Tag Archives | Crime

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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The Strange Case of the ‘Time Travel’ Murder

Bright orange nail tipsThe set up for this tale reads like a really clever Scandi-crime novel, but it’s a real case from Britain reported by BBC News:

A woman’s body is found in London. DNA turns up a hit, yet the suspect apparently died weeks before the alleged victim. Here, forensic scientist Dr Mike Silverman tells the story of one of the strangest cases of his career.

It was a real-life mystery that could have come straight from the pages of a modern-day detective novel.

A woman had been brutally murdered in London and biological material had been found under her fingernails, possibly indicating that she might have scratched her attacker just before she died.

A sample of the material was analysed and results compared with the National DNA database and quickly came back with a positive match.

The problem was, the “hit” identified a woman who had herself been murdered – a full three weeks before the death of her alleged “victim”.

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Mass Incarceration in the US

Check out this short animation about the problems with American prison policy.

via Youtube

It wasn’t easy to pick this topic, but I believe that America’s 40-year policy of mass incarceration is deeply unethical, not very effective, and promotes the security of the few at the expense of the many.

It’s hard for me, as a person who was born into privilege, to imagine the challenges convicted criminals face, often for crimes that are utterly non-violent.

If you’re feeling like you want to do something about this, I’m mostly just making this video as an informational resource and to encourage people to think of felons not as bad, scary people but just as people.

The people at The Prison Policy Initiative were very helpful in the creation of this video and if you want to learn more about their work and how to get involved go to http://www.prisonpolicy.org

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Woman In Germany Robbed After Being Put Into A Trance

hypnotize Is the key to your mind safe? Via the New York Daily News:

German cops are hunting a pair of hypnotist robbers who put their victims into a deep trance before stealing their valuables.

The two women, believed to be Russian, allegedly targeted a 66-year-old in front of a store in Elmshorn, Schleswig-Holstein. And police believe there have been other victims who may not even know they’ve been hit.

The Hamburger Morgenpost reports that the senior citizen was outside an Aldi superstore when she was approached by the duo. “They told her they’d read her fortune, but next thing she knew she was back home sitting in an armchair and all her jewelry and valuables had vanished,” said police spokeswoman Sandra Mohr. She claims that the pair put her into a trance in order to rob her.

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Scientists Create Mugshots From Perps’ DNA

Elvis_mugshotThis is some next level CSI! New Scientist reports on the DNA-generated mugshots:

A murder has been committed, and all the cops have to go on is a trace of DNA left at the scene. It doesn’t match any profile in databases of known criminals, and the trail goes cold. But what if the police could issue a wanted poster based on a realistic “photofit” likeness built from that DNA?

Not if, but when, claim researchers who have developed a method for determining how our genes influence facial shape. One day, the technique may even allow us to gaze into the faces of extinct human-like species that interbred with our own ancestors.

It’s already possible to make some inferences about the appearance of crime suspects from their DNA alone, including their racial ancestry and some shades of hair colour. And in 2012, a team led by Manfred Kayser of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, identified five genetic variants with detectable effects on facial shape.

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