In Case You Missed It: Weekend Reading 10/23/15

Another eventful week, full of domestic terrorism, Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony, a new Star Wars Ep 7 trailer, some helpful life advice, and, for those in the know about how awesome she is, a new Kelly Link story for our Fk Yeah! finisher.

Short on time today, so let’s get down to it. Continue reading “In Case You Missed It: Weekend Reading 10/23/15”

In Case You Missed It: Weekend Reading 10/16/15

Hello there, and welcome to (what will hopefully be) the first of many installments of In Case You Missed It, where I’ll post links to the most interesting things I read on the web in the previous week and linked on my facebook page.

The big news this week was the first Democratic Presidential Debate. But I also found some interesting think pieces on Columbus Day (or, as we celebrate in my adopted home city of Seattle, Indigenous Peoples’ Day), violence, and socialism in the modern day and age.

And, in what I hope and expect to become a weekly tradition, we’ll end with a dueling WTF?/Fk Yeah! pair of stories to make you scratch your head and cheer. Continue reading “In Case You Missed It: Weekend Reading 10/16/15”

Things I Learned on the Internet This Week 8/8/14

Another week gone, and the internet (and the world it reflects, or possibly refracts) continues to fascinate. So, in my continuing efforts to excuse to myself the embarrassing amount of time I spend surfing the internet, here is a selection of highlights from my procrastinations this week:

Warren Layre, 61, told The Inquirer in an interview last year that the officers beat him with a steel bar and kicked in his teeth during a warrantless raid on his machine shop on West Sedgwick Street in June 2011. Speaking to a reporter two years later, he pulled back his lip to show the gaps in his teeth that remained.

According to Wednesday’s indictment, Liciardello reported less than $7,000 of the $41,158 they seized from Layre’s shop.

Truth really is stranger than fiction, as this story of six corrupt cops up on racketeering charges in Philadelphia attests. For ten years, these guys ran rampant through the city, shaking people down and sending people to jail on trumped-up charges and basically running a standover operation, and the only thing that stopped them was that one of them finally got caught and turned stool pigeon. If this was on TV, it’d be a huge hit, and I expect some day it will be. In fact, I think these guys are a natural extension of the portrayal of law enforcement in our entertainment culture, which I think has a lot of similarities to what happened (and continues to happen) between Hollywood and the Mafia.

Moving on to American law enforcement at the institutional level, we learn from the Washington Post that

Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said.

For years, even decades, a team in the FBI crime lab misrepresented its results in order to secure convictions. Not unlike the situation in Philadelphia, the problem was known but institutional inertia prevented it from being attended to until outed by investigative reporter Spencer Hsu.

The review comes after The Washington Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases. In addition, prosecutors did not notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.

Worst of all, innocent people may have been executed. The first article in the series sums it all up pretty well, I think.

Officials started reviewing the cases in the 1990s after reports that sloppy work by examiners at the FBI lab was producing unreliable forensic evidence in court trials. Instead of releasing those findings, they made them available only to the prosecutors in the affected cases, according to documents and interviews with dozens of officials.

In addition, the Justice Department reviewed only a limited number of cases and focused on the work of one scientist at the FBI lab, despite warnings that problems were far more widespread and could affect potentially thousands of cases in federal, state and local courts.

As a result, hundreds of defendants nationwide remain in prison or on parole for crimes that might merit exoneration, a retrial or a retesting of evidence using DNA because FBI hair and fiber experts may have misidentified them as suspects.

And, just in case you weren’t yet fully convinced of the dysfunction in US law enforcement culture, here’s one more slug to the guts.

“I felt so vulnerable being laid out on a table, with all my clothes off and in a bag and all the swabs and brushes and combs,” she recalled. But at least, she figured, the police would use the swabs and hair samples to help catch the rapist.

They did not. Like hundreds of thousands of other rape kits across the country containing evidence gathered from victims, that of Ms. Ybos lay untested for years on a storeroom shelf.

(hat tip to Charles P. Pierce, one of my favorite writers, period, for this post, where I found most of the above)

Having gotten through all that, I think we could all use a break. Here’s a picture of the sunset at Second Beach, where I went camping with my girl and just the loveliest bunch of people you could ever want to hang out with last weekend. Continue reading “Things I Learned on the Internet This Week 8/8/14”

Things I Learned from the Internet This Week

In a blatant attempt to rationalize how much time I spend reading the internet, I’ve decided to post this first of what I hope to be a semi-regular roundup of some of the more interesting things I’ve come across in my coffee-time divagations. Those who follow me on facebook will recognize many of the links (one of the reasons I want to do this is to keep track of all the things I link to), though thanks to the mystery of facebook I never know how many people see any given link. At any rate, here are some things I found interesting these last couple of weeks. Maybe you will find some of them interesting, too. Continue reading “Things I Learned from the Internet This Week”