Tag Archives: homeland security

Are Security Cameras Everywhere?

New Orleans  Is it just in downtown Boston near Copley Square or are security and surveillance cameras everywhere in our cities.   During the recent bombing at the Marathon reports attributed the breakthroughs in the investigation to meticulous viewing of hundreds of hours of video footage around the area which allowed the police and FBI to finally get a clear photo shot of a couple of guys with backpacks and baseball caps which led to the eventual identification and capture of the suspects.  Was this only possible in Boston or is this an everywhere thing now?  More importantly, should our expectations be premised on the disappearance of any last semblance of privacy when it comes to public space? 

            In many cities there are now video cameras that can catch a shot of your vehicle and your license plate and identify you as you are speeding or running a light.  This system exists in New Orleans now, though it took years for the city to find a contractor that would install cameras that actually worked and took pictures, rather than just a contractor that collected the money and put stuff up in intersections on street lights that looked like cameras.  When you get a letter from the City with a picture of your truck, front and back, all that is really left is the pain of writing the check and finding a stamp, because the great argument that you might have had with the police about whether the light was yellow is over and gone.

            Since Boston, I’ve been looking more closely at the camera layouts on our street corners.  In addition to the traffic cameras on a number of intersections there is a smaller, dark camera mounted above the streets.  A friend trying to quixotically challenge some tickets was told there were cameras up there for other purposes that they were “not allowed” to discuss.  The impression was that those cameras were more in the Homeland Security jurisdiction than the local forces in blue shirts riding under bubble-tops.  

            Many of these cameras in Boston likely belonged to building owners and shopkeepers, and I doubt we have any idea how ubiquitous they are.  A friend walked me through his bakery in Little Rock a couple of years ago, and I was shocked when we got to the bakery office to see a bank of screens running video from all angles, part of which was to monitor each cash register, but it also included customers obviously and any action nearby.  If someone accused the bakery of keeping their credit card, they could actually prove it was handed back over. 

All of this was of course fully legit.  But, you have to begin to wonder, if you are out on the streets of the city, how many times your picture is being taken and what might become of all of this.  Of course there was abuse even in Boston.  Reportedly folks on 4chan.org and Reddit, both of which allow anonymous posting, were “crowdsourcing” video trying on their own to identify suspects.   The New York Post showed a picture of one such misidentified fellow, a young student with a backpack who was afraid to leave the house until a real suspect was identified.  All of this seems more like high-tech modern vigilantism, than public safety precaution.

 Boston was a wakeup call on a whole lot of levels, but the fact that we are all now on a continuous candid camera film loop, is worth a lot of thought and some serious debate in the future as well.

Audio blog of Cameras Everywhere


Accelerate Bank Transfers and Create Citizen Wealth and Reinvestment

Nemove-to-credit-unionw Orleans Credit union and community banks report the number of new accounts opening in October rose to by 13 times the normal rate of increase with over 650,000 new accounts since September 29th when Bank of America announced its (now rescinded) larcenous run on their own customer’s  bank accounts through debit card fees.   The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reported that new deposits resulting from these efforts had swelled deposits in credit unions by $4.5 Billion, which is certainly not small change.  ABC News yesterday announced a figure of over one million customers having switched.  Other commentators reminded readers and listeners that $4.5 Billion within the lending rule of thumb that for every dollar in assets, the institution can loan ten dollars, which means that credit unions may have just acquired an additional lending ability of $45 Billion if they are willing to step up to the plate.   Having called for a boycott of Bank of America and any other money sucker that wanted to add this charge and keep fleecing consumers, this all makes me very happy!

Reports from Seattle on blogs and websites indicate there were lines of people pulling out there money.  Once again ABC had footage of a modest sized business owner with $3 million in accounts pulling his money out in Seattle and putting it into credit union accounts.   I was less enthralled with the footage of an interview with Kristen Christian, who had announced a Bank Transfer Day, and has gotten a lot of ink with a Facebook page and this, that, and the other, with her ham-handed attempt at distancing herself from the Occupy movement, which has been more helpful in getting traction here than any other force.  I assume she got typically bad advice from someone that she needed to distance herself specifically from the tactics of the few, rather than showing the good judgment of just keeping her mouth shut on the Occupy movement and push forward on the bank transfer themes.  Watch any politician on TV, young sister, and they will teach the value of keep stepping rather than sewing dissension on irrelevant side issues.

Nonetheless, this is all good, and in fact needs to continue to be a major push by way more people.   Banks and all of the Homeland Security mess that attends the opening and closing of accounts do not make it easy to move money from place to place, so in fact the effort to continue to “green line” these big banks and consumer rip-off artists must continue to build to continue to divest their ridiculous coffers and subsidize their management bonuses and Wall Street level salaries.

This is part of what it means to build “citizen wealth” in our communities.  This is not simply a protest effort, but it is the way that lots of individuals and families can create their own “community reinvestment” initiatives to return money to work in their communities rather than simply piling up on the balance sheets of the huge, bailed out “ghost” banks with their inflated portfolios and their refusals to loan and extend real credit to help pull the country out of the great recession.

If 1 million means $4.5 billion out and $45 billion for our communities, then why not 10 millions to move $45 billion out and $450 billion into our communities to create livelihoods and better, more vibrant cities for all of our families?