This summer Walt Disney is set to release The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. The story, of course, is nothing new. The Lone Ranger today is an icon of the 20th century. His story represents a romanticized version of the “Wild West” with all its rough and tumble glory. The Lone Ranger is a hero, saving the lives of innocent settlers and catching outlaws with the aid of his faithful friend, Tonto. Yet the image of the Masked Avenger that movies and TV have painted in our mind may not be entirely accurate. In the past, men like Clayton Moore, Chad Michael Murray, and now, Armie Hammer, have played the leading role of the Lone Ranger. A closer look at the historicity of the Lone Ranger’s story however, suggests the possible inspiration for the legendary figure to be Bass Reeves, an often forgotten former slave and U.S. Marshall in the Indian Territory in the years preceeding the Civil War.
Bass Reeves was born in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas, a child of slaves. He grew up in Grayson, Texas after his owner, William S. Reeves relocated. During the Civil War, Bass claimed to have fought under the leadership of William Reeves’ son, Col. George Reeves in the Battles of Pea Ridge (1862), Chickamauga (1863), and Missionary Ridge (1863). Bass Reeves’ family however, claims an alternative story which suggests that between 1861 and 1862, Reeves attacked his owner in an argument over a card game and escaped into Indian Territory. Though the truth has yet to be determined, historians consider it unlikely that Reeves ever served in the last two battles. Regardless, after the war, it is understood that Reeves served as a guide for U.S. government officials as they passed through Indian Territory.
In 1875, Reeves began his career as a deputy U.S. Marshal under the guidance of Federal Judge Isaac Parker of the Western District of Arkansas. Roaming a 75,000 mile area in what is now mostly Oklahoma, Reeves was responsible for chasing and apprehending criminals. To do his job, Reeves employed a number of clever tricks and techniques all too reminiscent of the well known Masked Avenger. As a 6’2″ man, Reeves learned from the Native Americans how to make himself appear smaller on his strong white and grey horse. At times he would surprise outlaws by adopting their clothing and mannerisms. Just as the Lone Ranger gave out silver bullets, so too did Reeves give out silver dollars as calling cards. Reeves was also often accompanied by one particular Native American, whose name is unfortunately unknown to historians at this time. According to contemporary reports, Reeves apprehended more than 3,000 outlaws and killed 14 during his time as a marshal. Many of the criminals he apprehended were sent to Detroit to serve their time. Interestingly enough, it was in Detroit that the Lone Ranger radio program first aired.
What the Lone Ranger did in movies, Bass Reeves did in real life. Known for wielding a rifle along with two pistols on either hip and being a dangerously accurate shot, Reeves no doubt had an intimidating presence. It was his unwavering dedication to his job however, that gave Reeves his serious reputation throughout the West. Despite his success, Reeves was forced to retire in 1907 when Oklahoma became a state due to the strict Jim Crow laws. Sadly, his larger than life persona has since been lost in the annals of history. While the story of the fictional Lone Ranger comes back time and time again, the true story of Bass Reeves continues on without much notice.
The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is putting up $750 million in technology to protect the games from hacking attempts, but will it be enough?
The first electronic attacks on the Olympics can be traced back to 1980, but as years have passed and the internet has grown more and more complex, so have the attacks. In 2008 Beijing received nearly 12 million cyber attack attempts every day.
Since 2002, the Olympic Games have used the Paris-based company Atos as their lead-technology company, who predict up to 14 million possible attacks every day during the London Olympics. Executive Vice President of Atos Patrick Adiba cautions that, although their security is very high, “it can never be 100 percent.” That doesn’t mean they’re aren’t prepared, though. Atos has spent nearly 200,000 hours of testing, even inviting so-called “ethical hackers” to test out their system. Still, because of the ever-changing nature of the internet, security systems that worked eighteen months ago may now be obsolete, forcing technology security companies to constantly be on the cutting edge.
If potential hackers succeed, London and its visitors could be vulnerable to serious financial troubles. As the first “cashless” Olympics, the London Olympics have partnered with Visa to expand the use of credit in the complex by creating a phone that can pay for small purchases wirelessly. Visa also has a monopoly on all credit and cash-dispensing machines near the park. Should a hacker gain access to the Visa network, they have the potential to cost the Games millions of dollars in revenue.
Usain Bolt, celebrating winning the men’s 100m dash in 2008, a prime target for hacktivists
Another security worry is the presence of “hacktivists,” hackers who infiltrate high-profile companies to spread a political or social message. While security experts do not expect state-based hacking, citing other nations’ fears of being blackballed from future Olympics, experts do expect independent hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous to attempt to hack the games. The worldwide reach of the Olympics is enticing for groups that want an immediate and far-reaching platform for their messages. Potential targets include results screens for high-profile events, like the men’s 100 m dash.
5 Ways to Avoid Being Scammed
Not all cybercriminals think big. Protect yourself from cybercrime in the next few weeks by following these five simple rules.
Only use official websites to watch the Games.
Unauthorized websites may use Olympic coverage to scam people and download malware. Although unprotected PCs are more at risk, Macs aren’t entirely safe either.
Think twice when buying or “winning” tickets.
This late in the game, most Olympic tickets are sold. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t give out personal information to ticket lotteries, they’re probably scams. If you’re still looking for tickets, the Olympics Committee has provided potential visitors with a handy guide to legitimate Olympics websites.
Use official apps.
NBC and BBC have provided official apps with which to watch the Games on smartphones and tablets. Unauthorized apps may download harmful viruses on your devices.
Be skeptical of your texts.
Scammers may send out text message with links that infect your mobile device. Think carefully before you click on any links, and distrust unknown phone numbers.
Beware of anti-social media
Don’t click on links that you don’t trust, even if they are posted by your friends. Also, be especially skeptical of disguised links that are tweeted, and of fake Olympics twitter accounts.
James Holmes, the primary suspect in the Colorado theater shootings
Sitting in a darkened movie theater, waiting for the start of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, many people’s minds will undoubtedly drift to the Aurora, Colorado massacre. Thirty minutes into the darkly violent film, the shooting may press even more heavily upon their consciousness. Nolan’s final installment in his Batman re-boot is a taut action thriller, perhaps even darker than the first two films. The main villain of the film, a mask-wearing, psychopathic revolutionary named Bane, uses martial arts, guns, and explosives to terrorize the citizens of Gotham City, breaking Batman’s back and nearly breaking his spirit in the process. Although James Holmes, the primary suspect in the shooting, dyed his hair orange and compared himself to “the Joker,” the villain of the previous film, it’s hard not to think of his actions whenever Bane or one of his minions opens fire in a crowd or kills senselessly. Whatever identity it takes, evil remains the same.
At the start of The Dark Knight Rises, Gotham is in “peacetime.” Organized criminals great and small have been put away in the bleak Arkham prison, thanks to Batman and the ethically-dubious Harvey Dent Act. Bruce Wayne is in reluctant retirement. Commissioner Gordon is on the verge of stepping down. The police department has gotten lax and self-congratulatory. A storm is brewing, however, in the form of the rumored mercenary, Bane.
“The idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.”
Similarly in the real world, the U.S. is in “peacetime,” and has been for a very long time. It’s been almost one hundred and fifty years since we had a war on U.S. soil, seventy since we were in a war that dramatically altered life for the average American, and forty years since the last military draft. Aside from a few national tragedies, America is in a comfortable position as a strong, peaceful, and dominant world power.Tragedies like the one in Colorado, however, shake up this peacetime, leaving us, as a nation, fragile and frightened of the Banes and Jokers in our own midst. At moments like these, one of our best options is to follow the people of Gotham City and turn to Batman.
In response to the Colorado shootings, Christopher Nolan said, “I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.” For Nolan, and for many Americans, the theater is a transformative place of escapism, where people can go to experience the strange for a few hours before returning to their daily lives. It is joyful, even when the films are not, which is often the case with Nolan.
Perhaps the most important part of Nolan’s message in both his press release and The Dark Knight Rises is the “hope” of movie theaters. Early lessons in the film seem to teach the debilitating deception of hope. Selina Kyle desperately hopes for the “impossible” clean slate. Pennyworth hopes for a peaceful end to “Batman.” Bane puts Wayne in a prison whose most sadistic feature is the skylight at the top—a constant reminder of the “impossible” escape option. Wayne escapes the prison, however, gives Kyle the so-called “clean slate,” and meets Pennyworth abroad, not as the dark brooding Batman, but as a joyful Bruce Wayne.
A report on the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings
It’s difficult to find hope in peacetime complacency. Hope is a response to darkness, like Bane’s ticking time bomb or Holmes’ theater massacre. It is faith in the near-impossible, in a superhero without guns or powers or in a nation without terror. Holmes’ actions may have destroyed the innocence of the theater, but they have not destroyed its hope. For every person who finds an outlet for their anger in the Batman villains’ senseless killing, many, many more draw hope and inspiration from Batman’s triumphs.
The Colorado shooting has been called senseless many times over, and in the respect that a dozen innocent civilians have been slaughtered, that term is appropriate. How we, as a nation, can begin to make sense of such violence, however, is by looking past the violence of the film to its message of hope and change. As with Batman, every dark night must end.
For info on the relationship between animal abuse and mass shootings, click here.
Eugène Vidocq, the father of modern criminology and the inspiration for the Vidocq Society
Sherlock Holmes may claim to be the world’s first “consulting detective,” but he’s not the only one any longer. Enter the Vidocq Society.
Born in France in 1775, Eugène Vidocq, noted criminal-turned-detective, fell in and out of trouble (and prison) from the age of thirteen until thirty-four, when he offered up his services as an informant to the French police. After a couple years working undercover, Vidocq created France’s first undercover detective bureau, the Sûreté Nationale, the inspiration for both Scotland Yard and the F.B.I. Vidocq himself inspired several characters in works by Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, and Edgar Allen Poe.
The founders: William Fleisher, Richard Walter, and Frank Bender
Named in honor of Vidocq, the Society, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, consists of retired and current members of forensic and law enforcement professions. The founding members include former FBI and U.S. Customs Special Agent William Fleisher, pseudo-psychic forensic sculptor Frank Bender, and forensic psychologist and profiler Richard Walter. The three friends wanted to create a place where “like-minded persons, in and out of forensics, could gather to discuss and debate crimes and mysteries.” Since their first meeting in 1990, the organization has mushroomed into one hundred and fifty members, and found its final resting place in the Union League of Philadelphia, a Victorian brownstone built in the mid-1800s.
The Union League of Philadelphia, the current home of the Vidocq Society
A society of distinguished criminologists, the Vidocq Society offers its detective services free of charge, and even pays for the travel expenses of those who come to plead their case in Philadelphia. There are qualifications, though. The Vidocq Society will only consider unsolved murder cases more than two years old (and therefore a “cold case”) with non-criminal victims presented to them by the appropriate law enforcement agency. If a case is selected, the appropriate official will travel to Philadelphia to present their case at one of the Society’s monthly lunches. If one or more of the members are interested in the case, they can form a subcommittee for further investigation.
“When you bring all this expertise together…it’s one stop shopping.”
The Vidocq Society has an excellent track record when it comes to the cases it takes on–as one local police chief they helped enthused, “When you bring all this expertise together…it’s one stop shopping.” They’ve helped solve several high-profile cold cases, including that of the infamous John List. The religious List methodically murdered his mother, wife, daughter, and two sons in 1971 in New Jersey, explaining in a note that he was sending them to heaven, and disappeared without a trace. Eighteen years later, in 1989, Bender and Walter aided America’s Most Wanted in capturing List. Walter created a profile for him, claiming he would be remarried, wearing a suit, involved with the Lutheran Church, and within 300 miles of the crime scene. Using this information, Bender sculpted an “aged” bust of List. Police caught and arrested List almost immediately.
ABC’s 20/20 profiles the Vidocq Society’s investigation of Leah Freeman’s murder.
Recently, the society helped the miniscule town of Coquille, Oregon solve the decade-old murder of fifteen year old Leah Freeman. In 2010, Walter helped Coquille Police Chief Mark Dannels discover more evidence in the murder case, and Leah’s then-boyfriend, Nick McGuffin, was arrested for murder.
The Vidocq Society has been covered comprehensively in crime journalist Michael Capuzzo’s book, The Murder Room. Interspersing their most famous cases with in-depth character studies of the three enigmatic founders, Capuzzo brings the society to light almost as well as the Vidocq Society brings criminals to justice. Read an excerpt here.
Caylee Anthony, the deceased two-year old and inspiration for ‘Caylee’s Law’
Joining the ranks of AMBER Alert and Code Adam is another missing child system inspired by an infamous case: ‘Caylee’s Law’. Caylee Anthony, the deceased two-year-old whose trial captured the nation’s attention in 2011, inspired the law after her young mother, Casey Anthony, failed to report Caylee as missing for over a month. Although the jury acquitted Casey Anthony on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child-abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child, they declared her guilty on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. Judge Belvin Perry sentenced her to one year and $1000 for each false information count to be served consecutively. Incorporating her time already served and credit for good behavior, Anthony was released from prison on July 17th, 2011, just a couple days after sentencing. America was outraged.
In response, Michelle Crowder of Oklahoma proposed ‘Caylee’s Law’ on Change.org, a petition-hosting website, suggesting increasing the penalty to a fourth-degree felony for failing to report a missing child within twenty-four hours of their disappearance or one hour of their death. The petition quickly went viral and garnered over 1,300,000 signatures, pressuring lawmakers across the country to design such a law.
Edward Mehnert covers his mouth with duct tape as he protests the verdict against Casey Anthony during her sentencing. Anthony’s trial provoked such a media circus that Time magazine called it the “social media trial of the century.” (AP Photos/Alan Diaz)
The backlash to the proposed law was almost as strong. Critics cited ineffective previous laws inspired by dead children and cautioned against making lasting legislature out of anger and fresh wounds. A Huffington Post article criticized the impracticality of the one hour and twenty four hour cut-offs, demonstrating the difficulty of determining time of death so precisely and offering complicating hypothetical situations. What happens if your child is at a sleepover and doesn’t call home? Under this law, would you have to call your child at summer camp every day? What happens if your infant dies in his or her sleep? You might discover the death several hours later. Do we really want to punish a grieving parent in that situation with a felony? Although common sense should guide judicial rulings in these situations, there are many current examples of gross and insensible violations of justice.
Critics also fear that the law will make cautious parents falsely report absent children as missing, clogging up the police department’s missing persons cases. The excess of false cases would obscure the real missing children cases and prevent them from being investigated in those first few crucial hours. Critics claim that the law will be unenforceable and ineffective in its goal of protecting children, merely entrapping innocent parents.
State Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport speaks out on House Bill 600, Louisiana’s proposed ‘Caylee’s Law,’ on June 25th
Despite these criticisms, several states have moved ahead with legislation. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie passed a ‘Caylee’s Law’ in January, 2012, making the failure to report a missing child age thirteen or younger after twenty-four hours a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to eighteen months in prison and fines up to $10,000. Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed House Bill 37 into law in April, another variant of ‘Caylee’s Law.’ This law heightened to felony status the act of misleading a law enforcement official in a missing child case. Louisiana’s version of ‘Caylee’s Law’, House Bill 600, passed in early June, and declares that failure to report a missing child is punishable with up to 50 years in prison and $50,000. Overall, thirty-two states filed some form of legislature in the past year to criminalize the failure to report a missing child.