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Survivors of the Florida School for Boys return to the site of legal kidnapping, torture and murder of children


Mother Jones has published a heartbreaking story about the survivors of the Florida School for Boys; children who were, basically, kidnapped by southern cops and sent to a hellhole where backbreaking labor, torture, and murder were the order of the day. A state court has finally given the go-ahead to exhume the graves of the children who were killed and buried in anonymous, unmarked graves by their jailers. The survivors returned for a press-conference, but found themselves with almost no press to speak to.

Mike Mechanic writes, "Johnny Gaddy, 68, still doesn't understand how he landed at Florida's Dozier reform school. When he was 11, the police showed up at his front door. 'They told me the judge wanted to talk to me,' he recalls. 'I'll never forget it as long as I live. I was watching 'The Lone Ranger' on TV. My mama said, 'The officer going to take you down, the judge going to talk to you.' I said, 'Mama, why's he going to talk to me?' She said, 'Go ahead.' He took me to the police station, told me to get in a cell. I never saw a judge. I wasn't sentenced for anything as far as I know. I was handcuffed all the way to Marianna.'

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NH legislator introduces bill to stop small-town cops from buying tanks

New Hampshire state representative J.R. Hoell has introduced state legislation that will require police departments to get approval from citizens at a town hall meeting before they buy military-style gear. The bill, called the Police Equipment and Community Engagement (PEACE) Act, was prompted by the city of Concord buying its police department an armored assault vehicle, a decision justified in part by the police department's stated need to fight protest groups such as Occupy.

The vehicle in question, a Lenco Bearcat, costs $258,000 and was widely opposed by the people of Concord, a town of 42,000 which has experienced three murders in the past ten years. The decision was justified in part by "recent murders and armed robberies" -- but Concord had no murders in 2012 or 2013, and police responded to 20 armed robberies -- the same number of robberies as the town experienced, on average, for the preceding decade.

Above, a video from a retired USMC colonel explaining why he doesn't want his local cops driving around in tanks.

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San Francisco police beat up and detain Good Samaritans who call 911 and perform first aid on accident victim


Peretz Partensky and her his friend had just had a dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco's SOMA district when they happened on an injured woman who had fallen off her bicycle. They called 911 and performed first aid while they waited for emergency services. When the police got there, they beat up Partensky's friend and detained him, and when Partensky objected, they cuffed, brutalized and arrested him. Injured and in an holding cell, she asked to see a doctor, and the SFPD deputies on duty at the jail stripped him naked and threw him in solitary confinement and marked him as a candidate for psychiatric evaluation.

Partensky complained to the SF Office of Citizen Complaints, documenting him plight in eye-watering detail (Partensky works for a company that supplies software to the restaurant on whose doorstep the entire incident took place, and they were happy to hand him CCTV footage of the incident). The entire procedure then went dark, because in San Francisco, you aren't allowed to know what happens to police officers who beat you up, thanks to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights.

One of the officers who harassed, beat, and wrongfully arrested Partensky, Paramjit Kaur, is already the subject of a civil rights suit. The other SFPD personnel who attacked and arrested the Good Samaritans are Officers Gerrans and Andreott.

For Partensky, the take-away message is clear: if you see someone who needs medical assistance, don't call 911, because the police might come and beat you up. Instead, help that person get to the hospital in a taxi.

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Turks bid farewell to the Internet in the face of brutal censorship/surveillance law

Turkey's brutal new Internet law grants the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate the power to arbitrarily censor Web-pages to the individual URL level, much like the Great Firewall of China -- meaning that specific articles that are critical of the state can be censored while leaving the remainder of the site intact. It criminalizes "harmful" Internet messages and hosting "harmful" content, and requires long-term data-retention by ISPs, meaning the state and police will be able to access records of your entire online activity. It will also mandate the use of deep packet inspection to detect and disrupt technologies for evading censorship and maintaining privacy.

The law was passed in a process rife with corruption, secrecy and other undemocratic irregularities. Turkey's #OccupyGezi uprising galvanized a diverse opposition that took to the streets against corruption and repression, spread using the Internet. It documented police brutality that shocked the world and uploaded the videos to Youtube. As the forces of reaction and oppression in Turkey move to consolidate their power, it's clear that this law is intended to prevent any further use of networks to organize and publicize opposition movements.

On Medium, Ahmet A. Sabancı has posted a poignant farewell to the Internet from Istanbul:

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New Zealand's spies admit to illegally deleting key evidence in Kim Dotcom case

GCSB, New Zealand's secret police force has admitted to illegally deleting key evidence related to the raid on Kim Dotcom over his Megaupload service. The spies agree that the evidence was illegally deleted, but claim it was an honest mistake, because the data "aged off" their retention system.

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UK Parliament considers allowing secret courts to issue orders to seize reporters' notebooks

The Deregulation Bill is coming before the UK House of Commons on Monday, and among its many "red-tape-cutting" provisions is one that would allow the courts to grant the police secret hearings in which they could secure orders to seize reporters' notebooks, hard-drives and other confidential material. No one representing the reporters would be allowed to see the evidence in these "closed material procedures."

How the hell did this happen? Sadly, it was absolutely predictable.

When Parliament passed a law permitting secret trials where people who were adverse to the government in court proceedings would not be allowed to see the government's evidence, nor have their lawyers review it, those of us who sounded the alarm were accused of hysterics. The Libdem leadership whipped their MPs on the issue, ordering them to vote for it. Many of us in the Libdem party left over the issue, and the party grandees patronised us on the way out, saying that we didn't understand that the Libdems had put in place "crucial changes," and that somehow, there were changes that could paper over the naked fact of a law permitting secret trials in Britain.

The Libdems' cowardice over secret trials removed any claim they had to being "the party of liberty." Anyone in the party leadership today who expresses surprise at the expansion of the doctrine of secret courts is either an idiot or a bad liar. When future journalists who report on government wrongdoing have their notebooks seized based on secret evidence, the trigger will be pulled by the government of the day -- but the gun was loaded by the Libdems in 2013.

The other parties were crucial to the creation of secret courts, but neither Labour nor the Tories have ever claimed to be "the party of liberty." No one mistook Labour -- creators of RIPA and architects of the world's most advanced surveillance state -- for a party that believed in freedom. Indeed, the Libdems' victories in the last national elections are in large part thanks to widespread disgust with Labour's authoritarianism. And as for Tories, everyone knew that the Nasty Party would happily gut civil liberties faster than you could say "G4S."

The Libdems promised to be a party that would, at last, stand up for freedom. Instead, they sold out out, and we're going to be paying the price for many years to come. There is a world of difference between objecting to the creation of secret courts and the expansion of secret courts. Now that secret courts are a fact of life in the UK, their expansion will always be on the horizon. As soon as "the party of liberty" endorsed the idea that justice could be served when the government could keep secrets from the people who were seeking redress of its wrongs, they set the stage for a mushrooming, toxic doctrine of state secrecy that overrules foundational democratic principles that have been in place since the overthrow of the Star Chamber in 1641.

It is an everlasting shame to the party, and makes me embarrassed to have endorsed them and raised funds for them. Better that they never won a single seat than to have brought us to this pass in British politics in the name of "liberty."

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Ukrainian riot police strip protester naked in sub-zero weather

In this video, Ukrainian riot police have stripped a protester naked in subzero conditions and are parading him in public before putting him in a police van. The protester is stoic in the face of humiliation.

Daniel, who wrote our feature on #euromaidan, says that it's getting worse there: "Tires burning, police started shooting to kill, body count was at 7 this morning. Hard to say, lots of people disappear. I'm wearing bulletproof vest."

Of the protester in the video, he says, "look at his statue - what a spirit."

Stay safe, Daniel.

berkut, polonenuy

Ukraine slides into full-blown dictatorship with brutal new law


(click for full)

Despite the valiant efforts of the motley opposition in Ukraine, the tame Ukrainian Parliament has passed a brutal law that slides the country into full-on dictatorship. Forbidden under the new law on penalty of high fines and imprisonment: driving cars in columns that are more than five vehicles long; setting up an unauthorized sound system; distribution of "extremist opinion"; "mass disruptions" (10-15 years imprisonment!); collecting information on police or judges; and more.

The new law also demolishes the trappings of democracy: you can be convicted in absentia based on unsubstantiated hearsay; MPs can be arrested during plenary sessions; the state can order arbitrary Internet censorship; and legal service of documents now consists of signatures or "any other data."

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Petition: kill the Oakland "Domain Awareness Center" spy-program


Eddan sez, "The Oakland City Council is in the final stretch of approving the funding of the Domain Awareness Center to be built in Oakland. Though there has been a great deal of public outcry at the City Council itself, it just keeps going forward especially because they're now trying to pitch this as a crime-fighting law enforcement tool. Which is especially important to be on the right side of in Oakland during a City Council/Mayor election year. The Public Safety Committee to meet Jan. 28 is made up of most of the City Council members that are most skeptical and least supportive of the way this Department of Homeland Security new gadget funding is dangled before a resource-poor and embattled police department."

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Nun faces 30 years in prison for exposing security lapses in nuclear weapons program


Mike from Mother Jones sez, "Josh Harkinson writes about the upcoming sentencing of Megan Rice, an elderly nun and Plowshares activist who broke into the Y-12 enriched uranium facility with two fellow aging activists. The incident, which exposed glaring security flaws and was deeply embarrassing to the feds, could get the trio a maximum 30 years in federal prison. Harkinson writes:"

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Victorian Transport Department calls cops on 16 year old for reporting bug that exposed customers' personal data

Last month, around Christmas, a sixteen-year-old Australian named Joshua Rogers living in Victoria told the Transport Department that its Metlink website was exposing the sensitive details of over 600,000 transit users, including "full names, addresses, home and mobile phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and a nine-digit extract of credit card numbers."

He waited two weeks, but after he had not heard from Metlink -- and as the data exposure was ongoing -- he went to the national newspaper The Age, who called the Transport Department for comment. Whereupon the Transport Department called the police, who arrested the teenager.

It may be that the mistake that exposed all this sensitive data was an "honest" one -- after all, there's no experimental methodology for verifying security apart from telling people what you're doing and asking them to poke holes in it. Security is a process, not a product.

But that means that anyone who keeps sensitive public information on hand has a duty to take bug reports about vulnerabilities seriously, and to act on them quickly. Killing (or arresting) the messenger is absolutely unforgivable, not merely because of the injustice to this one person, but because it creates a chilling effect on all future bug-reporters, and not just for your service, but for all of them.

The Transport Department hasn't only unjustly punished an innocent person; it hasn't only weakened its own security; it hasn't only failed in its duty to its customers -- it has struck a blow against the very idea of security itself, and harmed us all.

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UK legal proposal: authorities can prevent anyone from doing anything for any reason


The UK's proposed new Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill creates a new kind of injunction, the Ipnas ("injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance"), which judges can hand down without proof of wrongdoing to anyone over ten, and send them to jail to violate them (kids go to young offenders centres for up to three months). Along with the Ipnas comes "dispersal orders," which police can use to order anyone to leave any public place for any length of time, for any reason, on their own say-so.

As George Monbiot writes in the Guardian "The new injunctions and the new dispersal orders create a system in which the authorities can prevent anyone from doing more or less anything."

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Flute virtuoso's rare instruments destroyed by US customs

When Canadian flute virtuoso Boujemaa Razgui flew to JFK en route to Boston, his 13 handmade flutes, made from rare reeds, did not arrive with him. They had been mistaken for bamboo by a US customs inspector who opened Razgui's luggage in transit, removed the instruments, and destroyed them. Razgui's been told to write a letter to the Department of Agriculture in DC if he has any further queries. (via Naked Capitalism)

Oklahoma City cops charge Keystone XL protesters with "terrorism hoax" because their banner shed some glitter


Two protesters who held up an anti-Keystone-XL-pipeline banner at the Oklahoma City headquarters of Devon Energy have been charged with perpetrating a "terrorism hoax" because some of the glitter on their banner fell on the floor and was characterized by OKC cops as a "hazardous substance."

The arrest is an extreme example, but it's not an isolated one. Indeed, leaked documents show that TransCanada has an army of spies assembling dossiers on protesters, and has been briefing the FBI and local law on techniques for prosecuting anti-pipeline protesters as terrorists.

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2013: a year of very bad cops (and some good ones)


Vice's Year in Bad Cops rounds up the worst American police stories of the years: cops who executed peaceful housepets in front of children, cops who forgot about jailed innocents and left them to drink their own urine, cops whose dogs only attack brown people, cops who only stop-and-frisk brown people, and, of course, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

But the article also singles out Chris Burbank, the Chief of the Salt Lake City Police who sounds like an awesome guy. He arranged for a peaceful, respectful eviction of SLC Occupy, refuses to have his officers enforce immigration laws, and won't turn his cops into militarized SWAT goons. His motto: "[The cops] aren't an occupying force. We are a part of the community."

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New London police powers: the right to bite


Britons, take note: Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives has a timely reminder about the London Police's new powers. The new biting powers will be useful alongside the ASBO, detention without charge, the right to seize domain names, illegal harvesting of innocent peoples' DNA, the right to arrest you for reading things that might help terrorists, the right to kettle legal demonstrations, the right to shoot people in the street, the right to beat people standing near demonstrations to death, the right to arrest you for taking pictures that might help terrorists, and all the other legal doctrines that are so consistent with all the invisible words in our "unwritten constitution."

New Police Powers (via Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

France's new surveillance law creates a police state

Jeremie from La Quadrature du Net writes, "France just turned into a surveillance state, adopting a sneaky surveillance framework in article 13 of its Defense Bill (Loi de programmation militaire). It drastically extends the exceptional regime of extra-judicial surveillance against terrorism, for broad motives, including for the purpose of 'preserving scientific and economic interests of France' which could enable total.surveillance of political activists, journalists, corporate watchdogs, etc."

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DHS stops NYT reporters at border, lies about it

Two New York Times reporters are suing the DHS, because the agency stopped them and questioned them extensively at the border, typing their answers into a computer, and then later insisted first that they weren't required to search for records, and then that they had no records at all on the men.

KC cop threatened to destroy home and kill pets unless he was allowed to conduct a warrantless search


Eric Crinnian, a lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri, says that a police officer threatened to destroy his possessions and shoot his dog unless he was permitted to enter Crinnian's home without a warrant. The officer was apparently seeking two men who'd violated their parole; when Crinnian said he'd never heard of the men, the officer asked to come inside to verify that they weren't there. Crinnian told him to go get a warrant, and the officer said that, in serving such a warrant, he would be sure to destroy Crinnian's possessions and kill his pets.

Making such a threat is apparently legal in Missouri, if you are a police officer.

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Miami Gardens police arrest black man for trespassing 56 times -- at the store where he works


In the city of Miami Gardens, outside of Miami, FL, the police use aggressive campaigns of stop-and-frisk and absurd arrests to bolster their records, to the great detriment of the African-American majority who live there. For example, a young man named Earl Sampson has been stopped by Miami Gardens police 258 times; they've searched him more than 100 times; and they've arrested him for trespassing 56 times. He's never been convicted of anything apart from simple possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Sampson's trespassing arrests occurred at his place of work, a convenience store called the 207 Quickstop; Sampson was repeatedly arrested for trespassing there, over the loud objections of his employer, Alex Saleh, who owns the store, and who explained to police that Sampson was not trespassing in his store.

When Saleh gathered video evidence that showed the police had falsified their arrest reports and violated the rights of his customers, he was targeted for police harassment, including falsified vehicle stops and personal threats. Saleh is suing for federal civil rights violations, alleging that Miami Gardens police "routinely, under the direction of the city’s top leaders, directed its officers to conduct racial profiling, illegal stops and searches and other activities to cover up illegal misconduct."

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Example of how the police can search your car without a warrant or your consent [video]

Question: "Am I free to go or am I being detained?"

Answer: "Duh constitution don't apply at checkpoints."

The cops are desperate to bust this young man. They are surprised to discover that they are being videoed.

(Thanks, Mikea)

Roadblock stops drivers to collect saliva and blood samples

UPDATE: I made a few corrections to the post, as marked.

Reported on the Belarusskiy Partizan a local Texas TV news program:

Some drivers along a busy Minsk Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by DAI agents federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood.

It was part of a Belarus government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.

"It just doesn't seem right that you can be forced off the road when you're not doing anything wrong," said Yuliya Gordyenko Kim Cope, who said she was on her lunch break when she was forced to pull over at the roadblock on Ploshcha Svabody Street in central Minsk Beach Street in North Fort Worth.

The DAI National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said participation was "100 percent voluntary" and anonymous.

But Gordyenko Cope said it didn't feel voluntary to her -- despite signs saying it was.

"I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn't let me and forced me into a parking spot," she said.

Thank goodness this would never happen in a true democracy.

Drivers Stopped at Roadblock Asked for Saliva, Blood (Thanks, Matthew!)

Tennessee school safety officer arrests parent for calmly objecting to pick-up policy

Here's a video of a Cumberland County, Tennessee school safety officer illegally arresting a parent who disagreed with the school's policy on picking up kids. The policy had recently changed, creating a long traffic jam, so the soon-to-be-arrested man walked to the school to get his kids.

The school safety officer was reportedly upset because the parent had called the local sheriff to complain about the school's new pickup policy and the long waits, and what followed was an argument in which the reasonable, quiet-spoken and polite parent was arrested for "disorderly conduct" by the school safety officer, who put him in cuffs and then into the back of a cruiser without advising him of his rights or enumerating the charge against him.

Presumably the officer was trying to help the local school board get rid of excess cash on its books by creating enormous, pointless liabilities for it.

Update: Here's local coverage from 6ABC/WATE: The school is South Cumberland Elementary. Officer Absolute Obedience is actually Sheriff Deputy and School Resource Officer Avery Aytes. Jim Howe is the dad. Amanda Long, his fiancee, shot the video.

Aytes's boss, Cumberland County Sheriff Butch Burgess is described as saying he "hasn't seen the video and doesn't need to, because it won't tell the whole story. He says Aytes was just doing his job."

G4S rips off UK government for £24M, wants to continue receiving government contracts

G4S, the titanic security contractor, has admitted to overcharging the UK Ministry of Justice £24M for its contract to monitor offenders' tracking tags. This is the latest mass-scale cock-up from the wildly profitable firm, whose recent hall of shame includes forging documents in order to deport asylum seekers, catastrophic failure to deliver London Olympics security, and complete mismanagement of a South African prison.

G4S offered to return the money, but the Ministry of Justice rejected the offer.

The firm is anxious to retain its eligiblility to bid on future government contracts, including the private municipal police forces for which it has aggressively lobbied.

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Mother fined $10 for not including Ritz crackers in kids' school lunch

Manitoba Government's Early Learning and Child Care fined mother Kristen Bartkiw $10 because she neglected to include healthful Ritz crackers in her kids' school lunches. Weighty Matters has more details:

She sent her children to daycare with with lunches containing leftover homemade roast beef and potatoes, carrots, an orange and some milk.

She did not send along any "grains".

As a consequence the school provided her children with, I kid you not, supplemental Ritz Crackers, and her with a $10 fine.

Parents fined for not including Ritz crackers in kids' school lunch

UK home secretary wants to overturn human rights treaties and make terror suspects stateless

Under international human rights conventions, nations are not allowed to withdraw their passports from citizens if doing so would leave them stateless. Theresa May, the UK home secretary, has asked her staff to find a way around this, so that British citizens who are accused of terrorism can have their passports withdrawn while they are travelling abroad, rendering them stateless, with no way to return home to Britain.

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Running a stop sign results in multiple police-ordered anal probes

Good times in New Mexico, courtesy a police department high on the war on drugs:

Eckert's attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle, he appeared to be clenching his buttocks. Law enforcement thought that was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity. While officers detained Eckert, they secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed for an anal cavity search.

The lawsuit claims that Deming Police tried taking Eckert to an emergency room in Deming, but a doctor there refused to perform the anal cavity search citing it was "unethical."

But physicians at the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City agreed to perform the procedure and a few hours later, Eckert was admitted.

While there...

1. Eckert's abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.

2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

4. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

5. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

6. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.

8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert's anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.

Don't Appear to Be Clenching Your Buttocks When Pulled Over For Not Coming to a Complete Stop or Be Tortured by Doctors: America, This is Your War on Drugs

OMG WTF TSA

Matthew says: "The TSA is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases, including records such as car registrations and employment information." From the New York Times:

At the heart of the expanded effort is a database called the Automated Targeting System, which is maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and screens travelers entering the United States.

Data in the Automated Targeting System is used to decide who is placed on the no-fly list — thousands of people the United States government has banned from flying — and the selectee list, an unknown number of travelers who are required to undergo more in-depth screening, like Mr. Darrat. The T.S.A. also maintains a PreCheck disqualification list, tracking people accused of violating security regulations, including disputes with checkpoint or airline staff members.

When I flew out of Burbank to Oakland on Sunday, the agent at the ID/boarding pass station had a mobile computer that he used to look up my information. It was the first time I'd seen something like this.

Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly

Sting operations on people answering Craigslist ads for housepainting

Ted Balaker says: "Occupational licensing laws are implemented in the name of protecting consumers, but they're often pushed by established businesses to thwart competitors. They end up hurting poor and minority entrepreneurs, and stymie cultural innovations like African hair braiding and fish pedicures (which are popular in Asia). Practitioners of such services have been forced to comply with standard cosmetology licensing regulations, which are often costly, time consuming, and irrelevant to the services they're offering.

"In California, armed officers actually arrest landscapers, painters, and others seeking contract work. California's State Licensing Board recently completed it's 'Summer Blitz' operation. They set up sting operations all over the state and proudly post footage of the operation online."

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