Secrecy around police surveillance equipment proves a case’s undoing

TALLAHASSEE — The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison.

But before trial, his defense team detected investigators’ use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device — a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay — to the attorneys.

Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain.

Today, 20-year-old McKenzie is serving six months’ probation ­after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. He got, as one civil liberties advocate said, the deal of the century. (The other two defendants also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to two years’ probation.)»


I’ve been looking forward to Invasion of the Undead since the moment I laid eyes on the ’80s-inspired artwork. Today, I’m excited to share an exclusive clip from the film.

Invasion of the Undead is an independent horror-comedy inspired by such genre favorites as Evil Dead, Big Trouble in Little China and Creepshow. Torey Haas, visual effects artist on V/H/S: Viral and Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, wrote and directed. He explains:

"This scene was shot near the end of a scheduled 21-hour day that was running behind schedule, and we were definitely on borrowed time since we needed to finish shooting before the sun rose. To make matters worse most of the crew (including the two actors Marie Barker and Dylan Schettina) were suffering from food poisoning after eating at TGI Fridays for dinner… I actually lit and shot this scene because my DP Nick Lauinger was too sick to hold the camera at this point. Thankfully we managed to pull through and got the final shot (the close-up of Jake’s leg) just as the sun rose. I did have to do a little bit of color correction to make the scene look like it took place in the middle of the night, but my sound editor Quyen Tran had it much worse - he had to get rid of all the chirping birds!"

The film premiered last month in Atlanta to a sold out crowd, and it will be available on digital outlets tomorrow. You’ll also be able to play a free, 16-bit-style platform video game.

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Send me a △ and ask a really invasive question aimed at my character. They’ll have to rate it on a scale of 1-10 and then answer it.

"I don’t know…"

"Let’s say a 5."


"This sounds horrible…"

"I guess I’d…"

"Put on a costume so she wouldn’t recognize me and shake some sense into her!"

"If Ib would be in any sort of danger, I wouldn’t just leave her. Not even if my life was in danger as well.”

"Not without a fight."

((OOC: Imagine Garry putting on a costume just to talk to Ib though.))

((OOC: Even though they haven’t known each other for long, Garry is very protective of Ib. He doesn’t have any siblings and he has always wanted a little sister. This might be the reason to why he would protect Ib at any cost. Because to him, Ib is like the little sister he never had.))

Australian Spotted Jellyfish - Phyllorhiza punctata - A beautiful but annoying invader

Phyllorhiza punctata (Rhizostomae - Mastigiidae) is a large jellyfish with a rounded and somewhat flattened gelatinous bell that is clear or possibly tinted brown with many small white crystalline refractive spots close to the surface. 

P. punctata is a coastal and estuarine jellyfish whose wide native distribution includes Australia and much of the Indo-Pacific including the Philippine archipelago. 

This species was recorded only from Indo-Pacific waters prior to the 1950s.  Since 1995 there are several reports of populations of the Australian Spotted Jellyfish in the Atlantic (Brazil), Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the East Pacific (California), where the species is considered introduced, invasive and nuisance, impacting fisheries, injuring swimmers, and clogging the intakes of power plants, among other effects. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Ray Froend | Locality: Swan River, Western Australia (2007)


Orange pore fungus: an invasive species 

When speaking of invasive organisms is common to think of plants and animals, but not in fungus, perhaps because there are few studies that address the issue of geographic dispersal in this group of organisms. 

The fact is that fungi can also be dispersed, as they have a medium, their spores, through which the genetic material of the fungus can be taken to new places and successfully establish, whether be it transported by natural elements (water, wind, birds) or accidentally by man.

The beautiful Orange pore fungus, Favolaschia calocera (Mycenaceae), is one of those fungi that has spread beyond its native range distribution. This saprotrophic fungus occurs naturally in Madagascar and parts of southern Asia. It was first reported as an exotic New Zealand in the 1950s, and is now common throughout the North Island and the north western regions of the South Island.

Genetic studies also revealed that it may have also been introduced to Kenya, Norfolk Island and Réunion Island. In 2002 it was also reported from Italy. In 2005 it was recorded for the first time in south eastern Australia, and currently it has been reported also in North America (Brazil) and the Hawaiian islands.

Because it is spreading, it needs to be monitored due to the potential ecological impacts of its introduction, since it is a saprotrophic fungi. Whether it may displace native fungi is still uncertain, as in both New Zealand and Italy it appears to be more abundant in remnant or disturbed habitats.

References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Bernard Spragg | Locality: Ruakaka, Northland, New Zealand]  -  [Bottom: ©Marco Bertolini | Locality: unknown]