Tag Archives: Crime

More Fun With Counter-Insurgency Aircraft

From the Flickr stream of the President of Ecuador. SRSLY!!!!!

Note — See corrections at the end.

In their ongoing quest to secure a US government relationship for their Super Tucano turboprop aircraft, Brazillian firm Embraer is partnering with American firm Sierra Nevada to compete for a contract to build 20 trainers and counter-insurgency planes for Afghan pilots at the behest of the American military, as well as 15 craft for the US Air Force to use in the same capacity.

First, El Salvador: The Brazilian Super Tucano is a turboprop plane designed for low-level, low-speed anti-insurgency and ground support missions. The El Salvadoran government was due to buy 8-10 of the planes, which were intended to assist El Salvador’s mounting commitments to fight drug trafficking on the borders, target illegal drug crops, and maintain security around prisons, as well as (to translate roughly), “help with security on the streets.” Creepy, much? (READ MORE)


Facebook Threatened With Contempt of Court

Facebook failed to send a lawyer to Sacramento Superior Court in answer to a subpoena yesterday — leading Judge Michael P. Kenny to “issue an order that Facebook show cause why it shouldn’t be held in contempt of court.” The next hearing in the case, on January 7, will probably result in a contempt charge if a legal representative for Facebook doesn’t show.

The case is a trial of five alleged members of the Killa Mobb gang on charges relating to the beating of a man in the Sacramento area on Halloween, 2008. According to a story in the Sacramento Bee (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM)

The Rare Coin Score

The Rare Coin Score is the ninth of Donald E. Westlake’s Parker novels, written under the name Richard Stark. The Rare Coin Score is, to my mind, the absolute pinnacle of a heist novel.

It represents what Donald E. Westlake did exceedingly well: it aspires to be nothing more than it is, merely the tightest, nastiest crime novel possible, with enough rich detail and unexpected twists to just plain blast off the page. In doing so, it thoroughly transcends the genre and becomes one of the existential touchstones of 20th America. And yes, I’m saying that with a straight face.

As Luc Sante said of Westlake’s Parker books: “These books practically read themselves.”

This is one of the best damn heist novels you’ll ever read. Period, end of story.

The FN Five-seveN

Creative Commons photo of the FN Five-seveN with a Sure-Fire tactical light by Malis.

There’s something fascinating about the trend in full-sized handguns in smaller calibers with extremely high-capacity magazines. Take, for instance, the Fabrique Nationale Herstal Five-seveN semi-automatic pistol, which uses a 5.7-millimeter-by-28-millimeter round, which is about a .224 for us Yanks. In addition to its reputed accuracy, corrosion resistance, and very low recoil (claimed to be 30% less than a comparably-sized 9, the big plus about the Five-seveN is, of course, that it’s the highest-capacity production handgun around. The eensy bullet means you can cram 20 rounds into a flush fit magazine, or 30 rounds into an extended magazine, assuming you work for NATO (or the local SWAT team).


Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series by David Pietrusza

Near the end, I finally had to abandon this too-long, too-slow, too-discursive “biography” of Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein, the guy who — as the subtitle (and The Godfather II, and every damn book and article about Rothstein) tells us, fixed the 1919 World Series

Rothstein is a fascinating figure and the times he lived in are amazing, and there are a lot of great anecdotes in this book. But I’m afraid the overall information is too random and all over the place; I have no sense of the bigger picture.

I have read over 100 books on organized crime, so when I read a new one I should have at least a vague sense from the first few chapters where this guy fits into the overall history of organized crime in the US.

I didn’t get that sense, here, and I got the distinct impression that it was because the author doesn’t really know.

In the early parts of this book, there are some great stories and discursive histories of other figures of the time. But it is RARE that I make it 3/4 of the way through a book and then not decide to finish it. There’s too little information about Rothstein, and too many detours along the way. I didn’t even get to his murder, and I’m not sure I care to even look that crap up on Wikipedia, I’m so disgusted by the whole experience.

My next option to learn about Rothstein is The Big Bankroll by Leo Katcher, which is something of a classic, or at least old. But my suspicion is that — as with many of the organized crime figures from early this century — there just isn’t enough info about Rothstein to warrant a full biography. He’s one of those figures who is incredibly important, but nobody’s 100% sure just why he’s important, except maybe the guys sleeping with the fishes.

Or, perhaps, why Rothstein’s important can’t be cooked down into a 3 or 400 page book. Maybe Rothstein’he’s just a force that weaves through the rest of the organized crime histories, especially of Jewish gangsters.

Anyway, a reasonably noble effort, but not much good for me either for entertainment or research.

Operation Confused Blogger

Somewhat embarrassingly, I blogged on Thursday (December 9) that “Anonymous” had threatened the EFF, then had it pointed out to me that Anonymous is not a single group or a monolithic entity like, say, PostFinance, PayPal or the British government. The “Anon_Operations” Twitter account that rendered the now oft-reported, oft-re-reported, and oft-re-re-re-reported threat has, since that threat, only re-tweeted Wikileaks tweets.

There’s no indication that the Anon_Operations account has anything at all to do with any of the hackers who launched Operation Payback, which according to Wikipedia may have began in retribution for Bollywood studio torrent trackers back in September. (Confused yet? I apparently am.) There’s also not one “atom” of evidence that the account is associated with those who launched Operation Avenge Assange, attacked PostFinance, PayPal, or anyone else, reportedly on Julian Assange’s behalf.

My assumptions that “Anonymous” was anything like a “group” was complete boneheadednesss. I’m now told it’s an “internet gathering,” though whether any the “individual” telling me that is even remotely associated with Operations Payback or Avenge Assange, I haven’t the faintest whisper of a hint of a sniff of a distant memory of a clue.

My outrage about the threat delivered Thursday can remain intact — but it should have been directed solely at that individual who made it, who might not even be a hacker, could have been joking, and/or could be the badest-assest hacker around, and still be an asshole, and still have been joking.

The criticisms I made should have been pointed at that single person. That was major idiocy on my part; mea culpa.

The good news is that I’m in good company! (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM)

The Canary Sang But Couldn’t Fly

The full title and subtitle of this book? The Canary Sang But Couldn’t Fly: The Fatal Fall of Abe Reles, the Mobster Who Shattered Murder, Inc.’s Code of Silence. After typing it, I’m ready for a nap.

The title pretty much sums up the wonkish tone of the offering, which is, even so, one of the best organized crime books I’ve ever read. It may be of primary interest to those who are completely obsessed with the Mob, and particularly with the Mob in the 1930s. Regardless, it’s magnificent.

The Canary Sang But Couldn’t Fly concerns the career, and more specifically the death, of Abe Reles, a government witness against Murder, Incorporated. Murder Inc. was “The Syndicate,” the enforcement wing of the national Mafia organization (though most particularly in the New York area). Reles’s death was a critical moment in the history of the mob, since the case was one of the government’s first real attempts to prosecute the Mafia since the Capone days.

The first part of the book, roughly speaking, relates the events in Reles’s life and in his murder. The whole second half is essentially a deconstruction of the investigative process, in which it is painfully obvious to everyone (including to members of Congress) that there was a major cover-up — but no one can figure out quite what happened.

It’s a bit of a police procedural at times; those tend to leave me cold when they’re fiction, but for some reason here it all comes together. I read it thoroughly engrossed.

Unfortunately, the author, who studied Murder, Incorporated for 10 years, passed away as the book was being prepared for publication. So there won’t be any more awesome books coming from him. Major bummer.

This one is serious essential reading for organized crime scholars.