Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'law'

Of Cults and Cops in the Dominican Republic

October 25th, 2013 · No Comments

There’s no question that the Academy for Future Health seems like a rather nutty organization; if Google’s translation of its German-language philosophy is to be trusted, then the Academy apparently believes that the Vatican has ties to extraterrestrials, and that a bunch of elite financiers are hip to an approaching Doomsday. So when police in […]

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The Aztec Way of Marriage

April 2nd, 2013 · No Comments

Perhaps because they were so enthusiastic about ritualistically slicing hearts out of their fellow humans, the Aztecs are rarely examined with much seriousness. This University of Texas collection seeks to correct that oversight, by chronicling the tenets of the legal system that sustained Aztec society until the conquistadors showed up. There is great stuff throughout, […]

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“An Innocent Third Party”

December 28th, 2012 · 2 Comments

When we hear about the ill-advised nature of high-speed police pursuits, it’s usually in relation to injuries suffered by pedestrians or occupants of uninvolved vehicles. But Brian Werner, a Nebraska man who was paralyzed in such a chase, was actually a passenger in a car being pursued. He sued the state for damages and was […]

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Beyond Red/Blue

December 18th, 2012 · 1 Comment

As the map above shows, our nation’s pattern of monkey-ownership laws is not easy to predict based on geography alone. Reliably blue states such as Washington and Illinois have no problem with personal primates, while conservative bastions such as Louisiana and Georgia have enacted blanket bans. I can only guess that legislators react to specific […]

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Too Fat for the Fuzz, Cont’d

December 5th, 2012 · 1 Comment

After I microblogged this morning about overweight Indonesian cops, a treasured reader reminded me that Microkhan had covered this territory before. In July 2009, I wrote about the case of Chris Parent, a police officer in Bellevue, Nebraska, who was fired for being too large to perform his job properly. (See video above, which was […]

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Textbook Hardball

October 31st, 2012 · No Comments

As someone who hopes to earn a passable living through scribbled stories, I have taken an unusually keen interest in Guyana’s recent copyright brouhaha. The government of the chaotic South American nation recently had the audacity to declare that it would be purchase all its school textbooks from local pirates, who could offer far better […]

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Life in Limbo

October 4th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Please take a moment today to check out this astounding collection of mid-1970s photos from Ujelang Atoll, a Micronesian speck that once played host to nuclear refugees from nearby Enewetak. When these particular photos were taken, the Enewetakese had been in exile for three decades, after being bounced from their homes so the United States […]

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Caught in the Act

July 24th, 2012 · No Comments

A day late on this month’s deadline for my Wired column, so you’ll have to wait twenty-four hours for my cogent thoughts on either human cannonballs or gang entrepreneurship. (Sorry, haven’t decided yet.) In the meantime, occupy your spare moments by delving into this salacious collection of trial pamphlets, which provided true-crime buffs with plenty […]

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A Milestone in Daredevil Law

July 19th, 2012 · No Comments

There are few more colorful characters in recent modern Cleveland history than Alphonso Woodall, a daredevil who performed as “The Human Kite.” A former Army Air Force mechanic, Woodall built his own rig so he could soar above Lake Erie with water skis strapped to his feet. His derring-do eventually attracted the interest of a […]

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A Game in Which Everyone Loses

May 25th, 2012 · No Comments

As you enjoy the forthcoming three-day weekend, take a moment to think good thoughts for the beleaguered citizens of Papua New Guinea, who are weathering what could be the nation’s nastiest political crisis in years. Matters started to get out of hand three days ago, when Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled that former prime […]

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Reputational Dynamics

April 23rd, 2012 · No Comments

Watching Metta World Peace absolutely lose the plot in yesterday’s Lakers-Thunder contest made me think about the possible legal ramifications of on-court/on-field violence. Much has obviously been written about the possibility of treating such incidents as criminal matters, as has happened on occasion in the Canadian legal system. (The American system, by contrast, seems terribly […]

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The Lord of Chonda-Za

April 3rd, 2012 · 1 Comment

For those of us who lack law degrees, reading judicial opinions can often be a major slog. Those who occupy the bench favor a prose style that is, to be charitable, a bit on the dry side; yarn-spinning is not their forte. Yet every once in a while, I stumble upon a ruling that crackles […]

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A Matlock Moment

February 28th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I’m a sucker for a tale in which the American legal system is asked to rule on the legitimacy of a medical treatment. No matter how dubious a quack’s product, he or she can always scrounge up satisfied customers to attest to its power, as well as a few expert witnesses who will say almost […]

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The Value of a Dolphin

January 25th, 2012 · No Comments

The loyalest of y’all may have noticed that I have a longstanding fascination with the legal system’s efforts to value the supposedly invaluable. Which is why I was struck by this recent tidbit out of the Solomon Islands: THE High Court has ordered the Solomon Islands Government and the Ministry of Fisheries to pay Marine […]

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Kafka in Seattle

January 4th, 2012 · 4 Comments

Amid all the wearying hullabaloo over the Iowa caucus, the passing of a major figure in American history seemed to have slipped off the radar. Gordon Hirabayashi, who died at 93 on Monday, was one of a small handful of Japanese-Americans to legally contest the Roosevelt Administration’s internment policy—a policy that, in this project’s humble […]

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The Flipside of Nonsense

November 21st, 2011 · 8 Comments

There is an interracial romance at the heart of my next book, so I’ve spent appreciable time researching the question of how such couples were regarded in the early 1970s. As is typically the case, that line of inquiry has piqued my interest in a tangential matter: the creation of anti-miscegenation laws specifically targeted at […]

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Sedition Was the Case That They Gave Me

November 7th, 2011 · 2 Comments

In most corners of the world, graffiti artists operate in fear of being nabbed for vandalism. In totalitarian Fiji, they face far more serious charges, at least if their scrawled messages carry the whiff of the political: A New Zealand businessman is in custody in Fiji along with four others who have been arrested over […]

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Potemkin Would be Proud

November 3rd, 2011 · 3 Comments

There’s a terrific old episode of Cops—yes, Cops—in which the Miami police round up a bunch of streetwalkers in advance of Super Bowl XXIX. What’s so surprising about the operation is how up front the police are about their objective—namely, to present the game’s attendees with a prostitute-free version of the city. In the episode’s […]

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Pushing the Revolving Door

September 20th, 2011 · No Comments

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of The Shawshank Redemption, but there’s one scene toward the end that I consider truly memorable. It’s the one in which Morgan Freeman, having been paroled from prison after so many years behind bars, is shown at his job in the free world: bagging groceries at a supermarket. […]

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What Would Buddha Do?

August 24th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I do not believe the prince who renounced the world in order to attain Enlightenment would approve of these copyright shenanigans in Taiwan: The funeral industry has been rocked by a lawsuit filed by a music company that accuses funeral homes of intellectual property right (IPR) infringement for playing Buddhist chants and pop music during […]

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Drop and Gimme Twenti

August 18th, 2011 · No Comments

An otherwise innocuous story about Fiji’s efforts to combat littering reveals this golden information nugget about law enforcement in Papua New Guinea: “We did some relative studies and found that in Papua New Guinea if you are found littering – you are asked by the authority to do push-ups. For us here we tell them […]

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Spirited Away

July 29th, 2011 · No Comments

One of the most interesting aspects of researching my slot-machines yarn for Wired was the whole extradition angle. In fact, I’d daresay that’s what attracted me to the story in the first place—the fact that the United States government deemed the crime grave enough to go an fetch someone from Latvia, a country that had […]

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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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Justice Too Swift

July 6th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Years back, in an effort to quell football fan violence, authorities in Philadelphia set up a courtroom at Veterans Stadium, so that drunken brawlers could be punished within minutes of being arrested. Sure, such a legal arrangement wasn’t in the constitutional spirit, since the accused weren’t permitted legal representation or a chance to review the […]

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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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Messing with the Bull

March 24th, 2011 · No Comments

I have mixed feelings about Ross Dunkley, the Australian who co-founded the Myanmar Times in 2000. It’s impossible not to admire his moxie; rare is the publishing soul brave enough to open a new information venture in a totalitarian state. But Dunkley obviously had to make some bargains to earn that opportunity, and that meant […]

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Hocus Pocus, Cont’d

March 17th, 2011 · 4 Comments

I’ve previously written about the continued existence of anti-sorcery laws in the Vanuatuan penal code, so I felt compelled to post about the current debate in Papua New Guinea over similar statutes. The PNG government has grown increasingly alarmed over a rash of murders linked to beliefs in witchcraft: In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the […]

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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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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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