NEWS ROUNDUP: THE TRACKER IN YOUR POCKET, VEGAS, AND ZOMBIES

With school back in full swing, I wondered how many colleges are offering degrees in Homeland Security.  According to the Naval Postgraduate School, there are 354 programs in Colleges and Universities Offering Homeland Security Programs.   Of these, there are 88 bachelor’s degrees and 93 master’s degrees.

What will all these graduates holding homeland security degrees do? Maybe they will help secure the homeland by expanding the See Something, Say Something campaign to Wet Seal and Forever 21 stores near you, as Homeland Security Partners with Simon Owned Shopping Malls.  Or, they may find jobs reporting on people engaged in suspicious activities, like taking pictures in Los Angeles, now that Photographers in Los Angeles Considered Terrorists Under Official LAPD Policy.

Fantastic reporting in the New Yorker this week about The Throwaways, mostly young people coerced into going undercover as police informants.  If you’d rather listen than read, the journalist Sarah Stillman went on NPR to talk about the Use Of Confidential Informants Mostly Unregulated.  (Trust, the story is 10x more interesting than the NPR golf clap of a headline.)

So long as you’re listening to NPR, here is Why Your Cellphone Could Be Called A ‘Tracker’, with ProPublica’s investigative reporter Peter Maas.  ProPublica has been trying to get this story out for months, asking How Many Millions of Cellphones Are Police Watching? (more than the 1.3 million reported by the New York Times) and concluding That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker. Yikes.

When it comes to surveillance, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas.  Casinos are where the bleeding edge of surveillance technology gets dropped into real world (to the extent that casinos are real world) application. Everything from high resolution cameras to face recognition technology made their breakthroughs in casinos.  Industry site SourceSecurity.com reports that Casino Surveillance Integration Adapts to a New Scale, namely, downscaling.  If you’re a student in the Pocono area of Delaware, there’s still time for you to sign up for the Casino Surveillance Program Offered at Northampton CC Starting Sept. 12.

Remember SB1070? What went up to the Supreme Court earlier this year was one of two major lawsuits challenging the law. The second lawsuit, brought by a consortium of civil and human rights groups, took a thumping last week by district court Judge Susan Bolton. Bolton heard arguments in August and then took her lead from the Supreme Court’sArizona v. United States ruling, denying the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction in Valle de Sol v. Whiting. The ruling allows the state of Arizona to implement the show me your papers provision of SB1070.

Danger Room reviewed CNN’s interview with the President on his use of drones to target people on his “kill list” and concluded that Obama Finally Talks Drone War, But It’s Almost Impossible to Believe Him.  This was the a day after there were 29 Dead in 8 Days as U.S. Puts Yemen Drone War in Overdrive.  And what about the use of drones here inside the United States?  Secrecy News posted this Congressional Research Service report dated September 6 on Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations: Fourth Amendment Implications and Legislative Responses.

Two posts from Grits for Breakfast this week that get into the nitty gritty of modern day policing. The first digs through the data and concludes that the Austin Police Staffing “Shortage” Stems from Subsidies to Well-off Residents, in the form of responding to (almost always false) alarms in rich neighborhoods.  The second is On Law Enforcement as Rent Seeking: A Lament.

The upstanding, buttoned down  Judge James Jay has some things to say about the total failure of the drug war.

And finally, zombies. The Centers for Disease Control has issued Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemicviewable online. The use of an entirely imaginary threat to get the message across about emergency preparedness kits is tongue-in-cheek, but not, apparently, self-mocking.