Mass salmonella poisoning by the Peanut Corporation of America [UPDATE 2]
When nine people died and 4,000 products were recalled because of salmonella in peanuts, my years of writing and teaching about white collar crime told me there was significant wrongdoing here. Unfortunately, media did not really put together a long form narrative, so I have put this together over time with some help and encouragement. UPDATE 1: The jury has convicted the ringleaders at PCA and found them guilty on many counts, which is good and what they deserved. News stories tend to have a quote about how this will send a message to other food producers. I think the... continue reading »

Understanding Domestic Violence
Last semester, a colleague invited me to do a presentation on Domestic Violence for her into to women and gender studies class. It was a good opportunity to draw on my teaching, service on the board of SafeHouse, and interest in art by survivors of domestic violence to create a presentation. Enjoy and feel free to use it if you think it will be useful. It covers some of the basics and I hope to add to it over the long run.  Understanding Domestic Violence: Why You Should Care, What You Should Know and How to Help  Download .pdf of presentation... continue reading »

TSA 'Pornoscan': Here's what it looks like
For all the discussion about whether the body scans by the Transportation Security Administration is appropriate, I have seen few photos. In this case, I think it is important to have this as a data point, so we know what we are talking about as far as an invasion of privacy goes. Then, we can talk about the benefits and tradeoffs. So, here's a screencapture of a .pdf that was part of a challenge by the Electronic Privacy Information Center against the scanners.  They have copies of their briefs and those filed by the Dept of Homeland Security, so this... continue reading »

What Music Was Used to Coerce Guantanamo Detainees?
Most of us have been trapped somewhere and forced to listen to music we don't like, so we have a sense that muzak can be annoying as well as the blaring and thumping of tunes from the car next to us. But music is also used in hostage and standoff situations, and it was used to help coerce detainees at Guantanamo to cooperate in revealing information. There's some info from a Washington Post article (Torture songs spur a protest most vocal) that reports on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking records on how music was used in the... continue reading »

Domestic Violence Survivor Art
I'm on the Board of our local domestic violence shelter, SafeHouse, and was down there tonight to help with the start of training. Seeing the T-shirts made by survivors, reminded me I had this I took a while ago with my cell phone.  [click for a slightly larger version]  I took his one while I was there this time...[click for a larger version] With the economy in Southeast Michigan a bit worse than average for the nation, the SaftHouse budget is under stress (understatements all around). For anyone who is interested, here info on donations - and you can also... continue reading »

July 4, 2008
July 4 is usually fun - picnic, fireworks, a day off. But it is also a time to reflect on the founding of the country - our independence from England, and, as I've written about before, some of the values that served as the foundation for the new country. Today's lesson comes courtesy of  Boumrdiene v Bush, the recent Supreme Court case involving a detainee in Guantanamo suing the President for holding him without due process. The Court sides with the detainee and provides a nice discussion about habeas corpus, aka The Great Writ, which is the mechanism used to... continue reading »

DC v Heller and the Future of Gun Control
The Supreme Court just hear arguments in a case that potentially has important implications for the Second Amendment and gun control. It's the first time the Court has taken on meaningful issues on this topic in almost 70 years and argument actually seemed to focus substantive issues rather than a technical resolution (relating to DC not being a state but under the oversight of the Federal Govt). As this post details, the case has a variety of briefs with some surprises in terms of how positions fall out. My comment on this case will be limited to Vice President Cheney... continue reading »

Black Swans, Banks and Bird Flu in the U.S.
In nature, swans are white, but black swans are a low probability event that is observed with regularity. In other contexts, a black swan is a low probability event with serious, even catastrophic consequences. Terrorism is a prime example of a black swan event, and I earlier blogged about the simulation of a 10 megaton nuclear weapon in a shipping container being sent to the port of Los Angeles. Now, we have another simulation of a black swan event - an examination to see how the U.S. financial system would hold up to a bird flu pandemic that could happen... continue reading »

Sept 11 - Six Year Anniversary
I missed posting on the actual anniversary of Sept 11 because of some child care issues with my twin girls born in May (which also explains my absence from blogging over the summer...) My wife purchased a very nice diary for their first 1000 days, and since I'm back at work and dealing with my research topics I thought about commenting on their first Sept 11. Of course they're only a few months old and oblivious. But I wondered what the commemorations would be like as they got old enough to read the diary and re-read it over the course... continue reading »

Televising McVeigh's Execution (Why Is Photographing an Execution A Crime?) - mp3 lecture
Earlier this month, I was out at the ACJS meeting in Seattle and presented some new research on televising executions. I made an mp3 recording of the presentation about webcasting McVeigh's execution and added a few minutes of background information about televised executions. The talk is 24 minutes and the file is 5.3MB. (It's an early venture in audio files, so look for more and better efforts in the future.) Why Is Photographing an Execution A Crime? Once and Future Issues Raised by the Suit to Webcast McVeigh's Execution. An early edition of Death Work opens with a story about... continue reading »

Columbus Day: A Critique of Celebrating Colonialism
This is the introduction to Chapter 7 on Victims and Victimology of the Class, Race, Gender and Crime book I co-authored (available at the end of this month). Because the deprivations of some minorities have been so extensive and/or are so profound, some argue that these social relations or conditions amount to “genocide,” a powerful word used to describe extreme cases of mass violence and victimization whose derivation comes from the Latin cide (kill) and the Greek genos (race or tribe). The underlying concept of genocide involves an attempt to exterminate a group that shares common characteristics and a common identity.... continue reading »

Terrorism: No Good News
One of the many frustrations and disappointments related to the recent contract negotiations I've written about so much here recently is that on Sept 11, I was in negotiations for about 21 hours. As a result, I really didn't have time to post anything related to the anniversay of the terrorist attacks or about terrorism. As a criminologist, I studied terrorism before 9/11 and I have been trying to expand my understanding of the challenge of terrorism to the free societies in the global village. I'd like to write a little bit about the recent National Intelligence Estimate as part... continue reading »

$ War $ Terrorism $ Oil $ (Follow the Money)
A helpful bit of advice for understanding many situations is to follow the money. Seeing who is profiting and paying often makes sense of what's happening and why. I've used this idea to llok and criminal justice and private prisons - the crime pays part of PaulsJusticePage. But I was still suprised to read "Oil price rise fuels leap in US arms sales."Yes, it's obvious that Exxon and other oil companies are making a killing from high oil prices. But Saudi Arabia is also sitting on piles of cash and is buying U.S. arms, with the Pentagon taking a cut.... continue reading »

Arrests for Terrorism: The Big(ger) Picture
By now, everyone has heard about the arrests in England related to a seemingly well-developed plot to blow up airplanes using explosives they were going to pass off as soda. Many details are still emerging, and I've seen a number of conflicting accounts. So let's step back and look at a few of the bigger picture issues: security measures, al Qaeda, and some suggested links and reading. Security Measures & the FutureThe first move was to ban all liquids and gels from planes. OK, but this method was successful 12 years ago, so why are we reacting now rather than... continue reading »

July 8 Review & linkfest (mostly war on terror)
A standard feature of many blog is a blogroll - that list that can be either long or endless. While I like checking out suggestions of my favorite bloggers, long blogrolls are overwhelming and not useful. So, I will be doing posts (hopefully one a week) that review a few highlights and point out some good material in blogs I recommend. They will all be filed under the 'linkfest/recommended' category. While you probably think this should start out with Ken Lay, that's a bit too US centric...Anniversary of London Bombings "Everything was all normal and then suddenly, it was not.... continue reading »