Aug 082012


This is “NOT MY WAY”… 4Chan Outs Burger King Employee Who Put His Feet in Lettuce!

Sui Ying Teoh for Geekosystem

July 19, 2012



This picture was uploaded anonymously Monday on 4chan, proclaiming, “This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King.”

These Burger King employees might be good at balancing themselves on buckets of vegetation, but they’re not very good at removing Exif data from their photos. The denizens of 4chan were quick to notice, and the lettuce-stepper was fired they very next day.

The original post went live on July 16 at 11:38 p.m.

At 11:47 p.m., another 4chan user noted that the photo’s Exif data pointed to Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

At 11:50 p.m., just 12 minutes later, someone posted the address of the Burger King branch in which the lettuce-stepping occurred, wishing the OP a happy unemployment.

At 11:55 p.m., someone contacted the news.

At 11:58 p.m., someone posted the link to Burger King’s Tell Us About Us form, with the photo attached.

And things happen fast these days on the web. (Just check out this thread.)

The next morning, Cleveland Scene Magazine contacted the Burger King establishment and talked to the breakfast shift manager, who, upon seeing the offending photo, said “Oh, I know who that is. He’s getting fired.”

Shortly after, Fox 8 News received this statement from Burger King’s Manager of Global Communications, Denise Wilson:

Burger King Corp. has recently been made aware of a photo posted on a social networking site that allegedly shows a Burger King restaurant employee violating the company’s stringent food handling procedures. Food safety is a top priority at all Burger King restaurants, and the company maintains a zero-tolerance policy against any violations such as the one in question.

The restaurant where this photo was allegedly taken is independently owned and operated by a Burger King franchisee. The franchisee has taken swift action to investigate this matter and terminated the employee involved in this incident.

And there you go. Swift and sure punishment for standing on the people’s lettuce and posting it on 4chan.


This article originally published at Geekosystem here.

Direct Link


Feb 042012

After 11 Years, a Police Leader Hits Turbulence


The New York Times

Published: February 3, 2012



Raymond W. Kelly has become New York’s longest-serving police commissioner.
(Michael Appleton for The New York Times)



The officers who stand sentinel over New York’s streets and run the station houses rarely intersect with the police commissioner. They see the man they call “boss” at Police Academy graduations, at promotions, on the news recapitulating the latest ugly crime or at police funerals. That is about it.

Mr. Kelly in 1994, helping train the police in Haiti.

Marcelo Salinas/Associated Press


So it was jarring recently when some commanders got e-mails from the boss with photos of vagrants taken by his personal staff. The messages cited “a condition that requires your immediate attention.” They specified no action, but officers said those highlighted sometimes later wound up in handcuffs.

The e-mails reminded some precinct commanders of the blanket control the commissioner exerts — even the ceremonial unit of anthem singers and pallbearers reports directly to him — and of his thirst for arrests, of almost any sort. They also reminded them of something quite contrary: While his presence is always sensed, it is unusual to have contact with a commissioner who seems to have reigned for eons.

But that is Ray Kelly.

After years of undeniable suc-cess, Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly is going through turbulent times, confronted with a steady drip of troublesome episodes. They include officers fixing traffic tickets, running guns and disparaging civilians on Facebook, and accusations that the Police Department encourages officers to question minorities on the streets indiscriminately. His younger son has been accused of rape, though he has not been charged and maintains his innocence. On Thursday, in an episode that Mr. Kelly said concerned him, an officer killed an 18-year-old drug suspect who was unarmed.

At 70, Mr. Kelly has now run the 52,000-member department longer than any of the city’s 41 commissioners. Almost everything about him braids through the department’s interlocking workings. Yet many inside and outside the force wonder whether the pileup of scandals and his increasingly authoritarian use of power have diminished his once-towering stature.

In Mr. Kelly’s two tenures — 16 months in the early 1990s under Mayor David N. Dinkins, and since 2002 under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — he has now served 11 ½ years. Lewis Joseph Valentine presided for just shy of 11, from 1934 to 1945, during monstrous times, when organized-crime groups sanctioned hundreds of murders.

Mr. Kelly has many fans. His public approval numbers after years of low crime remain high: two-thirds of the city’s voters were pleased with his job performance in a December poll by Quinnipiac University.

Mr. Bloomberg continues to affirm his unbending faith. Asked if he had considered replacing Mr. Kelly, he said, “With God as my witness, never once.” While waving off interest, Mr. Kelly has been promoted as a 2013 mayoral candidate; political soothsayers are dubious he will run, however, and the suggestion is heard less often these days.

But even some of those who admire Mr. Kelly wonder if his prolonged tenure has changed him. And they wonder something else more ominous: Has it begun to damage the department?

“In many, many ways he’s been an outstanding commissioner,” said Eugene J. O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former police officer. “There’s a danger in that job in staying too long. I think there should be a six-year term limit to the job.” He added, “I think a lot of what you do after six years is a rerun.”


A Remote Presence

Those who go back far enough generally agree that Mr. Kelly in his elongated encore is different from his first stint: less jocular, more controlling, less transparent.

He used to cook spaghetti for staff members in his office kitchen. He would let the police press corps inspect unloaded guns in his conference room, and brought doughnuts and coffee, but no longer. “He is not a regular guy anymore,” one commander said. “He doesn’t talk to the guys.”

The commander mentioned an officer, retiring after 30 years, and his final request: to meet the commissioner and shake his hand. It was done, but the commander wondered why it had not happened before.

Mr. Kelly’s autonomy is striking. A former senior member of the Bloomberg administration, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to disturb his relationship with the mayor, said he had never known an agency head with such sweeping, unchecked power, and who so intimidated other city officials. He said in budget meetings, when police cuts were suggested, Mr. Kelly would nod, but everyone knew the requests would be ignored or minimized. (The mayor disputed that.)

All police commissioners are remote to some extent. Ray Kelly these days seems to exude remoteness.

Some believe 9/11 is part of it — before and after the attack he has lived in Battery Park City, in the shadow of the towers. Others wonder about the perils of power in a cauldron-like job.

There are reasons he has lasted so long. Under his command, serious crime has dropped and remained remarkably low, even as austerity has reduced resources. When he returned in 2002, there were 587 murders. In each of the last two years, the count was in the low 500s.

He has made taking advantage of cutting-edge technology a top objective. He added thousands of black and Hispanic officers and, despite recent scuffles, has generally strengthened relations with minority communities, in part by regularly visiting black churches.

He has built a counterterrorism machine with tentacles in 11 foreign cities, irritating federal agencies. There has been no successful terrorist attack on his city while he has been commissioner. He has instead been engulfed in the past year largely by familiar police corruption story lines, of human beings succumbing to greed or audacity.

Over the past year, two officers charged with raping a woman were fired after being acquitted of rape but found guilty of official misconduct. A broad ticket-fixing scandal flared in the Bronx; when the accused officers were arraigned, hundreds of officers massed in protest, some denouncing Mr. Kelly. Eight current and former officers were charged with smuggling illegal guns. Narcotics detectives were accused of planting drugs on innocent civilians. An inspector needlessly pepper-sprayed four Occupy Wall Street protesters, invoking memories of the scrutiny and mass arrests of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention, and giving the nascent movement its first real prime-time moment.

Civil rights advocates have assailed the department’s expanded stops of minorities on the streets. Several officers denigrated West Indians on Facebook. Muslims have denounced the monitoring of their lives, as Mr. Kelly has dispatched undercover officers and informants to find radicalized youth.

This year began with the revelation that a film offensive to Muslims, which included an interview with Mr. Kelly, had been shown to many officers.

The other afternoon, Mr. Kelly was in the back seat of his car, traveling to an appearance. At turns defiant or preoccupied, he brushed aside the combustible year. He said the state of the department was “very good.” He said unsavory things happened in a big department that had always had dark corners. He said they were isolated.

“No, I don’t feel guilt, I don’t feel pain,” he said. “This is a business. It is a business like other businesses.”

He said: “We’re not going to make everybody happy because of what we do. We arrest people; we give summonses; we’re the bearers of bad news; we sometimes use deadly force.”

He added: “You do a good job, you do the best you can. The chips fall where they may.”

Has he held the job too long? “You don’t leave just to leave,” he said. “The question is, are you effective?”


A Victim of Success

Crime will never stop. Still, many officers feel Mr. Kelly acts as if it can. They find him intolerant of not just crime but also of mere suspicious behavior, to a degree unusual even for a police commissioner, who, after all, is judged on the safety of his city.

The mayor recently declared 2011 the 21st straight year in which major felonies fell. Yet these declines are verging on microscopic. In fact, some Kelly allies, like Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., believe that crime is inching up and that the numbers are being massaged.

Franklin E. Zimring, a criminologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied New York’s crime record, said, “In a funny sense, the department is and has been for some time a victim of its own success.” He added: “Anybody in that job has got to play a constant game of, ‘Can you top this?’ And that has been a hard game to play.”

An article of faith among the police is that minor arrests thwart more serious crimes. Yet as the city becomes safer, officers say they often feel pressured to do pointless arrests and ticket-writing, purely to please superiors.

There has been a stunning rise in so-called stop-and-frisks — 601,055 in 2010, compared with 97,296 in 2002 — and they occur overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods. The police say they select crime-ridden areas, regardless of racial composition. Public concern has not caused Mr. Kelly to relent.

Mr. Bloomberg said that he had discussed the practice “ad nauseam” with Mr. Kelly and that it was “one of the key ways to get guns off the street.”

State Senator Eric L. Adams, a former police officer, expressed alarm at this surge. He said his own teenage son was asked for ID at a movie theater. During Mr. Kelly’s first tenure, Mr. Adams said, “he believed in the beat cop. Joe Friendly Officer. Now not.”

The force has noticeably expanded what it deems valid grounds for arrest. Officers have snapped cuffs on people for small-scale marijuana possession, a ticketable offense (a Kelly directive a few months ago cut back such arrests after consistent increases), and transgressions that are not much more than antisocial behavior or code violations, like putting your feet on a subway seat.

In 2002, when the police made 338,789 arrests, 16,714 were for infractions or violations.

In 2010, when there were 422,982 total arrests, 32,033 were infractions or violations.

A Bronx patrol officer, who like other officers and commanders spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution or of offending Mr. Kelly, echoed what many colleagues say: “Every month you’re expected to bring in a certain amount. If you don’t, they deny your days off, refuse annual vacation time. They do stuff to you.”

Top department officials have repeatedly denied the existence of quotas but have said managers are expected to establish minimum productivity goals.

Edward Conlon, a recently retired detective who has written tellingly of police work, said of Mr. Kelly: “I do think he tries to do what’s right, and what’s right by cops whenever he can. I’m not sure the rank-and-file always appreciates that, and may not till he goes.”


No Time for Vacations

Even friends find Mr. Kelly inscrutable. He is rarely expansive or publicly introspective. With his stubbled crew cut and muscled look, he is the picture of the prototypical police officer. Beneath his piercing eyes, a grimace appears to have been ironed onto his face.

His own ascent was always a good story. A city kid, he grew up on the Upper West Side. His father worked as a milkman, then on the docks, before landing a job with the Internal Revenue Service. His mother checked the dressing rooms at Macy’s. As a Marine, Mr. Kelly saw combat in Vietnam, then held every rank in the Police Department.

He is not much for joking around though his humor occasionally surfaces. When a retired detective casually inquired recently why he kept working, he told him it was for the dental plan.

Though Mr. Kelly’s encounters with officers are rare, Lowell Stahl, a chief who retired in 2008 after running the commissioner’s office for 18 years, said Mr. Kelly had his driver pull over when he saw an officer doing a good job and he would hand him one of the N.Y.P.D. hats and shirts he kept piled in the car.

He is attentive to the visual impact he has, favoring custom-made suits and Charvet ties. Yet he has relaxed the dress code for officers so they can wear cargo pants. Along with his wife, Veronica, he likes to crawl through the city’s social night life, his name often cracking the gossip columns.

In his 14th-floor conference room in One Police Plaza, screens on the wall pipe in street scenes captured by surveillance cameras. Each morning, he spends an hour talking with two aides about terrorist threats. Those who deal with him say he fully trusts only a few very close to him, like Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

Though Mr. Kelly has had his share, he rarely swaps war stories the way officers like to do. Except for a few long weekends, he has not had a vacation in years. He goes to bed knowing his security detail is under orders to wake him if an officer fires his weapon or is shot.

Mr. Kelly said, “You can’t micromanage an organization of 50,000 people.” Yet many feel he comes awfully close.

He has flattened the department so almost everything reports to him. All transfers go through his office, and he revived a promotion board to do away with “the hook,” slang for getting plum assignments based on whom you know. “If a chief says, this is how we always do it, he’d come right back to you and say: Why? Defend it!” Mr. Stahl said.

At news conferences in Mr. Kelly’s earlier days, detectives and chiefs often spoke, but now it is almost exclusively him, conversing in his growling, clipped manner. Incoming rounds in Vietnam damaged his hearing and caused him to wear hearing aids. At news media appearances, he sometimes leans in, cups a hand behind his ear and says: “I’m a disabled war vet. Can you repeat that?”

Government agencies, academics and reporters, however, complain that the department is unwilling to provide insight into its workings — even statistics on lower-level crime or Mr. Kelly’s daily schedule. Several years ago, the commissioner ceased regular background briefings with the press corps embedded at Police Headquarters.

Commanders say they feel less empowered. One mentioned, for instance, how Mr. Kelly had taken over from high-ranking chiefs the right to allocate “take home” cars — unmarked vehicles that officers sometimes get to drive home as rewards for hard work.

New commissioners typically appoint new chiefs, but Mr. Kelly’s long tenure has produced a paralyzed structure. One Police Plaza has become a crucible of frustrated senior officials, where veterans say the only safe elevator conversation returns to lunch and retirement plans.

While he says Mr. Kelly has done a superb job, particularly in counterterrorism, Edward Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, faulted him for no longer offering a vision. “There is no message going to the bottom,” he said. “Everyone is afraid.” He added, “Among the rank-and-file, and even among the brass when I have talked to them, they are dying for a change.”

With long incumbencies, said Professor Zimring of the University of California, Berkeley, “innovation is very difficult, and new blood may need new veins and organizational arteries.”

David W. Chen contributed reporting.


Direct Link:

Jan 222012

Scientists to Pause Research on Deadly Strain of Bird Flu

The New York Times
January 20, 2012


The scientists who altered a deadly flu virus to make it more contagious have agreed to suspend their research for 60 days to give other international experts time to discuss the work and determine how it can proceed without putting the world at risk of a potentially catastrophic pandemic.


The small black bodies are H5N1 viruses produced by an infected human cell, at left. H5N1 is a contagious strain of bird flu.  Photo: Ron Fouchier



Ron Fouchier, of the Netherlands research team.
Photo: Dirk-Jan Visser for The New York Times

Suspensions of biomedical research are almost unheard of; the only other one in the United States was a moratorium from 1974 to 1976 on some types of recombinant DNA research, because of safety concerns.

A letter explaining the flu decision is being published in two scientific journals, Science and Nature, which also plan to publish reports on the research, but in a redacted form, omitting details that would let other researchers copy the experiments. The letter is signed by the scientists who produced the new, more contagious form of the flu virus, as well as by more than 30 other leading flu researchers.

“We recognize that we and the rest of the scientific community need to clearly explain the benefits of this important research and the measures taken to minimize its possible risks,” the letter states. At an international meeting next month in Geneva, participants selected by the World Health Organization will consider what to do next. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the gathering would “address some of these difficult issues on an international scale instead of something restricted to the United States government.”

The scientists say their work has important public health benefits, but they acknowledge that it has sparked intense public fears that the deadly virus could accidentally leak out of a laboratory, or be stolen by terrorists, and result in a devastating pandemic. A national biosecurity panel in the United States has already taken the unusual step of asking the scientists to keep part of their data secret to prevent others from reproducing their work.

Scientists are split regarding the research, with some praising it as important and urging that it be published, and others saying the experiments are so dangerous that they should never have been done.

The experiments involve a type of bird flu virus known as H5N1, which rarely infects people but is highly deadly when it does. The work, paid for by the National Institutes of Health, was done by two separate research teams, at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Ron Fouchier, a virologist who conducted the research at Erasmus Medical Center, explained why he and his colleagues decided to pause the research. “It is unfortunate that we need to take this step to help stop the controversy in the United States,” he said. “I think if this were communicated better in the United States it might not have been needed to do this. In the Netherlands we have been very proactive in communicating to the press, politicians and public, and here we do not have such a heated debate.”

Dr. Fauci said that he had never seen the scientific world so polarized, and that led him to urge the researchers to show good faith and flexibility by declaring the moratorium themselves. A concern “looming in the background,” he said, was that biosecurity experts might overreact and impose excessive restrictions on the research.

“I think it’s important research that needs to go forward,” Dr. Fauci said. “I think we need to get greater input on the conditions in which it goes forward.”

Dr. Fauci and others who support the research say it may help explain how flu viruses that start out in animals adapt to humans and become transmissible, and therefore able to cause pandemics. That information, the researchers say, could help them recognize viruses on the way to developing pandemic potential.

Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers, is among those who oppose the research because of its risks, and doubts that it could be used to predict pandemics. He said that a moratorium was a good idea, but that this one did not go far enough. He said that the letter did not acknowledge the need for improved “biosafety, biosecurity and oversight,” and that in any case, 60 days would not be enough time to put the needed safeguards in place. The letter noted a “perceived fear” among the public, Dr. Ebright said, and seemed to suggest that the debate would cool down if people would just let the researchers explain that they had done the experiments safely.

Dr. Ebright said experiments with this virus should be done only in laboratories with the highest biosafety rating, BSL4, not in the “enhanced BSL3” in which the work was actually done.

Dr. Fouchier disagreed. He also said that his center did not have BSL4 labs.

Dr. Fauci said various expert groups, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had determined that enhanced BSL3 was good enough for bird flu research.

Since 1997, when the H5N1 virus was first identified, about 600 people have been infected, and more than half died — an extraordinarily high death rate. The saving grace of H5N1 is that when people do become infected — nearly always from contact with birds — they almost never transmit the disease to other people. But the virus has persisted in the environment, infecting millions of birds, and scientists have warned that if it mutates to become more contagious in people, disaster could ensue.

But what mutations would make the virus more easily transmissible? And how hard, or easy, would it be for those mutations to occur? Hoping to answer those questions, some researchers began experimenting with bird flu, working with ferrets, which are considered the best model for studying flu, because they contract it and get sick in much the same way that people do. Recently, the teams in Rotterdam and Madison announced that they had produced a form of H5N1 with mutations that allowed it to “go airborne,” meaning that it spread through the air from one ferret to another. Presumably, though not certainly, the virus could spread in the same way among people.

Dr. Fouchier said he was surprised by how easy it was to change the virus into the very form that the world has been dreading. Now, scientists around the world will have to grapple with what to do with Dr. Fouchier’s creation.


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 21, 2012

An earlier version of this article misstated that Dr. Anthony Fauci was head of the National Institutes of Health.


Direct Link: