New Research : Prison time doesn’t actually deter repeat offenders


The American penal system assumes that being imprisoned is bad enough to deter people convicted of a crime from breaking the law again. But there’s new evidence that prison time doesn’t deter future crimes nearly as well as people tend to assume.

That’s the result of a study published Monday in the journal Nature Human Behavior. In it, a team of scientists from across the country analyzed 111,110 felons’ cases and discovered that there was no correlation between having served a prison sentence and committing more crimes later on.

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Denver becomes first U.S. city to decriminalize “Magic Mushrooms”



This week, Denver, CO became the first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin, a compound with hallucinogenic properties that occurs in some mushrooms — a move that could signal new frontiers both in the country’s evolving relationship with mind-altering substances and in the medical community’s accelerating exploration of psychedelics.

“Because psilocybin has such tremendous medical potential, there’s no reason individuals should be criminalized for using something that grows naturally,” said Kevin Matthews, the director of the campaign to legalize psilocybin in Denver, in an interview with the New York Times.

The new law passed by a narrow margin, according to the Times, of less than 2,000 votes. It doesn’t entirely legalize psilocybin-containing mushrooms, but it makes the prosecution of possession and cultivation of them an extremely low-priority offense.

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How Tech Empowers Dangerous Lone Wolves

CF843B46-D127-46CB-B8CA-D8A3614470E6Technology is democratizing the power of who gets to live and who does not. Are we ready for the consequences?

This is the second installment of “Privatizing the Apocalypse,” a four-part essay being published throughout October. Read Part 1: “The 50/50 Murder” here.

In 2015, a depressive young German named Andreas Lubitz killed himself, five co-workers, and quite a few strangers. He was one of perhaps 1,000 suicidal mass murderers to strike that year worldwide. But an unusual combination of two factors put Lubitz in a ghoulish class of his own.

First, he hatched and executed his plans without anyone’s help — which was not remarkable in itself. But the second factor was scale — in that he really killed a lot of strangers. As in 144 of them. Lubitz’s victims hailed from 18 countries and included infants, retirees, and all ages between. He killed dozens of times more people than most rampage murderers and almost three times as many as 2017’s Las Vegas shooter, who is (for now) history’s most prolific lone suicidal gunman.

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The new weapon in the fight against crime

 Orange County Register Archive

Solving a murder or tracking down the perpetrators of sexual abuse often requires dogged police work. What if a machine could help detectives spot the vital clues they need?

The images on Eduardo Fidalgo’s computer show mundane scenes – a sofa scattered with pillows, a folded duvet on a bed, some children’s toys strewn across a floor. They depict views most of us would see around our own homes.

But these rather ordinary pictures are helping to build a new weapon in the fight against crime. Fidalgo and his colleagues are using the images to train a machine to spot clues in crime scene photographs.

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Police in Canada are tracking people’s ‘negative’ behavior in a ‘risk’ database


 The database includes detailed, but “de-identified,” information about people’s lives culled from conversations between police, social services, health workers, and more.

Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behaviour of vulnerable people—including minors and people experiencing homelessness—with little oversight and often without consent.

Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces—Ontario and Saskatchewan—maintain a “Risk-driven Tracking Database” that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a “negative neighborhood.”

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Drones are changing the way police respond to 911 calls


Last week in a domestic dispute in Chula Vista, California, a woman driving a car repeatedly tried to hit a man on a motorcycle. The fight carried out across multiple city blocks until police arrived and arrested the man for alleged domestic violence and stealing the motorcycle and the woman for alleged assault with a deadly weapon.

No police officers were physically there to witness the crime. Instead, a drone using Cape telepresence hovered above the scene, recording video that will be used as evidence in court, Chula Vista Police Department Captain Vern Sallee told VentureBeat in an interview last week.

“We were able to divert other resources to this now very high priority call and potentially save this guy’s life and obviously get two people in custody, recover a stolen motorcycle, and ensure public safety,” he said.

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Incarceration vs. education: America spends more on its prison system than it does on public schools – and California is the worst


  • Most American states spend more on their prisons than they do on education – and California is the worst, investing $64,642 per prisoner compared to $11,495 per student – a $53,146 difference in spending priorities
  • The reasons include an incarceration rate that has tripled over the past three decades, the higher cost of caring for people in prisons 24 hours a day, and the higher number of workers required to operate a prison
  • New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island round out the top states spending more on prisons

The U.S. spends more on prisons and jails than it does on educating children – and 15 states spend at least $27,000 more per prisoner than they do per student, according to a new report.

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US Secret Service is probing how crooks use smart credit cards for fraud


Credit card thieves have been using Fuze Cards, according to a Secret Service memo.

Credit card thieves have been taking advantage of smart card technologies to avoid getting caught, according to Krebs on Security. The US Secret Service offices in New York and St. Louis have apparently been working on a criminal investigation involving fraud rings using Fuze Cards to store stolen card data. Fuze Cards allow you to store up to 30 credit card details, and you can switch between them using the small screen on the front. It makes the data of the card you want to use available to merchants via a magnetic stripe and an embedded chip. You can also use them to withdraw money from ATMs.

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Chinese facial recognition system confuses bus ad with a jaywalker


It illustrates one of the many issues with China’s surveillance culture.

There are many criticisms you can level at China’s growing reliance on facial recognition, including its absolute faith in technology: what happens if there’s a false positive? Unfortunately, we just saw an example of that in action. Police in the city of Ningbo have taken corrective action after the facial recognition system at a crosswalk mistakenly accused famous businesswoman Dong Mingzhu of jaywalking because she appeared in an ad on a passing bus. As with any other detected offender in the area, it posted both Dong’s name (incorrectly displaying her surname as “Ju”) and government ID.

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Dubai Police start training on flying motorbikes


(CNN) — The flying motorbike is back in Dubai — and you could see the police riding one in the not-too-distant future.

A year after California-based startup Hoversurf showcased its hoverbike at tech expo GITEX in the white and green livery of the Dubai Police, the company has returned with a new model and evidence its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle might be, well, taking off.

Making good on a deal signed in 2017, Hoversurf has now gifted Dubai Police its first serial production unit of the S3 2019 Hoverbike and has begun training officers to fly it.

Brigadier Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi, general director of Dubai Police’s artificial intelligence department, described the eVTOL vehicle as a first responder unit used to access hard to reach areas. He said he aims to have hoverbikes in action by 2020.

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Meet the internet researchers unmasking Russian assassins


Aric Toler is part of Bellingcat, an international Internet research organization that has meticulously investigated conflicts around the world. This week, the online group outed one of two Russian agents believed to have been involved in poisonings in the U.K.

Aric Toler isn’t exactly sure what to call himself.

“Digital researcher, digital investigator, digital something probably works,” Toler says.

Toler, 30, is part of an Internet research organization known as Bellingcat. Formed in 2014, the group first got attention for its meticulous documentation of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Toler used posts to Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, VK, to track Russian soldiers as they slipped in and out of eastern Ukraine — where they covertly aided local rebels.

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Great green hope: The big picture on legal marijuana


The biggest unclaimed territory in the consumer discretionary universe is cannabis. Even though cannabis remains illegal under federal law, Americans spent $6 billion in 2017 on legal recreational and medical marijuana.

Why it matters: Americans may have spent a total of $50 billion on recreational cannabis last year, according to the best estimates. That leaves enormous room for the legal market to grow, even if cannabis consumption remains flat.

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