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Pickpockets in America are dying out

Schneier on Security: Pickpockets are a Dying Breed
And perhaps most important, the centuries-old apprenticeship system underpinning organized pickpocketing has been disrupted. Pickpocketing has always perpetuated itself by having older hooks� -- nicknamed "Fagins," after the crime boss in Oliver Twist -- teach younger ones the art, and then absorbing them into canons. But due to ratcheted-up law enforcement measures, including heftier sentences (in some states, a pick, defined as theft from the body of another person and charged as a felony regardless of the amount taken) and better surveillance of hot spots and known pickpockets, that system has been dismantled. This is not the case in Europe, where pickpocketing has been less of a priority for law enforcement and where professionals from countries like Bulgaria and Romania, each with storied traditions of pickpocketing, are able to travel more freely since their acceptance into the European Union in 2007, developing their organizations and plying their trade in tourist hot spots like Barcelona, Rome, and Prague. "The good thieves in Europe are generally 22 to 35," says Bob Arno, a criminologist and consultant who travels the world posing as a victim to stay atop the latest pickpocketing techniques and works with law enforcement agencies to help them battle the crime. "In America they are dying off, or they had been apprehended so many times that it's easier for law enforcement to track them and catch them."

March 02, 2011

Facebook Linked To One In Five Divorces in the United States

Facebook Linked To One In Five Divorces in the United States | Science Blog
If you’re single, Facebook and other social networking sites can help you meet that special someone. However, for those in even the healthiest of marriages, improper use can quickly devolve into a marital disaster. A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that Facebook is cited in one in five divorces in the United States. Also, more than 80 percent of divorce lawyers reported a rising number of people are using social media to engage in extramarital affairs. “We’re coming across it more and more,” said licensed clinical psychologist Steven Kimmons, Ph.D., of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. “One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact.”

February 28, 2011

Who should get first crack at organ transplants, the old or the young?

A new transplant policy brings new ethical conundrums. Under kidney transplant proposal, younger patients would get the best organs
Instead of giving priority primarily to patients who have been on the waiting list longest, the new rules would match recipients and organs to a greater extent based on factors such as age and health to try to maximize the number of years provided by each kidney - the most sought-after organ for transplants. "We're trying to best utilize the gift of the donated organ," said Kenneth Andreoni, an associate professor of surgery at Ohio State University who chairs the committee that is reviewing the system for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a Richmond-based private nonprofit group contracted by the federal government to coordinate organ allocation. "It's an effort to get the most out of a scarce resource." The ethically fraught potential changes, which would be part of the most comprehensive overhaul of the system in 25 years, are being welcomed by some bioethicists, transplant surgeons and patient representatives as a step toward improving kidney distribution. But some worry that the changes could inadvertently skew the pool of available organs by altering the pattern of people making living donations. Some also complain that the new system would unfairly penalize middle-aged and elderly patients at a time when the overall population is getting older. . . . The current system, which dates to 1986, was first based largely on giving kidneys to the patients who matched the organs best, but it evolved to take a first-come, first-served approach made possible by safer, more powerful anti-rejection drugs. Today, the UNOS's Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) gives priority to patients seeking organs from someone who dies based mostly on who has waited the longest. "It was just a fairness issue," Andreoni said. "You're next in line. It's your turn." The problem is that, in some cases, elderly recipients get organs from much younger donors whose kidneys could have provided far more years of healthy life to younger, heathier patients. Younger patients can receive older or less-healthy organs that wear out more quickly, forcing them back onto the transplant list in a few years.