Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Why do innocent people confess?

    Screen shot 2011-04-18 at 11.38.46 AMWhen an innocent person confesses to a crime he or she didn't commit, there's a general assumption of inappropriate pressure in the interrogation process.

    But Brandon Garrett, whose new book profiles the first 250 prisoners whose convictions were later overturned with DNA evidence, found that innocent people do in fact confess to crimes they didn't commit--even if they are not mistreated during questioning.

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  • Photos of North Carolina twisters’ destruction

    Screen shot 2011-04-18 at 8.49.20 AMThe Fayatteville Observer today printed a photo on its front page showing the path of destruction of a twister that ripped through the area on Saturday. Its precise route obliterated some homes while leaving others intact.

    The paper reports that at least 167 homes in the county were "ripped to pieces" by two twisters; nearly 11,000 homes still had no power last night.

    Pat's Papers rounds up more photos and videos of the damage, including an aerial photo of a devastated Lowe's in Sanford, North Carolina.

    Incredibly, all 100 people who were at the store are safe, thanks to a manager who ushered customers to a secure area in the back.

    (Photo: from Newseum)

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  • FIRST LOOK: South reeling from deadly twisters, storms

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • Forty five people died in six states after devastating storms ripped through the South. (AP)

    America's business majors score lower on the GMAT than students in any other field of study. (New York Times)

    There may actually be some bipartisan support for overhauling Social Security. (WSJ)

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  • Some young immigration activists face deportation

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    Last year, young immigrant activists went on hunger strikes, staged sit-ins at senators' offices, and attended protests on Capitol Hill, clad in graduation caps and gowns. They risked deportation by "coming out"--admitting publicly they were illegal immigrants--all to show their support for the 10-year-old DREAM Act, legislation that would have allowed illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children to become documented if they went to college or joined the military.

    Despite the vocal backing of President Obama, the bill failed in the Senate in December, amid objections, chiefly from GOP lawmakers, that it amounted to amnesty and would encourage more illegal immigration.

    Now, some of the young people who just a few months ago were holding forth the hope that they could become legal residents in the country they grew up in are facing deportation. One such activist is Prerna Lal, a George Washington University law student who founded the DreamActivist site in 2007 for young illegal immigrants to connect and organize to get the law passed.

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  • Georgia passes Arizona-like immigration law

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    Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal will soon have to decide whether he'll sign a bill modeled off Arizona's famed 2010  anti-illegal immigration law, SB 1070.

    The bill requires police officers to verify the immigration status of people suspected of being illegal immigrants and committing a crime--even an infraction as minor as a traffic violation, according to the LA Times. A similar provision in Arizona's law was blocked by a federal judge--a decision that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld. The bill also requires all businesses to use the E-Verify system to ensure employees are citizens, a move that business and farm lobbies protested as an undue burden.

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  • Post office uses Vegas Liberty statue for stamp by accident

    Screen shot 2011-04-15 at 11.21.05 AMAs if trying to make a postmodern statement on authenticity, the U.S. Postal Service's recently released .44 cent "forever" stamp bears an image of a Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty, instead of a photo of the real deal.

    The whole thing was a case of mistaken identity, however. The Post Office inadvertently used a snap of the 14-year-old replica, which presides over Las Vegas' Strip, instead of the original statue---which has welcomed poor and huddled masses into New York City for more than 125 years--as its model for the stamps. The Vegas statue has slightly different hair, a less-stern facial expression, and a plaque adorning the center spike of her crown.

    An astute stamp collector and Lady Liberty "superfan" discovered the mistake, the New York Times reports, and the mix-up was first reported in Linn's Stamp News.

    But despite the slip-up, the "forever" stamps, which have been in circulation since December of last year, will not be changed.

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  • Federal judge rules ‘boobies’ is not vulgar

    Screen shot 2011-04-14 at 3.09.47 PMA federal judge has ruled in favor of two students who wore breast-cancer awareness bracelets to their middle school, even after they knew the be-sloganed accessories had been banned by administrators.

    The bracelets said "I [heart] boobies" and "Check yourself" alongside the website address of the non-profit organization Keep A Breast.

    Judge Mary McLauglin's 40-page decision says that even though school districts have the right to ban lewd speech, the word "boobies" is not vulgar. "The School itself used the word 'boobies' in a prepared statement delivered by a student announcing the bracelet ban. A school would not have been willing to use lewd or vulgar language in a broadcast to its entire student body," she writes, and also lists the Oxford English Dictionary's non-breast definitions of the word. (A booby is also a sea bird, thank you very much.)

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  • Former Supreme Court Justice’s civics education site is strangely addicting

    AP070404028170Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's online civics education initiative may be aimed at middle school students, but we at The Lookout are finding it irresistibly fun and informative.

    In one online game, the student gets to be the deciding vote in a Supreme Court case over whether a school is allowed to prevent a student from wearing a band T-shirt in class. Kids can listen to different pairs of judges arguing questions like "Does political speech get more protection than cultural speech?" and "Is it better to allow more speech or less speech in schools?" The justices also discuss the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969), which ruled that a student could wear an armband in protest of the Vietnam War because the symbolic protest qualified as protected speech.

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  • Colorado couple thought they were millionaires after newspaper printed wrong Lotto numbers

    usThe Spragues--a retired couple in Pueblo, Colo.--have better reason than most of us to ponder the old saw, "easy come, easy go." For an exhilarating hour or so last weekend, the Spragues opened up the Sunday paper to discover that they had won more than $4 million in the Colorado Lotto.

    There was just one problem, however: The newspaper had printed the wrong numbers.

    Dorothy Sprague told The Lookout she was in the kitchen when her husband, a retired teacher and plumbing shop owner, checked the numbers in the Sunday edition of the Pueblo Chieftain.

    "He was checking them off and he says, 'Oh at least I got three--we got a winner this time! Oh wow, there's four, five, six.' And I said no, that can't be right. He said 'Come look,' because I was still doing things in the kitchen and then sure enough it was all six numbers.

    I couldn't wrap my mind around 4 million. I just said, 'No that's unreal.' "

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  • Last two speakers of dying language don’t talk much

    The ancient language of Ayapaneco may die off, as its last two fluent speakers are apparently feuding and are not keen to talk to each other.

    Indiana University anthropologist Daniel Suslak is writing a dictionary of the Mexican indigenous language. He tells The Guardian he doesn't know why the last two speakers--Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69--who live in the same village in the state of Tabasco, Mexico, prefer not to converse.

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