Newly published Snowden leaks show that the UK spy agency GCHQ took extraordinary measures to hide the eager cooperativeness of the country's phone companies, who were apparently delighted to help it spy on the nation and its allies; further, the leak details the GCHQ's internal conviction that their spying violated European law, and thus had to be kept a secret.
The agency fought domestic attempts to make wiretapping materials admissible as evidence lest the public discover the extent of its illegal spying programme, and it sought out sympathetic public figures to discredit opponents and celebrate its spying, including the LibDem peer Lord Carlile. Carlile has been slamming the Guardian for its coverage of the Snowden leaks -- apparently acting as a de facto PR agent for the nation's criminal spy-class.
Read the rest
Here's a sad profile of William Footman, an inmate at Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward who is believed to be behind at least 37 robberies in which the doormats were stolen from banks. Footman admits to some of these, but says that the rest weren't him; he claims to have worked at a rug factory, to have a wife and 15 daughters, and to have made ends meet by selling stolen bank doormats to bodegas. But there's a clear impression that he's a fabulist, possibly delusional, and that he's really in a bad place, despite the weirdness of his crimes.
Read the rest
Third generation Texas judge Elizabeth E. Coker has resigned just ahead of being investigated for misconduct; she admits that she texted instructions to prosecutors in order to help them convict the defendants whose cases she heard. She also is accused of other indiscretions, including meeting with jurors and attempting to influence them to convict defendants. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct suggests that she lied to them as well, perjuring herself. She's out of a job, but apparently will face no criminal or civil sanctions for her crimes; nor will the victims whose trials she perverted be freed.
Read the rest
Thieves in Cookhill, Worcestershire, sliced through the side of a truck and made off with more than 6,000 tins of beans and sausages. The beans were Heinz brand. "Police are appealing for information, especially about anyone trying to sell large quantities of Heinz baked beans in suspicious circumstances."
Read the rest
Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix , the eldest of seven brothers of the Tijuana cartel.
Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, the eldest brother in Mexico's once-dominant Tijuana drug cartel, was shot to death by gunmen disguised as clowns at a children's party on Friday.
The 63-year-old drug lord was also known by the nicknames "El Pelón" (the baldie) or Menso, ("stupid/crazy"). He was assassinated by a man in a clown suit during a family gathering at an upscale resort in Cabo San Lucas, a popular tourist destination on the Baja California peninsula, state special investigations prosecutor Isai Arias told Associated Press on Saturday:
An official of the Baja California Sur state prosecutor's office told the AP that the costumes included a wig and a round red nose.
Read the rest
Jayne Rand, of Swindon, England, was sentenced this week to an 18 month jail sentence after shoplifting $200,000 worth of handbags. No kleptomaniac, Rand was such an expert thief that the judge, Rhys Rowlands, felt compelled to remark upon her professionalism:
"How you got away with it for so long without being caught was deeply remarkable. You showed professionalism and that is why you went undetected for so long. You travelled the country with the sole purpose of theft and you made a successful albeit dishonest business of selling stolen handbags. The values are quite outside of what the court comes across even from professional shoplifting gangs."
Waterbury, Connecticut police were responding to a call about a fight when they encountered this gentleman, Luis Santana, 32, running from the scene. Police ordered Santana to stop and he responded by throwing a parrot at the officers. The bird bit the cop's finger and Santana ran off. Eventually, a witness led police to the man who, according to NBC Connecticut
, was charged with "cruelty to animals, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, second-degree burglary and interfering with a police officer."
A driver "who can see for a distance of only a few feet" embarked on an 85 MPH sprint
through Sheffield, England, after cops tried to pull him over on suspicion of driving drunk. He was jailed for nine months after admitting to dangerous driving, reports the Daily Mirror. — Rob
The Justice & Police Museum of Sydney, Australia has a collection of "special photographs" of criminals from the 1920s. Curator Peter Doyle explains:
These ‘special photographs’ were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station in Sydney and are of men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their ‘apprehension’. Compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, the subjects of the special photographs seem to have been allowed – perhaps invited – to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics.
Read the rest
Campbell Whyte and his family, visiting San Francisco, had their luggage stolen. And it's not just luggage: with them were the tools of their livelihood, right down to paints and brushes. The story is heart-wrenching, not just for the circumstances, but also for the victims' willingess to understand why some are reduced to the risky and generally unrewarding business of street theft. And then there's this:
Read the rest
Real estate appraiser Randall Bell specializes in "stigmatized properties," homes and other buildings where bad things have happened or are thought to have occurred. For example, his assignments have included Nicole Brown Simpson's Brentwood condominium, Heaven's Gate's Rancho Santa Fe home base (seen at right, before it was demolished), JonBenet Ramsey's Colorado house, a "haunted" Las Vegas mansion featured on the TV show Ghost Adventures, and many natural disaster sites. He literally (co-)wrote the book on the subject, Real Estate Damages: Applied Economics and Detrimental Conditions
. The Los Angeles Times published a fascinating profile of Bell:
Among his tips for clients: Don't waste money tearing down a house; the stigma attaches itself to the land, not the building. For example, in 1984 a gunman murdered 21 people at a McDonald's in San Ysidro, a neighborhood in San Diego. The company bulldozed the fast-food restaurant, then donated the land to the city. San Diego tried to sell it but got little interest. Nearly four years after the tragedy, the city sold the land at a deep discount to a community college.
In death, celebrities and ordinary people are equal — their murders lower a property's value by the same percentage, Bell says.
"Does Satan worship lower a Las Vegas mansion's value?
" (LA Times)
RealEstateDamages.com (Bell, Anderson, & Sanders LLC)
Cincinnati police officer Darrell Beavers, 44, was indicted today for receiving nude photos from a teenage girl, theft of police equipment, tampering with evidence, and setting up a fake police substation in an apartment building. A 13-year veteran of the police department, Beavers was involved in the Cincinnati Police Explorer program to serve young people interested in law enforcement. From WCPO:
…Aapartment manager Marti Burcham said Beavers approached her earlier this year and asked if she would like a substation.
For Burcham, the thought of extra police security was a no-brainer.
"Two weeks later, he came back and said, 'yes, we were approved’ and we had to furnish an apartment and the electricity," Burcham said.
Burcham said she then began moving things into apartment No. 9, including a bed.
She was also told to put a Cincinnati Police Department sticker on the window of the stairwell, she said.
"Cincinnati police officer indicted on charges involving nude photos of teen, fake substation
" (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)
Popehat's Ken White (a former federal prosecutor) uses the arrest of alleged Silk Road founder Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht to explain how the criminal justice system works, including the difference between a grand jury indictment and a criminal charge, and how to understand sentencing guidelines and "maximum possible sentences." It's a great way to use current events to deepen your understanding of important, complicated systems.
If you enjoy that, you should also check out Ed Felten's post that contrasts the Silk Road story with the shut down of Lavabit to explore how crypto does -- and doesn't -- change the criminal justice system.
Read the rest
Over at Thought Catalog, Mark Dery looks back at the Manson Murders of 1968 and how Charlie's "love and terror cult" sliced open a seeping wound of fear whose scab is still being picked. Dery titled his essay, "Getting the Fear," Manson's phrase for "embracing the dry-mouthed jitters of sheer terror, riding that moment when your heart is thudding so hard it feels like something trapped inside your ribcage, trying to get out," as Dery explains it. From the essay:
"Growing up in Southern California, in 1969, I knew the isolation of the cul-de-sac houses out on suburbia’s asteroid belt, where the night air was thick with the cloying smell of sage and wild fennel and the darkness echoed with the hiss of automatic sprinklers, stuttering across lawns. A man might scream, might run into his front yard and scream, as Wojtek Frykowski did that night on Cielo Drive, Oh, God, no, please don’t! Oh, God, no don’t, don’t, don’t…,and get nothing but echoes for an answer. I knew the mass-produced alienation of suburbia, where you could live your life in a tract home fit for a battery hen, your sixth of an acre flush against your neighbors’, yet never exchange much more than a nod of recognition as you pulled into your driveway and they out of theirs.Whether or not I was aware of the Manson murders, the spreading stain of fear was seeping, in August 1969, under the locked doors of everyone’s consciousness."
"Getting The Fear: Manson, Me, And The Summer Of Hate
John Steele is one of the shadowy figures behind the notorious porno-copyright-trolls Prenda Law, about whom we've written rather a lot, as they are a colorful bunch of grifters. Steele had previously been accused of stealing the identity of Alan Cooper, the caretaker of one of his properties, making him the CEO of one of the shell companies behind which Prenda hides.
But that identity theft is hardly as damning as the latest revelation: Steele's mother-in-law has accused him of forging signatures in the course of Prenda's dirty business.
Read the rest