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A New Sheriff, Ceasefire & AI

know your facts Mar 27, 2024
sheriff star by Smitt from Getty Images via


Another Black American First

In November 2023 Democratic candidate, Henry Whitehorn, defeated his Republican opponent John Nickelson for the office of sheriff of north-western Louisiana’s Caddo parish. He won by one vote - 21,621 votes to 21,620. A recount maintained the one-vote advantage.

Nickelson filed a lawsuit challenging the results, which was granted. The investigation found evidence that 11 people had voted illegally, but there was no way to know who those votes were for.

On Saturday, March 23, Whitehorn again beat Nickelson by more than 4,000 votes this time to become the first Black sheriff in the parish. State figures show that turnout increased by more than 20,000 people for the rematch (65,239 in March, up from 43,247 in November).

A former head of the Louisiana state police and ex-Shreveport police chief, Whitehorn came out of retirement to run for office after longtime Sheriff Steve Prator announced his retirement. He will be sworn in on July 1.

Nickelson conceded Saturday night, stating, “I wish him every success because his success will be Caddo parish’s success.”

UN Security Council Passes Ceasefire Resolution & Israel Reacts

On Monday, March 25, the UN security council voted to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for the first time since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. In a break with the Israeli government, the US dropped a threat to veto and abstained from the vote for a resolution to demand a ceasefire for the rest of the month of Ramadan.

The resolution also demanded the release of hostages by Hamas. The US dropped the contingency that Hamas had to release hostages as part of the ceasefire agreement. The other 14 members of the security council voted to approve the resolution.

Following the vote, Israel cancelled a visit from Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, which was scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. High-level officials were set to discuss U.S. concerns over Israel’s planned offensive against Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering. Israel claims it must destroy remaining Hamas operatives there.

A planned visit by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan continued on Monday.


Using AI to Detect Homeless Encampments

The City of San Jose, CA is using artificial intelligence (AI) in a new way, and I can see how it can easily cause more problems for the most vulnerable. While several localities are using dashcam AI on city vehicles to do things like find potholes in the streets so they can be repaired more quickly and identify parked cars in bus lanes, San Jose is using the technology to recognize tents and vehicles with people living in them.

City employees are driving cars with dashcam AI through sections of district 10 every few weeks to collect data on areas where unhoused people tend to congregate. Five tech companies are participating in the pilot program to identify encampments and lived in vehicles. Officials insist that because they blur faces and license plates, they aren’t trying to detect people or invade privacy. While they talk about using the technology to help provide services to people in need, they haven’t involved service organizations or built help into the pilot program.

The city’s 311 call center has received more than 900 complaints about encampments of unhoused folks in 2024 so far. And Khaled Tawfik, director of the San Jose information technology department said the goal of this kind of program would be to address citizen complaints about anything from illegal dumping to graffiti to potholes more efficiently.

Tristia Bauman, directing attorney for housing at the non-profit Law Foundation of Silicon Valley said what crossed my mind when I heard about the program, “The approach to homelessness is to treat unhoused people as blight consistent with trash or graffiti.”

Thomas Knight, who was formerly unhoused and now serves as executive member of the Lived Experience Advisory Board of Silicon Valley, said, “If you have no place to put people, [the detection program is] pretty much useless.”

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