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The Almighty Buck

Sick of Your Local Police Force? Crowdfund Your Own 330

Nerval's Lobster writes "A subset of Oakland, California residents have decided to crowd-fund a set of private security patrols, via a trio of campaigns on a crowdfunding Website named Crowdtilt. The three patrols, if adequately funded, will cover Lower Rockridge North/West, Lower Rockridge South/West, and Lower Rockridge 'including part of the Uplands.' Each campaign has a different (Facebook verified, apparently) sponsor, and wants between $20,000 and $25,000 to make the dream of private patrols a reality. Unlike Kickstarter, the Crowdtilt campaigns don't feature fabulous prizes for contributing; gifting $100, for example, won't entitle you to 'One (1) free "accidental" shooting of your choice.' That aside, dozens of residents have contributed cash to the loosely allied projects. 'What occurred last week at the Casual Carpool has ignited our neighborhood to act,' reads one of the campaign descriptions, referring to the broad-daylight stickup of commuters waiting in a carpool line on Oakland's Hudson Street. 'While the city and the police are doing what they can, we feel it's time for us as a community to begin exploring a wide range of ideas and taking some action on our own.' All three crowdfunding pages want to hire VMA Security Group for a four-month trial period through February 2014, possibly followed by a continuing contract if everything works out. That security company already patrols the Rockridge commercial district during the holiday season, and protects a number of Oakland businesses and households. While the VMA Security Group's officers are certified to carry firearms, one of the crowdfunding pages plans to ask any of them assigned to the neighborhood to remain unarmed 'unless they feel they cannot accomplish their duties otherwise.' Upscale neighborhoods pay for private security all the time, of course. The question is whether crowdfunding — better known for financing things such as games and indie movies, at this point — could catch on as a way of funding residential projects."
Government

Paul's Call To Abolish the TSA, One Year Later 353

A year ago today, we noted that Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called for the abolition of the Transportation Security Administration. It's now nearly 12 years since the hijacked-plane terror attacks of 2001; the TSA was created barely two months later, and has been (with various rules, procedures, and equipment, all of it controversial for reasons of privacy, safety, and efficacy) a major presence ever since at American commercial airports. "The American people shouldn't be subjected to harassment, groping, and other public humiliation simply to board an airplane," wrote Paul last year, and in June of 2012, he followed up by introducing two bills on the topic; the first calling for a "bill of rights" for air travelers, the other for privatizing airport screening practices. Neither bill went far. Should they have? Libertarian-leaning Paul did not succeed in knocking back the TSA, never mind privatizing its functions (currently funded at nearly $8 billion annually), though some of the things called for in his bill of rights are manifest now at least in muted form. (Very young passengers, as well as elderly passengers, face less stringent security requirements, for instance, and TSA has ended its prohibition of certain items aboard planes.) Whether you're from the U.S. or not, what practical changes would you like to see implemented? What shouldn't be on the bill of rights for airplane passengers?
Image

Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee Screenshot-sm 2058

Dthief writes "From MSNBC: 'Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee. Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat. "They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The fire started when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.'"
Government

The Fresca Rebellion 776

theodp writes "They can ban the Marlboros, tax the Cokes, and zone the Whoppers, says Slate's William Saletan on the subject of today's morality cops. But it's time to put the brakes on the paternalistic overreaching of the food police, Saletan argues, when they come after his editor's beloved Fresca ('there are concerns that diet beverages may increase calorie consumption by justifying consumption of other caloric foods'), which will have to be pried from his cold, dead hands. '40 states have enacted special taxes on soda or junk food. And the soda taxers are becoming ever bolder. Their latest manifesto is an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-authored by the health commissioner of New York City, the surgeon general of Arkansas, and several others. It declares soda fair game for government intervention (PDF) on the grounds that "market failures" in this area are causing "less-than-optimal production and consumption."' Where do we draw the line?"

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