US planning to recruit one in 24 Americans as citizen spies

Next time you’re around a group of people, take a look around. Doesn’t matter if you’re at work, in class, at the grocery store, standing in line for a movie, at a party at someone’s house, or at a concert. Now imagine that one of people there is a snitch, recording your every move.

Feel safer?

The Bush Administration aims to recruit millions of United States citizens as domestic informants in a program likely to alarm civil liberties groups.

The Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS, means the US will have a higher percentage of citizen informants than the former East Germany through the infamous Stasi secret police. The program would use a minimum of 4 per cent of Americans to report “suspicious activity”.

Civil liberties groups have already warned that, with the passage earlier this year of the Patriot Act, there is potential for abusive, large-scale investigations of US citizens.

Highlighting the scope of the surveillance network, TIPS volunteers are being recruited primarily from among those whose work provides access to homes, businesses or transport systems. Letter carriers, utility employees, truck drivers and train conductors are among those named as targeted recruits.

A pilot program, described on the government Web site www.citizencorps.gov, is scheduled to start next month in 10 cities, with 1 million informants participating in the first stage. Assuming the program is initiated in the 10 largest US cities, that will be 1 million informants for a total population of almost 24 million, or one in 24 people.

[via Ambiguous]

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports conspiracy site

My favorite High Weirdness site of the moment. All the hallmarks of primo-paranoia are here: gratuitous exclamation points, secret documents the government doesn’t want you to know about, oddly bolded and italicized text, trillions (TRILLIONS!) of unaccounted cash, the requisite product for sale, claims about the one-world government and how income taxes are unnecessary. Read now (if you can) before he gets disappeared by the Feds.

Bush II now using “national security” to shut down union organizing

The Bush II administration is using the Homeland Security reorganization as an opportunity to do some union busting.

On grounds of national security, Bush has iced a nascent union for federal prosecutors being aggressively organized at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.

And he’s dissolved a handful of existing unions that represented about 500 Justice Department employees around the nation — including the 45-member Miami Local 512 of the American Federation of Government Employees. Local 512 had represented support personnel at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including paralegals, clerks and secretaries, since the 1980s.

Bush based his actions on an exemption in the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act which presupposes that unionized federal workers are an impediment to effective national security. That’s why labor leaders fear that what happened in Miami is the prelude to broader union busting by the White House once the homeland security reorganization of federal agencies is complete.

Their principal concern is that thousands of unionized workers transferred to the Department of Homeland Security will be stripped of their right to organize and collectively bargain. That includes 12,000 U.S. Customs Service employees now represented by the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).

[via Red Rock Eater]

Supermarket Cards: The Pricing Issues

Some interesting background data on supermarket membership cards.

In the eyes of many consumers the pricing issues surrounding supermarket “loyalty” card programs can be summed up in one simple concept: those who don’t have a card pay more at the register. The stores portray it in a similar manner, but call it “rewarding loyal customers” with lower prices. But few things in life are truly simple, and supermarket cards are no different.

Pricing issues with card schemes fall into two categories: savings and segmentation. While the savings issue has the greatest impact on consumers today. segmentation will have implications for years to come.

The recent proliferation of card programs throughout the country makes it clear that participating stores think they are a wonderful marketing tool. But when consumers take off the rose-colored glasses that the supermarket hands out along with their cards, they find that the programs do little good for anyone but the stores themselves.

Merger-mania among Southern California area supermarkets has been in high-gear for the past several years. For years I always went to the Hughes market on Glendale Bl. or San Fernando Rd., but when Ralphs bought up the Hughes chain, Ralphs brought in inferior produce and baked goods and dedicated more aisle space to high-profit junk food.

Of course I voted with my wallet and went elsewhere, but the area markets are mostly dominated by the Axis Of Evil: Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons. At least the Southern California Albertsons don’t have the friggin’ card.

[via Red Rock Eater]

Pentagon Program Promotes Psychopharmacological Warfare

Straight from the pages of Stanislaw Lem’s The Futurological Congress comes this

“The Advantages and Limitations of Calmatives for Use as a Non-Lethal Technique”, a 49 page report obtained last week by the Sunshine Project under US information freedom law, has revealed a shocking Pentagon program that is researching psychopharmacological weapons. Based on “extensive review conducted on the medical literature and new developments in the pharmaceutical industry”, the report concludes that “the development and use of [psychopharmacological weapons] is achievable and desirable.” These mind-altering weapons violate international agreements on chemical and biological warfare as well as human rights. Some of the techniques discussed in the report have already been used by the US in the “War on Terrorism”.

The team, which is based at the Applied Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State University, is assessing weaponization of a number of psychiatric and anesthetic pharmaceuticals as well as “club drugs” (such as the “date rape drug” GHB). According to the report, “the choice administration route, whether application to drinking water, topical administration to the skin, an aerosol spray inhalation route, or a drug filled rubber bullet, among others, will depend on the environment.” The environments identified are specific military and civil situations, including “hungry refugees that are excited over the distribution of food”, “a prison setting”, an “agitated population” and “hostage situations”. At times, the JNLWD team’s report veers very close to defining dissent as a psychological disorder.

[via Robot Wisdom]

More cities defying the Patriot Act

The resistance finally hits a major network

Over the last three months, the Massachusetts cities of Cambridge, Northampton and Amherst and the township of Leverett, as well as the town of Carrboro, N.C., all passed resolutions that call the USA Patriot Act a threat to the civil rights of the residents of their communities.

The five municipalities join Berkeley, Calif., and Ann Arbor, Mich., in taking a strong stance challenging the way the Bush administration wants to pursue its war on terror within the borders of the United States.

In Cambridge, where the measure passed the city council by a 5-4 margin on June 17, the resolution says in part, “We believe these civil liberties [freedom of speech, assembly and privacy; equality before the law; due process; and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures] are now threatened by the USA Patriot Act.”

“For me, it was that historically there have been attacks on civil liberties in times of war,” Councilman Brian Murphy said when asked why he co-authored the resolution. “I think if you look at USA Patriot, this is another example of that.”

Even before USA Patriot was passed, the police in Portland, Ore., broke ranks with the Justice Department’s war on terror, saying that it would not cooperate with the FBI on investigations of Middle Eastern students in the city, because state law barred police from questioning immigrants who are not suspected of a crime

[via Daypop Top 40]

Victory over communism! The indestructible sandwich…

Straight from the pages of Buckaroo Banzai’s airdroppable watermelon, comes this story

The US Military has perfected the indestructible sandwich. Capable of surviving airdrops, rough handling and extreme climates, and just about anything except a GI’s jaws, the new “pocket” sandwich is designed to stay “fresh” for up to three years at 26 ÁC (about the temperature of a warm summer’s day), or for six months at 38 ÁC (just over body temperature)

[via bOing bOing]