Monthly Archives: October 2018

Robotic Security Forces On Patrol In NYC Prompt Privacy Concerns For Some

newyork.cbslocal.com
October 16, 2018 at 6:49 pm

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The security force of the future is already patrolling several neighborhoods in the Tri-State Area.

The robotic protectors can see what you’re doing and even talk back to you, but the machines created by a New Yorker have prompted serious privacy concerns, CBS2’s Clark Fouraker reported Tuesday.

One of the models, named “Rosie,” uses the same technology as a self-driving car to patrol the sidewalks at the Lefrak City Apartments in Queens.

“This is a crazy combination of artificial intelligence, self-driving autonomous technology, robotics, and analytics in something that’s actually useful for society,” said Knightscope CEO William Santana Li.

rosie-the-robot-on-patrol

Rosie the robot on patrol in the Lefrak City Apartments in Queens. (credit: CBS2)

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Li’s company has built three robot models in the United States, and is introducing them to customers inside a new showroom at 47th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

They’re also deployed at LaGuardia Airport.

“I thought it was pretty cool, but I didn’t even know what it really was,” Connie Ruan said. “I thought it was just patrolling around.”

Each robot has five cameras, four of which help the robot see things. The other is used to get thermal imaging data. All of the information gathered goes to an internet-based portal that helps local security forces on the ground.

“The law enforcement apparatus is not going to scale,” Li said. “You can’t keep adding more people, and we’re going to add more people and more officers. It’s not going to happen. Society literally can’t afford this.”

The robots are able to observe people walking on the sidewalks, record license plate numbers, detect the heat in objects, and see which cellphone serial numbers are within a designated patrolling area.

Knightscope said the data is secured and is only seen by the security agency controlling the robot. They’re able to stop it and tell it what to look for, but it doesn’t have a joystick that would allow it to follow or target a specific person.

Of course, privacy concerns abound.

“In the wrong hands, people could like… reboot it or something,” said Far Rockaway resident Jose Rodriguez.

Li grew up in Queens and said the 9/11 attacks began his thinking about how to improve security across the country.

“I’m really still upset about it, so I’m dedicating our lives to improving the safety of our country,” he said.

The company said it costs between $6 and $12 an hour for a new robot to hit the streets. They’re currently deployed in 16 states to come alongside local security teams to help reduce crime.

Video: Painting of Jesus Survives Massive Church Fire Unscathed

CoastToCoastAm.com

October 25, 2018
By Tim Binnall

Workers cleaning up debris from an enormous fire which destroyed a 150-year-old church in Massachusetts were amazed to find a painting of Jesus that had survived the blaze unscathed. The artwork had reportedly hung in the foyer of the First Baptist Church in the city of Wakefield. Following a lightning strike that hit the church’s towering steeple on Tuesday evening, the building quickly went up in flames and was reduced to rubble by the time the seven-alarm fire had finally been extinguished.

Yet out of the tragedy came a sign of hope for parishioners by way of the Jesus painting which somehow managed to make it through the fire without any damage. One church member told a local TV station that the painting’s miraculous survival is “a reminder that Jesus is with us” and that “even though our church building is gone, our church is here.” The painting will reportedly be given to a former pastor at the church, although one hopes that it will someday hang in the rebuilt building someday.

Remarkably, this is not the first time that such a potential ‘sign from above’ was found following a fire. Earlier this year, a trio of religious icons survived an inferno which destroyed a church in Serbia. And, back in December of 2016, a charred but intact statue of Jesus was discovered among the wreckage of a home after a wildfire devastated a town in Tennessee.

Bizarre Story: Anti-Masonic Party Leader William Wirt’s Skull Stolen.

Anti-Masonic Movement

UNITED STATES HISTORY

Anti-Masonic Movement, in the history of the United States, popular movement based on public indignation at and suspicion of the secret fraternal order known as the Masons, or Freemasons. Opponents of this society seized upon the uproar to create the Anti-Masonic Party. It was the first American third party, the first political party to hold a national nominating convention, and the first to offer the electorate a platform of party principles.

The movement was ignited in 1826 by the mysterious disappearance of William Morgan, a bricklayer in western New York who supposedly had broken his vow of secrecy as a Freemason by preparing a book revealing the organization’s secrets. When no trace of Morgan could be discovered, rumours of his murder at the hands of Masons swept through New York and then into New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.

As Anti-Masonic candidates proved successful in state and local elections, politicians saw the issue’s vote-catching possibilities. Anti-Masonic newspapers flourished in the heated political atmosphere. In September 1831, the Anti-Masonic Party held a national convention in Baltimore, Md., nominated William Wirt for president, and announced a party platform condemning Masonry for its secrecy, exclusivity, and undemocratic character.

Wirt won only the state of Vermont (seven electoral votes) in the 1832 election, and the party went into decline after that. By the late 1830s much of its reform impulse had been taken over by antislavery agitation, and most of its politicians had joined the newly formed Whig Party.

Forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley and the mystery skull turned over to him by D.C. Council member Jim Graham. (Gerald Martineau — The Washington Post)
Photo From Library Of Congress Of William Wirt

By Peter Carlson

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 20, 2005When the stone was pulled off the tomb, Douglas Owsley peered down into the burial vault. He could see rotted coffins that had been dragged off a shelf and bones strewn around the floor.”It’s a mess,” he said. Then he climbed down into the grave.

Owsley is a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian, a bone expert so famous that he is regularly summoned to inspect bodies from Guatemala to Croatia to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex.

Yesterday he drove to Congressional Cemetery in Southeast Washington and climbed into the family crypt of William Wirt, who was U.S. attorney general from 1817 to 1829, the presidential candidate of the Anti-Masonic Party in 1832, and a prosecutor in Aaron Burr’s treason trial. Owsley was hoping to determine whether a skull that had been sitting on a shelf in D.C. Council member Jim Graham’s office for a year and half is Wirt’s stolen head.

Down in the burial vault, where Wirt and seven relatives were laid to rest, Owsley, 54, hung a lantern on a root that crept through the crypt. He looked around. The lead liners of long-rotted coffins littered the floor, along with the bones they once held. Other coffins sat on three shelves in various stages of decay.

“There is evidence of vandalism,” Owsley said. “The three coffins on the lower shelf have been pulled off the shelf. On this lower shelf there’s a coffin pulled halfway out.”

He studied the bones in that coffin for a few moments.

“That’s a female,” he said.

* * *

The mystery of the missing skull is a macabre tale that includes grave-robbing, an eccentric collector, a Washington politician, a former attorney general and a mysterious skull sitting in an old tin box.

It all began around Christmas of 2003, when Bill Fecke, then manager of Washington’s Congressional Cemetery, got a phone call from a man who wouldn’t identify himself.

“What do you know about William Wirt’s skull?” the mysterious caller asked.

 

Designer Babies Aren’t Futuristic.They’re Already Here.

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Are we designing inequality into our genes?

technologyreview.com
by Laura Hercher
October 22, 2018

At first, Matthew assumed the weakness in his knee was the sort of orthopedic nuisance that happens when you turn 30. It was weeks before he consulted a doctor, and months before it occurred to him that there could be a connection between his worsening limp and a cousin’s shoulder problem when they were kids. DNA testing confirmed it: Matthew, like his cousin, had a genetic form of dystonia, a condition where muscles contract uncontrollably. Their grandfather most likely had dystonia as well.

I’d met Matthew only a few months earlier, when he’d married my friend’s daughter, Olivia, in one of those hip old New York hotels with an elegant downtown vibe. Since I was the only genetic counselor of their acquaintance, they brought their questions to me. With their permission, I am sharing their story. I have changed their names to preserve their privacy.

Matthew was lucky. His was a mild version of DYT1 dystonia, and injections of Botox in his knee helped. But the genetic mutation can cause severe symptoms: contractures in joints or deformities in the spine. Many patients are put on psychoactive medications, and some require surgery for deep brain stimulation.

Their kids, Matthew and Olivia were told, might not be as lucky. They would have a 50–50 chance of inheriting the gene variant that causes dystonia and, if they did, a 30% chance of developing the disease. The risk of a severely affected child was fairly small, but not insignificant.

My friends learned there was an alternative. They could undergo in vitro fertilization and have their embryos genetically tested while still in a laboratory dish. Using a technology called pre-implantation genetic testing, they could pick the embryos that had not inherited the DYT1 mutation.

It would be expensive—costs for IVF in the US average over $20,000 for each try, and testing can add $10,000 or more. And it would require an unpleasant two-week process of ovarian stimulation and egg harvesting. “It wasn’t the way I saw myself making a baby,” Olivia told me. But they wanted what the procedure could offer them: a guarantee that dystonia was eliminated for the next generation, and beyond.

Watch: Jenna Bush-Hager Recalls Spooky White House Experience

Coasttocoastam.com
October 15, 2018
By Tim Binnall

During a discussion about ghosts on the Today Show, former first daughter Jenna Bush-Hager recounted an eerie experience that she and her sister had while living in the White House. She revealed the story to co-host Hoda Kotb during Monday morning’s broadcast as they were talking about the various ways which people may encounter spirits. Expressing certainty that there is “something bigger” on the ‘other side,’ Hager offered up a pretty compelling reason for why she believes that to be the case.

She recalled a specific episode that occurred during the eight years in which she and her twin sister Barbara lived in the White House while her father, George W. Bush, was president. According to Hager, the two first daughters shared a room at the historic home during that time and, one night, they were roused from their sleep when her phone inexplicably rang. Then, she marveled, “all of a sudden, we started hearing 1920’s piano music, clear as day, coming out of the fireplace.”

The haunted happenings did not stop there, Hager said, as the same thing unfolded a week later, except this time it was opera music. Although she and her sister “talked ourselves out of” the possibility that they had some kind of ghostly experience, a conversation with a longtime worker at the White House seemingly confirmed their fears. After incredulously telling him the story about the spooky music that she and her sister had heard, he replied, “oh, Jenna, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve heard.”

Ghost Child Appears In Ohio Truck?

coasttocoastam.com

October 09, 2018

 

A teenager in Ohio suspects that his truck may be haunted after he snapped a photo of the vehicle and noticed what appears to be the ghost of a child sitting in the front seat. An aspiring nature photographer, Troy Vance told a British media outlet that the eerie image was initially intended to just be a picture of a sunset which he found particularly breathtaking. However, when he later looked at the photo, Vance was stunned to see a spooky visage staring out from the inside of the truck.

As to who the spirit may be, Vance noted that the truck was parked in front of a lake where local lore says that a child drowned back in the early 1900’s. This has led him to conclude that the apparition could have been that unfortunate youngster. Intrigued by the possibility, Vance actually went so far as to perform a ghost hunt, of sorts, inside the vehicle using a spirit box.

According to him, the impromptu paranormal investigation resulted in a number of strange happenings, such as the sudden emergence of an inexplicable perfume smell, odd shadows moving across the truck’s window, and an unexplained thud as if something had hit the vehicle. Skeptics, of course, will say that the face photographed by Vance is merely a case of pareidolia and that the supernatural events he experienced during the ‘ghost hunt’ were simply his imagination playing tricks on him.