The mass mooning of the US balloon camera owned by Sierra Nevada Corporation went ahead, but the irony was that the system had already been disabled by the weather. Apparently a large thunderstorm cause a gash in the fabric of the balloon last week which, if nothing else, should prove rather more effective than the protest in making sure that the US government does not invest in it.
However the wider issue of the US surveillance of the border with Canada remains (not mention that of the Mexican border, already a major concern) and whilst this particular technology and the appropriately ridiculous protest, has attracted most attention in the media, let’s not forget that camera towers have been erected and the USA is flying UAVs along the border. Surely President Obama should realise that the paranoid policies of his predecessor do nothing apart from damage relationships (and trade) with a close neighbour?
There’s been a story developing for a while now on the US-Canadian border. This used to be one of the most casual and friendly of borders, indeed there are families stretched across both sides and in many places the border meant only slight differences in the price of some goods…
But no more. There might be a new president, but Obama seems to be allowing the Bush-era plans for strengthening the border with Canada to continue. There are now CCTV towers being erected, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) patrolling, and new much stricter passport regulations and customs and immigration checks. As usual this seems to be being done with a kind of macho indifference to the opinions of the Canadians that is making the US actions doubly unpopular.
If this seems like some kind of sci-fi nightmare then then most crazy, Philip K. Dick-style element is to be found on the Michigan-Ontario border at Port Huron, where the Sierra Nevada Corporation, a US military aerospace company, has launched a tethered balloon camera (the company calls it an MAA (medium altitude airship) pointed at the town of Sarnia across the border. This isn’t even an official scheme, it’s a private company trying to sell this insanity to the Department of Homeland Security, and naturally the Mayor and citizens of Sarnia are angry about this international violation of their privacy, and many of both sides of this border think that this intensified security as an attack on the trust that exists between Americans and Canadians.
So what are Sarnians doing? They are giving the cameras something to look at, that’s what. More specifically they are planning to drop their pants for a mass ‘moon the balloon’, which in these days of ever more insane surveillance schemes seems just about the only possible response.