Catch us live on BlogTalkRadio every

Tuesday & Thursday at 6pm P.S.T.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Australian motorcycle riders rights

n just over a month, Jarrod and Newman's cruel laws will come into effect, banning bikies and associates from working in a number of trades in Queensland - building, construction, plumbing, electricians, security workers, tattooists plus many more.

How do you know if you're an associate? The police simply tell the relevant government department that issues your licence, that you have 'links'.

'Links'? What evidence is required? In line with incompetent and childish government policy, none, of course.

From now until the 1st July 2014, make it your absolute priority to hold Campbell and Jarrod to account.

Real people will lose their jobs. Real families will be impacted.

Don't let Newman forget.

And don't let your local MP forget either.

If innocent people are going to lose their jobs, its only fair that LNP politicians lose theirs too.

Phone: (07) 3719 7000
Fax: Fax: (07) 3220 6222
Write: PO Box 15185
City East
Queensland 4002
Tweet: @theqldpremier; @jarrodbleijieMP

CA- SAN DIEGO -2009 Sandberg slayings still unsolved..

A memorial motorcycle ride is set for Sunday on Mount Soledad
 — Friends and family of Barry and Carol Sandberg want to keep their memory alive, and find out who killed them.
It was five years ago, on May 7, 2009, that San Diego police found the slain couple in their Bay Park home. Their Harley-Davidson motorcycle and other valuables had been stolen.
Every year since then, friends have held a memorial motorcycle ride in honor of the Sandbergs. This year it will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday on Mount Soledad.
Carol and Barry Sandberg. A memorial motorcycle ride will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday on Mount Soledad.— Courtsey photo
Riders will travel to San Diego Harley-Davidson on Morena Boulevard, where shop owner “New York Myke” Shelby will host a free barbecue. The public is invited.
“You’ve got a retired couple in their own home, they don’t owe anyone, and they were robbed and murdered in the middle of the night, and all their valuable possessions were hauled off,” said JD Dolinger, a longtime friend of the Sandbergs.
The couple's Harley Davidson, shown, was stolen and never recovered.— Courtsey photo
“No one’s ever been charged with it. We’re not going to forget. We’re not going to let this case get cold.”
Dolinger, who helped organize the memorial ride, said he met the couple 25 years ago through a nationwide motorcycle rights organization.
Homicide unit Lt. Manny Del Toro said he’ll be at the memorial along with a lead detective on the case, and hopes publicity for the event will generate some tips.
“We have no working theories at this time,” Del Toro said in a recent interview. “This is a whodunit-type crime. We haven’t been able to generate any leads.”
The Governor’s office has put up a $50,000 reward, added to a $1,000 Crime Stoppers reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.
Police have never revealed how the couple were killed, for investigative reasons.
Carol’s sister, Jennifer Doty, 67, of Spring Valley, said she believes the pair were killed the night of May 2 or early the next day, since they failed to turn up for a Saturday night party or for a Sunday motorcycle ride with friends.
That weekend was their anniversary and Barry’s 63rd birthday.
Doty’s mother tried to call Carol several times, then asked a girlfriend to check on her. On May 7, the friend called police and asked them to check the home.
Doty said Carol, 60, was born in San Diego, graduated from Hoover High School, and worked as a secretary for several companies. She met Barry when she worked at Genie Bail Bonds and he was a customer, Doty said.
She said Barry, a New Yorker who came to San Diego with his parents, had some trouble in his life. Del Toro said Sandberg had been arrested more than once, including for battery.
Dolinger said Sandberg made a good living refinishing yachts, piloting people to Catalina, and investing. Sandberg had joined a sobriety program, “found Jesus and was doing really well,” Dolinger said. “They lived a great life.”
Anyone with information on the case can call the homicide unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

CA - ABATE LOCAL 6 MEETING - Sunday, June 1, 2014


WHEN:                       Sunday, June 1, 2014                TIME:  12:00 noon   
WHERE:                     Kate Sessions Park – Pacific Beach

Please join us at Kate Sessions Park this Sunday.  Following the meeting, we will ride to Mt. Soledad to honor Barry and Carol Sandberg and get an update from the police on what has happened with the investigation of their murder.  There will be a party at San Diego Harley following Mt. Soledad.

Here’s some of the subjects that will be covered this month by Snowman and others: 
  • General Business
·         Treasury Report
  • Membership
  • Legislative and Judicial Updates
·         Phone Tree and E-Mail Alerts
·         Merchandise
·         Safety Report
  • Runs and Events
·         Political / PAC / Judicial
·         Webmaster    Check out our webpage:
·         Old Business
·         New Business  

Mo and Monica have ordered some shirts and hats plus some other goodies, so come find out what will be on sale! 

Also we have a petition to sign to do with AB-1835.  I sent it out to everyone on May 19th as a Call to Action.  If you have copies of the signed petition, please bring it with you and we’ll mail them for you.  We’ll also have some copies for your to take with you to have signed and I’ve attached a copy again.  We are trying to support our Off-Road Division.

As usual, if you ever have any subjects or topics you’d like discussed, please email me at nemecek@san.rr.comand let me know what you’d like covered.  We’ll do our best.. 

Don’t forget the Final Option continues to have a breakfast at Sweetwater Harley just before our meeting each month.  Howie has invited everyone down to have breakfast first and then ride up to Kate Sessions for our meeting. 
Another important reminder…please remember to let us know if you change membership information … address, telephone, email, etc.  Send the updates to
Nancy Nemecek
Vice President – Local 6

P.S.  Hey, Wolf, I remembered to change the date this time J!

CA - Water & Power City Expansion Survey

CALLING ALL FANS OUTSIDE OF LA!!! The #1 question we get asked is "When are you coming to my city?!" Well, here's your chance to let us know that you want us to come to your city! Please fill out the survey we have linked to this post and as news becomes available, we'll let you know. Get your friends to fill it out too, so SHARE and REPOST because here's your chance to be heard!

Water & Power City Expansion Survey

As we look to expand into new markets for the movie Water & Power, we want to get your feedback as to what cities you would like us to show the movie in. It is important that you answer all the questions below with correct information to ensure that we are able to reach you. Thank you for your support of Water & Power!
1. What city would you like Water & Power to play in theaters next?
2. If we were to arrange for a screening of Water & Power in your city, would you be able to help mobilize AT LEAST 100 people who would purchase tickets and see the movie too?
3. Why do you think that Water & Power would have a successful theatrical run in your city?
4. Are there any good taco spots nearby where we can grub on after the movie?
5. Is your city 4/20 friendly?
6. What is your first name?
7. What is your last name?
8. What is your email address?
9. What is your daytime phone number?
10. Are there any comments or questions?

Powered by SurveyMonkey
Check out our sample surveys and create your own now!     

The Rise Of Insect Surveillance Drones

Fully autonomous insect drones are only 1-2 years away, according to Ron Wood, who’s been working with DARPA to develop micro-drone technology since 1998.
According to Wood, the only thing they lack is a method of powering the drones, which would be novel batteries, micro fuel cells, and wireless power transfer.

Of course, these insect drones will have a camera and microphone. Will they be able to collect blood (DNA) or implant toxins or mechanical devices as well?
insect drone 2

Turning Insights Into Robots

On a freezing day in 2006, Wood arrived at his Oxford Street laboratory at Harvard. On the workbench sat a 60-milligram robot with a three-centimeter wingspan and a thorax roughly the size of a housefly. It was tethered to a six-foot-tall computer rack crammed full of high-voltage amplifiers and data-acquisition equipment. Wood carefully checked the connections and signals.
Then he flipped on the power and watched as the wings of his tiny creation began to vibrate, lifting the robot into the air for several seconds. Wood jumped in jubilation. It had taken him seven years to get to this point, and it would take another five to reach his next breakthrough: sustained flight along a preprogrammed path. An e-mail with proof of that milestone arrived in his inbox at 3 a.m. in the summer of 2012. An ecstatic graduate student had sent a video update on the lab’s latest prototype, now named RoboBee. It showed the delicate machine rising into the air and demonstrating, for the first time, stable hovering and controlled flight maneuvers in an insect-scale vehicle.
“I didn’t end up sleeping the rest of that night,” Wood says. “The next morning, we had champagne and all that, but it was more of a relief. If we couldn’t do this, we would have realized we were doing something wrong the whole time.”
Wood has pioneered microscale robotic flight; other researchers have used flapping-wing dynamics to reduce the size of aerial vehicles capable of carrying payloads. In 2011, California-based AeroVironment demoed its Nano Hummingbird. The aircraft has a 16.5-centimeter wingspan; it can fly vertically and horizontally and hover in place against gusting wind. It weighs 19 grams—lighter than some AA batteries—but it carries a camera, communications systems, and an energy source.
Insect Aerodynamics
1. As a wing flaps, a tornado-like spiral of air forms along its leading edge. This vortex causes air pressure to drop briefly above the wing; higher pressure pushes the wing from below. 2. The wing rotates in preparation to flap in the opposite direction. This rotation creates forces similar to backspin on a tennis ball, pulling a faster stream of air over the top surface. 3. As the wing moves in the opposite direction, it collides with the swirling vortex of air created by the previous stroke, a principle called wake capture. Depending on the angle of the wing as it hits the wake, it can generate additional upward or downward force.
Trevor Johnston
TechJect, a company that spun off from work done at the Georgia Institute of Technology, recently unveiled a robotic dragonfly with a six-inch wingspan. It weighs in at 5.5 grams (lighter than a quarter) and can be outfitted with modular electronics packages enabling high-definition video and wireless communication. The TechJect Dragonfly takes advantage of an aerodynamics principle called resonance. When wings flap at their most efficient frequency—which happens when air density, wing speed, and an organism’s weight are perfectly balanced-—they create waves of vortices that merge and build. The audible result is the hum of a hummingbird or buzz of a bee, says Jayant Ratti, TechJect’s president. A flapping-wing drone utilizing resonance generates significant improvements in energy efficiency, creating optimal lift with minimal effort.
Ratti and his team made the product commercially available to hobbyists and early adopters last year, and they plan to release another version by the end of 2014 for other markets. “The acceptance has been phenomenal,” Ratti says. “It is not yet a mature technology, but it’s getting there. We are still getting feedback and making improvements.”
The InstantEye, built by Physical Sciences Inc., has shock absorbers that mimic those on a fly’s body.
Physical Sciences Inc.

Building A Tougher Drone

Small, fragile drones don’t solve the problem of damage caused by unexpected impacts, and so Guiler and Vaneck have focused on durability. After observing the fly at the bar, the two engineers searched for someone with experience replicating insect flight. They teamed up with Wood, whose lab had since joined Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and together they applied for an Air Force grant. Wood’s group then used an image-capture system to record and analyze fly behavior before, during, and after collisions with glass. By closely observing the positions of the flies’ body parts, they could measure the exact flip and twist of wings and legs.
When Guiler and Vaneck slowed down the film, they were amazed at what they saw. “I thought the fly would tumble a bit and lose a lot of altitude,” Vaneck says. “But the fly recovery was elegant. It happened so rapidly; it was breathtaking.”
Guiler and Vaneck homed in on the idiosyncratic geometry of the fly’s body. Its exoskeleton had accordion-like parts that acted as shock absorbers. It also seemed to sense impending collisions. Just before the moment of impact, the fly flew at an angle that ensured its legs touched the glass first. At that instant, the wings froze. Every time the fly slammed into the window, it reflexively surrendered to the crash momentum and fell. But within milliseconds, the fly’s center of gravity appeared to pull the fly back into a stable position. Then its wings flapped again, propelling the insect into a controlled hover. “It can hit and recover in two or three wing beats, which is phenomenal,” Vaneck says. “There is no manmade system that can do that.”
The Coming Swarm
Single bio-inspired drones are useful, but dozens can work together to accomplish a complex task. Vijay Kumar, an engineer at the University of Pennsylvania, teamed up with Arizona State University biologist Stephen Pratt to apply three lessons learned from ant swarms to fleets of quadrotors. 1) In nature, ants act autonomously. Engineers traditionally use a centralized system to choreograph movement in swarms, Kumar says. As a swarm grows larger, the control algorithms become increasingly complex. Instead, Kumar tries to program his aerial vehicles with a common set of instructions; the quadrotors divide up tasks and assume complementary roles. 2) Individual ants are interchangeable. “If I want to scale up my swarm, maintain the predictability of its behavior, and make it robust, the gang has to be able to perform the task if an individual is knocked out,” Kumar says. So he makes his aerial vehicles identical to one another. 3) Ants sense their neighbors and act on local information. Kumar outfitted his vehicles with motion-capture systems, cameras, and lasers that enable them to avoid obstacles and maintain a set distance from each other. As a result, they can fly in tight formations, work together to pick up heavy objects, and collaboratively create a map of their environment.
Courtesy KMEL Robotics/YouTube
The two engineers used those insights to guide the development of a resilient flying machine. The body needed to be shockproof, and the wings needed to be controlled independently. So they designed a shell for a quadrotor that incorporated shock absorbers—rubber dampers in between sections made from carbon fiber and plastic. They gave each of the four rotors its own motor in order to mimic the alternating wing speed that provides four-winged insects with exceptional control. When the vehicle is blown out of position or clips an obstacle, its computer detects the discrepancy between its current position and its programmed flight path, and an autopilot reflexively kicks in to recover stability.
Last February, the engineers sent their drone, called the InstantEye, to Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia, for its annual Army Expeditionary Warrior experiments, where an infantry platoon used it to help complete a set of assigned missions. The soldiers gave it a “green” rating, one of the highest available.

Overcoming Future Hurdles

As the first generation of microdrones reaches the market, significant engineering challenges still remain. For Wood, the big hurdle is power. Unlike the much larger InstantEye, Nano Hummingbird, and Dragonfly drones, RoboBees must be connected to an external power source. Wood is using microfabrication to try to shrink onboard batteries, and he’s collaborating with researchers at Harvard, the University of Washington, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue novel batteries, micro fuel cells, and wireless power transfer. He estimates he is only one or two years away from his first autonomous-power demonstration.
Guiler and Vaneck aim to replace the propellers on their quadrotor with flapping wings. The InstantEye is far better at recovering from wind gusts and minor collisions than other drones are, but its propellers can still get tangled in branches or power lines. “We wanted to bring something to the field fast,” Guiler says. “But what we discovered was flapping-wing birds and insects are perfectly suited for environments where you have dynamic obstructions—the trees are moving, the branches are moving. If they do get stuck, by their very motion they get unstuck. They kind of beat their way through. We realized a flapping wing was the only thing that would work.”
RoboBees could search disaster sites for survivors, monitor traffic, or pollinate crops.

And then there’s Dickinson, who initiated the project to build the robotic fly. Today he runs a lab at the University of Washington and works with advanced imaging systems to study insect flight. Early high-speed cameras captured about 3,000 frames per second. “Fifteen years ago, the flies looked like little fuzzy UFOs,” he says. Now the biologists use cameras that can run at 7,500 frames per second, significantly higher than what was once available to researchers, and that work in infrared light. (Update: This sentence has been rewritten for clarification. Other cameras can reach much higher fps.) Dickinson has also gone beyond analyzing flight; he’s using electrodes to record the activity of neurons in insects’ brains. He links them to a flight-simulation system and presents them with visual stimuli—a picture of a predator, for instance—that cause them to react. “We can begin to learn how neurons in the brain are processing information in flight and how sensory information is transformed into action,” Dickinson says. “The stuff that made Rob [Wood]’s work possible was just the basic mechanisms by which animals keep themselves in the air. Now we are going beyond that to understand how flies steer and maneuver.”
Learning how nature creates superior sensors could lead to lighter, smarter drones. And as that happens, their range of applications will grow. Guiler and Vaneck plan to sell the InstantEye to the military and law enforcement. The British Forces have recently begun using a microdrone, a hand-launched helicopter called the Black Hornet, to scout for insurgents in Afghanistan. Microdrones may also have uses closer to home. They could allow police and SWAT teams to gather footage inside office buildings or banks and between skyscrapers, where winds typically gust.
Wood visualizes an even more diverse array of uses for RoboBees. A box of about 1,000, he notes, would weigh one pound. They could easily be shipped to a disaster site and deployed to search for survivors. They could also monitor traffic or the environment and help pollinate crops. Research scientists could use them to gather data in the field.

Whatever their application, microdrones are no longer a da Vinci–like dream of engineers. They’re taking off—agile, resilient, and under their own power.


Friday, May 30, 2014


BREAKING: VA confirms that 1,700 vets did sit on a secret waiting list in Phoenix. Did not confirm if any died waiting on that list.

Phoenix VA medical center


Department of Veterans Affairs inspectors say they found an unofficial list of some 1,700 veterans who were waiting to get appointments with doctors at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, where whistleblowers allege up to 40 vets died awaiting treatment.
VA Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin, in a preliminary report released on Wednesday, offered no indication that any deaths are linked to the secret wait list and said the investigation is continuing at the Phoenix hospital along with 41 other facilities where complaints have been made.
"We identified an additional 1,700 veterans who were waiting for a primary care appointment but were not on the [electronic waiting list]. Until that happens, the reported wait time for these veterans has not started. Most importantly, these veterans were and continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost in Phoenix HCS's convoluted scheduling process," the VA IG wrote in its report.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said Griffin's findings are "reprehensible to me, to this Department, and to veterans."
Shinseki, acting on Griffin's top recommendation, said he is ordering the Phoenix VA hospital to "immediately triage each of the 1,700 veterans identified by the OIG to bring them timely care."
Shinseki has already put three Phoenix officials on administrative leave over the allegations, but said Griffin has requested he take no additional personnel actions there until the review is complete.

"We are not providing [these] VA medical facilities advance notice of our visits to reduce the risk of destruction of evidence, manipulation of data and coaching staff on how to respond to our interview questions," he says in the report.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said Griffin's interim findings are enough to warrant a criminal investigation by the Justice Department and for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down.
"Shinseki is a good man who has served his country honorably, but he has failed to get VA's health care system in order despite repeated and frequent warnings from Congress, the Government Accountability Office and the IG," Miller said.
Griffin, in his report, recommended that Shinseki act immediately to get care for the 1,700 veterans whose appointment requests were kept separate from both the hospital's active appointment list and an authorized electronic waiting list intended to track unmet demand.
"Our reviews have identified multiple types of scheduling practices that are not in compliance with [VA] policy," Griffin wrote. "Since the multiple lists we found were something other than the official EWL, these additional lists may be the basis for allegations of creating 'secret' wait lists."
The secret waiting list was first reported in April by CNN. Since then whistleblowers from other facilities have made similar allegations about secret wait lists, manipulated appointment schedules and more.
 Griffin says in his report that IG staff on the ground in Phoenix and others working the national Hot Line have "received numerous allegations daily of mismanagement, inappropriate  hiring decisions, sexual harassment, and bullying behavior by mid- and senior-level managers at the Arizona hospital.
What Griffin and his team have substantiated so far is that "serious conditions" at the Phoenix facility delayed 1,700 veterans from access to health care services.
The official electronic waiting list had 1,400 names on it. The 1,700 veterans not on that list were found through several sources including a New Enrollee Appointment Request tracking report. It had 1,100 names of vets indicating they wanted a primary care appointment as of April 28, but had not received one.
Another 400 names were gleaned from screenshot paper printouts. These were newly enrolled veterans who had called the Phoenix facility helpline and requested a primary care appointment but had not been scheduled for one.
Another 200 names were veterans referred for primary care but the consultation date was still pending. These 200 were seen in a non-primary care clinic, such as mental health or the emergency department, but were then referred to primary care.
In none of the cases above were the veterans entered into the electronic waiting list, which is supposed to be used so the VA can properly track how well, or poorly, it is meeting demand.
Griffin wrote that all the complaints are being investigated. If they turn out to be true, the IG will also look into how they affect facility management's ability to improve the situation.
Complete recommendations on how to handle the situation in Phoenix will be included in a final report, he said.
In addition to getting the 1,700 veterans on the secret list into care, Griffin also recommends that VA headquarters review all waiting lists at the Phoenix hospital to find those veterans who may be at greatest risk because of any delay to care and ensure they are taken care of quickly.
These would include veterans who would be new patients to a specialty clinic, he said.
Griffin also recommended that Shinseki order a nationwide review of patient waiting lists at VA facilities to make sure veterans are being seen in an appropriate time given their medical condition.
Finally, he said, Shinseki should order a New Enrollee Appointment Request report from every facility that would identify all newly enrolled vets and direct hospital and clinic managers to show that patients have received appropriate care on the facility's electronic waiting list.
Congress has received testimony on long appointment wait times and the unreliability of the data VA reports for decades.
Two years ago the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee heard from a former mental health administrator with the VA Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, that hospital officials across the country routinely shared best practices for getting around VA policy on appointments.
Nicholas Tolentino told the senators the executives had a financial interest in making sure the numbers looked good because they were tied to annual bonuses.
Most of the heat put on the VA, however, has come from the House side of Congress. Until Wednesday, however, Miller has not called for Shinseki to resign.
"VA needs a leader who will take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department's culture of complacency with a climate of accountability," Miller said in his statement. "Sec. Shinseki has proven time and again he is not that leader. That's why it's time for him to go."

-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at

Thursday, May 29, 2014

USA - Police Employees: You Will Be Filmed

By Pete Eyre
Don’t say anything that you’ll later regret and control access to information – that’s essentially what employee Loranie Burger, in her December of 2013 write-up 6 ways cops can handle the spotlight like a pro, suggests to police employees on how to best handle “self-proclaimed citizen-journalists armed with smartphones.”
Unfortunately for Burger and those who may find balm in the six steps outlined, the ability to control information is becoming a thing of yesteryear.
Many of us now carry smartphones, which can stream content offsite, safely from the clutches of those who have historically operated in the shadows – the true nature of their actions known only to themselves and their victims.
Thanks to the Internet, Tors, meshnets, inexpensive technology, hackers, and other tactics and tech which facilitate the spread of ideas, more are questioning the legitimacy of the injustice system.
But just because you recognize the value created when you or I or a random passerby films – the same is not true when the filming is done by a police employee, as issues then exist about accessing the footage, if it even exists.
Also, was pointed out by Jacob Crawford of We Copwatch and Rachel Lederman of the National Lawyers Guild, we cannot rely on police body worn cameras for a multitude of reasons. There’s a big difference between surveillance and sousveillance.
On Cop Block’s Film the Police page, it notes:
Documenting the actions of police employees can help protect you and others because it creates an objective record. You have the right to record anything in public – including, and some would say, especially – police employees. Though police employees are people just like you and me, courts have ruled that police can lie to you, and that they may not be held accountable for their actions per unfair legal doctrines and practice like ‘sovereign immunity’ and ‘acting under color of law.’
Burger does share a nugget of truth in her piece: “cops don’t stand a chance of staying off YouTube.” As the practice of documenting and disseminating interactions with police employees, both as a safeguard and a deterrent, continues to become more commonplace, we’re all better off.
As we each film we are making visible the pattern that’s always existed – the institutionalized violence built into the injustice system – so that complacency is no longer thought acceptable and financial support can be withdrawn, before its actors wrong yet another individual.
Protect yourself and your community – keep your camera nearby, charged, and with space to capture content, and film the police!
On a related note, launched earlier this week with a deadline almost a month out, is the Accountability Through Transparency Video Contest:


USA - Understanding, Surviving, and Resisting the Police State


By CopBlock
This post was submitted by Josie “The Outlaw.” Check out her website, “”
We now live in a world where it is legal for police officers to murder not only animals, but innocent people, use the threat of force to coerce peaceful people into submission, and not only avoid punishment, but are ENCOURAGED to act this way. We live in a police state, and before we figure out how to fix it, we have to understand how this situation came to be. It’s easy to focus our anger only on the ones actually committing the violence, but cops didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start violently oppressing people. Injustice flows from the top down. What we’re seeing today is largely the result of the politicians WANTING the people living in fear of the police, WANTING the police brutality which causes so many people to quietly obey whatever arbitrary, oppressive legislation the politicians decide to enact. So while we should definitely be condemning those who blindly follow orders, the ones giving the orders shouldn’t be let off the hook either, and most of us know this, which is why a lot of people, in an effort to fight against tyranny and government abuses, focus on the political process, on voting, campaigning and petitioning. This approach basically amounts to begging the government for freedom, which to me has two major flaws: first, it has a completely horrible track record of ever achieving freedom, and second, it pretty much tells the politicians that we accept that we can only be free if and when they tell us we’re allowed to. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need legislation to tell me exactly how free I am.
Now a lot of people ask what the alternative is, how, besides voting and petitioning can we prevent or stop tyranny? After centuries of one society after another voting themselves further into oppression, what we’re left with, our power, is resistance and disobedience. This can come in many forms – some people quietly find ways to circumvent or avoid the powers that be and their laws; some practice civil disobedience, and some forcibly resist. However, a lot of people can’t bring themselves to disobey at all, even quietly and passively, because they’ve been thoroughly convinced that, while it’s okay to ASK the politicians to change their laws, it’s never okay to disobey them, no matter how immoral and unjust. Unfortunately, a lot of the people who will never disobey a command happen to be walking around in a blue uniform with a shiny badge and false sense of authority.
Police like to pretend that their job is to “protect and serve.” It isn’t. Their job is to forcibly control the rest of us in whatever way the politicians tell them to. The politicians make up commands, call them laws, and their hired guns–”law ENFORCERS”–hurt any who disobey. Police know this, which is why you will often hear them say things like, “I don’t make the law, I only enforce it,” with the implication being that they aren’t to blame, because they’re just following orders and doing as they’re told. But that excuse was invalid when the Nazis used it, and it’s invalid today. It’s also completely cowardly to deny responsibility for your OWN actions, just because someone else told you to do something. How do you suppose the police would respond to some common thief saying, “Don’t blame me for mugging this old lady; someone else told me to?” They would respond exactly how we should respond to it when they use the excuse: You are responsible for what YOU do.
Now, some people make a distinction between police violence that is legal and police violence that is illegal. If you ask me, that distinction is meaningless. If you violently assault someone who hasn’t threatened or harmed anyone else, that is immoral, regardless of whether the politicians wrote a law telling you to do that or not. Legislation does not determine what is right or wrong. If you use force only to defend against aggressors, that is perfectly legitimate and noble. But if you initiate violence, attacking someone else who wasn’t threatening or harming anyone, then you are the bad guy, whether you have a badge or not and whether some “law” told you to or not. So when it comes to police abuse, I don’t care whether it’s politician-approved violence or “illegal” violence. Either way, it’s wrong, and it’s up to ALL OF US to stop it.
But how do we do that?
Police are human beings, and whenever we can, we should begin by appealing to their reason and morality, by trying to persuade them to do the right thing, including disobeying immoral orders. However, such appeals only work on people who still have the ability to reason and to judge right from wrong. Unfortunately, a whole lot of people in “law enforcement” don’t fit that description. I don’t know what those shiny badges they wear are made of, but sometimes it definitely seems like wearing a badge causes a type of brain damage, making a person incapable of judging right from wrong, incapable of thinking for himself, and giving him a twisted, backwards view of reality.
Of course, not every cop is the same, and they shouldn’t all be treated the same. When we approach someone in uniform or they approach us, we don’t have to start by being defensive and angry. If they can be calm, polite, considerate and rational, we should also be calm, polite, considerate and rational. I’ll be the first to admit, that’s not always how I’ve approached police. I consider their job to be inherently immoral, and I’ve done my share of screaming at them, which I now view as less than effective in most cases.
While not every cop is the same, and some are less violent than others, I would think of a GOOD cop as one who would stop a BAD cop when he sees him doing something wrong…and that rarely, if ever, happens. This is not to say that all cops are inherently evil, but as a whole they very much seem to think and act like any other street gang. In the event that a police officer with a conscience tries to stop or speaks out against violence or injustice perpetrated by his fellow officers, he is said to have “broken the blue code,” and will usually be condemned, ostracized, threatened and intimidated. If he isn’t terminated outright for doing the right thing, he will usually be bullied into resigning. In other words, the system as it now stands, instead of weeding out the bad cops, weeds out the good ones.
This reinforcing of bad behavior comes not just from other individual officers, but from police unions, and the official policies of entire police departments. For example, the Dallas police department just issued a policy allowing cops involved in shootings–as shooters or witnesses–to say nothing about what happened for 72 hours, giving them time to review any available video or other evidence before saying anything. The purpose of this policy seems pretty clear: to make it so that cops don’t get caught blatantly lying, in reports and under oath about such incidents, as has occurred over and over again in the past. Obviously, the agenda here is not to get to the truth and expose the truth, but to cover it up.
When the truth can’t be covered up, police departments will still usually make excuses for misconduct. Rarely does an officer face any retribution, even for committing violent, criminal acts. Often they even get REWARDED. When you hear that an officer has been suspended with pay, what that actually means is that he was given a paid vacation for his actions. If that doesn’t reinforce bad behavior, I don’t know what does. The average cop knows that, nine times out of ten, whatever he does he will receive unconditional support from his peers and superiors. The resulting “us versus them” mentality among cops has been getting worse and worse in recent years, to the point now where many police departments are essentially telling the public, “we not only view police abuse as acceptable, we encourage it.” Then they wonder why so many people now hate cops.
So whenever you’re dealing with the police, make sure you know what consequences to expect. Dealing with police can be like dealing with wild animals: sometimes you might want to talk softly and move slowly just out of self-preservation. If you go in yelling, with arms waving, you may very well get viciously attacked. Then again, the creature known as “law enforcer” can be very unpredictable, and even if unprovoked, might decide to tase you, cage you, or kill you. This is more true now than ever, with the police state growing as it has been, and the politician’s hired guns becoming more and more hostile and violent.
But there’s an important distinction to be made here. On the one hand, we should remain calm and polite, unless THEY make things confrontational and violent. On the other hand, it would be a huge mistake to act as if their misconduct is okay with us. Often, remaining civil is a good idea, whether it’s because you’re trying to win them over with logic and compassion, or just because you’re trying to avoid being assaulted. But we should never talk or act as if we think those shiny badges give them special authority and extra rights.
In most cases, if they are doing something immoral, we can peacefully point out to them that they are the bad guys, that we don’t view their actions as legitimate; that we don’t view them as protectors, but as aggressors. It may be uncomfortable, even scary to do this, but it is important that we make it uncomfortable for them to mindlessly follow orders. Don’t try to win them over by pretending that what they do is legitimate or just, or by condoning or making excuses for their actions. Our end goal is peaceful coexistence, an end of violent aggression, but if you’re so eager to get along that you will excuse and tolerate oppression, you aren’t helping peace or justice, you’re just reinforcing the idea in THEIR minds that they’re supposed to treat you that way.
There are a lot of practical suggestions about things to do or not do whenever you come face to face with someone with a badge. Most of you know most of these already, but it can be difficult to keep them in mind when you’re under duress or being physically assaulted. Things like: don’t ever consent to questioning or searches, always record the actions of the police, get their badge numbers and names, call attention to what they are doing to try to get as many witnesses as possible–and witnesses with cameras are obviously especially valuable.
But then there is the more uncomfortable question. When things get really bad, if those wearing badges are brutally assaulting someone, or are about to kill someone, when do you stop talking, and actually intervene? And yes, I mean by force if necessary; I mean doing whatever it takes to stop the aggressors with badges from harming innocent people. When do you put down the camera, and break out the fists? Or the guns? I know it’s an uncomfortable topic, and I don’t presume to tell anyone else what their answer should be, or where they should draw that line. But think of it this way: if a group of people–uniformed or not–were in the process of beating you to death, while a couple dozen others were watching, what would YOU want the spectators to do for YOU? Whatever it is, do that. The bottom line is, unless the police know we HAVE such a line, they will assume they can get away with absolutely anything, including outright murder.
When watching yet another example of police brutality, whether on YouTube or right in front of your face, it’s easy to think of THAT as the problem. In reality, each individual case of police abuse is merely a symptom of a larger problem. Whatever injustice happens in front of you, or happens to be caught on tape, know that thousands of cops are doing worse and getting away with it. Yes, sometimes we have to treat the symptom, especially if someone’s life depends upon it. But treating the symptoms won’t fix the problem until we identify and defeat the underlying disease, which is authoritarianism.
When it comes to the symptoms, there are many ways to create deterrence, whether it’s by appealing to a cop’s conscience, or shaming him, or even scaring him away. Sometimes mere words can accomplish it; sometimes injustice can only be stopped by using opposite and equal force to stop the aggression of the agents of the state. But the ultimate solution is to end the mentality and philosophy which makes those symptoms happen in the first place. The idea that legislation, and badges and uniforms, actually grant special authority and special rights to certain people, making it okay for them to forcibly control, extort, assault and cage others who have harmed no one, that is the lie that has to go. And right now, not only do those in law enforcement believe that lie, but most of their victims, and most of the general public, believe that lie as well. Until we can destroy that lie, and help people to realize that we each own ourselves and that no one has the right to rule another, expect the symptoms to keep getting worse. As long as the people think we NEED to be dominated and controlled by government, we will be. But when the people finally figure out that society should be free, with no masters and no slaves, that is what we will have.
A quick message to the people who wear the badges: You’ve probably noticed that more and more people distrust, fear, and hate the police. Have you ever asked yourself why that is? Has the whole world turned into malicious criminals, who just can’t stand you dishing out righteous justice? Or are YOU doing things which are giving more and more people good reason to resent and despise you? If someone was talking about having to forcibly defend themselves against ME, I would at least wonder if I was doing something to deserve that. Do you hear people talking about forcibly resisting plumbers, or mechanics? I don’t. Why is that? If you’re only here to protect people, and to perform a service, why do you suppose more and more people are arming themselves – mentally and physically – for a possible violent confrontation with you? You CAN choose not to do something that makes so many people hate you. Good people won’t need to forcibly resist you if you choose not to inflict injustice on them in the first place. And saying it’s your “job” doesn’t make it okay, and won’t make your victims or their families any more happy about it. The fastest, most peaceful way for oppression to end is for agents of the state to refuse to commit it. If you don’t want people to call you a fascist, don’t BE a fascist.

Concealment, Cover, and Tactical Movement


rom my earliest days of training beyond the fundamentals of shooting, I recall being taught that cover is better than concealment and that the most valuable tactic is gaining cover. As with many things I was taught as doctrine, I now say “maybe.”
Concealment is basically a visual concept. If the best way to win a fight is to avoid it, concealment may be a useful means to avoid or escape a fight. It may also allow you to move unseen to a position of advantage in a fight that you cannot avoid. Concealment is also pretty much an all-or-none proposition – if your foot is sticking out beyond the side of what you thought was concealment or if your shadow projects beyond it, your assailant may notice that you’re there. Similarly, if you’re trying to move your children unseen, from their bedrooms to yours, and scrape your gun or flashlight against the wall, you may have lost the concealment that the wall had provided you.
Okay, but there’s still a wall between you and the intruder – does it provide cover? I can’t recall how many photos I’ve seen in magazines and books depicting a homeowner “taking cover” in the doorway to his bedroom or behind the bed. In this field, cover is defined as something that stops bullets. Most interior walls, unless struck where the stud is located, will not even stop .22’s reliably and most mattresses consist largely of air between the springs.
While cover will usually provide concealment, it may not always. Think of the Lexan panels or bullet resistant windows found in some banks and businesses. They provide a measure of cover but no concealment. I say “measure of cover” because something that stops common handgun bullets may not stop a bullet from a centerfire rifle. And, as I pointed out to one former employer, that “bulletproof” window may stop a centerfire handgun bullet but the wall surrounding it may not. Also worth noting is that, unlike with concealment, there is such a thing as partial cover – optimally over your most crucial organs.
My early training taught me that cover is superior to concealment. It may be on a battlefield, where there may be indirect fire, shrapnel from artillery shells, etc. On the street, however, a good friend once pointed out to me that cover is similar to a latex device commonly used to prevent the sexual transmission of disease – you can only use it for a fairly short time before you have to throw it away. If you are dealing with one or more determined assailants, you may be outflanked if you expect to rely on the same cover indefinitely. Is unseen movement starting to look more attractive? By the way, the exception for long-term use of cover is typically when you’ve been able to prepare an ensconced position, such as in the designated safe room of your home, and you are able to limit the direction of attack so that you cannot be outflanked.
Since my illustrations for this article are drawn from my book Defensive Use of Firearms, let’s take an abbreviated look at a couple of issues discussed there involving the use of cover:
When mobile, it’s generally wiser not to crowd cover.
When mobile, it’s generally wiser not to crowd cover.
For ages, cover props on the range were referred to as barricades and served primarily as support, to gain more accuracy with the handgun, at the longer distances in the courses of fire. However, from a tactical perspective, many law-enforcement instructors came to advise not to “hug cover,” in order to lessen the risk of getting struck by bullets skipping off hard surfaces. Unlike light, where a beam is reflected at the same angle that it strikes the reflective surface, bullets that glance off hard surfaces (including water) tend to do so at narrow angles, typically around six degrees. While the illustration shows the implications of this with a wall, this is also why many instructors counsel not going to kneeling or prone positions without cover. Doing so may simply lower your vital areas to where they are more likely to be struck by bullets jerked low so that they skip off pavement or packed dirt.

Sometimes it’s wiser to crowd low cover, to ensure that the muzzle clears it.
Sometimes it’s wiser to crowd low cover, to ensure that the muzzle clears it.
On the other hand, shooting over low cover may pose the risk of outgoing bullets skipping off cover. Those bullets will strike someplace and, in an urban environment, may produce tragic results when they do. The risk of this is greatest with a rifle whose aiming plane is significantly higher than the axis of the bore. However, I still recall a serious dent that I was shown in the hood of a car owned by one of the most prominent federal law-enforcement agencies, made by an agent firing a handgun under the relatively low stress of training on the range. When firing over low cover, it may make sense not only to crowd it but to place the support hand on the cover to prevent this sort of mishap. While we’re at it, compare the choices of firing over versus firing around low cover.
Shooting over low cover gives a wider field of view at the expense of more exposure.
Shooting over low cover gives a wider field of view at the expense of more exposure.
While it may not offer as wide a field of view, shooting around low cover offers greater protection.
While it may not offer as wide a field of view, shooting around low cover offers greater protection.
I’ve heard the mantra “create distance, seek cover” repeated in more than one classroom and on more than one training range. Good advice? It depends on the circumstances. Several years ago, John Farnam studied one of NYPD’s annual reports on shots fired and noted that bad guys rarely score hits beyond what John referred to as “six meters” (just under seven yards). However, unless they’re ambushed, most police officers killed by gunfire in the US get shot at distances of six feet or less. Unlike private citizens, cops are often required to engage with criminals and have the privilege of drawing a gun proactively. Thus, they are more likely than a private citizen to be able to use part of a vehicle as cover, when a traffic stop turns sour, or to seek cover from a utility pole, when responding to a robbery in progress. At such longer distances – where cops do most of their training – they are usually the ones who prevail. At the aforementioned distances of six feet or less, there is generally no time to seek cover. Further, bad guys – since they’re the ones acting, not reacting – generally do well with point-and-shoot techniques. Under those circumstances, all that is normally accomplished by trying to create distance is a very slight reduction in the angular size of the assailant’s target.
When I was teaching, I told my students that the single most valuable exercise I was teaching on the range was countering an attack at arm’s length. The drill involved side-stepping while deflecting the attack, shouting to disorient the assailant and drawing to a protected-gun position (an improved version of what Fairbairn and Sykes called the quarter-hip or close-hip position), then firing the first shot into the assailant’s pelvis, to destroy his mobility. Rather than seeking to create distance at bad-breath range, I emphasized circling into the assailant, to limit his mobility during this complex drill.
Sorry folks – sometimes there aren’t simple solutions to complex problems. If you notice that an instructor is teaching you to stand in one spot, particularly at such a close distance, while you draw and fire, get out your shovel and take some of that stuff on the ground home to fertilize your garden.
Yeah, my book also shows the best way to move to cover at longer distances but the odds are that the preceding paragraph will prove much more valuable on the street.
(I do not have a Facebook account and cannot respond to comments here. If you have a serious question for me, a click on the link to my own website – in the author information, below – will offer you links that can be used to send me e-mail.)

USA - How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand?

A version of this article was first published in Wired in October 2013.
The current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. To recover our freedom and restore democracy, we must reduce surveillance to the point where it is possible for whistleblowers of all kinds to talk with journalists without being spotted. To do this reliably, we must reduce the surveillance capacity of the systems we use.
Using free/libre software, as I've advocated for 30 years, is the first step in taking control of our digital lives. We can't trust nonfree software; the NSA usesand even creates security weaknesses in nonfree software to invade our own computers and routers. Free software gives us control of our own computers, but that won't protect our privacy once we set foot on the Internet.
Bipartisan legislation to “curtail the domestic surveillance powers” in the U.S. is being drawn up, but it relies on limiting the government's use of our virtual dossiers. That won't suffice to protect whistleblowers if “catching the whistleblower” is grounds for access sufficient to identify him or her. We need to go further.
Thanks to Edward Snowden's disclosures, we know that the current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. The repeated harassment and prosecution of dissidents, sources, and journalists provides confirmation. We need to reduce the level of general surveillance, but how far? Where exactly is the maximum tolerable level of surveillance, beyond which it becomes oppressive? That happens when surveillance interferes with the functioning of democracy: when whistleblowers (such as Snowden) are likely to be caught.

The Upper Limit on Surveillance in a Democracy

If whistleblowers don't dare reveal crimes and lies, we lose the last shred of effective control over our government and institutions. That's why surveillance that enables the state to find out who has talked with a reporter is too much surveillance—too much for democracy to endure.
An unnamed U.S. government official ominously told journalists in 2011 that the U.S. would not subpoena reporters because “We know who you're talking to.” Sometimes journalists' phone call records are subpoenaed to find this out, but Snowden has shown us that in effect they subpoena all the phone call records of everyone in the U.S., all the time.
Opposition and dissident activities need to keep secrets from states that are willing to play dirty tricks on them. The ACLU has demonstrated the U.S. government's systematic practice of infiltrating peaceful dissident groups on the pretext that there might be terrorists among them. The point at which surveillance is too much is the point at which the state can find who spoke to a known journalist or a known dissident.

Information, Once Collected, Will Be Misused

When people recognize that the level of general surveillance is too high, the first response is to propose limits on access to the accumulated data. That sounds nice, but it won't fix the problem, not even slightly, even supposing that the government obeys the rules. (The NSA has misled the FISA court, which said it was unable to effectively hold the NSA accountable.) Suspicion of a crime will be grounds for access, so once a whistleblower is accused of “espionage,” finding the “spy” will provide an excuse to access the accumulated material.
The state's surveillance staff will misuse the data for personal reasons too. Some NSA agents used U.S. surveillance systems to track their lovers—past, present, or wished-for—in a practice called “LOVEINT.” The NSA says it has caught and punished this a few times; we don't know how many other times it wasn't caught. But these events shouldn't surprise us, because police have long used their access to driver's license records to track down someone attractive, a practice known as “running a plate for a date.”
Surveillance data will always be used for other purposes, even if this is prohibited. Once the data has been accumulated and the state has the possibility of access to it, it can misuse that data in dreadful ways.
Total surveillance plus vague law provides an opening for a massive fishing expedition against any desired target. To make journalism and democracy safe, we must limit the accumulation of data that is easily accessible to the state.

Robust Protection for Privacy Must Be Technical

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other organizations propose a set of legal principles designed to prevent the abuses of massive surveillance. These principles include, crucially, explicit legal protection for whistleblowers; as a consequence, they would be adequate for protecting democratic freedoms—if adopted completely and enforced without exception forever.
However, such legal protections are precarious: as recent history shows, they can be repealed (as in the FISA Amendments Act), suspended, or ignored.
Meanwhile, demagogues will cite the usual excuses as grounds for total surveillance; any terrorist attack, even one that kills just a handful of people, will give them an opportunity.
If limits on access to the data are set aside, it will be as if they had never existed: years worth of dossiers would suddenly become available for misuse by the state and its agents and, if collected by companies, for their private misuse as well. If, however, we stop the collection of dossiers on everyone, those dossiers won't exist, and there will be no way to compile them retroactively. A new illiberal regime would have to implement surveillance afresh, and it would only collect data starting at that date. As for suspending or momentarily ignoring this law, the idea would hardly make sense.

We Must Design Every System for Privacy

If we don't want a total surveillance society, we must consider surveillance a kind of social pollution, and limit the surveillance impact of each new digital system just as we limit the environmental impact of physical construction.
For example: “Smart” meters for electricity are touted for sending the power company moment-by-moment data about each customer's electric usage, including how usage compares with users in general. This is implemented based on general surveillance, but does not require any surveillance. It would be easy for the power company to calculate the average usage in a residential neighborhood by dividing the total usage by the number of subscribers, and send that to the meters. Each customer's meter could compare her usage, over any desired period of time, with the average usage pattern for that period. The same benefit, with no surveillance!
We need to design such privacy into all our digital systems.

Remedy for Collecting Data: Leaving It Dispersed

One way to make monitoring safe for privacy is to keep the data dispersed and inconvenient to access. Old-fashioned security cameras were no threat to privacy. The recording was stored on the premises, and kept for a few weeks at most. Because of the inconvenience of accessing these recordings, it was never done massively; they were accessed only in the places where someone reported a crime. It would not be feasible to physically collect millions of tapes every day and watch them or copy them.
Nowadays, security cameras have become surveillance cameras: they are connected to the Internet so recordings can be collected in a data center and saved forever. This is already dangerous, but it is going to get worse. Advances in face recognition may bring the day when suspected journalists can be tracked on the street all the time to see who they talk with.
Internet-connected cameras often have lousy digital security themselves, so anyone could watch what the camera sees. To restore privacy, we should ban the use of Internet-connected cameras aimed where and when the public is admitted, except when carried by people. Everyone must be free to post photos and video recordings occasionally, but the systematic accumulation of such data on the Internet must be limited.

Remedy for Internet Commerce Surveillance

Most data collection comes from people's own digital activities. Usually the data is collected first by companies. But when it comes to the threat to privacy and democracy, it makes no difference whether surveillance is done directly by the state or farmed out to a business, because the data that the companies collect is systematically available to the state.
The NSA, through PRISM, has gotten into the databases of many large Internet corporations. AT&T has saved all its phone call records since 1987 andmakes them available to the DEA to search on request. Strictly speaking, the U.S. government does not possess that data, but in practical terms it may as well possess it.
The goal of making journalism and democracy safe therefore requires that we reduce the data collected about people by any organization, not just by the state. We must redesign digital systems so that they do not accumulate data about their users. If they need digital data about our transactions, they should not be allowed to keep them more than a short time beyond what is inherently necessary for their dealings with us.
One of the motives for the current level of surveillance of the Internet is that sites are financed through advertising based on tracking users' activities and propensities. This converts a mere annoyance—advertising that we can learn to ignore—into a surveillance system that harms us whether we know it or not. Purchases over the Internet also track their users. And we are all aware that “privacy policies” are more excuses to violate privacy than commitments to uphold it.
We could correct both problems by adopting a system of anonymous payments—anonymous for the payer, that is. (We don't want the payee to dodge taxes.) Bitcoin is not anonymous, but technology for digital cash was first developed 25 years ago; we need only suitable business arrangements, and for the state not to obstruct them.
A further threat from sites' collection of personal data is that security breakers might get in, take it, and misuse it. This includes customers' credit card details. An anonymous payment system would end this danger: a security hole in the site can't hurt you if the site knows nothing about you.

Remedy for Travel Surveillance

We must convert digital toll collection to anonymous payment (using digital cash, for instance). License-plate recognition systems recognize all license plates, and the data can be kept indefinitely; they should be required by law to notice and record only those license numbers that are on a list of cars sought by court orders. A less secure alternative would record all cars locally but only for a few days, and not make the full data available over the Internet; access to the data should be limited to searching for a list of court-ordered license-numbers.
The U.S. “no-fly” list must be abolished because it is punishment without trial.
It is acceptable to have a list of people whose person and luggage will be searched with extra care, and anonymous passengers on domestic flights could be treated as if they were on this list. It is also acceptable to bar non-citizens, if they are not permitted to enter the country at all, from boarding flights to the country. This ought to be enough for all legitimate purposes.
Many mass transit systems use some kind of smart cards or RFIDs for payment. These systems accumulate personal data: if you once make the mistake of paying with anything but cash, they associate the card permanently with your name. Furthermore, they record all travel associated with each card. Together they amount to massive surveillance. This data collection must be reduced.
Navigation services do surveillance: the user's computer tells the map service the user's location and where the user wants to go; then the server determines the route and sends it back to the user's computer, which displays it. Nowadays, the server probably records the user's locations, since there is nothing to prevent it. This surveillance is not inherently necessary, and redesign could avoid it: free/libre software in the user's computer could download map data for the pertinent regions (if not downloaded previously), compute the route, and display it, without ever telling anyone where the user is or wants to go.
Systems for borrowing bicycles, etc., can be designed so that the borrower's identity is known only inside the station where the item was borrowed. Borrowing would inform all stations that the item is “out,” so when the user returns it at any station (in general, a different one), that station will know where and when that item was borrowed. It will inform the other station that the item is no longer “out.” It will also calculate the user's bill, and send it (after waiting some random number of minutes) to headquarters along a ring of stations, so that headquarters would not find out which station the bill came from. Once this is done, the return station would forget all about the transaction. If an item remains “out” for too long, the station where it was borrowed can inform headquarters; in that case, it could send the borrower's identity immediately.

Remedy for Communications Dossiers

Internet service providers and telephone companies keep extensive data on their users' contacts (browsing, phone calls, etc). With mobile phones, they also record the user's physical location. They keep these dossiers for a long time: over 30 years, in the case of AT&T. Soon they will even record the user's body activities. It appears that the NSA collects cell phone location data in bulk.
Unmonitored communication is impossible where systems create such dossiers. So it should be illegal to create or keep them. ISPs and phone companies must not be allowed to keep this information for very long, in the absence of a court order to surveil a certain party.
This solution is not entirely satisfactory, because it won't physically stop the government from collecting all the information immediately as it is generated—which is what the U.S. does with some or all phone companies. We would have to rely on prohibiting that by law. However, that would be better than the current situation, where the relevant law (the PATRIOT Act) does not clearly prohibit the practice. In addition, if the government did resume this sort of surveillance, it would not get data about everyone's phone calls made prior to that time.

But Some Surveillance Is Necessary

For the state to find criminals, it needs to be able to investigate specific crimes, or specific suspected planned crimes, under a court order. With the Internet, the power to tap phone conversations would naturally extend to the power to tap Internet connections. This power is easy to abuse for political reasons, but it is also necessary. Fortunately, this won't make it possible to find whistleblowers after the fact.
Individuals with special state-granted power, such as police, forfeit their right to privacy and must be monitored. (In fact, police have their own jargon term for perjury, “testilying,” since they do it so frequently, particularly about protesters and photographers.) One city in California that required police to wear video cameras all the time found their use of force fell by 60%. The ACLU is in favor of this.
Corporations are not people, and not entitled to human rights. It is legitimate to require businesses to publish the details of processes that might cause chemical, biological, nuclear, fiscal, computational (e.g., DRM) or political (e.g., lobbying) hazards to society, to whatever level is needed for public well-being. The danger of these operations (consider the BP oil spill, the Fukushima meltdowns, and the 2008 fiscal crisis) dwarfs that of terrorism.
However, journalism must be protected from surveillance even when it is carried out as part of a business.

Digital technology has brought about a tremendous increase in the level of surveillance of our movements, actions, and communications. It is far more than we experienced in the 1990s, and far more than people behind the Iron Curtain experienced in the 1980s, and would still be far more even with additional legal limits on state use of the accumulated data.
Unless we believe that our free countries previously suffered from a grave surveillance deficit, and ought to be surveilled more than the Soviet Union and East Germany were, we must reverse this increase. That requires stopping the accumulation of big data about people.
Copyright 2013 Richard Stallman
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License