Society's ChildS


Sheriff

US: The 'West Memphis Three' and combating cognitive biases

Damien Echols
© Danny Johnston / AP PhotoDamien Echols, right, one of three men who pleaded guilty to crimes they say they did not commit, and his wife Lorri speak to reporters after the three were freed at the Craighead County Court House in Jonesboro, Ark., Friday, Aug. 19, 2011.

The case shows we see what we expect to see. That can mean innocent people go to jail while criminals remain free.

Last week, the "West Memphis Three" were released from prison, having spent half their lives - 18 years - behind bars for crimes they almost certainly didn't commit. So what made prosecutors and investigators sure they had the right guys, and why were those beliefs, once established, so hard to reverse?

The crimes for which the three Memphis men were convicted were brutal. Three 8-year-old Cub Scouts were found dead, hogtied and apparently mutilated. The police decided early on that it was likely the boys had been victims of a satanic cult killing, which led them to consider self-described Wiccan teen Damien Echols, a young man with asymmetric black hair, a pale face and oddball taste in clothes and music. They hauled in an acquaintance of his, a minor named Jessie Misskelley, who had an IQ of 72, and interviewed him for hours without his parents or an attorney present. Finally, he confessed, implicating Echols and another friend, Jason Baldwin.

Arrow Down

US: Diet Book for Girls as Young as SIX Branded 'Irresponsible' by Nutrition Experts

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Healthy: Anna Wood before her anorexia and then 'ravaged' by the illness
A controversial children's book tells how a girl 'transforms' her life and becomes a school hero by losing weight.

The work, called Maggie Goes on a Diet, is written in verse and aimed at those as young as six.

Last night it was condemned by parents and experts for sending a dangerous message to vulnerable youngsters and encouraging eating disorders.

Although it won't be published until October, Amazon is taking orders for the 44-page book written by U.S. author and father Paul M. Kramer.

A summary on the website says the plot features 'a 14-year-old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal-sized girl who becomes the school soccer star'.

It continues: 'Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self-image.'

Camera

UK: Study Finds That Speed Cameras CREATE Accidents

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Many speed cameras have not cut accident rates, figures show (a speed camera pictured on the A14 in Cambridgeshire)
Many speed cameras have not cut accident rates and may even have increased them, figures reveal for the first time today.

Statistics published by the Department for Transport show many cameras have done little or nothing to improve accident rates, but have proved highly effective in clocking up speeding fines.

Only a small number of councils have agreed to publish the full data on each speed camera in their area.

Vader

Million dollars not enough for brutal police slaying of Kelly Thomas, says family

The surviving family members of Kelly Thomas, who was brutally murdered by Fullerton Police (Orange County, California) in July, rejected an offer of $900,000 not to pursue civil action.

On July 5, 2011, closed circuit TV caught six Fullerton cops brutally murdering a homeless, mentally ill man. Kelly Thomas, age 37, died after being taken off life-support five days later.

A whistleblower who viewed the unreleased city-owned video of the event says an officer crushed Thomas' windpipe by "drop-kneeing" him "more than once.

His last words are heard on this CCTV video where he's screaming, "Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!"

Wolf

US: Rick Perry holds record on executions

rick perry
© NA
Advocates against capital punishment will not find an ally in Rick Perry anytime soon.

The Washington Post has reported that the Texas governor holds the record for most executions ever for a governor, and by a large margin. Perry has presided over 234 executions, increasing Texas' reputation by far as the #1 state in executing people.

George W.Bush reportedly presided over a higher rate of executions than Perry in his five years as governor before becoming President, while Democratic governor Ann Richards had 50 executions in her one term. Thanks to its size and lack of appeals from lower courts, the overall structure of support for the death penalty is a constant in Texas, no matter who is governor.

However, Perry has been even more aggressive in pushing for capital punishment than his predecessors.

Evil Rays

US: Quake sensors removed around Virginia nuke plant due to budget cuts

anna nuke plant
© NA
A nuclear power plant that was shut down after an earthquake struck central Virginia Tuesday had seismographs removed in 1990s due to budget cuts.

U.S. nuclear officials said that the North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, had lost offsite power and was using diesel generators to maintain cooling operations after an 5.9 earthquake hit the region.

The North Anna plant, which was near the epicenter of Tuesday's quake, is reportedly located on a fault line.

USA

Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse

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© Munkee
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am not an expert or a scholar or an activist. I am more of an eye-witness. I watched the Soviet Union collapse, and I have tried to put my observations into a concise message. I will leave it up to you to decide just how urgent a message it is.

My talk tonight is about the lack of collapse-preparedness here in the United States. I will compare it with the situation in the Soviet Union, prior to its collapse. The rhetorical device I am going to use is the "Collapse Gap" - to go along with the Nuclear Gap, and the Space Gap, and various other superpower gaps that were fashionable during the Cold War.

The subject of economic collapse is generally a sad one. But I am an optimistic, cheerful sort of person, and I believe that, with a bit of preparation, such events can be taken in stride. As you can probably surmise, I am actually rather keen on observing economic collapses. Perhaps when I am really old, all collapses will start looking the same to me, but I am not at that point yet.

And this next one certainly has me intrigued. From what I've seen and read, it seems that there is a fair chance that the U.S. economy will collapse sometime within the foreseeable future. It also would seem that we won't be particularly well-prepared for it. As things stand, the U.S. economy is poised to perform something like a disappearing act. And so I am eager to put my observations of the Soviet collapse to good use.

Binoculars

Big Brother UK: 'Smart' CCTV could track rioters

camera screens
© UknownThe system is able to track suspects across multiple cameras
CCTV that can automatically monitor criminal behaviour and track suspects is being developed by UK scientists

Researchers at Kingston University have created a system that uses artificial intelligence to recognise specific types of behaviour, such as someone holding a gun.

The technology is capable of following a person across multiple cameras.

Privacy campaigners warned that it might be used to target groups such as political protesters.

Stop

Russia: Unidentified hooligan tries to blind pilot at Moscow airport

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© RIA Novosti. Dmitriy PetrochenkoThe captain of the A320 plane flying from Moscow to Kemerovo said an intense green light was shone into his face at an altitude of 600 meters
Moscow police said they were searching for a person who tried to blind a passenger jet pilot with a powerful pen laser when the aircraft was taking off from Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow.

"The captain of the A320 plane flying from Moscow to Kemerovo said an intense green light was shone into his face at an altitude of 600 meters," a police source said.

The hooligan had allegedly been located in Moscow's Novo-Peredelkino district.

Radar

RFID Implants Won't Rescue the People Kidnapped in Mexico

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© Associated Press/Diario de Nuevo Laredo
Kidnappings in Mexico have worsened in the last 5 years, sky-rocketing by 371%. So too have the demand for those RFID implants that were said to allow authorities to find the victims. Except for one thing: they don't work.

The main problem is that the technology, for a number of reasons, couldn't have worked in the first place. For one, the implants are much too small for a satellite to pick up. And that's without taking into account the barriers the implant's signal would have to overcome - that is, metal, concrete, and the water of the human body. For another, the implants can't be trusted to broadcast a signal without losing its teeny tiny charge.

And even if the police did manage to pick up the signal, there'd be no time to mount a raid to save you. All told, you're probably only about 1% less screwed.