Bank robbery goes awry

In this security footage from a bank in Chapalita, Mexico, three masked men approach the doors with the clear intent to rob the place. A fleet-footed member of staff locks the glass doors. The masked men stand on the other side a little while, looking in at him. Then they walk off. Read the rest

Leaked tax-haven data shows that the super rich are way, way richer than suspected

When Thomas Piketty and his team undertook their landmark study of wealth inequality in the world, they had to rely on the self-reported income of the super rich to see just how income was distributed -- by definition, they couldn't directly measure the unreported income hidden in tax havens (though they did estimate it, with what was eventually shown to be pretty good precision). Read the rest

Why mattresses have 'Do Not Remove' tags

Mattress tags that read "Do Not Remove" have been the butt of jokes for decades, but why is it a crime to begin with? Dan Lewis of Now I Know explains why the much-mocked mattress tag removal law exists.
Before springs and coils and memory foam, legit mattresses were filled with straw and other soft, cheap, and safe materials. Unfortunately, there were a lot of less-than-honest vendors.
...who stuffed mattresses with gross things like corncobs and old rags!
The tag, originally, was designed to make manufacturers disclose what was in the mattress — the law required mattress makers to print what was inside on the outside. Manufacturers could lie but doing so would run the risk of discovery later on; a government inspector could obtain one of the mattresses, do a spot check, and if anything other than what was listed was inside, the manufacturer could be subject to fines and other penalties.
But that didn't stop the manufacturers from selling mattresses filled with nasty stuff, they simply ripped the tags off.
So, Congress made it illegal to remove the tag “prior to the time any textile fiber product is sold and delivered to the ultimate consumer.” And, perhaps to protect themselves, manufacturers also printed the “do not remove” warning on the tag itself.

For some reason, though, the early mattress tags didn’t note that the end consumer could remove the tag, confusing generations of sleepers.

Now you know.

Read the rest

PA supreme court: was illegal to steal elderly woman's home because her son sold $140 of weed

It took four years, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of 72 year old grandmother Elizabeth Young, whose house was seized by the Philadelphia District Attorney under asset forfeiture rules when her son was caught selling $140 worth of marijuana to undercover agents.

Under civil forfeiture rules, cops and DAs get to steal property suspected of being the proceeds of a crime, then they sue the inanimate objects. The owners of the objects can hire lawyers to represent their property, while the taxpayers foot the bill for the state's side of the suit. If the government wins, it gets to keep the property or sell it and pocket the proceeds.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court blasted the DA for the seizure and reminded the state's lawyers and cops that they can only invoke civil forfeiture when there is good reason to believe that the property's owner "knew of and agreed to the crimes" in question.

The cop who bought the marijuana from Young's son is currently serving a 3.5 year federal prison sentence for planting drugs on suspects.

Young is far from the only person to have her house seized by the Philadelphia D.A. for a minor drug crime that she didn't even commit. In 2013, Philadelphia police seized the house of Christos and Markela Sourovelis after their son was arrested for selling $40-worth of drugs outside of it.

The Sourovelis' sued, with assistance from the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that has challenged asset forfeiture laws in several states.

Read the rest

Thai police arrest three Chinese nationals in raid on social media "like"-farm

Immigration police arrested three Chinese nationals in a raid on a rented room in Tambon Ban Mai Nongsai, charging them with work-permit violations and for "online trading of contraband goods." Read the rest

Chinese Apple employees and contractors sold users' private data for as little as $1.50

Police in China's Zhejiang announced that they worked with colleagues in four provinces to arrest 22 suspects in a data-theft ring that raided Apple's internal networks for Iphone owners' sensitive personal information ("names, phone numbers, Apple IDs, and other data") which they sold to criminals for as little as $1.50. Read the rest

Inept cyber-crims stole a bunch of IP addresses

In a post to the venerable NANOG list (mirrored since to Dave Farber's Interesting People list), anti-spam researcher Ronald F. Guilmette posts the results of his investigation into the IP addresses claimed by a mysterious company called host-offshore.com -- IP addresses assigned to "various parties within the nation of Columbia (including the National University thereof)" but, strangely, routed through Bulgaria. Read the rest

Lawsuit: sicko Sheriff ordered 900 teens groped in illegal mass-frisking at school

A lawsuit is underway in Worth County, Georgia, where Sheriff Jeff Hobby is defending a mass-frisking of 900 high school students, performed in public without warrant or even the pretense of probable cause, during which cops reportedly manipulated student's breasts, inserted fingers inside bras, exposed bare breasts and reached into underwear and cupped and groped kids' genitals. This ostentatious display of power, by cops armed with guns and dogs, was supposedly a drug search. No drugs were found. Not a scrap.

[Interim Worth County Superintendent Lawrence] Walters said in March Sheriff Jeff Hobby told him his department was going to do a drug search at the school after spring break.

"We did not give permission but they didn't as for permission, he just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break," said Walters. "Under no circumstances did we approve touching any students," explained Walters. ...

In the student handbook it says school officials may search a student if there is reasonable suspicion the student has an illegal item. Hobby says he was able to search every student, simply because he had an administrator with him.

The intimidatory purpose of this unconstitutional search is made disgustingly clear by the sexualized quality of the touching, as reported by the victims and their parents. From the lawsuit:

The purported justification for the mass search was to discover drugs. To that end, Sheriff Hobby had a list of thirteen students on a “target list” that he suspected of possessing drugs.

Read the rest

Audi's top-of-the-line models implicated in Dieselgate

The hits keep on coming for Volkswagen, whose crimes have not yet been fully detailed, it seems. The EPA discovered Dieselgate emissions-cheating software in 2015, and then a German team found more in 2016, and now, a year later, the German Transport Ministry is recalling 24,000 Audi A7 and A8s for the same reason. Read the rest

Jackass neighbor unplugs bouncy house at child's birthday party, trapping toddlers inside

Thanks to surveillance video, Port St. Lucie, Florida police have identified the imbecile who yanked the plug of a bouncy house at a kid's birthday party, deflating it with toddlers inside. From Today:

"We believe that he thinks that he was pulling the plug to the DJ booth, but it didn't, it pulled the plug to the bounce house," Master Sgt. Frank Sabol of the Port St. Lucie Police Department said...

Police have identified the man but have not released his name. They attempted to question him, but said he was uncooperative. He could potentially be charged with trespassing.

Read the rest

Anonymous caller tricks shoppers into licking store staff's feet

In 2012, I wrote about a movie called Compliance, a psychological thriller based on a true event in which a sociopath pretending to be a cop called a fast food joint and convinced the manager to do horrific things to a young employee.

A very similar incident happened this month in Devon, England. An unknown man called a store manager and, pretending to be from corporate headquarters, told the manager to close the shop for a special competition. The manager obeyed and asked the only two shoppers in the store at the time to come to the back room and speak to the caller. The shoppers -- a mother (Pamela, 55) and her daughter (Naomi, 24) -- were told they could win £3,000 at a store by performing a series of stunts. From Devon Live:

They were then taken by the manager into the store room at the back of the shop, where they spoke to the caller.

Naomi told DevonLive:

"He was asking us who were and where we worked and stuff like that, but I obviously didn't want to disclose where I worked so I just said I worked in a café."

The prank caller, who managed to dupe both the staff and Naomi and her mother, then made them carry out a serious of "humiliating and embarrassing" tasks around the store.

The manager and another member of staff were told to tie string around Naomi and Pamela's ears, throw water over them, draw on their faces with pens and make them crawl around the store on their hands and knees.

Read the rest

With Briggs Land, Brian Wood gets inside the scariest terror threat in America: white nationalists

Stories matter: the recurring narrative of radical Islamic terror in America (a statistical outlier) makes it nearly impossible to avoid equating "terrorist" with "jihadi suicide bomber" -- but the real domestic terror threat is white people, the Dominionists, ethno-nationalists, white separatists, white supremacists and sovereign citizens who target (or infiltrate) cops and blow up buildings. That's what makes Brian Wood's first Briggs Land collection so timely: a gripping story of far-right terror that is empathic but never sympathetic.

The coded gaze: biased and understudied facial recognition technology

Rod McCullom at Undark has a terrific overview of the perpetual "virtual lineup," where half of all American adults "are enrolled in unregulated facial recognition networks used by state and local law enforcement agencies." Read the rest

An IoT botnet is trying to nuke Wcry's killswitch

Whoever created the Wcry ransomware worm -- which uses a leaked NSA cyberweapon to spread like wildfire -- included a killswitch: newly infected systems check to see if a non-existent domain is active, and if it is, they fall dormant, ceasing their relentless propagation. Read the rest

Sweden drops Assange rape investigation

Sweden's top prosecutor announced Friday that it is dropping its rape investigation of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, because it was "impossible to serve him notice."

Assange has been hiding in Ecuador's embassy in London for five years to avoid extradition to Sweden, but he's still wanted by British cops for skipping court and they already warned him they'll arrest him if he leaves the building.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said Mr Assange still faced the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine. But the UK has not commented on whether it has received an extradition request from the US, where Mr Assange could face trial over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.

Assange said he'd submit to extradition to the U.S. if Chelsea Manning, a key Wikileaks source, was released—an offer he later made contingent upon cutting his own deal with U.S. authorities. Manning was released this week. Read the rest

Murderer rants at execution: "You can kiss my white trash ass"

Death Row inmate JW Ledford, after enjoying a 5,000-calorie last meal, was killed with a lethal injection by the U.S. State of Georgia this morning. He quoted Cool Hand Luke, smiled and said "you can kiss my white trash ass," then had his mic cut as he began ranting.

For his final meal on Friday, Ledford requested filet mignon wrapped in bacon with pepper jack cheese, large french fries, 10 chicken tenders with sauce, fried pork chops and a blooming onion.

For dessert he had pecan pie, vanilla ice cream and sherbet, washed down with a Sprite, according to WGLC-TV, an Atlanta news station.

Ledford robbed and murdered his neighbour, Dr Harry Johnston, stabbing him in the neck at his home on 31 January 1992.

He then threatened the victim's wife before stealing money, four guns and vehicle from the house.

Read the rest

Louisiana's public defender's office is largely nonexistent so poor people just plead guilty

Louisiana has always been a backward place for criminal justice, the only state in the union that funds its public defenders' office with conviction fees, leaving a public defender's office that averages $238 spent on each accused. Read the rest

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