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Posts tagged ‘crime’

Lighten Up, Francis …

We live in challenging times. From overseas wars to domestic terrorism to global warming to catastrophic environmental disasters, there’s more than enough for us to worry about. You’d think that among those who particularly have their hands full would be the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI. But they must have everything under control, because they still have the time and resources to go after Wikipedia for using their logo without permission.

As you probably know, Wikipedia is the user-generated online encyclopedia. Like any encyclopedia, it consists of articles about various topics, in this case authored by interested parties and subject to the content rules of the Wikimedia Project that oversees the Wikipedia. One of the articles is about the FBI, and is accompanied by a copy of the FBI seal in image form. Apparently that’s an issue for the FBI, and they’re leaning on Wikipedia to remove it.

In a letter to Wikipedia dated July 22 and posted by The New York Times, the FBI demands that its official seal be removed from a Wikipedia article about the FBI because the agency had not approved use of the image.

“The FBI has not authorized use of the FBI seal on Wikipedia,” the letter said. “The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting” copying and reprinting of the FBI’s seal.

The letter goes on to threaten legal action if its demand is ignored: “Failure to comply may result in further legal action. We appreciate your timely attention to this matter.”

Blah blah blah.

The Feds are basing their legal argument on a violation of United States Code 18 USC 701, which punishes anyone who “manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof” for other than official use. Most media outlets have pointed out that Wikipedia, like most reference texts, would normally be extended certain courtesies in using such an image, as had Encyclopedia Britannica. But I noticed just now that someone went in yesterday and edited the Brittanica entry on the FBI to remove the offending image … hmm …

I appreciate the concern the FBI or any law enforcement organization might have over people forging credentials and using them to advance their nefarious purposes. But I have a difficult time believing that Wikipedia is truly a prime source for such behavior. It’s enough to make you believe that the ghost of J. Edgar is roaming the halls with his famous list … or maybe someone at FBI HQ has confused Wikipedia with Wikileaks … 😀

Lindsay Lohan Goes Down!

No, it’s not what you think it is, nor is it an offhand plug of Lohan’s rumored appearance in an upcoming Linda Lovelace biopic – an appearance that is suddenly much less likely to occur.

The former teen actress, “singer”, “entrepreneur” and whatever else she thinks might make her a buck, has been on probation for a number of run-ins with the law – drugs, DUI, assault – for a couple of years now. She’s under instructions to stay away from alcohol and attend AA classes, but like so many of her “Young Hollywood” cronies she plays it fast and loose with rules, convince that they somehow don’t apply to her. Until now, she’s gotten away with it.

Until now.

Having run out of excuses and judicial patience, on July 6th Lohan was sentenced to 90 days in jail and another 90 in a rehab facility; yesterday, she turned herself in and was let off in handcuffs. This is not her first experience with incarceration; recall that in 2007 she served 84 minutes of a 1-day sentence for cocaine and alcohol violations. It was violations of the probation resulting from this earlier conviction that caught up with her this time.

There are those who will claim 90 days is too harsh for what might be seen as minor traffic and narcotic offenses, and they might be right, if this was still about those offenses – but it’s not. This is about respect for the law. The minute the judge told Lohan what she needed to do to stay out of jail and Lohan agreed to those conditions, that’s all that mattered. She made an agreement with the judge, she violated that agreement, and now she pays the price.

Truth be told, she’ll probably spend less than a month of her sentence in the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood – you know how Sheriff Lee Baca loves to release prisoners then cry about his budget, particularly when there are cameras available. Hopefully it’ll be long enough for her – and her Hollywood Brat Pack cronies – to get the message: The law applies to everyone.

But I doubt it …

Yow! That’s Not Fair Givin’ A Guy A Shot Down There!

Men are under an awful lot of sexual strain these days.  It’s bad enough that every third commercial on TV is about erective dysfunction – hey, no one needs that thought running around their skull at just the wrong moment – but studies show that more and more women are realizing that what they get from a man can be sufficiently approximated by a battery-operated appliance.  What’s a guy to do?

Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get worse, the MB has received word from our friends north of the border of a fresh threat to the regions south of our borders.   The men in Langley, British Columbia, are well-advised to not simply walk around staring at their feet and instead keep a close eye on the feet around them – a mystery woman is loose who kicked a stranger in the nuts so hard that one exploded.

“I just want to know what her problem is,” Anthony Clark, 22, told The Province Tuesday. “People like her shouldn’t be on the streets.”

Clark was walking down a street back in September, presumably minding his own business, when came upon a young woman.

“I was looking down and then I took a passing glance and saw her walk up to me,” he said.

That’s when the young woman inexplicably kicked him in the groin hard enough to send one of his testicles into his abdomen.

Umm … ouch!

While this is one of those stories that might elicit giggles – or a remembrance of Jim Bouton’s Ball Four and the term “ding-dong” – the damage was actually quite serious. The damaged testicle was removed and will eventually be replaced with a prosthetic. The woman is still on the loose, and while there have been no other reported attacks, the RCMP believes embarassment may be preventing other victims from coming forward.

As for Clark, he’d dealing with the situation as best he can.

“My doctors say I will still be able to have children,” Clark said. “But at 22 that’s not something I want a stranger, this woman, to decide.”

I’ve been slapped by women, punched by women, and bit by women (although that last one wasn’t necessarily in anger), but I’m happy to say I’ve never been kicked by a woman – and I’d like to keep it that way, thanks … :-0

Thanks For The Help, And You’re Fired

You know, when I see the amount of time we spend covering our own asses, I marvel at the thought that we’re decended from the folks who won the West …

Jared Bergstreser and Colin Trapp were employees at a Best Buy store in Colorado. I emphasize “were,” because they aren’t any more. The heinous act for which they were terminated? They tried to stop a shoplifter.

“A gentleman came by us in a red shirt with a bunch of product in his hand. It was pretty obvious that he hadn’t paid for it yet,” Trapp said.

“I just kind of reacted. I wasn’t thinking about it and followed the guy out the front door and tackled him,” Bergstreser said.

As you might imagine, the corporate types are quoting the policy manual and justifying their decision.  The terminated employees are still disappointed by it all.

“It was just completely demoralizing. You think you have in your head what you know is right or wrong, what your parents instilled in you growing up as a child, and then to be reprimanded for that act is so sour and so sad,” Trapp said.

“I think I did what I believed was right,” Bergstreser added.

Now, to be fair, the situation could easily have gone bad.  The thief pulled a knife, and a store employee got nicked in the process of trying to calm the situation.  And it’s true that Best Buy, like most retail enterprises, has policies in place that dictate that employees do not insert themselves into dangerous sitations for fear of just such an escalation.  Some kind of action would need to be taken towards the employees for a technical violation of policy, but termination?  What exactly is the message they want to send here – or do they even care about the message?  We spend so much time and money protecting the rights of the guilty and those presumed so; just once I’d like to see someone stand up for the people who try to do the right thing – even when technically it’s wrong.

If it were up to the corporate lawyers, our forefathers would still be standing on the Boston quayside, saying “we can’t throw that tea in the bay … we could get in trouble,” and the Union Jack would be flying over the White House.

Tragically Unacceptable

I’m a city-dweller.  I was born in the city, raised in the city, spent my entire life in the city and will in all likelihood die in the city.  I hear stories of country life, and all I can do is smile – I have no reference point to that sort of livestyle whatsoever.

Living in the city comes with certain challenges.  Cars, smog, congestion, crime – these are the unavoidable hallmarks of city life.  The latter one – crime – is one that gets a lot of attention from politicians, particularly during election cycles, as no one likes the idea of a crime-ridden city.  Here in Los Angeles, they’ve done a good job of keeping the rates pretty acceptable, and the gang violence is much less than it was in decades past.  But that doesn’t mean that walking the streets of Los Angeles is necessarily safe …

By all accounts, Lily Burk was a great kid.  Smart, funny, creative, this was a young girl who would go far.  But fate apparently had a different idea.  A week ago, the 17-yr-old was running errands for her mother, picking up some papers from her office at Southwestern Law School on Wilshire.  She left the school, but never made it home.  A couple of cryptic phone call were made about trouble using her ATM card to get money, then nothing –  until her lifeless body was found the next morning near Skid Row in Downtown LA.

You’ve heard of “wrong place, wrong time”?  That’s going to go on her tombstone.  Lily had the misfortune of walking down Wilshire Place at the wrong time and running into a drunk, stoned ex-con names Charles Samuel, who saw her as a target of opportunity.  He kidnapped her, forced her to try and get money from the ATM and, when that didn’t work, killed her.  The stupid bastard was arrested shortly thereafter as he walked down a nearby street, beer in hand, crackpipe in pocket, and clothes splattered with blood.

This is one of those unexplainable acts that make you question the existence of God.  I mean, how does a benevolent deity justify allowing a beautiful, intelligent, talented 17-yr-old girl to have her throat slashed by a drunk, homeless ex-con?

I have a friend who attends Southwestern Law, and I’ve picked her up from school before.  It’s one of those neighborhoods like many in LA, faded from one-time glory but slowly recovering as a new group of people move in.  The school itself occupies the iconic Bullock’s Wilshire building (the famous “Tea Room” is now the school cafeteria), and it was from just outside this building that Lily was abducted.  I can remember sitting in the car waiting, thinking that this probably wasn’t a neighborhood I’d want to spend a lot of time in after dark (as it was at the time).  But Lily was taken on a bright sunny morning.

When you put enough people into one area, you’re bound to get the good and the bad.  In this case, good met bad, and bad won.  If justice truly works, good will get a chance to repay bad one day.  It’s just a shame that the mercy that will be shown Charles Samuel when he is killed was absent last Friday for Lily Burk.

And You Thought You Had A Bad Hair Day?

For members of a stratified society like ours, prison is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from – if you end up in the slammer, you’re just another inmate, reduced to the lowest common denominator of existence. I don’t mean those country clubs where they send the white collar criminals – hell, that’s just spa time for those guys. No, we’re talking about serious lockup – the kind of places Johnny Cash sings about. End up there, and there’s seldom a happy ending.

That’s the life Phil Spector has to look forward to now that he’s been convicted of murder. You know the story – “C” list actress / “hostess” Lana Clarkson accompanies Spector back to his place and somehow manages to blow her head off. At least that was the story the defense pitched – lame as it was, it still took two tries to convict him of second-degree murder. Personally, I think he’s just a little man with a big ego who likes to push women around and wave guns. This time, something went very wrong, and Clarkson died. Spector will have the next 19 years to think about what might have been had he made a different choice.

Phil’s going to suffer a lot of indignities over the next few years, but the first has already come to light courtesy of the California Department of Corrections. Everyone gets a mug shot, and there are no wigs allowed, so we get to see Spector in all his hairless glory. If you watched his trial, you saw him in a series of hairstyles, all hilarious and, apparently, all fake. Turns out under the mop was a series of failed hairplugs and a Ben Franklin cut. Who’s sorry now? :-)