Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brain Scan Reveals Who Will Keep Their Promises

Original Article

I believe it's more junk science, but if it works, then let's hook up all politicians and see what it says about them. They said the polygraph was full-proof as well, and it's not.

12/13/2009

By JESSICA HAMZELOU

Promises are made to be broken, so it can be tough to tell which ones will be kept. But new-found patterns in brain activity can reveal whether someone intends to keep their word.

The finding raises the possibility of using brain scans to determine the true intentions of criminals who are up for early release on parole, according to Thomas Baumgartner of the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

He and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to catch promise-breakers in the act.

The team set up a game of trust between an investor and a trustee. In the game, an investor is given real money, which they can choose to invest in a trustee. Giving the money to the trustee increases the amount of money fivefold, but the investor runs the risk that the trustee might not share the winnings but keep all the money for themselves.

Promise to Share

Baumgartner's team ran the game twice. The first time, investors simply had to guess whether trustees would share the winnings and then made their decision accordingly. The second, trustees could promise to share the winnings with the investor, if they wanted – although the promise was non-binding.

Almost all the trustees promised to always share their winnings, thereby securing investment. While some of them remained true to their word, others consistently broke their promise, keeping the hoard for themselves.

The trustees had their brains scanned using fMRI during both runs; they spoke to the investor from inside the scanner via an intercom.

The fMRI data revealed that certain brain areas became more active when trustees were breaking a promise. These regions – the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex and amygdala – are known to be involved in emotion. They could reveal an emotional conflict in a person who knows they are doing something wrong, or feels guilty, says Baumgartner.

Parole Promise

Most interestingly, similar areas were active in people who were making promises that they later broke, but not in people making promises that they ended up honouring. This suggests that the former group fully intended to cheat the investor out of their money with a phoney promise, says Baumgartner.

Researcher: FMRI-Based Methods to Predict Behavior Should Be Approached With Caution

While others have claimed to spot liars and cheats from brain scans, Baumgartner reckons that people who intend to break a promise are different.

"Even though people are aware that they are doing something wrong, they haven't actually done anything – they still have a chance to remedy the situation and do the right thing," he says.

Baumgartner envisions a future in which brain scanners might help psychiatrists decide whether or not to release on parole criminals who promise they won't reoffend.
- Nobody or nothing can predict the future.  How in the world can you tell if someone will or will not re-offend in the future at some time?  You can't!

Minority Report

He admits, however, that a scan probably wouldn't be able to predict whether someone who doesn't intend to break a promise will end up doing so. It might also fail to pick up the false promises made by people who don't feel any emotional conflict when they do so, such as pathological liars.

"We might still see some conflict, though," says Baumgartner. "Those areas of the brain might register a conflict between saying you will do something and knowing that you won't, although this area needs more research."

However, Daniel Langleben, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, doesn't think it is appropriate to use fMRI to predict the future behaviour of criminals.

"FMRI can be very useful for other investigative and forensic purposes, but I do not think that it will ever be a safe method to use for prediction of behaviour," he says. "Minority Report is science fiction and so it will remain," he said.

He adds that researchers should proceed with such work with caution. "If a government or a society invests enough effort in developing an fMRI-based method to predict behaviour in criminals, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People will be categorised with the poorly working method and thus hurt."

Video Link



NH - Adultery still a crime in N.H. after 200 years

Original Article

12/13/2009

Some lawmakers believe it's time for the law to come off the books

CONCORD - The original punishments — including standing on the gallows for an hour with a noose around the neck — have been softened to a $1,200 fine, yet some lawmakers think it's time for the 200-year-old crime of adultery to come off New Hampshire's books.

Seven months after the state approved gay marriage, lawmakers will consider easing government further from the bedroom with a bill to repeal the law.

"We shouldn't be regulating people's sex lives and their love lives," state Rep. Timothy Horrigan said. "This is one area the state government should stay out of people's bedrooms."

Horrigan, D-Durham, and state Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom, have teamed up on legislation to repeal the law.

Efforts toward marriage equality
Horrigan signed on because he believes it continues New Hampshire's efforts toward marriage equality. In June, lawmakers voted to legalize gay marriage — a law that takes effect Jan. 1.

"We shouldn't be in the business of regulating what consenting adults do with each other," Horrigan said.

Convicted adulterers years ago faced standing on the gallows, up to 39 lashes, a year in jail or a fine of 100 pounds. The punishment has been relaxed to a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,200 — with no jail time.
- I think convicted adulterers, like sex offenders, should be on a public wall of shame for all to see, and made to live by some draconian measures, as well as all other criminals.  But you see, politicians are all for punishing others, but when it might affect them, then they do not want to do it.  That my friends, is a true hypocrite!

Law Professor Jeff Atkinson of DePaul University College of Law in Chicago says states rarely — if ever — enforce criminal adultery laws. Atkinson, author of the American Bar Association's Guide to Marriage, Divorce & Families, attributed that to a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas. In its decision, the high court found that the state had no legitimate interest justifying its intrusion into the personal and private lives of two gay men arrested in their bedroom during a police investigation in a weapons case. The men had been charged with sodomy.

Atkinson said the case applies to adultery because both involve private sexual conduct.

Some recently questioned whether South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's (Contact, Video) admitted extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina made him subject to his state's 1880 criminal law against adultery. The penalty is a fine of up to $500 and a year in jail. The state said it couldn't waste limited money trying to prosecute Sanford on such a charge. The law's constitutionality also has been questioned.

The last attempts to repeal New Hampshire's law came after a Merrimack husband filed a complaint against his wife and her boss in 1987. When police refused to pursue adultery charges, Robert Stackelback brought the complaint himself against the pair. He later dropped the charges.

Earlier repeal efforts
That prompted repeal efforts in 1987 and 1989. Both times the House voted for repeal, but the Senate did not. An attempt in 1992 to reduce the penalty to a violation also passed the House, but died in the Senate.

House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Chairman Stephen Shurtleff's committee will hear the latest bill, probably next month. Shurtleff, D-Concord, predicts — barring a compelling reason to keep the law — his committee will support repealing the law since it isn't being enforced.

In the past, conservatives argued decriminalizing adultery would weaken marriage.

Kevin Smith, executive director of the conservative Cornerstone Policy Research, opposes this repeal effort for the same reason.

"Even though this criminal law probably is not enforced right now and probably has not been enforced for some time, I think it's important to have a public policy statement that says generally or in all situations adultery is not a good thing. And I think, by repealing that statute, you're essentially diminishing the harmful effects of adultery," said Smith.

McGuire, the prime sponsor, believes the moral battle over adultery should be fought under the state's civil divorce laws. The bill would leave adultery as a cause in divorces not filed under the no-fault provision of the statute.

But Smith says leaving the criminal law on the books may give the harmed spouse more leverage in winning a settlement in divorce court.

Atkinson points out that New Hampshire's divorce law already allows judges to account for substantial harm done by an adulterer in determining a financial settlement and alimony.

Horrigan doesn't think a small fine will stop anyone from cheating on a spouse. He also wouldn't oppose taking adultery out of the civil divorce statute as a cause for the breakdown.

"Who we love and how we love is not something, an area the state has much business meddling in," he said.



GA - Georgians For Reform Conference

Original Article

See the link above for more info.

Our Conference

The registry continues to complicate our lives for two primary reasons. The first reason is public perception. The second is recognition.

Our conference gives us the opportunity to address both these issues. We can change public perception by making this conference a significant event that is well attended. Below, you can read about what we plan to do at our conference. Having enough attendees, and having the speakers who will speak the truth to the myths, lies, hysteria, and hatred that generates the registry will go a long way towards changing public perception. Especially when the majority of those attending the conference are the wives, parents, companions, and friends to persons on the registry.

Recognition is as important as perception. We will gain recognition by showing the legislature that we do indeed represent a constituency that will vote and influence votes by others. When our legislators see that over 100 voting citizens will take their time to attend a conference and invite them to attend with us, they will take notice.

This is the most important thing you can do to affect the registry in Georgia. Seriously consider completing the form at the lower right and making this conference a success.

It will be necessary to ask a donation for this conference to cover the costs of the Conference Room and pay honorariums for the presenters. We will keep this cost as minimal as possible and provide waivers for those who are unable to make a donation.

Tentatively, the minimum donation is $20. Please do not send any money at this time. We will advise you when we are ready to receive donations for this event.



OH - Bus driver leaves 6-year-old alone at wrong stop

Original Article

Give me a break. Yes the bus driver made a big mistake, but why did the father go inside to call his wife, instead of follow behind the bus? If that were my child I would have. People are human and make mistakes. Clearly this was a mistake, but the father getting his panties in a wad when he should've followed the bus, is just idiotic, IMO.

12/13/2009

By JEANNETTE SCOTT

Good Samaritans deliver child to parents, whose concerns are heightened by what might have happened.

From the window of the school bus, the 6-year-old West Donegal Township girl saw her father waiting as the bus passed her stop.

"You drove past my daddy," she told the driver, who stopped the bus a quarter of a mile later, then told the girl, "You have to get off here."

John Peterman waited for the driver to correct her mistake. But when she didn't return with his daughter after a few minutes, Peterman went into the house to call his wife, who was at work.
- Why the hell did you go inside instead of follow the bus?

More than an hour went by before a good Samaritan found the Hill Elementary School first-grader, distraught and running in the drizzly weather on Bossler Road.

That's how the child's mother, Cheri Peterman, describes what took place Sept. 8.

The bus is operated by First Student, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, which contracts with Elizabethtown Area School District.

Company spokeswoman Maureen Richmond acknowledged the incident and said the driver — whose name was not released — was suspended for two days and later quit to move out of state.

But recently, Greg Melton, manager of First Student's Elizabethtown bus terminal, called the Petermans to notify them that the driver didn't move and was rehired, Mrs. Peterman said.

The Petermans — who asked that their daughter's name be withheld — are relieved their daughter met good people, and not foul play. But it could easily have gone otherwise, and Mrs. Peterman hopes others will learn from their experience, she said.
- Yes, it could have, but didn't, and like I said, why did the father not follow the bus?

"Anyone could have stopped and picked her up," she noted.
- You are right, so why didn't you follow for 1/4 of a mile and then pick her up, then contact the school?

"And two weeks ago, in the paper, I find out a registered sex offender living nearby has been arrested for a second time," she said.
- So?  Did this person abduct your daughter?  No, for God's sake, it was 1/4 of a mile, which you should have followed behind the bus, but no, we have to find someone else to blame, don't we?

The Peterman child did not encounter anyone who meant her harm.

Instead, she met two women who acted as guardian angels.

Toni Boyer happened to look out the front door of her Bossler Road home as the girl ran past it, crying. The child was trying to get home, but headed in the wrong direction.

When asked, the child told Boyer what happened but, wary of a stranger, she would not give Boyer her phone number or address.
- Smart kid!

The girl continued to walk down the road, away from both Boyer and home.

"You can't walk home by yourself, so I will walk with you," Boyer told the child, taking her hand.

"I left supper on the stove and my cell phone in the house," Boyer recalled.

Three-quarters of a mile later, Boyer stopped at the home of friend Pam Brubaker, who lives on Bossler Road.

"The road is busy, and it goes into a wooded area," Brubaker said. "It's not a road that you want to be walking on a lot."

Tired and trembling, the girl gave up her phone number and address. "I started shaking, too," Brubaker said, "because this little girl was so scared and shaking and crying."

The women called John Peterman and drove the child home.
- So why did this woman have to do what the father should have done?  Follow the damn bus.  You watched it go by, but did nothing!

Grateful, frustrated
While Mrs. Peterman would have liked more redress from the bus company, she isn't "out to get" the company, she said. She is just grateful for the women who rescued her only child, she said.

However, she said she regrets calling the school and the bus company instead of police.

"If I had called the police right away, there would have been a full investigation," she said. "If I had [left a child on the road], don't you think I'd have been charged with endangering a child or something?"
- That brings up a good question.  Did you know, in most states, leaving your child alone unattended for any length of time, is a crime?  Well, many people do that, when they drop their kid off at the bus stop, or the kid walks alone to and from the bus stop.  Are they being arrested for child endangerment?  Just leave your child in the car while you go into a mall and shop, and see what happens.  Why is this any different?

After her husband called her to tell her that their daughter was not dropped off, Mrs. Peterman said she called the school secretary, who verified with the bus company that no child had been left on a bus.

"So at this point now, I'm panicking because no one knows where my daughter is," Mrs. Peterman said.
- So why not question your husband, asking him why he did not follow the bus?  He watched it go by, but did nothing.

Troy Portser, director of school and community information for the Elizabethtown district, said he could not confirm or deny that Mrs. Peterman talked to the secretary or that the secretary checked with the bus company.

"Student safety is paramount," Portser said. "And we've established with [First Student], again, our expectations, and we believe we've been heard."

"I have absolutely no comment," said Melton, the bus terminal manager. "I wasn't here when her dissatisfaction took place."

"Our purpose here is to get children safely from point A to point B, and we will continue to do that."

This is the fifth year Elizabethtown has contracted with First Student to transport all of its students, according to the district's business manager, George Longridge.

As with any contracted service, the school district would take into consideration any consistent or serious problems when the contract is up for renewal, Portser explained.

Mrs. Peterman said she is not satisfied with the driver's two-day suspension.

Richmond said that until this incident the driver worked for First Student for four years with no complaints and a clean driving record.
- They are only human, and people make mistakes.  Just like the father, who made a mistake and did not follow the bus.  If you saw your child get into a car, would you not follow the car?  So why is a bus any different?

"We have instituted a probationary period for the driver, which involves driving a minibus with about four to five students on the bus," Richmond said. "She is required to release each student into the care of their individual parent."

The driver has been retrained, Richmond said, which means a manager accompanied her on a bus route to review how things should be done.

"We understand the concern this would cause to parents, and we apologize for that sincerely," Richmond said.

"I'm just glad it was me that found [the girl] because not everyone out there is safe," Boyer said. "I was thinking, 'Oh my gosh! Her parents are probably frantic.' "
- You are right.  Even if sex offenders did not exist, the child is still potentially in danger.  So like usual, out comes the sex offender hysteria.

The Petermans' nightmare ended when Boyer and Brubaker brought their daughter home.

"She just hugged her daddy, and he hugged her," Boyer said.

"I'm just so grateful for these good Samaritans," Mrs. Peterman said. "If someone had stopped their car and said to her, 'I'll take you to your daddy,' she was so scared I think she would have gotten in. ... I will never be able to repay them for what they did."
- So now is a good time to teach your child what to do if this happens again, wouldn't you say?



Myspace Dater Gets Robbed by Date

Video Link



FL - Mirrored in one man, yesteryear's glory and today's troubles in city's core

Original Article

12/11/2009

By Bridget Murphy

On the streets of downtown, _____ has had nightmares and dreams. Hints of both are etched in lines on his face.

There is the smile that curves the corners of the homeless man’s mouth and crinkles skin beside his eyes when he tells of working amid the bustle of hotels and restaurants in Jacksonville’s core in the 1970s.

It was a magnificent time in this city,” _____ says of a place he remembers as “lit up like a Christmas tree.”

But that something golden didn’t stay.

Now downtown is like a ghost town. It has literally died.”

So says a man who worries those streets will be the death of him.

Scars dissect _____’s forehead and nose, cutting swaths across the meat of his cheeks. The wicked grid is the signature of an attacker who dredged a box cutter through the 55-year-old’s flesh in July. _____ said the slashing was a robbery attempt. It came a few months after he had double-bypass surgery following a heart attack.

The man speaks of redemption and hands out index cards with neatly inked Bible verses. But while _____ stores adoration for the downtown of the past in his heart, files at the Sheriff’s Office depict him as part of the problem when it comes to today’s troubles in the city’s core.

Not only does he bear a sex offender label from a 1987 California conviction, _____ is prey for others who wander the streets. In his own way, _____ is something like downtown itself, an urban ghost capitalizing on slim gifts of fortune while adrift in a fight to survive. The former Raines High School student is among the army of homeless who’ve adapted to life on the pavement of a place where many might silently give thanks if one day they went missing in action.

Census figures from the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville Inc. showed that in the past few years, there were about 1,500 homeless people downtown on a given day. The nonprofit’s statistics also showed that about eight times that number of homeless folks, or close to 12,000, used the services of downtown social service agencies in each of those years. A database system ensures each person is counted once in the statistics, said Dawn Gilman, coalition executive director.

Those same stats show that the Duval County jail, on East Adams Street, could be considered a homeless shelter itself. Studies show that about 260 people locked up on a typical night listed themselves as transients.

Crime statistics show that in about the past two years, police have arrested _____ at least three times, once for trying to beg money off a plainclothes cop, once for trespassing, and once in August for not updating his address as a sex offender. That happened after a downtown ambassador called police to complain he was panhandling.

The arrest report shows _____ used the address of relatives on his driver’s license, but admitted to an officer he had moved out without changing his address in official records. When he got out jail about a month later, _____’s Florida Department of Law Enforcement sex offender poster listed the bus stop at Pearl and Bay streets as his “permanent” home.

Besides the slashing, _____ has been the victim of at least three simple batteries on or around the streets of downtown in the same two-year span. Police statistics show that it is a crime that is among the most frequent downtown. While there have been about 20 homicides in the inner city from 2000 to 2008, and less than 100 reported robberies for each of those years, simple assaults and batteries for each of those years easily topped 300.

By day, _____ charms dollars out of the wallets of office workers on West Forsyth Street who have grown to expect his presence and even enjoy his conversation.

There are still people,” he says, “who do not look down on the broken in spirit.”

By night, _____ shuffles the streets in a half-daze or sleeps sitting up at his preferred bus shelter so it looks like he’s waiting for a ride.

Sometimes he takes a bus to the beach, stops off to see family, or hitches a ride with an office worker who sees something that moves him etched in the lines of this man’s face.

Ugly or not,” _____ says, “the face to you or me is all we got.”

Quote from Winston Churchill:

"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment."