In the UK, 29-year-old Matthew Falder was described as "one of the finest students" to graduate from Cambridge, whose work had "international impact." Now he's being called "one Britain's most prolific pedophiles." An investigation that started in August 2013 and involved as many as 100 investigators across the UK, the US Department of Homeland Security, Europol, and the Australian Federal Police led to the June 2017 arrest of Falder who was then working as a postdoctoral researcher in geophysics at the University of Birmingham. He's now been sentenced to 32 years by a judge who characterized him as "warped and sadistic" for the eight years of torment he enacted online, which began in many cases with Falder pretending to be a female artist seeking nude photos to use in figure-drawing exercises. Once he obtained them, he blackmailed his victims into doing increasingly perverted acts far too disturbing to discuss here. Many of his victims were teens, and the images and videos he amassed were posted on "hurtcore" sites - intended to hurt victims to their core - on the dark web under his usernames of "evilmind" and "666devil." The BBC reports as many as four of his distraught victims attempted suicide. (BBC)
The Kansas City Star reports members of a third-grade baseball team in Neosho, Mo., are trying to raise money by selling raffle tickets for an AR-15 rifle, yes the same weapon used in the Parkland school shooting in Florida. Reportedly, Coach Levi Patterson considered replacing the AR-15 with another prize but then decided he could make the raffle "a positive thing." Reaction to the raffle for the gun, which was donated by a player's dad, has been mixed. Patterson says he's been receiving offers to buy tickets from all around the country, but some online are calling the raffle "tone deaf" considering what just happened in Parkland. "AR15 kills seventeen so you raffle a gun for child sports? Lord, people wake the hell up," one commenter posted on Patterson's Facebook page. Patterson says the winner of the gun will have to pass a background check, none of the boys are being forced to sell tickets, and he wasn't trying to make a political statement with the gun - the player's dad had simply offered it, and he accepted. As for his critics, he says, "they have feelings to this specific type of gun [that are] different than people around here do." (Kansas City Star)
Yes, We Have No Chickens!
Hope you're not jonesing for any KFC over in the UK. The chain has about 900 locations are in the UK, but only 300 of them were open as of Monday morning due a chicken supply shortage. Apparently the hiccup is on the delivery end, with the chain explaining it has "brought a new delivery partner onboard, but they've had a couple of teething problems." KFC didn't name the delivery partner, but CNBC reports it's DHL, which released a statement that cited "operational issues." Fortunately, KFC addicts in the US can breathe easy; the issues are limited to the UK. (CNBC)
When Your Inmate Writes a Best Seller
Curtis Dawkins' literary debut was a collection of short stories called The Graybar Hotel, and was published in July by Scribner. It's gone on to become a best seller and win many critical accolades. The problem is, Dawkins is a convicted killer, currently in prison, and his stories detail life behind bars in ways that have thrilled readers. But Michigan's Department of Treasury is less enthusiastic and has filed a court complaint that asks that 90% of Dawkins' reported $150,000 advance be given to the state as payment for the cost of his imprisonment. Michigan's attorney general reportedly filed the complaint, which states that Dawkins is not entitled to the money or to transfer any of it to his family, not long after his victim's brother complained publicly about the book deal. Because he cannot afford an attorney, Dawkins is scheduled to defend himself in the case. Dawkins has in the past expressed remorse for the 2004 botched robbery that led to the murder of Thomas Bowman. He reportedly intends to argue that the same law the attorney general says allows the state to keep the profits also stipulates that courts must consider a convict's obligation to provide for his children or spouse when deciding such cases. Michigan is one of some 40 states with laws on the books that allow the government to force inmates to pay for incarceration. (The Guardian)
When Senators Act Like... Senators
A grand jury indictment unsealed this week accuses Republican Senate Minority Whip Nicholas Kettle of extorting sex from a male page on multiple occasions. Kettle pleaded not guilty and was released on $50,000 personal recognizance. The news prompted Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio to again call for Kettle to resign immediately. He said he was "horrified and disgusted by these allegations." State police separately charged Kettle with video voyeurism, accusing him of sending pictures of his ex-girlfriend's "private parts." The indictment says Kettle extorted the page into sex on two occasions in 2011. The page's LinkedIn profile says he served as a page from February 2011 to May 2012. Kettle, who's among five Republicans in the 38-member Senate, did not speak to reporters outside court and did not comment on whether he would resign, but his lawyer described the page as a political rival of Kettle's. State elections records show the page ran against Kettle as an independent in 2014, three years after the extortion is alleged to have occurred. (Newser)
No More Circumcision in Iceland?
The world's oldest parliament may soon decide to enact Europe's first ban on circumcising male children for non-medical reasons - a tradition supporters call "male genital mutilation." The bill before Iceland's parliament proposes a six-year prison sentence for anybody removing part or all of a child's sexual organs. Supporters say circumcising young boys violates their rights, while opponents - including Jewish and Muslim leaders, as well as Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the Catholic Church in the European Union - argue that it violates the religious freedom of the country's small Muslim and Jewish communities. The religious leaders say the ban could make Jews and Muslims feel "unwelcome" in Iceland. The bill states that boys shouldn't be circumcised for religious or cultural reasons until they're old enough to decide for themselves. (BBC)
What the What?
Is this the scarecrow of the new millennium? Chenchu Readdy, a 45-year-old farmer in India, has put up a massive poster of a porn star in his fields - and says it has worked like magic to help keep his crops safe. He has 10 acres of farmland in Andhra Pradesh, which been attracting the attention from villagers and passersby. So to ward off "their evil eye" he decided to put up a poster of the erotic actress Sunny Leone. Now, he says, nobody is looking at his bumper cauliflower and cabbage crop as all attention is now on the scantily clad woman. While he suffered meager crops in the past, since putting up the poster, Readdy said he has had really good crops. He's not worried about being told to take the poster down saying, "The officials never bother to come to our fields to find out our problems. Why should they have any objection?" (Mirror)