Blog Posts by Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo News

  • New surveillance technology capable of watching you, and you and you too

    It sounds like something out of a paranoid Hollywood thriller. New surveillance technology that can keep tabs on people — lots of people — for hours at a time. 

    This isn't some Michael Bay script, though. The technology is real and, according to an in-depth report by the Washington Post, already being used to solve violent crimes.

    Persistent Surveillance Systems is the organization behind the technology. The company, based in Dayton, Ohio, explained to the Post how it works, as well as some steps the company has taken to assuage privacy concerns.

    It starts with an eye in the sky: A small Cessna plane flying in a two-mile radius, 8,000 to 10,000 feet in the air for hours at a time. The plane is equipped with 12 high-resolution cameras that take photos every second, according to the Post. The cameras can't detect a person's identity (people and vehicles appear as a pixel), but they can track movement over time, which can often lead to an identification and arrest.

    Ross McNutt, president

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  • Biden compares New York's LaGuardia Airport to 'Third World country'

     Vice President Joe Biden, talking about the need to invest in America's infrastructure, compared New York City's LaGuardia Airport to a "Third World country."

    "If I blindfolded someone and took them at 2 o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said, ‘Where do you think you are?’ They’d say, ‘This must be America. It’s a modern airport.’ If I took him blindfolded and took him into LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think 'I must be in some Third World country.' I’m not joking,” Biden said at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, during an event to celebrate Amtrak's debut of its newest train engine.

    He continued, "Why did we lead the world economically for so long? We had the most modern infrastructure in the world."

    While Biden's comments weren't politically correct — the term "Third World" has been out of vogue for some time — he isn't alone in his displeasure with LaGuardia. Travel and Leisure magazine ranked the airport America's worst.

    From Travel and Leisure:

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  • Cop handcuffs on-duty firefighter for not moving truck

    Incident occurred while firefighters were treating crash victims

    Good thing it was caught on camera, or it would be tough to believe: A California Highway Patrol officer put an on-duty Chula Vista firefighter in handcuffs for refusing to move his truck while tending to victims of a car crash.

    As he was being handcuffed on the side of the 805 Freeway near Orange County, the firefighter, 12-year veteran Jacob Gregoire, told reporters who had gathered, "I just want to let you all know he’s arresting me." 

    Later, according to CBS News 8, Gregoire told the arresting officer, whose name has not been released, "It’s unbelievable you guys have to treat us like this. We are trying to help you guys." 

    The officer replied, "We asked you to clear the road, you said ‘No.’ You are being arrested for not moving."

    Gregoire was reportedly detained in the back of a highway patrol car for several minutes before being released. He was not charged.

    Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman told CBS, "To detain one of our firefighters in the middle of an incident is

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  • Human faces can signal just four basic emotions: study

    Forget how you're really feeling, you might look happy, sad, afraid/surprised or angry/disgusted -- that's it

    Human emotions (Thinkstock)

    Turns out our exes were right -- we're even less able to show our emotions than we thought.

    In a newly published study, researchers from the University of Glasgow found that the human face was capable of displaying only four distinct types of emotions. Previously, researchers believed the number to be a whopping six. 

    In the study, which was published in Current Biology, researchers studied the reactions of people who were shown computer-generated facial expressions. The participants were then asked to identify the emotion on display from six choices: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust.

    The researchers found that participants initially reacted similarly to expressions of anger and disgust, which are both signaled with a wrinkled nose. Ditto for surprise and fear, which both feature wide eyes.

    Smithsonian.com explains that "as the expressions developed, though, participants were able to distinguish between them, but only over time, suggesting that differences in

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  • Sandra Fluke to run for California state Senate

    Lawyer and advocate was rumored to be pursuing a congressional seat

     Sandra Fluke, whose advocacy for mandatory insurance coverage of contraception inspired Rush Limbaugh to insinuate she was a "slut," is running for the California state Senate.

    Fluke had been rumored to be pursuing the U.S. congressional seat of retiring Democrat Henry Waxman.

    Fluke announced the change of plans in a statement Tuesday night.

    Via the Los Angeles Times:

    "I am extremely moved by the outpouring of local and national support I have received since I announced that I was considering running for office. My entire career has been devoted to the public interest, whether representing victims of human trafficking or advocating for working families," Fluke said Tuesday night. "I am committed to continuing that fight in Sacramento, working to protect our environment, ensure our access to health care, and create

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  • Hacked in Sochi in minutes: Russian cyberspace full of risks

    In report, NBC News' Richard Engel 'baited the hook' for hackers, who quickly bit

     

    Privacy in all forms is a very rare commodity at the Sochi Olympics, according to a report from NBC News.

    Athletes, journalists and fans are reportedly seeing their cell phones, computers and tablets hacked. The report, by NBC News' Richard Engel, demonstrates how quickly the hackings occur.

    In an experiment conducted with the help of an American computer security expert, Engel created a fake online identity with fake contact lists, phony names and addresses. It's called baiting the hook.

    In Russia, the pair fired up two new laptop computers loaded with Engel's fake profile to see how long it would take hackers to do their business.

    They didn't have to wait long — in less than a minute, Engel received what appeared to be a custom email welcoming him to Sochi and asking him to click on a link for information he might find useful. After clicking, Engel said, his computer was "hijacked."

    It was the same scenario with Engel's cell phone. "Malicious software hijacked our phone before we

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  • An expensive tip: Gratuity leads to job loss for NYC sanitation worker

    Stock photo of garbage bags (Thinkstock)

    A New York City sanitation worker with 24 years on the job was forced out after he was caught accepting a $20 tip, the New York Daily News reports. 

    Lenworth Dixon, 56, was also forced to pay a $1,500 fine, according to the Daily News, which cited a recent ruling from New York City's Conflict of Interest Board. The incident took place in September and involved a "large amount of wood, furniture, and other 'bulk refuse,'" the Daily News reported.

    CBS New York reports that Dixon had earned a salary of $73,000 per year.

    Last year, two workers were forced into retirement after they were caught accepting $5 tips each from a grateful New Yorker. The two men were also fined $2,000 each, according to the New York Times.

    The official site for the New York City Department of Sanitation hosts a rulebook (PDF) that states tips and bribes are big no-nos in the Big Apple.

    Via NYC.gov:

    Collection of residential refuse, recyclables and residential bulk is provided FREE to New York City residents by

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  • Hillary Clinton's Super Bowl tweet draws avalanche of retweets

    Hillary Clinton offered up a rare (and humorous) tweet  during Sunday's Super Bowl.

    The former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate tweeted a joke about the drubbing that Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos were taking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks during the big game.

    The tweet drew over 40,000 retweets (at the time of publish) and was favorited more than 26,000 times. She posted the jab at Fox when the Broncos had yet to score a point.

    Before the game, President Barack Obama sat down for an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly where the two sparred about HealthCare.gov and the IRS scandal from 2013. On those problems, Obama said, "These kind of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them."

    Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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  • New HD footage of Felix Baumgartner's incredible leap to Earth

    If there's one thing we never get tired of watching, it's Felix Baumgartner's 2012 jump to Earth. Newly released HD footage offers another look at the beautiful, yet terrifying experience.

    And really, we're not sure which adjective is more appropriate here. The clip begins with Baumgartner stepping out of his space pod and looking down to the Earth below. "I wish you could see what I can see," he says. "Sometimes, you have to get up really high to understand how small you are."

    And then he leaps. The rapid descent from 24 miles above sea level is captured on HD cameras attached to his helmet. The footage may look familiar, but this version is in HD, making the whole experience more beautiful and, yes, a lot more terrifying. In other words, not for the faint of heart.

    Fair warning: Nausea-inducing spinning at around the 5:15 mark may be enough give some viewers an urge to reach for a wastebasket.

    Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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  • Elementary school takes lunches away from students owing account balances

    File photo of school cafeteria (Thinkstock)

     Maybe Ebenezer Scrooge wasn't such a bad guy after all.

    A group of up to 40 students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City had their lunches taken away and then thrown in the trash due to outstanding balances on their accounts, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.

    Erica Lukes, a parent of one of the students, told the newspaper, "It's despicable. These are young children that shouldn't be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up."

    Lukes' daughter, fifth-grader Sophia Isom, told KSL-TV that a district employee took her lunch away and said, "Go get a milk." Sophia recalled, "I came back and asked, 'What's going on?' Then she handed me an orange. She said, 'You don't have any money in your account, so you can't get lunch.’”

    So, what happened? The Salt Lake City district posted an apology and an explanation on Facebook.

    A "child nutrition manager" had been sent to the school on Monday to investigate the "large number of students who had zero or

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