A HISTORY AND CULTURE OF VIOLENCE

We are a product of violence…and we love it.

In spite of the best efforts of my history and civics instructors, I eventually found out that they lied and distorted many things about the history and government of my country of birth. They didn’t do this out of malice. They were doing no more than unconsciously engaging in the propaganda and indoctrination that they were subjected to in their own educations. It’s what the political classes do in every country. The victors not only get the spoils; they get to write or rewrite history, the revisionist history that glorifies the winners and ignores or justifies all the less than glorious truths behind their “victories”.

I’ve been around for more than 66 years and I’ve been paying attention for most of that time. I credit my political awakening to the Jesuits who ran my high school and the first university I attended. Though I am no longer a Catholic or a Christian, I greatly appreciate Jesuit involvement in my intellectual development, such as it is. They taught me two things that inform my way of thinking to this day. They taught me how to think, as opposed to what to think; and they taught me to question authority. These are dangerous traits, but are, in fact, essential to citizenship in a democracy. How can we learn and advance as a nation if we don’t know the truth about our past and the current machinations of those in power? How can we aspire to match the potential espoused in our high and mighty principles if we aren’t willing to look at our failures at living by those principles?

Our history starts with an invasion and the forceful taking of land belonging to indigenous peoples. By violent revolution, we broke away from an onerous overseas government. We continued our violent subjugation of the indigenous people, an effort that continues, in a somewhat less overt way, to this day. We fought wars to establish our northern and southern borders. We fought an internal war over the economic and human rights issue of slavery. We’ve had labor wars. We’ve had outbreaks of violence directed against voluntary and involuntary immigrants (Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics, Irish etc). We’ve experienced political assassinations and attempts at assassination. We’ve fought numerous foreign wars, some seemingly justified, some not. Violent crime, domestic violence, sexual violence, gang violence, road rage, highway carnage fueled by alcohol and drugs, the Drug War, the list goes on.

Modern culture is rife with violence and we wallow in it willingly. Movies, TV, music, games, sports, all glory in violence. Billions are spent producing and consuming violence. We honor and pay handsomely the actors, singers and athletes who feed our blood lust.

The debate continues over the effect of media depictions of violence on human behavior, especially that of our children. Now we are debating whether violent and hateful political speech can influence or cause violent behavior. We love to debate. We hate to actually engage collectively in defining problems that can be solved, finding real solutions and doing the hard work to attain them.

We are like alcoholics; and like alcoholics, we must admit to our addiction to violence before we can begin the journey to a cure. As a citizen, I have a stake in this situation. As a Seattle private investigator, working mostly in criminal defense, the stake I have has become more clear and tangible.

 

In domestic violence cases, protection orders are often useless

Pardon me for using an out of date colloquialism; but it seems to fit.

Well duh!

Seattle Times Article

Having worked on a number of domestic violence cases over the years and being an avid reader of crime related news, it is quite obvious that the whole behavioral and crime category of domestic violence is very complex. As a practical matter, it seems to be beyond the ability of law enforcement and the courts to effectively deal with the problem or, more correctly, the complex of problems associated with the issue. Two things stand out to me as particularly problematic.

First: A protection or no-contact order is a very tenuous form of protection against future violence by a perpetrator against the same victim. My experience as a private investigator is that the orders are frequently violated by both parties, in collusion. From all the cases we’ve read or heard about over the years, it is sadly obvious that a violent person, intent on injuring or killing his or her victim, is not deterred by fear of legal consequences based on a bit of dead tree with some words printed on it.

Second: Victims of domestic violence are not easy to categorize. Some are mentally healthy, normal people who make the mistake of hooking up with people who later turn out to be violent. In spite of all their efforts to deal with the problem, these people sometimes fall prey to more harassment and violence from the same person. Some domestic violence victims have complex, personal psychological issues that result in their choosing to have co-dependent relationships with violent people. Too often they either return to the same relationship or find another person with whom to form another co-dependent relationship.

There is an old adage that goes something like this. If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something/anything else. The behavioral issues, including their roots, get a lot of attention from the mental health community. Both perpetrators and their victims need better access to counseling. The legal community needs to start from scratch in reforming its response to the crime of domestic violence. What they’re doing isn’t working.

Eyewitnesses can’t be trusted?

Here is an innocent man who spent 30 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. Seattle Times article. Because of cases like this, this Seattle criminal defense investigator is against the death penalty. Because of cases like this, this investigator is strongly motivated in my criminal defense and personal injury cases to get the best information from witnesses that I can and to expose unreliable witnesses when I find them.

Eyewitness identification is unreliable. We’ve known that for a very long time. An eyewitness can be honest, but wrong. An eyewitness can be confused by a variety of factors. An eyewitness can lie for a variety of reasons. An eyewitness can be manipulated by careless or unscrupulous law enforcement officers. In the absence of substantial collaborating evidence, why do we continue to accept eyewitness testimony as sufficient to convict anybody of anything?

Nigerian scams in the local real estate rental market

While foreclosures abound, so do opportunities for real estate fraud. The following recent example shows how real estate fraud at the local level can go global.

At the request of a client who smelled a rat, a private investigator friend of mine investigated a rental house listing on Craigslist. It sounded like a nice house in a gated community at a very affordable price. The client had responded to the Craigslist ad and got this response from the alleged owner of the house:

Dear _____,

The house is still available and it is fully furnished. The monthly rent is $1300 utilities included, The rent includes all utilities such as : – all furnishings – linens- tableware-  cooking utensils- water- heat-internet- basic cable TV etc Options and extras:- off-street  parking/ garage (2 cars) electricity- phone- digital or HD TV. Presently am out of the country to cover some story of African History in West Africa countries like: Sudan, Ghana and Nigeria, and others but presently in Nigeria. I’m a TV News  correspondent. This is a very big task but I have to do it, all the documents to the property and keys are in safe hand here with me. we are looking for a responsible person that can take a very good care of it for us, as we are not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time and the possible tenant will see the house as his or her own.

Below is the house address. Ready for immediate move-in! You can drive down there to take a look at it…i will be willing to rent my house out for the maximum of 5 years and below. I personally had wanted to sell the house earlier on. But after long time deliberation and thinking, I finally decided on renting out the house, because it was initially to be sold. But I really want you to take good care of the house as if it were your own home.

I will be online through out to get back to you as soon as you are able to get back to me. I would want to know how soon you would want to move in.

Because due to my present location. Is not possible for you to view the interior of the place when i have the keys and the document with me here in Africa..I am looking forward to hear from you ASAP so i will like you to go ahead and fill out the rent application form so that will can proceed further and discuss on how to get the keys and papers sent to you via Dhl or ups e.t.c, also are you ready to rent it now or when?

So here is the Rent Application Form Below..Here is the application to fill out for your grant.
(He had a long list of questions)

Pets allowed.

I will use the information above to prepare the rental agreement ,rent receipts and other documents. Make sure the correct information is type. Do reply with your both cell & home number I am going to call you if your application form has been accepted or call me after filling the rental application form. A package containing the house documents, property address with full description. Including the direction to the place and keys will be ship to you once you both agreed with the term and condition. Call me once you fill out the application form. Here is my contact number:  +2348191616964 or 0112348191616964 ….i will be expecting your call to know how serious you are in renting my house.

Thanks & God Bless
Donald Scott d.sctt01@gmail.com

One word…NIGERA!

It was pretty easy from the content of the email for my friend to know this was a scam, but he wanted to know more. First he ran the IP address the email was sent from; it came from an address in Nigeria that has been associated with fraud.

Then he ran the rental address and came up with the property company that was actually representing the house.

From what he could tell, the Nigerian perpetrator surfs online rental listings, gathering enough details to produce his own ads on Craigslist.

One word, one more time…

Wait for it…

NIGERIA.

Just about everybody has heard about scams from Nigeria; yet there will be those who will FedEx an envelope full of cash to Africa in anticipation of receiving the keys so they can move in. If people were not doing this, overseas scammers would not be running their scams anymore.

Tips:

1) Before paying a landlord or agent any money for a house or condo rental, run the address with the county assessors office to confirm ownership and whether or not the house is in foreclosure.
2) Always meet the owner or agent face to face. Just as they have a right to confirm your identity, you have the same right. Know to whom you are giving your money.
3) Never use cash. Personal checks are best. If certified funds are required, get a certified check from a bank and not a money order from a store or check cashing house. If there is an issue of fraud on the part of the property owner after the move in, a local bank will take action much quicker.
4) Use your head. If the rental amount is much lower then you might expect and if the terms are too easy, you could be at risk and should use caution.

What is a Private Investigator?

What is a PI?

A PI is a private investigator, meaning a civilian (not law enforcement) investigator in private practice. In states that require that PIs be licensed, non-licensed persons offering Private Investigator services are operating illegally and should not be trusted. Please check credentials, including licensing, and report to the authorities any fraudulent operators you encounter. There are some persons, not licensed as PIs who conduct investigations legally. In the State of Washington, the  law defines eleven types of investigators who are exempt from Private Investigator licensing. Check your own state laws to see if Private Investigators are required to be licensed and if there are similar exemptions to licensing requirements. Some investigators who don’t come under the Private Investigator licensing laws are required to have licenses under other provisions of the law.

What does a PI do?

A Private Investigator is a data researcher who collects a variety of types of data from a variety of sources in a variety of forms. A PI evaluates and cross checks data collected to validate its reliability. A PI develops leads to more data from that already collected and collects, validates and analyzes that new data. A PI documents all data found. A Private Investigator provides court testimony where litigation is involved, both criminal and civil.

In what areas of practice do PIs operate?

I am a Washington State licensed Private Investigator and Private Investigation Agency Owner, based in Seattle and functioning in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

The member directory of the Washington Association of Legal Investigators lists 67 specialties or areas of practice. My specialties include:

Criminal Defense Investigations
Civil rights investigations
Personal injury investigations
Labor/management/employment investigations
Land use/environmental/natural resource issues

Private Investigator clients include attorneys, other PIs, corporate entities. government and private citizens.

The Declaration of Independence – It’s way past time to read it again.

The Declaration of Independence – It’s way past time to read it again.

[A discussion of all the ideas contained in the complete document is way beyond the scope of my remarks here. This is a huge topic. I do believe that the whole document is worthy of discussion in our current political/legal environment, but I’ll leave that to you and other forums. The italicized text, below, is all I want to comment on, at this time.]

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

The above quote includes only the first paragraph and the beginning of the second paragraph of one of the most important documents related to our nation’s founding. I believe that it has pertinence to our nation’s current situation, politically, morally and legally.

My observation and the questions that arise in my mind come from this idea: that the primary writer of the “Declaration”, Thomas Jefferson, and those others who were involved in the production of this revolutionary statement, directed at King George, expressed the belief that the foundation of our law is natural law and the purpose of government is not to grant, define or establish “certain inalienable rights” but to protect them. In other words, our most fundamental rights derive from our humanity, not government itself, not citizenship in our country, not our body of written law.

Set aside the fact that our history is full of evidence that “all men” who “are created equal” have been mostly wealthy, white males. Consider the words of the Declaration. Study the controversial concepts of natural law and “certain inalienable rights” (see links below) and see if you, as do I, see the beginnings of a way to make sense of our divisive contemporary situation and a possible path to a solution to the problem of being trapped in the “divided they fall” predicament.

More on this in the next blog posting.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/n/natlaw.htm
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09076a.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-ethics/
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-theories/
http://jim.com/rights.html
http://jim.com/spooner.htm
http://www.zetetics.com/mac/natlaw.htm
http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Philosophy/Locke.htm#TOC

Old Weather? What?

Old weather? What? Why should anyone care?

Do you need to know the weather for a particular day at a particular location in the past? Is the weather pertinent to a legal case? Or do you just want to settle an argument with your spouse?

The Weather Underground site at http://www.wunderground.com/ will tell you the weather at the closest data collection points for dates back through the early 70’s.

First fill in the search box in the upper left corner of the home page to identify the location for which you are searching for weather data. Hit “enter”.

Then go to the “History and Almanac” box on the page that comes up for the location you selected. Fill in the date of interest and hit the “Go” button. You get a page showing a summary of weather details for that location.

Some pages will give you more detailed data (hourly observations and seasonal weather averages) for that date and location; be sure to scroll down to get the extra data when provided.

Remember that the data you get is specific to the location and date you selected. Click on “View Current Conditions” to get the latitude, longitude and elevation for the data collection point.

Microclimates matter. Weather varies over time and, for a specific time, over geographic location and elevation, so, unless the data collection point is your real point of interest, you can only make inferences about the data being true for some other location, even close by.

You can triangulate by getting data from surrounding data collection points. For a recent case, I collected data for Boeing Field, Everett and Bothell to allow more reliable inferences about road conditions for a location near to, but outside of, Bothell.

Be sure to play with the site; it offers a considerable amount of interesting and educational information.