Australia's Arpaio-Inspired, Pink-Themed Bikie Gang Crackdown

Authorities in Queensland, Australia are cracking down on criminal motorcycle gangs with a vengeance that would give even the Charming Police Department pause. Following a couple of large, public brawls between two rival gangs, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has introduced a raft of new legislation targeting members of illegal "bikies," as they're called in Australia -- and he's modeling some of his controversial policies on those of "America's Toughest Sheriff."

Under the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill, which was passed by parliament last week, members of about two dozen motorcycle clubs are outlawed from gathering in groups of three or more (including riding together), going to their clubhouses, and promoting and recruiting for their groups. The penalty for engaging in these activities would be a mandatory six-month jail term. Other approved laws bar members of outlawed motorcycle clubs from owning, operating, or working in tattoo parlors, as well as ensure that they serve a minimum of 15 more years in prison than nonmembers who commit the same crimes. In response, the Australian Motorcycle Council is raising funds to mount a court challenge to the laws, and already has a lawyer prepared to try the case.

Officials are also planning to convert a 52-bed wing of the Woodford Correctional Center into a high-security, biker-only jail partially modeled after Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's famously draconian vision of incarceration. The bikies would be confined to their cells for 23 hours a day, and denied television, gym facilities, and rehabilitation for the duration of their sentence. Civil liberties groups have likened the proposed biker jail to terrorist detention facilities. By contrast, Arpaio's approach seems more humane: He houses inmates in desert tents, and has banned cigarettes, coffee, pornographic magazines, and unrestricted television in his jails -- but inmates are, at least, allowed to watch pre-approved classics like Old Yeller.

Adding insult to injury, Newman hopes to expand on another of Arpaio's more controversial policies: requiring inmates to wear pink underwear. Though Arpaio claims that his pink underwear policy is a deterrent against underwear theft, a district court ruled in March that the practice constituted punishment without justification because it symbolized the stripping of prisoners' masculinity. Newman, by contrast, would force incarcerated bikers into pink uniforms, and is unabashed about his desire to punish through feminization. "They like to wear scary looking gear, leather jackets, they have tattoos, they have their colours," Newman told reporters. "Telling them to wear pink is going to be embarrassing for them."

Such prisoner-shaming isn't new. Convicted Rwandan genocidaires are made to wear pink uniforms while wayward Thai police officers are supposed to don bright pink arm bands emblazoned with images of Hello Kitty. Politicians in other Australian territories have called for pink prison jumpsuits, too.

The notion that pink is inherently emasculating, and that emasculation is an appropriate way of policing misbehaving males, is a pervasive one. Whether it's effective is another matter. Plenty of research suggests that American prison culture is largely defined by performances of hypermasculinity that contribute to sexual and other violence behind bars. So it's worth considering how institutionalized attempts at emasculation might play out in the prison yard: Would Newman's pink jumpsuits motivate inmates to more determinedly exert their masculinity, or would it make them easy targets of violence?

And, if motorcycle clubs' "scary looking gear," leather jackets, and tattoos are being deemed "bikie chic" by Australian designers, who's to say pink tunics wouldn't catch on, too?

Paul Kane/Getty Images


Mapped: What Global Cyberwar Looks Like in Real Time

On Monday, Google rolled out three new initiatives to ensure the openness of the Internet and access to the service -- even in the face of government crackdowns on the web.

One of those tools is a proxy plug-in -- creatively titled uProxy -- that uses a peer-to-peer system to create secure Internet connections. By linking a user in, say, China with her trusted friend in the United States, the browser plug-in allows the user in China to access her American friend's Internet via an encrypted connection that should, in theory, allow her to bypass the Great Firewall.

Another tool, Project Shield, promises to protect human rights organizations and NGOs from so-called DDoS attacks, which take down a website by directing a flood of traffic toward it and overwhelming it or rendering it unusable. DDoS attacks have become the preferred method for knocking out a pesky, unwanted site, and while big sites like Google are able to protect themselves from such attacks, independent groups, including media organizations and election monitors, frequently find themselves unable to fight back when targeted. "If you think about all of the organizations around the world that use a website as their modern-day office -- NGOs, businesses, governments -- it's not OK to have this many digital office raids shutting them down," Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, told Time in an interview.

The last project rolled out this week is something called the Digital Attack Map, which is embedded at the top of this post. It's a fascinating, interactive map that monitors DDoS attacks around the world -- an effort Google hopes will raise awareness about the problem. The map, which draws on data collected by the network security firm Arbor Networks, provides a nifty visualization of an issue that's been in the headlines constantly over the last year or so.

The result is the first real visualization of what cyberwar looks like in real time. So what can we learn from the effort? Here are some incidents that jump out in playing around with the map.

The map below provides a snapshot of Aug. 27, when a portion of Chinese .cn domains were knocked offline. Chinese authorities described the hack as the largest cyberattack in the country's history without pointing fingers at any particular party, and below you can see where the attacks originated. Attacks whose origin and destination are both known are depicted as an arc between the two countries, with the data traveling from source to victim. Attacks whose origins are unknown but whose victims are clear are depicted as a downward flow into the victim country. As you can see, the attack that took out the .cn domain came from both the United States and the Netherlands (keep in mind: there are several ways for attackers to obscure their location and make it appear as if attacks are originating in different countries). 

On June 25, the 63rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War, South Korea was struck by a cyberattack by the DarkSeoul gang, which has been linked to North Korea and is believed to work on its behalf. The attack shut down major media and government websites and represented a high-profile flare-up in ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. That attack is visualized on the map below, and what's striking is that a targeted attack in South Korea was able to take down a series of prominent websites while using relatively little bandwidth. Measured by bandwidth, the attack on South Korea was smaller than that day's attacks on the United States by several magnitudes.

Below, the Digital Attack Map visualizes part of a massive six-day attack on the United States, during which, among other things, hackers targeted U.S. banks. It's notable for the incredible bandwidth used, which was far larger than that in a typical attack.