Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Terrorism in Edmonton, Alberta?

Look to the left.  Now, look to the right.  There’s probably no one there is there because you’re sitting at the computer all by yourself—I know I am.  But, if there were a person sitting on either side of you and you were sitting in Canada , chances are, in November last year one of you thought that at the very least, it was moderately likely that there will be a terrorist attack within Canada, before November 2011, so say’s AngusReid.

Wills & Kate's mates lead the way with 74% of people expecting an attach within a year from November 2010.
This isn’t a topic that’s necessarily come up between my friends and I, but seeing as none of us have ever raised the topic, that would lead me to believe that none of us think it’s very likely that a terrorist attack is going to happen in Canada.  And I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that none of us would expect a terrorist attack in Edmonton, Alberta, home of West Edmonton Mall (largest shopping mall in North America), any time soon; I’m sure we’re home to something else, I’m just not sure what.

Well anyways, the other morning, I’m on my way to work, driving behind a city bus.  I’ve probably been following the bus for a couple blocks, and as I start to get closer, my eyes start to focus in on the back of this bus.  Now normally, I’m oblivious to bus advertising, let alone on my way to work in the morning; but for some reason, my eyes started to focus in on the back of this bus. 

So here I am, directly behind this bus now, and what do I see, but some dude staring at me;

 then I see this giant eye staring back at me from the top right corner.

One of them occulty, Big Brotherish, All-Seeing Eye types.  Kinda like that logo of that the network that plays that ridiculous show, Big Brother.

So I can’t decide if this guy is peeking from the back seat of the bus, or from behind a large metal object, or possibly over a fence?

All I know, is I think the back of this bus is kinda creepy, even if it is 8 o’clock in the morning on one the few sunny, summer days we’ve had this summer.

Is he looking out or is he trying to get out?

Hmm—might be time to give the car a spring cleaning.

Well eventually I see some government writing.

All three levels of government stamped across the back.

Well what program has our good ol’ federal government, partnered up with my trusty municipal government, come up with this time? 

Something about safety and security I see.  

That wouldn’t seem like such an odd message to me if it weren’t for the creepy imaging they went with.  Or if it the message wasn’t oddly similar to that of the TSA’s (Transportation Security Administration), down in the United States.

In the US, they have a catchy, trademarked slogan?

So now I'm thinking to myself that I've got to check out the side of this bus.

Whatever the phone number is, it's not memorable, and therefore no real use.

More of the same—a nice big eye to flash by everyone sitting at red lights.

And, as you can see;

our creepy friend has a twin at the front of the bus creeping on you as the bus drives alongside you.  

I suspect the motivation of this campaign is to get the general public used to being watched, just like all of Springfield (Bart excluded) gets used to being watched, in the May 2010 episode of The Simpsons, To Survail with Love.  In this episode of The Simpsons, after Homer forgets a bag containing nuclear rods at the train station, and a bomb scare ensues, the town votes to hire a British security consultant to install surveillance camera’s all around town.  First the local police are monitoring the town's public places, then the help of the townspeople is enlisted to spy on their fellow neighbours which leads to Ned becoming Springfield's "conscience".  Ned proceeds to nag everyone through the loud speakers, just like they do in London, where if you litter, you may be asked through the nearest loudspeaker to pick up your waste—not that you should litter, but I don't need to be paying for someone to sit behind some cameras, publicly berating individuals to pick up their trash. Even being around while that happened to someone would create a lasting sense of fear in others, and fear, leads nowhere good.  

After the original airing of this episode I expressed my disgust of what The Simpsons franchise has progressed to.  I went on to later explain to friends that this was a display of predictive programming at its best; this was just a way of getting (North) Americans used to the idea of being watchedif somethings on The Simpsons, it's easy for it to be accepted as part of the norm—problem is, that norm is always changing; and changing more rapidly these days, I might add. It should come as no surprise that this surveillance episode is on the one & only Rupert Murdoch's network, the same fella who's newspaper, News of the World, is currently being investigated for hacking into the general public's phones.

Transit Watch

So what is Transit Watch

According to the City of Edmonton’s website:

ETS [Edmonton Transis System] is one of the first transit systems in Canada to bring "Transit Watch" into the community.
Transit Watch is a public awareness and education program that encourages staff and customers to get involved in everyday safety by staying alert and working together to maintain a safe transit environment. Its message is simple but effective; we all have a responsibility to look out for the safety and security of ourselves and our fellow citizens.
Funding for Edmonton's Transit Watch program has come from the Federal Government's Transit Secure program, established to assist passenger rail and urban transit operators to enhance their security measures to address potential threats of terrorism. [Emphasis Added]
Transit Watch was obtained from the U.S. Federal Transportation Administration. ETS obtained approval to make changes to the program to suit local requirements and information. ETS received funding for this program from the Canadian Federal Transit Secure Program.

Is someone gonna blow up a city bus in Edmonton?  Doubtful.

This program, that the United States Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) has so kindly shared with us, began in 2003 as a national public awareness program.  The FTA is under the Department of Transportation in the US; the TSA, by the way, is run by the US Department of Homeland Security.  Incidentally, I see our close friends in Calgary, Alberta are also getting this new tool against terrorism, only it seems theirs will be in traditional Calgary red.

Both cities website’s give some good tips like:
  • Familiarize yourself with bus stops and LRT stations.
  • Know the location of emergency exits on bus and light rail trains.
·       Report the following: individuals in the act of abandoning an object, package or substance and quickly leaving the area; a suspicious cloud, mist, gas, vapour, odour or seeping fluid; nearby individuals showing signs of illness or distress. [Do we need to be told to report a suspicious cloud?  When’s the last time you were walking down the street and an unsuspicious cloud came around the corner?]

There are good tips on the website, and also some common sense tips (good thing since common sense ain't what it used to be), but are these tips reaching the people?

According to their municipal website, Calgary’s Transit Watch program dates back to late 2008, but I certainly don’t recall seeing or hearing anything about it while I lived there, and I would’ve lived there when they rolled the program out and for almost two years after.  The only press I've come across in regards to Edmonton’s program was a single article in the MacEwan Journalist Online, which is “a site featuring the work of students in the Grant MacEwan University [Edmonton] Journalism Program."  Not a wide audience there I'm guessing (but bigger than here, I'm sure).

“A new safety campaign is all around Edmonton, reminding Public transit riders how to travel safely.
The public awareness and education campaign, Transit Watch, encourages Edmonton staff and customers to become involved and work together for a safe transit environment.
The campaign starts this month with information on bus and LRT safety. It encourages both staff and customers to look around, be aware and report suspicious items or activities.”

Alright, so what’s the big deal, they got some creepy advertising, but they’re just telling people to be aware.  Well if it were only that simple; if only this weren’t part of the exact same agenda being rolled out across all western nations.

But hey, they like being watched in London:

They also like their creepy eyes.
Oh hey, I just noticed the next Olympics are gay friendly, unless they added some colours to the Olympic rings.  That makes sense with the androgynous mascots; that whole being androgynous & gay-friendly thing is hot with the kids right now.

K—anyways, back on topic.  Oh yes, we were talking about how western governments are scaring their citizens into fearing terrorist attacks and starting them down a slippery slope to spying on their neighbours.

So Transit Watch is funded under a federal program called Transit-Secure, which is a program that, provides (or provided, not sure on that yet) funding for the six highest-volume urban transit systems in Canada-- Montreal, the National Capital Region, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.  As per the Transport Canada website:

This two-year contribution program, called Transit-Secure, was announced in June 2006 to assist passenger rail and urban transit operators to further enhance their security measures to address potential threats of terrorism.

One of Transport Canada’s stated goals is to:

"[S]trengthen Transport Canada's capacity to provide passenger rail and urban transit security leadership and expert assistance in the development of security assessments and plans, best practices and guidelines; enhance information sharing networks; strengthen incident tracking and trend analysis; conduct technology research and development programs; and coordinate international and intergovernmental efforts on passenger rail and urban transit security."

The first round of funding (Nov-2006) for Edmonton was up to $2,250,000, and up to $811,875 for Calgary, according to the Transport Canada news release.  Each city has to cover 25% of the cost and had to submit an application that met the federal government’s approval in July 2006. 

Basically, it sounds like the federal government, courtesy of Transport Canada is implementing a slow-creep to take over responsibility for the running of municipal transit systems because this money is certainly not “no-strings attached”, as can be seen from the minutes of an Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board meeting in July 2008.

In round three (Sep-2007) Edmonton Transit got approved for:

Phase I was aimed at improving response times to security calls by improving their command centre and technology in the field.  I wonder if this will aid Edmonton Transit in their stated mission of promoting voluntary compliance with social norms surrounding acceptable transit use. 

Oh—what’s this I just stumbled upon?

Clear the bus, someone’s phone is ringing in their briefcase!!!
This is very reminiscent of the advertising being used in the States, looks like Ottawa is controlled by both the British Crown and the US Federal Government. 

The TSA is even advertising at the Super Bowl in the US.

Cowboys Stadium

So TC (Transport Canada) wants to make sure they're the ones leading our cities in securing our railways and urban transits, while also coordinating internationally.   

TC states:

Guidelines & Best Practices
I spotted the previous in a document under the Training section of the Guidelines and Best Practices on the Transit-Secure Contribution Program website.  Don’t overlook couples?  Children?  Beggars?  Joggers?  Those are threats—I guess walking down the street, most every person is a threat to these security officials?  I have to think that since this is listed on Transport Canada’s Guidelines page, this has to be some of the guidance and training their supplying down to the local transit authorities.  

At another point in the manual, the reader is told that “[u]sers of this manual are not being asked to be James Bond or clairvoyant”.  The manual goes on to list people with nervousness or “nothing to do” as “unusual”. 

This was just the first pdf I opened, but there is a couple dozen or so more on the Guidelines and Best Practices page, under headings such as Risk Assessments, Security Plans, Public Awareness, Physical Security (Infrastructure, Access Control Measures, Cyber Security, Technology), Surveillance Technologies, etc.  The guidelines and manuals are collected from different federal governments and relative industries from countries such as the UK, US, Australia & Canada. I hope these other guidelines are a little more useful than saying everyone is a suspect.

City of Edmonton to Spend $2.5 Million on Video Surveillance

Apollo Video Technology ( of Woodinville, Wash., has been selected by the Edmonton Transit System in Alberta, Canada to manufacture a video surveillance system for use aboard its bus fleet.  The surveillance system, funded by Canada’s Transit-Secure program, is expected to enhance rider safety in Canada’s fifth most populous city.
The 2.5 million, five year contract...In 2007, Apollo Video Technology was selected to provide digital video and audio surveillance systems by a number of prominent public agencies throughout North America including Chicago Metra, King County METRO, Kansas City Area Transit Authority, Tulsa Transit, Williamsburg Area Transport and Tacoma Public Schools. 
Over 150 public agencies, including Los Angeles County Metro Transportation Authority, City of Lincoln Nebraska, the Cocoa Beach, Florida Police Department and Tacoma Public Schools in Washington State have selected Apollo Video to provide and install video and audio surveillance systems. 

I'm guessing that's most of our money from Round Three of funding under Transit-Secure.  Edmonton was approved $2,174,306, which means the City of Edmonton would have had to provided up to $724,768.66 since the cities committed to paying for 25% of what the feds want them to do; that totals just under $2.9 million

Well wherever you may stand on the whole privacy vs. security debate, there are some things that I would like to bring to your attention.  As I mentioned earlier, London has tens of thousands of camera’s running in public (this does not include surveillance cameras belonging to private entities), yet 80% of crimes go unsolved. In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.

In a 2007 release discussing the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) plans to install 12,000 cameras; putting a camera on every bus, streetcar, subway car and at each station, Privacy International (PI), a non-governmental organization that happens to be the oldest surviving privacy advocacy group in the world, dating back to 1997 states:

· Privacy International is aware of no criminological evidence in any country that supports TTC's claim that visual and audio surveillance on public transport systems significantly reduces the level of crime or the threat of terrorist attacks.
· Numerous criminological studies over the past fifteen years have established that the beneficial effects of such surveillance are marginal and that camera systems are handicapped by endemic problems of technology and management. These reports include a 2007 independent study of surveillance on the Berlin Underground and a 2007 United Kingdom Government report on camera effectiveness.
· On the basis of international experience, between eighty and ninety-five percent of all camera images will have no detection or evidential value. Technical and management failure is likely to result in up to fifty percent of potential images being unavailable. Privacy International believes that the installation of cameras on the scale proposed by TTC fundamentally violates privacy law. In the absence of a compelling case for public safety the program is unnecessary and disproportionate. It also appears to be an inappropriate and poorly considered use of resources.[Emphasis added]

So, should we in Edmonton expect better results?  I doubt it.  Privacy International provides cases from Berlin & the UK, demonstrating the ineffectualness of cameras to either deter crime or to apprehend those committing crime.  According to a report on a pilot project on the Berlin underground that was aimed to test the extent to which 24-hour video surveillance could reduce criminality:

“[V]ideo surveillance on the three underground lines did not reduce the incidence of criminality, but in fact led to a small increase. Of a total of many thousands of criminal incidents, video material was available in only 78 cases. In only a third of these was the recording of sufficient quality to allow suspects to be identified. In particular, the cameras were not able to contribute to a higher detection rate regarding prevention of vandalism. The report suggests that in this case the reason no usable video recordings were obtained was that criminals were taking the cameras into account in planning their malfeasance.  [Emphasis Added]

TTC has cited camera surveillance in the United Kingdom as a justification for establishing a similar project in Toronto, Privacy International however goes onto demonstrate that in fact, the United Kingdoms experience establishes the failure of the technology to perform to expectation.

Numerous criminological studies, including those commissioned by the Home Office, the interior ministry responsible for policing, and by independent groups such as the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) have consistently concluded that the impact of surveillance cameras is marginal and largely illusory. Their chief benefit, according to researchers, is in deterring some types of low level "opportunistic" crime, a benefit that could be more inexpensively and effectively achieved through other means.
The most recent of these reports, the 2007 study on the national CCTV strategy concludes that eight images out of ten supplied to the police from closed-circuit television do not help to identify criminals. The report, compiled by the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, said:
"Anecdotal evidence suggests that over 80 per cent of the CCTV footage supplied to the police is far from ideal, especially if it is being used for primary identification or [where] identities are unknown and identification is being sought."[7]
The report also said that the proliferation of CCTV cameras was presenting the police with serious problems – in particular their capacity to recover evidence and review tapes.
The police are concerned that cameras are increasingly being used to "monitor crowds, slips, trips and falls" and "patrol" rather than to detect crime.[8] This is compounded by an increasing tendency for camera schemes to be used as income generators.
Following the London terrorist attacks in 2005, former UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke told the BBC's Today program that he could not envision a situation where surveillance cameras would prevent a terrorist attack.  [Emphasis Added]

So where am I going with all this?

15 years ago, it probably would’ve seemed a ridiculous notion to most to have to remove shoes and diapers to board a plane, yet this is now commonplace, as is submitting yourself to a nice dose of radiation courtesy of the full-body scanners that were rolled out after the false flag terrorist attempt on Christmas day 2009, where a Nigerian national was gotten onto the plane without a passport courtesy of US authorities,

The only effect I can foresee Transit Watch having is increasing the level of fear in the general public, just look at the correlation between how long these surveillance states have been implemented and the levels of fear in the US, Canada & Britain.  Referring back to our graph from the beginning, we see in Britain, which has really led the way in creating a surveillance grid of its major cities, 3 in 4 people believe the next terrorist attack will hit before November.  In the US, where the government has been ramping up it’s surveillance of it’s citizens for a few years now, 50% of the people think the next attack on them is just around the corner.  And us, in the former peace keeping nation of Canada, well this increased surveillance state is new to us, but with it is going to come an increased level of fear; fear that will continue to help control and shape peoples decisions. 

I discussed a Simpsons Episode earlier, and how it was lulling it's audience into being comfortable with this now ever-present watchful eye in our life.  TV has become reality for such large portions of the population, that the fact that they see this surveillance grid is in the Simpsons, it seems entirely normal when they encounter this in the reality outside their living room.

These programs have been implemented within multiple levels of society and reality has been designed by social engineers that you may or may not think exist, but these people understand human decision making and are able to influence decisions and behaviors and are leading us down a dark path of fear.  This propaganda that's training you to live in fear and to accept Big Brother watching over your back needs to be exposed for what it is--it is simply the Public Relations division of the military-industrial-culture creation-complex, after all, public relations is what propaganda became called after the term propaganda got such a bad rap in WWII

If there does happen to be an attack on the LRT or a DATs Van in Edmonton (or anywhere else in Canada), don't be surprised if Transport Canada is quick to roll out new fear-based security programs aimed at "keeping us safe", while in reality, increasing their ability to control and monitor Canadians.  This needs to be kept in mind when you consider how outrageous "security" and "security measures" are getting within the US & UK--the exact same places we get all our "best practices" for security.

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