Daily Archives: January 25, 2012

Norway Massacre: Breivik may get own private hospital

newsinenglish.no | Jan 24, 2012  

Zionist Freemason Anders Behring Breivik

Norwegian authorities are reportedly considering building a one-man’s psychiatric hospital unit to accommodate confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, inside the prison where’s now being held. Meanwhile Breivik refuses to answer more questions from police until they promise him ongoing access to a computer.

Breivik, who spent years plotting his attacks on government headquarters and the Labour Party’s youth organization last summer, is proving to be one tough inmate. Court authorities have already decided to remodel Oslo’s city courthouse, at a cost of millions, to accommodate Breivik’s trial. He’s also being held in no less than three cells inside the high-security Ila Prison in suburban Bærum, where he can use one for exercising, one for relaxing and sleeping, and one as a sort of living room.

Special treatment

Now, reports newspaper VG, a special psychiatric unit may be needed as well inside the prison. Breivik was declared insane by court-appointed psychiatrists, and although that decision is subject to re-evaluation, the 32-year-old Norwegian who killed 77 persons on July 22 may be committed to a psychiatric institution instead of being sentenced to prison.

There are concerns, however, that Norway’s highest-security psychiatric institution, Dikemark Sykehus in Asker west of Oslo, may not have high-enough security to hold Breivik. VG reported that corrections authorities don’t think Breivik could be prevented from escaping from Dikemark, nor are they confident that an attempt from the outside to free him could be hindered.

Thought is thus being given to creating a private, high-security psychiatric unit inside Ila Prison. He’s already isolated there from other prisoners, not least for his own safety.

A state secretary from the Labour Party confirmed that authorities are “looking at a variety of alternatives to accommodate his own security needs and to protect society.” He wouldn’t confirm specific plans, however.

Breivik makes demands

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Breivik, meanwhile, has stopped cooperating with the rounds of questioning conducted by police since his arrest at the scene of his massacre on the island of Utøya six months ago. He says he won’t answer more questions until police guarantee that he’ll be allowed access to a computer and printer for the duration of his custody. Police can’t make such a guarantee, so the questioning has ceased.

Breivik also wants the computer to have a text program because he reportedly intends to write a book about his attacks and his ideology. Newspaper Dagsavisen has reported that justice ministry officials are considering proposing a law that would seize any income from books written by convicts. Convicts can already be prevented from working at their professions while in jail, with artist Odd Nerdrum most recently being denied the right to paint if his appeals fail and he’s sentenced to on tax evasion charges.

The Strange Death of Flo Barnett, Mother-in-Law to Scientology Leader David Miscavige

A Ruger 10/22 rifle: Even if you were depressed and wanted to end your life, could you shoot yourself three times in the chest, and then once in the head with this weapon? We’re just asking.

Villiage Voice | Jan 25 2012

By Tony Ortega

We were stunned when Debrah Kitchings said it: in the 26 years since she investigated the odd death of Mary Florence “Flo” Barnett for the Los Angeles County Coroner, she has not once been asked by a reporter about what she remembers of the case.

Only once in that time, she says, was she ever asked about it at all.

“I think her daughter or a relative sent a letter, an inquiry, I think,” Kitchings says.

Today, Kitchings is retired and lives in Riverside County, California, but in 1985, she was an investigator with the LA Department of Coroner when, on the night of September 8, she was called to Dominguez Valley Hospital in Compton to conduct a gunshot residue test on the hands of the dead woman.

Despite the passage of time, Kitchings remembers the case well. And she suspects that there’s a reason I’m interested in this one death out of the many she handled over her career.

“It has something to do with Scientology, right?”

Indeed, it does. Over the years, interest in the death of Flo Barnett has endured because of her connection to the Church of Scientology — Barnett’s daughter, Michelle “Shelly” Barnett, in 1981 married David Miscavige, who today is the supreme leader of the worldwide religion. Flo was Miscavige’s mother-in-law, and Shelly herself has not been seen in public with her husband since 2006. But that’s a story we’ll be going into on another day.

There is another reason why Flo Barnett’s death is still a matter of interest on the Internet, I told Kitchings.

Quite a few of us, I explained to her, wonder how Barnett managed to shoot herself three times in the chest and once in the head — with a long rifle — in what the County Medical Examiner ruled was a suicide.

“It is very unusual,” Kitchings told me Monday night when we talked by telephone.

We spent some time going over her report of the incident, a document that can be found online. She wanted to confirm the facts in her report with what she remembered: that she didn’t respond to the scene of the incident, but was called by Sheriff’s Office personnel to the hospital, where Barnett had already been pronounced dead.

Kitchings wanted me to understand why that made a difference. Normally, if death is pronounced at a hospital, it’s not a pressing case, and student workers in the Coroner’s office would go down in the next couple of days to retrieve the body. Instead, in this case, Kitchings was personally called down to the hospital the same night Barnett’s body was taken there.

“The detective must have had some concern. We respond because they have a question,” she said.

That concern was pretty obvious, and something Kitchings put in her report that night: “Detectives felt, at the time of this report, the decedent may be the victim of a homicide due to the number of times she was shot. However, they were still interviewing at the time of this report.”

After performing an autopsy, however, medical examiner Joan Shipley decided that Barnett’s death was a suicide: “The case is that of a 52-year-old woman who died as the result of multiple gunshot wounds which were self-inflicted,” reads Shipley’s report, which came out more than a month after the incident. I asked Kitchings how an autopsy determined that cause.

“I’ll tell you how. It doesn’t mean it was a suicide, but I’ll tell you how they came to that conclusion,” Kitchings answered. “It’s real easy to get away with murder anyway. It’s only as good as the investigator.”

She explained that a medical examiner like Shipley could describe wounds and other conditions of a corpse, but she couldn’t tell by looking how a wound came to happen.

She gave me a hypothetical example of a man with a gunshot wound to the head. “A doctor has no clue whether the man shot his head off, which is a suicide; or died playing Russian Roulette, which is an accident; or if somebody shot him, which is homicide. The doctor cannot tell you whether it was accidental or on purpose. They have to rely on the investigator. So it depends on several things.”

She pointed out that there was no question that what killed Barnett was the shot to the head: “The gunshot wound of the head was immediately fatal and occurred following the 3 gunshot wounds to the chest,” reads the autopsy report.

But the detective would also perform what Kitchings calls a “psychological autopsy,” interviewing people at the scene — such as Barnett’s husband, James Miller, who found his wife’s body and was initially treated as a possible suspect.

“Here you’ve got what appears to be a homicide. But you run into these other factors,” she said. “The hesitation marks on the wrists, for example. Were they fresh or were they healing?”

That was another odd detail in the case: Barnett not only had four bullet wounds, her wrists also showed evidence that they had been slashed.

According to the coroner, Barnett’s wrists had likely been sliced days before: “The wounds are consistent with those of several days’ age but are extremely superficial and may be more acute,” the autopsy report reads, suggesting a possible suicide attempt a few days prior to Barnett’s actual death.

On the other hand, Kitchings says, there were the multiple gunshots.

“Of course it’s unusual to have that many gunshots. And with a rifle? Totally bizarre. But if you think that case is bad, you should hear about this other one, Crystal Spencer,” Kitchings said, referring to a 1988 death. After telling me some things about that case, she came back to the matter at hand.

“It is very unusual and the sheriff’s detective thought it was important,” she said, referring again to her being called down to the hospital that night. “That’s a good detective and that tells me a lot right there. The detective was smart enough to say, ‘Come now.’ And believe me, that was a time we were incredibly busy. The gang problem was never worse than in those years.”

That the Coroner’s Office ultimately ruled it a suicide, however, said more about the detective and his investigation than it did about the autopsy.

“The doctor must have been convinced that it was a suicide based on what the detective told her. The doctor has no clue, and cannot tell you how or why.”

And relying on a homicide detective bureau was not any kind of assurance that the correct conclusion would be reached.

“If it was the LAPD, I’d tell you it was automatically bad. But it was the Sheriff’s Office. And Havercroft, he was good,” she says when I tell her the name of the detective on the reports.

“I didn’t hear anything more in that case, so the doctor relied on the detective. If it was iffy, they would have gone with homicide. But they must have done enough interviews with the husband to convince them that it was a suicide,” she said. “It does sound very suspicious to me. It does. But it was out of my hands.”

I thanked Kitchings for being so helpful, and for not only telling me what she remembered of the case, but for taking the time to explain how a cause of death would be determined.

It was now crystal clear: I needed to track down retired LA Sheriff’s Office detective Bob Havercroft and ask him how he had come to the conclusion that a small, frail woman could kill herself with four rifle shots.

Yesterday, I managed to get him on the phone. Having retired to Oregon, Havercroft was traveling in Southern California, enjoying the warm weather.

I told him why I was calling, and hoped that he remembered the Flo Barnett case out of the many he must have investigated.

“I remember that one,” he said. “This one was very, very, very unusual. But it was a suicide.”

But how, I asked, could Barnett have managed to shoot herself four times?

“Very easily,” Havercroft answered.

“We reconstructed the scene. My lieutenant was there. It was fairly simple to do. The way she was positioned on her bed, the way the rifle was in her hand. I think we even recovered a bullet from next door — this was a trailer park,” he said.

“It was obvious what she was doing, which was typical of some women. She was trying to shoot herself in the chest, and in a critical area. There was a gunshot wound to a breast,” he said.

“When we finished the investigation I was absolutely convinced it was a suicide. There was no question,” he said, adding that he remembered a suicide note being found. In fact, two notes were found.

“I have never heard another word about this case since it was investigated. And I worked another 10, 11 years after that,” Havercroft said.

Again, he acknowledged that the situation was extremely unusual, and that on its surface, it seemed to suggest a different conclusion.

“Hey, I can tell you my patrol deputy who was there was ready to take the husband to jail for murder. I had to cool him off. I walked him through it,” he said, and explained that eventually, his deputy came to the same conclusion.

“There’s no question,” he added. “It’s never a murder until it’s a murder. We never got beyond suicide. It was easy to reconstruct with the body and the position of the gun and so on. There was no cover-up. It was a suicide. It was not a murder,” he said. “It was one of those very, very interesting cases.”

Interesting, to be sure. And one wonders why Barnett was so determined to kill herself that she endured what she did.

Full Story

Dentist admits using PAPER CLIPS in root canal procedure

Charged: Clair, 53, pleaded guilty on Friday to a slew of charges stemming from his substandard dental practice in Fall River, Massachusetts

Daily Mail | Jan 24, 2012

By Thomas Durante

For some, going to the dentist is already an anxiety-inducing matter, but an appointment with this guy could have brought on potential health risks.

Michael Clair, 53, pleaded guilty Friday to a slew of accusations stemming from his substandard dental practice in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Among the charges are illegally prescribing prescription drugs, assault and battery, witness intimidation and conning Medicaid out of $130,000.

In addition, Clair is accused of trying to save a few bucks by using a paper clip instead of a stainless steel bar for a root canal procedure.

Using anything other than stainless steel puts patients at risk of pain and even infection.

Prosecutors said Clair was suspended by Medicaid in 2002, but continued to file claims from August 2003 to June 2005 using the names of other dentists in his practice, located in the New Harbour Mall.

The Herald News reported that Clair’s trial was scheduled to start yesterday but took a new course when Clair changed his plea to guilty.

He will be sentenced on January 30 at New Bedford Superior Court.

Clair’s attorney, John Dingee of Taunton, Massachusetts, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley told Fox 25 that the case ‘paints a picture of someone who shouldn’t be practicing dentistry in Massachusetts, or anywhere else for that matter’.

Clair, whose dental licence expired in 2008, had his licence revoked in the states of Florida, West Virginia and Maryland, the Herald News reported.

Coakley’s office is recommending that anyone who may have been treated by Clair see a dentist as soon as possible.

Marine to serve no time for Haditha massacre

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich arrives for a court session at Camp Pendleton in Camp Pendleton, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Wuterich, of Meriden, Conn., led the Marine squad in 2005 that killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

In Iraq, residents of the Euphrates river town of Haditha were angered by the fact that not one of the eight Marines initially charged will be convicted of manslaughter.

Associated Press | Jan 25, 2012


CAMP PENDLETON, California (AP) — A Marine sergeant who led a squad that killed 24 unarmed Iraqis avoided serving any time Tuesday for his role in one of the darkest chapters of the Iraq war, winning leniency through a plea deal that carried no real punishment beyond a reduction in rank.

Military judge Lt. Col. David Jones said he did not realize until after he recommended that Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich serve three months in the brig that his hands were tied by a deal that prevented any jail time.

Wuterich pleaded guilty Monday to negligent dereliction of duty as part of the agreement with prosecutors. The minor charge carries a maximum sentence of 90 days.

But because of the way the military system works, the terms of the deal with prosecutors immediately known to the judge.

The judge also said he would recommend that Wuterich’s rank be reduced to private but had decided not to dock his pay because the divorced father has sole custody of three young daughters.

The recommendation will now go to the commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command for approval.

Earlier in the sentencing hearing, prosecutors asked Jones to give Wuterich the maximum sentence of three months confinement, a reduction in rank and forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay.

They said his knee-jerk reaction of sending the squad to assault nearby homes without positively identifying any threat went against his training and led to the deaths of the 10 women and children.

“That is a horrific result from that derelict order of shooting first, ask questions later,” Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan told the court.

The assault on the homes was ordered after a roadside bombing killed a Marine.

Wuterich has acknowledged ordering his squad to “shoot first, ask questions later” after a roadside bomb took the life of a fellow Marine, but he said Tuesday he did not shoot any of the 10 women and children killed in nearby homes that he stormed with his men.

“The truth is: I never fired my weapon at any women or children that day,” Wuterich told Jones.

The surprise contention by Wuterich contradicts prosecutors who implicated him in 19 of the 24 deaths. It also counters testimony from a former squad mate who said he joined Wuterich in firing in a dark back bedroom where a woman and children were killed.

Defense attorney Neal Puckett said Wuterich has lived under the cloud of being labeled a killer who carried out a massacre in Iraq. Lawyers also said he has been exonerated of directly causing the deaths of civilians in the two homes and insisted his only intent was to protect his Marines, calling it “honorable and noble.”

“The appropriate punishment in this case, your honor, is no punishment,” Puckett said.

Wuterich, 31, told the court that his guilty plea should not suggest that he believes his men behaved badly or that they acted in any way that was dishonorable to their country. He said he ordered his men to “shoot first, ask questions later” so they would not hesitate in attacking the enemy, but he never intended to harm any civilians.

The plea deal that halted Wuterich’s manslaughter trial has sparked outrage in Iraq, where many said it proves the United States does not hold its military accountable for its actions.

In Iraq, residents of the Euphrates river town of Haditha were angered by the fact that not one of the eight Marines initially charged will be convicted of manslaughter. A survivor of the killings, Awis Fahmi Hussein, showed his scars from being hit by a bullet in the back.

“I was expecting that the American judiciary would sentence this person to life in prison and that he would appear and confess in front of the whole world that he committed this crime, so that America could show itself as democratic and fair,” he said.

In his statement, Wuterich also addressed family members of the Iraqi victims, saying there were no words to ease their pain.

“I wish to assure you that on that day, it was never my intention to harm you or your families. I know that you are the real victims of Nov. 19, 2005,” he said.

A former squad mate testified during the trial that he joined Wuterich in firing in a dark back bedroom of one of the homes where he saw small silhouettes. Later, when former Cpl. Stephen Tatum returned, he said he found woman and children had been killed.

Military prosecutors worked for more than six years to bring Wuterich to trial on manslaughter charges that could have sent him away to prison for life.

But only weeks after the long-awaited trial started, they offered Wuterich the deal that stopped the proceedings and dropped the nine counts of manslaughter.

It was a stunning outcome for the last defendant in the case once compared with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. The seven other Marines initially charged were exonerated or had their cases dropped.

The Haditha attack is considered among the war’s defining moments, further tainting America’s reputation when it was already at a low point after the release of photos of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison.

Legal experts said the case was fraught with errors made by investigators and the prosecution that let it drag on for years. The prosecution was also hampered by squad mates who acknowledged they had lied to investigators initially and later testified in exchange for having their cases dropped, bringing into question their credibility.

In addition, Wuterich was seen as taking the fall for senior leaders and more seasoned combat veterans, analysts said. It was his first time in combat.

Brian Rooney, an attorney for another former defendant, said cases like Haditha are difficult to prosecute because a military jury is unlikely to question decisions made in combat unless wrongdoing is clear-cut and egregious, like rape.

“If it’s a gray area, fog-of-war, you can’t put yourself in a Marine’s situation where he’s legitimately trying to do the best he can,” said Rooney, who represented Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the highest-ranking Marine charged in the case. “When you’re in a town like Haditha or Fallujah, you’ve got bad guys trying to kill you and trying to do it in very surreptitious ways.”

During the trial before a jury of combat Marines who served in Iraq, prosecutors argued he lost control after seeing the body of his friend blown apart by the bomb and led his men on a rampage in which they stormed two nearby homes, blasting their way in with gunfire and grenades. Among the dead was a man in a wheelchair.

Wuterich said his orders were based on the guidance of his platoon commander at the time. He has acknowledged the squad did not take any gunfire during the 45-minute raid.

Many of his squad mates testified that they do not believe to this day that they did anything wrong because they feared insurgents were inside hiding.

Haditha prompted commanders to demand troops be more careful in distinguishing between civilians and combatants.

Baby Dies After 9 Vaccines in One Day

vactruth.com | Jan 19, 2012

By Christina England

Babies Stacy and Lesly Sirjacobs

The end of last year was masked with sadness for Belgium parents Raphaël Sirjacobs & Béatrice Dupont, as their nine week old daughter Stacy Sirjacobs lost her fight for life. Stacy died just one week after her first vaccinations and left her twin sister Lesly behind. Devastated by their loss their parents are convinced that vaccines and hospital failures were the cause of their beautiful daughters death.

Stacy and Lesly were born one month premature by Caesarean section and spent the next four days in an incubator. Stacy needed resuscitation at birth.

Following medical advice parents Sirjacobs and Dupont decided to have the twins vaccinated. Stacy was slightly unwell with a cold on the day of her vaccinations but doctors assured her parents that it was safe to give her the vaccinations.

(It is worth noting that there is a history of Sudden Infant Death and allergies in the family. The twins were being prescribed a milk supplement due to a milk allergy at the time Stacy became ill)

The twins received Prevenar, a vaccine against meningitis and pneumonia, Infanrix Hexa, a six in one vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus type B, and finally the Rotarix, a preventive vaccine for gastroenteritis.

This means that these tiny vulnerable babies received a staggering nine vaccines in one day, vaccines that may have caused one of them to die.

A week after her vaccinations Stacy became unwell with a fever of 39.9 degrees C. Her parents decided to administer Perdolan to lower her fever. As their daughter was still very poorly they called the hospital who advised them to bring their daughter in.

The medical staff diagnosed Stacy with a slight chest infection and infection in her blood and told her parents not to worry as this was “not serious”. Stacy was then given medication and put on a drip feed and kept in for observation.

Stacy’s father informed me that all links to the vaccines were strongly denied.

Despite Stacy having a heartbeat of 200 to 230 beats per minute the pediatrician told her parents that she was fine and that she was probably suffering from gastroenteritis (an illness that this little girl had been vaccinated against!).

The worried couple decided not to leave their daughter and remained by her bedside. During the evening they informed the nurse that their daughter had diarrhea but to their astonishment, they were told that the baby had been changed and they were to let her get some sleep and change her when she woke up.

During the night, Stacy continued to suffer ‘abnormal diarrhea’, and despite frantic pleas from her parents the nurse refused to do anything, even though by this time Stacy was restless and in obvious distress. Stacy’s father says that they reported to nursing staff that Stacy was covered in small red spots and had difficulty breathing.

According to Stacy’s father, Stacy’s medical records states that at 19.45 a doctor telephoned his brother to ask his permission to do a lumbar puncture and put Stacy on the antibiotic Ampire, while they were awaiting the results. Authorization was denied …

Stacy died a short time later.

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Our Frightening Future, Brought to You by Microsoft

Motley Fool | Jan 18, 2012

By Alex Planes

Hey, look! Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) found a way to squeeze more functionality from the motion-sensing Kinect. Since many news-driven writers (including yours truly) are rushed and lazy, we often repeat pop culture references: You can open your files in Windows 8 by pointing at them aggressively, just like Tom Cruise in Minority Report!

But get this: Microsoft isn’t only jumping on board the Tom Cruise future-semaphore bandwagon. One new Kinect application is a creepy foot forward into the film’s more troubling technological advancements — specifically, its omnipresent and ominously precise biometric sensors. It might be good for the company’s bottom line, but quite threatening to the average person’s privacy.

A great algorithmic leap forward

The Kinect needed a certain level of hardware precision to work — but its software was the real breakthrough. That bleeding-edge programming package is so detailed that the Kinect’s next iteration is rumored to read lips and detect emotional cues when paired with more accurate sensors that track nuanced facial movements. The device is already accurate enough for Microsoft to use it to create a mall advertising system that that changes content based on who it thinks you are.

Why does that sound so familiar?

Aggressively targeted advertising

In the video, everything Tom Cruise passes changes to what it thinks he wants based on his personal information, which is accessed with eye scans. We might cringe at the unflattering personalized ads on Facebook. The filter bubble — a term for what you miss when Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) customizes its search results based on what it knows about you — has the potential to keep us in the dark. But as intrusive as these systems are, you can still opt out.

The only way to “opt out” of Microsoft’s individualized ads is to avoid places that use it. As long as these locations are on the fringe this isn’t a problem, but by 2054 (when Minority Report is set) things might look quite different. To build interest, Microsoft will do everything it can to further the personalization for passerby. Kinect-ed advertisements could send more detailed info to ad viewers’ Windows Phones. This might be done with devices that are enabled with near-field communication, raising major privacy issues — though the privacy issues raised by using biometric scanning in public for marketing purposes are probably somewhat larger.

Not quite science fiction

It’s hard to swallow the idea that biometric tracking could be this good this soon, but we’ve already seen plenty of signs that the film’s other signature technologies are fast becoming reality:

  • Responsive gesture-based computing is already on its way. Microsoft built Kinect compatibility into Windows 8 and has lent support to a Kinect-centric start-up accelerator.
  • Personalized ads? You’ve been reading this article, I hope.
  • An eye-scanning system developed by nonprofit research firm SRI International can read irises from up to three meters away, and can process up to 1,800 people per hour.
  • MIT and the University of Arizona created a semi-real-time holographic video system late in 2010. One of its key components was, unsurprisingly, a Kinect camera.
  • Google’s already proved that automated cars work well enough to be street-legal.
  • Electronic paper pioneer E Ink earned a billion dollars in revenue last year, and Universal Display‘s (Nasdaq: PANL  ) flexible organic LEDs featured prominently at Samsung’s CES booth earlier this month.

Many of the real-world analogues to Minority Report technologies could trounce Spielberg’s imagination by 2054. But Minority Report wasn’t really about any of these things. They were well-designed window dressing to the film’s main theme: Grievous crimes can be predicted and stopped with perfect accuracy before they happen.

There’s nothing to fear if you’ve got nothing to hide

“Precrime” technology might be furthest away from reality, but not due to any lack of trying. IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) boasts of its predictive crime-fighting solutions, which include blanketing a South Korean city with cameras and hooking them up to analytical programs. Data mining software from the jack-of-all-tech-trades also helped Richmond go from the fifth-most-dangerous American city to the 99th. It’s easy to imagine IBM upgrading from cameras to Kinects, or at least pairing visual cues with biometric analytics. It’s not a trio of all-seeing telepaths, but it’s a start.

Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. already use predictive analytics to reduce crime rates, but none of these work on an individual level. Scale up the resources, though, and solutions start to look more menacing. The Department of Homeland Security’s secretive pre-crime system uses biometric readings to detect potential ne’er-do-wells based on (among other things) emotional cues and physical attributes. Government researchers could probably save some taxpayer money by grabbing a few Kinects for the next build.

Why are we running?

Microsoft’s only doing what any sensible self-interested company would by seeking out new business opportunities. Combining Kinect capabilities with advanced analytics on a widespread scale could help the company overcome the PC’s slow decline and present a major recurring revenue stream, given significant global adoption. But how much intrusion will consumers — citizens, really — accept?

I found enough evidence to predict that targeted advertising will get pushier this year, and it looks as though Microsoft is going to prove me right. I can’t say I appreciate, from a privacy standpoint, the way this prediction is coming true, but such applications should have seemed inevitable. Without understanding how it works, the Kinect is essentially a magical stick that knows exactly what you’re doing and can tell if you’re sad. How could that not have wound up as a powerful marketing tool? I only hope it doesn’t become something much more dangerous in the name of security. By the time we find ourselves in that web, it’ll be much too late to opt out.

Samsung Transparent Smart Window makes sci-fi movies a reality

pocket-lint.com | Jan 12, 2012

By Stuart Miles

Imagine a world of see-through monitors, windows that are interactive, and car windscreens that relay all the information on the screen rather than the dashboard beneath it.

Now imagine that, rather than being the stuff of science fiction movies and pipe dreams, the technology that will allow this to become a possibility is going into production in just 20 days.

At CES in Las Vegas Samsung is demoing a new touchscreen display technology that is see-through.

Dubbed the Samsung Transparent Smart Window, the transparent touchscreen LCD tech can fit a window any size up to 46 inches and deliver a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels allowing full interaction at the same time.

Users will be able to supply content via HDMI or USB, and in our demo it reproduced video perfectly quickly jumping between different menu options like checking travel details, the weather, what was on television, or even just using it as an expensive blind to block out light.


Samsung’s smart window brings “Minority Report” to life

There is no word on price or where we will see this next, but the possibilities are endless thanks to our love of glass.

One such possibility as we overheard during our demo at CES is in submersibles where you want to move the instrumentation out of the way of a glass viewing area. That’s really niche, but imagine car designers being able to remove the dashboard of your car altogether, or Minority Report style computers that are just sheets of glass rather than the big bulky monitors that you have in your office at the moment.

To show what’s possible beyond the window, Samsung was also showing off the technology with a smaller monitor. The same screen technology can be used to create smaller screens with higher resolutions. In this example it measured 22 inches and offered a higher resolution of 1680 x 1050 pixels.

And if you are worried that others will be able to see what you are doing from behind the screen. Don’t. Samsung says that the technology comes with a privacy screen that works like a one-way mirror.

Samsung Transparent Smart Window at CES

New Jersey town to install spotlight camera surveillance system

Los Angeles Police Department surveillance camera looks over the corner of Winson and Wall Streets in downtown Los Angeles, California in December. East Orange plans to install high-powered lights on or next to surveillance cameras as a new way to fight crime. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCTA

East Orange is buying the light technology from a company called The Cordero Group, which is run by the former police director Jose Cordero.

Star-Ledger | Jan 18, 2012

by Eunice Lee

Picture this: You’re walking down the street at night when suddenly a spotlight flashes onto someone lurking beside a parked car and appearing to be jimmying the lock.

Or maybe the light hits two people standing on a corner as they try, discreetly, to exchange cash and a packet of drugs.

If the suspects run, successive lights can follow them — all while a surveillance camera records the action.

That light show is coming to East Orange as new crime-fighting technology the police plan to install in the next three months, acting Police Chief William Robinson said Tuesday. East Orange will be the first police department in New Jersey to implement the “cutting edge technology,” Robinson said.

The Essex County city has seen overall crime plummet 77 percent since 2003, and it fell another 11 percent from 2010 to 2011, officials said at a news conference Tuesday.

The new “light-based intervention system” will be integrated into the police department’s existing 62-camera surveillance system, which is set up around East Orange and which officials largely credit with helping dramatically to cut crime. High-powered lights will be mounted on or adjacent to the cameras, which are remotely connected to a closed-circuit television system.


New Jersey Police Decide to Turn on the Freaky Red Light

The footage feeds to a room at police headquarters that’s filled with screens and functions as an intelligence nerve center. Officers monitoring the real-time footage can maneuver both the light and camera in an effort to prevent and deter crime, Robinson said Tuesday as he stood with acting county Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, Sheriff Armando Fontoura and Chief of Detectives Anthony Ambrose.

“How many times (do) camera operators wish they could jump through the video screen and intervene in developing criminal situations while they wait for patrol to arrive?” Robinson asked. “Well, let me tell you, that’s about to change in the city.”

Each unit costs about $7,200, and the police department is still figuring out how many it needs and where in town they’ll be set up, city spokesman Darryl Jeffries said.

Forfeiture funds, not city coffers, will pay for the equipment, said Jillian Barrick, the city administrator.

Both the State Police and Attorney General’s Office said through spokesmen that they had not heard of any other agencies in New Jersey using light-projected cameras.

Robinson said the only comparable technology is in London, where talking cameras were introduced five years ago. Besides spotlighting criminals, he said, the lights can also project lettering on a street to define a school zone, for example.

In a bit of irony, East Orange is buying the light technology from a company called The Cordero Group, which is run by the former police director Jose Cordero. The installation company is Packetalk.

A year ago, Cordero lost his job after a split city council decided not to renew his contract. The vote came despite the success he and then-Chief Ronald Borgo saw in the reduction of violent crime after implementing novel crime-fighting technologies such as the cameras. Following the vote, Borgo announced his retirement, and since then the department has had an acting chief and left the director position unfilled.

Supreme Court says police need warrant for GPS tracking

Image: http://www.i2ko.com

Justices decide firmly for privacy in their first ruling on government use of digital technology to monitor people.

LA Times | Jan 24, 2012

By David G. Savage

Washington—The Supreme Court confronted for the first time the government’s growing use of digital technology to monitor Americans and ruled strongly in favor of privacy.

The court said the Constitution generally barred the police from tracking an individual with a GPS device attached to a car unless they were issued a warrant from a judge in advance. But the ruling could limit a host of devices including surveillance cameras and cellphone tracking, legal experts said.

“I would guess every U.S. attorney’s office in the country will be having a meeting to sort out what this means for their ongoing investigations,” said Lior Strahilevitz, a University of Chicago expert on privacy and technology.

Even the justices who most often side with prosecutors rejected the government’s view that Americans driving on public streets have waived their right to privacy and can be tracked and monitored at will. At least five justices appeared inclined, in the future, to go considerably beyond the physical intrusion involved in putting a GPS device on a car and rule that almost any long-term monitoring with a technological device could violate an individual’s right to privacy.

Until now, prosecutors and police have believed as long as they were tracking a person who was out in public, they could use GPS devices, cellphone tracking, facial recognition cameras or computer data mining to gather a dossier on an individual without a search warrant. A majority of the justices aggressively rejected that idea Monday.

Although the justices agreed on the outcome, they quarreled over how to approach the issue and how far to go.

Five justices, led by Antonin Scalia, said the police violated the 4th Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches when they attached the device to a vehicle’s bumper and monitored its movements.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., whose opinion was joined by three others, cited “dramatic technological change” that has made it “relatively easy and cheap” for agents to secretly monitor people and gather huge amounts of information. Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed, saying “awareness that the government may be watching chills” freedom.

None of the opinions set a strict limit on searches, but they signaled the court was determined to limit officials’ power to monitor individuals, at least when there is no “probable cause” to believe the individuals have committed a crime.

The case before the court arose when Antoine Jones was charged with running a drug-dealing operation in the Washington area, based in part on data gathered from tracking his Jeep.

By a 9-0 vote, the justices ruled it was unconstitutional for the police to attach a small GPS device to his bumper and track his car for a month. The tracking data helped convict Jones of running a drug-dealing operation.

It is rare when a drug criminal wins in the conservative-leaning high court, but the GPS case concerned whether the modern state had unlimited power to track and monitor its citizens, evoking the specter of George Orwell’s “1984.”

“Society’s expectation has been that law enforcement agents and others would not — and indeed, in the main, simply could not — secretly monitor and catalog every single movement of an individual’s car for a very long period,” Alito wrote, adding that such a search “surely crossed” the constitutional line. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan agreed with Alito.

Sotomayor joined Scalia’s majority opinion, but in a concurring opinion she made clear that she also agreed with much of Alito’s broader view that the court must limit the government’s use of tracking technology.

Scalia’s view protects the “constitutional minimum” that the government may not trespass on private property, she wrote. But she said these devices could “make available at a relatively low cost such a substantial quantum of intimate information about any person who the government, in its unfettered discretion, chooses to track.” Moreover, she said, “the government can store such records and efficiently mine them for information years into the future.” The government cannot be free to use “a tool so amenable to misuse,” she said, particularly in light of the 4th Amendment’s aim “to curb arbitrary exercises of police power.”

Scalia did not foreclose a future decision that tracking through “electronic means” is an “unconstitutional invasion of privacy,” but said there was “no reason for rushing forward” to resolve that issue now. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.and Justices Anthony M. Kennedyand Clarence Thomas also joined the opinion.

The ruling in U.S. vs. Jones left many questions unanswered. Alito and Sotomayor did not say when electronic tracking goes too far.

Privacy experts hailed the opinion as a welcome surprise and a good portent for the future.

It is “a landmark ruling in applying the 4th Amendment’s protection to advances in surveillance technology,” said Washington attorney Andrew Pincus. It is also “a significant rebuke to the government,” which had argued that no privacy right was at stake.

Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy & Technology agreed, saying the court “made it clear it would not allow advancing technology to erode the constitutional right of privacy.” The decision may limit police from using cellphones to track people, he said, because “cellphone triangulation can be just as precise as GPS.”

Strahilevitz said the court’s opinion was most important for its rethinking of the right to privacy when balanced against public surveillance.

“Before today, if you asked whether the 4th Amendment puts some limit on the government’s use of facial recognition cameras in the Chicago Loop or at the Los Angeles airport, you would say no. You had no expectation of privacy. After today, it is not so clear. The court said there is an expectation of privacy in public, and they see a danger in using technology to compile dossiers on persons.”

The case also featured an unusual clash between Scalia and Alito over how to interpret the Constitution. Scalia relied on its original history and said the 4th Amendment was about protecting private property from official searches. Alito derided his focus on “18th century tort law” and said the court needed to protect citizens against “unreasonable searches” more broadly.

Scalia’s opinion, if strictly followed, could limit the reach of the 4th Amendment, but Sotomayor agreed with Alito’s view that it also extended to protecting privacy broadly.

British police reveal close rapport with Murdoch’s phone-hacking tabloid

AP Photo
latimes.com | Jan 23, 2012  

by Janet Stobart

REPORTING FROM LONDON — Journalists from the defunct British tabloid News of the World lied about their relationship with police as well as having hacked into cellphone messages in order to gather information about a missing teenager, a police document sent to Parliament revealed Monday.

The 16-page letter from Surrey police also revealed a close, almost collaborative, relationship between the press and police  and offered no reason why Surrey authorities did not investigate the paper for illegal phone hacking in 2002 after the 13-year-old schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, went missing and was later found dead.

Instead, the police appear to have followed a line of inquiry back then that was suggested by misleading information from journalists based on the girl’s hacked phone messages.

The News of the World was a popular British tabloid owned by News Corp. media mogul Rupert Murdoch,  who has been subjected to questioning on allegations of illegal phone hacking by a parliamentary committee.

Allegations made public in July of the phone hacking have been at the heart of the scandal that led Murdoch to close the newspaper and have led to ongoing police and parliamentary inquiries into British media ethics and practices.

Dowler was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in March 2002. But for a time, her parents believed her to be still alive, based on the deletion of messages on her phone. The police letter casts no light on how the deletions occurred.

Monday’s letter to Parliament included a report on an exchange between Surrey police and News of the World journalists concerning information involving messages left on Dowler’s phone a month after her abduction. The letter shows Surrey police were fully aware that journalists were using illegal phone hacking methods yet failed to report it to the central British police authority, Scotland Yard.

However, it specifies journalists did not obtain Dowler’s number and pin code from police, but from her classmates. Last year, the paper’s legal advisor had speculated during a parliamentary inquiry that the paper had probably obtained the information from police.

The 16-page letter said News of the World journalists informed Surrey police in April 2002, a month after Dowler’s disappearance, that they had listened to messages on Dowler’s phone from “a tearful relative” and “a young boy” and a recruitment agency offering a job. Police first thought the latter was a hoax but later deduced after conducting investigations it was a probable simple error in dialing phone numbers.

The agency later claimed it was  harassed by a News of the World journalist claiming to work for the police, asking whether the agency had called Dowler.

“What the letter shows is that several journalists at the News of the World appear to have been involved in hacking into Milly Dowler’s phone,” said John Whittingdale, head of a parliamentary inquiry into the phone hacking scandal, “and that they were doing so because they wanted to pursue the story rather than help the police.”

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and chairman of the company that owned the newspaper, told Whittingdale’s inquiry last year that beyond  one journalist who served a jail sentence for phone hacking in 2007, there were no other suspected phone hackers on the editorial staff of his papers.