Saturday, 20 May 2017

Sheriff David Clarke reportedly plagiarized parts of his master's thesis

David Clarke

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who recently said he has accepted a position as an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, plagiarized at least 47 parts of his master's thesis, CNN's KFile reported on Saturday.

Clarke, a controversial figure and prominent surrogate of President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, received his master's degree in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in California.

Clarke currently oversees the Milwaukee County Jail, where one newborn baby and three inmates have died since April 2016. The deaths are being investigated, and prosecutors say one of the inmates died from dehydration after jail staff cut off water access to his cell.

In each of the 47 instances, Clarke appears to have attributed sources in footnotes but failed to use quotation marks around language that was lifted verbatim or partially verbatim.

According to the Naval Postgraduate School's academic integrity policy, quotation marks are required for language that has been taken verbatim from a source:

"Whenever you make use of another person's distinctive ideas, information, or words, you must give credit. If a passage is quoted verbatim, it must be set off with quotation marks (or, if it is a longer passage, presented as indented text), and followed by a properly formulated citation. The length of the phrase does not matter. If someone else's words are sufficiently significant to be worth quoting, then accurate quotation followed by a correct citation is essential, even if only a few words are involved."

Clarke's thesis, "Making US security and privacy rights compatible," appears to have been removed from the Naval Postgraduate School's website, but is still available via online databases.

Clarke took to Twitter on Saturday before CNN had published its story, calling reporter Andrew Kaczynski a "hack" and a "sleaze bag."


SEE ALSO: Prosecutors say an inmate at the jail Sheriff David Clarke runs died of dehydration after not receiving water for a week

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Friday, 19 May 2017

A new movie exposes the 'ridiculous' case against the one bank charged after the 2008 crisis

Abacus Sean Lyness final

Following the mortgage crisis in 2008, which led to a $700 billion government bailout, the biggest financial institutions in the country were given a light tap on the wrist in fines and penalties. None of them was brought to criminal court.

But that wasn’t the case for a small, family-owned bank tucked inside Chinatown in New York City.

In 2012, Abacus Federal Savings Bank was indicted on charges of fraud in relation to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of mortgages that had been sold to Fannie Mae between 2005 and 2010. It’s the only bank to be indicted following the 2008 crisis.

A reliable institution for thousands of Chinese immigrants and run by Thomas Sung, who's considered the George Bailey of Chinatown, Abacus' case was a shock for many in the community, while for the rest of the country the news seemed to tell a story of a dishonest bank that was finally getting its comeuppance.

But, as we see in the new documentary “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “Life Itself”), the bank’s surprising decision to fight the charges from the New York District Attorney’s Office led to a David vs. Goliath court battle that reveals how thin the case against Abacus really was. James spent the length of the three-month trial following the Sung family and trying to clear their name (the charges were dismissed in 2015).

“The point of view of this film is clear from the start — it's kind of clear from the title,” James told Business Insider. “We think this was a miscarriage of justice.”

ABACUS PBSJames learned of the case through his producer Mark Mitten, who knew the Sungs. The filmmaker had an initial meeting with Thomas Sung and his daughters, Jill and Vera — who are executives at the bank — and Heather, who ironically worked at the New York DA's office when the bank was charged (she left shortly after). Then James knew he wanted to tell their story. But he didn’t want it to be one-sided, which started the long road to get people from the DA's office to talk on camera.

“We didn’t get them to talk for the film until after the trial, though we tried throughout,” said James, who felt it was crucial to have the other perspective in the movie, even if he didn't agree with it. “There are not two equal sides of the story, but that aside, it doesn't relieve us of the responsibility to really articulate the case against the Sungs, because my feeling is by really laying out the case against them you also not just hear the case — you see how weak the case against them was.” 

Because James wasn’t allowed to film in the courtroom during the trial, he had to come up with another way to not just show what happened inside, but also make it compelling.

“We actually hired a courtroom artist to go in several days and make some baseline illustrations,” James said. “Then we embellished them. There's angles in those sequences that no courtroom artist could ever get.”

Showing over-the-shoulder sketches and detailed reactions of the Sungs matched the compelling testimony. Especially the DA's star witness, former Abacus loan manager Ken Yu (who was fired after bank executives learned he was committing fraud), practically admitting how he pulled off his illegal acts behind the backs of everyone at Abacus while on the stand. Yu became the figure that ultimately unraveled the prosecutors' case.

Another hurdle was simply telling a story set in the financial world that would keep audiences interested — always a challenge. James recalls a day when he and the crew were shooting in an empty courtroom and an officer with them asked what case they were doing the movie on.

“I told him Abacus and after I explained he said, ‘Oh, that’s a paper trial,’” James recalled. “That was translation for a boring trial. It’s not sexy. And that was the challenge. This wasn’t one of the big banks being put on trial, but we felt a duty to tell the story and the ridiculousness of the DA's case.”

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” opens in select theaters Friday.


SEE ALSO: Robert De Niro talks about how he got inside the head of Bernie Madoff for his new movie

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Colombia says it's convincing drug farmers to grow other crops — but drug traffickers say otherwise

Juan Manuel Santos Donald Trump

The meeting between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and President Donald Trump on Thursday focused heavily on the drug trade, something both leaders have targeted during their time in office.

Colombia — the world's biggest producer of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine — has struggled to crack down on drugs, and the recent peace deal with the left-wing FARC rebels has been viewed as an opportunity to remove a major producer and trafficking group from action.

As a part of that deal, Santos' government and the FARC have agreed to implement a crop-substitution program, giving the poor Colombians who rely on coca crops for their livelihoods an alternative to the drug business.

When asked about Trump's emphasis on a border wall to halt the flow of drugs into the US, Santos outlined his government's anti-drug efforts.

"We are doing a very big effort, because of the peace process, to have a new strategy: carrot and stick."
"Stick, by forced eradication: We have already eradicated this year only 15,000 hectares, which is the whole volume that we eradicated last year, and we’re starting ... to substitute voluntarily through a program where the peasants — and we have 80,000 families already in the program — that they are going to substitute for legal crops, and this is the first time that this could be done, because of the peace."
"Before, the conflict did not allow us to build roads and to give these peasants an alternative."

A crop-substitution program has been in the works for some time. A pilot version of the program started in northwest Antioquia — one of Colombia's main coca-producing departments — in summer 2016.

Farmers responsible for nearly 34% of the coca produced in Colombia have signed on to the plan, which would see them replace more than 63,000 hectares of coca with legitimate crops.

Colombia cocaine production

In that part of Antioquia, officials were optimistic about the effort, especially because alternative crops like coffee would be viable there. But such alternative crops are not an option everywhere in Colombia, and even in places where they are, logistical issues — like having proper roads to get crops to market before they spoil — and commercial challenges have made farmers resistant to substitution programs.

"It's the only plant that makes it here," Jesus Oscuro, who has fields in northeastern Colombia, said of coca earlier this year. "We don't have anything else." Many growers are wary of the government, skeptical that it will follow through on the eal. Some have even violently blocked government coca-eradication teams from reaching fields.

Adding to that resistance are criminal groups — including dissident FARC groups — who have moved into the areas the FARC has vacated and, in some places, threatened farmers who would otherwise stop growing coca.

This month in the town of La Uribe in central department of Meta (formerly a FARC stronghold), Santos formally eradicated the first of the coca plants to be destroyed under the deal. But a group thought to be dissident FARC rebels made its objections to the plan known, distributing a pamphlet stating its intention "to desist from the so-called peace process and continue fighting."

Several days later, a UN Office on Drugs and Crime worker was kidnapped in the department south of Meta, allegedly by the same group.

Juan Manuel Santos coca crop substitution

A few days after Santos' visit to La Uribe, the country's post-conflict minister appeared in a town in Putumayo department, a major coca producing area on Colombia's southern border, to speak about development projects.

The next morning, local coca growers found pamphlets outside their homes cautioning them against accepting the substitution program.

"We will be active along the entire border region where ever there are guerrilla community leaders, no matter where they are," read the pamphlets, left by an unidentified group, according to Colombia Reports. "We will be there where ever necessary. Better think about it."

Colombian human rights activist disappearance protest

Criminal groups are not the only ones trying to slow or reverse the move away from coca.

Recordings leaked a few weeks ago allegedly caught members of the military stationed near La Uribe trying to bribe FARC rebels to abandon the peace process and, in effect, the crop-substitution plan.

The threats these groups have made are not idle ones.

Since the peace deal went into effect at the beginning of December, two community leaders in the Putumayo region have been assassinated.

In Guaviare, the department where the UNODC worker was kidnapped, 33 community leaders have been killed since the peace deal was signed — many of them slain in what was FARC territory.

The sharp uptick in violence targeting social and community leaders and other activists has prompted international alarm. One estimate put the number of such people killed at 96 last year.

Earlier this month, the UN reported that 41 social activists had been slain in apparent politically motivated killings through the end of April. The Colombian government disputed the figure, saying 14 had been killed and 1o more deaths were being investigated. More than 60% of the killings happened in places were the FARC had a military presence.

SEE ALSO: The US Coast Guard just unloaded $500 million worth in cocaine

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Anthony Weiner expected to plead guilty in connection with 'sexting' case

weiner 2 ifc films

Anthony Weiner is expected to enter a guilty plea Friday in connection with the "sexting" case that led to his involvement in an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server before the presidential election, The New York Times reported.

Weiner will plead guilty to one charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, according to The Times.

The former Democratic congressman, became embroiled in the scandal as federal authorities began investigating reports of Weiner's months-long exchange of sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl from North Carolina.

During that investigation, the FBI seized Weiner's electronic devices. They found a plethora of emails to his estranged wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, which led to the surprise reopening of the investigation into Clinton's email server just days before the election.

Many Democrats, including Clinton herself, have said the timing of the announcement contributed to her November loss.

Two sources who wished to remain anonymous told The Times that Weiner surrendered to the FBI early Friday morning. According to The New York Times, the plea agreement could result in Weiner being registered as a sex offender and charged with anywhere from 0 to 10 years in prison.

SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton: 'I was on the way to winning' the election until the FBI and Russia interfered

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

A woman who spent 2 months as an undercover inmate is now a guard at her old jail

sheri 60 days in

Sheri Ray spent two months as an inmate in Southern Indiana's Clark County Jail.

Now, she finds herself on the other side of the bars — as a corrections officer, working alongside the very people who locked her up last year.

Ray's journey is being tracked on the A&E web series "60 Days In: From Inmate to Officer," premiering Thursday night.

The show is a spinoff of the documentary series "60 Days In," in which Ray and seven other law-abiding citizens voluntarily spent two months in Jeffersonville's Clark County Jail. Cameras followed the volunteers, who were given false identities, booked under fake charges, and were then left on their own in hostile jail environments, with instructions to gather as much insider information as possible to report back to jail staff.

Ray, who worked in corrections for six years before participating in the show's second season, said Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel offered her a job shortly after the season.

"It seemed like the normal thing to do. Nobody would be better fitted to come in there than me at that point," Ray told Business Insider.

The newly minted officer quickly began making an impact, often leveraging the skills she learned as an inmate to her advantage.

60 days in hoochOn her first day doing rounds, she noticed a group of inmates standing in their cell conspicuously, as if they were trying to obstruct the security cameras mounted on the walls. She alerted a fellow officer, and they soon discovered the inmates were concealing a container of hooch, an illegal, alcoholic concoction made from fermented fruit and sugar.

"The only reason I noticed it and he didn't is because I could tell the way the inmates were standing. It's a certain angle that the inmates trained me to stand when I was an inmate so that the cameras couldn't see," Ray told Business Insider.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ray said her time behind bars has led her to reevaluate the way corrections officers treat inmates.

"We're always trained in corrections that if you show any kindness, or if you show any empathy towards an inmate, they'll consider you weak and they’ll take advantage of you, and it's really not the case," Ray said. "Doing humane things, like getting them a towel, or making sure if their bathroom's funny you get right on it, doing little things that you would want done if you were in there. They remember that and they look out for you and they have a lot of respect for you."

"It was really weird to see those dynamics, because it went against everything you were trained."

60 days in sheriRay brings that empathy to one of the most difficult parts of her job: the process known as intake. During intake, officers receive new inmates, fingerprint them, search their belongings, question them, and place them in a holding cell for hours before they are assigned to a particular zone within the jail.

"It's that moment when the doors clink, and you're like, 'Oh, wow. My freedom's gone, I've never been here, I don’t know what's going on, I don't know even what the next step is, what happens from here,'" Ray said. "It's scary. I don't care who you are — it's scary."

But Ray has found a way to make it less stressful for inmates.

"I can relate to what they're going through. And instead of just moving them through and processing them through fast, I can say 'Hey, slow down, this is the worst part, this is what you're going to go through,'" she said. "That's one thing that officers don’t do enough — take two minutes out and explain to them what the process is."

"It's the fear of the unknown that gets human beings worked up. So tell them what to expect, and treat them with a little bit of dignity."

The eight-episode series "60 Days In: From Inmate to Officer" will be available to view on A&E's website Thursday night.

Watch the first episode below:

SEE ALSO: A man who went undercover in an Atlanta jail for 2 months learned something unexpected about gang life

DON'T MISS: These are the strange homemade drugs inmates do behind bars

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US Army pulls recruiting ad after learning soldier featured is a convicted rapist

FILE PHOTO - U.S. army soldiers are seen marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York, March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The US Army quietly pulled a 15-second televised recruiting spot earlier this week after learning that one of the soldiers featured was a convicted rapist, according to a leaked document obtained by Business Insider.

The spot, titled "Honor," began airing nationally on May 8 and was removed from all media outlets on May 15. It was pulled about an hour after Army officials learned an image taken in July 2014 featured a soldier who was convicted of rape the following year.

"All soldiers, civilians, and family members are vetted prior to filming in any national or local advertising effort. However, participants are not usually vetted a second time if images are later used," Maj. Avon Cornelius wrote of the incident, in an unclassified executive summary.

The "Honor" campaign aired roughly 245 times nationally, according to figures from iSpot TV. 

Although the executive summary does not mention the convicted soldier's name, it does mention the image used in the commercial was taken in July 2014 during a photo shoot at Fort Wainwright in Alaska. It goes on to note that the soldier was convicted at court martial on July 14, 2014. 

According to the Alaska Dispatch, former Spc. Nicholas Marcum, 28, was convicted of "forcible rape of a child" and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the rape of a 15-year-old girl on July 14, 2014.

Besides pulling the commercial, the Army is directing the soldier's image never be used again. "We have put in place measures to ensure secondary vetting of images in all future productions to minimize any similar circumstance occurring again," Cornelius wrote.

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Driver crashes car into pedestrians in New York City's Times Square