Florida’s contender for Darwin Award


Click on photo if you really need to see Archbold in action

A 32-year-old man downed dozens of roaches and worms to win a python at a Florida reptile store, then collapsed and died outside minutes later.

Edward Archbold was among 20 to 30 contestants participating in Friday night’s “Midnight Madness” event at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, authorities said.

The participants’ goal: consume as many insects and worms as they could to take home a $850 python.

Archbold swallowed roach after roach, worm after worm. While the store didn’t say exactly how many Archbold consumed, the owner told CNN affiliate WPLG that he was “the life of the party…”

Soon after the contest was over, Archbold fell ill and began to vomit, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

A friend called for medical help. Then, Archbold himself dialed 911…

Eventually, he fell to the ground outside the store, the sheriff’s office said. An ambulance took him to North Broward Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Life of the Party, eh?

Feds file mortgage fraud lawsuit against Wells Fargo

The U.S. government filed a civil mortgage fraud lawsuit on Tuesday against Wells Fargo & Co, the latest legal volley against big banks for their lending during the housing boom.

The complaint, brought by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, seeks damages and civil penalties from Wells Fargo for more than 10 years of alleged misconduct related to government-insured Federal Housing Administration loans.

The lawsuit alleges the FHA paid hundreds of millions of dollars on insurance claims on thousands of defaulted mortgages as a result of false certifications by Wells Fargo, the fourth-biggest U.S. bank as measured in assets.

“As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The bank denied the allegations and said in a statement it believes it acted in good faith and in compliance with blah, blah, blah…

Bharara’s office has brought similar cases in the past year, including one against Citigroup Inc unit CitiMortgage Inc, which settled the case for $158.3 million in February, and against Deutsche Bank, which paid $202.3 million in May to resolve its case.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn brought the biggest such case, against Bank of America Corp’s Countrywide unit, which agreed in February to pay $1 billion to resolve the allegations.

Preet Bharara rules. His track record against fraud perpetrated by bankers and financiers is rock-solid. Go get ’em!

Danes propose scrapping military service


The winds of change

Compulsory military service may be suspended in order to help the Ministry of Defence find the 2.7 billion kroner of cuts it has promised to make.

The news comes ahead of the start of negotiations today between the government and the parties that voted in favour of the last defence budget that expires in two years time.

Compulsory military service is written into the Danish constitution, making it difficult to abolish. That is why the government has instead proposed to suspend the tradition…

Reports suggest that the preliminary negotiations seem to have found about two billion kroner of cuts, while suspending military service is hoped to save an additional 500 million kroner a year.

Almost all 18-year-old Danish men – and a small number of women – serve at least four months of military service once they complete upper secondary school.

The tradition started in the middle of the 19th century and is now considered a rite of passage for most men while also providing the Danish military with a large recruitment ground for its professional army.

As a result, right-wing parties the Konservative (K) and Dansk Folkeparti (DF) are against suspending it.

DF’s defence spokesperson, Maria Krarup…and K’s defence spokesperson, Lene Espersen…said blah, blah, blah!

Opposition party Liberal Alliance (LA) is for getting rid of it though.

National service belongs to the past,” LA’s defence spokesperson Villum Christensen told Ritzau. “It’s a very expensive way to educate soldiers. We would rather have a professional army.”

Overdue. Of course, even having such a discussion is beyond the comprehension of the slurry of Cold Warriors and spineless hacks we have in Congress.

Pic of the Day


Click on photo to enlarge
Photo by Ina Fassbender / Reuters

One hundred Barbie dolls dressed in black burkas peer out of their cloaks in artist Sabine Reyer’s ‘Sheltered Position’ artwork on display at the Ruhr-Biennale in Dortmund, Germany, which opened on October 7 and runs until December 12, 2012.

Uh, OK.

Romney will save Wall Street and Big Oil from Big Bird – WTF?

This particular campaign video points out the stupidity of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican.

They count on American voters being gullible enough to equate money spent on military waste, subsidies to corrupt corporations – with money spent on educational TV. The intellectual dishonesty and fiscal corruption they represent is almost without peer in history – yet they persist in lies and deceit.

It’s always worth laughing at them and their patent leather candidate. But, sometimes it’s difficult to generate a chuckle over a crowd that also would destroy a national asset like PBS.

Catholic Bishop says Democratic Party “intrinsically evil”


Photojournalist Matt Roth took this photo at a seminar on exorcism led by Paprocki

A Roman Catholic bishop from Springfield, Ill., who has called the Democratic Party platform “intrinsically evil,” challenged the likes of Sen. Roy Blunt and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin on Sunday to be more like Sir Thomas More, who was beheaded in 1535 after being convicted for treason.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki, preaching at the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, told the lawmakers in a crowd of lawyers and judges that More, in his day, was roughly the equivalent to White House chief of staff, secretary of state and chief justice of the Supreme Court — all at once.

But More sacrificed his wealth and career on his religious conviction. He refused to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. More sided with Rome on that issue…

Paprocki is one of the architects of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ campaign against the mandate by the administration of President Barack Obama that religiously affiliated institutions, such as universities and hospitals, must soon include free birth control coverage in their employee health coverage…

In addition to Missouri Republicans Blunt and Akin, other dignitaries in attendance included state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, and Ann Wagner, of Ballwin, a longtime GOP leader and former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg…

Paprocki drew headlines in September when he wrote that the Democratic Party platform is “intrinsically evil” for its protection of abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage and that one’s soul could be in jeopardy depending on your vote.

“My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues,” he wrote in the Sept. 23 letter…”You need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

No moral complicity for most of our wars, of course.

I don’t expect Catholic Bishops to suddenly leap up and publicly embrace democracy, freedom of thought and constitutional separation of state and church – though I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of that church’s membership accepts those ideas as easily as ignoring the rules about contraception.

In a period with religions and their flunkeys in politics embracing confrontation over our constitutional freedoms, I think it’s important to keep the issue in the public eye. We certainly can’t count on our politicians to take the responsibility.

Who does public relations training for AirBerlin pilots? Godzilla?

A pilot refused to let several wheelchair-bound Russians board a flight to Germany to attend an accessibility seminar, a delegation member said.

State Duma deputy and delegation member Vladimir Krupennikov said the 34-member delegation was to depart from Moscow on an AirBerlin flight to Dusseldorf, Germany, Monday, but the pilot refused to fly with more than two wheelchair users on board, citing AirBerlin’s safety regulations, RIA Novosti reported.

Eleven group members, including six wheelchair users, weren’t able to board that flight and had to find another to Dusseldorf, said Krupennikov, who uses a wheelchair.

The passengers left behind are considering suing AirBerlin for damages, Krupennikov said. He said the airline knew for a month that a large group of people with special needs would be flying Monday and gave written authorization.

How to win friends and impress passengers with your service. And he picked on a group going to a seminar on accessibility no less. Including a member of Russian parliament.