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National security wrap

Posted By , , and on April 13, 2017 @ 12:30

Image courtesy of Pixabay user blickpixel.

The Beat

Taser’s body cameras—razorblades in a free lunch?

Axon (formerly Taser)—is offering free ‘Axon Body 2’ cameras [1] to every sworn law enforcement officer in the US. It’s a big bet on the future of body cameras [2], touted as a means to foster [3] police integrity and accountability. Axon cites recent work [4] by the Pew Research Center as its catalyst—93% of the public and 66% of the police force supported [5] the cameras.

But as per usual, there’s no free lunch. The offer is in fact a free year-long trial and if departments desire to continue, there’ll be US$399 to pay per cam. More crucially, the ongoing data storage costs payable to Axon could run to US$89 per month. This is classic ‘razor and blades [6]’ marketing, and could lead to further financial stress for already-under resourced departments [7]. And the problems that have plagued police investigations and criminal trials will still be around: data storage [8], bureaucratic inefficiencies [5], discretionary control over the footage [9], and civil rights concerns [10].

Ice-addicted python cools off

Shout out to the ice-addled python (‘which cannot be named due to legal reasons [11]’) being rehabilitated [12] at the John Maroney Correctional Complex [13] in NSW. A former life in a meth lab took its toll on the python, but it’s being cared for in the in-house Wildlife Care Centre [13].

CT Scan

Terrorist or hipster?

The relationship between Muslim men and their beards is a tangled one, it seems. The Conversation looks at the panic surrounding ‘Muslim beards’ and the popular perception that ‘young Arabic-looking men with beards equal terrorists’ [14]. Perhaps they’re just hipsters? The author discusses her own experience as a Lebanese-Australian with two bearded brothers: ‘I’m intrigued by the entanglement of the hipster with the bearded jihadi who features with ever-increasing regularity in Western media’. And perhaps she’s right to be concerned. In 2016, police in Tajikistan shaved off the beards of almost 13,000 men [15] in a bid to stamp out what the authorities deemed ‘radicalisation’.

Taking a ‘linkage-based approach’ to combatting terrorism

The ICCT released an interesting piece on the strategic benefits of using what they term a ‘linkage-based approach [16]’ to combat extremist, Islamist propaganda. Coined by Dr Haroro Ingram [17] from the ANU Coral Bell School in 2016 [18], this approach offers an ‘alternative to ideology-centric strategies that rely on essentially counter-proselytisation to undermine the appeal of militant Islamist propaganda’. Check out page 5 [19] of the most recent report for a useful explanatory diagram!

Responding to terrorism

The time immediately following a terrorist attack is often chaotic and disorienting. To help mitigate this confusion, Senior Fellow from the Brookings Centre for Middle East Policy, Daniel Byman [20] has kindly outlined nine questions policymakers should ask [21] themselves after a terrorist incident.

Checkpoint

India’s inroads in Arunachal Pradesh

India’s literally ‘moving mountains’ [22] in the Eastern Himalayas to build a 55km road leading to its disputed border with China in Arunachal Pradesh. The road would allow India to quickly deploy troops, supplies and weaponry in the event of armed confrontation and will help strengthen its own border claims. New Delhi is playing catch up to China’s massive infrastructure build-up [23] on the other side of the frontier.

Schengen Borders Code

The Schengen Borders Code [24] came into effect last Friday. Under the new piece of legislation, all EU and non-EU citizens are required to undergo ‘systematic checks against relevant databases’ [25] or have their documents uploaded into a registry when crossing in and out of the Schengen border. Previously [25] only applied to non-EU citizens, the measure is part of an effort to crack down on foreign fighters returning to the EU.

Trump’s ‘militarised beauty pageant’

Donald Trump’s getting more than he bargained for in the ‘militarised beauty pageant’ [26] to design his border wall. The submissions [26] that’ve come through include nuclear waste-filled moats, ‘volumetric microwave sensors’, watchtowers, hammocks and musical organ pipes. The most imaginative idea calls for the creation of a new territory along the border called ‘Otra Nation’ [27], co-maintained by the US and Mexico.

First Responder

Neighbourhood watch

Thanks to the tail-end of ex-cyclone Debbie [28], parts of New Zealand’s east coast are experiencing a ‘once in 500-year’ flood. A state of emergency has been declared in several areas on the North Island, after two days of torrential rain. In Edgecumbe, one of the worst-affected towns, locals challenged council officials [29] at a public meeting over why flood barriers weren’t reinforced after major flooding in 2004.

‘The earth is ringing’

The unexpected coupling [30] of a geophysicist and a music/sound designer birthed the SeismoDome [31] show. The pair make audible the sounds of earthquakes by manipulating, speeding up, and magnifying vibrations, surface waves and other seismic data. When surface waves are sped up, for example, they ‘sound like slow chirps’ [30], or even whale songs. In addition to being a moving audio-visual experience, the show is educational—teaching audiences about seismology and plate tectonics—and aspirational—hoping that greater understanding of the Earth’s natural hazards will lead to more considered city planning and design.

Ebola’s lessons

Lastly, well worth a (long) read this week is the new Chatham House paper, Sierra Leone’s Response to the Ebola Outbreak: Management Strategies and Key Responder Experiences (PDF [32]).



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URLs in this post:

[1] free ‘Axon Body 2’ cameras: https://www.axon.com/info/offer

[2] body cameras: https://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/technology/pages/body-worn-cameras.aspx

[3] foster: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/how-the-polices-body-worn-camera-technology-is-changing-the-justice-system-a6905691.html

[4] recent work: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/01/11/behind-the-badge/

[5] supported: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/01/11/police-views-public-views/

[6] razor and blades: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razor_and_blades_model

[7] already-under resourced departments: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/01/11/inside-americas-police-departments/

[8] data storage: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2016/09/19/oakland-police-reveal-quarter-body-cam-footage-has-been-accidentally-deleted.html

[9] discretionary control over the footage: https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/04/nypds-proposed-body-camera-policies-are-a-disaster-for-police-accountability/

[10] civil rights concerns: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/taser-axon-police-body-cameras-free-civil-rights-surveillance

[11] which cannot be named due to legal reasons: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-39550815

[12] rehabilitated: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/meet-the-2m-iceaddicted-python-who-had-to-dry-out-in-a-prison-rehab-program/news-story/16c9f2ba6b399983037b66bf95ffd9a2

[13] John Maroney Correctional Complex: http://www.correctiveservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/CorrectiveServices/custodial-corrections/table-of-correctional-centres/john-morony.aspx

[14] ‘young Arabic-looking men with beards equal terrorists’: https://theconversation.com/terrorist-or-hipster-what-does-a-beard-mean-74251

[15] shaved off the beards of almost 13,000 men: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/tajikistan-shaves-13000-men-beards-radicalism-160120133352747.html

[16] linkage-based approach: https://icct.nl/publication/the-strategic-logic-of-the-linkage-based-approach-to-combating-militant-islamist-propaganda-conceptual-and-empirical-foundations/

[17] Dr Haroro Ingram: https://icct.nl/people/dr-haroro-j-ingram-associate-fellow/

[18] 2016: https://icct.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/ICCT-Ingram-A-Linkage-Based-Approach-Nov2016.pdf

[19] page 5: https://icct.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ICCT-Ingram-The-Strategic-Logic-of-the-Linkage-Based-Approach.pdf

[20] Daniel Byman: https://www.brookings.edu/experts/daniel-l-byman/

[21] nine questions policymakers should ask: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/04/04/nine-questions-to-ask-after-a-terrorist-attack/

[22] ‘moving mountains’ : http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/india-moves-mountains-to-build-military-road-to-china-border-117040600050_1.html

[23] massive infrastructure build-up: https://jamestown.org/program/china-and-indias-border-infrastructure-race/

[24] Schengen Borders Code: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEX-17-910_en.htm

[25] ‘systematic checks against relevant databases’: http://www.dw.com/en/eu-to-toughen-up-external-border-security-in-its-fight-against-terrorism/a-38330885

[26] ‘militarised beauty pageant’: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/apr/10/donald-trump-border-wall-proposals-architecture-criticism

[27] ‘Otra Nation’: http://www.otranation.com/

[28] tail-end of ex-cyclone Debbie: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/06/new-zealand-storm-ex-cyclone-debbie-towns-hit-once-in-500-year-flood

[29] locals challenged council officials: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/328421/edgecumbe-floods-tensions-run-high-at-public-meeting

[30] unexpected coupling: http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/nature/listen-to-an-earthquakes-eerie-whale-songs.aspx

[31] SeismoDome: http://www.seismicsoundlab.org/

[32] PDF: https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/publications/research/2017-03-31-sierra-leone-ebola-ross-welch-angelides-final.pdf

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