Connect with us

Australia

Fingerprint algorithm helps ID bodies found decades ago

The algorithm can make matches from low-quality prints from a single finger Previously, techniques n..

Published

on

  • The algorithm can make matches from low-quality prints from a single finger
  • Previously, techniques needed quality prints from all 10 fingers to make a match
  • One of the key cases cracked using the technique dates back to 1983

By Associated Press and Shivali Best For Mailonline

Published: 01:14 EDT, 31 October 2017 | Updated: 10:35 EDT, 31 October 2017

An incredible new fingerprint algorithm is helping the FBI to identify bodies dating back to the 1970s.

The algorithm can make matches from low-quality prints or even a single finger or thumb.

Previously, the standard algorithm typically needed quality prints from all 10 fingers to make a match.

Since launching the new effort in February, the FBI has identified 204 bodies found between 1975 and the late 1990s.

Scroll down for video

An incredible new fingerprint algorithm is helping the FBI to identify bodies dating back to the 1970s. The algorithm can make matches from low-quality prints or even a single finger or thumb (stock image)

An incredible new fingerprint algorithm is helping the FBI to identify bodies dating back to the 1970s. The algorithm can make matches from low-quality prints or even a single finger or thumb (stock image)

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The computer algorithm can make matches from low-quality prints or even a single finger or thumb by looking at a variety of patterns in the prints.

It can be used to identify bodies dating back to the 1970s.

Previously, the standard algorithm typically needed quality prints from all 10 fingers to make a match.

Since launching the new effort in February, the FBI and local medical examiner offices have identified 204 bodies found between 1975 and the late 1990s.

The cases stretch across the country, with the largest number in Arizona, California, New York, Florida and Texas.

Over the past year, the FBI and local medical examiner offices have identified bodies from across the US, with the largest number in Arizona, California, New York, Florida and Texas.

'We didn't know the actual potential success. We were hoping to identify a few cases, maybe five or 10,' said Bryan Johnson, a manager in the FBI's Latent Fingerprint Support Unit who proposed the effort.

'We're really proud that we found another way of doing this.'

Under the new program, Mr Johnson and eight others in the FBI unit ran fingerprints from about 1,500 bodies through a new computer algorithm that could make matches from low-quality prints or even a single finger or thumb.

Previously, the standard algorithm typically needed quality prints from all 10 fingers to make a match.

The unit is now urging local authorities to search through other old case files and send in smudged or partial prints that couldn't previously be matched.

One of the key cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey, who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983.

This spring, Mr Downey's brother, James, received a call from authorities, reporting that the remains of a man found beaten to death decades ago along a brushy path in Des Moines, 800 miles away, had been identified as John.

'We always figured something had happened to him,' James Downey said from his home in Houston.

'We all assumed he'd got killed somewhere or died in an accident.'

 One of the cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey, who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983. Pictured are experts examining the case One of the cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey, who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983. Pictured are experts examining the case

One of the cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey, who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983. Pictured are experts examining the case

The FBI's newfound ability was key to the Des Moines case because by the time Mr Downey's body was found in February 1984, it had been buried under snow and dirt for months and was severely decomposed.

Authorities sought the public's help in identifying the body, including publishing drawings of distinctive tattoos in the local newspaper, but no one came forward.

'We know he was murdered and dumped in this area but Des Moines police never really developed any leads on it and basically forgot about the case,' county Medical Examiner Greg Schmunk said.

It was one of several cases that medical examiner investigators called 'shelf dwellers,' referring to cremated remains that would sit for decades on storage shelves.

IDENTIFYING THE BODY OF JOHN DOWNEY

 One of the cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey (pictured), who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983 One of the cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey (pictured), who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983

One of the cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey (pictured), who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983

One of the cases that the new algorithm has helped to solve is that of John Downey, who disappeared after Thanksgiving Day in 1983.

This spring, Mr Downey's brother, James, received a call from authorities, reporting that the remains of a man found beaten to death decades ago along a brushy path in Des Moines, 800 miles away, had been identified as John.

The FBI's newfound ability was key to the Des Moines case because by the time Mr Downey's body was found in February 1984, it had been buried under snow and dirt for months and was severely decomposed.

Authorities sought the public's help in identifying the body, including publishing drawings of distinctive tattoos in the local newspaper, but no one came forward.

'We know he was murdered and dumped in this area but Des Moines police never really developed any leads on it and basically forgot about the case,' county Medical Examiner Greg Schmunk said.

It was one of several cases that medical examiner investigators called 'shelf dwellers,' referring to cremated remains that would sit for decades on storage shelves.

But the fact that this was a homicide and the unusual tattoos – including a skeleton clad in Nazi garb and a cartoon figure wearing a hat and smoking a cigarette – prompted investigators to rummage through police archives and resubmit the single available thumbprint into the Missing and Unidentified Persons System, called NamUs.

They were shocked months later when the FBI's Johnson called to confirm they had matched the thumbprint to prints of Downey taken after an earlier arrest in Texas.

But the fact that this was a homicide and the unusual tattoos – including a skeleton clad in Nazi garb and a cartoon figure wearing a hat and smoking a cigarette – prompted investigators to rummage through police archives and resubmit the single available thumbprint into the Missing and Unidentified Persons System, called NamUs.

They were shocked months later when the FBI's Mr Johnson called to confirm they had matched the thumbprint to prints of Downey taken after an earlier arrest in Texas.

Experts were shocked when the FBI called to confirm they had matched the thumbprint to prints of Downey taken after an earlier arrest in Texas (pictured)Experts were shocked when the FBI called to confirm they had matched the thumbprint to prints of Downey taken after an earlier arrest in Texas (pictured)

Experts were shocked when the FBI called to confirm they had matched the thumbprint to prints of Downey taken after an earlier arrest in Texas (pictured)

About 40 per cent of the identifications through the FBI's new process have been cases in Arizona.

Most are people who died while attempting to make the dangerous desert crossing from Mexico.

Bruce Anderson, the forensic anthropologist for Pima County, Arizona, keeps more than 1,000 unidentified person charts filed along his office wall.

This late 1950s photo provided by the Downey family shows John Downey, far left, posing for a photo with siblings in Rogers, TexasThis late 1950s photo provided by the Downey family shows John Downey, far left, posing for a photo with siblings in Rogers, Texas

This late 1950s photo provided by the Downey family shows John Downey, far left, posing for a photo with siblings in Rogers, Texas

'If you can remove one of these charts, have one family reach out to you to confirm an identity, some of that weight on us is removed,' Mr Anderson said.

Aden Naka, assistant director for forensics investigation in New York City, said many of the new identifications there were of bodies found in water, with some dating back to the early 1990s.

Once they had a match, Mr Naka said, staffers tried to find relatives or aid a criminal investigation if one is open.

'This matters tremendously,' Mr Naka said. 'Everyone deserves a name.'

Let's block ads! (Why?)

[contf] [contfnew] [hhm]Daily Mail[hhmc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Continue Reading

Australia

Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

Published

on

In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

Continue Reading

Australia

Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

Published

on

A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

Continue Reading

Australia

Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

Published

on

Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

source

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 , madridjournals.com