
The law has loopholes and councils like Hastings aren’t doing anything wrong when they invoke it for minor crimes, according to Gus Hosein, a professor from the London School of Economics specializing in technology and privacy.
“Ripa just gives too much power to any Tom, Dick or Harry related to government,” he said.
The latest proposed expansion of the Act requires telecommunications providers to store the text of all e-mails and details of all phone calls transmitted over their lines.
The government is seeking the views of the public on the proposal until Oct. 31. The bill will then go to Parliament for consideration.
Of the 163 U.K. councils that replied to calls and Freedom of Information requests from Bloomberg, 95 percent said they use Ripa. Nine said they don’t, including Barnet, Basingstoke and Deane, Broadland, Halton, Harrogate, Shepway, West Devon, Slough and the Shetlands, a group of islands off Scotland where sheep outnumber people. Three declined to provide details without payment of an administrative fee.
East Hampshire, in south England, applied the law to catch vandals defacing tombstones. Derby, in northern England, invoked it to send children with recording gear into shops to see if they’d unlawfully be sold cigarettes and alcohol.
“It’s unreal,” said Dean Price, 24, a graphic designer in London. “We’ve been sleep-walking into this. Everyone talks about Orwell and 1984 but no one ever does anything about it.”
A spokesman for the Home Office, which oversees Ripa, said the extension is vital to intelligence gathering and will help investigators identify suspects, track them and examine their contacts. He declined to be identified, in line with policy.
The Association of Local Government, which represents councils, said through a statement by outgoing Chairman Simon Milton that the “crime-busting powers” are an essential tool in gathering evidence needed to stop criminal activity.
At the same time, Milton said he wrote to all councils in June asking them not to invoke the law for petty offenses.
“It’s ironic that a nation that was once a bastion of privacy, one in which `an Englishman’s home is his castle’ and that did away with National ID Cards in 1952, is now one of the most surveilled in the world,” said Toby Stevens, founder of London’s Enterprise Privacy Group.
The opposition Conservative Party is against Ripa in its current form and will amend it if it wins the next election, due by 2010, home affairs spokesman Dominic Grieve said.
Mark Jewell, a councilman for the U.K.’s third party, the Liberal Democrats, said more checks and balances are needed to ensure Ripa isn’t abused. “At the moment, you don’t need to have done anything wrong to get snooped on,” he said. No other European Union government has similar regulations.
Among councils which responded to Bloomberg’s questions, those in northern England, Wales and Scotland used the law more than those in the south. Durham, in northeast England, was the biggest user, invoking the provisions 144 times in the past year, as authorities cracked down on offenses including fraud.
In April, council workers spent two weeks tailing a couple in Poole, southeast England, they wrongly suspected were planning to send their daughter to a school outside their designated area. Tim Joyce and Jenny Paton called the intrusion into their lives “hugely disproportionate.”
In August, Paul Griffiths was taken to court and fined 1,000 pounds for allowing his dog to foul grass outside his home in Bristol. Griffiths said he’s innocent and his pet had only been urinating when she was spotted on camera.
Brian Clements, a 79-year-old retired teacher from Clacton- on-Sea, south England, said the measures are “like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.”
“Wouldn’t the Gestapo have loved all those little cameras,” he said.
Blood on the Floor at Morning Joe
Just call him “Zbig the Scar Slayer.” Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski just destroyed Joe Scarborough on his own show and left him speechless and lying bloody on the ground. Scarborough had been ranting and raving for most of the previous segment with Pat Buchanan, belittling the Powell endorsement because of the Iraq War of all things and beating up Obama’s Press guy, Robert Gibbs (again) ad nauseum about how Obama had lied and broken his word on public financing and how they were buying the election and how Sarah Palin with all her years as Mayor of Wasilla (please!) and Governor was more qualified to be President than Barack Obama and he was nothing more than a Community Organizer, and a State legislator with one year in the Senate and blah, blah, blah.
A few minutes before they went to the break, Mika announced that Lawrence O’Donnell had arrived in the studio, so that was a good sign. But when I saw the 80 year-old Dr. Brzezinski pull himself up onto that stage, I knew Joe was in for all he could handle and more. Of course I wasn’t disappointed. When Joe was stupid enough to ask about the lack of experience of Barack Obama, Brzezinski countered beautifully, making the intellectual argument for Barack Obama sound like lyric poetry. He made the case for Barack’s intellect, temperament and good judgment over the unpredictable volatility of John McCain. (I’ll have the video as soon as it’s available.)
Brzezinski points out that Powell’s endorsement shows that Obama’s administration will be a bi-partisan administration, as it must be. He says one has only to look at what Obama has accomplished in this historic campaign and the millions of people he has inspired at this time in history when our nation is mired in this deep and dangerous crisis. He is a transformative figure. Besides, look at the guys who made the worst foreign policy decisions in our lifetimes, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. They had thirty years of “foreign policy experience.” Look what they got us into. Give me Barack Obama’s wisdom any day.
We didn’t hear any more from Joe. He was pretty much knocked out for the rest of the interview. Gotta love it. You just have to hit these guys where they live. You have to wait them out while they rant and rave and go through their little talking points. And when they are finished, you start making the intellectual argument for truth. They’ll end up on the ground with a bloody nose every time.
UPDATE: Here is the Video: Get yourself a cold beer and a bucket of popcorn and kick back and enjoy the show.
I invest prudently to help ensure the future financial well-being of my wife and two daughters. And Martin, who visited us recently, shares the same philosophy.
But when future history books are written on the twenty-first century, they will probably show that this time — right now — was the most dangerous for investors in decades.
Just look at what’s happened in the last ten days.
We’ve seen the U.S. government throwing money at the credit crisis with wild abandon — cranking up the total cost and potential liability of fighting this disaster to more than $2.5 trillion.
We’ve seen endless “happy talk” from President George Bush, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, declaring that their latest schemes really will “end the credit crisis once and for all.”
But all their efforts are already backfiring: The fear of huge bond supplies to finance this folly is driving up interest rates on Treasury bonds. And as I showed you on Friday, that’s sending mortgage rates through the roof, threatening to sabotage the entire bailout plan.
Meanwhile, nearly the entire economy is crumbling.
I wish I didn’t have to sound so bearish. No one wants to see workers thrown out on the street, millions of Americans suffer through deep recession, or stocks fall out of bed. But the fundamentals at the heart of this crisis are not improving. To the contrary; they’re signaling one of the worst Octobers on record.
Just take a look at last week’s pile-up of dismal news announcements (along with my view on each) …
First , the National Association of Home Builders announced that October has been the cruelest month ever for the housing industry. The group’s index, which measures home sales and buyer traffic, has just fallen to the worst levels in its 23-year history.
My view: A lasting recovery in construction activity, sales, and home prices remains many, many months away.
Second, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that 3.7 million Americans are now receiving unemployment benefits — the most in more than five years.
My view: The broad economy is behaving like the Titanic, and these job losses could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Third, U.S. industrial production cratered 2.8% in September — more than three times the decline that was expected and the single-worst reading in any month going back to 1974.
My view: This is the first hard data confirming what we’ve suspected all along — that this recession could be at least as bad as the 1974-75 recession, which was the deepest since the Great Depression.
Fourth, housing starts plunged a staggering 6.3% in September. Worse, applications for construction permits — a solid indication of how housing starts will fare this month — crashed 8.3%. Single-family home construction is now running at levels we haven’t seen in 26 years!
My view: The housing market is still on the ropes. Commercial real estate is getting killed. Lenders are shutting down their operations. The only good news is that home prices are falling so far so fast, there is now some hope that homes will be affordable again in the not-too-distant future.
Fifth, consumer confidence just suffered its steepest monthly drop in history. The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its confidence index plummeted from 70.3 all the way down to 57.5 in one fell swoop.
My view: This is frightening. But it should come as no surprise to our readers: It goes hand in hand with the “blackest of Black Octobers” that I warned you about last month.
Ignore the Washington and Wall Street Spin.
These Powerful Economic Forces Are Screaming,
“THE WORST IS STILL AHEAD!”
As long as the forces that drive the economy and the stock market continue to fall so steeply and deeply, almost any stock you own or buy now is a potential time-bomb that can sink your portfolio.
There are exceptions, of course. And if you or your money manager know how to hedge against downside risk, that’s another alternative.
But I will repeat what I said at the outset: This is a dangerous time for investors. So my recommendations are as follows:
- Ignore the spin coming from on high. It’s just noise. It won’t make a bit of difference.
- Don’t be fooled by rallies in the stock market. They’re little more than mirages based on fantasy. The bigger they are the better the selling opportunity.
- If you want to protect your family as much as I want to protect mine, you’ll get your money to safety. The more the better.
Until next time,
This investment news is brought to you by Money and Markets . Money and Markets is a free daily investment newsletter from Martin D. Weiss and Weiss Research analysts offering the latest investing news and financial insights for the stock market, including tips and advice on investing in gold, energy and oil. Dr. Weiss is a leader in the fields of investing, interest rates, financial safety and economic forecasting. To view archives or subscribe, visit http://www.moneyandmarkets.com .
Murder most foul
If you conspire for the death of a person or group of people, without a legal justification like self defense, and death ensues, then you’re guilty of murder whether you pull the trigger or not.
Vincent Bugliosi understands this legal principle very well.
He’s the prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars even though Manson never personally killed anyone.
When George Bush attacked Iraq knowing fully well that the US was not under any threat from that country, he became legally liable for the death of every US soldier under his command.
Bush is, of course, morally responsible for the death of every person in that conflict, but the legal theory for prosecuting him for all of them is not as clear cut.
But it doesn’t matter.
Just one wrongful death is enough to indict him and bring him to court on murder charges and just one conviction is enough to put him in jail, hopefully for the rest of his natural life.
This video addresses the smoking gun that proves that Iraq was not a threat to the US and Bush knew it.
Therefore, his order to attack was a premeditated criminal act that resulted in the death of others i.e. he is a murderer.
There is an experienced attorney running for Attorney General in the State of Vermont.
She is ready, willing and able to bring Bush up on murder charges.
All it takes is one Attorney General to step up and the flood gates will open.
But it won’t happen by itself.
There is no single issue more important to the future of this country than the criminal persecution of George Bush for murder.
Future presidents must be made aware that criminal activity in the White House will result in aggressive prosecution and that their immunity lasts only as long as they’re in office.
Here’s where you can go to get more info about and support the campaign to indict George Bush for murder:
Stryker project will create jobs in Hawaii
1,000 or more will be employed, officials say, for massive project
Advertiser Military Writer