National / International News

Fire crew attacks 'beyond belief'

BBC - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:38
Firefighters have been punched, had bottles thrown at them and been confronted by gangs of youths during call outs, a fire chief says as a campaign on the issue is launched.

Jonathan Davies's Six Nations Team of the Tournament

BBC - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:36
Who makes BBC expert Jonathan Davies's Team of the Tournament after a thrilling 2014 Six Nations?

Markets 'brush off' Crimea worries

BBC - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:27
Asian shares 'brush off' worries about the referendum in Crimea, but analysts warn of huge movements of money back into Russia in anticipation of sanctions.

Russia 'planned Wall Street bear raid'

BBC - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:26
Did Russia plan a 'bear raid' on Wall Street?

Justmugshots.com and the business of embarrassment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:19

A new industry has sprung up in recent years: Websites that post nothing but mugshots. They're popular -- people like to see other people in embarrassing moments — except with those who have their mugshots posted. In Chicago, the sites also wore out their welcome with the county sheriff. They seemed to be crashing his website. 

Around 4 o'clock on a recent Tuesday afternoon, the assembly line at Cook County jail gets started with processing inmates. In the next few hours, 263 people would pass through here.

At the photo station, a sheriff's deputy pulled up each man’s record on his computer, and snapped a couple of pictures to add.

Within hours, the photos were up on the Sheriff’s inmate locator website. Where they get picked up by for-profit mugshot websites: mugshots.com, bustedmugshots.com, justmugshots.com, and others.

Some of them look like shakedown operations: Mugshots.com has a big “unpublish mugshot” link right at the top of its homepage — for fees that start at $400.

Late last year, those sites seemed to be crashing the Cook County Sheriff’s inmate locator site.  Automated systems were trying to suck the photos up faster than the county’s server could respond.

“It is a very important part of our site,” says Ben Breit, the Sheriff’s communication director, who runs the website.  “I would argue that it is the most important part of our site.”

People use the inmate locator to find friends and relatives who have been arrested, he says.  “That is also the main conduit through which family and friends can register to visit those people.” 

The Sheriff solved the crashing problem, by installing a “captcha” — a prompt forcing users to type in a randomly-chosen bunch of letters and numbers, to prove they’re human. 

However, the websites still have the pictures.

Some states, including Illinois, have passed laws trying to outlaw the shakedowns. People whose mugshots got posted have filed lawsuits.  

The results have been uneven. Mugshot websites lean on the same legal principles as news media: Access to public information and the freedom to publish it.

Newspapers run mugshots too. Matthew Waite, now a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska, built one of the first galleries when he worked at the Tampa Bay Times. He says the traffic to those pages was huge.

“It’s hard to argue that people aren’t interested in these,” he says.  “But the question is, how much can you exploit that interest for profit?  Is putting advertising on those pages untoward? That seems less of a problem to me than putting people’s mugshots online and then charging to have it taken down.”

Even the shakedown schemes are hard to outlaw, says Jeff Hermes, director of the Digital Media Law Center at Harvard.

“These activities are morally reprehensible,” he says. “But when you try to dig down to the level of what’s actually illegal, it turns out to be quite elusive.”

What has worked is shame. Google had inadvertently fueled the extortion racket: When you searched someone’s name, any mugshots showed up as top results:  A big incentive to pay for removal.  

Last fall, Google tweaked its algorithm. Mugshot results got exiled to the back pages.  Around the same time, when the New York Times did a big story on the mugshot racket, payment services like PayPal and American Express promised to stop doing business with mugshot-takedown companies.

Today, a lot of the sites no longer offer removal services. The exception, mugshots.com, is based in the British West Indies.

Justmugshots.com and the business of embarassment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:19

A new industry has sprung up in recent years: Websites that post nothing but mugshots. They're popular -- people like to see other people in embarrassing moments — except with those who have their mugshots posted. In Chicago, the sites also wore out their welcome with the county sheriff. They seemed to be crashing his website. 

Around 4 o'clock on a recent Tuesday afternoon, the assembly line at Cook County jail gets started with processing inmates. In the next few hours, 263 people would pass through here.

At the photo station, a sheriff's deputy pulled up each man’s record on his computer, and snapped a couple of pictures to add.

Within hours, the photos were up on the Sheriff’s inmate locator website. Where they get picked up by for-profit mugshot websites: mugshots.com, bustedmugshots.com, justmugshots.com, and others.

Some of them look like shakedown operations: Mugshots.com has a big “unpublish mugshot” link right at the top of its homepage — for fees that start at $400.

Late last year, those sites seemed to be crashing the Cook County Sheriff’s inmate locator site.  Automated systems were trying to suck the photos up faster than the county’s server could respond.

“It is a very important part of our site,” says Ben Breit, the Sheriff’s communication director, who runs the website.  “I would argue that it is the most important part of our site.”

People use the inmate locator to find friends and relatives who have been arrested, he says.  “That is also the main conduit through which family and friends can register to visit those people.” 

The Sheriff solved the crashing problem, by installing a “captcha” — a prompt forcing users to type in a randomly-chosen bunch of letters and numbers, to prove they’re human. 

However, the websites still have the pictures.

Some states, including Illinois, have passed laws trying to outlaw the shakedowns. People whose mugshots got posted have filed lawsuits.  

The results have been uneven. Mugshot websites lean on the same legal principles as news media: Access to public information and the freedom to publish it.

Newspapers run mugshots too. Matthew Waite, now a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska, built one of the first galleries when he worked at the Tampa Bay Times. He says the traffic to those pages was huge.

“It’s hard to argue that people aren’t interested in these,” he says.  “But the question is, how much can you exploit that interest for profit?  Is putting advertising on those pages untoward? That seems less of a problem to me than putting people’s mugshots online and then charging to have it taken down.”

Even the shakedown schemes are hard to outlaw, says Jeff Hermes, director of the Digital Media Law Center at Harvard.

“These activities are morally reprehensible,” he says. “But when you try to dig down to the level of what’s actually illegal, it turns out to be quite elusive.”

What has worked is shame. Google had inadvertently fueled the extortion racket: When you searched someone’s name, any mugshots showed up as top results:  A big incentive to pay for removal.  

Last fall, Google tweaked its algorithm. Mugshot results got exiled to the back pages.  Around the same time, when the New York Times did a big story on the mugshot racket, payment services like PayPal and American Express promised to stop doing business with mugshot-takedown companies.

Today, a lot of the sites no longer offer removal services. The exception, mugshots.com, is based in the British West Indies.

Doctors Use 3-D Printing To Help A Baby Breathe

NPR News - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:17

Garrett Peterson was born with a defective windpipe and every day he struggled to breathe. Now, thanks to a 3-D printer, his windpipe has been strengthened and Garrett should soon breathe normally.

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Obama Says U.S. Will Never Recognize Crimea's Secession Vote

NPR News - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:10

A day after Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine, the U.S. and its Western allies were expected to announce sanctions against Russia.

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VIDEO: How to get children keen on Shakespeare

BBC - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:09
A new drive has begun to get more young people interested in the works of Shakespeare.

EU mulls Russia sanction over Crimea

BBC - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:05
EU foreign ministers are to discuss more sanctions against Russia after a Moscow-backed referendum in Crimea supported a split from Ukraine.

Australia leads plane south search

BBC - Mon, 2014-03-17 00:05
Australia will control the "southern vector" search for the missing Malaysian plane, PM Tony Abbott says, amid scrutiny of cockpit communications.

Paying For College: No Easy Answers For Many Families

NPR News - Sun, 2014-03-16 23:59

After adjusting for inflation, the cost of tuition more than tripled between 1973 and 2013. That reality has been forcing more and more students to take on staggering debts.

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Abercrombie? Aeropostale? That's so 2012.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Sun, 2014-03-16 23:50

The once-popular Aeropostale  is closing stores and has posted losses for the past five quarters. It's not alone. A raft of stores that target the youth market, including Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle, are also hurting. Retail anaylsts say a handful of factors are affecting sales.

First, Aeropostale has increased competition from fast-fashion stores like Uniqlo, Forever 21 and H&M. Young people seem to prefer European-inspired clothing to the logo-branded hoodies and T-shirts favored by teens in decades past. 

The electronics sector is also competing for youth dollars, with smart phones, tablets and movie and music purchases eating up a bigger part of the teen budget.

Finally, the shrinking labor market has hit teenagers, and their parents, hard. The Brookings Institution said this week that youth employment is its lowest since World War II.

Ricciardo justified Red Bull selection - Coulthard

BBC - Sun, 2014-03-16 23:45
New Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is already showing himself a worthy replacement for Mark Webber, says David Coulthard

VIDEO: How did Hong Kong lose Alibaba?

BBC - Sun, 2014-03-16 23:29
Linda Yueh looks at how Hong Kong's stock exchange lost out to the US in winning the business of the year's hottest public stock offering - that of Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba.

Explosive device found in south Belfast

BBC - Sun, 2014-03-16 22:38
An explosive device is found during a security alert in South Belfast on Sunday .

The secret is out - Liverpool can win title

BBC - Sun, 2014-03-16 22:32
Liverpool's 3-0 win at Manchester United is the performance of a team that believes it will win the Premier League, says Phil McNulty

Patients sent to doctor's hospital

BBC - Sun, 2014-03-16 22:24
A mental health trust planning to close beds spends £1.2m sending patients to a senior consultant's private hospital.

Crimea vote and Mo Farah collapse in papers

BBC - Sun, 2014-03-16 22:21
The fallout from the Crimea referendum sparks fears in the papers, while there is more speculation about the missing Malaysian plane and concern after Mo Farah's race collapse.

VIDEO: Planet Mercury 'is getting smaller'

BBC - Sun, 2014-03-16 22:20
The planet Mercury is about 7km smaller today than when its crust first solidified over four billion years ago, a Nasa mission has revealed.

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