Tag Archives: Amazon

Pop Fizz Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is back to harassing the majority to pander at interest groups.

Related:

Starting in July, the mayor has decreed that cash, consisting of cotton with no intrinsic value and subject to the whims of an unconstitutional, unaudited Federal Reserve that is appointed to manipulate the money supply, must be accepted at all* city businesses or they will be fined as “discriminatory.”

Perhaps because they gave more money to his campaign, certain industries are exempted, of course:

[P]arking lots, garages, and businesses who sell goods through a membership model – such as gyms – [are] able to continue operations as normal.

And guess who’s back under the microscope by daring create jobs from the efficiency of cashless transactions??

Councilman Allan Domb said Amazon issued a warning that they would re-consider implementing an Amazon Go store in the city if the bill passed.

[…] Amazon Go stores have no cashiers and only accept digital forms of payment.

Admittedly, the jobs will be for filthy, NSA-style behavior monitors leering at you through surveillance cameras as you negate your cashless Planet Fitness workout with a cheesecake cupcake. WE SAW YOU BRENDA GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL.

According to Tech Crunch, the store’s 100ish cameras track your body movements, but employ no facial recognition. Yet.

How is Philly’s recent push for “universal pre-K built by soda drinkers” shaping up, anyway? Likely, with generous curves.

MarketWatch reported in January on a four-year Stanford University study of Philadelphia beverage sales (including two years prior to the start of the shake down). Scanning the paper turns up some good nuggets, from the mayor’s spokesperson admitting the main objective was to raise cash, not improve health (justifying the taxation of diet drinks, but not sugar-laden juices), to the mayor’s initial demand of $0.03/ounce that was trimmed to $0.015.

While the tax successfully moved some sales to just beyond the city limits, [t]he 46% reduction in quantity sold of taxed beverages [in city limits] leads to an equivalent percentage reduction in tax revenue relative to the case where consumers continue to consume at pre-tax levels.

Also, there was no increase in the city’s sale of untaxed beverages (like water), and the artificial drop in consumption (since people just stepped outside the city to buy soda or Gatorade merely hit by sales tax, not an additional sweetened beverage tax) was decrease[d] less in low income (and high obesity) neighborhoods.

[…]

After taking into account cross-shopping, the total demand reduction is equal to only 22%. We do not detect a significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.

Read more here:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/residents-of-philadelphia-found-a-novel-way-around-the-citys-unpopular-soda-tax-2019-01-11

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3302335

*

The California Bullet Train has been delayed again by governor Gavin Newsom (below, left). Perhaps to preempt bad publicity that his family was too good for the historic California governor’s mansion in Sacramento (which Newsom reportedly ditched after holing up there for three weeks so $4.1 million in renovations could wrap on his new crib in Fair Oaks), the newly-minted Democrat, via a “State of the State” publicity appearance, bemoaned that completing the $100 billion disaster, begun during the George W. Bush administration under outgoing governor Jerry Brown, “would cost too much and take too long.”

Newsom and ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle

California will complete just the leg between Merced and Bakersfield (for now?). The original plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with a “bullet” speed locomotive was sabotaged from the beginning by pressure to slow down and stop in politicians’ backyards, as even far-left Vox pointed out:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/2/15/18224717/california-high-speed-rail-canceled

Also,

[California] set about to construct the segment connecting Bakersfield and Merced, two smaller cities in the middle of the state, as the initial segment. The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.

Did Newsom intend to cut his losses?

“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it […] And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”

Guess what. The evil orange man has attempted to cut off massive federal funds ($929,000,000, which is actually a fraction of the tens of billions the completed slog would consume) towards finishing the train.

Trump tweeted that California owed the federal government about $3.5 billion for the canceled project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. “Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

The Department of Transportation indeed announced they seek to recoup $2.5 billion granted for fiscal year 2010. (The 3.5 billion figure comes from 929 million + 2.5 billion = way too much to spend on a vanity project.)

“I can’t recall of any precedent,” [sic] said Art Bauer, a longtime state Senate Transportation Committee staffer who was deeply involved in the early planning on the high-speed rail. “They never claw back money. They are saying you are not getting money we committed to you.”

[our emphasis]

Incidentally, CNN argues Trump cannot repossess the funds appropriated to California High-Speed Rail Authority by Obama’s
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They need only
complete a 120-mile high-speed train track for the “initial central valley section” by the end of December 2022.

No actual trains required! Not unreasonable expectations for thirteen years of heavily-subsidized “reinvestment” in a failing industry.

Newsom bitched that Trump pulling the project plug after the Governor indicated he, himself was mostly pulling the plug constituted retaliation.

“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement, referring to Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

Earlier in the day, Trump had declared on Twitter, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”

*

The Governor continues to lay down some statist policies. According to Inside Higher Ed,

Newsom is calling for a $10 million investment into a data collection system that will track Californians from kindergarten all the way into the work force.

[our emphasis]

According to Ed Source reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, the governor’s January budget proposal publicly proposed a new layer to the state choke hold on young citizens’ prospects:

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6788865/Philadelphia-city-ban-discriminatory-cashless-stores.html

https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/21/inside-amazons-surveillance-powered-no-checkout-convenience-store/

https://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Gavin-Newsom-Sacramento-Fair-Oaks-home-13556456.php#photo-16816028

https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickgleason/2018/12/14/jerry-brown-leaves-california-with-100b-train-debt-as-texas-pursues-its-own-rail-boondoggle/#7bbfc012b65d

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-gavin-newsom-high-speed-rail-train-scale-back_us_5c632372e4b0a8731aeae3d0

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/politics/california-high-speed-rail-cancel-grant/index.html

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-high-speed-rail-20190219-story.html

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/dont-do-it-gavin-newsom

$22,000,000,000,000 and Counting

The Trump Defense Department should be taking fire for presumed upcoming abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.

The account is separate from the Pentagon’s mere $576,000,000,000 budget for fiscal year 2020. But unlike the “defense” budget, OCO funding is exempt from budget caps.

The Trump administration is seeking roughly an additional $150 billion (possibly as much as $174 billion, which would bring the overall budget for defense to $750 billion) for the war fund […] Entire programs, such as the U.S. Army’s accounts for ammunition and training, will be moved to this war account, according to multiple sources.

[our emphasis]

OCO spent just $90,000,000,000 last year.

Is the President’s request a harbinger of an upcoming endless war that need not be bound by a budget, as Trump’s batshit crazy, warmongering national security adviser John Bolton (who Wall Street Journal reported in January started drafting plans to bomb Iran after an explosion near the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, a completely different country, last year) would prefer?

The funds can be shoveled to less nefarious purposes, such as a troop pay raise as the waning days of the Obama administration brought us in f.y. 2017’s bloated National Defense Authorization Act. We reported:

But it’s ultimately another venue for the Dirty Dems and Rotten Republicans to come together and skirt the budget caps that were supposed to curtail federal spending over the past decade in exchange for short-term increases to the debt ceiling, succeeding in achieving only in the latter.

For example, in 2016 the Government Accountability Office reported the vast majority of these “emergency war” funds in the f.y. 2017 appropriations supported our decades-long, unconstitutional occupation of Afghanistan.

In fact, according to this January https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44519.pdf report from Congressional Research Service, fighting abstract “terror” outside of legislators’ purse string control is so ingrained in the “emergency war” fund, terror has entered the acronym:

“Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated approximately $2 trillion in discretionary budget authority designated as emergency requirements or for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism (OCO/GWOT) in support of the broad U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks and for other related international affairs activities.”

[our emphasis]

Extra budget wiggle room certainly can’t solve the recruiting woes of the most expensive defense force on the planet. The Army missed its goal enrollment by over 6,000 last year, “despite pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues.”

Heritage Foundation recently reminded us that just 29% of 17-to-24-year-old Americans are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces. Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 [t]he ineligible typically includes those who are obese, those who lack a high school diploma or a GED, convicted felons, those taking prescription drugs for ADHD and those with certain tattoos and ear gauges[.]

*

Disgraced FEMA director Brock Long has resigned, boasting that “[d]uring my tenure, the Agency worked more than 220 declared disasters[,]” which is slightly greater than the number of days on the job he spent getting chauffeured to and from North Carolina.

*

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering making the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 look more palatable. Politico reported the large-headed enforcer kicks off a tour of early primary state New Hampshire this week, continuing a trend of quality candidates from the Empire State.

Probably good to start self-promoting in a state with fewer citizens viscerally offended by the phrase “c.p. time” :

Politico suggested Bombastic Bill is already floating slogans:

“There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands,” [de Blasio] declared at his State of the City address last month.

De Blasio seized the occasion to pitch socialist policies including ten mandatory paid vacation days annually for everyone working in the city.

“I’m not aware of any other state or city that requires [paid vacation],” said Rick McGahey, an economist at the New School for Social Research who served as an assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Labor Department during the Clinton administration.

Puerto Rico does mandate paid vacation days, McGahey said[…]

Puerto Rico recently went bankrupt.

The part-time mayor, full-time Red Sox fan’s travel bill is covered by his federal political action committee…Fairness PAC.

De Blasio did not, that we can find, characterize the devil the “richest man on earth” Amazon‘s sudden decision Thursday to scrap plans for its New York City location as “unfair.” Instead, he found the move “disappointing” and “disrespectful.”

“Working people are very smart and very discerning. They want jobs, they want revenue, they want the kinds of things that government can do for them,” the mayor lectured WNYC’s radio audience, explaining that industrious New Yorkers would have valued the opportunity to work hard so their earnings can be redistributed. Working people can’t be trusted to responsibly spend their own money. They’re smart, but not that smart.

This would put de Blasio at odds with hometown social justice warrior, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,(D-NY), (below), who according to CNN had publicly railed against the tech company’s incentives extended from New York’s layer cake of municipal regulators to build in Long Island City, Queens. New York Post reported these included $2.5 billion in tax credits, a $500 million state construction subsidy and the ability to sidestep the city’s laborious zoning process.

[our emphasis]

Apparently, that pot of honestly confiscated taxes was not worth sacrificing for an estimated 25,000 jobs with wages averaging 150,000 [sic].

Ocasio-Cortez announced on Twitter:
“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

The first-term representative also recently proposed legislation to eliminate the country’s airplanes, which are only used by those making $150,000 or more annually.

New York governor and family mobster Andrew Cuomo (D) (below, jowls), desperate to brand his third term with something besides the murder of Eric Garner, a decrepit subway, and millions of dollars of illegal state-sponsored street signs, was nearly as angry as de Blasio.

Syracuse.com reports Cuomo blustered that “[t]he New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

Amazon said Thursday that local opposition was the main reason it is dropping its New York City plans, despite 70 percent of Empire State residents supporting the investment.

While he apparently didn’t single out Ocasio-Cortez, the governor’s spokesperson noted Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky (below, squinting) “tanked the Amazon plan by placing a stalwart Amazon opponent on the government approval board to pander to the local socialists.”

It’s unclear whether that board had a representative in Wednesday’s [trigger warning] powwow in Cuomo’s office. Amazon’s people were hammering out the proposed employees’ ability to unionize, aided by representatives of AFL-CIO and Teamsters. Union bosses directly determining the fate of corporate satellite headquarters must be a key element of de Blasio’s declaring New York “the greatest city in the world” while pouting on WNYC.

According to Bloomberg, the meeting was productive, and one of the AFL-CIO affiliate’s presidents was about to deploy his–this is the actual self-important term for union regulatory writers–*wordsmiths* to solidify union influence in the deal when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled the plug the following day.

*

Mr. Bezos, by the way, alleges National Enquirer publisher David Pecker–again, his actual name–is using a subordinate to blackmail Bezos into dropping his investigation of the sources behind the tabloid’s article, “Jeff Bezos’ Raunchy Text Messages That Prove Illicit Affair.”

Dylan Howard, an Australian national and VP of Pecker’s AMI‘s National Enquirer, (below), reportedly has damning images of Bezos, some involving a Lauren Sanchez. These include a fully-clothed “selfie,” a “selfie” in which Bezos wears“just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks,” and
“Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.”

https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146e3922310f

https://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/jeff-bezos-lauren-sanchez-text-messages-affair-scandal/

As we reported earlier, Pecker himself, whose empire Vanity Fair describes as “Trump’s most powerful media ally next to Fox News,” rolled on the president last year, corroborating Cohen’s “hush money to Trump mistresses” scheme in exchange for federal immunity. Howard, an Australian national, has also been protected by the deal.

*

Delta Airlines‘ latest scandal has also dragged soft drink giant Coca-Cola into the gutter.

Getting an early jump on the Valentine’s Day festivities, the soon-to-be-Green-New-Dealed-Into-Obscurity carrier apparently tried to spark in-flight stalking while reminding passengers to keep it trim by sucking down Diet Coke. Twitter went peanuts nuts, and the inflammatory line of napkins was pulled starting last month:

Thanks to our sources:

https://nypost.com/2019/02/15/de-blasio-rips-into-aocs-amazon-opposition-working-people-want-jobs/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/amazon-aoc-democrats-future/index.html

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2018/10/02/love-ny-signs-removed/1496503002/

https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/7/18215314/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-resolution-climate-change

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/2019/02/cuomo-blames-other-dems-for-amazon-exit-as-aoc-celebrates.htmlhttps://www.theverge.com/2019/2/7/18215314/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-resolution-climate-change

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-14/amazon-was-holding-talks-wednesday-to-make-nyc-deal-happen

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2019/02/06/delta-airlines-apologizes-creepy-diet-coke-flight-napkins/2796432002/

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/donald-trump-national-enquirer-allies-defect-david-pecker-michael-cohen

https://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/australian-journalist-dylan-howard-reportedly-granted-immunity-could-give-info-on-trump-payments/news-story/14439dc2474d2971cde68851b5e6b85c

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-68

https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-sought-options-to-strike-iran-11547375404

http://www.newser.com/story/264957/us-army-falls-short-of-2018-recruiting-goal.html

https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/the-looming-national-security-crisis-young-americans-unable-serve-the-military

http://time.com/2938158/youth-fail-to-qualify-military-service/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/13/politics/brock-long-fema/index.html

http://www.fox5ny.com/news/mayor-progressive-agenda-paid-vacation

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/new-york-mayor-bill-de-blasio-explained-his-loyalty-to-the-red-sox-on-the-jonah-keri-podcast/

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2019/02/11/de-blasio-heads-to-new-hampshire-as-he-contemplates-run-for-president-848323

Scott Pruitt Loves Chik-fil-A and Lotion–UPDATED

UPDATED 6/12/18:

Chase Bishop has surrendered to the Denver Sheriff Office to face a charge of second-degree assault announced Tuesday, according to CBS.

180612-chase-bishop-mugshot.jpg

District Attorney Beth McCann notes the belated arrest is justified even without Bishop’s blood alcohol level, a lab result that takes minutes to run in any American health care facility but nonetheless “could take another week.”

We also learned Bishop (normally based in Washington, D.C.) was in Denver for vacation, not training.

Original post continues below:

Disgraced spendthrift Scott Pruitt, vital national security interest and Gestapo-minded head of the EPA, is causing more trouble for fellow Republicans who must actually get re-elected in November.

The shameless Oklahoman lost his lawyer, Sarah Greenwalt, and scheduler, Millan Hupp to resignations last week.

Sydney Hupp, Millan’s sister and another EPA scheduler, personally  emailed Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy last year to throw the weight of Pruitt’s office behind a highly-selective franchise acquisition application for his wife Marlyn, according to Washington Post. Sydney is also no longer with EPA. Marlyn did not get her Chik-fil-A.

Millan (below) had other questionable duties, according to Politico, including help[ing] Pruitt find housing and inquir[ing] about purchasing a used mattress for him from the Trump International Hotel.

But Vox noted the most demeaning tasks that fell to Pruitt’s multi-million dollar security squad: driving him to multiple locations to look for a moisturizing lotion offered by Ritz-Carlton hotels, and picking up his dry cleaning.

A Little Forfeiture

Unlike Imran Awan‘s wife, Hina Alvi, who was confronted by FBI agents and subsequently allowed to board an international flight with over $10 g’s in cash despite charges of bank fraud, U.S. citizen Rustem Kazazi had his life savings confiscated while flying from Cleveland to New Jersey last October.

He was ultimately en route to his original home country of Albania, because no self-respecting person would set foot in New Jersey except for a layover. While Mr. Kazazi was not required to report carriage of his “life savings”–$58,100 earmarked for purchasing a retirement home and assisting less fortunate Albanian family members–on a domestic flight, he was reportedly prepared to declare the funds during his layover in –ughhh–Newark, NJ.

However, government wants their money. Cleveland TSA thugs saw the cash surreptitiously sequestered in a large envelope marked “$58,100” in the 64-year-old’s carry-on bag. You can probably guess what happened next.

At the time, presumably because there was no real suspicion of criminal activity, Kazazi (who speaks little English) was merely searched, interrogated without an interpreter, given a receipt that read “U.S. currency” (no amount specified), and allowed to continue to Albania without the money.

In December, TSA’s fellow agency under DHS, the Customs and Border Protection, informed Kazazi they had his money, which was suspected of being “involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.” The amount had dropped to $57,330. The extra $770 must have been a “finder’s fee” for the sharp-eyed agent at the x-ray machine.

Image result for tsa worker

(Which is interesting, because according to USA Today, TSA actually harasses people leaving the country–the setting in which Kazazi was shortchanged–while CBP harasses them coming in.)

Forfeiture usually targets small entrepreneurs on bullshit charges like “structuring” deposits to avoid extra paperwork, because the Feds know these people will not have the resources to sue the government and reclaim property. As we have reported, over 90% of these seizures recently studied by the IRS inspector general came from innocent people:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 10: IRS Takes From Little People; Squander Millions on Unused Email, Faulty Fraud Detection

Because they got caught and publicly shamed by the press (and served by Institute for Justice, who is helping the family sue the government pro bono), the Feds announced earlier this week they would refund Kazazi’s $57,330 within 30 days.

Rustem Kazazi and his son, Erald, are pleased that the government is returning the money taken from them at the airport, but said their vision of America has been affected. (Michael Sangiacomo / Plain Dealer)

The disappearance of the $770 remains a mystery. Rustem’s son Erald (above, right), who helped prepare the money for the trip, notes it was all in $100 bills.

“I always thought the government was here to protect us.”

–Rustem Kazazi

*

A’wanna Have Awan’s Luck with Lucrative Employment and Soft Criminal Proceedings

Awan, unlike Kazazi, is actually facing criminal charges. But his case may have been boosted by the bumbling Capitol Police, who unloaded a glut of evidence to Awan’s defense attorney, Bill and Hillary Clinton associate Chris Gowen. After he copied everything, law enforcement reportedly angrily admitted they thought Gowen was with the prosecution. Oops.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! Awan Updates

Interestingly, although Gowen told Daily Caller the erroneous evidence disclosure was useless to the defense, it reportedly consisted of a copy of a laptop Awan’s former tenant, Laurel Everly, turned in to the Capitol Police in hopes of seeing whether Awan had hacked her. Everly previously complained of her landlord’s allegedly suspicious behavior and called him an “extortionist.”

Daily Caller also notes Awan argued against a different, government laptop  potentially implicating his family and friends’ theft of Democratic House members’ server data Awan left in a [obsolete term alert] phone booth being entered into evidence because he put a note that said “attorney client privilege” near it.

Fox News reported Awan will likely enter a plea agreement in the next hearing on July 3.

FBI Agent Shoots Amazon Packer

It’s not quite the “imperiling disabled children by mishandling live ordinance” level of functioning displayed by the CIA,

CIA: Careless, Incompetent, and Arrogant

but the FBI is making a play for “most unaccountable Federal Agency of the month” (May 2018). The setting: Mile High Spirits Distillery and Tasting Bar, Denver, CO.

Agent Chase Bishop, 29, visiting Denver for agency-funded training and intoxication, accidentally capped a bystander in the leg while retrieving the firearm that jostled out of his ass crack after he failed to properly land a backflip on the Mile High dance floor in the early morning of June 2. Such a white boy move.

The video from Good Morning America shows Bishop swaggering away with a smirk, raising his hands as he disappears into the crowd.

Chase Bishop: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

It’s unclear if he identified himself as law enforcement. Mile High put out a statement that loaded firearms are prohibited on the premises. Heavy, however, reports that the agent is probably above the law:

Bob Pence, a retired FBI agent who was the Agent-in-Charge of the Denver field office, told Denver 7 that FBI agents are “considered on-duty 24 hours a day,” and were therefore permitted to carry their weapons everywhere. Pence told the news network that agents “should not drink excessively.”

Charges have not yet been announced, pending toxicology results. It’s been eight days, so with typical Washington efficiency a blood sample must have been sent to an out-of-state lab via carrier pigeon.

The Liberty University graduate is a former Army intelligence officer.

PHOTO: Tom Reddington is interviewed at his home in Denver, June 6, 2018. He was accidentally shot by the back-flipping FBI agent. (GMA)

The victim, 24-year-old Tom Reddington (above), works for the much-maligned super-corporation Amazon loading trucks. He has since been offered lifetime complimentary beverages from Mile High.

The “National Security” Front

Facebook is back in the newsfeed, publicly broadcasting the posts of “as many as 14 million users” after a “bug” set the default setting to “public” on all those users’ posts between May 18 and May 27. The social media giant supposedly changed the setting back to preferred privacy parameters once the bug was discovered.

When confronted by the ACLU, Orlando, FL police were forced to admit Amazon’s dystopian face-and-movement tracking technology Rekognition (showcased in the self-congratulatory promotion for a revolutionary grocery store below) has been deployed for public surveillance downtown.

Although chief John Mina insisted the system is merely “testing” recognition by capturing footage of seven department officers (and lamented the State is “a long way” from–Engadget‘s words–“tracking persons of interest”), he reneged on a public promise to reveal the cameras’ locations. A spokeswoman helped cover Mina’s ass by proclaiming his ignorance of the test cameras, because why would a police chief be aware of his office’s ongoing efforts to usurp civil liberties?

 Mina also said that he doesn’t know whether those cameras’ footage are uploaded to any Amazon server.

Mina (below) is resigning this year to run for election as Orange County sheriff.

The ACLU also learned that Amazon provided Washington County [Oregon] a roadmap under a non-disclosure agreement, and offered to link the county to other government customers interested in Rekognition, such as a body camera manufacturer. That’s particularly problematic when facial recognition on body cameras is illegal in Oregon. Amazon deleted mentions of body cams from its site after the ACLU raised the issue.

Amazon has lauded the cameras’ usefulness for identifying guests at the recent royal wedding in the UK.

Some of our previous coverage of facial recognition and its propensity to finger innocent people–especially African-Americans and women–when searching databases for a suspect can be found here:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 10, 19 and 22–Genes, Tattoos and Faces

Not to be outdone, Google helped fund some new research into algorithms that Futurism.com reports will allow Artificial Intelligence to create realistic footage of people from existing images or video. Perhaps those captured by police cameras.

[P]articipants in an experiment struggled to determine whether or not the resulting videos were real.

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/06/pruitt-epa-republicans-scandal-scarred-599048

https://www.vox.com/2018/6/7/17437628/scott-pruitt-ritz-carlton-trump-epa-white-house

https://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/06/notes_do_not_publish.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/02/us/ohio-us-customs-cash-taken/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_latest+%28RSS%3A+CNN+-+Most+Recent%29

http://dailycaller.com/2018/05/24/washington-dc-capitol-police-evidence-house-hacking-suspect-attorney/

http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/06/imran-awan-very-strongly-wants-to-block-review-of-hard-drive-was-using-alias/

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/06/06/ex-dem-it-aide-imran-awan-poised-for-plea-deal-after-months-mysterious-delays.html

Chase Bishop: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/victim-shot-back-flipping-fbi-agent-says-initially-115504028–abc-news-topstories.html

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2018/06/07/A-software-bug-made-some-private-posts-public-for-up-to-14-million-Facebook-users/stories/201806070253

https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/22/amazon-selling-facial-recognition-tech-to-law-enforcement/

https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/25/orlando-amazon-facial-recognition-tech/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-john-mina-retirement-sheriff-race-20180607-story.html