Police State


‘Extreme surveillance’ becomes UK law with barely a whimper

yeah um

19th Nov 2016

A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Snowden in 2013 revealed the scale of mass surveillance – or bulk data collection as the security agencies prefer to describe it – by the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ, which work in tandem.

But, against a backdrop of fears of Islamist attacks, the privacy lobby has failed to make much headway. Even in Germany, with East Germany’s history of mass surveillance by the Stasi and where Snowden’s revelations produced the most outcry, the Bundestag recently passed legislation giving the intelligence agencies more surveillance powers.

The US passed a modest bill last year curtailing bulk phone data collection but the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election is potentially a major reverse for privacy advocates. On the campaign trail, Trump made comments that implied he would like to use the powers of the surveillance agencies against political opponents.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger, one of the leading voices against the investigatory powers bill, said: “We do have to worry about a UK Donald Trump. If we do end up with one, and that is not impossible, we have created the tools for repression. If Labour had backed us up, we could have made the bill better. We have ended up with a bad bill because they were all over the place.

“The real Donald Trump has access to all the data that the British spooks are gathering and we should be worried about that.”

The Investigatory Powers Act legalises powers that the security agencies and police had been using for years without making this clear to either the public or parliament. In October, the investigatory powers tribunal, the only court that hears complaints against MI6, MI5 and GCHQ, ruled that they had been unlawfully collecting massive volumes of confidential personal data without proper oversight for 17 years.

One of the negative aspects of the legislation is that it fails to provide adequate protection for journalists’ sources, which could discourage whistleblowing.

One of the few positives in the legislation is that it sets out clearly for the first time the surveillance powers available to the intelligence services and the police. It legalises hacking by the security agencies into computers and mobile phones and allows them access to masses of stored personal data, even if the person under scrutiny is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Privacy groups are challenging the surveillance powers in the European court of human rights and elsewhere.

Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, said: “The UK now has a surveillance law that is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy. The state has unprecedented powers to monitor and analyse UK citizens’ communications regardless of whether we are suspected of any criminal activity.”

Renate Samson, the chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said: “The passing of the investigatory powers bill has fundamentally changed the face of surveillance in this country. None of us online are now guaranteed the right to communicate privately and, most importantly, securely.”

Trump’s victory started speculation that, given his warm words for Vladimir Putin, he might do a deal with the Russian president to have Snowden sent back to the US where he faces a long jail sentence. Snowden has lived in Russia since leaking tens of thousands of documents to journalists in 2013.

But Bill Binney, a former member of the NSA who became a whistleblower, expressed scepticism: “I am not sure if the relationship a President Trump would have with President Putin would be bad for Snowden.

“In Russia, he would still be an asset that maybe Putin would use in bargaining with Trump. Otherwise, Snowden does have a large support network around the world plus in the US and Trump may not want to disturb that. Also, I think any move to get Snowden out of Russia and into US courts would also open up support for at least three other lawsuits against the US government’s unconstitutional surveillance.”

  • This article was amended on 19 November 2016. The act has not yet received royal assent, as stated in an earlier version.

 

source; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-surveillance-becomes-uk-law-with-barely-a-whimper

U-turn over spit hood pilot after City Hall fears

spithood

8th Sept 2016

A plan to pilot the use of spit hoods by the Met Police has been abandoned after London’s mayor voiced concerns.

The mesh fabric hoods are placed over the heads of suspects to protect police officers from being spat at or bitten.

The restraining device was to be trialled at 32 custody suites across the capital from October.

Mayor Sadiq Khan responded after human rights groups including Liberty, Amnesty and Inquest said the hoods belonged in “horror stories”.

A City Hall spokesman told the BBC the mayor asked the Met to pause the pilot scheme to give him an opportunity to look at the detail and to consult with the wider public as well as the police themselves.

‘Spitting a real problem’

In a statement, the Met said: “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) does not currently use spit guards, although their national use and development has been closely monitored for a number of years.

“There are now a number of forces where spit guards are used both operationally in response to incidents and in custody.

“The MPS has a duty of care to its officers and staff – the issue of spitting and biting is a real problem, particularly in a custody environment, and is a significant health risk.

“Over a number of years, the MPS has been looking at potential ways of minimising the threat this issue poses to officers and staff.

“One of the options that has been considered has been spit guards in custody suites.”

Earlier Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, called the use of spit hoods “primitive, cruel and degrading ” adding their use would inspire “fear and anguish”.

“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons,” she said.

“The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening.

“Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilised society – we urge the Met Police to think again.”

Image caption The spit hoods would be used in police custody suites

The Police Federation has called for the use of spit hoods to protect officers.

British Transport Police has used a hood 151 times since introducing them in June 2014.

The force is being investigated by the police watchdog over an incident where officers put a spit hood on a man at London Bridge in July.

Shamik Dutta, the solicitor representing the man who had the hood put on his head, said: “The application of a spit hood can be deeply distressing and humiliating, causing panic in the detained person.

“By obscuring someone’s face, the use of a spit hood can prevent witnesses, including police officers, from quickly identifying whether a person is suffering breathing difficulties, is choking or has suffered some other serious facial or head injury requiring immediate medical attention to avoid life-threatening consequences.”

‘Hand across mouth?’

Lord Adebowale, former chair of the commission on the Met Police’s response to mental health, said: “There is an awful trend of these devices being misused and being used in a way which tends to impact minority ethnic groups, those with mental health challenges, those with learning difficulties.”

He added he was concerned they could be used “in situations where the police may not be trained to deal with it”, leading to individuals being “forced into positions where breathing can be restrained”.

He also said it was a question of human dignity.

But former senior Met officer Hamish Brown, said: “What’s the other option? Putting a hand across someone’s mouth or a handkerchief in their mouth?

“It is pretty awful to have this, but unfortunately it’s the way society has gone. It is for the police to be sensible and use their discretion.”

A Met spokeswoman said officers would be trained to ensure use was proportionate, but added they were necessary “to meet the duty of care owed to officers when a detainee spits at or attempts to bite them”.

 

source:http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-37292125

UK police will soon start bagging people’s heads during arrests

liberty and police

8th Sept 2016

Metropolitan Police officers will soon be able to use specially designed bags, known as spit hoods, to cover suspects’ heads during arrests and in police stations.

The mesh bags are used to restrain suspects and protect the police from those who might try to bite or spit at them. The Met insists the hoods prevents exposure to diseases and serious infection.

In a pilot scheme starting in October, 32 custody units will receive material and training on how to use the “spit guards.” Their application on any suspect will be recorded under “use of force.”

Spit hoods are not to be used on the streets initially, so as not to incense the public, but detail on their use after the pilot scheme expires has not been provided.

The measure has been controversial with human rights groups, which have deemed the use of spit hoods “an alarming development” and as “cruel and degrading.”

The device may breach suspects’ rights, with some police chiefs suggesting the hoods resemble the trappings adopted at Guantanamo Bay. Even the Met was once opposed to them.

“A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,” said Liberty director Martha Spurrier.

“We have seen many cases where the police use them unnecessarily and without justification, including on children and disabled people.

“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons. The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening. Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilized society. We urge the Met police to think again.”

Deborah Coles from legal charity Inquest echoed the sentiment.

“This is an alarming development with seemingly no debate or consultation and will do nothing to assist police and community relations,” she said.

“The use of a hood as a piece of police equipment is frightening and raises real concerns about its potential for misuse against the most vulnerable and discriminated against sections of society.”

The Police Federation, however, thinks the measure is necessary to protect its rank-and-file officers.

The police union’s health and safety representative, Che Donald, said: “I’d rather take a punch to the face than be spat at.”

He told the Guardian newspaper: “We do not deal with the most savory people. Hepatitis is prevalent within the drug abuse community. I don’t see it as a use of force, it is a health and safety issue.”

The risk of the hoods to arrestees, however, has been described as high by police monitoring groups.

“Every new piece of kit is always justified on the grounds of officer safety,” Kevin Blowe from the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) told RT.

“Yet again, there is no regard to the long history of violently misusing equipment against people with mental health issues and those who are routinely targeted by the police, particularly young people from minority communities.

“This is how very vulnerable people have died in police custody in the past. It happened with the introduction of CS spray, positional restraint techniques and Tasers. Our concern is that it’s only a matter of time before spit hoods are a contributor to another grieving family’s search for answers about the death of a loved one.”

Human rights charity Amnesty International said in a statement: “Spit hoods can restrict breathing, create disorientation and can be dangerous and extremely distressing. Serious questions must be asked as to whether these restraints which have been criticized for breaching human rights guidelines should actually have a role in modern British policing.

“It beggars belief that the Met police would choose to introduce these restraints in their toolkit, particularly given that so many other major British police forces have chosen to outlaw them.”

Until recently only smaller forces and the British Transport Police (BTP) used spit hoods.

 

 

source;https://www.rt.com/uk/358397-police-spit-guard-bags/

Paying a high price for embarrassing the government

free speech indeed

4th June 2016

None of the politicians are talking about it, but threats to freedom of speech have emerged in three different guises in the first three weeks of the election campaign.

First there was the assailing of Duncan Storrar by that bastion of free speech, News Corp, for having had the nerve to put his head above the parapet on the ABC TV program Q&A, by questioning the fairness of the federal budget.

The newspaper company dredged up his criminal history – his last conviction was eight years ago – and revealed unhappy aspects of his family life.

It was a chilling spectacle for other private citizens. Despite a disability and poor education, Storrar wished to make himself heard in the national debate.

The second case concerned Dr Peter Young, psychiatrist and whistleblower.

Young was responsible for supervising mental health services to asylum seekers in all Australian-run detention centres from 2011 to mid-2014. In this capacity he was employed by International Health Management Services (IHMS), a company contracted to the federal government.

In 2014, giving evidence to an Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in detention, Young said that the Immigration Department had been told several weeks earlier about the prevalence of mental health problems among child detainees. He told the inquiry that the department had ordered the figures be removed from a report.

Now it emerges that he has been a target of an Australian Federal Police investigation.

The Guardian Australia reported on May 24 that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had compiled hundreds of pages of file notes and reports on Young, including documents that showed his phone records had been investigated.

freedom of speech2

The newspaper reported that the Department of Immigration had sought an investigation by the AFP after the publication in media reports of the medical records of Hamid Khazaei, an asylum seeker detained on Manus Island. Khazaei died from septicaemia in September 2014, provoking strong criticism of the government’s asylum-seeker policies.

Young had subsequently requested access to files the AFP had compiled on him. According to the newspaper, the files stated that Young was a suspect in the investigation of the leaking of Khazaei’s records, because of “comments attributed to him being highly critical of [the Immigration Department] and IHMS in their handling of asylum seeker medical care” in two news reports.

However, the police examination of Young’s phone metadata revealed that he had had no contact with the media when the articles on Khazaei were published.

Young was quoted by The Guardian as saying that, in addition to accessing his metadata, the AFP had contacted his colleagues and questioned them about why they were speaking to him.

The third case also involves the AFP.

Last week, they made a fine election-time media spectacle of a raid on the home of a staffer for Labor’s communications spokesman, Jason Clare.

Television cameras and a scrimmage of media accompanied the officers to a home in Brunswick in Melbourne’s inner north. When the door opened a woman occupant was caught in a fusillade of flashbulbs.

On the same day, the AFP also raided the parliamentary office of the former Labor communications minister, Stephen Conroy, in the more restricted confines of the Commonwealth Offices in Treasury Place, East Melbourne.

This time the police were investigating the leaking of documents concerning cost blow-outs and other embarrassments surrounding the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Having the media along for the ride seemed designed to show how unpleasant the AFP can make life for people who dare to embarrass the government.

freedom of speech3

These episodes raise several questions:

  • When big media start banging on about freedom of speech, whose speech are they clamouring to protect? Just their own or everyone else’s too?
  • How effective are Australia’s whistleblower laws in protecting people who speak out on matters of public interest, as Young did?
  • Is government embarrassment a sufficient reason to punish disclosure?
  • Does the AFP display an appropriate degree of operational independence?

The force has a long history of going after whistleblowers, even when the subject matter has nothing to do with terrorism, national security or serious crime.

One of the more egregious examples occurred in 2004 when the AFP prosecuted a Commonwealth public servant – unsuccessfully, as it turned out – for allegedly disclosing material proving the Howard government was lying about the effects of changes to war veterans’ welfare entitlements.

The public servant was acquitted on appeal, but the proceedings ensnared the two Herald Sun reporters who wrote the story. This ultimately resulted in them being convicted of contempt of court for refusing to disclose the identity of their confidential source.

The law that enables the AFP to embark on these oppressive operations is a catch-all secrecy provision, Section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act. Like its contemporary successors, including the Anti-Terrorism Act (No 2) 2005, and the National Security Legislation Amendment Act (No 1) 2014, Section 70 contains no public-interest defence with which whistleblowers and journalists might defend themselves in the event of prosecution.

All this suits both sides of politics, so we are not likely to hear anything about it from the campaigning politicians. But three obvious remedies suggest themselves: putting a public-interest defence in the various laws, making the whistleblower laws more effective, and changing the craven culture of the AFP.

 

 

source:http://theconversation.com/paying-a-high-price-for-embarrassing-the-government-60190

You Should Need A Licence To Use Social Media

stupid bitch china

19th May 2016

Social media, you really suck sometimes.

Trolls use you to spread mindless hate, bullies have a 24-hour platform to terrorise their victims and all we can do is ‘block’ and ‘hide’. Sure, @ilovejustinbieberforever171819 is gone from our feed but that doesn’t stop the individual behind that username starting a new anonymous account or recruiting their friends to jump on the bully bandwagon.

It’s problematic. And it’s taking away from all the good things you do, like connect us to people we sat next to one time in year seven maths class and viral dog videos. You know, the important stuff.

But I don’t just want to ‘delete’ you from the Interwebs. In fact, my job kind of depends on your existence. So here’s what I propose: A social media licence.

Kids under the age of 16 aren’t legally allowed to drive. Even then, they have to pass a series of tests before they can operate a vehicle on the road by themselves. So how about we apply the same principles to you, since the effects can be just as harmful?

A drunk tweeter might not instantly wipe out an entire family, but look at how far trolls pushed Charlotte Dawson. Every three hours someone in Australia dies by suicide. It’s a national emergency and we’re giving anyone with an internet connection the power to bully one another 24 hours a day.

Don’t let tweens set up an Instagram account without parental consent. Make them do the hard yards. Teach them the risks. Enforce some rules. I’m talking L-plates, supervision, tests and penalties — the whole lot.

Learners:

People can apply for their L-Plates when they turn sixteen. It would let teachers skip all the ‘he bullied me on Facebook can you deal with it’ nonsense and get back to teaching.

And imagine how good the test would be.

Is it ever okay to comment ‘go hang yourself’ on someone’s status?

a) No. You don’t know how your comment could impact the person on the other end.

b) Yes, I think it’s perfectly reasonable. As an aside, I’m a knob.

Once they pass the test, learners would have to complete 120 hours of supervised tweeting — with 20 hours of those performed when deliriously tired, during a sugar comedown and other angsty teen moments.

Adult learners who regularly drink would be required to complete a supervised tipsy test to avoid any drunk Facebook status disasters. Because we all know, someone.

Provisionals:

P-Platers must stick to a tweet-limit. 5 posts per day. Any penalties will result in instant suspension of license.

Full License/Demerit Points:

Those with a full licence receive 12 demerit points.

Once they’re gone, they simply disappear from social media. When they click on their Facebook app, they’re met with a pop-up that simply reads: “Sorry, your social media licence has been suspended because you’re a twat.”

Don’t tell me this isn’t possible. We live in a time where we can face-swap with my remote control. The future is now.

Plus it means @ilovejustinbieberforever171819 would not only lose their power, they’d be forgotten by the other internet trolls who rally behind them. If that’s not more important than face-swapping with inanimate objects, I don’t know what is.

Infringements:

Trolls cop a $250 fine per awful comment. Narcissists lose a couple of demerit points for posting more than one selfie per day. Heck, we could even fine people for misusing your and you’re. We’d be doing humanity a real service.

We’d have to think up special punishment for commenting ‘KARDASHIANS NEED TO DIE’, DMing Justin Bieber’s new fling death threats and bombarding female journalists with rape jokes since they’d probably rank as the most common infringements. But I’m sure you’ll think of something.

Anyway, just a suggestion. Feel free to Snapchat me a response. Preferably with the dog filter. I love the dog filter.

 

 

source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/aimie-rigas/you-should-need-a-licence-to-use-social-media/

Stranded travelers sleep on cots in TSA nightmare

cots

17th May 2016

The TSA’s notorious checkpoint delays were so bad at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport over the weekend that an airline had to set up cots for its fliers.

“We held 30 flights [on Sunday], and 450 passengers missed their flights because of TSA delays,” American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein told The Post.

“This weekend was probably the worst since spring break,’’ said the rep, whose airline was forced to put out about 100 cots for stranded customers. “Our concern is the summer, which is spring
break every day from June till September.’’

A federal source blamed the nightmare weekend on the Transportation Security Administration’s long-standing issues of too little manpower combined with a seasonal surge in air traffic.

“All major hubs are sitting ducks for outrageous lines at any given moment in time,’’ the source warned.

Travelers were advised to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours ahead for international take-offs — but fliers griped that even that wasn’t enough for them to get through security in time.

The lines were so long at one terminal that American Airlines workers had to remove some kiosks just to make room for the throngs.

“People were breathing heavy and freaking out,’’ said Chicago resident Christina Jack, 54, who arrived from O’Hare into LaGuardia Airport in Queens on Monday.

“There was a gentleman near me who started panicking and yelling, ‘I’m going to miss my flight! I’m going to miss my flight!’ They pulled him out and put him right up at the front of the short line.”

“I was lucky, I missed the early-morning rush,’’ she said, noting that it took her “just’’ a little more than two hours to wade through security.

American and other airlines say they are hiring extra workers to do whatever they can to move things along themselves, such as using employees to run empty metal-detector bins back up to the
front of the line.

The federal source said airports’ wait time “depends on the changing demand of flights on any given day in these hubs.”

They include LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports, which all, the TSA admitted last week, had increased wait times since last year.

A total of around 4,000 American passengers have already missed their flights because of TSA delays since February, including 800 in the past week alone, the airline said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Sunday urged the TSA to beef up its airport canine patrols, which could help process twice as many passengers an hour, proponents say.

The move is one of several that the beleaguered agency hopes to use to ease the situation.

Outcry over the delays prompted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to beg fliers last week to “be patient’’ as the government tries to speed up the screening by also paying overtime and hiring more workers.

In the past three years, the feds cut the number of screeners by 4,622, or about 10 percent, in the hopes that passengers would use an expedited screening program called PreCheck.

But as of this spring, only a little more a third of the anticipated 25 million fliers actually enrolled in the program — and Johnson said it would likely take four more years to reach the TSA’s goal.

Congress did just allocate an additional $34 million for extra TSA staffing, which includes the hiring of 768 more screeners, bringing the total to 42,525. But the president of the union representing TSA officers has said an additional 6,000 are needed.

Meanwhile, airlines say they are expecting a record number of fliers this summer.

 

source: http://nypost.com/2016/05/16/stranded-travelers-sleep-on-cots-in-tsa-nightmare/

This guy would rather go to jail than let red-light cameras stand

no light

4th April 2016

THEY want to put a red light to red-light cameras.

Long Islander Bryan Valentine, 26, was arrested Friday night for putting plastic bags over two red-light cameras at the intersection of Main Street and Landing Avenue in Smithtown.

Valentine is a follower of a group of self-styled “Red Light Robin Hoods,” who feel the cameras are a “money grab.” Members of the group hold get-togethers aimed at figuring out how to put the cameras out of commission.

The Saint James resident, who faces criminal-tampering charges, made bail Saturday and was released from the Suffolk County 4th Precinct station house. He is scheduled to be arraigned May 26 at Suffolk County District Court in Central Islip.

Stephen Ruth of Centereach, the leader of the Red Light Robin Hoods, confirmed Saturday that Valentine is affiliated with the group.

“Bryan was always willing to get arrested. He was a believer that this is unconstitutional and nothing more than a systematic form of extortion,” Ruth told The Post after Valentine was bailed out of jail.

“All I can do is give the guy respect,” Ruth said. “He believes in what he is doing. He told me [Saturday] he tried to get attention to the issue because it’s being ignored.”

Ruth, 42, was busted on similar charges eight months ago. His case is pending. On Saturday, Ruth wrote on Facebook of Valentine’s case: “People should go down to the courthouse and express their support and concern for Bryan and their discontent for the red-light-camera program.”

Soon after his own arrest in August, Ruth posted video on Facebook explaining to followers how to put red-light cameras out of commission.

“You only need a pair of balls and a painter’s extension rod [in order to point the cameras away from motorists] . . . It doesn’t take more than a minute to do this, and the satisfaction is huge,” Ruth said in the video. “I’m gonna show you how easy this is to take the power back.”

The video shows Ruth using the painter’s extension to turn the lens of a camera away from the roadway. “I just saved people about $10,000 today with this camera,” he boasted. “This is government taking advantage, and it’s going to stop!”

Ruth said Saturday that he didn’t instruct Valentine to tamper with the Smithtown lights. “But I will tell anybody to do it . . . I’m not afraid to go to jail … I have women who are willing to do it.”

Ruth hopes his campaign spreads nationwide.

“I advise all Americans to take the power back and take the cameras down. It doesn’t matter where you are.” He added the lights are timed so drivers have less than three seconds to stop in 90km/ph zones. Ruth has videotaped 100 Suffolk County intersections. Ruth believes officials shorten yellow lights at intersections with red-light cameras to jack up revenue.

He claims he’s ready to go to jail for his cause.

Ruth, a builder and landlord, said he “reached his breaking point” last August after his local priest told him he unjustly received four red-light camera tickets in a month.

“No politician is going to extort my priest for money,” Ruth said, noting that he was also tired of having to “pay the county, pay the county and pay the county” in property taxes.

“The red-light cameras revenue are the equivalent of a 60% tax increase to the general fund,” Ruth wrote on Facebook on March 23.

“Suffolk County yearly Revenue from red light camera trickery and murder is 38 million dollars.”

 

 

source: http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/this-guy-would-rather-go-to-jail-than-let-redlight-cameras-stand/news-story/c0aa7e9a0b6777431acdfb051d462d24

China reverts to ‘grid management’ to monitor citizens’ lives

hunger games china

4th April 2016

China is rolling out a nationwide system of social control known as “grid management” in a revival of state presence in residential life that had receded as society liberalised during recent decades.

From smog-blanketed towns on the North China Plain to the politically sensitive Tibetan capital of Lhasa, small police booths and networks of citizens have been set up block by block to reduce neighbourhood disputes, enforce sanitation, reduce crime — and keep an eye on anyone deemed a troublemaker.

The rollout coincides with a broader tightening of state control over civil society and crackdown on dissent under President Xi Jinping.

“The grid management system is an attempt by the authorities to re-establish its control over individuals,” said Li Dun, an expert in public management at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “The aim is to reinstate the idea of upholding the party’s leadership.”

An earlier system of neighbourhood committees, which monitored every urban citizen, has declined since the mid-1990s as private housing became more common and social controls faded. “Grid management” also harks back to the baojia system of the ancient Chinese dynasties, when groups of neighbours were responsible for mutually enforcing proper behaviour.

During a recent journalists’ tour of Lhasa, officials credited grid management for the calm and order in the city. The mass troop deployment that followed a 2008 riot was no longer visible, although local residents said the heavy security presence was reinstated during Tibetan holidays or sensitive anniversaries.

As well as small police booths that stud residential blocks in Lhasa, there are police booths at the entrance to villages around the city, as well as much larger checkpoints set up like tollbooths on the roads leading into larger towns.

“The masses manage themselves and serve themselves, this is a Chinese characteristic,” said Qi Zhala, Lhasa’s party secretary.

The system is being introduced relatively late in Guangzhou, in the traditionally more freewheeling south. The city plans to hire 12,000 grid administrators so each can be responsible for 200 families. Like many government plans in China, the numbers appear to be based on the population of registered residents, not the migrants who swell into big cities.

“If a grid administrator is responsible for 200 families, he can roughly remember who is in his grid in one month’s time and grasp the basic information of each family in about three months’ time. In six months’ time, he can count every member of those families,” Guangzhou’s mayor, Chen Jianghua, was quoted as saying by Oriental Outlook, a magazine run by Xinhua.

Several people linked to open letter reported as missing

“He will even have a clear idea of the numbers of migrant workers living in his grid and how much they are paying for their rent,” Mr Chen said.

Many of the armband-sporting neighbourhood watchers in Lhasa are beneficiaries of a national jobs programme. Mr Qi said their deployment had helped Lhasa eliminate “zero employment families”.

“If you can’t find a job for them in one block, you can move them to the next,” he said.

Deng Xiaogang, the second most senior Communist party official in the Tibet Autonomous Region, said grid management was not being used to keep migrants out of Lhasa but did acknowledge that “we might ask to see your ID”.

Rural migrants from other Tibetan areas are instantly recognisable by their different hairstyles and traditional, long-sleeved coats, and were blamed for the arson and violence of the 2008 riots.

One teenage boy from a rural area to the north of Lhasa said he was often stopped by police when he visited the city. “They check our ID and sometimes they curse at us,” he said. “It’s OK. I can accept being cursed at.”

 

source;http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bf6a67c6-940e-11e5-bd82-c1fb87bef7af.html

WA Police need semi-automatic rifles to combat active shooters, police union tells Commissioner

could you not could you notcould you notcould you not

6th March 2016

HUNDREDS more cops should be armed with semi-automatic rifles to stop “active shooter” attacks in Perth, the WA Police Union has told Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan.

So-called “active shooter” situations are mass shootings involving one or more gunmen, such as the Paris terror attacks in November, which killed 130 people.

In WA, only police officers in the country and the Tactical Response Group are equipped with long-arm rifles, such as AR-15s.

WA Police Union president George Tilbury said many members were concerned the semi-automatic Glock pistol — the standard firearm used by cops in WA — was inadequate for active shooter attacks.

Mr Tilbury said it took “significant time” to deploy the TRG, and active shooter situations required “immediate action” by first responders.

“As a starting point, we would like to see two rifles per response vehicle,” Mr Tilbury said.

“WAPU appreciates that training, rifle security within vehicles and projectile penetration concerns would need to be researched and considered, but we need to strongly consider providing this use-of-force option to police officers in the metropolitan area.”

Mr Tilbury said with the increased terror alert level and serious gun-related incidents more likely in Perth than the country, now was the time to consider the option.

Officers are armed with one of two versions of the Glock pistol, one which can fire a 15-round magazine and another with a 13-round magazine. They have a bullet velocity of 300m a second and an effective range of 30m.

By comparison, AR-15s have a 200m range and the .223 calibre rounds travel at 900m a second.

click to vote on poll

 

 

 

 

Total Votes: 1,258

 

“The proposal has a lot of merit as the police-issue Glock pistols are effectively a short range or close quarters firearm, not often suited to some of the onerous tasks associated with policing,” Sporting Shooters Association of Australia WA president Ron Bryant said.

The NSW Police Association made a similar request in the wake of the Lindt Cafe siege in December 2014.

WA Police said it does not provide comment on operational matters, but all security arrangements were subject to review “given the current global environment”.

 

source: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/wa-police-need-semiautomatic-rifles-to-combat-active-shooters-police-union-tells-commissioner/news-story/e1ac6683f18b2e80139dbeff1d5740b5

Secret police? Virginia considers bill to withhold all officers’ names.

fuck

26th Feb 2016

Although police supporters fear the use of publicly available records against them, “that’s largely based on a total lack of data,” Worrall said. “There’s no data on retaliatory actions against police officers. And even if the problem exists, I’m not convinced that hiding their names is the solution.”

Worrall and others noted that keeping officers’ names secret seems to conflict with the idea of community policing and building trust with citizens. “I don’t know how you have community policing,” Gastañaga said, “when nobody knows your name.”

Should the Virginia bill become law, the practical implications still aren’t clear. Some worry it would allow an officer who pulls over a driver, or stops someone in the street, to refuse to provide his or her name. Officers’ names would still appear on traffic tickets or court documents.

Police would still have the discretion to release any officer’s name if they wanted, and police officials said they would not withhold names without specific reasons. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said he and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors remains “committed to increasing our transparency.” He said that officers would never be removing their names from their uniforms, as some have suggested the bill would allow, and that he would withhold a name only to protect a particular officer’s safety or the sanctity of an ongoing investigation. Fairfax police waited 16 months to release the name of the officer who shot an unarmed Springfield man, John Geer, in 2013. The release came only after a judge ordered it.

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said police in the commonwealth already have the option to withhold names, and Cosgrove’s bill merely codifies that discretion. She and Carroll, the police union president, both noted that 1,500 Virginia state employees had fraudulent tax returns filed last year, which officials think originated with an online database of employee names and salaries.

“We do not expect this to be abused,” said Schrad, who sent an email to state police chiefs saying: “We caution all of our agencies to use discretion in exercising this exemption. In order to build a trust relationship with communities, agencies should make sure that the communities know who their officers are. This exemption should only be exercised when trying to protect the identity of an undercover officer or when protecting the integrity” of an internal affiars investigation.

Schrad and Carroll helped launch the bill after the Virginian-Pilot newspaper and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services reached an agreement last summer for the state to release the names, agencies and dates of employment of every law enforcement officer in Virginia. Schrad opposed the release because she said the database was old and inaccurate, saying that providing the mass data was her chief reason for pursuing the bill.

Virginian-Pilot reporter Gary Harki said he wanted to check tips he had received that officers who were fired from one department were simply rejoining a police force elsewhere, similar to the reporting done by the Boston Globe on reassignment of pedophilic Catholic priests in Massachusetts. The newspaper negotiated an agreement with the state to obtain the names of only current officers, not to publish the entire database or share it with anyone, and to indemnify the state from any legal claims.

After the agreement was signed, Schrad and Carroll objected, and the state changed its mind. No deal. But the state failed to cite a legal exemption for its refusal in the required time under the state Freedom of Information Act, and a Norfolk judge ruled that the data had to be given to Harki. The judge also ruled that police names are personnel records that can be exempt under FOIA, but he said the state had already agreed to release them. The ruling at the circuit-court level does not have the weight of legal precedent and so Schrad and Carroll sought to put it into law.

“The public has a right to know who their police officers are,” Harki said. “To me, it’s just a fundamental principle of democracy [to know] who our public officials are.” He said that the database he got was “just a piece of a larger puzzle to a problem that may or may not exist” and that he hasn’t published anything about it since the Virginian-Pilot won the court ruling in November.

When Harki worked as a reporter in West Virginia, a similar investigation of troubled officers moving between departments resulted in legislation adding oversight to the movement of officers.

Megan Rhyne of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government noted that many public servants take actions that could anger citizens — prosecutors, social service workers, judges — but their names remain public. She also said that withholding names would result in a lack of accountability for a variety of unsavory acts, such as profligate spending or hiring friends and family, actions that often are caught only when names are linked to illegal deeds.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing Thursday afternoon before a subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee, chaired by Del. James M. LeMunyon (R-Fairfax). He declined to offer his views on the bill, but he said if it passed, it would be heard again next Thursday before the entire committee, then possibly sent to the full House.

 

 

source:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/02/24/secret-police-virginia-considers-bill-to-withhold-all-officers-names/