big brother is here

so i’ve told you there are a million cameras in London monitoring the streets, i heard yesterday that in downtown Chicago if you’re driving and your lost and you circle the block 3 times, you automatically will be reported to “homeland security” as a suspicious vehicle. Now I read this about NY…

NYPD’S ‘Ring of Steel’ camera rolls, monitors license plates
Monday, October 1st 2007, 1:42 PM

Camera at corner of Church and Duane Sts. scans plates of downtown cars in test of city’s ‘Ring of Steel’ surveillance.

A high-tech camera in lower Manhattan has been secretly monitoring the license plates of passing cars periodically for more than six months in a test of the city’s planned “Ring of Steel” surveillance system, the Daily News has learned.
The camera scans the rear license plates of northbound traffic on Church St. from a light pole at the corner of Duane St., just blocks from Ground Zero and City Hall.
The images are sent wirelessly to a computer system that can automatically scan the plates and compare the numbers and letters against a database – so the NYPD can instantly know when a suspicious car or truck has passed that corner.
(read more)



Filed under Political

6 responses to “big brother is here

  1. joy

    as a nation and as an individuals, we all want less crime, more protection from crime, to feel safer in our world. to achieve this, is there not a need for camera surveillance since there simply are not enough police/security to be every where all of the time? i heard no one complaining @ the camera’s in downtown nashville when they were used to identify the two who killed the homeless woman at riverfront. is there only outrage when we don’t feel that something of this nature is important to our particular back yard? why the outrage? what would be your solution to too much crime and not enough human security?

  2. i understand the sentiment but to paraphrase the words of Ben Franklin…”he (she) who gives up liberty for security deserves neither…” America was a great experiment in freedom. Do we take the world view that we are a village and we work together to make a better country (and world) or do we take the view that we are just a bunch of individuals who must be protected from the masses?
    Right now a private army (Black Water) is being built and as we saw in huricane Katrina they were on American streets with guns. They are in Iraq and not subject to the uniform code of military conduct. Is this what we want? They are the next step after we have gotten used to the camera survelliance. Each little chip at our constitution is destroying the whole idea of who and what we are as a free people. If there is crime on the streets then it is a law enforcement issue. It’s also a society issue and the more gap there is between rich and poor the worse crime is going to get. maybe that’s where our attention needs to be…

  3. joy

    Blackwater is a mercenary group, all of us who left the army with any decent record were recruited for it. many of my fellow soldiers chose it for the money, my disappointment in them was vocal and great. credit the current leadership of the country with the debacle in NO and in IRAQ with Blackwater. Further digging will show that Halliburton is involved with funding, recruitment, and ongoing operations.

    however, the cameras in the orginal article were posted by the NYPD (per the author) and used by the NYPD, i.e. a law enforcement issue.

    Germany has used the cameras for close to 30 years, for traffic and high crime area surveil. they have yet to succumb to a mercenary army patroling their streets. the thought that a mercenary army is the automatic next step is over-simplification and an over-reach.

    there is a balance, it can be achieved. Ben Franklin’s words were used to incite, as the author of this article intended his words, and i don’t believe they necessarily apply to this.

  4. Good luck “finding the balance” in this political climate. Here’s the problem…there are many who used the same argument to justify the terror watch list for example: They said I’m not doing anything wrong so it’s ok with me if they create these “no fly” lists. So before 9/11 there were 300 or so known criminals world wide on a list. after 9/11 there are more than 35,000 Americans on the list. If you are mistakenly put on the list…can you tell me that you know how to get off of it? Senator Ted Kennedy found himself on the list. Air America Radio Talk show host Randi Rhodes found herself on the no fly list. Is it coincidence they are both Democrats? I don’t know. Is it coincidence that the only 2 legislators to recieve anthrax in the mail were heading up hearings into government corruptions? I don’t know.

    The point is today we may be talking about cameras, tomorrow DNA, gee wouldn’t the insurance companies be willing to pay big bucks for the DNA sample info…on and on it goes.

    We are much more controllable when we are afraid. We do not need to be protected from each other…we need to be protected from the attacks on our freedoms that are systematically being introduced to our society daily since 9/11

    If you turn on Fox news today you will still see a terror alert level on the bottom of the screen. The networks and CNN have stopped using it but not FOX. Go check out and see just how we have been manipulated.

    BTW, this weekend Code Pink activist Medea Benjiman tried to go to Canada and was refused entry because she has been arrested in the US for civil disobedience. She’s trying to make our society better and to stop the war. She’s not a threat to Canadians. Canada is using our FBI’s terror list and now she’s on it. For the government it can be a way to silence us if we are threatened with becoming “one of the untouchables” because we protest.

    If you show up on one of those surveillance cameras when a crime has occurred your life is about to become a bit or a lot more complicated.

  5. joy

    the manipulation of a large slice of the media is an absolute, or more probably, the large corporate owners of the “conservative” media agree and participate in the path this administration is taking. will the election be able to change the direction?
    I see the issue, not so much as there being a “no fly list”, or that cameras are being used for traffic and surveillance, but that there is little oversight and no limitations on the use of such.
    I read an article last week about a study that confirmed what i watched happen after 9/11. “Human tendancy is to believe that which is said often and said the loudest.” One of the biggest challenges I have faced with my students is to get them to question, read multiple source material, watch more than just one channel, before accepting blanket statements.

  6. I found this on common dreams website and it was first published in the Origonian. It compares the current state of affairs (much of what we’re discussing here) under the US patriot act and George Orwell’s book 1984 that most of us read in high school…I’m glad to see that you are encouraging your students to search out the news from several sources. Reading is one of the problems today. Too many people don’t read and are depending on TV news for all of their information. 5 companies control all of the media today. What airs as “news” depends on how it might help or hurt their abiltiy to make money. Example: GE is one of the largest defense contractors…they also own MSNBC, NBC and more…think they don’t control war coverage? Think again…

    Published on Sunday, October 7, 2007 by The Oregonian
    Orwell in 2007
    by Robert Weiner
    In “1984,” the novel that most baby boomers read in high school, George Orwell creates a theoretical modern-day government with absolute power — a state in which government, called the Party, monitors and controls every aspect of human life to the extent that even having a disloyal thought is against the law.

    On Sept. 26, a federal judge in Eugene ruled that crucial parts of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow federal surveillance and searches of American citizens without demonstrating probable cause. U.S. District Judge Ann L. Aiken said the federal government would “amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning.”

    Ruling in favor of an Oregon lawyer who challenged the act after he was mistakenly linked to the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, Spain, Aiken stated: “A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill advised.”

    Earlier in September, another federal judge, this one in New York, ordered the FBI to stop obtaining e-mail and telephone data without first securing a warrant. The secrecy provisions are “the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values,” U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero wrote.

    In “1984,” the Party barrages citizens with psychological stimuli designed to overwhelm the mind. The giant telescreen in every room monitors behavior. People are continuously reminded of government’s surveillance, especially by omnipresent signs reading, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.” Individuals are encouraged to spy on each other, even children on their parents, and report any instance of disloyalty to the Party — i.e., government.

    “1984″ is happening in 2007.

    Signs along interstate highways urge citizens, “Report Suspicious Behavior.” Cameras mounted at strategic locations monitor our everyday movement (just as in the novel). Red, orange and yellow are no longer just bright, pretty colors: They now represent levels of national security alerts. Intelligence agencies now define “chatter” as “terrorist speak.”

    The Party in “1984″ uses psychological manipulation to make citizens “doublethink” — hold two contradictory ideas contrary to common sense.

    Back to 2007: The Patriot Act by its very name defies individuals to disagree with it, for to do so would be “unpatriotic.”

    The Patriot Act was passed hastily in October 2001, under a cloak of fear in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Some of the fundamental changes to American’s traditional legal rights include:

    Establishing a huge surveillance system on millions with no court approval, without probable cause.

    Holding citizens indefinitely without access to the courts or counsel.

    Monitoring library withdrawals and Internet communications.

    Taping attorney-client communications.

    Creating a national system for citizens to monitor and report on each other, regardless of reason, including paranoia or ethnic bias.

    Developing a massive computer system to monitor every purchase.

    Creating a national identification card.

    The new federal court rulings are a step forward against threats to our freedom — as were other recent court rulings against the Bush administration’s contention that the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture were “obsolete” and “trite” and against our secret holding of prisoners abroad without due process.

    9-11 was real, as the recent videos by Osama bin Laden confirm now more than six years after he attacked us. However, that fact does not allow playing on our fears and increasing our paranoia about our personal safety. Sen. Joseph McCarthy tried that with Communism in the 1950s. The administration has tried to condition the American people, just as Pavlov did with his dogs.

    Congress is now revisiting the legality of the Patriot Act, warrantless surveillance programs, torture of prisoners in secret prisons and barring detainees from counsel and knowing the charges against them. By law, in the next few months, Congress must renew, change or end the Patriot Act and surveillance programs.

    Congress must act quickly or the courts should permanently strike down these presidential fear-based abuses. Americans’ trust of the federal government is now lower than during Watergate, according to a Gallup poll released Sept. 26.

    Al-Qaida hates Americans of all creeds and races and will do whatever it can to destroy us and our way of life. James Madison warned, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” With the mightiest military and strongest technology on Earth, democracy can stand up to terrorism without becoming the mirror of our enemies.

    Robert Weiner was a Clinton White House public affairs director and spokesman for the U.S. House Government Operations Committee.

    © 2007 The Oregonian

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