Saturday, December 3, 2016

THE LATEST VERSION OF CREATION

CHEAPSKATE EX-COP OFFERS ‘HITMEN’ ONLY $500 TO SNUFF HIS ESTRANGED WIFE’S GIRLFRIEND

Michael McNatt, who was pissed off because his wife left him to be with her girlfriend, also wanted both women to be kidnapped and sexually assaulted

BarkGrowlBite | December 3, 2016

Michael McNatt, 63, was a Houston cop from 1982-86. He was fired for breaking rules on working extra jobs. He has also worked as a cop in nearby Ames and Clear Lake Shores. As a cop, he must have gotten used to getting free coffee, half-price meals and obtaining goods and services at a substantial discount.

Recently Mike’s wife left him for what he thought was a lesbian affair. That pissed Mike off royally.

In early November it came to the attention of the Pasadena PD that Mike was shopping around for a hitman to kill his estranged wife’s girlfriend. On Wednesday evening two Pasadena undercover cops pretending to be hitmen met up with Mike. He offered them $500 to kidnap and sexually assault both women and then to snuff his estranged wife’s girlfriend.

$500? Now that’s a pretty steep discount in a murder-for-hire plot. Even at that, Mike could only come up with $100 in cash and three gold rings.

Anyway, the cops busted the cheapskate on the spot. Mike is roosting in the Harris County jail charged with solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of solicitation to commit aggravated kidnapping with intent to commit sexual assault.

I suppose that leaves Mike’s wife free to thrash around the mattress with her girlfriend. Don’t you just love happy endings?

NEW USE OF FORCE POLICY SEEMS PRETTY STUPID

By Bob Walsh

The People’s Republic of San Francisco does have a police department. They even like their police department, as long as none of them ever use any force against anybody, especially anybody other than a white person, and very especially as long as they don’t ever shoot or kill anybody.

There is a new UOF. policy being proposed for the SFPD. Their union doesn’t much like it, and has produced advertising in opposition to the new policy. Sam Francisco officials are accusing the cops of false fear mongering. I am not sure that is realistic.

In recent times about 25% of the SFPD shooting incidents have involved shooting at cars. The new proposed policy would absolutely prohibit SFPD officers from shooting at a moving vehicle unless the driver “poses an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to the public or an officer by means other than the vehicle.” If I am reading this correctly that means a vehicle operator is free to flee recklessly and run people down and as long as the cops are not reasonably certain the persons is armed with a weapon other than the vehicle they can’t shoot at the vehicle or the driver.

Some clown named Chuck Wexler, who is the President of a group called the Police Executive Research Forum (sounds like a bunch of liberal idiots to me) has asserted that, “San Francisco’s ban on shooting at cars is in line with national best practices.”

THE ONLY TWO POWERFUL CARTELS LEFT

Amid a 10-year crackdown on cartels, the drug trade continues and factions have splintered – leaving Sinaloa and CJNG facing off in Colima state, now the murder capital of Mexico

By David Agren | The Guardian | November 28, 2016

MANZANILLO, MEXICO -- Standing guard at the scene of the crime, the two police officers surveyed the shattered glass and bullet-pocked bodywork of the Mercedes Benz hatchback and offered their analysis.

“It’s an eye for an eye,” said one, repeating a phrase often heard in this coastal city, about 200 miles south-west of Guadalajara. “It’s two groups getting even with each other.”

As the officers spoke, a group of children kicked a football just beyond the yellow crime scene tape, and customers wandered unperturbed in and out of a row of shops.

Only an hour before gunmen on a motorcycle had opened fire on the car which crashed into the side of a health clinic; miraculously the two occupants survived.

Manzanillo and the surrounding state of Colima were once best known for their black sand beaches, lime groves and a smoldering volcano that erupts every century or so.

Over the past year, however, the region has claimed a new title: murder capital of Mexico. According to federal figures, Colima registered 434 homicides in the first nine months of 2016 – a huge number in a population of just 700,000.

Local officials blame the killings on outsiders or describe it as score-settling between petty criminals.

But analysts of the drug war say the violence is part of a nationwide realignment of organized crime – and a bitter struggle to control the port of Manzanillo, one of the biggest on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Ten years of a militarised campaign against the cartels has not ended the trade in drugs, or helped enforce rule of law in Mexico. It has, however, weakened or splintered several crime factions, leaving a handful of powerful survivors fighting for the spoils.

Colima is currently the setting for a confrontation between two of the most formidable: the Sinaloa Federation – led by imprisoned capo Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán – and the Jalisco New Generation cartel, known by its Spanish initials as the CJNG.

“Most of the [Mexican] cartels have been weakened,” said Mike Vigil, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who worked undercover in Mexico. “The only two powerful cartels left are Sinaloa and the CJNG.”

The CJNG – based in the neighbouring state of Jalisco – has already established a reputation as one of the country’s fastest-growing and most aggressive groups, willing to confront both rivals in the underworld and federal forces.

It emerged in 2010 following a fight for the spoils of a prominent Sinaloa cartel boss, Nacho Coronel, who was killed by the army, and for the past five years or so it has used Manzanillo to import chemical precursors from Asia for the production of methamphetamines.

Last year, while Guzmán was still on the run after escaping from a high-security jail, Sinaloa made a move on Colima.

The cartel publicly announced its arrival in October 2015, with a narcocorrido song and a Facebook message entitled “Sinaloa is now in Colima”. The message heralded the launch of “Operation Cleanup”, striking a familiar tone in Mexico, where criminal groups try to cloak their activities in the language of social activism.

But within months, Guzmán was recaptured; and with El Chapo currently awaiting extradition to the US, a violent rearrangement of the underworld appears under way – and Colima is one of its principle battlegrounds.

The conflict between the cartels burst into the open this summer in a confusing episode when six men – including Guzmán’s son Jesús Alfredo Guzmán – were kidnapped from a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

Authorities blamed the abduction on the CJNG, suggesting that the upstart cartel was trying to take advantage of Guzmán’s imprisonment.

But Guzmán was later reportedly released, and observers say that the reports that Sinaloa has been weakened by El Chapo’s arrest may well prove premature.

“The CJNG is gaining ground, but doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the Sinaloa cartel,” said Miguel Ángel Vega, a reporter with the Sinaloa-based news organization Ríodoce.

Vega said the cartel was well entrenched – both in the rugged Sierras where it produces heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines, and in the corridors of power, where it maintains connections at all levels of government.

“The Sinaloa cartel is not just El Chapo,” he said.

The CJNG has also demonstrated a capacity to corrupt officials: a recording surfaced in September in which a cowed police chief can be heard taking orders from the group’s boss, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, AKA “El Mencho”.

Under El Mencho – himself a former police officer – the CJNG has made violence its calling card. The group launched itself on the national stage in 2011 by dumping 35 bodies under a bridge in the Atlantic coast state of Veracruz; at the time, the group called itself the Zeta-killers, and professed to be targeting the powerful Zetas cartel.

But the CJNG also showed itself willing to take on the Mexican state.

As federal forces closed in on El Mencho in May 2015, the CJNG launched a coordinated show of strength across Jalisco and neighbouring regions, blocking dozens of roads with hijacked vehicles and setting banks and petrol stations on fire.

In 2015, CJNG gunmen ambushed a police convoy, killing 15 officers in the single bloodiest attack on Mexican security forces in recent history, and shot down an army helicopter.

The cartel has also been implicated in a string of vigilante attacks on petty criminals in Jalisco – including six people who were recently found with their hands chopped off – and a string of attacks on state officials, including the murders of the tourism secretary and a federal lawmaker.

Colima state officials did not respond to interview requests, though they have previously attempted to downplay talk of a cartel war.

State prosecutor Felipe de Jesús Muñoz Vázquez told local media in August that 90% of homicides were related to organized crime – with 85 of those slayings explained by low-level drug dealing.

And despite the spiraling murder rate, local people in the state capital also seem at pains to insist that the situation is in hand.

“There’s no panic on the streets here,” said Miguel Ángel Vargas, news director of radio station Ángel Guardian, adding that people in Colima city worried about personal finances and local issues such as corruption and spending cuts.

Authorities in Manzanillo also insist their city is safe, even though an analysis by the news organization Animal Politico ranked it as the third-most violent municipality in the country – trailing only Acapulco and Tecomán, another Colima municipality – with 103.87 homicides per 100,000 residents.

“Up until now, we have not found innocent people mixed up in these events,” said Manzanillo police chief Miguel Ángel García, a retired vice-admiral, repeating a refrain heard often in Mexico.

Local journalists say that much of the violence stems from the lack of a strong boss to control the “plaza” – the local turf or trafficking routes. Others suggested that the conflict was triggered by defections from CJNG to Sinaloa.

“It’s a war over the local market,” said one longtime reporter, asking for anonymity for security reasons. “Cartel de Jalisco sells ice [methamphetamine], while Sinaloa sells cocaine.”

But few local residents expect either side to win a victory by force – they believe that the solution will come from a political deal.

Some believe the violence will continue until one of the cartels gains control with help from the government, noting the Sinaloa cartel’s arrival in a state with a strong CJNG presence at the same time as a change in the governor’s office.

“There’s no ‘pacto’” in Colima, one of the journalists said, referring to an arrangement between authorities and one of the cartels. “It won’t calm down here until there is.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

AUSTRALIAN COURT WON’T LISTEN TO MUSLIM WOMAN’S EVIDENCE UNLESS SHE REMOVES VEIL

A judge has refused to hear evidence from a Muslim woman, the wife of an Islamic extremist, because she refused to remove her veil in court

TEN Eyewitness News | December 1, 2016

Moutia Elzahed is suing police over a counter-terrorism raid on her Revesby home in September 2014, but NSW District Court Judge Audrey Balla would not allow her to take the stand while she was wearing her veil.

But she still refused to take it off.

Lawyers believe the incident is an Australian first, according to News Corp.

Ms Elzahed’s lawyer Clive Evatt argued his client was not allowed to show her face to any man outside her family for religious reasons.

Judge Balla gave Ms Elzahed the option to have the court closed while she gave evidence or to do so in another room, or via video link.

Mr Evatt then argued that the options were not suitable because male legal counsels would still be able to see Ms Elzahed’s face.

Ms Elzahed has accused police of punching her during the September 2014 dawn raid and is seeking compensation for “assault and battery, wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and intimidation”.

It is understood Ms Elzahed told reporters outside court that being told she couldn’t give evidence was “unfair”.

Authorities have denied any wrongdoing with the federal and state governments arguing that police only used reasonable force.

Her husband Hamdi Alqudsi has since been jailed for eight years with a non-parole period of six years after he was convicted of helping seven men travel to Syria to fight with Islamic rebels.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wonder if she's really just trying to hide an awfully ugly face.

THE HIDDEN EPIDEMIC OF MEN WHO ARE RAPED BY WOMEN

According to a new, wide-ranging study, around two-thirds of men who report sexual victimization say their assailant was female

By Steven Blum | VICE News | November 29, 2016

There are many great things about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's survey on sexual violence, according to UCLA law professor Lara Stemple. "The interviewer is trained to ask lots of questions and to maximize respondent comfort using check-ins," she explains. "Also, it's a health survey, which is a good context for people to think about their bodies and their own well-being."

But when it comes to reporting the outcomes of the survey, the CDC discounts men who have been forced to penetrate someone else—either by coercion, physical force, or lack of consent—by listing statistics for the crime under the category "other victimization," along with seemingly lesser offenses like "non-contact unwanted sexual experiences."

"They put it in the same broad category as being flashed or receiving lewd comments from a stranger," Stemple said. "There's no context, and it really minimizes the abuse."

The de-fanged language the CDC has adopted to label male victims of sexual assault underscores a worrying tendency among researchers as well as rape counselors and law enforcement officials, Stemple says. The implication: "For men, all sex is good sex."

"The way we talk about men and sex needs to change," Stemple says. "When we have these stereotypes for men, it makes it hard for them to come forward when they're victimized."

Stemple has long focused her research on how sexual violence against men goes under-reported. In 2014, she released a paper on male victims of sexual violence which analyzed several national surveys and found that, when taking into account cases where men were "made to penetrate" someone else, the rates of nonconsensual sexual contact between men and women were basically equal: 1.267 million men said they had been victims of sexual violence, compared with 1.270 million women.

The "made to penetrate" category is not the type of violation we imagine when we think of sexual assault, as Slate's Hanna Rosin wrote in a piece on Stemple's research in 2014. But it can result in similar psychological and physical effects, including sexual dysfunction, depression, loss of self-esteem, and long-term relationship difficulties.

Although there is still much work to be done in order to understand the effects of sexual assault on male victims, Stemple's new research focuses on the perpetrators themselves. In a new study released yesterday, she and two other researchers examined four large-scale surveys from the CDC and the Bureau of Justice Statistics to better understand female sexual predator behavior, analyzing both male and female victims. The findings contradict widely held stereotypes about women being unlikely abusers.

"People think female perpetration is rare," Stemple says. "They think it's a fluke—like it's one high school teacher and a student. But it's very widespread, according to these surveys, and nobody seems to know that. It's astonishing to me."

The threat posed by female sexual predators has long been misunderstood and minimized by the research community. Although the possibility was first documented in research literature in the 1930s, systematic studies of sexual victimization perpetrated by women were not undertaken until the 1990s. Even at that point, research was underdeveloped—focusing, primarily, on child sexual abuse. It wasn't until the last decade that research on this topic has burgeoned.

Stemple's new, wide-ranging study presents the results of the CDC's most recent phone survey, which found that 68.6 percent of men who report sexual victimization describe female perpetrators. Meanwhile, among men who reported being made to penetrate—"the form of nonconsensual sex men are much more likely to experience in their lifetime," according to the study—79.2 percent cited female perpetrators.

The study's authors also looked at how female sexual predators operate behind bars. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys—which, unlike other surveys, uses frank terms like "blowjobs," which Stemple says improve accuracy—female inmates are much more likely to be abused by other female inmates than by male staff. Additionally, among all adult prisoners reporting any staff sexual victimization, 80 percent reported only female perpetrators; among juveniles, the rate was even higher, at 89.3 percent. Perhaps most surprisingly, given the picture painted by depictions of life in prison in popular culture, the same survey found that the incidence of sexual abuse among female prisoners was roughly three times the rate of that among male prisoners.

Given these statistics, it's all the more striking that so few women ever end up on sex offender registries. One five-state study of registries found that between 0.8 percent and 3 percent of the people on sex offender registries are female; other surveys have found proportions lower than 2 percent.

Then again, there are many barriers for men who wish to report sexual assault. According to Stemple's study, some are embarrassed to report because of the widespread perception of women as non-threatening. Others lie and say they were actually sexually assaulted by other men, or are pressured to reframe their victimization as a "rite of passage." As men grow older, studies show they're more likely to be blamed for their abuse than female victims.

Gender stereotypes that portray men as essentially un-rapeable likely haven't helped reporting rates, either. A majority of college students surveyed in 1992 did not believe a "big, strong man [could] be raped by a woman," and college-aged respondents in a more recent 2012 survey said that a man raped by a woman would not be "very upset."

Victimization of women by other women has been studied "even less than opposite-sex female perpetration," according to the study. "Heterosexism can render lesbian and bisexual victims of female-perpetrated sexual victimization invisible to professionals," the study notes. "While a few rape crisis centers have created small lesbian-oriented programs, lesbian and bisexual women report that, in general, hotlines, support groups, and legal aid organizations that address sexual violence seem designed for those victimized by men."

"I met a man who does work on this issue, and who was victimized by a woman when he was a child," Stemple says. "He is, to this day, afraid to be alone in a room with a woman. As you can imagine, this is very uncomfortable for him to share with people; he thinks they'll find it shameful. Today, he'll talk about it as a survivor, but he's quite rare. You can imagine that other men would have this same fear of coming forward, especially if the perpetrator was female."

EDITOR’S NOTE: Back in the late ’50s or early ’60s I investigated the kidnapping-rape of a U.S. Navy sailor. He had been hitchhiking from Riverside to San Diego when he was picked up by two women. They drove off the highway onto a desert road where they robbed him and repeatedly raped him at gunpoint. The left him tied up to a Yucca. He was lucky someone came by and found him. The women were not caught.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

SUPREME CPOURT TO VET TEXAS ‘LENNIE TEST’ FOR EXECUTING MENTALLY DISABLED INMATES

By Dianna Wray | Houston Press | November 29, 2016

More than a decade ago the U.S. Supreme Court declared executing mentally disabled people unconstitutional. However, the court didn't define what standards should be used to determine what level of disability precludes execution, so Texas came up with its own standards, derived from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Go figure that these "standards," based on a fictional character and no scientific evidence, have turned out to be problematic at best. And now the Supreme Court is looking at the consequences.

On Tuesday the Supremes will hear the case of Bobby James Moore, a 57-year-old man who shot gas station attendant James McCarble in Houston and has been on death row since 1980. Moore is challenging whether or not the Of Mice and Men standards should be used to determine if he, or anyone, is mentally competent enough to be executed. Moore's IQ scores have ranged between 50 and 70 (a person with an IQ of 70 or below is generally classified as mentally disabled) but he is still marked for execution.

The Supreme Court left an opening for such an issue when the justices made a broad decision on the issue back in 2002 with Atkins v. Virginia. The high court ruled that executing an intellectually disabled person for murder was a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment."

Here's what Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his opinion (and yes, they used the term "retarded" back then):

"Construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of our 'evolving standards of decency,' we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution 'places a substantive restriction on the State's power to take the life' of a mentally retarded offender."

However, the Supreme Court left the actual definition of what constitutes intellectually disabled up to the states. In Texas, after the 2003 state Legislature failed to lay out the rules that would clearly prevent the execution of intellectually disabled people convicted of murder, it fell to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to pin down the requirements. Judge Cathy Cochran was the one to write the opinion, and she came up with a real corker.

Cochran was born in California, and years ago she and her husband were living in Monterrey, near Cannery Row, the area Steinbeck immortalized. Inspired by her location, Cochran read his books, including Of Mice and Men, the story of George, a vagabond ranch hand, and his mentally disabled friend, Lennie. George struggles throughout the novel to keep Lennie out of trouble. This leads to an accidental murder and George finds Lennie hiding from a vigilante group. George knows the men will find Lennie and execute him, so he kills Lennie himself. It's a brutal, tragic and incredibly moving work of fiction, and it turns out the story stayed with Cochran, though probably not in the way Steinbeck would have intended.

She landed on the Court of Criminal Appeals in 2001, and in 2004 she was working out how to apply the Supreme Court's Atkins ruling in Texas and found herself thinking of Lennie, according to Life of the Law. Except she somehow decided that Texans would not want to exempt every convicted murderer with a low IQ from execution. In a workaround that essentially undid the Atkins decision, Cochran came up with the Briseño Factors, a set of seven flexible guidelines to help Texas courts determine whether or not someone is mentally competent enough to be executed.

The Briseño Factors essentially mean a person who has tested as intellectually disabled but is still able to get an idea and follow through on it, or is not clearly being manipulated by others, or can handle a social situation without drooling, or is able to tell a lie and remember the lie long enough to keep telling it is mentally competent enough for execution. The same goes if he or she can talk coherently and was able to actually plan the crime in question. In practice these standards — also known as the Lennie test — make it almost impossible to stop the state from executing a mentally incompetent person, even if that person doesn't entirely understand what he or she is being punished for, as we've previously noted.

There was an outcry against these standards last year when Robert Ladd, a man with an IQ score of 67, was executed for the brutal 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner in Dallas. As with so many of these cases, the question was never about Ladd's guilt, but about whether it was right to execute someone who meets the clinical definition of mentally disabled. Ladd's lawyers made last-ditch appeals to the Supreme Court, but the justices declined to intervene.

But now the high court has agreed to hear Moore's case and look at the standards that determined whether he was intellectually disabled enough to be cognizant of the crime he is to be executed for. Moore's lawyers argued a lower court in Texas had found Moore was "intellectually disabled and constitutionally ineligible" for the death penalty, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed this decision. The appeals court ruled that a 23-year-old standard applied instead and found that, by that standard, Moore was not intellectually disabled.

Justices will hear Moore's case today and issue their opinion sometime next spring. The Supremes are still short a justice (they've been down one since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February), but it's hard to tell how the balance of the eight justices currently on the court will influence how they decide this case. So we'll just have to wait and see whether the Lennie test passes muster with the high court.