San Francisco’s Surveillance State
October 5, 2022
A 7×7, 24/7 Surveillance State
Last week, San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted 7-4 in favor of a 15-month pilot program to allow police to monitor live footage from consenting privately-owned surveillance cameras without a warrant. The vote marks a major shift from the city’s previous stance on surveillance, with many civil liberties groups speaking out against the new policy, stating that it would hand over unprecedented surveillance powers to city police.
The tech center, like other cities in the U.S., has recently seen a complicated change in its crime dynamics. While reported homicides and certain property crimes are on the rise in the City by the Bay, overall reports of violent crimes are down. Despite these statistics, many San Francisco residents say that they perceive crime to be on the rise – the city has become a national media talking point for its high rate of smash-and-grabs and car break-ins, especially as a tourist destination. Proponents of the surveillance program hope that access to real-time footage will help out the city’s short-staffed police department.
In response to the board of supervisors’ vote, Dave Maass, director of investigations at civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “for elected officials, throwing money at surveillance technology is an easy political thing to do.” He continued to criticize the program, calling the policy blind faith in tech solutionism: “Vendors come in promising the world with these technologies without talking about the risks or threats and policymakers just swallow it without questioning it.”
City Supervisor Dean Preston voted against the ordinance, saying he was “saddened” by the board’s departure from “commitment to changing our city and our society from a society that over-polices, over-surveils, over-criminalizes and over-incarcerates people, particularly Black and brown people. There’s no evidence that [this] kind of broader surveillance … reduces crime or makes us safer in any way.” (Guardian)
Some Good News
- Biden admin announces more than $300M in mental health funding in part from bipartisan gun bill (ABC)
- Phoenix clinic devises workaround for abortion care after Arizona enforces ban (Guardian)
All Breaks, No Gas
- A large majority of Bangladesh was left without power Tuesday due to a partial grid failure at around 2 p.m. local time. According to Bangladeshi officials, blackouts affected about 75-80% of the country while crews worked to supply power to the population of 168 million.
- At the time of a government statement Tuesday, the grid was supplying just 4,500 megawatts (MW) of power – officials estimate that nationwide demand equals 14,200 MW. On Tuesday, power consumption rose 3% higher than the 13,800 MW the government projected would be needed earlier this week. “Hopefully within three hours, power supply will be restored in Dhaka,” said one government official. Dhaka is Bangladesh’s capital city, with a population of 20 million.
- Bangladesh has recently made efforts to ration its power consumption amidst rising natural gas prices. The country has cut power to many of its regions, as almost three-quarters of its power comes from natural gas. According to government data, over a third of Bangladesh’s 77 gas-powered energy production units were facing shortages at the time of the massive blackout. (CNN)
A Near Miss For Nippon
- Early Tuesday morning, Japanese citizens were woken up by sirens at around 7:30 a.m. local time. The reason? North Korea had sent a ballistic missile over the country with zero warning, prompting officials to urge citizens to seek shelter with its emergency J-alert system. The missile test marks the first time North Korea has aimed at Japan in five years.
- North Korea has upped its missile testing game recently, launching five tests in 10 days. The increased aggression likely comes in response to joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea aimed at pacifying the Hermit Kingdom with a joint show of force.
- The North Korean intermediate-range missile came from a military base near Mupyong-ri, near the North Korean border with China, says South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. It flew over 4,600 km (2,858 miles) in 20 minutes, maxing out at an altitude of 1,000 km (621 miles) over the Tohoku region of Japan before splashing into the Pacific 3,000 km (1,864 miles) off the country’s coast. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the test “outrageous” and strongly condemned North Korea’s increased aggression. (CNN)
Additional World News
- Officials: US to send Ukraine more advanced rocket systems (AP)
- Switzerland has ‘systemic’ racism issues, U.N. experts say (NBC)
- Australian court to hear claims over alleged sexual assault in Parliament House (CNN)
- UK to propose asylum ban on Channel migrants (Reuters)
- Solomon Islands agreed to accord after China references axed (AP)
- Ukraine hammers Russian forces into retreat on east and south fronts (WaPo, $)
- Uttarakhand avalanche: At least four dead and dozens missing in Indian Himalayas (BBC)
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” – Benjamin Franklin
Walk Through Fire For Beto O’Rourke
- Harry Styles finished his sixth and final concert for the Austin, Texas leg of his tour on Monday night, and he wrapped things up with a quick but weighty endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. He pointed to a “Beto for Texas” sticker on his guitar before the camera panned to O’Rourke in the crowd. The statement comes less than a month before early voting starts for the election.
- It wasn’t his first political statement during the Austin residency – he told fans “No one can tell you what to do with your own body,”, and included a photo booth that encouraged gun control measures. Styles also included QR codes on screens above the stage to help fans register to vote. Of course, Styles tends to attract young liberal fans anyways, so it’s hard to say how many minds he changed with his stances. (Axios)
Herschel Walk-Her To The Abortion Clinic
- An anonymous woman has come forward to allege that U.S. Senate candidate in Georgia Herschel Walker paid for her to have an abortion in 2009. Walker, a staunch anti-abortion advocate, tweeted that her claim is a “flat-out” lie.
- The report in The Daily Beast says she provided a copy of a check from Walker, a receipt from an abortion clinic, and a get-well card he allegedly signed. Walker told Fox News that he sends money and cards to people all the time.
- Prominent Republicans are standing with Walker, saying it’s all part of a smear campaign ahead of the midterms. Senator Rick Scott said, “When the Democrats are losing, as they are right now, they lie and cheat and smear their opponents.” Former President Trump also shared a message of support. (NPR)
Additional USA News
- Biden apologizes after mistakenly calling on late congresswoman (Guardian)
- CDC Ends Country-by-Country Covid Travel Advisories (NYT, $)
- The reported explosion at Northeastern University was a hoax and a Texas man who said he was injured is arrested (NBC)
- Adams Will Move Migrant Encampment After It Flooded From Modest Rain (NYT, $)
- Oath Keepers acted on Jan. 6 to overthrow government and fight Biden’s presidency “by any means necessary,” prosecutors say (CBS)
- Democracy, poisoned: America’s elections are being attacked at every level (Guardian)
- Donald Trump sues CNN for defamation, seeks $475 million (WaPo, $)
The Arbiter Of A.I. Development
- U.S. President Joe Biden seems to be following in the footsteps of his predecessor, expanding Donald Trump’s ban on trade with Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Trump’s ban used the foreign direct product rule to prohibit companies worldwide from sending Huawei any products made using American technology, machinery, or software. Biden plans to expand the rule to include (exclude?) a number of Chinese companies and government labs, also banning the sale of American-made microchips to China.
- Piling on the economic pressure, the White House is reportedly planning to push an executive order allowing the federal government to review private companies’ overseas investments for national security risks. The final cherry on top of this laundry list of economic bludgeoning is the possibility that further U.S. trade bans might target Yangtze Memory Technologies, China’s top memory chip manufacturer.
- The U.S. has become increasingly worried in recent years that Chinese semiconductor manufacturers might become global exporters as the chips become even more important to defense measures. The superpower is also concerned with the development of Chinese A.I., which is used for a wide range of purposes, from optimizing traffic conditions to military applications. (NYT, $)
- Victoria and Albert Museum Reverses Course and Removes Sackler Name (NYT, $)
- Ye, Candace Owens wear ‘White Lives Matter’ shirts at Paris Fashion week (The Hill)
- Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Here’s what that means (CNN)
- Nobel Prize in Physics Is Awarded to 3 Scientists for Work in Quantum Technology (NYT, $)
- After years of waiting, rare turtles have bred 41 hatchlings at the San Diego Zoo (NPR)
- Ancient gold coins found hidden in wall shed light on Byzantine Empire (NBC)
- Archaeologists hail ‘dream discovery’ as sarcophagus is unearthed near Cairo (Guardian)
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