Panhandling in Arcata tests the city's tolerance. 'Long known as the "Berkeley of the North," Arcata traditionally has welcomed the downtrodden, embraced the leftist fringe and fostered a live-and-let-live ethos.' 'But balancing the comfort of the haves with tolerance for the have-nots has come down to a complex question of just who is worthy of help.' 'Councilwoman Susan Ornelas reflected the community's torn conscience: "While we're a progressive town and we're very open-hearted," she said, "we have limits on our tolerance."' 'A report last fall by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that slightly more than half of 234 cities surveyed had bans on aggressive panhandling, the same proportion had outlawed it in specific areas, and one-fourth forbade begging citywide.' [more inside]
"What is a cult film? A cult film is one that has a passionate following, but does not appeal to everyone. James Bond movies are not cult films, but chainsaw movies are. Just because a film has become a cult movie does not automatically guarantee quality. Some are very bad; others are very, very good. Some make an awful lot of money at the box office; others make no money at all. Some are considered quality films; others are exploitation movies. One thing cult movies do have in common is that they are all genre films - for example gangster films or westerns. They also have a tendency to slosh over from one genre into another, so that a science fiction film might also be a detective movie, or vice versa. They share common themes as well, themes that are found in all drama: love, murder and greed." - of the British TV film slots accompanied by an introduction perhaps the most celebrated is Moviedrome, running between 1988 and 2000 and presented first by Repo Man director Alex Cox and then film critic Mark Cousins. [more inside]
In need of a regular dose of audio short fiction, whether it's horror, crime, or pulp fantasy? Welcome to the District of Wonders, a collection of podcasts spun off from the award winning StarShipSofa (previously, previosly).
Why Polygamy is Bad for Society "A new study out of the University of British Columbia documents how societies have systematically evolved away from polygamy because of the social problems it causes. The Canadian researchers are really talking about polygyny, which is the term for one man with multiple wives, and which is by far the most common expression of polygamy. Women are usually thought of as the primary victims of polygynous marriages, but as cultural anthropologist Joe Henrich documents, the institution also causes problems for the young, low-status males denied wives by older, wealthy men who have hoarded all the women. And those young men create problems for everybody."
"We don’t hire homies to bake bread. We bake bread to hire homies"--Father Gregory Boyle, Jesuit Priest and founder of Homeboy Industries. [more inside]
"The more ghoulish and extreme the show becomes, ...the more accurately it captures the reality of the cartels and their business."
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series (direct links: 1, 2) 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)
Quartavious Davis of Florida, now twenty, has been sentenced to 162 years without parole for his role in several armed robberies during which he discharged a firearm but no one was hurt. He was a teenager at the time of the crimes and had no previous record. The Supreme Court has recently ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment." Davis was 18 and 19 at the time of the crimes, and the sentence was discretionary, so this ruling does not apply.
"During the proceedings, the prosecutor took the time to mention that no other printer in the world could do what Kuhl had done."
Hans-Jurgen Kuhl was able to create "shockingly perfect" copies of the American $100 bill by using his artistic talents to conquer the various security features present in the bill.
"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]
"It is unlikely, I think, that this will generate a lot of media publicity," [Judge] Baer sighed to the jury in his preliminary instructions.
The Scam Wall Street Learned from the Mafia is Matt Taibbi's take on the recent convictions in the municipal bond bid-rigging case of United States v. Dominick P. Carollo, Steven E. Goldberg, and Peter S. Grimm. These three fraudsters are among the fifteen convicted so far with regard to the federal government's investigation into nationwide municipal bond bid-rigging schemes. [more inside]
In addition to removing the duty to retreat when outside the home, Florida's 2005 "Stand Your Ground" law removed the civil liability to offenders who had acted within the law and added a presumption of reasonable belief of imminent harm necessitating a lethal response. These three elements were present in over 20 other state laws similar to Florida's. The following NBER working paper by two Texas A&M economists provides new statistical evidence that these laws caused a 7 to 9 percent increase in homicides and non-negligent manslaughter. Consider this post a companion to this previously, as well as this previously. [more inside]
Informant, former wiseguy and goodfella Henry Hill (website, Wikipedia) has been made dead by illness. He was not a schnook.
The Ax Murderer Who Got Away - Shortly after midnight on June 10, 1912—one hundred years ago this week—a stranger hefting an ax lifted the latch on the back door of a two-story timber house in the little Iowa town of Villisca. [more inside]
"There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls. It’s been many years since any child was taken. But still, on nights like these, when the wind comes cold from Tsibeya, mothers hold their daughters tight and warn them not to stray too far from home. “Be back before dark,” they whisper. “The trees are hungry tonight.” Tor.com brings us some short horror/fairy tale fiction from Leigh Bardugo, "The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale."
In 2005, Florida passed controversial "Stand Your Ground" legislation, allowing homeowners to defend their property with lethal force. While the Trayvon Martin case focused national attention on the law, roughly two hundred cases have used it as a key part of the defense. In a new investigative report, The Tampa Bay Times catalogs the past six years of "Stand your Ground" cases and highlights the law's troubling and unexpected results.
3D printing can now make replacement jaws, thousands of user-designed widgets, electromechanical computers - but also ATM skimmer fronts, handcuff keys and gun parts. But can you own the shape of a thing? (Previously on the Blue.)
The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators.
How Corporations and Local Governments Use the Poor As Piggy Banks. Barbara Ehrenreich (previously) talks about how the cycle of poverty is perpetuated by wage theft, municipal/criminal fines, and debtors prisons.
In other positive criminal justice news, the US Department of Justice has issued long overdue rules for combating sexual assault of prisoners in federal, state, and local penitentiaries. [more inside]
Los Tocayos Carlos - a comprehensive investigation by Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman and a team of students which uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence who was executed in Texas in 1989, was innocent. The issue of The Columbia Human Rights Law Review, entirely dedicated to this investigation, is available at this website.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again: black Mississippi man tried six times for the same crime.
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.
Finally, Gilbert Arenas reveals the whole story behind the infamous Washington Wizards guns in the locker room incident.
The Incentive Bubble (ungated pdf) - "The fraying of the compact of American capitalism by rising income inequality and repeated governance crises is disturbing. But misallocations of financial, real, and human capital arising from the financial-incentive bubble are much more worrisome to those concerned with the competitiveness of the American economy." [more inside]
@Sheboyganscan attempts to transcribe everything that comes over the Sheboygan, Wisconsin police scanner. The fine folks at Something Awful have cherry picked a few gems.
Murdoch's Scandal - 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 [transcript]. 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 and Australia. 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]
Michael Mann's "Thief" is a film of style, substance, and violently felt emotion, all wrapped up in one of the most intelligent thrillers I've seen. - Roger Ebert [more inside]
The nation is awash with a new black market commodity... Across the country, retailers are finding massive amounts of this product missing. In West St. Paul, Minnesota, one enterprising individual has taken $25,000 dollars of this chemical that some Police Departments are calling liquid gold: Tide Detergent
"Homicide Watch is a community-driven reporting project covering every murder in the District of Columbia. Using original reporting, court documents, social media, and the help of victims’ and suspects’ friends, family, neighbors and others, we cover every homicide from crime to conviction." [more inside]
Weak Interactions is a blog that looks at the science in Breaking Bad and the non-science in Fringe.
Go to Trial: Crash the Justice System. Michelle Alexander argues that ubiquitous plea bargains have allowed America's politicians and judicial system to short-circuit constitutional due process and ignore the mechanics of mass incarceration. If everyone charged with crimes suddenly exercised his constitutional rights, there would not be enough judges, lawyers or prison cells to deal with the ensuing tsunami of litigation.
Need a spouse or uncooperative business associate taken care of? Have no fear! HitmanForHire.net is here.
Despite evidence of extensive misconduct, English football coach Harry Redknapp remains beloved in the hearts and minds of football fans.
"...whatever job you take, you're going to spend a lot of time there. You should try to make it fun."
In 2007, the Madison (WI) Police Department hired their first civilian Public Information Officer: former reporter Joel DeSpain. Over the last five years, Mr. DeSpain has reportedly combined "humor, a flair for the dramatic and sense of the absurd", and turned the mundane Madison Police Blotter into an "art form and a thing of joy." So Why Has Madison Wisconsin Has Become the Weird News Capitol of the Midwest? Meet the United States’ most whimsical police reporter. (Last one's a gawker link. If you dislike their site / interface, have no fear: all reports in that article (plus four extras) can be found after the jump.) [more inside]
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.
With a tough economy and less money to go around, gang members in New York City are resorting to sharing guns hidden in easily accessible places.
"Each of us remains a staunch Republican conservative, but our perspectives on the death penalty have changed.... Each of us, independently, has concluded that the death penalty isn't working for California." The authors of California's Death Penalty Act of 1978, which expanded use of the death penalty in the state, have publicly endorsed the SAFE Initiative to abolish capital punishment in California. (Previously)
Raise the crime rate: an argument for the abolition of prison.
In 1962, the Mansfield (Ohio) Police Department stationed officers armed with a movie camera behind a two-way mirror in a public restroom known for its "cruisy" atmosphere. With the help of the footage shot, dozens of men were arrested, prosecuted, and convicted on sodomy charges, which at the time carried mandatory minimum sentences of a year in prison. In 2007, the original surveillance footage was obtained by filmmaker William E. Jones. He's screened the unedited 56 minute film as Tearoom at festivals and museums the world over, providing a clandestine look at the scrutiny small-town Midwestern gay men faced in the 1960's. [warning: explicit, NSFW material lies beyond most links] [more inside]
Normally, when you buy stolen goods, you don't legally own them. The person they were stolen from still does. Unless: Until 1995, if you bought them in Bermondsey Market, London, between the hours of sunrise and sunset, they would then belong to you, even if clearly stolen.
Flick Knives, Dance Music and Edwardian Suits: Teddy Boys, Christmas Humphreys and the murder of John Beckley on Clapham Common in 1953.
A UK man who downloaded recipes on how to make explosive devices has been jailed under the controversial Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which makes it a crime to be "in possession of records of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". [more inside]
If you like real-life crime drama, Burgled in Philly, by John Davidson, will keep you occupied for a few minutes. [more inside]
The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.)
Lancaster, CA employs an innovative method of crime fighting: bird noises.
How the Glock Became America's Weapon of Choice The Glock was created in 1982 by a curtain rod manufacturer named Gaston Glock. Glock didn't like the handguns available on the market and decided to manufacture a new gun from scratch. [more inside]
David Grann of the New Yorker writes about the power of the Aryan Brotherhood inside America's federal prisons.