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NYT Columnist: Yale Police Stopped My Son At Gunpoint

charles blow nyt column

Blow relayed what his son told him had happened in an op-ed published Sunday. Tahj Blow, who is black and is a student at Yale University, was walking home from the campus library when he realized a police officer was following him. The officer then allegedly raised his gun and told Tahj to turn around and get on the ground.

The officer allowed Tahj to get up and walk away after answering a few questions. But a few seconds later, the officer told Tahj to turn around again to show the back of his jacket and asked him to produce ID.

A female officer who approached Tahj after the first officer let him go a second time explained that some students had called about a robbery suspect and Tahj matched that suspect’s description.

A Yale spokesperson told the New Haven Register that several students reported an individual had entered their rooms while pretending to be looking for someone. The students described the suspect as a tall, African-American, college-aged student dressed in a black jacket and a red and white hat, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson acknowledged that a Yale student who closely matched that description “was briefly detained and released by Yale police,” but did not name the student. The actual suspect was arrested shortly afterward, the spokesperson told the Register.

Blow has written prolifically about race issues, and he connected his son’s experience to that of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two black men killed by police, in a series of tweets Saturday night:

In his op-ed, Blow wrote that he wasn’t angry about the fact that his son was questioned because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. Instead, he took issue with the way the stop was carried out.

“Why was a gun drawn first? Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first?” he wrote. “What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a ‘suspicious’ movement? Had I come close to losing him?”

Blow wrote that the dean of Yale College and the campus police chief had apologized and promised an internal investigation of the incident.

Here’s The Full-Page Marijuana Ad In The New York Times

Leafly, a company perhaps most readily explained as “Yelp for weed,” will run a full-page ad in tomorrow’s New York Times.

The site maintains a listing of the marijuana dispensaries operating in states where it is legal for medical or recreational purposes. It gathers their pertinent contact info, locations, and menus, and boasts an extensive “Knowledge Center” to encourage education on what is for much of the country still an illegal street drug.

Leafly also has a web app for identifying specific strains of marijuana that might bring relief to people suffering from specific problems. Feeling anxious and sleepless? Try White Widow. Suffering from migraines and arthritis? Leafly says Lemon Haze can help.

“Our advertisement in The New York Times is a responsible, mainstream message that elevates the conversation about cannabis in the U.S.,” said Leafly CEO Brendan Kennedy in a release.

As New York just became the 23rd state to legalize medicinal marijuana and the New York Times editorial board recently called for blanket legalization of the plant, this seems like a most appropriate placement. See the ad for yourself below.


How The Washington Post and the New York Times covered Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination

Here’s how The Washington Post covered Ferdinand’s death, on Monday, June 29, 1914:

A century ago today, anarchists in Sarajevo assassinated Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The assassination set off a chain of events that led to the start of the Great War, which began a month later.

Here’s the full PDF.

“HEIR TO AUSTRIAN THRONE, ARCHDUKE FERDINAND, AND WIFE SLAIN BY ASSASSIN,” reads the two-column banner headline. “ESCAPE BOMB; DIE BY PISTOL,” says the subhead. Page 2 features a list of the prominent “Rulers and Notables Killed by Assassins” since 1801 (an early listicle?):

Here’s the New York Times front page from the same day, with a four-column lede, courtesy their very cool Times Machine:

On page two, the Times includes a special cable from Rome, under the headline: “Pope Much Depressed.”

With Dropbox valued at $8B, meet high tech’s new bubble: Cloud storage

With Dropbox valued at $8B, meet high tech’s new bubble: Cloud storage

Cloud storage companies are sucking up investor money at a furious rate as they gird themselves to compete.

And naturally, not all of them will emerge victorious.

Last night, the New York Times reported that Dropbox is seeking to raise another $250 million, which would value the five year-old startup at more than $8 billion. It previously raised a $250 million round in October 2011 at a valuation of $4 billion. The company has seen enormous success among consumers, but now it’s trying to drum up interest in a different market.

The determining factor in who succeeds in the cloud storage sector will be enterprise adoption. Everyone wants to be the Dropbox for enterprise —including Dropbox, which last week unveiled a major redesign for the more than four million businesses using its service.

But unlike competitor Box, which focused on businesses first and is highly regarded by VCs, the press, and clients in finance and health for its heightened security, Dropbox targeted the consumer market first and has been repeatedly criticized in the press for security lapses. Until it can prove that it has enterprise-grade security, Dropbox is going to have a tough time escaping its consumer pedigree.

Raising the money will help Dropbox get there, of course — even if it’s only to bolster the balance sheet, not to embark on some grand engineering project. The more money that these vendors have, the safer it is for enterprises to take a bet on them.

Other cloud storage vendors are also moving to focus on the enterprise market. Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), which originally focused on cloud storage for creative professionals, picked up $34 million earlier today to court the enterprise market. And Egnyte recently rebranded to shift its focus from small to medium businesses to large enterprises — and there will be more funding news on that front shortly, I’ve been told.

But industry experts question whether the sector has room for all of these storage vendors.

“There is definitely a sense of over-optimism,” said Bipul Sinha, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, in a conversation with VentureBeat. “Only one company will become a really major player.”

With more than 200 million active users, Dropbox already has a sizable audience — and a lot of those people bring it to work with them. Dropbox has a Trojan-horse style opportunity here to sneak into the enterprise, promising IT departments greater control and security for the app their employees are already using. But that’s unlikely to work for major enterprises with stringent security requirements.

“I think it’s very unlikely that a company like GE would use Dropbox, given their security requirements,” said Ray Wang, the founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

The cloud storage market, like all cloud computing sectors, should continue to grow for the foreseeable future. But until one of these companies goes public, it won’t be clear how much the market is actually worth, as private company valuations are very different from the stock market.

That means Dropbox’s current $8 billion valuation (or any of these other companies’ supposed values) isn’t really that important. What will truly determine the longevity of these businesses is — in this order — exemplary security, enterprise penetration, and a healthy public market reception.

And whichever player emerges victorious is unlikely to share the spoils.

Obama Commutes the Life Sentences of Six Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Obama Commutes the Life Sentences of Six Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Today, President Obama commuted the sentences of eight nonviolent drug offenders — including Clarence Aaron, a man who was sentenced to three life sentences in 1993 for his role in arranging a cocaine deal.

“He was absolutely overcome,” Aaron’s attorney told the New York Times. “Actually, I was, too. He was in tears. This has been a long haul for him, 20 years. He just was speechless, and it’s very exciting.”

Aaron’s sentence was nearly commuted under the Bush White House when his file came up in a stack of files to be considered by the pardon office.

The White House, frustrated by how few pardons were being processed through the office, selected Aaron’s file as a promising case in 2008.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama supported commuting his sentence. The judge involved in the case supported commuting his sentence, telling the pardon office Aaron “should be granted relief” immediately.

But unfortunately for Aaron, the pardon attorney at the time, Lt. Col. Ronald L. Rodgers,ignored their recommendations, and instead resubmitted a denial that he had penned for Aaron in 2004.

The Justice Department wouldn’t comment on Rodgers or how he handled the Aaron case.

Six of the eight were serving life sentences for their nonviolent crimes — including Stephanie George, who got life in 1997 when she let her boyfriend stash his crack in her home.

All were convicted prior to the passage of the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which finally reduced the disparity between cocaine and crack sentencing.

More than 9,000 offenders still remain behind bars under the old sentencing guidelines.

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