Israel and Syria continue to fight, Robert Downey Jr. continues to pretend to fight, and in sunny, pastoral northern Pennsylvania, a former judge is still getting international attention a week after his sentencing over what amounts to a human-trafficking scheme. Welcome to your daily trends report for Monday, May 6, 2013.
Mark Ciavarella, a former common pleas judge in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was sentenced early last week for his role as a cog in the prison-industrial complex. Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, received kickback money from private jail operators to fill their beds with children as young as 10 without due process, often on first-time offenses. By the time Ciavarella gets out, those kids will be well into middle age: He received orders to pay back $1.2 million and serve 28 years in prison for his part in the crimes.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic ocean, leaders in Israel and Syria are facing off, with each heavily armed nation claiming the other is in violation of international law after violence between the two countries broke out last week. (Israeli officials claim that the munitions stores it targeted were headed for Lebanon, where they were to be used against Israel by Hezbollah. Syrian and Egyptian officials say the rocket strikes against the Syria-based stores were an act of pre-emptive, cross-border aggression by Israel. Both Syria and Israel have recently received international scrutiny over other matters.)
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