Tag Archives | Crime

Does Inequality Cause Crime?

By craftivist collective via Flickr (cc by 2.0).

By craftivist collective via Flickr (cc by 2.0).

Surprised?

via The Atlantic:

In 1899, Thorstein Veblen described a type of good that is more lusted after the more expensive it is (think Ferraris). And in 1968, the economist Gary S. Becker theorized that criminals perform cost-benefit analyses just like everyone else: What are the odds of getting caught, and what’s the potential payoff? These two frameworks have lived out vibrant lives in academic journals, high-school textbooks, and college lecture halls, but, as they’re ostensibly unrelated, they’ve rarely been put in conversation with one another.

A study put out this month in Oxford Economic Papers does just that, in an effort to come up with a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between inequality and violence. There’s a good amount of research from all over the world that suggests that places with pronounced income inequality are more likely to have high rates of violent crime, a finding that makes intuitive sense: the wider the socioeconomic gap, per Becker’s 1968 model, the more gains potential criminals perceive.

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Finally, Wall Street gets put on trial: We can still hold the 0.1 percent responsible for tanking the economy

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan ChaseA recent fraud trial in Califirnia could finally pave the way for culpable Wall Street banksters to be criminally prosecuted, reports Thomas Frank at Salon:

The Tea Party regards Barack Obama as a kind of devil figure, but when it comes to hunting down the fraudsters responsible for the economic disaster of the last six years, his administration has stuck pretty close to the Tea Party script. The initial conservative reaction to the disaster, you will recall, was to blame the crisis on the people at the bottom, on minorities and proletarians lost in an orgy of financial misbehavior. Sure enough, when taking on ordinary people who got loans during the real-estate bubble, the president’s Department of Justice has shown admirable devotion to duty, filing hundreds of mortgage-fraud cases against small-timers.

But high-ranking financiers? Obama’s Department of Justice has thus far shown virtually no interest in holding leading bankers criminally accountable for what went on in the last decade.

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Precognitive police

What could possibly go wrong? Color blind profiling? An excuse to shoot first and cover up later? A dystopian nightmare waiting to happen? What are your thoughts disinfonauts?

via aeonPP_image_Wiki

Predictive policing could help prevent crime. But do we want a future where computer oracles and spies track us from birth?

When a troubled young man named Adam Lanza stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School and slaughtered 20 first-graders and six teachers in a small Connecticut suburb in December of 2012, a shroud of sorrow and confusion engulfed the United States and countries all over the world. Why were all these children murdered, and why did someone so clearly disordered have access to so many guns?

I covered the mass shooting for the New York Daily News, and worked 14-hour days interviewing victims’ families, attending press conferences, and doing as much on-ground reporting as possible. The toughest part of the coverage came a week in, at the memorial for a six-year-old named Dylan Hockley.

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Medicare Scam: Billions went to powered wheelchairs, but how many claims were legitimate?

Pride Jazzy Select power chair by  Stephen B Calvert Clariosophic (Wikimedia Commons)

Pride Jazzy Select power chair by Stephen B Calvert Clariosophic (Wikimedia Commons)

via The Washington Post:

LOS ANGELES — In the little office where they ran the scam, a cellphone would ring on Sonia Bonilla’s desk. That was the sound of good news: Somebody had found them a patient.

When Bonilla answered the phone, one of the scam’s professional “patient recruiters” would read off the personal data of a senior citizen. Name. DOB. Medicare ID number. Bonilla would hang up and call Medicare, the enormous federal health-insurance program for those over 65.

She asked a single question: Had the government ever bought this patient a power wheelchair?

No? Then the scam was off and running.

“If they did not have one, they would be taken to the doctor, so the doctor could prescribe a chair for them,” Bonilla recalled. On a log sheet, Bonilla would make a note that the recruiter was owed an $800 finder’s fee.

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Time is a Flat Circle: ‘True Detective’ as Psychodrama

true-detective-1Many will agree that HBO’s True Detective season 1 has been one of the more thought provoking episodic narratives of 2014. HBO has defined itself for some time now on distributing quality original content, leading the way in that regard, though Netflix is now entering the picture as a serious contender in its own right.

Nevertheless, there is something particularly daring about using the tried and true, rather old school cops and bad guys format for a character-piece.

What do I mean by that? Well, the case they are investigating does little more than provide us a mirror for the two “bad men,” our protagonists Rust and Marty. So if you’re looking to unlock the Keys to Carcosa, you’re going to be horribly frustrated with this series.

The Lange murder is just a Trojan Horse. The real story here is much richer and stranger: who are these men, and how did this murder change their lives?

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Chicago Just Convicted A Thief Using Facial Recognition Technology

Now that the general public knows that they are being watched, may as well reinforce that with confirmation. No need to worry, right? You’ve done nothing wrong.

English: Different Types of Cctv Cameras

Different Types of Cctv Cameras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

via Vocativ

For years, we’ve been hearing about how facial recognition software will help solve crime.

Privacy concerns aside, this is the idea: If a criminal is caught committing an offense on surveillance footage, the technology could theoretically scan the person’s face and produce a positive ID based on mug shots or DMV photos.

The problem is, the software kind of sucks, partially because surveillance footage is so grainy. This was one of the many subplots that unfolded in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing.

But the technology is getting smarter.

In Chicago, the tech was used—for the first time in the city’s history—to find a crook and lock him up in prison.

Pierre D. Martin, 35, was a small-time criminal with a long rap sheet, and his mug shot appeared in the police system.

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Slenderman: Just Another Modern Myth

dhumvati

From ModernMythology:

As most of you likely know by now, two pre-teens attempted to kill a friend as a sacrificial offering to the mythical creature ‘slenderman,’ a clear product of internet lore. Unsurprisingly, people are immediately looking to place blame, in a sense themselves literalizing and mistaking how myths and narratives function psychologically in the first place,

Such stories have appeared often on CreepyPasta, a creative writing and microfiction site dedicated not only to horror and thriller-type stories, but also supernatural, mythological and science fiction genres as well. The goal originally was to create short, compelling, easily shareable pieces of fiction that often spread around the Web. Now the site has a vast following and serves as, among other things, a creative writing and “hivemind” outlet where stories like that of the Slenderman breed and spread. According to the criminal complaint in the recent Wisconsin stabbing case, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were fans of CreepyPasta.

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8th June 2014 – Time For Big Brother to Retire!

On 8th June George Orwell’s surveillance crazed czar of surveillance Big Brother will be 65 years old (in literary years). To mark the date we urge all lovers of freedom to take part in the annual 1984 Action Day and to call for Big Brother to hang up his high visibility surveillance jacket and retire.

Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ was first published on 8th June 1949. Now, sixty-five years later and thirty years after the book’s title year, few if any of Orwell’s warnings have been heeded. The slogans of the book’s ruling party: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” are encoded in the marketing style propaganda of modern political parties. A surveillance state has been built all around us whilst we are encouraged to “share” our concerns in a modern reworking of the 2 minute hate – the 140 character tweet fest – hash tag “what about that funny dog!”

We are living in the dystopian world of ‘1984’ now.… Read the rest

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16 Year-Old Given 15 Year Prison Sentence After Judge Changes Terms of Plea Agreement

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 1.03.52 PM

PIC: Cooper Van Huizen (C)

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it further.”

A 16-year-old Utah boy was sentenced earlier this month to up to 15 years in a maximum security prison after a judge changed the terms of a plea agreement.

Cooper Van Huizen pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree felony robbery for his role in a home invasion late last year.

The teen, who had no prior criminal history, and his parents believed the plea deal would result in 180 days in jail.

But District Judge Ernie Jones told Van Huizen at the May 7 sentencing hearing he believed the terms recommended by prosecutors and the probation board were “too soft” and instead sent the boy to Utah State Prison for one to 15 years.

Van Huizen cried and begged for mercy as he was led from the courtroom handcuffed in front of sobbing family members.

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I, Camera – The 5 Laws of FFUCams

FFUCam in action
A FFUCam spreading trust
[ based on image by West Midlands Police ]

Everyone knows that the camera never lies. That’s a definitely true fact. The flip side to this fact is of course the additional fact that people can and do lie – frequently. So when it comes to lying, cameras are clearly more trustworthy, reliable and generally better than people. Everyone has known this since the phrase “the camera never lies” was first discovered in 1857 (the date might be a lie of course, after all I’m only human).

The incredible thing is that despite everyone knowing that the camera never lies and is better than people, this beacon of moral certitude was so massively under utilised.

Let us consider the evidence before us in a forensic and thorough way.

Do cameras commit murder? No.
Are cameras ever drunk and disorderly? No.
Do cameras abuse their position in society?… Read the rest

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