Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The American Dream

Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant

Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant

The California Supreme Court allowed police Monday to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody.

Under U.S. Supreme Court precedents, "this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body ... but also to open and examine what they find," the state court said in a 5-2 ruling.

The majority, led by Justice Ming Chin, relied on decisions in the 1970s by the nation's high court upholding searches of cigarette packages and clothing that officers seized during an arrest and examined later without seeking a warrant from a judge.

The dissenting justices said those rulings shouldn't be extended to modern cell phones that can store huge amounts of data.

Monday's decision allows police "to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee's person," said Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, joined in dissent by Justice Carlos Moreno.

They argued that police should obtain a warrant - by convincing a judge that they will probably find incriminating evidence - before searching a cell phone.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/03/BA5N1H3G12.DTL#ixzz1A8Hd7iov

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Mystery surrounding murder of former Bush aide John Wheeler deepens with clues of his last moves

Mystery surrounding murder of former Bush aide John Wheeler deepens with clues of his last moves

In this 1994 photo, Wheeler touches the name of a friend engraved in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

The mystery of the murdered former Pentagon official found in a Delaware landfill on New Year's Eve deepened on Tuesday as cops zeroed in on his final movements - but failed to locate a crime scene.

John Parsons Wheeler, 66, best known for helping to get the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built in Washington, was last seen publicly the day before his body tumbled into a Wilmington landfill on Friday.

A passerby spotted Wheeler, who lived six miles away in New Castle, Del., at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in downtown Wilmington.

Sometime after that, his body was put into a commercial Dumpster in Newark, Del. - about 12 miles from his home and 15 miles from Wilmington. It fell into the landfill from a truck that picked up trash in Newark on Friday morning.

Police won't say how he died.

* In Harlem, cops - with Wheeler's distraught wife, Katherine Klyce, in tow - searched their W. 124th St. condo Monday night but left empty-handed, according to staff at the luxury building. Klyce, who runs a Cambodian textile business from the ninth-floor apartment, was traveling when her husband went missing.

This is the second time Klyce has been hit by a high-profile murder mystery. Her sister, Emily Klyce Fisher, a wealthy society woman in Memphis, was stabbed 50 times in her home in 1995. The killing was unsolved until 2003, when a TV show led to a friend of Fisher's druggie son.

The family issued a statement asking for privacy.

* At Klyce and Wheeler's New Castle home, reporters saw kitchen floorboards pried up while cops were searching. It wasn't clear who pried them up - or why.

Cops said the house was not the murder scene. "We don't have a crime scene," said Newark Police Lt. Mark Farrall.

* Neighbor Ron Roark told The (Wilmington) News Journal that for four days over Christmas, he heard a TV blaring night and day inside Wheeler's house, even though no one seemed to be home.

"It was so loud, we could hear it through the walls, and we found that strange," Roark told the newspaper.

* Wheeler had an ongoing lawsuit against another neighbor, Frank Marini, who is building a home that would block Wheeler's view.

On Tuesday, Dec. 28, a smoke bomb was thrown into the Marinis' unfinished house. Cops say they don't know if it is connected to Wheeler's murder.

Wheeler, a defense contractor, was special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force from 2005 to 2008.

With Jennifer Cunningham

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/01/04/2011-01-04_mystery_surrounding_murder_of_former_bush_aide_john_wheeler_deepens_with_clues_o.html#ixzz1A7w3WMkV

Pardoned Sex Offender charged again with raping daughter

Pardoned Sex Offender charged again with raping daughter

Jeremy Giefer, 37, of Vernon Center was released on a $350,000 bail yesterday.

Giefer was originally charged in 1993 and convicted in 1994 on charges of statutory rape after having sex with a 14 year old girl. Giefer was 19 years old at the time. Giefer impregnated the girl, and later married her, after serving 45 days in jail for the crime.

Fast forward to 2008, when Giefer sent a petition to representatives asking that he be pardonned of the charges. In his letter, Giefer attempted to separate himself from the average sex-offender by stating that he had a long-term, monogamous relationship with this woman, that he was only four years older than her, and that he had married her and raised a family with her, including the daughter they conceived in 1994.

Giefer further stated that his wife wished to start a daycare business on their property, and this could only be done once his record was clear.

Giefer was pardonned of the charges in 2008 by a panel of three people, including Governor Tim Pawlenty, Attorney General Lori Swanson and former state supreme court justice Eric Magnuson.

New charges were filed against Giefer in 2010. Initially, reports stated only that "a girl," who wished to be anonymous, had filed charges that Giefer had sexually assaulted her more than 250 times from when she was 9 years old to 16 years old, both before and after the pardon.

Now it has come to light that this victim was his own daughter, the same one conceived by the statutory rape in 1994. She is known only by her initials, "C.G." C.G. alleges that Giefer raped her repeatedly, forcing her to engage in various sexual acts, and that these events occurred after her mother left the home with her brother, presumably to work in the daycare which she ran next door. C.G. also states that her father had her put on a the birth- control pill when she was 15.

Giefer has been prohibited from seeing the victim or coming within 100 yards from her. He was recently accused of breaking this condition of his release when he was in a vehicle next to hers at a location where both cars were dropping someone off. Giefer's attorney has stated that this was a mere coincedence, and Geifer did not know that she would be there at the same time he was.

Euro zone inflation accelerates to defy expectations - The Irish Times

Euro zone inflation accelerates to defy expectations


EURO ZONE inflation accelerated faster than expected in December, taking price rises above the European Central Bank (ECB) target for the first time in two years and prompting speculation about when the central bank will need to consider interest rate increases.

Consumer prices in the euro zone rose by 2.2 per cent last month compared to a year earlier, after increasing 1.9 per cent in the year to November, according to the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat. This is the highest rate since October 2008.

The jump can be explained by an 8.6 per cent surge in the price of crude oil in December, which took the annual rise in crude oil prices above 15 per cent.

There has also been recent upward pressure on food prices.

The ECB, which aims to keep annual consumer price rises at or just below 2 per cent, forecast last month that euro zone inflation would average about 1.8 per cent in 2011 and 1.5 per cent in 2012.

Most economists do not expect the above-target rate of inflation to trigger price stability actions, such as interest rate increases, in the near future.

Analysts reported a calm market reaction to the data, pointing to the continued low core rate, which is the inflation rate stripped of price rises in energy, food and other categories.

“The core rate is still very weak at 1 per cent ahead of new data next week,” said Antje Praefcke, senior FX analyst with Commerzbank in Frankfurt. She sees no dramatic change likely in the coming year as long as the euro zone capacity rate remains low and jobless rates steady.

Obama Is Sending Border Officers from DHS--Which Has Failed to Secure U.S.-Mexico Border--to Help Secure Afghan-Pakistan Border | CNSnews.com

Obama Is Sending Border Officers from DHS--Which Has Failed to Secure U.S.-Mexico Border--to Help Secure Afghan-Pakistan Border

Napolitano in Afghanistan

CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which by its own admission has thus far failed to control even half of America's nearly 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico, is now sending personnel to Afghanistan to help that country secure its border with Pakistan.

On a New Year’s visit to Afghanistan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said there are now 25 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CPB) personnel on the ground in Afghanistan. That number could reach 65 or more by the end of 2011, she said.

“We’re going to contribute numbers,” Napolitano said, in explaining her department’s role in helping Afghanistan transition from military to civilian control.

Napolitano said she hoped to leave Afghanistan with an appreciation of what “skill sets” are most needed there – “and to make sure that’s included in the next wave of individuals that we (Department of Homeland Security) send over.”

In July 2002, when the George W. Bush White House released the first national strategy for the Department of Homeland Security, it identified the new agency’s three objectives as preventing terrorist attacks within the United States; reducing America’s vulnerability to terrorism; and minimizing the damage from attacks that do occur.

When asked by CNSNews.com if ICE and CBP personnel have been deployed elsewhere in the world to help secure borders, a DHS spokesperson said that they had, but that security issues prevented the department from providing details on those deployments. Such secrecy apparently does not extend to the deployments of CPB and ICE personnel to Afghanistan, however.

LOSS OF LIBERTY: The Truth About The U.S.S. Liberty

Have scientists discovered how to create downpours in the desert?

Have scientists discovered how to create downpours in the desert?

Dry as dust: The sand dunes of the United Arab Emirates, which sees no rain at all for months. Now a secret project has brought storms to Abu Dhabi

Last updated at 10:22 AM on 3rd January 2011

  • Technology created 50 rainstorms in Abu Dhabi's Al Ain region last year

For centuries people living in the Middle East have dreamed of turning the sandy desert into land fit for growing crops with fresh water on tap.

Now that holy grail is a step closer after scientists employed by the ruler of Abu Dhabi claim to have generated a series of downpours.

Fifty rainstorms were created last year in the state's eastern Al Ain region using technology designed to control the weather.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1343470/Have-scientists-discovered-create-downpours-desert.html#ixzz1A4x6yY8r

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Nudge, nudge, wink wink... How the Government wants to change the way we think - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

Nudge, nudge, wink wink... How the Government wants to change the way we think

Martin Hickman lifts the lid on the secret Whitehall policy unit dreaming up psychological tricks to alter our behaviour

Monday, 3 January 2011

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Shame, vanity, laziness and the desire to fit in are all to be used as tools of Government policy by ministers acting on the advice of a new psychology unit in Whitehall.

The first glimpse into the confidential work of the Cabinet Office's Behavioural Insight Team came on Tuesday when ministers suggested members of the public should be able to make small charitable donations when using cashpoints and their credit cards.

On Friday, the Cabinet Office again followed the unit's advice in proposing that learner drivers be opted in to an organ donation scheme when they apply for a licence, and also floated the idea of creating a lottery to encourage people to take tests to prove they have quit smoking.

These initiatives are examples of the application of mental techniques which, while seemingly paradoxical to the Coalition's goal of a smaller state, are likely to become a common feature of Government policy.

The public will have "social norms" heavily emphasised to them in an attempt to increase healthy eating, voluntary work and tax gathering. Appeals will be made to "egotism" in a bid to foster individual support for the Big Society, while much greater use will be made of default options to select benevolent outcomes for passive citizens – exemplified by the organ donation scheme.

A clue to the new approach came early in the life of the Coalition Government, in a sentence from its May agreement: "Our Government will be a much smarter one, shunning the bureaucratic levers of the past and finding intelligent ways to encourage, support and enable people to make better choices for themselves," it read.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, established the seven-strong unit in July, since when the Government has declined to divulge all its members and the full extent of its work. However, The Independent has learnt its guiding principles and some of the projects that have used its favoured techniques.

One experiment involved Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) secretly changing the wording of tens of thousands of tax letters, leading to the collection of an extra £200m in income tax.

Other ideas tried elsewhere that have been studied by the unit include reducing recidivism by changing public perception of ex-prisoners, and cutting health costs by encouraging relatives to look after family members in "patient hotels".

The unit draws inspiration from the Chicago University professor Richard H Thaler and his colleague Cass Sunstein, whose book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness is required reading for Conservative frontbenchers.

Professor Thaler, who advises the UK team, suggests that instead of forcing people to behave more virtuously through legislation, governments can guide them in the right direction using psychology. Ministers should become, in his jargon, "choice architects", making virtuous choices more attractive than unvirtuous ones. In his books he quotes the example of automatically opting workers into company pensions to raise the amount saved for old age, which will come into force in the UK in 2012 having been enacted by Labour. Another is from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, where flies were etched on to urinals to give men something to aim at, reducing spillages in the gent's toilets.

Mr Cameron embraced nudge theory two years ago in a speech about "Broken Britain", but has subsequently placed more emphasis on his own idea of the Big Society, where individuals and charities play a much greater role ias the state shrinks.

Britons to spend first five months paying tax - Telegraph

Britons to spend first five months paying tax

Britons to spend first five months paying tax

Tax Freedom Day is the day when Britons begin working for themselves rather than the taxman and falls on May 30 in 2011, compared to May 27 this year, the Adam Smith Institute revealed.

The main reason for the three extra days is the rise in Value Added Tax, which increases from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent on January 4.

Tom Clougherty, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, described Britons as being “desperately overtaxed”.

He said: “As well as hitting every household in the country, the VAT hike is going to dent consumer confidence and put a dampener on our economic recovery.”

He added: “The government is right to give priority to cutting spending and plugging the deficit. But as Tax Freedom Day shows, Britons are still desperately overtaxed. The fact that we spend almost five months working for the State – and only seven months working for ourselves and our families – is a shocking indictment of big, wasteful government.”