Friday, September 03, 2021

Prime Suspects: Life After White-Collar Crime

I began as a mistake.

~ Charles Bukowski 

I bought books on grieving, on loss and bereavement. They spilled over my desk in tottering piles. Like a good academic, I thought books were for answers. Was it reassuring to be told that everyone sees ghosts? That everyone stops eating? Or can’t stop eating? Or that grief comes in stages that can be numbered and pinned like beetles in boxes? I read that after denial comes grief. Or anger. Or guilt. I remember worrying about which stage I was at. I wanted to taxonomise the process, order it, make it sensible. But there was no sense, and I didn’t recognise any of these emotions at all.
Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk

Officers are still investigating whether there is a link between the Malabar and Maroubra parties. 

Tax commissioner Chris Jordan is being warned he could be fined or jailed under the Parliamentary Privileges Act for failing to comply with a Senate order to publish the names of large private companies that received JobKeeper payments.

Senate demand for JobKeeper data escalates to threat of fines or jail for ATO boss

A Sydney Liberal MP has sparked heated debate after he posted a clip of Australian media magnate Kerry Packer's famous blast against tax.

On professionals network LinkedIn, Northern Beaches MP Jason Falinski hailed Mr Packer's speech, saying: 'Flashback to the 1980s when business leaders, well, led.'

The MP's post has sparked hundreds of comment and the video has been played almost 60,000 times on the business professional network, LinkedIn

Despite their criticisms of One Nation’s conduct, Labor and Senator Patrick decided that any transparency amendment was better than none and ultimately voted in favour of Senator Hanson’s proposal.

The bill will be voted on in the House of Representatives in the coming months before it can become law.

Pauline Hanson backflips in parliament, dumping ‘dud’ bill and shocking the Senate

An incorrect process was followed when police from the Fixated Persons Unit arrested a producer for YouTube channel Friendlyjordies, because he was not assessed by a panel to determine if he was fixated, senior police have told a NSW parliamentary hearing.

Kristo Langker, 21, was arrested in June and charged with stalking NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro after he approached the politician twice, at Macquarie University and on a street near Parliament, to speak to him in videos filmed for YouTube.

Incorrect process followed when police unit arrested Friendlyjordies producer, hearing told

People are getting more and more comfortable in the gray area …
In the nineties, Jeffrey D. Grant had a law firm in Westchester County, a seat on the local school board, and an ownership stake in a bistro called, if you’ll forgive the irony, the Good Life. He was in his early forties, garrulous and rotund, and he gloried in his capacity to consume. Each year, he took his wife and daughters on half a dozen “shopping vacations,” though they sometimes neglected to open the bags between trips.

Grant had developed an early appreciation for personal displays of wealth and power. Born in 1956, the son of a marketing executive, he grew up on Long Island, graduated from sunyBrockport, and worked his way through New York Law School as a shoe salesman. By then, his parents had divorced, and his father had moved in with Lynda Dick, a wealthy widow whose properties included one of the most storied mansions in Greenwich, Connecticut, a hilltop estate known as Dunnellen Hall. (It later became famous as the home of Leona Helmsley, the hotel magnate convicted of tax evasion in 1989, after a trial in which a housekeeper testified that Helmsley had told her, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”)

Australian liquidator John Sheahan has launched new legal action in Israel against members of the Binetter family which if successful would lift the total he has realised from tax fraud claims to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

In two new lawsuits filed on July 11, Mr Sheahan’s lawyers allege that Binetter family members flew out of Australia on January 3, 2013 hours after transferring $22.6 million from Sydney to a bank account in Liechtenstein.

Gary Binetter in 2001. He says his family left Australia after he was told “the Tax Office will always have the advantage while we’re in the jurisdiction”. Nick Moir

It’s alleged another $4.4 million was later moved to Liechtenstein, taking the total to $27 million which Mr Sheahan is seeking to have returned.

The pursuit of the Binetters is a 15-year saga that began in July 2006 when the Tax Office began auditing companies set up by Emil and Erwin Binetter, who had built a property group as well as co-founding the Nudie Juice business.

A series of legal challenges to tax assessments issued in 2009 and 2010 took more than a decade to resolve.

FBI sends its first-ever alert about a ‘ransomware affiliate’

The Record: “The US Federal Bureau of Investigations has published today its first-ever public advisory detailing the modus operandi of a “ransomware affiliate.” A relatively new term, a ransomware affiliate refers to a person or group who rents access to Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) platforms, orchestrates intrusions into corporate networks, encrypt files with the “rented ransomware,” and then earn a commission from successful extortions. Going by the name of OnePercent Group, the FBI said today this threat actor has been active since at least November 2020. Per the FBI report [PDF], historically, the group has primarily relied on the following tactics for its attacks:

  • Used phishing email campaigns to infect victims with the IcedID trojan.
  • Used the IcedID trojan to deploy additional payloads on infected networks.
  • Used the Cobalt Strike penetration testing framework to move laterally across a victim’s network.
  • Used RClone to exfiltrate sensitive data from a victim’s servers.
  • Encrypted data and demanded a ransom.
  • Phoned or emailed victims to threaten to sell their stolen data on the dark web if they didn’t pay on time…”

Hispanic and White Criminality are Converging

Keith Humphreys has a good post at the excellent Slow Boring on how Hispanics and White statistics on crime are converging.

An otherwise dull new government report on incarceration contains a startling fact: Hispanics are slightly less likely to be jailed than whites. It’s one of multiple unappreciated signs of fading disparities between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites in the criminal justice system, a phenomenon with substantial implications both for the future of reform and electoral politics.

To be clear this is about jails not prisons where there are still differences but those differences are also rapidly converging. Hispanics are also joining police forces in much higher numbers.

Parallel changes appear in who the criminal justice system employs. From 1997 to 2016, the proportion of police officers who were African-American was stable, whereas the proportion who were Hispanic increased 61%. This helps explain why a June 2021 Gallup poll found that the proportion of Hispanics expressing “a lot” or “a great deal” of trust in police was 49%, almost as high as whites (56%), and far greater than that of African-Americans (27%).  Hispanic views on policing and crime may also be similar to whites because the two groups rate of being violent crime victims is almost identical (21.3 per thousand persons for Hispanics, 21.0 for whites).

Maybe systemic racism isn’t so systemic after all.

…in an era of widespread despair about criminal justice reform and racism in America more generally, the declining disparities between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites merit reflection. A generation ago, the idea that such disparities would dramatically shrink or even disappear within the criminal justice system would have sounded naive. The fading of disparities should inspire reformers to even greater heights and also reduce cynicism about the alleged intractability of prejudice within American society.

There is a mystery about rivers that draws us to them, for they rise from hidden places and travel by routes that are not always tomorrow where they might be today,

  1. “Does [Wittgenstein’s account] have a place for thinking that there may be space for the privacy of feelings and thoughts and thus for a potential freedom from the intrusiveness of the powers of surveillance?” — Hans Sluga (Berkeley) on Wittgenstein, authoritarianism, and surveillance capitalism
  2. The biology, psychology, and philosophy of near-death experiences — “These reports are very vivid… we look at the positive evidence they offer for an afterlife and ignore the problems with the evidence” says John Martin Fischer (UC Riverside)
  3. How to end a war justly — Darrel Moellendorf (Goethe University) is interviewed on the subject
  4. Philosophy podcasts organized by style and subject matter — by Kelly Truelove
  5. “In the coming years, we might discover whether or not the world is quantum all the way up” — recent research on expanding the quantum scale
  6. “The typical college professor would be lucky to make $35,560 per year, and often might expect to make more like $21,336” — a look at the AAUP’s Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession (via Sara Protasi)
  7. “Mere uncertainty is not sufficient reason to reject a pandemic policy proposal” — “critics need to offer reasons for thinking that the potential downsides outweigh the potential upsides,” says Richard Chappell (Miami)

Control meets chaos in these carefully arranged images from Kerry Skarbakka’s series The Struggle to Right Oneself