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October 2021
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LAPD Sees Your Reform Efforts, Raises You $20 Million In Bullets, Snacks, And Surveillance

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The Los Angeles Police Department is reform-resistant. This isn't the same as reform-proof, but more separates "resistant" from "proof" in this case than the misleading labels promising varying degrees of water resistance placed on watches and cellphones.The LAPD has endured decades of bad press with barely an uptick in performance or community orientation. The LAPD is best known for beating minorities until riots happen. With a wave of police reform efforts sweeping the nation -- many of them looking to spend less on police violence and more on things that actually help the community -- the LAPD has issued a tone-deaf demand for more money to spend on things residents are complaining about.

The LAPD has filed a massive proposal requesting more than $18 million in budget increases in order to pay for surveillance programs, bullets, and … snacks.The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition released a letter on Monday blasting the 183-page report. The proposal requests nearly $18.44 million to support many of the things that the community has spent recent years protesting. The letter, which was co-signed by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles, describes the LAPD’s list of demands as a “disgusting insult to hundreds of thousands of people who took the streets last summer."
What else in the LAPD's "more please" proposal? $2 million to spend on social media monitoring, something it's asking for right after it was reported LAPD officers are demanding social media information from people they've accosted or otherwise harassed into a "consensual" conversation. That's in addition to $450,000 in licenses for social media monitoring software to better make use of this new data officers are collecting while out in the proverbial field.The letter [PDF] from the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition doesn't pull any punches. It compiles a long list of the stupid, counterproductive demands the department is making -- ones not connected in any way to improving relations with the communities they serve.In true Newspeak, here's the fucking news: the LAPD wants more money to be thrown at its desire to throw bullets at people.
Over $12 million for new trainings in addition to $461,850 in bullets at $17 per round to shoot away at trainings and $492,850 in “overtime funds to address field jail training” for mass arrests
This won't make the LAPD more efficient killers. And it won't make them better guardians of people's rights, starting with the right to protest. What it will do is encourage pulling the trigger until clips run dry and mass processing of people arrested for (the most part) expressing their displeasure with their current police force.And who wouldn't applaud the blending of police officers and the military like so much corn and gasoline?
$348,130 for a new staff officer whose full-time role will be to permanently coordinate with “military” forces and facilitate their local deployment
And perhaps the most "police" thing of all, the guys are getting kind of hungry:
$100,000 for snacks that “personnel can grab quickly and take with them,” apparently enabled through new “emergency use credit cards”
Love to see "snacks" and "emergency" linked together in a sentence asking for $100,000. It sounds like an insulin request but it's actually about propping up the Frito-Lay Economy.Once you get past all the "screw your rights and please catch bullets" parts of the LAPD's proposal, you get to the part where the LAPD claims to be saving money by spending money… or something.
Chief Moore’s cover memo raises many questions about the cost of these proposals. As he notes, LAPD previously claimed these same reforms required over $66 million. He writes that this larger figure “counted all costs – even if the resources were currently available” (p. 5) which presumably means LAPD double-counted the cost of resources that it already possessed. But one sentence later, Chief Moore claims the $18.44 million estimate amounts to a $48 million “reduction in cost projection.” It is unclear whether the $18.44 million is in fact a “reduction” or simply accurate accounting. But LAPD’s comfort switching numbers so large without real explanation speaks to how little financial scrutiny they expect from you. Additionally, it is unclear how much of the $18.44 million are yearly versus one-time costs.
Good luck sussing that out, whether you're an activist group or city oversight. The LAPD is used to asking questions, not answering them. A sea change in public receptiveness to cops being assholes doesn't appear to have had any effect on LAPD (and I use this term super-loosely) leadership. Cop business will proceed as usual, recent public antipathy notwithstanding.So, what else is new? Nothing. But it needs more money. The LAPD says its cool with alleged transparency efforts like body cams, but only if it gets to keep harvesting data from tons of automatic plate readers and its take on stop-and-frisk, which now apparently involves requests for social media info.And it appears the city did what it could to ensure the LAPD could have its millions without too much interference from the hoi polloi.
The proposals were made public in an 183-page document sent late in the afternoon on Friday, September 24, and the proposals will be voted on the morning of Tuesday, September 28. This is just over one business day to digest and respond to the 183-page proposals, and even that time period is only for people who happen to have received the proposal immediately because they subscribe to this board’s agenda by email. The public’s only opportunity to comment would be if they received that online agenda and then responded either by emails sent before 5 p.m. on Monday, September 27, or by becoming one of the dozen or so individuals who happen to secure a brief public comment slot during this board’s 45-minute public comment period, before the agenda item is even introduced.
Only in the government can you give the finger to your employers (taxpayers) and end up better off during FYWhatever. The LAPD likely knows what the public is asking of it. But it also knows that not caring what they think will at least give it the same budget it had in 2020 and do little to curb its surveillance excesses. At some point, the LAPD's city oversight will have to actually do its job. Until then, it's just signing off on the same law enforcement bullshit that has kept the city in constant turmoil since the Watts riots nearly five decades ago.

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posted at: 12:01am on 19-Oct-2021
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Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa

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Most people would agree that those who are blind or visually impaired deserve all the help they can get. For example, the conversion of printed materials to accessible formats like Braille, large print, or Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) formats, ought to be easy. Who could possibly object? For years, many publishers did; and the reason – of course – is copyright. For example, publishers refused to allow Braille and other accessible editions to be shared between different countries:

while the ONCE library in Spain has more than 100,000 titles in accessible formats and Argentina has over 50,000, these titles cannot be shared with the 19 Spanish-speaking countries across Latin America. Similarly, some years ago, charities working in five English-speaking countries, including the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the UK and Vision Australia, were obliged to produce five identical Braille master files for the same Harry Potter book, costing them valuable time and money.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) described the situation back in 2012:
Copyright protections create barriers for people with disabilities, yet big publishers continue to block efforts to create exceptions to remedy the problem even as hundreds of millions of people would stand to benefit worldwide. In the US alone, those with print disabilities represent 30 million people. According to an estimate by the World Health Organization, there are about 285 million visually impaired people in the world, and 90% of those are in the developing world.
Later that same year (2012), negotiations finally began on a treaty laying down copyright exceptions and limitations that would allow those with visual impairments to convert works, and share them internationally. The World Blind Union had some modest aims for the new treaty:
Make it legal for print disabled individuals and specialist organizations to make accessible copies of published works in all countries which sign the treaty;Make it legal for accessible books to be sent internationally without permission from publishers;Prevent contracts with publishers from undermining copyright exceptions for print disabled people (currently they sometimes do).
Pretty reasonable, most people would say. But the EFF reported at the time that negotiators were “unable to reach a consensus on many of its most contentious issues, such as allowing exports of adapted works across borders and circumventing technological protection measures to enable accessibility”. In addition, people with hearing disabilities were “written out of the draft“, and US negotiators blocked exceptions and limitations for audiovisual works at the behest of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).It took another four years before what came to be known as the Marrakesh Treaty was agreed on and entered into force. Since then, countries around the world have been ratifying the treaty, with greater or lesser degrees of haste. One nation that has still not yet ratified the Marrakesh Treaty is South Africa. The reason given was that the country’s main Copyright Act, from 1978, prevented the government from doing so. Happily, that obstacle has finally been removed, reported here by the Oxford Human Rights Hub:
After hearing arguments from the amici on important issues of the rights of all people to freely impart and receive information and the interpretation of South Africa’s existing obligations under international human rights law and copyright law, the Pretoria High Court held that the Copyright Act is unconstitutional to the extent that it unfairly discriminates against people living with visual and print disabilities as it effectively prevents them from accessing materials under copyright.
It’s simply scandalous that in 2021 the visually impaired still need to fight in this way for their basic rights to “freely impart and receive information”. Once again, it is outdated copyright law that is to blame – together with the selfishness of publishers who view their rights to exclude people from knowledge as more important than those of the blind to access it.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.Story originally posted to the excellent new Walled Culture website.

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posted at: 12:01am on 19-Oct-2021
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