Category: Crime

Dumb crook of the day


Stylin’ ride for young crooks

An Albuquerque, New Mexico, man is facing charges after police say he drove a stolen electric shopping cart to meet with his probation officer.

KOAT-TV reports that court papers say 18-year-old Michael Johnson rode the electric shopping cart this week to make his scheduled visit. When the probation officer asked Johnson where he got the cart, court documents say Johnson admitted taking it from an Albuquerque Wal-Mart.

Johnson was arrested and charged with larceny and receiving stolen property. He also violated his probation when he was arrested and was ordered held on a $500 bond.

Albuquerque police spokesman Tanner Tixier says the cart is worth more than $1,800.

It was not known if Johnson had an attorney…

…or a brain!

Thanks, Mike

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Want to post a public rating for the cop you just faced? There’s an app for that.

Three teens in Georgia just made a mobile app they hope will help prevent the next police shooting of an unarmed young person…It’s called Five-O, after the slang term for police, and it’s the brainchild of siblings Ima, 16, Asha, 15, and Caleb Christian, 14, who live in a suburb of Atlanta.

Here’s how it works: After interacting with a cop, users open the app and fill out a Yelp-like form on which they can grade the officer’s courtesy from A to F, check a box if they were verbally or physically abused, and add details about the incident. They can view ratings on other cops and police departments across the country, participate in community forums, and check out a Q&A titled “Know Your Rights.”

Ima Christian says their parents encouraged them to think about how they could respond productively to incidents like Brown’s death. “One of the things they really stress is that we focus on finding solutions,” she told Mother Jones. “We really hope that Five-O will be able to give every citizen a voice when interacting with the police.”

But the Christians say Five-O isn’t just for outing bad cops; they hope it will help also highlight good policing. “We want people to be able to document if the police are very courteous or if they save your cat or something,” Ima says…

The siblings have been honing their coding skills since elementary school by participating in the MIT programs +K12, Scratch, and App Inventor, and they’ve also taken programming classes at Georgia Tech and Emory, all with encouragement from their parents. They’ve started their own app development company, Pine Tart, Inc., and they’re currently working on two other projects…

Solid. Filling a need with modern tech designed by the youngest among us in this online world. I love it.

I’ve been online since 1983, watching the changes, hoping for more real content like this. Yes, there’s lots of other niche products, some serious growing of whole world communications and knowledge out here. But, watching a couple of kid-coders knock out something like this app warms the cockles of this cranky old activist geek.

Anti-Fascist hero sends his Holocaust medal back to Israel


The “Righteous Among the Nations” medal

A Dutchman honoured by Israel for hiding a Jewish child during World War Two has handed back his medal after six of his relatives were killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza.

Henk Zanoli, 91, wrote to the Israeli embassy in The Hague to say he could no longer hold the honour…He said an Israeli F-16 had destroyed his great-niece’s home in Gaza, killing all inside, in the recent offensive…

Mr Zanoli and his mother were awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations” honour by Israel in 2011 for helping to shelter a Jewish child from the Nazis in their family home from 1943-45.

The award is accorded to non-Jews who risked their lives to protect and save Jews during the Holocaust.

However, Mr Zanoli said in a letter published by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that “to hold on to the honour granted to me by the State of Israel under these circumstances, would be an insult… to those in my family, four generations on, who lost no less than six of their relatives in Gaza…”

His great-niece is a Dutch diplomat who is married to Palestinian economist Ismail Ziadah, who was born in a refugee camp in central Gaza…Mr Ziadah’s mother, three brothers, a sister-in-law and nine-year-old nephew were all killed after their family home was hit by Israeli aircraft…

Mr Zanoli also lost his father at a Nazi concentration camp. His brother-in-law was murdered by the Nazis for his role in the Dutch resistance. Like pretty much everyone who rejects the apartheid government of Israel, Mr. Zanoli holds no brief against Jews in any nation. His opposition is to the government of the state of Israel and their racist and militarist policies.

You can read his letter over here.

Dumb crook of the day

Ryan Mullins

A North Carolina man was arrested after he allegedly stole a safe from a pharmacy and then dragged it behind his car. The suspect, Ryan Mullins, may have gotten away with it too, except he passed an officer while he was driving.

The 22-year-old allegedly swiped the safe from Family Care Pharmacy and dragged it for more than two miles before the officer saw him.

Individuals near the pharmacy reportedly saw Mullins’ vehicle parked outside with the safe nearby.

“You could just tell he was messing with something and having a struggle,” witness Carmen Fickling told WCTI12. “A lot of things crossed through my mind as to what could possibly be going on and none of them were good. But I never expected to see him pull a safe with the rope. It was strange.”

Mullins is charged with felony breaking and entering, larceny, possession of stolen goods, two felony counts of trafficking opium or heroin, one count of safe cracking and misdemeanor DWI.

The 100-pound safe reportedly contained prescription drugs.

Here in New Mexico we take a somewhat warped pride in being the home of some of the dumbest crooks in America. I think we should make Ryan Mullins an honorary New Mexican.

“To Serve and Protect” Missouri-style


Click for another view of what peaceful demonstrators faced

Anyone familiar with the history of race and policing in the United States had to suspect from the beginning that the shooting of Michael Brown was not just a tragedy, but a crime. Yet presumption of innocence prevails and sober minds know both the need to wait for an investigation and the reality that we may never really know what happened that fateful Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri. But watching events unfold Wednesday night in the St. Louis suburb, there can be no doubt that what happened on August 13 was an outrage.

The local authorities clearly have no idea what they’re doing, and higher powers from the state or federal government need to intervene before things get even worse.

The arrest of two reporters, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, with whom many of us in Washington, DC, are acquainted was neither the beginning nor the most important part of the outrage, but it drives home in a visceral way the extent to which the situation is being monumentally mishandled.

Police officers, for some unfathomable reason, were pointing guns at unarmed civilians at twilight.

Crowd control is a normal complement to any modern protest. And as I remember well from the late-Giuliani days in New York, crowd control sometimes gets heavy-handed when relationships between the police and the community are strained. But you do crowd control with horses, batons, and shields, not rifles. You point guns at dangerous, violent criminals, not people out for a march…

That sounds about right. There were an awful lot of somebodies who didn’t know better out on the streets of Ferguson last night wielding an awful lot of deadly equipment. Quite a few people have been injured over the past few days by rubber bullets and rough handling (although in a Wednesday press conference, a police spokesperson insisted that no one had been injured during the protests).

Wednesday night’s outing ended for many protestors in a cloud of tear gas. In my experience, these “nonviolent” crowd-control tactics are a good deal more painful than people who’ve never been at the receiving end appreciate. There’s no real reason they should be inflicted on demonstrators who weren’t hurting anyone or even damaging property. We are lucky, to be honest, that nobody’s been killed yet. But somebody who does know better needs to take charge. And soon.

…It is clear at this point that local officials in the town of Ferguson and St. Louis County don’t know what they are doing. Of course people will not be calm while police officers charged with protecting them trample their rights.


What did you learn, today, little girl?

The first person in a demonstration that I saw shot by police was a young woman in her mid-20’s. She was carrying her baby in her arms. She took a bullet in her left arm. That was July 19, 1964 in Harlem, New York. She was shot by a cop who was part of a group trying to prevent anyone from getting to the funeral parlor where the body of James Powell lay – killed by Lt. Thomas Gilligan of the NYPD.

In the aftermath of Powell’s death the people of New York City counted 1 dead, 118 injured, and 465 arrested. Overwhelmingly Black, the uprising counted many Hispanic folks – mostly Puerto Rican, many white demonstrators. Government response was the same as it ever was. There were investigations, Congressional hearings, lots of bullshit discussion – and nothing changed.

Our politicians, our government is as worthless as ever. Courtesy of the technology revolution of the last decade or so more people get to see what happens outside their comfort zone. Perhaps that will prompt more than campaign rhetoric.

Arrested after beating police in doughnut-eating contest — but, no, that’s not why!

A North Carolina man who beat police officers in a doughnut-eating contest got his just desserts the next day after they realized that he was a wanted man.

Bradley Herbert entered the cuisine-eating competition at the Elizabeth City Police Department’s National Night Out Against Crime and won it by polishing off eight doughnuts in two minutes.

The field that the 24-year-old defeated included local police officers and firefighters…

The day after the contest, officials realized that Herbert was wanted in connection with two break-ins that happened at local grocery stores thanks to story about the suspect’s eating prowess.

“When I came in that morning and read that article I was pissed because it’s like throwing it in our face,” Lt. Max Robeson said. “We’ve been looking for you for months. I didn’t ask him if he won a trophy — he probably did.”

Herbert was charged with two counts of felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor injury to real property.

More balls than brains!

Verizon says, “Gee, all the kids do it” — Not a legit defense for data throttling

During a news conference on Friday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler responded to Verizon’s claims that its planned data throttling program is a “widely accepted” practice, saying that an “all the kids do it” argument is not justifiable.

…Wheeler chided Verizon for its defense of an upcoming “network optimization” change, which consisted of pointing fingers at other U.S. cellular providers, calling it an attempt to “reframe the issue.”

“‘All the kids do it’ was never something that worked with me when I was growing up and didn’t work with my kids,” Wheeler said.

In July, Verizon announced plans to slow down data speeds for a select group of high-use subscribers when its 4G LTE network bogs down. The shift is scheduled to take effect in October, when users with grandfathered-in unlimited data plans may see slower than normal data speeds when performing high bandwidth operations like streaming high-definition video.

“My concern in this instance is that it is moving from technology and engineering issues into business issues,” Wheeler said. “Such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them…”

When smartphones first hit market, cellular providers like Verizon and AT&T offered unlimited data plans to help spur on sales. A boom in popularity, largely driven by Apple’s iPhone, left the telcos with an infrastructure poorly equipped to deal with the glut of data-hungry subscribers, which in turn prompted the halt of unlimited plans.

At the time, both Verizon and AT&T let subscribers keep their all-you-can-eat data allotments as long as they continued to pay the same top-tier monthly fee in perpetuity. With faster wireless technology and ever-increasing demands for more data, however, companies have started to throttle speeds for power users…

The creeps who run the American telecom monopoly are stuck in the same business model that’s been around since Ma Bell owned the whole national network. They will give us as little advancing technology as possible while charging every possible penny they can squeeze from mediocre service. Perish the thought they share with little guy start-ups or even medium-size competitors. This applies to Comcast fibre as completely as it does with Verizon’s cell towers.

Which is why Americans get telecom service that barely ranks in the Top 20 in the world. Elsewhere, either nationalized services provide the best that technology has available – because the people deserve it. As in South Korea. Or hardware, copper or fibre, must be leased to others so there will be actual competition. And that’s worked out equally well. As in the UK.

Listening to corporate barons whine about fairness is enough to make Adam Smith rollover in his grave.

Thanks, Mike

Hospitals could face penalties for missing electronic health record deadline

More than half of U.S. hospitals were on the hook to meet a new set of “meaningful use” of electronic health records criteria — known as the stage 2 criteria — by the end of the fiscal year that ended in July. The new study’s data, which was gathered in late 2013, suggests that many may have missed the milestone. At the time, only 5.8 percent of those hospitals were on track to adopt all 16 of the stage 2 meaningful use goals.

Hospitals that bill the Medicare program and didn’t meet the criteria in fiscal year 2014 will be subject to financial penalties in fiscal year 2015…

The criteria, set forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, include relatively easy items such as using electronic health records to enter orders for medication as well as lab and radiology tests, to chart patients’ vital signs and to record patient demographics. More difficult activities include sharing electronic health record data with patients online, sharing electronic data with other providers who care for the same patients and submitting electronic data to vaccine registries…

The criteria are the second tier of compliance with the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, also known as HITECH. The act requires hospitals to move from paper to electronic recordkeeping. At first, only a basic set of criteria is required, but once a hospital starts down the path, it must meet higher benchmarks at scheduled dates. The more than half of hospitals that were scheduled to meet the stage 2 meaningful use criteria in 2014 were the first wave to begin adopting digital medical records.

The study determined that the number of hospitals adopting electronic health records continues to rise steeply. Nearly 60 percent of hospitals now have at least a basic system. And 90 percent of those were on track to achieve many of the 16 core criteria.

The study suggests that, where hospitals are not able to meet criteria, they aren’t always to blame. Vendors must upgrade their products to make necessary functions available to meet the criteria. These challenges, however, appear to be concentrated in specific types of hospitals.

“Policymakers may want to consider new targeted strategies to ensure that all hospitals move toward meaningful use of electronic health records,” Adler-Milstein said. “We found that rural and small hospitals lag behind, suggesting a need to expand federal efforts to help these institutions select, purchase, implement and successfully use electronic health records in ways that earn them incentive payments and enable them to engage in new care delivery and payment models.”

Overdue. Way overdue. One of the best things we can thank Obama for – at two levels.

I really enjoy being able to access my medical records, diagnoses and communications – and love seeing them available between my physicians. Two of the four physicians on my Medicare chart are there: my GP and my eye doctor. Mostly just annual checkups; but, I’m glad they can see other’s work. The other two have just as perfunctory a relationship – and I’m confident they’ll soon be on board.

The best reason in the world to get hospitals into the mix makes me feel great – as a cynical geek. Because computational analysis is turning up crooked hospitals, administrators and healthcare conglomerates all over the country. And I love it.

When a hospital’s billing practices distort general rules of practice – it shows up. When a hospital is requesting ten times the national/regional average of one kind of profit center test – it shows up. Etc.

Like I said. Overdue.

Angry viewers demand that NBC cancel “Shark Hunters”

shark fins
Shark fins drying — click to enlarge

With the advent of the second season of NBC Sports’ terrible show about killing threatened species, “Shark Hunters,” the internet is starting to erupt. Over 16,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the network to cancel the show, and countless others have taken to Twitter to express their outrage.

The show follows a group of fishers as they compete in a tournament to win money for bringing in the biggest shark. Among other disturbing things about the show, the hunters target only species that are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List for the contest — Mako, thresher and porbeagle sharks. In a world where shark finning and loss of apex predators is a major concern, the glorification of killing these animals seems incredibly backwards.

The petition, hosted by Change.org, is addressed to Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Sports Group, and several other executives in the company. It reads:

Programs like this not only glamorize shark hunting and killing but also make the whole action “OK”. Sharks play an important role in our oceans and if we continue to hunt them, our ocean’s health will continue to decline. Change.org petitions have successfully convinced other channels, like National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, to cancel other violent hunting shows. I’m sure with enough signatures, we can get NBC to listen.

I’m not so sure. I’d also suggest you send an email or otherwise complain to Comcast – who owns NBC-Universal.

Even killing sharks “for food” is a load of crap when often all that’s taken is the fins for soup and seasoning. That’s like the last Sun King of France killing thousands of song birds to have a pate made from their tongues.

Thanks, Mike

Million$ in fuel stolen from pipeline running under British official residence

Chevening House Estate

Thieves have siphoned millions of pounds of fuel from a pipeline which runs under Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s official country residence in Kent.

Esso’s South East pipeline runs from Fawley Refinery, in Hampshire, to Purfleet Fuel Terminal, in Essex.

The company said it discovered a section at Chevening, near Sevenoaks, had been tampered with.

The Sun reported 30,000 litres of fuel a day were stolen over seven months, with a value of £8.3m at the pumps.

Kent Police said thieves had used “highly specialist techniques” to siphon the fuel.

Chevening House Estate is shared by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond…

An Esso spokesman said…”We strongly condemn the highly dangerous criminal action by those involved and are working closely with the police in their criminal investigations.”

Har! Can you imagine any gang in paranoid America even succeeding in splicing into Joe Biden’s cable TV at Observatory Circle?

That’s just under $14 million in fuel stolen from ExxonMobil. Half the members of the Texas delegation to Congress would go into cardiac arrest if that happened here.