Criminology and Economic Theory
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A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy

A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Part 2 | John Brennan emerges at core of effort to cement process for lethal action.
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Criminology and Economic Theory
In search of viable criminological theory
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The truth behind the ‘first marijuana overdose death’

The truth behind the ‘first marijuana overdose death’ | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A case report about the seizure and death of an 11-month old after exposure to cannabis has prompted headlines about “the first marijuana overdose death” this week.

Except that’s not what the doctors meant.

“We are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child,” said Dr. Thomas Nappe, an author of the report who is now the director of medical toxicology at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pa.

Nappe, who co-authored the report with Dr. Christopher Hoyte, explained that the doctors simply observed this unusual sequence of events, documented it and alerted the medical community that it is worth studying a possible relationship between cannabis and the child’s cause of death, myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle.
Rob Duke's insight:
What happens in a case of alcohol, Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant, or opiate overdose is that the drug overloads the brain stem causing the patient's autonomic body functions to cease (e.g. they stop breathing, etc.).  A CNS stimulant might also cause a heart attack and something link GHB might cause a stroke.
THC, the active ingredient in cannabis doesn't attach to receptors on the brain stem, and only elevates vital signs moderately, thus we'd usually say that you can't O.D. on cannabis. 
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Inside Pussy Riot

Inside Pussy Riot | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Opening of “Art Riot: post soviet actionism” new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London
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What You Need To Know About the Coup in Zimbabwe That Could Oust Robert Mugabe

What You Need To Know About the Coup in Zimbabwe That Could Oust Robert Mugabe | Criminology and Economic Theory |
The Zimbabwean military has taken over the capital, Harare, and president Robert Mugabe appears to have reached the end of his rule.
Rob Duke's insight:
This is the end-game for all those regimes who have too much power, not enough rule of law, and weak checks and balances on power....
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Making a difference through restorative justice |

Could you sit across the table from a person who vandalized your home? What about someone who stole from you?
These are tough questions, that people face every day in our community.
If you ar
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​California proposes armored cars to transport pot tax money

​California proposes armored cars to transport pot tax money | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, so most banks won't do business with pot growers, manufacturers or retailers. That means marijuana companies typically operate only in cash, including their tax payments that will be 15 percent of sales to the state.
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Meth-related deaths at all time high in Alaska

Meth-related deaths at all time high in Alaska | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Opioid use in Alaska may be at epidemic levels, but so are methamphetamine use and associated deaths.

According to a report released by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology on Tuesday, methamphetamine-related deaths quadrupled from 2008 to 2016, with rates being highest among people ages 45-54. Death rates were highest in the Gulf Coast, Southeast and Interior regions.

Of the 233 meth-related fatalities in that eight year span, 193 were overdose deaths and 40 were nonoverdose deaths, according to the report. Two hundred and four of the overall meth-related fatalities were unintentional, six were suicides, one was a homicide, 14 were the result of natural causes and eight were undetermined. 

Of the 193 meth overdose deaths, 43 were caused by meth alone, while 150 involved at least one substance in addition to meth. Opioids were involved in

54 percent of the meth overdose deaths, according to the report. The age-adjusted rate of meth overdose deaths more than doubled from 2010 to 2014. 

Heart disease was the most common underlying cause of nonoverdose deaths, claiming 10 of the 40 lives lost in that category. Exposure to excessive heat or cold caused four deaths, while asthma, drowning, falls and heart attacks caused two deaths each.

Meth-related deaths were higher for men than women, and Alaska Natives of both sexes experienced the highest rates, followed by Caucasians.

Amphetamine-related hospital visits increased nearly 40 percent in 2015 and 2016, with Anchorage experiencing the most, followed by the Northern, Matanuska-Susitna and the Gulf Coast regions. The Mat-Su region saw the largest increase in hospital outpatient care from 2015-16, according to the report.

Meth is relatively simple but dangerous to produce due to the toxic, volatile and highly flammable chemicals used. Both meth and prescription amphetamines, which are prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD, are central nervous system stimulants that enhance concentration, increase alertness and elevate heart rate and blood pressure. However, unlike its legally produced and prescribed cousin, meth contains a methyl group that allows it to enter the brain more easily, creating a more rapid and intense high that is dangerously addictive. 
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Plea bargains save time and money but are too easily abused

Plea bargains save time and money but are too easily abused | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Nov 9th 2017
THE elements that make up a criminal-justice system are familiar from a thousand courtroom dramas. Detectives interview witnesses and examine crime scenes. Forensic scientists coax secrets from bloodstains and cigarette ash. Judges and juries weigh the facts and pronounce on guilt and innocence.

But in many countries, behind this system lies a quicker, rougher one. It is plea-bargaining, in which prosecutors press lesser charges or ask for a lighter sentence in return for a defendant pleading guilty or incriminating others. Long crucial to the operation of American justice, this shadow system is now going global (see article). One study of 90 countries found that just 19 permitted plea bargains in 1990. Now 66 do. In many countries, including England and Australia, pleas now account for a majority of guilty verdicts. In American federal courts the share is close to 100%.

The result sometimes bears only a passing resemblance to justice. Prosecutors may heap charge upon charge so that defendants risk decades behind bars if they decide to face trial. Even when cases are flimsy, defendants may see little option but to plead guilty. A defence lawyer who offers a witness $1 to exonerate his client commits bribery. A prosecutor who threatens the same witness with prison if he does not give damning evidence is just doing his job. Is that fair?

The fiction behind plea-bargaining is that innocent people will stand fast and trust the courts to exonerate them. The truth is that many will not. Of the Americans convicted of rape or murder and later cleared, a sizeable share had pleaded guilty. Pre-trial detention increases the risk: people may say anything to get out of jail. Studies by psychologists have shown that students will confess to academic transgressions they did not commit to avoid even minor penalties.

Plea-bargaining is too useful to be abandoned. With no incentive to plead guilty, even criminals caught red-handed would opt for a trial, since a tiny chance of getting off is better than none. Justice would be slower and pricier. More victims would have to relive their trauma in the witness box. And it would remove an important weapon in the fight against organised crime, namely the ability to reward minor figures for helping to take down kingpins. But if plea bargains are to serve justice, not subvert it, they must be subject to clear constraints.

To start with only modest incentives should be offered. Small reductions in sentences are enough to induce guilty defendants to waive trial. But as discounts become more generous, false confessions become more common. And incentives for incriminating others should come with strict conditions. Brazil shows the way. Its recent extension of plea-bargaining has enabled prosecutors to go after corrupt politicians. But it guards against perjury by requiring supporting evidence for statements incriminating others and by making it clear that if a defendant is caught in a lie, the deal is off.

A plea for common sense
Above all, plea bargains must not be allowed to warp criminal-justice systems. In countries such as America where prosecutors have broad leeway, crimes are often loosely defined and sentences harsh. This is no accident: these are the tools used to browbeat defendants into guilty pleas. When few cases are tested in trials, police may become sloppy, lawyers lazy and judges capricious. When the innocent are bullied into trading away their day in court, justice is weakened for everyone.

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The FBI Can't Open the Phone of the Texas Church Shooter

The FBI Can't Open the Phone of the Texas Church Shooter | Criminology and Economic Theory |
The FBI has flown the phone of the late Devin Kelley to Quantico, Va., for analysis but a forensic team has been unable to open it.
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Saving Beijing’s hutongs with innovative architecture

Saving Beijing’s hutongs with innovative architecture | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Former Beijing Design Week Creative Director Beatrice Lanza talks innovative local architects saving Beijing’s traditional hutong neighborhoods.
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Saudi corruption prisoners held in luxury five-star hotel

Saudi corruption prisoners held in luxury five-star hotel | Criminology and Economic Theory |
They were arrested for corruption but didn't have to give up their luxury lifestyle.
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LA takes step to ban torches, shields, pepper spray and more at protests, rallies

LA takes step to ban torches, shields, pepper spray and more at protests, rallies | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Law enforcement officials say the items have been used as weapons at demonstrations around the country.
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"Some of us don’t lock our doors": Small Texas town rocked by church shooting

"Some of us don’t lock our doors": Small Texas town rocked by church shooting | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Sutherland Springs is home to a post office, two gas stations, a Dollar General store and now one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
Shaylee Shocklee's comment, November 6, 3:31 PM
I was very confused by this article. I had thought it would be about the shooting the at recently took place in Sutherland Springs, Texas but it turned into a story about the church up the road from this tragic event and their response to what happened and how willing they were to help the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. I would have liked to know how the people of Sutherland Springs (both who were members of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and those who just live in the community) are coping with this tragedy and information about the investigation. Considering this shooting took place just after the massive shooting that occurred in Las Vegas just last month, it will be interesting to see what happens, what will change after these devastating events and will it be for the better? My heart goes out to those affected by this shooting as well as the shooting in Las Vegas.
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US woman jailed after tweet called insulting to Zimbabwe ruler

US woman jailed after tweet called insulting to Zimbabwe ruler | Criminology and Economic Theory |
An American woman in Zimbabwe has been sent to prison after reportedly tweeting that President Robert Mugabe -- one of Africa's longest-serving leaders -- is "a selfish and sick man," according to court documents.

Accused of subversion, Martha O'Donovan, 25, who works for an satirical video website, was referred to Zimbabwe's highest court Saturday for a bail application, according to court documents released by the group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
O'Donovan is the first to be accused of plotting to overthrow the government since last month's creation of a cybersecurity ministry intended to police social media.
Her tweet read, "'We are being led by a selfish and sick man," according to the court documents.
In the court papers, O'Donovan said, "I deny the allegations being leveled against me as baseless and malicious. That is all I wish to say."
She will be held in prison while Zimbabwe's High Court considers her bail status. If convicted of subversion, she faces 20 years in prison.
"You have to approach the High Court for bail since you are facing a third-schedule offense," Magistrate Nomsa Sabarauta told O'Donovan during a court appearance Saturday, referring to the most serious category of criminal offenses.
O'Donovan showed no emotion at the time of the ruling. Her attorneys unsuccessfully argued that the subversion charge seemed to come as an afterthought.
When the Ministry for Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation was announced last month, presidential spokesman George Charamba told reporters that the new office was intended to "trap all rats" that abused social media.
Mugabe has long been criticized for corruption and abuse of power.
At 93, he has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 with little opposition.
The World Health Organization came under fire last month after selecting Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador.
Public disapproval, however, prompted WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to say on Twitter that he was "rethinking" the decision.
Rob Duke's insight:
Strong state, but lack of rule of law, and marked by a lack of oversight.  This isn't the first time Robert Mugabe has been accused of being an unfair ruler.
Ashley von Borstel's comment, November 5, 3:42 AM
20 years in prison for a tweet! It's definitely outrageous. If Mugabe doesn't want to be called an unfair ruler, it would be best if he showed leniency and let her go.
Shaylee Shocklee's comment, November 6, 2:29 PM
Seems rather excessive and hypocritical considering the presidential spokesman stating that he wanted to "trap all of the rats" which sounds excessively malicious and dehumanizing. It both shocks me and makes me feel incredibly grateful to have never been faced with 20 years in prison for things that I have posted on the Internet.
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German teen with down syndrome changes the term on her disability ID card

German teen with down syndrome changes the term on her disability ID card | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Hannah Ylva Kiesbye, a 14-year-old German girl with down syndrome, did not like the term “Schwer behindert” which translates to “severely disabled”
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Zimbabwe's Mugabe said to be resisting mediation

Zimbabwe's Mugabe said to be resisting mediation | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is reportedly insisting that he is still the country’s only legitimate leader.

The Reuters news agency cites intelligence sources who say the 93-year-old is resisting mediation after Wednesday’s military takeover.

People await the army’s next move.

One woman in Harare said: “Everything is normal. Everywhere is normal. All the shops are open. People are back to work. They are at work, even yesterday. The situation is just normal.”

But one man said: “Business at the moment is terrible because no customers. I think it’s a problem of money. There’s no money around. So we’re struggling to get money.”


Mugabe and his family remain under house arrest, with the military saying it targeted what it calls “criminals” in the presidential entourage.

Tendai Biti, an opposition leader and former finance minister, said: “Quite clearly the real issue now is how to we go back to our former, legitimate legal order.

“And in my view this is the time to introduce an inclusive national transitional authority, that will establish a roadmap towards a democracy that will set the basis of a new election.”
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The inside story of the Saudi night of long knives

The inside story of the Saudi night of long knives | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: A pre-emptive coup? Photo: AFP
The inside story of the Saudi night of long knives

Princes, ministers and a billionaire are 'imprisoned' in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton while the Saudi Arabian Army is said to be in an uproar

The House of Saud’s King Salman devises an high-powered “anti-corruption” commission and appoints his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as chairman.

Right on cue, the commission detains 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of former princes/cabinet secretaries – all charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts are frozen, private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused lot is “jailed” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.

War breaks out within the House of Saud, as Asia Times had anticipated back in July. Rumors have been swirling for months about a coup against MBS in the making. Instead, what just happened is yet another MBS pre-emptive coup.

A top Middle East business/investment source who has been doing deals for decades with the opaque House of Saud offers much-needed perspective: “This is more serious than it appears. The arrest of the two sons of previous King Abdullah, Princes Miteb and Turki, was a fatal mistake. This now endangers the King himself. It was only the regard for the King that protected MBS. There are many left in the army against MBS and they are enraged at the arrest of their commanders.”

To say the Saudi Arabian Army is in uproar is an understatement. “He’d have to arrest the whole army before he could feel secure.”

Prince Miteb until recently was a serious contender to the Saudi throne. But the highest profile among the detainees belongs to billionaire Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holdings, major shareholder in Twitter, CitiBank, Four Seasons, Lyft and, until recently, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp.

Al-Waleed’s arrest ties up with a key angle; total information control. There’s no freedom of information in Saudi Arabia. MBS already controls all the internal media (as well as the appointment of governorships). But then there’s Saudi media at large. MBS aims to “hold the keys to all the large media empires and relocate them to Saudi Arabia.”

So how did we get here?

The secrets behind the purge

The story starts with secret deliberations in 2014 about a possible “removal” of then King Abdullah. But “the dissolution of the royal family would lead to the breaking apart of tribal loyalties and the country splitting into three parts. It would be more difficult to secure the oil, and the broken institutions whatever they were should be maintained to avoid chaos.”

Instead, a decision was reached to get rid of Prince Bandar bin Sultan – then actively coddling Salafi-jihadis in Syria – and replace the control of the security apparatus with Mohammed bin Nayef.

The succession of Abdullah proceeded smoothly. “Power was shared between three main clans: King Salman (and his beloved son Prince Mohammed); the son of Prince Nayef (the other Prince Mohammed), and finally the son of the dead king (Prince Miteb, commander of the National Guard). In practice, Salman let MBS run the show.

And, in practice, blunders also followed. The House of Saud lost its lethal regime-change drive in Syria and is bogged down in an unwinnable war on Yemen, which on top of it prevents MBS from exploiting the Empty Quarter – the desert straddling both nations.

The Saudi Treasury was forced to borrow on the international markets. Austerity ruled – with news of MBS buying a yacht for almost half a billion dollars while lazing about the Cote d’Azur not going down particularly well. Hardcore political repression is epitomized by the decapitation of Shi’ite leader Sheikh Al-Nimr. Not only the Shi’ites in the Eastern province are rebelling but also Sunni provinces in the west.

As the regime’s popularity radically tumbled down, MBS came up with Vision 2030. Theoretically, it was shift away from oil; selling off part of Aramco; and an attempt to bring in new industries. Cooling off dissatisfaction was covered by royal payoffs to key princes to stay loyal and retroactive payments on back wages to the unruly masses.

Yet Vision 2030 cannot possibly work when the majority of productive jobs in Saudi Arabia are held by expats. Bringing in new jobs raises the question of where are the new (skilled) workers to come from.

Throughout these developments, aversion to MBS never ceased to grow; “There are three major royal family groups aligning against the present rulers: the family of former King Abdullah, the family of former King Fahd, and the family of former Crown Prince Nayef.”

Nayef – who replaced Bandar – is close to Washington and extremely popular in Langley due to his counter-terrorism activities. His arrest earlier this year angered the CIA and quite a few factions of the House of Saud – as it was interpreted as MBS forcing his hand in the power struggle.

According to the source, “he might have gotten away with the arrest of CIA favorite Mohammed bin Nayef if he smoothed it over but MBS has now crossed the Rubicon though he is no Caesar. The CIA regards him as totally worthless.”

Some sort of stability could eventually be found in a return to the previous power sharing between the Sudairis (without MBS) and the Chamars (the tribe of deceased King Abdullah). After the death of King Salman, the source would see it as “MBS isolated from power, which would be entrusted to the other Prince Mohammed (the son of Nayef). And Prince Miteb would conserve his position.”

MBS acted exactly to prevent this outcome. The source, though, is adamant; “There will be regime change in the near future, and the only reason that it has not happened already is because the old King is liked among his family. It is possible that there may be a struggle emanating from the military as during the days of King Farouk, and we may have a ruler arise that is not friendly to the United States.”

‘Moderate’ Salafi-jihadis, anyone?

Before the purge, the House of Saud’s incessant spin centered on a $500 billion zone straddling Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, on the Red Sea coast, a sort of Dubai replica to be theoretically completed by 2025, powered by wind and solar energy, and financed by its sovereign wealth fund and proceeds from the Aramco IPO.

In parallel, MBS pulled another rabbit from his hat swearing the future of Saudi Arabia is a matter of “simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions.”

In a nutshell: a state that happens to be the private property of a royal family inimical to all principles of freedom of expression and religion, as well as the ideological matrix of all forms of Salafi-jihadism simply cannot metastasize into a “moderate” state just because MBS says so.

Meanwhile, a pile-up of purges, coups and countercoups shall be the norm.

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California Backs First Insurer to Cover Marijuana Businesses

California Backs First Insurer to Cover Marijuana Businesses | Criminology and Economic Theory |
The move will help marijuana businesses as they get ready for recreational marijuana sales in January 2018
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Police round up beggars in India ahead of Ivanka Trump’s arrival

Police round up beggars in India ahead of Ivanka Trump’s arrival | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Police in India are rounding up beggars in anticipation of senior presidential advisor Ivanka Trump’s visit at the end of November.
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As Japan’s serial killing case unfolds, people ask: Did killer find victims through Twitter?

As Japan’s serial killing case unfolds, people ask: Did killer find victims through Twitter? | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Takahiro Shiraishi covers his face as he is transported to a prosecutor's office from a police station in Tokyo on Nov. 1. Shiraishi was arrested after police found nine dismembered corpses rotting in his apartment. (AFP/Getty Images)
Yuri Nagano

After Aiko Tamura, a 23-year-old Tokyo resident, posted on Twitter her desire to commit suicide, her brother frantically began looking for clues to her whereabouts after she went missing Oct. 21.

His efforts triggered a police raid that uncovered a horrifying scene in a studio apartment in central Japan: nine severed heads, along with about 240 human bones packed in boxes filled with cat litter in an apparent attempt to conceal the stench.

As authorities continue their investigation — the remains of Tamura and eight other victims have been identified — many in Japan are asking how social media was used to reach the victims and whether it can unwittingly bolster destructive or suicidal thoughts.

On Oct. 31, Japanese police arrested 27-year-old Takahiro Shiraishi of Zama City, in Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo. He faces one charge of disposing of dead bodies, but more charges are expected.

“This is a case where cries for help were exploited, and [victims] were manipulatively drawn out,” Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said at a news conference Friday. “The tactics used were extremely vile.”

Suga said a multi-agency committee to propose prevention plans to avoid a repeat of the Zama case has been launched. The group will review how to deal with suicide postings on the internet and how to better support troubled youths. It aims to wrap up its findings by the end of the year.

Placing regulations on Twitter is not absolute but is “likely to be considered,” Suga said. Twitter did not return requests for comment Friday on his remarks.

Along with Tamura, the remains of seven other women were discovered, authorities said. One victim was male. The oldest was 26, the youngest 15. Police estimated that two of the victims had been dismembered only a week or two before Shiraishi’s arrest. The rest had been dead for weeks or months.

The case continues to unfold as San Francisco-based Twitter announced new global guidelines concerning posts on self-destructive behavior. On Nov. 3, the company unveiled rules saying Twitter users “may not promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.”

“We did not rewrite the section on suicide and self harm because of this case, but we would like to avoid these types of cases from happening,” Kaori Saito, a Twitter spokeswoman in Japan, said two days before Suga’s comments at Friday’s news conference. “We are adding more wording to the rules on [suicidal posts] and clarifying what’s OK and what’s not OK” on Twitter.

Japanese media outlets, citing police sources, say Shiraishi approached most victims using Twitter. Shiraishi, who authorities say referred to himself as a suicide expert on hanging, told his victims he would help them with their suicides, even die with them, reports said.

One Twitter account linked to him, @hangingpro, carried the message: “I would like to help those who are truly suffering. Feel free to DM me.”

According to media reports, Shiraishi used to work in the red light district of Tokyo as a scout, someone charged with finding women to work as prostitutes. He moved to the Zama apartment Aug. 22.

Within a week or so of moving in, Shiraishi killed his first victim, police estimate. Authorities say that he attacked his victims after offering them alcohol or tranquilizers, adding that many of the remains were thrown out with his trash. Neighbors have noticed strong odors coming from the garbage area and Shiraishi’s room for two months, police said.

Plastic bands, ropes, a saw, a hatchet and kitchen knives have been recovered by investigators from Shiraishi’s apartment. Multiple bank cards, medical cards, train cards and bags of victims’ belongings and remains also have been recovered from the scene, according to police records.

Investigators identified the remains found with Tamura through DNA analysis. Local media reports say three of the female victims were high school students and one attended college. The one man who was killed was reportedly the boyfriend of a 21-year-old.

Critics have pointed out how Twitter — which is used more than Facebook or Instagram by Japanese teens and 20-somethings, according to Japanese government data — could be misused in a country with high suicide rates. Twitter has 45 million monthly users in Japan, one of the countries with the largest number of Twitter users outside the U.S.

The majority of Twitter users in Japan are young people, and the app is popular because it allows for anonymity, a safe place in a country where speaking your thoughts openly can still be a cultural taboo, said Masakatu Morii, professor of information and communication technology at Kobe University.

Social media sites have been a convenient outlet for young people contemplating suicide to reach out to others, said Yasuyuki Deguchi, professor of criminal psychology at Tokyo Future University. In most cases, those feeling suicidal probably just wanted to talk to someone and not actually die, he said.

To avoid further cases like the Zama one, representatives at suicide prevention organizations say steps should be taken to stop predators from preying on troubled youths.

It may be prudent to ban those under 18 from using social media like Twitter in the same way they aren’t legally allowed to smoke or drink alcohol, said Masashi Yasukawa, president of nonprofit National Web Counseling Council, which trains youth counselors. Middle school and high school students don’t have enough life experience and can be too trusting of strangers on social media, Yasukawa said.

Japanese youths are comfortable communicating through texts, said Jiro Ito, representative of Tokyo-based suicide prevention nonprofit OVA. Telephone hotlines have long been available, but given the comfort level young people have with texting and Twitter, perhaps text-based counseling and intervention programs should be made available, he said.

As for the Twitter account @hangingpro, it has been suspended.
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Duterte to Trump on human rights: 'That is not your business'

Duterte to Trump on human rights: 'That is not your business' | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Duterte has come under criticism for his brutal crackdown of suspected drug dealers in the Philippines.
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Spanish strike causes chaos on roads

Spanish strike causes chaos on roads | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A strike called across Catalonia by pro-independence activists to protest the jailing of sacked regional politicians shut down roads causing huge tailbacks into Barcelona while some public transport ran minimum services.
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Prince Mohammed bin Salman aims to rebrand Saudi Arabia

Prince Mohammed bin Salman aims to rebrand Saudi Arabia | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Young royal hopes to show his kingdom can be a leading player on the world stage.
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Japan's "black widow" murder accused sentenced to death

Japan's "black widow" murder accused sentenced to death | Criminology and Economic Theory |
An elderly Japanese woman dubbed the “black widow” in a serial murder case has been sentenced to death.

A court in Kyoto has convicted 70-year-old Chisako Kakehi of a series of killings of elderly men by poisoning.

Cyanide was used in the killing of Kakehi’s fourth husband, as well as two ex-partners between 2007 and 13.

The pensioner was also found guilty of attempting to murder a fourth victim.

The court heard how the accused amassed millions of euros worth of insurance payouts and inheritance.

Judges rejected claims from the defence that Kakehi was suffering from dementia.

An appeal against the death sentence is expected to be lodged by Kakehi’s lawyers.

The murder trial lasted four months.
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Judge postpones decision on whether adoptive parents of slain cop killer should lose their home

Judge postpones decision on whether adoptive parents of slain cop killer should lose their home | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A federal judge on Friday postponed a decision on whether the adoptive parents of the man who killed Sacramento sheriff’s Deputy Robert French should lose their home because he skipped out on his bail last summer.
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Despots are pushing the Arab world to become more secular

Despots are pushing the Arab world to become more secular | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Nov 2nd 2017 | CAIRO

DURING Friday prayers the congregation of Muhammad Yousef, a young puritanical preacher in the Egyptian town of Mansoura, once spilled out into the alleys surrounding his mosque. Now Sheikh Muhammad counts it a good week if he fills half the place.

In Cairo, 110km (68 miles) to the south, unveiled women sit in street cafés, traditionally a male preserve, smoking water-pipes. Some of the establishments serve alcohol, which Islam prohibits. “We’re in religious decline,” moans Sheikh Muhammad, whose despair is shared by clerics in many parts of the Arab world.

According to Arab Barometer, a pollster, much of the region is growing less religious. Voters who backed Islamists after the upheaval of the Arab spring in 2011 have grown disillusioned with their performance and changed their minds. In Egypt support for imposing sharia (Islamic law) fell from 84% in 2011 to 34% in 2016. Egyptians are praying less, too (see chart). In places such as Lebanon and Morocco only half as many Muslims listen to recitals of the Koran today, compared with 2011. Gender equality in education and the workplace, long hindered by Muslim tradition, is widely accepted. “Society is driving change,” says Michael Robbins, an American who heads Barometer.

But so, too, is a new crop of Arab leaders, who have adjusted their policies in line with the zeitgeist. They are acting, in part, out of political self-interest. The region’s authoritarians, who once tried to co-opt Islamists, now view them as the biggest threat to their rule. By curbing the influence of clerics they are also weakening checks on their own power. Still, many Arab leaders seem genuinely interested in moulding more secular and tolerant societies, even if their reforms do not extend to the political sphere.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has led the way in relaxing religious and social restrictions. While leading a regional campaign against Islamist movements, Muhammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s de facto leader, has financed the construction of Western university branches and art galleries. He has encouraged young women out of domestic seclusion and into military service, his daughter included. Female soldiers often walk the streets in uniform. In marked contrast to the region’s post-independence nationalist leaders, who purged their societies of Armenians, Greeks, Italians and Jews, he has embraced diversity, though tough restrictions on citizenship persist.

In Egypt President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has not only banned the Muslim Brotherhood, the region’s pre-eminent Islamist movement, but denounced al-Azhar, the Muslim world’s oldest seat of learning, for “intolerance”. He has closed thousands of mosques and said that Muslims must not sacrifice sheep in their homes during festivals without a licence. On some beaches burkinis—body-covering swimwear for conservative women—are banned. In a break from his predecessors, Mr Sisi has attended Christmas mass in Cairo’s Coptic cathedral three years in a row (though he doesn’t stay long). “We’re becoming more European,” explains an Egyptian official.

The most remarkable, albeit nascent, transformation is in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where Muhammad bin Salman, the young crown prince, has curbed the religious police, sacked thousands of imams and launched a new Centre for Moderation to censor “fake and extremist texts”. Women will soon be allowed to drive cars and enter sports stadiums. They are already encouraged to work. Now Prince Muhammad wants to create a new city, Neom, that seems modelled on freewheeling Dubai. Its promotional videos show women without headscarves partying with men. “We are only returning to what we used to be, to moderate Islam, open to the world and all religions,” he told foreign investors in October.

This move to moderation is far from ubiquitous. In countries with less dynamic governments, such as Algeria, Jordan and Palestine, polls show that support for sharia and sympathy for Islamist movements is high and growing. But secularists can been found in even the most conservative quarters. Freed from the grip of Islamic State (IS) jihadists, residents of Mosul, in Iraq, congregate in revamped cafés that have sprouted around the city’s wrecked university. Many profess to be atheists. The fine-arts department is reopening after it was closed by IS three years ago, with twice its previous intake of students.

Economic hardship, long seen as fuelling Islamist opposition movements, may also be eroding traditional views on women’s role in society. Amid soaring inflation and subsidy cuts in many countries, one salary is rarely enough to support a family. So husbands encourage their wives to work. Daughters are leaving their homes in rural areas to study or work in cities. Health workers say premarital sex is more common, in part because the age of marriage is rising (many blame high living costs).

Moderation without representation
All of the change is bittersweet for the region’s liberals, who want more political openness, too. But Arab leaders are acting much like Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s dictator in the early 20th century, who abolished the caliphate and sharia, and banned traditional garb, all while consolidating his own power.

In implementing his modernising agenda, Prince Muhammad has downgraded his family’s 250-year-old alliance with the Wahhabist clergy, who enforced a puritanical version of Islam and seemed to rule Saudi Arabia alongside the House of Saud. Now clerics who push back too hard against decrees are muzzled—or arrested. Dozens of public figures (including liberals) who were critical of the prince’s policies were detained in September.

Similarly, Mr Sisi fans criticism of religious movements, while censoring even indirect barbs of his rule. He has banned hundreds of newspapers and websites, and muzzled artists and musicians who might provoke opposition.

Yet many Arabs seem ready to forfeit political rights in exchange for personal liberties. A poll this year named the UAE as the state Arabs most want to live in, despite its dearth of democratic rights. But secularisation may last only as long as the despots pushing the plan. And even they may not go as far as activists want. No sooner had Saudi women won the right to drive than some took their bicycles out on the roads, testing the limits of official tolerance.

Rob Duke's insight:
Lots of breaking news out of the Middle East this week!
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