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Police Obtained Warrants Demanding Info On All Google Users Near Four Crime Scenes

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Police across the country have been attempting to use Google data and other information from social networks to help them solve cases. One recent story about the Raleigh Police Department shows how they have been using Google data to track down suspects, but in order to do it, they had to cast a wide net, obtaining information on all active users near at least four different crime scenes.

Ultimately, police were only able to solve one of these cases with the data that they obtained, but in the process, they violated the privacy of tens of thousands without them even knowing. In many cases, the fine print of these warrants restrict Google from making their customers aware of the searches, and this even applies to innocent users who were caught up the surveillance net.

City and county officials told WRAL that this is a “natural evolution of criminal investigative techniques.”

However, legal experts say that this is an unprecedented move that puts the privacy of many innocent people at risk.

Jonathan Jones, a former Durham prosecutor pointed out that if Google has your info, law enforcement probably does also.

 “We are willingly sharing an awful lot of our lives with Google, but do people  understand that in sharing that information with Google, they’re also  potentially sharing it with law enforcement?” Jones said.

Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the American Civil  Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, warned about the potential dangers of using the technology this way.

 “From an average smartphone user’s perspective, it’s a little surprising once you start to learn the full scope of information about our locations and whereabouts and activities that companies like Google hold. At the end of the day, this tactic unavoidably risks getting information about totally innocent people. Location information is really revealing and private about people’s habits and activities and what they’re doing,” Wessler said.

Through GPS data, Google knows your every move, which could be helpful to police, but it could also create a dystopian nightmare for everyday people.

The warrant below, obtained during a murder investigation in 2015, provided specific details about how the data will be collected and analyzed.

The warrant below, also obtained during a murder investigation, this time in 2016, allows police to obtain all cell phone data within 150 meters of a specific target, which could be thousands of people in a large city with tall buildings. This could also include people who drove by the location within the hours that the warrant allows.

Google’s most recent transparency report revealed that the government forced them to hand over information with 5,200 different warrants, and the company followed through with giving them information about 81% of the time. Out of all of those requests and all of that privacy violated, just four cases were solved using Google data.

Last week, I wrote an article comparing results from Google and Duck Duck Go and showed that in addition to tracking you, Google also provides a far inferior search engine.

Google became the most popular search engine on the web because it connected people with the links that were close to their searches while offering up a wide variety of different sources, but now it is obviously far past time to move onto more trusted platforms. In the early days of the internet, search engines and service providers like youtube acted as a gateway to the world, but over the years the most powerful of these companies have increasingly begun to act as gatekeepers, caving into pressure from the government.


Image: Valery Brozhinsky/Shutterstock.

Ancient History

Megalodon Fossils Show How Biggest-Ever Shark Had Nurseries All Over the World

Elias Marat

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The massive megalodon, the largest shark to ever roam the seas, had their own nursery areas all over the globe that allowed the apex predators to raise their young and populate the world prior to their extinction.

A new study, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, reveals that nurseries belonging to the massive creatures have been found in across vast geographic distances where fossils belonging to both young and old megalodons were discovered.

The five likely nurseries include sites off Spain’s east coast, two off the coast of the United States, and two in Panama.

Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), whose name means “large tooth,” lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago until it went extinct during a period of global cooling. For 13 million years, the megalodon was the king of the sea.

The megalodon was not only the largest shark in the world, but also the biggest fish – and quite possibly the most powerful predator – to ever exist. Its teeth alone measured 18 centimeters long, and evidence shows that it could have grown to reach up to 60 feet in length.

However, because megalodon bodies were mostly comprised of cartilage – which cannot fossilize – the shark’s teeth, vertebrae and fossilized feces have been the main way researchers have calculated the shark’s body measurements.

The existence of the nurseries shows that young megalodon were still quite susceptible to attacks by other predators.

To keep the young megalodon safe, their shark parents would give birth to their young in shallow, warm water nurseries located near coastlines. In these special regions, juvenile megalodon were able to access their prey while facing few dangers from rival predators.

“Our analyses support the presence of five potential nurseries ranging from the Langhian (middle Miocene) to the Zanclean (Pliocene), with higher densities of individuals with estimated body lengths within the typical range of neonates and young juveniles,” the scientists wrote in the abstract for the study.

“These results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations,” the authors added.

The nurseries were ideal sites that allowed young megalodons to mature into adults in a process that took about 25 years.

Experts investigated 25 teeth belonging to megalodon that were found in the Reverté and Vidal regions in Tarragona, Spain. The study led to the conclusion that these locations were filled with sharks that had body lengths consistent with the normal range of newborns and young juveniles, measuring 13 feet in length for one-month-old sharks to 36 feet in length for older juveniles.

A separate study released in September found that a 52.5-foot-long adult megalodon had heads that measure up to 15.3 feet long, with dorsal fins measuring about 5.3 feet tall and tails reaching 12.6 feet. To put this into perspective, an adult human could stand on a shark’s back and be roughly the same height as the dorsal fin.

The study’s findings also reveal that the shark’s reliance on nurseries likely played a role in their demise, when the world cooled near the end of the Pliocene period and sea levels declined.

“Ultimately, the presumed reliance of O. megalodon on the presence of suitable nursery grounds might have also been determinant in the demise of this iconic top predatory shark,” the authors of the study noted.

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Trump Accuses His Own FBI and Justice Department of ‘Rigging’ Election

Elias Marat

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Despite finally agreeing to begin the formal transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden last Monday, President Trump on Sunday continued to deny that he lost the election and repeated claims of fraud in his first interview since his Election Day defeat.

“We won the election easily,” the outgoing president falsely claimed on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

This time, however, Trump added a new twist – claiming that his own Department of Justice and FBI had somehow colluded with the “rigging” of the election in Biden’s favor.

“This is total fraud,” the outgoing president said in the interview with Maria Bartiromo. “And how the FBI and Department of Justice—I don’t know—maybe they’re involved, but how people are getting away with this stuff—it’s unbelievable.”

Just over three weeks ago, major networks including Fox News and the Associated Press called Pennsylvania and Nevada in Biden’s favor, pushing him well over the 270 electoral-vote threshold to make him the winner of the Electoral College.

Since then, Trump has refused to concede, and has instead spouted claims of widespread fraud to sow the seeds of doubt in the election results. However, no evidence has been offered to flesh out the claims while the Trump campaign’s legal challenges have failed in court.

“Missing in action. Missing in action,” Trump continued after being asked if the FBI and DOJ were investigating the fraud claims. “Can’t tell you where they are. I ask, ‘Are you looking at it?’ Everyone says, ‘Yes,’ they’re looking at it.”

The accusation is incredible if only because both agencies’ heads were personally handpicked by President Trump.

The FBI is led by director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee who has headed the bureau since 2017. The Justice Department is headed by Attorney General William Barr, who was nominated by the president in 2018 and has long argued in favor of government agencies deferring to presidential authority.

Barr has faced massive criticism from Democrats for actions they perceive as being overly partisan and biased in the president’s favor, including responding to Trump’s claims that he hadn’t actually lost the election by clearing the DOJ to look into voting irregularities prior to the certification of elections.

The move was widely seen as a reversal of guidance meant to prevent federal authorities from intervening in the election, and prompted the DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch head Richard Pilger to resign in protest.

However, this hasn’t prevented Trump from lashing out at the attorney general for his perceived lack of zeal in following his directives. In October, Trump criticized Barr publicly for failing to indict his political enemies, including former President Barack Obama and former Vice President (now President-elect) Joe Biden for their alleged role in the origins of the Russia probe.

Trump’s campaign has launched dozens of ill-fated lawsuits in key swing states won by Biden, with many of the lawsuits being dismissed by Republican-appointed judges.

On Sunday morning, the president further accused the judges of blocking his ability to overturn the election results.

“We’re trying to put the evidence in and the judges won’t allow us to do it,” Trump said.

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One-Year-Old Baby Killed After 3 Cops Open Fire on Father’s Truck Following Crash

Elias Marat

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A one-year-old baby boy was killed by police on Thursday after an estranged father took him, sparking police intervention that ended with both the father and son being shot.

The incident took place in the rural region of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, after police received reports of an alleged domestic disturbance and abduction, according to reports.

A Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said that the father, who was attempting to flee the police, crashed his vehicle into a cruiser belonging to Ontario Provincial Police before three officers shot at the 33-year-old suspect, gravely wounding him and tragically claiming the child’s life, reports Niagara Falls Review.

“The man was struck and he was airlifted to hospital in grave condition,” said SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon. “Inside the vehicle was the man’s son, a one-year-old boy, and he was fatally wounded.”

A firearm was also discovered in the man’s vehicle.

According to a local resident, the father had tried to kidnap the baby on Thursday morning following a domestic disturbance. In desperation, the child’s mother, her older son, and a therapist contacted him seeking shelter.

“Some people came to the house and wanted in, for a safe haven, and there was something about the husband had left with the little baby,” said Tom Deciccio.

When police located the father on a foggy rural road just east of Lindsay, Ontario, all hell reportedly broke loose when the man’s truck collided with another civilian car and the police cruiser.

The car was largely totaled by the collision, raising important questions as to why officers felt the need to fire their weapons at the vehicle.

The father remains in critical condition while the OPP officer, who was initially listed in critical condition, is now stable and being treated at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital. An autopsy was conducted on the deceased child on Saturday.

The investigation of police conduct during the incident is now in the hands of the SIU, which is tasked with investigating any incidents involving Ontario officers who have killed, seriously injured, or sexually assaulted somebody.

The normally quiet central Ontario town of Kawartha Lakes has been shaken by the gruesome incident.

“The community is in disbelief that this is happening,” commented Mayor Andy Letham, who added that he appreciates the work of provincial police in safeguarding the community’s safety and wellbeing.

In separate comments to the National Post, the mayor noted that everyone in the region was already on edge this winter due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – and that Thursday’s deadly incident only added an extra layer of distress to the small community.

“In a small community like this, it certainly caught everybody off guard,” Letham said.

OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said that York Regional Police will handle other aspects of the investigation to ascertain how the tragic case unfolded.

“As a result of a tragic incident today, one child is dead and two others significantly injured. I ask that (the SIU) and (York police) be given time to investigate, without speculation on the events as they unfolded,” he explained in a tweet. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are suffering today.”

As of now, police have not yet revealed which of the three officers fired the fatal shot, or if it was the father that claimed the child’s life, or if the father discharged any bullets from the firearm found in the vehicle.

However, the SIU has said that the three police firearms have been taken for forensic investigation. In the meantime, the handgun found inside the truck will likely be handed to investigators.

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