Category Archives: short shories

Finding a new word

The other day I was writing an article and, as is my habit, was referring to the Dictionary app on my phone to be doubly sure about the context and usage of difficult and/or confusing words in it.  A Jr was observing me closely and after waiting for an impressive five minutes his barrage of … Continue reading Finding a new word

Vietnam Is Getting Closer To Its Rival China Because Neither Side Trusts Trump

Vietnam shows new sighs of edging closer to one-time rival China as it hasn’t figured out what the United States will do in Asia’s major maritime dispute.

3 Ways VR Is Changing How We Learn

For instance, VR can take a lead role in driving users to learn new subjects, test responses to emergency situations before they happen in real-time, and even assist those with learning impediments by creating a safe and comfortable ‘reality’ for learning.

How To Earn An ‘A’ When Investing In Rentals In A College Town

College towns can be a great place to invest in real estate if you do your homework.

Prince, Adele, Ed Sheeran and George Michael See Grammy Sales Surges

As expected, a number of Grammy performers saw significant bounces in sales and streaming activity following their appearance on the Feb. 12 awards show. However, the artist getting the biggest streaming bump wasn’t there: Prince.

Police: Recently Paroled Gang Member Kills Cousin, Cop In Whittier

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A gang member who was recently freed from jail killed his cousin and stole his car Monday then shot and killed a California police officer and wounded his partner before being wounded himself, authorities said.

Whittier Officer Keith Lane Boyer died and Officer Patrick Hazel was wounded when they answered a report of a traffic accident in the eastern Los Angeles County suburb.

A motorist pointed out the location of the car that had rear-ended his vehicle, and the officers approached the driver.

“When they get him out of the car, they go to pat him down for weapons, they can see he’s got tattoos all over his face and all over his neck,” county sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said.

The man then pulled a semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and opened fire at the officers, who were wearing bulletproof vests and shot back, Corina said.

“They walked up on the vehicle believing the motorist was in need of medical help and then they ended up in a gunfight for their lives,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper wept as he described Boyer as a friend of more than 25 years.

“All of us have been grieving,” the chief said. “And I didn’t think I had any tears left.”

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement of condolence. Capitol flags were ordered to be flown at half-staff in his honor.

The suspect, a 26-year-old gang member, had a history of serious crimes and had been granted early release from Los Angeles County jail about a week ago, Corina said. He didn’t know the nature of his offense.

His name wasn’t immediately released.

Earlier Monday, he shot and killed his cousin in East Los Angeles and took his car, which later rear-ended another car in the neighboring city of Whittier, Corina said.

He got out and asked those he had hit to help push his stolen car from the intersection.

Boyer and Hazel didn’t know any of those details when they answered the report of a car accident, Corina said.

Boyer was pronounced dead at a hospital. Hazel, a three-year veteran, and the suspect were hospitalized in stable condition and were expected to live.

After the shooting, a long line of police cars escorted the slain officer’s body from a hospital in Irvine to the coroner’s office. Mourners placed candles and flowers outside police headquarters.

Boyer joined the force as a dispatcher in 1989 and became a full-time officer in 1990. A divorced father who played the drums, he was “the best of the best” who was sought for advice by his colleagues and superiors, the chief said.

Boyer recently talked to the chief about retiring.

The Whittier Police Department has about 125 sworn officers who patrol Whittier and Santa Fe Springs.

The department has had two other officers killed in the line of duty – a detective in 1979 and a corporal in 1977.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Milwaukee Demands Pokemon Go Players Get Permits To Enter Parks

MILWAUKEE (AP) – “Pokemon Go” monsters can roam virtually wherever they please, but they’ll need a permit to get into Milwaukee County parks.

At the height of the game’s popularity last summer, the large crowds it attracted to one Milwaukee park left county officials at a loss for how to deal with the sudden influx of players and the trash they left behind. With more augmented-reality games in development, the permitting process Milwaukee County set up puts it at the forefront of an emerging challenge for government officials who want to regulate them.

“We’re prepared for all of them now,” said County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman, who wrote the proposal setting up a permitting process that County Executive Chris Abele signed on Feb. 10.

Other places where officials are looking at how to handle such games include Illinois, where lawmakers are considering requiring companies to remove sites from games when they receive a request to do so. The bill pending in the Illinois Legislature is a response to heavy foot-traffic last year at a suburban Chicago park with protected dunes.

Kate Edwards, the executive director of the International Game Developers Association, said in an email that local and state regulations haven’t been on developers’ radars because there haven’t been any “that specifically affect game content or design.”

Most people associate augmented-reality smartphone apps with “Pokemon Go,” which allows players to catch monsters in the real world when they appear on their phones. But the number of games is growing. Other apps allow people to blast zombies on streets, race cars around the office, and aim basketballs at virtual hoops anywhere.

Edwards warned that “legislation and regulation at this early stage of an emerging technology” can stifle its growth.

But Wasserman said something needed to be done after months “of basically absolute hell” at a Milwaukee park along Lake Michigan. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of players came to Lake Park at all hours of the day, he said, leading to traffic congestion, overtime for sheriff’s deputies providing security, overflowing bathrooms and so much trash that the county had minimum-security inmates help clean up.

The new ordinance requires that game developers such as Niantic, the San Francisco-based creator of “Pokemon Go,” get a permit like any other business or group that wants to host park events. The fees will be on a sliding-scale – anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on how much of the park will be used and how many people are expected to be there, Wasserman said. The money will help with the park’s upkeep, he said, and the permits will help the county prepare for the volume of people.

Wasserman said the county could pursue legal action if a company doesn’t comply with a permit.

Niantic declined a request for comment.

Eddie Cullen, a county supervisor who voted against the measure, said officials should be encouraging, not restricting the public’s use of the parks and that people should be responsible for their behavior.

“If someone crashes their car while using (Google Maps) it’s not Google Maps’ responsibility to pay for the damages. That falls on the user,” he said. “If a ‘Pokemon Go’ player litters or damages something in the parks, it should be the responsibility of the player, not the corporation to pay for damages.”

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

How To Protect Your Digital Privacy While Traveling Through Border Security

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Watchdog groups that keep tabs on digital privacy rights are concerned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are searching the phones and other digital devices of international travelers at border checkpoints in U.S. airports.

The issue gained attention recently after at least three travelers, including a Canadian journalist, spoke out publicly about their experiences.

The episodes have gained notice amid an outcry over President Donald Trump’s travel ban and complaints of mistreatment of foreign travelers, but the government insists there has been no policy change in the new administration.

Border Protection says searches increased fivefold in the final fiscal year of the Obama presidency, but still amounted to less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of all international arrivals.

Here are some things to know about the searches and your privacy rights.

WHAT HAS PROMPTED THE CONCERN?

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation both say they have noticed an uptick in complaints about searches of digital devices by border agents.

The increase has become most noticeable in the last month, said Adam Schwartz, a senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“We are concerned that a bad practice that has existed under past presidents has gotten worse in quantity under the new president,” Schwartz said.

The government says nothing has changed. Customs officials also say the perceived shift can be attributed to a jump in the number of electronic devices that people are carrying with them and shifting tactics as the agency adjusts to the amount and types of information that can be stored on today’s devices.

WHAT SEARCH AUTHORITY DOES THE BORDER PROTECTION HAVE?

Americans have protection under the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable search and seizure.

A police officer, for example, must obtain a warrant from a judge before searching a suspect’s phone.

But the U.S. border is a legal gray zone. Border agents have long had the right to search travelers’ physical luggage without a warrant, and that interpretation has been expanded to include digital devices, ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said.

In 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that if agents want to do a forensic search they need to have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, he said. But the court stopped short of requiring agents to obtain a search warrant beforehand, he said.

And an agent can flip through a phone in a cursory search for any reason.

The law has not kept up with the “incredible volume of personal data that we have in our pockets now” – and that creates tremendous constitutional questions, said Wessler.

“In some ways, a search of your phone is more invasive than a search of your house,” he said.

A case currently headed to another appeals court could further clarify the law, said Schwartz.

WHAT DOES THE BORDER PROTECTION SAY?

Numbers provided by the Border Protection show a fivefold increase in electronic media searches in the 2016 fiscal year ending on Sept. 30 over the previous fiscal year.

In 2016, under the Obama administration, there were 23,877 electronic media searches. That comes to .0061 percent of total arrivals into the U.S. In fiscal year 2015, there were 4,764 electronic media searches.

A senior CBP official briefed reporters on the issue Friday, but the agency insisted the official not be identified.

“We see it as an article that is brought into the U.S., no different than a booklet of materials, no different than a suitcase with items in it,” the official said.

“We’ve uncovered very serious and significant information in these types of searches, everything from national security concerns to child pornography to evidence of crimes to determinations of people’s admissibility status under the immigration laws.”

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR DIGITAL PRIVACY WHILE TRAVELING?

Privacy advocates say travelers who are concerned should leave their phones and laptops at home and buy a cheap phone once they arrive at their destination.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is also advising its members to do the same.

Those who can’t leave their devices behind should encrypt them and close out of all social media applications so they aren’t accessible without a password, said Schwartz.

But those steps won’t matter much if a border agent asks a traveler to unlock the phone or provide a password, said Scwhartz.

And travelers should also be aware of the rules in other countries. Israel authorities can check mobile phones at the airport, for example.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU REFUSE?

CBP can’t bar a U.S. citizen from entry if they refuse to comply, but agents can make things difficult.

Travelers who don’t unlock their phones could be questioned, detained temporarily and have their phones taken by agents for days.

Travelers who are not U.S. citizens can be denied entry.

Hasaim Elsharkawi, a self-employed businessman from Anaheim, California, told the AP that he was stopped by agents in Los Angeles last week as he was boarding a plane to Saudi Arabia to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. They asked him to unlock his phone without telling him why.

Elsharkawi, a Muslim, said he refused because he didn’t want the male agents to see photos of his wife with her head uncovered.

When he asked for a lawyer, the agents detained him, handcuffed him and interrogated him for four hours before he agreed to unlock the device for a female agent, he said. He was then released and his phone was returned after the female Homeland Security officer checked his email, photos and eBay and Amazon accounts.

Elsharkawi, 34, was born in Saudi Arabia to Egyptian parents. He came to the U.S. in 2004 and became a U.S. citizen in 2012.

“I was already nervous before and after what has happened … I don’t know what to expect next,” he said.


Associated Press Writers Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C. and Josef Federman in Jerusalem, Israel contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to name the agency as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Cross Country Skiing Is Great For Winter Fun And Fitness

Cross country skiing is easier than you think! How to get started and embrace this snowy winter.

2017 Dodge Challenger GT: What Dodge Needs; Maybe What Buyers Want

The Challenger GT probably wouldn’t exist if there were other, newer cars for Dodge to sell, or if its expected replacement had arrived on time. Instead, reality presented fewer options, so Dodge got creative when the sales data presented a “why not?”