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The Bicycle Thief / Chicago Magazine

Tom Justice was once a cyclist chasing Olympic gold. Then he began using his bike for a much different purpose: robbing banks. [...] On October 27, 1999, nearly one year to the day after his first robbery, Tom hit the Lake Forest branch of Northern Trust. He wore a similar disguise and used his bike to escape with $3,247. This time he put the $20 and $100 bills into paper bags and discarded them in alleys where he knew homeless people would find them. He took all the $2 bills and hid them in the bushes outside his apartment. The Eastern European superintendent had two kids who used to play in the courtyard. Tom watched from his second-floor living room window as they discovered the money and screamed and giggled. Robbing banks and giving away the money was intoxicating. Tom saw himself as both mischievous and righteous. But as time passed, that feeling faded. Tom’s real life seemed mediocre and unfulfilling. He wrestled with depression. And so he returned to the one thing that would instantly lift his spirits.

The Deported Americans / California Sunday Magazine

The girls enrolled in the local school, and Ashley soon found herself bullied again. This time, though, it was for being American. Kids laughed at her weird name and her terrible Spanish. Though she’d been a top student back in South Carolina, she was suddenly trying to learn in a language that she couldn’t read or write and could barely speak. When her classmates told Ashley that she didn’t belong, she refused to cry in front of them. When she arrived home, though, the tears flowed. It wasn’t an easy thing to hear. But that didn’t mean she didn’t agree with them. Ashley is one of 600,000 American-born children who are believed to be enrolled in K-12 schools across Mexico. Their lives are a reflection of the complicated realities of border politics: of the so-called “mixed-status” families that formed on the U.S. side when a militarized border made it too difficult for workers to go back and forth; of deportation policies that don’t take the presence of children into consideration; of the wave of returns that followed the Great Recession, which, for the past ten years, has meant more Mexicans migrating out of the United States than into it. Often, parents choose to leave their American-citizen children, especially older ones, behind with family or friends, deciding that the pain of separation is a lesser burden than the pain of dislocation and displacement. Others bring their kids with them, hoping they’ll be able to find their place in a different world. [...] Many families, especially if they were deported unexpectedly, have trouble assembling and authenticating all the various documents that are needed to enroll, which means that kids end up missing months or even years of instruction. Some never return to a classroom. Students are often ineligible for health insurance and other benefits that their Mexican counterparts get. (“We usually think of [these families] as undocumented in the United States, but we never think of them as undocumented in Mexico,” one researcher told me.)

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One Lawyer, One Day, 194 Felony Cases / New York Times

Mr. Talaska was not outside the norm. Of the public defenders in Louisiana handling felony caseloads at that time, there were two dozen with even more clients. One had 413. The numbers alone might seem to violate the Constitution. Poor defendants in the United States have the right to a competent lawyer, and hundreds of thousands of defendants rest their hopes on someone like Mr. Talaska. But there has never been any guarantee that those lawyers would have enough time to handle their cases. That’s why the study cited above, which looked at the workloads of public defenders, is significant. Right now, courts allow an individual to claim, after they lose, that they received an ineffective defense. But the bar is high. Some judges have ruled that taking illegal drugs, driving to court drunk or briefly falling asleep at the defense table — even during critical testimony — did not make a lawyer inadequate. It is even harder to make the argument that the sheer size of lawyers’ caseloads makes it impossible for them to provide what the Constitution requires: a reasonably effective defense. That is partly because there has never been a reliable standard for how much time is enough. Now, reformers are using data in a novel attempt to create such a standard. The studies they have produced so far, in four states, say that public defenders have two to almost five times as many cases as they should.

Why some Japanese pensioners want to go to jail / BBC

At a halfway house in Hiroshima - for criminals who are being released from jail back into the community - 69-year-old Toshio Takata tells me he broke the law because he was poor. He wanted somewhere to live free of charge, even if it was behind bars. "I reached pension age and then I ran out of money. So it occurred to me - perhaps I could live for free if I lived in jail," he says. "So I took a bicycle and rode it to the police station and told the guy there: 'Look, I took this.'" The plan worked. This was Toshio's first offence, committed when he was 62, but Japanese courts treat petty theft seriously, so it was enough to get him a one-year sentence. Small, slender, and with a tendency to giggle, Toshio looks nothing like a habitual criminal, much less someone who'd threaten women with knives. But after he was released from his first sentence, that's exactly what he did.

Facebook knowingly duped game-playing kids and their parents out of money / Center for Investigative Reporting

Facebook orchestrated a multiyear effort that duped children and their parents out of money, in some cases hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and then often refused to give the money back, according to court documents unsealed tonight in response to a Reveal legal action. The records are part of a class-action lawsuit focused on how Facebook targeted children in an effort to expand revenue for online games, such as Angry Birds, PetVille and Ninja Saga. The more than 135 pages of unsealed documents, which include internal Facebook memos, secret strategies and employee emails, paint a troubling picture of how the social media giant conducted business. Facebook encouraged game developers to let children spend money without their parents’ permission – something the social media giant called “friendly fraud” – in an effort to maximize revenues, according to a document detailing the company’s game strategy. Sometimes the children did not even know they were spending money, according to another internal Facebook report. Facebook employees knew this.

Why Tony Romo Is a Genius at Football Commentary / New Yorker

Romo, who retired two years ago, after a very good but not outstanding career with the Cowboys, has been doing this since he first became a broadcaster, last year. But his prophetic abilities were on particularly fine display in the recent A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. On play after play—fifteen, in all—Romo described what he thought was about to unfold; he guessed correctly thirteen times. (On Twitter, he was dubbed Romostradamus.) He predicted passes to specific players in specific areas. He tabbed a coming blitz by the defense and how many people would be blitzing. “Gronk is out wide!” he said at one point, referring to the Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski. “Watch this safety! If he comes down, it’s a good chance he’s throwing out there!” The safety came down, and the throw, from the Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, to Gronkowski, was complete. Twice, the offensive team did something other than what Romo predicted, and both times the results were poor—one play ended with an incomplete pass, and the other with a turnover. It seemed that, even when Romo was wrong, he was right.

Go to bed! Brain researchers warn that lack of sleep is a public health crisis. / Washington Post

In the screen-lit bustle of modern life, sleep is expendable. There are television shows to binge-watch, work emails to answer, homework to finish, social media posts to scroll through. We’ll catch up on shut-eye later, so the thinking goes — right after we click down one last digital rabbit hole. Brain research, which has pushed back hard against this nonchalant attitude, is now expanding rapidly, reaching beyond the laboratory and delving into exactly how sleep works in disease and in normal cognitive functions such as memory. The growing consensus is that casual disregard for sleep is wrongheaded — even downright dangerous.

Columbus Lowered World Temperature / Marginal Revolution

European germs killed 90% of the population of the Americas in the century after 1492 causing millions of hectacres of farm land to revert to forest which increased the uptake of carbon and reduced the planetary temperature. That is the upshot of a new paper that joins together previous estimates of population decline, farm land and carbon sequestration to push the onset of the Anthropocene to before the industrial revolution.

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Hospitals Are Asking Their Own Patients to Donate Money / New York Times

Nonprofit hospitals across the United States are seeking donations from the people who rely on them most: their patients. Many hospitals conduct nightly wealth screenings — using software that culls public data such as property records, contributions to political campaigns and other charities — to gauge which patients are most likely to be the source of large donations. Those who seem promising targets for fund-raising may receive a visit from a hospital executive in their rooms, as well as extra amenities like a bathrobe or a nicer waiting area for their families. Some hospitals train doctors and nurses to identify patients who have expressed gratitude for their care, and then put the patients in touch with staff fund-raisers. These various tactics, part of a strategy known as “grateful patient programs,” make some people uncomfortable.

Here’s the Uber Investor Letter That Forced Travis Kalanick Out / Bloomberg

On June 20, 2017, two venture capitalists arrived at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Chicago to hand-deliver a letter to Travis Kalanick. The memo helped convince the Uber Technologies Inc. co-founder to step down as chief executive officer. The document was among a series of files that were unsealed Monday as part of a lawsuit over autonomous-vehicle trade secrets brought by Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo. Although the companies settled the case a year ago, a judge ruled that some of the evidence shouldn’t be kept from the public. Below is a full reproduction of the letter, which references corporate scandals and concerns about the lack of a qualified chief financial officer.

The Buying Slow but Selling Fast Bias / Marginal Revolution

In this clip professional money manager Ben Griffiths approvingly quotes fellow-trader Larry Williams, “If you get one thing right in your career it is to learn to be a slow buyer and a fast seller”. “If you can master that”, Griffiths continues “you will be well down the way to being a successful manager of money.” Using a huge database of 783 portfolios averaging $573 million in size and covering 4.4 million trades over 16 years, Akepanidtaworn, Di Mascio, Imas, and Schmidt show that professional money managers follow exactly this advice and it is exactly wrong.

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