Massachusetts men charged with killing/cooking victim

Two longtime friends have been accused of killing a suspected drug dealer, dismembering the body, and then “cooking” the remains at a Walpole concrete business.

Daniel P. Bradley, 47, of Westwood and his high school friend – Paul Moccia, 48, of Dedham – pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in Wrentham District Court and were ordered held without bail.

The two men, who became friends while attending Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury decades ago, are accused of conspiring to kill Angel Antonio Ramirez, 37, on March 20 in Walpole, said Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Robert Nelson.

Nelson said that Moccia owed Ramirez $70,000 in an outstanding drug debt and decided that he was going to kill Ramirez, 37, instead of paying him. Nelson said Moccia sold kilos of cocaine he received from Ramirez, a Guatemalan immigrant who obtained his cocaine from the West Coast.

Nelson said Moccia lured Ramirez to Walpole, shot him once in the back with a .357-caliber revolver, and then he and Bradley moved Ramirez’s body to R.J. Bradley Co., a concrete business co-owned by Bradley.

Bradley then dismembered Ramirez’s body and took one more step to eliminate any trace of the Guatemalan man’s existence and his death, Nelson said.

It was cooked,” the prosecutor said of Ramirez’s body…”

Steven Boozang, Paul Moccia’s lawyer, told reporters that he has known Moccia, a Massachusetts Turnpike toll taker, for 25 years and is stunned that he is accused of being a major drug dealer…

He said that Moccia has two sons and a sick mother and that he works as much overtime at the Turnpike as he can and spends the rest of the time with his family.

Boozang said Moccia would not have enough time to be a drug dealer.

No details available yet on what they did with the bits and pieces after they cooked them. Or how they were seasoned.

Return of the Once-Rare Beaver? Not in My Back Yard.

The dozens of public works officials, municipal engineers, conservation agents and others who crowded into a meeting room here one recent morning needed help. Property in their towns was flooding, they said. Culverts were clogged. Septic tanks were being overwhelmed.

“We have a huge problem,” said David Pavlik, an engineer for the town of Lexington, where dams built by beavers have sent water flooding into the town’s sanitary sewers. “We trapped them,” he said. “We breached their dam. Nothing works. We are looking for long-term solutions.”

Mary Hansen, a conservation agent from Maynard, said it starkly: “There are beavers everywhere.”

Laura Hajduk, a biologist with the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, had little to offer them. When beavers are trapped, others move in to replace them. And, she said, you can breach a beaver dam, but “I guarantee you that within 24 hours if the beavers are still there it will be repaired. Beavers are the ultimate ecosystem engineers.”

That was not what Mr. Pavlik was hoping to hear.

He is not alone in his dismay, and it is not just beavers. Around the nation, decades of environmental regulation, conservation efforts and changing land use have brought many species, like beavers, so far back from the brink that they are viewed as nuisances. As Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecologist at Duke University, put it, “We are finding they are inconvenient.”

RTFA. A predictable – if cautionary – tale of human beings so self-concerned and egregious that nature, even restored to a fraction of original capacity, must take second place to our foibles.

I haven’t taken a snap to supplement this post; but, we have one tree in our wee orchard that was almost girdled and killed last year by one of the beavers returning to the bosque of the Santa Fe River. We’ve since undertaken the “enormous” task of closing a small gap in our fence – the one we put in to keep out the fracking cows that used to roam our neighborhood before we won the struggle to return the land to nature’s original critters.

We had one neighbor too cheap to put up a fence. He was going to shoot any beavers that came onto his property. The money was raised and volunteers put up a fence for him.

Give me a choice? I’ll take the beavers any day.

Drop a computer on your head, lately?

Home computer-related injuries have increased more than sevenfold, with children hurt most often, data reveal.

Over 78,000 patients were treated for such injuries in US hospitals between 1994 and 2006, and 93% of the trips, bumps and falls occurred in the home.

Over the 13-year study period the injury rate increased by 732%, which is more than double the increase in household computer ownership.

Children under five had the highest injury rate, mainly due to falls after tripping over cables or head injuries from falling monitors.

Similarly, in the UK computer-related accidents in the home sharply increased from around 800 in 1995 to more than 1,800 in 1999 and 2,100 in 2002 – the latest figures available.

A third of the incidents in 2002 involved a child under the age of 15, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa).

Although most result in minor bumps and bruises, some injuries can be more serious. One case in 1998 involved a six-year-old boy who was burned by a fire caused by spilling a drink on a computer.

So, is the problem caused by these critters being purchased and set-up by consumers – who don’t have a clue about safety? Or are the children of the Western World simply becoming klutzier?

I think it’s the former. After all, we’re talking about people who try to pick up lawnmowers to trim the hedge.

Ten of the biggest US banks paying back bail-out

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Ten of the nation’s largest banks have received a green light from the Treasury Department to repay $68 billion in government bailout money that they got during the height of the financial crisis.

The banks have been busy strengthening their balance sheets in recent weeks by raising private capital. This move raises hope that the worst of the banking crisis is over.

The ten banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and Goldman Sachs, all got a clean bill of health following the recent stress test administered by government regulators.

Many had voiced a desire to pay back the money. Some had taken it very reluctantly, at the insistence of the Bush administration as it was trying to stabilize the financial system and insure that banks had money to lend. Along with the money came government limits on compensation for executives, which the banks are anxious to escape.

As the financial system has stabilized and the economy has shown signs of bottoming out, a number of the banks have been able to raise new capital from investors.

If the 10 large banks repay the full $68 billion, it would be a development welcomed by Congress and taxpayers. Added to loans already repaid by some smaller banks, it would bring the amount of TARP funds recovered to $70 billion. That’s about one-third of the nearly $200 billion the Treasury has injected into the nation’s banks.

Not so incidentally, these ten banks have also provided $2 billion in dividends to the Treasury during the course of the so-called bailout.

Yes, that’s right. We, the taxpayers, made money on this part of the deal.

China may reach 11 million car sales in 2009

China’s automobile sales will “definitely break the 10-million-unit barrier” in 2009, the China Passenger Car Association said, raising its forecast for the automobile industry this week on the back of a robust growth in vehicle sales in May, the fifth consecutive month it has climbed this year.

The association said “automobiles sales in China will touch 11 million units this year, on the basis of the total number of vehicles sold across the country in the first five months.”

Data released by the association showed that China sold 812,178 units of passenger vehicles, including minivans, sports utility vehicles, and multipurpose vehicles, in May, another monthly high…

Total passenger car sales in the first five months jumped 29.6 percent, to 3.64 million units from the same period last year, said the association.

China also has, for the fifth consecutive month, beaten the US as the world’s largest automobile market. “The growth in the passenger car segment will probably continue in June to hit a new monthly record, which will boost the whole-year sales to the 11-million-unit mark,” said Rao Da, secretary-general of the association.

This is a growth market that refuses to be halted by America’s effect on the global economy.

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Sony says Wii owners will end up buying PS3

For those of you that have any interest in this kind of thing, Sony Europe boss David Reeves stepped down recently and was succeeded by a fellow called Andrew House.

This year’s E3 was House’s first as president of Sony Europe, so it’s unsurprising that he wasted no time in chiming in with a typically brash Sony-style sound-bite when Edge Online interviewed him at the event.

EDGE: What are the key battlegrounds, as we go through the ten-year cycle, on which Sony will engage Microsoft? Is it encouraging people that have bought Wii into HD gaming?

Andrew House: I think you’re absolutely right. If you look back at previous lifecycles, like PS2 versus N64 [sic], we have lots of data that suggests that lots of people bought into N64 as their entry level gaming device, and were happy to upgrade to a more powerful machine later in the life cycle when the price point was right for them.

I think we’re going to see this later on PS3, and the fact that it’s a Blu-ray player as well and that there’s a [greater] wealth of network based experiences than are perhaps available on the device they already have will add to the proposition. I think that will definitely be a factor in the marketplace.

So there you have it. Better start saving those pennies because according to Sony, you WILL be buying a PS3 soon – even if you don’t know it yet.

Yes, House gets paid to say this kind of crap.

I hope he has spare batteries for his crystal ball. It may be a spell before his hope becomes reality.

Courthouse religious display ruled unconstitutional – of course

An appeals court has ruled that a Ten Commandments monument at the county courthouse in Stigler, Oklahoma, violates the Constitution because its primary effect is to endorse a religion.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 in a challenge to the monument brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma and by a county resident.

“We hold that the [Haskell County commissioners’] actions in authorizing and maintaining the monument . . . had the impermissible principal or primary effect of endorsing religion in violation of the Establishment Clause” of the Constitution, the judges wrote in a 52-page decision…

On May 18, Gov. Brad Henry signed a measure to place a privately funded monument of the Ten Commandments at the Capitol…

The measure passed despite concerns that it could draw a costly legal challenge and could be interpreted as the state’s endorsement of a religion.

It never seems to end, does it? Sectarian politicians play their opportunist games, perfectly willing to violate the spirit if not the letter of constitutional law – because they believe we should be governed by the religious rules of some backwards century.

But, they’re willing to ignore the precepts they say they worship – to support imperial war and restrict civil rights, civil liberties. Sometimes I think Christians must have invented hypocrisy. The American flavor certainly have perfected it.

Magic charms wreck Swazi football pitch

The King celebrating his birthday at the stadium – from the sunroof of his BMW
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Players have wrecked artificial turf at Swaziland’s main football stadium by putting magic charms, or “muti” underneath it, say furious officials.

The damage was worst near the goals and centre circle at the Somhlolo National Stadium in the capital Mbabane.

The muti, which some believe will help teams win games, has been stuffed under the turf over the last month.

The country’s sports minister has reportedly filed a formal criminal complaint over the damage, which has been noticed before and after national league games…

The BBC’s Thulani Mtetwa in Mbabane says holes have been cut and burned in the turf, so the muti can be placed underneath…

The police say it is difficult to take action as such rituals are often carried out at night.

And you certainly wouldn’t expect the coppers to be out after dark.