Jon Krispin used a successful kickstarter to fund a photography project wherein he is documenting the worldly goods of inmates at the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, NY. Inmates -- who were often interred at the asylum for life -- were allowed to bring one case of possessions with them, and Krispins photos document the contents of these suitcases, which were stored between 1910 and 1960. The photos are beautiful, heartbreaking, and illuminating.
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Organizers of the United Students Against Sweatshops in DC had wondered about "Missy," an activist who always seemed to be on the scene, though no one seemed to know anything more about her. One thing they did know, however, was that Missy's appearances were correlated with DC cops showing up at the stores where they were planning (lawful, peaceful) protest actions, preventing them from taking place.
A couple of lucky coincidences and some online sleuthing revealed that Missy was an undercover DC police officer named Nicole Rizzi, who had inflitrated a law-abiding, peaceful group whose purpose was to pressure clothing retailers to buy from suppliers in Bangladesh that met minimum standards on pay and working conditions. The group has filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, and they've asked the judge for an injunction prohibiting the police from further infiltration and spying of their group.
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"Taken" is a blood-boiling, beautifully written expose on America's "civil forfeiture" laws by which people who are tangentially related to suspected drug offenses have their assets seized, even when no charges are filed and no guilt is found. The story, which Sarah Stillman wrote for The New Yorker, revolves around the notorious town of Tenaha, TX, a small town on US 59 where a corrupt system allowed cops to pull over people -- mostly brown people -- and simply take away all their possessions: their cars, their cash, even the gold crosses around their necks. The victims of the scam were threatened with the loss of custody of their children as well as time in jail, and the funds raised by this were used by the local District Attorney for frivolities like popcorn machines, as well as for donations to influential churches that helped elect her to her office.
But the story isn't limited to one town in Texas. From West Philadelphia -- where frail, elderly African-American couples have their homes seized in dawn no-knock raids because their children or even grandchildren are suspected of involvement in drug trafficking -- to towns across America, civil forfeiture is a cash-cow and an end-run around the Fourth Amendment, a way for cash-strapped towns and counties to pay for their law-enforcement infrastructure through literal daylight robbery. And it's a vicious cycle: the more the cops steal from the poor and powerless, the more money they have to hire more cops to commit more theft.
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A statue of Josef Stalin in his hometown of Gori, Georgia, pulled down in 2010, will be re-erected, thanks to prime-minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire who is friendly to Russia.
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Tim Hardy: "UK border police have the power to seize all your personal data without reasonable suspicion and keep it effectively forever even if you are not charged with or suspected of a crime."
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In London today, members of the UK Border Agency were stopping people of color at various tube stations and demanding that they show identity papers. Several eyewitnesses confirmed that the patrol officers were singling out brown people, that they were intimidating in demeanor, and that they threatened to arrest passers-by who asked what was going on. At least one officer is reported to have removed his badge number. This comes as the UKBA began to blitz London's neighbourhoods with vans threatening undocumented migrants with arrest and deportation and exhorting them to turn themselves in.
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When schools adopt "zero tolerance" policies and treat rule infractions as crimes, they often bring in actual police officers to serve as in-house security, and the entire student body become perps-in-waiting. Tim Cushing's litany of police overreach in schools includes a third-grader and a fifth-grader who were subjected to intimidating interrogation by a police officer over the alleged theft of one dollar; arrests for students who participated in a water-balloon fight at the end of the school year; felony charges for putting a joke in the school yearbook; arrests for flatulence; a cop who slammed a 10-year-old's head into a table so hard he got a concussion -- because the student was not at music class; and a diabetic student who was beaten by the school cop for falling asleep in class.
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Ed Felten comments on the news that MIT has moved to delay the release of the Secret Service files on Aaron Swartz:
It seems unlikely that MIT will find information redactable under FOIA that hasn’t already been redacted by the Secret Service.
But there are two things that MIT’s filing will more likely achieve. First, it will delay the disclosure of facts about MIT’s role in the Swartz investigation. Second, it will help MIT prepare its public-relations response to whatever is in the documents.
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[Video Link] Ted Balaker says:
A Sheriff's sergeant from Snohomish County, Washington was busted for allegedly demanding sex (even while in uniform) in exchange for tipping off bikini baristas--who were suspected of dabbling in prostitution--about undercover agents.
The operation spanned approximately nine months, involved three local law enforcement agencies plus the FBI (which supplemented the generous amount of surveillance footage provided by their local partners). It culminated in about a dozen prostitution-related arrests.
So even if the arrests included people who actually were engaged in prostitution, the massive sting operation probably didn't actually curtail prostitution. What's more likely is that it resulted in new job openings for the world's oldest profession. Expect more status quo police tactics, where prohibition corrupts cops, busts people engaged in consensual acts, and diverts resources.
The Snohomish County Sheriff's Department created a deck of cold case playing cards to raise awareness about people who have been victims of violent crime. Imagine if all the resources focused on busting naughty baristas were focused instead on busting those who murdered the people whose faces adorn the playing cards.
FBI Surveils Bikini Baristas
Spocko sez, "What are the current rules for filming police in the state of California?
This man seems to believes that he should be arrested for filming the police and offers himself up for arrest after clearly holding his phone up to film them.
He places his dog in his car and is arrested. While handcuffed and being led away, the dog jumps out of the car to go to the man. The police see the dog as attacking them and when it doesn't stop, shoot the dog several times.
Would this had happened if the man (and the police) knew the law about filming police in public in California?"
Warning: Video contains violence and language
Hawthorne, Ca Police Kill Dog(1)
Justin Carter was an 18-year-old who made a joke about shooting kids while playing the MOBA "League of Legends" (he followed that with "lol" and "jk"). A Canadian player looked up his address and reported him to the police, who arrested him for making terrorist threats. He's been in jail since March
, and faces up to eight years if convicted.
Two members of Pussy Riot have travelled to London under a cloak of secrecy to speak to the press about the plight of their bandmates in Russian labor camps. Laurie Penny was one of the reporters who got to interview them in a small, no-photos press conference:
These girls are young. Very young. For their safety, I can’t say how young, but imagine how young you think they might be. Are you imagining it? They’re about five years younger than that. When they arrived I wondered, for a second, who let a couple of moody work experience kids into a clandestine meeting...
And then there’s the cultural backlash - including sexist attacks on what Pussy Riot stand for. "The simplest example is the idea that there’s a [male] producer behind us, or that we must be being paid by foreign governments - nobody can imagine that women themselves are expressing their opinions!" says Schumacher.
"In the Russian mass media they're saying we're stupid girls, not able to think. Among the orthodox believers, in the media, they tell us to stay at home, do cooking, give birth to children," says Schumacher. "And Masha and Nadya are attacked for not fulfilling their roles as mothers." This last is particularly cruel, because not only is it the Russian state that placed Masha and Nadya in Labour camps far from their children, but both have been denied the usual clemency that allows mothers of young children to receive suspended sentences.
Pussy Riot: "People fear us because we're feminists"
The street protests in Brazil have gained momentum, with huge crowds in the streets. At issue is a kind of corporatist corruption symbolized by two upcoming football tournaments that are to be held at enormous public expense, even as poor Brazilians find themselves struggling with substandard infrastructure and price-hikes for public services. As in other BRIC nations, Brazil seems like a place where the economic future is here, it's just not evenly distributed -- not by a long shot.
The Brazilian president has praised the protesters for demanding justice but the state's spies have ramped up their social media surveillance, and the Brazilian police have met the protesters with extreme use of force, including gas, rubber bullets, and shotgun-toting cops on horseback and motorcycles:
Simultaneous demonstrations were reported in at least 80 cities, with a total turnout that may have been close to 2 million. An estimated 110,000 marched in São Paulo, 80,000 in Manaus, 50,000 in Recife, and 20,000 in Belo Horizonte and Salvador.
Clashes were reported in the Amazon jungle city of Belem, in Porto Alegre in the south, in Campinas north of São Paulo and in the north-eastern city of Salvador.
Thirty-five people were injured in the capital Brasilia, where 30,000 people took to the streets. In São Paulo, one man died when a frustrated car driver rammed into the crowd. Elsewhere countless people, including many journalists, were hit by rubber bullets.
The vast majority of those involved were peaceful. Many wore Guy Fawkes masks, emulating the global Occupy campaign. Others donned red noses – a symbol of a common complaint that people are fed up being treated as clowns.
Brazil protests: riot police scatter crowds in Rio [Jonathan Watts/The Guardian]
From the Occupy Gezi Pics tumblr: "A young girl in a Burger King restaurant on Sunday, after she managed to escape the tear gas outside.
The caption reads: 'Spring will come again. I promise you.'"
A young girl in a Burger King restaurant on Sunday
[Editor's note: I mentioned the arrest of technology editor David Mery in my recent Guardian column on Prism; he wrote in to correct some details and explain the astounding circumstances of how Britain's absurd war on terror caught him in its mesh for the crime of wearing a coat in the summer -CD]
I was observed directly when I entered Southwark tube station and then on CCTV. All the time it was by Met police officers. To my knowledge no computer algorithms were involved. In Naked Citizen, Patrick Hafner mixes the interview he did with me and some CCTV recognition algorithms, but the two are not directly related. The Met police officers at the entrance of the station were those who found my behaviour suspicious and decided initially to stop and search me under s44 of the Terrorism Act.
Who exactly took the decision to arrest me and the choice of legislation is less clear, as it appears that initially officers wanted to arrest me under the Terrorism Act but were overruled and decided on Public Nuisance (which can still carry a life sentence).
The Met and IPCC investigation files are still retained (until 2015 and 2014) but my police national computer record was deleted as well as my fingerprints and DNA, and I eventually also got the photographs back. The short version of the whole story is here.
That I let a tube train pass by without boarding it is the only important dispute in the police version of events and mine. That's the police version. Mine is that I tried to board the first train that arrived, but was then stopped by the police.
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