News roundup, week ending 25 March 06

Here are some of the other news items that caught my eye last week:

The Guardian (25 March) has a profile of convicted murderer Robert Howard, currently serving a life sentence in the UK for raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl. However, Howard has been a suspect in the rapes and murders of several other women and girls in Ireland and England. The profile, by Susan McKay, discusses Howard’s life and crimes in detail.

Courtesy of a University of Wisconsin-Madison press release (21 March), comes news of two forthcoming books on the Rwandan genocide. Former journalist Scott Straus carried out research in Rwanda in 2002 as a graduate student:

[…] and conducted scores of interviews exploring how such a mass crime became possible. The first of what will be two books based on those efforts – Intimate Enemy: Images and Voices of the Rwandan Genocide – was published this month by Zone Books; the second book will be available in fall 2006. […] The book deals head-on with one of the most disturbing aspects of the genocide – that it was carried out, in essence, by everyday people, who quickly transformed from neighbors to killers.

Straus is also the organiser of the forthcoming conference “Humanitarian Intervention After 9/11″. It takes place on 31 March at the University of Wisconsin. More here.

A new study on workplace aggression concludes (unsuprisingly) that stressed out supervisors take it out on their subordinates. According to the press release (Blackwell Publishing, 22 March):

[…] supervisors engage in more abusive behavior when they perceive that the organization they work for is using unfair decision-making to allocate valued resources. […] Organizations seeking to reduce hostility and aggression in the workplace may need to begin with the fair treatment of supervisors,” the authors conclude.

Here’s the reference:

The Associated Press (18 March) considers whether the Amber Alert system is “stretched beyond its original purpose”. Apparently,

[…] some law enforcement officials are concerned that Amber Alerts will be overused and therefore become less effective. And in some cases, it’s more difficult for authorities to decide when an alert should be issued because they have to weed out the noncustodial parent who isn’t really a threat or the mother who falsely claims her runaway child has been abducted.

News that with the launch of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in the UK in a week’s time, criminals who inform on bosses are to be offered lighter sentences (The Guardian, 23 March). Not uncommon in the US, this is the first time in the UK that “prosecutors will be allowed to make written deals […] offering criminals lighter sentences for ‘grassing’ on their associates”.