U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke, reporting for Reuters Washington bureau:

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial.

This goes well beyond spying. This is, I would argue, exactly why people object to such domestic spying.

Christmas in jail

John Futty, reporting for The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio:

Judge Michael J. Holbrook placed Young on probation yesterday for five years and ordered that she spend a minimum of three days in jail each Christmas while on probation.

This made me smile. Now, crime is bad, and Christmas in jail is bad. But what a creative way to punish a fraudster without wasting taxpayer money on a non-violent offender.

Norwegian rape victim Marte Deborah Dalelv "pardoned" by UAE

I wrote yesterday about Ms. Dalelv’s 16-month sentence for sex outside marriage, among other absurd charges to levy against a victim of rape, in the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I’m happy to report that, according to Reuters, the 24-year-old has been “pardoned” and will be able to go back to Norway.

The fact that UAE called it a “pardon” is as unconscionable as the sentence itself, but freedom by any name is better than being jailed in the kind of nation that would punish a rape victim.

Dubai: Where rape is only a crime if you're the victim

Update: she has been “pardoned.”

A Norwegian woman was raped, reported it to police, and was charged and convicted of extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury. She was sentenced to 16 months in jail.

For being raped.

And that’s three months longer than her attacker.

This is a major problem of international law. What happens when the economic and business relationship between two states places citizens in the crosshairs of antiquated and ignorant laws? What is the remedy when the Western expectations of a visitor are shattered by foreign norms that, well, prompt Western folks to use words like “antiquated” and “ignorant.”

The Norwegian government has the woman safely housed in what sounds like a naval base, but there is a warrant out for her arrest.

We will find out. I’ll be keeping an eye on this story.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell: Philadelphia's "Abortion" Monster

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf quoting the grand jury report (PDF) on Philadelphia “abortion” monster Kermit Gosnell:

The Department of State, through its Board of Medicine, licenses and oversees individual physicians… Almost a decade ago, a former employee of Gosnell presented the Board of Medicine with a complaint that laid out the whole scope of his operation: the unclean, unsterile conditions; the unlicensed workers; the unsupervised sedation; the underage abortion patients; even the over-prescribing of pain pills with high resale value on the street. The department assigned an investigator, whose investigation consisted primarily of an offsite interview with Gosnell. The investigator never inspected the facility, questioned other employees, or reviewed any records. Department attorneys chose to accept this incomplete investigation, and dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed.

Truly horrifying.

While it’s a loaded topic that deserves more space than I have time these days to give it, suffice it to say that I am against any outright ban on abortion. Note that I placed the word abortion in quotes because the late-term procedures Gosnell did were not what legally can be considered abotions under any current law or jurisprudence: they were murders.

UPenn criminologist Richard Berk's recidivism-prediction algorithm

Wired's Kim Zetter:

To create the software, researchers assembled a dataset of more than 60,000 crimes, including homicides, then wrote an algorithm to find the people behind the crimes who were more likely to commit murder when paroled or put on probation. Berk claims the software could identify eight future murderers out of 100.

It’s a fascinating concept, but read the article to find out why it may have some critics.

Longread: Cameron Todd Willingham, Texas, and the death penalty

I usually like to include a quote from the longreads I share, but this story cannot be reduced to a single blockquote. Whether you support or oppose the death penalty, you should read this 2009 article by David Grann at The New Yorker.

Related

If you like Grann’s work, consider having a listen to the Longform Podcast interview with him or visiting Longform’s archive of his pieces.