Tagged: police

This is how Texas schools encourage student interest in technology

encouraging science in Texas
Ahmed Mohamed wearing his NASA t-shirt – and handcuffs

Police in Texas have arrested a 14-year-old boy for building a clock. Ahmed Mohamed, who lives in Irving and has a keen interest in robotics and engineering, put the device together on Sunday night. When he took it to school the next day, he was pulled out of class, interviewed by police officers, and taken in handcuffs to juvenile detention, after being told by teachers that his creation looked like a bomb.

Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News that he showed his clock — a simple device, created from a circuit board and a power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front — to his engineering teacher first, who advised him not to show any other staff members at MacArthur High School. He originally kept it in his bag during English class, but his teacher heard it beep during the lesson — when Ahmed showed her his home-made clock at the end of class, she took it away from him. In sixth period, the school principal came for Ahmed with a police officer in tow, arresting him and marching him out of school. The schoolboy says he was interrogated by five officers, who asked why he was trying to make a bomb, and was threatened with expulsion by his Principal unless he made a written statement.

Irving police might still charge Ahmed with making a “hoax bomb.” Police spokesperson James McLellan said Ahmed “kept maintaining it was a clock” when he was brought in for interrogation, but that he offered “no broader explanation.” When asked by The Dallas Morning News what broader explanation Ahmed could have given for a clock that was actually a clock, McLellan said the creation “could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car.”…

What? You thought an understanding of simple logic was required of Texas coppers?

Many in the maker and tech community have already rallied around him. A hashtag — #IStandWithAhmed — rapidly rose to become one of Twitter’s top trending topics, and support has come from a number of sources, including a JPL engineer who offered Ahmed the chance to see a Mars rover whenever he wants. Ahmed’s father says his son “just wants to invent good things for mankind” — we can hope that the police reaction won’t dissuade the talented young creator from making good on his dream.

Bigots of every flavor in every state will immediately jump to defend the creeps who had this school kid arrested, who took part in his arrest and potential charges. It’s an automatic response – like crocodiles swarming when one raises the scent of blood to other lower-level creatures on the evolutionary scale.

Meanwhile, a kid who should have been encouraged for his interest in science and technology – and was aided by his science teacher who also sounds like he realized how many stupid people they both were surrounded by in a Texas high school. I hope Ahmed keeps on with his interests and studies. I hope he can ignore the thoughts and actions of the typical American ignoranus. It would be nice to see him realize his dreams and forget the nightmarish delusions of others.


Parrot detained by coppers over obscene language

Police in India said a parrot detained on allegations of shouting obscenities at an elderly woman refused to utter a single word for officers.

Chandrapur district police said the parrot, Hariyal, was detained at the police station in Rajura, Maharashtra, after Janabai Sakharkar, 85, told investigators the parrot would shout obscene words and phrases at her whenever she would pass by the home of its owner, her stepson.

Sakharkar told police she believes her stepson, Suresh, trained the parrot to shout obscenities at her because of an ongoing land dispute between the family members.

Police said the parrot did not speak in front of officers, even when confronted by Sakharkar…

Police said they decided not to return Hariyal to his owner and instead put the bird in the care of forest department officials for rehabilitation.

You have the right to remain silent…

NYC coppers kill homeless man in Riker’s Island prison cell


Jerome Murdough was just looking for a warm place to sleep on a chilly night last month when he curled up in an enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project where he was arrested for trespassing.

A week later, the mentally ill homeless man was found dead in a Rikers Island jail cell that four city officials say had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment.

The officials told the Associated Press that the 56-year-old former marine was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more vulnerable to heat. He also apparently did not open a small vent in his cell, as other inmates did, to let in cool air.

“He basically baked to death,” said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss specifics of the case.

The medical examiner’s office said an autopsy was inconclusive and that more tests were needed to determine Murdough’s exact cause of death. But the officials, all with detailed knowledge of the case, say initial indications from the autopsy and investigation point to extreme dehydration or heat stroke.

Advocates for mentally ill inmates in New York say the death represents the failure of the city’s justice system on almost every level: by arresting Murdough instead of finding him help, by setting bail at a prohibitive $2,500 and by not supervising him closely in what is supposed to be a special observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses.

Department of correction spokesman…said…blah, blah, blah.

Murdough’s 75-year-old mother, Alma Murdough, said she did not learn of her son’s death until the AP contacted her last week, nearly a month after he died

Wanda Mehala…one of Murdough’s sisters, said the family wants an explanation.

“We want justice for what was done,” she said. “He wasn’t just some old homeless person on the street. He was loved. He had a life. He had a family. He had feelings.”

I’ll second that emotion!

German coppers ready to face armed mob — interrupt asparagus harvest

harvesting asparagus
Runaway, runaway!

Police in rural northeastern Germany rushed out to track down a reported mob of up to 15 people armed with knives and sticks. Instead, they found a group of asparagus harvesters.

Police in the town of Ludwigslust said a man called their emergency number Saturday to report having seen “10 to 15 people armed with knives and sticks” on a local road.

Within minutes, six police cars were on their way to the scene. Officers quickly discovered, however, that the group was asparagus harvesters walking along the road with their work tools as they went to take a lunch break.

White asparagus is a popular delicacy in Germany and a ubiquitous sight on restaurant menus in late spring.

Not to my taste, though. I prefer what New Englanders call “grass” asparagus. Young, slender and very tender shoots first out of the ground in spring. Yum.

I serve it Italian style, aglia e oglio, with capellini and a bit of grated pecorino Romano.

Apple and others ask Obama to reject backdoors for cops and other snoops

Yes, this is what it says on my wife’s iPhone, same on my iPad

In a letter…delivered to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, Apple is among a group of signatories requesting the White House reject incoming government proposals that would modify current policies to allow law enforcement access to encrypted user data.

As reported by The Washington Post, which gained access to the letter on Monday, Apple joins a cadre of more than 140 tech companies, security experts and interested civil groups concerned with upcoming legislation that could force access to consumer data, even if it is encrypted.

“Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security,” the letter reads. Further, signatories unanimously recommend that government agencies should “fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards.”

According to The Post, three signatories were on a five-member presidential review team formed to investigate U.S. technology policy in 2013, just after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sparked public outrage by leaking information regarding secret government surveillance programs. Among the revelations aired by Snowden was the existence of mass data collection initiatives targeting everything from phone calls to social networks and other high-traffic consumer products…

With iOS 8, Apple built an encryption system so secure that it is technically incapable of decrypting a user’s device even with the appropriate documentation. The lockout method was not well received by officials wanting access to user data, a procedure allowed through [so-called] proper warrants.

RTFA if you need to dull your brain with predictable rationales from security-snoops. The history of this sort of political paranoia tends to end with Big Brother having his patriarchal way with your thought and speech. Coppers are accustomed, now, to the government handing them them anything they need or need to know – or think they need to know – on a bulletproof platter.

They’re incensed that Apple dares to advertise the fact that they can’t decrypt your iPad or iPhone, either.

U.S. Geography of Odd Deaths

You’re more likely to be shot by accident and die in Alabama than anywhere else in the U.S.

Further west in Louisiana, it’s syphilis. Think you’ll escape the clutches of strange death further north? Septicemia, a bloodstream infection, claimed more lives per person in New Jersey than any other state.

That’s according to a report published…by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing the most distinct causes of death in each state from 2001 to 2010. Using a list of 136 ways to go, each state is labeled with a cause of death that was higher on average than the rest of the U.S…

The map glimpses at less-discussed causes of death. Without killers like cancer and heart disease, things start to look a little weird. In Alaska and Idaho, air and water accidents were the most distinct cause of death. Flu claimed more lives in northern states like Maine and South Dakota than anywhere else.

Some of the unusual ways to kick the bucket were due to occupational hazards. In the coal-mining states of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, black lung disease, or pneumoconiosis, and chemical effects stood out.

In New York and neighboring Connecticut, female pelvic inflammatory diseases top the list. In women who get sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, the infections can spread when untreated, causing death in some cases.

I live in one of the states where the most distinct cause of death was “legal intervention.” You may have reason to wonder what that might mean. RTFA.

I knew exactly what it was. Instantly.

Ancestry.com sharing DNA data with coppers — without a warrant

Would you find it frightening— perhaps even downright Orwellian — to know that a DNA swab that you sent to a company for recreational purposes would surface years later in the hands of police? What if it caused your child to end up in a police interrogation room as the primary suspect in a murder investigation?

In an extremely troubling case out of Idaho Falls, that’s exactly what happened.

Police investigating the 1996 murder of Angie Dodge targeted the wrong man as the suspect, after looking to Ancestry.com owned Sorensen Database labs for help. The labs look for familial matches between the murderers DNA and DNA submitted for genealogical testing after failing to find a match using traditional methods.

The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by Ancestry.com), which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.” Some of these volunteers were encouraged by the Mormon Church—well-known for its interest in genealogy—to provide their genetic material to the database. Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson….

Despite this promise, Sorenson shared its vast collection of data with the Idaho police. Without a warrant or court order, investigators asked the lab to run the crime scene DNA against Sorenson’s private genealogical DNA database. Sorenson found 41 potential familial matches, one of which matched on 34 out of 35 alleles—a very close match that would generally indicate a close familial relationship. The cops then asked, not only for the “protected” name associated with that profile, but also for all “all information including full names, date of births, date and other information pertaining to the original donor to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy project.”

Continue reading

Pic of the day

Black Spring
Click to enlargeReuters/Eric Thayer

Demonstrators march in Baltimore, Maryland May 2, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Baltimore on Saturday as anger over the death of young black man Freddie Gray turned to hopes for change following swift criminal charges against six police officers.

All of which points out the contradiction of American politicians and newspaper flunkies celebrating uprisings during the Arab Spring – but, when the same violence is visited upon communities in the United States controlled by racist police departments – shock and amazement fill the newspace.

No one recommends crime and arson as an antidote to racism, political and social repression. It still takes a special hypocrite to act surprised when violence is part of the response to decades of violence imposed by government.

Mexico — Evidence of the missing

memories of murder

The view from the hills around Iguala, Mexico, was stunning. But the more Christopher Gregory walked along the paths, the more his eye was drawn to the objects scattered along the way: scraps of clothing, beer bottles, trash. To him, these castoff items were possibly linked to the hundreds of people reported missing — presumably kidnapped, if not killed — by drug cartels that have long operated with impunity…

Little more than six months after 43 students were abducted and presumably killed in Iguala in Guerrero State, Mr. Gregory is wondering about all the other people who have vanished in that region. He had wanted to do a project on the missing students, but abruptly changed his mind when, during the early stages of the search, a mass grave was found with the remains of 28 people.

None of them were the students.

That became a flash point for him and Jeremy Relph, a writer with whom he had teamed up for the story. Once they got to Iguala, they discovered that disappearances had been going on for years, and on an alarming scale. While the government has put the tally of missing people in Guerrero State at about 120 from January to November of last year, local advocates working with families reported that some 400 people had been reported missing in Iguala alone in recent years.

“The photo is an evidentiary document,” he said. “There is no way to witness these kidnappings or document these violations of human rights, other than to point at the residue and try to have a conversation about what it means, how it looks like and how do we navigate these complex social and political issues, as well as the psychological issues. You can’t believe anybody or trust anybody in these areas because for all intents and purposes, they’re lawless.”

RTFA. Take a good look at what lawless means. You don’t need to go to the Arabian Peninsula or the Horn of Africa.