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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Finding the BTK Strangler: The DMV Numbers Game

Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) Strangler Investigation

Many criminals have been caught by basic police procedure regarding their use of a motor vehicle to travel to and from crime scenes. Serial killer, Son-of-Sam, David Berkowitz was found through a parking ticket he received near one of his murders. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber was caught following a routine traffic stop. The Wichita Police and Kansas State Investigators are certainly using the records of the Kansas Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) to narrow their list of suspects.

Here are some facts about the Wichita Kansas BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) Stranger regarding his use of a vehicle and some possible screening criteria for the Kansas DMV records:

• Jan 15, 1974 -- He drove the Otero car to a Dillions parking lot following the murders.

• Dec. 9, 1977 -- He drove a vehicle away after making a 911 call from a pay phone to report the Nancy Fox murder. He may have been driving a late model van that had writing -- possibly advertising -- on its side according to a witness, a local fireman.

• Sept. 16, 1986 -- He drove the Wegerle car to escape the crime scene.

• Jan. 2005 -- A vehicle (he drove?) went to Sedgwick County, KS, to drop off BTK messages #7 and #8.

Here are four separate times over 31 years where the BTK Strangler is known to have used a vehicle to travel to or from a crime scene.

Some questions for the Kansas DMV database:

• How many men currently between the ages of 53 and 68 had a State of Kansas Drivers License during all these periods? Do not include men with severe physical disabilities or amputees (1974-1986). One profile of BTK by author/criminalist, Michael D. Kelleher, thinks BTK was probably born between 1946 and 1952, with a higher probability of 1949-1951, ie a baby-boomer.

• How many were born in 1939? BTK claims he was born in 1939 making him 65-66.

• How many just had a valid license in 1977 and 1986? He may have had an out-of-state license in 1974 (student?) and 2005 (commuting into Kansas).

• How many men on the above lists lived within 30 miles of Wichita, KS on Jan. 15, 1974 and within 75 miles on Dec. 9, 1977.

• How many men on the above lists also had a drivers license on April 4, 1974, March 17, 1977 and April 28, 1979. He murdered Kathryn Bright in 1974, Shirley Vian was murdered in 1977, and Anna Williams was burglarized in 1979. It is reasonable to think that the BTK strangler also used a vehicle to escape (his preferred M.O.) his crimes on those dates.

• How many men on the above lists are between 5'8" and 6'0." Kevin Bright described the BTK "as a white male, 5 foot 10 inches, of stocky build with dark brown or black hair and a black moustache." Bright is the lone adult BTK survivor who managed to get a close look at him.

• Given Bright's description it might also be reasonable to exclude Black and Asian men from the list. Althought one account described BTK as "dark-complexioned... believed to be of foreign extraction." So there should be some leeway regarding this criterion.

• How many men had a moustache on their valid (in April 1974) driver's license photo? [assuming they still have the records]

• How many men wore glasses in 1974, 1977, and 1986? BTK was never reported to have worn glasses in the 70's and'80's.

It should be noted that this effort to identify the BTK by using a database search was attempted in the 1980's by the Special Wichita BTK Task Force called the "Ghost Busters." This was some of what they did back then:

Using all of the available evidence obtained, investigators soon began to assemble lists of every white male that lived within a quarter-mile of the Oteros' house in or around January 1974. Investigators also made similar lists for the Vian, Fox and Bright homes. In addition, task force investigators compiled lists of men living within 1 1/4 miles of each of the victim's homes; they also assembled lists of white male students who attended Wichita state University between 1974 and 1979. The smallest list contained the names of eight people who had checked out the mechanical engineering textbook from the library where the Otero letter was found.

Detectives decided that the most significant of all were the address lists. ''The main crux of our search always was geographical," said Lt. Kenneth Landwehr of the Wichita Police Department. "According to the behavioral scientists, the individual lived close to where he was striking."

Robert Beattie, a Wichia lawyer who is writing a book on the BTK killings, added:
"...the suspect list. At its peak, that list had nearly 13,000 names on it because it included virtually every male who lived or worked in the target [3.5-mile-diameter] area."

This strategy and the work that was done then has probably been passed along to the current investigators to continue searching for suspects. Expanding the radius of the search, bringing in as many databases (like DMV) as possible, and running as many 'what if' queries is what needs to be done.

Some search criteria for the Wichita PD:

• Subtract the names of the men who have had their DNA tested (4,000+) from the above lists. How many names are left?

• Have the pictures of all the men remaining on the list been obtained and shown to Kevin Bright or compared to the police sketches? Or could their DNA be obtained?

Given the depth of current computer databases, combined with any previous data collected, it seems any number of various search queries should yield a not insurmountable list of "persons of interest." Even if the records from the 1970's are not fully digitized they are probably being searched manually.

One thing is certain the BTK Strangler, as a 50-60 year old man, is in a large number of existing databases. Making the right connections between these databases will ultimately point to a prime suspect.

BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info [TJN]
Ghost Busters [Crime Library]
updated: Feb. 16, 2005

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Somalia: Stealing From The Dead

More examples of why Modadishu, Somalia is considered a feral city. A Strategy Page report chronicles some of the recent chaos in Somalia:

January 29, 2005: The Mogadishu cemetery desecration has become big news in Italy, and other parts of Europe as well. International aid groups complain that incidents like this, and the recent murder of the Mogadishu police chief, make it difficult to raise money for relief and rebuilding in Somalia. The chaos of clan and warlord militia fighting in Somalia has also discouraged any enthusiasm for sending peacekeeping troops...

January 23, 2005: The police chief of Mogadishu, Yusuf Ahmad Sarinle, was shot dead. He is the fourth senior government official to be killed in Mogadishu in the last four months...

January 22, 2005: Aid groups have concluded that Somali leaders and refugees exaggerated the impact of the December 26 tsunami in order to get more foreign aid...

January 21, 2005: The desecration of the Italian cemetery turned out to be part of a real estate scam. Young gunmen were hired to clear out the graves in the Italian cemetery, which lies on some prime real estate. Land speculators believe that there will soon be a return to law and order, and land prices will rise sharply. The cemetery plan backfired, however, with local political, religious and warlord leaders condemning the cemetery desecration. Apparently half the 1,400 graves were dug up...

The BBC reported that the dug up remains were being dumped near the airport.

SOMALIA: Stealing From The Dead [StrategyPage.com]
Italy to act on Somalia cemetery destruction [afrol News]
Italy to act on Somalia graves [BBC]
Somali militias target cemetery [BBC]
Feral Cites [TJN]

Friday, January 28, 2005

Mossy Oak Mudslinger

PBR Bull Mossy Oak Mudslinger
PBR Bull Mossy Oak Mudslinger

Mossy Oak Mudslinger is currently the number one ranked bull on the Professional Bull Riders circuit. MOM doesn't look so mean in this picture, but his stats are pretty good or bad depending on your perspective.

MOM Stats:
Breed: Brangus Cross
Weight: 1580 lbs.
Color: Dark Brown Brindle
Born: 1999

.................Current Season.....Career
Times Ridden.....6 out of 17 times.....18 out of 71 times
Percent Ridden.....35.3%.....25.4%
Buckoff Percent.....64.7%.....74.6%
Average Buckoff Time.....4.24 seconds.....4.24 seconds
Average Ride Score.....92.1....92.3
Average Bull Score.....45.8.....46.0
Bull Rating.....22.9.....23.0
Wiley Petersen riding Mossy Oak Mudslinger in New Orleans in 2002Wiley Petersen's winning ride on Mossy Oak Mudslinger.
Petersen scored 93.5 points in the Championship round to
take home the win in New Orleans (November 2002).
Photo by Andy Watson

Smokeless Wardance is a strong contender for rookie of the year. No one has stayed on him in eight rides so far this season.

Bulls of the PBR [Professional Bull Riders]
Professional Bull Riders Injury Reports [Professional Bull Riders]

update: Mossy Oak Mudslinger was named the 2006 PBR World Champion Bull

SAM's for Sale

Soviet SA-7 SAM's (Surface-to-Air-Missiles) are being sold on the black market in Nicaragua. Senior Nicaraguan army officers may have a secret stash of 80 or more according to this Washington Times Report:

Nicaraguan police, with U.S. assistance in a sting operation, thwarted black marketeers trying to sell SA-7 shoulder-fired missiles capable of downing commercial aircraft earlier this month, raising fears that some missiles already have been sold to terrorists, The Washington Times has learned.

U.S. officials think the missiles are being provided by elements of the Nicaraguan military. One official said intelligence reports suggest Nicaraguan army elements are keeping a secret stash of SA-7's not inventoried by international inspectors...

"This is a very, very serious threat," said the U.S. official. "This is what makes me stay up at night. Civilian aviation is at stake."

The official said one Soviet-made SA-7 was confiscated at an air conditioning repair shop, the site of the sting in Managua, Nicaragua, where three Nicaraguans tried to sell the missile and offered more to undercover Nicaraguan police.

"This shows that such missiles can be bought on the open market, and it highlights the need for strong international cooperation to get rid of them,"

Nicaraguans seize missile during sting [Washington Times]

How to Avoid a Heat-Seeking Missile [Wired, March 2004]

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Does a sexual predator live in your neighborhood?

SexCriminals.com's purpose is to provide information and resources for all types of people to become more educated about sex crimes, sex offenders and related topics. The site was founded in 1998.

is a 100% volunteer organization that relies on the contributions of its members to operate and grow. SexCriminals.com provides such noted resources as the Directory of Sex Offender Registries, news archive, document library and discussion forums.

In accordance with Megan's Law and The Jacob Wetterling Act, all 50 states are required to register sex offenders and perform community notification. However, each state differs in terms of how it administers its community notification process, what offenders are required to register, the duration of registration, what information is registered, how the information is shared, whether the public has access to the registry, who is granted access, methods of access, what information is shared - and that's just for starters.

Megan's Law [Wikipedia.org]
Jacob Wetterling [Wikipedia.org]

Homeless Vagrant Cripples New York City Transit System

A homeless person pushed a shopping cart full of wood and other junk into the New York City A and C subway tunnel near the Chambers Street Station in Lower Manhattan on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005. He started a fire to stay warm. Some subway wires caught fire and the flames spread into a critical switching room, the size of a small studio apartment, at the Chambers St. station. The fire disrupted service on two of the city's busiest lines for nearly 600,000 weekday commuters (about the population of Washington, D.C.) and caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

NYC Transit President Lawrence Reuter initially said: "This is a very significant problem, and it's going to go on for awhile." He stated that repairs could drag on for three to five years.

The NYC transit system is very fragile and relies on equipment installed in the 1930's and even earlier. They have also spent millions of dollars upgrading their security in the wake of 9-11, but it left many people wondering...

"If one homeless person can set a fire and disrupt the whole system ... what can one determined terrorist do?" Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Queens) asked at a budget hearing in Albany. "It's a very scary thought."

The Daily News reported today on the New York MTA changing their estimate on subway downtime from five years to six to nine months:
After fire destroyed a crucial signal relay room at the Chambers St. station Sunday, the subway agency suspended C trains, reduced A runs - and said it would be three to five years before full service on the Eighth Ave. line would be restored.

That sparked criticism from incredulous politicians and straphangers who wondered why it would take five times longer to rebuild one room of equipment than it took to construct the entire IND line.

By yesterday afternoon, transit bigs were backpedaling, and Reuter later unveiled plans to start building a rudimentary signal system immediately - meaning there's light at the end of the tunnel for the nearly 600,000 riders who used the A and C daily.

"The good news for our customers is we think right now, in six to nine months ... we will get 100% of the A and C service back," Reuter said.

Sample of one of many MTA Service Advisories:
There is no A service at High St, Bdwy-Nassau St, Chambers, Canal and Spring Sts.
For High St, use the York St station instead.
For service to Bdwy-Nassau St from Brooklyn, take the A to Delancey St and transfer to the J to Chambers where 4 service is available.
For service to Bdwy-Nassau St from uptown, transfer to the E at West 4 St. Take the E to World Trade Center and transfer to the 2 to Fulton St where 4 service is available.
For Brooklyn-bound service from Bdwy-Nassau St, take an uptown 4 to Brooklyn
Bridge and transfer to the J. Take the J to Essex St where A service is available at the F platform.
For uptown service from Bdwy-Nassau St, take the 2 to Park Place and transfer to the E.
For Chambers, Spring, and Canal Sts, take the E instead.

C line is kayoed by fire [New York Daily News, Jan. 25, 2005]
Blaze guts New York subway line [BBC, Jan 25, 2005]
As Impact of Subway Fire Sinks In, Riders' Frustration Rises [NY Times, Jan. 25, 2005]
A & C plan B is a 'rush' job [NY Daily News, Jan. 26, 2005]
Subway back on track in 6 months, not 5 years [NY Daily News, Jan. 26, 2005]
It was far too easy to cripple the subway [Newsday, Jan. 26, 2005]
Slowdown for NYC rail riders [Boston.com, Jan. 26, 2005]
Confusion on the Lines Adds to a Maddening Commute [NY Times, Jan. 26, 2005]
Tramp's subway fire causes chaos in New York [telegraph.co.uk, Jan. 26, 2005]

New Clues in the Wichita BTK Strangler Case

BTK message in Post Toasties cereal box

BTK Message in Post Toasties Cereal Box

Several new developments in the Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) Strangler, 30-year-old, serial killer, case happened yesterday. The Wichita Eagle reported:
A local television station (KAKE-TV) and police are lured to "Communication #: 8," a package left beside a dirt road north of the city.

Another BTK package may have surfaced Tuesday (Jan. 25th), when a postcard mailed to a Wichita television station led reporters, and then police, to a suspicious cereal box that was leaning against a road sign near Valley Center.
KAKE.com's website adds:
The postcard sent to the KAKE TV newsroom Tuesday. The return address reads S. Killett 803 N. Edgemoor. That turns out to be the home where the Otero family lived.

On the back of the postcard is detailed information about where to find communication number eight.

We were looking for a Post Toasties cereal box and we soon found it on a rural Sedgwick County road propped up against a sign. The front of the box read BTK.

There were certain writings on the box similar to a package found at Murdock Park in December; writings never before reported.

Investigators were called, and as a detective picked up the postcard at KAKE news, other investigators arrived at the scene. Soon, a Wichita Police helicopter took photos from above. Crime scene technicians searched for evidence around the box.

On the postcard, the writer referred to communication number eight. We know of six communications to date. The writer asked if the 7th communication was ever found. He gave some details about the 7th communication. Police have asked us not to disclose any details, and they will not comment about the package.
Television station KSN contributes even more to the story:
Author Bob Beattie is writing a book about the serial killer. He claims that he saw the postcard and believes certain things stand out.

"One of the victims, Kathryn Bright, was a Valley Center native, although she was living in Wichita at the time of her murder. There are some unsolved murders in the area. Nancy Fox frequented Seneca Street. The night before she was murdered, she bowled at Seneca Bowl. Of all the streets in Wichita he could have left something, he left it on Seneca. Does it mean something or is it meaningless?" asks Beattie.

Beattie says, after he took a close look at the postcard other items came to his attention. The return address -- "S Killett, 803 Edgemoor" -- the home where the Otero family lived, where BTK killed four members of the family.

The postcard also stated 1-8-05 and the word "thanks".

"It’s an anniversary of sorts for his sending a postcard," said Beattie.

Also in the postcard, Beattie says BTK requested the media and police find his 7th communication and stated the postcard was his 8th, meaning no one found the previous letter.
BTK Back: A Message To KAKE [KAKE-TV, Jan. 25, 2005]
Possible package from BTK found [KSN-TV, Jan. 26, 2005]
A new message from BTK? [Wichita Eagle, Jan. 26, 2005]
Unsolved murder case near latest possible BTK package [KSN-TV, Jan. 26, 2005]

Additional pictures of ceral box: pic 1, pic 2, pic 3, pic 4
Pictures of postcard received by KAKE-TV: pic 1, pic 2 (back), pic 3 (return address)
Picture of sign on Seneca between 69th and 77th streets north where a package, allegedly from BTK, was found.

• Also Tom Voigt at the CatchBTK.com website released previously undisclosed details about the BTK's October 1974 letter regarding the Otero family murders. The Johnsville News: BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info page was updated to reflect the new information regarding the Otero letter.

Website publishes BTK excerpts [KSN-TV, Jan. 25, 2005]

Monday, January 24, 2005

Baby Krakatoa Volcano Growing: When is the next big one?

The Wall Street Journal:

It rises from the sea just of the southern tip of Sumatra, at the site of Southeast Asia's last great tsunami disaster over a century ago. Anak Krakatua - literally "Child of Krakatau" in the Indonesian language - is a restive volcano growing rapidly atop the spot where its father blew itself to smithereens in 1883. The eruption of that volcano, known as "Krakatoa" in English, was one of the greatest disasters of the modern age...

The blast, historians have said, may have been the loudest sound ever heard, audible nearly 3,000 miles away across the Indian Ocean.

Krakatoa's child began emerging from the sea about 70 years ago. It is now growing in height by 20 feet every year...

In Wake of Tsunami, Krakatoa's Offspring Creates Fresh Anxiety
: Scientists Watch and Worry As Volcano Grows Up; Local Dodge Hot Rocks [WSJ, Jan. 24, 2005 (sub. required)]
Krakatoa [wikipedia]
Picture of Anak Krakatau #1 [nasa.gov]
Picture of Anak Krakatau #2

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Original Night Stalker

Steve Huff at The Dark Side digs up a forgotten serial killer who was more dangerous and deadly than the infamous Wichita BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) Strangler. This serial killer is variously called the East Area Rapist, or Orange Coast Serial Killer, or the Original Night Stalker. The Dark Side said this:

Before Richard Ramirez, the famed Night Stalker who killed 13 people in California in the early 80's, there was the East Area Rapist, now known as the Orange Coast Serial Killer, or the Original Night Stalker.

Between roughly 1976 and 1986, the Original Night Stalker committed 50 rapes in Northern California and at least 10 [Orange County Sheriff reports 12] murders in Southern California, Orange County.

The only reason we know this now is because a criminologist from Orange County matched the DNA from the Northern and Southern California crimes in 2001. A portrait suddenly emerged of a terrifying and prolific sexually sadistic killer.

The actual URL for a site I found about this killer is www.ear-ons.com. If you click on the killer's moniker in the first paragraph you will go to the index page where there is a digitally-rendered drawing of him in a ski-mask. The drawing borders on the comical, until you click it, and hear his voice. The recording is a phone call attributed to the Original Night Stalker, made in the late 70's or early 80's - I was unable to clarify the time.

It's easily one of the most chilling things you'll ever hear, so be warned. It's a man whose voice is obviously, to my singer's ear, rather high, consciously and rather effectively disguising his voice with heavy breathing and a hissing sort of delivery. Victims who survived his attacks confirm this impression, the younger ones saying he spoke in a self-consciously gruff way, the older saying he sounded 'normal.'

He targeted what are known as 'low-risk' victims - lawyers, medical professionals, computer programmers. He began with raping individuals, and progressed to attacking couples....
It is not known if the killer is still alive or dead.
Orange County Sheriff's Dept photos of victims of the Original Night Stalker / East Area RapistOrange County Sheriff's Dept. photos of victims

related links:
Serial Killer Update [Orange County Sheriff's Department]
The Original Night Stalker case-Message Board [A&E TV]
DNA Links '70s 'East Area Rapist' to Serial Killings - Evidence suggests suspect moved to Southern California [SFGate.com, April 4, 2001]
Richard Ramirez-Night Stalker [Wikipedia]
The Night Stalker: The Serial Killer Richard Ramirez [Crime Library]

The Original Night Stalker, Pt. 2 [The Dark Side, Jan. 23, 2005]

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Last "Great Dying" tied to Global Warming

Reuters/ABC News is reporting:

An international team of scientists has found global warming, not a giant asteroid, may have nearly wiped out life on Earth some 250 million years ago.

The mass extinction, known as the "great dying", extinguished 90 per cent of sea-life and nearly three-quarters of land-based plants and animals.

There has been recent evidence that a big asteroid or meteor hit the Earth and triggered the catastrophe, but researchers say they now have evidence that something much more long-term, global warming, was the culprit.

Global warming linked to 'great dying' [ABC News, Jan. 21, 2005]
‘Great Dying’ linked to climate changes [MSNBC, Jan. 21, 2005]
Scientists link volcanic warming to Great Dying [SeattlePi.com]
via Prof. Hex

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tablighi Jamaat: Terrorist Recruiters or Pious Missionaries?

The name Tablighi Jamaat (or Tableeghi Jamaat) is Arabic for the "group that propagates the faith," and its members visit mosques and college campuses in small missionary bands, preaching a return to purist Islamic values and recruiting other Muslim men - often young men searching for identity - to join them for a few days or weeks on the road. The group was founded in the rural Mewat region of India over 75 years ago.

It is also one of the most widespread and conservative Islamic movements in the world. It describes itself as a nonpolitical, and nonviolent, group interested in nothing more than proselytizing and bringing wayward Muslims back to Islam. Some westerners call this a "born again" Moslem movement.

John Walker Lindh the "American Taleban" charged with conspiring to kill US nationals and aiding al-Qaeda joined the Tablighi Jamaat on a proselytizing tour before enrolling in a religious school in Pakistan.

Hindu writers believe the Tablighi Jamaat is very dangerous. Sita Ram Goel in his paper The Tabligh Movement or Millions of Bearded Militants on the March, writes:

The first great achievement of the Tablighi Jamaat was the cold-blooded murder of Swami Shraddhananda. The swami had been lionized by Muslims when he supported the Khilafat agitation during the first Non-Cooperation movement (1921-22). "But as he was closely associated with the suddhi movement... a section of Muslims cherished bitter hatred against him. On 23 December 1926, when the Swami after a serious attack of pneumonia was lying in his bed, a Muslim entered into his room on false pretext and stabbed him with a dagger."

He goes on to say:

The Tablighi Jamaat is busy world wide in recruiting soldiers for Islamic jihãd.

The Tablighi Jamaat is currently legal and very active in the United States. That is why the U.S. government is keeping a close watch on Tablighi.

Conservative commentator, J. Grant Swank, at MichNews.com says this about Tablighi:
It’s a contradiction. How can Islamists say they propagate "the faith" while at the same time not be itching to murder infidels — that is, non-Muslims?

Yet that’s what Tablighi Jamaat advocates say to media. They have been formed to return to Islam’s foundational tenets yet repeat especially to the American press that no one joining the worldwide grouping would even think of furthering terrorism.


However, The 9-11 Commission said this about Tablighi Jamaat:
...peaceful fundamentalist Muslim groups such as the Tablighi Jamaat may help to promote a peaceful message and repudiate terrorist violence.

Some of the U.S. mosques where Tablighi Jamaat is active:

• The Islamic Center/ Masjid AlFalah
42-12 National Street
Corona (Queens), NY 11368

• Islamic Center of Long Island
835 Brushhollow Rd
Westbury, NY 11590

• Islamic Center of Maryland
19401 Woodfield Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20879

• Islamic Center of Greater Toledo
25877 Scheider Rd
Perrysburg, Ohio 43551

• Islamic Center of El Paso
143 Paragon Rd.
El Paso, TX 79912

• Islamic Center of San Francisco
400 Crescent Avenue,
San Francisco CA 94110

• Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley
19164 E. Walnut Dr.
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

Tablighi The Contradiction [J. Grant Swank at MichNews.com, Jan. 19, 2005]
Tablighi Jamaat [wikipedia.org]
Tablighi Jamaat: Jihad's Stealthy Legions [Mideast Qtrly, Jan. 2005]
A Muslim Missionary Group Draws New Scrutiny in U.S. [NY Times, July 14, 2003] - mirror of NY Times article
The Making of John Walker Lindh [rickross.com, Sept. 29, 2002]
Tablighi Jamaat under US scanner [rediff.com, July 14, 2003]
Islamic Tablighi Jamaat Recruiting Ground For Al Qaeda [parapundit.com, Jul. 15, 2005, with interesting comments]
Converts to Islam seen as growing terror threat [Register Guard, July 19, 2004]

Tsunami Death Toll: Upward Revisions

Since the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami the official death toll figures have been steadily increasing. Conflicting figures from within the Indonesian and Sir Lankan governments have thrown the death tally from the disaster into some confusion.

Here is the history of the upward revisions in the death toll:

Jan. 25, 2005
281,000+ [Washington Times]
280,000 [BBC]

Jan. 23, 2005
234,000 [Reuters]

Jan. 20, 2005
226,500 [Guardian]

Jan. 19, 2005
226,000+ [Reuters]
225,000+ [Reuters]
220,000+ [ctv.ca]
220,000 [UPI]
212,000+ [CNN]

Jan. 17, 2005
175,000 [Reuters]
162,735 [Scotsman]

Jan. 16, 2005
162,000+ [AP/ABCnews]

Jan. 14, 2005
163,338 [IndiaInfo.com]

Jan. 13, 2005
160,000 [news24.com]

Jan. 8, 2005
165,000 [xinhuanet.com]
150,000 [AP]

Jan. 7, 2005
159,445 [UPI]
159,260 [OCHA]
153,000 [Guardian]
147,000 [AP]

Jan. 3, 2005
155,000 [Bloomberg]
150,000 [Reuters]
140,000- [BBC]

Jan. 2, 2005
129,817 [Reuters]

Dec. 30, 2004
125,000+ [Reuters]
120,000+ [Reuters]
120,000 [USA Today]
119,000+ [SunTimes]
118,000+ [CNN]
117,000+ [AP-abcnews]
114,000+ [abcnews]

Dec. 29, 2004:
100,000+ [ThisIsLondon]
80,000- [Reuters]
77,000+ [AP-ABCnews]
76,700 [AP-ABCnews]
68,000 [Reuters]
67,682 [Reuters]
60,000 [foxnews]

Dec. 28, 2004:
56,000 [CNN]
50,000 [aljazeera.net]
40,000+ [democracynow]

Dec. 27, 2004
23,700 [Guardian]
22,000+ [AP-Fox News]
20,000- [USA Today]
16,440 [Reuters]
15,500 [Reuters]

Dec. 26, 2004
12,300+ [Reuters]
9,500 [Reuters]

related links:
Tsunami death toll approaches 300,000 [Washington Times, Jan. 25, 2005]
Indonesia quake toll jumps again [BBC, Jan. 25, 2005]
Indonesia's death toll rises [Reuters, Jan. 23, 2005]
Toll rises to 226,500 as Indonesia says 50,000 missing are dead [Guardian, Jan. 20, 2005]
Tsunami death toll rises to over 226,000 [Reuters, Jan. 19, 2005]
Indonesia Raises Tsunami Death Toll to 166,320 [Reuters, Jan. 19, 2005]
Indonesia sends tsunami death toll past 220,000 [ctv.ca, Jan. 19, 2005]
Tsunami death toll raised to 220,000 [UPI-Washingtontimes.com, Jan. 19, 2005]
Tsunami deaths soar past 212,000 [CNN, Jan. 19, 2005]
Tsunami Toll Tops 175,000 [Reuters, Jan. 17, 2005]
Tsunami Death Toll May Top 270,000 [scotsman.com, Jan. 17, 2005]
Tsunami Death Toll Now Exceeds 162,000 [AP/abcnews, Jan. 16, 2005]
Death toll in Tsunami disaster tops 163,000 [IndiaInfo.com, Jan. 14. 2005]
160,000 killed by tsunami [News 24, Jan. 13, 2005]
Tsunami death toll reaches 165,000 [xinhuanet.com, Jan. 8, 2005]
Tsunami, Quake Death Toll Passes 150,000 [AP/Yahoo, Jan. 8, 2005]
Tsunami death toll rises to 159,445 [UPI, Jan. 7, 2005]
Tsunami OCHA Situation Report No. 14 [Jan. 7, 2005]
Tsunami death toll rises [Guardian, Jan. 7, 2005]
Death Toll From Tsunami Climbs to 147,000 [AP/Yahoo, Jan. 7, 2005]
Asia Toll Rises to 155,000; Tsunami Warning System Sought [Bloomberg, Jan. 3, 2005]
Asia's Tsunami Death Toll Hits 150,000 - U.N. [Reuters, Jan. 3, 2005]
Tsunami death toll hits 144,000 [News.Au.com, Jan. 3, 2005]
Tsunami death toll nears 140,000 [BBC, Jan. 3, 2005]
FACTBOX-Asia tsunami death toll 129,817 [Reuters, Jan. 2, 2005]
Tsunami Death Toll Tops 124,000 [Scotsman.com, Jan. 1, 2005]
Tsunami Toll Jumps to Over 125,000, Fear Lingers [Reuters, Dec. 30, 2004]
Tsunami Death Toll Jumps Over 120,000 [Reuters, Dec. 30, 2004]
Tsunami death toll rockets to 120,000 [USA Today, Dec. 30, 2004]
Tsunami death toll passes 119,000 [Chicago Sun Times, Dec. 30, 2004]
Tsunami death toll tops 118,000 [CNN, Dec. 30, 2004]
Tsunami Death Toll Rockets to 117,000 [AP/ABCnews, Dec. 30, 2004]
Tsunami Death Toll Rockets to 114,000 [AP/ABCnews, Dec. 30, 2004]
Death toll reaches 100,000 [thisislondon.com, Dec. 29, 2004]
Tsunami toll nears 80,000 [Reuters, Dec. 29, 2004]
Tsunami Death Toll Soars Past 77,000 [AP/ABCnews, Dec. 29, 2004]
Tsunami Death Toll Rises to 76,700 [AP/ABCnews, Dec. 29, 2004]
Tsunami toll hits 68,000 [Reuters, Dec. 29, 2004]
Factbox: Asia Tsunami Death Toll 67,682 [Reuters, Dec. 29, 2004]
Death Toll Tops 60,000, Disease Feared [FoxNews, Dec. 29, 2004]
Tsunami death toll tops 56,000 [cnn, Dec. 28, 2004]
Asian tsunami toll may exceed 50,000 [AlJazeera.net, Dec. 28, 2004]
Tsunami Death Toll Tops 40,000; UN Launches Biggest Relief Effort Ever [democracynow.org, Dec. 28, 2005]
Tsunami death toll rises to 23,700 [Guardian, Dec. 27, 2004]
Tsunamis Kill Tens of Thousands in 10 Countries [AP/Fox News, Dec. 27, 2004]
Tsunami death toll rises to just under 20,000 [USA Today, Dec. 27, 2004]
Tsunami toll tops 16,400 [Reuters, Dec. 27, 2004]
Tsunami toll reaches 15,500 [Reuters, Dec. 27, 2004]
Asian Tsunami Kills 12,300, Many More Homeless [Reuters, Dec. 26, 2004]
Asian Quake, Tsunami Death Toll Approaches 9,500 [Reuters, Dec. 26, 2004]

updated: Jan. 26, 2005

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Websites That Target Aggressive Drivers

Someday everybody might be their own traffic cop. USA Today reported on a new strategy to combat road rage and overly aggressive drivers - websites where bad driving behavior can be reported.

"It's just another tool to solicit the public's help in fighting aggressive driving," says Trooper Johnny Alexander, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol. "We only have so many troopers out there."

Motorists in Washington can go to the state patrol's Web site and click on a link to report areas where aggressive driving is consistently a problem. They can note what kind of recklessness they've witnessed, when and how often the incidents occur, and the offenders' license plate numbers. The site received 90 reports in the first week after it was created in October, Alexander says.

Lt. Mark Hafkey of the Phoenix Police Department has also set up a couple of private sites (www.safedrivinginstitute.com and www.unsafedriver.com) where anyone can report bad driving.

Web sites let drivers flag road ragers [USA Today, Jan. 17, 2004]

•• State of Washington:
The Washington State Patrol (WSP) Aggressive Driving / Road Rage FYI
Washington State Patrol Aggressive Driving-Report Form

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Defeating Justice: Gangs Aggressively Enforcing Code of Silence

Criminal gangs are using aggressive new tactics to intimidate witnesses and ruin the criminal justice system. The New York Times reported:

BOSTON, Jan. 15 - In Boston, a witness to a shooting by a member of a street gang recently found copies of his grand jury testimony taped to all the doors in the housing project where he lives.

In Baltimore, Rickey Prince, a 17-year-old who witnessed a gang murder and agreed to testify against the killer, was shot in the back of the head a few days after a prosecutor read Mr. Prince's name aloud in a packed courtroom.

And in each city, CD's and DVD's titled "Stop Snitching" have surfaced, naming some people street gangs suspect of being witnesses against them and warning that those who cooperate with the police will be killed. To underscore its message, the Baltimore DVD shows what appears to be three dead bodies on its back cover above the words "snitch prevention."

These are only a few examples of what the police, prosecutors and judges say is a growing national problem of witness intimidation by youth gangs that in some cities is jeopardizing the legal system and that bears striking similarities to the way organized crime has often silenced witnesses.

"Witness intimidation has become so pervasive that it is ruining the public's faith in the criminal justice system to protect them," said Judge John M. Glynn of Baltimore City Circuit Court. "We are not much better off than the legal system in Mexico or Colombia or some other sad places."

The "Stop Snitching" DVD has some slick editing that disturbs law enforcement professionals:
Last month, the Baltimore police found that a two-hour DVD titled "Stop Snitching" was being sold on the street. It features young men smoking marijuana, flashing wads of $100 bills, waving guns and making violent threats, some against specific witnesses. "He's a rat, a snitch," one man sings, continuing with obscenities. "He's dead because I don't believe he's from the 'hood."...

The DVD has drawn particular attention because of the (six minute) appearance on it of Carmelo Anthony, 20, a National Basketball Association star with the Denver Nuggets who grew up in Baltimore. Mr. Anthony does not make any threats in the DVD.

Calvin Andrews, Mr. Anthony's agent, said, "He was not aware a DVD was being produced. He was just hanging out with some guys from the neighborhood who had a video camera." Mr. Andrews added of Mr. Anthony: "He doesn't condone the message about intimidation."

The DVD was made by Rodney Bethea, a 31-year-old West Baltimore barber, fashion designer and video maker. He says the video merely documents the harsh reality of life in West Baltimore. The DVD is currently being offered for sale on Baltimore's Craig's List:
STOP SNITCHING dvd feat. Carmelo Anthony - $30

You've read all about it in The Sun, seen it on ESPN, now see for yourself. Baltimore like you've never seen it as the underworld confronts "snitches." See 'Melo's boyhood home and you determine whether he really did anything wrong. Very difficult to obtain and only money orders will be accepted. DVD contains strong language with no nudity or violence.

Guns and Jeers Used by Gangs to Buy Silence [The New York Times, Jan. 16, 2005]
'Snitching' video betrays a muddled criminal mentality [by Gregory Kane at BaltimoreSun.com, Dec. 8, 2004, with quicktime video chip]
‘Stop snitching’ DVD puts homegrown NBA star in verbal crossfire [blackamericaweb.com, Dec. 6, 2004]
Reality bites: Stop Snitching producer says Carmelo DVD reflects Baltimore streets [Sports Illustrated, Dec. 29, 2004]

N.B.A. Star Is Shown in an Intimidation Video [NY Times, Jan. 16, 2005]
Carmelo Anthony Under Fire For DVD Comments [AllHipHop.com]
A Breakdown of Carmelo Anthony's 'Stop Snitching' Video

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Undercover Narc Blog

Tony Falcon claims to be an undercover narcotics agent. His blog says this about him:

During the past 14 years, Tony Falcon has amassed hundreds of stories of the bizzarre experiences in the Life of an Undercover Agent.

The stories that will follow in the next few weeks are true.

Some of the names have been changed, to protect the innocent... from the guilty.

It starts off with a simple question: "You Wanna Be A Narc?"

Three years driving around the city answering citizens' calls for help, chasing car thiefs, looking for lost kids and chasing dopers. Loving it every day. Then one afternoon as I walked to my patrol car, I was approached by a shaggy character in blue jeans and a tank top. I knew he was a UC. I had helped the Narcs on arrests and raids before. "There's an opening in Narcotics. Ever thought about being a Narc?"

Life Undercover [by Tony Falcon]

Friday, January 14, 2005

New Vest Penetrating Gun: The Five-Seven

The Belgian company FN Herstal is selling a new pistol in this country: the "Five-Seven" is a lightweight (1.7 lb) easily concealable single action pistol that can fire 20 rounds in seconds and easily penetrates bullet-proof vests according to an NBC report out of New York.

Police departments around the country are starting to take serious notice of this weapon. Because, the gun is being marketed to the public, and it's completely legal.

"Dealing with a gun like this -- it's a whole new ballgame," said Chief Robert Troy, of the Jersey City Police Department.

The FN Herstal website says this about the Five-seven pistol:

Stopping power for close combat

Five-seveN® pistols and SS190 round team up to defeat the enemy in all close combat situations in urban areas, jungle conditions, night missions and any self defense action.

Enemy personnel, even wearing body armor can be effectively engaged up to 200 meters.

Kevlar® helmets and vests as well as the CRISAT protection will be penetrated.

Global-defence.com adds some more technical info about the weapon and its special vest-penetrating ammunition:
The 5.7 x 28mm round also produces less recoil so the weapon can be handled and aimed more comfortably, especially when firing bursts. But this is less important than penetration and energy transfer. Small arms projectiles rely on kinetic energy for their effectiveness and it is here that the 5.7 x 28mm scores heavily over conventional pistol ammunition. Part of this is because of the make-up of the projectile for the standard 5.7 x 28mm ball round, the SS190.

The bullet has a steel jacket containing a steel core just behind the tip. The bulk of the content behind this is aluminium. The nose is pointed and together with the steel core enables the SS190 bullet to penetrate 48 layers of Kevlar-type protection at 200m at a muzzle velocity of 715m/s. It also can penetrate a standard Kevlar-type combat helmet at the same range.

The 5.7 x 28mm round is highly effective against body armour at ranges up to 200m but the ammunition also has a high incapacitation effect. As the bulk of the bullet mass is located in the front of the bullet, once it strikes it tends to tumble, in the process giving up most of its momentum and striking power immediately. This produces a large wound cavity and high-energy transfer; the latter is not dedicated, as is usual, to purely driving a hole through the target. Against most targets the SS190 bullet will remain in the target, even at ranges as low as 10m.

Police Worried About New Vest-Penetrating Gun [wnbc.com]
A leap in evolution (the five-seven) [global-defence.com]
FN Herstal - Five-Seven USG, 5.7x28mm IOM [price $869.99 at SniperCountryPX.com]
FN Herstal
FN's Five Seven pistol [Bastards Inc.]

UPDATE - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) web site says:
In response to numerous questions that ATF has received regarding the capabilities of the 5.7 X 28mm cartridge, the following technical information is provided.

FTB (Firearms Technology Branch) classified SS196 ammunition as not armor piercing

FTB has also examined a 5.7 X 28 mm projectile that FN Herstal has designated the "SS196." The SS196 is loaded with a Hornady 40 grain, jacketed lead bullet. FTB classified SS196 ammunition as not armor piercing ammunition under Federal firearms statutes.

So it looks like this was just a mainstream media scare story.

FN 5.7 (Fabrique Nationale) pistol [ATF.gov, Jan. 20, 2005]

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Manufaketure: Chinese Counterfeiting and Pirating

Manufaketure is the name of a recent story in The NY Times Magazine by Ted C. Fishman that analyzes the dangers of the Chinese government's sanctioned counterfeiting and pirating of Western intellectual property.

Chinese pirating and counterfeiting has the potential to cripple many US industries including: pharmaceuticals, software, commercial aircraft, entertainment, etc. The bottomline result could be radically weakened large and small American companies.

The U.S Department of Commerce estimates that American companies currently lose between $20 billion and $24 billion to counterfeiters and pirates annually.

The Japanese lose around $34 billion and the European Union loses $22 billion to $26 billion. Total: $80 billion.


Counterfeiting and pirating (that is, making knockoffs of what developed nations have created) are at the heart of the Chinese economic boom. As unethical or illegal as it might be, the Chinese government is not about to stop it.

A U.S. consular official in China...''Nothing has a higher priority in our trade policy than the fight to protect American intellectual property. It is every bit as important an effort for us as the war against weapons of mass destruction.''

China's failure to police industry and to protect intellectual property acts, in effect, like one of the greatest industrial subsidies in the world. Chinese manufactures and industries freely exploit foreign ideas and technologies....

For the most part, China fears no repercussions from its actions because the size and potential of its markets give China and undiminished (for now) power to lure the world's most advanced technology to its shores.

Unless it comes up with a remedy that forces China to change, the United States will have to find its own solution.

Manufaketure [NY Times Magazine, Jan. 9, 2005]

Of PlayStations, pirates and prisoners [A story about Chinese Prisoners Counterfeiting Playstation 2, Star-techcentral.com]
Sony catches PlayStation pirates ... in prison [TheAustralian.com, Dec. 23, 2004]
Evans Says More China Copyright, Patent Pirates Must Be Jailed [Bloomberg, Jan. 13, 2005]

update Jan. 14, 2005: CBS Marketwatch.com and the Wall Street Journal among others are reporting:
U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans publicly backed General Motors Corp's claims that Chinese automaker Chery is using stolen design information to build a rival car, according to a published report.

In a speech to U.S. and Chinese officials and business executives Thursday, Evans said Chery Automobile Co's QQ minicar is virtually a twin of the Chevrolet Spark developed by a GM (GM: news, chart, profile) unit in South Korea, GM Daewoo Automotive & Technology Co., the Asian Wall Street Journal reported Friday...

Mathematical formulas and other design information "were simply stolen from GM Daewoo," the newspaper quoted Evans as saying. "This is an incident that defies any kind of innocent explanation."

U.S.' Evans backs GM Daewoo claim -Says China's Chery copied GM unit's car design -report [CBSMarketWatch.com, Jan. 14, 2005]
U.S. Steps Up Public Campaign Against China's Pirated Products [WSJ, Jan. 14, 2005]

Monday, January 10, 2005

Iraqi Death Squads

A debate over the sanctioned use of death squads in Iraq has started, this is the so called “Salvador Option”:

‘The Salvador Option’: The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq [Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2004]
IRAQ: Round Up the Usual Suspects, Dead or Alive [strategypage.com]
Bush's 'Death Squads' [consortiumnews.com]
Glenn Reynolds Defends Death Squads [antiwar.org]
The Death Squad Option [alternet.org]
The Insurgency Buster [NY Times]

Monday Linkage

Trouble spots: Terrorism is only one of the forces of instability that now plague the world's major oil-producing nations

Exploring new oil fields in Iraq: a risky business

China in Line as U.S. Rival for Canada Oil

• A website dedicated to private military companies

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Academic Fraud: Degree Mills are Billion Dollar Business

There were a large number of resumes that had to get changed in a hurry once the Pennsylvania Attorney General busted the "Trinity Southern University" diploma mill. Another example proving you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. AP reported last month:

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office Monday sued an online university for allegedly selling bogus academic degrees -- including an MBA awarded to a cat.

Trinity Southern University in Texas, a cellular company and the two brothers who ran them are accused of misappropriating Internet addresses of the state Senate and more than 60 Pennsylvania businesses to sell fake degrees and prescription drugs by spam e-mail, according to the lawsuit.

Investigators paid $299 for a bachelor's degree for Colby Nolan -- a deputy attorney general's 6-year-old black cat -- claiming he had experience including baby-sitting and retail management...

The defendants are the school; Innovative Cellular and Wireless Inc. of Corpus Christi, Texas; Alton Scott Poe of St. Cloud, Fla., vice chancellor and dean of admission for Trinity; and Craig Barton Poe of Frisco, Texas, president of Innovative Cellular.

• Prior to and surprisingly after the bust The Online Assurance Bureau still said this about Trinity Southern University:
Trinity Southern University appears to be a legitimate and worthy company for those who desire a nontraditional degree and understand how the degrees can and cannot be used. Compared to the cost of a traditional college degree of $15,000- $50,000 they provide excellent overall value to the buyer. The OnlineAssuranceBureau has no reservation concerning TSU.

Actually the "onlineassurancebureau.com" appears to be part of the scam. First, create a bogus university. Then have other bogus web sites vouch for its legitimacy.

• resumes with "Trinity Southern University":
resume #1
resume #2
resume #3
resume #4
etc, etc.

•• Allen Ezell was the founder and chief of the FBI's diploma mill task force, he pursued fraudsters for 25 years who sell fake academic credentials using anonymous mailboxes, website hoaxes, and spam. He retired and wrote a new book with John Bear, Degree Mills: The Billion-Dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas (Prometheus Books, $19). US News recently interviewed Mr. Ezell.
Who is buying these diplomas?

Anyone and everyone. There is a police officer in Florida with a fake degree who, ironically, is in charge of cybercrimes. We've seen 11 schoolteachers in Georgia who purchased fake degrees to comply with the new requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act. There have been government employees like Laura Callahan in the Department of Homeland Security, who wrote a chapter in our book from the perspective of a degree-mill victim. When I left the FBI, we had 12,000 names [of fake-degree recipients] in our database.

Online University Sued for Fraud After Awarding MBA to Cat [law.com, Dec. 8, 2004]
HSD official obtained Ph.D. from diploma mill [Washington Technology]
Hot on the trail of academic fraud [US News, Jan. 17, 2004]
Trinity Southern University [poliblog.org]
Good Kitty, Bad Humans [stnate]
Lab chief apologizes over online doctorate [boston.com, Nov. 13, 2003]


Kite Surfing is the most extreme sport on water. A kitemare is when an in-shore gust of wind drags a kite surfer onto the beach. Last year, one of Britain's most experienced young kite surfers, Ross Milton, 17, was lifted 80 feet into the air over a seafront shop near Porthcawl in Wales by a freak gust of wind. He landed in the road then hit two walls. He spent three weeks in the hospital in a coma. He now sports a titanium plate in his head. Nasty proof of just how much power these surf kites can generate.

Safety rethink after kite surf crash [bbc, April 21, 2004]
British Kite Surfing Association
Planet Kitesurf

Thursday, January 6, 2005

More Tsunami Video & Stories

• KATC-TV reported:

Amateur video obtained by APTN shows the devastating effects of the tsunami on the Thai holiday resort of Khao Lak. The pictures show a man on the beach being engulfed by water as the overpowering waves rush towards the shore.

Anukul Charoenkul - who owns the Viewpoint Restaurant - shot the video. He said his restaurant was full of tourists when the tsunami struck at around 1030 local time (0330 GMT) on 26 December.

He explained he had received an early warning of the impending disaster from his brother, who was at a different location along the coast which had already been struck.

Home Video Captures Tsunami Swallowing Person [KATC.com story with still photos]
Watch Video Here

• Donald Sensing's nephew's best friend relays he and his wife's close call with the tsunami...

Report from Ko Phi Phi Island, Thailand
Ko Phi Phi Island is a resort island off the Thai coast. One of my nephew's best friend and his wife were vacationing there when the tsunami hit. Here is their emailed report.

[via NeophytePundit]

• Survivors of Tsunami Hit Again: This Time With A Crime Wave

The Economic Times reports: "Thieves, rapists, kidnappers and fraudsters are preying on tsunami survivors and families of victims in Asian refugee camps and hospitals and in the home countries of European tourists hit by the wave. Reports and warnings came in from as far apart as Britain, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Hong Kong on Monday. Criminals are taking advantage of the chaos to rape survivors in Sri Lanka. In Europe, they are plundering the homes of tourists reported missing."

• From Hero to Handcuffs: Tsunami Rescuer Ends Up In Jail

Thomas David Connell was handcuffed and arrested as soon as he stepped off his plane at the Bisbane International Airport in Queensland, Australia. Australian police say Connell, a 32-year old businessman, has been on the "wanted list" for about two years for assault and burglary charges, and they recognized him when an interview from Thailand hailing Connell as "The Good Samaritan of Patong Beach" was televised in Australia. Connell was in Thailand on December 26 when the tsunami struck the island resort of Phuket, and he is reported to have rescued as many as 20 people. Connell, who has been released on bail until his next court appearance in February, claims the police have mistaken him for someone else. In an interview with Australian news reporters, Connell said, "To be a life saver, saving 20 people, and then come back to my home country and I'm going straight into a bloody jail cell with hoodlums all day...I'm not a bloody hoodlum.''

Tsunami Hero Jailed for Theft in Australia [NY Times, Jan 3. 2005]

[via CrimeProf Blog]

Tsunami Linkage

•• "Video Bloggers" gather and organize the tsunami videos for the web. The Wall Street Journal reported:

Even before the tsunami, media watchers had predicted that 2005 would be a big year for video blogging, also known as vlogging. Jay Rosen, chair of the Department of Journalism at New York University and a media blogger himself, says the unique videos of the waves hitting shore could be a "breakthrough" event for the Web.

Video Blogs Break Out With Tsunami Scenes [Wall Street Journal-online, Jan. 3, 2005]
Tsunami Video Hosting Initiative [mediabloggers.org]
Photos and Videos from the aftermath of the Asia Tsunami [waveofdestruction.org]
Tsunami Video [Cheese and Crackers]
Full Tsunami Video Footage, Pictures, Clips And TV News Stories [masternewmedia.org]

•• Crooks are looking to take advantage of tsunami disaster relief, The New York Times reports:
The F.B.I. issued a warning on Wednesday about online frauds that try to capitalize on the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

The schemes, which have been reported to the bureau's Internet Crime Complaint Center over the past week, have included unsolicited e-mail messages seeking money and a phony tsunami relief Web site capable of depositing a virus on the computers of people who visit it.

In other instances, families who have posted messages and e-mail addresses on the Web as part of their search for missing relatives have been contacted by rogue brokers offering to help them - for a fee.

F.B.I. Warns of Internet Frauds That Capitalize on Tsunami [NY Times]
Online scams emerge in tsunami's wake [Reuters]

•• Australia's national agency for earth-science research, Geoscience Australia, says there was a 1833 tsunami in the Indian Ocean perhaps bigger that the Dec. 26th one. The NY Times reports:
...in an article in an Australian government publication last September (by Dr. Phil Cummins), scientists used a computer simulation to demonstrate that an underwater quake in 1833, originating just a few hundred miles south of the 2004 epicenter, spawned a ferocious tsunami that swept the Indian Ocean and pulverized some of the same coastlines.

The 1833 quake may have registered as high as 9.2 in magnitude, compared with 9.0 this time.

Asian Tsunami Is a Repeat Performance [NY Times, Jan. 4, 2005]
Small threat, but WARNING SOUNDED for Tsunami [Geoscience Australia, Sept. 2004]
Enormous earthquake in Indonesia causes tsunamis [Geoscience Australia]

Monday, January 3, 2005

Taking on Pimp Cultural Pollution

Rap, hip-hop, or urban music is loaded with sadomasochistic and misogynist lyrics. It looks like some black women are starting to take offense. Stanley Crouch, of the NY Daily News reports:

The most successful black women's magazine, Essence, is in the middle of a campaign that could have monumental cultural significance.

Essence is taking on the slut images and verbal abuse projected onto black women by hip hop lyrics and videos.

The magazine is the first powerful presence in the black media with the courage to examine the cultural pollution that is too often excused because of the wealth it brings to knuckleheads and amoral executives.

This anything-goes-if-sells attitude comes at a cost. The elevation of pimps and pimp attitudes creates a sadomasochistic relationship with female fans. They support a popular idiom that consistently showers them with contempt. We are in a crisis, and Essence knows it.

When asked how the magazine decided to take a stand, the editor, Diane Weathers said, "We started looking at the media war on young girls, the hypersexualization that keeps pushing them in sexual directions at younger and younger ages."

From an Essence Magazine Poll:

What I hear about women in most songs played on urban radio
- doesn't affect me 4.1%
- makes me cringe 73.1%
- I don't care. I just like the beats. 1.5%
- sometimes bothers me; sometimes doesn't 21.3%
* Number of respondents: 836

At last, women lash out at hip hop's abuses
[NY Daily News, Stanley Crouch, Jan. 3, 2005]
Take Back the Music Campaign [Essence Magazine]

Update Jan. 6, 2005: Time, Inc announced on Tues. Jan. 4, 2005 that it is acquiring Essence Magazine. Time, Inc. also owns Warner Music Group which owns the music labels Atlantic / Elektra. It will be interesting to see how the anti-hip-hop campaign progresses.

Time acquires Essence parent
[newyorkbusiness.com, Jan. 4, 2005]

How Many Police Officers Killed in the line of duty in 2003?

While trying to wrap up the linkage for the previous post "Dangerous Professions" - stumbled across the conflicting reports about the number of law enforcement officers that were killed in the line of duty in 2003. The number of law enforcement fatalities for 2003 reported by the BLS, FBI, NLEOMF, and MSNBC were all different.


• The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Sept. 22, 2004-in one table-Table 3. Fatal occupational injuries by occupation and selected event or exposure, 2003:

Law enforcement workers...153 fatalities

on a second chart-Number and rate of fatal occupational injuries for selected occupations, 2003 BLS reported:
Police and sheriff’s patrol officers...128 fatalities...20.9 per 100,000 fatality rate

• The FBI report on Nov. 8 2004-"Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted in 2003":
Last year, 132 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty

• The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) report on Jan. 5, 2004-"OFFICERS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER FATALITIES REACH 148 FOR 2003":
In the year 2003, 148 law enforcement officers across the nation were killed in the line of duty, representing the second year in a row that the number has been well below the decade-long average of 166 annual police deaths. The 142 male and six female officers who died worked in 38 of our nation's 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and one federal agency.

• MSNBC reported on Dec. 28, 2004 in the story-"154 police officers killed in line of duty in 2004":
The number of deaths this year was 6 percent higher than the 145 reported killed in 2003 but nearly equaled the 153 killed in 2002, according to the groups’ (NLEOMF) statistics.

The differences are perhaps due to whether Puerto Rico fatalities are counted and what exactly the definition of a "law enforcement officer" is versus a "police officer." Will attempt to shed further light on why the numbers are all different.

Sunday, January 2, 2005

Dangerous Professions

A total of 154 law enforcement officers were killed in the line-of-duty in 2004 according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. Law enforcement is certainly a dangerous profession but not the most dangerous.

The most dangerous profession in the United States in 2003 was logging according to the most recent figures from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls).

A total of 104 loggers were killed out of a total of 79,000 workers in 2003. This is a fatality rate of 131.6 per 100,000 workers.

• Facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Employment in 2003: 138,928,000 workers
Total number of work fatalities in 2003: 5,559

The three most frequent work-related fatal events in 2003:
Highway accidents: 1,350 fatalities
Falls: 691
Homicides: 631

other categories of fatal events:
struck by falling object: 322 fatalities
electrocutions: 246
self-inflicted injuries: 218
fires and explosions: 198
drowning: 52

• Occupation.............................fatalities....rate per 100,000

1. Logging workers...........................104.............131.6
2. fishers and related fishing occupations...under 49........115.0
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers......113..............97.4
4. Farmers and ranchers......................329..............39.3
5. Miners....................................141..............26.9
6. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers....861..............26.7
7. Construction laborers.....................289..............25.1
8. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers......128..............20.9
9. Miscellaneous agricultural workers........131..............16.5
10. Grounds maintenance workers...............156..............13.6

Rate of fatal work injury per 100,000 workers, national average: 4.0

Note: There is some confusion. The FBI reported the number of police officer fatalities as 132 in 2003. There is no obvious reason for the difference of four fatalities from the figure of 128 reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, just to confuse things a little more the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund reported that 148 (142 male and six female) law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2003. Also, MSNBC reported the number of police officers killed in 2003 as 145.

Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries-2003 Data
Fatal occupational injuries by occupation and selected event or exposure, 2003

related links:
154 police officers killed in line of duty in 2004 [MSNBC]
National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund [nleomf.com]
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted in 2003 [fbi.gov]
Occupations more dangerous than being a police officer [bls: 2000 fatality statistics]
How Many Police Officers Killed in the line of duty in 2003? [TJN]
Law Officers Killed and Assaulted in 2003 [TJN]
15 Deaths a Day is Good News in Chinese Coal Mines [TJN]

Other Lists of Dangerous Jobs:
Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs [askman.com]
Dangerous Jobs [Fielding's]
America's most dangerous jobs [CNN, Oct. 13, 2003]

update Jan. 14, 2005: Accoriding to Churchill Insurance in Britain the ten most dangerous jobs in that country are:

1. Window Cleaner
2. Soldier
3. Fireman
4. Offshore fisherman
5. Pilot
7. Roofer
8. Scaffolder
9. Tree surgeon
10. Circus performer

Britain's most dangerous job [msn.co.uk]