DA Hamilton Burger may be the best-known loser of early TV, but his portrayer William Talman's life
(content excerpted from the Perry Mason TV show book) was far more interesting. At the height of his fame in 1960, Talman arrested
at a nude pot party, and was fired and blacklisted as a result. It took Raymond Burr, the cast, and the fans to eventually get him his job back. At the end of his life, on the verge of dying, he made a powerful anti-smoking PSA
(the PSA itself
Margaret Perry's review of Women in Pants
provides an interesting overview of those women (in the Western world) who chose to wore pants in the 19th and early 20th centuries
when the standard gender norm dictated dresses for girls and women. R.S. Fleming has a great collection of Victorian women-in-pants images
, particularly in non-American military garb. See also: Welsh pit miners
, women fighting in the US Civil War
(and support-staff), this cattle thief/gunfighter
, some cowgirls
, and Dr. Mary Walker
- here she is in more traditionally masculine dress
(second picture). In France, the artist Rosa Bonheur had to get permission from the police
to wear pants (picture
) while sketching in public (her license
), while adventurer/archaeologist Jane Dieulafoy
got a lifetime exemption to wear pants from France.
Bloodletters and Bad Actors
Mefi's Own Max Sparber looks at the early days of Omaha theater, back when it was a frontier town, its amusements were questionable, and vice was rampant, with occasional forays into more recent performing arts misbehavior. [via mefi projects
Equaldex: the collaborative LGBT knowledgebase!
A crowd-sourced, verified, beautifully presented representation of equal rights (and how they are specifically denied) for LGBT folks. [via reddit]
The inside story of MIT and Aaron Swartz.
The Boston Globe reviews over 7,000 pages of discovery documents in the Aaron Swartz case (previously
): Most vividly, the e-mails underscore the dissonant instincts the university grappled with. There was the eagerness of some MIT employees to help investigators and prosecutors with the case, and then there was, by contrast, the glacial pace of the institution’s early reaction to the intruder’s provocation.... MIT never encouraged Swartz’s prosecution, and once told his prosecutor they had no interest in jail time. However, e-mails illustrate how MIT energetically assisted authorities in capturing him and gathering evidence — even prodding JSTOR to get answers for prosecutors more quickly — before a subpoena had been issued.... Yet if MIT eventually adopted a relatively hard line on Swartz, the university had also helped to make his misdeeds possible, the Globe review found. Numerous e-mails make it clear that the unusually easy access to the campus computer network, which Swartz took advantage of, had long been a concern to some of the university’s information technology staff.
Twilight in the Box.
"The suicide statistics, the squalor and the recidivism haven’t ended solitary confinement
. Maybe the brain studies will." [Via]
During their Freedom Hosting
investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers
. [more inside]
Burt Likko is a lawyer who used to handle litigation arising from bar fights. He's learned a bit about how and why they happen.
MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki
has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy
on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
Twelve Absent Men: Rebuilding the American Jury.
"Juries hear only 4 percent of criminal trials in America. Their decline has fostered radical punitiveness, but reforms and novel institutions are breathing new life into the jury and civic participation more broadly."
"In his 2003 memoir Where The Money Is: True Tales from the Bank Robbery Capital of the World
, co-authored with Gordon Dillow, retired Special Agent William J. Rehder briefly suggests that the design of a city itself leads to and even instigates certain crimes—in Los Angeles’s case, bank robberies. Rehder points out that this sprawling metropolis of freeways and its innumerable nondescript banks is, in a sense, a bank robber’s paradise. Crime, we could say, is just another way to use the city."
“This court cannot think of a more intentionally harmful act than a prosecutor’s conscious choice to hide mitigating evidence so as to create an uneven playing field for a defendant facing a murder charge and a life sentence." A Texas court finds probable cause
that ex-District Attorney Ken Anderson intentionally hid evidence to secure a 1987 murder conviction against the now-exonerated Michael Morton
. (Previously.) [more inside]
When it hits you, no matter how much you expect it, it comes as a surprise — a literal shock, like a baseball bat swung hard and squarely into the small of your back. That sensation — which is actually two sharp steel barbs piercing your skin and shooting electricity into your central nervous system — is followed by the harshest, most violent charlie horse you can imagine coursing through your entire body. With the pain comes the terrifying awareness that you are completely helpless. You cannot move. You lose control of almost everything and the only place you can go is down, face first to the floor.
That’s what it feels like to be hit with a Taser.
Sexual Assault In The U.S. Military
is the focus of a serious contender for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards. The Invisible War
is a groundbreaking investigative doc that sheds light on the under-reported epidemic of sexual abuse against female members of the military
, as well as the lack of punitive action in these crimes: of the 8 percent of sexual assault cases that are prosecuted in the military, only 2 percent result in convictions. A female soldier in a combat zone is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.
By official estimates
from The Department of Defense, 19,000 violent sexual crimes occurred in the military in 2011 alone
. Sexual assault is grossly under-reported
in the military. In 2011, 3,191 assaults were reported when its likely that somewhere between 19,000 and 22,000 assaults occurred.
The women in the film speak about the physical and mental abuse they underwent while serving in the military - and about the the lawsuit they joined and the verdict in which their experiences were labeled "occupational hazards".
The film is already garnering much attention, especially as front-running Oscar Nominee - and lawmakers are taking notice. [more inside]
New documents shed critical light on the treatment of the 1959 Clutter murder case, both by Kansas investigators and by Truman Capote in his classic book.
Perhaps most strikingly, it turns out that Capote changed the sequence of events whereby investigators learned of the possible involvement of Richard Hickock and dealt with that information. As Capote describes it, Alvin Dewey heard of Hickock and went to visit his parents that same night, artfully extracting crucial information. KBI documents show that instead, a group of agents went to the house five days later and recovered the murder weapon.
My Eight Years with a Gun
"If the government was powerless to stop this onslaught, then the gun in my pocket was a declaration that the city had broken the social contract."
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films
were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating
, preparing for being drafted
, and shyness
, as well as to children on following the law
, the value of quietness in school
, and appreciating our parents
. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health
, what kind of people live in America
, how to keep a job
, supervising women workers
, the nature of capitalism
, and the plantation System in Southern life
. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives
as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series
(direct links: 1
) about a four year old uninvestigated rape case at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation
. Sparked in part by a 2006 report (pdf)
from Amnesty International that included a startling statistic: "One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime,"
NPR's investigation led to the reopening of the case and Congressional hearings
. In February 2011, Harper's published an update of sorts: Tiny Little Laws: A Plague of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (Via)
"The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal
: A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust." [more inside]
George Wright, America's most elusive fugitive, ran for forty years. He ran from the cops after escaping from prison. He ran from the feds after the most brazen hijacking in history. He ran from the authorities on three continents, hiding out and blending in wherever he went. It was a historic run—and now that it's over, he might just pull off the greatest escape of all
- Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider
) has investigated News Corporation
for PBS Frontline [transcript]
. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered
" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air
But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK
. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
FBI General Counsel reveals that around 3,000 warrantless GPS trackers
were removed after the ruling in U.S v. Jones
clarified their illegality (judgement PDF
) (previous FPP
). The ruling that a mosaic of surveillance technologies may form an issue when considered individually and the FBI's view of likely future judgements on the matter is particularly interesting in the light of the forthcoming cert/standing findings regarding warrantless eavesdropping.
All this brings me to an Indian I want you to know better than his jury did—Douglas Ray Stankewitz, the longest tenured inmate on California’s death row. Like most Indians who find themselves in a group of non-Indians, he is currently known as Chief, but unlike many Indians, he is proud of the nickname.
The government wants to kill Chief because Theresa Greybeal was shot dead in the course of a robbery by a group of people high on heroin, and there is no question that Chief was one of them. There is a serious question about who pulled the trigger, and juries are reluctant to kill individuals who did not pull the trigger. But as far as his jury knew, Douglas Stankewitz pulled the trigger. And he might have, but we will never know, based on his trial.
Bugs and Beasts Before the Law
- "Murderous pigs sent to the gallows, sparrows prosecuted for chattering in Church, a gang of thieving rats let off on a wholly technical acquittal – theoretical psychologist and author Nicholas Humphrey explores the strange world of medieval animal trials." More on the theme of barnyard scapegoats from the BBC podcast documentary: Animals on Trial
Over the objections of federal prosecutors and Ronald Reagan's family, John Hinckley, Jr. is on the verge of freedom.
"Which should prevail—the belief that anyone who tries to kill a President should never be free? Or a judicial system that rests on laws that spell out pathways to wellness and freedom for people deemed mentally ill when they commit violent acts?"
Ross Capicchioni's story - Parts 1
- contains violent descriptions
In 1991, Troy Davis
was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of policeman Mark MacPhail in a Savannah, Georgia parking lot. Since then, seven of the nine prosecution eyewitnesses have recanted
all or part of their testimony, with some citing pressure from the police to make false statements. An exception is Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who made the initial report of Davis’s guilt, and is regarded by the defense as the chief suspect. New witnesses have sworn affidavits that Coles confessed the crime to them. An array
of figures have called for a stay of execution, including death-penalty supporters Senator Bob Barr and former FBI director William S. Sessions. Today
, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles
denied clemency; barring action
from the District Attorney, Davis is set to be executed
by lethal injection tomorrow at 7pm. [Previously
Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom!
If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid
, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot
(owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]
) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies
. Exposed so far:
A shadowy "Syndicate"
of frauduct-pushing personality cults
polluting the media with blogspam
and woo-woo talking points
. Boiler rooms
in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets
with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]
. Powerful politicians bought wholesale
. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests
. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye
. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin
The perfect location for the perfect crime.
Due to a loophole in the US Constitution there is an area of Yellowstone Park
where you may be able to get away with a major crime. U Michigan Prof
Brian C Kalt looks into
and gauges your chance at success
. Someone has tried
. [more inside]
The Secret History of Guns.
"The Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked to control guns. The Founding Fathers? They required gun ownership—and regulated it. And no group has more fiercely advocated the right to bear loaded weapons in public than the Black Panthers—the true pioneers of the modern pro-gun movement. In the battle over gun rights in America, both sides have distorted history and the law, and there’s no resolution in sight." [Via]
"When legal teams need to prove or disprove the authorship of key texts, they call in the forensic linguists. Scholars in the field have tackled the disputed origins of some prestigious works, from Shakespearean sonnets to the Federalist Papers."
Decoding Your E-Mail Personality
Ben Zimmer, of Language Log discusses the Facebook case and forensic linguistics
in the NY Times. [more inside]
How two American kids became big-time weapons traders
- "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via
; previously on arms contractors
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives deliberately allowed assault rifles to be smuggled into Mexico
, so they could be tracked. The weapons were then used in a spree of murders, including that of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry
. The operation was called "Fast and Furious". The Mexican government was apparently unaware
of the operation, and is investigating
. The ATF is going to have a review
of whether their strategy supports "the goals of ATF to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico".
The National Library of Medicine has put a selection of murder pamphlets from the late 1600s to the late 1800s
These pamphlets have been a rich source for historians of medicine, crime novelists, and cultural historians, who mine them for evidence to illuminate the history of class, gender, race, the law, the city, crime, religion and other topics. The murder pamphlets in the NLM's collection address cases connected to forensic medicine, especially cases in which doctors were accused of committing-or were the victims of-murder. [more inside]
Why do people confess to crimes they don't commit?
UVA Law Professor Brandon Garrett
has been researching the contamination effect in interrogation. Modern interrogation practices are informed by the (copyrighted) Reid Technique
. John R. Reid and Associates, Inc. responds to critics
Police in Orlando, Florida, frustrated with an "epidemic"
of false allegations of rape, threaten arrest for all future false reports. The problems of this Florida community reflect research
that shows a disproportionately high
rate of false accusations of rape relative to other crimes, though studies on the issue are far from uniform
, and frequently the center of controversy
. [more inside]
Arguing Three Strikes.
A defense lawyer (and co-founder of Stanford's unique Criminal Defense Clinic
), and a tough
-on-crime Republican D.A.
make for unusual allies in the move to reform California's Three Strikes law. [more inside]
writes in the London Review of Books on the James Bulger murder
It really should be read in conjunction with his earlier piece from 1993
to fully appreciate his stance. Previously   [more inside]
"Using the legal standard of "reckless behavior" all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn't intend to lose the pregnancy. Drink too much alcohol and have a miscarriage? Under the new law such actions could be cause for prosecution."
A new Utah law now makes intentional behavior leading to miscarriage or "reckless" behavior leading to miscarriage a crime punishable by life in prison.
is an alternative to a cash or surety bond
that allows some criminal defendants to avoid jail while awaiting trial; allowing defendants to continue to work or care for children. [more inside]