January 6, 2008
January 2, 2008
- and then it got weird (now updated for added weirdness)
January 1, 2008
December 27, 2007
He’s guilty as hell, a sadistic killer and possibly a serial killer as well — so should it matter that he didn’t get a fair trial?
December 21, 2007
December 14, 2007
December 12, 2007
December 6, 2007
November 19, 2007
November 18, 2007
October 29, Drew Peterson reported his wife Stacy missing. She is his fourth wife. His third wife died under suspicious circumstances; and Stacy’s disappearance led authorities to exhume the ex-wife’s body, and Friday’s autopsy revealed that her “accidental” drowning was, indeed, murder.
Now, let’s assume for a moment that Peterson killed both women: What is the thought process by which, having gotten away with one murder, you would risk a second one when even the mere suspicion of the second murder would probably lead to the exhumation of the first body (right now, it might be easier to prosecute him for killing his ex-wife than for killing Stacy, because there’s physical evidence)? Stupidity? Peterson’s a police sergeant: He knows how investigations work. Arrogance and a sense of invincibility? Even O.J. Simpson waited until after he was acquitted and immune from further criminal prosecution before breaking the law (again) in any major way. (more…)
November 14, 2007
In Virginia, Judge James Michael Shull was faced with of two divorced parents, each wanting custody of their child for Christmas. Since there was no compelling reason to choose one parent over the other, Judge Shull tossed a coin. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled last week that Judge Shull “failed to uphold the dignity of the judiciary,” and removed him from the bench: a rather draconian punishment, given the behavior of some judges who are allowed to keep their gavels and robes (such as Philadelphia judge Teresa Carr Deni, appointed to another 6-year term earlier this month, despite her decision last month to downgrade the alleged at-gunpoint rape of a prostitute to a “theft of services” charge).
And exactly how should Judge Shull have resolved this issue? This was the proverbial coin-toss decision, which made tossing a coin rather appropriate. Would the Virginia Supreme Court have preferred he ask for a sword and suggest a more Solomonic solution?
- No Charges For 10-Year-Old Firestarter and other crime news both serious and not
November 9, 2007
California authorities have determined that one of last month’s California wildfires – one which destroyed 21 homes and injured several people in the Los Angeles area – was accidentally started by a 10-year-old boy playing with matches. Now they have to decide what to do about it, the options including removing him from his parents’ custody, placing him in juvenile detention, and handing his parents a multi-million dollar tab.
The rule of thumb when dealing with juveniles is whether the child understood that his actions were wrong – but it’s not so simple in this case: It’s one thing to understand that playing with matches is wrong, and quite another to anticipate that you might be laying waste to your entire neighborhood.
November 7, 2007
The latest updates in the Laci Peterson case (there are still updates??) and the Lisa Nowak case (possibly-crazy, possibly-diaper-wearing astronaut). Also, my interview with Scott Peterson’s lawyer before Mark Geragos took over, said lawyer having nothing much good to say about Geragos (but then, does anybody, lately?)
(The Nowak link has been fixed; sorry for the inconvenience)
October 22, 2007
(Okay, I hope that title doesn’t get me a visit from Homeland Security…)
According to a government report released last week, the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration agents made almost 300 attempts last year to smuggle bombs past security screeners at three major American airports. Twenty percent of the bombs passed through undetected at San Francisco International Airport, sixty percent at Chicago O’Hare, and seventy-five percent at Los Angeles International Airport.
Clark Kent Ervin, a former Homeland Security inspector general, calls this “a huge cause for concern” and says that the screeners’ poor performance might encourage terrorists to try smuggling bombs and other weapons on board planes.
Okay, now here’s a thought: Is it possible that terrorists might be less emboldened by the screeners’ poor performances themselves than by the fact that the government saw fit to release the report including specific details?
This is nothing new, by the way: A few years back, the government released a study of which American port cities were most vulnerable to terrorist attack and why.
October 18, 2007
In 2009, General Motors plans to add Stolen Vehicle Slowdown to its OnStar system. This new technology will allow police, once they’ve located a car that’s been reported stolen, to remotely cut power to the engine and slow the vehicle to a stop.
Stolen Vehicle Slowdown will be added to the OnStar service by default, but customers will be allowed to opt out of it.
Given the many ways this could be abused, or even hacked into by people not at all related to law enforcement, would you be completely comfortable with a system allowing outside access to your car?
October 9, 2007
October 8, 2007
September 25, 2007
The Other Jena 6: In Jena, Louisiana, a town divided by bitter racial tension, six white students brutally attack a black teenager.
The beating was prosecuted as a racially-motivated crime, and black leaders including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton quickly arrived on the scene to make sure the attackers were appropriately dealt with, denouncing the racial attack. In their speeches they evoked Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham, calling justice for the beaten teenager part of the same civil rights struggle that began with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King…
September 18, 2007
All that sports memorabilia O.J. Simpson allegedly tried to steal at gunpoint last week, claiming it was legally his… whether or not Simpson is found guilty, any of the memorabilia that turns out to have been legally owned by Simpson… will get handed over to the Goldmans.
And the publicity generated by the robbery couldn’t not have increased sales of the book (as of Tuesday morning, it’s the #2 best seller at Amazon.com).
- If Who Did It (September 17): Okay, what’s the weirdest thing about last week’s release of O.J. Simpson’s hypothetical double-murder confession (as if this whole affair needed any more weirdness)? No mention of Simpson’s name on the cover. It’s a confession without a confessor.Or even worse than no confessor: Amazon.com is marketing the book as “If I Did It by the Goldman Family”.
- September 6
Barnes and Noble decides to carry O.J.’s book after all, and Lisa Nowak will try an insanity defense (article)
- August 14
O.J. Simpson’s hypothetical double murder confession, the rights to which are now owned by the family of murder victim Ron Goldman, has been contracted to a publisher [updated article].
- July 30
So… Now that the rights are owned by Ron Goldman’s father, who plans to rename it Confessions of a Double Murderer, is anybody more inclined to read the thing? And will it become the best-seller HarperCollins originally expected it to be? [article]
September 12, 2007
One thing I’ve been hearing a lot over the past few weeks is that if Senator Larry Craig did indeed solicit sex from an undercover police officer, using various methods of Secret Homosexual Communication, he’s a hypocrite because he’s come out (so to speak) against gays in the military and same-sex marriage and civil unions.
How is this hypocrisy? You can be a smoker and still believe that smoking should be prohibited in public spaces and that taxes on cigarettes are good policy. You can believe that adultery should be illegal, yet nonetheless adult. It may not make you an honorable person, but there’s no hypocrisy there: You’re stating your honest beliefs, even though they might be in your best interests.
A little closer to true hypocrisy would be the fact that while Craig’s fellow Republicans are calling for his resignation, they’re fairly mum about Senator David Vitter’s recently-revealed adventures with a prostitute; though even that wouldn’t be hypocritical if said Republicans are open about the fact they consider homosexual sex to be inherently wrong. They may be homophobes, but that doesn’t make them hypocrites.
September 11, 2007
This is sort of a follow-up to the Nifong story, below:
Also on Friday, in Georgia, a 20-year-old McDonald’s employee was arrested and charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct after serving a police officer an overly-salted hamburger which he said made him ill.
Like Mr. Nifong, she spent Friday night in jail; though unlike Mr. Nifong, Kendra Bull isn’t off the hook with the criminal justice system.
Ms. Bull admits that she accidentally spilled salt on the batch of chopped meat that was used to make the hamburger (Bull ate a hamburger from that same batch without consequence), and that she told her supervisor about the spill right after it happened. A co-worker then tried to remove the excess salt from the meat.
What puzzles me about all this is… Why is Ms. Bull being held responsible for this at all? McDonalds staff are, for the most part, either students or fairly unskilled workers, earning minimum wage. They’re neither trained or paid enough to make judgment calls. Once she told her supervisor about the over-salted meat, and presumably her supervisor told her to use it, it was no longer her responsibility.
Today, former Durham, North Carolina district attorney Mike Nifong began serving a 24-hour jail term for his role in the Duke University sexual assault case. On December 10, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison — probably between a year and a year and a half — for financing, running and taking bets on a dogfighting ring. (more…)
September 7, 2007
The phone call I got yesterday from somebody claiming to represent Visa was actually from Vonage, an attempt to get my new credit card number so they can continue billing me after they refused to put through my repeated requests for cancellation (see previous update).
Wow. At least I was right about this being a scam to make fraudulent use of my credit card.
September 4, 2007
“This is the Security Office at **** Visa. We’ve discovered a possible fraudulent charge to your account. Please call us back immediately at 1-800-***-****, and have your credit card number ready.”
Not a bad scam as scams go. I’m sure they caught some fish.
As obvious as this should be, you should never call any number other than the one on the back of your card.
As it happens, I called the number on the back of my card, asked to be connected to Security, confirmed that they hadn’t called me, and tried to explain to a brick wall that I was calling to let them know somebody was making these calls in their name. The brick wall didn’t quite understand how this scam worked, and advised me not to give out my credit card number to anybody. “Yes, thank you, I got that,” I said. “That’s why I’m talking to you instead of to the criminals who called me.”
Then the brick wall asked me for my mother’s maiden name again.