Thursday, October 31, 2013

Globe Grab Bag: Fenway $ellebration

In honor of the Halloween Holiday:

"Developer says Fenway Center needs tax breaks" by Casey Ross |  Globe Staff, October 31, 2013

The developer of Boston’s ambitious Fenway Center development is seeking $7.8 million in city tax breaks to proceed with construction, saying the $500 million mega-project could fall apart without urgent public assistance.

Such is the state of fa$cist AmeriKa these days. Costs are $ocialized; profits are kept private.

John Rosenthal said the project’s ability to generate sufficient returns has been undermined by construction costs that have risen 20 percent since the project was approved by the city four years ago.


That's not capitalism. In capitalism the developer a$$umes the ri$k.

“We are shovel ready, we’re financed, and we’re standing on third base,” he said. “We simply need a tax agreement to finally bring Fenway Center home and build this city’s first major air rights project in more than three decades.”


Rosenthal said the money would fill a gap in funding needed to satisfy his primary financial backer, Bentall Kennedy Group, a major real estate investment firm that wants a 6 percent return on the project. 



The project has obtained the support of neighbors and many public officials because of its potential to transform a gritty pocket of the city near Fenway Park.

Related: Building Boston Up

And then it gets torn down.

Though it was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in 2009, the project was delayed by a soft economy and then became entangled in a lawsuit with an abutting property owner who objected to its size and layout. Rosenthal prevailed in that suit last year, but then lease negotiations with the state dragged on longer than expected.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation approved revised lease terms with Rosenthal, who has committed to pay rent to the state for 99 years.

But by the time the deal was finalized, the project’s construction costs had risen by $48 million. Rosenthal said that increase threw off the expected return of Bentall Kennedy, requiring tax assistance to get the firm to commit money for construction.

All to guarantee a return!

One real estate specialist said building costs have risen significantly in recent years as increasing development activity in Boston and elsewhere created more demand for labor and materials.

Then why is the job market still s***ty and unemployment still moving up?

“Prices have gone up, and they’re only going to rise more as the economy strengthens,” said Greg Vasil of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board....

Executives with Bentall Kennedy, whose investment clients include the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and Delta Airlines, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Related: Boston Blight 

WTF is a pension system doing investing in real estate projects? 

Also see: The California "Crisis"

There really is not one but you are made to think there is.

The company has backed several large office projects in Boston and its suburbs. It funded a major renovation of the former Verizon building in downtown Boston, which was recently leased by Brown Brothers Harriman.

Related: Stoking Up a Post About Brown Brothers Harriman

Rosenthal said he still is hopeful a tax agreement can be reached to move the project forward.


You might have mi$$ed this story because of the other Fenway event.

Related: Slow Saturday Special: Intel Tax Deal Was Dumb Idea 

Will Massachusetts ever learn?


With Red Sox victory, a lesson in hope

I guess the fix was in because the parallels are being made to that horrific scripted and staged false flag known as the Marathon bombings. Patriots win in 2001, aided and abetted by the tuck rule call and now 12 years later.... ???

Washington, D.C., pledges allegiance to the Red Sox Nation

I'm so glad $ports are biparti$an (as the Globe takes a poke at Liz Warren? Who gives a f*** who you like as a sports team when it comes to running the country. What an in$ult to readers)!

Red Sox rally expected to be a rollicking time

"Terrorists" won't be spoiling the party?

World Series gear flies off the shelves

The great question in the sports world (one that went unmentioned and unasked) is whether the World Series MVP was on performance-enhancing drugs since he was implicated in an earlier report. Don't let cheating, dishonesty, and unfairne$$ spoil the party though!

Also see: Letters | Strong finish for Sox 

One guy has it right; Red Sox fans are arrogant assholes.

Globe Grab Bag: Dressing Up as Hitler For Halloween

I thought it would be fun to wear to the party -- although when you think about it, a true fa$cist would be wearing a banker's suit.

"Dutch museums find 139 likely Nazi-looted artworks" by Toby Sterling |  Associated Press, October 30, 2013

AMSTERDAM — The bombshell announcement Tuesday by the museums raises the question of why it has taken them nearly 70 years to examine their collections in a systematic way after World War II — and suggests that even more looted art may emerge from other countries....

All Dutch museums that hold art from before the war participated in the review. They have identified names of 20 definite looting victims and linked them with 61 of the works. The museums said they are in the process of contacting or seeking the heirs, including those of Jewish art dealer Albert Stern....

It is also important to recognize that artist is a cover for a certain spying agency that is in the business of deceiving to start wars. Thus the "arts" are featured prominently in the paper, as are Nazis.



"Occupied by the Germans during World War II, the factory was a staging post in Hitler’s quest for the atomic bomb. The story of how 12 Norwegian saboteurs parachuted into the nearby tundra and survived freezing temperatures to destroy the factory’s ‘‘heavy water’’ plant inspired a 1965 film, ‘‘The Heroes of Telemark,’’ and is being turned into a 10-part TV series."

I'm already sour on this candy. Tastes oily and burnt to me.

"Alleged Auschwitz guard is charged" Associated Press, September 27, 2013

BERLIN — German prosecutors said Thursday that they have charged a 93-year-old man who allegedly served as an Auschwitz death camp guard with being an accessory to murder.

The suspect, Hans Lipschis, served as a cook and was not involved in any war crimes....

Why didn't he change his name??

Lipschis was deported from the United States in the early 1980s for lying about his Nazi past when he immigrated to Chicago in 1956, and has lived in Germany since.



Cases built vs. Nazi-era guards in Germany
Germany tries 92-year-old for Nazi war crime
Hungary indicts Nazi-era suspect for war crimes
Erich Priebke, convicted Nazi war criminal; at 100

"Priebke participated in one of the worst massacres in German-occupied Italy during World War II, the slaughter of 335 civilians at the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome. Tensions have been high ever since he died and left behind an interview in which he denied Jews were gassed in the Holocaust. No one appeared ready to handle his service, until, in a surreal twist, the schismatic Society of St. Pius X in the city of Albano Laziale south of Rome stepped forward to celebrate the funeral Mass. The society, known for the anti- Semitic views of some of its members, celebrates the pre-Vatican II old Latin Mass." 

I remember, I remember.

Italy remembers 1943 roundup of Jews amid turmoil
Church and state refuse Rome funeral for Nazi
Family has lost track of casket holding Nazi

Gee, jwho would want to do that?

RelatedNo More Nazis

I said it and I meant it. 


Polish Plots
Bankers Forced Berlusconi to Back Down

Speaking of the true fa$cists of our day, they will take the shirt off your back. Even thought they don't get the votes because turnout was low(?), the results are declared to be a big victory for Merkel in a stunningly personal triumph with an exceptionally strong showing. One wonders why she needs to form a new coalition then, and why those members are not rushing to join as she makes concessions(?).  Just ignore the corruption.

Also see: Slow Saturday Special: European Leaders Embrace NSA Spying  

Isn't it odd that they only get upset about the spying when it is on them and not the rest of us? 

"Russia denies report it spied on G-20 officials" by Jim Yardley |  New York Times, October 31, 2013

ROME — Russia denied reports in the Italian media and elsewhere Wednesday that Russian spy agencies distributed special USB thumb drives doctored to let them eavesdrop on delegations attending last month’s Group of 20 summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.


How SHAMELESS of the AmeriKan jewsmedia!

Yeah, forget about Obomber and the totalitarian tyranny of the global surveillance society, Russia was spying!

“We don’t know the sources of the information,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, said RIA Novosti, news agency. “However, this is undoubtedly nothing but an attempt to shift the focus from issues that truly exist in relations between European capitals and Washington to unsubstantiated, nonexistent issues.” 


European leaders have been outraged by reports that the US National Security Agency spied on allies in Europe, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. The US spying operation has created a diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration, stirring fury in France, Spain, and Germany, while intensifying criticism in Washington about the scope and methods of US espionage.

On Wednesday, the focus shifted to Russia, as Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian newspaper, carried allegations that the G-20 meeting was the scene of a major effort in Russian espionage....

It will shift back soon because no one cares about the propagandistic bulls*** slung by the AmeriKan jewsmedia.

The security team then conducted an examination of the thumb drives, which the Russians distributed as gifts to the 300 foreign delegates, who also got stuffed teddy bears, cups, diaries, and cables to connect smartphones with computers, the Italian paper said. Later, the European Council’s security office sent a report to G-20 participants, warning some of the USB drives, as well as the cables, appeared to have been tampered with, it said.

So they say.

The European officials then handed the devices to German intelligence services, which conducted more tests and concluded that the sabotaged electronic equipment could be used to intercept data from computers and mobile phones.


Of course, we all know the Germans are a bunch of racists and rapists if not outright crazy.

Related: Religious sect in Germany raided on abuse fears

Looks like they need a shave and circumcision.

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Researcher believes Gestapo chief died in Berlin in 1945

I rest my case about the Amerikan jewsmedia.

Globe Grab Bag: Obamas Giving Out Girl Scout Cookies For Halloween

Don't those sugary wafers lead to health problems?

"Girl Scouts launch drive to halt membership drop; Michelle Obama joins efforts" Associated Press, September 30, 2013

NEW YORK — With an assist from Michelle Obama, the Girl Scouts of the USA is launching an unorthodox recruitment campaign this week aimed at reversing a long-running decline in participation by girls and adult volunteers.

Instead of placing ads on TV, in newspapers and on billboards, the decentralized campaign will unfold in neighborhood initiatives and on social media as local Girl Scout councils directly target elementary-school girls — even kindergartners — with promises of adventuresome fun.

Obama is pitching in with a video in which she lauds the contributions of the Girl Scouts and urges adults to find the time to help out....

They will be your future female soldiers who can be raped.

The upbeat campaign launch follows a trying stretch for the Girl Scouts, who celebrated their centennial in 2012 but have confronted multiple difficulties this year. These include a deficit-strapped pension plan, rifts over the direction of Girl Scout programming, and revenue shortfalls that prompted the national headquarters to trim about one-fourth of its staff through buyouts and layoffs.

Overshadowing all the problems is the steady decline in membership, a trend also buffeting other national youth organizations as children turn to other after-school and weekend diversions....


Also see: Sunday Globe Special: Girl Scout Cookie


"HAUNTING THE WHITE HOUSE -- Michelle Obama and her mother, Marian Lois Robinson (left), joined President Obama to give out Halloween treats to children of military families and local trick-or-treaters on Thursday (Boston Globe November 1 2013)."

It's a photograph on page A2, and as I was typing up the caption it occurred to me that Obomber has taken away Halloween from so many children with his damn drone strikes. That's all.

Globe Grab Bag: Spicing Up Halloween

"12 percent of US spice imports are contaminated, FDA finds" New York Times Syndicate,  October 31, 2013

NEW DELHI — About 12 percent of spices brought to the United States are contaminated with insects parts, whole insects, rodent hairs, and other things, according to an analysis of spice imports by federal food authorities.

The finding by the Food and Drug Administration is part of a comprehensive look at the safety of spice imports that has been years in the making....

The agency labeled spice contamination “a systemic challenge” and said that most of the insects found in spices were kinds that thrive in warehouses, suggesting that the problems result not from harvesting practices but from poor storage and processing....

Spice manufacturers have argued in the past that food manufacturers often treat imported spices before marketing them, so FDA findings of contamination levels in its import screening program do not mean that spices sold to consumers are dangerous. 

I think I'll leave them out of the recipe anyway.


"In Calif. city, odor from Sriracha chili plant a nuisance" by John Rogers |  Associated Press, October 31, 2013

IRWINDALE, Calif. — It looked like things were really starting to heat up for this little Southern California factory town when the maker of the Sriracha chili sauce known the world over decided to open a sprawling 650,000-square-foot factory within its borders.

Getting the jobs and economic boost was great. Getting a whiff of the sauce being made wasn’t, at least for a few Irwindale residents. So much so that the city is now suing Huy Fong Foods, seeking to shut down production at the two-year-old plant until its operators make the smell go away.

‘‘It’s like having a plate of chili peppers shoved right in your face,’’ said Ruby Sanchez, who lives almost directly across the street from the shiny new $40 million plant where some 100 million pounds of peppers a year are processed into Sriracha and two other popular Asian food sauces.

At least you won't have to worry about blocked sinuses.

As many as 40 trucks a day pull up to unload red hot chili peppers by the millions. Each plump, vine-ripened jalapeno pepper from central California then goes inside on a conveyor belt where it is washed, mixed with garlic and a few other ingredients, and roasted. The pungent smell of peppers and garlic fumes is sent through a carbon-based filtration system that dissipates them before they leave the building, but not nearly enough, residents say.

‘‘Whenever the wind blows that chili and garlic and whatever else is in it, it’s very, very, very, strong,’’ Sanchez said. ‘‘It makes you cough.’’

Down the street, her neighbor Rafael Gomez said it not only makes him and his kids cough and sneeze, but gives them headaches, burns their throats, and makes their eyes water. If the kids and their dog are playing in the backyard, he brings them inside. If the windows are open, he closes them.

The odor is only a problem for about three months, during the California jalapeno pepper harvest season, which stretches from August to the end of October or first week of November....

They can't put up with it for the benefit of the town?

City officials met with company executives earlier this month, but the company balked at spending what it said would be $600,000 to put in a new filtration system it doesn’t believe it needs. As company officials were looking into other alternatives, said director of operations Adam Holliday, the city sued. The case goes to court Thursday.

In one respect, Huy Fong is a victim of its amazing success.

Company founder David Tran started cooking up his signature product in a bucket in 1980 and delivering it by van to a handful of customers. The company quickly grew and he moved it to a factory in Rosemead. When it outgrew that facility two years ago he came to Irwindale, bringing about 60 full-time jobs and 200 more seasonal ones to the city of about 1,400 people.

And now the town is trying to destroy this American success story.

He says his privately held business took in about $85 million last year.

His recipe for Sriracha is so simple that the Vietnamese immigrant has never bothered to conceal it: chili pepper, garlic, salt, sugar, and vinegar.

‘‘You could make it yourself at home,’’ he told a visitor during a tour of the plant Tuesday. But, he joked, not nearly as well as he can. The secret, he said, is in getting the freshest peppers possible and processing them immediately.

The result is a sauce so fiercely hot it makes Tabasco and Picante seem mild. Sriracha’s little plastic squeeze bottles are ubiquitous in restaurants and home pantries around the world....


I've got to get a drink of water!

NEXT DAY UPDATE: City’s bid to close pungent Sriracha plant in Calif. fails

Globe Grab Bag: To Hell With Halloween

All done trick-or-treating, and the Globe candy tastes like shit (been that way for a while now?)!

"It is a tradition that harkens back to a more trusting time.... the holiday never feels like work.... a nice way to create memories

Who wants to remember and relive scary things?

"Northeastern researchers experiment with fear at Newton haunted house" by Carolyn Y. Johnson |  Globe Staff, October 25, 2013

NEWTON — A squad of elite fear specialists will descend into the slightly musty basement of a Victorian house Friday night to take up haunting positions. Their preferred instrument of terror? Insights from the science of emotion.

The monsters and ghouls in this unusual haunted house are Northeastern University psychology researchers who spend their days generating emotional responses in the laboratory, to probe what’s happening in the brain when people experience visceral feelings.

The haunted house experience of frightening children and adults — and observing their reactions — has helped the masked scientists sharpen ideas for research questions to test back in the laboratory.

People respond powerfully to uncertainty, research has shown, so in this haunted house the monsters hold still as long as possible to prolong the doubt about whether they are alive or not. Experiments have also shown that we pay close attention to the whites of people’s eyes, which can convey fear, said longtime skeleton and postdoctoral researcher Maria Gendron.

“You open your eyes really wide and follow the person with your eyes, and then eventually when they’re sort of sure that you are animate, at that point you do a very subtle movement,” she said.

The annual haunted house — the scientists sometimes refer to it as a “fear induction” — is a charity event that raises more than a thousand dollars each year for the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Like any experiment, the haunting has been tweaked since psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett started the tradition at her home nine years ago, at the suggestion of her now-teenage daughter, Sophia.

Gee, Jews promoting fear. What else is new?


Barrett’s laboratory doesn’t specifically study how to scare people. In fact, human beings have a pretty good intuition for how to creep each other out: haunted houses, horror movies, and spooky stories haven’t needed scholars’ insights to elicit shrieks of fright. But the haunted house gives researchers an interesting way to generate and witness emotions outside the lab — sometimes reinforcing their own findings.

The Northeastern team has shown that facial expressions, which have long been interpreted as a readout of internal emotion, are far more complex and are highly dependent on context. That’s on display as the ghouls watch their victims proceed through the maze of rooms.

“Half of them are laughing, half of them are flat face, no expression, some are screaming, some are crying,” Gendron said. “They do things we wouldn’t associate with a prototypical fear response — there are some really nice parallels to things we find in the lab.”

Barrett said that speaking to people about their experience in the haunted house raised another question: She found that people vividly remembered certain rooms or certain monsters, which made sense. Yet incidental details were also strongly imprinted in their memories.

“People would comment on, ‘You’re not wearing that silly hat that you wore last year,’ or ‘You’re wearing the same earrings as last year,’ . . . what you would call neutral memory,” Barrett said. “That got me wondering. When people are aroused, they’re physically activated and aroused, do they actually just encode information better? Even neutral information, will they remember that information better?”

She wondered whether a part of the brain, the amygdala, classically thought of as the fear center, could be important for neutral memory and began to design experiments. The early results, she said, are backing up the observations from the haunted house.

Suzanne Oosterwijk, a former postdoctoral researcher, said the haunted house was more than just a fun time — it put on display a behavior that she had long been interested in: the ways in which curiosity can draw people toward things that disgust or repulse them.


Now a researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Oosterwijk recently received a grant to systematically explore the behavior and try to understand the dynamic way in which people respond to negative experiences, sometimes seeking them out.

The biggest value of the experience of playing scary monsters for one night may be that it builds social bonds crucial for science to work.

“It actually helps the scientific process,” Barrett said. “If people trust each other and spend time together outside the lab doing tasks, they get to know each other and be a little tougher on each other in the lab, and nobody gets upset.”

Why would anyone get upset about trying to find the truth?

The haunted house will be held Friday, Oct. 25, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 18 Washington Park, Newtonville. A visit costs $5 per person.

It truly is an agenda-pu$hing jewspaper.


RelatedIs Scary Mary’s house really haunted?

"Halloween scene too realistic for some" by KRISTI EATON |  Associated Press, October 18, 2013

MUSTANG, Okla. — One man lies on his stomach in the driveway. Blood is splattered along the garage door that smashed his head and presumably killed him. Another man lies a few feet away, run over by a truck.

The two accident victims are in fact dummies, created as part of a family’s vivid Halloween display to shock and frighten. And it certainly has. At least one woman has called 911 to report that a man’s head had been shut into the garage door.

Jennifer Mullins said she got the idea for the macabre scene from a website and showed her husband, Johnnie, who was happy to scare up a display. Mullins knew it would raise some eyebrows, but she’s surprised by just how much attention it’s received.

A police spokeswoman said no crime was committed in the false-alarm 911 call.


Also see:

Security heightened for Halloween events
Safety tips for Halloween trick-or-treating
Maine towns offer alternative Halloween events
Sampling of creepy reads for Halloween
Scary good parties to stretch out your Halloween
The history of Halloween

I'll bet the candy company profits taste good after this agenda-pu$hing. Plus it's cheap food that is easy to prepare and will keep you hungry for more but going full tilt! 

Now for something really scary: 

"Pentagon agency to spend $70m on brain implant research; Devices are used in medical care" by James Gorman |  New York Times, October 25, 2013

Worldwide, 100,000 people have electrical implants in their brains to treat the involuntary movements associated with Parkinson’s disease, and scientists are experimenting with the technique for depression and other disorders.

But today’s so-called deep brain stimulation does not monitor its own effectiveness, partly because complex ailments like depression do not have defined biological signatures.

The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, announced Thursday that it intended to spend more than $70 million over five years to jump to the next level of brain implants, either by improving deep brain stimulation or by developing new technology.

I that that was kind of important. The Manchurian Candidate is real.

Justin Sanchez, DARPA program manager, said that for scientists now, the goal is improving the technology.

“There is no technology that can acquire signals that can tell them precisely what is going on with the brain,” he said. “DARPA is trying to change the game on how we approach these kinds of problems.”

The new program, called Systems-Based Neurotechnology and Understanding for the Treatment of Neuropsychological Illnesses, is part of an Obama administration brain initiative that is intended to promote innovative basic neuroscience. Participants in the initiative include DARPA, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

The announcement of DARPA’s goal is the first indication of how that research agency will participate in the initiative. The money is expected to be divided among several teams, and research proposals are now being sought.

DARPA’s project is partly inspired by the needs of combat veterans who suffer from mental and physical conditions, and is the first to directly invest in researching human illness as part of the brain initiative.

The National Institutes of Health, which has not decided on its emphasis, appears to be aiming for basic research, based on the recommendations from a working committee advising the agency.

Dr. Helen Mayberg, a neuroscientist at Emory University School of Medicine who has pioneered work on deep brain stimulation and depression, praised the new program.

“DARPA’s initiative says in no uncertain terms that we want to concentrate on human beings,” she said, adding that she was particularly pleased with the emphasis on deep brain stimulation.

“This adds to a growing recognition that this approach to brain disease is a promising strategy,” she said.

Cori Bargmann of Rockefeller University, one of the leaders of the health institutes committee dealing with the direction of that agency’s work under the brain initiative, also applauded the direction of the DARPA research.

“It plays to their strength in brain recordings and devices, and it addresses psychiatric issues that are major concerns for the military,” she said.

DARPA’s goal would require solving several long-standing problems in neuroscience, one of which is to develop a detailed model of how injuries or illnesses like depression manifest themselves in the brain.

The next step is to create a device that can monitor the signs of illness or injury, treat them appropriately, and measure the effects of the treatment. The result would be like a highly sophisticated pacemaker for a brain disorder. 

Then they can really tell you what to think! They won't have to rely on the propaganda pre$$!

DARPA is asking for teams to produce a device ready to be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for approval within five years.

“Is it overambitious? Of course,” said Mayberg, adding that working with the brain was “a slow process.” But she said that it was an impressive first investment and that the clear emphasis on human illness was “stunning.”

Whether or not the goal is fully achieved, Sanchez said, the endeavor was worthwhile.

“We’re going to learn a tremendous amount about how the brain works,” he said. “And we’re going to be developing new medical devices.”

The testing of any such devices would involve both animals and human subjects, and Sanchez said DARPA had set up an ethics panel for the program and other DARPA neuroscience work. A presidential bioethics commission also oversees all aspects of the brain initiative.

Oh, that makes me feel at ease.

The Obama administration is budgeting $100 million for the first year of the brain initiative. 

In this time of austerity and food stamp cuts?

A committee of the health institutes produced a draft report in September that indicated that the agency would concentrate its $40 million share on systems or networks in the brain, not individual cells and not the whole brain.

DARPA is allocated $50 million this year under President Barack Obama’s brain initiative. The agency would not specify precisely how much it would spend in the first year, and all the numbers depend on the final federal budget.


Time for me to shut my brain down for a while.

I hope you got enough candy and treats by today's Globe Grab Bag, readers.

Globe Grab Bag: Cursing the Boston Globe

I do it every day while reading it:

"Police-psychic controversy brewing in Salem" by Billy Baker |  Globe Staff, October 31, 2013

SALEM — The controversy does not stop there, for a police detective has dared to utter what is a loaded word in the local occult economy: fraud.


The controversy centers on Fatima’s, a psychic studio that has been in Salem for two decades, practicing a Romani form of fortune-telling that embraces the existence of curses, unlike most of the local Wiccan community.

And for a long time, there have been unofficial reports that Fatima’s was charging big bucks for curse removal. Internet review sites are loaded with such stories.

The city finally went after the studio this month, after two people made formal fraud complaints to police, including Ryan Reid of West Henrietta, N.Y., who said he went to Fatima’s in August and was convinced by an employee named “Debbie” that he needed a curse shield placed over him. Over the course of several weeks, Reid paid Fatima’s $16,800 for that shield.

In the course of the investigation, police determined that Fatima’s fortune-teller license had expired more than a year earlier and forced the studio to close.

But on Monday night, when Fatima’s owner Harry Mitchell went before the city’s licensing board to ask for reinstatement, the lapse worked in Fatima’s favor. Detective Sergeant James A. Page, who has been leading the investigation, said that without a valid license, the shop was not technically operating under the fortuneteller’s ordinance at the time of the cash-for-curse incidents and therefore could not be charged with violating it.

Instead, he issued two $100 fines for operating without a license. The board granted a probationary license for Fatima’s to resume operation until the end of the year, provided they promise not to meddle in curses again and work with the New York man to come up with some kind of reimbursement.

They got a cur$e put on them!

In an interview after the hearing, Page made clear that he thought Fatima’s was defrauding people much like Internet scammers who prey on the elderly and weak. But while he said the department will continue to investigate Fatima’s, prosecuting them on criminal charges is extremely difficult because “people are embarrassed and they’re not going to come forward.”

Many in the Salem fortune-telling community have long been suspicious of the practices at Fatima’s and applaud the city’s crackdown.


Barbara Szafranski, who spoke harshly about Fatima’s practices at the licensing board hearing, said she once had a woman come into her shop, Angelica of the Angels, hysterically crying because someone at Fatima’s had told her she had “a hole in her aura.” Szafranski said she put the woman in front of a $25,000 camera that can take a picture of your aura with biofeedback, “and her aura was beautiful, blue with violet around it, which is very spiritual.”

How much did that cost?

But Lorelei Stathopoulos, “Salem’s love clairvoyant” and the owner of Crow Haven Corner, Salem’s oldest witch shop, says that witches run a real danger in criticizing the beliefs of the tellers at Fatima’s.

They might get burned at the stake.

“How can I put down what they believe in?” she said. “And they’re charging a service for others who believe in it. You’d be surprised at how many people call me every single day and say they have a curse and they want me to remove it.”

She tells them all the same thing: “If you believe in it, you’re cursed.”

My curse is reading the Boston Globe every day, but I don't believe in it.


A fool and his money.... 

UPDATE: Salem: Curse victims, meet Adam Smith

I broke the cur$e.

Globe Grab Bag: Halloween Party

Have fun!

"Midshipmen in rape case face US Navy court-martial" New York Times,  October 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — Two former Naval Academy football players accused of raping a female midshipman at an off-campus party face court-martial proceedings, in the latest in a string of high-profile sexual assault cases in the military that have drawn scrutiny from the Pentagon and Congress.

The case stems from a 2012 “yoga and toga” party near the academy in Annapolis, Md., where the woman, then a 20-year-old second-year student, arrived intoxicated and had sex with some players.

In grueling testimony last month during a hearing at the Washington Navy Yard, she said she had no memory of parts of the evening and might have passed out.

The next day, the woman testified, she heard via social media of the encounters with the three players, who were charged with sexually assaulting her and making false statements....


"Accused midshipman alleges bias in Naval Academy sex case" by Brian Witte |  Associated Press, October 17, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A lawyer for a US Naval Academy student accused of sexual assault is asking a federal judge to remove the school’s superintendent from the case out of concern that he could be biased from political pressure because of the heightened focus on sexual assault in the military.

Jason Ehrenberg, a lawyer for Midshipman Josh Tate, wrote in a court filing submitted Tuesday night that a bias on the part of Vice Admiral Michael Miller could affect how he chooses who will serve on a court-martial panel that will decide his client’s guilt or innocence. Ehrenberg noted that the superintendent decided to refer the case to a court-martial despite recommendations from an investigating officer and Miller’s counsel not to do so after an Article 32 hearing. The hearing resembles a preliminary hearing in civilian court.

Ehrenberg wrote that the allegations against Tate ‘‘arise within a turbulent political environment,’’ because the military has been under a spotlight concerning its treatment of sexual assault cases.

Meanwhile, Eric Graham, a second midshipman who has been referred to a court-martial by the superintendent, had an arraignment at the Washington Navy Yard on Wednesday. Graham’s lawyer, Ronald Herrington, said he will plead not guilty to all charges. Herrington also expressed concern about the superintendent’s role in the court-martial process.

The accused are former Navy football players. The case stems from an off-campus party in Annapolis in April 2012 at a house that was used by members of the football team. The woman in the case initially did not want to pursue charges. The woman, also a midshipman, had been drinking heavily on the night of the party. She testified she had no memory of being assaulted and heard secondhand that several people had sex with her at the party.


Also see: AmeriKan Military Bans Sex Magazines

Globe Grab Bag: Bringing Down the USAF

"‘God’ not required in Air Force Academy’s oath" Associated Press, October 26, 2013

DENVER — Air Force Academy cadets are no longer required to say ‘‘so help me God’’ at the end of the Honor Oath, officials said Friday.

The words were made optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that they violated the constitutional concept of religious freedom.

The oath states, ‘‘We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.’’

Cadets are required to take the oath once a year, spokesman Major Brus Vidal said.

Mikey Weinstein, the advocacy group’s president, welcomed the change but questioned whether cadets opting not to say the words might still feel vulnerable. ‘‘The best thing is to eliminate it.’’

Do I even need to type it?


Globe Grab Bag: Candied Cigarettes

Look what I got in my bag:

"More teens trying flavored cigars, study finds; Over a third who smoke say they use them" by Deborah Kotz |  Globe Staff, October 23, 2013

Teens have been getting hooked on tobacco by using trendy new products that skirt the rules....

It’s legal for little cigars, such as those made by Swisher Sweets, to come in grape, cherry, strawberry, and other sweet flavors, except in Maine, New York City, and Providence, which have banned the sale of flavored cigar products.

Flavorings can mask the natural harshness and taste of tobacco, making flavored tobacco products more palatable to youngsters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found....

“When we see candy and fruit flavors in little cigars, we know that’s the tobacco industry trying to hook kids,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association. “That’s why it’s important for the FDA to move forward to aggressively regulate them.”

And yet the state is all bunged up about medical marijuana!

Senator Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement Tuesday that he, too, would support such regulation. “Kids are tricked into thinking that these bubblegum, fruit, and candied flavored cigars are sweet treats,” Markey said, “when in fact they serve merely as a gateway to tobacco addiction, putting them on a path to serious diseases and premature death.”

The FDA plans to issue new guidelines on electronic or e-cigarettes and cigars in the next few months.

Swisher Sweets did not respond to a request for comment.

While cigarette smoking rates have sharply declined among middle and high school students over the past decade, the percentage of teens using e-cigarettes has been on the rise..... 

They are vaping!

The battery operated devices deliver nicotine through a liquid solution that’s heated and inhaled as vapor; they also come in tempting flavors. Apollo Vapors, for example, offers Almond Joyee — marketed as “the candy bar taste without the calories” — and French Vanilla, which the company says is “like biting into a deliciously sweet vanilla cupcake.”

The FDA hasn’t determined whether e-cigarettes pose the same level of health risk as cigarettes, but some federal health officials say parents should be warning kids to avoid them.

“E-cigarettes increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to nicotine, and teens who use them are three times as likely to also use cigarettes,” said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “There’s zero reason for kids to be using them.”

But kids can get e-cigarettes easily because unlike tobacco products, which can’t legally be sold to anyone under age 18, there aren’t any age restrictions on buying them.

Little cigars are even more worrisome, McAfee said, because they are thin and contain filters causing teens to inhale the tobacco smoke deeply into their lungs like cigarette smoke — rather than puffing on them like larger, unfiltered cigars.

Over the short term, using little cigars could aggravate asthma and reduce athletic ability by interfering with lung function. A long-term habit could carry the same health risks as cigarettes, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease.

Another reason teens may be drawn to little cigars could be their reduced price....


I always feel sick after smoking a Globe cigar.

Globe Grab Bag: The Art of Halloween

Gardner exhibit adds perspective to 1990 thefts

RelatedThe Gardner Gambit 

They were never close to solving the case, folks; they simply enlisted the Globe to be a helpful mouthpiece!

Maybe you should have a Chinese auction instead. 

Globe Grab Bag: New Mexican Munchies

"Management of waste facility at Los Alamos faulted" Associated Press, October 03, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE — A project to replace an aging and degrading radioactive waste treatment facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory is 11 years behind schedule and its price tag has nearly tripled because of ineffective management, according to a government audit.

Related: Slow Saturday Special: US Nuclear Watchdog Fa$t A$leep

The report from the Department of Energy’s Inspector General says the National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos have spent $56 million since 2004 on plans to replace its 50-year-old and sometimes failing Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility. But design work is still not complete and the two-phase project now won’t be finished until 2017 and 2020 at the earliest.

The audit is the latest in a series of reports to detail cost overruns and delays by projects overseen by the nuclear security agency, prompting Congress to appoint a task force that is studying a potential overhaul of the agency.


Also see: You Can Sink Your Teeth Into This Post About Oklahoma 

It ends in North Dakota.

"Ex-police chief in New Mexico aided cartel, witness says" Associated Press, September 27, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A former police chief in a New Mexico border town collected more than $2,000 a month from the Juarez Cartel in exchange for protection and help with smuggling drugs and guns, a former town official testified Wednesday.

Blas ‘‘Woody’’ Gutierrez, the former Columbus village trustee, told a federal court that former Police Chief Angelo Vega also received $1,500 each time he allowed the cartel members to use village vehicles, including police cruisers, for the syndicate’s various operations, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

That testimony came in a trial involving Danny Burnett, a former school superintendent who is charged with leaking information about a federal wiretap investigation into a gun and drug smuggling ring.

It was the first time such details from the 2011 gun smuggling case have been made public.

Vega is the key prosecution witness in the case against Burnett, the husband of Assistant US Attorney Paula Burnett, who has not been charged with any crime.

Gutierrez faces 10 years in federal prison for his guilty plea to 37 counts of smuggling, illegally purchasing firearms, and conspiracy linked to the case.

Vega also testified that he didn’t remember exactly how much he was paid or how long he worked for the cartel.


RelatedFast and Furious Forgotten

Also see2 hurt when balloon hits power line in New Mexico

Related: Hovering Over the Boston Globe

Slow Sat. Work Back: CIA Admits Alien Conspiracy 

Then I don't believe in them. Too much media play.

Globe Grab Bag: Chewing on Voter Rolls

"States join forces to scrub dubious voters from rolls" by Mike Baker |  Associated Press, October 11, 2013

SEATTLE — More than half of states are now working in broad alliances to scrub voter rolls of millions of questionable registrations, identifying people registered in multiple states and tens of thousands of dead voters on election lists.

Poll managers, who are looking for more states to get involved, say the efforts are necessary because outdated voter registration systems are unable to keep up with a society in which people move frequently. While many of the registration problems are innocent, some officials fear the disorder in the system invites trouble.

We already have rigged elections.

‘‘It creates an environment where there could be more problems,’’ said Scott Gessler, Colorado’s secretary of state. ‘‘It’s a precursor to potential fraud, no doubt about it.’’

Half of all states have now joined a consortium anchored by the state of Kansas, compiling their voter registration lists at the end of every year to assess for duplicates. That program has grown rapidly since beginning in 2005.

Meanwhile, seven states are coordinating on another project that makes those assessments more frequently with advanced algorithms, while also checking for deceased voters.

The efforts are already finding massive numbers of outdated or problematic registrations. This year, the Kansas project identified some 5 million records that were questionable in 22 states and identified some people who voted in multiple states.

The newer project identified hundreds of thousands of other registrations that need updating, including 23,000 people who were dead.

Both data-matching programs are bipartisan.

I thought only Repuglicans scrubbed voter rolls.

That’s different than just before the 2012 election, when Republicans predominantly led efforts they portrayed as issues of election integrity, including the purge of possible noncitizens from rolls and the passage of voter ID laws. Democrats and voter advocacy groups had raised concerns about those efforts, fearing they could prevent legitimate voters from casting a ballot.

So despite the parti$anship they are on the same side?


Globe Grab Bag: Excitement in Idaho

Haunted plane:

"Stricken United plane captain dies" Associated Press, September 28, 2013

BOISE, Idaho — A United Airlines pilot died after suffering a major heart attack while flying from Houston to Seattle, forcing crew members to make an emergency landing in Idaho while two doctors on board did CPR in the first-class cabin.

Pilot Henry Skillern, 63, of Humble, Texas, was still alive when firefighters and paramedics ran to his aid Thursday night on the Boise Airport tarmack.

He died a short time later while being treated at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, spokeswoman Jennifer Krajnik said.

Skillern had been a pilot for United Airlines for 26 years.

Boise airport spokeswoman Patti Miller said it’s not uncommon for a medical emergency to force a plane to divert to the nearest airport. The Boise airport has had three such diversions in the past two days, she said.

That sounds uncommon to me.

But it’s rare for a serious malady to strike pilots, who undergo regular medical screening to keep their Federal Aviation Administration certification current.

Passengers aboard the Boeing 737-900 flown by Skillern seemed to handle the emergency well, Miller said.

‘‘It seemed like they felt that everything that could be done, was being done,’’ she said. ‘‘The passengers were concerned for him, but everyone was very calm.’’


Globe Grab Bag: Avoid Arizona

"Arizona gunman kills neighbors, dogs" Associated Press, October 28, 2013

PHOENIX — Authorities released details Sunday from a weekend shooting that left four family members and two dogs dead at a central Phoenix townhouse before the gunman turned the weapon on himself.

Michael Guzzo, 56, killed his next-door neighbors in a deadly confrontation Saturday that may have been touched off by loud barking, police said.

Phoenix police Sergeant Tommy Thompson said there is ‘‘some indication that perhaps that was a problem.’’ He added, because of the deaths, a motive may never be known....


Related: Don't Knock on Doors in North Carolina

Globe Grab Bag: Frozen Treat

"Lacking sea ice, army of walruses opts for Alaska" by Dan Joling |  Associated Press, October 02, 2013

ANCHORAGE — An estimated 10,000 walruses unable to find sea ice over shallow Arctic Ocean water have come ashore on Alaska’s northwest coast.

Honestly, I'm tired of the fart mist.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photographed walruses on Friday packed onto a beach on a barrier island near Point Lay, an Inupiat Eskimo village 300 miles southwest of Barrow and 700 miles northwest of Anchorage.

The walruses have been coming to shore since mid-September. The large herd was spotted during NOAA’s annual arctic marine mammal aerial survey, an effort conducted with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency that conducts offshore lease sales.

Like I would believe anything they say.

An estimated 2,000 to 4,000 walruses were photographed at the site Sept. 12. 

Are they still there? That was over three weeks before.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that manages walruses, immediately took steps to prevent a stampede among the animals, which were packed shoulder to shoulder on the rocky coastline. The agency works with villages to keep people and airplanes a safe distance from herds.

Young animals are especially vulnerable to stampedes triggered by a polar bear, a human hunter, or a low-flying airplane. The carcasses of more than 130 mostly young walruses were counted after a stampede in September 2009 at Alaska’s Icy Cape.

The gathering of walruses on shore is a phenomenon that has accompanied the loss of summer sea ice as the climate has warmed.

This Globe treat sucks.

Pacific walruses spend winters in the Bering Sea. Females give birth on sea ice and use ice as a diving platform to reach snails, clams, and worms on the shallow continental shelf.

As temperatures warm in summer, the edge of the sea ice recedes north.

And the agenda-pushers start screaming global warming. Ice melts in summer, imagine that.

Females and their young ride the edge of the sea ice into the Chukchi Sea. However, in recent years, sea ice has receded north beyond continental shelf waters and into Arctic Ocean water 10,000 feet deep or more, where walrus cannot dive to the bottom.

Walruses in large numbers were first spotted on the US side of the Chukchi Sea in 2007.


Related: Sunday Globe Special: The Rising Level of Bulls****

Better take a ferry then:

"Alaska ferries lose nature experts to budget cuts" Associated Press, April 29, 2013

JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska’s state-owned ferries, which shuttle residents and tourists between remote towns on the coasts of Washington state, Canada, and Alaska, are reducing costs by eliminating the use of naturalists on all but one ship.

In past summers, several of the 11 vessels have had a nature expert who teaches passengers about the stunning local scenery and animals.

State officials say the program may eventually be brought back, but for now the plan is to replace the experts with computer programs and brochures on the so-called Alaska Marine Highway System, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

With state revenues declining, departments have been asked to bring expenses down by eliminating items that do not affect core functions.

Naturalists, who are hired and paid by the US Forest Service or the US Fish and Wildlife Service, make about $22,000 a season. The state provides them free room and board on the ferry, which costs about $5,000 per year, per ship, according to Jeremy Woodrow, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Transportation, the department responsible for the ferry system.

Only four of the ships in the aging fleet were built after 1980, but they remain a crucial link connecting the state’s coastal cities to the rest of the world. The only way to reach Alaska’s capital, Juneau, for instance, is to fly or take a ferry.

Many of the ferries’ passengers are Alaska residents shuttling from town to town or back from the mainland. But the trips also draw adventuresome tourists.


Damn! Stuck in shit!

Globe Grab Bag: Grenada Goody

"Grenada cheers 1983 US invasion" by Linda Straker and Danica Coto |  Associated Press, October 26, 2013

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada — The planes began flying over Grenada around dawn, their low rumble awakening people in the Caribbean island where a military government had seized power days before and executed the prime minister.

More than 7,000 US Marines and Army paratroopers invaded the island to the cheers of Grenadians, who commemorate the 1983 action with a national holiday known as Thanksgiving Day. About 100 people died during the operation dubbed ‘‘Urgent Fury.’’

Dozens of US veterans, Grenadians, and former US students evacuated from Grenada’s medical school during the operation gathered Friday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most popular foreign invasions in recent history and what was then the largest US military operation since the Vietnam War.

Was it? Is any invasion popular for long?

Months before the operation, President Ronald Reagan had complained about Soviet-Cuban militarization of the Caribbean and expressed worries that a new Cuban-backed 10,000-foot runway in Grenada would be used by Soviet military planes.

Back then we were told it was Cuban military; come to find out they were only construction workers. The American medical students allegedly rescued never felt in danger or threatened.

Of course, my memory must be faulty. My government and mouthpiece of a newspaper would never lie to us.

Then on Oct. 19, 1983, Grenada’s Marxist prime minister Maurice Bishop, three members of his Cabinet, and four others were executed by a radical faction of his Cuba-backed party on orders of then-Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard. Six days later, Reagan sent in US troops, helped by a few hundred Caribbean security forces. Reagan said the invasion was necessary to protect the lives of the more than 600 US students at St. George’s University School of Medicine.


RelatedCorrection: Grenada-US Invasion story 

Glad to see they corrected and revised the account.

Also see:  How Grenada reshaped the US military

Because it took attention away from the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon.

Globe Grab Bag: Mexican Munchies

Related: The Globe's Monday Munchies

I think I'll be throwing their treat away.

"Ravaged Mexico braces for new storm" Associated Press, October 21, 2013

MEXICO CITY — Tropical Storm Raymond steamed on Sunday toward Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, an area devastated by rains and mudslides from Tropical Storm Manuel last month.

See: Mexican Mudslides 

It's a drink, right?

In a region where 10,000 people are still evacuated after Manuel flooded their homes or created landslide risks, officials raced to get emergency teams in place and considered more evacuations.

The US National Hurricane Center said Raymond is expected to become a hurricane soon but is projected to take a sharp westward turn before it reaches the coast. Mexico is pinning its hopes on a cold front that would help force Raymond to turn away from the coast, said the head of Mexico’s National Water Commission, David Korenfeld....

Forecasters say Raymond is expected to slowly approach Mexico’s southern Pacific coast late Monday or Tuesday. They warn heavy rainfall is possible along the south-central Mexican coast in coming days and could cause more life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Acapulco to Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico.

Authorities in southern Guerrero state, where Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid caused about 120 deaths from flooding and landslides, were more worried about the storm’s heavy rains than the winds....



"Hurricane Raymond strengthened to a Category 3 storm early Monday and threatened to hurl heavy rains onto a sodden region of Mexico’s Pacific Coast already devastated by last month’s Tropical Storm Manuel. Forecasters said that even if Raymond stays off shore, the storm could dump heavy rain and cause flash floods and mudslides along the south-central Mexican coast."

It must have blown right through because that was the last I saw of it in my Globe.

"Monster truck plows into crowd in Mexico" Associated Press,  October 07, 2013

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — An out-of-control monster truck shot into a crowd of spectators at a Mexican air show, killing at least eight people and hurting 80 others, dozens of them seriously, officials said. The driver was detained Sunday on suspicion of manslaughter.

Carlos Gonzalez, spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutors’ office, said driver Francisco Velazquez appeared to have lost control of the truck after leaping over cars it was crushing during a demonstration at the ‘‘Extreme Aeroshow’’ on Saturday.

The governor of Chihuahua says a test detected alcohol in the driver’s breath but he didn’t reveal the level found or saying whether it violated any law.

Video taken by a spectator shows the truck making an initial pass over two cars, then making a second pass at higher speed, coming down sharply nose-first and bouncing violently before plowing straight into the crowd, which stood directly in the path of the monster truck, unprotected by any wall or barrier.

Some witnesses said the driver appeared to have hit his head on the interior of the truck, which is nicknamed ‘‘Big Show,’’ as he drove over the old cars. At least two witnesses reported seeing the driver’s helmet come off before the massive vehicle drove into the crowd of terrified spectators, who tried to flee.

Gonzalez said the accident killed at least one child and hurt 80 people, 46 of whom remained hospitalized Sunday.


Also seeGovernor begins trade trip to Mexico, Colombia

Globe Grab Bag: Colombian Candy

I don't do cocaine, sorry.

"Colombia rebels free ex-US soldier" Associated Press,  October 28, 2013

BOGOTA — Colombia’s main leftist rebel group released a former US Army private who the guerrillas seized in June after he refused to heed local officials’ warnings and wandered into rebel-held territory.


Kevin Scott Sutay of North Carolina, who is in his late 20s, was quietly turned over Sunday to Norwegian and Colombian officials along with the International Committee of the Red Cross in the same southeastern region where he had disappeared four months earlier.

In a statement, Secretary of State John F. Kerry thanked Colombia’s government for its ‘‘tireless efforts’’ in securing the Afghanistan war veteran’s release. Kerry also thanked the Rev. Jesse Jackson for advocating for it.

Then he absolutely must have been a spy!

Related: Auction Jackson 

How's your son doing, Jesse?

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, had said it was abandoning kidnapping as a condition for the launching of peace talks that began 11 months ago to end a half-century of internal conflict.

Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, resisted FARC efforts to make what he deemed a ‘‘media show’’ of Sutay’s release and no images were released of the early-morning jungle release or of his late-morning arrival in Bogota, the capital.

That's happened before.

The rebels had announced in July their intention to free Sutay as a good-faith gesture but the liberation was delayed.

Santos’s firmness on prohibiting a ceremonial release of Sutay included objecting to the FARC endorsed intercession of Jackson, who met with rebel leaders in Cuba in late September and said then that he would go to Colombia to lobby for on behalf of Sutay’s release.

Sutay was delivered at 11:30 a.m. local time to US government representatives at Bogota’s airport, according to a statement issued by the Cuban and Norwegian embassies.

The Red Cross said one of its doctors examined Sutay and he was well enough to travel.

It was not immediately clear whether he had flown on to the United States.


"Former informant suing US for abandoning her" Associated Press, October 22, 2013

WASHINGTON — A former confidential informant working for the United States in Colombia contends in a lawsuit that the US government abandoned her when she got into legal trouble for her undercover operations and she wound up spending three years in a Colombian jail.

It's a pattern with the U.S. government. Don't take it personally.

Astrid Hurtado is seeking $15 million in damages.

Hurtado, 52, worked as an informant for ‘‘El Dorado Task Force,’’ a unit established by the then-US Customs Service to investigate money laundering. Her job was to impersonate a money launderer in Colombia and provide information to the United States. In return, she received a percentage of money seized. Hurtado said she was paid around $120,000 for her work from 1998 to 2000.

Isn't that kind of a conflict of intere$t?

She said she was arrested in Colombia in 2003 for the work she had been doing for the US government. According to her lawsuit, it wasn’t until four months later that the US Embassy in Colombia sent a letter confirming that Hurtado was an active informant, but a Colombian judge ruled the letter was inadmissible.

US government officials declined to discuss the case.


"Americans among crash fatalities

BOGOTA — A small plane crashed during an antidrug mission in a remote region near the Panama border on Saturday, killing four of six people aboard. The military said five people on the plane were Americans and the sixth was Panamanian. Farmers reported the crash, which occurred about 1 a.m. There was no immediate information on a possible cause. The army said two others on the plane were taken to a hospital (AP)."

Also seeGovernor begins trade trip to Mexico, Colombia

Globe Grab Bag: Hot Aussie Treats

Military exercise sparked big Australian wildfire

"Australia blaze stretches 190 miles" Associated Press, October 21, 2013

CANBERRA, Australia — Firefighters battling some of the most destructive wildfires to ever strike Australia’s most populous state were focusing on a major blaze Sunday near the town of Lithgow that stretched along a 190-mile front.

Are you sure it is a wildfire?

Authorities warned that high temperatures and winds were likely to maintain heightened fire danger for days in New South Wales state.

The fires have killed one man, destroyed 208 homes, and damaged another 122 since Thursday, the Rural Fire Service said.

Firefighters have taken advantage of milder conditions in recent days to reduce the number of fires threatening towns around Sydney from more than 100 on Thursday night to 61 on Sunday, fire service spokesman Matt Sun said.

Fifteen of these fires continued to burn out of control, including the blaze near Lithgow, west of Sydney, which was given the highest danger ranking by the fire service. Authorities expect that blaze will continue to burn for days and have advised several nearby communities to consider evacuating.

Sun said temperatures in the fire zone on Sunday exceeded 77 degrees, with winds reaching 12 miles per hour and humidity dropping to 30 percent. Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the weather was forecast to deteriorate further over Monday and Tuesday.

‘‘It’s not as dire as it could be, but it’s certainly challenging work for firefighters and expected to get worse,’’ Sun said.

The Defense Department, meanwhile, said it was investigating whether there was any link between the Lithgow fire, which started Wednesday, and military exercises using explosives at a nearby training range on the same day.

Oh, fuck, are these candies hot!

Sun said the cause of the fire was also under investigation by fire authorities.

Arson investigators are examining the origins of several of more than 100 fires surrounding Sydney in recent days.



"Australia’s most populous state declared a wildfire emergency as rising temperatures and strengthening winds intensified flames that have destroyed more than 200 properties across New South Wales. Firefighters are bracing for more wild weather across the state. Australia’s bush-fire season has started early after the warmest September on record, and the intensified warnings reflect receding chances of rain to douse flames." 

Related: The New York Times Foul Fart Mist 

Can smell it all the way over in Australia.

"WILDFIRES IN AUSTRALIA -- Tegan Mobbs inspected the remains of her home in Yellow Rock, New South Wales, Tuesday after a wildfire that tore through the area had moved on. Smoke from three wildfires in New South Wales has also reached Sydney, more than 70 miles away. Australian authorities are advising people to stay indoors (Boston Globe October 23 2013)."

Globe coverage then went out.

I hope you are weathering this post okay.

Better get some water on that fire:

"Sailors capture 9 suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean" Associated Press, October 21, 2013

MANAMA, Bahrain — An Australian naval team in the Indian Ocean captured nine suspected pirates sought after attacks on a supertanker and a fishing vessel last week, a global antipiracy group said Sunday.

The Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 151 said the suspected pirate skiffs were spotted about 500 nautical miles off Somalia. A team from the Australian guided missile frigate HMAS Melbourne boarded the boats Oct. 15 and took nine suspects into custody.

The pirates are believed to have carried out attacks on a supertanker and Spanish fishing vessels.

Pirate attacks have dropped in recent years off the Horn of Africa with the increase of surveillance and protection from a 29-nation naval force, which includes the US Navy and Coast Guard and ships from the European Union.

Why is the Coast Guard way the hell over there?

Several task forces are operating in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean region, including Combined Task Force 151.

Despite the presence of international monitors, Somali pirates have attacked hundreds of vessels off the Somali coast, although successful hijackings are few. There have been a string of such attacks in recent weeks. 

I sometimes think the monitors are there to protect the pirates.

Related(?): Globe Promotes Captain Phillips 

Hadn't seen anything about them for a long time until then.


"Injured kangaroo finds treatment in airport pharmacy" by Gerry Mullany |  New York Times, October 17, 2013

An injured kangaroo managed to make its way into Melbourne Airport in Australia on Wednesday, ending up, fittingly, in a pharmacy.

Astonished travelers watched as the kangaroo stumbled around the aisles, only to be captured by a dark-clad woman and a man, who can be seen on video casting a cloth over the ailing animal and then gently tackling it. It was placed under the care of a veterinarian.

The airport is ringed partly by bushland that is apparently frequented by kangaroos. This one chose to end up at a Qantas terminal, an apt destination since the airline’s symbol is the kangaroo and it is known among Australians as the “Flying Kangaroo.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the animal had been hit by a vehicle outside the terminal.


Naturally, the episode was fodder for social media. An Australian comedian, Julia Morris, who happened to be at the airport when the kangaroo came by, was reduced to clever hashtags to try to top the reality of the situation.

“Ok, so I’m at Melbourne airport & a KANGAROO has just jumped into the chemist,’’ she wrote on Twitter, adding, “#notajoke #soundslikeajoke #mustneedaprescriptionfilled.”


"Australian slain in Oklahoma buried in hometown" Associated Press,  August 29, 2013

CANBERRA, Australia — The 22-year-old Australian baseball player killed in a drive-by shooting in Oklahoma was buried in his hometown of Melbourne on Wednesday after a funeral attended by more than 500 mourners at St. Therese’s Church.

Chris Lane died Aug. 16 in the town of Duncan while jogging near his girlfriend’s home. Duncan police say three teenagers targeted him at random to break up the monotony of an Oklahoma summer.

Television footage of the funeral service was broadcast in evening news bulletins across Australia, where the tragedy has become a major media story as guns and where drive-by shootings are far less prevalent than in the United States.

Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, both of Duncan, have been charged as adults with first-degree murder. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, also of Duncan, was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and with accessory to first-degree murder. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court.

Lane moved to Oklahoma to play baseball. He would have been a senior at East Central University and hoped to enter the real estate business.


Aussie candy left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Also seeExposed: Australia's Asia spy network 

They are helping the U.S.