Archive for November 12th, 2023

Technology doesn’t make better people.  –  Vera, from Aqkol, Kazakhstan

Creepy Coppers

Police departments attract predatory garbage even to positions that don’t involve directly inflicting violence on citizens:  “[Typical and representative Tennessee cop employee] John Herring was arrested and charged…[with] possession of child pornography…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1291)

All too often, evil arrives cloaked in the mantle of expediency:

…Smart Aqkol [is] a pilot study in digitized urban infrastructure for Kazakhstan…[using] Chinese surveillance [technology to establish a]…Chinese-style public surveillance system…The government…[sells the system with the usual rhetoric about] public safety…But the hardware came through…China’s…Silk Road initiative…and…uses surveillance cameras made by Chinese firms Dahua and Hikvision, which in China have been used — and touted, even — for their ability to track “suspicious” people and groups.  Both companies are sanctioned by the U.S. due to their involvement in surveilling and aiding in the repression of ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang…Kazakhstan…is home to a large Uyghur diaspora of more than 300,000 people, many of whom have deep ties to Xinjiang…Hikvision announced in December 2022 that its software is used by Chinese police to set up “alarms” that are triggered when cameras detect “unlawful gatherings” in public…its cameras can detect ethnic minorities based on their unique facial features…

I Spy (#1340)

It’s good to see sane people speaking up about this:

…the European Union…have bent themselves towards breaking up “monopolistic” (i.e., huge and non-European) services on the Internet, in the name of benefitting…user choice…this effort is at least equally motivated by a desire to delay adoption of end-to-end secure messaging solutions that lack…means to passively “backdoor” them…the latest draft of Section 45 of the EU’s eIDAS proposal contains phenomenally dangerous propositions that will clearly undermine the security and privacy of millions, even billions (because Europeans also speak with non-Europeans) of people.  They are a replay of the widely derided ChatControl proposal…and they too deserve to be roundly and loudly rejected by the privacy-loving European public …“Browsers” are not somehow conspiring to exclude European innovation.  It’s simply safer and clearer and more transparent to have just one agreed, well-oiled, open, global, standard website trust mechanism, especially where it’s proposed to be regionally usurped by something that is so clearly undermining trust and enabling surveillance…

Choke Point (#1354) 

It always starts with a politically-unpopular group like sex workers or gun owners, but never stops there:

The [pretexts] vary, but the scene that plays out is almost always the same.  Bank customers get a letter…saying their institution is closing all of their checking and savings accounts.  Their debit and credit cards are shuttered, too.  The explanation, if there is one, usually lacks any useful detail.  Or…instead, they discover that their accounts no longer work while they’re at the grocery store, rental car counter or A.T.M.  When they call their bank, frantic, representatives show concern at first…then comes the telltale pause and shift in tone.  “Per your account agreement, we can close your account for any reason at any time,” the script often goes…This isn’t your standard boot for people who have bounced too many checks.  Instead, a vast security apparatus has kicked into gear, starting with [bureaucrats] in Washington and [imposed on] bank security managers…The [pretext used] is to crack down on fraud, terrorism, [and invented political “crimes” such as sex work and “]money laundering[“…]

The Widening Gyre (#1368)

Apparently, as “sex trafficking” hysteria has shrink in popularity, imaginary “sex traffickers” have been forced to give up their ambitious schemes to abduct women and children from big-box stores such as Target and Ikea, and instead to stalk them at gas stations.  And while they could once afford to lure them with roses, honey, or $100 bills, or to mark cars with various objects such as zip ties or litter, they’ve now been reduced to rather pathetically begging for help.  I’m a bit disappointed that Sara didn’t describe her fantasy stalker’s vehicle as a windowless white van, though.

Unsafe for Human Consumption (#1370)

The way local media parrots copaganda in the face of clear evidence of its foolishness is utterly pathetic:

A…Sonoma County [California cop had a panic attack]…after a c[opsuck]er reported finding what [he imagined was] fentanyl.  The [suggestion was strong enough for the weak-minded cop to have psychosomatic symptoms, feeling]…lightheaded and dizzy, and experienc[ing] rapid tunnel vision, [none of which are] symptoms of…fentanyl…a[nother cop]…quickly administered naloxone, which [calmed the crybaby cop due to the placebo effect]…

A Moral Cancer (#1379)

Anyone whose brain isn’t rotted by prohibitionism could’ve predicted this:

The Biden administration’s flavored cigarettes and cigars ban, currently under final review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will soon make it illegal to buy or sell menthol and flavored tobacco products in the United States…its [claimed] intention [is] to prevent people, especially [imaginary] children, from becoming addicted to cigarettes…[but] a similar ban in Brazil gives us a window into the probable outcome of [this new theater in the Drug War]…In 2012…Brazil became one of the first countries in the world to fully ban flavored cigarettes…But…demand for…flavored cigarettes…only increased.  Illegal actors quickly entered the market, leading the Brazilian government to conduct dangerous raids…[which have often resulted] in bystanders being killed in the crossfire.  The Brazilian government has lost billions of dollars in enforcement and tax revenues…[and] Brazil now has one of the largest cigarette markets in the world, [because]…of…prohibition…the illegal cigarette market now represents about half of the entire cigarette market


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