US Military Using $600K ‘Drone Buggies’ To Patrol Camps In Africa

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. military is using an unmanned robotic vehicle to patrol around its camps in the Horn of Africa. The remote controlled vehicle is the result of a 30-year plan after military chiefs approved the con…

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. military is using an unmanned robotic vehicle to patrol around its camps in the Horn of Africa. The remote controlled vehicle is the result of a 30-year plan after military chiefs approved the concept of a robotic security system in 1985. Now the Mobile Detection Assessment and Response System, known as MDARS, are carrying out patrols in the east African country of Djibouti, under the control of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The area is known as home to a number of hostile militant groups including the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab. An operator sits in a remote location away from the vehicle watching the terrain via a camera link which is fixed to the chassis. U.S. military software engineer Joshua Kordanai said in a video presentation that the vehicle drives itself, freeing the remote operator to monitor video. “The vehicle has an intruder detection payload, consisting of radar, a night vision camera, a PTZ [pan-tilt-zoom] camera and two-way audio, so the system will be able to detect motion,” he added. One report prices the cost of an earlier version of the military ‘drone buggy’ at $600,000 each.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Military Using $600K ‘Drone Buggies’ To Patrol Camps In Africa

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. military is using an unmanned robotic vehicle to patrol around its camps in the Horn of Africa. The remote controlled vehicle is the result of a 30-year plan after military chiefs approved the con…

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. military is using an unmanned robotic vehicle to patrol around its camps in the Horn of Africa. The remote controlled vehicle is the result of a 30-year plan after military chiefs approved the concept of a robotic security system in 1985. Now the Mobile Detection Assessment and Response System, known as MDARS, are carrying out patrols in the east African country of Djibouti, under the control of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The area is known as home to a number of hostile militant groups including the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab. An operator sits in a remote location away from the vehicle watching the terrain via a camera link which is fixed to the chassis. U.S. military software engineer Joshua Kordanai said in a video presentation that the vehicle drives itself, freeing the remote operator to monitor video. “The vehicle has an intruder detection payload, consisting of radar, a night vision camera, a PTZ [pan-tilt-zoom] camera and two-way audio, so the system will be able to detect motion,” he added. One report prices the cost of an earlier version of the military ‘drone buggy’ at $600,000 each.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Former city worker accuses Portland of firing her for pregnancy

Emily Norris of Westbrook claims in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland that the city fired her just days after she revealed she was pregnant.

A former administrative worker for the city of Portland has filed a gender discrimination lawsuit claiming she was illegally fired just days after she revealed to her boss that she was pregnant.

Emily Norris of Westbrook had worked for the city for less than two months when she requested on Oct. 1 that she be temporarily reassigned from the Oxford Street Homeless Shelter during her pregnancy because of safety concerns there, and because of her diminished immune system.

She was then fired on Oct. 6 in violation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, according to the lawsuit.

“Emily Norris was fired because she was pregnant,” one of Norris’ attorneys, Jordan Payne, said in an emailed statement. “Just two work days after Emily told her supervisor, Aaron Geyer, that she was pregnant, he fired her for ‘taking too many sick days.’ Emily had taken 3 1/2 sick days, and they were ALL approved by Geyer himself. In fact, for one of the days Emily was out sick, it was because Geyer had actually sent her home from work for being sick.”

Jessica Grondin, a spokeswoman for the city of Portland, declined to comment on the lawsuit, adding that the city does not comment on personnel matters.

Norris claims in the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland that in her first weeks at the homeless shelter, she “encountered hazardous and dangerous conditions,” including improperly disposed needles, people behaving erratically, a woman trying to grab her and nearly being kicked in the stomach by a man having a seizure.

Norris began working for the city last Aug. 8 as a financial eligibility specialist, interviewing people applying for benefits through the Department of Health and Human Services. As part of her job, she worked three to four hours of her nine-hour shift at the homeless shelter, the lawsuit states.

During her two months on the job, Norris missed a half day of work to have her car repaired, a full day of work when her dog died, and three and a half days due to sickness. The lawsuit states that all that time off was approved and that she had a doctor’s note to miss work because of the flu.

Norris met with her boss, Aaron Geyer, on Oct. 1 to tell him she was two months pregnant and that her doctors and midwives advised her to refrain from working at the shelter during her pregnancy.

On Oct. 6, Geyer told her during a termination meeting with a human resources employee, Krista Morris, that she wasn’t a good fit for the job and that she had taken too many sick days, according to the lawsuit filed on her behalf by attorneys, Payne and Rebecca Webber, of the Auburn law firm Skelton Taintor and Abbott.

“Emily was stunned. She asked Geyer if she was being fired because she was pregnant. Geyer said, ‘No,’ and added, ‘I don’t have to give you a reason,’” Payne and Webber wrote in the 15-page complaint. “Emily then told Geyer that, when going over her hiring paperwork, another human resources representative, Wanda Cook, had told Emily that she would be given some sort of warning before she was terminated. Geyer replied, ‘This is a probationary period. I don’t have to do that.’”

Webber said that in Maine, employers are not required to give a reason when firing an employee, regardless of whether the employee is on probationary status.

“Even if the person is on probation, you can’t fire them for a protected category,” Webber said.

Norris has accused the city of discrimination both under state and federal law, retaliation under state law and violating her constitutional rights to equal protection. She is seeking seeking repayment for lost pay and benefits and an unspecified amount in damages.

After being fired, Norris gave birth to a healthy baby boy and has since found a new job, though it pays considerably less than her city job, Payne said.

New York man died from gunshot wound to chest in Rangeley altercation

Michael Bokun, of Manhattan, was positively identified as the deceased man, authorities said Friday.

A 29-year-old from New York died from a gunshot wound to the chest early Thursday morning in Rangeley after what authorities said was likely a home invasion that may have involved drugs, police said Friday.

Michael Bokun, of Manhattan, was positively identified as the deceased man Thursday afternoon by Maine State Police and the State Medical Examiner’s Office, according to a release Friday afternoon by Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. The state medical examiners office said Bokun died from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the release.

Two other men were injured during the confrontation in Rangeley. One of the two injured was identified Friday as Hector Munoz, 48, also of New York City. He was treated and released for a head injury from Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and then arrested on a probation violation, unrelated to the Rangeley incident, according to the release. Munoz was being held at the Androscoggin Jail.

Authorities said Friday they are still withholding the name of the resident of the Rangeley house where the confrontation happened and that man remains hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

State Police evidence technicians were in the Rangeley home Friday morning as police continued to investigate, according to the release.

Atop a mountain in eastern Vermont sits abandoned military base

On the top of East Mountain in Vermont, the long forgotten Lyndonville Air Force Station is crumbling to ruins. A 12 mile, round trip hike to the top, affords the brave adventurer with spectacular views of surrounding mountains, and a walk amongst an o…

On the top of East Mountain in Vermont, the long forgotten Lyndonville Air Force Station is crumbling to ruins. A 12 mile, round trip hike to the top, affords the brave adventurer with spectacular views of surrounding mountains, and a walk amongst an old derelict radar station.

Police say Maine man assaulted good Samaritan

David H. Atwood was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, domestic violence aggravated assault and possession of drugs.

David H. Atwood was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, domestic violence aggravated assault and possession of drugs.

East Bayside garment cleaner closes

Owners decided to close after they couldn’t find a buyer for the environmentally sensitive service.

Portland’s Greener Cleaner is closing after the owners failed to find a buyer.

The East Bayside cleaner, which specialized in wet-cleaning garments, opened more than four years ago.

The owners, Jason Wentworth and Sandrine Chabert, told customers in an email in June that they were looking for a buyer because “the reality of getting the business going” caused them to lose enthusiasm for the operation, although they retained their belief that their cleaning process was better for the environment than dry cleaning.

Wentworth declined to talk to a reporter when he was contacted Friday afternoon, but said the emails conveyed the couple’s thoughts and plans.

He said the business will close at 2 p.m. Saturday and will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays the first two weeks in August from 8 a.m. to noon if customers are unable to pick up their clothes before Saturday afternoon.

The Greener Cleaner is at 115 Fox St. in Portland.

Judge Rules Political Robocalls Are Protected By First Amendment

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A federal judge has ruled that robocalls made on behalf of political candidates are protected by the First Amendment and cannot be outlawed. The decision came in a case in Arkansas, where political robocal…

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A federal judge has ruled that robocalls made on behalf of political candidates are protected by the First Amendment and cannot be outlawed. The decision came in a case in Arkansas, where political robocalls had been illegal for more than 30 years. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Leon Holmes ruled that banning political robocalls amounts to an infringement of free speech protections and also constitutes prior restraint of speech. Political campaigns have been using robocalls for decades, and some states have sought to ban them, arguing that they are intrusive and violate recipients’ privacy. In the Arkansas case, the state attorney general put forward both of these arguments, and also argued that the calls can tie up phone lines, making them unusable in an emergency. Holmes said in his decision that there was no evidence that political robocalls prevent emergency communications, and also said that the Arkansas statute should have banned all robocalls, not just commercial and political ones. “The statute at issue here imposes a content-based restriction on speech; it is not one of the rare cases that survives strict scrutiny. The state has failed to prove that the statute at issue advances a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest,” Holmes wrote.

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For Bronco-Hermon coach, a baseball career comes full circle at SLWS

Matt Kinney has looked forward to coaching in the Senior League World Series beginning Sunday, mostly to see his Bronco-Hermon All-Stars experience both the quality of play and international flavor of the world championship tournament for 15- and 16-ye…

Matt Kinney has looked forward to coaching in the Senior League World Series beginning Sunday, mostly to see his Bronco-Hermon All-Stars experience both the quality of play and international flavor of the world championship tournament for 15- and 16-year-olds.