Afore that, though, there's just time for a quick look at what might be coming our way soon, courtesy of our government's idols over the Atlantic.
As we often observe on these pages, however absurd America gets, it's only a matter of time before illiberal ideas, bans, and downright lunacy begin to be replicated over here.
And we should be quite worried at the moment as yank authoritarians are busy attacking their own constitution - which most Americans presumed to be set in stone for an eternity - with a carbide-tipped pickaxe. The Fourth Amendment in particular.
As some bloggers have spotted this week, for example, US authorities haven't waited for the dust to settle on the use of body scanning devices at airports before rolling out the mobile, in-your-face-on-the-street version.
The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of x-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back. Absorbed rays indicate dense material such as steel. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes them powerful tools for security, law enforcement, and border control.In a country which has only ever suffered one terrist atrocity on its own soil (IIRC), it would seem a trifle paranoid to unleash 500 of these things, even though the manufacturer publicity makes very clear their necessity for the public good.
But is it really in the wider interest of Americans?
But EPIC’s Rotenberg says that the scans, like those in the airport, potentially violate the fourth amendment. “Without a warrant, the government doesn’t have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,” he says. Even airport scans are typically used only as a secondary security measure, he points out. “If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.”Of course, as BBW has consistently emphasised, it's not necessarily the equipment which is the problem, but the very human operators and the potential for mission creep.
The same 'for your protection' angle is also being wheeled out to defend a US court's decision to allow state interference on private property.
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.One of the judges did vainly object, but his remarks bely a sense of desperation.
That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant.
"1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last," [Chief Judge Kozinski] lamented in his dissent. And invoking Orwell's totalitarian dystopia where privacy is essentially nonexistent, he warned: "Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we're living in Oceania."Meanwhile, elsewhere in 'the land of the free', schools are queueing up to tag and monitor their students. Starting with pre-schoolers ...
RICHMOND, Calif.—California officials are outfitting preschoolers in Contra Costa County with tracking devices they say will save staff time and money. The system was introduced Tuesday. When at the school, students will wear a jersey that has a small radio frequency tag. The tag will send signals to sensors that help track children's whereabouts, attendance and even whether they've eaten or not.... before moving on to those a little older [YouTube].
Lastly, the Washington Examiner reports on why yanks shouldn't consider themselves safe from the ever-expanding state while acting perfectly legally on their own property.
[...] to arrest someone who is unmistakably on their own property, and doing nothing remotely illegal, is an abuse of power pure and simple. Even if it were true that Gibson was endangering herself by witnessing the traffic stop from the confines of her front porch, how could that possibly be construed as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing the police” without eviscerating everything that the concept of private property (not to mention plain old individual rights) stands for? Taking such a risk is not illegal. Doing it while occupying one’s homestead should be recognized as unassailably within one’s rights.Couldn't happen here? Confident? Have you seen the crazy shit our easily gulled parliament has passed before?
Strap yourselves in, boys and girls. We could be in for a long and bumpy ride.