Wendell Castle dies at 85

 Wendell Castle, an artist in residence at RIT and known to many as the father of the art furniture movement, passed away on Jan. 20, 2018.

He was first and foremost a sculptor, and was known for a chaos both in his work as well as his thinking.

In the City Newspaper of Rochester he had said, “There is no reason [and] no continuity or logic” in his work. He is known as a revolutionary furniture designer, but that was not how he thought about his work. “The fact that [my work] was useful didn’t add anything to it, for me,” he said.

His inspiration came from things he saw in his youth, ranging from the benign image of a wooden duck he saw in a magazine to the warping of wheels on an accelerating car. Everything he designed started as a freestyle drawing on rag paper.

“I obey only my own instincts, which often I do not understand myself. I often draw things I do not understand, but am secure in the knowledge that they may at some point become clear and meaningful,” Wendell once wrote for an exhibit he did at RIT.  

Castle's contributions to the world of American craft are unparalleled, and he will certainly be missed. 

The NSA Deletes Surveillance Data it Pledged to Preserve

The NSA deleted surveillance data in connection with pending lawsuits for warrantless wiretapping of American digital and telecommunications ordered by former President George W. Bush.

In court the NSA revealed that backup tapes for this data were also purged in 2009, 2011 and 2016. David Greene, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is leading the lawsuit against the NSA on behalf of the American citizens.

This information came into light after President Donald Trump renewed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which allows the U.S. to spy on foreigners overseas.

New York Police Department "Predictive Policing" Documents Ordered to be Released

Information transparency advocates, with the support of a Manhattan judge, ordered the New York Police Department (NYPD) to release documents that outlines their predictive policing crime forecasting surveillance technology. The litigation process began after The Brennan Center of Justice from New York filed a lawsuit against New York City.

NYPD often refuses to release records upon request of the press and the public. In the last few years, multiple lawsuits have been filed for the release of information on the department's use of surveillance cameras, x-ray scanners and facial recognition technology.

The Brennan Center, a non-profit focusing on issues of democracy, has learned that there is no policy that exists to govern the NYPD’s use of predictive policing technology. The NYPD's crime forecasting technology relies on the analysis of historical crime data ranging from arrest records, gang documentation and most notably, their controversial stop-and-frisk program.

25 percent of stop-and-frisk encounter data is young African American men, who are only 1.9 percent of New York City’s population. The Human Rights Data Analysis Group states that the danger of this technology is that it relies on historical data that reflects an outdated racial bias, targeting people of low social and economic standing and people of color.

The Human Rights Data Analysis Group also stated in their study of crime forecast technology that “targeted policing would have been dispatched almost exclusively to lower income, minority neighborhoods." In records from the time prior to running the algorithm, the majority of the drug crimes recorded were in these same neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that are heavily patrolled by police produce more incident records, therefore they are over-represented in crime data. Instead of revealing previously unknown crime locations to the police, the technology would just send police back to the neighborhoods that they are already over-policing.