Flight delayed, plane replaced, because a couple took their seats too soon!

Authorities say a flight from Philadelphia to Boston was delayed and ultimately a different aircraft was used after a couple gained unauthorized access to the plane.

Officials said American Airlines Flight 1655 was slated to depart 8 a.m. Sunday, but two hours earlier, a man and woman walked on board through the doorway to the jet bridge and took their seats. The door should have been locked prior to the formal boarding process.

American Airlines officials said the couple was discovered during boarding. They determined the pair was on the correct flight, but the plane was de-boarded, searched and another aircraft was used “out of caution.”

WCVB-TV reports the couple didn’t speak English.

Well, there you go. Can’t be too careful about furriners, eh?

Cripes! Even America’s favorite cons are being outsourced

❝ Police in India say they have arrested 70 call centre workers on suspicion of tricking American citizens into sending them money by posing as US tax officials.

A total of 772 workers were arrested on Wednesday in raids on nine fake call centres in a Mumbai suburb…

An estimated $36.5 million was extorted from Americans, police said.

❝ Seventy were placed under formal arrest, 630 were released pending questioning over the coming days, and 72 were freed without further investigation.

“The motive was earning money,” said Parag Marere, a deputy commissioner of police. “They were running an illegal process, posing themselves as officers of the [US] Internal Revenue Service.”

Marere said the year-long scam involved running fake call centres that sent voicemail messages telling US nationals to call back because they owed back taxes.

Those who called back and believed the threats would fork out thousands of dollars to “settle” their case, he said. The scam brought in more than $150,000 a day…

Americans are so fracking gullible. You get a voicemail telling you to callback the IRS – without ever checking on the phone number. You’re only calling back – much of the time – because you know you’ve been Trumping your tax bill, anyway. If they can pump you for how much you think you owe – it’s only a matter of playing the fish until you’re landed. You can go higher or lower. It’s all in the game.

Somewhere along the line you might notice your IRS agent has an accent. Perfectly reasonable in a nation of immigrants. If the boiler room is like most I’ve heard, you should also detect conversational background noise. And if everyone has the same accent – you’re in trouble, Bubba. The IRS doesn’t restrict hiring to any one ethnicity. 🙂

Some music lover in Copenhagen hid enough hash in the Opera House to jack up the whole city

Police in Denmark discovered a massive haul of cannabis stashed away in the roof of a local opera house.

Copenhagen police first discovered the 165 pounds of cannabis in the ventilation system under the Copenhagen Opera House’s roof in February, but decided to go public with the search after the investigation yielded no results.

“The hashish was well hidden, and our investigation has not been able to uncover who put it there,” Copenhagen police investigator Steffen Steffensen said…

After seven months of investigation the drug haul has officially been classified “lost property” by police…

The Opera House is located near Christiania’s Pusher Street, an open-air cannabis market, but police are unsure if the drugs were intended to be sent there.

I keep forgetting. There are civilized countries in this world that don’t believe in abusing citizens who choose to alter reality with vegetables more directly than with alcohol derivatives.

3% of Americans own half the guns in the country

AP Photo/Danny Johnston

In the past two decades, Americans have added approximately 70 million firearms to their private arsenals. There are more gun owners, but they make up a slightly smaller share of the population. Handguns have surged in popularity, and the era of the super-owner is here: roughly half of all guns are concentrated in the hands of just three percent of American adults.

These are among the key findings of a sweeping new survey of gun ownership, provided in advance of publication to The Trace and The Guardian by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities. Our two news organizations are partnering to present a series of stories this week based on the survey.

There have been other evaluations of American gun ownership in recent years, but academics who study gun-owning patterns and behavior say the new survey is the most authoritative and statistically sound since one conducted in 1994 by Philip Cook, a researcher at Duke University.

Roughly 100,000 Americans are injured by a gun every year, with a third of those incidents resulting in death. But research into the causes of the violence, methods of prevention, and its toll on families and communities is almost entirely conducted by academics and other private groups.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government entity that studies other public health issues, virtually ignores gun violence, owing to legislation widely interpreted as preventing such research.

Otherwise known as chickenshit Congress.

The responses reveal a fundamental shift in gun-owning attitudes. Whereas most owners once considered their firearm primarily a hunting or sports shooting tool, a majority now say they keep guns to protect themselves, their families, and communities.

Accurate reporting on what these people believe. Whether evidence-based facts provoke those beliefs is another question.

11-year-old arrested in Georgia with a knife at school — in fear of clown attacks!

❝ Police say a fearful 11-year-old Georgia girl who took a knife to school told officers she needed the weapon to fend off clowns.

The girl was arrested…at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School in Athens amid reports and social media posts about clowns frightening children in Georgia and other states.

❝ An Athens-Clarke County police report states the girl said she needed the knife to protect her and her family because she had heard the stories about clowns jumping out of the woods and attacking children.

Police…released the girl to her mother on a charge of possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Related news…

❝ In Coweta County, southwest of Atlanta, police were investigating a suspicious Facebook post by a man claiming to be “The Newnan Clown,”…

The profile, which has since been made private, said, “If I see you, I will get You!!! I want kids and all”…

❝ In neighboring Alabama, law enforcement officials are warning that people involved in a rash of creepy clown hoaxes across the state could be prosecuted.

Not certain what’s creepier: Kids so afraid of clowns they think they need to be armed or the kids who don’t think first of trusting their safety to their parents, teachers or maybe even the local coppers?

Thanks, @ninjaeconomics

A list of the excuses Trump offers for why he won’t release his tax returns

❝ Republican presidential nominee and self-described billionaire Donald Trump says he makes a lot of money, gives millions of dollars to charity and has no investments in Russia. But when it comes time to give evidence, he refuses to release the independently verified documents that could support (or refute) all of those claims: his tax returns.

All major presidential nominees over the past 40 years, including Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, have released their tax returns. They are important documents reviewed by accountants and federal auditors, and they must be accurate under penalty of law.

But instead of sharing his returns, Trump and his supporters have relied on a growing list of excuses to defend keeping them hidden. Those excuses are listed below, along with reasons to question them.

❝ Trump: “I’m being audited … so I can’t.” (See next section.) (Repeatedly since February)
Trump: “There’s nothing to learn from them.” (Fact checkers say this is false.) (February, February, May, May)
Trump: “Mitt Romney looked like a fool when he delayed and delayed and delayed and … didn’t file until a month and a half before the election and it cost him big league.” (February, July)
Trump: His tax rate is “none of your business.” (May)
Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman: American people “wouldn’t understand them.” (May)
Manafort: The only people who want them “are the people who want to defeat him.” (May)
Trump: “I don’t think anybody cares,” which is false. (May, September)
Eric Trump, son: Would be “foolish” to release; “you would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on things that they know nothing about.” (August)
Mike Pence, vice-presidential nominee who released his tax returns: They’re a “distraction.” (September)
Donald Trump Jr.: “Would detract from (his dad’s) main message” (September)
Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager: “I just can’t find where this is a burning issue to most of the Americans.” (September)
Jeffrey Lord, commentator: Tax returns are “a political gimmick, a gotcha … Political opponents are going to go through there and look to make issues out of things.” (September)

What we would learn from Trump’s tax returns

❝ How much (or how little) money he makes
How much (or how little) he gives to charity
How much (or how little) he pays in taxes
How much (or how little) money he keeps in foreign accounts (including in Russia)

RTFA for many more reasons why voters need this kind of information. And for more excuses from Trump, of course.

Your bank was offline for 10 hours and it was caused by what? WTF?

Click to enlarge

❝ ING Bank’s main data center in Bucharest, Romania, was severely damaged over the weekend during a fire extinguishing test. In what is a very rare but known phenomenon, it was the loud sound of inert gas being released that destroyed dozens of hard drives. The site is currently offline and the bank relies solely on its backup data center, located within a couple of miles’ proximity.

“The drill went as designed, but we had collateral damage”, ING’s spokeswoman said…

❝ The purpose of the drill was to see how the data center’s fire suppression system worked. Data centers typically rely on inert gas to protect the equipment in the event of a fire, as the substance does not chemically damage electronics…The gas is stored in cylinders, and is released at high velocity out of nozzles uniformly spread across the data center.

According to people familiar with the system, the pressure at ING Bank’s data center was higher than expected, and produced a loud sound – think about the noise a steam engine releases – The bank monitored the sound and it was very loud, a source familiar with the system told us. It was as high as their equipment could monitor, over 130dB”.

❝ Sound means vibration, and this is what damaged the hard drives. The HDD cases started to vibrate, and the vibration was transmitted to the read/write heads, causing them to go off the data tracks.

In ING Bank’s case, it was “like putting a storage system next to a [running] jet engine,”

❝ The Bank said it required 10 hours to restart its operation due to the magnitude and the complexity of the damage…Over the next few weeks, every single piece of equipment will need to be assessed. ING Bank’s main data center is compromised “for the most part”

A catastrophic failover to the backup data center. Phew! That’s a helluva noise.

Worried about fracking chemicals in your water — wait till you get Frackibacter bacteria!

❝ Study finds a new genus of bacteria found living inside hydraulic fracturing wells – Frackibacter, one of dozens of microbes are forming sustainable ecosystems there…

The new genus is one of the 31 microbial members found living inside two separate fracturing wells, Ohio State University researchers and their colleagues report in…the journal Nature Microbiology.

❝ Even though the wells were hundreds of miles apart and drilled in different kinds of shale formations, the microbial communities inside them were nearly identical, researchers discovered.

Almost all the microbes they found had been seen elsewhere before, and many likely came from the surface ponds that energy companies draw on to fill the wells. But that’s not the case with the newly identified Candidatus Frackibacter, which may be unique to hydraulic fracturing sites, said Kelly Wrighton…

❝ Candidatus Frackibacter prospered alongside the microbes that came from the surface, forming communities in both wells which so far have lasted for nearly a year…

By sampling fluids taken from the two wells over 328 days, the researchers reconstructed the genomes of bacteria and archaea living in the shale. To the researchers’ surprise, both wells — one drilled in Utica shale and the other drilled in Marcellus shale — developed nearly identical microbial communities…

“We thought we might get some of the same types of bacteria, but the level of similarity was so high it was striking. That suggests that whatever’s happening in these ecosystems is more influenced by the fracturing than the inherent differences in the shale,” Wrighton said.

❝ Wrighton and her team are still not 100 percent sure of the microbes’ origins. Some almost undoubtedly came from the ponds that provide water to the wells, she said. But other bacteria and archaea could have been living in the rock before drilling began, Candidatus Frackibacter among them.

Soon to be a series of movies on the SYFY Channel, taking over from Sharknado. Like, um – Fracknado!

I made that up.