Police charged Down’s syndrome boy with mental age of five

When two police officers came to interview Jamie Bauld, a polite, friendly Down’s syndrome boy with a mental age of about 5, he welcomed them with a big smile and a handshake. As the officers read him his rights and charged him with assault and racial abuse, he agreed with everything they said, then thanked them for coming to see him.

Yesterday Jamie’s parents told The Times that they had been through a seven-month ordeal with the Scottish legal system over what they described as a minor fracas between two youngsters with learning difficulties.

Jamie, 18, cannot tie his shoelaces or leave home on his own, nor can he understand simple verbal concepts such as whether a door is open or shut. But his parents said that he was charged with attacking a fellow student, an Asian girl who also had special needs.

Jamie’s parents described as “utterly ridiculous” the actions of the authorities in bringing adult charges against their son, who they said was not only innocent, but unable to comprehend why he had been in trouble.

They believe that he was a victim of the zero-tolerance policy on racism under which police have to respond to any complaint, however minor.

Experts in Down’s syndrome say that the case shows insensitivity and is an example of bureaucracy gone mad.

Read morePolice charged Down’s syndrome boy with mental age of five

Jacqui Smith announces 300 new terror police

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, today announced an extra 300 police officers to fight terrorism and radicalisation within communities.


At the weekend Jacqui Smith warned that as many as 30 active plots against the UK were now being investigated

Miss Smith said that the new officers work to prevent young people being drawn into extremism.

The threat to Britain was “serious and growing” and, despite a series of successful raids and convictions, we cannot simply “arrest our way out” of the problem, she said.

Read moreJacqui Smith announces 300 new terror police

Chertoff Says Fingerprints Aren’t ‘Personal Data’

Our guest blogger, Peter Swire, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and served as the Clinton Administration’s Chief Counselor for Privacy.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has badly stumbled in discussing the Bush administration’s push to create stricter identity systems. Chertoff was recently in Canada discussing, among other topics, the so-called “Server in the Sky” program to share fingerprint databases among the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia.

In a recent briefing with Canadian press (which has yet to be picked up in the U.S.), Chertoff made the startling statement that fingerprints are “not particularly private”:

QUESTION: Some are raising that the privacy aspects of this thing, you know, sharing of that kind of data, very personal data, among four countries is quite a scary thing.

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: Well, first of all, a fingerprint is hardly personal data because you leave it on glasses and silverware and articles all over the world, they’re like footprints. They’re not particularly private.

Many of us should rightfully be surprised that our fingerprints aren’t considered “personal data” by the head of DHS. Even more importantly, DHS itself disagrees. In its definition of “personally identifiable information” — the information that triggers a Privacy Impact Assessment when used by government — the Department specifically lists: “biometric identifiers (e.g., fingerprints).”

Chertoff’s comments have drawn sharp criticism from Jennifer Stoddart, the Canadian official in charge of privacy issues. “Fingerprints constitute extremely personal information for which there is clearly a high expectation of privacy,” Stoddart said.

There are compelling reasons to treat fingerprints as “extremely personal information.” The strongest reason is that fingerprints, if not used carefully, will become the biggest source of identity theft. Fingerprints shared in databases all over the world won’t stay secret for long, and identity thieves will take advantage.

A quick web search on “fake fingerprints” turns up cheap and easy methods for do-it-at-home fake fingerprints. As discussed by noted security expert Bruce Schneier, one technique is available for under $10. It was tried “against eleven commercially available fingerprint biometric systems, and was able to reliably fool all of them.” Secretary Chertoff either doesn’t know about these clear results or chooses to ignore them. He said in Canada: “It’s very difficult to fake a fingerprint.”

Chertoff’s argument about leaving fingerprints lying around on “glasses and silverware” is also beside the point. Today, we leave our Social Security numbers lying around with every employer and numerous others. Yet the fact that SSNs (or fingerprints) are widely known exposes us to risk.

There have been numerous questions raised about how this Administration is treating our personal information. Secretary Chertoff’s comments show a new reason to worry — they don’t think it’s “personal” at all.

Peter Swire

Source: thinkprogress.org

Obama, Clinton pledge to defend Israel against Iran


At the debate, Barack Obama (R) said: “An (Iranian) attack on Israel is an attack
on our strongest ally in the region, one whose security we consider paramount. “

PHILADELPHIA (AFP)—The Democratic White House hopefuls vowed Wednesday to defend Israel against any Iranian attack but differed on how to engage the Islamic republic over its nuclear ambitions.

At a televised debate ahead of next Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable.

Both called for diplomacy but Obama went further in renewing a promise of “direct talks” at a leaders’ level with Tehran, along with other US foes.

Iran should be presented with “carrots and sticks,” the Illinois senator said, while stressing “they should also know that I will take no options off the table when it comes to preventing them from using nuclear weapons or obtaining nuclear weapons.”

“We cannot permit Iran to become a nuclear weapons power,” Clinton said, ruling out any summit talks and condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for raising doubts about who really carried out the September 11 attacks of 2001.

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Vitamins A, C and E Increase Mortality! (and other nonsense from the realm of junk science)

(NaturalNews) The latest attack on vitamins A, C, E, selenium and beta-carotene comes from the Cochrane Library, a widely-read source of information on conventional health matters. In the paper published yesterday, these antioxidants were linked with a higher risk of mortality (“they’ll kill you!”), and now serious-sounding scientists have warned consumers away from taking vitamins altogether. But with all the benefits of antioxidants already well known to the well-informed, how did the Cochrane Library arrive at such a conclusion? It’s easy: The researchers considered 452 studies on these vitamins, and they threw out the 405 studies where nobody died! That left just 47 studies where subjects died from various causes (one study was conducted on terminal heart patients, for example). From this hand-picked selection of studies, these researchers concluded that antioxidants increase mortality.

Just in case the magnitude of the scientific fraud taking place here has not yet become apparent, let me repeat what happened: These scientists claimed to be studying the effects of vitamins on mortality, right? They were conducting a meta-analysis based on reviewing established studies. But instead of conducting an honest review of all the studies, they arbitrarily decided to eliminate all studies in which vitamins prevented mortality and kept people alive! They did this by “excluding all studies in which no participants died.” What was left to review? Only the studies in which people died from various causes.

Brilliant, huh? This sort of bass-ackward science would earn any teenager an “F” in high school science class. But apparently it’s good enough for the Cochrane Library, not to mention all the mainstream press outlets that are now repeating these silly conclusions as scientific fact.

Read moreVitamins A, C and E Increase Mortality! (and other nonsense from the realm of junk science)

Bailing Out Banks – Congressman Ron Paul

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about the Federal Reserve and the actions it has taken over the past few months. Many media pundits have been bending over backwards to praise the Fed for supposedly restoring stability to the market. This interpretation of the Fed’s actions couldn’t be further from the truth.

The current market crisis began because of Federal Reserve monetary policy during the early 2000s in which the Fed lowered the interest rate to a below-market rate. The artificially low rates led to overinvestment in housing and other malinvestments. When the first indications of market trouble began back in August of 2007, instead of holding back and allowing bad decision-makers to suffer the consequences of their actions, the Federal Reserve took aggressive, inflationary action to ensure that large Wall Street firms would not lose money. It began by lowering the discount rates, the rates of interest charged to banks who borrow directly from the Fed, and lengthening the terms of such loans. This eliminated much of the stigma from discount window borrowing and enabled troubled banks to come to the Fed directly for funding, pay only a slightly higher interest rate but also secure these loans for a period longer than just overnight.

Read moreBailing Out Banks – Congressman Ron Paul

U.S. to Expand Collection Of Crime Suspects’ DNA

Policy Adds People Arrested but Not Convicted

The U.S. government will soon begin collecting DNA samples from all citizens arrested in connection with any federal crime and from many immigrants detained by federal authorities, adding genetic identifiers from more than 1 million individuals a year to the swiftly growing federal law enforcement DNA database.

The policy will substantially expand the current practice of routinely collecting DNA samples from only those convicted of federal crimes, and it will build on a growing policy among states to collect DNA from many people who are arrested. Thirteen states do so now and turn their data over to the federal government.

The initiative, to be published as a proposed rule in the Federal Register in coming days, reflects a congressional directive that DNA from arrestees be collected to help catch a range of domestic criminals. But it also requires, for the first time, the collection of DNA samples from people other than U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who are detained by U.S. authorities.

Although fingerprints have long been collected for virtually every arrestee, privacy advocates say the new policy expands the DNA database, run by the FBI, beyond its initial aim of storing information on the perpetrators of violent crimes.

They also worry that people could be detained erroneously and swept into the database without cause, and that DNA samples from those who are never convicted of a crime, because of acquittal or a withdrawal of charges, might nonetheless be permanently retained by the FBI.

“Innocent people don’t belong in a so-called criminal database,” said Tania Simoncelli, science adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re crossing a line.”

Read moreU.S. to Expand Collection Of Crime Suspects’ DNA

Vancouver transit riders tasered for not paying fares

VANCOUVER — The country’s only armed transit police have been tasering passengers who try to avoid paying fares.

According to documents provided in response to a Freedom of Information request, police patrolling public transit in the Metro Vancouver area have used tasers 10 times in the past 18 months, including five occasions when victims had been accosted for riding free.

In one incident, a non-paying passenger was tasered after he held onto a railing on the SkyTrain platform and refused to let go.

“After several warnings to the subject to stop resisting arrest and the subject failing to comply with the officers’ commands, the taser was deployed and the subject was taken into control,” said the report provided by TransLink, the region’s transit authority.

An internal review of the incident concluded that the action taken by transit police officers complied with the force’s policy and was within guidelines “set out in the National Use of Force Model,” the report said.

On another occasion, a passenger was tasered when he fled from police who found him without a payment receipt during a “fare blitz.” This time, however, the passenger got away because, as recounted in the report, “the Taser was ineffective due to the subject’s clothing and [he] escaped the custody of the officers.”

Politicians and civil-liberties activists alike decried the use of tasers on individuals who were attempting merely to avoid paying a fine for not buying a ticket to ride.

“I think it’s absolutely uncalled for, absolutely reprehensible, and the police should not be doing that,” federal Liberal public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh said in Ottawa yesterday.

On the face of it, the use of tasers by transit police here is far outside guidelines that say they should be used only if someone is suicidal, violent or about to injure himself or someone else, Mr. Dosanjh said.

Read moreVancouver transit riders tasered for not paying fares