Lawsuit Filed Against NYPD Street Body Scanners

Blogger Jonathan Corbett is the hero of the day for filing suit against the NYPD for their plans to test and use of portable body scanners, similar to the kind used by the TSA at airports. These terahertz body scanners planned for use by the NYPD emit high energy and can destroy DNA.

There are also a few Constitutional problems with their usage:

When the TSA brought nude body scanners to the airports, demanding that the citizens allow the government to photograph them naked in order to get on a plane, there were some who said, “If you don’t like it, don’t fly!” That we should give up some of our liberty in order to “keep us safe,” because airports are where all the terrorists are.

When the TSA started paying visits to Amtrak and Greyhound stations, there were some who still didn’t see the problem. After all, “I’ve got nothing to hide!”

Now the NYPD has asked us to accept body scanners on the streets, allowing them to peer under your clothes for “anything dangerous” — guns, bombs, the Constitution — from up to 25 yards away for, you know, our safety. (And someone please think of the children!)

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How Sergeant Bryan Henry Saved Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is a very different place today compared to the 80’s and 90’s. The terminal is turning 100 years old next week.

The world’s most beautiful and busiest train terminal turns 100 next week, the beginning of a year-long centennial celebration that includes musical tributes, a rededication ceremony and a six-week exhibit chronicling its history.

Without the efforts of MTA Sergeant Bryan Henry it would not be possible to have such a fine tribute in the terminal. Here is how things appeared back in 1989 when Sgt Henry started out as a social worker with a badge and a gun:

“City agencies were bringing vans full of homeless people to Grand Central,” he said, noting The city that year had 1,905 murders that year, four times higher than last year’s 414.

Some lived in what is now Vanderbilt Hall — which in those days were full of benches.

Others lived in hollow spaces underneath the platforms a dangerous situation that often resulted in track fires so bad that they were making trains late.

The MTA — in the beginning stages of planning the station’s $250 million renovation — wanted someone to focus their energy on getting the homeless out.

Henry, a practicing Buddhist, volunteered for the job.

He counted about 400 people who used it as their home base.

“These were people I saw every day,” he said.

Then he set out to get to know all of them.

He matched drunks with programs for alcoholics, found crack addicts treatment plans and helped the impoverished navigate the confusing maze of social services that could get them off the street.

“One woman, I enticed her with coffee and donuts,” he said.

The Grand Central Terminal station is full of secrets large and small:

The hole in the ceiling is from a NASA rocket on display in the terminal that did not quite fit.

The mistake on the boards is that all the listings are one minute earlier than when the train actually departs.

The one-inch mistake is that the east staircases, built much later, are an inch smaller than the western staircase, so future historians will know they were not part of the original building.

The bigger mistake is the October zodiac constellation, which is perfect in every way except it is completely backwards.

The valuable jewel is the 1930 clock inside the information booth in the terminal’s concourse.

“Every face of that four-face clock is made out of one solid piece of precious opal,” Bruckner says.


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Double Arm Transplant For Maimed GI Brendan Marrocco

Staten Island native Brendan Marrocco lost all four limbs to a roadside bomb in northern Iraq. He was driving an armored vehicle as part of the 2nd Battalion of the Army’s 27th Infantry Regiment when the bomb went off. He was the first and remains one of only four individuals to survive such an injury.

That was in 2009. Now Brendan has received a double arm transplant and things are looking up for him.

Marrocco is one of only seven people in the United States to undergo a double-arm or double-hand transplant.

The extremely complicated surgery was led by Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, Johns Hopkins’ world-renowned chief of plastic surgery.

Lee yesterday said the operation — the fourth double-arm or -hand transplant he has done — “was the most complicated one” yet.

He employed a relatively novel approach to ensure it worked: transplanting the limb donor’s bone marrow as well to reduce the need for anti-rejection medications. Such medicine has side effects and can increase a patient’s chance of cancer.

The surgery — which involved connecting bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves and skin — appears to have been a success.

The rehab process will take a long time but for this former GI it is worth every moment.

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Workers Have No Legally Binding Contractual Right To Their Social Security Benefits

It may surprise many people to learn that Social Security benefits are not what they seem.

Many people believe that Social Security is an “earned right.” That is, they think that because they have paid Social Security taxes, they are entitled to receive Social Security benefits. The government encourages that belief by referring to Social Security taxes as “contributions,” as in the Federal Insurance Contribution Act…

…However, in the 1960 case of Fleming v. Nestor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers have no legally binding contractual rights to their Social Security benefits, and that those benefits can be cut or even eliminated at any time.

Whoops! Turns out that the whole enterprise is in fact a Ponzi scheme and the youth in this country are getting robbed.

In other words, Social Security is not an insurance program at all. It is simply a payroll tax on one side and a welfare program on the other. Your Social Security benefits are always subject to the whim of 535 politicians in Washington. Congress has cut Social Security benefits in the past and is likely to do so in the future…

Is this painfully honest math the reason Democrats cannot adopt a budget?

It is characteristic of any Ponzi fraud that the people who get in on the ground floor do well. That makes the scheme popular; people clamor to get in. This is what has happened with Social Security and Medicare here in the U.S. Past and current beneficiaries are receiving benefits that are entirely disproportionate to what they paid in. This obviously cannot continue indefinitely. Every Ponzi fraud inevitably crashes when its exponential growth cannot be sustained because there is not enough new money–not enough suckers, to put it bluntly. In the context of entitlements, “new money” means young people. That point is now approaching rather rapidly.

As it is Obamacare (aka The Affordable Care Act) is turning out to be entirely unaffordable even in these early stages of implementation.

Kindly note the impending bankruptcy:

We can’t afford the government we have with the amount of taxes we’re collecting and no one wants to pay the taxes it would take to afford it. It isn’t that’s something’s gotta give. It’s that something’s gonna give. Whether it’s inflation, Treasury buyers revolting, or something else, borrowing 46 cents for every dollar you spend is going to end badly.

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NYPD To Begin Testing New High Tech Scanner That Can Destroy DNA

In an effort to combat the gun problem in New York City the NYPD is set to begin testing a new, high tech scanner that can detect a gun carried by a criminal without the need for a pat down.

The department just received a machine that reads terahertz — the natural energy emitted by people and inanimate objects — and allows police to view concealed weapons from a distance.

“If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object,” Kelly said.

A video image aired at a Police Foundation breakfast Wednesday showed an officer, clad in a New York Jets jersey and jeans, with the shape of a hidden gun clearly visible under his clothing when viewed through the device.

The department will begin testing the high-tech device for use on the street. The device is small enough to be placed in a police vehicle or stationed at a street corner where gunplay has occurred in the past.

Given the government’s record on such things in the past does anyone at all believe the NYPD will refrain from using this tool on anyone they deem “suspicious”, regardless of whether there is any probable cause or not? This will quickly slide into major 4th Amendment violations.

Aside from that problem is another, even more serious problem: safety. The scanner can detect terahertz waves, which do naturally occur in the environment, but the scanner will also bombard the area being scanned with more high energy radiation in order to get a clear picture. Terahertz radiation is damaging to DNA and the use of these scanners by the NYPD presents a clear health and safety hazard to the citizens of New York City.

“Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none,” say Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a few buddies. Now these guys think they know why.

Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they’ve found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That’s a jaw dropping conclusion.

And it also explains why the evidence has been so hard to garner. Ordinary resonant effects are not powerful enough to do do this kind of damage but nonlinear resonances can. These nonlinear instabilities are much less likely to form which explains why the character of THz genotoxic
effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic, say the team.

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Is “Sugar Baby” A Fancy Term For “Prostitute”?

Sugar babies are young women explicitly seeking older, wealthy men (sugar daddies) to pay for stuff, like tuition, rent, clothing, vacations, etc.

“Older gentlemen are more attractive because there’s not much of an issue when it comes to finances and maturity,” she explains. “I am young and I need guidance. I look for guys who are willing to mentor me and help me on my career path.”

And subsidize her lifestyle. Her current beau pays her $4,000 part-time tuition bill and $2,000 housing costs at FIT, and even bought her a 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop ($1,200) for her schoolwork.

Meet the sugar babies, the New York 20-somethings who don’t want to find a job, just an older man to pay their tuition, rent and buy them fancy gifts and taken them on exclusive international vacations.

The sex is merely incidental to the relationship… or so they say.

“I don’t call it prostitution, because you are not being paid directly for sex,” she says. “You are helped financially in different ways: You go shopping, you go out to eat, you go to see plays, you have fun. It’s just like dating.”

Where do we draw the line between a sugar baby and a prostitute?

“I don’t see anything wrong with it, but just because it’s so many younger women — like 20- and 21-year-old girls — and a lot of older men, (other people) really see it as an exchange of sex for money, it’s not necessarily that,” she says. Although she admits that sex just, well, happens.

“It’s an arrangement, but not prostitution. It’s more for companionship,” she explains. “They want to go out for dinner, or go to a movie. Honestly, we only spend time having sex for an hour, less than that; the rest of the night we’re out for dinner or for a show.”

So it’s kind of like prostitution for people who are really bad at math. Eliot Spitzer’s $1,000 an hour escorts were a downright bargain by comparison if you work out the hourly rate for these sugar babies.

Someone well versed in psychology could probably come up with a really interesting perspective on the sugar baby/sugar daddy relationship.

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3 Hackers Arrested For Running Online Bank Robbing Ring

Three hackers are accused of distributing a virus to over 1 million computers globally for the purpose of stealing bank data and siphoning off money.

Prosecutors unsealed criminal charges against Mihai Ionut Paunescu, Deniss Calovskis and Nikita Kuzmin for allegedly creating and distributing the Gozi virus.

Paunescu, a Romanian citizen, is in custody there; Calovskis, a citizen of Latvia, is in custody in that country; and the Russian Kuzmin is in US custody.

At least 40,000 computers in the United State were infected, including more than 160 belonging to NASA, prosecutors said. Gozi also hit computers in Germany, the UK, Poland, France, Finland, Italy and Turkey. Continue reading

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What Happens When Anyone Can Manufacture A Gun At Home With A 3D Printer?

This issue was touched upon previously in the article Oft Evil Will Shall Evil Mar:

A 3D-printed gun, were it only to fire one shot before melting or failing, is still a gun. After that, the difference is only in what kind of gun it is.

Of course printed guns don’t and won’t constitute the major part of the ideas in such a major and divisive debate as gun control. But that does not obviate the fact that we can print guns. We can do so today, and the ability to do so is only improving. It is very important to note that one need not take a side in the debate to acknowledge this. And it is very important that we acknowledge this now, so that we are not forced to acknowledge it later, when it will be too late to take either side…

Part of the discussion has to be that, government or otherwise, there can be no more control over printed guns than there can be over printed spoons. Regulation or banning of firearms, whether you think the idea is good or bad, will soon be impossible.

A recent article at TechCrunch had the author wetting his pants over the actions of Defense Distributed in posting video and plans for 3D printing a high capacity AR-15 magazine.

The video, which is, unnecessarily, full of snarky vitriol, shows that, on some level, the 3D printed gun isn’t very far off. It also shows that the call for 3D printer legislation could soon overpower the call for freedom. The problem with childish displays of firepower coupled with “How’s that national conversation going?” is that it proves that the folks who are doing this tinkering are less than responsible. They feel that this is a freedom of speech issue rather than a gun control issue. It’s abundantly clear that the lads at Defense Distributed are enjoying their newfound notoriety and, like a boy band on their first tour, they’re ready to trash some hotel rooms.

And (courtesy of AoS) comes a bracing dose of reality:

It’s quite hysterical that a “defender of the freedom to tinker” would blame the tinkerers over the efforts of an authoritarian congressman to put limits on the technology. You can almost read where his “discretion” and “need to self-censor” commentary would have gone. It’s also interesting that the line between exciting technological advancement and dangerous political exploitation just happens to match up perfectly with this preening sissy’s delicate sensibilities.

There’s more goodness at the link, including an interesting video of the guy from Defense Distributed in a Glenn Beck show interview.

Maybe this is a factor in the sudden strong push for new gun control laws, even though those laws do nothing to keep us safer and violate our civil rights.

Michigan teachers union prepares to sue its own members for dues money

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For The Michigan Education Association Union, It’s All About The Money

Union leadership is interested in keeping the money flowing in to union coffers at all costs. The big union bosses make some pretty hefty salaries. Regardless of whether policies implemented hurt the people their members work with (like school kids) or even the members themselves doesn’t matter – so long as the money keeps moving in the right direction.

The Michigan Education Association union has been getting nervous about the potential impact on their bottom line in light of new right to work laws set to come into effect this March.

Steven Cook, president of the Michigan Education Association, circulated an email to local unions officials and staff instructing them to monitor revenue streams in light of the right-to-work laws, which are set to go into effect on March 27, 2013. The law allows workers to opt out of union membership unless they have an existing contract with their employer.

“We will use any legal means at our disposal to collect the dues owed under signed membership forms from any members who withhold dues prior to terminating their membership in August,” Cook wrote.

The tone of the message shocked labor reform activists.

“The level to which the MEA appears to be willing to go after its own members—the same ones whose interest they claim to represent—is amazing,” said Mike Van Beek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center. “When it comes to their revenue, we know where their priorities stand.”

The tide is turning against them and they know it so the unions are willing to do anything to squeeze the last few dollars out of their hustle while they still can.

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