There’s a time and place for laser pointers, those tiny, handheld devices that emit a steady stream of light. Middle-school classrooms, for one. Boardroom presentations, for another.
This concept evades some New Yorkers, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s homeland security chief, who have found other, creative uses for the technology. The laser pointer Jerome M. Hauer used to point to something during an October presentation on the response to Hurricane Sandy was attached to the barrel of his handgun, according to a new report from Albany’s Times Union. The move shocked the Swedish officials in attendance:
These officials, one of whom claimed to be an eyewitness, said that three Swedish emergency managers in the delegation were rattled when the gun’s laser tracked across one of their heads before Hauer found the map of New York, at which he wanted to point.
Moral of the story: Don’t use your laser-equipped gun as a presentation tool.
Other New Yorkers have used laser devices to point at something much farther away, like airplanes. In 2013, reports of laser pointers aimed at runway-bound planes jumped 17 percent compared with 2012, from 64 incidents to 75, The New York Times reported in October.
Such beams of light can easily distract pilots, and even temporarily damage their vision. “Several commercial pilots earlier this year suffered significant injury, including a burnt retina,” The Times wrote.
At the hands of the average troublemaker, the beam from a laser pointer appears to end a few hundred feet away. In reality, a pilot can clearly see the light from a low-powered laser more than two miles away, and from a powerful laser more than seven miles away, according to Laserpointersafety.com, which tracks reports of the devices aimed at airplanes.
U.S. pilots report seeing or being illuminated by laser beams about 10 times a night, according to the website. The people behind the beams risk more than the confiscation of their tiny devices if they get caught: Pointing a laser at a plane has been a federal crime since 2012.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."