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PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Prison
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:26 am    Post subject: PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Prison Reply with quote

Quote:
WELCOME!
PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Prison



The White Album
Essays by Joan Didion
Paperback


Quote:
More of the excellent Didion.

More Celebrated Women Gamblers.





Quote:
I did meet one of the principals in another Los Angeles County murder trial during those years: Linda Kasabian, star witness for the prosecution in what was commonly known as the Manson Trial. I once asked Linda what she thought about the apparently chance sequence of events which had brought her first to the Spahn Movie Ranch and then to the Sybil Brand Institute for Women on charges, later dropped, of murdering Sharon Tate Polanski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, Steven Parent, and Rosemary and Leno LaBianca. "Everything was to teach me something," Linda said. Linda did not believe that chance was without pattern. Linda operated on what I later recognized as dice theory, and so, during the years I am talking about, did I. (-- p. 18)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Mortal Gambles:

Back from the Dead:
One Woman's Search for the Men who Walked Off America's Death Row
Hardcover
By Joan Cheever


Quote:
More on another real-life U.S. crime story to curl your toes: the Stanford Prison Experiment.





Quote:
In the summer of 1972, the unthinkable happened in the United States. The death penalty was abolished. Voting five to four in a case called Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional because it was, among other things, "racist, arbitrary, unfairly applied, wanton and freakish, curel and unusual." Four years later the death penalty was reinstated, but during that interval the killing chambers across America remained empty and 589 inmates awaiting execution were given a second chance to live. 322 members of that group were released when when they completed their sentences or became eligible for parole.


On witnessing the 1994 execution by lethal injection of her client of nine years, convicted killer Walter Key Williams:

Quote:
"I had to see what this country does in the dark of night when it commits the most premeditated kind of murder that exists," she explains. "When I talk about the death penalty it's not theoretical." Walter's execution prompted Cheever to track down the 589 prisoners who "represent the largest unexamined social experiment in U.S. criminal history." They, she believed, had "the answer one of the most troubling and controversial questions in the debate on the death penalty. Can convicted killers be rehabilitated? Will they kill again?"

Back From the Dead: One Woman's Search for the Men who Walked Off America's Death Row answers those questions not with rhetoric but with facts. Cheever interviewed more than 125 of the approximately 250 'lottery winners' who are still alive and out of prison, and she kept track of all 589 for eight years (164 Furman prisoners were never released either because their crimes were too heinous or because they re-offended in prison). (From the story, Stay of execution, by Anna Mundow in the Irish Times July 29/06 at p. 10 of the Magazine).


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Celebrated Women Gamblers:

Monster
Inside the Mind of Aileen Wuornos
With Christopher Berry-Dee
Hardcover




Quote:
When Richard Mallory didn't show up to open his shop on Monday, 3 December 1989, his staff and clients didn't think much of it. As far as friends went, there was no one close enough to him to notice he was gone. Frankly, no one even cared. It wasn't until the cops turned up at his business saying they had found his abandoned Cadillac outside Daytona that anyone knew anything was amiss. No one 'gave a rat's ass,' as one officer dryly observed.

'The best beach in Florida! A perfect destination for honeymooners and couples! Vacation values that won't bust your budget! So scream the tourist brochures. But Daytona is no different from many cities: along the star-spangled sidewalks, lined with laundromats, strip joints and seedy hotels, Joe Public can get his 'round the world' (everything) for 80 bucks, or a straight 'ho strip' (where the hooker strips for oral sex only) for 20. Richard was a sufficiently regular customer at the topless bars in the Tampa, Clearwater and Daytona areas that the strippers, go-go dancers and hookers mostly knew him by sight, if not by name. When he latched on to them, he was like a rigged fruit machine - guaranteed to pay out nearly every time. (From Chapter Four at pg. 51)


Quote:
Dickensian story of America's first named female serial killer, who confessed to having killed seven men in what she claimed was self-defence, looting from her victims anything she found of value to augment the usually paltry amounts of cash in their wallets. Information withheld at trial, including the record of Mallory, her first victim, a convicted armed sex offender who did 11 years, provides further evidence of the disparities between rich and poor in the U.S. criminal justice system - if more was required.


Monster
DVD




Far grittier lesbian S&M serial killer:

Butterfly Kiss
with Honey Bunny - gulp! - in the lead
DVD




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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Impossible Odds:

The Vancouver Sun
The quality of justice and the right sentence
Critics complain when judges don't appear to apply the law, and complain louder when they do
By Peter McKnight
April 14/07


Quote:
More First Nations Gambles.

More on the legal risk undertaken by Canadian Mohawks playing host to remote Internet gambling sites.

More on the two tiers of Canuck justice.


Quote:
In the early 19th century, preacher Lorenzo Dow condemned his fellow ministers for giving their followers contradictory messages. "You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," Dow said of the no-win no man's land into which some preachers cast their flocks.

Were Down's sermon delivered two centuries later, he could well have been referring to the unfortunate situation of modern courts. Critics routinely accuse the courts of judicial activism, of usurping the role of elected officials, and finger-waving politicians and the public regularly admonish the courts not to make law, but to apply it.

Yet when the courts do apply the law, rather than acting like elected officials by responding to the desires of the public, they face an even greater barrage of insults and invective. Witness the outrage that greeted the recent British Columbia Court of Appeal decision reducing the sentence of Darnell Pratt, the aboriginal youth who pled guilty to manslaughter in the "gas and dash" death of gas station attendant Grant de Patie. (See DePatie family outraged over reduction of Darnell Pratt's sentence at News1130 April 3/07).

... The court did discuss provisions of the Criminal Code and the YCJA (Youth Criminal Justice Act) that require judges to pay "particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders," and "respond to the needs of aboriginal young persons," but those provisions had little effect on the trial judge's sentence (of nine years) or the Court of Appeal decision (to reduce sentence by two years).

The wording of the Code and the YCJA can result in an oboriginal offender receiving a more lenient sentence than a non-aboriginal offender, which strikes many people as two-tiered justice...

Now, in interpreting the law, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that in cases involving serious and violent offences, the sentencing principles of denunciation and deterrence will predominate, so there will be no difference in the sentences handled to aboriginal and non-aboriginal offenders. (-- p. C10)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Yanks:

Gentlemen, Scholars and Scoundrels
A Treasury of the Best of Harper's Magazine from 1850 to the Present (1972, in our case)
Hardcover
Edited by Horace Knowles




Quote:
Marks for swag, or loot readily convertible into cash, are still more numerous and usually even less well protected, but they have the considerable disadvantage that the take must be fenced, or sold. Since this involves a suicidal risk if undertaken through legitimate channels, swag is usually sold to a professional buyer of stolen goods. The fence not only helps himself to a whopping profit - he seldom pays more than 20 per cent even for gilt-edge swag - but often he is not reliable in the face of police pressure, and not uncommonly does business with police and politicians, or pays in money and information for tacit permission to operate. Sometimes, particularly when jewelfry or securities are involved, it is possible to by-pass the fence in favor of the company which has insured the loss. Settlement in such cases runs about 20 per cent of the insured amount, no questions asked. Several private detective agencies are widely known as specialists in negotiating such transactions, which also are often handled through attorneys. If the robbery was the doing of Americans, it is a safe bet that the $785,000 in jewelry heisted from the Aga Khan last fall will be recovered on this basis. (From The Heist - The Theory and Practice of Armed Robbery by Everett DeBaun, February, 1950, an insider's view written in prison. DeBaun also became a noted adviser on crime to the Hollywood movie industry).


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New York Times Magazine
Newspaper Subscription
The 7th Annual Year in Ideas
Prison Poker
By Richard Morgan
Dec. 9/07




Quote:
In April 2003 the Pentagon created decks of playing cards to be given to soldiers, all featuring wanted members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle. When he heard this, Special Agent Tommy Ray, a state law officer in Polk County, Fla., got inspired. Two years later, he made his own deck of cards, each bearing information about a different local criminal case that had gone cold. He distributed the decks in the Polk County jail. His hunch was that prisoners would gossip about the cases during card games, and somehow clues or breaks would emerge and make their way to the authorities. The plan worked. Two months in, as a result of a tip from a card-playing informant, two men were charged with a 2004 murder in a case that had gone cold.

In July of this year, the idea took off: all state inmates in Flkorida now have access to two different decks of cards, describing a total of 104 cold cases. In mid-October, based on a tip from an informant at the Columbia Correctional Institutional Annex in Lake City, the police arrested a man in connection with a Fort Myers murder in 2004. The informant requested no reward money. Plans are now in the works to make decks of cards for all Florida county jails. And police departments elsewhere in the country are instituting similar programs.

Jack Levin, a sociologist and criminologist at Northeastern University who has written a book on gossip, is cautious about declaring the cards a success. "This is a clever experiment," he says. But to know if it works, he goes on, "you'd need to put some fake cases in there, to know how the inmates respond to those. Right now, this will solve a case here and a case there, but at a huge cost of wild-goose chases, paperwork, false hope and even the possibility of false convictions."

Of the 66 tips he has received, Ray says he is confident about 15 and excited about 4. "These cases are cold," he says. "Any information is better than no information." (-- pgs. 90-92)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Mortal Gambles:

Each Dawn I Die
DVD
Featuring ace reporter Jimmy Cagney, caught in a frame after pulling the plug on evil developers and other contruction criminals the whole world has come to despise




Quote:
Inmate: Well, we'll soon find out who wins the blood sweep now.

Another inmate: Wanna' bet on it?

Frank Ross: I don't bet on one guy killing another.

Second inmate: That ain't it. Limpy got a message to Stacey that he'd get 'im before he was out of the hole 24 hours. But you gotta' call the hour. I'll bet two cans of tobacco one of them gets it within seven hours.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Losing Streak:

Poetry Like Bread
Poets of the Political Imagination from Curbstone Press
Hardcover
Edited by Martin Espada




Quote:
Who Understands Me But Me

By former U.S. maximum-security prison inmate, Jimmy Santiago Baca

They turn the water off, so I live without water,
they build walls higher, so I live without treetops,
they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine,
they lock my cage, so I live without going anywhere,
they take each last tear I have, I live without tears,
they take my life and crush it, so I live without a future,
they say I am beastly and fiendish, so I have no friends,
they stop up each hope, so I have no passage out of hell,
they give me pain, so I live with pain,
they give me hate, so I live with my hate,
they have changed me, and I am not the same man,
they give me no shower, so I live with my smell,
they separate me from my brothers, so I live without brothers,
who understands me when I say this is beautiful?
who understands me when I say I have found other freedoms?

I cannot fly or make something appear in my hand,
I cannot make the heavens open or the earth tremble,
I can live with myself, and I am amazed at myself, my love,
my beauty,
I am taken by my failures, astounded by my fears,
I am stubborn and childish,
in the midst of this wreckage of life they incurred,
I practise being myself,
and I have found parts of myself never dreamed of by me,
they were goaded out from under rocks in my heart
when the walls were built higher,
when the water was turned off and windows painted black.

I followed these signs
like an old tracker and followed the tracks deep into myself,
followed the blood-spotted path,
deeper into dangerous regions, and found so many parts of myself,
who taught me water is not everything,
and gave me new eyes to see through walls,
and when they spoke, sunlight came out of their mouths,
and I was laughing at me with them,
we laughed like children and made pacts to always be loyal,
who understands me when I say this is beautiful?

(-- pgs. 44-45)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the Big Apple:

A Pickpocket's Tale
The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York
By Timothy J. Gilfoyle
Hardcover




Quote:
When larceny on streetcars grew excessive, "the riot act was read to the dips," claimed one pickpocket. Some pickpockets were "shaken down" by police, forced to pay a bribe or risk arrest. Other cops resorted to 'four-flushing" - arrest an old crook or "doormat thief," portray it as a big arrest, and ignore the more important criminals. During the 1860s well-known burglars and pickpockets like William Vosburg and Dan Noble reportedly bribed police officials in central headquarters on a weekly basis. Some police detectives were so familiar with certain pickpockets that they could identify them from a sinmple description of when and how a victim lost his or her possessions. Even when the police hauled pickpockets into court, they hired clever attorneys who fought these arrests with writs of habeas corpus. (footnotes omitted) (From The 'Guns' of Gotham, p. 66)


Quote:
Police court judges retained enormous power because their courts required no prosecuting officer and lacked a chief magistrate. In theory cases involving doubt, argument, or proof were remanded to the Court of General Sessions for a jury trial, a right all convicted police court defendants enjoyed. Few, however, were advised of such rights. By the 1890s, 79 per cent of all police court cases went without appeal. Since police court judges enjoyed summary jurisdiction over all disorderly conduct and other minor offenses, magistrates not only acted as both judge and jury, but as prosecuting attorneys and counsel for the prisoners. These powers convinced Mayor Abram Hewitt that police courts were "thegreat clearing house of crime, 'the Poor Man's Court of Appeals.'

Elected to uphold the law, police court judges repeatedly broke it. Some, like Maurice J. Power, openly refused to prosecute certain gambling offenses. "I am not opposed to gambling houses," he argued, "if they are conducted honestly." Numerous magistrates never bothered to learn the rules of criminal or courtroom procedures. Rare was the judge who privately met defendants with counsel to discuss the circumstances of the case, as required by law. Instead most encouraged defendants to waive the examination, which in itself was a violation.

... Those with the right political connections secured more than just bail. Indictments were often "pigeon-holed" - literally put in pigeonhole-shaped filing cases and never removed, and thus never prosecuted by the city. In 1875 District Attorney Benjamin Phelps defended the practice, insisting that disorderly house, gambling, and excise indictments were simply too numerous to bring to trial. Excise violations - "dive cases," in the vernacular of the period - enjoyed a two-year statute of limitations, encouraging bailed defendants to seek court delays and additional appeals. Even when convicted, most simply paid the fine and reopened under a new name. In 1887 former police superintendent George Walling claimed that the district attorney routinely failed to prosecute thousands of cases, which accumulated in the pigeonholes for years. (footnotes omitted) (Fom Tombs Justice, pgs. 136-138)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Unusual Bets:

Koba the Dread:
Laughter and the Twenty Million
Paperback
By Martin Amis


Quote:
More on Russia's gambling Red Tsar.

Listen to No, no, Joe by Fred Rose recorded by Hank Williams as a message to Stalin in 1950, posted at the Hank Williams International Appreciation Society 1978 website.





Quote:
It was on board the ships that the "politicals" -- a.k.a. "the 58s" (after Article 58 of the Ciminal Codex), "the counters" (counter-revolutionaries), and "the fascists" -- would usually receive their introduction to another integral feature of the archipelago: the urkas. Like so many elements in the story of the gulag, the urkas constituted a torment wthin a torment. Mrs. Ginzburg sits in the floating dungeon of the Dzhurma: "When it seemed as though there was no room left for even a kitten, down through the hatchway poured another few hundred human beings...[a] half-naked, tattoed, apelike horde..." And they were only the women. The urkas: this class, or caste, a highly developed underground culture, "had survived," writes Conquest, "with its own traditions and laws, since the Time of Troubles at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and had greatly increased in numbers by recruiting orphans and broken men of the revolutionary and collectivation periods." Individually grotesque, and, en masse, an utterly lethal force, the urkas were circus cutthroats, devoted to gambling, plunder, mulilation and rape.

In the gulag, as a matter of policy, the urkas were accorded the status of trusties, and they had complete power over the politicals, the fascists -- always the most scornedand defenseless population in the camp system. The 58s were permanently exposed to the urkas on principle, to increase their pain. And one can see, also, that the policy looked good ideologically. It would be very Leninist to have one class exterminating another, higher class. How Lenin had longed for the poorer peasants to start lynching all the kulaks...Imprisoned theirves were amnestied under Lenin, as part of his "loot the looters" campaign in the period of War Communism. As Solzhenitsyn says, the theft of state property became and remained a capital crime, while urka-bourgeois theft became and remained little more than a misdemeanor. Apart from the new privilegentsia and a few "hereditary proletarians," the urkas were the only class to benefit from Bolshevik policies. The urkas, who played cards for each other's eyes, who tattoed themselves with images of masturbating monkeys, who had their women assist them in their rapes of nuns and politicals. In Life and Fate Vasily Grossman writes almost casually of an urka "who had once knifed a family of six." The gulag officially designated the urkas as Socially Friendly Elements. (- p. 67)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Highrollerin' Rootskies:

The Works of Anton Chekhov
One Volume Edition
Walter J. Black, Inc.
The Wager
Hardcover




Quote:
The discussion became very animated. The banker, who was younger then and more impulsive, suddenly lost control of himself, and striking the table, he turned to the young jurist and exclaimed:

"That is not true! I bet you two million roubles that you would not be able to stand solitary confinement in a cell for even five years."

"If you are serious," the jurist answered, "I will accept your wager. I bet that I will remain in solitary confinement not only five but fifteen years."

"Fifteen! I accept it," the banker cried. "Gentlemen, bear witness, I stake two millions."

"Done," said the jurist; "you stake millions and I stake my liberty." (-- p. 363)


Quote:
Editor's Note: Look, look, LOOK! how much Amazon.com is charging for our collector's edition! Looks like vodka's back on the menu!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Highrollerin' Rootskies:

Young Stalin
Hardcover
By Simon Sebag Montefiore


Quote:
More of the author's previous work on Koba the Dread.





Quote:
Stalin's pre-Revolutionary achievements and crimes were much greater than we knew. For the first time, we can document his role in the bank-robberies, protection-rackets, extortion, arson, piracy murder - the political gangsterism - that impressed Lenin and trained Stalin the very skills that would prove invaluable in the political jungle of the Soviet Union. But we can also show that he was much more than a gangster godfather: he was also a political organizer, enforcer, and master at infiltrating the Tsarist security services. In contrast to Zinoviev, Kamenev or Bukharin, whose reputations as great politicans are ironically founded on their destruction in the Terror, he was not afraid to take physical risks. But he also impressed Lenin as an independent and thoughtful politician, and as a vigorous editor and journalist, who was never afraid to confront and contradict the older man. Stalin's success was at least partly due to his unusal combination of education (thanks to the Seminary) and stree violence; he was that rare combination: both 'intellectual' and killer. No wonder in 1917 Lenin turned to Stalin as the ideal lieutenant for his violent, beleaguered Revolution.

This book is the result of almost ten years of research on Stalin in twenty-three cities and nine countries, mainly in the newly opened archives of Moscow, Tbilisi and Batumi, but also in St Petersburg, Baku, Vologda, Siberia, Berlin, Stockholm, London, Paris, Tampere, Helsinki, Cracaw, Vienna and Stanford, California. (From the Introduction, pgs. xix-xx)


Quote:
'Little Stalin boxed and wrestled with a certain success, agrees Davrichewy. (footnote omitted) His singing teacher observed him setting up wrestling matches, but once he hurt *his already fragile arm. 'It started as a wrestling match then turned into real boxing,' recounts the master, 'and they beat each other up.' ...

The boys' real energies were reserved for gang-warfare. 'The girls of our hometown were organized into gangs based on the streets or quarter where they lived,. These bands were in constant warfare' - though they were melting-pots too. 'Gori's kids were educated together in the street without distinction of religion, nationality or fortune.' A ragamuffin like Stalin played in the streets with the son of Prince Amilakhvari - a famous general - who tried to teach him to swim. The children, armed with knives, bows and arrows, or catapults, led a blissfully free if wild existence: they swam in the river, they sang their favourite songs, pillaged apples from Prince Amilakhvari's orchard, mischevously ranging across the countryside. Once Stalin set the Prince's orchards alight. ...

The streetfighting was legitimate not just because Goreli parents joined in the annual brawls and bet on the wrestling-bouts but because the boys were playing the Georgian bandit-heroes who fought the Russians in the nearby mountains. But now the schoolboys found themselves persecuted by the Russian Empire even at school. (From Brawlers, Wrestlers and Choirboys, pgs. 32-34)


Quote:
*Note: This damaged left arm is variously blamed on a sledge accident, a birth defect, a childhood infection, a restling injury, a fight over a woman in Chiatura, a carriage accident and a beating from his father, all (except for the birth defect) suggested by Stalin himself. There is much confusion about Stalin's probably because there were in fact two accidents: there was this, less serious accident when he had just started school (according to Keke)(hit by a phaeton maybe while playing a popular game of 'chicken,' in which boys would grab the axle of galloping carriages) or aged six (according to later health reports) which probably damaged the arm, an injury that became more noticeable in old age. Then, not long afterwards, there was a much graver accident in which he was seriously hurt and for which he needed treatment in Tiflis: this dmaged his legs. In her memoirs Keke, aged eithy, seems to merge them together. (From Crazy Beso, p. 28)


Quote:
When the new prisoner arrived in Baku's Bailov Prison wearing a blue-satin smock and a dashing Caucasian hood, the other political prisoners passed the word to be careful. 'This is secret,' they whispered. 'That is Koba!' They feared Stalin 'more than the police.'

The bogeyman did not disappoint. He had the 'ability quietly to incite others while he himself remained on the sidelines. The sly schemer did not spurn any means necessary but managed to avoid public responsibility.' In his seven months at the famous Bailovka, set amid the oilfields, Stalin dominated its power structures. He read, studied Esperanto, which he regarded as the language of the future,' and stirred up a series of witchhunts for traitors that often ended in death. His reign at the Bailovka was a microcosm of his dictatorship of Russia. ...

Stalin still preferred rogues to revolutionaries. He was 'always seen in the company of cutthroats, blackmailers, robbers and the gunslingers - the Mauserists.' Sometimes the criminal prisoners raided the politicals, but the Georgian criminals, probably organized by Stalin, served as their bodyguards. In power, he shocked his comrades by promoting criminals in the NKVD, but he had used criminals all his life.

These two species came together to bet on prison games such as wrestling competitions and louse-racing. Stalin did not like chess but 'He and Sergo Ordzhonikidze often played backgammon all night.' The cruellest game was 'Madness' in which a young prisoner was placed in the criminals' cell to be driven mad. Bets were taken on how long it would take for the youngster to crack up. Sometimes the victim really did go crazy. (From Louse-Racing, Murder and Madness - Prison Games, pgs. 173-175)


Quote:
On 24 September, Kamo and Tsintsadze, with Kupriashvili and about eighteen gunmen, ambushed the mail coach three miles outside Tiflis. The highwaymen tossed bombs at the poolice and Cossacks: three policemen and a postilion were killed. A fourth policeman was wounded but opened fire on the bank-robbers. The hold-up escalated into a brutal firefight. The gunmen failed to grab the money; the Cossacks rallied. When the Outfit eventually retreated, the Cossacks gave chase but Tsintsadze and Kupriashvili, both crack shots, covered their retreat, picking off seven Cossacks in a galloping battle down the Kadzhorskoe Highway.

It was the last bow of the Outfit. Kamo was tracked down to his hideout with eighteen of his gangsters. They were arrested. Kamo received four death sentences.

'I'm resigned to death," Kamo wrote to Tsintsadze, 'I'm absolutely calm. On my grave there should already be grass growing six feet high. One can't escape death for ever. One must die one day. But I'll try my luck once more and perhaps one day, we'll laugh at our enemies again... This seemed highly unlikely. ...

Once again, Kamo cheated the noose, benefiting from the brad amnesty of Nicholas II on the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913. Kamo remained in jail for five years but lived to meet up again with Stalin and play out the ultimate insane violence after the Revolution. ... (From The Escapist: Kamo's Leap and the Last Bank-Robbery, pgs. 216-217)


Quote:
Petrograd in October 1917 seemed calm, but beneath the glossy surface the city danced in a trance of last pleasures. 'Gambling clubs functioned hectically from dusk till dawn,' reported John Reed, 'with champagne flowing and stakes of 20,000 roubles. In the centre of the city at night, prostitutes in jewels and expensive furs walked up and down and crowded the cafes...Hold-ups increased to such an extent that it was dangerous to walk the streets.' Russia wrote Ilya Ehrenburg, later one of Stalin's favoured writers, 'lived as if on a railway platform, waiting for the guard's whistle.' Aristocrats sold priceless treasures on the streets, the food shortages worsened, queues lengthened, while the rich still dined at Donon's and Constant's, the two smartest restaurants, and the bourgeois vied for tickets to hear Chaliapin sing. (From 1917 Winter: The Countdown, p. 288)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Gypsies:

Quote:
More like this at the PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Opera.


Quote:
Carmen
Based on the opera by Georges Bizet
Directed by Francesco Rosi
Here's a sample at YouTube.com.
DVD




This is the movie that would make an opera fan of even the most committed beer-snarfling yob. Spanish sets and costumes rival a perfect cast in this most satisfying performance that would have cheered its dejected composer considerably. Unbelievably, a discouraged Bizet died believing his timeless score celebrating the infamous wiles of a Gypsy feminist was a mediocre flop and best forgotten.


Quote:
Gypsy guy: In love? That's no reason.

Gypsy girl: I'm in love but I do my duty.

Carm's pal: I've never seen you like this. Who are you waiting for?

Carmen: A soldier who helped me.

Pal: The one who went to jail?

Gypsy: He'll be scared. I bet he won't come.

Carmen: Don't bet. You'd lose.


Quote:
By far and away, the best of many movie versions, in our view. Still, while we know the fat man would have burst the buttons on Don Jose's tight jacket in this production, we cannot help but prefer Pavarotti's or Jussi Bjoerling's rendition of the soft lamenting Flower Song, the aria signalling the beginning of the end of this doomed love affair. Not that it goes much better for the bull in the opening sequence.


Other noteworthy adaptations of Bizet's famous score:

Quote:
Carmen
The Ballet
DVD
Featuring Russian dance sensation, Spaghetti-arms Plisetskaya, for whom the role was created, as the taunting, frankly vulgar but nevertheless irresistible love interest in this modern update of Roland Petit's interpretation.


Quote:
Watch SA shake her booty at YouTube.com.





Quote:
Ballerina: Karen Kain
VHS
NFB documentary featuring excerpts of beautiful Kain, who fled Hoserville obscurity to study with French legend Roland Petit and perform the role with his troupe, Ballet National de Marseille, in the early '70s. A clip from the Carmen footage is also included in Denis Arcand's Barbarian Invasions
.



Sadly, Canada failed to record even one performance of Kain as Carmen and, for this lapse of sanity, we wish them and their wilderness culture all the luck they deserve.


Quote:
Black Tights
DVD
Featuring an excerpt of Carmen danced by choreographer Petit and his wife, Zizi Jeanmaire, who partnered Mikhail Baryshnikov again in the title role about 100 years later with alarmingly youthful vigor
.



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Loaded Dice:

The New Yorker
Magazine Subscription
Hellhole
The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?
By Atul Gawande
March 30/09




Quote:
Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people. ...

On December 4, 1991, Terry Anderson was released from captivity. He had been the last and the longest-held American hostage in Lebanon. I spoke to Keron Fletcher, a former British military psychiatrist who had been on the receiving team for Anderson and many other hostages, and followed them for years afterward. Initially, Fletcher said, everyone experiences the pure elation of being able to see and talk to people again, especially family and friends. They can’t get enough of other people, and talk almost non-stop for hours. They are optimistic and hopeful. But, afterward, normal sleeping and eating patterns prove difficult to reëstablish. Some have lost their sense of time. For weeks, they have trouble managing the sensations and emotional complexities of their freedom.

For the first few months after his release, Anderson said when I reached him by phone recently, “it was just kind of a fog.” He had done many television interviews at the time. “And if you look at me in the pictures? Look at my eyes. You can tell. I look drugged.”

Most hostages survived their ordeal, Fletcher said, although relationships, marriages, and careers were often lost. Some found, as John McCain did, that the experience even strengthened them. Yet none saw solitary confinement as anything less than torture. This presents us with an awkward question: If prolonged isolation is—as research and experience have confirmed for decades—so objectively horrifying, so intrinsically cruel, how did we end up with a prison system that may subject more of our own citizens to it than any other country in history has?

.. “Prolonged isolation is not going to serve anyone’s best interest,” he told me. He still thought that prisons needed the option of isolation. “A bad violation should, I think, land you there for about ninety days, but it should not go beyond that.”

He is apparently not alone among prison officials. Over the years, he has come to know commissioners in nearly every state in the country. “I believe that today you’ll probably find that two-thirds or three-fourths of the heads of correctional agencies will largely share the position that I articulated with you,” he said.

Commissioners are not powerless. They could eliminate prolonged isolation with the stroke of a pen. So, I asked, why haven’t they? He told me what happened when he tried to move just one prisoner out of isolation. Legislators called for him to be fired and threatened to withhold basic funding. Corrections officers called members of the crime victim’s family and told them that he’d gone soft on crime. Hostile stories appeared in the tabloids. It is pointless for commissioners to act unilaterally, he said, without a change in public opinion.

This past year, both the Republican and the Democratic Presidential candidates came out firmly for banning torture and closing the facility in Guantánamo Bay, where hundreds of prisoners have been held in years-long isolation. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain, however, addressed the question of whether prolonged solitary confinement is torture. For a Presidential candidate, no less than for the prison commissioner, this would have been political suicide. The simple truth is that public sentiment in America is the reason that solitary confinement has exploded in this country, even as other Western nations have taken steps to reduce it. This is the dark side of American exceptionalism. With little concern or demurral, we have consigned tens of thousands of our own citizens to conditions that horrified our highest court a century ago. Our willingness to discard these standards for American prisoners made it easy to discard the Geneva Conventions prohibiting similar treatment of foreign prisoners of war, to the detriment of America’s moral stature in the world. In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation, ours has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement—on our own people, in our own communities, in a supermax prison, for example, that is a thirty-minute drive from my door. (emphasis added) (-- pgs. 36-45)


If not America, land of the free, where is prison any better?

Quote:
Is there an alternative? Consider what other countries do. Britain, for example, has had its share of serial killers, homicidal rapists, and prisoners who have taken hostages and repeatedly assaulted staff. The British also fought a seemingly unending war in Northern Ireland, which brought them hundreds of Irish Republican Army prisoners committed to violent resistance. The authorities resorted to a harshly punitive approach to control, including, in the mid-seventies, extensive use of solitary confinement. But the violence in prisons remained unchanged, the costs were phenomenal (in the United States, they reach more than fifty thousand dollars a year per inmate), and the public outcry became intolerable. British authorities therefore looked for another approach.

Beginning in the nineteen-eighties, they gradually adopted a strategy that focussed on preventing prison violence rather than on delivering an ever more brutal series of punishments for it. The approach starts with the simple observation that prisoners who are unmanageable in one setting often behave perfectly reasonably in another. This suggested that violence might, to a critical extent, be a function of the conditions of incarceration. The British noticed that problem prisoners were usually people for whom avoiding humiliation and saving face were fundamental and instinctive. When conditions maximized humiliation and confrontation, every interaction escalated into a trial of strength. Violence became a predictable consequence.

So the British decided to give their most dangerous prisoners more control, rather than less. They reduced isolation and offered them opportunities for work, education, and special programming to increase social ties and skills. The prisoners were housed in small, stable units of fewer than ten people in individual cells, to avoid conditions of social chaos and unpredictability. In these reformed “Close Supervision Centres,” prisoners could receive mental-health treatment and earn rights for more exercise, more phone calls, “contact visits,” and even access to cooking facilities. They were allowed to air grievances. And the government set up an independent body of inspectors to track the results and enable adjustments based on the data.

The results have been impressive. The use of long-term isolation in England is now negligible. In all of England, there are now fewer prisoners in “extreme custody” than there are in the state of Maine. (emphasis added) And the other countries of Europe have, with a similar focus on small units and violence prevention, achieved a similar outcome. (-- pgs. 43-44)


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Guantánamo Gamblers:

Inside the Wire
Hardcover
By Erik Saar and Viveca Novak


Quote:
See also Muslim Gambles.





Quote:
Before I left the blocks, I had another conversation with Mustapha. This orange-suited Syrian, sitting in a tiny jail cell, and I, an American soldier in combat boots, camouflage, and sunglasses, had talked a great deal by now about our respective faiths. Over time, I came to understand Mustapha's journey to radical Islam, from the streets of Damascus to the hills of Afghanistan and finally to an interrogation booth in a godforsaken carved-out corner of Cuba.

He'd been living a life of gambling and pursuing women in Syria. His family, he said, never prayed, fasted, or attended mosque. One day, a missionary knocked on his door. He asked Mustapha why he and his family didn't go to mosque, and explained that Islam teaches that God is to be feared and that one day he would face judgment. According to Mustapha, he was literally scared into believing; he didn't want to face God at the end of a life not lived according to the tenets of Islam. He became a follower of these missionaries and before long, according to him, he headed to Afghanistan to help them. Mustapha's newfound belief developed into a fanatical devotion. He fervently believed that true Muslims must practice violent jihad against the infidels, who included any non-Muslims. At the top of the list were Jews and Americans. (From Chapter Six at pgs. 136-137)


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