Vladimir Putin Honors Critical Russian Journalist’s Birthday with a Celebratory Gunshot Wound to Journalists’s Head 


Alexander Shchetinin found dead with a gun near his body after friends tried to visit him at home.

Rachael Pells reports: A well-known Russian journalist and critic of President Vladimir Putin has been found dead in his Kiev apartment with a gunshot wound to the head.

The body of Alexander Shchetinin, founder the Novy Region (New Region) press agency, was found at his flat after friends tried to visit him on his birthday.

A police spokesperson said Kiev forces were alerted of Ms Shchetinin’s death at around midnight on Saturday. He is believed to have died a few hours earlier, between 8 and 9.30pm.

Officials have speculated that his death was caused by suicide, after a gun was found near his body along with spent cartridges, and the door to his apartment was said to be locked. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Bailiffs, Gunman Dead in Shooting at Michigan Courthouse, Sheriff says


DEVELOPING: Two court bailiffs were killed and a police officer shot Monday inside a southwestern Michigan courthouse when an inmate broke loose and got his hands on a deputy’s gun, officials said.

“What occurred today in my hometown breaks my heart. My thoughts are with our entire community – our friends and neighbors. This tragic event reminds us all too well that our law enforcement officers have their lives on the line every day not knowing what that day will bring. We have lost two very able public servants and we all grieve for them and their families.”

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey told local media at a press conference the gunman, whose identity was not immediately available, was killed by responding police.

“Brave officers” took down the shooter, Bailey said.

Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit told Fox News a civilian was also shot, and is in stable condition.

The incident occurred just days after five Dallas police officers were killed by a sniper, and amid a wave of violence and threats against law eforcement officers around the country. Read the rest of this entry »

The Misleading Uses, Flagrant Abuses, and Shoddy Statistics of Social Science About Gun Violence


You Know Less Than You Think About Guns

Brian Doherty writes: “There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America,” President Barack Obama proclaimed after the October mass shooting that killed 10 at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. “So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work—or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns—is not borne out by the evidence.”

In this single brief statement, Obama tidily listed the major questions bedeviling social science research about guns—while also embodying the biggest problem with the way we process and apply that research. The president’s ironclad confidence in the conclusiveness of the science, and therefore the desirability of “common-sense gun safety laws,” is echoed widely with every new mass shooting, from academia to the popular press to that guy you knew from high school on Facebook.

[Order Emily Miller’s book “Emily Gets Her Gun” from Amazon]

In April 2015, the Harvard gun-violence researcher David Hemenway took to the pages of the Los Angeles Times to declare in a headline: “There’s scientific consensus on guns—and the NRA won’t like it.” Hemenway insisted that researchers have definitively established “that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be…that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime…and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates.” He concludes: “There is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide.”

But the science is a lot less certain than that. What we really know about the costs and benefits of private gun ownership and the efficacy of gun laws is far more fragile than what Hemenway and the president would have us believe.

More guns do not necessarily mean more homicides. More gun laws do not necessarily mean less gun crime. Finding good science is hard enough; finding good social science on a topic so fraught with politics is nigh impossible. The facts then become even more muddled as the conclusions of those less-than-ironclad academic studies cycle through the press and social media in a massive game of telephone. Despite the confident assertions of the gun controllers and decades of research, we still know astonishingly little about how guns actually function in society and almost nothing at all about whether gun control policies actually work as promised.

Do More Guns Mean More Homicides?

“More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote on August 26, 2015, just after the grisly on-air murder of two television journalists in Virginia. It’s a startling fact, and true.

[See John R. Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics) at Amazon]

But do the number of guns in circulation correlate with the number of gun deaths? Start by looking at the category of gun death that propels all gun policy discussion: homicides. (Gun suicides, discussed further below, are a separate matter whose frequent conflation with gun crime introduces much confusion into the debate.)

In 1994 Americans owned around 192 million guns, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice. Today, that figure is somewhere between 245 and 328 million, though as Philip J. Cook and Kristin A. Goss in their thorough 2014 book The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press) wisely concluded, liberal-huh“the bottom line is that no one knows how many firearms are in private hands in the United States.” Still, we have reason to believe gun prevalence likely surpassed the one-gun-per-adult mark early in President Barack Obama’s first term, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report that relied on sales and import data.

Yet during that same period, per-capita gun murders have been cut almost in half.

One could argue that the relevant number is not the number of guns, but the number of people with access to guns. That figure is also ambiguous. A Gallup poll in 2014 found 42 percent of households claiming to own a gun, which Gallup reports is “similar to the average reported to Gallup over the past decade.” But those looking for a smaller number, to downplay the significance of guns in American life, can rely on the door-to-door General Social Survey, which reported in 2014 that only 31 percent of households have guns, down 11 percentage points from 1993’s 42 percent. There is no singular theory to explain that discrepancy or to be sure which one is closer to correct—though some doubt, especially as gun ownership continues to be so politically contentious, that people always reliably report the weapons they own to a stranger literally at their door.


The gun murder rate in 1993 was 7.0 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (Those reports rely on death certificate reporting, and they tend to show higher numbers than the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, though both trend the same.) In 2000 the gun murder rate per 100,000 was 3.8. By 2013, the rate was even lower, at 3.5, though there was a slight upswing in the mid-00s.

This simple point—that America is awash with more guns than ever before, yet we are killing each other with guns at a far lower rate than when we had far fewer guns—undermines the narrative that there is a straightforward, causal relationship between increased gun prevalence and gun homicide. Even if you fall back on the conclusion that it’s just a small number of owners stockpiling more and more guns, it’s hard to escape noticing that even these hoarders seem to be harming fewer and fewer people with their weapons, casting doubt on the proposition that gun ownership is a political crisis demanding action.


In the face of these trend lines—way more guns, way fewer gun murders—how can politicians such as Obama and Hillary Clinton so successfully capitalize on the panic that follows each high profile shooting? Partly because Americans haven’t caught on to the crime drop. A 2013 Pew Research Poll found 56 percent of respondents thought that gun crime had gone up over the past 20 years, and only 12 percent were aware it had declined.

Do Gun Laws Stop Gun Crimes?

The same week Kristof’s column came out, National Journal attracted major media attention with a showy piece of research and analysis headlined “The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths.” The subhead lamented: “But there’s still little appetite to talk about more restrictions.”

Critics quickly noted that the Journal‘s Libby Isenstein had included suicides among “gun-related deaths” and suicide-irrelevant policies such as stand-your-ground laws among its tally of “gun laws.” That meant that high-suicide, low-homicide states such as Wyoming, Alaska, and Idaho were taken to task for their liberal carry-permit policies. Worse, several of the states with what the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence considers terribly lax gun laws were dropped from Isenstein’s data set because their murder rates were too low!


Another of National Journal‘s mistakes is a common one in gun science: The paper didn’t look at gun statistics in the context of overall violent crime, a much more relevant measure to the policy debate. After all, if less gun crime doesn’t mean less crime overall—if criminals simply substitute other weapons or means when guns are less available—the benefit of the relevant gun laws is thrown into doubt. When Thomas Firey of the Cato Institute ran regressions of Isenstein’s study with slightly different specifications and considering all violent crime, each of her effects either disappeared or reversed.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Historical Perspective On Homicide


John Hinderer reports: The Young Conservatives Instagramed this graphic a couple of days ago. I haven’t verified all the numbers, but I checked most of them against FBI data and they appear to be correct. The chart puts current hysteria over homicide and firearms into perspective. The left axis is homicides per 100,000 Americans…(read more)

Source: Power Line

[VIDEO] ‘Islam is Not a Religion of Peace. Anyone Who Still Claims This in 2015 is Either Stupid or Lying’


[VIDEO] Chicago Officer Jason Van Dyke Faces First Degree Murder Charge


Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Jason MeisnerJeremy Gorner and Steve Schmadeke report: Cook County prosecutors said in court Tuesday that a Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder opened fire six seconds after exiting his squad car as 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was walking away from him.

Officer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 rounds at McDonald in about 14 seconds and was reloading when another officer told him to hold his fire, prosecutors said in bond court.

Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered Van Dyke held without bail until the judge can view on Monday a police dash-cam video of the shooting in October 2014.

“I believe it’s pertinent for a bond hearing,” Panarese said of the video. “I’m sorry, but I’m holding you no bail until Monday.”

Clad in a brown sweatshirt, a white shirt and bluejeans, Van Dyke showed no emotion as he was led from the courtroom in custody.

Prosecutors sought to have the veteran officer held without bail until his trial. But Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, objected, saying the officer was not a risk to flee.

“We believe we have a valid defense in this case,” Herbert said.

Herbert said Van Dyke’s wife will be turning over his gun to the Police Department.

After the court session, Herbert told reporters, “Despite what you heard in that courtroom, this is not a murder case.”


Van Dyke, 37, turned himself in to state’s attorney’s investigators at 7:41 a.m. Tuesday in their offices at the criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue, booking records show. As he arrived, Van Dyke kept his hands in his jeans pockets, looked straight ahead and did not answer questions from reporters as he walked briskly into the Leighton Criminal Court Building with his attorney.

[Read the full story here, at chicagotribune.com]

Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of McDonald “without legal justification and with the intent to kill or do great bodily harm,” according to the one-page criminal complaint filed against him.

Meanwhile, Van Dyke’s wife, Tiffany, set up a GoFundMe page asking for online donations for her husband’s bond. Although the page did not mention her husband by name, it described him as a 15-year veteran officer “fighting for his freedom and justice.”

“He is a highly decorated and respected officer,” Tiffany Van Dyke wrote. “He was in a shooting that has been covered extensively by the media and we ask for your patience for all the facts to come out in the trial. We want him to be home with his family as we go through this judicial process.”

The page asked for donations “very quickly” so Van Dyke can pay whatever bond is set and he can be home for the holidays.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, donors, mostly anonymous, had given more than $10,000 of the $80,000 sought. The page also had attracted a number of negative comments, and shortly after 11 a.m. it was taken down.

The dash-cam video shows Van Dyke jumping out of his squad car and within seconds firing 16 rounds into McDonald, lawyers for McDonald’s family have said. Read the rest of this entry »

Death by Taxes

John Shinkle/POLITICO

‘None of these people have any incentive to undertake the job of decreasing the complexity of the tax system.’

 writes: If most people in the US knew the truth about the tax system in their country, there would be blood in the streets.  Most individuals file a very simple federal income tax return – perhaps they take a few deductions for their mortgage interest, medical costs and the like.  But this annual experience for the vast majority of Americans gives them a very skewed view of the great mass of the US tax system – it is the tiniest visible sign of an enormous tumor that grows beneath the surface, invisible to most US citizens and tax payers.

“This is how it works:  To escape the high tax rates on business activities in the US, armies of lobbyists work ceaselessly to insert arcane, narrow exceptions and exemptions into federal and state tax laws at the legislative level.  The exceptions and exemptions are as narrow as possible and often use very convoluted and technical language.  The use of opaque language is intentional: it helps legislators avoid the kind of political trouble that comes from handing out tax exemptions.”

Two facts that are rarely discussed by the US media and which never come to the attention of the majority of US individual taxpayers illustrate this: The US has by far the highest corporate income tax rate of any developed country (and among the highest marginal tax rates for individuals who live in high tax states), and the US has an incredibly large and complex structure of tax laws.  While most US taxpayers don’t know about the relatively high rates of US taxation, the crucial reality of the US tax system that is hidden from almost everyone is the insane complexity of the US tax code that applies to investment and business activities.


“Why uncertainty?  Because as the tax laws and regulations become more and more complex, and the language in which they are expressed becomes more and more divorced from normal usage, only very intelligent people who spend all their time doing nothing but learning and manipulating tax language can even begin to know what the laws and rules mean.”

This is how it works:  To escape the high tax rates on business activities in the US, armies of lobbyists work ceaselessly to insert arcane, narrow exceptions and exemptions into federal and state tax laws at the legislative level.  The exceptions and exemptions are as narrow as possible and often use very convoluted and technical language.

[Yes, We Still Have the World’s Highest Corporate-Tax Rate]

The use of opaque language is intentional: it helps legislators avoid the kind of political trouble that comes from handing out tax exemptions.  (There is also the factor that legislators all play the game of “I’ll vote for your campaign contributor’s tax exemption if you’ll vote for mine.”)  Tax authorities (that’s the IRS for the federal government, but it happens at the state and local level, too, in high-tax states and cities) create voluminous regulations to implement these tax laws.  Lobbyists also work to influence that process, as well as returning to the legislature to create exceptions to the exceptions to the exceptions created in the regulations.

Featured Image -- 55269

“Trying to undo the complexity of the tax code would reveal all this incredible responsive complexity: And it would cause massive economic losses.  Trillions and trillions of dollars worth of value is invested in ways that are structured in response to the complexity of our tax laws.  Without those giant stacks of tax rules and exceptions and exceptions to exceptions, etc., those investment and business operations structures would not make sense legally or economically.”

Meanwhile, “tax planning” to take advantage of this constantly growing and increasingly complex web of laws and regulations becomes a bigger and bigger part of how businesses structure their enterprises and investments.   “Tax planning” is carried out by armies of accountants and lawyers and consultants, all of whom are handsomely paid to do work that contributes nothing to economic growth or prosperity.

[Also see – Nobody Knows How Many Federal Agencies Exist]

The work of the “tax planning” professionals becomes more and more complex and incomprehensible to those outside their fraternity, as it is essentially the incantation of linguistic “magic spells” that have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual business enterprise, and everything to do with fitting into the ever-more-convoluted language of the tax codes.  More and more layers of complexity are added, each with additional cost and uncertainty.

“The same process applies to entirely domestic business.  Entrepreneurs and investors spend huge amounts of money on lawyers, accountants and consultants to create complex – and completely unnecessary – corporate and operational structures aimed solely at taking advantages of complex tax benefits.”

Why uncertainty?  Because as the tax laws and regulations become more and more complex, and the language in which they are expressed becomes more and more divorced from normal usage, only very intelligent people who spend all their time doing nothing but learning and manipulating tax language can even begin to know what the laws and rules mean.

“One consequence of this process that everyone who is involved in international business knows very well is that no one wants to do business in the United States if they can help it.

And they won’t all agree – until a very clear case is litigated to conclusion in a court or the IRS issues a “clarification,” it’s all just educated guesses.  By the time a term comes to have well-understood meaning, the exceptions to the rules that use that term – using new words that were intentionally difficult to understand in the first place – have to be interpreted and clarified.

“And here’s the real horror: No one outside the fraternity of tax regulators, lobbyists, tax lawyers, accountants and consultants really perceives how enormous the structure of tax complexity is.  Investors and entrepreneurs learn no more than they have to – just what they have to know to do the specific deal they’re working on or carry out their own narrow business operations.”

This process has been going on for well over a hundred years with no let up.  In fact, the scale and complexity of the tax codes continues to grow exponentially, as the feedback process of high tax rates leading to exceptions leading to exceptions to exceptions continues ad infinitum.


 “Unwinding all that complexity would wipe out huge swathes of the US economy – and create a whole new set of winners and losers that has nothing to do with the underlying matter of actually creating real value in the real world.”

One consequence of this process that everyone who is involved in international business knows very well is that NO ONE WANTS TO DO BUSINESS IN THE UNITED STATES IF THEY CAN HELP IT.  This is the world I work in.  In my professional world it is simply taken for granted that people with money to invest will do anything in their power to structure their business so that no possible argument can be made that they did business or invested in the US.  Companies and wealthy individuals go to extreme lengths to avoid putting any kind of investment into the US if it is at all possible.

[More – Reminder: The Federal Tax Code & Regulations are Now Over 10 Million Words in Length]

Does this mean that no one invests in US businesses?  No.  The US consumer market is too big, and innovation in the US is too valuable for that to be true.  What it does mean, though is that below a certain very large scale, it just doesn’t pay.  Even more important, it also means that every investment in the US is “taxed” in a way that does no one (outside of the business of avoiding tax) any good:  Huge amounts of money are spent creating unnecessary complexity to minimize US taxation as much as possible: Extra layers of incorporation and complex accounting structures are created to do everything possible to minimize the amount of income earned in the US.  All that time, effort and money spent avoiding US taxation adds to the cost of investment without creating one dime of revenue for the US government.  Finally, foreign investors in the US do everything they can to get their money out of the US as quickly as possible: The more time an investment is exposed to US tax law, the larger the chance that some tax law magic spell will be countered by some other tax law magic spell and – BANG! – there go all the profits. Read the rest of this entry »

CHESS WORLD ROCKED: 2200 Year-Old Walrus Bones Suggest Medieval Chess Set Might be Icelandic in Origin


Carbon dating of walrus bones found in Snæfellsnes peninsula indicates that the bones are at least 2000 years old. A large number of walrus skulls and walrus tusks have been found around Garðafjara beach on the south coast Snæfellsnes. The first skull was discovered 1884. All in all the bones of 50 walruses have been found, most in the past 50 years. Biologists argue this indicates Snæfellsnes was the home of a sizable walrus colony prior to the settlement of Iceland.

A previous theory, explaining the concentration of bone discoveries, speculated they came from the wreck of a ship which had been carrying walrus bones to Europe. However, the existence of a large walrus colony in Iceland would have meant the accumulation of walrus skeletons and skulls which would have been discovered by the Viking age settlers of Iceland…(read more)

[VIDEO] New Video, Radio Transmissions During Baltimore Riots Released

Demonstrators throw rocks at police in Baltimore after the funeral of Freddie Gray on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press

“He got hit with a brick. We’re going to standby here. I can’t leave these officers here by themselves.”

BALTIMORE — Gina Cook reports:  When riots erupted in Baltimore in April, 150 cops were hurt as the city descended into chaos. Newly released video and radio transmissions are providing an additional viewpoint into just how confusing and tense it was for Baltimore Police.

“Hold the line! Do not go forward and do not chase them!”

Some of the audio makes it clear the leaders of the police department realized their officers were ill equipped for the escalating situation, Domen reports.

Surveillance video taken at the corner of North and Pennsylvania avenues shows the progression of the riots and looting.

The following video was obtained by the Baltimore Sun:

(NO AUDIO) City surveillance video obtained by The Sun shows the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues over the span of several hours on April 27, 2015. That intersection, one of several locations in Baltimore that saw disturbances that night in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, became the epicenter for violence and protests for several days. (Baltimore Sun)

“Some of the audio makes it clear the leaders of the police department realized their officers were ill equipped for the escalating situation, Domen reports.”

WNEW’s John Domen reports police radio transmissions also provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the panic officers experienced during those hours. Read the rest of this entry »

[PHOTO] Mansplaining Mortality


‘Sugar Baby’ Escort Alix Tichelman Sentenced to 6 Years in Google Executive’s Heroin Death

(CNN) Dana Ford reports: An alleged prostitute accused in the death of a Google executive pleaded guilty on Tuesday, and was sentenced to six years in prison.Alix-T

[Also see – The Black Widow of Silicon Valley: Alix Tichelman’s Trail of Dead and Damaged Men]

Alix Tichelman faced a series of charges in the death of Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51. The married father of five was found dead in November 2013 aboard his 50-foot yacht in California’s Santa Cruz harbor.

[More – Alix Tichelman Pleads Not Guilty in Google Exec’s Heroin Death]

[VIDEO] Last Taste of Sugar: Escort Charged in Google Executive’s Fatal Heroin Overdose]

[Hooker Business Booms in Silicon Valley]

Authorities say Tichelman gave Hayes an injection of heroin and then, as he began to die, she sipped her wine, gathered her belongings, and calmly walked away.

She pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, administering a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, destroying or concealing evidence, and engaging and agreeing to engage in prostitution, according to the Santa Cruz Superior Court. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Taishi Kangyi’: Invasion of the Body Snatchers


Why Aggrieved Chinese Citizens and Chinese Police Are Fighting Over Corpses

Yaqiu Wangwangyaqiu writes: On the morning of March 16, 48-year-old Huang Shunfang went to her local hospital located in Fanghu Township in the central Chinese province of Henan. Her doctor diagnosed her with gastritis, gave her a dose of antacids through an IV, and sent her on her way. Huang died suddenly that afternoon. In the hours after her death, Huang’s family went to the hospital for an explanation and was told by the hospital leadership that “the hospital is where people die,” according to a witness’ account of the incident.

“The corpse is the most sensitive… People who have ulterior motives use the dead body to pressure the government… Onlookers, out of curiosity and sympathy, encircle the corpse forming a large crowd. If the corpse is not removed in time, a mass incident can break out at any time…”

Incensed, Huang’s family visited the local public security bureau and the health bureau, both to no avail. Four days later, on March 20, after rejecting the hospital’s offer of compensation of RMB 5,000 ($800), the family placed Huang’s corpse outside the gate of the hospital in protest. Soon, over a hundred policemen swooped in to take the body away, beating and detaining Huang’s relatives who tried to resist them.

An illustration from ‘The Washing Away of Wrongs,’ first published in 1247

An illustration from ‘The Washing Away of Wrongs,’ first published in 1247

“’Taishi kangyi,’ or ‘carrying the corpse to protest,’ is a practice with deep roots in Chinese history. Since late imperial times, people have employed it when judicial systems failed to provide a reliable channel of redress for injustice.”

A week earlier, at noon on March 9, during a forced residential demolition operation orchestrated by the township government in Jiangkou Township, Anhui province, 37-year-old Zhang Guimao died when his chicken coop collapsed on him. That afternoon, Zhang’s relatives, along with more than a hundred villagers, carried Zhang’s body into the township government office compound to demand an explanation. At midnight that day, all the streetlights suddenly went dark. Around two hundred riot police carrying shields appeared on the scene to take the body away to the crematorium, detaining at least six people in the process.

 “Especially with the rise of social media in the past ten years or so, families of the dead can post photos or videos online. The rapid spread of such information can turn up the heat on local governments.”

“Taishi kangyi,” or “carrying the corpse to protest,” is a practice with deep roots in Chinese history. Since late imperial times, people have employed it when judicial systems failed to provide a reliable channel of redress for injustice. These days, corpses are dragged into all manner of disputes involving medical malpractices, forced housing demolitions, vendor’s tussles with local patrols, and compensations for workplace accidents.

[Read the full text here, at ChinaFile]

When an accidental death occurs, citizens use the corpse to draw attention and invite sympathy from the wider public, all in an effort to put pressure on the authorities and to render a just outcome. This “highlights the distrust people feel about autopsies or investigations conducted by government organs and China’s justice system,” says Teng Biao, a civil-rights lawyer and visiting scholar at Harvard Law School. “Especially with the rise of social media in the past ten years or so, families of the dead can post photos or videos online. The rapid spread of such information can turn up the heat on local governments.”

Villagers carry the coffin of a man killed after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Lushan, Sichuan Province on April 22, 2013.  Clogged roads, debris and landslides impeded rescuers as they battled to find survivors of a powerful earthquake in mountainous southwest China that has left at least 188 dead.                  AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Villagers carry the coffin of a man killed after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Lushan, Sichuan Province on April 22, 2013. Clogged roads, debris and landslides impeded rescuers as they battled to find survivors of a powerful earthquake in mountainous southwest China that has left at least 188 dead. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

“A common scene across China today pits families, friends, and local residents barricading a dead body in concentric circles against police, often numbering in the hundreds and armed with batons and shields.” 

It’s that heat that perhaps has driven Chinese law enforcement to ever-more coordinated and deliberate attempts to curb corpse-keeping. A common scene across China today pits families, friends, and local residents barricading a dead body in concentric circles against police, often numbering in the hundreds and armed with batons and shields. Read the rest of this entry »

Prom King Dies of Caffeine Overdose


LAGRANGE, Ohio (CBS Cleveland) – A senior at Keystone High School was found dead after he ingested toxic amounts of caffeine powder.

WJW reports that Logan Stiner, 18, was found unresponsive by his brother in their family home.

Steven Evans, the Loraine County Coroner told the station that Stiner’s death was a result of having toxic levels of caffeine in his blood after ingesting the powder.  The overdose caused cardiac arrhythmia and a seizure. Read the rest of this entry »

Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer

1306017445490.cachedThose who sold heroin to Philip Seymour Hoffman are morally culpable for his death. But they shouldn’t be legally culpable

ace-of-spadesAlan M. Dershowitz  writes:  Whenever a celebrity dies of a self-administered drug, particularly heroin, efforts are made to locate and prosecute those who provided the drug.  As I wrote back in the 1980’s, following the overdose death of comedian John Belushi and the prosecution of Cathy Smith, the woman who provided him the drugs, “That issue [holding the supplier criminally responsible for the death] seems to capture public attention primarily when famous people overdose.  The tragic deaths of basketball player Len Bias and the late Robert Kennedy’s son David generated demands for prosecution of the suppliers.  The daily street deaths of dozens of faceless addicts rarely even provoke an investigation.”

 [Professor Dershowitz’s latest book: Taking the Stand:  My Life in the Law at Amazon]

Now the stakes have gotten higher as some states have applied the “felony-murder” law to such deaths, while others have enacted specific statues turning the criminal act of providing drugs into a homicide if death results.

“But there is no acceptable moral distinction between two dealers who sell the same product, in the same way, to the same people—and one of their customers, for reasons unrelated to anything the dealers did, happens to die”

It is easy to understand why the public demands homicide prosecutions against drug providers whose product caused the death of a beloved celebrity like Philip Seymour Hoffman.  A person lies dead; someone must bear responsibility for his death. It is easy to scapegoat the drug provider.  But is it fair to single out the provider whose heroin happened to have killed a celebrity (or anyone else)?

Read the rest of this entry »

Wait…Can You Really O.D. on Pot?



A 31-year-old woman is dead. The coroner says cannabis was the reason. Could this really happen?
A super-chill blew through the reefer mad Super Bowl cities of Denver and Seattle last week with the report that a young woman had died of apparent cannabis toxicity in England.

“The evidence does seem to suggest that, like most everything, marijuana inextremely high doses can tip a person or a dog over into a sudden death.”

This one seems real to, not like the early January hoax that “reported” 37 deaths from marijuana in Colorado soon after the law decriminalizing the drug in that state went into effect.

Read the rest of this entry »

[PHOTOS] Family Props Up, Poses with DEAD BOXER in Boxing Ring at Wake


In a scene reminiscent of Weekend at Bernie’s, the family of a dead Puerto Rican boxer propped up his embalmed body at his wake in a fake boxing ring on Friday and posed for photographs with the corpse.

The family was honoring the wishes of slain boxer Christopher Rivera, who was shot to death on January 26, according to police.

Read the rest of this entry »

Progressivism Kills


Detroit is not healthy for children and other living things

Kevin D. Williamson writes:  There are many horrific stories to be told about the implosion of Detroit, once the nation’s most prosperous city, today its poorest. There is the story of its corrupt public institutions, its feckless leaders, its poisonous racial politics, its practically nonexistent economy, the riots that have led to its thrice being occupied by federal troops. The most horrific story may be that of the death of its children.

“Detroit represents nothing less than progressivism in its final stage of decadence”

Detroit has the highest child-mortality rate of any American city, exceeding that of many parts of what we used to call the Third World. The rate of death before the age of 18 in Detroit is nearly three times New York City’s, and it’s infant-mortality rate exceeds that of Botswana. The main cause of premature death among the children of Detroit is premature birth — the second is murder. While the city’s murder rate among adults is nothing to be proud of, more horrifying is the fact that between 30 and 40 children are murdered in Detroit in a typical year. Some of those children are nine-month-olds killed by rifle fire in their beds; some are budding criminals in their late teens — and each of those situations offers its own unique horrors.

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Reality Check: More Children Killed by Fire, Drowning Than by Firearms


AWRHawkins reports:  According to the 2010 Death and Mortality numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children under the age of ten are unintentionally killed in fire or water-related incidents than are killed in accidental gun deaths.

Gun scholar John Lott pulled together various CDC tables showing that thirty-six children under the age of ten were killed in firearm-related accidents in 2010.

The number of children under the age of ten killed in “unintentional fire/burn deaths” was 262, and the number killed in “unintentional drowning” incidents was 609.

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Transhumanism 101: Defying Human Nature One Cyborg Limb at a Time


Frances Martel  writes:  The past few years have seen a surging interest in the international scientific movement to “help end human death.” It fears no mechanics and abhors the imperfections of the human body. Transhumanism is snowballing into an international movement aggressively defying human nature and embracing machines.

The current wave of debate surrounding the concept began with The Transhumanist Wager, a novel about the possibilities of transhumanism, by Zoltan Istvan, an author who has openly admitted to believing in the possibilities of transcending thousands of concepts about the sanctity of the human body.

In a piece for the Huffington Post preceding the release of his novel this month, Istvan writes that transhumanism springs from “discontent about the humdrum status quo of human life and our frail, terminal human bodies,” and strives for immortality through the use of science at its most ambitious. At its least ambitious, transhumanists “want to be better, smarter, stronger” by replacing imperfect human parts with perfect machines.

Of course, the idea of using the power of the human mind to piece together better functioning human beings raises a number of metaphysical questions about human nature and the essence of what it means to be a person. Where is the line at which a person has been so thoroughly altered that they no longer wield the same identity?

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Was Brittany Murphy Poisoned?

Actress Brittany Murphy died on December 20 at the age 32.

Actress Brittany Murphy died on December 20 at the age 32.

A new toxicology report ordered by the family of actress Brittany Murphy says rat poison may have been the cause of her death.

Murphy’s mother found her dead at home on December 20, 2009 and the Los Angeles Coroner ruled her death was due to pneumonia and anemia.

Strangely, Brittany’s husband Simon Monjack died from the same causes a five months later.

Actress Brittany Murphy (left) and her husband Simon Monjack, both shockingly died from pneumonia five months apart. CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS

Brittany Murphy and her husband Simon Monjack both died from pneumonia five months apart.  CARLO ALLEGRI

But an independent report ordered by her father Angelo Bertolotti found that the actress did not die of natural causes, according  to The Examiner. The report even suggests that Brittany and Simon could have been murdered by a third party.

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Happy Halloween: Can we excavate witches?

The ‘Witch’ with the nails in her mouth, via Daily Mail

The ‘Witch’ with the nails in her mouth, via Daily Mail

5b3585faa447df0bbcbda49d2e4199e7From today’s edition of Bones Don’t Lie, punditfromanotherplanet’s favorite Bioarchaeology expert Katy writes: In honor of Halloween, I was going to post something about the new morbid terminology- necropants. However, this is a site about bones, burials, and bodies– so I’ll let you read that at Huffington Post. For Halloween, we’re going to be exploring the burials of witches. Like many other of the ‘deviant’ burials we’ve discussed here like vampires and aliens, the main thing to keep in mind is that we’re not arguing that these individuals are true evidence of the supernatural, rather that the burying population perceived them to have some type of superhuman power in life or in death. On that note- can we excavate evidence of witchcraft and witches?

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‘Uncomfortable Truth’ in Matthew Shepard’s Death

bookofmattMatthew Shepard, college student. Killed, at 21, for being gay.
Or was he?

Jimenez’s The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, out last month, challenges every cultural myth surrounding Shepard’s short life and unspeakable death. After some 13 years of digging, including interviews with more than 100 sources, including Shepard’s killers, Jimenez makes a radioactive suggestion:

The grisly murder, 15 years ago this month, was no hate crime.

Shepard’s tragic and untimely demise may not have been fueled by his sexual orientation, but by drugs. For Shepard had likely agreed to trade methamphetamines for sex. And it killed him.

Read the rest of the story at the New York Post


Bones Don’t Lie: Modern Ways the Deceased are Memorialized

Katy Meyers from Bones Don’t Lie commented on Music for the Dead: $30,000 coffin that plays fave tunes and included a link to this little gem. I liked it so much I’m including the whole thing. Check out Katy’s blog, Bones Don’t Liefor more buried treasure. — The Butcher 


Frozen Walt Disney, via Josh Ralsh on Flickr

The dead are treated and remembered in a range of ways from a simple burial in the old family graveyard to more epic modern treatments like being cremated and shot into outer space. How we interact with our deceased and what occurs during mourning are determined by a range of social, religious, political and personal determinants. As I discussed on Tuesday, the choice to cremate or not was highly dependent on a range of factors, and changed over time with broader social processes. The way your body is treated can also be dependent on where you die, such as the necessity to eviscerate, excarnate or exhume the bodies of the 19th century German elite when they died far away from home or during periods of political instability. It also matters who you are, such as the political leader Mao Zedong who strongly argued for cremation but at his death was embalmed and preserved to be placed on display. Throughout history there have been interesting ways that the dead are treated, and today that is still a reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Dancing on Thatchers Grave: Brixtons Iron Lady Death Party Ends in Looting and Arrests


via ibtimes

Revellers in Brixton staged a street party to celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death, culminating in arrests and an attack on a local charity shop.

Around 100 hundred people were out on the streets to celebrate the death of former the former prime minister, whose death from a stroke was announced on Monday.

A board at the famous Ritzy cinema in Windrush Square was hijacked by partygoers who swapped the letters to read ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Dead.’

Smashed glass was strewn on the street after the window of charity shop Barnardos was kicked in during ugly scenes.

Police officers trying to keep order were attacked, with extra numbers drafted in to stop revellers spilling out on to the roads and causing traffic delays.

Two women were arrested on suspicion of burglary and spent the night in cells after Barnardos was targeted during celebrations.

IBTimes UK reporter Ewan Palmer was at the scene. He said: “There was the notion that this morbid celebration has been planned in thousands of people’s heads for more than 30 years.

“Police stood by and watched as more and more people arrived with their drink and banners mocking her death. Shouts of ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie! dead, dead, dead!” rang around gleefully.

“Chalk was handed out so people could graffiti their own message on the ground and surrounding walls.

“There were even two guys playing double bass and acoustic guitar in the crowd for a singalong. At the start of the evening, the whole thing resembled a middle-class music festival more than a raucous demo.

“Almost inevitably after a few hours of people drinking in the streets, this escalated into scenes of unrest between people and riot police, resulting in arrests and even serious injury.”

Cause for celebration: Man with homemade placard

Cause for celebration: Man with homemade placard

The revellers downed alcohol and brandished placards reading “The bitch is dead” and ‘Rejoice Thatcher is dead.’ Many revellers appeared younger than the 23 years which have passed since Thatcher left office.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police dealt with a group of approximately 100 people in Brixton who caused low-level disorder including throwing missiles at officers.

“In order to protect the community and to ensure the highways remained clear, extra officers were deployed.

“Two women were arrested after being found inside a shop in Brixton. They remain in custody.”

Zombie News: NYC Medical Examiner has kept brains of more than 9,200 dead New Yorkers over the past eight years for “tests”…

The city Medical Examiner’s Office has kept the brains of more than 9,200 deceased New Yorkers — from the elderly to newborns — in the past eight years, records obtained by The Post show.

The stunning revelation comes as three families publicly question whether the city is yanking brains so rookie pathologists can “practice,” for scientists’ experiments, or for no good reason at all.

“Vasean’s organs were removed for ‘testing’ without any investigative or medical necessity,” charges a suit by the family of Vasean Alleyne, an 11-year-old Queens boy killed by a drunken driver. Months after his burial, his mom was shocked to read in the autopsy report that her son’s brain and spinal cord had been taken.

JARRING: The city Medical Examiner’s Office keeps brains locked away for scientific purposes.

JARRING: The city Medical Examiner’s Office keeps brains locked away for scientific purposes.

Brooklyn mom Cindy Bradshaw was stunned to learn she had buried her stillborn son, Gianni, without his brain. The ME kept it — though an autopsy found his death was caused by an abnormality in her umbilical cord and placenta.

“Do they really want to know what happened to the person, or are they just experimenting?” Bradshaw asked.

“The death had nothing to do with the brain,” said her lawyer, Daniel Flanzig. “It’s unconscionable — and unlawful — for the Medical Examiner not to return it to the family for a complete burial.”

Others suspect organs are used as a training tool.

“I think they collect brains to allow a new neuropathologist to practice on various body parts,” said Anthony Galante, a lawyer for the family of Jesse Shipley, 17, who was killed in a car crash in 2005. Friends gawked at his brain in a labeled jar on a class trip to the Staten Island morgue — two months after his funeral.

“When it comes to investigating deaths, the law gives the Medical Examiner’s Office broad authority, including the retention of tissue at autopsy for further testing,” said a city Law Department spokeswoman, declining further comment. The ME also declined to comment.

In November 2010, a judge ruled the city must notify families of seized organs. The ME began giving kin a form with three options: wait to claim the body pending “further testing” of organs; collect the organs later; or just let the city dispose of the organs.

The disposal method is not mentioned. But an internal ME document spells it out: “Medical waste is incinerated. Please do not tell NOK (next-of-kin) that unclaimed organs are ‘cremated. . .’ ”

Under The Post’s Freedom of Information Law request, the ME gave a list of 9,200 brains and 45 spinal cords removed between Nov. 1, 2004, and July 1, 2012. Some 7,700 brains were taken before the notifications began.

The ages of the decedents range from 99 to fetuses.

Brains harden in formaldehyde several weeks before they can be “cut” by scientists.

In Staten Island, ME staff delayed tests for “months” until a half-dozen brains were ready — to make a pathologist’s trip from Manhattan “worth his while,” according to testimony in the Shipley case.

But Jesse’s death was no mystery: “He was killed in an auto accident. His skull had multiple fractures,” lawyer Galante said.

Two days after Bradshaw’s son was stillborn, April 28, an ME pathologist told her, “The autopsy was complete and I could pick him up any time,” she said. The cause of death was a pregnancy complication, the autopsy confirmed. “He was a healthy baby.”

But the ME called back hours after the May 4 funeral.

“I forgot to tell you, the brain is still here,” the pathologist said.

The only explanation given Bradshaw, she said: “It’s routine.”