TSA, local coppers, panic over scientist carrying technical gear to DOE meeting – close down airport!

Jeremy Danielson is a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee who was on his way to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11, to present a mock-up of some sort of technical apparatus at a Department of Energy conference.

He never got past the security checkpoint at the Albuquerque International Sunport and his final destination for the day was the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Airport officials shut down the Sunport for hours and Danielson was carted off to jail by police, who apparently believed the device was a fake bomb.

Danielson, 40, is now facing a fourth-degree felony of having a facsimile or hoax bomb or explosive, according to court records. He has no criminal history and Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed he was an employee traveling on business.

His attorney, Dan Cron, said Danielson, who has a Ph.D., knew the Transportation Security Administration is sometimes concerned by the mock-ups, so as he was putting his carry-on bag on the conveyor belt, he told TSA workers that they would need to look at it…

Cron said Danielson has taken technical mock-ups on business trips in the past.

TSA said, blah, blah, blah.

Sunport said blah, blah, blah.

Albuquerque police said blah, blah, blah.

A spokesman for the FBI, which is helping in the investigation, said it is ongoing and wouldn’t comment further.

A LANL newsletter says Danielson was part of a “radiography source development team” that won a 2014 Defense Department award of excellence. He also is listed as an author of various research papers and a participant in scientific conferences.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Since the advent of the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA, I fly nowhere. I will only visit any place I can get to in my 22-year-old pickup truck.

Facebook censored the historic “Napalm girl” photo — why is anyone surprised?


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Nick Ut

❝ If you were to pick a handful of images that changed how people think about war, Nick Ut’s most famous photograph would surely be among them. The image of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running from napalm — her skin burning, her clothes burned away — defined the horrors of the Vietnam War.

❝ Norwegian author Tom Egeland had the lasting power of Ut’s work in mind when he shared the photo to Facebook weeks ago. But when Facebook’s moderators saw the Pulitzer Prize-winning image, they saw not its documentary significance or its impact on the world, but a violation of the site’s nudity policy.

Facebook’s moderators removed the photograph from Egeland’s page, along with its accompanying text. His account was suspended for 24 hours after he shared an interview with Phuc criticizing Facebook’s decision to censor this image, he said. But that was just the beginning of the incredible outrage at Facebook that has swept across Norway in recent days, becoming the subject of an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Norway’s largest newspaper, and rising all the way up to the country’s prime minister.

❝ After initially defending its decision to remove the photograph, Facebook decided to “reinstate” the image on Friday afternoon, according to a written statement from a Facebook spokeswoman. “We recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time,” the statement reads. “Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal.”…

Corporate hogwash.

❝ While Zuckerberg recently said that Facebook is “a tech company, not a media company,” this incident highlights just how much control the platform can wield over what media its users do (and don’t) see.

Espen Egil Hansen, the editor of Aftenposten — Norway’s largest paper — called Zuckerberg the “world’s most powerful editor” in an open letter to Zuckerberg protesting Facebook’s censorship of the photo, which was published on Friday morning.

“I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly,” he wrote.

❝ The outrage in Norway escalated when Prime Minister Erna Solberg posted the image to her own Facebook page on Friday, after the publication of Aftenposten’s letter. “Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such pictures. It limits the freedom of speech,” she wrote in an accompanying statement that was translated by Reuters. “I say yes to healthy, open and free debate — online and wherever else we go. But I say no to this form of censorship.”

Solberg’s post, along with the statement, then disappeared. A spokesman for the prime minister’s office confirmed that she “did not remove it” herself from her own page — instead, Facebook deleted it.

❝ She later reposted the image — censoring Phuc’s entire body with a large black box — and called on Facebook to reconsider its policies. She paired the censored version of Ut’s work with several other censored versions of iconic photos, writing, “What Facebook does by removing images of this kind, good as the intentions may be, is to edit our common history.”

❝ Aftenposten ran its direct address letter to Zuckerberg on the front page of its paper. “I am writing this letter to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove a documentary photography from the Vietnam war made by Nick Ut. Not today, and not in the future,” Hansen, the paper’s editor, wrote.

“The media have a responsibility to consider publication in every single case. This may be a heavy responsibility. Each editor must weigh the pros and cons,” Hansen wrote. “This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California.”

After more bullshit, Facebook finally relented.

RTFA and you’ll bump into all the rationales Facebook editors offered up to excuse and continue their censorship. Eventually, you can read their attempt to excuse their actions. It reads like a press release from any government, any corporate behemoth, trying to excuse a self-serving attempt to control access to history, to politics, to the freedom of individuals to decide what they wish to see and read.

That’s what it comes down to.

Don’t kid yourself about geeks being liberal or tech entrepreneurs automatically having the best interests of the world at heart. The breed has no corner on the market for kindness, care or concern – for either individual rights or the end of the world. Dollar$ govern the system. Don’t count on Harvard dropouts to be less likely to harbor bigotry and reactionary foolishness than any less-educated populist idjit.

Of course that includes the head of Facebook, the corporation. Ultimately, Mark Zuckerberg sets the standards of the company he started.

Cartoon: Yup, all our presidents should jog

Yup, I remember the arguments about health and fitness conservatives added to all the other reasons they hated FDR. Not as severe as their hatred of him for selling out their class.

Then, they worked just as hard after his death to pass that wonderful reform called “term limits” – which is about as undemocratic as any law the American people have been sold.

In other words, if you’re still popular with the majority of voters after two terms in office, we don’t dare let you run again. Don’t let us have a chance to re-elect you, again – as we did FDR.

Fired for being a lousy cop? Don’t worry, you can always get another job — as a cop.

❝ As a police officer in a small Oregon town in 2004, Sean Sullivan was caught kissing a 10-year-old girl on the mouth…Mr. Sullivan’s sentence barred him from taking another job as a police officer.

But three months later, in August 2005, Mr. Sullivan was hired, after a cursory check, not just as a police officer on another force but as the police chief. As the head of the department in Cedar Vale, Kansas, according to court records and law enforcement officials, he was again investigated for a suspected sexual relationship with a girl and eventually convicted on charges that included burglary and criminal conspiracy…

❝ Mr. Sullivan, 44, is now in prison in Washington State on other charges, including identity theft and possession of methamphetamine. It is unclear how far-reaching such problems may be, but some experts say thousands of law enforcement officers may have drifted from police department to police department even after having been fired, forced to resign or convicted of a crime.

Yet there is no comprehensive, national system for weeding out problem officers. If there were, such hires would not happen…

❝ While serving as a St. Louis officer, Eddie Boyd III pistol-whipped a 12-year-old girl in the face in 2006, and in 2007 struck a child in the face with his gun or handcuffs before falsifying a police report, according to Missouri Department of Public Safety records.

Though Officer Boyd subsequently resigned, he was soon hired by the police department in nearby St. Ann, Mo., before he found a job with the troubled force in Ferguson, Missouri.

Officer Boyd is being sued by a woman in Ferguson who said he arrested her after she asked for his name at the scene of a traffic accident…

❝ Last year, in a report by President Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing, law enforcement officials and others recommended that the Justice Department establish a database in partnership with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, which manages a database of officers who have been stripped of their police powers. There are some 21,000 names on the list, but Mike Becar, the group’s executive director, said his organization lacked the resources to do a thorough job.

“It’s all we can do to keep the database up,” he said.

The Justice Department, which gave the association about $200,000 to start the database in 2009, no longer funds it. The department declined to explain why it had dropped its support…

Meanwhile, the oldest Brother Blue favor in the unofficial rulebook on How to be a Cop remains letting someone who faces severe discipline or termination resign their job. Their record stays comparatively clean. There is no outstanding pointer to behavioral dangers. In fact, a department will often recommend the tactic to keep their own noses clean. They avoid lying to explain troubled events if the events aren’t recorded as causing a sanction or termination.

Not the way to manage an honest trade, a legitimate civil service.

North Dakota is first in the US to authorize weaponized drones for local coppers

❝ Armed drones could be used by police in the US state of North Dakota after local lawmakers legalised their use.

While they will be limited to “less than lethal” weapons, tear gas, tasers, rubber bullets and pepper spray could all be used in theory by the remote controlled flying machines.

❝ In a classic case of unintended consequences, the original sponsor, Republican state representative Rick Becker said he was unhappy with the way legislation turned out.

His original intention was to prevent law enforcement officials from using the unmanned aerial vehicles from conducting surveillance on private property without a warrant.

“In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponised,” he said.

The rest of the idjits in charge of lawmaking in North Dakota quickly moved on.

The state’s police union amended the Bill, limiting any ban to only lethal weapons, meaning that sound cannons or rubber bullets could be used on police drones…

Mr Becker said that he didn’t fight the amendments, telling the Ars Technica website that he wanted “the Bill to pass to at least require warrants.”

❝ At least 39 people have been killed by police tasers in 2015, according to The Guardian.

The fact that a suspect could potentially be tasered by an officer sitting hundreds of miles away will likely add to the concerns of those who are worried about the militarisation of US police departments.

First two thing that occur to me:

1. Another fascist growth industry for America. Armed drones rolling out of factories from Alabama to Arizona. Drone wars on television with the winner getting a contract from the DEA. Hammer wars to determine who can rack up the biggest kill ratio with .50 caliber armament included in Nevada militia versions.

2. Who will be first to hack one of these critters and turn it on the coppers? Or an elementary school?

Catching up with Looney News: Michele Bachmann says this will be the last election if Hillary wins

❝ I believe without a shadow of a doubt this is the last election. This is it. This is the last election. And the reason why I say that…is because it’s a math problem. It’s a math problem of demographics and a changing United States. If you look at the numbers of people who vote and who lives in the country and who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to bring in to the country, this is the last election when we even have a chance to vote for somebody who will stand up for godly moral principles. This is it.

❝ Hillary Clinton, I’m not judging her spiritually or where she is at but we know where she’s going to come down on Supreme Court justices, she’s pro-Planned Parenthood. She’s for everything I’m against…This isn’t even close between what Donald Trump stands for and espouses and what Hillary Clinton stands for and espouses. People look at Trump and he can be course [sic] and a little crude and all the rest and I say get over it! Get over it because what he is going to do is uphold religious liberty and advance the constitutional republic that our founders gave us.”

“She (Hillary Clinton) has said herself that she is going to grant wholesale amnesty to people from the Third World who are here in the United States and we hear this fake number of 11 million illegal aliens in the United States. Wrong! It’s about 30 to 40 million illegal aliens currently in the United States – 30 to 40 million!”

❝ “What Hillary Clinton’s ultimate goal is is to secure her reelection. The very first thing she will do as President Hillary Clinton is this: she will have a wholesale amnesty so that Republicans will never again have the chance at winning Florida or Texas. If we can’t win Florida or Texas, it’s game over.”…

❝ “God says to every nation for all of time, ‘I set before you life and death, what are you going to choose?’ If you look at the book of Genesis, you don’t even have to get beyond Chapter 3 to see God gives us life. The first thing he gives mankind is life. What does man choose? Death. We choose rebellion and death. You go from Genesis all through the Bible to the book of Revelation; man stupidly makes the same decision over and over again by rejecting life and choosing death. What I’m telling you is that’s what we’re looking at now in this country.”

Sigh. Can anyone have a rational conversation, discussion, with a nutball who rejects evidence-based data? Whose entire analysis of the political economy of the United States requires the governance of a book written in the 14th Century to satisfy the ruling monarchy of England?

Losing an election – as flawed, gerrymandered and restricted as racist Republicans can get away with – so disturbs the mind of True Believers that death appears to be a likely – if not glorious – alternative.

Meet the microbes sharing your seat on public transportation


Boston’s Red LineRebecca Siegel

❝ The subway is crowded–and not just with people. Sharing your commute are trillions of invisible microbes. They’re on the seats, poles, ticket kiosks; pretty much on anything people hold, lean against, sneeze on, swipe, or bump into. “We’re constantly shedding bugs into our environment,” says Curtis Huttenhower, an associate professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Huttenhower is the senior author of a study…that reveals the character of the microbial community that shares the Boston transit system…

❝ …Huttenhower and his team weren’t simply out to catalogue nasty microbes and cause a stir. They wanted to get an overall profile of the microbes in the subway environment, and gain a better understanding of the interactions between humans, microbes, and the space we share. “We really set out to understand how a transit environment — where thousands and thousands of people constantly interact — contributes to the harmless transmission of microbes between people. Does that environment serve as a sort of reservoir or exchange for microbial communities?”

❝ The researchers swabbed a variety of locations — seats, hand rails, hanging grips, walls, seats, and touch screens at ticket booths — on three different subway lines and five subway stations in Boston. Using metagenomic sequencing, the team was able to profile the microbes. What they found was a familiar cast of characters…Huttenhower says, These are the bugs we would have on our bodies anyhow.”

They also discovered who was living where. Skin microbes were the most prevalent overall, found on all of the surfaces examined. But oral associated bugs, which are transferred by touching, coughing, or sneezing, were prevalent on face-level surfaces like hand grips and poles. And seats revealed genital-related microbes, which can be transferred through clothing. The team found little variation based on location of the train lines or the demographics they served.

❝ As for those nasty bugs other studies trumpeted, Huttenhower said in a statement, “We were surprised to find that the microbes that we collected on surfaces that people touch — and sometimes sneeze on — had low numbers of worrisome pathogens or antibiotic resistance genes. These environments have drastically lower virulence profiles, in fact, than are observed in a typical human gut.”

It’s been decades since I left the Boston area. Dunno if life has become cleaner or less clean. BITD I found public transport – especially the rail lines – to be comparatively clean. Is that a Boston thing? Are public health standards uniform nationwide?