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Thursday, April 30, 2015

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Amazon's Jeff Bezos launches first rocket into space - Apr. 30, 2015

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire CEO of Amazon, is one step closer to conquering space.

Blue Origin, the commercial space travel company Bezos founded, launched a surprise test flight of its New Shepard space vehicle Wednesday.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos launches first rocket into space - Apr. 30, 2015

CNET News - Mother's Day tech gifts to enjoy year-round

Defining Open Space in the San Gabriel Mountains

From the #USDA:

West Fork of the San Gabriel River
Winter waters rush through the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
The term “open-space” can mean so many different things to an Angelino. It can mean finding a rare open parking spot downtown, finding an open reservation at the newest, trendy restaurant, or it can mean escaping the overwhelming congestion of Greater Los Angeles into its “backyard”: The Angeles National Forest and the newly designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
When Angelinos and tourists from various parts of the world trade the congestion on the highways for the feel of an open trail, it provides relief from the daily grind that lies only 60 minutes away from the metropolitan area.
When President Obama proclaimed portions of the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monument on October 10, 2014, it not only provided additional legal protections for this open space, it was also a statement as to how much Angelinos value their treasured San Gabriel Mountains.  Now the U.S. government formally recognizes the immense historical, cultural and geological importance of this area to the nation.
So how will the Forest Service protect and preserve the great natural features of the San Gabriel Mountains amongst the Nelson’s Bighorn Sheep, sprawling Coulter Pines, and the luminous yucca plants that line canyon walls like scattered candles? How will they manage the slow fading of petroglyphs crafted by peoples long before us? How will they assist in continuing the research of almost infinite open spaces that lies beyond our earthly realm from the Mount Wilson Observatory?
The answers lie with the dedicated Forest Service employees and more than 15 million stakeholders who visit the Forest and Monument each year who are all in the midst of creating a comprehensive and integrated Monument Management Plan. The plan will take a few years to develop, because the Forest Service is working with federal, state and local governments, Tribes, private groups, and other interested parties to ensure the management plan reflects the diverse needs, expertise and desires of all who have a stake in this important area. 
“This land has been dedicated for the use of the American people and we would like to hear from the people as to what is important to them,” said John Thornton, acting Deputy Forest Supervisor. “We expect to announce completion of the Public Involvement Plan in the coming months. At that point we will actively engage the public to promote collaboration in development of the management plan.”
But don’t let the fact that the Forest Service is still formalizing a way forward for the area stop you from going up and experiencing the wealth of experiences that the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument has to offer.  Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather to enjoy a brief escape from the Los Angeles area – or wherever you live – to experience firsthand the exciting history, cultural treasures and breathtaking beauty the monument has to offer all who come to visit.  After all, there is plenty of open space at the monument for everyone!
Trees at Cogswell Dam
Spring time glistens through the trees at Cogswell Dam. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The Marvel Marathon: 27 hours of 'Ultron,' 'Iron Man,' and super fans - Apr. 30, 2015

The Avengers have taken on evil extra-terrestrials and menacing robots, but even Earth's Mightiest Heroes may have had a tough time surviving the Ultimate Marvel Marathon.

The movie marathon, which started at 6 p.m. Wednesday in select cities, brings together all 10 Marvel films before culminating with the U.S. release of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" Thursday night.

The Marvel Marathon: 27 hours of 'Ultron,' 'Iron Man,' and super fans - Apr. 30, 2015

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Meeting to Prepare Industry for Food Safety Modernization Act Compliance

From the #USDA:

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a public meeting held by our colleagues at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide an update for the pending Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This law will make significant changes to the country’s food safety laws, including the first-ever regulation of fresh produce and a more proactive approach to preventing food-borne illnesses. I spoke on behalf of my agency – the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – as part of a panel of domestic and international officials who provided the government’s perspective on how we would like to see the final law implemented.
With several of the law’s rules set to become final later this summer and early in the fall, the FDA is still seeking comments and suggestions for the best way to implement FSMA. The meeting, which included breakout sessions where participants could start an open dialogue about the implementation, is part of the FDA’s emphasis on educating the industry before regulating it.
During my discussion, I stressed how USDA has worked closely with FDA on the development and implementation of the final FSMA law. I also reaffirmed my agency’s commitment to working with FDA to help our produce stakeholders comply with the law. Many have stated that the AMS Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Audit Program – run by our Specialty Crops Inspection Division(SCI)– can help produce businesses meet final FSMA requirements. Our program verifies that operations are following industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from FDA. We are committed to adjusting this program, following FDA guidance so that our nation’s produce businesses can comply with the final law.
Looking ahead, I feel it is extremely important to educate the wholesaler, re-packer and extension agency communities about the law. In addition to the farming and shipping segments of the industry, each of these groups will be critical to successful implementation of the law. 
Attending this meeting is one of the many ways that AMS is working to help the produce industry get prepared to comply with the law. We have enjoyed a successful partnership with Cornell University and FDA through the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA). Together, we developed a curriculum that helps fresh produce growers meet FSMA training requirements and common requirements from wholesalers. The curriculum includes modules that cover a wide-range of GAPs, the FMSA Produce Safety Rule requirements, and how to develop a food safety plan. Since 2010, the PSA has been engaged with produce growers, industry members, regulators, and extension educators through working committees, public meetings, focus groups, and webinars. In June, the PSA will launch the Train-the-Trainer and Grower Training Courses nationally.
Getting the produce industry ready for FSMA compliance is a total team effort. We encourage everyone to visit the FDA site to receive updates and subscribe to the PSA listserve for information about the alliance. You can also learn more about the GAPs Audit Program by visiting our SCI website.
Agricultural Marketing Service Fruit and Vegetable Program Deputy Administrator Charles Parrott delivering remarks
Agricultural Marketing Service Fruit and Vegetable Program Deputy Administrator Charles Parrott delivers remarks during the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Public Meeting. Parrot was part of a panel of domestic and international officials who provided the government’s perspective on how we would like to see the final law implemented. (AMS photo)

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Chef Leverages USDA Team Nutrition Grant to Develop Healthy Menus for Students

From the #USDA:

Chef Brenda with foodservice staff
Chef Brenda works with foodservice staff to assemble her breakfast burrito recipe during the chef designed school taste testing.
The following guest blog highlights the important work of Chef Brenda Thompson, RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist).  Thanks to a USDA Team Nutrition grant, she developed recipes for the Chef Designed School Lunch cookbook.  Chef Brenda is currently working with the Idaho State Department on the final stages of her second book, Chef Designed School Breakfast, which will be published online at the end of this year.
By Chef Brenda Thompson, RDN
As an advocate for school foodservice staff, I am committed to being a resource—both in getting the word out about the nutrition goals schools are achieving daily and in helping kitchen staff be more efficient and have fun at their jobs.
In conjunction with these goals, I am often presented with opportunities to provide support for schools in meeting the standards set forth in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Since I enjoy marketing healthy foods to kids and encouraging them to try new things, these opportunities are a great privilege.
The Chef Designed School Lunch Cookbook
The Idaho State Department’s Child Nutrition Program (CNP) was provided a USDA Team Nutrition Grant and then chose me to develop the recipes for the Chef Designed School Lunch Cookbook.
This cookbook contains a two-week cycle lunch menu including 17 of my recipes which were designed and developed with school foodservice target budgets in mind. Each day’s menu utilizes between four and eight USDA Foods in order to keep costs low.
Early Support for the Project
In its early stages of development, administrators and teachers supported our efforts by helping to generate interest and enthusiasm for these menus, speaking positively about our meals. In addition, many purchased lunches and ate with the students.
Before we began this project, the administrator and I also visited each classroom to let students know they would be served “Chef Designed Lunches” every Tuesday. The students often expressed excitement knowing these meals would be prepared by a chef.
(When offering these menus in your schools, it is a good idea to market them as “Chef Designed School Lunches.” Idaho CNP has provided marketing sheets for each entrée featured in the book on their website.)
Meal Testing
The meals in the Chef Designed School Lunch Cookbook were tested every Tuesday at a school that served approximately 500 meals and transported approximately 200 of them. The menus were tested in a kitchen with limited equipment: two convection ovens, a tilt skillet, warmers, a proof box, mixer, and a dishwasher. Grades served were kindergarten through twelfth, and each meal was tested and revised to address the likes and dislikes of all students at the school.
Training and Results
After the testing phase of the recipes, I worked with the Idaho State Department to provide six trainings, two in each of Idaho’s three regions. Each training consisted of a four-hour session, which included a discussion of school cooking techniques, such as low-sodium, speed-scratch cooking (using a combination of processed and fresh foods), preparing whole-grains and converting recipes to meet the meal pattern for each grade group. 
After completing the Chef Designed School Lunch Project, I was pleased to see the results of a statewide survey: 72.97 percent of schools had tried at least one recipe from the cookbook, and of that number, 42.31 percent had tried more than five recipes. Some of the most popular recipes in the cookbook include fish tacos, mozzarella crusted pollock, cheeseburger salad wrap, and volcanic meatloaf.
As I reflect on the culmination of this project, I am thrilled to see that the USDA Team Nutrition Grant was put to excellent use. I also greatly appreciate the Idaho CNP team and foodservice staff who made this project possible, as well as the administrators and teachers who generated enthusiasm for chef designed lunches in their schools.

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Lots Goin' On!

April 30, 2015

From the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):

Today aboard the International Space Station, the crew worked on a variety of research & technology demonstration activities. Details:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

United flies Sam the lost dog home in First Class -- for free! - Apr. 29, 2015

United Airlines flew a lost dog home Wednesday in first class for free -- four years after he went missing.

The Lambert family didn't think they would ever see Sam, a Yorkshire Terrier, after he disappeared from their yard in Louisiana.

United flies Sam the lost dog home in First Class -- for free! - Apr. 29, 2015

'Avengers' assembling for shot at box office record - Apr. 29, 2015

"$207 million."

That's the number that "Avengers: Age of Ultron" has to beat this weekend in order to become the biggest opening in movie history.

'Avengers' assembling for shot at box office record - Apr. 29, 2015

Accelerating Economic Mobility Through Promise Zone Partnerships

From the #USDA:

In 2014, President Obama identified the first five communities to be part of the Promise Zone initiative — a new placed-based effort to leverage investments, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities and improve the quality of life in some of our country’s most challenged communities. As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to Rural America and our tribal areas, eastern Kentucky Highlands and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma were part of the first named Promise Zone communities.  Yesterday, the Administration announced eight additional new Promise Zone communities including one rural area in the Low Country of South Carolina, and one tribal community, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Through Promise Zone effort, the Obama Administration is working across all channels and with partners to address some of the unique challenges that rural Americans face. Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Luke Tate, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Mobility co-authored a blog on how Promise Zone partnerships help to increase economic mobility in the communities they serve.
Cross-posted on the White House blog:
Accelerating Economic Mobility Through Promise Zone Partnerships
By Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council & Luke Tate, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Mobility
Today, in long-struggling pockets of major cities and small suburban towns cut off from regional economic engines, in the Low Country of South Carolina and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the Administration is announcing eight new Promise Zone partnerships to fuel the revitalization of high-poverty communities.
In these Promise Zones, we will support locally developed plans that leverage private-sector investment to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunity, and reduce violent crime.
Our nation’s economy is in the midst of a strong recovery, but many of these communities have struggled for decades to build resilient middle-class economies. The Promise Zone approach to accelerating revitalization and improving economic mobility was launched in the first five communities by President Obama last year, when he emphasized that communities making the greatest progress “bring together local government and nonprofits and businesses and teachers and parents around a shared goal” and “[hold] themselves accountable by delivering measurable results.”
That’s what we have seen in the first five Promise Zones, where strong partnerships and use of evidence and data are yielding early results.
In the Los Angeles Promise Zone, work that began with the President’s Promise Neighborhoods educational initiative has increased college preparedness among high school graduates by 63 percent, now exceeding the city school district average – and new entrepreneurship training is now expanding economic opportunities for low-income workers, including immigrants and refugees.
In the San Antonio Promise Zone, efforts launched through Promise Neighborhoods and Choice Neighborhoods helped to increase the local high school’s graduation rates from 46 percent to 84 percent, and now an equity investment fund is growing local small businesses, and at-risk and reentering youth are gaining access to new job skills in growing sectors like health care.
It’s increasingly clear how important these successes are to fueling the American Dream – that any person’s hard work can lead to prosperity and economic security.
Emerging research from economist Raj Chetty and collaborators has shown how profoundly the opportunities in a child’s community shape their prospects for economic mobility, and social scientist Robert Putnam has described the increasingly strong ties between a parent’s educational attainment and a child’s access to the resources and supports they need to succeed. Local leaders in Promise Zones across the country are improving the community characteristics that fuel economic mobility, and investing in children whose talents would lie untapped without better opportunities in their communities.
In addition to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Low Country of South Carolina, today’s announcement included new Promise Zones located in Camden, Hartford, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Sacramento, and St. Louis. Each of these communities has built strong partnerships between business, civic, and government leaders committed to shared goals and strategies with strong evidence for expanding educational and economic opportunity. We will work alongside those leaders, providing on-the-ground partnership and access to the resources they need to carry out their plans.
For more information about these new Promise Zones, see our fact sheet. Over the next year and a half, we’ll announce seven more Promise Zones around the country to help build on this Administration’s commitment to build stronger ladders of opportunity to the middle class. Visit our website to learn more about these and other efforts to build ladders of opportunity.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Retro Style)

Tags:  .#funny

On the road: 2015 Mini Cooper S 4-door

How to Get Ahead in LIfe

How to Get Ahead in LIfe

Youth Fishing Day

From Great River and Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuges:

Preparations are being made today for the Youth Fishing Day this Saturday, May 2, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Staff placed a net at one end of the pond just east of the Clarence Cannon NWR office building. Then catfish, generally ranging in size from 1 to 3 lbs., were delivered and put into this area. We are hoping for a good turnout of youth ages 15 and under! If you have any questions, please give us a call at 573-847-2333.

Tags:  .#fish .#fishing .#fun .#children .#kids 

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Monday, April 27, 2015

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Nepal can't rebuild without the world's help - Apr. 27, 2015

A major earthquake was the last thing Nepal needed.

Even before one of the country's major fault lines rumbled to life, Nepal was beset by challenges: An extremely weak economy, rampant corruption and a series of climbing accidents on Mount Everest, its signature tourist attraction.

Nepal can't rebuild without the world's help - Apr. 27, 2015

Google exec's girlfriend: He was magical - Apr. 26, 2015

Magical, brave, eccentric, adventurous -- these are the words friends of Dan Fredinburg used to describe the adventurer killed while hiking Mt. Everest during the Nepal earthquake Saturday.

Fredinburg was privacy director for Google X, which is responsible for some of the search company's more forward-thinking initiatives, including driverless cars and Google Glass.

Google exec's girlfriend: He was magical - Apr. 26, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

From the U.S. Department of the Interior:

An amazing display of nature’s power as a #lightning bolt tears through the sky over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s Devils Garden in Utah. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument spans nearly 1.9 million acres of America’s public lands. From its spectacular Grand Staircase of cliffs and terraces to the wonders of the Escalante River Canyons, the Monument is truly a treasure. Adam Haggerty captured this amazing shot in the middle of a rain storm using a 10-second exposure. Photo

Make Your Own 3D Printed Model Hubble Satellite!

From #NASA:

Love #3Dprinting? Make your own commemorative #Hubble25 model: @NASA_Hubble

Tags:  #space #satellite

Friday, April 24, 2015

Avengers Family Feud

New Disney Movie - SNL

Will Ferrell Is Little Debbie

Slow-Motion Bar Fight with Kevin James and Jimmy Fallon

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The James Webb Space Telescope

From #NASA:

We've had 25 incredible years and counting of Hubble Space Telescope discoveries and advancements in astronomy. What's the next big thing? The James Webb Space Telescope, which will be the premier observatory of the next decade. It will serve thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. Learn more:


Starbucks computer glitch means free drinks - Apr. 24, 2015

Starbucks stores across the U.S. and Canada were hit by a computer glitch Friday and some stores responded by giving away free drinks until the system was fixed.

A supervisor in a New York City Starbucks on Spring Street said they can't ring up sales or accept credit cards. He declined to be identified.

Starbucks computer glitch means free drinks - Apr. 24, 2015

It Turns Out Business Really is an Art

It Turns Out Business Really is an Art

Tags:  #cartoon #business #funny

Thousands flee after second Chilean volcano eruption in 24 hours

Happy Birthday to the Hubble Space Telescope!

From NASA:

25 years ago today on April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope launched. It was deployed on April 25, as seen in this photograph taken by the crew of the STS-31 space shuttle mission, the Hubble Space Telescope is suspended above shuttle Discovery's cargo bay some 332 nautical miles above Earth. The Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, controlled from in-cabin by the astronaut crew members, held the huge telescope in this position during pre-deployment procedures, which included extension of solar array panels and antennae.
STS-31 was the tenth launch of the shuttle Discovery. On board were Commander Loren J. Shriver, Pilot Charles F. Bolden, Jr. (now NASA Administrator), Mission Specialists Steven A. Hawley, Bruce McCandless II and Kathryn D. Sullivan (now NOAA Administrator). To launch Hubble into an orbit that guaranteed longevity, Discovery soared to a record altitude of 600 km.
Image Credit: NASA

'Avengers' sequel opens internationally, flying towards record U.S. debut - Apr. 24, 2015

Avengers assemble!

That's the rallying cry that movie theaters are hearing around the world this week as the highly anticipated "Avengers: Age of Ultron" debuts in many markets internationally.

'Avengers' sequel opens internationally, flying towards record U.S. debut - Apr. 24, 2015

An Android robot is peeing on an Apple logo in Google Maps - Apr. 24, 2015

In the outskirts of Rawalpindi, a Pakistani city less than 10 miles southwest of Islamabad, is what appears to be a park in the shape of an Android robot peeing on an Apple logo.

At least, that's what shows up if you look up Rawalpindi in Google Maps.

An Android robot is peeing on an Apple logo in Google Maps - Apr. 24, 2015

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Happy Friday!

From Grand Canyon National Park:

Look into this picture. Take a deep breath. The weekend is almost here. (NPS Photo Erin Whittaker) -etw

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Calbuco volcano in southern Chile

From NASA's Earth Observatory:

On April 22, 2015, Calbuco volcano in southern Chile began erupting for the first time since 1972. An ash cloud rose at least 15 kilometers above the volcano, menacing the nearby communities of Puerto Montt (Chile) and San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina). About 1,500 to 2,000 people were evacuated; no casualties have been reported so far. Read more at


Tags:  #NASA #earth #volcano #chile

Siberian Smoke on the Move

From NASA's Earth Observatory:

Siberian Smoke on the Move

Farmers in the steppe of southern Russia have an old tradition of burning dried grass in the spring to fertilize the soil for the new growing season. That tradition became a nightmare in April 2015 when large numbers of agricultural fires escaped the control of their handlers and spread rapidly across the dry landscape. The smoke from these fires lofted high into the troposphere. Read more at


Eruption of Lassen Peak in California

From USGS Volcanoes:

Today's #TBT we go back 100 years to the May 22, 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California -- the most recent large volcanic eruption in the state in what is now Lassen Volcanic National Park. California is much different today than it was 100 years ago; in 1915 there were no deaths, no injuries, and minimal economic losses due to the eruption. If we have a similar eruption today at Lassen, what would the impact be?

Today, April 23, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. PDT, Dr. Michael Clynne will be giving a presentation "A Sight 'Fearfully Grand' Eruptions of Lassen Peak, California, 1914 to 1917" at the USGS in Menlo Park, CA. The presentation will be streamed so you can watch online if you're not able to attend in person.

#volcanoes #volcanichazards #California#CaliforniaVolcanoObservatory #USGS #calvo #Lassen

Happy Birthday Hubble!

From NASA:

Happy Birthday Hubble! 25 years & counting! The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display in the 25th anniversary NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to commemorate a quarter century of exploring the solar system and beyond since its launch on April 24, 1990.

The sparkling centerpiece of Hubble’s anniversary fireworks is a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2, named for Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund who discovered the grouping in the 1960s. The cluster resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina.

To capture this image, Hubble’s near-infrared Wide Field Camera 3 pierced through the dusty veil shrouding the stellar nursery, giving astronomers a clear view of the nebula and the dense concentration of stars in the central cluster. The cluster measures between 6 and 13 light-years across.

The giant star cluster is about 2 million years old and contains some of our galaxy’s hottest, brightest and most massive stars. Some of its heftiest stars unleash torrents of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds of charged particles etching into the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud.

On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Earth with the Hubble Space Telescope nestled securely in its bay. The following day, Hubble was released into space, ready to peer into the vast unknown. Since then, Hubble has reinvigorated and reshaped our perception of the cosmos and uncovered a universe where almost anything seems possible within the laws of physics. Hubble has revealed properties of space and time that for most of human history were only probed in the imaginations of scientists and philosophers alike. Today, Hubble continues to provide views of cosmic wonders never before seen and is at the forefront of many new discoveries.

Learn more about #Hubble25

Tags:  #NASA #space telescope

Garco the Robot

From #Honeywell Aerospace:

THROWBACK THURSDAY to when Garco was built from vintage plane parts and 1,200 feet of wire cable. He is just “plane” cool!

Tags:  #tbt #ththursday

Calbuco Volcano Erupts in Southern Chile

From NOAA Satellite and Information Service:

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory Image of the Day: Calbuco Volcano Erupts in Southern Chile

On April 23, 2015, the Calbuco Volcano in southern Chile erupted for the first time since 1972. The last major eruption occurred in 1961 and sent ash columns 12-15 kilometers high. This image was taken by the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS instrument in a high resolution infrared channel around 1:15 a.m. ET on April 23, 2015. (

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Miami adopting software to predict when, where crime will occur | Miami Herald Miami Herald

Armed with high-tech software and years of crime data, Miami police believe they will soon be able to stop crimes by predicting when and where they will occur.
It sounds a little like something out of a science fiction novel, but the department is in the process of adopting a system called HunchLab that produces maps showing small areas where specific crimes are likely to be committed during shifts. The probability program is a geographical version of “predictive policing” software, which more departments are using — even if, in the words of one supportive cop, it’s “kind of scary.”

Read more here:

Miami adopting software to predict when, where crime will occur | Miami Herald Miami Herald