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This is taken from Rev'd Leslie's blog, which is always thought-provoking.

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You often hear stories of people who borrowed a book from a library and forgot about it making amends and paying their fines decades later. This story, about a gentleman who restored something he stole many years ago, makes me feel good about being human. The money is going to a drugs charity.
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I looked through my change purse this morning for 80 pence for the Grauniad. I spied a pound coin that looked somewhat odd, and a closer look told me that it was counterfeit. News reports of a rise in the number of counterfeit pound coins have appeared in the local news lately, but I've never actually seen one that I could identify as fake.

I tried to take pictures, but I'm not sufficiently skilled to do so. The colour isn't quite right: it's a bit shinier than a regular pound coin (which has the same metallic colour as a US nickle). If you hold the coin between thumb and forefinger so that the Queen's head on the reverse is vertical, turning the coin to show the observe reveals that the obverse is not vertical but leaning over to the right. The milling on the edge of the coin is only evident in the centre of the edge; the top and bottom of the edge are smooth.

Apparently about 1 in 10 of the coins in circulation is fake. I feel cheated, but, of course, I can't pass the coin along and I won't get any money back. I believe I got it in a supermarket, but am not sure.

There was a case in the 1930's where US one-dollar bills were appearing in small numbers in circulation. No one could figure out why the person wasn't counterfeiting $20 bills, as you could make 20 times the money from one of those. Finally, when the counterfeiter was discovered, he turned out to be a self-effacing person who just wanted a little money for things like newspapers, and groceries--he wasn't out to make a large profit from the crime. The one-pound coins go for £80 per 100 coins but cost up to £75 per 100 coins to make. The profit margin isn't very large.
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Fagin got his charges to pick a pocket or two...this girl decided that her baby could make a contribution to her own getaway... Thanks to BoingBoing for the tip. I'm sure it'll end up in News of the Weird next week.
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Is this Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein? I think we ought to be told.
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...of course, as soon as I started listening to KKSF, I accidentally downloaded some spyware and it took an hour and £21 to clean my computer. Wotta pain!

This is the first time I've ever done this, so I suppose I've had my lesson. Now can we stop doing these kinds of things?
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For the UK-challenged, about 10 years ago a head teacher (=US "principal") Philip Lawrence was stabbed to death outside his school by a teenager who was in a fight that the teacher was trying to break up. Learco Chindano, who has dual Italian and Filipino citizenship, was sentenced to a minimum term of 10 years and will be eligible for parole next year.

Chindano came to the UK as a young boy, lived his whole life here, has no available relatives in Italy or the Philippines, and has gotten an education in prison. He has been praised by the prison system, is not seen as a risk to reoffend, and is likely to continue education or learn a trade when he is released.

According to EU law, Chindano, as an EU citizen who has lived in the UK for more than ten years, may not be deported when released. This is not under human rights legislation, it's under EU citizenship legislation. However, the government recently came under criticism for not trying harder to deport foreign prisoners upon their release from prison, so in this very high profile case they sued to be allowed to deport Chindano next year when (and if) he is paroled.

The decision came down yesterday, and the government lost.

There has been quite a bit of criticism of the ruling, and the usual suspects (mostly Tories) have gotten up on their hind legs to denounce the European Union (which they are entitled to do in connection with this case, as it's EU law that is cited), and the Human Rights Act (which they are not entitled to do as this act is not the basis for the decision). Mr. Lawrence's widow describes herself as "unutterably depressed" but blames the Human Rights Act, wrongly. The government is about to appeal on the basis that Chindano only spent 9 years here before his conviction, however there is no provision in EU law that allows the time spent in prison to be discounted when calculating the ten years residence necessary to forbid deportation.

I realise that at least one reader of this blog will not agree with me (hi, K***h!) but I am depressed at the turn this has taken. I do not believe that prison is merely warehousing for punishment. This guy could not even write or read his own name when he went to prison; he has now taken GCSE's in English, art, and something else, maybe math. He will have spent ten years of his life in prison (not a picnic, from all accounts) but is emerging as a person who can sustain a job or further education and contribute something to society. Had the person he stabbed been another gang member, there would be no question of his right to remain here and no public outcry. Are offenders to be sentenced according to the eminence or innocence of their victims? Every human life, not only yours and mine, but Mr. Lawrence's and Chindano's, has an equal worth and is equally a loss when it comes to or is brought to an end.

So, what to do?

First, the media has a responsibility to ensure that the facts of the case are widely disseminated, and to correct, firmly, anyone (including Mrs. Lawrence and the idiot politicians) who asserts that the Human Rights Act has anything to do with this decision.

Second, a debate has to occur on exactly what we intend prison to be: a punishment only, or also an opportunity for rehabilitation back into society. It can be both, or it can be punishment only. If it is punishment, then the punishment ends when the sentence is served. If both, then rehabilitation should also include an admission by society that the offender can emerge and have a decent chance at a job and a life.

I offer my sincerest condolences to Mrs. Lawrence: the loss of her husband is horrible, and no amount of apology, support, or time will make up for that loss. Neither will trying to break the law to wreak even more vengeance on Learco Chindano. To him I offer encouragement, admonition, and condolences, too. The pounding he's getting and will continue to get from the media might break him yet again; he has been broken, and partially patched up. I hope that with the rest of his life he will try to make up for the loss and the pain that he caused. Go ye, and sin no more.

(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)

In a corollary to the Chindano/Lawrence case, another convicted felon has won a case against the government for keeping him incarcerated unfairly. As a condition for his eventual release, the trial court required that he go through a particular course aimed at assisting him to keep from offending. The institution in which he was incarcerated does not offer this course, and his efforts to get the course were not successful. When his sentence was served, the government refused to release him on the grounds that he had not taken the course. He sued, and the courts held that he was being unfairly incarcerated and ordered his release. It is only common sense that conditions for release of a prisoner must be offered to that prisoner and be achievable. Otherwise, we have indefinite imprisonment without parole, Catch-22, and tyranny.
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You might say that Texas's State Joke is alive and well and living in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters. However, a condemned killer in Texas who is about to be executed has a different idea. As Bugs Bunny used to say after laughing uproariously at a joke, "You slay me!"

Update: Another broken CNN link; I have replaced it with his Wikipedia entry. In searching around, though, I found this link, which just strikes me as gruesome beyond belief.
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The gentleman who developed the lethal injection cocktail of three drugs which is used in many places for executing criminals has had second thoughts about it. But if you read to the end, you may be surprised at what he thinks might be best placed to replace the lethal injection.

Allons enfants de la Patrie/Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
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So guns don't kill people, people kill people. ... I'm just heartsick about the killings in Virginia.

We watched "Meet the Foxes" on Channel 4 tonight--it was a program about urban foxes. A family of four foxes and their mother was followed; only the mother survived the year. One was run over, one had terminal mange, two were shot (I think that was the scorecard...) HWMBO is the kindest heart around, and he just couldn't bear to watch some of it. Very graphic, especially of the shootings. The mother was run over but survived.

We have seen an urban fox in the garden, and I've seen another on Swan Street. So we do have wildlife other than squirrels.
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Remember, if you're committing a robbery, don't leave your wallet along with your ID at the scene of the crime, don't write your note telling the teller to give you money on your own deposit slip, and wear a belt.
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There's been another death at the jaws of a pet pit bull here in the UK. The BBC story has a link to St. Helens council's webpage (the place where the incident happened).
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Someone's watching ya...
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You may remember a few days ago the report of a woman who strangled an intruder with her bare hands as he tried to kill her with a hammer. Well, there's a new twist to it: her husband is alleged to have hired the intruder to kill his estranged wife.

There is a movie in all this...I know it.
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Don't try burgling Susan Kuhnhausen's home. You may find it a very dangerous place indeed.

In fact, there is even more to this story than met the eye! Addendum 20071003
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If you live in Ontario, watch out for ID fraud, especially if you own a house. You might find yourself neither a buyer nor a seller but homeless anyway.

Update: I wondered whether Mr. Reviczky had actually lost his home, and did a search. Couldn't find out immediately, but did come across this, which sheds some light on what went on and the remedies proposed.
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Seems like Lincoln, Nebraska isn't a very safe place. And this guy is only about halfway to the record!
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Having suffered a heart attack back in September, Allen had asked prison authorities to let him die if he went into cardiac arrest before his execution, a request prison officials said they would not honor.

"At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life," said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon. "We would resuscitate him," then execute him.


The world has gone mad. People often ask me why I don't go back to live in the United States. Just read the above quotation will be my answer.
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Fraudsters have been rigging up ATMs with fake slots and cameras to get the information they need to clone your debit or credit card and get your PIN number here for a long time (maybe 2-3 years). It's old hat.

Of course, unless it happens in the US, it doesn't happen, so this story from CNN/Money, recounts that thieves in the US are doing it too.

I guess this is another of the way in which the UK is miles ahead of the US.
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We may have a dead parrot to deal with here, unfortunately; however, dead parrots may tell no tales, according to this burglar. Beware: for the UK-challenged, there's a lot of British slang in this article; translation will be provided upon application.

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