Relics from a shrinking religion warehoused in Staten Island

NY Archdiocese jumble shop

There will soon be a rooftop swimming pool where the copper-domed bell towers of Mary Help of Christians once rose.

Formerly a hub of the East Village’s Italian-American community, the site of the Roman Catholic church is now slated for a 158-unit rental building, complete with basement gym and rooftop gardens…much of what was precious inside it — and other now-closed Catholic churches — sits in a Staten Island warehouse…

Some items ended up at the warehouse after the 2007 decision of the Archdiocese of New York to close or shrink 21 parishes. Others came because of renovations. Much more will be coming; the archdiocese plans to announce another round of parish closings in 2014.

The archdiocese has not always had an organized system for dealing with vestments, patens, candle drip guards and myriad other ritual objects when they are no longer needed. Before 2004, some ended up in antique stores or trash cans, while others went to parishioners or other churches.

Then there was realization that “these things, even if they don’t have great financial value, have historical value, or liturgical value, and we should preserve them,” said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese…

In 2007, the archdiocese said it would not sell closing churches to developers, but that turned out not to be the case. Mary Help of Christians was sold in December 2012 to Steiner NYC for $41 million. Near the Holland Tunnel, Our Lady of Vilnius, a former Lithuanian Church, was put on the market by the diocese for $13 million. It sold in October to the Extell Development Company, which is flipping the property and asking $19 million for it. A brochure suggests 22 stories of apartments could be built there…

I presume the usual practice in the United States of allowing tax-free profits will remain in place. Why use profits to aid people who really could use help, eh?

Kevin Shaughnessy, the facilities manager believes most of the decorative effluvia won’t be going anywhere. He said of one favorite, a representation of pregnant Mary, “Chances are, when all of us die and go to heaven, that will still be sitting there.”

The Church – and the public – would be better served by periodic rummage sales.

Quebec coppers seek thieves with $30 million of maple syrup

Thieves have made off with a “considerable amount” of maple syrup from a warehouse in Quebec…The warehouse, in St-Louis-de-Blandford, stocked more than $30m worth of the product. Police said it was too early to say how much had been stolen.

Quebec provincial sergeant Claude Denis said on Friday that the warehouse stored more than 10 million pounds of maple syrup.

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers says they discovered the missing syrup when a routine inventory turned up empty barrels…

It is believed that the thieves decanted the syrup into other containers, with the intent of selling it on.

The federation said that if the thieves attempted to sell the syrup, the whole industry would be affected. “It is crucial to identify those responsible for this crime,” the federation said.

Quebec produces 70 to 80% of the world’s maple syrup. Most of the exported product is sold in the United States.

Sylvain Charlebois, a food policy researcher at the University of Guelph, told the Globe and Mail that it would be hard to track the contraband syrup. “It is going to be problematic, one way or the other, whether it’s to sell through proper channels or dealing with the black market,” he said.

I can already visualize the making of another McKenzie brothers movie.

Dumb crooks of the day – in Spain

There’s nothing like a flat tire to ruin a carefully planned heist.

Spanish police say hooded thieves crashed a van into a courier service warehouse vault and made off with sacks of valuables on Thursday. They then fled in a waiting Audi, but crashed into another car as they merged onto a Madrid highway.

That caused the flat.

The four thieves carjacked another vehicle at gunpoint. No one was hurt and the thieves got away — but left most of their booty in the back seat of the damaged Audi.


Chubby thief gets himself into a tight spot

A cunning plan to rob the warehouse of his former employer went awry for one chubby Chinese thief after he became wedged, legs dangling, in the roof of a lift.

The man, named as Mr Xi by China’s Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper, was fired from a technology company in the southern city of Shenzhen in October. In a bid to exact revenge, and improve his finances, Mr Xi decided to rob the company’s warehouses, hoping to carry away valuable surveillance cameras.

Last Saturday evening, he hid himself in the company’s offices, waiting until all the staff had left before trying to gain access to the warehouse underneath. However, he found he was unable to break into the warehouse and instead decided, in the early hours of Sunday morning, to make his escape by removing the ventilation fan of a freight lift and hoisting himself into the lift shaft.

But Mr Xi’s plan had not accounted for his girth. He found himself quickly wedged into the lift ceiling and unable to free himself.

According to the Southern Metropolis, Mr Xi called his girlfriend, who arrived at the offices to help him. But after two hours of trying to squeeze him through the gap, and the removal of his trousers to make him more streamlined, Mr Xi was still stuck.

When the company’s security guard arrived on Sunday morning, he found Mr Xi hanging trouserless, and his girlfriend exhausted from her efforts to free him.

Eventually Mr Xi was freed by the police, who detained him and his girlfriend for their attempted burglary.


McDonald’s video helps coppers bust laptop theft ring

Last March, a group broke into military contractor iGov Technologies’ Tampa, Florida, warehouse, where about 3,000 laptops were being stored. While a gang of about 10 were loading the computers onto semi-trucks, police say, the ringleader, Rolando Coca, was caught on a nearby McDonald’s security camera, going through the drive-through.

“That’s really what this came down to,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.

During the day, witnesses had noticed a red Lincoln Navigator in the area. A canvassing of local businesses by investigators, uncovered the videotape of Coca, in the driver’s seat, ordering a meal at the Tampa McDonald’s.

Coca, an immigrant who came to the U.S. during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, was arrested in Miami, where about 1,900 of the laptops were being stored in a nearby abandoned warehouse in Opa Locka, Florida.

Police say they have bought back a handful of them in two sting operation, but about 1,000 remain on the street. “We continue to find these computers on Amazon and eBay,” said Sheriff David Gee…

The company, iGov Technologies, is a private contractor for U.S. Special Operations. They are classified as a top-secret facility supplying communications and computers to military forces. The laptops are heavy-duty, rugged computers that can be used by the military in extreme field conditions…

The computers are being sold on the street, on eBay and Amazon for 10-20% of normal retail. No one considered that unusual. Of course.

Colombian drug gangs get World Cup fever

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A replica World Cup trophy seized by anti-drugs police in Colombia is made out of cocaine, lab tests have confirmed.

The 36cm statue was found in a delivery crate at Bogota airport.

The crate was in an airmail warehouse waiting to be sent to an address in Spain, airport anti-drug chief Jose Piedrahita said.

In another development, a submarine built by drug-traffickers was found in Ecuador before its maiden voyage.

The World Cup replica was made up of 11kg of the drug, mixed with acetone or gasoline to make it mouldable.

The gold-painted statue was found on a routine sweep of the airport on Friday, authorities said.

Are they certain it wasn’t headed to Argentina?

Ohio sued for dumping mentally ill inmates onto the street

Mentally ill prisoners in Ohio are more likely to get into trouble and end up back in prison after they are released because state officials turn them loose without the follow-up care they need.

A lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, asked a judge to order the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Ohio Department of Mental Health to provide the care necessary to help keep mentally ill offenders from returning to prison.

Advocates for prisoners and the mentally ill said they are suing to help not only the released prisoners, but also the taxpayers who must pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to keep them locked up when they commit new crimes and are sent back to prison.

They say the cost of providing treatment to a mentally ill person in the community is about $7,400 a year, compared to the $25,000 a year it costs to incarcerate them.

But instead of treatment, the lawsuit claims, ex-convicts with mental problems get $65 to $75, a bus ticket and two weeks of medication upon their release. The suit said many of those former inmates soon move into homeless shelters or drug-infested neighborhoods, where their mental health quickly deteriorates.

Dumping prisoners with mental illness at homeless shelters creates a revolving door phenomenon,” said Bess Okum, staff attorney with the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center, which filed the suit on behalf of nine current and former prisoners. “Many of these former prisoners commit new crimes because of their untreated mental illness.”

Like the great state of Ohio gives a damn about civil rights or how they waste taxpayers’ money.

When it comes to wasting taxpayer dollars on warehousing the criminally insane, you can count on most American politicians – in their pinheaded intellects – to choose the opportunism of being “tough on crime” because it guarantees more votes than sorting the mentally ill and saving money.

And our favorite ignorant electorate will march in lockstep down that always-safe middle of the road.

Life goes on around body found in vacant warehouse

It starts with a phone call made by a man who said his friend found a dead body in the elevator shaft of an abandoned building on the city’s west side. “He’s encased in ice, except his legs, which are sticking out like Popsicle sticks,” the caller phoned to tell this reporter.

Why didn’t your friend call the police?

“He was trespassing and didn’t want to get in trouble,” the caller replied. As it happens, the caller’s friend is an urban explorer who gets thrills rummaging through and photographing the ruins of Detroit. It turns out that this explorer last week was playing hockey with a group of other explorers on the frozen waters that had collected in the basement of the building. None of the men called the police, the explorer said. They, in fact, continued their hockey game.

Before calling the police, this reporter went to check on the tip, skeptical of a hoax. Sure enough, in the well of the cargo elevator, two feet jutted out above the ice. Closer inspection revealed that the rest of the body was encased in 2-3 feet of ice, the body prostrate, suspended into the ice like a porpoising walrus.

What happened to this person, one wonders? Murder in Motown is a definite possibility. Perhaps it was death by alcoholic stupor. Perhaps the person was crawling around in the elevator shaft trying to retrieve some metal that he could sell at a scrap yard. In any event, there the person was. Stone-cold dead.

Life and death in the big city.