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The Crime Portal

In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence (or criminal offence) is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state ("a public wrong"). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

The notion that acts such as murder, rape and theft are to be prohibited exists worldwide. What precisely is a criminal offence is defined by criminal law of each country. While many have a catalogue of crimes called the criminal code, in some common law countries no such comprehensive statute exists.

The state (government) has the power to severely restrict one's liberty for committing a crime. In modern societies, there are procedures to which investigations and trials must adhere. If found guilty, an offender may be sentenced to a form of reparation such as a community sentence, or, depending on the nature of their offence, to undergo imprisonment, life imprisonment or, in some jurisdictions, execution.

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The Red Barn, scene of the murder
The Red Barn Murder was a notorious murder committed in Suffolk, England in 1827. A young woman, Maria Marten, was shot dead by her lover, William Corder, the son of the local squire. The two had arranged to meet at the Red Barn, a local landmark, before eloping to Ipswich in order to be married. Maria was never heard from again. Corder fled the scene and although he sent Marten's family letters claiming she was in good health, her body was later discovered buried in the barn after her stepmother claimed to have dreamt about the murder. Corder was tracked down in London, where he had married and started a new life. He was brought back to Suffolk, and, after a well-publicised trial, found guilty of murder. He was hanged in Bury St. Edmunds in 1828; the execution was watched by a huge crowd. The story provoked numerous articles in the newspapers, and songs and plays. The village where the crime had taken place became a tourist attraction and the barn was stripped by souvenir hunters. The plays and ballads remained popular throughout the next century and continue to be performed today.

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Alcatraz Island
Credit: David Corby

A stitched panorama of Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay, California, as seen facing east. Alcatraz is most famous for its prison, which closed in 1963, but whose legacy lived on in films such as Escape from Alcatraz and The Rock. Today it is a National Recreation Area

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W. E. B. Du Bois
The chief problem in any community cursed with crime is not the punishment of the criminal, but the preventing of the young from being trained to crime.


22 August 2019 – 2018 Chemnitz protests
A Syrian man is jailed for manslaughter after a stabbing in Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany last year. The crime sparked far-right rioting. (BBC)
20 August 2019 – Crime in Brazil
Thirty-seven passengers on a bus over Rio–Niterói Bridge, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are held hostage before police shoot dead the armed hijacker. After closer inspection, police discover the hijacker used a fake plastic gun. (BBC) (Extra)
20 August 2019 –
Former professional basketball player Mateen Cleaves is acquitted of several sex crimes in a court in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. (MLive) (WJRT-TV)
13 August 2019 – 2019 Sydney stabbing attack
A man in Sydney, Australia, stabs and kills one person and wounds another. The motive of the suspect, who was arrested at the crime scene, is unknown. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
7 August 2019 – 2019 California stabbing rampage
A Garden Grove, California, man stabs and kills four people and wounds two others in a two-hour crime spree at a series of Orange County locations. Both injured victims are expected to survive. The motive of the 33-year-old suspect, who was arrested at the last scene, appears to be robbery as well as "anger and hate." (CNN) (AP via KESQ-TV)
21 July 2019 – 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests
A mob of suspected masked triad members dressed in white and armed with batons attack commuters indiscriminately at Yuen Long station, injuring 45, including a pro-democracy legislator and a pregnant woman. Hong Kong police have been accused of allowing the violence to happen due to their delayed response and decision to limit emergency services in the area. (The Guardian) (SCMP)

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Ziad Jarrah
Ziad Jarrah was named by the FBI as one of the hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 as part of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He is believed to have taken over as the pilot of the aircraft and made an unsuccessful attempt to crash the plane into either the White House or the U.S. Capitol. After a wealthy and secular upbringing, Jarrah became involved in the September 11 conspiracy in college. Unique among the hijackers, he had a girlfriend and was close to his family. There are disputes concerning whether or not Jarrah was actually on Flight 93, although the 9/11 Commission concluded that his was not a case of mistaken identity.

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John L. Fugh


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