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Police Have Asked for 1.3 Million Cellphone Users’ Records

Police Have Asked for 1.3 Million Cellphone Users' Records


Police across the United States asked cellphone providers for the phone records, text message transcripts, location data and other information of at least 1.3 million customers during 2011, according to a Congressman investigating the practice.

Some of the data provided to Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the lawmaker who carried out the investigation, indicated that the number of police requests to mobile carriers have exploded over the past five years. Law enforcement requests to AT&T alone more than doubled from 125,425 in 2007 to 261,365 in 2011 — approximately 700 requests every day.

One type of law enforcement request, wherein police ask cell providers for a so-called “dump” of information about subscribers near a certain cell tower at a given point in time, may mean that thousands more people have been involved in police requests.

Markey called the results of his investigation — the most thorough inquiry into the practice thus far — “startling.”

“We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent consumers,” said Markey in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack? We need to know how law enforcement differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are subjects of investigation, as well as how it handles, administers, and disposes of this information.”

Markey initially requested the information in May after reading about the practice. Nine carriers have returned letters detailing each company’s procedures when police request users’ information.

Verizon Wireless, for instance, has a “team of trained employees and managers” that responded to more than 700 police requests each day in 2011. The company noted that it requires a warrant from police in all but the most extreme circumstances.

“Unless a customer consents to the release of the information or law enforcement certifies that there is an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury, we do not release location information to law enforcement without a signed warrant or order from a judge,” reads Verizon’s letter, which also stressed that the company prioritizes customer privacy.

Other carriers also said they require a warrant in most cases and sometimes deny requests in the interest of customer privacy. Sprint, for example, detailed a sort of investigative Pong process in which some requests bounced between the company and police while escalating up the chain of command on either side.

About 88% of American adults now own a cell phone, while 46% of them own a smartphone. Both types of devices are capable of storing an immense amount of data that can be useful to police investigations.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the report an indication of a “privacy disaster” in a blog post on Monday. The EFF urged cell phone providers to follow the example set by Google and Twitter, both of which deliver transparency reports about police and government requests for users’ data.

Should cellphone providers publish reports about police requests for users’ information? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, anouchka

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Top 15 Offensive Odors

Top 15 Offensive Odors

[WARNING: This list contains images that are, frankly, gross] In keeping with our series on the assaults on the human body (see The Top Ten Loudest Noises), we bring you this list consisting of 15 of the worst smells imaginable. Wonderful scents and amazing smells fill the air all around us: freshly baked bread, perfume, flowers… but the aromas of pungency permeate as well. In fact some odors, whilst new to our olfactory senses, are so powerful that we would just as soon forget them. Here are fifteen.

15. Human/Animal Feces


It is apparent why human and animal waste smells so awful:The presence of bacteria. Food, once passed completely through the body, is expelled one of two ways: urine or feces. Urine has a distinctive and all together wretched odor of its own, but feces is generally a much more powerful stench, especially when the person in question has consumed a particular type of food, such as green vegetables or food with lots of fat.

14. Bad Fish

Rotten Fish

Fresh seafood should be odorless or smell a bit like fresh sea air or a hint of brininess. Fish that has gone off, however, has an odor so undeniably offensive that other smells equally as putrid have come to be compared to it, such as certain overtly pungent body scents. Bad fish raises the gorge of nearly everyone unaccustomed.

13. Compost

Compost Heap

The stale and repugnant scent of decaying leaves and grass waft over the air on any given Spring and Summer day. Compost is an excellent way to create your own batch of nutritious plant food full of nitrates and nitrogen. But the creation process itself, requires the piling up of dead vegetation under something capable of absorbing the suns rays in order to speed rot. It is obtrusively smelly and all the worse when turned. The odor is formed from the release of isothiocyanates.

12. Decaying / Gangrenous / Burnt Flesh


Have you ever accidentally singed your fingers when cooking or forgetting to extinguish a match? Then you will already know the acrid scent of burnt flesh in its most minor form. Take that smell and multiply it ten-fold and you’ll understand the true meaning of what many firefighters and rescue workers smell after a blaze. Similarly, an equally repugnant smell, is that of rotting or gangrenous flesh, both caused by bacterial infection. In addition, bed sores are known to release smells similar to that of rotten flesh.

11. Sewer Gas

Bton Sewer

The smell of a stagnant sewer is unmistakable in its odoriferous and cloying funk. The combined mix of waste material from a hundred or more different people, and their flushed and discarded flotsam backing up under an open-air sewage grate is a cause for gagging and watering eyes. Knowing quite well what oddities human beings will dispose of via toilet is disgusting enough, but add that to the potent combination already at hand, and you have yourself a revolting scent.

10. Road Kill / Dead Animal

Road Kill

In places where the removal of car-struck wildlife is not top-most of priorities, a typical flavor of Summer is that of sun-dried raccoons. Deer carcasses can be the worst if left along side the freeway for too long once the July sun has done its worst.

9. The Human Mouth


Inside your mouth reside billions of bacteria feeding off the sugars and starches that cling to your teeth and the back of your tongue. Without proper dental hygiene, and especially in those suffering from halitosis, bad breath becomes a most foreboding olfactory hazard and can lead to ostracism and shame.

8. Skunk


A skunk’s defense mechanism to ward off predators, is its ability to fire off scent glands located around, but not in, the anus near the base of the tail. Smelling surprisingly like rotten cabbage or, to some people, very bad marijuana, skunk spray is a potent and rather adhesive mess. Fortunately, it can be effectively removed with a tomato juice bath. A skunk’s smell can be tracked for a great distance, even when the animal has retreated in to hiding.

7. Wet Dog

Wet Dog

Scientist and author Linda Young has this to say about “wet dog”:

“There are many volatile compounds which individually do not have odors associated with “dog smell”, however, in combination, these compounds produce the typical “dog smell” that many people describe as unpleasant. There is a complex pattern of changes in the volatile compounds associated with wetting of brushed dog hair. This pattern appears to manifest as “wet dog” odor. While some amount of change in odor would be expected due to the different partition coefficients when water is added to the hair, the variety of differences indicates a probable chemical or biochemical reaction on the hair.”

6. Corpse

Decaying Flesh

Some of the strongest constitutions around are those of morgue attendants, members of the police force, emergency technicians, ‘corpse divers’, CSI field agents, and anyone else who repeatedly comes in contact with bloated, rotten, and mishandled corpses. The odor is formed from the release of gasses by bacteria. Of people who have had to describe such horrific odors, nearly all have stated that the two most recognizable smells combined to make the one body scent are: Ozone and meat.

5. Rotten Food

Rotten Food

Imagine: a long-forgotten container in the back of the refrigerator, an old cooler full of food without power, an over-turned semi on the freeway spilling its contents of store-ready chicken. All of these represent the most foul scent of spoiled food. We have all had the displeasure of the assault of some far-too-old food item spurting its putrid stench into the air.

4. Stagnant Water


From ponds to puddles, bacteria-laden water takes on a repugnant stink that can be detected from quite a distance. Not only are these bodies of water a breeding ground for mosquitoes, they are also extremely harmful to both animals and humans.

3. Methane Gas Expulsion


Farts. It is as simple as that.

2. Hydrogen Sulphide

Disgust Factor Man

This is the chemical compound with the formula H2S. This colorless, toxic, and flammable gas is responsible for the foul odor of rotten eggs. It often results from the bacterial break down of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, as is found in swamps and sewers. It also occurs in volcanic gases, natural gas and some well waters. The odor of H2S is commonly misattributed to elemental sulfur, which is, in fact, odorless.

1. Foot / Body Odor


Always known when smelled: B.O. It’s always pungent, always repulsive, and always embarrassing. Who wants to be the one to tell a co-worker that he needs a shower and some deodorant? Though not necessarily caused by infrequent bathing, bromhidrosis, or body odor, is the smell of bacteria growing on the body. These bacteria multiply considerably in the presence of sweat, but sweat itself is almost totally odorless. Body odor is associated with the hair, feet, groin (upper medial thigh), anus, skin, armpits, genitals, and pubic hair.

Contributors: StewWriter, Rhyno, JFrater

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Here Are 15 Things You Can Only Buy At A Wal Mart In China. #14 Is All Kinds Of Weird.

Here Are 15 Things You Can Only Buy At A Wal Mart In China. #14 Is All Kinds Of Weird.

The Wal-Mart stores in America may contain items made in China, but don’t forget there are actually Wal-Marts in China (mind=blown). However, after seeing the kinds of things they sell at Chinese Wal-Marts, well… let’s just say it’s very different from the ones I’ve been in.

1.) Crocodiles (ready for roasting, it seems)

2.) Bulk rice

3.) Mixed mystery meats

4.) Orange juice and cooking oil combos

5.) Frogs ‘n turtles

6.) Bulk, Wal-Mart brand liquor

7.) Cheap ribs

8.) Dried reptile parts

9.) Boxes of liquor

10.) And more frogs

11.) More chopsticks than you could ever imagine

12.) Ducks

13.) “Great Value” beef granules (that look like candy?)

14.) Pig faces

15.) Anti-bacterial underwear for men

I’m not entirely sure why the Chinese population requires anti-bacterial underwear or freeze-dried reptile bits… but I’m not going to question it. It is Wal-Mart after all. Source: Imgur I just know I don’t feel so bad for buying chicken broth in bulk at my local Wal-mart.

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Baby Wakes Up to Gangnam Style (Video)

Baby Wakes Up to Gangnam StyleBaby Wakes Up to Gangnam Style

I guess it’s baby cuteness day. :) Here’s little Amaya fast asleep…until her favorite song comes on…

Original video found via Youtube. Spotted here.

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Hillary Clinton Pens Article For Scientific Journal, Vows To Boost Medical Research Funding

Hillary Clinton Pens Article For Scientific Journal, Vows To Boost Medical Research Funding

Hillary Clinton, once again demonstrating her ability to do a million things simultaneously, has found the time to write an op-ed for the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Outlining her vision for universal, quality, affordable healthcare across the US, she also clearly shows she has just as much a grasp of the science as she does with the policies.

Health and health care in America should not be a partisan or divisive issue, Clinton writes. As President, I will work tirelessly with anyone dedicated to improving our families health and ensuring that the promise of affordable, quality health care is achieved for all Americans.

The focus of the piece is on how she plans to extend Obamacare, which has widely been seen as a success and has survived more than 50 attempts by Republican lawmakers to scupper it. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), as its technically known, means that for the first time in history, more than 90 percent ofAmericans have health insurance.

Trump, of course, wishes to repeal it for ideological reasons. Clinton instead wishes to strengthen it, expanding coverage in 19 states that have refused to play ball. She also wants to bring down the inordinate cost of prescription drugs, some of which have skyrocketed recently amid intense public outrage.

In addition, Clinton goes into specific detail about plans to boost research across various medical fields. Significantly, she mentions improving research on mental health, something that is often neglected in favor of more physical maladies.

My vision includes a major new commitment to community and mental health centers as well as the National Health Service Corps, she adds. This will improve our ability to respond to public health emergencies from natural disasters, to issues of environmental justice like Flint, to escalating rates of addiction and obesity, to infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika.

Zika has been spreading through parts of the US recently, but attempts by Republicans to add unnecessary anti-Planned Parenthood and anti-Obamacare riders to the bill means that emergency funding still hasnt been approved by Congress. Clinton is acutely aware that this is not good enough.

Clinton promises to boost funding and innovation in the biomedical sciences. Spotmatik Ltd./Shutterstock

Clinton laments that the nation has not yet invested enough in basic medical research, and that theres too much inaction over innovative science around healthcare. I will work to ensure that our scientific community and regulatory system are promoting innovation and will increase funding for biomedical research across all diseases, she declares, mentioning HIV, Alzheimers, and cancer.

She also notes that, as every rational person would agree, a womans personal health decisions should be made by herself, not partisan lawmakers. Clinton will defend the right to abortion, contraceptives, and sexual healthcare not just in principle, but in practice.

The Democratic presidential nominee is no stranger to this type of medical opinion piece. Back in 2006, she co-authored another on health care with President Barack Obama for the very same journal. The commander-in-chief still holds the top academic spot, though he recently wrote an academic article on Obamacare, providing peer-reviewed data on how its been working.

In stark juxtaposition stands Donald Trump, a man who cant quite remember if climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, or if vaccines give people autism. This clueless insult generator recently told Scientific American that in a time of limited resources, public health spending may not provide the greatest bang for the buck. The NEJM contacted Trump to ask about his healthcare proposals, but he did not reply.

Clinton, meanwhile, concluded her op-ed by stating that improving the health and well-being of kids and families has been the most important cause of my life. America the choice is yours.

The election looms. Krista Kennell/Shutterstock

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