Dumb crook of the day – and his helpful child

A four-year-old U.S. boy who announced to his teacher at school snack time that he wanted to share pulled nine bags of marijuana out of his jacket pocket…Police in Meriden, Connecticut were called to Hanover Elementary School Tuesday afternoon after the young special needs student displayed the drugs, authorities said.

Meriden police said the nine individually wrapped bags of marijuana appeared prepared for sale…

“What’s so disheartening is this is really an adult issue and problem and adult behavior put a student at risk,” Meriden schools superintendent Mark Benigni told Reuters.

This student had no idea what he brought to school or what the substance was,” he added.

Authorities are not releasing the names of the student or parents and police said there is a possibility for arrests pending the outcome of the investigation.

The coppers should smack daddy on the wrist for being extra dumb about hiding his retail stash. Unless he was more than extra dumb and just wanted his kiddie to build up his business with free samples?

Labour deploys sprinter in a chicken suit in London mayor’s race

Two short videos of a person dressed as a chicken chasing a lookalike of Boris Johnson, the incumbent Mayor, have been released on YouTube by the London Labour Party.

One shows the Mayor, sporting a blonde wig, on a Barclays hire bike in front of City Hall, the seat of local Government in London, while the other sees him being pursued down a street. The stunt, dubbed Boris Johns-hen, seeks to highlight how Mr Johnson “has chickened out of debating his opponents and defending his policies”.

The campaign to elect Ken Livingstone says Mr Johnson has in recent months declined to attend hustings with the candidates for the mayoralty hosted by UK Feminista, a womens equality campaign, and the Federation of Small Business.Mr Livingstone has asked Mr Johnson to take part in a televised debate on his proposals to cut Tube fares. A spokesman for the Mayor said he saw “no merit” in the event because Mr Livingstones figures were not credible.


U.S. Commandos take 2 hostages away from Somali pirates

American commandos raced into Somalia early Wednesday and rescued two aid workers, an American woman and a Danish man, after a shootout with Somali pirates who had been holding them captive for months.

The American forces — drawn from the same Navy commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden — swooped in and killed nine pirates before spiriting away the hostages, who were not harmed…

It appeared that President Obama was fully aware of the raid as he was about to give his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, which would have been early Wednesday in Somalia…

In a statement on Wednesday, the president said he authorized the operation on Monday, and he mentioned the American hostage, Jessica Buchanan, by name. “Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our Special Operations forces, yesterday Jessica Buchanan was rescued and she is on her way home. As commander in chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts…”

American officials said Wednesday that the assault team for the hostage-rescue mission drew from the Navy commando unit commonly referred to as Seal Team Six, the Navy’s top-tier counterterrorism organization, which carried out the deadly raid on Bin Laden inside Pakistan. But officials stressed that the rescue mission included personnel from the other armed services as well, and that the commandos themselves were not necessarily the same people who conducted the Bin Laden raid.

Somalia is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world, plagued by pirate gangs and countless militant groups, a lawless nation that has languished for 21 years without a functioning government. Several Westerners have recently been kidnapped, typically for ransom, and it seems that as Somalia’s pirates have a harder time hijacking ships on the high seas because of the beefed up naval efforts, they are increasingly turning to snatching foreigners on land…

Somalia is also considered a no-go zone for conventional American military operations, but it has been the site of several special operations raids, usually to kill wanted terrorism suspects. American forces stage the raids from a constellation of bases ringing Somalia, in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.

According to local leaders in Galkayo, dark helicopters began circling over the area late Tuesday night. Sometime around 3 a.m., the American commandos landed near a small village called Hiimo Gaabo, south of Galkayo and a firefight erupted.

The commandos freed the hostages, and the helicopters took off. By dawn, after morning prayers, the bodies of the nine pirates killed in the raid were brought back to Hiimo Gaabo…

Bravo! Pirates, gangsters, the lawless need to be treated as outside the law. Bring ’em in for trial if you can. But, around Somalia, hardly anyone cares to waste the time on trials except as miniature agitprop shows illuminating what passes for democracy in the region.

Egypt marks the 1st anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square, the crucible of their revolution, on Wednesday in a mixture of celebration and agitation to mark the first anniversary of the protests that forced out Hosni Mubarak, the former president.

By midmorning, tens of thousands of people had packed the square here, smiling, cheering and waving Egyptian flags, but it was already evident that the spirit that unified last year’s uprising had been replaced by new tensions between Egyptian political factions over their view of the military rulers who took power when Mr. Mubarak was ousted.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that won nearly half the seats in the newly elected Parliament, sent many of its followers to the square. The Brotherhood’s leaders have endorsed the military’s timetable for a handover to an elected president by the end of June, and they sent thousands of their members out to ensure that a spirit of celebration prevailed, erecting soundstages and setting up security checks at each entrance to the square. An abundance of Brotherhood flags, buttons and disposable plastic hats filled the crowd…

Groups of ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis, political rivals to the Brotherhood who won about a quarter of the seats in the new Parliament, said they would also turn out to help secure the square and keep the day peaceful, and there were plenty of men with the Salafis’ trademark long beards mingling in the crowd.

The crowd in the square on Wednesday morning was overwhelmingly male, with very few women in sight.

Youth groups and other activists — including many of the leaders of the original uprising — were determined to make the day a huge demonstration calling for an immediate end to military rule, urging Egyptians to gather at mosques, churches and other strategic locations around the city for marches to the square that would arrive by midafternoon…

Superficial decisions continue to be a mistake. They provide, at best, fodder for the news-as-entertainment drones.

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So much for Constitutional protection — judge orders woman to give up password to hard drive

Phil DuBois defended Phil Zimmermann & PGP against the Feds

American citizens can be ordered to decrypt their PGP-scrambled hard drives for police to peruse for incriminating files, a federal judge in Colorado ruled today in what could become a precedent-setting case.

Judge Robert Blackburn ordered a Peyton, Colo., woman to decrypt the hard drive of a Toshiba laptop computer no later than February 21–or face the consequences including contempt of court.

Blackburn, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that the Fifth Amendment posed no barrier to his decryption order. The Fifth Amendment says that nobody may be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” which has become known as the right to avoid self-incrimination.

“I find and conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer,” Blackburn wrote in a 10-page opinion today. He said the All Writs Act, which dates back to 1789 and has been used to require telephone companies to aid in surveillance, could be invoked in forcing decryption of hard drives as well…

Which is about what I’d expect from a fossil appointed by a tool.

Colorado Springs attorney Phil Dubois, who once represented PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, now finds himself fighting the feds over encryption a second time.

“I hope to get a stay of execution of this order so we can file an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Ramona Fricosu’s attorney, Phil Dubois, said this afternoon. “I think it’s a matter of national importance. It should not be treated as though it’s just another day in Fourth Amendment litigation.”

Today’s ruling from Blackburn sided with the U.S. Department of Justice [and Homeland Insecurity, the TSA and just about every Brown Shirt in the Kool Aid Party] which argued, as CNET reported last summer, that Americans’ Fifth Amendment right to remain silent doesn’t apply to their encryption passphrases…

The question of whether a criminal defendant can be legally compelled to cough up his encryption passphrase remains an unsettled one, with law review articles for at least the last 15 years arguing the merits of either approach…

Many principled Americans have confronted the threat of contempt of court in the course of defending civil rights and civil liberties hated by the least principled segment of American jurisprudence and politics. Opportunism governs the mindset of small-minded bureaucrats — whether the question is one of war and peace or privacy and testimony.

I don’t expect them to change. I not about to start cooperating, either.

More stringent definition of autism may exclude many

Proposed changes in the definition of autism would sharply reduce the skyrocketing rate at which the disorder is diagnosed and might make it harder for many people who would no longer meet the criteria to get health, educational and social services…

The definition is now being reassessed by an expert panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association, which is completing work on the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the first major revision in 17 years. The D.S.M., as the manual is known, is the standard reference for mental disorders, driving research, treatment and insurance decisions. Most experts expect that the new manual will narrow the criteria for autism; the question is how sharply.

The results of the new analysis are preliminary, but they offer the most drastic estimate of how tightening the criteria for autism could affect the rate of diagnosis. For years, many experts have privately contended that the vagueness of the current criteria for autism and related disorders like Asperger syndrome was contributing to the increase in the rate of diagnoses — which has ballooned to one child in 100, according to some estimates.

The psychiatrists’ association is wrestling with one of the most agonizing questions in mental health — where to draw the line between unusual and abnormal — and its decisions are sure to be wrenching for some families. At a time when school budgets for special education are stretched, the new diagnosis could herald more pitched battles. Tens of thousands of people receive state-backed services to help offset the disorders’ disabling effects, which include sometimes severe learning and social problems, and the diagnosis is in many ways central to their lives. Close networks of parents have bonded over common experiences with children; and the children, too, may grow to find a sense of their own identity in their struggle with the disorder…

The new analysis, presented Thursday at a meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association, opens a debate about just how many people the proposed diagnosis would affect…

That the qualitative expansion in diagnoses of autism mostly reflects doctors and parents and a culture growing in parallel that found itself able to get federal and public support for difficult behavioral problems – by defining those problems as autism – ain’t new. That quantifying levels of impairment and reviewing the premises of diagnosis is finally happening is the only surprise.

Doesn’t make the needs of parents and offspring any less or diminish society’s responsibility. It’s just that that, too, has become a political question in 21st Century America.