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July 2018
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Chinese Law Enforcement Alchemists Turn Shit To Drug Bust Gold

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Oh, the glorious career path that is the drug enforcement wing of Chinese law enforcement! (h/t Boing Boing)

Dozens of cities across China are applying an unusual forensic technique to monitor illegal drug use: chemically analysing sewage for traces of drugs, or their telltale metabolites, excreted in urine.One southern city, Zhongshan, a drug hotspot, is also monitoring waste water to evaluate the effectiveness of its drug-reduction programmes, says Li Xiqing, an environmental chemist at Peking University in Beijing who is working with police in these cities.Li says Zhongshan police have already used the technique to help track down and arrest a drug manufacturer. He says a handful of cities are planning to use data from waste water to set targets for police arrests of drug users, some as early as next year.
That's exactly the sort of statement one would expect to be made in the wake of "do what now" responses from not just journalists and citizens, but also many of those on law enforcement drug task forces.That drugs can be found in bodily excretions is no surprise. There's an entire corporate/medical industry reliant on that very fact. That you can track down drug manufacturers by grabbing anonymous… um… data by tapping the sewage backbone is a bit of stretch. It may have helped police get a general sense of where some sort of unadulterated drugs might be flowing from, but my guess is regular, non-shit-sifting policework was involved. Chinese law enforcement have plenty of more effective methods to deploy, especially considering they're not "hindered" by concerns about civil liberties or reputational damage.As the article points out, this isn't the first time sewage has been examined for drug content. But prior to this point, it was done as a really odorous form of drug census. People may not be willing to talk openly about their drug habit(s), but a whole bunch of anonymous donations can be collected without worrying about consent waivers or a rush of entrepreneurial spirits diving into the brown gold for better ad positioning.What does appear to be more useful is mining the effluvia for "data" showing the efficacy of new drug policies. If law enforcement is targeting certain illegal chemicals, measuring the output is a quick (AND DIRTY!) way to see if drug use is dropping.Chinese law enforcement suggests its program should be adopted by other countries with drug problems. I'm not sure it will find many takers. While collecting human waste presents approximately zero civil liberties issues, the spokesperson has greatly overestimated law enforcement's willingness to get its hands dirty… I mean, at least not in this sense. We can hardly get cops to play by the rules we've had in place for more than 200 years. I don't think they're quite ready to move from the unpleasant task of trash pulls to something even more unappealing.

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posted at: 12:20am on 28-Jul-2018
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Kenyan Music Licensing Collections In Full Chaos As Unlicensed MCSK Society Issues Rival C&D For Royalty Collections

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We've written a couple of times about the full turmoil that is music licensing collections in Kenya. The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has operated there for some time, but recently had its license stripped by the government and courts due to what appears to be some very shady financial practices that mostly amount to -- you guessed it -- not properly paying artists for royalties collected. The government then went about setting up new Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) with the aim of these new CMOs being less corrupt than MCSK. The Music Publishers Association of Kenya (MPAKE) is one such alternative CMO.As we pointed out in previous posts, the MCSK has been remarkably non-compliant with the Kenyan government at pretty much every level, from refusing to open its books as requested, to not complying with requests to cease collecting royalties. That not only continues at present, but the MCSK has actually gone so far as to issue a cease and desist to MPAKE for royalty collections, despite the Kenyan government notifying the public that MCSK was not a licensed collector.

In a letter delivered yesterday, the MCSK through its chairperson Lazarus Muoki Muli said MPAKE had no legal basis to act as a collective management organisation (CMO), as its registration and licensing was unconstitutional and violated the provisions of Section 5 of the Fair Administrative Actions Act and Article 47(1) of the Constitution of Kenya.This development comes after the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) placed an advert in various local newspapers on 19 July highlighting MPAKE, the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) and the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) as the only bodies licensed to collect royalties.KECOBO's move is in conflict with a Kakamega high court judgment delivered on 13 July by justices Ruth Sitati, David Majanja and Thripsisa Cherere, who nullified MPAKE’s licence to collect and distribute royalties on behalf of copyright holders. They declared that KECOBO’s process of issuing MPAKE with licence No CS 005 on 27 March 2017 was null and void.
So what's going on here? Well, the MCSK is fighting in court for its continued right to collect royalties, while the Kenyan government, under its attorney general, is busy telling the public that this is all settled law and that MCSK is out of the CMO business. Meanwhile, due to the court fight, the courts have said the government's licensing of MPAKE in 2017 was unconstitutional, while KECOBO is saying that's true for the 2017 license, but not the license put in place in 2018. Meanwhile, MCSK remains unlicensed by the government, even as it battles for its life in the court system.And if all of this sounds like a huge clusterfuck that can only result in confusion and anger for everyone, you're not the only one.
Afro-fusion musician Sam Ondieki said the court’s ruling had triggered a heated debate among musicians, many of whom were only interested in whether royalties would be paid out to them.“We have waited for an entire year for this verdict,” Ondieki said. “So we are not so much keen in knowing who will be the next CMO. As musicians we want to be paid our royalties before we transfer rights to someone else. We do not know who to believe among the two [MCSK and MPAKE], although the court’s directive is clear."Personally, I can openly say that it is impossible for me to trust the MCSK. I have been a member for about 10 years and I am yet to receive a penny, yet my songs have been receiving airplay.”
In other words, pretty much everyone in this saga sucks out loud. The MCSK appears to be plainly corrupt, the government appears to be promoting other collection societies in a way that circumvents copyright law, and musical artists and the public are all left scratching their collective heads wondering what exactly they're supposed to do.And this chaotic nonsense is good for musicians and creating more music how, exactly?

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posted at: 12:20am on 28-Jul-2018
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