China's panicked upper middle class are easy picking for offshore real estate scams

The combination of Chinese anti-corruption reforms and currency controls has China's storied "middle class" (a nebulously defined category whose size and wealth are the subject of multiple, conflicting accounts) scrambling for ways to get their money out of the country and to establish bolt holes to escape to, should the situation suddenly worsen. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders on fighting global authoritarianism

Bernie Sanders -- who seems to have kicked off a 2020 presidential bid -- writes about the terrifying global parallels to Trumpism, from Japan to the Philippines to Hungary to Turkey and beyond, and talks about how an international solidarity movement has to advance a positive agenda of how the world can be taken back from looters and environmental crisis as a global tonic to these dictators-in-waiting. Read the rest

X-Men star's disappearance blamed on China's new "anti-corruption" snatch squad

Fan Bingbing is a Chinese megastar who has also appeared in western movies like "X-Men: Days of Future Past"; she has not been seen since June and the smart money has it that she was kidnapped by China's National Supervision Commission (NSC), an "anti-corruption" task force established in 2018, with a reputation for practicing "liuzhi" or "enforced disappearances." Read the rest

Middle school cop who arrested seventh graders "to prove a point" may yet face consequences

In 2013, Deputy Luis Ortiz was the "school resource officer" at Etiwanda Intermediate in San Bernardino County, California, when he arrested a group of 12- and 13-year-old girls, cuffing them and taking them to jail in a police vehicle; at the time and afterward, Ortiz said he arrested them "to prove a point" because he felt they were "unresponsive and disrespectful" and in his belief, introducing them to the criminal justice system would make them "mature a lot faster." Read the rest

Kalamazoo criminalizes homelessness, arrests city commissioner and other activists

Mike DeWaele writes, "A group of homeless activists had maintained a peaceful occupation of Bronson Park in Kalamazoo for about a month in protests of a new ordinance that made it illegal to sleep in public parks. The protest was well organized, clean and well maintained- at one point involving up to 200 homeless citizens and their supporters, with extensive logistical support from the larger community. The protest had clearly articulated demands but the City Comission was willing to address them only on a very superficial level, with no comitment to action, and then only after weeks of public pressure. While the talks were still ongoing, the city manager ordered local police to clear the camp, which happened before his morning. Several homeless and other activists refused to vacate, including city commissioner Shannon Sykes, who had been the lone voice on the commission in (passionate) support of the encampment and who had spent several nights with the protest as a supporter and observer. Those activists have all been arrested on as yet unknown charges." Read the rest

The sheriffs who cheered Trump's attack on the press have long histories of shady dealings, revealed by the press

Last week, Trump invited a collection to sheriffs to the White House for a rousing speech about the evils of the free press, exactly the kind of thing the leader of a democracy does all the time, and the sheriffs gave him a standing ovation, because that's exactly the kind of thing you'd want fairminded law-enforcement agents to do in a democracy. Read the rest

Motorola patents a robocop autonomous car that brethalyzes, mirandizes you, calls your lawyer and collects your bail

In Patent 10049419, "Mobile law enforcement communication system and method," Motorola engineers describe "A communication system, comprising: a self-driving vehicle within which to detain a detainee by a law enforcement officer" that locks you up, administers a breathalyzer, reads you your rights, figures out who your counsel of record is, conferences you in with your lawyer, consults with a court on your bail, and lets you swipe your cards to bail out of the car. Read the rest

IBM developed NYPD surveillance tools that let cops pick targets based on skin color

The NYPD's secretive Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center uses software from IBM in its video analytics system, which allows cops to automatically scan surveillance footage for machine-generated labels that identify clothing and other identifying classifiers. Read the rest

Watchdog: UK spies engaged in illegal surveillance from 2001-2012

The UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that GCHQ (the UK's domestic surveillance apparatus) illegally engaged in mass surveillance for more than a decade (starting after 9/11), during which time the foreign secretaries who were supposed to be overseeing their activities "delegated powers without oversight," allowing the spies to police their own activities. (Images: Defense Images, CC-BY-SA; Cryteria, CC-BY) Read the rest

China uses sewage surveillance to detect drugs in urine and feces

Across China, local governments have implemented mass surveillance of urine and feces in city sewers to detect drug use; in drug hotspots like Zhongshan, longitudinal assays of drug residues in human waste are used to evaluate the efficacy of anti-drug programs. Read the rest

China is sending its ethnic minorities to torture camps to be brainwashed out of Islam

During the Cultural Revolution, millions of dissidents (and those suspected of dissidence) were sent to "re-education camps" where torture and slave labor were augmented by marathon "self-criticism" sessions where prisoners would have to engage in prolonged recitations and disavowals of their heresies. Read the rest

Stephen Colbert explains Jesus' position on ripping children from their parents to Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions says that the Bible commands him to cruelly separate thousands of children from their parents, but Colbert -- a devout Catholic -- begs to differ. (Thanks, Rutherford B Hayes!) Read the rest

China mandates radio-tracking beacons in all cars

As of July 1, registering a car in China will involve registering an RFID radio-beacon that will be planted on the car in order to track its movements. Read the rest

Tanzania's independent websites, podcasts and video channels have gone dark as the country's new blogger tax goes into effect

As of this Friday, anyone operating an independent online presence in Tanzania will have to pay a licensing fee equivalent to an average year's wages, and submit to a harsh set of censorship rules, as well as an obligation to unmask anonymous posters and commenters, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Read the rest

Thoughtful, devastating critique of Jordan Peterson's "12 Rules for Life"

Jordan Peterson is really easy to make fun of -- what with the mystical nonsense and the pseudoscientific evolutionary biology -- but there are millions of (largely white, largely young, largely male) readers who've found his "12 Rules for Life" to be a balm for their souls and a rallying cry for a movement that has legitimized the most murderous strains of toxic masculinity. Read the rest

New York high school will use CCTV and facial recognition to enforce discipline

Next year, high schools in Lockport New York will use the "Aegis" CCTV and facial recognition system to track and record the interactions of students suspected of code of conduct violations, keeping a ledger of who speaks to whom, where, and for how long. Read the rest

High school students who will not smile in the hallways are sent to mandatory counselling, while bullying is rampant

High school students in Pennsylvania's Northern Lebanon School District report that they are not allowed to walk through their schools' hallways unless they smile; if they refuse they are sent for mandatory counselling. Read the rest

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