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Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Disturbing Campus Sexual Assault Study

     On September 15, 2015, the Association of American Universities (AAU) published the results of their massive campus sexual offense survey of 150,000 students at 27 of the nation's top universities. The AAU findings were shocking. In the student bodies surveyed, between 20 to 28 percent of responding female undergraduates reported that during the past year they were victims of sexual offenses that included rape. Between 20 and 35 percent of the respondents said that sexual assault constituted a serious problem at their schools.

     Roughly half of the complaints involved the crime of rape. Other forms of sexual misconduct included sexual harassment and non-consensual sexual contact.

     The survey response rate fell between 18 and 53 percent, depending on the university.

     The published survey results came from the following 18 schools: Brown, Case Western Reserve, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Iowa State, Ohio State, University of Florida, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale.

     In addition to the above universities, nine other schools participated in the survey. The data from those studies will be published later.

     The crime of rape and other sexual offenses is especially intense on campuses due to the concentration of young men and women and the high use of alcohol and drugs. Making things worse is the fact that universities and collages are known for sweeping sex offense complaints under the rug in order to protect their enrollment numbers. Some schools, such as Columbia University, have been accused of fostering a culture of rape. Notwithstanding a federal law against college administrators not reporting campus sexual offenses, the problem persists. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FBI Acknowledges Massive Crime Lab Scandal

     As reported in The New York Times, a FBI spokesperson on April 20, 2015 publicly acknowledged that for decades bureau crime lab hair identification experts gave bogus scientific testimony that adversely affected more than 250 state and federal criminal cases. In my 2008 book Forensics Under Fire I wrote about several cases involving FBI crime lab pseudo-science. Below are two blogs published on this site about the problem. It's amazing how long it took the FBI to publicly admit to flaws in its operation that have for years been known to forensic scientists, attorneys, judges, and criminal justice scholars. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Wesleyan University Mass Molly Overdose Scandal

     Wesleyan University, an expensive 3,200-student liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut, is known for its culture of drugs. (The school referred 154 students for disciplinary action for drug violations in 2011. That number jumped to 281 in 2012. In 2013, 240 Wesleyan students got in trouble for drug use.) The latest campus drug scandal involved the abuse of the synthetic drug Molly, known by chemists and crime lab personnel as MDMA.

     The main ingredient in Molly, contraband smuggled into the United States from China, is the psychoactive stimulant Ecstasy commonly present at music festivals and on the club party circuit. While Molly dealers claim they sell it in its purest form, most of the drug is laced with dangerous additives such as epheorine (a stimulant), dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant), cocaine, methamphetamine, and in some cases bath salts.

    Molly users experience euphoria, mild hallucinations, and the urge to physically touch other people. The drug, in its various forms, boosts three chemicals in the body that can cause blood vessels in the heart and brain to constrict. That in turn could lead to heart attacks and strokes. Molly also causes the body to overheat resulting in fatal brain swelling and dehydration.

     Early Sunday morning February 22, 2015, following a Saturday night party at Wesleyan University, paramedics rushed twelve partygoers to the Hartford Hospital. The ten students and two campus guests exhibited symptoms of Molly overdose.

     While two of the sick partygoers were listed in critical condition and fighting for their lives, all of the Molly users were expected to survive.

     On Tuesday night February 24, 2015, officers with the Middletown Police Department arrested four Wesleyan students on charges related to the overdoses. Two of the students, 21-year-old Eric Lonergan from Rio de Janeiro and Andrew Olson from Atascadero, California, were charged with several counts of drug dealing. The judge set their bonds at $100,000 and $175,000 respectively.

     A local prosecutor charged 21-year-old Zachary Kramer from Bethesda, Maryland and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20 of Lutherville, Maryland with possession type offenses. The judge set their bonds at $75,000 and $100,000 respectively.

     The four Wesleyan students arrested in the Molly overdose scandal have been suspended from the school. They posted bail and were released from custody. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rare Gun Violence In South Korea

     Four people, including a policeman, were killed on February 27, 2015 in the second shooting incident in two days in South Korea where gun crime is extremely rare. A 75-year-old man armed with a hunting rifle shot dead his brother, the brother's wife and a police officer who responded to an emergency call. The gunman then turned the weapon on himself.

     The shooting in Hwaseong City 25 miles southwest of Seoul, appeared to have been motivated by a family dispute over money. The incident came two days after a man shot three people dead in a convenience store the killer then torched in a apparent revenge attack on the family of his former lover in the southern city of Sejong. In that case the gunman also committed suicide.

     South Korea's tough gun laws effectively outlaw ownership of firearms by most civilians. Rare exceptions are allowed for hunters but they must deposit their rifles at local police stations.

"4 Dead in Second Rare Shooting in South Korea," ndtv.com, February 27, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Chief of Police Busted in Prostitution Sting

     A south Florida police chief is out of a job after being accused of soliciting a prostitute who turned out to be an undercover cop. Former Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson was arrested in Dania Beach on February 27, 2015. After posting his bail, Johnson said, "I want to apologize to the community. Tonight was a very unfortunate situation for me dealing with an incident that occurred today. It just overwhelmed me. The stress overwhelmed me, and I made a very bad decision to deal with that moment that I have never experienced before." Johnson blamed his actions on stress at work.

     "When I saw two grieving families and the overwhelming issue to face them, it brought something that's totally out of character with me," he said. "And people know me. That is just not my character. Bad decisions on how to deal with that, but I've never dealt with that kind of feeling before, so I can't even explain it." [Huh?]

"Florida Police Chief Fired After Prostitution Arrest," CBS News, February 8, 2015 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Left Out In The Cold

     A 23-year-old Allentown, Pennsylvania woman left her sleeping 1-year-old in her minivan in freezing weather while taking another child for a haircut. Mirella Rodriguez was charged on February 24, 2015 with endangering the welfare of a child.

     Following her arrest, Rodriguez posted on Facebook that the allegations were blown out of proportion and that she was a great mother and would never purposely harm her child. Police say Rodriguez left the child behind without a blanket while she took her 3-year-old into a barbershop at two in the afternoon. A parking officer saw the child and alerted police.

     The temperature at the time was 20 degree, with wind chills of 9 degrees. The child was unharmed.

"Mon Left Sleeping Tot In Cold Van During Kid's Haircut," ABC News, February 25, 2015 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Writing Quote: Is Investigative Journalism In Its Golden Age?

     The news about news is often grim. Newspapers are shrinking, folding up, or being cut loose by their parent companies. Layoffs are up and staffs are down. That investigative reporter who covered the state capitol--she's not there anymore. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune have suffered from multiple rounds of layoffs over the years…But despite a long run of journalistic tough times, the loss of advertising dollars, and the challenge of the Internet, there's been a blossoming of investigative journalism across the globe from Honduras to Myanmar, New Zealand to Indonesia.

     Woodward and Bernstein may be a fading memory in this country, but journalist with names largely unknown in the U.S…are breaking one blockbuster story after another, exposing corrupt government officials and their crony corporate pals in Azerbaijan, Angola, and Costa Rica…

     "We are in a golden age of investigative journalism," says Sheila Coronel. And she should know. Now the academic dean at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Coronel was the director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, whose coverage of the real estate holdings of former President Joseph Estrada--including identical houses built for his mistresses--contributed to his removal from office in 2001.

     There are, to take another example, the halcyon days for watchdog journalism in Brazil. In October 2013, at an investigative journalism conference there organized by the Global Journalism Investigative Network, there were 1,350 attendees.

Anya Schiffrin, salon.com, August 31, 2014 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Florida Cop Might Be Charged With Abuse of Homeless Man

     Authorities in Fort Lauderdale are considering filing criminal charges against an officer who was videotaped pushing and slapping a homeless man at a bus terminal. The incident happened on February 23, 2015 and the video soon surfaced on YouTube. Officer Victor Ramirez, a nine-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, has been suspended without pay.

     The video shows the officer holding the man's arm, then pushing him to the ground. The officer tells the man to get up and slaps him in the face. Police identified the man as Bruce Laclair. Laclair has been charged with trespassing.

     Police Chief Frank Adderley said that in addition to looking at possible charges against the officer, the agency will review its use-of-force policy. [Why? Surely every cop with a brain knows that you don't go around pushing and slapping people for the hell of it.]

"In Video, Officer Pushes, Slaps Man at Florida Bus Terminal," ABC News, February 25, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Arrest Counterterrorism Official With State Department For Soliciting Sex With A Minor

     A senior State Department official in charge of counterterrorism programs was arrested after allegedly soliciting sex from a minor. Daniel A. Rosen, who is the State Department's director of counterterrorism programs and policy, was arrested on a charge of using a communications device to solicit a juvenile. Investigators believe Rosen, 44, had been communicating online with a female detective from a police child exploitation unit posing as a minor. Officers arrested him at his home and transported him to a Washington, D.C. jail.

     According to Rosen's Linkedin page, he is responsible, at the State Department, for all "strategic planning, policy planning, program and budget planning and oversight, and legislative relations and interaction" associated with the agency's counterterrorism program.

"Senior State Dept. Official Accused Of Soliciting Sex From Minor," UPI, February 25, 2015 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Sex Offenders Are Being Murdered In California's State Prison System

     California state prisoners are killed at a rate that is double the national average--and sex offenders account for a disproportionate number of victims, according to an Associated Press analysis of correction records.

     Male sex offenders made up about 15 percent of the prison population but accounted for nearly 30 percent of homicide victims, the AP found in cataloging all 78 killings officials reported since 2007…The deaths--23 out of 78--came despite the state's creation more than a decade ago of special housing units to protect the most vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, often marked men because of the nature of their crimes. In some cases they have been killed among the general population, and in others, within the special units by violence-prone cellmates. Correction officials acknowledge that those units, places that also house inmates trying to quit gangs, have spawned their own gangs.

    Officials blamed a rise in the prison homicide rate on a state corrections system overhaul meant to reduce crowding. As part of the effort, California in 2011 began keeping lower-level offenders in county lockups, leaving the prisons with a higher percentage of sex offenders and gang members…

     The problem is most acute with sex offenders. In the fall of 2014, the corrections department inspector general reported that so many homicides occurred in the "increasingly violent" special housing units reserved for vulnerable inmates that the department could no longer assume that inmates there could peacefully co-exist.

"Many Sex Offenders Killed By Inmates in California Prisons," Associated Press, February 17, 2015

Writing Quote: Horror, The Least Literary Branch Of Speculative Fiction

For awhile now, so-called "literary" and "genre" fiction have been moving from outright opposition to a cautious rapprochement. Literary writers such as Jonathan Lethem, Donna Tatt and Michael Chabon increasingly deploy tropes and images from genre, while genre writers have upped their stakes considerably in terms of complexity, moral resonance and style. Sophie Hannah, Josh Bazell and Denise Mina have reinvented crime fiction; Charles Yu, Iain M. Banks and M. John Harrison have given a literary uplift to science fiction; while China Mieville, Jeff VanderMeer and Kelly Link have done the same for fantasy. But horror--the third aspect of "speculative fiction"--has had markedly less success in this regard.

Stuart Kelly, The Guardian, November 7, 2012 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Magazine Publishers

I've followed this writing game a long time. Strange thing. Take a guy who has been editing a magazine. You see him published here and there. Then he decides to stop publishing his mag and devote himself to his "art." He then vanishes and is never heard from. He's no longer there to play you publish me and I'll publish you. And this happens as well with the magazines of more expensive format and a larger readership. What the hell does this tell you?

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Country Boy Version Of Citizens Arrest

     A police manhunt in northern Idaho for an escaped person with a history of violent crime came to an end on February 19, 2015 when a homeowner shot and wounded the fugitive. Roy Beiluch escaped from the Shoshone County Jail two days before while on cleaning duty. He entered a crawl space through the ceiling of a utility room and made his way to the jail lobby. The 48-year-old was aided by a female accomplice who was taken into custody a day after the escape.

      Bieluch, in custody since December 2014 on charges of burglary, malicious injury to property and petty theft, wound up at the home of a man living outside of Wallace, Idaho, a town of about 800 people.

     Shortly after five-thirty on the evening of February 19, the homeowner responded to his dog's wild barking. Armed with a handgun he went out to see what was disturbing his dog. That's when he confronted the jail escapee. The homeowner called 911 and ordered Bieluch not to move. The fugitive instead moved toward the homeowner who opened fire, hitting the intruder in the leg.

     According to the authorities, Bieluch has ties to the white supremacist group Aryan Nation. Officers who took him into custody transported the escapee to a nearby hospital….

Chuck Ross, "Armed Idaho Homeowner Ends Manhunt," The Daily Caller, February 20, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Mob of Teens Storm Theater Showing "50 Shades of Gray"

     Orange County, Florida deputies were trying to figure out why hundreds of teenagers suddenly rushed into the movie theater at the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee Saturday night, February 14, 2015. As many as 900 kids, described as middle school and high school-aged, attempted to rush the theater at once…Nearly 300 of them were able to get into the theater before the security gates were closed.

     Jessica Weckerly and her husband were in the theater when they heard hundreds of kids stampeding into the place…Several fights broke out before police officers from several agencies brought the situation under control.

     At one point during the chaos, someone fired a gun into the air out in the mall parking lot where a person was robbed. Officers at the scene recovered a stolen car that contained drugs…One juvenile was arrested for battery and resisting an officer without violence. A second kid was arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge.

"Arrests Made After Hundreds of Teens Cause Riot at Florida Movie Theater," palmbeachpost.com, February 15, 2015  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bad Times At "The New York Times"

I have witnessed some fraught moments at The New York Times. Jayson Blair was a friend of mine. [Fired from The Times in 2003, Blair fabricated quotes from people he'd never met.] I watched Howell Raines fly into a mountain at very close distance. I saw the newspaper almost tip over when the print business plunged and the company had to borrow money at exorbitant rates from a Mexican billionaire.

David Carr, The Independent, February 13, 2015 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Brent Taff: One Bad Dude

     A kidnapping suspect accused of threatening the judge overseeing his case faced new assault charges after he attacked a deputy during a failed escape attempt at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport…Brent Taff, 37, was being escorted from Utah to Oklahoma to face assault charges for verbal threats against the judge and others, when he made his bid for freedom during a layover Friday February 13, 2015 in Dallas…Taff told his deputy escorts that he needed to use the restroom and then attacked the deputy sheriff who took him inside.

     The officer's head was injured in the ensuing struggle, but he managed to shoot Taff in the hand before the other deputy and airport security captured Taff as he tried to flee the restroom…Investigators are trying to determine if the deputy had taken off the handcuffs to allow Taff  to use the facility.

     Taff was initially accused of stalking, kidnapping and domestic assault as well as violations of protective orders. Taff, of Sapula, Oklahoma, was free on bond when the authorities arrested him in Utah after he made threats against a prosecutor, his ex-wife, and the judge. After his escape attempt in Dallas, he was charged with assault on a public servant and escape causing bodily injury.

"Kidnap Suspect Faces Assault Charges in Texas Failed Escape," Associated Press, February 14, 2015 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Truck Thief Shot To Death In Civilian Chase

     Two brothers chased down suspects who stole their pickup truck from their driveway in Houston, Texas on February 8, 2015, killing the man driving the vehicle and triggering an investigation into whether they took the law into their own hands…The brothers, ages 23 and 30…were taken to the police station for questioning.

     A police spokesperson told reporters that "the Harris County Sheriff's Office never encourages anyone to chase down suspected criminals. We want civilians to dial 911 and let us handle it. Things can otherwise go tragically wrong. Innocent bystanders can be killed by stray bullets or crashing vehicles."..

     Once the homicide investigation has been completed, the case will be submitted to a Harris County grand jury for review…

     The brothers were inside their home at one in the morning on Sunday when they heard the truck alarm go off. They rushed outside to find men stealing their truck. They confronted a man inside their vehicle as well as two accomplices in a tan Chevy Suburban…

     The brothers retrieved their guns from inside their house, jumped into a Mustang and began pursuing the truck thieves. They chased them for about two miles, while dialing 911, until the brothers said they noticed one of the two men in the Suburban pointing a gun toward them. The brothers said they fired at the Suburban and the stolen truck, striking the driver of the pickup in the chest. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed in the parking lot of an Office Depot store…The driver of the stolen truck died at the scene. The men in the Suburban drove off….

"Sheriff's Office Investigates Brothers Who Killed Suspected Truck Thief," chron.com, February 8, 2015


Writing Quote: Latin American Journalism

In my journalistic writing, I purposefully blend information, observation, analysis, and my own reactions to the material. I tell stories, because stories allow us to think wholeheartedly, to truly understand. The greatest Latin American novelists, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, began as journalists. That experience has contributed to the literary school of Latin American journalism that is better written and contains much more emotional content than U.S. journalism.

Alma Guillermoprieto in Telling The Story, Telling The Truth, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, 2007 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: San Diego TV Sports Anchor Shot

     A San Diego television sportscaster was shot and wounded outside his home…Kyle Kraska, sports director and anchor for CBS affiliate KFMB-TV, was shot in the leg and stomach in the wealthy Scripps Ranch area of the city on Tuesday afternoon February 10, 2015. He is expected to recover from his wounds.

     Six hours after the assault, 54-year-old Mike Montana surrendered after a SWAT team surrounded a residence in El Cajon northeast of San Diego…Police said Montana had driven from the shooting scene in a white minivan with the logo "Superior Painting" on its side. The owner of the firm in San Diego said the van did not belong to his company and that he didn't know Montana…

     Kraska, a Boston native, appears on evening broadcasts and hosts the station's San Diego Chargers postgame show. He has worked at the station since 1999 and has been its sports anchor since 2003….

"Suspect Surrenders in Shooting of San Diego TV Sportscaster," ABC News, February 11, 2015 

Writing Quote: Getting Published in Children's Magazines

     Children's magazines are a great place for unpublished Children's writers and illustrators to break into the market. Writers, illustrators and photographers alike my find it easier to get book assignments if they have tearsheets from magazines. Having magazine work under your belt shows you're professional and have experience working with editors and art directors and meeting deadlines.

     But magazines aren't merely a breaking-in-point. Writing, illustration and photo assignments for magazines let you see your work in print quickly, and the magazine market can offer steady work and regular paychecks. Book authors and illustrators may have to wait a year or two before receiving royalties from a project. The magazine market is also a good place to use research material that didn't make it into a book project you're working on. You may even work on a magazine idea that blossoms into a book project.

Chuck Sambuchino in Children Writer's And Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Woman Invaded Fox Anchor's Home and Demanded Car

     On Monday afternoon February 9, 2015, a female intruder walked into the Millcreek, Utah home of Kerri Cronk and her family and demanded a car. Kerri Cronk, an anchor on Fox Network's "Good Day Utah" in Salt Lake City, was taking a nap during the home invasion…

     Tate Cronk, 15, heard the front door open and said he thought his brother had come home. When he didn't hear any noise, he sensed something was wrong. "It was really silent so I stood up and looked and just saw her standing there," he said. Seconds later, Kerri's husband Kevin realized what was going on. "She was telling me that she was being chased, some people were trying to kill her and she wanted a car," Kevin Cronk said…

     The suspect was holding a metal prying device, similar to a crowbar. It can be seen in her hand in the cellphone video captured by the 15-year-old. "After like 15 seconds she actually yelled for me to turn it off," Tate Cronk said.

     "She was aggressive and seemed either on drugs or maybe mentally not stable," the father added. "She actually said if you don't give me a car I'm going to kill you." Kevin and Tate Cronk complied with he demand. The woman drove off in the family's white Honda Pilot…

     Police described the suspect as a white female in her early 20s, about five-foot-tall with piercings on her nose and face.

"Police Respond To Aggravated Robbery At Home of Fox 13 Anchor," Fox News, February 9, 2015, 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Whackademia Quote: What Students Think Of Male Versus Female Professors

     Male professors are brilliant, awesome and knowledgeable. Woman professors are bossy and annoying, and beautiful or ugly. These are a few of the results from a new interactive chart that was gaining notice on social media Friday February 6, 2015. Benjamin Schmidt, a Northeastern University history professor, says he built the chart using data from 14 million student reviews on the Rate My Professors web site. It allows you to search for any word to see how often it appeared in reviews and how it broke down by gender and deportment.

     The chart makes vivid unconscious biases. The implications go well beyond professors and college students, to anyone who gives or receives feedback or performance reviews. It suggests people tend to think more highly of men than women in professional settings, praise men for the same things they criticize women for, and are more likely to focus on a woman's appearance or personality and on a man's skills and intelligence…

     Studies have also shown that students can be biased against female professors. In one, teachers graded and returned papers to students at the exact same time, but when asked to rate their promptness, students gave female professors lower scores than men….

Claire Cain Miller, "Is the Professor Bossy or Brilliant? Much Depends on Gender," The New York Times, February 6, 2015 

Police Shoot Car Thief After Wild Chase

     A gunman driving a stolen car led police on a wild chase on roads and freeways east of Los Angeles, smashing into other cars and veering through oncoming traffic before he stole a second car at gunpoint and ran down a crowded street before Los Angeles police opened fire and wounded him...

     Officers shot the man as he tried to steal another car. They handcuffed him and placed him into an ambulance that took him to a hospital.

     The chase began at five in the evening on February 8, 2015 with officers answering a report of a car stolen east of downtown Los Angeles. The stolen Toyota spend through South Gate and other cities southeast of LA. It zoomed through traffic, sometimes going the wrong way, and struck cars at least four times before it was unable to continue…

     The suspect jumped out of the disabled vehicle and stole another car. That vehicle raced along Interstate 710 and state Route 60 with eight patrol cars in pursuit. The car finally veered onto an offramp and onto a Montebello Street where it became wedged between two other vehicles in traffic. The car thief jumped out and pulled open the door of a stopped SUV as police chased him. He tried to stop anther car that took off before pursuing officers took him down….

"Cars Crumpled, Woman Carjacked in Wild Los Angeles Police Chase," miamiherald.com, February 10, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Did Wife Killer Drew Peterson Try To Have A Prosecutor Murdered?

     Convicted murderer Drew Peterson, on February 9, 2015, stood accused of attempting to have the state's attorney of Will County, Illinois killed. Peterson, a former police sergeant, was charged with one count of solicitation of murder-for-hire in connection with a plot the authorities believe he planned between September 2013 and December 2014 against State's Attorney James Glasgow.

     Glasgow prosecuted Peterson in 2012 for the murder of his second wife, Kathleen Savio who was found dead in a dry bathtub in 2004. Her death was originally ruled an accidental drowning, but after the disappearance of Peterson's third wife in 2007, Savio's body was exhumed and her death reclassified as a criminal homicide.

     Peterson is serving a 38-year prison sentence at the Menard Correctional Facility…A prison spokesperson said he has been moved to a restricted area of the facility that offers more security.

"Drew Peterson Accused in Murder-For-Hire Plot," ksdk.com, February 10, 2015 

Writing Quote: Quotes in Pieces of Journalism

Thousands of editors have told thousands of reporters that quotes will add essential liveliness to a story, and at the same time help cover your posterior: If someone else provides the information, you don't have to stand by it. Yet as tempting as thet can be, after-the-fact quotes are anti-literary. They can take the reader away from the moment in question in some vague and indeterminate present in which the quote is uttered. They take the journalist away from his or her voice. And they take away from the writing the deep-down appeal of once-upon-a-time storytelling. Compare: "I knew I had to get out of there," said firefighter Ken Jones with Jones knew he had to get out of there. The first is boilerplate; the second, a cobblestone in the road to art.

Ben Yogoda, The Sound On The Page, 2004 

Writing Quote: Children's Book Illustrators' Blogs

For aspiring children's picture book illustrators, a blog is the best free tool you have to break into children's book publishing today. With proper blogging, you can demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge, and a desire to illustrate picture books. Blogs are unique in that they allow art directors, editors, and agents the opportunity to see your work. The art you post lets visitors see what and how you illustrate--but it is the writing that gives insight on your thought process, your personality, and ultimately a peek into the kinds of projects you would like to work on in the future.

Teresa Kietlinski in Children's Writer's And Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Some Native Americans Want To Get Into The Marijuana Business

     The Department of Justice granted American Indian tribes the autonomy to grow and sell marijuana on their lands in 2014. Many tribes exhibited caution because of chronic drug and alcohol abuse, but more than 100 tribes [out of about 500] have shown interest  in pursuing manufacturing operations in order to gain financial independence.

     The Pinoleville Pomo Nation in California announced plans for a massive $10 million, 2.5 acre facility to produce medical marijuana…What makes marijuana production particularly lucrative is that tribes might be able to avoid the incredibly high taxes placed on marijuana by states with legal marijuana like Colorado or Washington…

     Dissenting voices from the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) cited an increase in the potency of marijuana over the past few decades as just one of the reasons why it opposes legalization at all levels of government. The NCAI is worried that the already high rates of drug abuse among American Indians, compared to other ethnicities, will skyrocket if tribes begin to produce marijuana, leading to a "reduction of IQ, mental illness, poor learning outcomes, lung damage, and addiction."…

"American Indian Tribes Look Into Multi-Million Dollar Marijuana Production," The Daily Caller, February 3, 2015  

Criminal Justice Quote: Girl Scout Hit By Random Drive-By Gunfire

     A 9-year-old girl who was selling Girl Scout cookies was shot in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sinai Miller was with her two younger sisters not far from their home when someone in a car that drove by fired shots in their direction. She was struck in the leg and taken to the hospital in stable condition, returning home later that day…

     Police responded to the victim's apartment complex at four-thirty in the afternoon of February 3, 2015 to investigate reports of the shooting. Witnesses said they saw someone stick their arm out of a SUV and shoot a handgun into the group of children…Investigators didn't believe the victim was targeted by the gunman. They were looking for a blue Ford Expedition….

"9-Year-Old Girl Shot in Indianapolis Selling Girl Scout Cookies," natmonitor.com, February 2, 2015


Sunday, February 8, 2015

It Is Illegal To Sell Synthetic Urine

     An Ohio man who sold fake urine and other products meant to help people pass workplace drug tests pleaded guilty on February 2, 2015 before a federal judge…David Neal, 61, of Middletown, Ohio, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and the introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce…

     According to the Assistant United States Attorney, Neal sold the illegal substances online beginning in 2006 through his company, ACS Herbal Tea. Some of Neal's products, including "Magnum Unisex Synthetic Urine" and "Urine Luck," were designed to thwart tests overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

     Such drug tests are used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to screen airline pilots, truck drivers and train engineer, as well as other government employees such as FBI agents…Undercover agents bought some of Neal's products in 2010 and 2012 as part of an investigation into his company…

     Neal could face up to six years in prison and a fine of $350,000.

"Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Fake Urine For Drug Tests," Associated Press, February 4, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: High School Mother Denies Bomb Threat

     The mother of a high school student pleaded not guilty on February 6, 2015 to charges she threatened to blow up her daughter's school over a failed exam…Karen Shearon, 48 of Staten Island, New York, denied making the call…The judge freed her on $1,000 bail on the charge of second-degree misdemeanor aggravated harassment….

     Shearon allegedly threatened a guidance counselor at Susan Wagner High School on February 4 after she received a call that her daughter had failed a Regents exam. Students in New York state have to pass the Regents exam to graduate from high school.

"Mom Allegedly Threatens To Blow Up School," Associated Press, February 7, 2015 

Writing Quote: Child-Test Your Children's Manuscript

I have always child-tested my books. I go into classrooms to read my manuscripts to boys and girls before they go to the publisher. I accept children's criticisms and enjoy their comments.

Mary Garelick in Pauses, editied by Lee Bennett Hopkins, 1995 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ex-TV Actor Arrested For Murder

     A former star of the "Power Rangers" TV series has been arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing his roommate with a sword. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office officials said 36-year-old Ricardo Medina was jailed Sunday February 2, 2015 in the death of Joshua Sutter.

     Investigators said that Medina and Sutter got into an argument Saturday afternoon in Medina's Palmdale apartment that turned into a fight. Medina reportedly retreated to his bedroom with his girlfriend, but when Sutter forced his way into the room, Medina grabbed a sword he kept near the door and stabbed his roommate in the abdomen. He then called 911 for medical assistance.

     Medina played the Red Ranger on "Power Rangers Wild Force" in 2002 and later played Deker on "Power Rangers Samurai."

"Actor Arrested in Fatal Sword Attack in Southern California," Associated Press, February 2, 2015 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Ex-NFL Player Warren Sapp Arrested

     Police arrested Warren Sapp on one count of solicitation of a prostitute and two counts of assault in Phoenix, Arizona Monday morning February 2, 2015. He was taken into custody in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix around seven in the morning. This was not Sapp's first arrest. He was arrested for domestic battery in 2010 and again in 2014…He was in Phoenix covering the Super Bowl for NFL Network.

     Sapp, age 42, played 13 seasons in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. He was indicted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013….[Perhaps more importantly, he was once a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars."]

"Former NFLer Warren Sapp Arrested For Soliciting Prostitute, Assault," The Daily Caller, February 2, 2015 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Authorities Doing Poor Job Of Protecting Children

     Laws intended to protect children from abuse and neglect are not being properly enforced, and the federal government is to blame. That's according to a study by the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law. Children are suffering as a result.

     The numbers are grim. Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died…The Institute conducted a three-year study and found that not one state had met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government. These standards include such things as timely investigation of reports of child abuse. The Institute blamed Congress and the courts for failing to get involved…

     There's a broad agreement among those involved in child welfare that the system is in desperate need of repair. Agencies are underfunded and caseworkers are often overwhelmed…State and local officials complain that they spend too much time filling out federal forms and trying to meet requirements that aren't necessarily best for children…

"Child Abuse And Neglect Laws Aren't Being Enforced, Report Finds," kplu.org, February 1, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

Academic Literary Critics

The literary thesis writers are after me. They demand that I have some sort of "plan" to my work. Actually, I write without calculation. If you write in a complicated way it encourages academics who would be better occupied ranking leaves.

John Fowles in People, Books & Book People, edited by David W. McCullough, 1981 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hellementary Education Quote: The Texas Elementary School Underwear Check

     A community is united in outrage in Gustine, Texas after 25 fourth and fifth graders, on January 26, 2015, were told to pull down their pants for an underwear inspection after feces had been discovered on the gym floor. A male staff member checked the boys and a female school employee checked the girls for soiled underpants…

     The school superintendent placed the two staff members on administrative leave while he investigated the incident…With a population of 457, just about everybody in Gustine knew what happened at the elementary school that day...

     School administrators said they didn't know about the searches in advance. If they had, they would not have approved….

"Grade School Students Forced to Drop Pants," myfoxphilly.com, January 29, 2015


Criminal Justice Quote: American Actor Caught Secretly Video Taping Women in Canadian Condo

     An American actor living in Toronto, Canada has been arrested on voyeurism charges…Jean-Paul Manoux, also known as J. P. Manoux, was arrested on Tuesday January 28, 2015…Two women in their mid-twenties had rented a condo from the actor…The women alerted the authorities when they discovered hidden cameras and video equipment connected to the Internet…

     The actor had rented out this condo before, therefore police believe there may be other victims. The 45-year-old Manoux is a U.S. citizen, but a permanent resident of Canada. He works in both countries…He's a busy actor, but largely in smaller parts, with more than 140 films and television credits….

"American Actor Arrested on Voyeurism Charges in Canada," CNN, January 28, 2015 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Drunk, Wrong-Way Driver Kills Woman in Phoenix

     The Phoenix, Arizona man arrested in the wrong-way freeway accident in which a fire department dispatcher was fatally injured had a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit…Stephen B. Martin, 39, after the January 27, 2015 accident, told officers that he knew he was drunk and shouldn't have been driving…

     Martin told police and hospital personnel that he was on the road because he had to rescue his girlfriend from being sexually assaulted…

     Megan Lange, a 26-year-old married mother of two who'd recently returned to work after coming off maternity leave, was killed when her small SUV collided head-on with Martin's larger vehicle. Lange was driving home after finishing her shift when the accident occurred at one in the morning on Interstate 17. Another motorist whose vehicle was sideswiped by Martin's SUV suffered minor injuries…

     A woman who was a passenger in Martin's SUV said she told Martin they were going the wrong way on the interstate but they couldn't find a place to turn around. Martin had a blood-alcohol level of .313. The legal limit for driving in Arizona is .08…Martin was jailed on the charge of second-degree murder in lieu of $700,000 bond.

"Man Arrested in Fatal Wrong-Way Accident," chron.com, January 28, 2015  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Arby's Customer Thwarts Robbery

     A Vernal, Utah man who just wanted to order food at an Arby's restaurant ended up thwarting a robbery attempt by a knife-wielding woman with a criminal history…The customer was placing his order in the drive-thru on Sunday January 25, 2015 when he realized the cashier was not responding to him. He pulled out of the drive-thru, parked his truck, and walked inside to place his order. In the store, one of the cashiers mouthed to him the words "We're being robbed."

     Stephanie Lee Lente, 37, was threatening cashiers with a knife and demanding money.

     "I went back out to my truck and got my gun," the man, a concealed carry permit holder, told a reporter…After retrieving his firearm, he returned to the restaurant and showed Lente that he had a gun and ordered her not to move. She didn't listen. "She came at me," the man said. "That's when I pointed my gun at her." After wrestling the knife from Lente he held her at gunpoint until the police arrived…

     Lente is being held in Uintah County of charges of aggravated robbery and possession of a controlled substance…Her criminal record includes charges of abuse of psycho-toxic chemical solvents, theft, assault, criminal mischief, violation of a protective order, and wrongful appropriation.

"Armed Arby's Customer Stops Knife-Wielding Robber," The Daily Caller, January 25, 2015 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Crimson Stain: "Murder in Amish County" was Re-Broadcast on the Discovery ID Channel January 28, 2015

     On Wednesday January 28, 2015, the Discovery ID channel re-broadcast "Murder in Amish County," the one-hour docudrama based on my book, Crimson Stain. The show, featuring dramatic re-enactments of the 1993 murder of an old-order Amish woman by her husband, Edward Gingerich, premiered in June 2013 as the first episode of the network's new series, "Deadly Devotions."

     The brutal murder, committed in front of two of the Amish parents' children, took place in the couple's northwestern Pennsylvania farmhouse. Found guilty of criminal homicide but mentally ill, Ed Gingerich went to prison for four years. In January 2011, seventeen years after he stomped his wife Katie to death, Ed Gingerich hanged himself in a barn.

     At the time of his death, the shunned Amish man was depressed, isolated from his family, and off his anti-psychotic medication. He was a man without a future. In a message scratched in dust near the suicide site, Ed asked for forgiveness. No one knows what he was asking forgiveness for--killing himself, or killing his wife, or maybe both.   

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Killed in Shootout With Police Outside City Council Meeting

     A volley of gunfire erupted outside the New Hope, Minnesota city council meeting Monday night January 26, 2015 when a man shot at a group of police officers, injuring two of them. Officers returned fire, killing the man…

     The bizarre and shocking event began shortly after the two new officers…were sworn in during the city council meeting that started at 7 PM. The officers along with others who attended the ceremony walked out of the chambers fifteen minutes later. A man with a "long gun" shot at the officers…The wounded police officers are expected to survive….

"Gunman Injures Two New Hope Police Officers, Then is Fatally Shot," startribune.com, January 27, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Top Secret Service Personnel Reassigned

     Four upper management officials at the Secret Service were asked to resign and did so on January 14, 2015. A fifth agent also decided to resign voluntarily. Secret Service Acting Director Joseph Clancy obtained resignations from the agency's top four assistant directors in order to enact "change" at the agency. "Change is necessary to gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business," Clancy said in a statement to The Washington Post. "I am certain any of our senior executives will be productive and valued assets either in other positions at the Secret Service or the department." [In other words, they weren't fired, just reassigned. In government, competence is not a job requirement.]

     Secret Service director and former professional Disney World costume character Julia Pierson resigned in October 2014 after a man managed to jump the White House fence, get in through an unlocked front door, and run into the White House residence. Pierson previously told colleagues that the Secret Service needed to be "more like Disney World." [Like what? A Mickey Mouse operation?]…

Patrick Howley, "Top-Ranking Secret Service Agents Forced Out," The Daily Caller, Jaunuary 14, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: NYC Home Depot Employee Murders Manager in The Store Before Killing Himself At The Scene

     Shoppers crowded into a Manhattan Home Depot store to prepare for an anticipated snowstorm streamed into the streets Sunday afternoon January 25, 2015 after an employee shot a store manager and then himself…The 38-year-old manager, who was shot in a aisle of the store, was transported to Bellevue Hospital where he was later pronounced dead…

     The shooting happened in the store at 40 West 23rd Street in the Flatiron section of Manhattan…The shooter, a 31-year-old male worker at the store, was not scheduled to work when he came in. The shooter was pronounced dead at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound…Police recovered a .38-caliber revolver at the murder scene….

"Shoppers in Crowded Home Depot Store Forced to Flee Murder-Suicde," CNN, January 25, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Amazon.Com Investigated in Japan For Child Porn Sales

     Amazon.com's Japan unit has said it is cooperating with the local authorities in an investigation into whether child pornography has been sold on its website…On Friday January 23, 2015, the Japanese police raided Amazon's Tokyo headquarters, a distribution center and the offices of an affiliate…The police were searching for evidence that the site was selling child pornography such as books with photos of nude girls under the age of 18…

     The allegations of child pornography sales have drawn anger from some consumers and nonprofit groups. Amazon said in a statement that, "We are committed to enforcing our policies and the law for items listed on our site."

"Amazon Investigated in Japan Over Child Pornography," The New York Times, January 27, 2015 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fraternity and Sorority Kids Trash Hotel

     Several fraternities and sororities at the University of Michigan stand accused of wreaking havoc by destroying hallways and hotel rooms at two ski resorts. The total in damages is estimated to be at least $50,000 in two northern Michigan resorts.

     The Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity and Sigma Delta Tau sorority did significant damage in the Treetops Inn in Gaylord, Michigan…Four other Greek houses were implicated in ruining furniture and fixtures and trashing 12 condo units at the Boyne Highlands resort in Harbor Springs, resulting in thousands of dollars of damage…The university said the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Chi Psi and Delta Gamma sororities had caused that damage.

     About 120 men and women were staying in 45 rooms at the Treetops resort. They damaged ceiling tiles in the hallway, ripped lights out of fixtures, broke furniture and windows, and generally left the place filthy….

"Several Michigan Fraternities, Sororities Accused of Trashing Two Resorts," huffingtonpost.com, January 22, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Video Shows Cop Abusing Man in Wheelchair

     The San Francisco Police Department announced Wednesday January 21, 2015 that it is launching an internal investigation after videos emerged showing an officer pushing a man in a wheelchair into the street and trying to dump him there…The incident occurred at four in the afternoon on Sunday, January 19, 2015…

   According to bystanders' videos posted to YouTube, the incident began when Bo Frierson--who is in a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury--approached officers who were questioning his friends. The officers didn't appreciate the intervention and angry words were exchanged. One of the officers pushed Frierson over the curb into the street…"He tried to dump me out, you can see, a couple times," Frierson told a local TV reporter. "Lucky for the seat belt. What if I were to just fall on my face? I mean, I could have died."…

"Police Launch Investigation After Video Shows Cop Shoving Man in Wheelchair Into Street," huffingtonpost.com, January 22, 2015 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Murder-Suicde in Queens, New York

     The man who shot and killed three of his relatives in Queens, New York early Saturday January 23, 2015 is dead. Investigators said Jonathon Walker, 34, shot his mother-in-law, common law wife and their two daughters. He had previously lived in Buffalo and attended Daeman College [a liberal arts school in Amherst, New York].

     Viola Warren, 62, Shantai Hale, 31, and Kayla Walker, 7 were found dead inside a Queens home shortly after 5:30 PM on Saturday. Authorities said Jonathon Walker also shot his daughter Kristina Walker, 12 in the head--but she was able to call the police. She was taken to the Long Island Jewish Hospital where she underwent surgery and is in critical but stable condition….

"Former Buffalo Man Shoots Self Dead After Killing Three Relatives in Queens," twcnews.com, January 24, 2015  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Writing Quote: The Short Story Rejection Slip

Virtually all magazines have printed rejection slips. Some make their points succinctly with little attempts to soften the blow. The basic message is straightforward: "We've decided not to publish your story." Some rejection forms make a half-hearted effort to explain the obvious: "We're not reading fiction for the time being" or "another editor may think differently" (i.e., the problem may be ours and not yours). A few try diplomacy: "We're grateful for the chance to read your work." And others are mildly apologetic: "We're sorry that the quantity of manuscripts we consider makes it impossible to reply to each one personally." At bottom, however, the message is no more and likely no less than, simply, "No."

C. Michael Curtis in On Writing Short Stories, edited by Tom Bailey, 2000

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Drug Drones

     On January 21, 2015, police in Tijuana, Mexico said that a drone overloaded with methamphetamine crashed into a supermarket parking lot. The authorities were alerted after the drone fell the night before near the San Ysidro crossing at Mexico's border with California.

     Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote controlled aircraft…Authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it.  This was not the first time drug enforcement officers had encountered drones used for smuggling contraband across the border. Other efforts include catapults, ultra-light aircraft and tunnels….

"Drone Overloaded With Meth Crashes in Mexico Border City," Associated Press, January 22, 2015

89-Year-Old Murder Suspect Dies

     An 89-year-old man charged with fatally beating his 86-year-old roommate at a Buffalo area assisted living facility has died. Chester Rusek's attorney said he died Wednesday January 21, 2015 in the lockup at Erie County Medical Center where he was being treated for medical problems.

     The authorities had charged Rusek with manslaughter in the November 2012 killing of Salvatore Trusello. Rusek had used a 2-pound magnet to pummel Trusello as he lay in his bed at a senior living community in the town of Tonawanda. The victim died a month after the assault…Investigators believe Rusek attacked Mr. Trusello because he thought his roommate was stealing from him.

"89-Year-Old Man Charged With Killing 86-Year-Old Roommate Dies," Associated Press, January 23, 2015 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: University Decides Not to Arm College Cops With Assault Rifles

     Administrators at Idaho State University, on January 11, 2015, canceled an order for eleven AR-15 rifles for its campus security detail. The school ordered the weapons in August 2014 to have them on hand in case of a campus shooting. "On second consideration," said the school's vice president, "we determined it was in everybody's best interest if we let the local SWAT team deal with that sort of issue, and that our officers on campus would deal with containing the situation."

     The gun cancellation followed concerns among local law enforcement agencies that the school's campus public safety officers had overstepped their authority on several occasions…In September 2014, city officials in Pocatello said campus security officers delayed calling the police after an assistant chemistry professor shot himself in the foot during a lecture when a gun in his pocket went off. By the time city police arrived, the scene had been cleaned up.

     In late December 2014, the director of the Idaho State Police rescinded permission for university security vehicles to use red emergency lights after campus officers used the lights to stop motorists on and near the campus and issue traffic citations. The authorized use of the red lights were only to alert motorists, not to stop them…

     On other occasions, campus security administered an alcohol breath test on a driver before calling police and seized marijuana from a dorm room without notifying the authorites for days. Unlike some other large universities that have their own police departments, safety officers at ISU don't have broad authority. Campus officers can make citizen arrests and detain suspects for police questioning….

"Idaho State University Cancels Order for AR-15 Rifles," Associated Press, January 12, 2015 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Pizza Gal Takes Down Robber

     Papa John's Pizza is standing by a pizza delivery woman who opened fire on an armed robber on January 11, 2015…The employee will not be fired from the company. She was making a delivery in Decatur, Georgia when a man approached her vehicle and forced her onto the ground at gunpoint…The woman, who had a gun in her pocket, was able to fire at the man while she lay on the ground, striking the assailant--Donquaz Stevenson--in the face.

     Stevenson was found later in a neighbor's yard…A second robbery suspect stole the delivery woman's silver 2000 Honda Accord... Stevenson was charged with armed robbery and treated for his gunshot wound at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta…

     While Papa John's prohibits employees--including delivery drivers--from carrying firearms on the job, a pizza company spokesperson said the woman would remain on the job. She will be reassigned to another position. [Perhaps they should put her in charge of corporate security.]…

"Papa John's Pizza Stands By Employee Who Shot Armed Robber," Fox News, January 15, 2015


Criminal Justice Quote: Clerk Confronts Liquor Store Robbers

     A Tulsa, Oklahoma liquor store clerk took on four masked men during an attempted robbery…shooting and killing two and bringing an end to a serial robbery ring. The four men entered Ryan's Liquor store at ten-thirty Tuesday night January 13, 2015…One of the robbers, 27-year-old Brian Powell, pulled a handgun and fired it while demanding money. But the clerk didn't comply. Instead, he pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and fired, hitting and killing Powell and 16-year-old Kevin Dobbs.

     The other two robbers, 20-year-old Lakeit Thompson and 17-year-old George Williamson, fled the scene but were later arrested and charged with armed robbery and felony murder. Both suspects had been involved in previous hold-ups…Powell was on probation for a larceny conviction…

Chuck Ross, "Store Clerk Takes on Four Armed Robbers," The Daily Caller, January 16, 2015 

Breaking Into the Science Fiction Genre

Short story writing is the best place to start in the science fiction field. Many writers who start with short stories go on to acquire novel contracts. I'd say there are almost no science fiction novelist who were not published first in magazines.

Kim Mohan in Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, edited by Robin Gee, 1994

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Whackademia Quote: California Teachers Arrested for Student Beach Sex

   A pair of high school teachers in Orange County, California were arrested on January 17, 2015 on suspicion of having sex with students during an alcohol-fueled party at a beach. Melody Lippert, 38 and Michelle Ghirelli, 30 were taken into custody after rumors of the party circulated among students and staff at South Hills High School…

     South Hills teacher Melody Lippert allegedly met a group of male students in November 2014 at the beach where she gave them alcohol and engaged in sex with one of them….A few weeks later, Lippert allegedly set up an overnight camping trip to the same beach with students. She was accompanied by Ghirelli. The two teachers are suspected of having sex with the students during that outing…

     Lippert has been charged with conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Ghirelli has been charged with oral copulation and unlawful sex with a minor. Both suspects were booked into the Orange County Jail…

"California Teachers Accused of Having Sex With Students on a Beach," huffingtonpost.com, January 19, 2015 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Prep School Headmaster Convicted of Child Porn Dealing

     A judge has convicted a former headmaster of an elite Delaware prep school on 25 counts of dealing in child pornography. Christopher Wheeler was arrested after police, prompted by child sex abuse allegations involving two Pennsylvania brothers, searched his home and office at the Tower Hill school for evidence of witness tampering or intimidation and instead found child pornography.

     The conviction on all counts on December 22, 2014 came after a bench [no jury] trial for the 54-year-old ex-headmaster of the school founded by members of the DuPont family. The school's graduates include DuPont company CEO Ellen Kullman and U.S. Senator Chris Coons…

     Each of the 25 counts carries a minimum two-year prison term.

"Ex-Delaware Headmaster Guilty in Child Porn Case," Fox News, December 22, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: FBI to Offer Active Shooter Training Drills

     The FBI will hold active shooter training drills at sports stadiums as part of a program to prepare for what the agency says is a growing concern for law enforcement. FBI agents will take part in the training sessions designed to help local officers deal with active-shooter situations at businesses, schools and public places…The FBI began developing the project after the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut…Two-hundred agents will help conduct the two-day training sessions that will be held around the U.S. and in Puerto Rico…

     Sports stadiums will be one focus of the program. Authorities worry that these sites could be the venues for future shootings by gunmen bent on achieving mass casualties…

     Though the shooting at Newtown--where 26 children and teachers were killed at the Sandy Hook elementary school--served as the catalyst for the program, the FBI found additional evidence to support the new training effort.

     Reviewing shooting incidents from between 2000 and 2013, the agency found that mass shooting incidents went from 6.4 per year in the first half of the review to 16.4 in the second half. Though two-thirds of the 160 incidents included in the FBI study came to an end before law enforcement arrived at the scene--either because the shooter committed suicide, fled, or was stopped by a citizen--the FBI believes the training will save at least some lives….

Chuck Ross, "FBI to Train 30,000 Officers for Active Shooting Situations," The Daily Caller, December 22, 2014 

Judge Let Man Out On Bail Who Threatened To Kill Cops

     A Brooklyn judge cut loose a gang member who had posted online threats to gun down cops in the hours after two NYPD officers were executed in their patrol car--ignoring prosecutors' pleas to keep him behind bars…

     Criminal Court Judge Laura Johnson let Devon Coley, 18, waltz free without bail despite the fact that he faces seven years behind bars on charges he made a terroristic threat--complete with an image of a killer shooting cops in their car--and was awaiting trial in two unrelated cases involving assault and gun possession.

     Johnson's stunning no-bail decision came just two days after the December 20, 2014 broad daylight slayings of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenijan Liu by a gunman bent on avenging the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of the police.

     "The judge should resign from the bench," said Dennis Quirk, head of the state court officers union. "She's not fit to be a judge."

"Judge Turns Loose Thug Who Posted Gun Threat Against Cops," New York Post, December 24, 2014 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Case of House Speaker John Boehner's Ex-Bartender

     Michael P. Hoyt, known as "Bartender Mike" at the Wetherington Golf and Country Club in West Chester, Ohio, lived in Deer Park, a suburban community in Butler County not far from Cincinnati. For the past five years the 44-year-old bartender had served wine to Ohio Republican and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner. The congressman is a member of the club.

     Suffering from mental illness for which he had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication that he did not always take, Mr. Hoyt had trouble at work. On October 22, 2014 his boss at the country club fired him.

     In his psychotic state, Mr. Hoyt blamed John Boehner for many things, including his dismissal from the country club. In an October 28, 2014 email to the speaker's wife Debbie, Hoyt wrote: "If I had any intention of hurting Mr. Boehner, I could have poisoned his wine at Wertherington many, many times."

     The next day, Hoyt called the Deer Park Police Department and asked to speak with an officer. Questioned at his home, the former bartender said he had been fired because John Boehner had complained about his job performance. He said voices in his head had informed him that Mr. Boehner was an evil man who was responsible for the Ebola outbreak. Claiming to be Jesus Christ (this gave him a lot in common with many politicians), Hoyt said his supervisor had fired him before he had the opportunity to poison Mr. Boehner's wine. He also informed the officers that he owned a loaded .380 Beretta pistol, a weapon he could have used to kill the Speaker.

     Police officers took Mr. Hoyt into custody on suspicion of making death threats against the Ohio Congressman. A judge ordered a 45-day mental evaluation of Mr. Hoyt at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

     Officers searching Mr. Hoyt's home on October 31, 2014 found boxes of ammunition but no guns. (Hoyt's mother, aware of her son's deteriorating mental health, had taken his SKS assault rifle to her home in Hebron, Kentucky.) In the dwelling, officers found a notebook containing Hoyt's psychotic ramblings on John Boehner.

     As assistant United States Attorney in Cincinnati, on November 6, 2014, presented Mr. Hoyt's case to a federal grand jury that promptly indicted him for making terroristic threats against a public official. If convicted as charged he faced up to thirty years in prison.

     It wasn't until January 14, 2015 that a federal spokesperson announced Hoyt's indictment. The spokesperson did not explain why the government had waited so long to make this information public.


Criminal Justice Quote: Two Albuquerque Cops Charged in Police Involved Shooting

     A New Mexico prosecutor on January 12, 2015 filed murder charges against two Albuquerque police officers who fatally shot a homeless man in March 2014. The shooting set off violent protests across the city…Former detective Keith Sandy and SWAT officer Dominique Perez were each charged with one murder count in the death of James Boyd. An open murder charge allows the prosecutor to decide later whether a first-degree or second-degree charge will be brought. [It's also a plea bargaining tool.]…

     Perez and Sandy were accused of fatally shooting the 38-year-old man after a four-hour standoff. Video from an officer's helmet camera showed Boyd, armed with two knives, appearing to surrender before he was shot…Boyd suffered from schizophrenia and other mental disorders…Police Chief Gordon Eden ignited controversy for saying the shooting appeared justified…

     Luis Robies, an attorney for Perez, said he was "confident the facts will vindicate Perez's actions in the case."

"Albuquerque Officers Charged in Fatal Shooting," Associated Press, January 12, 2015  

Criminal Justice Quote: Oklahoma City Police Officer Accused of Rape Fired

     Oklahoma City's police chief fired an officer accused of sexually assaulting 13 women while on duty…Daniel Holtzclaw was fired on January 8, 2015. He pleaded not guilty to 26 charges of sexual assault that include first-degree rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and indecent exposure...

     Police began investigating Holtzclaw in June 2014 after a woman filed a complaint. Chief William Citty called the charges against the former officer "the greatest abuse of police authority" in his 37 years on the force. Holtzclaw is free on $609,000 bail….

"Oklahoma City Policeman Facing Sexual Assault Charges," Associated Press, January 9, 2015 

Friday, January 16, 2015

69-Year-Old's Teen Girlfriend Orchestrated His Kidnapping

     "I thought this was going to be my last car ride," said a 69-year-old man. "My own personal car was going to be my hearse." The Southgate, Michigan man was the victim of a plan involving robbery and kidnapping set up by his 17-year-old girlfriend and two men in their 30s.

     On the night of January 2, 2015, the victim's girlfriend, Destiny Marie Gerwatowski, came up with the plan with suspects Alphonso Straughter Jr., 31 and Tajak Lewis Jackson, 36. "After they got my wallet they were ticked off because their was only $90 in it. That's when the crime became serious," said the unidentified victim. "They threw me in the trunk of my car and started backing out of the driveway."

     The man imprisoned in his own trunk used a lighter to find the emergency trunk release…"When I felt the car creep forward I bailed out."…He ran across the highway to a liquor store where he called 911…

     Gerwatowski, Straughter and Jackson were locked up on charges of carjacking, armed robbery, home invasion and unlawful imprisonment. The local prosecutor, despite the fact Gerwatowski was 17, charged her as an adult…All three could be sentenced up to life in prison….

"Southgate Man, 69, Escaped Kidnap," myfoxdetroit.com, January 7, 2015


Criminal Justice Quote: Female Cop Goes Nuts in New Jersey

     An Irvington, New Jersey police captain was arrested early Tuesday morning January 6, 2015 after allegedly trying to run over a city councilman with her car…Monique Smith, 43, was taken into custody on charges including aggravated assault, stalking, harassment, criminal mischief and multiple weapons charges related to the incident involving South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James…

     James was close to his home…when he was confronted by Captain Smith around 11 PM January 5, 2015. As she yelled at him, James got into his car and drove off. Smith climbed into her personal vehicle and followed the councilman, allegedly striking his vehicle several times. James proceeded to his parents' home where his father, former longtime Newark Mayor Sharpe James, intervened on his behalf…

     Police were called to the scene, but were unable to locate Captain Smith until early the next morning…The confrontation came just hours after Smith was promoted to captain during a ceremony at Irvington Town Hall….

"Irvington Police Captain Arrested," blognj.com, January 6, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Problems in Florida's Prison System

     After a spate of questionable inmate deaths in Florida prisons and a steady increase in the use of force by guards, a legislative committee has begun discussions on what it described as substantial reforms to the system…The Senate Criminal Justice Committee heard from a former psychotherapist at Dade Correctional Institution who condemned the system as "riddled" by a minority of guards who are "sadistic, amoral sociopaths." The interim commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement explained to the committe why his department needs to hire 66 more staffers and spend $8.4 million to investigate inmate deaths.

     Committee members heard the recommendation from a prison reform task force that suggested the only way to change the system is to impose a new oversight board that will "change the culture." According to the task force, the work environment for corrections employees has to be improved. Corrections personnel have not received a raise in seven years. [Perhaps people who tortured prisoners and those who allowed it didn't deserve raises.]...

"Seeking Florida Prison Fix," thecrimereport.org, January 6, 2015 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Driver Drunk On Vanilla Arrested

     Did you know vanilla extract contains 41 percent alcohol? A woman in New York likely did, which is why she drank enough of it to get wasted. Police officers pulled her over in a Walmart parking lot for driving erratically.

     Seneca Falls resident Carolyn Kesel was charged with felony DWI when her blood-alcohol content registered at 2.6 percent, three times the legal limit. The 46-year-old admitted possessing and consuming at least two bottles of the baking ingredient….

"Woman Pulled Over For Driving Erratically on Vanilla Extract," crimefeed.com, January 12, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Three Wrongful Convictions cost NYC $17 Million

New York City will pay $17 million to settle three wrongful criminal convictions…The settlements involve cases handled by retired homicide detective Louis Scarcella. Scarcella's tactics have come under scrutiny and are being reviewed by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. He has denied any wrongdoing. The cases involved three half brothers; one died in prison. Robert Hill, Alvena Jennette and Darryl Austin spent a combined 60 years in prison before their convictions were vacated by a judge in May 2014.

"NYC Is Paying $17 M to Settle 3 Wrongful Cases," Associated Press, January 12, 2015 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: America's Most Corrupt States

     A study from researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University estimates that corruption on the state level is costing citizens in the ten most corrupt states an average of $1,308 per year, or 5.2 percent of those states' average expenditures per year.

     The researchers studied more than 25,000 convictions of public officials for violation of federal corruption laws between 1976 and 2008 as well as patterns in state spending to develop a corruption index that estimates the most and least corrupt states in the country. Based on this method, the most corrupt states were:

1. Mississippi
2. Louisiana
3. Tennessee
4. Illinois
5. Pennsylvania
6. Alabama
7. Alaska
8. South Dakota
9. Kentucky
10. Florida

"The 10 Most Corrupt States in the U.S.," fortune.com, June 10, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Don't Mess With Joquasha

     Angered that a fellow pupil passed gas in her general direction, a New York City high school student allegedly clobbered the male victim in the head with a metal stool and repeatedly punched him in the face…Police arrested Joquasha Rosado, 17, on January 7, 2015 on charges of felony assault, weapons possession and harassment. The attack took place at the South Richmond High School on Staten Island.

     The assault of the 15-year-old boy left him with a gash that required eight staples…After hitting the victim with the stool, Rosado punched him ten to fifteen times with her fists.

"Female High School Student Beats Male For Passing Gas," truecrimetoday.blogspot.com, January 13, 2015 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Writing Quote: The First Novel's Inspiration

Your first novel will grow like a lotus out of something you know and love: a person, a place, an event, a time in your life, an activity, or a book you'd like to emulate.

Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick, The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery, 1998

Writing Quote: Fiction Woven Into a Piece of New Journalism

On the one hand, the New Journalists preach a doctrine of truth shaped like fiction; on the other, they frequently seem to acknowledge that the truth is being mixed, from time to time, with fiction.

Robert Fulford, The Triumph of Narrative, 2000

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rape Underreported in Detroit

     Detroit police on Tuesday January 6, 2015 reported there had been 322 sexual assaults in the city last year, but the actual number was more than five times that: 1,845 reports according to the
Detroit News. Behind the vastly different numbers are two factors: Detroit police, like most departments, release statistics to the public using the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting method that doesn't count all sexual assaults. Also, the city uses old CRISNET reporting software which doesn't automatically update changes in investigations.

     "There's nothing nefarious going on," Police Chief James Craig said. "Nobody's scrubbing anything; this is just the way crimes are reported industrywide." The reporting method gives people a false impression about the scope of sexual assaults, said Jennifer Jones, director of the Sexual Assault Advocacy Center in Colorado, who added that rapes already are underreported. "Even if a victim does call the police, they're sometimes talked out of making a report," Jones said. "Between that and the way sexual assaults are reported, a lot of statistics get left out."

"Detroit Reports 322 Sexual Assaults Last Year; Actual Number 5 Times Higher," thecrimereport.org, January 8, 2015 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: A Rare Mass Murder in Edmonton, Canada

     On Monday night December 29, 2014, a man in Edmonton, Canada shot and killed six adults and two children then took his own life. The gunman, who had a criminal record dating back to 1987, used a stolen 9mm pistol…The six adults, between the ages 25 and 50, and two children under the age of ten were found in two separate residences that Monday night…The man linked to the shootings killed himself in a restaurant in the nearby city of Fort Saskatchewan the next morning…

     Officers had gone to one of the homes twice: once in November 2012 and again in 2014 when a man residing there was accused of domestic violence and sexual assaults...

     There hasn't been a mass killing of this scale in Edmonton, a city of 878,000 in the western part of the country, since 1956…

"Edmonton Murders Linked to Domestic Violence," CBC News,  December 31, 2014

Criminal Justice Report: Bonnie Without Clyde in Sacramento, California

     A woman wanted in a North Sacramento, California robbery was taken into custody after she led officers on a chase through the center of the city…Police identified the woman as Laroia Davis, 38. The pursuit started Wednesday evening January 7, 2015 when officers responded to a call of robbery at a Rite-Aid pharmacy…Davis and another woman, stealing merchandise in the store, assaulted a security officer. As police officers were investigating they spotted the Ford Explorer sought in connect with the robbery and tried to pull over Davis who refused to stop…

     Davis led officers from North Sacramento to the downtown section... At some point during the chase, officers put down spike strips which blew out the tires of the her vehicle. She continued driving on the SUV's rims, crashing into three patrol cars…

     When approached by police officers, Davis refused to get out of her vehicle. Finally, after twenty minutes, she climbed out of the Ford and was taken into custody…The other suspect had fled on foot before the police chase.

"Woman Arrested After Sacramento Police Chase," kcra.com, January 8, 2015 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: False Rape Claim Leads To Murder

     On January 5, 2015, a man was beaten to death by the boyfriend of a woman who falsely claimed he raped her in a Fairbanks, Alaska motel room…The woman, 31-year-old Dominique Vasquez, reportedly did not want to admit to her boyfriend, 39-year-old Abraham Stine, that she had cheated on him so she lied about the rape…She also knew that Stine had a history of violence when she told him that 37-year-old Wesley Lord--who was Stine's cousin--raped her at the Extended Stay Motel…

     Stine showed up at the motel, peeked in the window and came to the conclusion that Vasquez was cheating on him…He entered the motel room through a window and began punching and beating Mr. Lord…The Alaska Bureau of Investigation determined that the victim had died from blunt-force trauma to the head…

     Both Stine and Vasquez face second-degree murder charges…

"False Rape Claim Leads to Alaska Man's Beating Death," The Daily Caller, January 8, 2015 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Father Throws His 5-Year-Old Daughter Off Bridge

      A 5-year-old girl died after being thrown from a bridge into Tampa Bay. Her father, 25-year-old John Jonchuck from St. Petersburg, Florida, is in custody. The crime took place just after midnight on January 8, 2015 on the Dick Misener Bridge.

     A St. Petersburg police officer was heading home toward the bridge when a Chrysler PT Cruiser passed him going 100 miles per hour. The driver stopped his car at the top of the bridge, got out with the girl and threw her over the rail into the water 62 feet below. Jonchuck got back into his vehicle and drove south thirty miles before Manatee County deputies stopped him…

     Jonchuck, who did not cooperate with the police, had been arrested in 2013 on battery domestic violence charges in Hillsborough County. Following his conviction the judge placed him on probation. [Jonchuck was in a custody battle with his wife over the girl who lived with him.]

"Father in Custody After 5-Year-Old Girl Thrown to Death From Bridge," Fox News, January 8, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Woman Strangles Her Cousin Then Falsely Reports His Abduction

     A 19-year-old woman strangled her 5-year-old cousin who had been in her parents' care, then discarded his body along a road before calling in a false report that two masked intruders took the boy from their Albany, New York area home…Tiffany VanAlstyne's bogus 911 call on Thursday afternoon December 18, 2014 set off a search for Kenneth White that lasted into the night…A search dog picked up a scent at 9:00 PM and Kenneth's body was found in a culvert covered with snow…

     VanAlstyne was charged with second-degree murder and said nothing at her arraignment…

     VanAlstyne's parents have been the legal guardians of Kenneth White, his twin sister Cheyenne, and 4-year-old sister Christine since September 2014. The children had lived in the VanAlstyne home for more than a year…

     VanAlstyne strangled the boy and tossed his body over a guard rail along a rural two-lane road about 40 yards from her parents' trailer home in the town of Berne sometime before making the 911 call…The child had also suffered a blow to the head. The 911 call touched off a search that included an Amber Alert describing the kidnappers as two men, clad in black and driving a black pickup truck.

"Woman Falsely Reported Abduction," Associated Press, December 20, 2014 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: "Real Housewives" Star Gets Real Time

     Teresa Guidice, a cast member of Bravo's "Real Housewives of New Jersey," reported to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut early Monday morning January 5, 2015 to begin serving a 15-month sentence for bankruptcy fraud…The reality star left her mansion shortly after midnight and arrived at the prison around 3 AM…

     She and her husband Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice pleaded guilty in 2014 and admitted hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitting phony applications to get some $5 million in mortgage and construction loans. Joe Guidice also pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes totaling more than $200,000.

     At the Giudices' sentencing in October 2014, the federal judge criticized the couple for not disclosing all their assets as required under their plea agreement, calling it "the same pattern of obstruction, concealment and manipulation as they showed in the bankruptcy case."

     Still, the judge sentenced Teresa Guidice to a sentence below the range sought by the U.S. Attorney's office and staggered her sentence with her husband's so they wouldn't be in prison at the same time and unable to care for their four daughters. Joe Giudice will serve his 41-month sentence after his wife's sentence is completed….

" 'Real Housewives' Star Teresa Giudice Begins Prison Sentence," Fox News, January 5, 2014


Criminal Justice Quote: A Boston Cop Goes Off The Deep End

     A Boston police officer has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly assaulting an Uber driver. The driver for the ride sharing company told police he drove a passenger to the area of East 2nd Street in South Boston early Saturday morning January 4, 2015. That passenger was off-duty officer Michael Doherty, 40, of South Boston. According to the driver, when he reached the destination, Doherty accused him of trying to drop him off at the wrong location. Doherty then allegedly yelled at then hit the driver.

     When the driver got out of the car, Doherty got into the front seat and drove off. Police say a passing motorist helped the Uber driver follow Doherty until he stopped the car and fled.

     Doherty, who has been on the force for 16 years, was arrested at his home Sunday January 5 and charged with assault and battery and using a motor vehicle without authority.

"Off-Duty Boston Cop Arrested For Allegedly Assaulting Uber Driver," CBS News, January 4, 2015 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Naked Burglar

     Police near Salem, Oregon say they arrested a naked man after he broke into two homes, drank booze and used a hot tub…Officers received a 911 call early Sunday January 4, 2015 from a woman who was house-sitting in Keizer, Oregon when she was awakened by noises coming from the laundry room. As she went to check it out, the laundry room door slammed shut. She grabbed a knife and called the police and her husband.

     Police found Guillermo Brambila Lopez, 24, of Woodburn, Oregon inside the house. They arrested the naked man without incident. He had climbed in through a back window after removing a screen. Police also noticed that screens had been removed from windows at a neighbor's home…The suspect had broken into that dwelling as well. In that burglary he had helped himself to the homeowner's alcohol and had used the hot tub and shower.

"Man Broke Into Homes, Used Hot Tub," Associated Press, January 4, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: More Guns, Less Gun Control

     A new Pew Research Center survey finds that, for the first time in their surveys, the majority of Americans oppose more gun control. Gallup and CNN pols tell a similar story. Opposition to gun control has been increasing over at least the last couple of decades…

     Perceptions have changed dramatically, with most people now believing the "More Gun, Less Crime" hypothesis. Gallup recently asked Americans if they thought residents are safer with a gun in the home. People answered "Yes" by a margin of 63 to 30 percent. In 2000, Americans gave just the opposite answer by a margin of 51 to 35 percent. In 2013, sixty percent of gun owners listed "Personal Safety/Protection" as the reason for owning a gun.

     Academic research aligns with current public opinion. If you have a gun in the home, that gun is more likely to prevent murder than it is to be used in an accidental shooting or to kill a loved one…

     Between 2000 and 2014, the number of concealed handgun permits soared from about 2.7 million to well over 12 million…According to Gallup, 42 percent of American now have a gun in the house...The Pew Research Center survey found that 57 percent of Americans believe gun ownership "protects people from becoming victims of crime. Thirty-eight percent believe that it "puts people at risk."

     Support for gun ownership has grown particularly sharply among blacks and women….

"Why Most Americans Oppose More Gun Control," Fox News, December 30, 2014 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Family Dollar Stores in St. Louis Area Ban Hoodies

     Some Family Dollar stores in the St. Louis area have been experimenting with signs asking customers to take off their hoodies before they enter the stores. The signs read: "All Customers: Please remove hoods before entering Family Dollar." Managers at Family Dollar stores would not reveal the reasoning for the signs. However, the signs seem likely to be a response to an outbreak of shoplifting and armed robbery at St. Louis-area Family Dollar stores.

     For example, a man allegedly held an employee at gunpoint during a December 2014 robbery at a Family Dollar store on South Jefferson Street in St. Louis. At another area store on South Grand Avenue someone started shooting a gun…

     Some customers think the hoodie ban is discriminatory…Other customers were more supportive of the anti-hooddie signage…

     Family Dollar is a chain of discount variety stores with 8,100 locations in several states across the country. Most of the stores are located in low-income neighborhoods.

"Family Dollar Stores Face Scrutiny For Asking Customers to Remove Hoodies," The Daily Caller, January 5, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: U.S. Death Sentences and Executions at Historic Lows

     The number of executions in the United States hit a 20-year low in 2014, a dip driven in part by lethal-injection drug shortages and legal battles stemming from botched procedures. Thirty-five death-row inmates in seven states were killed last year, the lowest number since 1994…Executions peaked in 1999; there were 98 that year…

     Death sentences hit a 40-year low last year and have been in steep decline for the last two decades, plunging from 315 in 1994 to 72 in 2014. According to Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, "The realization that mistakes have been made, that innocent people are still being freed, has made juries hesitant. They are willing to convict but not sentence to death. There is a demand for perfect proof, and so prosecutors are taking more plea bargains."

     Seven death-row inmates were exonerated last year, the most since 2009.

     A majority of Americans still support capital punishment. In a May 2014 poll by NBC News, 59 percent said they favor the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for murder, while 35 percent said they are opposed. That reflects the erosion of support since the 1990s, when more than 70 percent backed executions.

"Number of Death Sentences and Executions at 20-Year Low," Associated Press, December 17, 2014


Writing Quote: Book-Friendly France

Whatever the cultural reasons, books in France are indeed an "essential good"--the designation coined by the French government that serves to justify the very concrete steps it has taken over the years to protect its precious literary culture. The most prominent of these are laws outlawing the advantages (deep discounting combined with free shipping) that big chains and Amazon enjoy over independent booksellers in the United States and other countries. These help explain a phenomenon that inevitably strikes American visitors to France today: As even big chains such as Borders and Barnes & Noble have faltered here, every block in central Paris seems to sprout at least two small, intelligently stocked bookshops.

Daniel Mendelsohn, The New York Times Book Review, November 16, 2014 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Thomas Gilbert: Manhattan Hedge Fund Founder Murdered

     A 70-year-old hedge fund founder has been shot dead in his New York City apartment. Thomas Gilbert was shot in the head in his Manhattan apartment on Beekman Place on the East Side of Manhattan. He was pronounced dead at the scene. [Detectives were questioning the victim's 30-year-old son as a suspect.]

     Mr. Gilbert started Waincott Capital Partners Fund in 2011. The fund has $200 million in assets and focuses on the biotech and heath care industries…The murder was a rare act of violence on Beekman Place, a tony enclave just north of the United Nations building.

"Hedge Fund Founder, 70, Slain in NYC Apartment," sfgate.com, January 5, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Abducted Baby Found Dead in Imperial Beach, California

     Long Beach, California police confirmed that a baby found Sunday January 4, 2015 is that of a 3-week-old abducted from her home after fatal shootings. The identification of Eliza Delacruz came after detectives from Long Beach traveled to San Diego County to help detectives investigate the discovery of an infant's remains found in a dumpster behind an Imperial Beach strip mall. The baby had been taken Saturday night January 3, 2015 from a Long Beach home, the scene of the shootings…

     Police went to the site of the abduction after receiving a 911 call about the shooting. At the house they found two brothers and the baby's mother. All three had been shot to death. One of the brothers was Eliza's father. Detectives are looking for an adult male suspect. The authorities have not revealed if the gunman is related to any of the victims.

"Baby Abducted After Shooting Found Dead in Dumpster," Associated Press, January 5, 2015

Writing Quote: Bob Hope's Influence on Modern Humor

Comedian Bob Hope's heir at NBC, Johnny Carson, not to mention Carson's legion of successors, proves that Hope's flippant, topical monologue has never left us. There's also Hope's obvious influence on comedians in the 1970s who played versions of themselves as show-business boors, like Albert Brooks and Steve Martin.

Ben Schwartz, Bookforum, Dec/Jan, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Cost of Identity Theft

While identify theft is certainly a global problem, experts say it's difficult to measure worldwide losses. However, a Department of Justice study estimates identify theft of all kinds was responsible for U.S. financial losses of $24,7 billion in 2012--nearly double the $14 billion lost from all other property crimes such as burglary and theft.

"Identity Theft Costs U.S. Billions," Associated Press, December 21, 2014 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Camera Shy Cops

     An Orlando, Florida man jailed for filming a police officer got more than his money back. Alberto Troche, who sued Orlando police for wrongfully jailing him and taking his phone, received $15,000 in an out of court settlement. According to the lawsuit, Troche saw police arresting a man late one night in December 2013. Based on cries of pain from the man being arrested, Troche thought police were using excessive force and pulled out his cellphone to record the incident. Several others did the same.

     Police arrested Troche for recording the officers. Troche claimed he stood 10-15 feet away from the arrest and never interfered. He spent 15 hours in custody and didn't get his phone back for three weeks.

     In a video of the incident, police can be heard yelling at an indignant crowd. Police threatened to take their cell phones because they were recording the arrest. The officers claimed the phones were needed for evidence. In the video, a police officer can be heard shouting, "We need the camera now!" Someone in the crowd responded, "They can't take your camera," followed by "Aw hell no! They cannot do that!"…

Casey Harper, "Man Jailed For Filming Cops," The Daily Caller, December 26, 2014