TSA and coppers in New York and Florida arrested in drug bust

Three Transportation Security Administration officers and two police officers are among 20 people arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to distribute tens of thousands of oxycodone painkillers for illegal sale from Florida to Connecticut, according to U.S. Attorney of Connecticut David B. Fein.

According to court documents, TSA and law enforcement officers accepted cash and gift cards to allow large quantities of the prescription drug and large sums of money to be transported between Florida and New York airports.

“In these times no one needs to be reminded about how dangerous it is when officers who have sworn to uphold the law accept money to ‘look the other way’,” Fein said.

Operation Blue Coast” began with an arrest at a hotel in Stamford, Connecticut, on April 8, in which DEA officers recovered 6,000 oxycodone pills from a man who traveled from Florida to Connecticut., officials said.

According to court documents, the man revealed that he traveled back and fourth several times a week over the course of a year, buying drugs in Florida and transporting them to Connecticut through commercial airlines and by automobile. He said he sold the drugs to traffickers in Connecticut for a profit…

According to the DEA, to transport up to 8,000 pills per trip, the man said he paid off the arrested TSA officers who screened the passengers and luggage at the Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. He told the DEA he also paid more than $20,000 to TSA officers in New York to make sure he could pass with large sums of cash, the profits from his drug trafficking.

Looks to me that human resources management in the TSA and a couple of police departments are doing about as thorough a job of checking out their employees as, say, the average voter in New York and Florida does at choosing their Congress-critters.

That’s not meant as a joke. Signing off on the Patriot Act and similar repressive laws that limit the liberties of ordinary citizens and then turning the management over to administrators who wouldn’t have noticed they had crooks on the payroll if the DOJ hadn’t sent them a memo – ain’t exactly funny.

Court claiming million$ from hooker paid by Toys’R Us embezzler

No – that’s not John Candy’s dad

An incredulous judge asked a prostitute to justify to him how she could charge a client £20,000 a week – even though he was a company director.

Judge Stephen John berated the call-girl over her charges for the sexual services she provided to a director of children’s favourite firm Toys R Us…

“How do you justify that?”

Miss Dunbar replied: “It wasn’t me that was putting the worth on that. It was Mr Hopes paying what he thought it was worth.”

Prosecutors trying to reclaim £3.7 million 59-year-old jailed Hopes stole from his employers, argued successfully that most of the money was given to Miss Dunbar and not earned by her, and could therefore be confiscated.

The judge ruled that receivers appointed to chase the remaining cash and any assets bought with them should also reclaim a £25,000 Lexus GS300 Miss Dunbar bought for the prostitutes’ father Frank, a £30,000 Toyota Landcruiser she bought for her husband Martin Iheanacho, and her own £42,000 Lexus RS400h 4×4 car.

The enforcement team will also go after properties she bought, both in the UK and a £60,000 plot of land in her husband’s native Nigeria, and nearly £400,000 in bank accounts which were frozen by the High Court.

A £132,000 Bentley Continental which disgraced Hopes bought for her after she reportedly told him: “Every girl wants a Bentley”, has already been confiscated…

Amazingly, while supporting Miss Dunbar and four other prostitutes – processing stolen money through an account in the name of Dunbar Associates – Hopes was not spending any of the money on himself or his wife Gillian.

She has since divorced him and been awarded the family home…

Hopes…worked for Toys R Us in Maidenhead, Berkshire for 23 years…

Another enforcement hearing concerning a further £600,000 pounds given by Hopes to another prostitute, Tanya Wieck, was due to take place in the coming weeks.

Even if the sex trade was legal – as I feel it should be – Ms. Dunbar is guilty of receiving stolen goods. And that holds true in most jurisdictions in the Western world.

RTFA for the occasional chuckle. I hope dumbo had some legitimate holdings of value the courts might turn over to support his ex-wife and kids.

Sunrise after a stormy night

Taken while experimenting with a new pocket camera – Canon Powershot SX230HS. My old reliable Panasonic became old and unreliable. And I refuse to buy another camera from a company that inserts matching chips into camera and batteries that only allow their own overpriced batteries to be used.

Software in the Canon seems OK, so far. I’ve only been using it a day or so. I think the Leica lens in the Panny was probably better.

A morning shot looking South – after a few days and nights of rain and scattered showers. Amazing how verdant our landscape looks after a bit of precipitation. We’re up to about 4.5″ YTD. Woo hoo!

Retired bishop campaigns for an end to celibacy in priesthood

A high-profile bishop who tended some of the dead and wounded of Bloody Sunday has called for an end to celibacy in the clergy.

Edward Daly, who was bishop of Derry for nearly 20 years, said allowing the clergy to marry would solve some of the church’s problems. He is the most senior figure in Irish Catholicism to challenge the ban.

The number of Catholic priests in Ireland is in sharp decline as older clergy die out and very few young men choose to take up a celibate life. In some parishes the church has transferred priests from Poland and the developing world to fill the gap.

“There will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the church,” he said on BBC Radio Ulster.

I think priests should have the freedom to marry if they wish. It may create a whole new set of problems but I think it’s something that should be considered. I’m worried about the decreasing number of priests and the number of older priests. I think it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and addressed urgently.”

Daly accepted he might be out of step with current Vatican thinking but said he was “not engaged in a popularity contest”.

He said that during his time as a bishop he found it “heartbreaking” that so many priests or prospective priests were forced to resign or were unable to get ordained because of the celibacy issue. Many young men who had once considered joining the priesthood turned away because of the rule, the cleric said.


I hold no brief for the superstitions premised as religion; but, as long as human beings choose philosophical idealism over material reality they should enjoy the option of those who speak for that religion to be living something approaching a normal, healthy life.

Bystanders save motorcyclist trapped under burning car

Police in Utah are searching for a group of construction workers, students and bystanders. But for a good reason.

This group is credited with saving a man’s life by working together to lift a burning car and pull a man to safety.

It was a “life-saving move that the Logan Police Department does not want to go unnoticed,” said Jeff Curtis, assistant chief of the police department in Logan, Utah.

The incident occurred Monday morning on a street near Utah State University and was captured on video.

Police said the BMW pulled out of a parking lot and in front of Wright. Curtis said the motorcyclist tried to avoid the car, which resulted in him laying the motorcycle down. After crashing, gas spilled out of the motorcycle and ignited, engulfing both the motorcycle and the front end of the car in flames…The motorcyclist became lodged underneath the burning vehicle…

Curtis said police are trying to find the people who helped so they can be recognized for their efforts at a city council meeting.

Bravo. Ordinary people torn an their ordinary day by extraordinary circumstances. Caring – as we all should – for the life of another human being.

Reprogrammed T-cells train immune system to kill cancer

A year ago, when chemotherapy stopped working against his leukemia, William Ludwig signed up to be the first patient treated in a bold experiment at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Ludwig, then 65, a retired corrections officer from Bridgeton, N.J., felt his life draining away and thought he had nothing to lose.

Doctors removed a billion of his T-cells — a type of white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors — and gave them new genes that would program the cells to attack his cancer. Then the altered cells were dripped back into Mr. Ludwig’s veins.

At first, nothing happened. But after 10 days, hell broke loose in his hospital room. He began shaking with chills. His temperature shot up. His blood pressure shot down. He became so ill that doctors moved him into intensive care and warned that he might die. His family gathered at the hospital, fearing the worst.

A few weeks later, the fevers were gone. And so was the leukemia.

There was no trace of it anywhere — no leukemic cells in his blood or bone marrow, no more bulging lymph nodes on his CT scan. His doctors calculated that the treatment had killed off two pounds of cancer cells.

A year later, Mr. Ludwig is still in complete remission. Before, there were days when he could barely get out of bed; now, he plays golf and does yard work.

“I have my life back,” he said.

Mr. Ludwig’s doctors have not claimed that he is cured — it is too soon to tell — nor have they declared victory over leukemia on the basis of this experiment, which involved only three patients. The research, they say, has far to go; the treatment is still experimental, not available outside of studies.

But scientists say the treatment that helped Mr. Ludwig…may signify a turning point in the long struggle to develop effective gene therapies against cancer. And not just for leukemia patients: other cancers may also be vulnerable to this novel approach… In essence, the team is using gene therapy to accomplish something that researchers have hoped to do for decades: train a person’s own immune system to kill cancer cells.

RTFA. Hope is a wonderful word. Accompanied with science and innovation, courage and care – so much may yet be achieved.

Young, blonde vampire bites attacks elderly man in wheelchair

A blonde vampire?

A Florida woman who allegedly claimed to be a vampire has been charged with battery after violently biting a man in a wheelchair on his face and arms…

Milton Ellis, 69, told police in St. Petersburg, Florida, that he and Josephine Smith, 22, met on the street and went to the porch of a vacant restaurant to get out of the rain. He said he fell asleep in his motorized wheelchair and woke up to find Smith on top of him.

Ellis told authorities that she said, “I’m a vampire. I am going to eat you” and then began to bite him.

According to a police affidavit, Ellis was bitten on his arm and lips, leaving him bloody before he was able to escape and call police. He was later treated with stitches at a local hospital and released.

After arriving at the scene, police said they found Smith bloody and half-naked nearby, but that she had no memory of what happened and did not identify herself as a vampire, St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz said.

Is there a special ID card for vampires? Like a MedicAlert bracelet?