Boing Boing 

Blackmail paradoxes

From Futility Closet:

We covered one paradox regarding blackmail in 2010: If it’s legal for me to reveal your secret, and it’s legal for me to ask you for money, why is it illegal for me to demand payment to keep your secret? In the words of Northwestern University law professor James Lindgren, “Why do two rights make a wrong?”

Here’s a second paradox: If you had initiated the same transaction — if you had offered to pay me for my silence, and I’d agreed — then we’d have the same outcome, but this time it’s legal. “It is considered paradoxical that the sale of secrecy is legal if it takes the form of a bribe, yet is illegal where the sale of secrecy takes the form of blackmail,” writes Loyola University economist Walter Block. “Why should the legality of a sale of secrecy depend entirely upon who initiates the transaction? Why is bribery legal but blackmail not?”

TX SWAT team beats, deafens nude man in his own home, lies about arrest; judge declines to punish cops or DA


A well-meaning friend of Chad Chadwick called the Missouri City, TX police to say that he was afraid that Chadwick was having emotional difficulties; the cops lied to a judge to say that they had reason to believe Chadwick was heavily armed, then they sent a SWAT-team to his house (where he was asleep in the tub), beat 11 kinds of shit out of him, gave him permanent hearing loss, held him in solitary confinement, fraudulently accused him of resisting arrest, and tried to have him imprisoned -- he was acquitted, but a judge wouldn't punish the cops or the DA, because "There is no freestanding constitutional right to be free from malicious prosecution."

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WATCH: Man allegedly faked heart attack so friend could allegedly steal toys

Two men in Florida were arrested after police examined a surveillance video that showed one of the men leaving a Walmart with a shopping cart loaded with toys while another man laid on the floor near the exit clutching his chest. After the man with the shopping cart left the store, the other got up from the floor and walked out.

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Judge convicted of planting meth on woman who reported him for harassment

Bryant Cochran was chief judge of Murray County Magistrate Court when a woman reported him for hitting on her while she entered his chambers to take out assault warrants following an attack on her.

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New York City's worst landlords


The Village Voice rounds up the ten cruellest, most outright criminal landlords in the five boroughs for 2014, including voyeurs, arsonists, thugs and bullies -- and then there's Robin Shimoff:

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Furry convention evacuated after chlorine-gas attack


The 15th Midwest Furfest was evacuated last week after 19 attendees were hospitalized by chlorine gas at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Hotel; hazmat technicians cleared out an "intentional gas attack" apparatus in the 9th floor stairwell.

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Brian Krebs's "Spam Nation"

In Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, Brian Krebs offers a fascinating look at the mass-scale cybercrime that underpins the spam in your inbox and provides an inside peek at a violent fight among its principle players. Cory Doctorow reviews.Read the rest

Car thief employs getaway skateboard

"Experienced skateboarders we talked to gave him low marks." [via]

Wall Street phishers show how dangerous good syntax and a good pitch can be


Major Wall Street institutions were cracked wide open by a phishing scam from FIN4, a hacker group that, unlike its competition, can write convincingly and employs some basic smarts about why people open attachments.

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John Oliver on Civil Forfeiture

As always, John Oliver's take on something newsworthy, corrupt, and jaw-droppingly absurd manages to nail it straight through the beating heart.

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DC cops budget their asset forfeiture income years in advance


The DC force plans out how much stuff they'll steal from the public through the corrupt "asset forfeiture" program years in advance, almost as though they don't rely on crime to seize assets, but rather just arbitrarily grab stuff from people and sell it to pay their bills.

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Just look at this felonious banana charge.

Just look at it: "A man is facing a felony menacing charge after two western Colorado sheriff's deputies say he pointed a banana at them and they thought it was a gun. (Thanks, Libbi!)

Growing movement against Mafia extortion

palermo

Not long ago, 80 percent of shops in Palermo, Sicily were paying pizzo, or protection money, to the Mafia. But a growing movement is putting a serious dent in the pizzo racket. A group of activists is encouraging business to resist Mafia shakedowns, and it seems to be working. It's called Addiopizzo -- Italian for "Goodbye, protection money."

The turning point came when the owner of a rural pub decided not to pay pizzo and as a result started to lose fearful customers. Addiopizzo started organizing outings to his bar every Saturday night, both to show their support and to keep cash flowing his way. The villagers started returning to the pub, and the mob, faced with mass defiance, decided to leave the place alone.

This evolved into a formal strategy: a reverse boycott of businesses that publicly promised not to pay protection money. Addiopizzo assembled a list of 3,500 people who had agreed to patronize places that rejected pizzo. With that in hand, the group was able to convince several enterprises to take a no-pizzo pledge and to put up an orange sticker advertising their stance. (Addiopizzo then found itself developing an investigatory arm, to make sure the owners were keeping their promises.) With time, the lists of both the anti-pizzo companies and the anti-pizzo customers grew longer. When the mafia retaliated by burning down a warehouse belonging to a business that had taken the pledge, Addiopizzo organized public support for the victims: collecting funds for unemployed workers, holding demonstrations against the assault, and using Italy's anti-mafia compensation laws to secure a new warehouse from the government. By refusing to pay for protection, the company had acquired a different sort of protection.

Image: BJS

Bumfights creator accused of stealing remains of dead children from Thai hospital museum


Johann writes, "One of the creators of notorious millennial website Bumfights has is accused of stealing preserved child body parts and flayed tattoos from the notorious Bangkok Black museum at the medical faculty of Siriraj Hospital. Then he attempted to DHL his swag back to the States, he has now fled to Cambodia."

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Italian scientists acquitted of culpability in L'Aquila quake


Seven natural disaster specialists had previously been convicted of manslaughter for not being emphatic enough about the 2009 quake, which killed 309 people, but that conviction's been overturned by an appeals court.

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A guide to Serial: the best podcast in the world

Serial is a podcast about a murder that happened in 1999. It's produced by This American Life and it's the best podcast series I've listened to.

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Chip-and-PIN cards let nearby fraudsters steal $1M at a time

Visa's new Paywave chip-and-PIN credit-cards have a $1M limit on foreign-currency transactions that can be verified "in-card," meaning that someone who gets close enough to your UK wallet can simply wave a phone at it and charge a megabuck to it without raising any realtime security alerts.

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