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FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions. The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convict’s guilt.

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Fed-up cops post pictures of vagrants online NYPD cops fed up with vagrants making life miserable in the city are taking matters into their own hands — by snapping photos of quality-of-life scofflaws and posting them online. The Sergeants Benevolent Association is spearheading the effort, emailing a letter to members Monday urging them and their families and friends to take pictures to document the decline of the city. “As you travel about the city of New York, please utilize your smartphones to photograph the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type,” says the letter from SBA President Ed Mullins, a major critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Telesurgery tests highlight the limits of the Internet Telesurgery has the potential to bring surgeons in contact with patients anywhere, any time. In a remote robotic-assisted surgery, a doctor would be able to guide a mechanical device at a far away location to perform the procedure. The use of robotics in surgeries has been successful, as long as the operator and the device are in the same OR. But putting distance between the two has been problematic. The whole process relies on a strong network or Internet for connectivity, which invariably results in some amount of latency.

How the flawed ‘science’ of bite mark analysis has sent innocent people to prison This is part one in a four-part series. The rest of the series will be posted next week. Before he left the courtroom, Gerard Richardson made his mother a promise. “I told her that one day she’d see me walk out of that building a free man,” he says. Judge Backs Charges Against Cleveland Officers in Killing of Tamir Rice Acting under a rarely used provision of Ohio state law, a judge found probable cause Thursday to charge Cleveland police Officer Timothy Loehmann with murder in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year. Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine also found cause to support negligent homicide charges against Officer Frank Garmback, Loehmann's partner, who is accused of standing by after Loehmann shot Tamir in November at a recreation center, where Tamir was playing with a pellet gun. Adrine agreed with local activists known as the "Cleveland 8" who took the unusual step of independently seeking charges because, they said, they'd lost confidence in the grand jury investigation. The ruling is only advisory and doesn't affect the separate grand jury investigation. Adrine — saying he wasn't performing an "end around" of the city or the county — said the choice to lodge charges remains with Cuyahoga County and Cleveland prosecutors.

Revelations from Outer Space by Priyamvada Natarajan Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time by Michael Benson Abrams, 320 pp., $50.00 You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes—Photographs from the International Space Station by Chris Hadfield FBI’s flawed forensics expert testimony: Hair analysis, bite marks, fingerprints, arson. Photo by Victorburnside/Thinkstock For more stories like this, like Slate on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. The Washington Post published a story so horrifying this weekend that it would stop your breath: “The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.” Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. What went wrong?

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site' The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include: At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid.

Skin-tone-matched hospital gowns make it easy to spot color-shifts A paper by Mark Changizi in Elsevier's journal Medical Hypotheses cleverly suggests that hospitals issue gowns matched to skin-tone for new patients, so that it's easy to tell if skin-tone has shifted (an urgent warning sign of many urgent health conditions): One potential solution, Changizi said, is for hospitals to outfit patients with gowns and sheets that are nude-colored and closely match their skin tone. Another solution is to develop adhesive tabs in a large palette of skin-toned colors. Physicians could then choose the tabs that most closely resemble the patient's skin tone, and place the tabs at several places on the skin of the patient.

Only on San Francisco crime lab whistleblower says scandal date... More questions are being raised about the reliability of the San Francisco crime lab. The expert who exposed problems at the lab tells ABC7 News the lab supervisor offered misleading evidence in a 2010 murder trial. Lawyer and DNA expert Bicka Barlow is the one who complained to Police Chief Greg Suhr about serious problems at the crime lab. Specifically, that a supervisor, Cherisse Boland, failed to catch inconsistencies in a DNA analysis by a criminalist revealed during a murder trial last year. Barlow tells ABC7 News that five years ago, Boland -- then a criminalist -- misled the court during a double homicide trial by not telling anyone there was a DNA profile of the likely killer. After Christopher Dorner’s rampage, how to build community trust in police Given its history of scandal, the LAPD has spent a decade building a kinder, gentler organization and making significant strides in community-based policing. Even past detractors, including civil rights lawyer Connie Rice, admit that the LAPD has changed since the early 1990s. But people still associate the department with events of 20 years ago: the acquittal of officers accused of beating Rodney King, the subsequent L.A. riots and the resignation of Chief Daryl Gates.

World's largest asteroid impact zone believed uncovered by ANU researchers in central Australia Updated Australian scientists have uncovered what is believed to be the largest asteroid impact zone ever found on Earth, in central Australia. A team lead by Dr Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University (ANU) said two ancient craters found in central Australia were believed to have been caused by one meteorite that broke in two. "They appear to be two large structures, with each of them approximately 200 kilometres," Dr Glikson said. "So together, jointly they would form a 400 kilometre structure which is the biggest we know of anywhere in the world.

Warning by spending watchdog over forensic science work 21 January 2015Last updated at 12:27 ET Forensic science standards risk slipping since work was transferred to in-house police labs and private firms, the spending watchdog has warned. The National Audit Office said there was too little data on forensic services used by forces and companies risked being pushed out of the market. Crime scene evidence was analysed by the Forensic Science Service in England and Wales until it was axed in 2012.

Disrupting Medical Education - Pacific Standard Arizona State University’s recent announcement that it is joining with edX, a non-profit open online learning platform founded by founded by M.I.T and Harvard, to offer a full freshman year online for as little as $6,000—payable upon successful completion—has re-kindled significant debate about the structure and cost of a college education. While affordable and open access to an undergraduate education is important to the health of our democracy, why stop there? What if the best and brightest of tomorrow’s physicians were to leave medical school with almost no debt? What effects would this have on the health of our nation? And with the cost of a private medical education climbing an average of three percent per year, to a median of $70,000 annually, is this even possible? Next month, 18,000 newly minted physicians will enter the United States health care workplace.