NY Daily News: Florida mom Alexandra Tobias pleads guilty to murdering baby for crying during her FarmVille game
A Florida woman admitted shaking her 3-month-old baby to death after the little boy's crying distracted her from playing a wildly popular Facebook game.
Alexandra Tobias, 22, told cops she was playing FarmVille and her baby, Dylan Lee Edmondson, wouldn't stop crying.
According to the Florida Times-Union, she confessed to shaking the baby, smoking a cigarette to calm down and then shaking the baby again. The baby may have hit his head during the January incident.
Tobias pleaded guilty on Wednesday.
She later got a 50-year sentence. And here I thought FarmVille was bad for you before I knew about this.
Here's another example of criminal insanity:
FOX Chicago: Teen Charged with Murder in Police-Involved Shooting, Armed Robbery Case
Ross was charged Thursday evening with murder and armed robbery with a firearm, police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez said.
The incident unfolded about 8 p.m. Wednesday when two police sergeants were stopped by a person saying two people had just committed a robbery near East 70th Street and South Cregier Avenue.
The sergeants saw two people matching the description and ordered them to stop, police said. One of the suspects, with a weapon in his hand, turned in the sergeant’s direction. The sergeant shot the suspect, identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office as 15-year-old Tatioun Williams.
Williams, of 1311 E. 69th St., was pronounced dead at 8:40 p.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to the medical examiner’s office. An autopsy Thursday found he died from a gunshot wound to the back and ruled the death a homicide.
A weapon and proceeds from the robbery were recovered at the scene, police said.
No one else was injured, police said.
So two guys commit an armed robbery, and as they're escaping, the police shoot one of them. Therefore, the surviving criminal is charged with murder.
This is how the felony murder rule works: if one perpetrates a felony, and as a result someone is killed, the perpetrator is charged with the murder. Here, the result even means that if the police shoot your accomplice, you are charged with his murder.
Another example of this idea in action here:
NY Times: Serving Life for Providing Car to Killers
CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. — Early in the morning of March 10, 2003, after a raucous party that lasted into the small hours, a groggy and hungover 20-year-old named Ryan Holle lent his Chevrolet Metro to a friend. That decision, prosecutors later said, was tantamount to murder.
The friend used the car to drive three men to the Pensacola home of a marijuana dealer, aiming to steal a safe. The burglary turned violent, and one of the men killed the dealer’s 18-year-old daughter by beating her head in with a shotgun he found in the home.
Mr. Holle was a mile and a half away, but that did not matter.
He was convicted of murder under a distinctively American legal doctrine that makes accomplices as liable as the actual killer for murders committed during felonies like burglaries, rapes and robberies.
In all seriousness, this is insane. As the New York Times article says, this law doesn't actually seem to have any deterrent effect, by comparison with jurisdictions that don't have it. Furthermore, it blurs the definition of murder; as the paper referenced by the New York Times points out, murder is defined by an intent to kill, except in this case, where you can be guilty of murder by lending your car to someone.
What makes it even more dangerous, in my opinion, is the simple precedent that a person who is in no way directly responsible for a crime, and who may even be totally unaware that it has occurred, can be charged with it. Imagine extending that idea to other crimes.
But most of all, it's completely unrealistic to postulate, even as a system of ethics, that everyone must take responsibility for all consequences of their actions. Responsibility for consequences needs to be within reason; if someone lends a homicidal friend a shotgun, I have no problem with them being held culpable, but lending someone a car doesn't seem to be strictly comparable.
Even crazier is the notion that when the police shoot your accomplice in the back, you're guilty of murder. Yes, I accept the idea that had you not been involved in the armed robbery in the first place, your friend wouldn't have been shot. But is this in any way a realistic standard of ethics? If people are going to be held criminally liable for the actions of others, where on earth do we draw the line? And doesn't this, in fact, give police a virtual blank check when pursuing a felony suspect, because any deaths that occur during the crime and subsequent pursuit will be blamed on the suspect, whether he had anything to do with them or not?
This touches on what I've been thinking about in general with regard to law lately. It seems to me that on the whole, our legislation is essentially random. I've been toying around with the idea of constructing a legal code not as a confusing jumble of separate laws but as a system of principles. Surely one of those principles should be that a person can only be held responsible for his own actions or inactions, not for the actions or inactions of others. In this case, both armed robbers should be responsible for themselves, and the cop who shot one of them responsible for the shooting. If the shooting is deemed justified, then it is, but under no stretch of the imagination should the police officer's decision to use lethal force be the other robber's responsibility.
I'll chalk this up as yet another odd aspect of an increasingly insane US justice system. Here's another example:
Wired: There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says
“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”
What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information.
The United States seems to be reaching the point where legistlation is classified to protect national security.
I'd comment, but I don't know how.
Here's some surveillance state news, too.
Nature: Terrorist 'pre-crime' detector field tested in United States
Planning a sojourn in the northeastern United States? You could soon be taking part in a novel security programme that can supposedly 'sense' whether you are planning to commit a crime.
Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programme designed to spot people who are intending to commit a terrorist act, has in the past few months completed its first round of field tests at an undisclosed location in the northeast, Nature has learned.
Like a lie detector, FAST measures a variety of physiological indicators, ranging from heart rate to the steadiness of a person's gaze, to judge a subject's state of mind. But there are major differences from the polygraph. FAST relies on non-contact sensors, so it can measure indicators as someone walks through a corridor at an airport, and it does not depend on active questioning of the subject.
The tactic has drawn comparisons with the science-fiction concept of 'pre-crime', popularized by the film Minority Report, in which security services can detect someone's intention to commit a crime. Unlike the system in the film, FAST does not rely on a trio of human mutants who can see the future. But the programme has attracted copious criticism from researchers who question the science behind it (see Airport security: Intent to deceive?).
Do, in fact, see the linked article, which starts off with this:
In August 2009, Nicholas George, a 22-year-old student at Pomona College in Claremont, California, was going through a checkpoint at Philadelphia International Airport when he was pulled aside for questioning. As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees searched his hand luggage, they chatted with him about innocuous subjects, such as whether he'd watched a recent game.
Inside George's bag, however, the screeners found flash cards with Arabic words — he was studying Arabic at Pomona — and a book they considered to be critical of US foreign policy. That led to more questioning, this time by a TSA supervisor, about George's views on the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Eventually, and seemingly without cause, he was handcuffed by Philadelphia police, detained for four hours, and questioned by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents before being released without charge.
George had been singled out by behaviour-detection officers: TSA screeners trained to pick out suspicious or anomalous behaviour in passengers. There are about 3,000 of these officers working at some 161 airports across the United States, all part of a four-year-old programme called Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT), which is designed to identify people who could pose a threat to airline passengers.
It remains unclear what the officers found anomalous about George's behaviour, and why he was detained. The TSA's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has declined to comment on his case because it is the subject of a federal lawsuit that was filed on George's behalf in February by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Again, I'm not sure how to comment on this. It's terrifying.
It seems fitting that just as my copy of The Gulag Archipelago arrived in the mail, I saw this news item:
Guardian: China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work
As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.
Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.
"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."
In the Soviet Union, it was gold-mining on the Kolyma: in China, it's World of Warcraft. Surreal. However, they haven't abandoned their efforts at reforming the inmates:
He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.
You can't make this stuff up. It only happens in real life.