New Surveillance Technology Monitors The Invisible

from the detection dept

There's little doubt that surveillance cameras are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and that there's really no such thing as privacy in public. But monitoring images visible to the naked eye may one day look quaint compared to the next generation of surveillance technologies. One company is developing a new technology that uses UV rays to detect trace amounts of illegal substances on objects, like door handles. So, a cop walking through the hallway of an apartment building could quickly zap each door handle to get an idea of who might be in possession of illegal narcotics. You can probably imagine many different applications of this technology, like streetlights that can tell what drivers had alcohol touch their lips that night. The question isn't whether this technology is bad or good, it's whether it can be used without being abused. At the moment, the courts have ruled against the use of drug-monitoring technology without a warrant, but it's not like nobody ever ignored the law before. And please, don't bother with the argument "If you have no drug residue on your door handle, then you have nothing to hide."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 12:52pm

    If approved, I'm going to place "prints" on a whole lot of doors that people don't want opened. For example, political offices, lawyers and anyone else who will squeal like a stuck pig after their offices get raided.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:11pm

    something tells me that's not going to be effective. the reason? cops won't look there. and if so, they'd report they found nothing. seriously, would you tell your boss he's doing illegal activities? you'd get your ass handed to you faster than you could do it yourself.

     

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  3.  
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    PhysicsGuy, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:19pm

    doesn't the majority of paper money have trace amounts of cocaine on it?

     

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  4.  
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    Matt Bennett, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    Almost every dollar bill in circulation has coccain in it. Seriously, that's not a joke, I forget what the percentage is, but it's like 99%.

     

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    Matt Bennett, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:37pm

    dang, he beat me to it

     

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  6.  
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    Faz, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:47pm

    Uuu

    “Wherever it’s been, it’s picked up something and carried it along.” That may include traces of cocaine, which, statistics show, are found on about 80 percent of dollar bills in circulation

    http://sumagazine.syr.edu/fall04/viewfromhill/

     

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  7.  
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    Doobs, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:56pm

    It seems very easy to abuse a technology like this. I would never suppourt it, because it is like law enforcement is looking specifically for a problem. I feel that law enforcement should be passive. They're responsible for protecting lives and rights, not monitoring everyone's actions.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 1:58pm

    Ever seen the studies that show how many $20.00 bills have trace amounts of drugs on them? Every bank teller in the country would be under suspicion if a trace of drugs on the hand (and transferred to the door handle) is all it took.

     

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  9.  
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    Paul, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    Great...

    So if hippie-joe decides to hotbox the carls jr bathroom late at night during the stores closing time, and I happen to use the bathroom early the next day and get trace resin all over my hand from the doorknob then it gets transfered to whatever I touch next...

     

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  10.  
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    ss, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 3:06pm

    Detect Guns

    They also have the technology to detect gunpowder and explosives this way. Its been suggested that you could do a sweep of a country town by town, say Iraq or Afganistan and find and remove all guns. Would make these much more peacefull places, but this is heavily opposed by the NRA (since then why not do this to say LA or New York).

     

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  11.  
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    Joe M., Oct 11th, 2006 @ 3:55pm

    This is SUPER!

    Maybe one day I'll finally have a way to get back at my obnoxious neighbors... by simply tainting their door handles. Yes, I have the "means" to taint the handles... wow... can anyone spell R-E-V-E-N-G-E?

    Seriously, this new technology is absurd and all agencies from courts to law enforcement should not even consider using such Soviet era spy-on-your-citizens technology. Sorry but the cold war is over.

     

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  12.  
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    unknown comic, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 4:15pm

    Just do everyone's door in the building, that way you will have enough time to get rid of yours

     

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  13.  
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    Okita Soji, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 4:42pm

    Funny thing....detection

    I think it's interesting that equipment that can sense whether or not there is a trace amount of a certain narcotic can be used in the "civilian" sector...but we can't actually "determine" whether or not the DPRK (aka North Korea) actually DETONATED an atomic/nuclear/radiological device?

    I don't know WHAT to believe anymore...

     

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  14.  
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    Walter Dnes, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 7:05pm

    It's already happening

    The Inquirer Net has the story of a Canadian explosives expert who *LEGITIMATELY* works with explosives, and was detained whilst travelling to an American security conference. http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=35012

    DEEPLY IN THE 'you can't make this stuff up' category comes word that a presenter at MPF won't make it today.

    The presenter from Optosecurity, a Canadian company that uses massive computer power to identify things like disassembled weapons in your luggage won't be here because he was detained by security.

    From what we are told they detected explosive traces on him at the airport, imagine that, someone who works with such things has a residue on him. The last anyone heard of him, he was still being detained, status unknown.

    And it's not just happening to suspicious foreigners. A white, caucasian, all-American-boy, US Marine reservist returning from his *SECOND* tour of duty in Iraq was delayed. He had been put on the watch list, because gunpowder residue was found on his boots when he was returning from his *FIRST* tour of duty in Iraq... duhhh... http://www.kare11.com/news/ts_article.aspx?storyid=122933

    "When Brown left the Twin Cities for Iraq last June, airport security found traces of gun powder on his boots from his first tour of duty. Brown was briefly detained then but didn't know he was placed on a watch list."

    And let's not forget the hell that Susan Nelles went through due to a hypersensitive experimental test for Digoxin that indicated 43 babies in a Toronto hospital had been poisoned... http://www.karisable.com/crnelles.htm
    "The digoxin found in the deceased babies may never have been present. The test, an experimental method, detected byproducts of digoxin after it broke down in the body, gave false results to other chemicals and labeled them as by products of digoxin as well. It impossible to determine if digoxin was used."

     

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  15.  
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    Eddie, Oct 11th, 2006 @ 7:43pm

    Streetlights seeing Alcohol on lips?

    Umm, So i wont be able to Gargle mouthwash without being harrassed by cops? Im a black man c'mon we already can't get a break with Cops stopping us for the littlest thing to search our car and make a big deal out of nothing only to find nothing and let us go causing us to be late for meetings and jobs, why give the cops more of a reason to Stop us?.

    Same for Latino's and Asians as well that get stopped for no reason..

    Streetlights that can read Alcohol on lips shouldn't even cross anyone's mind unless they plan to take Alcohol out of every product but the Beverages.

     

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  16.  
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    Search Engines WEB, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 4:03am

    VERIFICATION

    Who is to say that someone could not JUST CLAIM to have found traces on a specific door knob - as a ruse

    There would have to be some serious validation technology to prevent malicious abuse

     

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  17.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 5:21am

    Re: VERIFICATION

    And even then what keeps a dirty cop or jealous ex from planting actual drugs on someone else's door knob?

     

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  18.  
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    Loraan, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 5:56am

    Re: Detect Guns

    Guns do not cause the violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. Taking away guns will not make a violent society peaceful. It will just motivate them to kill each other with good old-fashioned weapons, like machetes. I wish people would stop blaming guns for violence when they should be blaming people.

     

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  19.  
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    Indiana Jones, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Detect Guns

    Yeah, true, they COULD theoretically revert to machetes.

    But then all the "good" soldiers on the side of the war that get to keep their guns have a huge advantage.

    Anyone remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy comes across the sword-wielding guy who puts on a huge display of his blade prowess, only to have Indy pull out his pistol and shoot him?

    Sure, not a real-life example, but the principle remains. An army of machete-wielding "thugs" is nothing against even a platoon of joes with automatic rifles.

    Which yes, goes back again to the point that any weapon you have CAN and WILL be used against you if given a chance by someone so motivated. It wouldn't take long before a few machete-wielding guys covertly attacked an unsuspecting group of joes and took all the automatic weapons from their corpses...

    So yeah.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 6:28am

    OK, so the technology could be abused, but it also could be used for good. Doesn't this place always talk about technology is just technology, and people shouldn't limit it because it may be used for bad purposes?

    You can't talk out of both sides of your mouth, either you are for things like this or you are not. Cell phone use when driving is probably a bad thing, but that doesn't mean cell phones should be banned.

    Oh, and the courts have always ruled that you must have due process when using technology like this, at least so far.

     

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  21.  
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    AC, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 6:57am

    Re: Streetlights seeing Alcohol on lips?

    You are so right Eddie! This is just a huge government conspiracy targeted solely at minorities just like yourself and your comrades. Thats the governments evil plan, to harass you and make you "late for meetings and stuff"? Because we all know cops dont pull over white people. ever. Yeah, IDIOT! If you feel so picked on, singled-out or harrassed you can go back to your own F*CKIN COUNTRY. Now quit your B*TCHIN and get on with your meaningless minority life.

     

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  22.  
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    eb, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Streetlights seeing Alcohol on lips?

    Wow, anyone posting a rant like yours must truly be living a meaningless life. Please crawl back under your rock.

     

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  23.  
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    alicdmillionaire, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 8:41am

    This technology is already being used in Iraq and in the civilian world. Radio Frequency Identification, UV rays , and cell phones will kill us all before we get busted.

     

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  24.  
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    AC, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Streetlights seeing Alcohol on lips?

    I'm sorry you feel I have a meaningless life eb. I am just a little tired of all the minorities fleeing their own countries and coming to the USA. While they are here they make us change who we are to incorprate their lifestyles into ours.

    All the while we are working our @sses off trying to make ends meet and they are driving brand new cars and getting food stamps and welfare without working at all? Make sense to you? Me either?

    How many minority grants and financial aid programs are available out there? Where you aware that a minority female will receive more financial assistance than anybody else? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

    I wish I could move to mexico/africa/china pennyless, get into an assisted living home, get food stamps, welfare and buy anything I want with money I earn under the table. Then complain about how mistreated my "people" are just because we are a different color.

    Its kind of interesting when you think about it. The most racist people out there are the minorities but our wonderful country caters to their every want and whim.

    So eb, I dont have a meaningless life. I just get tired of all the poor little minorites complaining about getting pulled over because they are black, brown, etc. When in reality they could have changed lanes without a blinker, crossed over the center line or maybe even been caught speeding. To any of you oppressed minorities that think life is unfair.... GO HOME, not the place you call home just down the block but go back to where you came from.
    Thanks in advance

     

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  25.  
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    Jamie, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Streetlights seeing Alcohol on lip

    Wow, I didn't know bigotted morons were posting to this site. Weren't the first caucasian settlers in the USA fleeing religious persecution back home? Now it's been the richest country in the world for over a hundred years we should shun all immigration and live insular little lives complaining about Johnny Foreigner? Not to mention that many minorities have US ancestry dating back to the days of Washington. Please think a little before posting such blatent stupidity to this board.

     

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  26.  
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    Unsure, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Streetlights seeing Alcohol on

    Not that I want to defend a bigot but I dont believe he/she was saying we didnt flee to settle here or that we should close our borders. Apparently he/she is just REALLY upset that the black guy complained about being harrassed. Just my 2 cents.

     

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  27.  
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    mingol, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 11:19am

    shorthand name for this issue -

    going way back to looking for a name or law for this - how about Neuman's law. Alfred E. Neuman pegged this like nobody's business...

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 12:40pm

    Streetlights seeing Alcohol on lips?

    Think of this, millions of people have asthma. Asthma inhalers often use alcohol in the propellent (and can be detected on sobriety tests). So, if I'm driving along and toking on my inhaller, this new technology will bag me for drinking. This is technology just begging for abuse.

     

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  29.  
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    Xanthir, FCD, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 1:34pm

    Privacy = DRM?

    I just now realized - our right to privacy is gradually looking more and more like DRM. Privacy Rights Management - administered by the government. It only takes one hacker to spread your life over the internet.

    Would it perhaps be better to accept and embrace the power of constant surveillance? To be as "free as in freedom" as software, though, we'd either have to give everyone access to surveillance data or have free reign in blocking it.

    Just some random thoughts...

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 10:36pm

    can are counrty truely afford more arrests for peaty crimes do we need more people in jails over croweding is bad enough so lets bust even more people for trace abouts of illegels on there doors

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 10:37pm

    can are counrty truely afford more arrests for peaty crimes do we need more people in jails over croweding is bad enough so lets bust even more people for trace abouts of illegels on there doors

     

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  32.  
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    chilehead, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 10:58pm

    A whole lotta worries over nothing

    So a company is doing research into new technologies and uses a few examples of how it might be used, to build a buzz on the topic and drum up business for the product if it actually works, and everyone thinks a government consipiracy is behind it?

    With the trace amounts of all those chemicals that are everywhere, it won't really tell anyone anything. If every doorknob has stuff on it, the test is useless for the purposes of law enforcement. So many products have amounts of alcohol in them that scanners for that substance would be useless as every third person would show positive.

    Anyone that works in law enforcement that would read about this technology will probably just chuckle and forget about it right away. I think a lot of people above who are having such strong reactions have their priorities out of balance. If you are so worried about having to find a way to keep the police from finding your stash, why not just quit the stuff and get a hobby that doesn't violate the law?

     

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  33.  
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    billy, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 11:58pm

    Worthless Paranoia...

    It'd be like taking a blacklight to a hotel... all over the place everywhere, and no one knows how it got there...

    Agree with #32

     

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  34.  
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    bago, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 12:03am

    well..

    The brits sampled the sewage and found that almost half of britons use cocaine.

    There IS a turning point.

     

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  35.  
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    Osvaldo Delengaro, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 1:32am

    Re: This is SUPER!

    cold war is over?? mainstream US press reports say theer are more russian spies in the US now than ever befoer.

    notice how russia is supporting every country the US has issues with: iran and now north korea? provides military aid to syria, too, for use against US allies. colwar never ended, just went underground for a while. fooled ya'.

     

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  36.  
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    99er, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 5:15am

    Poor Example

    Traces of drugs on door handles is a poor example. It doesn't prove anything since anyone passing could have touched the handle. Same reason as why your fingerprints on the door handle of a car doesn't help to prove that you were one that broke into the car.

     

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  37.  
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    hiscity, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 5:45am

    Busted!

    Kids! Don't learn the hard way. Don't make yourself a victim.

    The thing about doorknobs and other exposed surfaces is that they tend to get "cleaned off" by air drafts and other users.

    I'd love to be in the trial of someone caught trying to frame someone else ... caught "white handed" by video surveillance. You never know when you're going to walk into a stake out.

    As for giving up drugs to contaminate other things ... most users or sellers don't think like that. It'd be a waste of money or stuff.

    So go back to school fool.
    The only one you're going to frame is yourself.

     

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  38.  
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    Mike, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 6:44am

    Prints Prank

    And you think you could pull that off without getting yourself caught?

     

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  39.  
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    Tony, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    99.9% of the american one hundred dollar bills have cocaine on them

     

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  40.  
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    Genghis, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 7:48am

    This is the greatest technology I've ever heard of and there is no way anyone could abuse it. There, I'm satisfied. I can't wait for applications of this to make their way to the public...

     

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  41.  
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    Bob, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 7:52am

    Just because there are trace amounts of drugs on the door handle doesn't mean there are drugs inside. What if the pizza delivery guy touched the door? What if a criminal went down the hallway checking each door to see if it was locked? This is utter stupidity. It's a clear case of the latest technology trend: "We can, therefore we should."

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2006 @ 10:18am

    cocaine

    I don't know if you know this, but statistics say that something like 97% of 50 Peso bills have traces of cocaine on them...

     

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  43.  
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    John, Oct 14th, 2006 @ 6:52am

    being practical

    What happened to wearing gloves? No one does that anymore?

     

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  44.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Oct 15th, 2006 @ 8:07pm

    Re:

    "Whatever happens, we have got
    The Gatling gun, and they have not"

    That scene was made when Harrison Ford had the flu and was pissed off with the whole thing after trying several times to get the scene right wuth his whip, he just shot hte guy. they kept it because the director liked it better that way.

    You have point though - no matter how many macketes they have, a regiment with automatics will pwn them all. Look at what happend to Poland, 1939, for what happens when you try to put ancient tech weapons against modern equipment and tactics. (Think lancers againast tanks - although the Brits had lancers in reserve when they first used tanks at the Somme)

     

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  45.  
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    satan, Oct 29th, 2006 @ 4:44am

    cool

    I have a few people I don't like, I'll put some drugs on their front doors.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 3:31pm

    Wow another thing that will give officials more private information on any one. Just what we need! Well lets hope that if they do use it they will make good use for it.

     

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  47.  
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    Jennifer, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 8:54pm

    Re: This is SUPER!

    Hey. I'm looking for Hippy Joe Morris, a Marine who was at Camp Pendleton with my husband Mike Smith. Are you this man? I'd love to hear from you. jencpena@gmail.com
    Thanks!

     

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  48.  
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    sara martinez, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    i think your right people with nothing to hide shouldnt be scared of what there hands leave behind....lol

     

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  49.  
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    gregbuilt, Jun 15th, 2009 @ 8:39am

    new tech

    i read about the new tech stuff and got to tell you that in the new obama dictatorship that will make the bush/chaney law breakers look like kindagarden, i have no reservations in saying it will be used, it has already been used, and as the technology gets better it will continue to get less private for everyone. the patriot act guaranteees it!

     

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