Crimes and Their Punishments – Through the Ages

Punishments for Crimes through the ages – from the bizarre to outrageous, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We don’t know how lucky we are!

Many of us are apt to complain about sentences handed out by our Courts for crimes these days – too harsh, too lenient. But a quick look at some punishments for crimes through the ages, including in some countries today, we should really consider how much we really have to complain about.

Not only have punishments been truly shocking (and in some instances still are), but even some of the crimes are truly unbelievable.

Many Sydney criminal lawyers would have had their work cut out for them if some of these historical crimes were still on the statute books! Lucky for us that our complaints about the justice systems these days are limited to whether an offender should be given a jail sentence or community service, or whether a 2 year sentence is sufficient or whether 5 would have been better, and so on.

Thank goodness we don’t have to contend with crimes for which the penalty is being tortured to death by some truly unimaginable means. Criminal lawyers in Australia, as in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and others, these days don’t have to plead for the type of mercy that offenders of times gone by had to. And of course, some of these barbaric practices do still exist today in other parts of the globe, as you can see below.

Some Crimes and Some Punishments You Won’t Believe

Take a look …

Crimes and Their Punishments

These ex-Facebook and Google engineers are helping companies kick abusive people off popular internet sites

Smyte founders

  • In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal we asked an ex-Facebook engineer how tech can be used to prevent internet sites like Facebook from being abused.
  • Pete Hunt is the CEO founder of a startup called Smyte which was formed to tackle exactly this problem.
  • He says that finding bad actors is relatively easy by searching for signals. The hard part is to not accidentally catch the good guys “in the net.”

In the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s exhaustive Congressional testimony over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, we caught up with former Facebook engineer Pete Hunt, the CEO founder of a startup called Smyte

We asked him how technology can be used to find bad actors online, such as Russian hackers and trolls intent on influencing elections, and prevent them from using internet sites to spread misinformation or do other misdeeds.

Smyte was formed in 2015 to tackle exactly this sort of problem.

It was founded by two former Facebook engineers (Hunt and his cofounder Josh Yudaken) and an ex Google engineer (co-founder Julian Tempelsman). The company uses technology to find the abusers so they can be booted off of internet sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit.

Smyte can also be used to protect corporate websites and apps from being hacked by bad guys using trickery like spam, manipulating customer support agents and so on.

“Technology can enable lots of harm if you don’t think about abuse,” Hunt said.

Zuckerberg Facebook Privacy Hearing Day 2 GettyIn his recent testimony on Capitol Hill, Zuckerberg talked about hiring more people to monitor content and help it police its website.

But even when Facebook builds that team out to 20,000 people, that won’t be enough. Facebook’s 2 billion users upload 100 billion bits of content like links, status check-ins and photos every day. Humans just can’t watch all that stuff. So Facebook uses monitoring technology to be its eyes and ears and its working on making that tech smarter using artificial intelligence, Zuckerberg said.

We asked Hunt how technology can be used to spot the bad actors, fake news, malicious links and the like.

“The thing about abuse and these kind of adversaries in general is that it’s a business just like any other business. They have a sales funnel just like we have a sales funnel: you start with a list of prospects who seem like high-value targets,” Hunt explained.

“And the way you do that in a technology age, is you use all these great machine learning technologies and search and  crawling technologies that can be used for good, and you can can use them to identify the most vulnerable and highest-value targets,” he said.

For instance, Cambridge Analytica gathered data on 87 million Facebook users to determine their beliefs and leanings, then fed them misinformation to influence their opinions and ultimately their actions.

How to stop it

Smyte says its team has figured out how to stop these bad guys by looking at four specific types of “signals.”

1. Content signals. Does a post or ad have a photo and if so, it uses machine learning to determine what the photo is, such as a photo of a political figure like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. 

2. Behavior signals. For instance, when someone signs up for a new account and instantly copies and pastes a description about themselves in, as opposed to taking time and care. 

3. Reputational signals. Is the IP address coming from say, the Ukraine. If so, why is someone from the Ukraine buying ads on US political figures or issues?

4. Relationship signals. Who is the account connected to and are there clusters of suspicious behavior among them?

What then?

After content is flagged, a company can’t just boot the person off. Bad behavior isn’t black and white and the tech will make mistakes in the gray areas.

Smyte Pete Hunt“It’s really easy to catch bad guys, if you don’t care about the good guys who get caught in the net,” Hunt says. 

In fact, Zuckerberg was grilled by several conservative politicians over instances where content was banned, prowling for evidence that internet companies are censoring conservative viewpoints.

But it’s more accurate to say that mistakes are just a numbers game, Hunt point out.

With 2 billion users, even if Facebook’s monitoring tech was 99% accurate, that’s still 2 million people that get impacted. And there’s a network effect, of all those people’s connections learning about the mistake, spreading the impact to millions more.  

Rather than cutting people off, Hunt advocates putting suspicious players in a gray-area where they are monitored for more bad behavior, warned and educated, before they are cut off. 

Obviously, his hope, and the hope of his startup, is that this Facebook scandal causes more companies to start taking abuse more seriously.

He imagines a day when companies have a VP of Anti-abuse job in-house and in which the focus shifts “from security that’s focused on protecting the company’s assets” to security that can “stand up and protect the users.”

SEE ALSO: Now is an ‘opportune’ time to land a job at Facebook, one of the company’s top recruiters says

SEE ALSO: A security guy at JPMorgan spied on employees emails and phone calls using the secretive software tool Palantir

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Why Criminal Minds Needs a Season 14 Renewal – Today's News … – TV Guide

Earlier this week CBS handed out renewals to 11 of its shows, but veteran procedural Criminal Minds was left off the list. The absence is noticeable, but it’s not strange for CBS.

Why do Criminal Minds fans have to be stressed out season after season? Allow us to get a little business-y here. As TV Guide explained in 2016, Criminal Minds airs on CBS but it is co-produced by ABC Studios. That makes it more expensive than CBS’ other dramas which are produced by the network’s in-house studio. As the show progresses, the series regulars also go through contract negotiations. The extra step of hammering out a deal with ABC Studios is what delays CBS from giving a green light to one of its longest-running dramas when it renews the rest of the batch.

That being said, the renewal is a situation that needs to be remedied, ASAP.

The show is still CBS’ fifth-ranked drama and delivered a Season 13 finale that demands more episodes be issued. The season ender concluded with Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) holding the member of a serial killer cult (and she’s an FBI mole!) at gunpoint, only to find out the cult was already holding Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) hostage. The cliffhanger was whether Reid would concede to going with the cult to save Garcia or if he’d shoot the mole and risk Baby Girl’s life.

According to Criminal Minds executive producer Erica Messer, this is the first time the show has put both its smartest team member and tech guru in danger at the same time. The Season 13 finale is also the show’s 299th episode, which leaves the possibility of reaching the milestone 300th dependent on CBS’ good graces to renew the show and allow it. If the network decides to cancel, it would go down as cruel a move as the time NBC ended Law & Order just one season short of it breaking the longest-running television drama record.

Criminal Minds Leaves Two Agents In Serious Peril After Season 13 Finale

The bad news is that Criminal Minds has slipped in ratings. It dropped to a 0.99 for Season 13, a sizable decrease in viewers from Season 12. Is it a big enough dip for CBS to pull the cord without allowing the show to wrap up these storylines? There has not been a contingency plan discussed to give fans a satisfying ending if the network decides to be done.

That’s really the most important reason for CBS to renew the show. Season 13 showed that it is still willing to take big risks and while the cast and crew deserve to reach that landmark 300th episode, the fans deserve to have a proper goodbye to a show they’ve kept on the air for over a decade.

Criminal Minds should get a Season 14 because there are still more stories to tell for the BAU, but it needs one to finish the one it started with the season finale. We need to know what happens to Reid and Garcia, even if it isn’t a walk off into the sunset.

(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS)

<img src="http://cimg.tvgcdn.net/i/r/2018/04/19/162733be-aed5-4dcd-8855-536fb0914fb9/resize/970×647/09b1cefd7cc2f5511c0c7c69c176a877/180419-criminal-minds-matthew-gray-gubler.jpg" class="article-attached-image-img" srcset="http://cimg.tvgcdn.net/i/r/2018/04/19/162733be-aed5-4dcd-8855-536fb0914fb9/resize/1940×1294/aeb0609b4a5492c076533abf42ba9700/180419-criminal-minds-matthew-gray-gubler.jpg 2x" alt="Matthew Gray Gubler, Criminal Minds” width=”970″ height=”647″ title=”Matthew Gray Gubler, Criminal Minds​”>Matthew Gray Gubler, Criminal Minds

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Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Anticipates Cohen Documents Will Embarrass Sean Hannity – Complex

Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen was the butt of Bill Maher’s jokes on Friday night, during his HBO show Real Time. Over the last few months, Cohen has been swept up in reports that he paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money so she wouldn’t discuss a purported affair she had with Trump.

“The guy who’s really sweating it out these days is Michael Cohen, Trump’s criminal lawyer—and when I say ‘criminal lawyer,’ I mean lawyer who’s a criminal,” Maher joked during his monologue. “He’s the one who famously said, ‘I’d take a bullet for Donald Trump.’ Well, now that he’s looking at prison time, we’ll see if he’s willing to take a dick.”

Maher had Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti on the show, who revealed that what they find in Cohen’s documents might be quite disconcerting for Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“Here’s what I think: I think that when the documents actually come out, and there are documents—there’s no question in my mind, there are documents with Sean Hannity’s name on them—the extent of that relationship, I think, will be very embarrassing to Sean Hannity,” Avenatti told Maher.

Hannity was recently exposed as Cohen’s clientt, but contends that he never kept Cohen on retainer and asserts that Cohen gave him real estate advice. Trump and Hannity are close, though, and Hannity is a huge proponent of the president, so the connection makes sense.

Daniels is now suing Trump so she can be freed from the non-disclosure agreement that Trump allegedly never signed when she took the hush money.

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China is obsessed with stopping jaywalkers — and is now spraying them with water

Water fight China

  • One city in China has built bollards that spray jaywalkers with water, and tell pedestrians that “Crossing is dangerous.”
  • The system also uses facial recognition technology to capture and shame wayward walkers.
  • Facial recognition technology is being used more frequently to target jaywalkers because of a high number of road fatalities and traffic jams.
  • But in an increasingly strict China, police may want to clamp down on overt law breakers.
  • Jaywalkers may soon lose points on their social credit score.

China is so desperate to stop jaywalkers it’s turned to spraying them with water.

In Daye, in the central Hubei province, one pedestrian crossing has had a number of bright yellow bollards installed that spray wayward pedestrians’ feet with water mist.

The pilot system works by using a laser sensor that identifies movement off the curb when the pedestrian light is still red. The bollard then emits its water spray, set to 26 degrees Celcius, and announces, “Please do not cross the street, crossing is dangerous.”

Unsurprisingly, the bollards are also equipped with facial recognition technology and photographs of jaywalkers are displayed on a giant LED screen next to the crossing.

The use of facial-recognition technology is soaring in China where it is being used to increase efficiencies and improve policing. AI is being used to find fugitivestrack people’s regular hangouts, predict crime before it happens, but, most commonly, to stop jaywalkers.

While many Chinese cities are displaying jaywalkers’ photos, names, and identification numbers on giant public screens, and even government websites, some cities are becoming more creative.

Shenzen has begun immediately texting jaywalkers after they commit their traffic infringement, while other cities only allow pedestrians to have their photos removed from public screens after helping a traffic officer for 20 minutes.

But why, of all crimes, does China focus so heavily on stopping jaywalkers?

Crossing roads in China can be very dangerous, and local governments are likely trying to minimize traffic jams and change pedestrians’ behaviours for their own safety.

According to the World Health Organisation, China had more than 260,000 road traffic deaths in 2013.

An anecdotal contributor to this number appears to be the country’s compensation system. In China, drivers who injure someone customarily pay expenses, but paying up to $50,000 for a funeral or burial is far cheaper than what may be life-long medical bills. So for some drivers its more frugal to ensure a victim is deceased. 

There could also be less altruistic reasons for the clamp-down.

When one city built pedestrian gates at a busy intersection it was linked to attempts to strengthen “public morals.” In a country where the government attempts to — and largely succeeds in — censoring its citizens behaviour in accordance with morality and socialist values, the constant flood of jaywalkers flaunting the law and creating havoc is hardly an ideal scenario.

And while the new water spray system seems like a light-hearted solution to these problems, the consequences could be severe.

If Daye’s system is rolled out across the city, Global Times reported that the behaviour of repeat jaywalkers may lower offenders’ social credit scores. People with low social credit scores can be blocked from travelling, applying for certain jobs, sending their kids to certain schools, and even throttling internet speeds.

SEE ALSO: China’s largest trade fair is the size of 71 Walmart Supercenters, where buyers go to stock the world’s shelves with toys, TVs, and toilets — here’s what it’s like

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Indiana State Police to pot smokers: 'Somebody's 4/20 celebration is canceled'

marijuana indiana

  • An Indiana State Trooper on Monday pulled over an SUV loaded with over 78 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of about $250,000. 
  • “Somebody’s 4/20 is canceled,” the police tweeted.
  • Medicinal and recreational pot aren’t legal in Indiana. 

Indiana State police said Monday that a trooper pulled over a Ford Expedition for weaving outside of traffic lanes. 

It turned out to be more than a traffic stop. Inside the vehicle, the trooper found over 78 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of around $250,000, the police said in a statement.  

Police named the driver as Christian Elie, 51, of Elbert, Colorado, and the passenger as Austin Johnson, 42, of Indianapolis. They were both arrested on preliminary drug charges, the police said

Sgt. John Perrine of the Indiana State Police tweeted that they had rented the SUV, loaded it up with pot, and driven to Indiana. 

The state is one of about two dozen where neither recreational nor medical marijuana is legal. Last Friday, police said they made two arrests during another traffic stop after the truck’s occupants were found with marijuana. In the county jail, a trooper purportedly found 48 grams that one of meth that one of the suspects was allegedly trying to hide.

In the most recent bust, it was the driving that caught the trooper’s attention, according to Perrine.

 

He also had this to say for anyone that would have smoked the pot on Friday, April 20, or 4/20, an important holiday for stoners everywhere:

 

SEE ALSO: Here’s how 4/20 became a holiday for stoners

DON’T MISS: A powerful drug derived from marijuana is on the cusp of federal approval

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Former New York Mayor Giuliani to join Trump legal team – Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a one-time federal prosecutor, is joining U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal legal team, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement on Thursday.

“Rudy is great,” Sekulow quoted Trump as saying. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.”

JoAnn Zafonte, a representative for Giuliani, did not respond to a request for comment.

Giuliani was one of three attorneys Sekulow said were being added to the president’s legal team dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Russia has denied meddling in the election. Trump has said there was no collusion and has called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt.”

Sekulow also announced south Florida husband-and-wife white-collar defense lawyers Martin and Jane Raskin were joining the president’s legal team.

The addition of Giuliani and the Raskins represents a major boost to Trump’s legal firepower. The president has previously struggled to retain a top-flight criminal lawyer to represent him in the Mueller probe. Washington lawyer John Dowd, the most recent head of his team, resigned last month.

Harry Sandick, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler and former federal prosecutor, said it was not clear how Giuliani would quickly resolve the Mueller probe, given the number of people who have pleaded guilty and have become cooperating witnesses.

But Sandick said Giuliani’s personal relationship with Trump could make the former mayor’s job as the president’s attorney “a little easier.”

Giuliani had a storied career as a federal prosecutor before becoming mayor of New York in 1994 and achieved wide respect for his leadership when the city was attacked on September 11, 2001. But his often hard-bitten remarks in recent years, some made in support of Trump’s candidacy, have drawn criticism.

FILE PHOTO: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani introduces Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

During the 2016 campaign, he claimed there had not been “any successful radical Islamic attacks in the United States” in the eight years before former President Barack Obama took office, seeming to forget the 2001 attacks, when nearly 3,000 people died.

Trump’s legal worries have recently expanded beyond the Mueller probe to include a criminal investigation in New York of the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, whose home and offices were raided by the FBI on April 9.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is overseeing the Cohen investigation, is headed by Geoffrey Berman, a former law partner of Giuliani’s at the firm of Greenberg Traurig.

The Republican mayor of New York from 1994 to 2001, Giuliani was also the Manhattan U.S. Attorney for much of the 1980s. During that time, he brought many high-profile cases targeting insider trading on Wall Street, prosecuting Ivan Boesky and the firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Giuliani was also a top Department of Justice official in the Reagan administration. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.

Since exiting the mayor’s office, Giuliani has been in private practice, most recently at Greenberg Traurig. The firm said Giuliani is on a leave of absence, effective Thursday.

The Raskins, whose firm is based in Coral Gables, Florida, are both former federal prosecutors. Martin Raskin headed the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami in the early 1980s and Jane Raskin prosecuted organized crime cases in Boston.

Miami defense lawyer Silvia Pinera-Vasquez, who knows and has worked with the Raskins, praised them as “excellent strategists” and said Trump was fortunate to have them representing him.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Martin Raskin declined to comment on their behalf and referred inquiries to Sekulow.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by Jan Wolfe, Nathan Layne and Noeleen Walder; writing by Anthony Lin; editing by Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft

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A security guy at JPMorgan spied on employees emails and phone calls using the secretive software tool Palantir

jp morgan

  • A security expert hired by JPMorgan used software by Palantir to conduct an extensive spying program on the bank’s staffers and executives, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • Palantir has raised billions in funding from investors in the private markets, but the company has a reputation for secrecy. 
  • The JPMorgan incident highlights a disturbing aspect of big data technology misuse, but it also sheds light on a major challenge facing Palantir.

JPMorgan was once the marquee corporate customer for Palantir, a data-crunching software tool originally created to hunt terrorists and founded by Silicon Valley’s controversial venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

But several years ago, in the hands of a former Secret Service agent JPMorgan hired as a computer security professional, Palantir became a way to spy on bank employees and executives. The security pro’s job was to protect the bank from employees intent on doing harm, according to a new, eye popping report on what Palantir does and who runs it by Bloomberg’s Peter Waldman, Lizette Chapman, and Jordan Robertson.

Back in 2009, this security pro gathered up employee emails, browser histories, GPS locations from corporate smartphones as well as transcripts of recorded phone conversations and other data on employees and dumped it into Palantir, according to the Bloomberg report.

The mission was to discover potential insider threats by looking for signs that an employee was about to go bad. Many financial institutions have similar programs.

Employees planted fake info

Alexander Karp PalantirUsing Palantir, the JPMorgan team looked for signs of disgruntled employees, even something as simple as clocking in later than usual. The security team would then investigate the employee, possibly even physically watching the person after hours, Bloomberg reported

As the spying program grew so did the security expert’s power inside the bank. Employees began to joke that he was always watching. Some even planted fake info in their communications to see if this security pro would fall for it and mention it in meetings, which he allegedly did, according to the report.

Things came to a head in 2013, when JPMorgan executives found out he was using Palantir software to monitor them as well, and he was forced to resign. He went to work for the former co-chief operating officer, Frank Bisignano, who had resigned to become CEO of First Data Corp, according to this report as well as LinkedIn records.

Bisignano was reportedly the executive sponsor of this Palantir project at JPMorgan and the security pro allegedly curried favor by alerting Bisignano when his name came up in an investigation.

As bizarre as this story of employee spying at JPMorgan is, there’s a caveat. Palantir has historically been so hard to use, it requires hiring engineers specially trained to operate it, often from Palantir. Bloomberg reports that this program involved as many as 120 Palantir engineers, costing the bank as much as $3,000 a day. 

So other corporations have not been flocking to Palantir to start spying on their own employees, or even to use it analyze big data for other business reasons.

Some companies, such as  Coca-Cola, Nasdaq, American Express, and Home Depot, have all tried and dropped Palantir. Other companies like Airbus SE and Merck KGaA have been using Palantir for supply chain projects, not employee security programs.

Palantir, which has raised $2.75 billion from investors and never turned a profit, is trying to automate its technology so that it doesn’t require consultants and can be an easier sell to corporate customers.  

JPMorgan declined comment. Palantir, First Data and the security professional did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

SEE ALSO: 51 enterprise startups to bet your career on in 2018

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Ratings: The Originals Returns Up, Criminal Minds Flat With Finale – TVLine

The Originals opened its fifth and final season on Wednesday with 1 million total viewers and a 0.4 demo rating, up from both last season’s Friday average (940K/0.3) and finale (800K/0.3) while also doubling Life Sentence‘s short-lived average in the time slot.

Opening The CW’s night, Riverdale (1.08 mil/0.4) ticked up with its musical episode.

Elsewhere….

CBS | Leading out of a steady Survivor (7.7 mil/1.6), bubble drama Criminal Minds‘ first episode did 6 mil and a 1.0, while the actual finale (5.3 mil/0.9) matched last week’s numbers/all-time demo low.

ABC | Leading out of a Goldbergs rerun, Alex Inc. (2.9 mil/0.6) was down 16 and 33 percent week-to-week. Leading out of Modern Family/American Housewife repeats, Designated Survivor (3.5 mil/0.6) ticked up from its audience low while steady in the demo.

NBC | A special airing of The Voice (8.2 mil/1.4) was down just a tick from Tuesday’s numbers and delivered Wednesday’s largest audience. Leading out of that, SVU (6.5 mil/1.4) surged 20 and 27 percent, while Chicago PD (6.6 mil/1.2) rose 19 percent and one tenth.

FOX |Empire (5.3 mil/1.7) slipped two tenths but still led the night in the demo; Star (4 mil/1.3) was steady.

Want scoop on any of the above shows? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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Prince's Overdose Death Results in No Criminal Charges – New York Times

Prince’s Overdose Death Results in No Criminal Charges

Image
Prince in Paris in 2009. In dealing with chronic hip pain, he apparently became addicted to painkillers and died of an overdose in 2016.CreditBertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Two years after the sudden death of Prince by accidental fentanyl overdose, one of the lingering mysteries surrounding the enigmatic musician concerned how and where he obtained the powerful synthetic opioid that killed him and whether anyone would be held responsible.

On Thursday, law enforcement authorities in Minnesota closed a major part of their investigation, announcing that no one would be criminally charged in the case.

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Prince sold more than 100 million records, won seven Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Here’s a look at the lengthy career of the ambitious musician, who died at 57.Published OnApril 21, 2016

The Carver County attorney, Mark Metz, said in a news conference that Prince died after unknowingly taking counterfeit Vicodin that contained fentanyl, but that there was “no reliable evidence of how Prince obtained” the fatal drug.

“We have no direct evidence that a specific person provided the fentanyl to Prince,” he said, adding that the investigation uncovered “no sinister motive, intent or conspiracy to murder Prince.”

However, a Minnesota doctor, Michael Schulenberg, who had treated Prince twice not long before his death, has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation for an illegal prescription, his lawyer, Amy Conners, said on Thursday. In a search warrant last year, investigators said that Dr. Schulenberg had told them he had prescribed an opiate painkiller to the singer in someone else’s name — Kirk Johnson, Prince’s longtime friend, bodyguard and sometime drummer — to protect Prince’s privacy.

[ALSO READ: How Prince Concealed His Addiction: Aspirin Bottles of Opiates]

Dr. Schulenberg admitted no liability as part of the settlement and has maintained he did not prescribe drugs to anyone with the intention they be redirected to Prince. His lawyer said in a statement that Dr. Schulenberg “is not a target in any criminal inquiry and there have been no allegations made by the government that Dr. Schulenberg had any role in Prince’s death.”

Mr. Metz said on Thursday that the pills prescribed by Dr. Schulenberg did not lead to Prince’s death.

Image
Kirk Johnson, Prince’s longtime friend, bodyguard and sometime drummer, in 2016.CreditJeff Wheeler/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

“The bottom line is we simply do not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime in relation to Prince’s death,” he said.

In addition to Dr. Schulenberg, investigators had focused on doctors and medical personnel who were attempting to treat Prince for an apparent painkiller addiction, as well as Mr. Johnson, an employee of the musician since the 1980s, according to court documents tied to the homicide investigation released last April.

Though Prince had been a strict proponent of sober living, friends said after his death that the singer had suffered from chronic hip pain that he was attempting to manage and perform through. After his death, “a sizable amount” of narcotics were found at his Paisley Park home and studio, where he died, according to search warrant documents. Among them were dozens of pills containing fentanyl, for which Prince did not have prescriptions, including some in aspirin bottles.

Prince, who was 57, was found dead in a Paisley Park elevator in Chanhassen, Minn., on April 21, 2016, by Mr. Johnson and others. A toxicology report, obtained by The Associated Press in March, found high concentrations of fentanyl in the singer’s stomach, liver and blood. Fentanyl is often used to manufacture counterfeit pills that are sold on the black market as oxycodone and other pain relievers.

Mr. Johnson’s lawyer, F. Clayton Tyler, has said that Mr. Johnson did not provide the drugs that caused Prince’s death. Mr. Johnson still works at Paisley Park as an estate manager, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has not been questioned since the initial interviews, Mr. Tyler said.

Notoriously private in life, Prince remained shrouded in secrecy after his unexpected death. Investigators said in court records that those who were present at the home that morning “provided inconsistent and, at times, contradictory statements.” The musician also left no will, leading to complex and ongoing proceedings among his six heirs.

There had been signs that Prince’s closest confidantes were concerned with his apparent addiction. Six days before his death, a chartered jet carrying the singer made an emergency stop in Moline, Ill., where Prince was treated with overdose medication. The incident prompted a friend of Prince’s to call on an opioid addiction specialist based in California, who put his son on a red-eye flight to Minneapolis with a drug used to curb opioid addiction that requires a special license to dispense.

Dr. Schulenberg, who had seen Mr. Johnson as a patient, had also seen Prince in the days leading up to the singer’s overdose.

Image

Dr. Michael Schulenburg, who is paying $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation for an illegal prescription related to the case.

As part of the settlement, Dr. Schulenberg agreed to two years of “heightened compliance requirements for logging and reporting his prescriptions of controlled substances to the D.E.A.,” the United States Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis said in a statement.

“Doctors are trusted medical professionals and, in the midst of our opioid crisis, they must be part of the solution,” Greg Booker, the United States attorney for Minnesota, said in the statement. “As licensed professionals, doctors are held to a high level of accountability in their prescribing practices, especially when it comes to highly addictive painkillers.”

Ms. Conners, the doctor’s lawyer, said in a statement that Dr. Schulenberg never prescribed drugs to Prince in someone else’s name. “After he learned of Prince’s addiction, he immediately worked to refer Prince to a treatment facility and to transfer care to a chemical dependency specialist,” Ms. Conners said.

Dr. Schulenberg moved to a new job in a different suburb of Minneapolis soon after Prince’s death, and is still a doctor in good standing in Minnesota, according to state licensing board records.

Prince’s death coincided with a surge in fentanyl on the black market in Minnesota, officials have said, and the high-profile case helped heighten the level of concern about opioids there. In addition to requiring prescribers to use the Prescription Monitoring Program, legislators have recently pushed for a “penny-a-pill” tax on opioids to fund prevention and treatment programs.

Although fentanyl can be prescribed legally, frequently in the form of a patch, most fentanyl overdoses come from illegal versions of the drug bought on the street or on the “dark web” in pill form, said Ken Solek, an assistant special agent in charge of the Minneapolis office of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Because it’s cheap to produce, the drug is often smuggled into the country and sold as pricier prescription pain pills.

“Most of it’s being ordered from China and dealers encapsulate it or press it into pills in a basement,” Mr. Solek said, adding that users may think they are buying pills such as Oxycodone, but in reality, they are 100 times stronger.

Recently, some of Prince’s family members have pushed for more definitive answers regarding his death, saying they are considering a wrongful-death lawsuit. Lawyers retained by the family gained access to medical examiner records, as well as investigative documents related to the emergency landing in Illinois.

Joe Coscarelli reported from New York and Sheila M. Eldred from Chaska, Minn.

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The 27 countries in the world with the most freedom

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Freedom means different things to different people.

But Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that releases an annual report on freedom around the world, measures it in terms of civil liberties and political rights. 

Their annual report, Freedom in the World, “operates from the assumption that freedom for all people is best achieved in liberal democratic societies.”

In 2018, more than 130 in-house and external analysts and advisers from academia, think tanks, and human rights institutions created the report by collecting data from media, research articles, government documents, and other sources. 

That data was then used to score a country’s political rights on a scale of 0-40 and its civil liberties on a scale of 0-60.

Freedom House measured political rights by the degree with which a country’s elections are free and fair, as well as by how much political pluralism and participation there is. Civil liberties, on the other hand, were measured by how free and independent the media is and how much freedom of expression and assembly there is.

In the ranking below, countries with a shared freedom rating were listed by alphabetical order, except for the three countries that received the top score.

Check out the 27 countries with the most freedom below:

SEE ALSO: FBI data reveals some of the most violent cities in nearly every state

27. United Kingdom

Freedom Score: 94

The United Kingdom received a score of 95 in Freedom House’s 2017 report, losing five civil liberties points in the freedom of expression and belief, rule of law, and individual rights categories.

26. Tuvalu

Freedom Score: 94

Tuvalu also received a score of 94 in Freedom House’s 2017 report

25. Spain

Freedom score: 94

Spain also received a score of 94 in Freedom House’s 2017 report, losing two political rights points under the functioning of government category, and four civil liberties points under the freedom of expression, rule of law, individual rights, and associational and organizational categories.

 

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