Speakers oppose aerial surveillance

Published: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 @ 9:19 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 @ 9:19 PM

Twenty-one people addressed Dayton city officials at a Tuesday night meeting about proposed aerial surveillance, and all 21 either opposed the program or called for tight controls on it.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein and University of Dayton Research Institute official Larrell Walters explained the technology to more than 50 Dayton residents.

Addressing privacy concerns, Biehl said the cameras that would be used by Persistent Surveillance Systems are not capable of identifying a car’s make, model or license plate, or identifying a person’s race, gender, age or height.

He showed the crowd sample images taken from a piloted PSS plane during last summer’s test of the technology. In those images, a suspect’s truck was a blurry white rectangle, and a person loading that truck was little more than a speck. But because police received a report of a burglary at that address, Biehl said they were able to use the aircraft camera images to track where the truck went and eventually make an arrest after stolen goods were found.

South Park resident Lela Klein said she could support the cameras if their use was narrowly limited to serious crimes and dangerous situations like natural disasters, if there was a warrant required, and if there was an independent oversight group.

University of Dayton law professor Vernellia Randall and others expressed concerns over whether the images could be acquired by the public or corporations under public records law and mined for data.

David Hurwitz was one of several people who said the money for the $120,000 contract could be better used, saying, “the crimes that we’re trying to stop come from poverty.” Maria Holt, who lives in West Dayton, said if the city wants to stop crime, it should invest in education and programs for children as young as 5.

Dickstein said Tuesday’s comments would be forwarded to Dayton city commissioners, who were not present Tuesday, and they would decide the next step. Biehl said he wasn’t sure whether the overwhelming opposition Tuesday was reflective of the city as a whole. Biehl said if a decision is not made very soon, it’s unlikely Dayton will use the technology this year.

Sidney man guilty in marijuana in the mail scheme

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 4:37 PM

A Sidney man accused of participating in a scheme to mail marijuana pleaded guilty Friday in Miami County Common Pleas Court to an amended charge.

Darrell Branscum, 34, pleaded guilty to felony attempted drug possession, reduced from conspiracy to commit drug possession. 

As part of the plea agreement prosecutors agreed to recommend an 18-month prison sentence. 

Branscum was arrested in Piqua in February following an investigation that included postal inspectors and the Miami County Sheriff's Office. 

Sheriff Dave Duchak said the investigation was sparked by a tip that several pounds of marijuana would be sent from California to addresses in Piqua and Sidney. The packages were intercepted. 

A presentence investigation was ordered and sentencing scheduled Jan. 2. 

A charge of conspiracy to commit drug possession against a co-defendant, Taylor Massie, 25, of Houston, is pending.

New study finds ‘alarming’ 76 percent decline in insect populations

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:16 PM

Ants (Photo by Nurcholis Anhari Lubis/Getty Images)
Nurcholis Anhari Lubis/Getty Images
Ants (Photo by Nurcholis Anhari Lubis/Getty Images)(Nurcholis Anhari Lubis/Getty Images)

Insects are in serious danger. Insect populations have decreased by about 76 percent in nearly 30 years, according to a new study.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from Germany recently conducted an experiment, published in PLOS One, to determine how much populations had declined and why. 

To do so, they measured the total flying insect biomass, the weight of the insect catch, by using tent-like nets called Malaise traps. Those were deployed in 63 nature protection areas in Germany over the course of 27 years. 

After analyzing the results, they found that flying insect biomass had decreased by 76 percent and up to 82 percent in the summers during the time of the study.

In fact, the scientists say their findings suggest “the entire flying insect community has been decimated over the last few decades,” the study read. 

Scientists noted the drop occurred regardless of the habitat type, but changes in weather, land use and habitat characteristic were not the reason.

»RELATED: Can this plastic-eating bug save our planet? 

Despite the unknown explanation, researchers say the dip is “alarming” as the disappearance of “field margins and new crop protection” have both been associated with insect decline.

“Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services,” the study read. 

That’s why researchers hope to continue their studies to pinpoint the exact cause and ways to prevent it. 

“There is an urgent need to uncover the causes of this decline,” the study said, “its geographical extent, and to understand the ramifications of the decline for ecosystems and ecosystem services.”

Miami County man guilty of sexually abusing child

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:14 PM

Sean L. Pratt, Miami County Jail
Sean L. Pratt, Miami County Jail

A Monroe Twp., Miami County, man accused of sex offenses against a child under age 10 pleaded guilty Friday to five felony charges in a plea deal that recommends 30 years in prison.

Sean L. Pratt, 35, originally was charged with rape and gross sexual imposition for alleged sexual conduct and sexual contact with the child in June 2014.

Those charges will be dismissed in county Common Pleas Court in exchange for guilty pleas to two counts of felony sexual battery and three counts of felony gross sexual imposition.

Sheriff’s office reports said the victim told a friend of the sexual abuse. A parent then notified investigators. The initial charges were filed in late summer 2017. 

In exchange for the pleas, prosecutors agreed to recommend a 30-year sentence. The maximum Pratt could receive would be 31 years. Judge Jeannine Pratt told him she is not required to follow the sentencing recommendation. 

She accepted Pratt’s guilty pleas, ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for Nov. 27. 

At sentencing, he will be classified as a Tier III sex offender on the sexual battery charges and a Tier II offender on the gross sexual imposition charges. The Tier III classification will require him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life following prison release.

Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 5:07 PM

Al Barry/Getty Images
(Al Barry/Getty Images)

Different types of foods have been linked to cancer, including saturated fats and processed meats. Now, scientists say sugar can fuel the disease, too. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from universities in Belgium recently conducted a nine-year experiment, published in Nature Communications, that revealed how sugar stimulates the growth of tumors. 

They explained that healthy cells receive energy through aerobic respiration, a process that transforms digested food into energy molecules. To complete the process, oxygen is required so that carbon dioxide can be released.

>> Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

On the other hand, cancerous cells get energy from fermenting sugar, which causes tumor growth. This is called the Warburg effect.

For the study, they examined the correlation between “the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness” by observing the sugar fermentation of yeast, which is similar to that of cells. They both “share the unusual characteristic of favoring fermentation of sugar over respiration,” the study read.

The scientists not only confirmed that sugar causes tumors to grow, but that it also makes cells multiply faster. They believe the sugar produces more of the most common cancer-causing genes, also known as Ras proteins, which fuel aggressive tumors. 

>> Related: Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

“Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth. Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness. This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences,” co-author Johan Thevelein said in a statement

While the researchers do not understand why the cells react this way to sugar, they think their findings can help treat cancer with low-sugar diets. 

“This research in yeast and human cells has led to a new very valuable scientific hypothesis,” the authors wrote. “The next step is to find out whether these results also apply to patients.”

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