Daily Archives: September 20, 2011

Atlanta citizens to be filmed everywhere they go


Atlanta Police Department Marion Ellis watches a live APD traffic stop to observe for public and officer safety on the Digital Integration Video Array (DIVA) at the Joint Video Integration Center in the 911 Communication Center. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieve/review by the authorities.”

– Zbigniew Brzezinski, CFR member and founding member of the Trilateral Commission, and National Security Advisor to five presidents in, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Era (New York: Viking Press, 1970)

“This is going to grow by leaps and bounds over the years. The goal, of course, is to have the entire city blanketed.”

Atlanta increases surveillance of city

Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Sep 19, 2011

By Jeremiah McWilliams

Plans to put Atlanta’s public spaces under camera surveillance will move forward this week with the opening of a state-of-the-art video monitoring center.

Whether it’s good that Atlanta is joining other big cities in the video surveillance race depends on your comfort level with being watched more often by police.

The downtown “Video Integration Center,” funded by a mix of private donations and public money, has already given Atlanta police links to more than 100 public and private security cameras.

Talks are underway to link up with more cameras at CNN Center, Georgia State University, the Georgia World Congress Center and MARTA, along with cameras in Buckhead.

Officials say hundreds or thousands more private-sector cameras will eventually feed into the center. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution toured the center last week, as live footage of a traffic stop and archived video of a DragonCon parade played on a 15-foot screen. Officers can watch up to 128 views at once.

“This is just the beginning,” said Dave Wilkinson, president of the Atlanta Police Foundation, which helped raise money for the center. “This is going to grow by leaps and bounds over the years. The goal, of course, is to have the entire city blanketed.”

With enough cameras, it might be possible to never lose sight of a suspect after a crime occurs, advocates say. And camera backers say signs warning of constant surveillance help prevent crime, although they acknowledge it is difficult to know how much.

For now, the center has camera coverage on only about one of the city’s 131 square miles.

The planned spread of surveillance — both from installing new cameras and connecting with existing systems at, say, Coca-Cola and Cousins Properties — chills privacy advocates.

“I should hope the public is not okay with it,” said Brett Bittner, executive director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia. “We’re talking about filming every aspect of people’s lives once they step out of the house.”

Cities increasingly use cameras to supplement police forces, often with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In the Atlanta region, the spread of cameras has occurred largely through contracts with a Texas-based company called Iron Sky. College Park worked with the firm to expand its public safety surveillance system and used the cameras in a prostitution sting last year. Norcross and Sandy Springs signed up for software that allows police to view any camera in the city from any computer on the cities’ networks, including laptops in patrol cars. Duluth got 18 high-definition cameras.

Lilburn spent $113,000 to set up more cameras on the Greenway Trail, and the south Georgia city of Valdosta set them up in alleys and streets around a high-crime housing project. Atlanta’s Historic Westside Village community set up seven high-resolution pan/tilt/zoom cameras. Cameras have popped up at Atlanta Station and in other areas of Midtown, and are linked to the Video Integration Center.

Col. Wayne Mock, a retired Atlanta police officer who manages security for the Midtown Alliance, said last year that cameras in his area factored in more than 700 arrests over five years. The Midtown system has been expanded since then.

“A camera is a police officer hanging on a telephone pole,” Mock told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Atlanta officials say they want a monitoring system in the same league as New York’s or Chicago’s. The city and the police foundation have contributed $500,000 each in funding for the new center, with state grants adding another $1.2 million.

“As criminals get more sophisticated, so must law enforcement,” Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to leverage cutting-edge technology, allowing us to stay one step ahead of lawbreakers. It will also help us be more prepared as our officers respond and react to any situation within view of the cameras.”

But doubts have sprung up about cameras’ effectiveness.

In Chicago, a report from the American Civil Liberties Union based on records requests found that the city’s access to 10,000 cameras led to 4,500 arrests over a four-year period. That was less than 1 percent of total arrests, from a system that cost $60 million. In 2007, Washington police said surveillance footage from the city’s network of cameras had never been used to make an arrest. The department later said it contributed to several arrests.

Footage from the cameras will be deleted after a period between two weeks and a month to clear space on servers, said Atlanta Police Sgt. David Ferguson, commander of the video center.

Officials insist cameras linked to the center will only watch areas the public could already see. The city’s law department is drafting rules for the center, Ferguson said.

The police department will have to pay for the center’s operation, and the city has not said how much that will cost. Linking private security cameras to the center is now free to a business or neighborhood, but eventuallya fee will be added to offset the cost.

Creative Times Atlas exaggerates Greenland’s ice-free zones


Publicity for the latest edition of the atlas, launched last week, said warming had turned 15% of Greenland’s former ice-covered land “green and ice-free”. Scientists say the Times Atlas map (left) does not follow the ice extent line as viewed from space (right)

Times Atlas ‘wrong’ on Greenland ice

BBC | Sep 9, 2011

By Richard Black

Leading UK polar scientists say the Times Atlas of the World was wrong to assert that it has had to re-draw its map of Greenland due to climate change.

Publicity for the latest edition of the atlas, launched last week, said warming had turned 15% of Greenland’s former ice-covered land “green and ice-free”.

But scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute say the figures are wrong; the ice has not shrunk so much.

The Atlas costs £150 ($237) and claims to be the world’s “most authoritative”.

The 13th edition of the “comprehensive” version of the atlas included a number of revisions made for reasons of environmental change since the previous one, published in 2007.

The break-up of some Antarctic ice shelves due to climate change, the shrinking of inland waters such as the Dead and Aral Seas, and the drying up of rivers such as the Colorado River are all documented.

But the glossy publicity sheets begin with the contention that “for the first time, the new edition of the (atlas) has had to erase 15% of Greenland’s once permanent ice cover – turning an area the size of the United Kingdom and Ireland ‘green’ and ice-free.

“This is concrete evidence of how climate change is altering the face of the planet forever – and doing so at an alarming and accelerating rate.”

The Scott Polar group, which includes director Julian Dowdeswell, says the claim of a 15% loss in just 12 years is wrong.

“Recent satellite images of Greenland make it clear that there are in fact still numerous glaciers and permanent ice cover where the new Times Atlas shows ice-free conditions and the emergence of new lands,” they say in a letter that has been sent to the Times.

“We do not know why this error has occurred, but it is regrettable that the claimed drastic reduction in the extent of ice in Greenland has created headline news around the world.

“There is to our knowledge no support for this claim in the published scientific literature.”

Many of the institute’s staff are intimately involved in research that documents and analyses the impacts of climate change across the Arctic.

As such, they back the contention that rising temperatures are cutting ice cover across the region, including along the fringes of Greenland; but not anything like as fast as the Times Atlas claimed.

“It is… crucial to report climate change and its impact accurately and to back bold statements with concrete and correct evidence,” they say.

The Times Atlas is not owned by The Times newspaper. It is published by Times Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, which is in turn owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

A spokesperson for HarperCollins said its new map was based on information provided by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

“While global warming has played a role in this reduction, it is also as a result of the much more accurate data and in-depth research that is now available,” she said.

“Read as a whole, both the press release and the 13th edition of the Atlas make this clear.”

Claim: Missing global warming hiding somewhere in the ocean

“Missing” global heat may hide in deep oceans

MSNBC | Sep 19, 2011

The mystery of Earth’s missing heat may have been solved: it could lurk deep in oceans, temporarily masking the climate-warming effects of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported on Sunday.

Climate scientists have long wondered where this so-called missing heat was going, especially over the last decade, when greenhouse emissions kept increasing but world air temperatures did not rise correspondingly.

The build-up of energy and heat in Earth’s system is important to track because of its bearing on current weather and future climate.

The temperatures were still high — the decade between 2000 and 2010 was Earth’s warmest in more than a century — but the single-year mark for warmest global temperature was stuck at 1998, until 2010 matched it.

The world temperature should have risen more than it did, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research reckoned.

Related

They knew greenhouse gas emissions were rising during the decade and satellites showed there was a growing gap between how much sunlight was coming in and how much radiation was going out. Some heat was coming to Earth but not leaving, and yet temperatures were not going up as much as projected.

So where did the missing heat go?

Computer simulations suggest most of it was trapped in layers of oceans deeper than 1,000 feet during periods like the last decade when air temperatures failed to warm as much as they might have.

This could happen for years at a time, and it could happen periodically this century, even as the overall warming trend continues, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean,” NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “The heat has not disappeared and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”

Trenberth and the other researchers ran five computer simulations of global temperatures, taking into account the interactions between the atmosphere, land, oceans and sea ice, and basing the simulations on projected human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

These simulations all indicated global temperature would rise several degrees this century. But all of them also showed periods when temperatures would stabilize before rising. During these periods, the extra heat moved into deep ocean water due to changes in ocean circulation, the scientists said.

‘EU is an occupying force’: Top Tory demands public referendum

Daily Mail | Sep 19, 2011

'Enslaved to Europe': Conservative MP Mark Pritchard said Britain the EU was now like an 'occupying force'

A senior Tory demanded a referendum on pulling Britain out of the EU last night, increasing tensions with the Lib Dems.

Mark Pritchard, secretary of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, complained that the EU had become an ‘occupying force’ which has left Britain ‘enslaved to Europe’.

In a sharp reminder to the Prime Minister of Government tensions over Europe, Mr Pritchard says Tory MPs have tired of  tolerating their ‘Coalition bedfellows’ and their ‘Europhile views’.

But Lib Dem Treasury minister Danny Alexander yesterday said Eurosceptics were the ‘enemies of growth’.

Mr Pritchard said voters will ‘kick back’ at MPs if their worries over Europe were not addressed.

And he warned that voters will not tolerate future bailouts of the Euro.

He said: ‘Conservative MPs will not continue to write blank cheques for workers in Lisbon while people in London and Leicester are joining the dole queue.
‘For many Britons, the EU has already become a kind of occupying force, setting unfamiliar rules, demanding levies, curbing freedoms, subverting our culture, and imposing alien taxes.

‘In less than four decades, and without a single shot being fired, Britain has become enslaved to Europe – servitude that intrudes and impinges on millions of British lives every day.’

He said that the days of ‘unquestioning support’ from the Conservative backbench were over.

Mr Pritchard’s intervention comes after 120 Tory MPs last week held a meeting to lay out plans to push David Cameron towards rewriting the UK’s relationship with Brussels.

Mr Cameron recently ruled out a referendum on whether Britain should pull out of the EU, but Mr Pritchard has support from prominent politicians including foreign secretary William Hague and former aide to the Prime Minister George Eustice.

But Mr Pritchard insisted: ‘The Coalition should agree to a referendum on Europe asking whether Britain should be part of a political union or of the trade-only relationship we thought we had signed up to.’

Juror removed after allegedly flashing Masonic hand signals to Freemason murder defendent

Virgin Islands high court orders hearing on removal of suspected Mason from jury

virginislandsdailynews.com | Sep 19, 2011

By Michael Todd

ST. THOMAS – The V.I. Supreme Court has ordered an evidentiary hearing to determine whether a Superior Court judge removed a juror improperly after prosecutors suspected that he flashed Masonic hand signals to convicted murderer and ex-cop Joel Dowdye during the trial.

Court records indicate that Dowdye’s chest bore a Masonic tattoo when he was arrested in connection with a Bunker Hill Guest House shooting in which two victims were shot on March 25, 2006.

In March 2007, a St. Thomas jury found Dowdye guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend, 22-year-old Sherett James, and trying to murder her companion, 32-year-old Daren “Bogle” Stevens, in a downtown hotel room. Dowdye later was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 40 years.

Dowdye was charged with six of the eight original felony charges: first-degree murder, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of that crime, attempted first-degree murder, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of that crime, first-degree assault and using a dangerous weapon during the commission of that crime.

During Dowdye’s trial, his ties to the Freemasons arose several times.

William Curtis, chief investigator for the V.I. Justice Department, told The Daily News in March 2007 that two prosecutors asked him to come to court and observe the suspect juror. Curtis said he did not recognize any of the juror’s movements and gestures as having such significance, but prosecutors asked V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar to remove the man from the jury.

In 2009, Dowdye’s attorney, Joseph Mingolla, told appellate court justices that his client was denied a fair trial because Hollar asked the jurors if they had any knowledge of the Masons and also had a court marshal display a Masonic symbol before jurors.

Dowdye asserts that the juror’s removal without a proper inquiry by the trial court violated his constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury, according to the high court’s Sept. 14 opinion.

The Supreme Court upheld the appeal and remanded it to Superior Court, which is directed to determine whether the juror was untruthful during voir dire – a questioning of jurors – by failing to respond to any of the trial court’s questions about Freemasons, according to the high court opinion. The lower court also is to determine whether the juror and the defendant exchanged Masonic gestures or signs during the trial, and if so, whether that justified that juror’s removal.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Maria Cabret disagreed that the matter deserves an evidentiary hearing, according to the opinion.

“Although I agree with the majority’s conclusion that the trial judge dismissed Juror No. 3 without an adequate factual basis to believe that Juror No. 3 was a Freemason or in communication with Dowdye, I believe, for the following reasons, that this Court should order the parties to provide the full trial transcript and review the case for harmless error rather than remand the case for a Remmer hearing that cannot address the trial court’s violation,” Cabret wrote.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures allows a court to impanel six alternate jurors to replace a disqualified or incapable juror.

Cabret and Associate Supreme Court Justice Ive Swan, along with Designated Justice Thomas Moore, issued the opinion. Chief Justice Rhys Hodge was recused – or excused – from ruling on Dowdye’s request for an appeal.

Cabret stated that Dowdye’s sentencing was conducted by an impartial jury, but she challenged the trial court’s decision to question Juror No. 3 after the trial was under way.

“The question here is whether the Superior Court erred by violating the defendant’s right to be tried by the particular unbiased jury, which was originally sworn in,” Cabret wrote. “There is no question in this case that all 12 of the jurors who eventually decided Dowdye’s case were impartial.

“The trial court’s creation of an adequate factual record at a post hoc proceeding does not erase or mitigate its violation of Dowdye’s right to have no sitting juror dismissed without adequate factual support at the time of the dismissal,” Cabret wrote. “The violation has already occurred, and post hoc proceedings cannot change that.

“The only question remains, and the one I would address, is whether that violation was harmless,” according to Cabret’s dissenting opinion.

Taking painkillers long-term ‘triples risk of kidney cancer’

dailymail.co.uk | Sep 13, 2011

By Claire Bates

People who take anti inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen for more than a decade are tripling their risk of kidney cancer, say scientists.

A study of over 125,000 participants found those who regularly took over the counter anti-inflammatories were 51 per cent more likely to develop the disease.

But the researchers found those who used them for over a decade, such as arthritis sufferers, were almost three times more likely to suffer renal cell cancer (RCC), the most common form of kidney cancer.

Aspirin was the only member among the group of medications – known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – that was found to be safe.

Dr Eunyoung Cho, of Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues said: ‘In these large prospective studies of women and men, we found that use of non-aspirin NSAIDs was associated with an elevated risk of renal cell cancer, especially among those who took them for a long duration.’

Renal cancer accounts for two per cent of all cancers diagnosed in the UK. It is difficult to treat with around one in three surviving the disease.

Pain-relieving medications – or analgesics – are among the most commonly used groups of drugs and some appear to have protective effects against cancer.

But writing in Archives of Internal medicine the researchers said: ‘However some epidemiologic data, mainly from case-control studies, suggest an association between analgesic use and an increased risk of RCC.’

So Dr Cho and colleagues analysed data on 77,525 women and 49,403 men whose use of aspirin and other NSAIDs was recorded for up to twenty years during which time 333 developed renal cell cancer.

A 19 per cent decrease in risk of developing the disease was identified for use of non-aspirin NSAIDs for less than four years.

But the danger rose by 36 per cent for use for between four and ten years and nearly three times for use for ten or more years.

In carrying out the study the researchers also took into account other risk factors for RCC such as body weight, smoking, recreational physical activity and history of high blood pressure.

NSAIDs are also taken by sufferers of bowel conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, and as a preventive measure against Alzheimer’s Disease.

The researchers said: ‘Risks and benefits should be considered in deciding whether to use analgesics; if our findings are confirmed, an increased risk of RCC should also be considered.’

The overall risk of renal cell cancer remains small in comparison to that of other major diseases.

Only six per 100,000 people are expected to develop the condition compared to 95 per 100,000 for Alzheimer’s.