Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Moving to a New Home!

Blogspot is a great place to start a blog. I've learned a lot. I finally found myself wanting to do a a little more with the site's appearance than I could do here, though, and now have a Wordpress blog called Half A Bubble at its very own domain, . It's up and running and ready for guests. You'll recognize the micrometer and bubble logo when you get there. I hope you'll visit me at my new home and continue to keep your eye on the proliferation and abuse of Taser and other electroshock and even more exotic weapons worldwide.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Britain's Prisoners to be implanted with tracking chips. American cops envious.

clockwork orange implantable microchip UK Britain human rfidViddy well, my droogies, this is how it begins. It's said that liberty is first lost in prisons and public schools. The Independent reports that Brits have taken that to heart and, in a scheme that would have Hitler's SS drooling with envy, plan to surgically implant RFID chips under the skin of thousands of offending citizens so they can be tracked like cattle. A Ministry of Justice official confirms that the department hopes to extend the range of the chips through satellite tracking similar to the system used to trace stolen vehicles. All options, and British civil liberties, are on the table.

"We have... worried about the practicalities and the ethics,” a senior minister said, “but when you look at the challenges facing the criminal justice system, it's time has come." They'll set ethics aside if it only affects their underclass. Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) wants to use chips and GPS technology to monitor and keep sex offenders from "forbidden" zones like primary schools. This is a ploy to gain approval by first implanting only the worst of the worst. Afterwards, wider use will be less likely to outrage the public.

There are objections. Shami Chakrabarti, director of the National Council for Civil Liberties, said: "If the Home Office doesn't understand why implanting a chip is worse than an ankle bracelet, they don't need a human-rights lawyer; they need a common-sense bypass. Degrading offenders in this way will do nothing for their rehabilitation and nothing for our safety, as some will inevitably find a way round this new technology." Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said the proposal would not make his members' lives easier and would degrade their clients. "The system works well enough as it is. Knowing where offenders are does not mean you know what they are doing. This is the sort of daft idea that comes up from the department every now and then, but tagging people the way we tag pets cannot be the way ahead. Treating people like pieces of meat does not represent an improvement in the system."

Who will profit? The parent company of US market leader VeriChip Corporation has sold animal radio tags for more than a decade. It claims its chips are used at more than 5,000 healthcare, security, government and industrial locations, and has sold 2,000 chips for implantation in humans.

Where else is this making inroads? In the USA, the states of Wisconsin and North Dakota have banned human-implanted ID chips, and California may soon be the third to do so. An April 2005 post on the website Prison Planet points out that the global aspect of RFID chipping isn't well known but claims it's used in Russia, Switzerland, China, Ecuador, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Canada, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Germany, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Africa, and South Korea. Not all of those societies are known for their stellar human rights records. Will British citizens be pleased to join their company?

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Heidi Gill Followup: triggerman cop won't appear, charges dropped, officials backpedal madly.

heidi gill taser richard kovach warren ohioAn earlier post describes Warren policeman Richard Kovach's unwarranted, prolonged, repeated tasering of Heidi Gill on September 2nd of last year. This week the Warren (Ohio) Tribune-Chronicle and the Coshocton Tribune reported that charges against Heidi were dropped because Kovach refused to testify, and a charge against her of felony assault on a police officer was dismissed because Kovach was the subject of an internal investigation and unavailable to testify.

Heidi was seated alone in a vehicle waiting for a ride home when attacked. For this she earned taser burns and a concussion, and was charged with falsification, resisting arrest, criminal damaging and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. This is the typical official response to police misbehavior- charge the victim with anything to muddy the water, delay proceedings, and drive up legal fees. Refuse to admit wrongdoing even when it's captured by your own cruiser dash cam and splattered all over TV and the internet- watch the video here.

Kovach is on a downhill roll: he was fired Dec. 6 by Warren Safety-Service Director Doug Franklin after appealing a 10-day suspension for wrongdoing during a traffic stop of another police officer’s son. Franklin fired Kovach, a 13-year veteran, for dishonesty, claiming he lied during the investigation into the Aug. 23 traffic stop of Timothy Brown II. Brown's filed a federal lawsuit naming the City of Warren, its Police Department, and Kovach both as an individual and in his official capacity, claiming his Fourth and 14th Amendment rights were violated.

Kovach's actions during Gill’s arrest are under investigation by the FBI. Gill’s attorney, Mark Hanni, said he has prepared a federal lawsuit against Kovach, the Warren Police Department and the city of Warren, and plans to file the $15 million action next week.

Officials are circling the wagons to protect Kovach and, failing that, to wash their hands of the incident. Warren Law Director Traci Timko Rose sought dismissal of the charges against Heidi without prejudice, meaning they can be refiled later. Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association attorney S. Randall Weltman advised that his client would not testify, and if subpoenaed, would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. OPBA lead defense attorney Dominic Vitantonio recommended Kovach not take the stand because the FBI probe is ongoing and Kovach’s firing is heading to arbitration.

This case is a good example of the problems tasers create. Handguns leave large, bleeding holes that can't be concealed or litigated away, so they're unlikely to be used unless the situation truly requires it. Tasers, originally touted as a less- lethal option one step below shooting, allow cops to attack anyone for any reason without producing a corpse. This encourages misuse and allows city and police officials to dissemble and play the litigation game they know so very well.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Who's Infringing Now? Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander.

tata nano parodyIn a surprising turnabout, Tata Motors, manufacturers of the new Nano automobile, has been named as respondent in a case before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) by Lucasfilm and interested parties connected with the 1970s hit sitcom Mork and Mindy.

The complaint alleges that the name of the recently introduced subcompact automobile “Tata Nano” was misappropriated from properties of interest to each party. Complainants contend that they are the lawful proprietors of certain trade and service marks (only slightly altered for use by the respondent) by priority of adoption and on the basis of continuous and extensive use, and request an immediate cease-and-desist order for use of the name.

The complaint points out that the automobile's first name (Tata) closely resembles a simple dehyphenated retrogradation of the acronym AT-AT applied to the elephantine troop carrier/gun platform appearing in the first Star Wars film, which predates the release of the smaller vehicle by more than thirty years. Unnamed co-complainants connected with the Mork and Mindy series charge that the vehicle's second name (Nano) is remarkably similar to the farewell salute uttered by the show's star at the close of virtually every episode, all of which were produced twenty to thirty years before the new car's introduction.

Attorneys for the complainants insist that their case is unaffected by the recent engagement of Mork and Mindy star Robin Williams as spokesmodel for the new vehicle's television marketing push in the United States. We would have called representatives of the respondents for their comment but that's a very long-distance call, they talk funny, and it's the weekend, and you know how that goes. Besides, this is a parody.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

If I can't call those tatas, is this still called a bra?

braless tatasAfter publishing the last post I realized that I couldn't possibly have been the first guy to come up with that clever title, so I Googled the term “Bodacious Tatas”. Surprise! The first site on the page references the principal investment holding company of the Tata Group, the maker of the Tata Nano automobile. In 2000, Tata Sons complained to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that someone had registered the domain name bodacious- tatas dot com, misappropriated the trademarked name Tata, and was using it in bad faith at some risk to Tata Sons.

From Wikipedia (a bit dated): WIPO is an agency of the United Nations. Unlike other branches of the United Nations, WIPO has significant financial resources independent of contributions from its Member States. In 2006, over 90% of its income was expected to be generated from the collection of fees under the intellectual property application and registration systems it administers. Deep pockets. Interesting and important work. I'm not sure how this august body was convinced to use its clout to hammer a porn site.

I don't know how much impact an internet domain belonging to a porn site can have on a monster international holding company. WIPO thought investors might believe that Tata Sons were somehow affiliated with, had given its blessing to, or licensed its trademark to the porn site promoter. It seems to me that very few significant investors are quite that stupid. Regardless, ICANN yanked the domain.

Interesting stuff. The company adopted the name “TATA” in 1917. I suppose it was impossible to determine whether hooters (no copyright infringement intended, there) were called tatas earlier than that. Even if they were I doubt anyone thought to copyright the name, and I really don't suppose anyone tattooed any trademarks anywhere. To avoid any association with boobies or porn sites, will they call that fabric thing you can put on the front of a Tata to avoid stone chips in the paint something other than a bra? Ah, it's still a cool little car.

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