How low can you go to get into a football match without tickets?

Galatasaray supporters in a subdued moment after their team’s victory

A section of Galatasaray fans unsuccessfully attempted to dig a tunnel into Schalke’s Veltins Arena ahead of their Champions League last-16 clash on Tuesday.

Undeterred by a full house and tickets on the black market being traded at prices of up to €1,000, the group of desperate supporters tried to burrow their bare hands through frozen ground under a perimeter fence.

Horst Heldt, sporting director of the Royal Blues, confirmed the bizarre incident prior to kick-off, telling reporters: “Yes, that’s right. Some supporters have tried to dig a tunnel with their bare hands.”

A 1-1 draw was played out at the Turk Telecom Arena three weeks ago, but Umut Bulut’s late winner handed Galatasaray a 3-2 second-leg victory and progression into the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club tournament.

No further comment was made about arrests or at least filling the hole back in! 🙂

York council builds fence through goalposts – WTF?

Council bosses have admitted scoring an “own goal” after a fence was built through the middle of football goalposts in a park in York.

The new fencing was installed at a cost of ÂŁ6,000 on playing fields in Heworth…

Dave Meigh, City of York Council’s head of parks and open spaces, said: “We recognise that the failure to relocate the goalposts is a real own goal.”

It has left local people who use the park to play football confused. Local residents said it was “unreal” and a “waste of money”.

Jane Hannon wrote on the BBC Look North Facebook page: “Typical example of too many chiefs and not enough Indians, one doesn’t know what the other is doing. What a waste of time and money.”

OTOH, this demonstrates there is plenty of local talent in the UK ready and qualified to take over leadership of the FA and FIFA at a moment’s notice.

Thanks, honorarynewfie

Mexicans try to steal border fence

You get the idea…

They have heard of people tunneling under it, scaling it and, on the Mexican side, defacing it. But it is not often, law enforcement authorities say, that people try to rip apart the border fence to sell it.

That appears to be the motive that led to the arrest this week in Tijuana, Mexico, of six people who, the authorities there say, were caught shearing off chunks of the metal plate fence to sell as scrap.

The case began Monday afternoon when United States Border Patrol agents spotted a group tampering with the fence on the Mexican side just over a mile west of the San Ysidro port of entry, in an area where smuggling of drugs and people is common, said Mark Endicott, a Border Patrol spokesman in San Diego…

The next afternoon, another group in the same area could be seen next to the fence “attempting to dismantle it,” Mr. Endicott said. Again, they were approached, again rocks sailed over the fence, and again the Mexican police were called. The Border Patrol later learned that six people were apprehended…

Tijuana police told local reporters there that the men were planning to sell the torn-off fence parts. The police said the men had used a soldering tool to cut off parts of the fence, which perhaps unknown to the culprits, is itself scrap. That part of the fence is made of recycled steel landing mats from the Vietnam War era, Mr. Endicott said.

I always wondered if the wall might be stolen as soon as we install it?

Obama continues virtual fence – with Border Patrol input, testing

In announcing the resumption of a “virtual fence” on the U.S.-Mexican border, the Obama administration sent a powerful message of continuity with President George W. Bush, who included a pledge to secure the border as part of a 2006 effort to persuade Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

Much as Bush aides did three years ago, administration officials in the Department of Homeland Security described a five-year, multibillion-dollar plan yesterday to link a chain of tower-mounted sensors and other surveillance equipment over most of the 2,000-mile southern frontier. As before, the network of cameras, radar and communications gear is intended to speed deployment of U.S. Border Patrol officers to intercept illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and other violators, yielding greater “operational control” over the vast and rugged area.

What is different, DHS officials said, is that they have learned lessons from the technical problems that dogged the Bush administration’s first, 28-mile pilot project south of Tucson. What remains unclear is whether the ambitious technology will encounter fresh setbacks that would embarrass President Obama, who has urged Congress to streamline the immigration system and work out a way to deal fairly with the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, analysts said…

Susan Ginsburg, director of the mobility and security program at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, agreed that “the jury is out” on whether the virtual fence design makes the most sense. But she said the undertaking is necessary as much to thwart terrorism and organized crime at the border as to foil illegal immigrants looking for work, if not more so…

The government has made many changes since a $20 million pilot rushed off-the-shelf equipment into operation without testing, relied on inadequate police dispatching software and ignored the input of Border Patrol officers, who found that radar systems were triggered by rain, satellite communications were too slow to permit camera operators to track targets by remote control, and cameras had poor visibility.

Mark Borkowski said DHS has paid $600 million to its prime contractor, Boeing. It is using new software, radar, cameras and sturdier towers, and has simplified camera operation and added more thorough testing by Border Patrol officers.

None of these security systems are rocket science. They work well in a broad range of environments, commercially and in the military. The latter being closer to the reality of border security. Frankly, I’d be hard-pressed to understand how Bush’s flunkies screwed it up.

I guess that last sentence answers itself.

The invisible man who rescued stolen art

There are about 100 of us packed into a restaurant in Upper Holmesburg, Philadelphia – art experts and curators, museum security chiefs, and a phalanx of FBI agents with 9mm Glocks concealed under their G-man suits.

We have gathered to say farewell to a man few people have heard of and even fewer could recognise or describe.

That is the way Special Agent Robert “Bob” Wittman prefers it.

For nearly two decades, usually masquerading as a crooked art dealer with links to the Mafia or the Colombian drug cartels, he has run undercover sting operations, luring criminals into selling him stolen works of art.

Art crime is big business. Estimated to be worth between $1.5 – $6 billion annually, it is now the fourth largest international crime, after drug dealing, gun running and money laundering.

Bob Wittman has been on the frontlines of the war against art crime since 1989.

In a distinguished career he has recovered stolen art worth millions, in more than a dozen countries.

Now, at the age of 53, the king of heists is hanging up his silver badge and gun to write a book and spend more time with his wife and three children.

Always a delight to hear about a copper who honors the profession. For too many – including a small percentage of those I’ve known personally – it’s a sinecure, a civil service gig like working for the state highway department, even an easy source of drugs.

I’ll be waiting in line to buy and read Bob Wittman’s book.