Police in Brazil kill six people a day


So says a report from The Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, an NGO that singles out the Rio police for "abusive use of lethal force."

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Holding mirrors up to police lines at #Euromaidan


Ukrainian protesters from the #Euromaidan movement have faced brutal police violence. A moving demonstration on December 30th included a line of protesters who held up mirrors to the riot police who faced them across the barricades.

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The gruesome reality of the drug trade

My friend Erik Vance lives in Mexico City and writes about science. But, in the past year or so, his work covering ocean fisheries has brought him into contact with some of the fallout from the cocaine trade. That overlap lead to a recent piece for Slate, where he writes that "there's no such thing as cruelty-free cocaine". If you care about sustainability, fair trade, and the power of consumer choice to change industry practices in fishing, then you should care about those things when it comes to drugs, he writes. More provocatively, Vance likens buying coke today to donating to the Nazi party in the 1930s.

When mushrooms go to war

Fungus can fight. Using poisons and flesh-dissolving enzymes (think: mycological "meat" tenderizers), they can defend their turf from incursions by other fungi. Here, a sulfur tuft mushroom (top right) and Phanerochaete velutina (bottom left) hash it out.

Hawthorne, CA police arrest man for videoing them, shoot his dog

Spocko sez, "What are the current rules for filming police in the state of California? This man seems to believes that he should be arrested for filming the police and offers himself up for arrest after clearly holding his phone up to film them. He places his dog in his car and is arrested. While handcuffed and being led away, the dog jumps out of the car to go to the man. The police see the dog as attacking them and when it doesn't stop, shoot the dog several times. Would this had happened if the man (and the police) knew the law about filming police in public in California?" Warning: Video contains violence and language

Hawthorne, Ca Police Kill Dog(1) (Thanks, Spocko!)

"Riot" at kindergarten graduation

A brawl erupted at a kindergarten graduation in Cleveland on Friday, leading to eight arrests. It seems that two teens started the fisticuffs, and then some adults joined the fray. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "eventual charges could include aggravated rioting." None of the graduates were taken into custody.

Prison and racial segregation: why a Jewish guy eats with the Aryan Brotherhood

From a 2009 Southern Poverty Law Center report, David Arenberg describes his life as a Jewish guy inside a heavily racially segregated state prison where he faces violence and even death if he doesn't eat with the Aryan Brotherhood. Arenberg uses the essay to jump into a harrowing view into the rise of serious, politicized neo-Nazi skinheads in prison -- guys who make the Aryan Brotherhood look like moderates.

Not that there's anywhere else I could eat. The prison yard is broken down into five distinct racial categories and segregation is strictly enforced. There are the "woods" (short for peckerwoods) that encompass the whites, the "kinfolk" (blacks), the "Raza" (American-born people of Mexican descent), the "paisas" (Mexico-born Mexicans), and the "chiefs" (American Indians). Under the strict rules that govern interracial relations, different races are allowed to play on the same sports teams but not play individual games (e.g., chess) together; they may be in each others' cubicles together if the situation warrants but not sit on each others' beds or watch each others' televisions. They may go to the same church services but not pray together. But if you accidentally break one of these rules, the consequences are usually pretty mild: you might get a talking to by one of the heads (who, of course, claims exemption from this rule himself), or at worst, a "chin check."

Eating with another race, however, is a different story. It is an inviolate rule that different races may not break bread together under any circumstances. Violating this rule leads to harsh consequences. If you eat at the same table as another race, you'll get beaten down. If you eat from the same tray as another race, you'll be put in the hospital. And if you eat from the same food item as another race, that is, after another race has already taken a bite of it, you can get killed. This is one area where even the heads don't have any play.

This makes it difficult for me, of course, to fit into the chow hall. Jews, as we all know, are not white but imposters who don white skin and hide inside it for the purpose of polluting and taking over the white race. The skinheads simply can't allow me to eat with them: that would make them traitors of the worst kind — race traitors! But my milky skin and pasty complexion, characteristic of the Eastern European Ashkenazi, make it impossible for me to eat with other races who don't understand the subtleties of my treachery and take me for just another wood. So the compromise is that I may sit at certain white tables after all the whites have finished eating. In exchange, I must do free legal work as directed by the heads (Jewish lawyers, even jailhouse lawyers, are hard to come by in prison) and remit to them a portion of the legal fees I collect from everyone else I do legal work for on the yard.

David Arenberg Reflects on Being Jewish in State Prison (via )

Read this before you read another story on epigenetics

At Download the Universe, i09 editor Annalee Newitz critiques a new e-book about epigenetics — the science of how environmental factors can influence genetic expression — and violence. The book makes some pretty terrible (and non-scientific) insinuations about the idea of an inherent propensity towards violence and Newitz does a good job of both taking down the specific book and explaining the nuance behind a complicated topic.

How children become "cannon fodder" for Mexican drug cartels

Wired's Danger Room blog points to this new report [PDF] by the NGO International Crisis Group, which details how Mexican drug cartels recruit and coerce kids as young as 11 years old to kill. Narcos “have recruited thousands of street gang members, school drop-outs and unskilled workers” over the last decade, and the report claims “cartel bosses will treat the young killers as cannon fodder, throwing them into suicidal attacks on security forces.” [Wired.com]

Boxer announces he's coming over to his Twitter-troll's house "for a beer"

A Twitter troll called @jimmyob88 sent a series of vile, taunting messages to professional boxer @woodhousecurtis, calling him lots of rotten names. Woodhouse tweeted back that he'd found out the Internet Tough Guy's home address and was headed over to his house "for a brew." After a series of "I'm getting closer" tweets, the troll had a change of heart and tweeted, "Didnt think you would be bothered thought you would take them as a joke" and "i am in the wrong i accept that." Apparently, it ended there. (via Techdirt) Cory

Science and gun violence: why is the research so weak? [Part 2]

Part 2 of Science and gun violence: why is the research so weak?

The town of Macapá is in the north of Brazil, on the coast, where the Amazon River flows into the Atlantic.

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Bang bang: Science, violence, and public policy

I was on CBC Radio 1's Day 6 last weekend, talking about some of the reasons why scientists can't answer key questions about guns — whether current gun policies do anything to reduce violent crime, for instance, or whether more guns cause less (or more) violence. In a related debate, you should also read the article on the science of video games and real-life violence that Brandon Keim wrote for PBS' NOVA. The truth is that this branch of science also has big problems connecting cause and effect and, as with gun policy research, the best kinds of experiments can't really be done for logistical and ethical reasons.

Letters to Newtown: digitally archiving sympathy cards sent to town after school shooting massacre

In Mother Jones, the story behind "Letters to Newtown." This project was instigated by Boardwalk Empire prop-master, freelance illustrator, and Newtown resident Ross MacDonald, and it serves to digitally archive some of the half million cards, letters, and drawings sent to the town of Newtown, CT after the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Jacques Hebert of Mother Jones, the magazine putting this all together with Tumblr, explains, "These messages of love, hope, and sadness have been on display in Newtown Town Hall, and have been viewed by many residents. To broaden access to these cards and preserve them as memories of what Newtown residents and the nation experienced on that tragic day, Mother Jones in partnership with Tumblr is launching the 'Letters to Newtown' project."

"The project will aim to digitally preserve these cards (the town of Newtown can't afford to store them any longer and many will be turned into ash for a future memorial site) by photographing them and uploading them to a special Tumblr for the world to see."

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A helpful reminder: Video game consumption is not correlated with gun violence

The focus on video games as a source of American gun violence is driving me a bit crazy, so I just wanted to toss some evidence out there. Even though most of you have likely long suspected the two things were not related, you'll be happy to know that science agrees with you. Consider this a helpful kit for forwarding to concerned relatives. Here's a 10-country comparison that found no correlation between video game consumption and gun violence. Here's a Harvard Medical School summary that explains why some people claim video games cause violence, and why the studies behind those claims aren't actually telling us that. And here's a PBS FAQ explaining a lot of the same issues. With violent video games (as with everything else) context matters.

Brian Wood's The Couriers: The Complete Series


The Couriers: The Complete Series collects four short stories from early in Brian "DMZ" Wood's career, involving a pair of courier/ninjas who run parcels for crime syndicates, shady characters, and other nonstandard enterprises. They're armed to the teeth, hyper-violent, skillful, wisecracking, and remorseless. Think of Kick-Ass crossed with Run, Lola, Run. It's lovely stuff, and the art conveys that Taratino-ey balletic violence in a way I'd never have suspected was possible without actual moving pictures. This is silly and fluffy, but witty and well-told, and it's the kind of stuff you can't stop reading once you've started.

As a bonus for Brian Wood fans, Image Comics has just brought out issue one of Mara, a new, six-issue future-dystopic tale drawn by Jordie Bellaire & Ming Doyle, which starts very strong.

The Couriers: The Complete Series