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9/16/2015
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Tech Industry Stands With Ahmed

The Texas student detained for bringing a homemade clock to his high school has won the support of technology and political leaders.

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Technology industry executives and President Obama made it clear that they don't support the arrest of a Texas teen for tinkering, an activity they view as key to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

On Monday, Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, was detained for bringing a "suspicious-looking device" to school.

The suspicious-looking device turned out to be a science project: A handmade digital clock. According to local ABC affiliate WFAA, the Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Ahmed was arrested because of his religious and racial identity.

(Image: Irving Police Department)

(Image: Irving Police Department)

A letter sent out on Tuesday by Principal Dan Cummings acknowledged the arrest and, despite finding no cause for alarm, cautioned parents to review school policies. "We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students," wrote Cummings.

Such protection amounts to guns at institutions of higher education. Over the summer, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded local gun laws to allow concealed handguns on college campuses.

The clock did not, as school officials initially feared, explode. But social media did.

A press conference was held by the school district and the Irving Police Department to justify their actions. Afterward, President Barack Obama, via Twitter, invited the Texas student, since released, to Washington. "Cool clock, Ahmed," President Obama said in a tweet. "Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

NASA added its voice, tweeting that it supports STEM education and kids like Ahmed.

[ See what happens when technology meets forest fires. Read Using Data To Fight Wildfires: An Inside Look. ]

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, the world's largest social media network, condemned the arrest. "Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest," he wrote in a Facebook post. "The future belongs to people like Ahmed."

Zuckerberg added that if Mohamed ever wants to stop by Facebook, he'd be happy to meet.

Box CEO Aaron Levie chimed in with an invitation to visit his company. And many others, like Anil Dash, an early supporter of Ahmed's cause, voiced similar expressions of support.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, in a tweet said, "Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe -- they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building."

The Irving Independent School District acknowledged the arrest on its website but offered few details, citing privacy laws. On Wednesday, the district said it felt media reports were unfair. The district said it will provide further information to the media if the family consents.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
9/17/2015 | 4:53:56 AM
Great, but...
It's good to see so many rallying behind the kid, as making a clock yourself is a very cool achievement. However the hipocrisy in some of these statements is staggering.

Clinton specifically saying "assumptions and fear don't keep us safe," is ridiculous, when it's that exact frame of mind that has turned the western world into a bunch of surveillance states: fear and assumptions that anyone could be a terrorist.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
9/17/2015 | 12:22:20 PM
Re: Great, but...
Woz posted this on Facebook:

The story about the kid arrested for making a clock takes me back to high school in 1967. I built an electronic metronome and placed it in a friend's locker, along with a tin-foil switch to speed up the ticking when the locker was opened. I couldn't hold my laughter when Principal Bryld told me how he extracted the 'bomb', ran out to the football field (from the C building), and dismantled it. I wound up spending a night in 'juvie'. I did teach other inmates there how they could remove the electric wires from an overhead fan and attach them to the metal bars no shock the guards.
[I think he meant "to" rather than "no shock the guard.:] In the comments, he notes, "I'd suggest that slight misbehavior is an essential ingredient of creative thinking."
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
9/17/2015 | 1:05:27 PM
Re: Great, but...
Amen @whoopty. Especially if you look like a Muslim, then the assumption is you are one until you prove you are not.

I would love to see how the school policy is worded they used to suspend that poor kid. And sounds like teachers and admins at that school really get involved to get to know their students at that school. They should have have already known he was a bright, good kid and assumed the best before they assumed the worst. That was obvious on the 30 second interview I saw on the news.

And we are talking Texas, where high school coaches instruct kids to blindside football referees who they aren't happy with.  
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2015 | 8:22:41 AM
Re: Great, but...
I don't see this as a racial issue, I see it more as a problem with the zero tolerance rules and not allowing adults to make adult decisions.  Right away the story said that one teacher knew what it was and they had talked about it.  However he showed up with a beat up metal case full of wires at a time where kids are being suspended from school for making gun shapes with their hands.  I haven't heard Ahmed speak but being intelligent doesn't mean you make wise decisions, he's still a kid and kids do foolish things like bring weapons to school.  
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2015 | 9:14:18 AM
Re: Great, but...
I think I am in agreement with you. Good on him for making a clock or whatever it was, but if it looks like a bomb, it needs to be looked at. If he showed up with a real bomb and killed some kids this would be a different discussion. We live in a time when kids go into schools and kill other kids - and it has nothing to do with race, unless we are talking about white kids since that is the usual profile of a school shooter.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2015 | 9:33:05 AM
Re: Great, but...
@progman2000, definitely not the looking at I have a problem with, that would have happened in our day. It's handcuffing the kid and suspending him from school even after they realized what was going on I had a problem with.

This isn't the same as a naive kid bringing his Dad's unloaded 44 to school to show his buddy. Or a pellet gun. A light suspension to send a message to all kids at least makes some sense. But what did this poor kid do wrong? It never crossed his mind people were going to think he brought a bomb in.

Where do we draw the line now? If I bring my favorite baseball bat to school for practice, am I getting suspended for having a weapon? And if you don't think there wasn't some racial element to this also, you haven't spent enough time in Texas. I'm pretty sure the white homecoming queen would not have been handcuffed while they sorted this out.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2015 | 2:30:11 PM
Re: Great, but...
I agree, sadly much has changed since we were in school and tolerance for anything seems to be way down now.  It becomes a point of "could this item be mistaken for anything potentially harmful" trumping everything.  It's sad, but there is still a divide when it comes to tech, or anything in general.  There will be those who will immediately think of the negative aspects and those who think "hey, that's neat".  We've gotten to the point where we just have to assume that there will be a negative view first and often it will escalate before any understanding just to mitigate any potential risks to others.

I am so glad I am not a student anymore, it breaks my heart we've come to this point.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 2:01:11 PM
Re: Great, but...
Yes schools are under seige. There are all sorts of Federal and State regulations with regard to security at schools that make them almost repressive thanks to all the incidents over the last 20 years. But as i have written before there should be some room for common sense here. Perhaps arrangements could have been made before hand to find out what was being created and even inspecting it before it was brought to school. But people reacted heavy handed first which is a shame. Kids can't be kids anymore.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2015 | 3:36:23 PM
Re: Great, but...
Interesting article. It seems to me that law enforcement in this case was on some sort of high alert for some reason. I've never seen a homemade digital clock, but it looks like it took a lot of work! We certainly do need more people who want to tinker with things like this!
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
9/18/2015 | 7:14:12 AM
Emails
If we want to get really political, we could even look at how Hilary Clinton hid her emails on a private server and deleted a good number before handing over access. She lives in a world of fear already but is happy to suggest everyone else shouldn't. 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
9/18/2015 | 6:31:21 PM
If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
Ariella, that's a great capture of the Steve Wozniak story about being sent to detention for putting an electronic metronone in a friend's locker. If nothing else, we should thank Ahmed for eliciting a bit of Silicon Valley hstory that may not have been told before. I would ask whether any of the adults at the Irving School responsible for the suspension or handcuffing actually knew the 14-year-old. The first reality check might have been: Is this child more likely to bring a gadget or a bomb to school? Clearly, if Ahmed can get past the Secret Service and into the White House, it might have been the former.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 11:15:03 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
Every country is getting its 9/11

Every country is getting paranoid.

Every country is getting its laws to be stricter.

Ahmed's incident is no longer a rare or isolated one.

America's greatness is that it still apologizes and let young talent like Ahmed accepted, integrated and blossomed.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 1:23:19 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
I really wonder what kind of security we have if people who are to protect us can't tell the difference between an electronic clock from a real bomb.  I think we can't expect much from people who have to do such work, it is very repetitive and I do not think they get training in explosives devices.  How many false positives like this do they make on a regular basis and is something being done to decrease their frequency.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 1:53:16 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
The teachers and school officials were the ones sounding the alarm that the device was a bomb, not security officials. While teachers are not necessarily bomb experts they should know their students and this event should never have escalated the way it did. But teachers are scared based on the school shootings that have taken place over the years and have developed "zero tolerance" protocols for such issues.

Unfortunately the "zero" leaves no room for common sense and makes people react first in the strongest measures.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 1:03:44 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@tjgkg I am surprised to hear that Ahmed was going to show the clock to his science teacher for appreciation. I am confused here that what kind of teacher was that who cannot differentiate between a clock and a bomb. I am still confused?

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 1:54:08 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
You are thinking with common sense. In schools there is little common sense these days. Everyone is on heightened alert. Now there have been reports coming out that this kid had been a troublemaker in the past. That might have played a part in the overreaction.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
10/18/2015 | 2:29:15 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@Tjgkg you are right there but still this does not justified the handcuffing of an innocent student. I am still wondering what police did after reaching there. They without any evidence arrested a student. Then who actually came with a surprise that its a clock and not a bomb. After this whole episode its damage control and not a succesful one in my opinion. This episode might have been averted if any one out of all involved might have acted more maturely.

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 7:59:02 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
I am not thrilled with what the police did to a kid. But i think these days with all the incidents that have taken place in schools, they tend to act first and ask questions later. Not saying that is right, but they are in a difficult position. Plus from what i have read, this kid has been a troublemaker in the past. So maybe that had something to do with the severity of the actions. Not sure.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 10:25:03 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@tjgkg I agree with your point but fears that this episode might not send wrong waves to be used as a reference. I feel that security is good thing but rationalization is foremost. Do not judge every other person with same measures. There will be other better ways I believe to tackle these incidents. What do you say?

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 10:30:30 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
I think we all do not know everything that took place so it is hard to make an informed comment. All i can say is based on the shootings at schools, there has been an increase in zero tolerance security. And because of this, there has been less use of common sense. Not that there had been a lot of that in schools previously. Perhaps if someone had common sense and investigated the situation instead of "following procedures like a robot", then maybe this would have been handled differently. But i think that the powers that be at schools are ordering that employees ask zero questions for zero tolerance policies.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 10:40:36 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@tjgkg may be you are right. I feel that the terrorist are winning the war by creating doubts in our mind and changing the overall thinking of the society. Few decades back these kind of activities and incidents are raely surfaced or reporetd but media has given the way of expressions to the culprits and they are using it to capture the minds of general public and inculcating fear in that which is evident from these incidents. I agree with you there.

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 11:06:28 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
The problem with the media giving terrorists coverage that you mention is spot on. Between their ability to recruit and post "news" via social media and the coverage and notoriety that regular media gives them, they have a platform that attracts copycats and people who sympathise with them. In the case of the lone wolf criminals, they revel in the coverage by the media of their crimes. It reminds me of very long ago when i used to watch baseball games and some idiots would run on to the field and disrupt the game, the television cameras would show them and the announcers would comment and have a laugh. After a while that was stopped. Now when someone runs on to the field, the cameras do not show it and the announcers say nothing other than someone is on the field. It cut down to almost zero these incidents.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
9/25/2015 | 9:27:21 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
@Tjgkg.  I agree with you. Teachers and school officials could have manage the situation much better.  The collatoral damage such events can have on a school reputation is big as well.   
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 2:01:05 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
Since the event, there have been reports that the kid had a history of being a problem. That might have played a part in this event. However it seems to me that in schools everywhere the instruction is to call the police first and ask questions later. I am not sure that has stopped any potential catastrophe from taking place. And since that event until today, there have been additional school shootings. I do think a lot of these are based on wanting to be famous and get media coverage. In AHmed's case, he got both. Right up to the President at which point it turned into pop culture.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 1:57:48 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
Very well said. Mistakes are going to be made-and that is what they are mistakes. The school environment is very much on edge because of shootings and other horrible events so they tend to make strict laws that do not make provisions for investigating first. That however does not excuse the fact that the teachers should have known that Ahmed was a gifted engineer and that this kind of product would have been produced by someone like him. Perhaps they should have given him the benefit of the doubt.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 1:00:53 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@Nasimson true but you can feel the fear  at every place. A simple clock can turn the tables and an innocent boy is compared to being a terrorist because of his name. Whatever the cover story US is doing, the news has already done the damage. I am sure its only because of the protection of community but the you can feel the mental state of the community after these incidents. I think it will take much longer to recover than initially anticipated. What do you say?

nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
9/29/2015 | 11:47:54 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
@nomii:

We are fast getting to a point where our FEAR of the OTHER is taking over our RESPECT of the OTHER!
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/21/2015 | 8:31:28 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
I don't think the school had any idea that he was going to pass any secret service background checks when they suspended him.  I think from the angle of what the kid was more likely to do, the first thing he said he was going to do was transfer schools.  A kid with a lot of friends doesn't jump at the chance to leave them when something like this happens.  I get the feeling the kid is a little nerdy, has few friends and feels like a bit of an outsider.  As for the school's reaction, this really doesn't surprise me, kids are being suspended and police called in for fingers shaped like guns, sticks pointed at other kids and plastic ware knives. This isn't a school vs clock building nerds issue this is a good example of why zero tolerance rules that schools have adopted are setup to fail.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
9/21/2015 | 2:03:03 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

I completely understand that as Americans are on edge because of the events of the past but profiling a student without just cause and accusing them of a malicious act with no evidence is unconscionable. At the very least tis student deserves an apology from the entire district. If we encourage this type of behavior we will frighten any student from trying anything. We are already creating such limited boxes for our students that make creativity difficult. Issues such as this only exacerbate the educational challenges we face.

SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/22/2015 | 9:29:28 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
My point is that we have already done this, it's not a matter of Ahmed being the first to suffer from these zero tolerance rules he's just the latest that has made the national news.  I can't send my kids to school with a cough drop in their pocket,  I can't send a plastic knife in their lunchbox, if they chew a pop tart into a shape that someone somewhere might think remotely looks like a gun or write a story about shooting a dinosaur they can be suspended (all reasons other kids have been suspended from public schools).  This isn't a profiling issue, it is a lack of common sense decision making that has been removed from public schools.  A teacher who was unaware of the conversation between Ahmed and another teacher saw the clock and worried about what it might be.  At that point there was no turning back, zero tolerance trumps any rational thinking.  We ask students to be creative inside a very specific set of guidelines, there will always be kids who fall outside of those lines so until we rethink the removal of decision making from teachers and school staff we're going to keep having this problem.   
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/21/2015 | 2:00:23 PM
Wild Wild West
Texas Gov... expanded local gun laws to allow concealed handguns on college campuses.
I wonder how many years that law is taking us back. More than a hundred for sure.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 10:35:44 AM
Re: Wild Wild West
I wish there was gun control in US. If certain things can kill, they should impose heavy taxes and laws on it. 
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 11:18:45 PM
Re: Wild Wild West
@SachinEE I couldn't agree with you more. They (the Supreme Court and Congress) should reinterpret the 2nd amendment all together actually.
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