NEW FICTION: BITING THE SNAKE’S TAIL by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Paul Raven @ 01-02-2010

Our second story of the new decade is yet another return visit from a Futurismic fiction alumnus. We loved Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s “Maquech” enough to publish it back in 2008, and “Biting The Snake’s Tail” takes us back to an exotic and ecologically crumbling Mexico City… but this time it’s in a noir-ish near-future police story, where what you don’t see is even more important than what you do. Enjoy!

Biting The Snake’s Tail

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Cops don’t go into the alcazabas. They’ll do raids every few months and confiscate mod-drugs for the sake of the TV cameras, but they don’t care what happens in the alcazaba’s colorless alleys. The gang leaders have established their own code of conduct, so what happens in the alcazaba is the business of the people who live there and not of the outsiders circling and enduring these cities within a city.

That’s why it was so bizarre to see all those officers in their blue uniforms running around La Catrina. I bet they were also pretty surprised to see me there in full gear with Arkasha at my side.

Gonzalo hadn’t told me what was going on. All he said was I had to get to La Catrina fast. Therefore, I was wearing the exo and the helmet, just in case things were really nasty. Arkasha was an added form of insurance. It’s funny how many people will run at the sight of a large dog, but not of a gun. Continue reading “NEW FICTION: BITING THE SNAKE’S TAIL by Silvia Moreno-Garcia”


UK police to deploy military UAV drones, snoop more effectively

Paul Raven @ 28-01-2010

US Air Force UAV droneFuturismic readers resident outside the UK may wonder why exactly it is that I keep battering on about the omnipresent surveillance systems that are saturating this silly little island. After all, if I’m not doing anything wrong, I should have nothing to fear, right?

Well, if believing that helps you sleep at night, then you carry on. In the meantime, I hope you’ll not object to me becoming steadily more nervous about such systems being put into the hands of a clueless, corrupt bureaucracy of a government. Am I overstating the case here? I don’t know – but how would you feel if you heard your police force were investing in the same sort of UAV surveillance drones that have proven so popular with the “peacekeeping” forces currently stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Better yet, wait until you hear exactly what they want them for:

… for the ­”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, ­protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

I suppose we should at least be grateful that the ubiquitous yet hollow catch-all of “terrorism” doesn’t turn up in that list. But there’s more:

… the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates UK airspace, has been told by BAE and Kent police that civilian UAVs would “greatly extend” the government’s surveillance capacity and “revolutionise policing”. The CAA is currently reluctant to license UAVs in normal airspace because of the risk of collisions with other aircraft, but adequate “sense and avoid” systems for drones are only a few years away.

I try very hard to keep Futurismic free of my soap-boxing these days, and I hope you’ll accept my apologies if this post has bored, baffled or offended you. But Futurismic‘s also the biggest soap-box I have access to, and I honestly believe this sort of creeping totalitarianism must be called out in public at every available opportunity. Governments that profess to be democracies should remember that respect is a two-way street. [image by ebrkut]


Hair you go: tracking by hair

Tom James @ 01-06-2009

hair_with_pensResearchers at the LGC Chemical Metrology Laboratory and the University of Oviedo in Spain have developed a technique to track a person’s movements between different countries using a sample of their hair:

The two most abundant sulphur isotopes in hair keratin are sulphur-32 (32S), which accounts for about 95 per cent, and sulfur-34 (34S), which makes up around 4 per cent. These proportions, however, vary according to people’s diets, and, unless they take their food with them, will therefore change when people travel.

Although this is described in terms of counter-terrorism, there is no reason why it couldn’t be used for anyone and everyone.

Police organizations, including the Metropolitan Police in London, have already shown interest in the technology.

So here is yet another way by which we can be tracked and our movements monitored.

[from Wired UK][image from Evil Erin on flickr]


Lasers vs. police helicopters

Tom James @ 08-04-2009

lasercockpitFollowing on from the news of blinding-laser “friendly fire” incidents in Iraq is this article on the growing problem of green lasers being used against police helicopters in the UK:

An “attack” can come from any of the darkened streets over which the force’s state of the art helicopter India 99 flies at night.

“You can’t miss it. A sharp green beam of light shoots up from the ground, flashing around the helicopter, dazzling anyone on whom it scores a ‘direct hit’,” said Mr Briggs.

The police have had to learn to deal with the attacks — about half of those reported are aimed at their helicopters. In 2003 just three incidents were recorded. Last year there were 207. So far this year, the tally is 76.

The culprits are usually bored youths, who have got hold of a laser pointer and amuse themselves by playing its beam over passing aircraft.

One of those “we are living in the 21st century” moments – idlers attacking police helicopters with lasers…

[image and article from the BBC]


Surveillance state update: The war on documentation

Tom Marcinko @ 04-09-2008

big-brotherFormer FBI agent and current ACLU lawyer Michael German shares some insights into the mentality behind the arrests of journos and other mostly harmless people at some shindig or other that was going on in St. Paul, MN this week.

He cites guidelines issued to the LAPD:

It lists 65 behaviors that they say are behaviors related to terrorism, and the one that pertains here is “takes pictures or video footage.” [The entry on p. 40 reads: “Takes pictures or video footage (with no apparent esthetic value, i.e., camera angles, security equipment, security personnel, traffic lights, building entrances, etc.).”] “No apparent esthetic values?” So apparently they’re going to be sending police officers to art school to understand esthetic values.

But it actually mentions taking video footage of taking video footage of security personnel. So the mere taking of photographs or video footage of law enforcement – even law enforcement doing something improperly – they’ve identified that as a precursor to terrorism. So now you might understand why these police officers are focusing on people with cameras. It’s because it’s actual policy to do so.

[Interview: David Neiwert, firedoglake; image: mikecolvin82]


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