When I clicked on the link to see the definition of "abstracting electricity", in the section on case law the offense cited was meter tampering. As in substantionally "more than a few electrons." The cost of prosecution would far exceed the cost of the electricity used. (I would also see where this particular law would apply to unauthorized taps or splices, where the power draw would be signifiant.)
One issue the article did bring up: the power at that train-car outlet isn't at all clean. If it uses external power pickup (third rail or overhead catenary) I could see where the surges, sags and dropouts would be severe enough to damage a phone or laptop, especially as the drive motors of the train, a highly inductive load, would cause very large spikes as the power pickup loses and re-makes contact. Contrast that with a long-haul train which supplies power from a locomotive generator, which shouldn't flicker at all.
So it could well be that there is a cause for action of a different sort: "We are not liable for any damage caused by plugging anything into the outlets on this train."
I use NoScript in Firefox. It would appear most of the site is navigated using scripts. No thank you.
Bunkum, I say. Each time the story gets repeated, it loses a little more veracity. So I aimed my Computerworld curation cannon at this.
Researchers have improved the ability to capture power from radio waves. By tweaking some standard Wi-Fi hardware, they've increased the amount of power that can be leeched from unused transmissions. It could help power IoT sensors.
But wait — don't believe everything you read on the interwebs, kids. Predictably, some science-illiterate journalists and bloggers are saying it can actually charge your smartphone. Sadly, the researchers only achieved power levels of a few microWatts — that's about 100,000 times too small to run your phone, let alone charge it.
Link to Original Source
We've tried that, and it turns out that it doesn't really lead to independent states in education. Look at all the textbook debacles that start in Texas, for example. Why would textbooks in Texas matter if you live in a different state? They matter because the companies that publish textbooks don't want to publish different versions for each state, they want to publish for the largest states (population wise) first and then try to sell the same texts to other states.
This results in textbooks going in to non-nutter states that include discussions on intelligent design and other rampant bullshit. The states only have the flexibility to get textbooks of their own choosing if they exist (as few states have the time and money to go about preparing their own textbooks) so they end up with what the boards in Texas approve.
In my high school in downstate Illinois, several of my classes were taught using locally published material. Oh, we had the standard textbooks, but we were tested on the material in the local material. Chemistry was taught from a locally-written textbook, and my father (a research chemist) thought that home-brew textbook was better than some of the college textbooks on his shelf. This wasn't restricted to just one state: in Oklahoma we had a textbook written by an in-state college professor about the history of the Native Americans, from Columbus through to then-present day. I'm not aware of any Texas textbook that does more than scratch the surface about the "Trail of Tears." And the state didn't publish the textbook.
As for innnercity schools that seems to be more of an issue with lack of parental oversight...
How about just the lack of parents, in the plural? How many of those inner city schools have significant populations of single-parent children? Particularly children without fathers?