‘In war, force and fraud are the cardinal virtues.’ —Hobbes

Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?


The June 5 escape from Clinton was planned and executed by two particularly cunning and resourceful inmates, abetted by the willful, criminal conduct of a civilian employee of the prison’s tailor shops and assisted by the reckless actions of a veteran correction officer. The escape could not have occurred, however, except for longstanding breakdowns in basic security functions at Clinton and DOCCS executive management’s failure to identify and correct these deficiencies.


Using pipes as hand- and foot-holds, Sweat and Matt descended three tiers through a narrow space behind their cells to the prison’s subterranean level. There they navigated a labyrinth of dimly lit tunnels and squeezed through a series of openings in walls and a steam pipe along a route they had prepared over the previous three months. When, at midnight, they emerged from a manhole onto a Village of Dannemora street a block outside the prison wall, Sweat and Matt had accomplished a remarkable feat: the first escape from the high-security section of Clinton in more than 100 years.


In early 2015, the relationships deepened and Mitchell became an even more active participant in the escape plot, ultimately agreeing to join Sweat and Matt after their breakout and drive away with them. In addition to smuggling escape tools and maps, Mitchell agreed to be a conduit to obtain cash for Matt and gathered items to assist their flight, including guns and ammunition, camping gear, clothing, and a compass. Even as she professed her love for Sweat in notes she secretly sent him, Mitchell engaged in numerous sexual encounters with Matt in the tailor shop. These included kissing, genital fondling, and oral sex.


The Inspector General is compelled to note that this investigation was made more difficult by a lack of full cooperation on the part of a number of Clinton staff, including executive management, civilian employees, and uniformed officers. Notwithstanding the unprecedented granting of immunity from criminal prosecution for most uniformed officers, employees provided testimony under oath that was incomplete and at times not credible. Among other claims, they testified they could not recall such information as the names of colleagues with whom they regularly worked, supervisors, or staff who had trained them. Several officers, testifying under oath within several weeks of the event, claimed not to remember their activities or observations on the night of the escape. Other employees claimed ignorance of security lapses that were longstanding and widely known.

{ State of New York, Office of the Inspector General | Continue reading }

photo { Chisels, punch, hacksaw blade pieces, and unused drill bits left by Sweat in tunnel }

The Committee to Protect Journalists


The defender must build a perfect wall to keep out all intruders, while the offense need find only one chink in the armor through which to attack


The air-support division of the Los Angeles Police Department operates out of a labyrinthine building on Ramirez Street in the city’s downtown, near the Los Angeles River. […]

The division began with a single helicopter in 1956, and it now has 19 in all, augmented by a King Air fixed-wing plane. The aircrews operate in a state of constant readiness, with at least two helicopters in flight at any given time for 21 hours of every day. A ground crew is suited up and on call for the remaining three, between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. On weekends, considered peak hours, the number of airborne helicopters goes up to three, although in a crisis the division might send as many as four or five “ships” up at once. […]

The heavily restricted airspace around Los Angeles International Airport, Burdette pointed out, has transformed the surrounding area into a well-known hiding spot for criminals trying to flee by car. Los Angeles police helicopters cannot always approach the airport because of air-traffic-control safety concerns. Indeed, all those planes, with their otherwise-invisible approach patterns across the Southern California sky, have come to exert a kind of sculptural effect on local crimes across the city: Their lines of flight limit the effectiveness of police helicopter patrols and thus alter the preferred getaway routes.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

painting { Michael Chow }

If you’re so funny then why are you on your own tonight?


photos { Anthony Hernandez }

White Sun of the Desert


…the immaculate ultrawhite behind the French doors of a new GE Café Series refrigerator […] the white hood of a 50th anniversary Ford Mustang GT […] the white used to brighten the pages of new Bibles, the hulls of super yachts, the snowy filling inside Oreo cookies […]

All this whiteness is the product of a compound known as titanium dioxide, or TiO2. A naturally occurring oxide, TiO2 is generally extracted from ilmenite ore and was first used as a pigment in the 19th century. In the 1940s chemists at DuPont refined the process until they hit on what’s widely considered a superior form of “titanium white,” which has been used in cosmetics and plastics and to whiten the chalked lines on tennis courts. DuPont has built its titanium dioxide into a $2.6 billion business, which it spun off as part of chemicals company Chemours, in Wilmington, Del., last fall.

A handful of other companies produce TiO2, including Kronos Worldwide in Dallas and Tronox of Stamford, Conn. Chemours and these others will churn out more than 5 million tons of TiO2 powder in 2016. China also produces large amounts of the pigment, and its industries consume about a quarter of the world’s supply. Most of China’s TiO2 plants, however, use a less efficient and more hazardous process than the one developed at DuPont. Starting in the 1990s, if not earlier, China’s government and Chinese state-run businesses began seeking ways to adopt DuPont’s methods. Only they didn’t approach the company to make a formal deal. According to U.S. law enforcement officials, they set out to rip off DuPont.

“At first, you’re like: Why are they stealing the color white?” says Dean Chappell, acting section chief of counterespionage for the FBI.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

oil on wood { Ellsworth Kelly, White Plaque: Bridge Arch and Reflection, 1951-55 }

Is technology killing conversation?


[Thanks Tim]

We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers


{ The Difference Between Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, In Two Blizzard ‘Dibs’ Signs }

2 glocks that’s what’s up


Crime statistics are notoriously opaque and faulty. Data are often manipulated for political reasons. Even the city points out the discrepancy can be explained by a change in how shootings are measured. The disconnect between shooting and murder may come down to measurement, or it could reveal something much worse: New Yorkers are getting better at murder.

According to Columbia economics professor Dan O’Flaherty, the odds of someone firing a gun and actually hitting another person is pretty low. And even if you do hit your target, there’s only a 25% chance she’ll die. Four things can increase the odds of shooting and killing someone:

1. Lots of training and practice to make you a better shot

2. Standing closer to the intended victim

3. Using a higher caliber weapon, which increases the likelihood of doing damage when you hit someone

4. Using a weapon that fires more bullets at once

A change in any of these factors could produce more gun-shot murders and fewer shots fired. It’s precisely what happened in Newark between 2000 and 2006 when gun shot murders were up (unlike the rest of the country) and shots fired went down. […] They looked at crime and autopsies and concluded that all four factors played a role. Gang members used higher caliber and more semi-automatic weapons, they were better shots, and killed more people at close range. They attribute these changes to lax law enforcement and prison reorganization, which led to more networking among gangs and escalated gang violence. […]

O’Flaherty says it’s too soon to tell if that’s what’s happening in New York right now. When the odds of killing anyone are so small to begin with, this past year could just be a statistical anomaly.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

photo { Richard Avedon, B. J. Van Fleet, nine year old, Ennis, Montana, July 2, 1982 }

A crack on the head is what you get for not asking, and a crack on the head is what you get for asking


From Charlie Spies, D.C. based counsel to Right to Rise [independent super PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s campaign for President], to Donald Trump attorney Alan Garten

Dear Mr. Garten:


It is possible you are confusing Right to Rise [RTR] with any number of federal independent expenditure-only committees (i.e. “Super PACs”) that have exercised their First Amendment rights to educate the public about your client’s public statements and stances on important public policy issues. We suggest you consult the Federal Election Commission’s (”FEC”) website (www.fec.gov) to familiarize yourself about the differences between Leadership PACs and Super PACs, or perhaps skim through the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC or the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Speechnow.org v. FEC. They are both very helpful and might clear up some of your confusion.

In addition, although RTR has no plans to produce any advertisements against your client, we are intrigued (but not surprised) by your continued efforts to silence critics of your client’s campaign by employing litigious threats and bullying. Should your client actually be elected Commander-in-Chief, will you be the one writing the cease and desist letters to Vladimir Putin, or will that be handled by outside counsel? As a candidate for President, your client is a public figure and his campaign should, and will, be fact-checked. The ability to criticize a candidate’s record, policies and matters of public importance lies at the heart of the First Amendment, as courts have repeatedly recognized. If you have the time between bankruptcy filings and editing reality show contracts, we urge you to flip through the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. If your client is so thin-skinned that he cannot handle his critics’ presentation of his own public statements, policies and record to the voting public, and if such communications hurts his feelings, he is welcome to purchase airtime to defend his record. After all, a wall can be built around many things, but not around the First Amendment.

Lastly, in light of your confusion over the difference between Leadership PACs and Super PACs, we have to assume you may also be unaware of the FEC’s prohibition on a federal candidate’s use of corporate resources for campaign purposes. Although your client may think he is above the law and be accustomed to using lawsuits to bail out his failed business deals, the Federal Election Campaign Act and the FEC’s Regulations nonetheless apply to him and his campaign. Perhaps the attached complaint, filed today, will serve as a reminder of your client’s legal obligations under federal election laws. Just as your client is attempting to quickly learn the basics of foreign policy, we wish you personally the best in your attempts to learn election law.

Charles Spies

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

And you, who swell those seeds with kindly rain

{ Adam Purple, Legendary Guerrilla Gardener, Died Monday }

‘now available in black: rainbows!’ —‏@lady_products


“Water fountains have been disappearing from public spaces throughout the country over the last few decades,” lamented Nancy Stoner, an administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency’s water office. […]

By 1930, Chapelle says, bottled water had become “low class,” used only in offices and factories that couldn’t afford plumbing.

Attitudes began to shift in the 1970s, when Europe’s Perrier set its sights on the American market. In 1977, the company spent $5 million on an advertising campaign in New York, selling itself as a chic, upscale product. Yuppies lapped it up. “It was a lifestyle-defining product,” Chapelle says. By 1982, U.S. bottled-water consumption had doubled to 3.4 gallons per person per year. […]

U.S. consumption of bottled water quadrupled between 1993 and 2012 (reaching 9.67 billion gallons annually). […]

Today, 77 percent of Americans are concerned about pollution in their drinking water, according to Gallup, even though tap water and bottled water are treated the same way, and studies show that tap is as safe as bottled.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

art { Roy Lichtenstein, Girl in Water, 1965 }