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Archive for January, 2013

Opinion: FBI Needs Hackers to Combat Computer Crimes

Wired
Opinion

Just imagine if all the applications and services you saw or heard about at CES last week had to be designed to be “wiretap ready” before they could be offered on the market. Before regular people like you or me could use them.

Yet that’s a real possibility. For the last few years, the FBI’s been warning that its surveillance capabilities are “going dark,” because internet communications technologies — including devices that connect to the internet — are getting too difficult to intercept with current law enforcement tools. So the FBI wants a more wiretap-friendly internet, and legislation to mandate it will likely be proposed this year.

But a better way to protect privacy and security on the internet may be for the FBI to get better at breaking into computers.

Whoa, what? Let us explain.

To reach more click here.

New Federal Law to Help Police Collect DNA of Suspects Upon Arrest

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new federal bill will help some states begin collecting DNA from suspects upon arrest, the Associated Press reports.

The money, which will be awarded to select states who apply for a share of the $10 million grants, would be used as start-up funds, the AP wrote.

Perhaps no one more than Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pledged to begin collecting DNA on arrested suspects.

Walker planned to spend $7.2 million on the effort, which would include collecting DNA from anyone arrested for a felony and certain sex offenses. Adults would be subject to DNA collection for an arrest on misdemeanors, the AP writer.

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Could it Be Moderate Lead Exposure is a Primary Cause of Crime? Maybe

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Perhaps you, like me, have blithely assumed declining crime rates are due to some wonderfully fortunate combination of social factors.

Not so, says Kevin Drum in a fascinating, recent article in Mother Jones. Citing dozens of crime causality studies, he makes a provocative and convincing case that a generation of children’s exposure to lead has spiked violent crime far more than any other social factors.

The quadrupling of lead emissions into the atmosphere by leaded gasoline in the mid-20th century was followed, 20 years later, by a startlingly similar increase in the crime rate in the ‘60s through the ‘80s. Likewise, when the former declined after the Clean Air Act removed lead from gasoline, so did the latter in a statistical curve suggesting strong correlation, if not causation. Studies in other countries seem to reaffirm this hypothesis.

And Drum asserts that the remaining detritus of lead in the soil and the environment will continue to influence the crime rate until radical and expensive action is taken to remove it. These expenditures, however, will be more than offset by a multi-fold financial benefit in lower health and crime costs, he believes.

Much of the heavy lifting on this issue has been done by Amherst College Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes who compared Massachusetts kids’ 1990 lead exposure with their 2000 test scores and behavior problem records. She found even moderately elevated blood lead levels could be responsible for increased adult aggressiveness and violent criminal behavior. Reyes hypothesizes that it may also cause a tendency toward impulsive behavior, ADHD, substance abuse and a host of other social ills.

Unlike most of her colleagues, Professor Reyes writes with a minimum of unexplained geek-speak that is clear enough for even federal pensioners to understand.

Ah, when I think of all the times my case agents and I worked into the night on evidence when all we really needed was a simple blood test to present in court. All kidding aside, though, I would not be surprised if some imaginative defense attorney used high-lead blood levels as defense in a criminal trial — no doubt more plausible than Twinkies, particularly in the sentencing phase of a capital trial.

Drum’s article has stirred up a you-know-what storm of debate among economists and statisticians regarding the methodological validity of the studies he relied upon. An even more contentious wrangling has ensued in response to his clarion call for the U.S. to spend $400 billion in the next two decades to eliminate lead from the environment.

This storm of articles, blogs and essays tosses about terminology such as meta-analysis, regression methods and cohort studies and has generated a feeding frenzy in the many fields involved — neurologists, economists, statisticians, and public health experts. The flurry of debate over the fine points of statistical method and points far finer still seems to obscure the common sense reaction to Drum’s article and Professor Reyes’ studies to the point of immobilizing appropriate response.

Amid the semantic sorties, however, there has not been a single comment by the profession whose job it is to protect the public from crime — law enforcement. Not only are we are not on the sidelines in this contest, we aren’t even in the stadium.

Perhaps we are down the street in some sports bar casually watching others toss this ball around.

Maybe the lead/crime correlation is not causation. Maybe the decline in crime is permanent. Personally, I doubt both propositions. The studies on the effects of even low levels of lead exposure on kids’ sensitive brains seem convincing enough to justify a much higher priority for researching the issue.

Crime and the causes of crime will continue to be a defining issue in this country for generations to come and the lead/crime debate demands more than scientific research alone can deliver. We must broaden the discussion to include a larger perspective, especially from law enforcement leaders.

Why shouldn’t a Presidential commission be convened with representatives from a wide range of disciplines to take a comprehensive and meaningful look at the relationship between the present lead levels in the environment and future criminal activity?

The issue is too important for law enforcement to take a sideline seat, watching while scientists and statisticians parse it to death. Law enforcement needs to assume a leadership role in analyzing and coordinating the views of other disciplines, injecting a healthy dose of real world common sense into the debate.

Perhaps we can make the issue so understandable it can even be understood by moronic politicians. After all, the prevention of crime is our bailiwick — and our responsibility.

 

Column: Could it Be Moderate Lead Exposure is a Primary Cause of Crime? Maybe

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Perhaps you, like me, have blithely assumed declining crime rates are due to some wonderfully fortunate combination of social factors.

Not so, says Kevin Drum in a fascinating, recent article in Mother Jones. Citing dozens of crime causality studies, he makes a provocative and convincing case that a generation of children’s exposure to lead has spiked violent crime far more than any other social factors.

The quadrupling of lead emissions into the atmosphere by leaded gasoline in the mid-20th century was followed, 20 years later, by a startlingly similar increase in the crime rate in the ‘60s through the ‘80s. Likewise, when the former declined after the Clean Air Act removed lead from gasoline, so did the latter in a statistical curve suggesting strong correlation, if not causation. Studies in other countries seem to reaffirm this hypothesis.

And Drum asserts that the remaining detritus of lead in the soil and the environment will continue to influence the crime rate until radical and expensive action is taken to remove it. These expenditures, however, will be more than offset by a multi-fold financial benefit in lower health and crime costs, he believes.

Much of the heavy lifting on this issue has been done by Amherst College Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes who compared Massachusetts kids’ 1990 lead exposure with their 2000 test scores and behavior problem records. She found even moderately elevated blood lead levels could be responsible for increased adult aggressiveness and violent criminal behavior. Reyes hypothesizes that it may also cause a tendency toward impulsive behavior, ADHD, substance abuse and a host of other social ills.

Unlike most of her colleagues, Professor Reyes writes with a minimum of unexplained geek-speak that is clear enough for even federal pensioners to understand.

Read more »

Human Trafficking, Forced Labor, Physical Abuse? FBI Investigated Scientology for 3 years

 Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI conducted a secret investigation into Scientology from 2009-11 – and the findings were troubling.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the FBI turned up accusations of human trafficking, forced labor and physical abuse.

Scientology leaders denied knowing of an investigation, which has been dismissed without charges.

Church whistleblower Mike Rinder, who was an the FBI confidential informant, has alleged that he was physically assaulted about 50 times and was forced into confinement.

Why no charges?

The FBI wouldn’t comment, but Rinder blames the Constitution for extending too much protection to religious institutions.

“To me, it’s like trying to have an argument about whether segregation in 1960 was legal,” he told the Times. “Yeah, it was legal. . . . Was it moral? No.”

Prosecutors Begin Presenting Evidence in Portland Bombing Case

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 Prosecutors in the case against a former college student accused of trying to detonate a bomb near Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland will begin presenting evidence in the case today, KOIN Local 6 reports.

During open arguments Friday, the prosecution painted Mohamed Mohamud as a calculating jihadist intent on killing as many people as possible with what he thought was an 1,800-pound bomb packed into a van in November 2010, KOIN reported.

His attorney, Steve Sady, says Mohamud was entrapped by an undercover FBI agent who provided the fake bomb.

“It’s a matter of going too far,” Sady said during open arguments Friday.

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Detroit Mobster Tony Zerilli Claims He Has Info On Jimmy Hoffa’s Whereabouts

Tony Zerilli/ from WDIV video

 
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

For decades now we’ve heard of endless tips about the whereabouts of Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, who vanished in 1975: a stadium, a freeway, an incinerator. And most recently, a driveway in Roseville.

Now comes the latest.

WDIV aired an exclusive interview Sunday night with the Tony Zerilli, 85, described in the past as the Detroit Mafia’s underboss.

Zerilli claims he knows what happened to Hoffa and where he’s buried: About 30 miles away from the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills where he was abducted on July 30, 1975.

 For more click here.