Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'crime'

Everything Counts in Large Amounts

October 14th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Buried in this alarming account of crooked Brooklyn cops is a brief aside about how New York City is settling up with the scandal’s victims. Dozens, if not hundreds of men were falsely imprisoned after having drugs planted on them by police striving to hit their monthly arrest quotas. How much money do those men […]

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Only the Little People Pay Taxes

September 29th, 2011 · 2 Comments

For all but dedicated observers of southern African politics, King Mswati III of Swaziland is known primarily for his polygamous lifestyle and its attendant chaos. But the absolute monarch deserves scorn not for his libertinism, but rather the absolutely atrocious way he has handled Swaziland’s public finances. Mswati’s financial recklessness is the reason his nation […]

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A Fat Lot of Good

August 29th, 2011 · 4 Comments

A recent deep-dive into the history of the dye pack got me wondering about long-term trends in bank robbery. So much brainpower has gone into devising gadgets and strategies that allegedly help financial institutions minimize the risk of getting hit. Are those security investments working? That’s a tougher question to answer than I had anticipated, […]

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Thuggee Slang

August 15th, 2011 · No Comments

It’s always interesting to note how much criminal slang, which is designed to defy common comprehension, eventually finds its way into the popular vocabulary. I believe this is a testament not only to the (arguably lamentable) glamour of transgression, but also to the accidental linguistic genius of those who rob and maim for a living. […]

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“Liable to Abuse by Excitable Persons”

August 3rd, 2011 · 2 Comments

Inspired by a post delectably entitled “A Short History of Weaponised Umbrellas,” I decided to delve into the existing literature on the topic. What I found was a prime example of early 20th-century prose, notable for ornate turns-of-phrase that are sorely lacking in today’s self-defense manuals. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the intelligent-yet-florid glory […]

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Leisure Defines the Man

August 1st, 2011 · 11 Comments

Coming off a hugely frustrating weekend of writing, in which I ended up deleting hundreds upon hundreds of words that seemed cold and lifeless upon the screen. After much thought and a few of these, I figured out a big part of my problem: In an effort to make the story more vivid, I was […]

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Truthiness

July 22nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

As I try and focus on the painful act of book-writing, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the unwritten rules of non-fiction‐or, rather, the fact that those rules seem to vary by creator. While I spend time agonizing over which version of a remembered quote to use, other writers seem to have no […]

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The Allure of Meat

July 13th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The crime rate in Bermuda is not particularly high, but I’m still surprised the island nation’s police force had time to solve a five-year-old cold case that was far from dastardly: the theft of $70 worth of meat from a home. The perpetrator of this not-so-sinister act was finally nabbed last month, after Bermudan cops […]

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Keeping It Far Too Real: The Blackjack Ward Story

July 7th, 2011 · 2 Comments

While snooping about some old Google-able papers the other day, I stumbled across this true-crime tidbit about a 1940 murder case involving a pair of Hollywood extras. The killing took place in Gower Gulch, a street corner where former cowboys would gather in hopes of being picked to appear in B-grade Westerns—much like day laborers […]

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Witch Hunting in Assam

June 29th, 2011 · No Comments

So far this year, Microkhan’s coverage of sorcery-related violence has focused primarily on Papua New Guinea, where efforts at legal reform have done little to reduce the bloodshed. Now comes word that my beloved Assam, one of the primary settings for my first book, is dealing with a similarly tragic wave of killings. The latest […]

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Try, Try Again

June 22nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

There are few more hallowed legal principles than the protection against double jeopardy, which is enshrined in various constitutions and codes throughout the world. But as allegedly unimpeachable DNA evidence has become more common in courtrooms, a backlash has developed against the centuries-old prohibition against trying a person again after they’ve been acquitted. In Scotland, […]

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Bucking the Trend

June 14th, 2011 · 7 Comments

There is great wisdom to be gleaned from studying anomalies, which is why the El Paso Police Department’s homicide unit deserves our attention. It is the rare squad that appears to be solving an ever-greater percentage of its cases, thereby defying the nationwide trend illustrated in the graph above: Since 2004, unit detectives have investigated […]

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Powerless

June 3rd, 2011 · 1 Comment

The last time we checked in on Papua New Guinea’s efforts to counter its epidemic of sorcery-related killings, the country was considering making changes to its Sorcery Act of 1971 in order to make it easier for authorities to punish both witchcraft practitioners and those who murder them. Unfortunately, those legal reform efforts seem to […]

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Wormholes

May 27th, 2011 · 4 Comments

After much travel-related unpleasantness—most occurring by Gate F8 at the Philadelphia airport—I’m back in my beloved Atlah. Thanks so much for putting up with this week’s sporadic posting; rest assured the absence will pay off down the line, as I managed to collect some dynamite research for my next book. Getting really excited about how […]

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Soft Time in Finland

May 9th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Buried in this account of a Rwandan-born, Kansas-based octogenarian who may be a genocidaire is an interesting tidbit regarding Finnish jurisprudence: Mr. Kobagaya did not come to the United States government’s attention until December 2007, when he agreed to testify as a defense witness on behalf of a former neighbor, Francois Bazaramba, in a trial […]

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Hiding in Plain Sight

May 3rd, 2011 · 4 Comments

I somehow doubt we’ll ever hear the full story regarding what Pakistan’s intelligence apparatus knew about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts these past five years. It is totally naïve to think they knew naught, of course; the big question is who in the spook food chain was in on the conspiracy, and (perhaps most important) what […]

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Requiem for the Slug Kings

April 28th, 2011 · 1 Comment

A surprising number of tears were shed when the world’s last manual-typewriter factory announced its shuttering a few days back. Once again, generations of technological know-how are set to evaporate as a once state-of-the-art invention tumbles into museum mode. The manual typewriter industry’s long-anticipated demise got me thinking about engineering wizards whose skills have been […]

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What’s in Wyoming?

April 26th, 2011 · No Comments

Limited time to work today as Microkhan Jr. still has one day left of spring break, which he has apparently decided to spend attempting to coax me into serial games of hide-and-seek. Trying to grab a few hours here and there to focus on what pays the bills ’round this humble yurt, and that means […]

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The Giggle Box Comes Back

April 21st, 2011 · 3 Comments

I recently watched Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, which I can best describe as surprisingly awesome. As a resident of the Empire State, I thought I had a pretty good handle on our former governor’s self-destruction, but the flick gave me a whole new perspective on the affair. It’s shamelessly pro-Spitzer, […]

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Edible Pigeons and the Misuse of Technology

April 7th, 2011 · 3 Comments

One of my favorite Ponzi schemes of recent vintage was Pigeon King International, which convinced thousands of cash-strapped farmers to raise so-called “rats of the sky” in backyard pens. The scam’s mastermind, Arlan Galbraith, claimed that poultry-loving North Americans were on the verge of falling in love with roasted squab, and that farmers who bred […]

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Up from the Underground

April 4th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Though I only recently became aware of the fact that Burkina Faso is a hotbed of film production, I was completely unsurprised to learn that the nation’s movie industry is deeply troubled. The primary culprit, as you might surmise, is piracy; as cinemas have vanished with the proliferation of affordable DVD players, the markets in […]

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“One of the Greatest Evils of the Age”

March 28th, 2011 · No Comments

I’m a huge believer in the notion that the good ol’ days were not quite as halcyon as they’re cracked up to be. That anti-nostalgia truism becomes especially clear when one examines crime data from bygone eras; Americans, it turns out, have been treating one another quite unkindly for generations. I made that point in […]

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Lost in Translation

March 10th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Though English may be gaining an ever-greater toehold in the rest of the world, the United States appears to becoming increasingly polyglot. At the same time, first-generation immigrants are making landfall in far-flung locations throughout the U.S., rather than concentrating in a handful of urban centers. Those two trends spell trouble for courts with slim […]

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Behold the Pyramids

March 2nd, 2011 · 5 Comments

Something went terribly awry this morning when Microkhan Jr. dismounted from a shoulder ride; my glasses snapped in half as his size eights kicked against my nose, and I now find myself staring through crooked, taped-together frames that make me feel as if I’m wandering through a funhouse. I have a late-morning appointment to get […]

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Death and Honesty

March 1st, 2011 · 2 Comments

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of the admissibility of deathbed hearsay has attracted a fair bit of attention, primarily because the two dissenters were an unlikely pair: Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both justices objected to the fact that police officers were permitted to testify about a murder victim’s last words, since doing […]

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Devil in the Details

February 8th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’m juggling a pair of true-crime yarns at present, and thus taking a keen interest in the contortions of an ambitious robber’s mind. What I’m starting to surmise is that even the sharpest crooks often lack a key mental skill: the ability to plan an endgame. Though their schemes may be brilliant on paper, criminals […]

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Saints and Sinners

December 23rd, 2010 · No Comments

In the midst of researching an upcoming post on the cigarette economy in prisons, I came across this image of juvenile prisoners in Russia. I was struck by the extreme youth of these convicts, and thus motivated to look a bit more deeply into how Russia handles criminals who’ve yet to become adults. As I […]

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Theater of the Absurd

December 21st, 2010 · 3 Comments

The hooded lady above was not a bandit, but rather a New York City detective who worked the 21 Jump Street beat in the early 1970s. Kathleen Conlon earned her gold shield after surviving a scary incident in the Bronx: While working on an undercover narcotics unit, she was dragged into an alley, assaulted, and […]

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A Clear Conscience

December 7th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Whenever my work involves looking at rolls of decades-old microfilm, I inevitably stumble across a handful of tremendous yarns that have been lost to time. Such was the case this past Saturday, as I whiled away the hours scrolling through old copies of The San Diego Union-Tribune. Lazily panning across the pages in search of […]

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Turn Off the Dark

October 25th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The mere act of flicking on a light switch is something that can’t be taken for granted on the Navajo reservation, where tens of thousands of homes still lack electricity. Nowhere else in America do so many live in darkness, a fact driven home by this eye-popping stat: More than 18,000 households on the reservation […]

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