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Can Drug-Sniffing Dog Prompt Home Search? You can already hear all the likely jokes at the Supreme Court, about the justices going to the dogs. But the issue being argued Wednesday is deadly serious: whether police can take a trained drug-detection dog up to a house to smell for drugs inside, and if the dog alerts, use that to justify a search of the home.
In the case before the court, the four-legged cop was named Franky, and as a result of his nose, his human police partner charged Joelis Jardines with trafficking in more than 25 pounds of marijuana.
In the fall of 2006, police in Florida got an anonymous crime-stoppers tip that there was illegal drug activity at the Jardines home. A month later, police officers took Franky to the house and walked him up to the front porch. When the dog alerted for drugs, the police got a warrant, found marijuana growing inside and arrested Jardines. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the dog sniff was an illegal search and thus could not justify a warrant. Now the state has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the case poses tricky issues for both law enforcement and privacy advocates. (National Public Radio)
Jill Tarter: A Scientist Searching For Alien Life As a child, astronomer Jill Tarter would walk along the beaches of western Florida with her father and look up at the stars.
"I assumed, at that time, that along some beach on some planet, there would be a small creature walking with its dad and they would see our sun in their sky, and they might wonder whether anyone was there," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "But I never thought about it professionally until graduate school."
In graduate school, Tarter worked on a project designed to search radio frequencies for clues about extraterrestrial life forms. The project, known as SERENDIP, was part of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program based at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tarter got hooked — and has devoted her life to the search for extraterrestrial life. Over the course of her career at SETI, she's searched nearby star systems for signs of alien life and headed up efforts to create new telescopes to scan the skies for signals. (National Public Radio)
8 Precinct Vote Totals Missing From Iowa Caucuses The Iowa Republican Party has certified the results of its caucuses earlier this month. Rick Santorum is 34 votes ahead, but the party will not declare a winner because there are missing results in eight precincts. Before the certification process, Mitt Romney had been declared the winner. (National Public Radio)
How An Athlete's Death Led To Shoddy Drug Laws In 1986, University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias died suddenly after a cocaine overdose. He had just been drafted by the Boston Celtics and was celebrating at a party in a university dorm room.
In a June 19 interview with Salon, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation President Eric Sterling explains how Bias' death prompted a poorly drafted mandatory-sentencing drug crime law that's still in place today. Sterling tells NPR's Neal Conan that the law has shaped the makeup of American prisons for years, penalizing crack cocaine users more harshly than those who use powder. And he would know — he helped write it. (National Public Radio)
How The 'Pox' Epidemic Changed Vaccination Rules Historian Michael Willrich was planning to write a book about civil liberties in the aftermath of Sept. 11 when he stumbled across an article from The New York Times archives. It was about a 1901 smallpox vaccination raid in New York — when 250 men arrived at a Little Italy tenement house in the middle of the night and set about vaccinating everyone they could find.
"There were scenes of policemen holding down men in their night robes while vaccinators began their work on their arms," Willrich tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Inspectors were going room to room looking for children with smallpox. And when they found them, they were literally tearing babes from their mothers' arms to take them to the city pesthouse [which housed smallpox victims.]"
The vaccination raid was not an isolated incident. As the smallpox epidemic swept across the country, New York and Boston policemen conducted several raids and health officials across the country ordered mandatory vaccinations in schools, factories and on railroads. In Pox: An American History, Willrich details how the smallpox epidemic of 1898-1904 had far-reaching implications for public health officials — as well as Americans concerned about their own civil liberties. (National Public Radio)
Rahm's Back In The Running For Chicago Mayor Host Scott Simon talks to Carol Marin, political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and political editor for NBC 5 News, about the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that put former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel back of the ballot in the Chicago mayor's race. - Rahm Emanuel's name is back on the ballot, this time for good. The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously overturned an appellate court ruling that Mr. Emanuel did not meet the Chicago's residency requirements to run for mayor, because he had lived in Washington D.C. while serving as President Obama's chief of staff and hadnt returned to reside in Chicago long enough before he started to run.
Got that? What an eventful week, that began with the ruling that knocked Mr. Emanuel off the ballot, the decision that put him back on and a debate of the mayoral candidates. (National Public Radio)
Violence Reaches New Peak In Mexican Drug War Over the past two weeks, hundreds of people have been gunned down in Mexico as drug violence continues to escalate. The surge in killings comes as President Felipe Calderon is ramping up efforts to win more public support for the drug war. Calderon said this week that the bloody offensive against the drug cartels isn't just his war but is an effort to make Mexico safe for all law-abiding citizens. More than 23,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Calderon took office 3 1/2 years ago. Outbursts of gunfire are common. It seems that nowhere in the country is immune. (National Public Radio)
Accused Christmas Bomber Listened to Music, Slept "Well, I mean, it was a threat, of course, it was a threat because initially, he was trying to blow up the plane but he didn't succeed. I mainly treat him this way because of how he reacted towards what he was doing. And what his actions told me on the plane was that he was in over his head, and that he didn't exactly know what he was doing would entail." (National Public Radio)
Could Terror Suspect Have Had Outside Help? Interview with Kurt Haskell - Did someone help Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab get onboard the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit? Well, according to two American passengers on Flight 253, an older man - tall and elegantly dressed - accompanied the young Nigerian to a counter before boarding. And they say the older man explained to a woman at the counter that the younger man had no passport. (National Public Radio)
Flu, Me? Public Remains Wary Of H1N1 Vaccine Fewer than half of Americans say that they are planning to receive the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine, according to recent polls — a trend that is leaving many health professionals at a loss.
"I'm genuinely baffled," says Arthur Kellermann, an emergency medicine physician at the Emory University School of Medicine who has treated swine flu cases. "The public has developed this odd sense of complacency. The only thing that comes to my mind is photos of people standing on the seawall of Galveston hours before the hurricane hit." (National Public Radio)
White House Received Dire Warnings Pre-Katrina Newly released documents show the White House and other officials received more dire warnings than previously thought about Hurricane Katrina's potential impact. One Homeland Security report predicted hours before the storm hit that New Orleans would likely be submerged by flooding for weeks, and even months. - Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins said today that one failure was a lack of follow up to a 2004 government exercise in Louisiana involving a make-believe storm called Hurricane Pam. That exercise exposed many of the problems that eventually occurred during Hurricane Katrina. But Collins noted that the drill was repeatedly delayed. - Still other witnesses said the Hurricane Pam exercise, which projected more than 60,000 deaths from the storm, added to the urgency with which officials responded to Katrina, encouraging far more people to evacuate than had been predicted. The committee hopes to finish its investigation in March. (National Public Radio)
Pentagon Releases Bin Laden Videotape: U.S. Officials say Tape Links Him to Sept. 11 Attacks The Pentagon has released a videotape of Osama bin Laden, that it says provides additional evidence that the al Qaeda leader is responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Administration officials say the tape shows bin Laden had specific knowledge of when and where those attacks would occur before they took place.
Osama bin Laden tape
The videotape -- discovered in a private home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan -- shows a relaxed bin Laden discussing the attacks in Arabic with another man who appears to be a cleric. On the tape, bin Laden says he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of destruction caused at the World Trade Center; he only expected the top portion of the twin towers to collapse.
According to a translated transcript issued by the Pentagon, bin Laden says the attacks on the World Trade Center did more damage than expected. "...we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower," he says, according to the transcript. "We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for." (National Public Radio)
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