B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘crime’ tag

Big Reasons The Estate Tax Needs to Be Raised to 90 Percent

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Of course it buys happiness
Of course it buys happiness

If I was in charge of tax policy, instead of lowering the estate tax as so many rich schmucks are constantly yammering about, I’d raise it to 90% on all estates valued at greater than $2,000,000. Why can’t these parasites make their own fortunes? and even being able to gift 10% of your multi-billion dollar estate is more than enough to live comfortably…

Here are some reasons why. 

For instance:

SC Johnson, the “family” company’s billionaire heir, Samuel Curtis Johnson III, who confessed to repeatedly sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter has received an outrageous prison sentence of only four months because the judge, Circuit Justice Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, feels that Johnson’s importance to the community is valued much higher than the dignity of his abused step-daughter. 

Affluenza, as it has been dubbed, has struck again. This billionaire has officially plead guilty to mere misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct instead of receiving the maximum which is felony sexual assault on a minor child. These charges originally stem from 2011. Think Progress reported Johnson’s stepdaughter “initially told police Johnson was ‘a sex addict‘ and touched her inappropriately 15 to 20 times starting when she was 12 years old. She told her mother about the abuse in order to protect her younger sister, and Johnson confessed when the mother confronted him.” Because Johnson’s victim was unwilling to testify in the case, the prosecutors had to make a plea deal with Johnson and his legal team. 

(click here to continue reading – Billionaire Gets 4 MONTHS For Sexually Assaulting 12-Year-Old Because He’s ‘Productive’.)

and

A Delaware man convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter only faced probation after a state Superior Court judge ruled he “will not fare well” in prison.

In her decision, Judge Jan Jurden suggested Robert H. Richards IV would benefit more from treatment. Richards, who was charged with fourth-degree rape in 2009, is an unemployed heir living off his trust fund. The light sentence has only became public as the result of a subsequent lawsuit filed by his ex-wife, which charges that he penetrated his daughter with his fingers while masturbating, and subsequently assaulted his son as well.

Richards is the great grandson of du Pont family patriarch Irenee du Pont, a chemical baron.

According to the lawsuit filed by Richards’ ex-wife, he admitted to assaulting his infant son in addition to his daughter between 2005 and 2007. Richards was initially indicted on two counts of second-degree child rape, felonies that translate to a 10-year mandatory jail sentence per count. He was released on $60,000 bail while awaiting his charges.

(click here to continue reading One Percenter Convicted Of Raping Child Dodges Jail Because He ‘Will Not Fare Well’.)

and

Ethan Couch, the Texas teen whose deadly drunk driving was excused by a lenient judge because of “affluenza,” is serving his time in rehab on mostly taxpayers’ money, RadarOnline reports. According to RadarOnline, it is largely the public who will be responsible for the now 17-year-old’s $438,000-per-year rehab treatment.

“Recently a judge ruled that the teen should be sent to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. The hospital’s rehab program charges $700 a day, but since it is a partially state-funded institution, Couch’s parents would only be charged $38 per day for their son’s treatment,” Kenneth Webster, a contributor to Breitbart.com, said, according to the news site. “Thanks to taxpayers, Couch’s rehab bill has been dropped from $438,000 annually to only $13,870.”

That seems a small fee for the affluent family, who have been sued for millions of dollars by the families of those killed in the drunk-driving accident, as well as by those injured.

Last year Couch decided to take a drunken joy ride in his pickup truck after a party. He crashed into the car of Breanna Mitchell, whose car had stalled, killing her and three others who were trying to help her. Another teen boy who was in the pickup with him, Sergio Molina, was thrown from the vehicle. He landed on his head and was left paralyzed, with only the ability to smile and blink. Molina’s family settled with Couch’s family in early May.

(click here to continue reading Report: Taxpayers Footing Rehab Bill for ‘Affluenza’ Teen – The Root.)

Walmart Neighborhood Market
Walmart Neighborhood Market

and then there are these stains:

As it turns out, the first generation led by patriarch Sam Walton put $4.7 billion into the foundation, a figure that represents 98.8 percent of all family donations over the past 23 years. The six Scrooges of the second Walton generation ponied up only 1.2 percent. Alice Walton, one of the faces of Mitt Romney’s 2012 SuperPAC, has given zero. With over $2 billion in assets, the Walton Family Foundation distributed $325 million in 2013. Those dollars went overwhelmingly to their stomping grounds in northwest Arkansas, funding environmental improvements, pet education reforms including charters schools and vouchers and, as Forbes reports, “Alice Walton’s stunning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.”

For starters, for decades the Waltons have relied on a tax dodge that now bears their name to keep billions of dollars from Uncle Sam. The Walton grantor-retained annuity trust, or Walton GRAT, has allowed billionaires like the Walmart heirs and casino mogul and GOP bag man Sheldon Adelson to shield $100 billion from the IRS since 2000. Named after the tactic lawyer Richard Covey, the dodge was developed for Sam Walton: GRATs work by rapidly shifting large volumes of stock into a trust fund that is legally required to return that initial investment after two years. The stocks in the trust gain enough value that when it comes time to repay the initial investment there is a substantial amount of stock left over that can be transferred on to some third party without triggering the gift tax.

(click here to continue reading The Walmart heirs should save Detroit.)

(click here to continue reading The Walmart heirs should save Detroit.)

And more…

In 2013 alone, the Foundation invested $325 million across three key areas: education reform, the environment and the family’s home region of northwest Arkansas. One of the Foundation’s major recipients has been Alice Walton’s stunning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, funded to the tune of $1.2 billion.

However, almost none of this largesse is the result of donations from the Waltons themselves, according to a report released on Tuesday by Walmart 1 Percent, a project of union-backed Making Change at Walmart.

Says the study, which can be viewed in full here:

The central finding of this report is simple: Our analysis of 23 years’ worth of the Walton Family Foundation’s tax returns shows that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy Walton—the second generation Walmart heirs—have contributed almost none of their personal fortune to the foundation which bears their family name.

Specifically:

- Rob and Alice Walton made zero individual contributions to the Foundation during the 23 years we examined;

- Jim Walton made a single personal contribution of $3 million to the Walton Family Foundation, more than 15 years ago;

- Rob, Jim, and Alice Walton and the family holding company they control (Walton Enterprises) have been responsible for only .13% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation ($6.4 million);

- Among the second generation Walton heirs, it is the in-law, Christy, who has been responsible for the largest share of contributions to the Foundation;

- The four Walmart heirs and Walton Enterprises combined have been responsible for only 1.2% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation.

The combined lifetime contributions of the second generation Walmart heirs and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation come to $58.49 million, or:

■■ About .04% of the Waltons’ net worth of $139.9 billion;
■■ About .34% of the estimated $17.1 Billion in Walmart dividends that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy received during the years we analyzed;
■■ Less than one week’s worth of the Walmart dividends the Waltons will receive this year;
■■ Less than the estimated value of Rob Walton’s collection of vintage sports cars.

The report goes on to detail how the Foundation has been funded over the years, namely by tax-avoiding trusts established with assets provided by the late Sam, Helen and John Walton or their estates. The study found that 99% of the Foundation’s contributions since 2008 have been channeled through 21 Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts. These CLATs, as they’re known, are specifically designed to help ultra-wealthy families avoid estate and gift taxes.

Forget-me-not Social Security
Forget-me-not Social Security

If the rich keep using their wealth and power to take from the rest of us, when will it end? If entitled assholes like the ones mentioned here get their way, and Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs become insolvent because little S.C. Johnson the Third refuses to participate in our democracy, what then? Will a guillotine be required eventually?

Written by Seth Anderson

June 9th, 2014 at 10:33 am

Posted in News-esque

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Photo Republished at Man Charged in Connection with Loop Bank Robbery

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Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago Division

My photo was used to illustrate this post

CHICAGO — A man who was arrested by police shortly after the robbery of a Loop bank Tuesday afternoon has been charged in connection with the incident. Jamal Genson, 28, appeared in federal court Wednesday and was charged with a count of felony bank robbery. A Fifth Third Bank was robbed about 3 p.m. Tuesday after a man demanded money from a teller using a note before running off, according to FBI Special Agent Joan Hyde, an agency spokeswoman.

click here to keep reading :
Man Charged in Connection with Loop Bank Robbery – The Loop

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Written by eggplant

April 17th, 2014 at 9:52 am

Posted in Links

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1938 Al Capone’s Arch Foe is Arrested

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Daddy Hopes He Has Enough Rope in the Trunk

Daddy Hopes He Has Enough Rope in the Trunk

Earlier today…

CHICAGO — Police destroyed a million-dollar racket when they trapped a powerful gang of counterfeiters dealing in American Express Company’s travelers’ checks. Working on information received from a stoolpigeon in the underworld of Pittsburgh and aided by the double-crossing of several of the gang’s Eastern distributors, police arrested nine men, including the notorious George H. (“Bugs”) Moran, once claimant to the throne of Chicago’s gangdom. The counterfeiting gang was organized on the ruins of the mob which once ruled Chicago’s North Side under the iron leadership of Moran. The thugs who made up the old mob were killed or scattered in gang warfare with the henchmen of Scarface Al Capone, the South Side mobster who is now serving an eleven-year term in Alcatraz for income-tax evasion. A remnant of the old gang carried on until the repeal of prohibition broke its back. Police heard little of Moran until about six weeks ago. …

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1938 Al Capone’s Arch Foe is Arrested
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Written by eggplant

April 23rd, 2013 at 9:02 am

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Murder by Prosecutor | Ted Rall’s Rallblog

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Earlier today…

There is no doubt that, in the broader sense, Swartz’s suicide was, in his family’s words, “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”—a system that ought to be changed for everyone, not just loveable Ivy League nerds.

Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. The charges were wire fraud, computer fraud and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer.

Thirty-five years! For stealing data!

The average rapist serves between five and six years.

The average first-degree murderer does 16.

And no one seriously thinks Swartz was trying to make money—as in, you know, commit fraud.

No wonder people are comparing DA Ortiz to Javert, the heartless and relentless prosecutor in Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables.”

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Murder by Prosecutor | Ted Rall’s Rallblog
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Written by eggplant

January 15th, 2013 at 11:58 am

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How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz–and Us – Tim Wu

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Earlier today…

Defenders of the prosecution seem to think that anyone charged with a felony must somehow deserve punishment. That idea can only be sustained without actual exposure to the legal system. Yes, most of the time prosecutors do chase actual wrongdoers, but today our criminal laws are so expansive that most people of any vigor and spirit can be found to violate them in some way. Basically, under American law, anyone interesting is a felon. The prosecutors, not the law, decide who deserves punishment.

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How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz–and Us – Tim Wu
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Written by eggplant

January 14th, 2013 at 10:51 pm

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Beer Baron Seized – 75 Years Ago – NYTimes.com

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Earlier today…

1938 Beer Baron Seized

BARCELONA — “Kid Tiger” Sikowsky, fugitive American beer baron, who has sought in vain to find refuge in most European countries, was arrested here yesterday [Jan. 11]. Sikowsky says he not only was a member of Al Capone’s gang, but that Capone, Chicago hoodlum and vice racketeer, was under his orders. Undesirable because of his criminal activities in America, and wanted there for income-tax invasion, Sikowsky has been ordered out of one country after another. The arrested man was allegedly invited to Spain, where he attracted the attention of the police by the way he squandered money. He is expected to be expelled from Spain as he was from Andorra. “I’m no criminal. I only owe some income taxes, that’s all. And say — tell me anybody who doesn’t try to dodge his taxes, anyway.”

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Beer Baron Seized – 75 Years Ago – NYTimes.com
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Written by eggplant

January 12th, 2013 at 1:33 pm

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Vitaly Borker, Owner of DecorMyEyes, Sentenced for Threats to Customers

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Thou Shall Not Kill - Stop Killing - Stop Violence - Limousine
Thou Shall Not Kill – Stop Killing – Stop Violence – Limousine

Wow! Remember that guy Vitaly Borker? We blogged about his crazy case back in 2010, he figured out how to game Google search with the realization that even bad comments elevated his site in Google rankings. It sounds like it was even worse than we know. Four years, plus three years of probation is a stiff sentence, but it might not be enough.

A Brooklyn man who terrified customers of his online eyewear store with threats of violence, including rape, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $100,000 in restitution and fines.

Vitaly Borker, 36, who owned and operated DecorMyEyes from his home in Sheepshead Bay, pleaded guilty in May 2011 to charges of fraud and sending threatening communications. He admitted that he had scared dissatisfied customers with phone calls and e-mails, in some cases vowing rape, murder or dismemberment, according to prosecutors.

… 

A handful of Mr. Borker’s victims were summoned to testify about calls and e-mails they had received, which turned out to include a threat to slice off the legs of one customer. Federal District Judge Richard J. Sullivan said, at the end of one day of testimony, that he found the victims credible and so disturbing that he revoked Mr. Borker’s bail, which had allowed him to live at home under restrictions.

In addition to four years in prison, Mr. Borker was told he would be on probation for three years after his release, during which he will not be allowed to use a computer. He was also told to receive psychiatric and substance-abuse counseling.

(click here to continue reading Vitaly Borker, Owner of DecorMyEyes, Sentenced for Threats to Customers – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 10th, 2012 at 6:05 am

Posted in News-esque

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DNA Testing Clears Colorado Man After Serving 18 Years

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DNA X-Ray Diffraction Studies 1953
DNA X-Ray Diffraction Studies 1953

The U.S. needs to abolish the death penalty immediately. And yes, I realize this inmate wasn’t sentenced to death, but obviously the state often makes mistakes, consequently, wrongfully accused people shouldn’t have to lose their life.

Robert Dewey, a Colorado inmate sentenced to life without parole for murder, left jail today a free man after serving 18 years of his sentence. DNA testing, using a technology not available at the time of his conviction, proved he was innocent.

Dewey is the 290th person to be exonerated nationwide on the basis of DNA evidence proving factual innocence — meaning someone else committed the crime.

“I find that Mr. Dewey is factually innocent of the crimes of which he was accused of in this case,” the judge said, noting Dewey had spent more the 6,000 days behind bars. “Mr. Dewey is now again a free man.”

(click here to continue reading DNA Testing Clears Colorado Man After Serving 18 Years – TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime.)

Also, every defendant in capital cases should have access to DNA testing, at trial, not having to wait and fight for 18 years to clear their names…

Written by Seth Anderson

April 30th, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Posted in News-esque

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Mysterious circumstances of death of Ray Gricar

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Tony auth  separation of church and penn state 111111
Tony Auth – Separation of Church and Penn State 11-11-11

Following up on the horrific Penn State story from yesterday, there was this factoid from NBC:

It is strange that Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar never prosecuted Jerry Sandusky on child-rape charges 13 years ago, some speculate, because Gricar was known for being fiercely independent and hard on crime.

But it is even stranger that we cannot ask Gricar why Sandusky was not put behind bars because the tough-as-nails district attorney disappeared in 2005. And though he was declared dead July of this year, his body has never been found.

“People ask why Ray did not prosecute, and I have no problem saying, because he clearly felt he didn’t have a case for a ‘successful’ prosecution,” Tony Gricar, Ray Gricar’s nephew , told The Patriot-News.

“… One thing I can say is that Ray was beholden to no one, was not a politician.”

This district attorney who had “a bitter taste in his mouth for the [Penn State] program, and its coach,” according to his nephew, and yet never prosecuted Sandusky, disappeared on April 15, 2005 after telling his girlfriend that he was going on a drive.

Ray Gricar’s car was found the next day in a Lewisburg parking lot and his laptop, sans hard drive, was found in the Susquehanna River, according to the Patriot-News.

(click here to continue reading DA who didn’t charge Sandusky missing since ’05 – College football- NBC Sports.)

Hmm, who is writing the screenplay treatment? How many tough guy former football players did Joe Paterno keep in contact with anyway?

Written by Seth Anderson

November 11th, 2011 at 11:06 am

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Joe Paterno and the inherent Corruption of College Sports

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The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game
The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game

Joe Paterno, social conservative and proud Republican, was allowed to remain coach of Penn State long enough to break the record of most victories because Penn State valued the contribution of the football program’s revenues more than raped children, and that is shameful. In the 2009-2010 school year alone, Penn State’s football program reported revenue of $70,208,584  ((as reported to the U.S. Department of Education)) and profits of $50,427,645!  ((Of course, student/athletes don’t get any of that cash – all they get is free tuition, another scandal if you ask me)) That’s the reason Paterno wasn’t fired in 2002. Or rather, $700,000 reasons, give or take.  (( roughly $70 million times ten years))

The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.

Mr. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Mr. Paterno nor Mr. Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Mr. Sandusky.

(click here to continue reading Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Is Fired – NYTimes.com.)

The NCAA is a corrupt money machine, more interested in television rights than student athletes.

On average, [the richest 68 college football programs] earned $15.8 million last year, or well over $1 million per game.

They posted that jump in combined profit even though revenue rose by only 6% to $2.2 billion. That means the schools had a combined profit margin of 49%, enough to make any pro team owner green with envy.

Increasingly lucrative broadcast deals and strong ticket sales have been driving revenue. And, of course, not having to pay your athletes gives big-time college football the ultimate business model.

(click here to continue reading College football’s profit tops $1 billion for first time – Dec. 29, 2010.)

In Motion -TRI-X 400
In Motion -TRI-X 400

Also shameful is:

After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.

The demonstrators congregated outside Penn State’s administration building before stampeding into the tight grid of downtown streets. They turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal surrounding accusations that a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted young boys.

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.

Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back.

“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

(click here to continue reading Penn State Students Clash With Police After Paterno Announcement – NYTimes.com.)

Really, clueless college students? You are rioting because a child molester-enabler was eventually fired, years after he should have been? Disgusting. Are football victories really that important to your self-worth? More than protecting kids from being raped? I hope for your sake, you don’t post any photos of yourself rioting in support of this creep: future employers might not think your logic skills are sound.

Tony%2520Auth%2520-%2520Penn%2520State%2520and%2520Paterno%2520-%2520111109.gif
Tony Auth’s take on Penn State’s priorities

Update: Elizabeth Gettelman of Mother Jones concurs:

Penn State did the right thing tonight when it fired its storied football coach Joe Paterno (and its president, Graham Spanier). But it’s pretty little, and it’s way late. Joe Paterno remained Coach Paterno for nearly a decade after learning that his former defensive coordinator had allegedly raped a 10-year-old, and for nearly a year after a grand jury investigation confirmed as much. In fact, he stayed coach just long enough to become the winningest coach in Division I college football history, a record he achieved two weeks ago, 11 months after said grand jury investigation (see page 8 referencing December 2010 interviews). Had his complicit role come to light last December would Paterno have had a shot at his record-breaking victory? If present outrage would have held, and it should have, then no, he wouldn’t have coached at all this season.

The timing is probably not a coincidence, and it’s illustrative. This whole hellstorm was swept under the rug for so long because of the money machine that is college football, a successful program with a superstar coach and a sterling reputation is money in the bank, and when you’re Penn State that’s $50 million a year kind of money.

(click here to continue reading Penn State’s Joe Paterno Shouldn’t Have Coached a Game This Season | Mother Jones.)

The clouds in july are mostly in the plain
The clouds in july are mostly in the plain

Signe%2520Wilkinson%2520-%2520Penn%2520State%2520Inc%2520111109.gif
Signe Wilkinson’s take on Penn State, Inc.…

and Mike McQueary should be drummed out of the coaching business for his cowardice:

Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Jerry Sandusky performing a sexual act on a young child in a Lasch Football Building shower in 2002…and didn’t intervene.

This detail is in the grand jury report about the scandal surrounding Sandusky and Penn State University.

I’ll start this by saying my knowledge of the law is limited, but I understand the idea of an accessory. Usually, however, the person is a witness to murder. In this instance, McQueary was a witness to an alleged rape.

And he left.

These are all things that McQueary has admitted. He must feel terrible, being that he was 28 years old at the time and did nothing. However, the thought that he physically walked away from a rape is disgusting.

(click here to continue reading Penn State Scandal: Why Mike McQueary Deserves Jail Time | Bleacher Report.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 10th, 2011 at 9:15 am

Posted in Sports

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That Is A Lot Of Pig Feet

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Boarding Stable
Boarding Stable

I don’t even have a joke for this…

Crooks who boarded a Union Pacific train in Victorville may be disappointed with their haul — 20 boxes of pigs’ feet worth $200.

According to the Victorville Daily Press, the thieves apparently broke into the car on the southbound train after it made an emergency stop Friday in the High Desert city.

They grabbed the boxes and took off.

(click here to continue reading Crooks board train, make off with $200 worth of pigs’ feet – latimes.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 7th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Posted in humor,News-esque

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Jack the Ripper identity still a secret

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First Site of Scotland Yard
First Site of Scotland Yard

Weird, and I wonder why Scotland Yard is keeping 123 year old records secret?

Scotland Yard recently turned down a request to release the thick Victorian ledgers that contain the police reports, tips, clues and maybe a theory or two about Jack the Ripper. And that’s fueling a new round of speculation about Jack. Was he just a drifter who left London as authorities closed in, or could he — gasp! — have been a royal? Did police ever get close to figuring it out?

Jack the Ripper slit the throats of five women in London’s squalid Whitechapel district in 1888. The murderer used almost surgical precision.

Retired homicide detective Trevor Marriott is the latest sleuth to try to unmask the killer. Marriott believes Jack was a German sailor. And he says he’s oh, so close to proving it.

But the British government won’t play along.

(click here to continue reading jack the ripper’s identity still a secret – chicagotribune.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

October 11th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Posted in News-esque

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GPS and the 4th Amendment

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Shoveling snow apparently optional
Shoveling snow apparently optional

Our erosion of civil liberties continues apace, the police increasingly don’t even bother to get warrants before they put you in their surveillance net. For instance, in the case of suspect Antoine Jones, the police installed a GPS tracking device on his (or his wife’s) Jeep.

Jordan Smith reports on this troubling case:

When are electronic or other forms of surveillance of an individual considered a search under the Fourth Amendment — thus requiring a valid warrant to conduct such surveillance in a manner that protects the individual from “unlawful search and seizure”?

How the U.S. Supreme Court answers that question, in a case on its docket for the term starting in October, will have far-reaching implications for the power of government and for the privacy of individuals, according to lawyers and privacy rights advocates.

If the Court holds that warrants are not required for this type of surveillance, it could mean “the technological death of the Fourth Amendment,” warns Arkansas-based attorney John Wesley Hall, a leading Fourth Amendment expert…

The officers obtained a judicial warrant providing for a 10-day tracking period inside the District of Columbia. However, they actually installed the device after the 10-day window had expired — the reasons have not been brought out in court — and they did so while the Jeep was parked in a public lot in Maryland. The GPS data provided a 24/7 record of all of Jones’ movements in the Jeep over the next month — including, at times, the movements of his wife and family.

(click here to continue reading Big Brother is tracking you: GPS and the 4th Amendment – Obama’s Supreme Court Nominees | Supreme Court Justices – Salon.com.)

ACLU Constitution Free Zone
ACLU Constitution Free Zone

I’d be very surprised if the Roberts Court rules against the police, shocked in fact. Even the fact that some gun rights organizations have filed briefs decrying this destruction of the Fourth Amendment will probably not sway the Court, if history is any guide.

As Leckar1 told the Crime Report, a beeper is a “simple sense-augmenting device,” while a GPS tracking device, designed by the government for military use and only made available since 2000 for civilian applications, is “not sense augmenting; it’s sense supplanting.”

And that is one of the main reasons that in order to pass the Fourth Amendment’s legal standard a warrant is needed to conduct GPS surveillance, Leckar argues.
The “D.C. Circuit was correct to hold that pattern information is dramatically more intrusive than mere information about an individual’s discrete journeys,” his brief argued. “Indeed, the distinction between discrete bits of information and patterns of conduct is well-accepted.”

To privacy and Fourth Amendment advocates, the distinction is crucial.

In a brief supporting Jones before the D.C. Circuit, the Electronic Freedom Foundation and the ACLU, and which they are expected to revive before the Supremes, argued that GPS technology now gives police extraordinary new powers to remotely track individuals over long periods in both public and private realms.

“Without a warrant requirement, an individual’s every movement could be subject to remote monitoring, and permanent recording, at the sole discretion of any police officer,” the brief said.
Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, and several other conservative groups have already filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging it to restore “the Fourth Amendment to its original text and purpose.”

Footnotes:
  1. veteran attorney Stephen Leckar, who represents Jones []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 9th, 2011 at 8:14 am

Terrorist Attack victims were targets of phone hacking by News Corp

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Mounted Police, Black Friars Lane

Mounted Police, Black Friars Lane

In an expansion of the ongoing British investigation into the Rupert Murdoch criminal empire, this despicable fact emerges:

The phone-hacking crisis enveloping the News of the World intensified on Tuesday night after it emerged that Scotland Yard has started to contact the relatives of victims of the 7 July 2005 attacks to warn them they were targeted by the paper.

The revelation that bereaved family members may have had their mobile phone messages intercepted by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the paper, in the days following the 2005 London bombings will heap further pressure on the title’s owner, News International, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

Graham Foulkes, whose son David was killed in the attack at Edgware Road tube station, confirmed that he had been contacted by officers from Operation Weeting, the Met’s investigation into phone hacking. He said they had told him his mobile phone number, ex-directory landline number and address had been found in records made by Mulcaire that were recovered from the investigator’s office in south London.

Foulkes’s solicitor, Clifford Tibber, who represents several families who had relatives killed in the terrorist attack, said the news had “come as a terrible shock” to them as they prepared to mark the sixth anniversary of the bombings this week.

The news capped a dramatic day of unfolding developments in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Police officers are turning their attention to examine every high-profile case involving the murder, abduction or attack on any child since 2001 – in response to the revelation that journalists from the tabloid newspaper hacked into the voicemail messages of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Officers have already told the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the girls killed in Soham in 2002 by Ian Huntley, that their mobiles had been hacked. Documents seized by the Metropolitan police in a 2006 raid on Mulcaire’s home show he targeted Leslie Chapman, the father of Jessica Chapman.

(click here to continue reading Families of 7/7 victims ‘were targets of phone hacking’ | Media | The Guardian.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 5th, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with , ,

Spam Can Be Cut by Blocking Card Transactions

without comments

Erected and Enlarged

Of course shady banks are involved in the worldwide spam scourge, otherwise there wouldn’t be any money generated for the spam-meisters sending their poorly crafted herbal viagra emails. What’s interesting is that there are so few banks involved.

For years, a team of computer scientists at two University of California campuses has been looking deeply into the nature of spam, the billions of unwanted e-mail messages generated by networks of zombie computers controlled by the rogue programs called botnets. They even coined a term, “spamalytics,” to describe their work. Now they have concluded an experiment that is not for the faint of heart: for three months they set out to receive all the spam they could (no quarantines or filters need apply), then systematically made purchases from the Web sites advertised in the messages.

The hope, the scientists said, was to find a “choke point” that could greatly reduce the flow of spam. And in a paper to be presented on Tuesday at the annual IEEE Symposium (PDF) on Security and Privacy in Oakland, Calif., they will report that they think they have found it.

It turned out that 95 percent of the credit card transactions for the spam-advertised drugs and herbal remedies they bought were handled by just three financial companies — one based in Azerbaijan, one in Denmark and one in Nevis, in the West Indies.

The researchers looked at nearly a billion messages and spent several thousand dollars on about 120 purchases. No single purchase was more than $277.

If a handful of companies like these refused to authorize online credit card payments to the merchants, “you’d cut off the money that supports the entire spam enterprise,” said one of the scientists, Stefan Savage of the University of California, San Diego, who worked with colleagues at San Diego and Berkeley and at the International Computer Science Institute.

(click here to continue reading Study Says Spam Can Be Cut by Blocking Card Transactions – NYTimes.com.)

Thomas S. you dropped your Cialis

And you probably already realized this, but there is a lot of spam sent out, cluttering our email boxes with come-ons for boner pills and Cialis rip-offs…

Spam has proved notoriously difficult to defeat over the years, despite sophisticated filtering technologies and legal investigations and convictions. Seven years after the famous prediction by Bill Gates, then chairman of Microsoft, that spam would be eradicated in just two years, about 90 percent of all e-mail is spam.

An earlier study undertaken by the scientists showed that a single commercial spam e-mail campaign generated three messages for every person on the planet. That same study revealed that to sell $100 worth of Viagra, a spam provider needed to send 12.5 million messages.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 19th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with , , ,