ON THE QT
Everything You Always Suspected--
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
Plus A Real Eyeful.
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
SECURITY IS EVERYTHING!
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
IS THIS NUTS OR WHAT?
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...
NONE SO BLIND
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
COPS TRUMP CAMS.
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.
THE SHOT SEEN ROUND THE WORLD
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
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'?"
"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"
ON THE QT is online at
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