From mid-July to the end of September, 10 percent of all Anchorage Fire Department emergency medical transports were due to suspected use of the synthetic drug Spice. As the problem persists, Anchorage officials hint that stronger enforcement measures may be on the horizon.
In the 1950's, this was the vision. What went wrong? We had the productivity, but not the political will. Probably, too: Americans like to work. We consume way more work than leisure, but perhaps we're not managing our time and resources efficiently. See what you think about Sweden's system.
THE Yamaguchi-Gumi, one of the world's largest and most ferocious gangs, is estimated to earn over $6 billion a year from drugs, protection, loan-sharking, real-estate rackets and even, it is said, Japan’s stock exchange. This year, the organisation's 100th, over 2,000 of its 23,400 members split away, leaving police nervous about what fallout might follow; a war between rival gangs in the mid-1980s claimed over two dozen lives. And yet membership of the yakuza—as Japan's crime syndicates are known—is not technically illegal. Finding a mob hangout requires little more than a telephone book. Tokyo’s richest crime group has an office tucked off the back streets of the glitzy Ginza shopping district. A bronze nameplate on the door helpfully identifies the Sumiyoshi-kai, another large criminal organisation. Full gang members carry business cards and register with the police. Some have pension plans.
The yakuza emerged from misfit pedlars and gamblers in the Edo period (between 1603 and 1868) that formed into criminal gangs. During Japan’s turbo-charged modernisation, they reached deep into the economy; after the second world war they grew powerful in black markets. Their might peaked in the 1960s with an estimated membership of 184,000. At their zenith, they had strong links to conservative politicians and were used by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan’s post-war political behemoth, to break up unions and left-wing demonstrations. Such ties may not have completely faded.
This history may explain in part why the gangs are not exactly illegal. But partly under pressure from America, which wants Japan to rein in financial crime, the mob is being brought to heel. Yakuza-exclusion ordinances, introduced three years ago, stop companies from knowingly engaging in business with gangsters. Businesses from banks to corner shops are now obliged to confirm that customers have no ties to organised crime. Known gangsters cannot open bank accounts. Still, there are no plans to criminalise the gangs themselves. The police believe that would drive crime underground, says Hiroki Allen, a security and finance consultant who studies the yakuza. At least now they are regulated and subject to the law, he says: gangsters have often been known to surrender by walking into police stations. “If one member does something bad you can call in the boss and take the whole gang down,” he says.
Brannon Hill represents the result of several levels of institutional failure, starting with the condominium association and rising up through the county government. It's outside of incorporated city lines, leaving DeKalb County with jurisdiction over it. Up until this year, when confronted with the increasing social disorder of Brannon Hill, county leaders have cited the legal complexity of negotiating with more than 100 separate property owners, the futility of enforcing housing codes when those owners have no money to pay fines, the sensitivity of displacing a poor immigrant community, and the financial cost of eminent domain or condemnation. Meanwhile, things have continued to get worse.
Hitachi Ltd. agreed to pay $19 million to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission allegations that it violated U.S. anti-bribery law as it sought contracts to build power plants in South Africa.
The Tokyo-based conglomerate sold a 25% stake in a South African subsidiary to a company serving as a front for the ruling African National Congress, and it paid the front company about $5 million in “dividends” derived from profits on two contracts to build power plants in South Africa, according to the SEC. Hitachi also paid the front company an additional $1 million in “success fees,” the SEC alleged.
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, which were lodged in a complaint filed in Washington, D.C. federal court, Hitachi agreed to pay $19 million. The settlement is subject to judicial approval.
Neither lawyers for Hitachi, nor a U.S.-based company representative, responded to requests for comment.
When creating the South African subsidiary in 2005, Hitachi sought a partner in the country in compliance with the country’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, according to the complaint. This law, which encourages companies seeking bids for contracts in the country to offer ownership, hiring and other preferences to black people or black-owned businesses, holds risks for companies, including putting them at risk of violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Risk & Compliance Journal reported in 2014.
This week, those of us who don’t have a lot of Dutch friends learned that the Dutch are very tall, and it might be because of cheese. They love cheese, reports the BBC. We love cheese, too. Any tall Dutch people wishing to bond over cheese can say so in the comments section.
Investigators including cyber experts and hate crime specialists worked Friday to reveal the life of a 26-year-old gunman whose massacre across an Oregon campus may have been driven by religious rage and a fascination in the twisted notoriety of high-profile killers.
In one of the deadliest of a series of school shootings that have become violently familiar across the U.S., a gunman opened fire at a community college in southwestern Oregon on Thursday morning, killing at least nine and injuring seven others before dying in a shootout with police.
HIS boyhood enthusiasm for the countryside, especially for its birds, never left him. His heart soared at the sight of a red kite or a hen harrier. He mourned how rarely he heard the song of the yellowhammer, “a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese”, on his hikes through the hills of mid-Wales to which he had retreated, close to the River Wye.
Eric Hobsbawm was a rare bird himself: “the last living Communist”, as he was teased at his 90th birthday party, and one of the last committed Marxist historians. He had become a Communist at secondary school in Berlin in 1932, and joined the party when he went up to his beloved King’s, Cambridge in 1936, because politics was his passion and it was either Hitler or the other side. But he remained for 50 years until Communism foundered, collapsing “so completely”, he wrote, “that it must now be obvious that failure was built into this enterprise from the start.” Why, then, had he stayed? Because he was of the generation that believed the October Revolution of 1917 was the great hope of the world; and he could not bear to betray either the revolution itself, or those who had fought for it.
People have been debating where generosity comes from for centuries—with one side saying it’s not in our nature (i.e., survival of the fittest), and the other arguing that because we’ve always worked in groups, it must be. And each camp makes a good case: different studies have connected altruism with areas of the brain associated with self-control (which suggests it takes more effort to think about others) and with reward (which suggests you’re only being “generous” to make yourself feel good). This research shows that it isn’t quite so cut and dried. Hutcherson explained that while you might see the reward center of the brain light up when someone makes a generous choice, it might be because the brain has to do more computation to make that decision, not because it feels rewarding per se.
This experiment suggests that making giving easier could be as simple as stopping to focus on how someone else might feel. It also shows that we occasionally do things we don’t intend to do—and our neurons are (partly) to blame. “We can be quick to draw conclusions about people based on a single choice,” Hutcherson said. “The brain just isn’t perfect.”
IN THE demi-monde of Kabukicho, a warren of striptease bars, cabaret clubs and brothel fronts that makes up Tokyo’s main red-light district, the night manager of the Parisienne Café frets about the yakuza. Japan’s biggest organised-crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, with 23,400 members, split last month. On September 5th more than a dozen of its factions gelled into a new, rival outfit. A yakuza shoot-out with Chinese mobsters in the Parisienne once killed one gang member and injured more. The café’s manager now fears the risk of renewed warfare.
The police are bracing themselves for violence up and down Japan. They are out in force in Kabukicho and Ginza, the capital’s best-known shopping district, as well as in the cities of Kobe, Osaka and Nagoya, all big yakuza strongholds. At the time of the last yakuza split, in 1984, two dozen gang members died in territorial battles—an orgy of bloodshed by the country’s ultra-safe standards. In the past few years fire-bombings, death threats and murders by gangs in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, have eroded the public’s tolerance of the gangs.
Prosecutors will investigate a former justice of China's Supreme Court on corruption charges, after he was stripped of membership in the ruling Communist Party and fired from all public positions, the party announced Tuesday.
Xi Xiaoming, formerly one of the nine deputy justices for the country's top court, has severely violated political discipline and disobeyed the cardinal policy of ruling the country in accordance with the law, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a written statement posted to its website.
Xi took bribes in civil litigations and used his position to seek benefits for others, the commission said, but it did not provide further details. The commission said Xi was disloyal, dishonest and that he improperly leaked trial information.
Xi's case points to substantial corruption at the highest level of China's judiciary, and could erode public trust in the country's justice system.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign since he took office in late 2012. He has said fighting corruption is a matter of life and death for the ruling party.
AEI emerged from the Enron collapse, after a Cayman Islands–based investment group called Ashmore Energy International bought up the bankrupt giant’s international assets in 2006. Today, the privately owned firm operates pipelines and electricity generators in places like Brazil and Peru. One of its biggest projects is in Guatemala, where its subsidiary, Jaguar Energy Guatemala, owns a 300-megawatt power plant on the country’s western coast. According to AEI’s SEC filings, Jaguar Energy Guatemala is legally incorporated in Delaware.
Jaguar’s $900 million power plant, the company claims on its website, is “the largest private investment” in the history of Guatemala’s electricity sector. That historic achievement, however, did not come cheap: Prosecutors say Jaguar Energy participated in an influence-trafficking scheme to obtain privileged information and favors from high-level Guatemalan officials. Among other things, the subsidiary is accused of paying to obtain meetings with the country’s former president Otto Pérez Molina.
Jaguar Energy's alleged crimes helped bring down one of the Guatemalan president's closest advisers as well as a former cabinet minister. The accusations against Jaguar are part of an unprecedented United Nations–backed investigation into Guatemalan political corruption. The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, a prosecutorial body with authority under Guatemalan law and backing from the UN, is leading the effort. With startling aggressiveness and wild success, it is reintroducing accountability into a governing system plagued by cronyism and impunity. In early September, thanks to the commission’s work, president Pérez Molina followed his private secretary, his mining minister, and his vice president to jail after resigning in disgrace. He is accused of taking part in a vast criminal conspiracy to defraud the country’s customs system. The president’s former secretary and mining minister, meanwhile, are accused of accepting bribes from and selling influence to multiple companies, including Jaguar Energy.
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