Google’s Robots and Creeping Militarization

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Google CEO Larry Page has rapidly positioned Google to become an indispensable U.S. military contractor.

Google recently purchased Boston Dynamics, a robotics pioneer that produces amazing humanoid robots for the U.S. Defense Department.

This development invites attention to Google’s broader military contracting  ambitions — especially since Boston Dynamics is the eighth robotics company that Google has bought in the last six months. (more…)

Ex-Officer Convicted of Lying About Confrontation With Cyclist

SOURCE

A former police officer was convicted on Thursday of lying about a collision with a bicyclist who was taking part in a Critical Mass ride in Times Square in 2008 — an altercation that was videotaped and became a viral presence on the Internet.

The jury found the officer, Patrick Pogan, 24, guilty of filing a criminal complaint that contained false statements concerning the cyclist, Christopher Long, including an assertion that Mr. Long knocked Mr. Pogan down by intentionally steering his bicycle into him. (The video showed that Mr. Pogan remained on his feet, while Mr. Long flew to the pavement.)

Mr. Pogan’s conviction carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Mr. Pogan, who resigned from the Police Department after the episode, was also convicted of a misdemeanor for attesting to the complaint’s truthfulness, even though it contained a warning against making false statements.

But Mr. Pogan, who was in his 11th day on the force when the collision happened, was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault.

Prosecutors had contended that Mr. Pogan should have known that the force he used on Mr. Long presented a substantial risk of injury. None of the jurors, who reached their verdict in the third day of deliberations, were available for comment.

But Mr. Long said in an interview he was pleased with the verdict, in part because it would prevent Mr. Pogan from becoming a police officer again.

“The worst of it is he lied, and fortunately the jury saw it that way and convicted him on those charges,” Mr. Long said. “I don’t think he ever really intended to assault me.”

Mr. Pogan, who is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23, wore a blank stare as the verdict was read. He left the courthouse without commenting.

Outside the courthouse, Stuart London, Mr. Pogan’s lawyer, said he was pleased that his client was exonerated of assault, but was disappointed in the convictions.

“The important part to remember is, regardless of what’s on these documents, if at the time you filled them out you believe you’re being truthful, then that’s really all that should matter,” Mr. London said.

The collision between Mr. Long and Mr. Pogan occurred during Critical Mass, a monthly group ride that is viewed by the Police Department as a way for agitators to rile up the police.

Bill DiPaola, the director of Time’s Up, a cycling and environmental advocacy group, said he hoped the trial, which lasted about a week, would force the police to change the way they treat riders.

Mr. Long took the witness stand, and the bulk of the cross-examination focused on his background, which he admitted included frequent marijuana use and causing the death of a man in a traffic accident.

During Mr. Pogan’s testimony, he acknowledged that he told both his sergeant and an assistant district attorney that Mr. Long knocked him down with his bicycle, but characterized that as an honest mistake. He said he had confused the initial collision with two later instances in which he went to the ground while trying to handcuff Mr. Long.

The jury also acquitted Mr. Pogan on charges that he falsified the initial arrest report filed after the collision. (Mr. Long initially faced charges of attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but they were all dropped.)

The jurors apparently placed significance on Mr. Pogan’s testimony that his sergeant filled out and filed the arrest report, which Mr. Pogan did not have to sign.

The acquittal on the assault charge was perhaps indicative of the public’s belief that police officers should be given latitude to use force when they perceive a threat, said Philip Karasyk, a defense lawyer who regularly defends police officers.

“When an officer puts on that badge and uniform, he’s not feeling a heightened sense of security — he’s feeling a heightened sense of insecurity and a sense of being on guard,” he said.

Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

Former CIA Spy Andrew Warren Arrested for Rape in Hotel With Drug Paraphernalia, Handgun

A former rising star at the CIA accused of drugging, raping and taping Muslim women while stationed in the Middle East appeared before a federal judge in Virginia today after skipping a pre-trial hearing more than a week ago and going on what sources called an apparent drug binge. Andrew Warren was arrested after an intensive search by federal officials concerned he might be a danger to himself.

A U.S. government employee in Algeria allegedly drugged victims.

According to two federal law enforcement sources, drug paraphernalia and a handgun were found in the Virginia motel room where Warren, former CIA chief of station in Algeria, was arrested. Warren sat in a wheelchair during his Monday afternoon court appearance.

A person close to Warren told ABC News that State Department officials began searching for Warren 11 days ago after he missed a routine pre-trial appearance and could not be found. “His phones were shut off, and none of his family or friends had heard from him,” the person told ABC News.

Warren, 42, was located after federal law enforcement officers reached out to his friends and family, warning them that they were concerned for Warren’s safety and believed he was armed and consuming crack cocaine. He was arrested by local police, U.S. Marshals and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service at a Norfolk, Virginia Ramada Limited hotel late Monday. He was taken by law enforcement officials to a local hospital.

The former station chief’s fall from grace has been dramatic. According to two former CIA officials, Warren was a rising star at the CIA. He was a fluent Arabic speaker who had converted to Islam, making him an ideal officer in the Middle East for the intelligence agency. Officially, however, CIA has refused to acknowledge Warren was their spy.

Before being posted to Algeria, Warren had served in Egypt, Afghanistan, and a stint in that CIA domestic station in New York. It was in New York, a few years after 9/11, that supervisors spotted him as a potential star, ready to be deployed around the world as a spy. Within a very short time – four years – Warren had been posted as station chief in Algeria.

Warren worked for the agency in the Middle East until October 2008, until he was recalled from the region and then fired after two women came forward and accused him of rape, accusations which were first reported by ABC News’ Brian Ross in January 2009. He was charged with one federal count of sexual abuse in June.

SOURCE

NYPD Intel Division not going soft on public events like pillow fights

BY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF

Tuesday, April 20th 2010, 4:00 A
A pillow fight might seem like harmless fun – but try telling that to the NYPD.

Cops on alert for unrest recently conducted surveillance of a giant pillow fight in Union Square, sources told the Daily News.

There were no arrests at the April 3 event – touted as hipster performance art attended by hundreds of people – and no indication beforehand that anything violent was brewing, sources said.

“The NYPD assigns both uniformed officers and plainclothes officers, from Intel [Intelligence Division] or otherwise, to make certain disruption associated with these and similar events in the past don’t get out of hand,” said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman.

But police sources involved in the surveillance complained it was a waste of time. The pillow fight “was just about a bunch of high school kids goofing off,” one source said.

Kevin Bracken, the 23-year-old organizer who has irked cops by producing dozens of daffy public events without getting permits, said the attention paid to the pillow fight was over the top.

The NYPD visited him before and after the event to warn him he could be arrested because he did not have a permit, and they visited his mother on Long Island.

“They said, “We need to talk to your son,” Bracken said. “These were Intel guys who had been to my house before – I live in Bushwick – so obviously they know where I live.

“They were harassing her.”

A woman was arrested during a similar pillow fight last year when she thwacked a cop with a pillow.

The NYPD’s surveillance tactics came under scrutiny after it was revealed that before the 2004 Republican National Convention, Intelligence Division investigators traveled across the world to spy on groups that planned to protest.

Cops also recently questioned people in connection with the Anarchist Book Fair held Saturday in Greenwich Village, sources said.

Intelligence investigators were assigned to cafes and bars in the area and told to listen for discussions about rallies or protests, sources said. “We expect a certain degree of this because the Police Department is the Police Department,” said Wayne Price, spokesman for the fair. “But it’s just their fantasies.”

rparascandola@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2010/04/20/2010-04-20_nypd_intel_division_not_going_soft_on_public_events_like_pillow_fights.html#ixzz0ldm3dBMa

Lawsuit: Drunk cop ran over woman, then supervised investigation

Albuquerque police carried out a “fraudulent” investigation into a drunk, on-duty police officer who killed a woman in a hit-and-run after leaving a bar, a lawsuit filed in a New Mexico court states.

On April 6, 2008, Sgt. Andrew Gallegos left an Albuquerque bar where he had been drinking while on duty, got into his pick-up truck and ran over 47-year-old Vera Ann Haskell, says the lawsuit (PDF) filed by Haskell’s family.

Gallegos then allegedly fled the scene without notifying police or emergency responders. Haskell died soon afterward.

According to the lawsuit, when investigating officers identified Sgt. Gallegos on security camera footage, they notified Gallegos and even granted his request for a five-hour delay in the investigation.

“Sergeant Gallegos was supervising and directing the fatal investigation even after he was APD’s primary suspect,” the lawsuit states. “This conduct shocks the conscience.”

Haskell was allowed to supervise the investigation for more than a day before the matter was turned over to the department’s Criminal Investigations Division, the lawsuit asserts. Two days passed before police searched Gallegos’ home, and before they formally interviewed him for the investigation.

According to news reports at the time, Haskell had no fixed address and was struggling with an alcohol problem at the time of her death. She was reportedly passed out next to Gallegos’ pick-up truck when he ran her over as he left the parking lot.

According to the PoliceCrimes.com forum, Gallegos was charged in December, 2008, with evidence tampering and leaving the scene of an accident. He was suspended without pay pending the outcome.

In April, 2009, a judge ruled that Gallegos had committed no crime in the incident.

But the Haskell family’s lawsuit says the sergeant was given inside information that “was used by Sergeant Gallegos to concoct an alibi and defense.”

They are suing Gallegos, the city of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department and the bar where the incident took place.

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