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.
What We're Following See More »
First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."
"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."
"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."
"The Trump administration has lost a handful of individuals serving in top cybersecurity roles across the federal government in recent weeks, even as it has struggled to fill high-ranking IT positions. The developments present hurdles for the new administration and speak to the longstanding challenge the federal government faces in competing with the private sector for top tech talent." Among those resigning is Richard Staropoli, "a former U.S. Secret Service agent who served as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Homeland Security for just three months," and Dave DeVries, the CIO at OPM. Separately, the White House announced today that President Trump has directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.