Unfortunately, PETA is not able to turn noted cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer's childhood home in Bath, Ohio into a vegan restaurant. The plan was to call the restaurant "Eat for Life: Home Cooking" but zoning laws stood in their way.
"It was also suggested that we consider converting it into a vegan bed and breakfast, but we're not optimistic that many people would want to make the trip to spend a night in the house.," PETA Media Director Moira Colley said.
Of course, the whole idea could easily have just been a PETA publicity stunt. In any case, the home is still up for sale. (WKYC, thanks Gil Kaufman!)
When Marlene Yazar's husband Kemal experienced a psychotic episode, she was so scared for her safety and the safety of her children that she called 911. A paramedic arrived on the scene, but fled after Kemal threw a Bible at him. The paramedic called the police, and Harris County, TX Deputy Brady Pullen arrived on the scene. Ten minutes later, he and a colleague shot Kemal ten times, killing him. Then, he sued the Yazar family, naming Kemal's mother-in-law (who wasn't at home when the episode took place)
because, according to him, the family were negligent in describing the threat the dead father, husband and breadwinner presented. Now, the family must not only mourn the passing of their dead loved one -- they have to defend themselves against a $100,000 lawsuit brought by the police officer who shot him dead.
Robert H. Richards IV, a wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune, has been spared prison after being convicted of raping his three year old daughter. Delaware Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden sentenced the admitted serial child-rapist to probation on the ground that he "would not fare well" in prison. The case echoes the affluenza scandal in which a judge spared a rich child a prison sentence after he had killed four people on the grounds that he was so rich that he couldn't distinguish right from wrong.
As the long, excellent article in the News Journal notes, it's nice to hear judges focusing on the rehabilitative dimension of the justice system, but it's enraging and offensive to see that this kind of mercy is disproportionately dispensed to the wealthiest members of society, especially as America sinks further into its decades-old scandal of mass-incarceration, becoming one of history's most prolific imprisoners of poor people and people of color.
The prosecutor bears some responsibility here too, having agreed to a plea bargain for a lesser charge without a mandatory minimum sentence -- the kind of prosecutorial discretion that we'd have loved to have seen in the Aaron Swartz case and many other cases involving people who are not trust-fund multi-millionaires.
Richards is a healthy, imposing man in early middle age. Many others who would "not fare well" in prison, including trans* people and people with disabilities are routinely sentenced to long, brutal incarceration. It would be nice to see the American judicial system extend this mercy to them. In particular Judge Jurden has a reputation as a "tough sentencing judge" (except when confronted with child-rapists from one of America's largest family fortunes).
Read the rest
Remember the copyright trolls at Prenda Law
, the slippery crooks who claimed that no one actually owned their extortionate racket, that no one made any money from it, and that no one was responsible for it? Yet another judge has called bullshit on them
, insisting that they produce financial statements prepared by a chartered public accountant, and dismissing their objections as "attorney speak."
California Senator Leland Yee has been indicted
, along with 25 others, in an organized crime bust that includes charges of wire fraud and firearms trafficking, as well as accepting bribes for legislative action. Yee is best known for sponsoring legislation
to limit the sale of "violent" video-games to minors, which federal courts declared unconstitutional and struck down. (via /.
Molly Crabapple sez, "In the past three years, I've sketched many courtrooms and seen the "widget factory" that is the criminal justice system firsthand. Courtrooms are a violent theater. The violence happens off-scene. The courtroom itself is the performative space, the stage where the best story triumphs, and where all parties, except (usually) the defendant, are just playing parts."
Read the rest
If you're a Basecamp user who couldn't get into your account yesterday, here's why
: the company refused to pay ransom to a criminal who hit them with a 20Gb/s denial-of-service flood, apparently by the same person who attacked Meetup, who uses gmail addresses in this pattern: "firstname.lastname@example.org."
Writing in Politics.co.uk, Frances Crook (chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform) decries the latest nasty Tory tough-on-crime initiative: denying books from the outside to prisoners, many of whom spend more than sixteen hours per day in their cells. This follows on a ban on homemade birthday cards from prisoners' children, and a ban on underwear and other comfort items from outside (women prisoners are hit very hard by this as they are not supplied with undergarments otherwise and spend months wearing the same underwear and bras).
As Crook points out, banning books, birthday cards and underwear has nothing to do with rehabilitation for criminals, and everything to do with pandering to a vicious public who want to see everyone who is locked up made as miserable as possible.
Read the rest
Michael from Mother Jones writes, "Most people who use marijuana probably don't give much thought to where it comes from. Alas, a huge chunk of it comes from environmentally devastating 'trespass grows' in the national forests, where the growers cut down trees, divert waterways for irrigation, and deploy rodent poison that makes its way into species that are under threat, including birds and weasel-like mammals called fishers. 'I would consider it the No. 1 threat to salmon' in Northern California, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist tells Josh Harkinson, who reported the story for Mother Jones."
Read the rest
Richard Masten is the executive director of Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers, a service that promises anonymity to the people who send in tips on serious crimes. So when a judge ordered him to hand over a tip -- with potentially identifying information -- to a defendant's lawyer, he ate it.
As Lowering the Bar points out, this is probably more of a symbolic gesture than a real defense of his source's anonymity, since there's likely a file-copy at Crimestoppers itself. Masten is going back to court this week to receive a punishment from the judge: "I'll bring a toothbrush and some pajamas."
Read the rest
This is Colin Smith, a con artist clown who was busted for posing as a charity collector. Apparently, there were nearly 20 unrelated police incidents last year in Manchester, England involving clowns reportedly engaged in creepy behavior like following children to school, vandalizing property, or robbery.
“The clowning profession can do without stupid people who don’t understand the profession and appreciate that it is a performing art and not a spontaneous jolly jape," Dave Tawney, European director of the World Clown Association, told the Manchester Evening News.
The DoJ has filed a motion
to dismiss charges against Barrett Brown related to republishing a link, an act they had previously characterized as a felony. Brown, a journalist, had posted links to the Anonymous dump of emails from private military contractor Stratfor. The US DoJ is still trying to put him in jail for putting his laptop in a cabinet ("obstruction of justice") and losing his shit and ranting about hurting the cops who were hounding him for pasting a link into a chat room (threatening acts).
The CIA's Inspector General has asked the Justice Department to consider criminally charging CIA agents who spied on a senate committee that was engaged in writing a report that was highly critical of the CIA's use of torture. Senator Mark Udall, who sits on a CIA oversight committee and whose staff was spied on by the CIA alleges that the CIA surveilled overseeing senators and their staff with Obama's knowledge and consent.
In a recent hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked the CIA director repeatedly whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, America's major anti-hacking statute, applied to the CIA, and whether the CIA spied domestically. CIA director John Brennan replied "yes" and "no," respectively. If Udall's allegations are correct, this means that Brennan lied to Congress (in the second instance) and committed a felony (in the first instance).
The report that caused some CIA agents to spy on their bosses was about how the CIA was wasting time, getting nowhere and doing something illegal and cruel when it kidnapped terror suspects and tortured the shit out of them.
Read the rest
A London court has found a man named Andrew Meldrum guilty of "unauthorised access to computer material" and "voyeurism." Meldrum "helped" young women fix their computers and covertly installed snoopware on them, and subsequently spied on them via their webcams. He is to be sentenced in April. A forensics expert claims that this sort of thing is "very common."
Read the rest
The Chicago Police Department has ramped up the use of its "predictive analysis" system to identify people it believes are likely to commit crimes. These people, who are placed on a "heat list," are visited by police officers who tell them that they are considered pre-criminals by CPD, and are warned that if they do commit any crimes, they are likely to be caught.
The CPD defends the practice, and its technical champion, Miles Wernick from the Illinois Institute of Technology, characterizes it as a neutral, data-driven system for preventing crime in a city that has struggled with street violence and other forms of crime. Wernick's approach involves seeking through the data for "abnormal" patterns that correlate with crime. He compares it with epidemiological approaches, stating that people whose social networks have violence within them are also likely to commit violence.
The CPD refuses to share the names of the people on its secret watchlist, nor will it disclose the algorithm that put it there.
This is a terrible way of running a criminal justice system.
Read the rest