Mounties used Stingrays to secretly surveil millions of Canadians for years

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Motherboard used public records requests to extract 3,000+ pages of court docs from a massive 2010 RCMP mafia/drug bust in Montreal, codenamed "Project Clemenza," which revealed the full extent of the Mounties' secret use of Stingrays -- AKA "IMSI Catchers," the fake cellular towers that let cops covertly track whole populations by tricking their phones into revealing information about them. Read the rest

Why did 31 people suddenly die in a Pakistan village? A horrible mystery solved

Laddu, a popular South Asian sweet, packed for a wedding [Wikipedia]
In India and Pakistan, the variety of traditional sweets prepared for special occasions seems infinite. One popular treat is laddu (or ladoo), sweet little sugary carb balls. They're basically cookies, and they're munched at big celebrations--weddings, births, and the like.

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Prospective jurors refuse to serve under rapist-friendly judge Aaron Persky

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The East Bay Times reports that "at least 10 prospective jurors" refused to participate in Judge Aaron Persky's next trial in protest at the cozy 6-month sentence (out in 12 weeks) he gave Stanford rapist Brock Turner.

"I can't be here, I'm so upset," one juror told the judge while the lawyers were picking the jury in the misdemeanor receiving stolen property case, according to multiple sources.

Another prospective juror stood up and said, "I can't believe what you did," referring to the six-month county jail sentence Persky handed to Turner, who was convicted for sexually assaulting an unconscious intoxicated woman last year outside a Stanford University frat party.

In each case, the judge said, "I understand," thanked the prospective juror and excused her or him from duty.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden wrote an open letter to Turner's victim today, praising her willingness to speak out about her treatment by her attacker and by the legal system.

And I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.

It must have been wrenching — to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.

You are a warrior — with a solid steel spine.

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Stanford rapist Brock Turner: “I've been shattered by the party culture”

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In a pre-sentencing letter to the judge released today by the New York Times, convicted rapist Brock Turner fails to own any responsibility for raping an unconscious woman behind a trash dumpster on Jan. 17, 2015. Turner's plea letter reads like a laundry list of white male privilege lost. It touched the white male judge in all the right places. Turner begs for leniency in his letter, and he got it.

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Why defense attorneys aren't cheering Brock Allan Turner's wrist-slap

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Ken White was once a US Federal Prosecutor, but he's also served as a defense attorney, and when he was defending clients, he routinely told the judge about the ways in which his clients were good people, and what talents they had. Read the rest

Arson mystery solved

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A conflagration quickly took over a small home on Horners Lane in Rockville, Maryland, posing a mystery for arson investigators.

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Brock Turner's actual booking photo from the night of his arrest

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Earlier today, the Santa Clara Sheriff's department released its mugshot of Brock Turner. Here, though, is the booking photo taken the night of his arrest and sent to us by Stanford University's Department of Public Safety, the arresting agency.

Brock Turner, 20, was taken into custody after raping a woman behind a dumpster on Stanford's Palo Alto campus on on January 18, 2015. Though convicted on multiple felony counts, with prosecutors asking for a 6-year custodial sentence, Turner was given only 6 months in jail. With good behavior, he could be out in weeks.

The lenient sentence (he will also spend 3 years on probation and must enroll on the sex offenders' registry) drew much criticism, as did authorities' apparent refusal to release booking photographs of Turner until today. Without access to the public record, most outlets (including Boing Boing) ran a yearbook photo that presented a clean-cut, smiling athlete.

Photographs can influence the public's appreciation of a case, and many criticize police and the media when poor or minority suspects are presented with booking photos, while suspects like Turner end up given the benefit of professional headshots.

Stanford University released a statement today regarding the case, pointing out that it immediately launched an investigation, banned Turner from its campus after his arrest, and praised students who literally brought him to justice.

Stanford urges its students to do the right thing and intervene and we are proud of our students for stopping this incident. Many other student witnesses cooperated in the investigation.
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Britain meets its "first 101-year-old court defendant"

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The Guardian reports that Ralph Clarke, facing charges of child abuse dating to the 20th century, is believed to be Britain's oldest court defendant.

Clarke, who was born in March 1915, is alleged to have committed 17 indecent assaults, 12 offences of indecency with a child, and two attempted serious sexual offences between 1974 and 1983. During a 40-minute court appearance, Clarke turned down the offer of a hearing loop, telling the court clerk his hearing aid had a new battery.

None of the articles I found sourced their claim, though. 'Believed to be' is reporterese for 'just guessing.' Outside the UK, Clarke's seemingly beat by 102-year-old Massachusetts murder suspect Laura Lundquist, but it's not clear if she ever appeared in court (she was charged and subject to hearings, but did not have to face trial due to dementia.) Read the rest

Stanford rapist's dad says jail time is "a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action"

Convicted rapist Brock Turner, in court

The father of Brock Turner, convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, told the court that imprisonment would be "a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action" Read the rest

Campus rapist given lenient sentence to avoid "severe impact on him"

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Former Stanford University athlete Brock Allen Turner, 20, raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Prosecutors wanted him put away for 6 years, but the judge, Aaron Persky, gave him 6 months to avoid being unnecessarily harsh on the boy. He'll be out in a few weeks.

After a jury convicted Turner of sexually penetrating an intoxicated and unconscious person with a foreign object, prosecutors asked a judge to sentence him to six years in California prison. Probation officials had recommended the significantly lighter penalty of six months in county jail, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The judge, Aaron Perksy, cited Turner’s age and lack of criminal history as factors in his decision, saying, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

This was described as a "brazen" attack: he was physically forced off of his victim, then chased down and detained by passers-by until police arrived. Yet this column, by Scott Herhold, was the sort of coverage he enjoyed in the press:

Turner was rightfully convicted. I wrote a column earlier this year praising the two Stanford students, both from Sweden, who interrupted the assault and chased the drunken athlete down.

But probation officials, who see hundreds of less remorseful defendants, had it right. Turner should be given six months in county jail. He is not, as the prosecution has it, "a continued threat to the community." Why do I say that? The probation people cite his lack of a criminal record and what they see as genuine remorse.

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Flintnation: 33 US cities caught cheating on municipal water lead tests

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An independent investigation by The Guardian found 33 cities in 17 US states (including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee) are systematically cheating on the tests to monitor lead levels in the municipal water. 21 of those cities used the same cheating techniques that led to criminal charges in the Flint water scandal. Read the rest

Tumblr's shoplifting community is organized, politically conscious, and at war with weightlifters

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"Liftblr" is the informal, amorphous community of shoplifters who post their hauls to Tumblr using pseudonymous accounts, offering each other support and encouragement. Most seem to be young women, and their community's discourse often circles back to class war, politics, gender and consumerism. Read the rest

DoD public relations' highest-ranking civilian gets community service for stealing license plates and harassing neighbor's nanny

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Bryan Whitman -- familiar to many as the Pentagon's top spokesman during much of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- has settled a case with people who live near him in DC, who caught him repeatedly stealing the license plates off their nanny's car using a hidden camera. Read the rest

FBI is investigating copyright trolls Prenda Law for fraud

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For more than four years, we've been writing about Prenda Law, a prolific copyright troll (that is, a company that sends dire legal threats and demands for money to people they accuse of copyright infringement, based on the flimsiest of evidence), whose conduct is so breathtakingly illegal that it feels like satire or performance art (but it's not). Read the rest

If Donald Trump ever talks to a real journalist, these are the questions he should answer

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The questions posed by David Cay Johnston include some tough-to-avoid queries about Trump's involvement with the mafia, the regulatory findings against his company for unfair and unsafe employment practices, and times when Trump had admitted to shading the truth or lying outright about his affairs. Read the rest

Grieving mom says 'dirty' police detective stole dead son's money after heroin overdose

Paul "Rodney" DePotter with his mother Penny DePotter.
A police detective in Rock Falls, Illinois has been arrested for stealing more than $1,700 in cash found on the body of a man who died of a heroin overdose. Detective Sgt. Veronica Jaramillo, 43, was taken into police custody on May 17, 2016 by Illinois State Police and charged with theft and official misconduct.

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Judge handcuffs public defender for speaking out in court

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen -- who is fighting a contested election this year -- put deputy public defender Zohra Bakhtary in handcuffs and made her sit with the criminals in the dock while he sentenced her client, who was unrepresented for the duration of the event. Read the rest

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