42 thoughts on “I hear helicopters…”

  1. The cyanide makes sense since the guy is licensed pyrotechnician. And Fox 9 doesn’t say that they actually found any illicit pornographic materials.

  2. On Fox 9, one of the investigators said there was spilled chemicals outside of the house…that in itself I presume is illegal. ICE is Immigration Customs and Enforcement, but they seem to have a larger area of interest than their name implies. See ice.gov

  3. Having first read that cyanide & explosives were found, then later reading that the materials found were ‘not hazardous, it leaves me to wonder what other elements of this story will unravel when exposed to daylight.

  4. Well, it is Fox News, after all. As much as I like juicy rumors, I appreciate the more detailed, less speculative reporting of the Nfld News on this.

  5. Even the most rabid property-rights person amongst us (and I am, sometimes) would probably agree that storing explosives components on an industrial scale in a housing area is a bit beyond the usual “in home” business.

  6. The Nfld News has an updated version as of 3:25 pm. It contradicts the Fox story: “Federal officials say no one has been taken into custody…”
    http://northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=45479

    The story ends with:

    Under the pseudonym “Kahn Amore” he authored a book, “Hypatia,” a fictionalized account of the life of Hypatia, an ancient Greek female mathematician. A Web site dedicated to the woman, http://www.hypatia-lovers.com, titled “Hypatia World,” contains references to her, as well as complicated mathematical formulas and pornographic images and videos.

  7. I don’t think there’s any evidence that the explosives on site were of an “industrial” scale. Looks like it came out in a three gallon cooler. I’m not a pyrotechnician so I have no idea what kind of cyanide it is, but 3 gallons isn’t much. Not when it’s easy to find stories of accidental spills of upwards of 40,000 gallons from mining accidents.

    And Fox Snooze appears to be totally inaccurate, again. As Patrick said, I trust the journalism of our NN much more. Fox is still reporting that the guy is in custody:

    http://wap.myfoxstl.com/index.php?page=content&contentId=2275908

    And licensed pyrotechnicians can manufacture explosives (legally.) So when Fox Snooze reports “materials for homemade explosives, including cyanide, were found inside the home” my response is…..duh.

  8. Sorry Brit, a little cyanide goes a long way … and storing it in a residential district seems to me to be, shall I say, unwise. But you are right, my use of the term “industrial” was probably as loaded as your use of “Fox Snooze”, though your use is probably more of an in-joke humor comment. Either way, I bet we agree that using HazMat protocols and the like is probably yet another example of our over-protective society living with the high cost of being so litigious.

  9. Britt, are you or your law firm representing the individual in question here?

    Re: your post #3, how exactly is cyanide used in pyrotechnics? Where does your knowledge of pyrotechnics come from?

  10. Supposedly cyanide works against ants. Does anyone know if it’s used in commercial kitchens? And does anyone know what they put in roach bombs (which are actually aerosols)? I wonder if the cyanide was just left over from some legitimate pest control use.

    It sounds like the guys conducting the raid just happened to come across the cyanide and materials for explosives, and they couldn’t pretend they hadn’t seen it. It was probably a good idea to call in a team to make sure the materials were OK, and that extra activity is what drew attention to the raid, but it’s just a sideshow; the kiddie porn thing still seems more likely to be the main event. (That’s assuming that “Kahn Amore,” whose Web site I’ve now visited, is in fact Mr. Luposchainsky.)

    This can only get stranger. At least so far no conspiracy nut has posted a question like “So what, exactly, was it about Northfield that attracted Michael Dorris to town back in the eighties” or anything. And I sure hope nobody does bring anything like that up.

  11. Scott,

    Post #15

    Could there be such a conspiracy nut in Northfield? Other than the one, that is, who sits across from me at the dinner table each night?

  12. hey, y’all …I feel like this is an inappropriate conversation.

    I doubt there are many people more opposed to any kind of pornography than I am; as far as I’m concerned it is NOT a “victimless”crime on the adult level. There should be zero tolerance of child pornography. Period.

    However, it is abundantly obvious that the facts re: this whole incident are not out there. A lot of pure speculation is being spouted.

    *** How do think this elderly couple must feel to have this sort of speculation ongoing? I think this speculation is cruel.

    These were not public actions, nobody saw “this” happen; they only saw or heard about the raid. This situation should be left alone at this point.

    Griff: if you want to start a thread on the general issue of pornography, and let people opinion-ize on that subject, that would be different.

  13. Kiffi (#17): I agree that the discussion should focus only on what we know. In fact, in my post (#15), I too warned against wild speculation. And at this point, what we know may not extend any farther than the Hypatia Web site, which is available to anyone with Internet access. Perhaps you spent more time on the site than I did. It certainly contains some unusual ideas, and some that are perhaps disturbing. But are you saying you saw something that rises to the level of a “crime” that deserves “zero tolerance”? (If there was anything like that, I sure missed it.) Or were you speaking only hypothetically?

    I also would think twice about starting a separate topic on the more general issue. Broadcasting a discussion of kinky faux Greek mystery cults, or whatever, would certainly gain some attention, but perhaps not of a positive variety.

  14. I agree on one level, Kiffi. We don’t know much regarding the raid. He’s not been taken into custody; I’m assuming he’s not been charged. I’m also assuming that they found no child pornography, or he would probably be in custody.

    The website linked by Griff above, however, is public and very accessible, and opens up a Pandora’s Box for discussion.

    If it is his website, he seems to be an extremely well-read, bright man, who has many specific interests. One of these seems to be an examination of the line between what gets considered child pornography and what gets considered artistic expression.

    It’s a sticky moral and aesthetic question with so many implications for civil liberties, that I can in no way do it any justice.

    He seems to be a man who worships the female form, particularly his idealized version of it, putting him in the same category as roughly 90-95% of other men (and roughly 90-95% of other websites). Some of the images on the site, however, are definitely pushing it, even for me, and I don’t find too many things overly objectionable.

    The intent of many of the images seems to be clearly to “eroticize” underage girls – particularly the photos of young female gymnasts nearly all highlighting their crotches in leg-spreading positions. Also the “nymphet” (sic) photos, seem designed to challenge the idea of what is art and what is child porn. I looked at some of those. Some are tasteful portraits, others are very sexualized – adult soft-core poses by young girls in revealing costumes.

    I don’t know if he is somehow satisfying his own tastes by posting images of young girls in provocative poses, or if he is using the images as part of his argument about freedom in America versus freedom in the classical world of Greece. Perhaps he is doing both.

    It’s an interesting and very difficult subject.

    So, Kiffi, I think you’re right: we don’t know much of anything concerning this raid, but the wider issue about the junctures of pornography, child pornography and freedom of expression as brought up by the website are ripe for discussion.

    Unfortunately, there is so much moralizing and condemnation that goes on regarding these issues, very few people have the courage to even discuss them, lest they risk being called a pervert or criminal.

    That’s too bad, because our society will never get a hold on the issue by keeping different views in the dark.

  15. Scott: I spent zero time on “his” website; I do not look at porn websites even out of curiosity. I do not wish to enlarge their quotable audience numbers. I was speaking of the general; not the specific.

    Brendon: You are correct that pornography is a subject ripe for discussion, and fraught with differing opinions. Why should it be so difficult to have a discussion that engages differing opinions? (I honestly don’t for a moment think YOU think that would be so difficult! )

    There are now 225 or 230 on the current “religion” thread … admittedly SOME differing opinions, or hard questions, haven’t been allowed, but that’s a different matter.

    Please don’t ask me any other questions, as I’m outta here; because I think this is a personal tragedy for this older couple, not a public discussion.

  16. The Nfld News has new story posted for today’s paper:
    http://northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=45501

    Nothing really new there, other than it’ll likely be a while before more is known.

    Kiffi, I don’t think this discussion has been cruel, nor do I think it’s cruel for the Northfield New to have a front page story about it in today’s paper. I think my blog post and the subsequent discussion served a purpose, ie, a place to discuss a very public incident while it was happening.

    But I do now think that there’s no longer a need to keep this discussion thread active. If anyone disagrees, please comment. Otherwise, I’ll end it.

  17. Griff:

    I think that this post should be kept open or that a discussion be held on two aspects of this matter:

    1. Is it really citizen journalism or just gossip blogging when the question is asked, “What the hell is going on?”? I have to agree with Kiffi that the kind of “news” reported appears to be damaging gossip.

    2. Why is there no “news” about how misinformed, disruptive, and damaging the Feds were about the child porn and the “explosives”? What made them think that this fella had child porn? These guys are running our intelligence system – think – weapons of mass destruction.

  18. David, I’m fine with your suggested shift in discussion.

    When you say “… the kind of ‘news’ reported appears to be damaging gossip,’ did you mean here on LG, the Northfield News (print, web), or Fox 9 TV?

  19. I don’t think it’s clear that the Feds were ‘misinformed,’ – although Fox clearly was spreading unsubstantiated rumors.

  20. Griff: I meant gossip on LG. “What the hell is going on?” is the kind of question that is likely to open up all kinds of unreliable, gossipy sources.

    Unfortunately, as the news media looks for information on events such as this, some of the unreliable sources of information are law enforcement agencies. More on this later.

  21. David L,
    When do you feel that it will be appropriate for us to properly wonder, “Huh? What was it with all those barricades, flashing lights, and helicopters? And why were a large number of federal officers occupying a street just south of downtown Northfield?”

    What would you suggest as a more appropriate, non-controversial, topic for us to discuss in the meantime?

  22. I look at Locally Grown Northfield as an exalted community chat group. And while I think Griff is much more than a pesky blogger, he is not an investigative reporter who writes columns for LGN.

    When it gets too stogy around here to ask what the hell anything, or too stifling around here that I can’t make comments like I do, then it looses it’s charm, it’s fun, and it’s real sharing of thoughts amongst the participants.

    I think it would be a mistake to try to make more of it. Better to create a new area for that sort of “newspaper” type venture and leave this one alone. Let it evolve naturally. Not a mandate, just a suggestion. Trying to Keep It Real.

  23. Patrick: A story like this one is a good opportunity for LG to critique itself to determine if it still wants to do stories that ask “What the hell is happening …”. A regurgitation of Fox 9 news is stooping pretty low.

    Freedom of the press was originally designed to allow people, like LG, to speak about the government’s actions without reprisals. It is not, and was not, designed to protect this mysterious “public’s right to know”.

  24. David L,
    LGN (that is, Griff) did not parrot FOX. The FOX reports were linked to by several other posters. As long as there are comments sections on local discussion web sites, people will (and should) link to news sources elsewhere as part of the discussion. Of course, the reliability of a cited source is up to the readers to determine.

    I think that Bright is right on in her judgement of what LGN is, and should be. This is a place to chat, where all of us offer our more-or-less semi-informed opinions and occasional bits of expertise and knowledge.

    On the other hand, I would say that Griff’s ‘reliable source’ post, specifically, is problematic. I don’t know who Griff’s reliable source is. That post, like any other anonymously-sourced ones like it which hint at access to special knowledge but do not provide any evidence to substantiate their claims, is the kind of thing that even reputable news organizations are far too free with, and should especially be avoided by lay persons with blogs.

    I agree with Bright that the blurring of the line between the ‘gossip’ function of the site, and Griff’s aspirations to some level of journalism is a source of confusion, and perhaps she is right that the news items coming out of the Rep Journalism experiment, as well as any posts that Griff wants to be considered to be true reporting and not merely gossip, should be more clearly seperated from the more coffee house/water cooler type of LGN content.

    But I think both have their legitimate place in local discourse.

  25. David L., thanks for the concern, but I used to work in newsrooms that spent a lot of time discussing how to “protect” the public from information we reporters had and were handling just fine. The idea that information has to be screened through an official source is condescending. YouTube and CNN have shown us that infomation can’t be stopped, and that ordinary people are pretty quick to figure out what’s true and call people out on information that’s wrong.
    That doesn’t mean that LG should spread rumors about people’s private lives or past. But this was a case where it was a very public event that was unfolding in real time. Anybody smarter than a fifth-grader would know that the early information was just that, early information that would need to be sorted out to determine what was true. Anyone with a phone book could figure out the names of family living at that address. And Google forces people to sort out truth from junk every day.
    Perhaps a few idiots will form judgments based on this information, but they’re the same people who would have formed those judgments based on hearing the same information at the grocery store or in a bar.
    And let’s remember that it was a very official source that told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And even now, the mainstream media still is trying to figure out how to handle the John Edwards story, after sitting on it the whole time he was a viable presidential candidate.
    Let’s all use common sense, but let’s not forget that the common sense reaction to helicopters and police and drama is, “What the hell is going on?”

  26. I think that this thread, along with all comments, has been fair to the situation. I’ve got a lot of empathy for this poor family, as you can all see. As David L. knows, the guy wasn’t arrested so they don’t have any PC for a crime. You can bet they’d have him in custody if they had PC. That’s not speculation, that’s the reality.

    The hazmat panic is, unfortunately, probably going to be a more routine overreaction in our post-9/11 society. “Way worse than a meth lab”–don’t even get me started.

    You all know that I practice criminal defense, and one of the reasons I focus on that type of law is because my greatest belief is that one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. That you are (generally) entitled to a jury in front of your peers before you are guilty.

    The unfortunate truth is that the legal premise of innocent until proven guilty is only a reality in a court of law, and oftentimes not even then.

    In public forums, such as this one, truth is a matter of public opinion. I think that’s probably the concern that David L. is trying to get to when he speaks of “gossip blogging.”

    It’s not gossip blogging, it’s public discourse. And there are always those on these threads who withhold final judgment until all the facts are heard. And in cases such as this I will always caution an early rush to judgment. Most of the posters seem to be in agreement.

    Which is why, to get off topic, I can’t help but wonder why in the world the Mayor would apologize to Mr. Roder for anything! Seriously. I’m going to jump over to that thread now and (probably unwisely) throw in my two cents ’cause I can’t hold back any more.

  27. Britt: Innocent until proven guilty should be the standard for our public and local discourse. Hence, we should assume that the feds had no viable information until they provide some evidence.

    The reality is as you say: If they had something, he would be in jail. Which means that “they ain’t got nothing”. I am suggesting that LG change the focus to “if they ain’t got nothing, then what the hell made them go there?”

  28. Presumption of innocence is an excellent rule. As far as I know, Ernst Luposchainsky is not “Khan Amore,” and there’s nothing more to see here until I hear otherwise.

    Also, while Khan Amore is at least (from my skimming of the FAQ linked to by Griff above) an author of poor taste and, err, controversial/unusual/frowned upon points of view, I have no idea if his material is pornographic or illegal. First because I don’t know the threshold for pornography/obscenity when it comes to child material, and second because I know that our nation’s laws against child porn are brutal and broad enough that I don’t want to dig any deeper and become a person-of-interest in any child porn investigation, or accidentally have any such material find its way to my browser cache.

    And yes, I am torn by the conflicting pulls of freedom of association and speech vs. protecting the innocent from harm. I am also nervous about the prying eyes and brutal fist of Homeland Security.

    But to even ask the question, “if they ain’t got nothing, then what the hell made them go there?”, we first had to address the question, “WHAT THE HELL’S GOING ON?!!” Which people did.

  29. Being a person who generally questions authority of any subject, conversely I do tend to defend cops when ever people want to take a stab at their honor, because they generally cannot defend themselves in a public arena like this, and because I know being a cop is like being a big colorful monarch butterfly in a city full of beetles, roaches, mosquitoes and tea drinkers and what have yous.

    Most cops want to get the wrong guy for the right reasons…meaning the perpetrator of the crime. Oftentimes their only evidence to go on initially is when somebody ‘drops a dime’ on someone else…drops a dime is way old school for call the police for you younger set. In my experience, it is not unusual for people to drop a dime on innocents, or guilt ridden so and sos.

    There’s no way to tell until you go to a scene and ask or search for evidence…unless you Know the dime dropper or snitch or good citizen is not a reliable source…that is the next logical step after procuring a warrant.

    So did the legal authorities have a search warrant? or permission to enter and look around from the owners of the home in question? Did they simply barg in with no warrant and no permission?

    If a child accidentally calls 911, the police still are mandated to check that out in case there is real problem. If citizens’ don’t want that, then the laws must be changed.

    If the Feds had a tip from an informant, chances are high that the name of that person would not be given to FOX9.

  30. Patrick, I wanted to get back to you on your criticism, since we’re going to start working on a LG blogger code of ethics that’ll include use of anonymous sources. You wrote:

    On the other hand, I would say that Griff’s ‘reliable source’ post, specifically, is problematic. I don’t know who Griff’s reliable source is. That post, like any other anonymously-sourced ones like it which hint at access to special knowledge but do not provide any evidence to substantiate their claims, is the kind of thing that even reputable news organizations are far too free with, and should especially be avoided by lay persons with blogs.

    In this case, my source was a local educator who’s lived and taught in Northfield for years. I’ve known this educator for 20 years or more and although they don’t comment on LG, they follow it closely and we talk often about civic issues. They alerted me a couple of years ago about the Hypatia web site, expressing dismay about it. I’m not sure how they found out about it, but in retrospect, I should have asked. This person guards their privacy closely so I never even asked if I could name them as my source.

    FYI, the Nfld News published the connection between Ernst III and the pseud, Khan Amore and his Hypatia website after I put it in the comment thread here. They don’t cite their source, but I assume it was my comment.
    http://northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=45501

    I’ve asked them to publish their policy on the use of anonymous sources as well as their code of ethics since they’ve been critical of me. Thus far, I don’t think they have.

  31. Here is the link.  With the facts more at hand it is interesting to read some of the comments from 2008.

    http://www.startribune.com/local/south/70081662.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUac8HEaDiaMDCinchO7DU

    In a related note when is Northfield going to get back in the news with some good news stories.  Between the flap over all the kids being on herion, the issues with the mayor, city council, city administrator, and now the child pornography story we seem to have lost our once proud image.

  32. Thx for the alert, Bruce. The Strib headline: Northfield case puts focus on child porn on the web.

    The judge wrote of Ernst O. Luposchainsky III (Khan Amore):

    “There was evidence to indicate that the defendant had previously taken or obtained possession of photographs of children taken by a hidden photographer in a residential area consistent with the area in which the defendant lives.”

    “Finally, there was evidence that the defendant had possession of chemicals which, in certain combinations, could be used as weapons or poison.”

    Very troubling.

    1. Almost everyone has “chemicals which, in certain combinations[sic], could be used as weapons or poison.”

      I dug into this a bit back when the raid occurred. I don’t know what information law enforcement had at the time they served the warrant, but it looks like the decision to call in the hazmat team was reasonable.  The hypatia site  said:

      “As it turned out, at one point I became sufficiently despondent to use the Bucher process to make sodium cyanide, but in the end I didn’t take the poison.”

      I didn’t see anything suggesting that he had intentions of hurting anyone other than himself.

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