Tuesday, June 29, 2010

True Crime Tuesday - Six Year Old Suspected Terrorist?

You'll be glad to know that Homeland Security is working hard to protect Americans from the next wannabe terrorist who would like nothing better than to murder as many innocent people as possible. The men and women of TSA (the people who screen you at the airport) truely deserve our thanks.

Having said that, no one at TSA or Homeland Security can explain why a six-year old girl from Ohio cannot be removed from the no-fly list. And the bad publicity this fiasco creates in the media makes their job even harder. Add to that the fact that no one at the agency will accept responsibility for it.

Here's a link to the story:

Alyssa Thomas, Age 6, Is Flagged on the No-Fly List as Possible Terrorist

Feeling outraged? Wanna write your Congressman, or even Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security, to express your concern? Don't bother. Because according the the TSA, such mistakes can't happen. It's true...they have a blog on their website that says so. The media must be making it all up.

Here's the link to the TSA's official blog in which they explain that there are, in fact, no children on the no-fly list:

There are No Children on the No Fly or Selectee List

You see, according to TSA, it's the airlines' fault. And the airlines just blame the government...our government.

Where's George Orwell when we need him??

Thursday, June 24, 2010

President, Warmonger and...Mystery Writer?

This Republican was one of the most unpopular Presidents in the history of the United States. Newspapers referred to him as a buffoon and a monkey. The New York Tribune chastized him for "abandoning all pretense of statesmanship" by waging a highly unpopular war that even our allies said could not be won.

Most people are well aware of these facts by now. But did you know he was also a mystery writer who published crime fiction?

I didn't know George Bush wrote mystery stories, a friend said, when I began to relay the idea for this blog post.

Who said anything about Bush?, I retorted. I was referring to Abe Lincoln.

You heard right. Not only was the Great Emancipator one of our greatest leaders, he published a mystery story while still a lawyer in Illinois. Based on one of his cases, the story was published in 1846, but you can read it here:

The Trailor Murder Mystery

Special Thanks to fellow blogger Janet A. Rudolph and the Smithsonian for their research into this "Stranger Than Fiction" tale.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

True Crime Tuesday - Justice On Overload

Forget those crime shows like CSI that pretend to show what forensic crime detection is all about. The real story is less glamorous and a bit more complex, thanks in part to a Supreme Court decision that allows lab techs to be cross examined by defendants accused of a crime (sixth amendment right to confront one's accuser).

I sort of like that idea, even though it's inconvenient and drives up the cost of fighting crime. I think our justice system is better served if the analysts who study forensic evidence get out of the lab and into the courtroom. And it should help prevent the rare but costly mistakes that have resulted when shoddy forensic lab work or mischief comes to light (lab scandals in Detroit and San Francisco, for instance resulted in hundreds of court cases being tossed).

You can go directly to the video on the website of www.slate.com, at this link: Justice On Overload

To learn more about why San Francisco may be forced to drop hundreds of cases against accused drug dealers, check out this link:

San Francisco Crime Lab Scandal

or this one:

DA Harris Seeks to Restore Integrity

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

True Crime Tuesday - Bank Embezzler Makes Good

Bill Porter might have remained an obscure figure, working his way upwards in pursuit of the American Dream, first as a journalist, then a banker. But then he was charged with embezzling funds from the First National Bank. Though he protested his innocence, he nonetheless fled the country. This didn't help his case, and when he finally returned to be with his family, he was arrested. Found guilty at trial, he went to federal prison for three years. End of story, right?

Well, not exactly. This ho-hum tale actually occured over a hundred years ago. And this year marks the 100 year anniversary of Bill's death on June 5, 1910. But we remember him, not because of his life as prisoner number 30664, but because of what he did after he was convicted and sent to prison. He began writing stories and sending them to magazines, and along the way became one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century.

Perhaps embarrased by his past, he wrote under a pen name, and it is by that moniker that we know him today... O. Henry.

And now you know, if not the rest of the story, at least part of it.

Read this fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal to learn more:

His Writer's Workshop? A Prison Cell