Florida pair indicted for largest phony BP oil spill claim

In the largest alleged BP oil spill-related scam uncovered to date, federal authorities on Thursday charged two Floridians with taking $340,000 in funds intended for victims of last year’s environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Justice Department officials said Joseph Harvey, 51, and Anja Kannell, 41, of Delray Beach, Florida, appeared in federal court in Miami on Thursday to face indictments for mail fraud, wire fraud and aggressive identity theft. Prosecutors said the defendants claimed the money from a $20 billion fund set up to help legitimate victims of the spill recover lost income.

Justice officials said they have brought charges in at least 30 cases in which individuals tried to recover funds to which they were not entitled. This was the biggest case yet, according to the Justice Department.

Harvey and Kannell are accused of filing phony claims using 34 assumed identities of actual Florida residents. These claims were complete with names and Social Security numbers, though they had fictitious addresses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Officials say the defendants instructed that all the funds be sent to an account they controlled in Texas.

Anyone wonder why the paperwork in disaster recovery and aid continues to grow beyond reason? Fact remains that a significant, small portion of our populace is dedicated to ripping off our tax dollars. [Yes, I mean beyond the Republican and Democratic parties]

Given the checks and balances introduced as part of the IT updates by the Obama administration, I have a sense that the arrest rate for crooks like this is getting better. Which means that Congress will probably try to cut the budget.

Japanese robot with 24 high-tech fingers washes hair


 
It may look like a glorified salon chair, but a new Japanese hair-washing robot replicates the dexterous touch of a human hand to care for the locks of the elderly and the infirm.

Its creators at electronics firm Panasonic say the machine features the latest robotic technology and could help replace human care-givers in this rapidly aging nation without degrading the quality of the service.

“Using robotic hand technology and 24 robotic fingers, this robot can wash the hair of handicapped in the way human hands do in order to help them have better daily lives,” said developer Tohru Nakamura.

The customer leans back in what looks like a regular salon chair, over a sink, and the machine…shampoos, massages the scalp and rinses in about three minutes. Conditioning and a blow-dry add another five minutes…

“We will develop more care-giving technologies for the elderly or handicapped in Japan and will export those technologies to other aging societies, such as South Korea and China, in the future,” Nakamura said.

One of our commenters at the Steve Jobs post mentioned Mr. Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic. Outside of the firm, outside of a small segment of the Japanese population, few know that he wrote a book before he died to guide the future of Panasonic after he was gone.

It included guidance for 1,000 years. I believe it included affordable appliances for an aging population.

Homeowner cleared after defending himself and his family


Mr. Cooke – coppers in tidy suits – the late armed invader

A homeowner arrested on suspicion of murder after the death of an intruder at his property has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Vincent Cooke, 39, was initially arrested by police on suspicion of murder after stabbing one of two men suspected of trying to burgle his home in Manchester. Police said that during the break-in the intruder smashed down his door and threatened him with a knife before Mr Cooke allegedly stabbed the intruder Raymond Jacob, 37, six times. His wife Karen, 34, and 12-year-old son returned home during the incident but escaped unharmed.

He was due to answer bail later this month, but the Crown Prosecution Service has decided has that Mr Cooke acted in reasonable self-defence…

A 33-year-old man is in custody charged with aggravated burglary in connection with the incident and is next due to appear in court in December.

In a statement issued through his lawyers, Mr Cooke said…”I am most relieved that the CPS have decided not to charge me with any offence. It has been a living nightmare for me and I’m still suffering flashbacks of the incident,” he said…”I hope to now be able to get on with my life but will never forget the day that I had to fight for my life.”

Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West area, said after considering the evidence Mr Cooke should not face charges as he acted “honestly and instinctively” at the time of the attack…

“As crown prosecutors we look at all cases on their merit and according to the evidence in the individual case. I am satisfied that this is a case where a householder, faced with armed intruders in frightening circumstances, acted in reasonable self defence.

“The law is clear that anyone who acts in good faith in using whatever force they honestly feel is necessary to protect themselves, their families or their property will not be prosecuted for such action.”

Ministers are planning to clarify the law on self-defence in England, after a string of cases where homeowners have faced prosecution for defending their property…

Under the current law, home owners who use “reasonable force” – which is no more than is absolutely necessary – to protect themselves against intruders should not be prosecuted.

I wonder sometimes how the bureaucrats of law and jurisprudence put together the silliness they write. Reading the text of this law, how it’s to be put to use by coppers who are on the streets to protect and serve the body politic – it sounds like three law clerks who failed in politics were sitting in their club sipping sherry and contriving a giggle just to drive people mad.

Are you supposed to have a government form available for an intruder to fill out – listing the levels of violence he intends as harm to you, your family and household?

Brits seem to be limited to kitchen cutlery. Sorry, but, I’m glad this is one of the occasions I’d rather face with firearms. I know enough to miss shooting my wife or myself. I damned well won’t miss an intruder.

Mexican coppers stored drug gang kidnap victims in their jail

Several police officers in northern Mexico allowed a violent drug gang to hold kidnap victims in the local jail while ransom payments were being negotiated…

Four police officers from Juárez, a suburb of the city of Monterrey, are being held pending further investigation, said Jorge Domene, the security spokesman for Nuevo León state.

The scandal came to light this week when state and federal police freed two kidnapping victims from jail cells in Juárez. Investigators believe that the victims were abducted by the extremely violent Zetas cartel and that the officers were working for the Zetas, Domene said…

Domene noted that last weekend, the Nuevo León attorney general’s office detained 73 local policemen from a half dozen communities in the state who confessed to having performed various services for gangs, including spying, acting as lookouts, and carrying out killings and kidnappings…

The most scandalous case of prison corruption came to light in July 2010, when an investigation revealed that guards and officials at a prison in the northern city of Gómez Palacio had freed inmates belonging to a gang, lent them guns and sent them off in official vehicles to carry out drug-related killings, including the massacre of 17 people earlier that year.

The guards allowed the inmates to return to their cells after the killings so that they would be safe from reprisals, authorities said at the time.

“We have barely been in time to put the brakes on organised crime in the first stages, but in some towns, in some areas of the country, they have infiltrated authorities in a practically symbiotic relationship,” President Felipe Calderon said during a speech to members of the business community on Thursday.

With friends like these…

The old saw is as true as ever. Calderon’s speech is a farce. From here it sounds like he’s repeating truisms that the average 6th-grader could have presented as analysis of Mexico’s corrupt interrelationships between government, police and gangsters. 10 years ago. 20 years ago.

No “reforms” have been passed by their Congreso. State and local governments most often manage those relationships by bribery, kickbacks and protection payoffs – rather than by housecleaning and prosecution. Force of arms is the only solution attempted by the Calderon government. Half-measures at best.

Pakistani doctor charged with treason for aiding bin Laden raid


Pakistani police guarding the bin Laden compound
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The doctor who is suspected of helping the CIA target Osama bin Laden will be charged with treason…

“A case of conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason is made” against Dr. Shakeel Afridi, the information ministry said, summarizing a commission’s investigation into the death of the al Qaeda leader.

Afridi is accused of helping the CIA use a vaccination campaign to try to collect DNA samples from people who lived in bin Laden’s compound.

The United States “has repeatedly asked” for the release of the Pakistani doctor, a U.S. official said Thursday. The official declined to comment further on the treason charges…

“This was one very small piece of a very large intelligence effort to determine that bin Laden was located at the compound,” a senior U.S. official told CNN over the summer.”People need to put this into some perspective,” the official added. “The vaccination campaign was part of the hunt for the world’s top terrorist, and nothing else. If the United States hadn’t shown this kind of creativity, people would be scratching their heads asking why it hadn’t used all the tools at its disposal to find bin Laden.”

Pakistan demonstrates once again what passes for priorities and standards in that nation.

While the Obama administration trots out the usual diplomatic smoke-and-mirrors to maintain some sort of relationship with a corrupt government the fact remains that they can be trusted as far as I can throw the Aiwan-e-Sadr uphill into a heavy wind left-handed.

Facebook “like” argument results in assault charges

An argument over a Facebook status update resulted in battery charges for a Pecos, Texas, man on Monday.
According to documents filed in Carlsbad, NM, magistrate court…Benito Apolinar, 36, pleaded not guilty to one charge of battery on a household member.

At 12:08 p.m. on Monday, Carlsbad police officers were dispatched to the 2300 block of West Church in reference to a fight in progress…

Police arrived to find several people outside of the residence, and a woman yelling inside of the home. The woman, later identified as Dolores Apolinar, was taken aside by police to get her statement. She was observed to have a red mark on her left cheek, said police.

The woman told officers that she and Apolinar had been married for 15 years, and have children together, but were recently separated. He was in Carlsbad to drop off his children with their mother, where he allegedly arrived drunk.

According to the complaint, Dolores Apolinar would not let him into her home because she is on house arrest and feared she would get in trouble.

An argument ensued when Benito Apolinar refused to leave the home. The two reportedly yelled at each other before Apolinar came into the residence and allegedly pulled Dolores Apolinar’s hair before punching her in the cheek…

He told police that…the whole incident began with a Facebook status update.

According to the complaint, Benito Apolinar posted a comment on his Facebook page about the anniversary of his mother’s passing, but Dolores Apolinar did not click on the “like” button beneath the update…

“That’s amazing everyone ‘likes’ my status but you, you’re my wife. You should be the first one to ‘like’ my status,” he allegedly told his wife…

The bond was set at $3,000.

Add a laugh track to the courtroom appearance and sell it as “Like” Gone Wild.