Photograph from The Innocence Project, 2008
Herman Wallace’s world for much of the last 41 years had been a solitary prison cell, 6 feet by 9 feet, when he left a Louisiana prison on Tuesday, freed by a federal judge who ruled that his original indictment in the killing of a prison guard had been unconstitutional.
On Friday morning, Mr. Wallace died of cancer in New Orleans. He was 71.
He had been one of the “Angola 3,” convicts whose solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, an 18,000-acre prison farm on the site of a former plantation, became a rallying point for advocates fighting abusive prison conditions around the world.
Mr. Wallace was serving a prison sentence for armed robbery when the correctional officer, Brent Miller, was stabbed to death in a riot at Angola in April 1972. Mr. Wallace and two other men were indicted in the killing. Two of the three — Albert Woodfox and Mr. Wallace — were convicted in January 1974.
They were placed in solitary confinement, joining another prisoner there, Robert King, who had been convicted of a different crime, and for decades to follow they were locked up for as much as 23 hours a day. Amnesty International published a report on them in 2011, and they were the subject of a documentary film, “In the Land of the Free,” directed by Vadim Jean…
Do you believe that a covert group called the New World Order is planning to take over the planet and impose a single world government?
Do you think the moon landings were staged in a Hollywood studio?
What about 9/11—do you suspect the US government deliberately allowed the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks to happen in order to concoct an excuse for war?
If you believe these sorts of things, you’re a conspiracy theorist. That much goes without saying. But according to new research, if you believe these sorts of things, you are also more likely to be skeptical of what scientists have to say on three separate issues: vaccinations, genetically modified foods, and climate change.
The new study, by University of Bristol psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues in the journal PLOS ONE, finds links between conspiratorial thinking and all three of these science-skeptic stances. Notably, the relationship was by far the strongest on the vaccine issue. For geeks: the correlation was .52, an impressive relationship for social science. Another way of translating the finding? “People who tend toward conspiratorial thinking are three times more likely to reject vaccinations,” says Lewandowsky…
As if the new study won’t provoke enough ire by linking anti-vaccine views to conspiracy theories, Lewandowsky also finds links—albeit much weaker ones—between conspiracy theories and both anti-GMO beliefs and climate change denial. On GMOs, the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has stated that “crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.” Accordingly, Lewandowsky’s survey respondents were asked to react to items like “I believe that because there are so many unknowns, that it is dangerous to manipulate the natural genetic material of plants” and “Genetic modification of food is a safe and reliable technology.”
Two former employees of JP Morgan Chase have been charged with concealing the size of the investment bank’s $6bn trading loss last year.
Javier Martin-Artajo, 49, and Julien Grout, 35, and their co-conspirators were accused on Wednesday of “artificially increasing the market value of securities to hide the true extent of hundreds of millions of dollars of losses”, according to court papers filed by US prosecutors.
Martin-Artajo oversaw JP Morgan’s trading strategy in London, while Grout recorded the value of the soured investments.
The pair were charged in federal criminal complaints with conspiracy to falsify books and records, commit wire fraud and falsify Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings…They also were charged separately in an SEC civil complaint…
The Wall Street Journal’s website reported that US prosecutors had reached an agreement with Bruno Iksil, a former JP Morgan trader who executed the giant trades and who was known as the “London whale”, in which he would not be criminally prosecuted for his conduct.
Iksil has agreed to fully cooperate with the investigation by US authorities as part of the deal, according to documents filed on Wednesday by the US attorney’s office quoted by the newspaper.
Thanks, Barry Ritholtz
Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration systematically monitor the meat and poultry sold in supermarkets around the country for the presence of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse…
In 2011, drugmakers sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for livestock — the largest amount yet recorded and about 80 percent of all reported antibiotic sales that year. The rest was for human health care. We don’t know much more except that, rather than healing sick animals, these drugs are often fed to animals at low levels to make them grow faster and to suppress diseases that arise because they live in dangerously close quarters on top of one another’s waste…
It was not until 2008…that Congress required companies to tell the F.D.A. the quantity of antibiotics they sold for use in agriculture. The agency’s latest report, on 2011 sales…was just four pages long — including the cover and two pages of boilerplate. There was no information on how these drugs were administered or to which animals and why.
We have more than enough scientific evidence to justify curbing the rampant use of antibiotics for livestock, yet the food and drug industries are not only fighting proposed legislation to reduce these practices, they also oppose collecting the data. Unfortunately, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as the F.D.A., is aiding and abetting them.
The Senate committee recently approved the Animal Drug User Fee Act, a bill that would authorize the F.D.A. to collect fees from veterinary-drug makers to finance the agency’s review of their products. Public health experts had urged the committee to require drug companies to provide more detailed antibiotic sales data to the agency. Yet the F.D.A. stood by silently as the committee declined to act, rejecting a modest proposal from Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, both Democrats, that required the agency to report data it already collects but does not disclose…
…Why are lawmakers so reluctant to find out how 80 percent of our antibiotics are used? We cannot avoid tough questions because we’re afraid of the answers. Lawmakers must let the public know how the drugs they need to stay well are being used to produce cheaper meat.
Overdue. Another example of reactionary politicians on the payroll of corporations dominating an industry establishing standards – or lack or standards – for that industry.
The not-so-reactionary politicians stand around and do little more than pat themselves on the back.
The bureaucrats in charge of enforcing regulations seem to work hardest at avoiding the implementation of regulations worth enforcing.
We pick up the tab.
The Vatican acknowledged Monday that the newest crisis in Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy was damaging trust in the church, even as it tried to contain a scandal that has sent the Italian news media into a frenzy since the pope’s butler was arrested days ago and accused of leaking the pontiff’s confidential correspondence.
Italian news media have suggested that the butler, Paolo Gabriele, could not — and would not — have acted alone, and several newspapers suggested that a cardinal was the guiding force behind the dissemination of the documents.
“It is painful to see such a negative image” emerge of the Holy See, The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters hastily convened for a briefing. The scandals “put trust in the church and the Holy See to the test.” He added, “That’s why we must confront them directly and not hide.”
The arrest last Wednesday of Mr. Gabriele in connection with the illegal possession of confidential documents was the latest act in a scandal called Vatileaks, which has been punctuated by the periodic release of correspondence laying bare conflicts and clashes within the Holy See, including internal accusations of cronyism and corruption…
Mr. Gabriele, who has been the pope’s butler since 2006, is being held in a Vatican detention facility and on Monday morning he met with his wife and his lawyers. One lawyer, Carlo Fusco, said that his client would “cooperate fully” with Vatican magistrates investigating the leaked documents.
The first question that comes to mind is one of semantics. In practice what the Vatican and the Pope means by “trust” – is obedience.
Then there is the question of transparency. History tells us that “transparency” in an investigation of the Vatican and the papacy – means blind acceptance of whatever tale is proffered. If and when time passes and the real truth is discovered – that’s just another question for another time.
Preet Bharara and Ray Kelly
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Five active and three retired officers of the New York Police Department are among 12 people charged Tuesday with conspiring to transport and distribute firearms and stolen goods…
“A group of crime fighters took to moonlighting as criminals,” Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a press conference.
The defendants are charged in an alleged conspiracy to transport and distribute untraceable firearms across state lines. and conspiracy to transport supposedly stolen and counterfeit goods including cigarettes from Virginia and slot machines from Atlantic City, New Jersey…
The current or former NYPD officers charged are William Masso, Eddie Goris, Ali Oklu, Gary Oritz, and John Mahony, all active-duty officers in Brooklyn; Joseph Trischitta and Marco Venezia, who were active-duty NYPD officers at the time of the alleged crimes but are now retired; and Richard Melnik, a retired NYPD officer. Also charged, federal authorities said, are Anthony Santiago, a New York City Department of Sanitation police officer; David Kanwisher, a New Jersey corrections officer; and Michael Gee and Eric Gomer, who court documents list as “associates” of Santiago…
Prosecutors said that while the defendants all believed the items they transported were stolen; they had in fact been provided by the FBI. The firearms were never a danger to the public, authorities said, as they had been rendered inoperable.
“These crimes are without question, reprehensible — particularly conspiring to import untraceable guns and assault rifles into New York,” said Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York division. “The public trusts the police not only to enforce the law, but to obey it. These crimes, as alleged in the complaint, do nothing but undermine public trust and confidence in law enforcement.”
You got that right.
The whole point of oversight is made in spades. This is why we have an SEC to keep an eye on Wall Street. And they failed us the last decade. This is why we have federal attorney-generals and they pretty much failed us during the 8 useless years of Bush/Cheney.
We’re fortunate to have someone like Preet Bharara operating in New York, nowadays. Seems like I get to note his name in a crime-busting case every couple of months.
FBI Asst Director Shawn Henry, Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius behind him
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
The U.S. government on Thursday charged 111 doctors, nurses and other defendants with Medicare crime schemes that exceeded $225 million in false billings, the largest health care fraud crackdown so far.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the charges in the latest of a series of cases brought by the Obama administration…
Medicare reform represented a key part of the sweeping year-old health care law championed by Democratic President Barack Obama, but opposed by many Republicans in Congress.
The latest charges covered defendants in nine cities. In addition to arrests, law enforcement agents also executed 16 search warrants.
The defendants were charged with various crimes, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, false claims, kickbacks and money laundering, administration officials said.
They said the alleged schemes involved various medical treatments, tests and services, such as home health care, physical and occupational therapy and medical equipment…
A top FBI official, Shawn Henry, said 2,600 health care fraud cases were under investigation and that organized crime groups have been increasingly linked to the alleged schemes.
Sebelius said $4 billion was recovered last year, and the government’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force was recently expanded to nine cities, with the addition of Dallas and Chicago.
Go get ‘em! Throw a couple of insurance companies into the meatgrinder while you’re at it.
They deserve to be sorted out for their role in inflating healthcare costs. They could care less about phony costs when they know American taxpayers get stuck with the bill regardless of legitimacy.
The Church of Scientology…the controversial and secretive group – whose celebrity backers include the actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta – has effectively been accused of enslaving members.
FBI agents are said to have interviewed defectors across the US about the techniques used by church leaders to control members’ lives and track down those who attempt to leave.
The leader of the church, David Miscavige – who was best man at Cruise’s wedding in 2006 – is accused of repeated violence towards staff and members, which he has denied…
The claims were made in an extensive investigation into the church by Lawrence Wright, a highly-respected and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, in the New Yorker magazine…
Wright reports that Valerie Venegas and Tricia Whitehill, agents from the FBI’s office in Los Angeles devoted to fighting human trafficking, have been investigating the group.
RTFA – these allegations have been around for a spell. I don’t know if the Scientology crowd is more or less repressive than any other American weirdo religion. The target demographic ain’t anyone who lives in my neighborhood.
The chuckle for me is that I go back far enough into early post-war years of sic-fi to recall how absurd some of the discussions, attempts at building early ideology by L.Ron Hubbard really were.
Philosophical idealism was taken to absurd ends when he tried to prove the drawing of a radio could be made to work as well as the real deal!
A former commodities trader threatened to torture his regulator until he would “beg to be killed”, according to court documents.
Vincent McCrudden, founder of Alnbri Asset Management, was arrested in New York last month and charged with drawing up an “execution list” of more than 40 employees of the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and other agencies.
Details of one threatening email McCrudden wrote to Dan Driscoll, chief operating officer of the National Futures Association, have now been released in court papers. McCrudden said he had hired “professionals” to torture and kill Driscoll. “They have things they will do to you that will make you beg to be killed, shot, anything to get away from the pain,” he wrote. “And the great thing is, you will be the first, but not the last.”
According to his website, McCrudden is a former professional football player and a 25-year Wall Street veteran. The CFTC filed a civil enforcement lawsuit filed against McCrudden in December, according to prosecutors, who also say that McCrudden has been the subject of various enforcement or disciplinary proceedings over several years.
McCrudden’s website says he has spent “the past 13 years and counting combating a colluded government attempt to discredit and harass” him.
“As a twice survivor of the WTC [World Trade Centre] bombings, Mr McCrudden knows all too well what the Government can do in the ‘name of public interest’…
“Wake up my fellow citizens and middle class and go look into the mirror, because you my friends are the face of the new Al Qaeda! Civil disobedience can be a start for justice. Its [sic] us (middle class) against them (Government officials and the Bourgeosie [sic]). Start acting now before its [sic] too late!” the website states.
Should run this killer klown for Congress. He’d be the perfect KoolAid Party candidate.