June 30th, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Dean Praetorius & Lee Speigel
While many of these types of UFO videos can often be easily written off, the emergence of two separate recordings of the same event could give you pause.
Even more incredible is just how similar they seem. Both videos show a group of three white discs floating over the city, namely over the BBC building and Tower Bridge.
Both were taken late last week, and in one of the videos you can see at least a few people looking up at the objects, adding some credibility to the cameraman.
Whether or not there’s a better explanation is a matter of opinion at this point.
Last October, many New Yorkers were astonished to witness several alleged UFOs maneuvering in the sky above the Chelsea section of Manhattan – in the middle of the afternoon.
While the FAA received many reports about the strange objects and radar returns couldn’t explain the UFOs away, it turned out that they may have simply been a bunch of balloons that had been intended for a party north of the city. The balloons reportedly got away from the party, and were carried along by air currents that eventually brought them to the Big Apple.
Could this also explain the London UFOs? Or is it a Photoshop hoax depicting alien-type vehicles in the sky?
Scroll down to vote on whether you think these are really UFOs, or if you think they can be explained away.
June 30th, 2011
By: Jesse Solomon
Prosecutors dismissed a charge Monday against a community activist who was arrested while filming a police encounter with her iPod camera because she was concerned it was initiated by racial profiling.
“I’m feeling vindicated, I’m feeling energetic” Emily Good, 28, of Rochester, New York, said of the decision to have the charge dropped.
Good had been charged with obstruction of governmental administration when she began videotaping the interrogation of a black man by three white officers in front of her house on May 12, she said.
“Based upon the evidence, we could not make out the elements of the crime charged,” Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Sandra Doorley said.
Good said she intends to file a civil suit.
In a joint statement, Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards, City Council President Lovely A. Warren and Police Chief James Sheppard commended the decision to drop the charges against Good and said an internal review is being conducted into the incident.
“Police officers must be able to cope with a high degree of stress while performing oftentimes dangerous duties, relying on their training and experience to guide their behavior,” the statement said. “We want to make clear that it is not the policy or practice of the Rochester Police Department to prevent citizens from observing its activities — including photographing or videotaping — as long as it does not interfere with the safe conduct of those activities,” the statement said.
Additionally, the statement said an internal review would be conducted into a separate incident in which tickets were given “for parking violations of vehicles belonging to members of an organization associated with Ms. Good.”
According to Good, the statement refers to an episode on June 23, when police carrying rulers showed up outside a meeting at a community center supporting her and began issuing tickets to cars parked more than 12 inches from the curb.
Both incidents “raise issues with respect to the conduct of Rochester police officers that require an internal review,” the statement said.
In the May 12 video, provided to CNN, Good can be heard telling officers “this is my front yard. I’m just recording what you’re doing, it’s my right.”
One of the three officers responds by telling Good, “I don’t feel safe with you standing behind me, so I’m going to ask you to go into your house.”
Though the officer repeatedly orders Good to return to her house, she refuses.
“It’s my right to be in my yard and I’m sorry you don’t feel safe. All I have is a camera. … I have no weapons,” Good says on the recording.
About two minutes into the video, a police officer can be heard saying, “You know what, you’re going to go to jail,” and then proceeds to arrest Good.
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September 13, 2010
by Thomas Frank
The Homeland Security Department plans to test futuristic iris scan technology that stores digital images of people’s eyes in a database and is considered a quicker alternative to fingerprints.
The department will run a two-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants, said Arun Vemury, program manager at the department’s Science and Technology branch.
“The test will help us determine how viable this is for potential (department) use in the future,” Vemury said.
Iris scanners are little used, but a new generation of cameras that capture images from 6 feet away instead of a few inches has sparked interest from government agencies and financial firms, said Patrick Grother, a National Institute of Standards and Technology computer scientist. The technology also has sparked objections from the American Civil Liberties Union.
ACLU lawyer Christopher Calabrese fears that the cameras could be used covertly. “If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there’s a camera and access to the Internet,” he said.
Iris scans can be quicker than fingerprints. “You can walk up to a wall-mounted box, look at the camera, and that’s it,” Grother said.
Homeland Security will test cameras that take photos from 3 or 4 feet away, including one that works on people as they walk by, Vemury said.
In 2007, the U.S. military began taking iris scans of thousands of Iraqis to track suspected militants. The technology was used in about 20 U.S. airports from 2005 to 2008 to identify passengers in the Registered Traveler program, who could skip to the front of security lines.
Financial companies hope the scans can stop identity fraud, said Jeff Carter of Global Rainmakers, a New York City firm developing the technology. “Iris is going to completely reshape the fraud environment,” he said.
August 30, 2010
by James White
A documentary made by a Norwegian journalist embedded with Taliban fighters has provided a rare glimpse of the other side of the Afghanistan conflict.
The raw footage – captured by Paul Refsdal – shows the Afghan militants attacking U.S. convoys on a road below their mountainous hide-out and celebrating hits with a high-five.
The men also show their softer side to the Norwegian journalist by singing, reciting verses from the Koran and even brushing their long hair as he quietly records their day-to-day activities.
But the venture is far from risk-free as Refsdal reveals during his narration of the 20-minute film entitled Behind Enemy Lines.
At one stage, the small band of mujahaideen come under fire from a fearsome U.S. AC130 gunship – a converted transport plane equipped with powerful machine gun and rockets.
And at the end of the documentary, the journalist explains how in a bid to capture further footage he is kidnapped by a separate group, but is released unharmed six days later.
The film begins with Refsdal saying how he spent seven weeks waiting in Kabul for permission to join Dawran, a commander in the east of the country.
There are tense scenes as he first comes into contact with the group, when fighters cover their faces from the cameraman.
He describes it as the ‘point of no return’ and says: ‘At that point I had to greet them and trust they were not fanatics.
‘The Taliban are fighting tall white men and I am a tall white man with a camera.
‘If the Taliban suspect me of being a spy they will execute me.’
Heavily-armed men are then seen scowling at the camera in tense scenes, but by day two they have settled into their normal routines.
The commander of the group, bearded and long-haired Dawran, is then introduced and shown living in a hand-built clay house with his wife and three young children.
He is seen leading his men in ideological discussions, a prayer session and a talk on tactics before gun fire is heard in the valley below.
A lighter moment is provided by a fighter declaring ‘I put it in the wrong way’ as they load their weapons in preparation for an attack on U.S. vehicles.
May 5, 2010
by Sebastian Smith
New York officials say they could stop attacks like the attempted Times Square car bomb by expanding a controversial surveillance system so sensitive that it will pick up even suspicious behavior.
New York is already a heavily policed city, with 35,000 officers and a counterterrorism bureau — the first of its kind in the country — partnering the FBI.
But Saturday’s failed terrorist bomb in the Times Square tourist hot spot has provided the authorities with a new argument for expanding a sometimes controversial security blanket of cameras, sensors and analytical software.
The system “will greatly enhance our ability and the ability of the police to detect suspicious activity in real time, and disrupt possible attacks,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.
The high-tech system, modeled on the “ring of steel” in London’s financial district, is already in service in lower Manhattan, where Wall Street and the World Trade Center reconstruction site are located.
Headquartered at 55 Broadway, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative goes far beyond the traditional hodgepodge of police cameras, such as the 82 devices installed around Times Square.
Instead, an integrated system maintains an unblinking eye, not just watching, but constantly collecting license plate numbers and video of pedestrians and drivers, as well as detecting explosives and other weapons.
An important component of the program is coordination between the police network and private businesses’ cameras, something that has not been established in Times Square, causing detectives significant extra work.
Also, a separate, but similar program called Operation Sentinel plans to log every vehicle entering Manhattan island by scanning their license plates and checking for radiation.
Last October, Bloomberg announced plans to expand the lower Manhattan system into Midtown, including the Times Square area.
On Sunday, New York police chief Raymond Kelly reiterated the plan and used the occasion to press for more federal funding from Washington.
Kelly also gave details about the system, explaining how the aim is for “analytic software” allowing experts to make sense of raw information in real time.
For example, alarms would trigger when cameras noticed an unattended bag or a car circling a block too many times to be considered normal, Kelly said.
“This is a whole new area for us,” he told Fox News. “We’re very enthusiastic about it.”
Bloomberg said the city has budgeted “more than 110 million dollars to expanding the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and incorporating it with the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative.”
That large-scale, yet simultaneously detailed intelligence gathering clearly pays in some terrorism investigations.
Officials point out that acquiring the ingredients for a bomb or weapons exposes plotters to precisely the kind of surveillance New York is promoting.
Kelly noted on Fox News that Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi found it “very difficult to get explosives” for his plan to bomb the New York subway system. A major piece of evidence against him was security camera footage of a shopping trip for chemicals in Colorado.
Similarly, although the Times Square bomber tried to disguise the car, it was still quickly traced, providing detectives with an important lead.
But while law enforcement officials tout a brave new world of security, rights groups fear a “big brother” presence violating fundamental privacy.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued the Department of Homeland Security in an attempt to extract more information about the Manhattan security system and to
know how the information will be used, shared and stored.
The irony is that the lowest tech responses can sometimes best the most sophisticated gizmo.
The misfiring of a device hidden in the underpants of a Nigerian passenger and the quick reaction by others on the US-bound flight prevented potential tragedy in a December 25 attempted airliner attack.
And in Times Square, a vigilant street vendor and nearby beat cop — not a computer — raised the alert on the suspicious vehicle.
“Think about the street vendor. Think about the passengers on the flight on Christmas Day,” said Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra.
“All of these people perhaps were the difference between a major disaster and actually what happened: a failed terrorist attack.”
April 20, 2010
by Richard Savill
The cameras, which combine number plate reading technology with a global positioning satellite receiver, are similar to those used in roadworks.
The AA said it believed the new system could cover a network of streets as opposed to a straight line, and was “probably geared up to zones in residential areas.”
The Home Office is testing the cameras at two sites, one in Southwark, London, and the other A374 between Antony and Torpoint in Cornwall.
The `SpeedSpike’ system, which calculates average speed between any two points in the network, has been developed by PIPS Technology Ltd, an American-owned company with a base in Hampshire.
Details of the trials are contained in a House of Commons report. The company said in its evidence that the cameras enabled “number plate capture in all weather conditions, 24 hours a day”. It also referred to the system’s “low cost” and ease of installation.
The system could be used for “main road enforcement for congestion reduction and speed enforcement”, and could help to “eliminate rat-runs” and cut speeds outside schools, it added. It could also reduce the need for speed humps.
The development of speed cameras has raised concerns about expanding state surveillance.
The Home Office said it was unable to comment on the trials because of “commercial confidentiality”.
The AA said it would watch the system “carefully” but it did not believe there was anything sinister. “It is a natural evolution of the technology that is out there,” a spokesman said.
January 26, 2010
by Matt Walker
The world’s first film shot entirely by chimpanzees is to be broadcast by the BBC as part of a natural history documentary.
The apes created the movie using a specially designed chimp-proof camera given to them by primatologists.
The film-making exercise is part of a scientific study into how chimpanzees perceive the world and each other.
It will be screened within the Natural World programme “Chimpcam” shown on BBC Two at 2000GMT on Wednesday 27 January.
Making the movie was the brainchild of primatologist Ms Betsy Herrelko, who is studying for a PhD in primate behaviour at the University of Stirling, UK.
Over 18 months, she introduced video technology to a group of 11 chimpanzees living in a newly built enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, UK.
The enclosure, which contains three large interlinked outdoor arenas, as well as a series of smaller rooms in which the apes can be studied by researchers, is the largest of its kind in the world.
Despite the fact that the chimps had never taken part in a research project before, they soon displayed an interest in film-making.
Ms Herrelko set the chimps two challenges.
The first was to teach the chimps how to use a touchscreen to select different videos.
By doing so, Ms Herrelko could investigate which types of images chimps prefer to watch.
The second challenge was to give the apes a “Chimpcam”, a recording camera housed in a chimp-proof box.
On top of the box was a video screen that showed live images of whatever the camera was pointing at.
Initially, the chimps were more interested in each other than the video technology, as two male chimps within the study group vied to become the alpha male, disrupting the experiment.
But over time, some of the chimps learned how to select different videos to watch.
For example, the chimps could use a touchscreen to decide whether to watch footage of their outside enclosure, or the food preparation room, where zoo staff prepare the chimps’ meals.
The results still have to be analysed in detail, but it seems the chimps did not prefer to watch any of these images over the others.
Ms Herrelko is not sure why, but it could be that the images shown were too familiar to the chimps or because they have no way of asking to see something different.
Then in the final the final stage of her work, she investigated what happened when she gave the Chimpcam to the whole group.