Craziest Weapons People Have Tried to Take Through Airport Security

So it turns out the TSA documents some of the weapons, fake weapons, and other prohibited items it takes off people passing through airport security and posts them on the agency’s Instagram account.  With more than 650,000 followers, Rolling Stone has ranked it as the fourth best account on Instagram.  (Clicking on each of the photos below will take you straight to how it appears on Instagram).

#TSATravelTips – Don’t pack your homemade replica suicide vest. The traveler who packed this vest in his checked bag at Richmond (RIC) stated it was a prop intended for use in a live-action role-playing game (LARP). TSA explosives experts raced to the checked baggage room and the airport police were called immediately. Fortunately, the explosives experts determined the vest posed no danger. It has yet to be determined if the officer who searched the bag needed a change of clothing.


This 4-bladed throwing star was discovered in a carry-on bag at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). These must be packed in your checked bags. Sorry Prince Colwyn. #Krull


Is this some kind of confangled rotisserie contraption for turkeys? Nope. These are Sai. If you’re a #TeenageMutantTurtle fan, you’ll know the Sai as Raphael’s weapon or choice. If you still have no clue, a Sai is a weapon used for striking, bludgeoning and punctures. Whatever it is you use them for, please know they must be packed in checked baggage. These were discovered in a carry-on bag at Boise (BOI). #TheMoreYouKnow


While about to receive a pat-down after opting out of body scanner screening, a Chicago O’Hare (ORD) traveler remembered that he had a throwing knife necklace under his shirt. All knives are prohibited and concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest. #TSAGoodCatch

Hit the jump for more crazy photos.
Continue reading Craziest Weapons People Have Tried to Take Through Airport Security

First Driverless Bus in the U.S. Now on the Streets

Source: Le Mag Auto Prestige

The Navya Arma self-driving shuttle bus is now in the middle of a two week long pilot carrying up to 12 passengers at a time around Fremont Street of Las Vegas, for free.  If the city ultimately decides to use the autonomous shuttle buses on a permanent basis, the hope is that advertising on and inside the vehicle (such as with TVs) would fully pay for their operation.  Navya says the vehicle can safely drive up to 28 mph and will automatically stop if a person or animal gets in its way.

Hit the jump for a video of the shuttle in action, and even automatically stopping to avoid hitting a bird on the road. (Or maybe it was the crosswalk.  Well, whatever, the point is that it stopped when it needed to). Continue reading First Driverless Bus in the U.S. Now on the Streets

Why Does India Have so Many Criminal Politicians?

Source: Why do many India MPs have criminal records? via BBC

An interesting recent article explaining why so many of India’s national level politicians have extensive – to include felony – criminal records.  It apparently all boils down to money.

In the country’s last general election in 2014, 554 million Indian voters cast their ballots at 900,000 polling booths, choosing their elected leaders amongst a field of 8,250 elected candidates representing 464 political parties.  While this may sound like great news for the world’s largest democracy, the remarkable thing is that one third (34 percent) of the 543 elected members of parliament (India’s version of Congress) also were facing criminal charges at the time – up from 30 percent in 2009 and 24 percent in 2004.  While some of the new MPs faced misdemeanor level charges, a whopping 20 percent faced more serious charges such ranging from attempted murder to assault and theft.

According to political scientist Milan Vaishnav, who authored a soon to be released book, When Crimes Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, the reason for this is money.  His take:

The rising cost of elections and a shadowy election financing system where parties and candidates under-report collections and expenses means that parties prefer “self-financing candidates who do not represent a drain on the finite party coffers but instead contribute ‘rents’ to the party”. Many of these candidates have criminal records.

Moreover, Vaishnav says, Indians are apparently less likely to be fazed by a politician with a criminal background, and that even well-informed voters may vote for criminal candidates along religious lines or by caste.

Why do Indians vote for ‘criminal’ politicians? [via BBC] and India’s New Parliament Has The Most Members Facing Criminal Charges In A Decade [via The Huffington Post]

Portable 3-D Imaging for Footprints and Tire Tread Marks at Crime Scenes

The graphic depicts the operation of a new type of portable crime scene forensics technology for taking high-resolution, 3-D images of shoeprints and tire-tread marks. The technology works by encoding data in LED light that is projected onto the snow or soil surface, allowing the system to determine the depth of surface features while using a single camera. (Source: Purdue University/Song Zhang)

Currently, if police forensics teams want to preserve evidence of shoeprints or tire tread marks at a crime scene, they either have to take photographs or plaster casts, if not both.  In development right now is a new technology for taking high-resolution 3-D images of such evidence in both snow and soil.

The system is expected to cost around $5,000, which is 1/10 the cost of current systems on the market, and could one day be an alternative to plaster casting.  The expectation is that it would also let investigators with virtually no technical background take high-quality images with an easy-to-use interface.

According to Song Zhang, an associate professor in Purdue University‘s School of Mechanical Engineering, who is leading the effort:

“Most shoes have very small cracks from wear in addition to their design pattern, and our system will be able to capture these distinct features. These marks are unique to a specific shoe.”

New Portable, User-friendly Crime-scene Forensics Tech Will Take High-resolution 3-D Images of Shoeprints, Tire Tracks in Snow and Soil [via Purdue University]

Carelessness Leading to More Cars Being Stolen

One out of eight cars stolen in 2015 was stolen as a result of some degree of carelessness by the owner – meaning the vehicle was left unlocked with key inside – according to a study released late last year by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).   This type of theft has increased in frequency in recent years: there were 57,096 such vehicle thefts in 2015, up 22 precent from the 2014 total of 46,695, and an increase of 31 percent over 2013 (43,643).  These numbers are also believed to represent underestimates because in incidents like these many owners are embarrassed to report the circumstances of the theft.

It’s also more common now during the winter months.  So if you’re warming the car up, try to lock the door and use a spare key to access your car when ready (if your vehicle allows this), or better yet, just wait inside your car whenever possible.

More Cars Are Getting Stolen Because Owners Are Basically Asking for It [via Time]

Beijing is Creating a New Smog Police Force to Fight Pollution

Source: NPR

Beijing is creating a new smog police force.  This comes after a month of particularly bad air quality that left the capital and dozens of other Chinese cities blanketed in thick, brown smog – captured in the truly depressing Jan. 2 video below that has already been viewed more than 1 million times.  Beijing can have such bad smog, particularly in the winter months, that it has even resulted in flight cancellations from and to the city’s airport due to poor visibility.

The city’s acting mayor, Cai Qi, announced over the weekend that the new environmental police force will crack down on polluters such as “open-air barbeques, garbage incineration, biomass burning, [and] dust from roads,” according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. He didn’t offer any more specifics about the squad.

Cai also announced other measures to tackle the persistent problem, including closing the city’s only coal-fired plant. In 2017, “coal consumption will be cut by 30 percent to less than 7 million tonnes” and “another 300,000 high-polluting old vehicles will be phased out,” the news agency reports.

Unbelievably, the World Health Organization reported that in 2012, more than 1 million deaths in China were the result of poor air quality – the highest tally in the world, and almost twice as many as the 2nd highest country on the list, India with some 600,000 deaths attributable to dirty air.

Smog Police: New Beijing Force Created To Tackle Air Pollution [via NPR]

UK Police “Mug” Suspects Just Before Arrest to Get their Phones in Unlocked State

Police in the United Kingdom have reportedly started employing a creative (but not truly new) tactic to ensure they get a cell phone off a suspect before he or she has a chance to turn it off or lock it.  Once they are ready to arrest the person, they’ll watch until they see the suspect use their phone, at which point they’ll simply swoop in snatch the phone out of the person’s hands.  Since the phone will be already be on and in use, it will be readily accessible for the officer to review.  They’ll then go ahead and make the arrest immediately afterwards.  Talk about an awkward drive back to the police station.

Today, the BBC reported on a recent fraud case in which Scotland Yard agents staged a pre-arrest mugging in order to make sure a suspect’s iPhone was seized in unlocked mode. Investigating a credit card forger, police waited for the suspect to make a call, then snatched the phone directly out of his hand before arresting him. The result was an unlocked phone — an open book for investigators, provided they didn’t let it slip into sleep mode.

UK police are mugging suspects to seize unlocked phones [via The Verge]

U.S. Army Wants Biodegradable Bullets that Turn Into Plants

At many military training facilities, spent shells from years of firearms training remain buried in the ground. The US Government has now began to consider if it is possible to create biodegradable bullets containing embedded seeds that won’t harm (and perhaps even benefit) the environment.

The pollutant issue may seem small when measured by the shot, but it builds up, reports Popular Mechanics. So the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory has created and tested seeds for a biodegradable composite, engineering them to sprout months after being embedded in the ground, per Live Science, which adds that the word “bullet” applies to the 40mm rounds that are more like grenades and the 120mm rounds that are used in tanks. Once biodegradable versions of these bullets have been worked up, a prototype will be made and a way for it to be mass-manufactured determined.

Army’s new push: ammo that grows plants [via USA Today]

Norway has a Specialized Police Unit for… Reindeers

The Norwegian Police Service actually has a branch dedicated to overseeing reindeer herding in an area comprising 27,000 square miles of remote forest in the country’s rugged northwest.

Reindeer police work in pairs during week-long shifts, following reindeer tracks wherever they might lead. The officers spend the night in small cabins dotting the countryside, and most often come across the Sami, indigenous people who depend upon the reindeer for survival. The officers settle disputes among herders, assist families moving their reindeer from one island to another, and generally help out in whatever way they can. They also check fishing permit and write the occasional citation to speeding snowmobilers.

Norway’s Reindeer Police Are Here to Save the Day [via Wired]

Chicago Man Buries Shovel Thief’s Car in Snow

This is old, but still funny. A man in Chicago buried his neighbor’s car in snow with a snow blower after said neighbor borrowed a shovel from his front porch after a 2011 blizzard. It wouldn’t have been a big deal, if only the neighbor had returned the shovel. David Wells figured out who it was, as the shovel thief was caught in the act with a surveillance camera system for burglars Wells had set up on the exterior of his home.