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The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance - POPULAR SOCIAL SCIENCE

The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance - POPULAR SOCIAL SCIENCE | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
POPULAR SOCIAL SCIENCE logo. Home · News ... This theory was tested by Festinger and his companion J. Merrill Carlsmith in a controlled laboratory environment. Seventy-one ... The control group was the most skeptical.
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Criminology and Economic Theory
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Has the Supreme Court Legalized Public Corruption?

Has the Supreme Court Legalized Public Corruption? | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez arrives at his federal corruption trial in September.Joe Penney / Reuters

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For a few days earlier this month, it looked like the years-long corruption probe targeting New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez would fall apart seven weeks into his trial. At issue was the prosecution’s “stream of benefits” theory, which argues that the steady flow of donations and gifts from a wealthy Florida doctor to the Democratic senator—and the flow of favors from the senator to the doctor—amounted to quid pro quo corruption.

During a hearing last week, Judge William Walls seemed to signal that argument was dead on arrival by citing a recent Supreme Court ruling that has vexed public-corruption investigators across the country. “I frankly don’t think McDonnell will allow that,” Walls told prosecutors, referring to the decision in McDonnell v. United States that fundamentally changed the standard for bribery.

Walls eventually decided to let the case proceed, declining to throw out most of Menendez’s charges. But the close call underscores the continuing fallout from McDonnell last year. That ruling, like a series of others from the Court in recent years, recast actions once eschewed in politics as reasonable behavior for elected officials. The justices have portrayed these rulings as necessary on First Amendment grounds. But the long-term effects could imperil the public’s faith in democratic institutions.

“There’s a way in which a lot of the Supreme Court decisions have been ever narrowing what corruption means,” Tara Malloy, a staff lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, told me. “And McDonnell is one further example of it.”


The case narrowed what could be defined as an “official act” under federal corruption statutes—the quo of a quid pro quo, so to speak. Since McDonnell, it only applies to direct exercises of a government official’s power, like voting for legislation or signing an order. More seemingly mundane activities, like urging other officials to intervene in someone’s favor or setting up meetings for donors, do not qualify.

Before the decision, federal prosecutors brought cases against Democrats and Republicans alike by arguing that “official act” applied to all sorts of actions taken by public officials. Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican, was convicted in 2015 after taking more than $175,000 in luxury gifts, personal loans, and more from Johnnie Williams, a Virginia businessman who received favors from the governor. On appeal, McDonnell argued his actions were part of being an elected official and fell beyond what federal bribery laws could prohibit.

The Supreme Court agreed. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the Court’s opinion, appeared to anticipate a public backlash. “There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that,” he wrote. “But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.” All eight justices sided with McDonnell, with the ninth seat vacant after Antonin Scalia’s death in February.


“The concern of the Court was that the prosecution not define ‘official act’—which is what the statute there required—too broadly,” Malloy said. “They thought that ‘official act,’ according to the prosecution, was basically anything a public official did by reason of their position or through the resources of their position. And the Court said, ‘No, no, no.’”

At the same time, Roberts also took an exceedingly generous view of McDonnell’s activities. Where the Justice Department saw an elected official providing special perks for a lucrative donor, the chief justice saw the risk that “conscientious public officials” could be hauled in by prosecutorial zealots. “Officials might wonder whether they could respond to even the most commonplace requests for assistance, and citizens with legitimate concerns might shrink from participating in democratic discourse,” he mused, as if to suggest judges and juries would not be able to tell the difference.

Randall Eliason, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor, described McDonnell to me as “a lawyerly opinion in the worst sense of the word.” By focusing on just one aspect of the statutory definition of “official act,” he said, the Court missed the broader issues with the relationship between McDonnell and an influential donor who showered him, and his wife, with lavish gifts. He offered a jarring hypothetical that illustrates how officials could leverage their power in a post-McDonnell world:

Currently, I could set up a system where I’m a governor and I tell everybody who might want to meet with someone in my cabinet to make a pitch, or try to get a contract, or advocate for some program. I could say, “Okay, I’ll set up a meeting for you. The cost is $10,000.” And that just goes in my pocket. That’s not a campaign contribution; it’s not going to be reported to the public anywhere. That’s just going to be a gift for me, and I’ll set up the meeting. I’m not going to tell anybody what to do, I’m not going to tell them what to decide, I’ll just get you in the room. And if you don’t pay me, no meeting.
Eliason and other legal observers had thought McDonnell could prevail in his appeal, but the scale of the ruling came as a surprise. “I mean, access is valuable, right?” Eliason told me. “And you can just pay for access as long as the official doesn’t actually agree to decide something for you, but can get you in the room with the other movers and shakers who are going to do it. Now that’s not considered corruption.”

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Just AdLeaks

Just AdLeaks | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

Babbage
Jul 23rd 2013by C.P. | BERLIN
EVEN before Edward Snowden's revelations, many people suspected that spooks like those at America's National Security Agency could pry into their electronic lives. Most were not worried enough to do anything about it. But political dissidents in authoritarian countries, and a hypervigiliant few in the West, have long tried to outwit the NSA and its counterparts in other countries. One favourite tool is The Onion Router, or TOR, a system which disguises the provenance of communications by rerouting them cleverly around the web. The New Yorker, among other media firms, uses TOR to help whistleblowers submit information anonymously.
But TOR is not perfect. Careful analysis of message timing, or the sort of traffic analysis made possible by the NSA's enormous dragnet, may allow the spooks to penetrate the fog and pin down a user's identity, even if they cannot read the messages themselves. Indeed, rumours have long swirled that the intelligence agencies run TOR nodes of their own, the better to keep tabs on its users. Happily, more help for the security-conscious whistleblower may now be at hand, in the form of AdLeaks, a system proposed by Völker Roth of the Free University in Berlin, in a paper posted to the online repository ArXiv.

As its name suggests, Dr Roth's system takes its inspiration from online advertising networks such as Doubleclick. When you visit a website that displays adverts, your browser typically downloads code that performs various tasks on your computer. Such code is often used to target ads—for instance, by plugging stores in your vicinity that sell something a product that you recently searched for. AdLeaks operates in a similar way, except that its code allows a user's computer to send small packets of encrypted information back to AdLeaks.

The system is designed to allow whistleblowers to hide in plain sight. Assuming that AdLeaks becomes widely distributed, as Dr Roth hopes it will, most of the blizzard of packets it will generate will not contain useful information. But because all the packets the system sends will be encrypted—scrambled, that is, into a random-seeming jumble of characters—it will not be possible for anyone listening in to tell the empty packets from the tiny few that contain real information. And because many people will be generating AdLeaks packets, the vast majority of whom will not be whistleblowers, the simple fact of generating such packets will not be enough to attract suspicion. AdLeaks' servers, meanwhile, grab all such submitted packets, combine them and then decrypt them in a mathematically process that allows the system to reconstruct leaked documents piece by tiny piece (more mathematically-inclined readers can read the paper for a fuller description).

So far so good. But there is a slight hitch in the scheme. Genuine whistleblowers require special software to chop up the documents they wish to pass on, and to transmit those chunks in place of ordinary, content-free AdLeaks packets. Dr Roth cannot simply offer that software for download, as the very act of downloading it at all could be enough to arouse suspicion. One idea is to include the program on the DVDs still occasionally distributed with computing magazines. But a more elegant one is to use the AdLeaks system itself, by transmitting the whistleblowing software to everyone who is served with adverts in small encrypted chunks. A small, separtely-distributed "bootstrapper" program would then decrypt and install the software. Such a bootstrapping program is small and simple enough that it could simply be printed periodically by newspapers, or even distributed as a QCR code. Since the spooks cannot (yet) easily tell who is transcribing code from a piece of newspaper, or track photos of QCR codes, they need never learn that a whistleblower has installed the software.

That is not to say that AdLeaks is foolproof. For one thing, it relies on web browsers having good quality random number generators to power the encryption phase. Presently, most do not. An adversary could attempt to undermine the system in other ways, too. Simply blocking the AdLeaks servers would be enough to thwart it, and might be something that any prudent company would do on its own corporate network. If the whistleblower is already attracting suspicion, then secretly installing monitoring software on his computer would also give the game away.

A more elegant attack on the system exploits the way that its cryptography works, by generating a sacrificial leak in the hopes of confirming whether someone who has already fallen under suspicion is, in fact, leaking secrets. AdLeaks combines packets before decrypting them. Decrypting any number of empty packets will produce nothing. Decrypting any number of empty packets plus one meaningful packet will spit out that meaningful packet. But decrypting two or more meaningful packets at the same time will irretrievably destroy the information contained in both, an event called a "collision".

To exploit this, an attacker must first take control of an AdLeaks computer. He then creates a leak of his own (perhaps genuine, or perhaps fake), chops it up and encrypts it. He combines his own meaningful packets with those generated by the person under suspicion, and submits the results to AdLeaks. Then it is merely a matter of keeping an eye on the newspapers. If his fake leak appears in the press, that means it survived the combination process. That, in turn, means that the suspected whistleblower was actually transmitting empty packets and is probably innocent. But if the story fails to appear, then the suspect may be guilty—his meaningful packets may have collided with the attackers, leaving nothing to pass on to AdLeaks' customers in the press. (Though there are admittedly other reasons why a whistle fails to blow; newspapers need not publish every scoop they get their hands on.)

All this is technically nifty. But the cost of setting up and running the servers for such a system could be substantial. Dr Roth calculates that a system that served ads to 138m internet surfers would cost around $600 a day—a significant expense for the newspapers, NGOs and underground political movements likely to benefit from the system. But that may not matter. For AdLeaks is a whistleblowing system wrapped up in the entirely legitimate—and profitable—business of web advertising. On the fairly conservative assumption that AdLeaks were to pay out $0.25 per thousand impressions (currently the going rate for a fairly run-of-the-mill website) and to charge a modest markup, then the business might even cover its costs.

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Swiss prosecutors will examine new Polanski rape accusation

Swiss prosecutors will examine new Polanski rape accusation | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Swiss prosecutors said Monday that they will examine allegations made by a German woman that filmmaker Roman Polanski raped her in 1972 in the town of Gstaad, when she was 15. The procedural move means that Switzerland has not ruled out prosecuting the filmmaker, despite questions as to whether the
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Woman jailed for false rape allegation against police officer

Woman jailed for false rape allegation against police officer | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
A police officer says he considered taking his own life after a woman falsely accused him of rape.

A judge described Samantha Murray-Evans’s actions as “wicked” – not just for the impact on the officer but because of the effects false allegations had on the criminal justice system and on genuine rape victims.


Swansea Crown Court heard Murray-Evans and Dyfed-Powys Police officer Paul Morgan met online in 2014, and subsequently agreed to meet in person.

On October 13 they had sex in Mr Morgan’s house, and in the hours that followed she sent him a series of sexual text messages and intimate images. The following day she returned to his house, but he asked the 44-year-old to leave.

Prosecutor Catherine Richards said the next day Murray-Evans made a complaint of rape against Mr Morgan, saying he had ripped her clothes off and sexually assaulted her.

Mr Morgan said the allegation “ruined his life” and left him on the verge of suicide. He said he met Murray-Evans on a dating site and they dated for around six weeks before accusations were made.

Mr Morgan said: “Officers came around here and they shone a torch in my face. They woke me up by shouting my name.

“I opened the front door and seven police officers said they were there to investigate me. They arrested me in the living room. I was just petrified. These are people I know. The Detective Constabl who arrested me gave me a bravery award for going in the Tawe River to save a boy.”

Mr Morgan was arrested by his own force just before midnight on October 15, and taken into custody – he was suspended from duty while the allegations were investigated.

The court heard Mr Morgan was on bail for five weeks until the decision was made that no further action would be taken.

Murray-Evans, of Heol Cledwyn, Birchgrove, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to carrying out acts intending to pervert the course of justice when she appeared in the dock for sentencing.
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From Wales.
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Catalonia police: who do we serve?

Catalonia police: who do we serve? | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
The criticism was made by a Mossos officer whose identity has been withheld for reasons of safety.

Inspector Oliva pointed out that officers have an internal mechanisms to resolve issues.

“In order to criticize or praise police performance, it is necessary to have all the elements on the table. We can not give opinions based solely on personal positions. In any case, there are internal mechanisms within our organization that exist so that officers can express their opinions or criticisms, if any, through the chain of command.”

The action of the Catalan police was strongly criticized by the national police and relations between the two police services have deteriorated.

“The Mossos did not fulfill their mandate as police,” Ramón Cosío, a police union spokesman told Euronews. “There has never been an identical situation in a Western country: a police force that does not obey the orders of a judge or that disobeys the instructions of the interior ministry.

“The police do not work for any political party, or political interests, or any ideology. We are here to work for public safety, that is our function. When the Mossos d’Esquadra return to this role, with which society counts, the tension will be lowered.”
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He says there's no precedence in a Western Country, but how about the Deputy Sheriffs and Police Officers in the Deep South during the Freedom Rides and Civil Rights era?  They felt as if they answered to their local constituency before and above the Federal government.
Now, we don't have centralized policing as do most Western Government, so maybe he has a point if we make that distinction.
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Romania urged to stop moves to restrict media freedom

Romania urged to stop moves to restrict media freedom | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
The draft law would place news agency AGERPRES under political control, say campaigners.
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Chief Justice John Roberts is now feuding with the entire field of sociology

Chief Justice John Roberts is now feuding with the entire field of sociology | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
The Supreme Court is currently considering a landmark case challenging partisan gerrymandering, specifically Wisconsin Republicans’ efforts to draw state assembly districts so as to firmly entrench their majority. At the heart of the case is a concept called the “efficiency gap,” a simple number that political scientist Eric McGhee and law professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos have devised to measure how much a given district map favors one party over the other. If the number gets too high, it’s an indication that one party has rigged the game to ensure they keep getting reelected.

Sound simple enough? Well, not to Chief Justice John Roberts, who dismissed the concept as “sociological gobbledygook” in oral arguments for the case. In that one phrase, he seemed to dismiss the very idea of using social science to try to figure out the effects of redistricting efforts. “Does this state assembly map make it nearly impossible for the opposition to retake control” is an empirical question, which needs to be answered with empirical methods. The best methods we have at the date are those of political science, sociology, and economics. Indeed, as Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan observed during arguments, the people drawing these maps are relying heavily on social scientists to more effectively rig them.

Roberts wasn’t just rebuked by his colleagues, however. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, professor of sociology at Duke and the president of the American Sociological Association, who sent an open letter to Justice Roberts excoriating him for his dismissal of sociology and social science more generally:
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Understanding the So-Called ‘Twinkie’ Defense

Understanding the So-Called ‘Twinkie’ Defense | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
The term has been used as media shorthand for any defense in which the accused blames the consumption or use of some substance for his or her actions. It’s long past time to replace it with a more nuanced description, writes a former New York prosecutor.
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Prosecutors use out-of-state beans to charge coffee stand robbery suspects in federal court

The suspects now face federal charges relating to interference with interstate commerce, based on the stands' use of beans imported from Outside.
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Commit a crime? Your key fob, Fitbit or pacemaker could snitch on you.

Internet-connected, data-collecting smart devices such as fitness trackers, digital home assistants, thermostats, TVs and even pill bottles are beginning to transform criminal justice.
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Dove apologizes for ad: We 'missed the mark' representing black women

Dove apologizes for ad: We 'missed the mark' representing black women | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
The offending ad was a 3-second GIF hawking Dove body wash that was posted Friday to the brand's Facebook page.
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Another angle on the dove scandal....
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Police say suspect called to confess to Ketchikan dockside slaying

Richard Branda, 55, was found dead near shipping containers after a caller asked police to do a welfare check on a man who appeared to be passed out.
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Rio’s post-Olympic blues

Rio’s post-Olympic blues | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

IN THE warren of alleyways that make up Rocinha, Brazil’s largest favela, the air is heavy with foreboding. A feud between factions of the Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends, or ADA), a drug gang that has controlled the slum since 2004, erupts in daily violence. Police in patrol cars creep through the lanes, their rifles poking out of the windows. Residents share news of shoot-outs on WhatsApp. “We are scared to walk around,” says Raquel, who sells colourful prints to a few brave tourists. At a command post a squad of policemen prepares for yet another operation. “It’s a never-ending war,” sighs José (not his real name), an officer drafted in from a nearby neighbourhood.
The city of Rio de Janeiro, which hosted the Olympic games in 2016, is having a grim year. Shoot-outs in favelas, or shantytowns, have killed dozens of people. A third of adults aged 18 to 24 are out of work. Many Olympic venues are abandoned; a fire in July damaged the velodrome. “Rio is in a real hole,” says Robert Muggah of the Igarapé Institute, a Rio-based think-tank.

Before the games began, Rio’s then-mayor, Eduardo Paes, boasted that the city would be the “safest place in the world”. Thanks to the deployment of 85,000 soldiers and police officers during the games, the claim did not seem ridiculous. Construction work temporarily protected cariocas, as Rio’s residents are called, from Brazil’s deep economic recession. Despite embarrassments like green diving-pool water the games were a success.
Not so the aftermath. The state government recorded 2,976 homicides in the first half of 2017, a rise of 14% on the previous year. Fifteen gun battles a day take place in Rio’s metropolitan region. More than 100 policemen have been killed so far this year in the state. Some experts fear that the murder rate could go back to levels of a decade ago (see chart). In July the federal government sent 8,500 troops back to Rio.


Rocinha, whose 100,000 people are crammed into one square km (250 acres), was thought to be relatively safe until recently. McDonald’s and Caixa Econômica, a bank, opened branches in the 1990s. The feud within the ADA, which began on September 17th, makes life a misery. The police make it a three-way battle. “It can be difficult to work out who is firing at whom,” says Eduardo Carvalho, a local journalist. The Dr Albert Sabin health centre shut down briefly for the first time in 35 years.

On September 22nd, after violence had spilled over into the prosperous areas of Gávea and Leblon, Brazil’s defence minister sent 950 troops into Rocinha. They restored calm, but withdrew seven days later. The mayhem has since risen. “Rogério 157”, the leader of an ADA faction, has defected to Comando Vermelho, a rival gang, splitting the favela into two territories. That could worsen the violence. “We will be here for a while,” says José, tapping the barrel of his carbine nervously.
Rocinha is suffering from a failure of policing, compounded by financial mismanagement and economic misfortune. The government of the state of Rio is nearly bankrupt. In September Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, approved the second federal bail-out in two years.

In 2008 the state started sending “pacifying police units” (UPPs) to 38 favelas. They were made up of 9,500 officers, many trained in non-violent policing and human rights. In Rocinha the UPPs reduced the circulation of heavy weaponry, says Misha Glenny, author of a book about the favela. The state gave bonuses to officers in areas where crime dropped most. Although the UPPs did not dismantle the gangs, violence fell. By 2015 the homicide rate had dropped to its lowest level in 25 years.
Optimism did not last. Despite their training, some policemen committed abuses. In 2013 Amarildo de Souza, a bricklayer from Rocinha who had gone out to buy seasoning for his dinner, went missing after questioning by UPP officers. This provoked violent protests; 25 officers were accused of torturing him and causing his disappearance. “The credibility that the UPPs had built up suddenly disappeared,” remembers Mr Carvalho.

The second phase of the community-policing programme—investment in health, education and social projects—was a failure. That is because the state and municipal governments paid too little attention and were weakened by economic crisis. From 2002 to 2016 Rio had the lowest growth rate among Brazil’s 27 states, points out Mauro Osório of UFRJ, a university. The state government depends heavily on income from the oil industry, which fell by two-thirds from 2013 to 2016. Corruption makes things worse. On September 20th this year Sérgio Cabral, the former governor of Rio state, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for embezzlement.

In return for financial aid, the federal government has demanded deep cuts to spending. The state slashed its security budget by 30% last year and stopped paying the salaries of many public workers, including police officers. Ballerinas at the municipal theatre became Uber drivers. Around 2,000 policemen lost their jobs in the past three years and 40% of patrol cars are out of service. The federal government gave extra money until the Olympics for UPPs. Now the units are in danger of disappearing, says Mr Muggah.

Favelados say that the UPPs, despite their failures, offer the best hope of reducing violence. A poll conducted in August in 37 favelas found that 44% of residents want UPPs to be improved, for example with better training, but not dissolved. A further 16% want them to continue as they are. The city and state governments need to increase non-security spending, too.
The region’s leaders do not inspire confidence. Marcelo Crivella, the city’s mayor since last year, is a Pentecostal bishop and enthusiastic crooner. His favourite ditty is “My Rio”, which asks God to “take over” the city. He consults the Bible more readily than security experts, say critics. Luiz Fernando Pezão, the state’s governor, has more practical plans, including a scheme to divert oil royalties from an environmental programme to one that combats violence. But he is suffering from cancer.

The problems of the region’s politicians encourage the federal government to play a bigger role. In addition to extra aid, it plans to send a multi-agency task force, modelled on initiatives in Colombia, Northern Ireland and South Africa, to prosecute police and politicians involved in organised crime. Everyone in Rio hopes for a recovery in the oil price, which would provide more money for public services. But oil prices are uncertain. Peace in neighbourhoods like Rocinha should not be.

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Top law enforcement officials announce plan to fight violent crime in Alaska

Federal agents will work more closely with state and local police to respond to homicide and shooting scenes in Alaska, in hopes of pressing stricter federal charges and tamping down on gun violence.
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Four Britons kidnapped in Nigeria's Delta state: police

Four Britons kidnapped in Nigeria's Delta state: police | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Four Britons have been kidnapped in Nigeria’s southern Delta state, a police official said on Wednesday.

The police are attempting to rescue the four people, who were taken by unidentified gunmen on Oct. 13, said Andrew Aniamaka, a spokesman for Delta state police.

Kidnapping for ransom is a common problem in parts of Nigeria. A number of foreigners have, in the last few years, been kidnapped in the Niger Delta region, which holds most of the country’s crude oil - the country’s economic mainstay.

“The abductors have not made any contact but we are doing our investigations to know the motive and have them rescued without jeopardising their lives,” said Aniamaka.
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Watch: Police swim out to save woman from sinking car

Watch: Police swim out to save woman from sinking car | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Officers smashed car window to rescue driver.
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Time to bury Che Guevara for good

Time to bury Che Guevara for good | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it


Print edition | The Americas
Oct 12th 2017
ON OCTOBER 9th 1967 the Bolivian army, with the CIA in attendance, shot Ernesto “Che” Guevara in cold blood, on the orders of Bolivia’s president. Thus ended his short-lived attempt to ignite a guerrilla war in the heart of the Andes. Fifty years on, Bolivia’s current president, Evo Morales, and several thousand activists assembled there this week to honour Guevara’s memory.

In death Che, with his flowing hair and beret, has become one of the world’s favourite revolutionary icons. His fans span the globe. Youthful rebels wear T-shirts emblazoned with his image. Ireland this month issued a commemorative stamp. But it is in Latin America where his influence has been greatest, and where his legacy—for the left in particular—has been most damaging.

The ascetic, asthmatic Argentine doctor first fought alongside Fidel Castro in the mountains of Cuba’s Sierra Maestra. After the Cuban revolution had imposed communism on the island, Guevara left to try to “liberate” first Congo and then Bolivia. Those who idolise Che do so because they see him as an idealist who laid down his life for a cause. An aura of Christian sacrifice surrounds him.

That cause was “anti-imperialism” and ending exploitation by replacing it with “socialism” (ie, communism), Mr Morales declared this week. In this, Guevara was a man of the 1960s—he fomented revolution as yanqui bombers were napalming Vietnamese peasants and when it was still possible for many people to believe that only violence and communism could defeat expansionary American imperialism.
For the Latin American left, that vision has congealed into archaism. In Colombia it contributed to the destructive insurgency of the FARC, which ended only last year, and that of the ELN, an avowedly guevarist group, which declared a ceasefire last month. Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, justifies the crushing of opposition as an act of anti-imperialism. Mr Morales, who after 11 years in power shows no sign of being prepared to relinquish it, may yet try to do the same.

So occluded is the lens of anti-imperialism that much of the Latin American left has failed to detect that American meddling in the region largely ended with the cold war, and that most younger Latin Americans see the United States as a source of investment, opportunity and technological progress (or at least did so before the arrival of President Donald Trump). But old dogmas die hard. “La Cordillera”, a newly released Argentine film, portrays an American diplomat offering a massive bribe to a fictional Argentine president (played by Ricardo Darín of the Oscar-winning “The Secret in Their Eyes”). The inducement is to vote against a regional oil cartel proposed by a left-wing Brazilian leader. The film seems oblivious to the fact that Latin America has just seen something that is almost the reverse: companies close to a left-wing president in Brazil showering money to get friendly candidates elected in other countries and then paying bribes to win public contracts.

In Guevara’s view, equality was to be achieved by levelling down. As minister of industries in Cuba, he wanted to expropriate every farm and shop. True, Cuba offers its people reasonable health care and education, and helps them through hurricanes, but those achievements have come at the cost of miserable wages, the denial of opportunity and the brutal suppression of dissent. In Venezuela’s pastiche of the Cuban revolution, installed by the late Hugo Chávez, another Che fan, the masses have been impoverished while insiders have become fabulously and corruptly rich.

Guevara’s mistake was to deny the possibility of democracy, or the social progress it could bring, in Latin America. Most countries in the region are no longer controlled by a narrow oligarchy, nor under the yanqui thumb. Whatever their mistakes and failings, reformist governments in countries like Chile, Brazil and Colombia have shown that inequality, while still high, can be reduced by good policies. When Che first set foot in Cuba, it was one of the most developed countries in Latin America. Despite its investment in health and education, freer countries have now caught up and in some cases surpassed it.
By erecting anti-imperialism and equality as supreme values, too many leftists have been complicit in tyranny and corruption. They have shamefully refused to condemn Mr Maduro’s dictatorship in Venezuela. Not only does democracy offer the best hope of progress for the masses, it also protects the left against its own mistakes. It is long past time to bury Che and find a better icon.

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View: 10 people, 100 days in prison, 10 absurd reasons why

View: 10 people, 100 days in prison, 10 absurd reasons why | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
The charges against 10 human rights activists imprisoned in Turkey will leave you incredulous, writes Amnesty International's Stefan Simanowitz
Rob Duke's insight:
Some pretty flimsy reasons to hold folks around the globe.  Habeas Corpus is a wonderful right.
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More than a million francs worth of gold lost in Swiss sewers every year

More than a million francs worth of gold lost in Swiss sewers every year | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
More than a million Swiss francs worth of gold is flushed down every year found a new study.
Rob Duke's insight:
Um? Who's job is it to keep track of this?
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India outlaws marital sex with minors in bid to protect child brides

India outlaws marital sex with minors in bid to protect child brides | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
India's Supreme Court has struck down a legal clause that allowed men to engage in non-consensual marital sex with girls as young as 15.
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Spain takes first step toward ending Catalan autonomy after disputed referendum

Spain takes first step toward ending Catalan autonomy after disputed referendum | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday asked Catalan government to clarify whether it declared independence on Tuesday.
Rob Duke's insight:
Spain's authoritarian response to last week's vote...
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Jamaicans more receptive to restorative justice

Jamaicans more receptive to restorative justice | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Jamaicans have become more receptive and are beginning to se
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Dove's 'racist' advert is causing outrage

Dove's 'racist' advert is causing outrage | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it
Dove is facing heat for a body wash ad showing a black woman taking off her shirt to reveal a white woman, with many social media users calling it racist.
Rob Duke's insight:
ok, finally found an animation that works.  I don't know--what do you think?
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The black model in the “racist Dove ad” is defending the campaign

The black model in the “racist Dove ad” is defending the campaign | Criminology and Economic Theory | Scoop.it

The black woman at the center of the controversial Dove ad is speaking out. In an op-ed for The Guardian, Lola Ogunyemi, a British-Nigerian model featured in the Dove campaign says the ad (which has now been pulled amid calls for a boycott of Dove products) has been misinterpreted.....

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State won’t interfere with tribal banishments, despite civil rights issues, AG says

In villages around Alaska, tribal leaders frustrated by drug dealing and bootlegging have banished suspects using tribal laws and methods – a controversial practice that the state isn’t interfering with.
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