Opinion

February 18, 2014

Charles Oliver: Firefighters, police on opposing sides

• Chula Vista, Calif., firefighter Jacob Gregoire was busy checking an overturned car for victims when a California Highway Patrol officer demanded he move a fire engine he said was blocking traffic. Firefighters intentionally block traffic to protect themselves and others at automobile wreck scenes, so Gregoire said he’d have to check with his captain before moving the truck. That, apparently, wasn’t the answer the state trooper was looking for. He handcuffed Gregoire and put him in the back seat of his patrol car. He didn’t release Gregoire until supervisors from both agencies met at the crash site to resolve the matter.

• The United States plummeted 13 places from last year to rank at just 46 in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index. Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg and Andorra top the index. The group blamed the Obama administration’s efforts to identify and punish whistleblowers for America’s declining press freedoms.

• The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee approved all of the new science standards proposed by the state school board. Well, all but one. Committee members refused to approve a proposed standard that says students should be taught that evolution occurs primarily through natural selection.

• New York City police detective Edwin Vargas has pleaded guilty to hiring hackers to steal the user names and passwords for the email accounts of at least 30 individuals, including at least 20 current or former police officers. He has also pleaded guilty to accessing a law enforcement databank to obtain information on at least two police officers.

• The federal government collected personal information on almost 5,000 people and distributed it to almost 30 different agencies. The information was on people who were the customers of two men who teach people to beat polygraph tests, sometimes called lie detector tests. Those tests are not scientific and are considered so unreliable that they generally can’t be used in court as evidence against those accused of a crime. So, of course, the federal government relies on them heavily in hiring people for many sensitive jobs. But many of the people it collected information on aren’t government employees. None have been charged with a crime, and many did not undergo any actual training on beating a polygraph, they just bought a book on the subject.

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Opinion
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