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hunt for the Great White Defendant

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From the BBC:

Brazil police hunt ‘blonde kidnap gang’ in Sao Paulo 

Brazilian police say they are hunting a gang of mostly blonde young women who have committed a series of kidnaps and robberies in Sao Paulo. The criminals have been targeting wealthy women in shopping centres, Sao Paulo’s anti-kidnap police unit says. 

The victims are followed to their cars, where they are robbed and held captive at gunpoint while the gang uses their credit cards to make luxury purchases. Police said the “blonde gang” consisted of young, educated, middle-class women. Sao Paulo civil police anti-kidnap division chief Joaquim Dias Alves told BBC Mundo: “One or two speak more than one language, and some have been educated overseas. 

“They are really pretty girls, well-dressed and made up,” he said. The gang tend to target women who look similar to them, so they can assume the victim’s identity while they use their credit cards. 

They are thought to have been operating for three years, and to have robbed at least 50 people.

C’mon, you know this is a lot more promising for a True Crime movie than that scenario you’ve been kicking around about poor Trayvon Martin. Even your brainstorm of casting Ryan Phillippe as Great White Defendant George Zimmerman isn’t going to save that story from boring-and-depressingness.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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I hadn’t been paying attention to the Amanda Knox brouhaha in Italy, but, yeah, it turns out to be just another example of the Hunt for the Great White Defendant. A black burglar raping and murdering a college girl is depressing, boring and stereotypical, even in Italy, so let’s spice up the crime by making up stories about how the victim’s 20-year-old white Seattleite roommate must have been the Real Killer, as OJ would say. Back in March, commenter nightowl2548 wrote:

Just read up on the Amanda Knox case in Italy and am struck how this is Europe’s version of “The Great White Defendant.” She is obviously innocent, all she did was come home from her boyfriend’s in the morning and had the misfortune to be the first to stumble upon the crime scene. For that the cops interrogated her for 43 hours and demanded she “imagine” how it may have happened. They then announced “case closed” until two weeks later the forensic evidence came back all pointing to a local black burglar. Yet the local cops and tabloids refused to believe it and instead defamed an ordinary college girl out of pure spite and hatefulness towards Americans. To them a granola crunching, pot smoking, hippie Seattle girl is a right wing, rich, spoiled, warmongering, arrogant Bush loving American. Just like a liberal getting caught in a race riot, they hate us all no matter what our politics.

I don’t really like the word “meme,” but it’s important to realize how important it is which memes colonize the hive mind and which don’t. The meme of “The Hunt for the Great White Defendant” was coined by Tom Wolfe in the Great American Novel of the 1980s, The Bonfire of the Vanities, but, as far as I can tell, it disappeared from consciousness until I started using it to describe Dick Wolf’s TV show Law & Order around 2005 or so. I applied it to the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax in 2006, and it kind of, sort of took off from there, but, honestly, there’s probably seldom more than two degrees of separation between anybody who uses it and me. It’s not the kind of thing that, say, the New York Post would use in a headline yet. Basically, 99.9% of Americans, much less Italians, aren’t memetically equipped yet to get the joke.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Not surprisingly, DA Cyrus Vance Jr. dropped charges against former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
I must say that I feel like I’ve been lied to by my Hollywood thrillers. Here we have a case in which hundreds of billions of dollars and the leadership of a great power are at stake. In a movie, there would have been a superbly engineered conspiracy countered by brilliant agents on the other side. 
But, as far as I can tell, every single real person involved in this story acted like a complete idiot with a time horizon of about 90 seconds to 90 minutes. I’ve seen shoving matches in an alley between a homeless guy and a transvestite streetwalker that involved more careful planning than this.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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From the AP:

A murder charge against the woman who falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her is but the latest problem for a woman friends say is still haunted by the stigma of the lacrosse case. 

Crystal Mangum, 32, was indicted Monday on a charge of first-degree murder and two counts of larceny. She has been in jail since April 3, when police charged her with assault in the stabbing of her boyfriend Reginald Daye, 46. He died after nearly two weeks at a hospital. 

As for the poor bastard Ms. Mangum is alleged to have stabbed to death this month, well, his problems are over, so let’s get right back to Crystal’s troubles.

Friends said Mangum has never recovered from the stigma brought by the lacrosse case and has been involved in a string of questionable relationships in an attempt to provide stability for her children. 

Mangum, who is black, falsely accused the white lacrosse players of raping her at a 2006 party for which she was hired to perform as a stripper. The case heightened long-standing tensions in Durham about race, class and the privileged status of college athletes. …

Okay, most of this article sounds like it was written by Oprah’s friend Gayle, but the last line almost makes up for the rest:

Even when Daye’s nephew talked to a 911 dispatcher after the stabbing, he referenced the notoriety Mangum still carries. 

“It’s Crystal Mangum. THE Crystal Mangum,” said the nephew, whose name was removed from a publicly-released version of the emergency call. “I told him she was trouble from the damn beginning.”

I think the AP Style Guide should recommend that all news stories try to end with a quote from somebody who sounds like Chris Rock’s grandfather. Maybe the NYT should have talked to the nephew before running two dozen stories based on the assumption that Crystal Mangum was obviously telling the truth about the Great White Defendants.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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It appears that the D.C. police are finally going to arrest somebody in the 2001 murder of Congressional aide Chandra Levy in Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C. No, it’s not the Great White Defendant, former Rep. Gary Condit (D-CA), who was having an affair with her. Rep. Condit captivated the attention of the police and media in 2001 and distracted from the pursuit of the real killer. It seemed like a Law & Order episode come to life!

No, the prime suspect now turns out to be another boring, depressing usual suspect. (Actually, this guy had been on the radar screen for years.) Last year, the Washington Post’s reporters Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham and Sylvia Moreno took a look at the man the police are finally saying is most likely to have done it:

While D.C. police focused most of their investigative efforts on Rep. Gary Condit and his relationship to missing intern Chandra Levy, they were slow to recognize another lead. It involved a man who was attacking women in the woods of Rock Creek Park.

The day Chandra disappeared, May 1, 2001, Ingmar A. Guandique, a 19-year-old illegal Salvadoran immigrant, did not show up for his construction job. Around that time, he went to stay with his former landlady, Sheila Phillips Cruz, the manager of an apartment building on Somerset Place NW. Cruz noticed that Guandique looked like he had been in a bad fight, his face battered and bruised. He had a fat lip, a bloody blemish in his eye and scratches around his throat.

Guandique (pronounced GWAN-dee-keh) had come from a hard-scrabble hamlet near the city of San Miguel in El Salvador. …

Guandique wanted a better life in America. A friend of the family lent him $5,000 to pay a “coyote” to smuggle him across the Texas border with more than 50 others. The seventh-grade dropout left home in January 2000, eventually swimming across the Rio Grande, crossing the border near Piedras Negras and arriving in Houston in March 2000. From there, he made his way to Washington to join his half-brother, Huber, and other family friends.

Within a month, Guandique began picking up day jobs on construction sites and sending small amounts of money back home. He also had financial obligations to the family that paid his way. And he had another obligation: his ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant when Guandique left and later gave birth to a boy.

In fall 2000, Guandique met a new girl, Iris Portillo. …

Guandique was having a hard time adjusting to living on the bottom rung of the American economy. He barely spoke English. He was not used to the routine: waking up at dawn, getting to the work site on time, spending the day toiling at a menial job. He struggled to pay the bills, send money home and buy the nice things Portillo wanted.

In early spring 2001, Guandique started to spend more time drinking and hanging around Rock Creek Park. He began to carry a six-inch knife wrapped in a red cloth. After finding letters from one of Portillo’s old boyfriends from El Salvador, he struck her. He once bit her hard above her breast, leaving a scar, and he warned her not to stray.

He attacked at least two other joggers in Rock Creek Park in 2001:

- “Halle Shilling, 30, a tall, blond, athletic aspiring writer”

- “Christy Wiegand and her fiance were jogging in the northern section of Rock Creek Park. It had been raining on and off all day. Wiegand, 25, a former varsity rower at Princeton and a recent Cornell University Law School graduate, was an anti-trust lawyer for Arnold & Porter. Her wedding date was seven weeks away. She was tall and blond, her 5-foot-11 frame moving steadily along the trail, wearing her Walkman. Her fiance ran ahead and was soon out of sight.”

It’s a good article about the wildly different worlds of D.C., where Rock Creek Park serves as a border between two worlds.

The Condit connection should seem familiar to readers of Raymond Chandler detective novels, where a dead body leads to all sorts of embarrassing revelations about big shots as collateral damage. A dead body with a hole in it demands attention, and winds up shining a light on the private lives of people who didn’t kill anybody, but were tangentially involved with the victim.

It shouldn’t have taken until 2009 to arrest Guandique. Amy Keller wrote in Salon way back in 2002:

But while my colleagues speculated on the proximity of Condit’s Adams Morgan apartment to the section of park where Levy’s body was recovered on May 22, I wondered if the location of her body might point to another possibility: Perhaps Levy really was the victim of a random attack. I know the trepidation I feel each time I jog or bike along the park trails near my own neighborhood on the outskirts of Washington. The charming, leafy streets here are deceptive; Washington has its high crime areas, some just blocks from where members of Congress live in opulent brownstones.

I took a straightforward approach, and clicked through news databases, searching through stories about other crimes that might have been committed in the park. Eventually, I clicked my way to Ingmar Guandique.

Guandique is serving out a 10-year sentence in federal prison for brutally attacking two young women along the Broad Branch trail last May and July. That’s the same section of Rock Creek Park where Levy was found. She had gone missing in May of 2001.

I knew I had a good story on my hands. But I had no idea that once I published it, other reporters following the Levy investigation would question my motives, or accuse me of being a pawn of Gary Condit.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Several readers have pointed out that this story is likely to get more national coverage than similar local crime cases. I wonder why …

Details emerge in W.Va. torture case

By JOHN RABY and TOM BREEN, Associated Press Writers 34 minutes ago

For at least a week, authorities say, a young black woman was held captive in a mobile home, forced to eat animal waste, stabbed, choked and repeatedly sexually abused — all while being peppered with a racial slur.

It wasn’t until deputies acting on an anonymous tip drove to a ramshackle trailer deep in West Virginia’s rural hills that she was found. Limping toward the door with her arms outstretched, she uttered, “Help me,” the Logan County sheriff’s office said.

Six people, all white, including a mother and son and a mother and daughter, have been arrested and could face federal hate crime charges in the suspected attack on 20-year-old Megan Williams, who remained hospitalized Tuesday with injuries that included four stab wounds in the leg, and black and blue eyes.

Damn. If only they were lacrosse players, or yachtsmen, or something else like all the bad guys on “Law & Order,” then the New York Times would be all over this story. Heck, even Jayson Blair would have gotten off his couch and gone to West Virginia for real for that story.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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From the New York Times:

Study of N.B.A. Sees Racial Bias in Calling Fouls

An academic study of the National Basketball Association, whose playoffs continue tonight, suggests that a racial bias found in other parts of American society has existed on the basketball court as well. A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through 2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players.

These scholars should get the Nobel Prize for their discovery that there are still white players in the NBA!

The economists write:

The data in Figure 2 show that 21 out of 29 black referees [74%] have a below-average bias in foul-calling against black players, while 34 of 55 white referees [62%] have an above average bias in foul-calling against black players.

That would seem to raise the obvious question: who is right and who is wrong? Perhaps the black refs on average are wrongly discriminating against the white players more than the white refs are wrongly discriminating against the black players? I realize it’s completely despicable to even entertain that possibility, but it is a conceptual possibility. … Okay, forget I ever said that. Everybody knows that in all facets of human behavior, blacks are more accurate and honest decision makers than whites, so white racism must be the only possible explanation.

The economists admit, unsurprisingly:

“Unfortunately our framework is not well-suited to sorting out whether these results are driven by the actions of black or white referees.”

They go on to take some SWAGs at why it’s really the white refs’ fault, but they admit that is much weaker than the rest of their analysis. But that doesn’t stop the NYT from playing this study up as proof of the White Man Keeping the Black Man Down in the NBA.

Interesting findings from this huge study in the pdf that the NYT doesn’t play up:

- Blacks get 83% of the playing time in the NBA.

- Blacks get substantially fewer fouls called on them per 48 minutes of playing time, but they are more likely to be starters, who get fewer fouls, and not play center, a position that fouls a lot. Possibly, referee bias in favor of blacks contributes to blacks getting to be starters more, but nobody is interested in investigating that.

- NBA teams would win slightly more games if they played whites more. The economists write: “In our sample, the team with a greater share of playing time accounted for by black players won 48.6% of games …” That this figure doesn’t diverge far from 50% show that NBA teams are pretty good about about putting the best team on the court irrespective of color, but you know that if the study showed the opposite — that teams that played more whites won only 48.6% of the time — the NYT would be howling about anti-black prejudice.

If you are interested in a blatant example of old guard stupidity in sports having a disparate impact by ethnicity that the media relentlessly ignored for decades because it was benefiting a minority group, here’s my 2003 article “Baseball’s Hidden Ethnic Bias.”

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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