Massive 30-State, Real-Time ALPR Database Revealed

By guest writer Joe Cadillic of the Massprivatel Blog : motorists – excerpt

Our worst fears about automatic license plate readers (ALPR) are coming to fruition, and no one in public understands just how much our privacy will be invaded.

This summer, I warned everyone on my blog, and in the NMA Weekly E-Newsletter #554, that police in Arizona were using ALPR’s to “grid” entire neighborhoods.

But the following news brings public surveillance to a whole new level.

Last month, Rekor Systems announced that they had launched the Rekor Public Safety Network (RPSN) which gives law enforcement real-time access to scanned license plates.

“Any state or local law enforcement agency participating in the RPSN will be able to access real-time data from any part of the network at no cost. The Company is initially launching the network by aggregating vehicle data from customers in over 30 states. With thousands of automatic license plate reading cameras currently in service that capture approximately 150 million plate reads per month, the network is expected to be live by the first quarter of 2020.”

RPSN is a 30-state, real-time law enforcement license plate database that contains the information of more than 150 million people.

And the scary thing—it is free!…

How is that for Orwellian?

It is time to face the facts: ALPRs are not about public safety. They constitute a massive surveillance system designed to let Big Brother track our every movement.

(more)

Is this a case of government overreach on steroids? No list of states included.

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Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions

By Coner Dougherty : nytimes – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — Open-air heroin use. Sidewalks smeared in human feces. Blocklong homeless camps and people with severe mental illnesses wading through traffic in socks and hospital clothes.

You would be forgiven if you thought that those descriptions of California’s urban ills came from the mouth of the state’s biggest detractor, President Trump. After all, as the president jetted off to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a fund-raiser, he took a moment with reporters on Air Force One to fulminate against “people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

But no, the worst descriptions of homelessness here frequently come from San Francisco’s archliberal politicians, who found themselves this week uncomfortably in agreement with the president they loathe. Mr. Trump’s sudden fixation with California’s homelessness problem is the rarest of cases where the state’s left wing actually recognizes a problem that the president feels strongly about… (more)

Hot air blows from all directions and rarely solves any problems regardless of the source.

Violence and vandalism leave Hong Kong’s world-class subway in crisis mode

What a headline. Goes to show that “world-class” is a meaningless phrase that we can do without. When the natives are restless, titles and memes are worthless.

HONG KONG – From Sydney to Stockholm, governments looking for help with their rail systems turn to Hong Kong’s MTR Corp., renowned for its speedy, clean and reliable commuter trains.

That polished image is now tarnished, with months of unrest having frequently boiled into violence and vandalism on Hong Kong’s subway.

MTR facilities have looked more like battlefields on some weekends. Protesters have smashed windows and set fires blazing outside stations. Police have fired pepper spray, and been seen beating people aboard trains. Black-clad activists have protested at MTR-owned shopping centers and obstructed services on the network, which has more than 90 stations…(more)

NYC’s luxury condo glut leads to thousands of unsold apartments: report

By Amy Pitt : curbed – excerpt

More than 25 percent of condos built in the past six years remain unsold

How bad is Manhattan’s luxury condo glut, exactly? There’s been plenty of ink spilled in the past couple of years about supply outpacing demand, and what a glut of high-priced condos without buyers could do to the market.

And now, thanks to a StreetEasy analysis of publicly available and proprietary data on condo sales from 2013—when the latest boom in luxury development began—to 2019, we have an answer: It’s pretty bad!

According to the StreetEasy report, there have been some 16,242 new condos constructed in the city in the past six years. Of those, more than 25 percent are still sitting on the market—including around 40 percent of the condos for sale on Billionaires’ Row, according to an analysis of data conducted for the New York Timesby data guru Jonathan Miller.

Miller’s analysis makes StreetEasy’s look downright conservative: “By Mr. Miller’s count, which includes buildings that are still under construction, there are over 9,000 unsold new units in Manhattan,” according to the Times… (more)

The trend seems to be moving across the country. We hear of falling prices from Florida to the West Coast while the homeless counts rise. Looks like the wealth gap is catching up with the developers’ gentrification dreams of building a bigger profits.

Punching Down

By Lydia Bean and Maresa Strano : newamerica – excerpt

How States are suppressing Democracy

Abstract:

Preemption is a legal and political doctrine that allows a higher level of government to overrule authority at a lower level. Until recently, states used their preemptive authority over localities primarily to prevent complicated or harmful regulatory patchworks that can arise in a federal system. That kind of preemption was, and is, a healthy way for states to exercise their considerable power. But there has been a dramatic shift in the way states use preemption—from a legal precedent to a political weapon. Since 2011, state lawmakers have frequently used preemption to increase their majority’s power and diminish the power of those who threaten it, even when it defies the will of the people. This form of preemption, the so-called “new preemption,” is not neutral, and it falls in the same category of democracy-inhibitors as gerrymandering, voter suppression, and dark money.

Though “new preemption” presents a formidable obstacle, local public officials and community advocates should not be deterred from pursuing policy solutions in the face of state opposition. City advocates have multiple tools at their disposal to push against this new form of preemption, if they choose. In addition to (1) legal remedies, advocates can (2) build coalitions for local democracy across issue silos, (3) educate public officials, judges, and city attorneys about preemption, (4) bring the fight against preemption into the public square, (5) engage voters around the impacts of preemption to hold elected officials accountable or use the ballot initiative process, and (6) reform home rule. This report provides a landscape review of state preemption today and summarizes the range of tactics available to those who aim to challenge it… (more)

This is a long read, but a worthy one as it posits some interesting ideas on what went wrong and how to fix it. Always good to look through fresh new eyes. I suspect there are a number of organizations that are trying to bridge the gap between the parties that often do not support the public will. We need leaders who follow, not the other way around.

You may download it and save it for a rainy, or stormy day when you have time for contemplation. Meanwhile, enjoy the debates if you partake in those kind of things.

Trump pushing for major crackdown on homeless camps in California

By Jeff Stein, Tracy Jan, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker : washingtonpost – excerpt

aides discussing moving residents to government-backed facilities

President Trump has ordered White House officials to launch a sweeping effort to address homelessness in California, citing the state’s growing crisis, according to four government officials aware of the effort.

The planning has intensified in recent weeks. Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other cities and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use. It is also unclear whether the state’s Democratic politicians would cooperate with Trump, who has sought to embarrass them over the homelessness crisis with repeated attacks on their competency…(more)

How to Change Your Mind

By : nyt – excerpt

Soon after I set out to write a book about psychedelics, it became obvious what I would have to do: Trip, and then write about what it was like. True, I could have relied on the testimony of others, but that seemed less than satisfying. Ever since the 11-year-old me read George Plimpton’s account of playing football in “Paper Lion” (1966), I’ve believed that the most absorbing way to convey an experience is to have it yourself and then try to describe it from the inside. Best of all is to have it yourself for the first time, which is the only time the comprehensive wonder of any experience is available to us… (more)

Not the first book ever written about the subject, but, let’s see how this one adds to our knowledge of the subject. It should be interesting for those of us with first hand experience. Thanks to our friend for introducing us to the book. With a nod to the artwork, I will share some of my recent paintings based on the less than realistic visions that come with aging eyes. Fortunately this trip is a temporary state of confusion that does not linger for too long, but there are lasting negative effects.

I call this series: “Detached Views”

Detached-Views