Dark Tourism On her great blog, historian Donna Seger discusses the phenomenon of Dark Tourism - a cultural trend responsible for the proliferation of ghost tours, vampire tours, and graveyard tours as well as interest in more historically serious places such as Holocaust sites, Civil War Battlefields, and even contemporary war zones. Also known in academia as thanatourism, its subcategories include fright tourism[PDF], disaster tourism, morbid tourism, and grief tourism. [more inside]
Where the Death Penalty Still Lives. In the U.S., 20 states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment and four others have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 states that remain, only 14 handed down death sentences last year for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actually executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just two percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row. [more inside]
"He was a schemer who used the courts for profit and revenge. He was a paranoid, angry meth addict who had been arrested for battery and domestic violence seven times. He had been involuntarily committed, by his family’s count. And yet, in its report on Phoebe’s death, the Florida Department of Children and Families concluded, “There was nothing in the preceding several years that could have reasonably been interpreted as predictive of such an event.”
On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts. His final letter.
Greg Fleniken was a decent, honorable, smart, and successful man whom people liked. The sort of man nobody would murder—yet somebody had. But why? And how had The Body in Room 348 received its internal injuries? [more inside]
Need a spouse or uncooperative business associate taken care of? Have no fear! HitmanForHire.net is here.
Homicide detectives who have reopened an investigation into the death of Natalie Wood after three decades said on Friday that the film star's husband, actor Robert Wagner, was not considered a suspect. [more inside]
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 Burns Archive is a collection of over 700,000 historical photographs that document disturbing subject matter: obsolete medical practices and experiments, death, disease, disasters, crime, revolutions, riots and war. Newsweek posted a select gallery this past October, as well as a video interview and walk-through with curator and collector Dr. Stanley B. Burns, a New York opthalmologist. (Via) (Content at links may be disturbing to some.) [more inside]
A DNA test has proven that a man was executed for murder by the State of Texas on the basis of false forensic evidence. [more inside]
Wars around the world have killed three times more people over the past half-century than previously estimated, a new study suggests... The researchers estimate that 5.4 million people died from 1955 to 2002 as a result of wars in 13 countries. These deaths range from 7,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 3.8 million in Vietnam. According to Obermeyer, the estimates are three times higher than those of previous reports. Data from this new study also suggests that 378,000 people worldwide died a violent death in war each year between 1985 and 1994, compared with 137,000 estimated at the time.ABC News: Study: War Deaths Grossly Underestimated
The study: Fifty years of violent war deaths from Vietnam to Bosnia: analysis of data from the world health survey programme
Related: Measuring deaths from conflict
Saddam's Confessions - Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator George Piro pretty fascinating.
cell mobile phone helped police find the body of missing student Kelly Nolan. "The average citizen is not aware that they are carrying a location-tracking device in their pocket..."
Seattle man dead after having sex with a horse. But that's not all of it: The horse was the active party, and the man was passive. However, it wasn't rape; as Dan Savage puts it, this took place at an alleged "bestiality brothel". While Washington State doesn't outlaw Bestiality, investigators are examining whether or not animal cruelty occurred in forcing smaller, weaker animals to have sex with people. [via SLOG]