• Shadowy Black Axe group leaves trail of tattered lives - The Globe and Mail

    Canadian police say they are fighting a new kind of criminal organization.

    The signs began to appear two years ago: photos on Facebook of men wearing odd, matching outfits.

    Then there were stories, even old police files, attached to the people in the photos: a kidnapping, a man run over by a car, brutal beatings over what seemed to be a small slight.

    Mapping a secret criminal hierarchy for the first time is a rare kind of detective work. So when two Toronto police officers and an RCMP analyst in British Columbia started documenting the existence of something called the “Black Axe, Canada Zone,” they could not have predicted it would take them to funerals, suburban barbecue joints and deep into African history before they understood what they were seeing.

    The Black Axe is feared in Nigeria, where it originated. It is a “death cult,” one expert said. Once an idealistic university fraternity, the group has been linked to decades of murders and rapes, and its members are said to swear a blood oath.

    Most often, the group is likened to the Mob or to biker gangs, especially as it spreads outside Nigeria.

    An investigation by The Globe and Mail that included interviews with about 20 people found that “Axemen,” as they call themselves, are setting up chapters around the world, including in Canada.

    Like any criminal organization, it focuses on profit, police say. But instead of drug or sex trafficking, it specializes in a crime many consider minor and non-violent: scamming.

    What police have also learned is that, when done on an “industrial” level as part of a professional global network, scams ruin lives on a scale they have rarely seen.

    Two weeks ago, at a news conference attended by FBI officers, Toronto police announced they had taken part in an international crackdown on a money-laundering network through which more than $5-billion flowed in just over a year. Two local men charged with defrauding a Toronto widow of her life’s savings will eventually face extradition to the United States on money-laundering charges, they said.

    Online fraud is fluid, global and hard-to-track, but it often requires local operatives. Several Toronto-area residents have been defrauded of at least $1-million each in the past two years, and police allege the money was wired with the help of Canadian residents linked to the Black Axe, and sometimes it was handed to the group’s associates in person. The recipients then sent the money ricocheting through bank accounts around the globe, with trusted members in countries on every continent helping with the transfers before it disappeared.

    The sophistication of the money-laundering scheme reflects the efficiency of the scams, in which several people assume false identities and mix reality – bank accounts, real names and real websites – with fake documents.

    The police added an extra charge for one of the men they arrested, Akohomen Ighedoise, 41: “participating in a criminal organization.”

    Officers said in an interview they seized documents that will prove in court that Mr. Ighedoise separately helped a network of fraudsters launder money, that the fraudsters are members of the Black Axe and that he is their bookkeeper. The charge is the first time a Canadian has been publicly linked to the group.

    Interviews with police, gang experts and Nigerian academics paint a picture of an organization both public and enigmatic, with an ostensible charitable purpose as well as secret codes and a strict hierarchy. Police say it has grown to 200 people across Canada.

    Officers in Canada first heard the name “Black Axe” less than two years ago, said Tim Trotter, a detective constable with the Toronto Police Service. They are working quickly, trying to stop the group from becoming entrenched.

    “I mean, 100 years ago, law enforcement dealt with the same thing, the Sicilian black hand, right? It meant nothing to anybody except the Sicilian community,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “And that’s what we have here – that’s what we believe we have here.”


    Many scam victims lose a few thousand dollars. Soraya Emami, one of Toronto’s most recent victims, lost everything, including many friends.

    In 1988, Ms. Emami fled her native Iran with her four sons. Her husband was jailed by the regime and his passport was held for years. Ms. Emami flew to Canada and became a real estate agent in North York.

    It took 30 years to save for a nice house in quiet Stouffville, Ont. The rest of her earnings went to her boys, who grew up to be a doctor, an engineer, a computer engineer and a bank manager. Last year, the youngest – a fifth son, born in Canada – began university. She and her husband had never reunited, and for the first time in decades, Ms. Emami thought about dating.

    “My kids grow up, and I feel lonely,” said the 63-year-old, who has long, wavy black hair. “I didn’t know how, and because I’m not [used to] any relationship, I feel shy.”

    Ms. Emami saw a TV commercial for Match.com and joined, hesitantly. A few days later, she told a friend she had heard from a tanned, white-haired, very nice geologist. Fredrick Franklin said he lived just 45 minutes away, in Toronto’s wealthy Bridle Path neighbourhood.

    He had spent years in Australia, and when they talked on the phone, she could not always understand his thick accent at first. He called her several times a day from Vancouver, where he was on a business trip, then from Turkey, where he travelled on a short contract. He was to fly home via Delta airlines on May 5. She would pick him up from the airport, and they would finally meet.

    “I am a simple man in nature, very easy going,” he wrote in an e-mail, telling her about his son and granddaughters. “I have done the Heart and Stroke ride in Toronto for the past 2 years, have also done the MS ride from London to Grand Bend.”

    A few days before his return date, Mr. Franklin called Ms. Emami in a panic. His bank had told him someone had tried to gain access to his account, he said. He could not clear it up from rural Turkey, so would she mind calling the bank and reporting back with his balance? He e-mailed the phone number for SunTrust bank, a 10-digit account number and a nine-digit tax ID number.

    She spoke to a bank teller. The balance, she was told, was $18-million.

    A few days later, Mr. Franklin asked for a small favour – could she send him a new phone and laptop – saying he would repay her upon his return. She acquiesced, believing he could pay her back.

    Within a few weeks, she lost half a million dollars, and the scam would cost her the home in Stouffville.

    What perplexes police about some of the Toronto romance frauds is not how the victims could be so naive, but how the fraudsters could be so convincing.

    The SunTrust account appears to be real, The Globe determined after retracing the steps Ms. Emami took to access it. The bank said it could not verify the account’s existence, as that was client-related information.

    In the course of the scam, Ms. Emami spoke to at least five people other than the Aussie geologist, including two in person.

    In June, in what they called Project Unromantic, York Regional Police charged nine local people in several cases, including that of Ms. Emami, that added up to $1.5-million. They considered the criminals to be internationally connected. “We don’t know who’s at the top, but there seems to be a hierarchy,” Detective Courtney Chang said.

    The Toronto police believe the crimes that led to their charges against Mr. Ighedoise are linked to the ones in York Region.


    Canadian police came across the Black Axe by happenstance. In 2013, an RCMP analyst in Vancouver was investigating a West Coast fraud suspect and found a photo of him on Facebook with another man, said Det. Constable Trotter (the analyst would not speak to The Globe). Both were wearing unusual clothes and seemed to be at a meeting in Toronto.

    The analyst discovered the second man was under investigation by Toronto financial crimes detective Mike Kelly, an old partner of Det. Constable Trotter. The analyst e-mailed Det. Constable Kelly to ask if he knew the significance of what the two men in the photo were wearing.

    The uniform of the Black Axe is a black beret, a yellow soccer scarf and high yellow socks. These items often have a patch or insignia showing two manacled hands with an axe separating the chain between them, which sometimes also says “Black Axe” or “NBM,” standing for “Neo-Black Movement,” another name for the group. They often incorporate the numbers seven or 147.

    The group tries to maintain a public image of volunteerism. It has been registered as a corporation in Ontario since 2012 under the name “Neo-Black Movement of Africa North America,” with Mr. Ighedoise among several people listed as administrators. In the United Kingdom, said Det. Constable Trotter, it has been known to make small donations – to a local hospital, for example – and then claim to be in a “partnership” with the legitimate organization.

    In the GTA, the group got itself listed publicly in 2013 as a member of Volunteer MBC, a volunteer centre serving Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. But after expressing an interest in recruiting volunteers, the group involved never posted an ad, and staff at the centre said when they tried to follow up, they found the three yahoo.com addresses on file were no longer working.

    Police found plenty of photos on social media of men in Axemen uniforms at what were said to be conferences or events.

    Det. Constable Kelly and Det. Constable Trotter compiled a list of people in Canada photographed wearing Axemen outfits. From a car, they watched some of them attend a funeral. One mourner had yellow socks and a yellow cummerbund with NBM on it, Det. Constable Trotter said. The rest were dressed normally. Near the end of the ceremony, “all of a sudden the berets and everything came out, and then they put the coffin into the earth,” he said.

    As they added names to their list, the investigators checked each one for connections to previous cases.

    What they found were 10 to 20 episodes of serious violence over the past few years clearly linked to members of the group, many of them at a Nigerian restaurant in northwest Toronto, Det. Constable Trotter said. One man had been run over by a car; another was allegedly kidnapped and beaten with a liquor bottle for a day in an abandoned building; a man was knocked to the ground for refusing to fetch another man a beer. Witnesses generally refused to talk.

    In one incident, a group of men had insulted another man’s girlfriend, and when he objected, they “beat the living hell” out of him, leaving him with cranial fractures, Det. Constable Trotter said.

    “Without the understanding of the context, it’s just a bar fight,” he said. “But when we understand who those people were, and we realize, oh, they’re all affiliated to the group … that’s why no one called [911]. And that’s why, when the police came, suddenly, oh no, those cameras don’t work. And that’s why, out of a bar full of people, the only witness was his girlfriend.”

    That case and the kidnapping case are before the courts, Det. Constable Trotter said. The Globe tried to search for all court records linked to the bar’s address over the past few years, but was told such a search is impossible.

    Police have six criteria to identify members of the group, Det. Constable Trotter said. If a person meets three of the six, he is considered a likely member.

    Police have documents that show when certain people were “blended” or initiated into the group, including some in Toronto, he said. Members live mostly in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

    “There’s evidence that they’ve been active since 2005, so that’s a decade’s worth of ability to lay under the radar and become ensconced in the criminal community,” he said.

    To set up scams, they work from cafés or home and are “fastidious” about deleting their online history, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “They have names, titles, they show respect,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “They pay dues to each other. Individuals are detailed by higher-ranking individuals to do things.”

    As they learned of the group’s fearsome reputation in Nigeria, the officers began to equate it more with established Canadian organized crime. At Afrofest in Woodbine Park one summer, a group of Axemen walked through in full uniform – not something anyone from the Nigerian community would do lightly, Det. Constable Trotter said. “I wouldn’t wear a Hells Angels vest if I wasn’t a Hells Angel.”

    He began to worry the group’s brazenness would signify to the community that “Axemen are here. And they’re open about it, and the police are doing nothing.”


    Fraternities such as the Black Axe were born during an optimistic time in Nigeria’s recent history, and at first they reflected it. In the postcolonial 1970s, they were modelled after U.S. fraternities. They attracted top students and were meant to foster pan-African unity and Nigeria’s future leaders.

    When the country descended into widespread corruption after its oil boom, the fraternities split into factions and violently sought power on campuses, trying to control grades and student politics and gain the loyalty of the richest, best-connected students.

    Through the 1990s and 2000s, the groups inspired terror: Students were hacked to death or shot in their sleep, and professors were murdered in their offices in what seemed to be random attacks. Researchers say such crimes were often assigned to new members in their late teens to prove their allegiance after a painful hazing in an isolated cemetery or forest.

    “Sometimes, they are given some tough assignments like raping a very popular female student or a female member of the university staff,” Adewale Rotimi wrote in a 2005 scholarly article.

    Raping the daughters of rich and powerful families, or the girlfriends of enemies, was another tactic of the groups to prove their dominance, Ifeanyi Ezeonu wrote in 2013.

    In addition to innocent victims, one West African organization fighting cult violence says more than 1,700 fraternity members died in inter-group wars in a 10-year span. The groups were outlawed, and much of their ritualistic element – night-time ceremonies, code words – seemed to evolve to avoid detection, said Ogaga Ifowodo, who was a student in Nigeria during the 1980s and later taught at Cornell and Texas State universities.

    “Early on … you could distinguish them by their costume,” he said. “The Black Axe, they tended to wear black berets, black shirt and jeans.”

    The transformation was not a coincidence, Mr. Ifowodo said.

    “At that time, we were under military dictatorships, and they had actually propped up the now-secret cults as a way of weakening the students’ movements,” he said. “It violates something that I think is sacred to an academic community, which is bringing into campus a kind of Mafia ethos.”

    But this does not explain whether, or how, the fraternities could morph into a sophisticated global crime syndicate.

    In Nigeria, the groups are not associated with fraud, said Etannibi Alemika, who teaches at Nigeria’s University of Jos. Mr. Ifowodo agreed. However, he also backed Toronto Police’s conclusion that Black Axe is one and the same as the Neo-Black Movement. In a briefing document posted online, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board says the two are closely linked, but speculates that the Black Axe is a “splinter group” of the NBM.

    The NBM is known to carry out fraud, said Jonathan Matusitz, a professor at the University of Central Florida who has studied Nigerian fraternities. He said the group’s members have also been linked, mostly in Nigeria, to drug trafficking, pimping, extortion, and the falsification or copying of passports and credit cards.

    “I think that the NBM movement is more about scamming people, and it has some associations with the Black Axe, which kills people,” he said. “Have they joined forces to have like a super-group? I hope not.”

    Despite police fears, several people interviewed by The Globe, mostly business owners, said they had never heard of the Black Axe before the police news conference last week.

    Kingsley Jesuorobo, a Toronto lawyer who has many Nigerian-Canadian clients, said he has never heard of anyone being intimidated by the group.

    Mr. Jesuorobo said he is familiar with the Black Axe in the Nigerian context, but cannot imagine it posing a real threat in Canada. It is more likely that former members gravitate to each other for social reasons, he said.

    “It would be a case of comparing apples and oranges to look at how these guys operate – the impunity that characterizes their actions – in Nigeria, and then sort of come to the conclusion that they can do the same thing here,” he said.

    For Nigerian-Canadians, a cultural minority working hard to establish themselves, the idea is very troubling, he said.

    “If these things are true, it would be a bad omen for our community,” he said.


    After confirming her love interest’s $18-million bank balance, Ms. Emami did not hear from him for a few days. When they spoke again, she told him she had worried. He responded that it was a sign of how close they had become; she had sensed something had happened.

    The geologist said that during his contract in Turkey, he had been in a mining accident. He was injured and could not get to Istanbul to replace his phone and laptop, which had been destroyed, so would she buy new ones and send them by courier? Ms. Emami went to the Apple Store at Fairview Mall and called him, asking if he could pay with his credit card over the phone. He said the store would not allow it, and the employee agreed. So she bought the $4,000 laptop and phone and shipped them.

    A few days later, he called again: He needed $80,000 to pay the salary of an employee, promising to repay with interest. She told him she would have to borrow from her son, but he reassured her, and she wired the money in several instalments.

    The day of his flight, a man called and said he was Mr. Franklin’s lawyer and was with him at the Istanbul airport. Someone injured in the mining accident had died, he said, and Mr. Franklin owed $130,000 to his family or he would go to jail.

    “He’s calling me, he’s crying to me,” she said. “I didn’t have any choice. I go to friends and everybody I know. Because you know, when you’re trying to be a good person, everybody trusts you. …Whatever I asked, they give me.”

    Even a friend of a friend, a cab driver, lent her thousands. “He told me, you know, dollar by dollar I collected this money,” she recalled.

    Mr. Franklin sent her details of his rebooked flight, and she promised to pick him up and cook a meal. He would love that, he said; he liked chicken.

    “You don’t believe how much food I make for him,” she said.

    She was waiting with the packed-up meal the morning of his flight when the phone rang again. It was another lawyer, this time at the Frankfurt airport, he said. Mr. Franklin owed $250,000 in tax before he could leave the country with a valuable stone.

    “My heart is just – crash,” she said. “I was crying on the phone. I said, ’Please don’t do this to me. … Why are you doing this to me? I told you from the first day, I’m borrowing this money from people.’”

    A man saying he was Mr. Franklin’s son, who also had an Australian accent, called and told her he had remortgaged his house to save his father and might lose custody of his children because of it. Ms. Emami pulled together $158,000. When her bank would not let her transfer the money, she was instructed to meet a man and a woman in person who deposited it into their accounts.

    Ms. Emami’s son and her manager at work persuaded her to go to police. When officers told her Mr. Franklin was not real and the money was likely gone for good, they called a psychiatrist to help her grasp the news.

    She cannot pay her bills or afford groceries, her credit rating is destroyed and she is hunting for work despite crippling headaches. On Oct. 27, she was served with notice that she will lose her house in Stouffville in 20 days.

    “I can’t sleep,” she said recently, crying.

    She had always considered it her “duty” to help people in need, she said. Now her friends, even her sons, are angry that the scam impoverished them as well.

    “It’s my life, it’s my relationships,” she said. “And after 30 years living here with five kids, you know, I can’t live in the street. I can’t go to the shelter.”


    Other local women describe the lengths fraudsters went to to blend truth and fiction. One received a forged Ontario provincial contract. Two victims in York said the scammers impersonated an Edmonton mining executive. The fraudsters build Facebook and LinkedIn accounts that seem to be populated by friends and family.

    “When we Google them, they do seem real,” one woman said.

    Daniel Williams of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, a federal intelligence-gathering agency on fraud, said the scammers profit from economies of scale. “What they did to you, they were doing to 8,000 people that day,” he said.

    The agency gets more calls from fraud victims a day than it can answer, sometimes exceeding 2,000. Staff look for waves of calls complaining of the same methods.

    Authorities estimate they are only ever aware of about 1 per cent to 5 per cent of fraud committed globally, Mr. Williams said. Many victims do not believe they have been scammed or will not report it out of embarrassment.

    Fraudsters, sometimes using credit checks, also home in on well-off victims for special treatment, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “It’s just like, oh, we’ve got somebody on $100,000 level, let’s steer this to this person,” he said.

    The amount taken from Toronto victims alone is “absolutely astonishing,” he said.

    “If you were going to distribute cocaine, for example, you have to buy that cocaine from another smuggler somewhere, and you have to put up money for that,” he said.

    “In fraud, what is your put-up? What is your overhead? Your commodity that you’re trading in, that you’re selling, is BS. BS is cheap, it’s abundant, it’s infinite. You know, it can be replicated again and again and again and again. … And that’s why it’s a better business.”

    Fraudsters based in Canada work with people in Kuala Lumpur, in Tokyo, in Lagos, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    At the turn of the 20th century in New York, Italian-owned banks started suffering bombings, and homes were mysteriously burned down. Police heard the incidents happened after warnings from something called the “black hand.” But no officers spoke Italian, and investigations were stymied.

    It was not until the 1950s that widespread police crackdowns began. By that time, the group now known as the Mafia had spread around the world and made new alliances. The FBI estimates the organization has about 25,000 members and a quarter-million affiliates worldwide, including about 3,000 in the United States.

    Police hope the charge against Mr. Ighedoise will send an early message to Canada’s Axemen. York and Toronto officers are working to confirm connections between the fraud ring that impoverished Ms. Emami and the ring that Mr. Ighedoise is alleged to help lead.

    At their recent press conference, they appealed to the Nigerian community to report instances where the Black Axe has “intimidated” others.

    They want to know how ambitious the group really is, Det. Constable Trotter said, and how much it is feared.

    If Axemen rely on selling stories, he said, the most important one is for their own community: “That [they] have all the power and authority and the propensity for violence that [they] have back home, here in Canada.”

    #Canada #scam #Nigeria #Black_Axe

  • Interview with #Forensic_Architecture Founder #Eyal_Weizman | 2018-05-01 | Architectural Record

    Born in Israel and educated at the Architectural Association (AA), Eyal Weizman could be considered more a detective than an architect. In 2011, Weizman established Forensic Architecture, an agency based at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. He directs the center. The group, whose funders include the European Research Council, combs through data such as smartphone footage, satellite imagery, maps, and phone logs to create three-dimensional spatial maps of conflict sites, using architectural rendering software and other analytic tools. Significant projects have included full-scale replicas of key elements of Auschwitz gas chambers and incinerators for an exhibit at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, and an investigation into the U.S. bombing of a Syrian mosque last year. The firm, which was just shortlisted for the Turner Prize, is currently scrutinizing the deadly blaze at London’s Grenfell Tower in June 2017, mining publicly available footage to create a 3-D model that will serve as an open resource for people to better understand the events that led to the fire. Weizman spoke to RECORD from the group’s office at Goldsmiths.

  • The Berlin Kremlin

    The Douglas S-47 described a spiral. Below, as far as the eye could see, extended a cemetery of ruins. We must be over Berlin. The prospect beneath resembled a relief map rather than a city. In the slanting rays of the sinking sun the burnt-out skeletons of the walls threw sharply cut shadows.

    During the fighting in the streets of Berlin it had not been possible to see all the immensity of the destruction. But now, from above, Berlin looked like some dead city, the excavations of some prehistoric Assyrian town. Neither human beings nor automobiles in the streets. Only endless burnt-out stone chests; gaping, empty window-holes.

    I had gained all my knowledge of Berlin from books. I had thought of it as a city in which the trains were more reliable in their punctuality than a clock, and all the human beings went like clockwork. I thought of Paris as a city of continual joy, of Vienna as one long carefree song; but I thought of Berlin as everlastingly grim, a city without smiles, and a city whose inhabitants had no knowledge of the art of living.

    I had first come to know Berlin in April 1945, at a season when the blood pulses faster through the veins, as the poets say. But it was not love that sent it coursing faster, but hate. And it flowed not only in the veins, but also over the roadways of the Berlin streets.

    Our first encounter reminded me rather of an American wild-west story. All means of killing one another were justified. A dead soldier lying in the street flew into the air at the least touch, thus taking revenge on the victors even in death. Individual soldiers were shot down with anti-tank guns intended for tank battles. And the Russian tanks stormed down the stairs into the underworld of the Berlin Underground and danced madly in the darkness, spurting fire in all directions. War till ’five minutes past twelve’.

    Now I was returning to Berlin for the purpose, in the language of official documents, of demilitarizing Germany in accordance with the agreement between the victorious powers.

    A major in the Army Medical Service stared through the round window at the picture of Berlin slowly flowing beneath us. His face was thoughtful, expressive of regret. He turned to me and remarked: ‘After all, these people didn’t have such a bad life. So you can’t help asking yourself what else they wanted.’

    The Alder airport. All round the edges of the flying field were Junkers with their tails up, like gigantic grasshoppers. Above the administration building rose a bare flagpole. In the control room the officer on duty, an air force captain, was answering three telephones at once and trying to reassure an artillery colonel whose wartime wife had got lost in the air between Moscow and Berlin.

    A lieutenant-colonel walked up to an air force lieutenant standing close by me - evidently the colonel had more faith in junior officers. Five paces earlier than necessary he saluted, and asked with an artificial, hopeful smile: ‘Comrade Lieutenant, could you be so kind as to tell me where the Bugrov household is to be found?’ (At this time most of the troop formations were familiarly called ’households’, being distinguished by the name of the formation’s commander.) He spoke in a whisper, as though betraying a secret.

    The lieutenant stared in amazement at the lieutenant-colonel’s tabs, and was obviously unable to decide whether he was suffering from an acoustical or an optical illusion. Then he ran his eves blankly over the lieutenant-colonel, from head to foot. The senior officer was still more embarrassed and added in the tone of a help-less intellectual: ‘You see, we’ve got our orders, but we don’t know where it is they order us to.’

    The lieutenant gaped like a fish, then snapped his mouth shut. What was this ’lieutenant-colonel’, really? A diversionist?

    I, too, began to take an interest in the lieutenant-colonel. He was wearing a new uniform, new military boots and a rank-and-file waist-strap. Any real officer would rather have put on a looted German officer’s belt than a private’s strap. On his shoulders were brand-new green front-line tabs. Normally, real officers even at the front preferred to wear gold tabs, and since the end of the war it was rare to find a front-line officer wearing the front-line tabs. A pack hung over his back, and he was clearly not used to it.

    But officers generally aren’t fond of packs and get rid of them at the first opportunity. His belt was stranded well below his hips, a challenge to every sergeant in the Red Army. All his uniform hung on him like a saddle on a cow. At his side was an imposing, Nagant-type pistol in a canvas holster. No doubt about it, he’d come out to fight all right! But why did he use such a tone in speaking to a lieutenant? A real army lieutenant-colonel would strictly observe regulations and never speak to a lieutenant first; if he wanted him, he would beckon the junior officer across. And without any ’would you be so kind’!

    A little distance off there was a group of fellows looking equally comical, hung about with packs and trunks, and clinging to them as tightly as if they were on a Moscow railway station. I turned to the flying officer and asked, with a glance at the lieutenant-colonel and his companions: ‘What sort of fish are they?’

    The officer smiled, and answered: ‘Dismantlers. They’ve been so intimidated at home that they’re afraid to stir hand or foot now they’re here. They take their trunks around with them, even to the toilet. What are they afraid of, the dolts? Here in Germany nothing’s ever stolen, it’s simply taken. That’s what they themselves have come here for. They’re all dressed up as colonels and lieutenant-colonels, but they’ve never been in the army in their life. However, they’re pretty harmless. They’ll strip Germany of her last pair of pants. Those colleagues of theirs who have been here for some time have settled down so well that they’re not only sending home dismantled installations, but also even cows, by air. Not to mention gas-fires and pianos. I’m on the Moscow-Berlin route myself, so I know!’

    A furious roar from an automobile engine interrupted our talk. A little way off a small tourer automobile stood puffing out blue exhaust gas, and trembling all over. Red pennons were fluttering at the front mudguards. A thickset major was at the wheel, working the gear lever and pedals determinedly. His neck was crimson with the unaccustomed exertions. He was attempting to drive the car away, but each time he engaged either the fourth or the reverse gear. Unfortunate gears! Against human stupidity not even Krupp steel would be of avail! At last the poor victim started off and vanished in clouds of smoke and dust, just missing a concrete post at the gate.

    I turned to the flying officer again: ‘Who is that ass?’

    He was silent for a moment, as though the subject did not deserve an answer. Then he replied with the contempt that the men of the air always have for infantry: ‘Some riffraff from the commandatura. They’re introducing cleanliness and order here! Before the war that man was digging up potatoes in some collective farm. But he’s struck lucky, he’s a major, and he’s out to make up for all his past dog’s life. Strip him of his epaulettes and he’ll mind cows again.’

    After a while we managed to get through on the telephone to the staff of the Soviet Military Administration, and to order a car. In the evening twilight we drove to the S. M. A. headquarters.

    The staff of the Soviet Military Administration had taken up quarters in the buildings of the former pioneer school at Karlshorst, a suburb of Berlin. In this place, a month earlier, one of the most remarkable historical documents of our times had been signed. On 8 May 1945 the representatives of the Allied Supreme Command, Marshal Zhukov and Air-Marshal Tedder for the one part, and representatives of the German Supreme Command for the other part, had signed the document of the unconditional capitulation of the German armed forces on land, on sea, and in the air. The headquarters consisted of several three-storied buildings, rather like barracks, unequally distributed round a courtyard, and surrounded by a cast-iron raffing, in a typical quiet suburb of Eastern Berlin. From this place we were to re-educate Germany.

    The day after my arrival in Karlshorst I reported to the head of the S. M. A. Personnel Department, Colonel Utkin. In the colonel’s office I clicked my heels according to regulations, raised my hand to my cap, and reported: ‘Major Klimov, under orders from the Central Personnel Department of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, reports for duty. May I present my documents, Comrade Colonel?’

    ‘Hand over whatever you’ve got.’ He stretched out his hand.

    I took out my documents and gave them to him. He opened the carefully sealed packet and began to glance through my numerous testimonials and questionnaires.

    ‘So you were in the Military-Diplomatic College too? We’ve already got some men from there,’ he said half aloud. Then he asked: ‘Which course did you attend?’

    ‘I graduated with the State examination,’ I replied.

    ‘Hm... hm... How did you do that so quickly?’

    ‘I was posted straight to the last course, Comrade Colonel.’

    ‘I see... ’Awarded the rank of repporteur in the diplomatic service,’’ he read. ‘In that case we’ll have plenty of work for you. Where would you prefer to work?’

    ‘Wherever I can be of most service.’

    ‘How about the Juridical Department, for example? Issuing new laws for Germany. Or the Political Adviser’s Department? But that would be rather boring,’ he added without waiting for my reply. ‘What would you say to the State Security Service?’

    To turn down such a complimentary suggestion outright would have been tantamount to admitting my own disloyalty, it would have been an act of suicide. Yet I did not find the idea of working in the secret police very attractive; I had passed the age of enthusiasm for detective novels. I attempted to sound the ground for an unostentatious retreat: ‘What would my work there consist of, Comrade Colonel?’

    ‘Fundamentally it’s the same as in the Soviet Union. You won’t be kicking your heels. Rather the reverse.’

    ‘Comrade Colonel, if you ask me my opinion, I think I’d be of most use in the industrial field. I was an engineer in civilian life.’

    ‘That’s useful too. We’ll soon see what we can find for you.’

    He picked up a telephone. ‘Comrade General? Pardon me for disturbing you.’ He drew himself up in his chair as if he were in the general’s presence, and read the details of my personal documents over the phone. ‘You’d like to see him at once? Very good!’ He turned to me. ‘Well, come along. I’ll introduce you to the supreme commander’s deputy for economic questions.’

    Thus, on the second day of my arrival in Karlshorst I went to General Shabalin’s office.

    An enormous carpeted room. Before the window was a desk the size of a football field! Forming a T with it was another, longer desk, covered with red cloth: the conference table, the invariable appurtenance of higher officials’ offices.

    Behind the desk were a grizzled head, a square, energetic face, and deeply sunken gray eyes. A typical energetic executive, but not an intellectual. General’s epaulettes, and only a few ribbons and decorations on his dark-green tunic; but on the right hand breast was a red and gold badge in the shape of a small banner: ’member of the C. C. of the C. P. S. U.’ So he was not a front-line general, but an old party official.

    The general leisuredly studied my documents, rubbing his nose occasionally, and puffing at his cigarette as if I was not there.

    ‘Well... Arc you reliable?’ he asked unexpectedly, pushing his spectacles up on to his forehead in order to see me better. ‘As Caesar’s wife,’ I replied.

    ‘Talk Russian! I don’t like riddles.’ He drew the spectacles back on to his nose and made a further examination of my documents.

    ‘Then why haven’t you joined the Party?’ he asked without raising his eyes.

    ’So the badge is talking now!’ I thought. ‘I don’t feel that I’m quite ready for it yet, Comrade General,’ was my reply.

    ‘The old excuse of the intelligentsia! And when will you feel that you’re ready?’

    I answered in the customary Party jargon: ‘I’m a non-party bolshevik, Comrade General.’ In ticklish cases it is always wise to fall back on one of Stalin’s winged words. Such formulae are not open to discussion; they stop all further questions. ‘Have you any idea of your future work?’

    ‘I know it will be concerned with industry. Comrade General.’ “Here knowledge of the industrial sphere is not sufficient in itself. Have you permission to work on secret matters?”

    ‘All the graduates of our college receive permission automatic-ally.’

    ‘Where was it issued to you?’

    ‘In the State Personnel Department (G. U. K.) of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, and in the Foreign Department of the C. P. S. U. Central Committee.’

    This reply made an impression on him. He compared the documents, asked about my previous work in industry, and my service in the army. Evidently satisfied with the result, he said: ‘You’ll be working with me in the Control Commission. It’s excellent that you know languages. My technical experts are duffers at languages, and my interpreters are duffers at technical matters. Have you ever worked abroad before?’


    ‘You must understand now, once for all, that all your future coworkers in the Control Commission are agents of the capitalist espionage. So you must have no personal acquaintance with them whatever, and no private conversations. I take it you know that already, but I may as well remind you of it. Talk as little as you can. But listen all the more. If anyone talks too much, we cut out his tongue by the roots. All our walls have ears. Bear that in mind. It is quite possible that attempts will be made to enlist you in a foreign secret service. What will you do in that case?’

    ‘I shall agree, but making my terms as stiff as possible, and establishing really practical conditions for the work.’

    ‘Good, and then?’

    ‘Then I report the matter to my superior authorities. In this instance, to you.’

    ‘Do you play cards?’


    ‘Do you drink?’

    ‘Within the permitted limits.’

    ‘Hm, that’s an elastic conception. And what about women?’

    ‘I’m a bachelor.’

    He took a deep draw at his cigarette, and blew out the smoke thoughtfully. ‘It’s a pity you’re not married, major.’

    I knew what he meant better than he thought. The college had a strict law that bachelors were never sent to work abroad. This, however, did not apply to the occupied countries. It was quite common for an officer to be summoned in the middle of the school year to the head of the college, to be notified that he had been assigned to a post abroad, and at the same time to be told to find a wife. It was so common that men who anticipated being sent abroad looked about them betimes for a suitable partner and... hostage.

    ‘One thing more. Major,’ he said in conclusion. ‘Be on your guard with those people on the Control Commission. Here in Berlin you’re in the most advanced line of the post-war front. Now go and make the acquaintance of my chief adjutant.’

    I went into the outer office, where a man in major’s uniform was sitting. By my look the adjutant realized that the interview had had a favorable outcome, and he held out his hand as he introduced him-self: ‘Major Kuznetsov’. After a brief talk I asked him about the kind of work that was done in the general’s department.

    ‘My work consists of sitting in this seat until three in the morning as adjutant to the general. As for your work... you’ll soon see for yourself,’ he answered with a smile I did see, quite quickly. And I was reminded of the general’s advice to be careful in my contacts with the Allies. A morning or two later the door of the general’s room flew open violently and a brisk little man in major’s uniform shot out.

    ‘Comrade Klimov? The general wishes to see you for a moment.’ I did not know who this major was, but I followed him into the general’s office. Shabalin took a file of documents from him and handed it to me: ‘Examine those papers. Take a typist who has permission to handle secret matters and dictate to her the contents of the material you will find in them. The work must be done in the Secret Department. You may not throw anything away, but hand it all back to me, together with your report, as soon as you’ve finished.’

    As I went past the adjutant sitting in the outer room I asked him: ‘Who is that major?’

    ‘Major Filin. He works in the Tagliche Rundschau,’ he answered.

    I shut myself into the Secret Department room and began to study the contents of the file. Some of the documents were in English, others in German. There were lots of tables, columns of figures. At the top was a sheet of paper stamped ’Secret’ in red in one corner. An anonymous rapporteur stated:

    ’The intelligence service has established the following details of the abduction of two workers in the Reich Institute for Economic Statistics, Professor D. and Dr. N., by agents of the American intelligence service. The Americans sent agents to call on the above-named German economists, and to demand that they should make certain statements to the American authorities.

    The two Germans, who live in the Soviet sector of Berlin, both refused. They were forcibly abducted, and returned home only several days later. On their return Professor D. and Dr. N. were examined by our intelligence service and made the following statement: ‘During the night of July - we were forcibly abducted by officers of the American espionage and taken by plane to the American economic espionage headquarters in Wiesbaden. There we were examined for three days by officers of the espionage service... The data in which the American officials were interested are cited in the appendix.’

    The appendix consisted of further statistics taken from the Reich Institute for Economic Statistics. This material had obviously been duplicated and run off in many copies, and it contained no profound secrets. Evidently it had been issued before the capitulation, to serve internal German requirements. Despite their ’forcible abduction’ the two Germans thoughtfully abstracted the material from the Institute archives and had given one copy to the Americans. Then with the same forethought they had given another to the Russians. The documents in English were more interesting. Or rather, it was not the documents that were so interesting, but the very fact of their existence.

    They were copies of the American reports on the examination of the German professors made in Wiesbaden, together with copies of the same Institute material, only now in English. Clearly our intelligence service did not entirely trust the Germans’ statements, and had followed the usual procedure of counter-check. The American documents had no official stamps, nor serial numbers, nor addresses. They had come from the American files, but not through official channels. So it was clear that our intelligence service had an invisible hand inside the American headquarters of economic intelligence. Evidently Major Filin was used to working with unusual accuracy, and the Tagliche Rundschau was engaged in a decidedly queer line of journalism.

    A few days later a bulky packet addressed to General Shabalin arrived from the American headquarters in Berlin-ZehIendorf. The Control Commission was not yet functioning properly, and the Allies were only now beginning to make contact with one another. In a covering letter the Americans courteously informed us that as the terms of establishment of the Control Commission provided for the exchange of economic information they wished to bring certain material relating to German economic affairs to Soviet notice.

    Enclosed I found the same statistical tables that Major Filin had already supplied by resort to ’forcible abduction’. This time the material was furnished with all the requisite seals, stamps, addresses, and even a list of recipients. It was much more complete than the file Filin had provided. It was interesting to note that whereas we would stamp such material ’secret’ the Americans obviously did not regard it as in the least secret, and readily shared their information with the Soviet member of the Commission.

    I went to the general, and showed him the covering letter with the sender’s address: ’Economic Intelligence Division’. He looked through the familiar material, scratched himself thoughtfully behind the ear with his pencil, and remarked: ‘Are they trying to force their friend-ship on us? It certainly is the same material.’ Then he muttered through his teeth: ‘It’s obviously a trick. Anyhow, they’re all spies.’

    The Administration for Economy of the Soviet Military Administration was established in the former German hospital of St. Antonius. The hospital had been built to conform to the latest technical requirements; it stood in the green of a small park, shielded from inquisitive eyes and the roar of traffic. The park gave the impression of being uncultivated; last year’s leaves rustled underfoot; opposite the entrance to the building the boughs of crab-apple trees were loaded to the ground with fruit.

    The main building of the administration accommodated the Departments for Industry, for Commerce and Supplies, for Economic Planning, Agriculture, Transport, and Scientific and Technical. The Department for Reparations, headed by General Zorin, and the Administrative Department under General Demidov were in two adjacent buildings. The Reparations Department, the largest of all those in the administration, enjoyed a degree of autonomy, and maintained direct relations with Moscow over Shabalin’s head. General Zorin had held a high economic post in Moscow before the war.

    The Administration for Economy of the Soviet Military Administration was really the Ministry for Economics of the Soviet zone, the supreme organ controlling all the economic life in the zone. At the moment it was chiefly concerned with the economic ’assimilation’ of Germany. In those days it was by no means clear that its real function was to turn Germany’s economy, the most highly developed economy in Europe, completely upside down.

    When I arrived in Karishorst General Shabalin’s personal staff consisted of two: the adjutant, Major Kuznetsov, and the head of the private chancellery, Vinogradov. The plans made provision for a staff of close on fifty persons.

    According to those plans I was to be the expert on economic questions. But as the staff was only now beginning to develop, I had quite other tasks to perform. I accompanied the general on all his journeys as his adjutant, while the official adjutant, Kuznetsov, remained in the office as his deputy, since he had worked for many years with the general and was well acquainted with his duties. Kuznetsov was very dissatisfied at this arrangement, and grumbled: ‘You go traveling around with the general and drinking schnapps, and I stay at home and do all your work!’ Many of the departmental heads preferred to deal with Kuznetsov, and waited for the general to go out. The major’s signature was sufficient to enable a draft order to be put through to Marshal Zhukov for ratification.

    I once asked Kuznetsov what sort of fellow Vinogradov really was. He answered curtly: ‘a ?.U. official.’ “What do you mean?” I queried. ‘He’s a ?.U. official, that’s all.’ I soon realized what he meant. To start with, Vinogradov was a civilian. He had a habit of running up and down the corridors as though he hadn’t a moment to lose, brandishing documents as he went. One day I caught a glimpse of one of these documents, and saw that it was a list of people who were assigned a special civilian outfit for their work in the Control Commission. Vinogradov’s own name headed the list, though he had nothing whatever to do with the Control Commission.

    Outwardly he was not a man, but a volcano. But on closer acquaintance one realized that all his exuberant activity was concerned with pieces of cloth, food rations, drink, apartments, and such things. In distributing all these benefits he was governed by the law of compensation, what he could extract from those on whom he bestowed them. He kept the personnel files, occupied himself with Party and administrative work, and stuck his nose in every-body’s business. There was only one thing he was afraid of, and that was hard work.

    Once I saw his personal documents. Kuznetsov was right; he was nothing but a ?. U. official. He had spent all his life organizing: labor brigades, working gangs, enthusiasm, Stakhanovism. He had had no education, but he had an excess of energy, impudence, and conceit. Such people play no small part in the Soviet state machinery, functioning as a kind of grease to the clumsy works, organizing the song and dance round such fictitious conceptions as trade unions, shock labor, socialist competition, and enthusiasm.

    Soon after my arrival a Captain Bystrov was inducted as head of the Secret Department. He spent the first few nights after his appointment sleeping on the table in the Secret Department room, using his greatcoat as a blanket. Later we learnt the reason for this extraordinary behavior. There was no safe in the Secret Department and, in order to foil the plans of the international spies, General Shabalin ordered the captain to make a pillow of the secret documents entrusted to him. Captain Bystrov treated Vinogradov with undisguised contempt, though the latter held the higher position. One evening Bystrov met me in the street and proposed:

    ‘Let’s go and drop in on Vinogradov.’

    ‘What on earth for?’ I asked in astonishment.

    ‘Come along! You’ll laugh your head off! Haven’t you ever run across him at night?’


    ‘He prowls around Karlshorst like a jackal all night, looking for loot in the empty houses. Yesterday I met him just as dawn was coming: he was dragging some rags across the yard to his apartment. His place is just like a museum.’

    I didn’t want to give offense to my new colleague, so I went with him. Vinogradov opened the door half an inch and asked:

    ‘Well, what do you expect to see here this time?’

    ‘Open the door,’ Bystrov said, pushing at it. ‘Show us some of the treasures you’ve collected,’

    ‘Go to the devil!’ Vinogradov protested. ‘I was just off to bed.’

    ‘Going to bed? I don’t believe it! You haven’t ransacked all Karlshorst yet, surely?’

    At last Vinogradov let us in. As Bystrov had said, his apartment was a remarkable sight, more a warehouse than a living-place. It contained enough furniture for at least three apartments. The captain looked about him for things he hadn’t seen on previous occasions. A buffet attracted his notice. ‘What’s that?’ He asked. "Open it up!”

    ‘It’s empty.’

    ‘Open it, or I will!’ Bystrov raised his boot to kick in the polished; doors.

    Vinogradov knew that the captain would not hesitate to do as he had said. He reluctantly took out a key. The buffet was full of crockery. Crockery of all kinds, obviously taken from abandoned German houses.

    ‘Would you like me to smash the lot?’ the captain asked. ‘You can always lodge a complaint. Shall I?’

    ‘You’re mad! Valuable articles like them, and you talk about smashing them!’ Vinogradov protested.

    I looked round the room. This man talked more than anybody else did about culture, our regard for the human being, our exalted tasks. And yet he was nothing but a looter, with all his thought and activity concentrated on personal enrichment. Bystrov thrust his hand into an open chest and took out several packages in blue paper wrappings. He tore one of them open, and roared with laughter. I, too, could not help laughing.

    ‘What are you going to use these for?’ He thrust a bundle of ladies’ sanitary towels under Vinogradov’s nose. ‘For emergencies?’

    Only after much persuasion did I succeed in getting him to leave Vinogradov’s apartment.

    During the early days of my stay in Karlshorst I had not time to look about me. But as the weeks passed I learned more and more about our relations with the rest of Berlin. For security reasons Karlshorst lived in a state of semi-siege. The whole district was ringed with guard posts. All street traffic was forbidden after 9 p. m., even for the military. The password was issued only in cases of strict necessity, and it was changed every evening. I frequently had to be out with General Shabalin on service affairs until two or three in the morning. As we went home, at every fifty yards an invisible sentry called through the darkness: ‘Halt! The password!’

    The general lived in a small one-family house opposite the staff headquarters; most of the S. M. A. generals lived in the vicinity. The guards posted here were still stronger, and special passes were required.

    Later, as we grew more familiar with conditions in Karlshorst, we often laughed at the blend of incredible strictness and vigilance and equally incredible negligence and indolence, which characterized the place. The front of the S. M. A. staff headquarters, where Marshal Zhukov’s private office was situated, was guarded in full accordance with regulations. But behind the building there was sandy wasteland with dense forest, quite close up, beyond it. But here no guard was posted at all. Anybody acquainted with conditions in Karlshorst could have brought a whole enemy division right up to the marshal’s back door, without giving one password or showing one pass.

    Major Kuznetsov and Shabalin’s chauffeur, Misha, had their quarters in a small house next to the general’s. The general had a sergeant, Nikolai, an invariably morose fellow, in his house to act as batman, though batmen are not recognized in the Soviet army. There was also a maidservant, Dusia, a girl twenty-three years old, who had been brought from Russia by the Germans for forced labor.

    I asked her once how she had got on under the Germans. She answered with unusual reserve: ‘Bad, of course, Comrade Major.’ Her words conveyed something that she left unexpressed. Without doubt, like all the Russians waiting for repatriation, she was glad of our victory; but there was something that took the edge off her joy for her.

    From time to time groups of young lads under armed escort marched through Karlshorst. They wore Soviet military uniforms, dyed black. These lads were former forced laborers brought from the east, which we had organized into labor battalions to do reconstruction work. They looked pretty miserable. They knew that they could not expect anything pleasant on their return to the Soviet Union.

    Apart from the buildings on Treskow-Allee, and certain other; large buildings occupied by various offices of the S. M. A., the Karlshorst district consisted mainly of small one-family residences, standing amid gardens and trees, behind fences. The German middle class had occupied most of them. They were plain and tasteless outside, built of smooth concrete blocks and surmounted by red tiles. But the internal arrangements, all the domestic fitments and equipment, greatly surpassed anything Soviet people were accustomed to.

    The doors often showed traces of bayonets and rifle-butts, but the handles were not loose, the hinges did not squeak, the locks were effective. Even the stairs and the railings shone with fresh paint, as if they had been newly decorated for our arrival. No wonder we were struck by their apparent newness. In the Soviet Union many of the houses haven’t been redecorated since 1917.

    During my first few days in Karlshorst I was accommodated in the guesthouse for newly arrived S. M. A. officials. But after I had settled down and familiarized myself with conditions, I simply took over empty house standing surrounded with trees and flowering shrubs. Everything was just as its former inhabitants had left it. Evidently Vinogradov hadn’t been there yet. I made this house my private residence.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • Les héroïques forces de l’ordre israéliennes faisant ce qu’elles font de mieux… (#pipi-caca) Israeli policeman accused of urinating in face of handcuffed Palestinian

    According to the indictment, the incident occurred in 2007, when Cohen was working as a detective at the station. That night, November 6, Warani, and another Palestinian, both of whom were from the West Bank town of Al-Eizariya, adjacent to Ma’aleh Adumim.

    While Warani was handcuffed and blindfolded, Cohen led him to the police station restroom, the indictment states, and sat Warani on a toilet seat in a narrow bathroom stall and kicked the detainee’s legs in an effort to close the stall door. After not managing to close the stall, Cohen allegedly climbed up on a ledge to close the door and then proceeded to urinate in Warani’s face.

    Under interrogation, Cohen initially denied the allegations against him but when told that his DNA had been found on Warani’s clothing, Cohen admitted to “an unusual incident,” the indictment alleges.

  • Uber fined $8.9 million by Colorado for allowing drivers with felony convictions, other drivers license issues

    Colorado regulators slapped Uber with an $8.9 million penalty for allowing 57 people with past criminal or motor vehicle offenses to drive for the company, the state’s Public Utilities Commission announced Monday.

    The PUC said the drivers should have been disqualified. They had issues ranging from felony convictions to driving under the influence and reckless driving. In some cases, drivers were working with revoked, suspended or canceled licenses, the state said. A similar investigation of smaller competitor Lyft found no violations.

    “We have determined that Uber had background-check information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to drive anyway,” PUC director Doug Dean said in a statement. “These actions put the safety of passengers in extreme jeopardy.”

    Uber spokeswoman Stephanie Sedlak provided this statement on Monday:

    “We recently discovered a process error that was inconsistent with Colorado’s ridesharing regulations and proactively notified the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). This error affected a small number of drivers and we immediately took corrective action. Per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations, drivers with access to the Uber app must undergo a nationally accredited third-party background screening. We will continue to work closely with the CPUC to enable access to safe, reliable transportation options for all Coloradans.”

    The PUC’s investigation began after Vail police referred a case to the agency. In that case, which occurred in March, an Uber driver dragged a passenger out of the car and kicked him in the face, according the Vail police report.

    In August, the PUC asked Uber and Lyft for records of all drivers who were accused, arrested or convicted of crimes that would disqualify them from driving for a transportation network company, the term given to ridesharing services under state law.

    “Lyft gave us 15 to 20 (records), but we didn’t find any problems with Lyft,” Dean said.

    Uber handed over 107 records and told the PUC that it had removed those people from its system.

    The PUC cross-checked the Uber drivers with state crime and court databases, finding that many had aliases and other violations. While 63 were found to have issues with their driver’s licenses, the PUC focused on 57 who had additional violations, because of the impact on public safety.

    “What they (Uber) calls proactively reaching out to us was after we had to threaten them with daily civil penalties to get them to provide us with the (records),” said Dean, adding that his prime investigator just told him that some penalized drivers were still on the Uber system. “This is not a data processing error. This is a public safety issue.”

    Uber was welcomed to Colorado in June 2014, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 125 to authorize ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The PUC was then charged with creating rules to regulate the services, which went into effect on Jan. 30, 2016.

    The rules gave the companies the choice of either fingerprinting drivers or running a private background check on the potential driver’s criminal history and driving history. Drivers also must have a valid driver’s license.

    Drivers are disqualified if they’ve been convicted of a felony in the past five years. But they can never be a driver if they’ve been convicted of serious felonies including felony assault, fraud, unlawful sexual behavior and violent crimes, according to the statute.

    Taxi drivers, by comparison, are subject to fingerprint background checks by the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

    Elsewhere in the U.S., Uber and Lyft have threatened to leave places that force them to fingerprint drivers — including in Chicago, Maryland and Houston.

    Both companies pulled out of Austin last year after the city added rules to fingerprint drivers. But the Texas house passed a bill in April removing such requirements, and Uber and Lyft returned to the city.

    While Maryland caved in its requirements after Uber threatened to leave, the state banned 4,000 ridesharing drivers in April who did not meet state screening requirements despite passing Uber or Lyft’s background checks.That also happened in Massachusetts, which kicked out 8,200 drivers who had passed company checks. Among them were 51 registered sex offenders.

    Uber and Lyft have pushed for private background checks because they say that fingerprints don’t provide the complete source of criminal history that some expect. In a post about its security process, Uber said that when it comes to fingerprints, there are gaps between FBI and state arrest records, which can result in an incomplete background check. Uber, instead, uses state and local criminal history checks plus court records and the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s National Sex Offender site.

    Last month, California regulators nixed any fingerprinting requirement as long as Uber and Lyft conduct their own background checks.

    But the Colorado PUC says that by fingerprinting drivers, the ride service would be able to identify drivers with aliases and other identities with felony convictions. The lack of fingerprinting never sat well with Dean, who mentioned his concern in 2014 before Colorado passed the law.

    “They said their private background checks were superior to anything out there,” Dean said. “We can tell you their private background checks were not superior. In some cases, we could not say they even provided a background check.”

    Vail police said that altercations between passengers and drivers are not uncommon. They’re not limited to Uber drivers but include taxi and limo drivers and passengers, said Vail police Detective Sgt. Luke Causey.

    “We’ve had more than one,” Causey said. “Unfortunately, in our winter environment with guests and around bar closing times, we’ve had the driver go after passengers who don’t pay their tab. Sometimes it can go both ways.”

    Uber drivers have made local headlines for bad behavior. In July, a Denver Uber driver pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace after rolling his car on the leg of a city parking attendant at Denver International Airport. Two years ago, a Denver UberX driver was arrested for trying to break into the home of a passenger he’d just dropped off at the airport.

    Monday’s fine is a civil penalty assessment and based on a citation of $2,500 per day for each disqualified driver found to have worked. Among the findings, 12 drivers had felony convictions, 17 had major moving violations, 63 had driver’s license issues and three had interlock driver’s licenses, which is required after a recent drunken driving conviction.

    Uber has 10 days to pay 50 percent of the $8.9 million penalty or request a hearing to contest the violation before an administrative law judge. Afterwards, the PUC will continue making audits to check for compliance. If more violations are found, Uber’s penalty could rise.

    “Uber can fix this tomorrow. The law allows them to have fingerprint background checks. We had found a number of a.k.a.’s and aliases that these drivers were using. That’s the problem with name-based background checks,” Dean said. “We’re very concerned and we hope the company will take steps to correct this.”

    #Uber #USA #Recht

  • Why A.I. Is Just Not Funny - Facts So Romantic

    Although A.I. robots can pick up on jokes, they have a lot to learn about telling them.Queen Mary University of London / YouTubeIn the 2004 film I, Robot, Detective Del Spooner asks an A.I. named Sonny: “Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?” Sonny responds: “Can you?” Scientists have been working on answering Spooner’s question for the last decade with striking results. Researchers from Rutgers University, Facebook, and the College of Charleston have developed a system for generating original art called C.A.N. (Creative Adversarial Network). They “trained” C.A.N. on more than 81,000 paintings from 1,119 artists ranging from the 15th century to the 20th century. The A.I. experts wrote algorithms for C.A.N. to emulate painting styles such as (...)

  • Officials: 17-year-old Muslim girl assaulted and killed after leaving Virginia mosque - The Washington Post

    The death of a Virginia teenager who police say was assaulted and then disappeared after leaving a mosque in the Sterling area isn’t being investigated as a hate crime, authorities said Monday.

    On Sunday, police found the girl’s remains and a 22-year-old man has been charged with murder in connection with the case.
    Police said Monday they aren’t investigating the death as a hate crime, but the issue was on the minds of many Muslims on Sunday.

    Last month, two men on a Portland train were stabbed and killed after they intervened to protect two girls who were being harassed with anti-Muslim threats, according to authorities.

    Sunday night, a van struck a crowd of pedestrians, including worshipers leaving a pair of mosques in London. Witnesses said the pedestrians were struck as they departed late-night prayers.
    Gazzar loaned her daughter an #abaya to wear to the mosque Saturday night, since Nabra didn’t typically wear traditional Muslim clothes. She heard from a detective that when the man in the car started shouting at the teens, Nabra tripped over the long garment and fell to the ground, just before she was struck.

  • In the Depths of the Net
    (Sue Halpern, Oct 2015)

    She wrote a review in the New York Review of Books about The Dark Net: Inside The Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett
    (cf https://seenthis.net/messages/405584)


    The same article also appeared here a week later, accessible in full (without an account):


    It turns out that even without resorting to intensive detective work, Tor’s anonymity can be penetrated. In a paper published online, Paul Syverson, one of Tor’s original developers at the Naval Research Laboratory, along with four colleagues, demonstrated that users who regularly browsed the internet with Tor could be easily identified. “Our analysis,” they wrote,

    “shows that 80 per cent of all types of users may be deanonymised ... within six months [and] roughly 100 per cent of users in some common locations are deanonymised within three months.”

    More recently, security experts have devised a simple way to distinguish Tor users by their particular style of typing. Add to these a new search engine called Memex, designed specifically to troll the dark net, developed by the Defence Department’s research arm, DARPA. It already has successfully unmasked human traffickers working in secret.

    #Ross_Ulbricht #Silk_Road

  • 100 Chinese translations of foreign publications which had strong influence in China, Thomas Kampen

    Between 1840 and 1949, millions of Chinese students, academics and
    politicians were influenced by Chinese translations of Western books. But for a long time it was difficult to find details about the publication of these translations and biographical data of the translators.

    In 1996, the Chinese scholar 鄒振環 Zou Zhenhuan (Fudan University, Shanghai) published a book introducing one hundred Chinese translations of foreign publications that had strong influence in modern China (影響中國近代社會的一百種譯作 Yingxiang Zhongguo jindai shehui de yibai zhong yizuo, Beijing: Zhongguo duiwai fan yi chuban gongsi, 1996). This book provides important information for studying Western influences in China as well as literary, philosophical and political trends in modern China.


    The book includes an impressive selection of novels (Defoe, Dumas, Scott), detective stories (A.C. Doyle), plays (Schiller, Shakespeare), poems (Byron), as well as historical, religious, sociological, philosophical and political studies (Einstein, Huxley, Kropotkin, Marx, Nietzsche, Rousseau). Most of the original worksare from Europe and about Europe; there are about a dozen Japanese books, but most of these are also based on western publications; there is also a small number of Western books about China, including Pearl S. Buck’s Good Earth and Edgar Snow’s Red Star over China.

    Zou Zhenhuan provides information about
    – the original works and authors,
    – the Chinese translations and translators
    – the impact of the translations in China.

    Getting “The Good Earth”’s Author Right: On Pearl S. Buck, By Charles W. Hayford

    ... the seven pirated translations of The Good Earth into Chinese sold more copies than any other foreign book had up to that point.

    Once denounced, now honored—discovering Pearl S. Buck, BookPage Behind the Book by Anchee Min

    I was ordered to denounce Pearl Buck in China, where I lived for 27 years. The year was 1971. I was a teenager attending middle school in Shanghai.

    I was raised on the teachings of Mao and the operas of Madam Mao. I became a leader of the Little Red Guards in elementary school. My mother had been a teacher—she taught whatever the Party asked, one semester in Chinese and the next in Russian. My father was an instructor of industrial technique drawing at Shanghai Textile Institute, although his true love was astronomy. My parents both believed in Mao and the Communist Party, just like everybody else in the neighborhood. I became a Mao activist and won contests because I was able to recite the Little Red Book. In school Mao’s books were our texts.

    Trying to gain international support to deny Pearl Buck an entry visa (to accompany President Nixon to China), Madam Mao organized a national campaign to criticize Buck as an “American cultural imperialist.”

    I followed the order to denounce Pearl Buck and never doubted whether or not Madam Mao was being truthful. I was brainwashed at that time and had learned never to question anything. And yet I do remember having difficulty composing the criticisms. I wished that I had been given a chance to read The Good Earth. We were told that the book was so “toxic” that it was dangerous to even translate. I was told to copy lines from the newspapers: “Pearl Buck insulted Chinese peasants therefore China.” “She hates us therefore is our enemy.” I was proud to be able to defend my country and people.

    Pearl Buck’s name didn’t cross my path again until I immigrated to America. It was 1996 and I was giving a reading at a Chicago bookstore for my memoir, Red Azalea. Afterward, a lady came to me and asked if I knew Pearl Buck. Before I could reply, she said—very emotionally and to my surprise—that Pearl Buck had taught her to love the Chinese people. She placed a paperback in my hands and said that it was a gift. It was The Good Earth.

    I finished reading The Good Earth on the airplane from Chicago to Los Angeles. I broke down and sobbed. I couldn’t stop myself because I remembered how I had denounced the author. I remembered how Madam Mao had convinced the entire nation to hate Pearl Buck. How wrong we were! I had never encountered any author, including the most respected Chinese authors, who wrote about our peasants with such admiration, affection and humanity.

    A Guide to Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth | Asia for Educators | Columbia University, A Summary of The Good Earth

    The story begins on the day of Wang Lung’s wedding. Wang Lung is a poor young peasant who lives in an earthen brick house with his father, who has arranged for him to marry a slave girl named O-lan from the great family of the House of Hwang. After Wang Lung brings his quiet but diligent new wife home, she works side by side with him in the fields until their first child is born. They are delighted with their son, and at the New Year O-lan dresses him up and proudly takes him to the House of Hwang to show him off. She discovers that due to ostentatious waste and decadence, the Hwang household has squandered their fortune and is now poor enough to be willing to sell off their land. Since Wang Lung, with the help of O-lan who continues to join him in the fields, has had a relatively good year, he determines to extend his prosperity and better his position by buying some land from the House of Hwang. Although they must work harder with more land, Wang Lung and O-lan continue to produce good harvests; they also produce a second son and a daughter.

    But soon Wang Lung encounters difficulties. His selfish and unprincipled uncle is jealous, and demands a portion of Wang Lung’s new wealth, while Wang Lung, obsessed with his desire to acquire more land, spends all the family savings; a drought causes a poor harvest and the family suffers from lack of food and from their envious, starving neighbors’ looting of the little dried beans and corn they have left. O-lan has to strangle their fourth child as soon as she is born because otherwise she would die of starvation. Desperately poor and hungry, Wang Lung sells his furniture for a bit of silver to take his family south, though he refuses to sell his land. They ride a firewagon to a southern city, where they live in a makeshift hut on the street. They survive by O-lan, the grandfather, and the children begging for food and Wang Lung pulling a jinrickshaw (or rickshaw) for the rich, or pulling wagonloads of cargo at night.

    In the southern city, Wang Lung perceives the extraordinary wealth of westerners and Chinese aristocrats and capitalists, and he is interested in the revolutionaries’ protests of the oppression of the poor. He watches soldiers seize innocent men and force them to carry equipment for their armies. Yet Wang Lung’s overriding concern is to get back to his beloved land. He gets his chance when the enemy invades the city and the rich people flee; Wang Lung and O-lan join the throng of poor people who loot the nearby rich man’s house and get enough gold and jewels to enable them to return north. They repair their house and plough the fields, having bought seeds, an ox, new furniture and farm tools, and finally more land from the bankrupt House of Hwang.

    There follow seven years of prosperity, during which the sons grow and begin school; a third son is born with a twin sister, and the harvest is so plentiful that Wang Lung hires laborers and his loyal neighbor, Ching, as a steward. When a flood causes a general famine in the seventh year, Wang Lung is rich enough not to worry about survival yet, while his lands are under water, he becomes restless in his idleness. Bored with his plain and coarse wife, he ventures into a tea shop in town operated by a man from the south where the rich and idle spend their time drinking, gambling, and visiting prostitutes. There he begins an affair with Lotus, a delicately beautiful but manipulatively demanding courtesan whom he desires obsessively. Wang Lung is cruel to his wife and children and spends his fortune on Lotus, finally using up much of his savings to purchase her and build an adjacent courtyard for her to live in as his second wife. Here Lotus indolently lies around in silks, eating expensive delicacies, and gossiping with the deceitful and opportunistic wife of Wang Lung’s uncle.

    But discord arises immediately. O-lan is deeply hurt and angry, which makes Wang Lung defensively guilty and cold with her; there are conflicts between O-lan and Lotus’ maid Cuckoo who had mistreated O-lan when she was a concubine of the old master in the House of Hwang. Wang Lung’s old father protests the decadence of catering to a “harlot” in the house. Finally, Lotus is intolerant of Wang Lung’s children, especially his favorite daughter who had become mentally disabled due to malnutrition during the famine. As a result, Wang Lung’s passion for Lotus eventually cools, and when the flood recedes and he returns to his farming work, he is no longer obsessed with love.

    In the last third of the book, Wang Lung experiences a succession of joys and sorrows in his family relationships and in his farming. Seasons of good harvests are punctuated by occasional bad years, due to a heavy flood, a severe winter freeze, and a scourge of locusts. Yet on the whole Wang Lung continues to prosper. His wealth, however, also brings a series of discontents. His first son is idle and interested only in women; Wang Lung is furious when he finds the son has visited first a local prostitute and then his own Lotus, so he arranges a marriage for him. Moreover, Wang Lung’s good-for-nothing uncle, with his wife and son, force themselves on the family with their demands for money and their morally corrupting influence; Wang Lung must be kind to them because the uncle is a leader of a band of robbers, from which Wang Lung’s prosperous household is protected for as long as he provides for the uncle. He eventually renders the uncle and his wife harmless by making them addicted to opium.

    Family affairs continue to have ups and downs. O-lan’s sickness finally overpowers her, and Wang Lung’s tender solicitousness to her on her deathbed cannot fully compensate for the insults she received when Lotus moved into the house. She is content to die only after her first son’s marriage is consummated, so she can expect a grandson. Wang Lung’s father dies immediately after O-lan, and the faithful steward Ching is buried next. But these losses are accompanied by new joys: the first son produces grandsons and granddaughters, and the second son — a successful grain merchant — and the second daughter are also married and have children.

    As Wang Lung ages, he rents out his farm land to tenants. His eldest son persuades him to buy the old estate of the House of Hwang in town, both as a means of moving out from the place where the disgraceful uncle and his wife live, and as a symbol of Wang Lung’s elevated social position. Wang Lung is gratified that now he can take the place of the Old Master of Hwang who once intimidated him so much. But although Wang Lung is head of a three generation extended family who live in luxury with numerous servants, he cannot find peace. The two older brothers and their wives quarrel; the youngest son refuses to become a farmer as Wang Lung had intended and instead joins the army. The uncle’s malicious son causes more trouble when he brings his military regiment to camp for six weeks in Wang Lung’s elegant house. And Wang Lung, long tired of the aging Lotus, finds some comfort in taking the young slave Pear Blossom as his concubine.

    Finally, Wang Lung returns to the earthen house of his land to die. Material prosperity has brought him superficial social satisfaction, but only his land can provide peace and security. Even his final days are troubled, when he overhears his two older sons planning to sell the land as soon as he dies.

    #Chine #USA #histoire #politique #littérature

  • The First Cross-dressing Comic Book Superhero - Neatorama

    Madame Fatal is hardly up there in the pantheon of famous and beloved comic book superheroes. Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four probably never lost any sleep over this rival comic hero possibly replacing them in their fan’s hearts.

    ’Madame Fatal (sometimes spelled “Madam Fatal”) is a fictional character and superhero active during the Golden Age of comic books. Madame Fatal was created and originally illustrated by artist/writer Art Pinajian. The debut of the character was in Crack Comics #1 (May 1940). This was a crime/detective anthology published by Quality Comics. Madame Fatal continued in the series until issue #22, but was not at all popular or well-received.

    The character later appeared in a few DC Comics, after they had purchased the rights to the character in 1956, along with a bulk buy-out of all the Quality Comics characters. Even so, Madame Fatal was never much seen except for a few brief appearances and passing mentions from other comic book characters.

    Madame Fatal is notable for being a male superhero who dressed up as an elderly woman to fight crimes. As such, he was the first cross-dressing comic book superhero. (Interestingly, later that same year, The Red Tornado became the first female cross-dressing superhero (superheroine?). The Red Tornado proved to be much more popular and successful than Madame Fatal.

    O.K, the basic premise goes like this: Richard Stanton is a highly intelligent, highly athletic, successful, world-famous actor. He is dapper, middle-aged, blonde, Caucasian (aren’t all superheroes?) and smokes a pipe. His daughter is kidnapped and he needs the help of police, who get nowhere at all. During the kidnapping ordeal, his wife dies of a broken heart. So, Stanton (as do many other superheroes during their genesis) decides to don a disguise, take on an alter ego, and take matters into his own hands.

    He adopts the identity of a red-cloaked, elderly woman who carries a red walking stick. The red cane is used as her main weapon, and this, along with his (her?) superior intellect, athleticism, and deductive crime-solving abilities, helps Madame Fatal become a crime fighter and superhero. Using this disguise, he is able to save his daughter.

    Richard Stanton decides to retire from acting and devote his life to conquering crime and criminals as the red cane-wielding Madame Fatal. The Madame Fatal character was ridiculed, because of the cross-dressing angle, from the very beginning.

    An article in Cracked lists Madame Fatal as one of the “7 Crappiest Superheroes in Comic Book History.” Many modern readers interpreted the cross-dressing of Madame Fatal as a thinly-disguised attempt to actually portray comic’s first gay superhero, although this angle was never expressly acknowledged.Creator Pinjian’s actual intentions regarding the character are unknown.

    Madame Fatal had a short life span. The character was very briefly mentioned in later comic books, but there have been thinly-veiled references to Madame Fatal over the years. The most recent time Madame Fatal was mentioned (or seen) was in DC Comics in 1999.

    The character was the butt of a gay joke (no pun intended, I swear). A scene in an August 1999 issue of Justice Society of America depicts the funeral of the first Sandman. Wildcat wonders whether his own funeral “will be like the time they buried Madame Fatal here, and no one turned up for the funeral but the touring cast of La Cage Aux Folles?” That would seem to imply the fact that Madame Fatal is dead in the DC Comics universe.

    Madame Fatal probably suffered the most gut-wrenching type of death any comic book character can experience. More excruciating than death by gun, knives, clubs, or being lowered into a pool of acid. Madame Fatal suffered the very worst type of death -death by unpopularity.

    #travestissement #transgenre #comics #superhero #BD

  • Dwarf Fortress’ creator on how he’s 42% towards simulating existence

    There’s a lot of ways it can happen. It’s funny how I have popular bugs, right? You shouldn’t have popular bugs. But the most popular bug with the latest release, I added taverns to fortress mode, so the dwarves will go to a proper establishment, get mugs, and make orders, and they’ll drink in the mug. And, you know, things happen, mugs get spilled, there’s some alcohol on the ground.
    Now, the cats would walk into the taverns, right, and because of the old blood footprint code from, like, eight years ago or something, they would get alcohol on their feet. It was originally so people could pad blood around, but now any liquid, right, so they get alcohol on their feet. And then I wanted to add cleaning stuff so when people were bathing, or I even made eyelids work for no reason, because I do random things sometimes. So cats will lick and clean themselves, and on a lark, when I made them clean themselves I’m like, ‘Well, it’s a cat. When you do lick cleaning, you actually ingest the thing that you’re cleaning off, right? They make hairballs, so they must swallow something, right?’ And so the cats, when they cleaned the alcohol off their feet, they all got drunk. Because they were drinking.
    But the numbers were off on that. I had never thought about, you know, activating inebriation syndromes back when I was adding the cleaning stuff. I was just like, ‘Well, they ingest it and they get a full dose,’ but a full dose is a whole mug of alcohol for a cat-sized creature, and it does all the blood alcohol size-based calculations, so the cats would get sick and vomit all over the tavern.
    I don’t know if an octopus can get drunk or not.
    The original bug report is, ‘There’s cat vomit all over my tavern, and there’s a few dead cats,’ or whatever, and they’re like, ‘Why? This is broken.’
    People helped me with this. We were all looking and figuring out, ‘What the heck is going on here?’, and that was the chain of events. It’s like doing the detective work to figure out that entire chain of events is what happened. You can see how adding just a tavern that gave the opportunity for spilling alcohol, which was really uncommon before, now all the spilled alcohol starts to, form in one location where something could start to happen. You activate bugs and little parts of code from eight, six years ago where you just didn’t balance the numbers because it didn’t matter. You don’t want to spend time doing balancing that doesn’t matter, because then you lose a couple of days doing something for no reason.
    So the cats’ inebriation system was just based on any organism would have the potential to get drunk.
    Yeah, right now it’s any creature that has blood, and that includes, like, an octopus. I don’t know if an octopus can get drunk or not.

  • New stop on Delft tourist trail after Vermeer’s Little Street identified | Art and design | The Guardian


    Few artists have left such a deep imprint on their birthplace as Johannes Vermeer on Delft. In the summer, tour parties weave through the Dutch town’s cobbled streets ticking off Vermeer landmarks. But until last week only the most devoted would have made a trip to the handsome townhouse at No 42 Vlamingstraat, noting that the artist’s aunt, Ariaentgen Claes van der Minne, once lived in the same spot and made her living selling tripe.

    All that, however, has now changed. After two years of painstaking detective work, a Dutch art historian has identified the spot as the location of Vermeer’s Little Street, resolving a century-old mystery. “The whole street’s been talking about it,” said Lenie Gerbrands, whose house stands beside the spot where Vermeer sat four centuries ago, painting his aunt’s house across the water. “It’s a good piece of news to have in these difficult times. It’ll give the area a lift.”

    #peinture #art #marrant #vermeer

  • The truth about TV’s rape obsession: How we struggle with the broken myths of masculinity, on screen and off - Salon.com

    attention l’article spoile de nombreuses séries, GOT, MadMen, Downton Abbey...

    “The Sopranos” did it in 2001, when Lorraine Bracco’s Jennifer Melfi was suddenly and violently raped in a parking garage. “Veronica Mars” made it part of the titular protagonist’s backstory, in the 2004 pilot. In 2006, “The Wire” introduced and then never confirmed it, when it showed us the story of Randy (Maestro Harrell) keeping watch as a girl named Tiff “fooled around” with two boys in the bathroom. “Mad Men” did it in 2008, when Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) was raped by her fiancé, Greg (Sam Page) on the floor of Don’s office.

    A few shows were practically founded on it—“Law And Order: SVU,” which premiered in 1999, has dealt with rape in nearly every episode of its 16-season and counting run. “Oz,” the 1997 HBO show set in a prison, regularly featured male-on-male rape.

    But starting around the turn of the decade, rape on television morphed from a delicate topic to practically de rigueur. In the last two years alone, shows as vastly different as “Downton Abbey” and “Game Of Thrones” have graphically portrayed violent rape—typically, but not always, perpetrated by men onto women—to the point that depictions of sexual assault on television have become a regular part of the national discourse. “SVU,” “Outlander,” “Broad City,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Orange Is The New Black,” “Tyrant,” “Stalker,” “Shameless,” “Scandal,” and “House Of Cards” have all handled sexual assault, in their own way—either by depicting rape, exploring whether or not a sexual encounter is rape, or making jokes about how often rape happens. For a crime that has a dismal 2 percent conviction rate, it certainly is getting talked about an awful lot.

    I can identify that this is a phenomenon that is happening. It’s a little harder to explain why. Some of it is purely a numbers game: There’s more television than ever—and more and more of that television is not on broadcast networks, with their stricter censorship rules and mandates for reaching a mainstream audience. It’s certainly easier to depict and discuss sexual assault on television now than it ever was before.

    But that’s not the whole story. I joke, morbidly, that my job title has changed from television critic to “senior rape correspondent” because I cover televisual sexual assault with alarming frequency. The cases, on TV, run the gamut from 14-year-old girls drugging 18-year-old boys into having sex with them and plots attempting to reconstruct hazy memories of late-night drinking to men raping other men as an act of war and husbands raping wives in the bedroom. It’s a topic that engages, uncompromisingly, with our notions of gender, sexuality, power, and equality. And despite the barrage of sexual assaults on television, it’s a crime that occurs far, far more often in real life.

    #culture_du_viol #séries #virilité #masculinité #viol

    • Partie sur l’histoire du viol :

      What we call rape is an entirely new phenomenon—barely 50 years old. For most of human existence, rape was not a crime committed against women but instead against the men who supervised them—husbands, fathers, brothers, lords, kings. The word “rape” likely comes from the Latin “rapere,” meaning to seize or abduct—to kidnap, to rob, to deprive another of property. Rape sullied a bloodline and damaged goods and/or services; it was a crime against private property. The implication of that language is also that rape happens to women, not men. Men might be violated, abused, tortured, yes, but not seized; they were typically not someone else’s property.

      And though the Romans had their own word for sexual violation, “stuprare,” it was not necessarily immoral, criminal, or otherwise repugnant. Women were by and large not empowered enough to grant consent over their bodies, so the question of nonconsensual sex was rendered moot. Greek and Roman mythology is rife with gods raping maidens; in those stories, treated almost casually—an irritating fact of life, kind of like chicken pox.

      The language of this era is extremely familiar, even today: Women invite sexual assault through their behavior; men have carnal urges they can’t control; people have to continue the species somehow. It’s reasoning that all hinges on the same logic—female desire is necessarily subordinate to male desire.

      In 1975 Susan Brownmiller published her landmark work “Against Our Will,” which provided the foundation for the language of consent as a bulwark against the prevalence of rape. We rely on terms like “consent,” but consent can be silently or unconsciously given, and hard to prove after the fact. Intent is hard to prove in any context; the upside of a crime like murder is that at least there’s a dead body to point to. With sexual assault, it’s much harder to point to the aftereffects of trauma—either because the rape kit was mishandled or lost, as happens an awful lot, or because the aftereffects are more psychological than physical.

      But primarily, what Brownmiller’s work did was center rape as a crime committed against women, not against property. “Against Our Will” fit into the feminist movement’s aims to recognize sexual violence and redefine it—both socially and legally. Before rape reform legislation of the 1970s, marital rape was an oxymoron, rape against men wasn’t illegal (or even acknowledged), and a woman’s reputation could be used as evidence against her accusation of rape in court.

      It was a victory, but one with an upsetting aftertaste. A change in legislation cannot change social attitudes to sex and gender overnight. A prudent study of history asks us to not impose our own perspective of what people are like onto peoples throughout history, which could lead to the argument that because it so radically redefined the concept, before Brownmiller’s seminal work, rape as we know it didn’t exist. But that part of us that does identify with people from the past—that part of humanity that both spins tales and listens to them, rapt—is forced to acknowledge something much more upsetting: Perhaps, instead of there being no rape, there was only rape. Perhaps human existence is built entirely on intimate violence.


    • Dans les programmes à destination des hommes voici comment se présente le viol :

      Rapists are depicted as identifiably outside the mainstream through their language, clothing, habits, or attitudes. Each of these plot elements works to rein force sensitivity and desire for justice on the part of the male protagonist. In most episodes it is the male detective/ main character who provides the primary comfort and support for the victim. The stories end when the detective protagonist has completed his work, that is, when the rapist is caught or killed. The detective’s sense of morality, and often his need for revenge on the criminal, thus culminate in a successful triumph of the “good guy,” which is often accomplished through violence against the rapist. However, the further plight of the victim through the course of counseling or a trial are not included… In short, these plots are about the male avengers of rape rather than about the problem or crime of rape or the experiences and feelings of the victim.

      #violeur #sauveur #nice_guy #chevalier_servant #victimes

    • Dans les programmes à déstination des femmes voila comment se présente le viol :

      Daytime TV and made-for-TV movies such as those on Lifetime, in their low-budget, melodramatic glory, was far more likely to offer a woman-centric narrative of rape. Where mainstream TV ran away from topics like domestic violence, prostitution, abortion, and of course rape, soap operas and Lifetime films almost reveled in it; presumably there was some cathartic release in watching crimes suffered mostly by women in the real world play out in exaggerated glory on television. Lifetime’s films, then and now, were characterized by lurid titles and grim scenarios: “The Burning Bed” (1984), “She Fought Alone” (1995), “She Cried No” (1996), “She Woke Up Pregnant” (1996). On the abuse and rape survivor advocacy site The Road To Anaphe, the site’s creator includes an exhaustive list of Lifetime films, adding: “Lifetime Television may be a ‘women’s network,’ but it is one that shows a lot of good, informative movies on the subjects of child abuse, domestic violence, and missing children.” You could count on violence and exploitation in these films. The crucial difference is that you could also typically count on the point of view of the victim being central to the story.
      Soap operas, unlike TV movies or even primetime TV shows, are not just serialized but heavily serialized. The short production time for soap episodes means that the shows can respond on the fly to audience interests, making the medium a fascinating one for measuring audience sentiment. And, uncomfortably, when rape shows up on soap operas, often those stories end up redeeming the rapist—indeed, in response to popular affection for those characters.

      The best example of that might be the iconic Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) on “General Hospital,” who have been one of that show’s foundational relationships. But their first sexual encounter, in 1979, was rape, when Luke drunkenly forced himself on Laura. She eventually fell in love with him and they were together for 37 years. Their wedding episode in 1981 remains to this day the highest rated soap opera episode in history. It was only in 1998, when their son learned of the rape, that the show really confronted the myth of “forced seduction” they had established nearly 20 years earlier, and reframed it as the assault it really was.

      “One Live To Live,” in 1993-1994, focused much of its storytelling on the gang rape and subsequent aftermath of a college student named Marty Saybrooke (Susan Haskell). The football jock who instigated the rape—a tall, handsome guy named Todd Manning (Roger Howarth)—was originally intended to be a serial rapist. The brutal honesty of the scene inspired both audience and critical praise; the series won Daytime Emmys for the plot arc, which unapologetically framed Todd as a sadistic villain.

      But then the story took a turn: Audiences loved Todd. Their enthusiasm spurred the writers to instead build a redemption arc for the character, even as Marty struggled to rebuild her life. Todd lingered as a flawed character on the margins as the writers of the show tried to reconcile their desire to maintain that the rape was reprehensible with audience enthusiasm for the character. The situation was settled (sort of) in 1998, when actor Howarth decided to walk away from the show. Unfortunately, I can only find this quote from Soap Opera Digest in Wikipedia, but it’s so compelling, I’m reproducing it:

      If the rape had been an unrealistic, soapy thing, then it wouldn’t matter. But because it was so in-depth and so brutal, to show Todd and Marty having drinks together in Rodi’s — to show Marty feeling safe and comfortable with Todd — is bizarre… People have come up to me and said, ‘My 7-year-old loves you.’ What do I say to that? I’m not going to tell them, ‘Don’t let your 7-year-old watch TV.’ But I have to say, it’s disturbing.

      Howarth’s departure from the show effectively scuttled any possibility of redeeming the character (though he did return for guest-stints on the show). Of course, this being soap operas, Todd was recast with Trevor St. John, who believed himself to be Todd but then turned out to be Todd’s twin brother, and in the meantime, Marty returned to the show with amnesia, and they had sex, which ended up getting dubbed “re-rape.” But it’s a plotline notable for never losing sight of the fact that what Todd did to Marty was unforgivable, in a landscape where, to quote the writer and unofficial soap expert Joe Reid, “The laundry list of incredibly popular soap characters who started off as rapists — or even just terrorizers of women — is uncomfortably long.”

      Interestingly, by 2003, when the rape of Bianca Montgomery on “All My Children” dominated national conversation, the audience’s desire to see the rapists forgiven seems to have fallen off. Bianca herself, as the first openly lesbian lead on a daytime drama, became the subject of redemption; where some audiences had hated her for coming out of the closet, her rape—a “punishment” or “corrective” for her sexuality—and her subsequent struggle to keep her baby became objects of such audience fervor that the New York Times covered it in 2004.

    • Pourquoi la TV aime le viol :

      The book “Prime Time: How TV Portrays American Culture” makes a stark observation that Cuklanz, includes in her own book I quote above. The authors state that rape is “a crime ideally suited to television. It is violent and therefore action packed. The sexual nature of the crime can easily be presented as the act of a violent, mentally unbalanced madman.” And after noting both a study on sexual assault finds rape to be “the only violent crime to be a matter of universal concern among women of all class and ethnic backgrounds” and the role that detective procedurals in primetime played in shaping socially acceptable performances of masculinity, Cuklanz comes to a conclusion that is, in its way, astounding: Rape on television is used to, more often than not, to redeem masculinity,

      by offering a subtle redefinition that frames masculinity as the means through which women are protected and avenged rather than brutalized and demeaned. At the same time, protagonist males can engage in violence within certain parameters, such as when they become so morally outraged at criminals that they can no longer contain their anger. Masculine volatility is harnessed for acceptable purposes and never used against women. … Rape provides a subject matter for which these stereotypes are easy to maintain. Not only are victims clearly deserving of protection and care, but the extreme evil and brutality of rape also serve as a clear contrast to the detective’s behavior and legitimize his use of force.

      Rape on television is the theater through which both men and women grapple with masculinity—with the fact that in its most corrosive form, masculinity is a quality that wreaks violence on those closest to it. Destruction and power are built into our concept of maleness; rape plots on TV work desperately to allow men that access to power while also codifying when it’s acceptable to use.

      I’m reminded of one of the most shocking and iconic rape episodes on primetime television—“Sylvia,” a two-parter on the family-oriented “Little House On The Prairie,” in 1980. The episode is horrifying, drawing on slasher-film imagery to tell a story of a girl whose “bosoms” came in “too soon,” resulting in horrific violence at the hand of a man in town. Sylvia herself is a one-off character who is introduced at the beginning of the two episodes and dies by the end. The episode is not about her; it’s about the men around her—her father, her rapist, her boyfriend, and most importantly, Pa Ingalls (Michael Landon), the show’s continued figure of masculine righteousness. What would have happened if Pa hadn’t been around is a chilling possibility left unrealized.

      Underneath the archetype of the righteous man, the myth of the redeemed rapist, and the specter of the girl who was “asking for it,” in “Little House On The Prairie” or elsewhere, is a far greater fear, a far bigger problem. If good men don’t exist, if rapists can’t reform, if it’s not ultimately the woman’s fault, then something much scarier bubbles to the surface: This world, and masculinity in it, is very, very broken.

      cc @supergeante
      cc @mona

    • Cette partie spoile la saison 2 de « True Detective »

      In this long examination of rape on television, it is hard not to think of HBO’s “True Detective,” which both consciously borrows the bones of the detective procedural and its unsubtle discourse on righteous masculinity. In the first episode of the second season, we learn Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) is a man tortured by the fact that his wife was raped; it is almost farcical, given the work we have done to center women in their own victimization. (I remain convinced, perhaps naively, that it is farcical, but that’s another story.) “True Detective” is a show with many faults, but it does attempt rather dramatically to tell a big story about masculinity in this world. And what it seems to tell is that the myth of masculinity we currently are all invested in is purely unsustainable. The men of “True Detective,” the ones consumed by the warring ideas of both destruction and violence but also righteous, proper violence, are erratic, addicted, and tortured; they fixate on violence done to the innocent because they know that on some level, they are responsible for that violence. The men of the first season of “True Detective” both have to confront their own monstrosity in order to come out the other side of a case that they could not solve; the confrontation leaves them both desolate and broken. If the mythos of masculinity is a beautiful, irresistible supernova, “True Detective” offers a vision of the collapsed, soul-sucking black hole it really is.

      And if men struggle with it, women struggle with it, too; the story of soap operas and Lifetime movies is overall the story of women attempting to come to terms with the fact that that which they love is always capable of violating them. Women’s television offers either redemption for the abuser or an open-and-shut justice, via Olivia Benson (Mariska Hartigay) in “SVU”; neither happens with any notable frequency in real life. Rapists keep raping, with premeditation and without recourse, and we can barely admit it to ourselves.

      There’s a point in Cuklanz’s work, which focuses on TV between 1976 and 1990, where she argues that as television is a more formulaic medium, it’s unsurprising how this standard detective-rape plot is produced and reproduced. It’s 2015 now, though, and we don’t live in a world of formulaic television. The past few years have yielded an incredible number of rape plots that often push the envelope in ways we’ve never seen before—exploring their violence, their frequency, the insidiousness of acquaintance rape, and the less-discussed phenomenon of male-on-male rape.

      My complaint with these plots, over and over, is that the stories—usually written and directed by men, despite progress in gender equity—is that so often they focus on the feelings of the men in the story, at the expense of the victims’. But I can see why they focus on the men; the men, as the overwhelmingly more likely perpetrators, present a greater puzzle for us. It would be simpler to dismiss all rapists as monsters, but when so many are fathers, brothers, friends, boyfriends, it becomes harder and harder to do. Sexual assault has only existed the way we think about it for a few decades, and we are still trying to figure out how to address it—how to change the way this world functioned for millennia, and still functions in pockets of untouched refuge all over the world. I don’t particularly have a solution for how to “fix” rape on television; it’s graphic, brutal, violent, and horrible, to the point that it is very difficult to watch, hard to explain, confusing to discuss.

      But one thing is clear: I’d rather we dealt with this than we didn’t. I’d rather discuss rape on every TV show than not discuss it all. I’d rather see the world convulsing with outrage over Sansa or Anna or Mellie or Claire or Pennsatucky— who are all, by the way, white women, suggesting an erasure of experience for women of color that has yet to be addressed —than pretend that this isn’t a crippling social problem, an epidemic that we appear to lack the political will or interest to fight. This is what we do with stories; we imagine not just what happened then, and what happened now—but what happens next.

      et pour la saison 2 de true detective, je suis d’accord avec le fait qu’elle soit ridicule aussi bien le perso de Colin Farrell que l’autre gangster est aussi incroyablement cliché. Il n’y a que le générique qui vaille la peine pour cette saison à mon avis.

  • MH17 crash : Whistleblower has come forward with information, claims private detective - Europe - World - The Independent

    A whistleblower has come forward with information about flight MH17, a German private detective has claimed.
    Detective Josef Resch says that he was hired by an unnamed client to find out what had really happened to the flight. He says that his client offered a reward worth $47 million, or £30 million, for information about the tragedy and that an unnamed person has now come forward with information to claim the cash.

    However, Mr Resch has refused to reveal who his informant is or what information he has uncovered.

    He also says that he does not know the identity of his client as all their dealings were conducted through a Swiss middleman.

    He told Germany’s Capital magazine: “Our clients have got all the information they wanted to get, so my job is finished.

    I expect something will happen very soon. Anyone who pays that kind of money for information does not keep it to himself.

    However, he later expressed misgivings, telling Spiegel magazine: “I have a request- that my client makes the information public. But I have a fear it will be handled internally.

    Bref, quelqu’un d’inconnu a payé très cher des infos vraies de source inconnue dont il ne fera jamais un usage public. On avance…

  • Whistleblower officer files lawsuit against Batts, BPD - Baltimore Sun



    A former Baltimore police officer who blew the whistle on misconduct is suing the agency and its commissioner, alleging that they failed to protect him from retaliation.

    Detective Joseph Crystal, who resigned in August, came forward in 2012 and told prosecutors he had observed fellow officers assaulting a man. Crystal said word spread within the department that he was cooperating, and one morning he found a rat on the windshield of his car outside his home.


    Ex-Baltimore cop labeled ’rat’ after police brutality claim - NY Daily News


    ‘If you snitch, your career is done’: Former Baltimore cop says he was harassed, labeled a ’rat’ after attempt to root out police brutality
    Det. Joseph Crystal witnessed a handcuffed drug suspect beaten and his ankle broken by a fellow Baltimore police officer. When he was compelled to report it to his superiors, the nightmare started. Crystal, now a police officer in Florida, is suing the department over the backlash.


    Fmr. Baltimore cop speaks on intimidation / Joseph Crystal - YouTube


    Fmr. Baltimore cop speaks on intimidation / Joseph Crystal


    Via Frank Barat - Baltimore whistleblower cop speaks out: A former...


    Baltimore whistleblower cop speaks out: A former Baltimore PD detective talks candidly with Chris Hayes about the culture of the Baltimore Police Department under Commissioner Anthony Batts.

    #baltimore #police #états-unis #meurtre #lanceurs_d_alerte #joseph_crystal

  • How Chicago police condemned the innocent: a trail of coerced confessions | US news | The Guardian


    Shackled by his wrist to the wall and by his ankle to the floor, Lathierial Boyd waited for the detective to return to the Chicago police station. In what he considered a sign he had nothing to hide, the 24-year-old Boyd had given the white detective permission to search his swank loft. It would be clear, he thought, that Boyd was no murderer.

    Yes, Boyd had sold drugs when he was younger. But he had turned a corner with his life, and the contents of his briefcase, which Boyd had also handed over, could prove where his money came from. His business papers were in order: contracts for his real-estate business, tax documents, the forgettable dealings of a successful man – hardly what a killer might carry. As soon as Detective Richard Zuley came back, Boyd thought, he’d be free.

    #états-unis #Police #justice

  • Abby Martin’s Personal Tribute to Investigative Journalist Michael C. Ruppert

    Abby Martin gives a heartfelt tribute to investigative journalist and former LAPD detective, Michael C. Ruppert, highlighting his career from exposing CIA drug trafficking to his groundbreaking...

  • The Ladies of Bletchley Circle Are the Biggest Badasses on TV | WIRED

    They’re experts at pattern recognition, cryptography, and deduction—they fought the Nazis and won—but you wouldn’t know it if you met them for tea. Susan is a homemaker with two kids, yet on the reverse side of her vanity mirror, hidden from her husband, is a detective’s wall of evidence on a string of unsolved murders. The brilliance and sisterhood of this ensemble makes it formidable, but their coiffed hair and smart coats make them the ultimate Wrong Girl heroines: vanquishers in disguise.
    They are mistresses of their own fate. At one point in the season, they get caught up with a queenpin selling young immigrant women into prostitution. What happens to her? No spoilers: She fucked with the wrong girls.

    Season 2 of The Bletchley Circle premieres April 13 on PBS.

    Hannah Montana pour les amateurs de James Bond ?

    #cryptographie #tv

  • I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic » Almost Diamonds

    I was raped three years ago. Almost exactly: the beginning of August 2010. It was a violent, stranger rape, as I was walking home from work. I honestly had no fear about calling the police. My dad’s a cop. I was in shock, mostly, but certainly not thinking that making a report was going to be worse than what had just happened to me. Plus, there was so much physical evidence–deep tissue bruising on my arms, burns on my labia, tearing that went from my vagina to my anus–it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be believed.
    Two male detectives arrived at my house. I stammered out a request for a female detective; it was denied. (I learned later that they violated procedure by not accommodating the request.) They made me go through what happened. I was in excruciating pain and dripping blood but they didn’t want to take me to the hospital just then, and said the hospital “wasn’t ready” anyway. So I described the rape. Then they asked if I was taking any drugs. Well, just my medication. I thought it was strange that they literally spent more time asking about my mental health history and the types of medication I took, instead of the rape, but at the time, again, I was in shock, and not thinking much.
    Long story short: I submitted to an invasive physical exam, described the rape more times than I can count. They didn’t wait for my rape counselor, that I requested, another thing I found was actually against the law. (But when she arrived, she kicked major ass. And really helped me through the process; I don’t know what I would have done without her. A rape kit is extremely invasive, and I was already in terrible pain, but she was able to get me through it.) The black light (to look for fluid/blood/etc) was broken, so I tried to approximate where he had kissed me, licked me, so the nurse giving the exam could swab those areas. (This will be important later.)
    Oh, aside: the hospital wouldn’t provide Emergency Contraception, although I did get a few pills to keep from getting STDs. Not AIDS, however–I was told the procedure was to only provide AIDS prevention if you already know the rapist has AIDS, which seems a little hinky, as it’s not exactly a question I could ask during the rape). The detective, who drove me to the hospital, refused to stop at a pharmacy on the way home, so I could get Plan B for myself. He said he “didn’t feel comfortable” with that and I should “wait for my parents” even though I was 24 and alone at home. Guess 24 is too young to make the decision to try and prevent becoming pregnant with my rapist’s baby!

    #viol #police #sexisme

  • Sonja Sohn : Changing Baltimore Long After ’The Wire’

    For five seasons, actress Sonja Sohn played Detective Shakima “Kima” Greggs on the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire, which chronicled life — and death — on Baltimore’s toughest streets.

    When the series ended, Sohn stayed in East Baltimore, where she co-founded a nonprofit called ReWired for Change. The organization works with young people who have been incarcerated and who are out on parole, to try to help them straighten out their lives. Sohn uses scenes straight from The Wire to help make her point through education, media and advocacy.

    Lire aussi : http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-01-27/lifestyle/35438800_1_probation-officers-adults-sonja-sohn

    et voir la galerie photo :
    Sonja Sohn, from ‘The Wire’ to helping Baltimore’s youth

    #npr #radio #the_wire #series #baltimore

  • I Got Raped, Then My Problems Started | VICE Canada

    Gina Tron, victime d’un viol, explique la longue procédure judiciaire qui a suivi, le rejet de ses amis, et son incompréhension face au système judiciaire américain.

    I went to see the same detective at the Special Victims Unit (the division that deals with rape) a few days later to look through pictures of convicts on their database. I spent hours scanning photo after photo of criminals to see if I could spot my guy. The detective was extremely discouraging about it, saying that it was a waste of time. He kept commenting to his buddies about how I looked like so-and-so from some other police unit—I couldn’t tell if it was a compliment or an insult but my intuition was telling me it was the latter. I was probably being sensitive, but I really wasn’t happy about having my looks talked about, since I was literally searching for my rapist. I could barely take care of basic hygiene needs at the time, let alone look nice for the cops, and I told him to please stop talking about my looks. He replied that he was doing me a favor by humoring my iffy rape case, and that if I continued to give him attitude he would just drop it.

    A few days later, I got a call from a much nicer detective who was taking over my case—it had become an investigation into multiple rape incidents. Through my description of my rapist’s tattoo, the SVU was able to not only figure out who he was, but also link him to two other women who had been sexually assaulted. Because each incident was months apart, my new detective was convinced that this man was a serial rapist. He seemed to have an m.o. that increased in viciousness and intensity each time. The perp was arrested, and I chose him in the police lineup. During this time, I talked a lot to one of the other girls, who looked like a dark-haired version of me. She even had the same mole above her lip as I do, and like me, she didn’t know his name, just knew that damn tattoo. She had a boyfriend at the time of her assault, and he broke up with her because he thought she had cheated and made up the whole rape claim out of guilt. That dark-haired girl and I testified before a grand jury, and they felt there was enough evidence to move forward with a trial. The third girl, who had filed a complaint months prior, just wanted to move on with her life and skipped the whole process.

    Meanwhile I had to deal with the ramifications of my rape that didn’t have anything to do with the cops or the courts. I initially only told a few people I trusted about what happened—I wanted to keep the situation on the down-low, since I was worried people would react in all kinds of ways that would make me uncomfortable. Well, that didn’t work out. Within a few days 60 or 70 people knew, and nobody wanted to hang out with me, out of fear that as a “rape victim” I’d burst into tears unpredictably or whatever. One of my best friends at the time told me she couldn’t be my friend anymore and wouldn’t even listen to me when I told her details about the assault. She said it was too heavy to hear, and claimed that what happened to me had given her post-traumatic stress disorder.

    A few family members told me that they were grieving over me, because rape is a “fate worse than death.” Another told me that they were not shocked this happened to me because I was a victim by nature. “Some people are victims and some are predators,” they said. “You are a victim.” Some people actually seemed straight-up jealous because apparently I now had a “valid reason” to be depressed. These were acquaintances who were generally unhappy and they probably felt insecure that they only had minor relationship hassles and shitty bosses to blame their ennui on.

    #viol #justice

  • Father discovers missing boy he searched for 15 years was ‘locked in a room by mother and stepfather and so malnourished he still had baby teeth’ « MasterAdrian’s Weblog

    Father discovers missing boy he searched for 15 years was ‘locked in a room by mother and stepfather and so malnourished he still had baby teeth’
    October 27, 2012

    ‘I’m gonna have my son back’: Father discovers missing boy he searched for 15 years was ‘locked in a room by mother and stepfather and so malnourished he still had baby teeth’

    Tony Wawrzynski of Nevada was informed by Georgia detectives that his long-lost son, now 18, is the alleged victim in a Georgia abuse scandal
    Wawrzynski said his son, Mitch, was kidnapped by the boy’s mother 15 years ago
    A retired policeman found Mitch in Los Angeles looking malnourished, confused and only around 12 or 13 years old
    Mitch told police he was put on a bus to California on his 18th birthday by his stepfather
    He said his parents had barely fed him and forced him to stand on his tiptoes, facing a wall, with his hands on his head for eight hours every day
    His two stepsisters said they could hear him cry and scream for food


    PUBLISHED: 01:16 GMT, 26 October 2012 | UPDATED: 03:29 GMT, 26 October 2012

    Comments (0)

    Found: Tony Wawrzynski of Reno, Nevada has found his son that was kidnapped by the boy’s mother 15 years ago — and the boy is believed to be a victim in a Georgia child abuse scandal Found: Tony Wawrzynski of Reno, Nevada has found his son that was kidnapped by the boy’s mother 15 years ago — and the boy is believed to be a victim in a Georgia child abuse scandal

    A Nevada man’s 15-year search for his missing son has ended after the boy, now 18, was found wandering around Los Angeles following years of alleged abuse by his biological mother and stepfather.

    Tony Wawrzynski of Reno, Nevada says he hasn’t seen his son, Mitch, since the boy’s mother kidnapped him when he was just three years old.

    Wawrzynski has written dozens of letters and hired a private investigator to try and find the boy, but his mother had changed her name and moved across the country.

    As the years passed, Wawrzynski had all but given up hope that he would ever find his son.

    Then last week, a detective found one of Wawrzynski’s letters in the Georgia home of Sheila Comer, who is being investigated for allegedly locking her child in a room and starving him for years.

    That child’s name is Mitch, and investigators believe that he is the son who Wawrzynski lost so many years ago.

    Authorities called Wawrzynski last week and informed him of their discovery and the Nevada father was overjoyed, but also heartbroken over what investigators believe his son has endured.

    ‘It’s been really hard on me, I mean, me and Mitch when he was a baby, we were really close,’ Wawrzynski told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. ‘We were inseparable. When Mitch was a baby, I was the one that fed him. I was the one that changed his diapers.’

    Investigators say 18-year-old Mitch Comer was locked in a room in his home for years and was so malnourished that he still had his baby teeth and looked like a pre-teen
    Shackled: Paul and Sheila Comer are led into Georgia courtroom for a hearing. They have been charged with child abuseShackled: Paul and Sheila Comer are led into Georgia courtroom for a hearing. They have been charged with child abuse

    Sheila Comer appears in a courtroom for a hearing in Dallas, Ga
    Paul and Sheila Comer are led into a courtroom for a hearing in Dallas, Ga.,

    The pair were shackled in chains and in stripey jumpsuits when they arrived at court today

    ‘I thought he was a 12-year-old boy,’ said Georgia Detective Kevin Morgan at the bond hearing of Paul and Sheila Comer, who were arrested last month on charges of cruelty to children and false imprisonment.

    Mitch Comer was just 5′ 1″ and weighed only 87 pounds when he was found wandering around downtown Los Angeles.

    He was so neglected, his skin was translucent and he told investigators he hadn’t seen the sun in two years. He said he was confined to a bathroom and bedroom and wasn’t fed often, occasionally getting soup or cereal but little of substance, Morgan said.

    Wawrzynski said he’s not sure how much his son knows about him, since he was taken from him at such a young age. He is hoping to reunite with him at a Nov. 10 fundraiser for Mitch in Powder Springs, Georgia, he said.

    ‘I definitely want some time for us to be able to talk and for him to get to know me,’ Wawrzynski said. ‘My hopes are definitely that I’m gonna have my son back.’

    Arrest warrants filed in Georgia say the Comers ‘made Mitch kneel on the floor, bend his head and place his forehead against the wall, and place his hands behind his head for long periods of time.’

    In jail: Paul and Sheila Marie Comer allegedly starving and maltreating 18-year-old Mitch, who was found wandering around a bus station more than 2,000 miles from home
    Detectives said the 18-year-old boy had practically translucent skin and looked no more than 12 or 13 years old. Pictured, police searching the family homeDetectives said the 18-year-old boy had practically translucent skin and looked no more than 12 or 13 years old. Pictured, police searching the family home

    The Comers’ two daughters, who are 11 and 13, told investigators they heard him cry and scream for food often, Morgan said.

    Paul and Sheila Comer, who had lived in the house 14 months, admitted to investigators that Mitch was confined to the room.

    ‘They both conceded that that was his life,’ Morgan said. ‘He lived in that room for years.’

    The boy was kept in such seclusion that his two younger sisters in the same house did not know what he looked like, the authorities revealed.

    ‘The sisters haven’t seen the brother in over two years,’ said Paulding’s Cpl. Ashley Henson. ‘They didn’t even know what color his hair was.’

    Paul Comer told investigators he brought Mitch Comer food at 7am noon and 7pm each day and fed him whatever the family was eating.

    On September 11, a retired police sergeant working security at a downtown Los Angeles bus station noticed Mitch Comer.

    Police decided to investigate further because the teen looked much younger than the 18 years he claimed, Los Angeles police said last month.
    Mr Comer and the boy’s mother Sheila Marie were arrested on six charges of child abuse and one charge of false imprisonment on September 12, at their home near Dallas.Parents: Mr Comer and the boy’s mother Sheila Marie were arrested on six charges of child abuse and one charge of false imprisonment on September 12, at their home near Dallas

    The teen told authorities he had suffered from years of abuse after being taken out of school in the eighth grade.

    He told authorities his stepfather gave him $200 and a list of homeless shelters before he was put on a bus to Los Angeles on his 18th birthday. Paul Comer told investigators Mitch Comer wanted to be an actor.

    Mr Comer and the boy’s mother Sheila Marie were arrested on six charges of child abuse and one charge of false imprisonment on September 12, at their home near Dallas.

    As an 18-year-old, Mitch was not eligible for foster care, but has been taken in by a local family and is ‘doing well’, detectives said.

    He did not know his own address, but his parents were quickly tracked down.

    The couple’s two daughters have been in protective custody since their parents were arrested, investigators said.

    The Comers have no prior criminal history, but were the subject of a 2009 investigation by local authorities following an abuse allegation when the family lived in Cherokee County.

    The case was referred to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, but was later closed, and no charges were filed.

    Neighbours on the quiet cul-de-sac of two-story brick and vinyl siding homes, about 30 miles outside Atlanta, said the couple kept to themselves and were shocked to discover that the family had a son.
    ’Abuse’: Mitch told detectives he was forced to stand against the wall at the family home near Dallas, Georgia, for up to eight hours at a time‘Abuse’: Mitch told detectives he was forced to stand against the wall at the family home near Dallas, Georgia, for up to eight hours at a time

    The FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have joined the case, Cpl. Henson added.

    Mrs Comer’s mother, Diana Powell, of Iowa, said she hadn’t spoken to her daughter in more than a decade and hadn’t seen her grandson since he was a toddler.

    Powell told the station that she had feared her daughter and husband abused their children but had no direct evidence.

    ‘They mistreated him something terrible. I got on her case about it and she disappeared from my life,’ she said crying.

    Authorities say that they are just at the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with the case and more charges could be brought against the parents.

    Monica Moore, an investigator with the Paulding County District Attorney’s office, described the 18-year-old victim as small, very timid, and extremely polite.

    Moore confirmed that a local family had agreed to house the teenager, according to Channel 2.

    A spokesman from Paulding County Public Schools could also not confirm whether the children have ever been enrolled in the school system.

    Records show the Comers have lived in almost two dozen different homes during the past two decades. Neighbours said the family had lived at their large Dallas home for at least a few years.

    Dion Walker and Mea Smith told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that their children had played with the Comers’ daughters over the years but that they had never even seen Mitch.

    They said they were surprised to learn the family had a son. ‘Maybe, when the young girls would stare at us, were they trying to say something?’ said Mr Walker. ‘Should we have noticed?’

    Mitch was flown back to Dallas on Wednesday to participate in the investigation and legal proceedings.

    His stepfather had his own business repairing home appliances, said next-door neighbour John White. They rarely spoke.

    Mrs Comer never left the house unless she was with her husband, not even to check the mail, said Mr White. Their two daughters would sometimes come outside and play, but only in the back yard.

    Neighbours assumed the girls didn’t go to school either – they never caught the bus that picked up other children in the cul-de-sac every morning.

    Neighbors said they had no clue the Comers had a son until a detective came knocking at their doors asking questions last week.

    ‘I had no idea, no clue. There were no signs of a son at all,’ said Mr Walker, who has lived next to the Comers for two years. ‘The few occasions we would see them go to the van, it was always the parents and the two girls.’

    Walker said police swarmed the Comers’ home last week, arresting the parents and taking both girls into protective custody.

    Walker said the Comer family did not take part in neighbourhood association meetings and their girls never attended the neighbourhood Halloween block parties.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223361/Im-gonna-son-Father-finds-missing-son-locked-room-years-malnourished-ba

  • The Implacability of #Things | The Public Domain Review

    There are genres of fiction where we allow things to be sinister or significant in an unsettling way – Gothic romance and the detective story, for example – but the it-narrative is generally expected to be comic and anthropocentric. Yet for a number of reasons this is seldom how it deserves to be read. Whether it is owing to its origin and terminus in the narratives of slaves, or to its coincidence with the financial revolution and the growing unaccountability of mass human behaviour, or to the growing appetite for print ephemera, or to the end of feudal tenures and the resulting anomalies of personal portable property, or to the irreversible metamorphoses precipitated by the holocaust, ordinary things situated in banal circumstances develop a salience that has nothing to do with symbolism or hidden meaning.