Wednesday, December 31, 2008
... if they put lighter fluid in your hair while you're asleep, then set in on fire and videotape the results.
I've lost track of all the people who've been killed, shot, beaten and otherwise impaired because of the deadly art of karaoke. The latest specimen is from Utah, though thankfully, the victim should survive his stabbing.
By novelty lighters, they mean lighters that look like animals or toys or cartoons, play songs, flash lights and are otherwise awesome, the Columbia Tribune reports. For some reason, they think that kids might want to play with these devices, which, as I've previously noted, are awesome.
From KCPD: While the number of other violent and property crimes in Kansas City spiraled downward this year, homicides spiked in 2008. Barring any more violence before the New Year tonight, 2008 had 126 homicides – just under the deadliest year this decade: 2005 and its 127 murders. The year 2007 had 94 homicides. Here’s the breakdown on this year’s slayings:
126 total victims
- 111 males, 15 females
- 95 black, 17 white, 13 Hispanic, 1 Asian
- 60 percent were between the ages of 17 and 34
One hundred (100) of the murders were committed with a firearm. Another 11 victims died from trauma, eight were stabbed, three causes of death are unknown and one was classified as “other.”
East Patrol had more than twice as many homicides as any other patrol division in the city with 61 killings. Metro Patrol had 30, Central Patrol 25, South Patrol 7, Shoal Creek Patrol 2 and North Patrol 1.
Detectives have cleared 70 of this year’s homicides, and another nine are being reviewed by prosecutors. Police also cleared 14 homicide cases from previous years in 2008.
More here from the Leavenworth Times, which reports that Matthew Astorga is accused of shooting Ruben Rodriguez on Friday in Rodriguez' yard.
Interesting study from Mizzou, via the Columbia Missourian. Researchers say that a lot of drunk-driving studies might be flawed because the subjects are always asked how often they get "drunk" -- but a lot of people have different personal standards for what they consider drunk. So they won't say they're drunk. They're only "tipsy." Snip:
Levitt found that women most commonly describe themselves as "tipsy" after four or more drinks in a two-hour period, which meets binge-drinking criteria set out by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Binge drinking for men is consuming five or more drinks in a two-hour period, according to the institute.
The gentler terms could be hazardous because those who say they are "tipsy" may perceive themselves capable of driving home.
KSHB has a good report here on Jackson County and the perception (and perhaps reality) that a lot of burglars get arrested, only to be quickly released back into the community. The prosecutor's office argues that it does a good job getting convictions, but says that jail overcrowding means that a lot of suspects are released until they go to trial. (They only have so much room and would rather lock up murder suspects, authorities say.)
Hat Tip: Saw this via Tony's Kansas City!
UPDATED: Steven Levitt, who cowrote "Freakonomics," says there are big problems with this study.
He said Fox is choosing not to emphasize the bigger picture -- that since the early 1990s, homicides have fallen sharply in every age group, including black teens.
... According to Fox's own statistics, there were twice as many black teenage killers in 1990 as in 2007. In an interview, Fox agreed. "Yes, it's not nearly as bad as it was in 1990, but it is worse than it was in 2000, so why don't we act now?"
PREVIOUSLY: The report is from Northeastern University, which notes that U.S. homicide rates really haven't changed that much over the past few years. But there HAS been a big jump in the number of young black men who've either killed or been killed.
The authors suggest that cuts in crime prevention, delinquency programs and other resources have a played part. (A lot of that money has gone to homeland security instead.)
Because the guy didn't have enough money to pay for his fare, so he waved them at the cabbie until the taxi drove off, police allege. We call that the "crazy discount."
THANKS AGAIN TO SARA SHEPHERD FOR MINDING THINGS WHILE I WAS OUT OF THE OFFICE! (And thanks to everybody who helped her out!)
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Starting Thursday, government employers are going to have to screen their new hires with E-Verify, the database that shows if a person is legal to work. (This also applies to private companies that have government contracts worth more than $5K.) Not everybody's thrilled with E-Verify, though, because it's not always accurate. You might be legal, but if some bureaucrat misspelled your name, you won't show up in the system.
OK, this is different. A California family -- whose son was shot and killed by police -- are not only suing the city of Anaheim, they've also asked Disneyland to put a statue of their son on its Main Street, even though the shooting didn't happen on Disney property and didn't involve the company in any way.
Hat Tip: Saw this via Fark!
Including two deaths in Troop A, which is based in Lee's Summit and covers the Kansas City region. Overall, we had fewer wrecks, but more fatalities.
Story is from Belleville, where a cop arrested a man for impersonating a police officer because the man was wearing a "POLICE" T-shirt back in 2006. Naturally, the man is now suing, saying his First Amendment rights were violated. From the P-D:
According to the lawsuit, a waitress told Weinstein that some police officers wanted to speak with him outside the bar. Weinstein went outside, he said, and was greeted by Belleville Officer Jeff Vernatti.
Vernatti, Weinstein alleges, asked him for his police credentials. Weinstein says he told the officer he wasn't a police officer.
That's when, according to Weinstein, the officer started screaming curse words and became physically and verbally abusive. Weinstein says he was cuffed and later released by the officer, but made to take the T-shirt off while standing in the cold.
The ticket was later kicked. Best Part? The plaintiff is a firefighter.
Vermont authorities say he was going 106 mph when he got pulled over last night. (It was on an interstate, and the limit was 65 mph.)
He'd fallen on hard times, so she started holding up banks to help out, the authorities allege. She's eligible for 5 years, though prosecutors are tempted to give her probation. (She's admitted to one robbery, and they think she pulled off three others.) Story is from Ohio.
Right now, the Missouri Highway Patrol has logged 936 traffic fatalities so far this year, compared to 990 at the same time last year. (And 2007 was another year where there was a big decline.) Assuming we don't have a particularly bad New Year's Eve, traffic deaths will have dropped about 5 percent.
Which makes sense when you consider the huge drop in miles driven this year. This summer, when gas prices spiked, a lot of drivers cut back on their traveling, which corresponds to a lower fatality count.
Story is from Scottsdale, Ariz. Police gave him a blood test because he refused the breathalyzer, and those results aren't back yet.
Hat Tip: Many thanks, JUNGLE JIM!