In 1988, he was convicted of killing his stepsons—based on arson science we now know is bunk. A quarter of a century later, Texas granted him a new trial. While the state has not budged in its use of the death penalty—just last year topping 500 executions since the state brought back capital punishment in 1982—it has reinvented itself as a leader in arson science and investigation. A new fire marshal, Chris Connealy, revamped the state’s training and investigative standards. He also set up a panel comprised of some of the top fire scientists in the country to reconsider old cases that had been improperly handled by the original investigators. Graf’s case was one of the first up for review, and it was determined that the original investigators had made critical mistakes.
Pinning down the elusive Banksy. "The art world is the biggest joke going," he has said. "It’s a rest home for the overprivileged, the pretentious, and the weak." Yet the stencilist/graffiti writer's pieces regularly sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds at places like Sotheby's--not bad for a man who still remains cloaked in complete anonymity. The New Yorker gets a rare e-mail interview. [Previously: 1, 2, 3]
Around the world on a Dream Machine — 77 years ago, the giant German airship LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin left Lakehurst, NJ on an aerial world tour sponsored by American media mogul William Randolph Hearst. The airship's gondola carried 20 passengers in high-tech style, including: U.S. Navy observer Charles Rosendahl; English pilot, Zeppelin frequent flyer, and Hearst reporter Lady Grace Drummond-Hay; and Japanese naval aviator Ryunosuke Kusaka. The 41 crewmen were captained by Dr. Hugo Eckener, Zeppelin champion and the world's best airship pilot. The hydrogen-filled LZ-127 flew over the Atlantic to Germany, Siberia, Japan, over the Pacific to California, across the United States, and back to Lakehurst. The 20,500 mile, 21-day flight—with 12 flying days at ~80 mph top speed—defined airship travel's golden age. [More inside]