Pentagon gives New Orleans coppers snow camouflage parkas…Huh? Wha?


Snow shoes should work well on Mississippi mud flats

The disturbing events in Ferguson have focused attention on the militarization of America’s police forces. God knows, it’s worrying enough that the police begin to seem more like an army of occupation than agents of law enforcement.

New Orleans and Gulf Coast news site The Lens decided to have a look at just what kind of military kit Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish aquired.

Each county has received from the Defense Department’s 1033 Program since 2007:

Orleans Parish received:

Eight night-vision sniper scopes
20 snow camouflage parkas
A “rough terrain” forklift
40 “laser modules”
14 thermal sights
21 7.62 mm rifles and two 5.56 mm rifles
30 survival axes

Some of the equipment is more mundane, such as:

360 men’s scarves
Four data-entry computer mice
Nine folding chairs
One garbage can
A pair of pliers

Law enforcement in Jefferson Parish received:

Two 5.56 mm rifles and seven 7.62 mm rifles
A utility helicopter
A mine-resistant vehicle
Three bridge erection boats
A utility truck
A personnel carrier

Setting aside the questionable utility of a ‘mine-resistant vehicle’ in police work (how many mines and IEDs does a patrol officer encounter?), and the flat-out weirdness of ‘four data-entry computer mice’, ‘a pair of pliers’ and ‘one garbage can’, what really provokes that ‘what the fuck?’ moment is the ’20 snow camouflage parkas’.

Unless the police are planning to hide in the middle of a crowd of blindingly white people, these parkas aren’t going to be of much use in New Orleans. Between 1853 and 2008 it snowed in New Orleans on 55 days.

I can tell you from personal experience, most of those so-called snow days ended up melting on contact with funky pavement.

So, if you’re in New Orleans and are approached by a group of men dressed in snow camouflage parkas and carrying data-entry computer mice, folding chairs, a garbage can and a pair of pliers: get on your knees and put your hands behind your head, because they’re cops and cops are dangerous.

Mike also suggested you can see the military weapons, vehicles, and other equipment police in your area have acquired from the military. Searchable by state and county.
http://bridge.caspio.net/dp.asp?AppKey=36701000b255adcfe6ca4b13a8a4

Thanks, Mike

Los Alamos political scientist fired for questioning nuclear weapons dogma

james doyle

Political scientist James Doyle had spent almost 2 decades working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) on nonproliferation and nuclear security issues when he decided to write a scholarly article questioning the dogma of nuclear deterrence. Suspecting that his bosses at the Department of Energy (DOE) weapons lab in New Mexico might not agree with his analysis, Doyle researched and wrote the article in his free time and included a disclaimer saying the views were his own. And just to be safe, he got a lab colleague steeped in classification reviews to vet the article before he submitted it to a journal.

The 27-page article—“Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?”—was published in the February-March 2013 issue of Survival: Global Politics and Strategy. And that’s when Doyle’s professional life was suddenly turned upside down.

Within days of publication, congressional staff asked lab officials whether the article contained classified information. A week later, the head of the lab’s classification office decided that it did—a decision later backed by DOE. Doyle soon lost his top-level security clearance, and he says he became persona non grata among his co-workers after accusing lab officials of retaliation and impinging on his intellectual freedom. Those complaints were dismissed, and last week, after 17 years at the weapons lab, Doyle was laid off—the only victim within his 50-person group of what lab officials told him was a reduction in force due to budget cuts.

The reasons behind Doyle’s termination, first reported by the Center for Public Integrity, an investigative news service based in Washington, D.C., may never be clear. The lab’s official statement says “we do not publicly discuss the specifics of personnel matters. Likewise, it would be inappropriate to discuss specifics surrounding security classification.”…

Many outside arms control specialists are skeptical and believe Doyle’s downfall is the result of his airing of views that are unpopular among those opposing disarmament, including some of the panel’s Republican leaders and staff…

Amid the murky circumstances, many nuclear security experts are sharply criticizing the lab’s actions. “It sends a chilling message not just to employees, but also those beyond the lab, that their ability to work on topics subject to classification could be restricted if they become too critical of policies that the lab holds dear,” says Frank von Hippel, a physicist at Princeton University. “It’s a very disturbing situation,” adds Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C. “DOE leadership needs to reverse this decision.”

You thought the Cold War was over, eh?

RTFA for a long, detailed and truly knowledgeable article on the politics of working for an imperial government. The White House, Pentagon and cheerleaders in Congress are unified in their conviction that only might makes right. They continue in the belief that only the threat of worldwide nuclear annihilation can bring peace to the world.

Our government, from the White House down through assorted bureaucrats, continues to pat themselves on the back solid in their belief that threatening the world with death and fire somehow was the motive force behind peace breaking out a couple decades ago. A peace that was destroyed as soon as Republicans were solidly in office backed by Neo-Con ideology.

So, one employee of the atomic death and destruction brigade writes a scholarly re-examination of our Nuclear Weapons Enterprise – and that constitutes sufficient threat that he must be terminated before he infects others with his freedom of thought.

Contemptible as ever. And still above criticism or oversight.

US government wants to mandate motor vehicle connectivity

connectivity

The federal government is inching closer to mandating cars have the ability to communicate with each other, in a move regulators say could reduce crashes while still protecting motorists’ personal information..

Called vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V), the technology would use radio frequencies to communicate potential dangers to drivers, and the Transportation Department has begun the rule-making process of possibly making it required equipment in cars, though it could take years for a new law to take effect…

“By warning drivers of imminent danger, V2V technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in a statement.

NHTSA also said vehicle communication could be used to assist in blind-spot detection, forward-collision alarms and warnings not to pass, though many of these technologies are available in today’s cars using other technologies, like radar.

Mindful of recent “hacking” incidents involving major retailers, websites and identity theft, NHTSA said the data transmitted would only be used for safety purposes, and notes the systems being considered would contain “several layers” of security and privacy protection.

On one hand, I’ve been following this development from car manufacturers who wish to use tech like this for accident prevention. Mercedes is a leader on this side of the research.

On the other, is there anyone left in America who trusts the government enough to buy into this technology. Even if security from hackers might be guaranteed, does anyone think the Feds would pass up backdoor access to keep an eye on us?

Inequality and trending Web searches

credit luke shuman

In the hardest places to live in the United States, people spend a lot of time thinking about diets and religion. In the easiest places to live, people spend a lot of time thinking about cameras.

This summer, The Upshot conducted an analysis of every county in the country to determine which were the toughest places to live, based on an index of six factors including income, education and life expectancy. Afterward, we heard from Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google, who suggested looking at how web searches differ on either end of our index.

The results, based on a decade of search data, offer a portrait of the very different subjects that occupy the thoughts of richer America and poorer America. They’re a glimpse into the id of our national inequality.

In the hardest places to live – which include large areas of Kentucky, Arkansas, Maine, New Mexico and Oregon – health problems, weight-loss diets, guns, video games and religion are all common search topics. The dark side of religion is of special interest: Antichrist has the second-highest correlation with the hardest places, and searches containing “hell” and “rapture” also make the top 10…

In the easiest places to live, the Canon Elph and other digital cameras dominate the top of the correlation list. Apparently, people in places where life seems good, including Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming and much of the large metropolitan areas of the Northeast and West Coast, want to record their lives in images…

Beyond cameras, subjects popular in the easiest places include Baby Joggers, Baby Bjorns and baby massage; Skype and Apple devices like the iPod Nano; a piece of workout equipment known as a foam roller; and various foreign destinations (Machu Picchu, New Zealand, Switzerland and Pyeongchang, the South Korean host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics). The phrase “pull-out” is also relatively popular in the easiest places. It presumably refers to either a kind of sofa or a kind of birth control.

…You can understand why religious web searches that are relatively more popular in places where life is harder have such a dark cast. “They are not just about religion but about apocalyptic religion,” notes Dan Silver, a cultural sociologist at the University of Toronto.

In the places on the other end of the spectrum, the picture is much brighter. People have disposable income to buy new technology and take faraway vacations. Their time spent prostrate on a foam roller or out running with the baby in a jogging stroller is more than enough to make up the occasional cupcake. And of course they are intent on passing down their way of life to the next generation, via Baby Bjorns and early access to technology.

RTFA for details and some analysis – including structure of the studies.

Most of all – I didn’t find anything surprising. Another one of those occasions when I wish my cynicism turned out to be wrong.

Thanks, Helen