Sunday, July 11, 2010

Facebook to launch child safety 'panic button'

Original Article


Facebook has announced it is to launch a "panic button" application on its social networking site.

The button, aimed at children and teenagers, will report abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) and Facebook.

The application will also appear on their homepage to say that "they are in control online".

The launch follows months of negotiation between Ceop and Facebook, which initially resisted the idea.

Ceop, the government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders, called for a panic button to be installed on social networking sites last November.

Bebo became the first network to add the button with MySpace following suit, but Facebook resisted the change, saying its own reporting systems were sufficient.

Pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, who she met on Facebook.

Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing Ceop's call for a panic button on every Facebook page.

'Reassurance for parents'

The agreement to launch a child safety application is the culmination of months of negotiation between Ceop and Facebook.

Jim Gamble, Ceop's chief executive, said in a statement: "Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCeop button is well documented - today however is a good day for child protection."

"By adding this application, Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCeop button which should provide reassurance to every parent with teenagers on the site."

Facebook's head of communications in the UK, Sophy Silver, told BBC News that the new app would integrate reporting into both Facebook and Ceop's systems.

"Both sides are happy of where we have got to," she said.

"We still have the Facebook reporting system and by having a pre-packaged application that users play an active part in, you not only help keep them safe, it makes all of their friends aware too, and acts as a viral awareness campaign."

"Ultimately though, this makes for a safer environment for users and that's the most important part," she added.

In addition to the online reporting application, a new Facebook/Ceop page is being set up, with a range of topics that, it is hoped, will be of interest to teenagers - such as celebrities, music and exams - and will link these subjects to questions about online safety.

CA - Californians bare bottoms for passing trains

Original Article


The southern Californian city of Laguna Niguel has been enjoying an annual ritual, in which locals and visitors bare their bottoms at passing trains.

For 30 years, the city has hosted "Mooning Amtrak" as crowds line up along the railway tracks, dropping their trousers when a train passes by.

Up to 10,000 people take part, and visitors are encouraged to leave their cars at home and arrive by train.

Local legend has it the tradition began in 1979, after a bar room bet.

A drinker at the Mugs Away Saloon, which stands directly across the road from the railway, offered to buy a drink for anyone who would run outside and moon at the next train.

One customer took him at his word, and a ritual was born.

Each year the event grows, with crowds swelled by word of mouth and enthusiastic reports from radio DJs on local radio stations.

There were reports in 2008 of surging crowds and drunkenness, and police and a helicopter were called in from neighbouring towns to maintain order.

Last year the city, which lies in Orange County between Los Angeles and San Diego, decided enough was enough.

"Avoid the area this year," the city warned on its website home page. It added in a breezy Twitter feed that the city was "saying 'NO' to crack".

Moon Amtrak enthusiasts were not impressed.

Mugs Away regular Rick Sanchez blamed a "stuffy, yuppie mayor" who had "never even been to a mooning", the Wall Street Journal reported.

The event even has its own website, this year proudly headed "31st Annual Mooning of Amtrak". It also promoted a newer offshoot: "5th Annual Mooning of Metrolink".

It features directions to Camino Capistrano, the road where trousers and dignity are dropped each year, and helpfully lists train times through the day, so that people can schedule their disrobing.

And after 8pm, there is night mooning. "Bring a flash light with plenty of batteries, or better yet, bring a camping lantern," the website advises.

There is even a "Frequently Asked Questions" section for mooning debutantes. "Can I decorate my butt?" is one FAQ.

Yes, that's OK, apparently.

SOSEN Newsletter - Volume 5, Issues 3

FL - Fenced in Offenders: Ghetto grows in Miami

Video Link

NE - Sex offender registry questioned

Original Article
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By Paul Hammel

LINCOLN — It's been 15 years since he made the biggest mistake of his life: meeting and then having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

He was 19.

He pleaded no contest to a felony, having sex with a minor. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation because, he said, the sex was consensual and the girl had told him she was 16 — old enough to consent.

Fast forward to today.

He lives with his wife and young children on a tidy cul-de-sac on Lincoln's east side. He owns a business and hasn't had any other sexual offenses.

Yet because of a year-old state law, his photograph is posted on the State Patrol's sexual offender website, where it will remain for 24 more years.

Twice a year he must report to the county sheriff to affirm that he hasn't changed residences. If he wants to travel out of the state for more than three days, he must inform enforcement officials three days in advance.

This sexual offender — who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of ruining his business — maintained that the new law, passed to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act, is a waste of money and time.

Instead of focusing on the most dangerous offenders, it requires that all 3,192 sexual offenders must now register in person and have their pictures posted on a public website.

To be sure, there are plenty of supporters of the state law, which passed on a 46-1 vote.

This isn't Joe Smith who didn't do anything wrong. This is Joe Smith who is a convicted sex offender,” said State Sen. Pete Pirsch of Omaha, who says the bottom line is better protection for the public.

Though defending the civil rights of sex offenders is not politically popular, at least a few public officials are beginning to disagree with Pirsch. They question whether the new paperwork and monitoring will translate into improved public safety.

Sheriffs in the state's largest counties, Douglas and Lancaster, said they've either added or are seeking to add front-desk workers to handle the 2,000-plus new visitors each year. Each offender has to give a DNA sample and complete a four-page questionnaire.

The State Patrol hired a temporary worker to help add 1,200 new offenders to its website. And one sheriff said tickets written for failure to comply with the new law have increased fourfold.

Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning said he preferred the old law, which focused on offenders classified as being at the highest risk to reoffend.

Now, all offenders must visit his office, and all have photos posted on the state's website, diluting the emphasis on the most dangerous offenders.

A sexual psychopath is certainly more of a concern to me than someone who had consensual sex with someone who was under age 16,” Dunning said.

A federal judge, while upholding most of the new law in a preliminary ruling in December, didn't mince words in decrying what he called a “dumb” idea.

I am pretty sure that this (new law) will divert attention and money from policing the monsters (and God knows there are plenty of monsters out there),” wrote U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf.

Pirsch, who introduced Legislative Bill 285, said that under the old law, some offenders slipped through the cracks. Under that law, the State Patrol classified offenders as Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 based on the probability that they would reoffend.
- This is not true. They are classified based on the crime committed, not their history or their likelihood they will re-offend.

Only those deemed as likeliest to reoffend, Level 3, were listed on the website. The whereabouts of the others were communicated to law enforcement agencies and, in some cases, to schools and day care centers.

Pirsch cited a 2008 case in Washington County in which an Illinois man convicted of raping a 5-year-old girl had moved to Blair after being released from prison. A Nebraska State Patrol evaluation of Brandon Lee Norris concluded he was at the lowest risk of reoffending, Level 1.

Norris later raped two girls, ages 15 and 16.

That system was obviously flawed,” said Pirsch, a former deputy prosecutor. “With every bill that's passed, there's some grumbling — especially when you're a criminal.
- You will NEVER be able to tell if someone will or will not re-offend, period.  And the above is one example.  And of course, when you folks continue to pass unconstitutional (ex post facto) laws, people will complain.

A legal challenge to LB 285 is under way before Judge Kopf. It's one of hundreds of civil rights lawsuits across the country challenging the Adam Walsh Act and state laws it inspired.

The federal act came with several state requirements, such as posting images of all sex offenders, and with a penalty: Noncompliant states would lose 10 percent of their federal Byrne Grant funding, which finances drug task forces and drug education efforts.
- Which is bribery!  And the last time I checked, is a crime.

For Nebraska, that would mean a penalty of $196,300 based on the latest year's funding. The Iowa penalty would be $297,600. The penalty continues, year after year.

But some people maintain that states will spend hundreds of thousands more to comply.

Based on cost projections by the State of Virginia, a group opposed to the act has estimated that Nebraska would spend about $2.9 million more for increased paperwork, prosecutions and monitoring to comply with the act.

Nationwide, compliance has moved slowly. Deadlines have been moved back twice, and states with waivers have until mid-2011 to comply.

Only Ohio, Delaware and Florida have been certified as compliant, though at least 35 states, including Nebraska, have passed laws in an attempt to comply. Iowa is among the states granted an extension to comply.
- Ohio has not exactly complied 100%, neither has the other two states.

Sgt. Glenn Elwell, who oversees the offender registry for the Nebraska State Patrol, said he expects to hear in the next couple of months that Nebraska is in compliance.

Elwell said that while posting the full list of offenders has required more money and time, multiyear federal grants totaling nearly $750,000 have helped pick up the cost.

He prefers the new system because it's “cut and dried.”

This gives the public the information they need to know to protect their families,” Elwell said.

President Barack Obama pledged in March that sufficient federal funds will be there for states to comply.

Some defense attorneys say the new law casts too wide a net, allowing truly dangerous sexual predators to get lost in a blizzard of paperwork and verification requirements for all offenders.

A lot of time, the Legislature passes feel-good legislation so they can say they're being tough on sex offenders,” said Joe Nigro, a deputy Lancaster County public defender.

State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, chairman of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, said it was a “close call” to lump together hard-core rapists with less-serious sex offenders, who might have had consensual sex with an underage youth. Lawmakers declined to include two controversial portions of the Adam Walsh Act, he noted.

Is it unfair for those who have been rehabilitated through the system? No. But does it have a public purpose? Yes,” Ashford said.
- Slavery was not fair to those who were slaves, but it was also for a public purpose also. Doesn't mean it was right!

Everyone is waiting to see how Kopf rules.

Ashford acknowledged that the costs of the program and the added costs to comply with the Adam Walsh Act will be among the expenses his committee will review as it tries to find $60 million in potential cuts in public safety programs this summer.
- Why don't you start with cutting your salary?

If we're going to have to find $60 million in cuts for public safety, it's going to have an effect on public safety,” Ashford said.

The sex offender from Lincoln said plenty could be saved and public safety could be enhanced if the state's offender registration laws were again focused on those most likely to reoffend.

He noted that a Lancaster County deputy sheriff and then a Lincoln police officer made five trips to his home earlier this year before they were able to verify his address. He was at work the first four times they visited.

Now he lives with the anxiety that his neighbors will see his face on the website, that his kids' friends will disappear and that his business will dry up because of his new notoriety.

My story does show the true stupidity of the law,” he wrote in an e-mail, “how, 15 years later, it comes back to haunt you when you haven't done anything except move on with your life.”

Kiddie Porn Hits Facebook, Twitter - ABC News

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