On the QT Home Page


Everything You Always Suspected--
Plus A Real Eyeful.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
Publisher and Editor


to QT #22. All eyes on YOU. Are you ready for your closeup? 9/11 gave a big boost to the public spycam concept. Hitherto Americans had doubts about starring in Government Spycam Productions. But now


Being perpetually eyeballed by security cameras seems a small price to pay for peace of mind. And please-- let's not hear any more references to George Orwell. He was a negative kind of guy anyway, with all that "1984" stuff about a society waging permanent war. So get those spycams rolling at every government office, business center and tourist attraction. Never ask


Imagine the taxpayer funded manpower a massive spycam setup will demand. Though a face recognition database would no doubt be employed someone still has to monitor the cams. Waiting for the buzzer to go bada bing. Checking for suspicious people that the face base might not recognize. Since the number of terrorists is statistically small in relation to the rest of humanity, spycam folk could pass the long dull pricey hours doing things like goofing on the fat guy caught by camera 5742 laboriously climbing the stairs to the Statue of Liberty torch. Or taking lascivious spycam interest in the hottie bending over the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Employment ads for spycam watchers might be listed under


A small town Ohio landlord was recently found to have been videotaping his tenants in their bathrooms for years. A tenant finally spotted the spy hole in the ceiling (disguised as a smoke alarm) and notified police. The landlord committed suicide. A sad loss of a potential asset for Operation Spycam. One hates to be indelicate but won't cams have to be placed in restrooms in the types of public areas listed above? A stall being just the place to leave a bomb...


Bank robberies have become the rage in big and small cities. Not the class acts of a John Dillinger but simple walk in gimme-the-money demands. Mostly by druggies who claim to have a weapon. According to New York City law enforcement officials, these low-effort robberies are encouraged by a number of factors: unwillingness of banks to have their personnel take risks, lawsuits in cases where dyepacks were used and a lack of bank guards on the premises. Plus the overall lousy quality of images garnered by security spycams. In banks, security guards are the equivalents of neighborhood beat cops. In bank robberies


The spycam is increasingly touted as a solution for, and sometimes deployed in, nabes with crime problems. The evidence of success in the United States is inconclusive. But some people love the idea. Particularly urban politicians who obtain federal or state money to buy pricey toys that promise an "innovative" approach to law enforcement. Though there's a good chance said toys will oxidize in a precinct storeroom, be installed but not connected and/or go home in someone's bowling bag, spycams don't raise the specter of jacking local property taxes to pay for real police. Nor do spycams join recalcitrant unions. They are however, fixed in place. One either puts them everywhere or crime moves out of their arc. And the monitoring manpower problem remains. Some cities have tried to solve it by enlisting citizen volunteers. Other citizens have balked at the idea fearing neighbors manning spycams might become too interested in non criminal activity.


One last spycam question. What happens to the surveillance footage? Even if being in a government image database seems AOK consider the inevitable outward dribble of data. Think there's no interest in images of average people caught unawares? What about all those bag men busted in shopping malls carrying hidden video cameras? Then there's the restroom shots. One could easily end up an international star on the Internet appearing in America's Funniest Not-At-Home Videos. Back in Lana Turner's day, in order to be discovered one had to spend time hanging out on a drugstore stool. But post 9/11 a skip to the loo at the Lincoln Memorial may suffice.


In late February another heroin ring was busted in a section of the Pine Hills neighborhood in Albany, New York. Which makes 3 in roughly a year. All in a relatively small area on and around lower Western Avenue. The Albany County Sheriff's Department Drug Interdiction Unit keeps knocking them down and they keep popping back up like ducks in a fairground ball toss. The most recent sounds like a mid level operation: dealers were older with connections in other nabes and cities. Customers either tapped on a ground level window or got home delivery. (Yes Virginia, more than pizza comes to the door.) Along with college students, the neighborhood has many retired people living on fixed incomes in apartments and private homes. The nabe's drug trade with its thugs, pitbulls and related street crime, alarms the elderly as it does younger families and many students and parents. So does the neglected condition of buildings owned by absentee landlords. Such buildings, plus the layout of local streets, lend themselves to drug trade. The main avenues, including Western, have heavy commuter traffic and at points run parallel with smaller streets. The area between is riddled with old alleys and tumbledown sheds. It's easy to leave by the back door of a building on one street and come out the front door on another. The neighborhood also houses a sizable number of substance abusers in rehab programs, some of whom live independently in apartments. The presence of persistent drug trade provides strong temptation. A middle school is within the area as are many small businesses. This neighborhood is a prime example of one that needs beat cops. Cruising cops in patrol cars or ones making occasional bike runs don't see, or have the power to discourage, patterns of neighborhood crime like up close and personal officers on foot.


Thanks to the Albany area residents who contributed their insights to the above. Thanks also to Al Giordano of Narco News for comments regarding QT's recommendation of Transparency International (TI) in issue 21. TI is an international, non governmental organization whose stated purpose is combatting corruption. TI has some 80 chapters around the world. Their approach to solutions tends toward a global coalition of civil society, government and business. Whether one agrees with the globalist approach or not, TI is a great information resource. Their daily corruption headlines from around the world, available via subscription, provide context for anyone interested in the patterns of corrupt practices: as in Zimbabwe, so goes it closer to home. TI also takes stories from far flung local media sources and puts them out on the international stage, giving them much wider readership. Information of this sort is becoming increasingly important to citizens in a world where corrupt connections stretch across national borders. But recommendation of TI in QT #21 lacked an important caveat.


Al Giordano, creator of Narco News, a website devoted to exposing institutional (nations, banks, governments) involvement in the international drug trade and who recently faced Mexican bank Banamex (now merged with USA's own Citibank) in a libel suit and won, raises valid questions about who and what TI does and doesn't cover or condemn. And about some of its officers and their corporate interests. Narco News supports drug legalization. But having a point of view-- whether you agree or not-- doesn't mean Al Giordano isn't an astute, courageous reporter who can cut to a chase bar none. His take on Transparency International is well worth considering. Links to material supplied by Al Giordano regarding TI can be found at the end of QT and is recommended reading. None the less, QT still stands by the recommendation of Transparency International as a resource. But a grain-- nah make it a box-- of salt is never a bad idea. What gets left out is often as important as what gets put in. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, the remarkable thing about the dog that barked in the night was that it didn't.


Up On The Roof: Will Free Wireless Bandwidth Bridge the Digital Divide?/Bye Bye Birdie: What Happened To Citizens' Sketches of Lark Street Improvements?/Hud Two Three Four: The Roster of Frauds/Revelations from the Holy Temple Of The Boom Car Boy/ Plus QT's usual coverage of readers' issues. Remember--If it bugs you and/or makes you laugh pass it on. QT will pick it up and if it copies, run with it.

Narco News Links: The following are direct links to material in two parts, regarding Transparency International on the Narco News Website.


Also an interesting exchange between Al Giordano and an OAS staffer on a Latinscribes archived mailing list. A search for "Transparency International" will bring up the dialogue:


Links to Transparency International:

International Headquarters, http://www.transparency.org/
U.S. Chapter, http://www.transparency-usa.org

"Spycam: Do you mean `Sputum'?"

WordPerfect Spellcheck

"Get the cameras rolling, keep the action going..."

Andrea True, More More More

"When investigators searched two country houses belonging to Shenyang's mayor, they found $6 million worth of gold bars hidden in the walls, 150 Rolex watches...and what they thought was a trove of antiques...the antiques turned out to be bogus, proving that in China even crooks get ripped off."

John Pomfret, The Washington Post, "One corrupt city shows the plague that affects all of China"

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Crumpling HUD bux blowing in the wind.
updated 3/10/2002