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Archive for May, 2013

Repentant thief leaves money and apology note for years of stolen beers

Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/repentant-thief-leaves-money-apology-note-years-stolen-225901471.html

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An anonymous thief has attempted to make up for years of beer theft by leaving a stack of $20 bills and an apology letter. And the owner of the oft-raided beer fridge has a message for the repentant burglar: Come back and have a beer with us, sometime.

Local CBS affiliate WKRC reports that Dee and Leo Samad have maintained a welcoming backyard for years, replete with a 12-foot-bar that includes a beer tap and a fridge full of beer.

The Kentucky residents left the fridge unlocked so that friends and neighbors could help themselves to a drink and repay the favor on the honor system. But eventually, Leo Samad couldn’t help notice that someone was treating a little too much.

“There for awhile my husband kept saying,’I know I put a case of beer in there and there’s only 5 or 6 cans left,'” Dee Samad, 69, told the station. “But what are you going to do? We put locks on it.”

Eventually, the couple got tired of using the lock and the occasional thefts continued. But then on Monday, the Samads found a surprise on their back porch: a folded note.

“So I came back and picked it up and it was thick. So I unfolded it and seven $20 bills dropped out,” Dee said.

The Cincinnati Enquirer explains that the note explained that the longtime beer thief had recently found religion and wanted to make things right.

“Dear homeowner,” the note read. “Enclosed is a sum of cash that my friends and I owe you and your family to repay you for all of the times we have stolen from your poolside fridge/bar over the past few years.”

“I hope you will accept my most sincere apology for trespassing as well as feeling entitled to take what was not mine,” the note continues. “The amount is a rough estimate, and I realize no amount will completely satisfy the anger you may have.”

But Dee said the note left her feeling anything but angry.

“That’s the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever had happen to me,” she said.

In fact, she was so moved by the gesture, she said the repentant beer smuggler would be welcome to come back sometime and enjoy a free beer with her and her husband.

“I hope that he sees this on TV and knocks on our door and he would be welcome in our home,” she said.

Police allow civilian volunteers to drive police cars, instantly regret it

courtesy of http://jalopnik.com/local-police-give-patrol-cars-to-civillians-immediatel-509497601

The Valley Falls, Kansas police department is rethinking its decision to allow civilian volunteers to use police cruisers after the program almost immediately fell into hilarious misuse.

In an effort to foster a more relaxed relationship between kids and police officers, the Valley Falls PD started an auxiliary police program on April 25th, where civilian volunteers could go on patrol in police cruisers.

During a city council meeting on Wednesday, residents of the town decried what had been going on with the police cars since the program’s start. WIBW 13 News reports the testament of local resident Lee Kahn.

“He was turning the siren onpolice car and off, the headlights on an off, the flashers on and off, hit the airhorn a couple times. He floored it and he gunned it at maximum speed. I assumed it was a police officer so I came in to City Hall to file a written complaint, only to find out it wasn’t even a police officer driving the car, that it was a civilian.”

Angry residents said they saw another auxiliary member driving around with a young girl on his lap and others still were peeling out, racing with kids, and watching on as other drivers did burnouts.

WIBW 13 News reports that the Valley Falls mayor considered firing the police chief. That was likely a symbolic gesture, as the mayor immediately “reappointed” the chief who had never been fired.

The program was “tabled” in the Wednesday night city council meeting.

The moral of the story is that if you offer people the chance to drive around in cop cars, they basically act like the Blues Brothers. This should not come as a surprise to you, and why no one at Valley Falls PD expected cop car misuse is beyond me.

Girlfriend’s investigation frees innocent NY man from jail

Courtesy of: http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/girlfriends-investigation-frees-innocent-ny-man-from-jail

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Vengeful former friends had set Joshua Robles up and landed him in prison, but his girlfriend’s sleuthing efforts eventually proved him innocent.

After eight months behind bars, an innocent Queens, N.Y., man was freed when his girlfriend proved to prosecutors that his former friends had set him up.

Joshua Robles, 40, was charged with sexual assault and armed robbery last August after he allegedly attacked a young woman, the New York Daily News reported.

Robles is mired in a feud with former family friend Hipolito Rodriguez, who’s currently on trial for attempted murder after he allegedly barged into a barbershop and shot at Robles with a shotgun.

To attempt to discredit Robles in court, Rodriguez and his son, Jordan, 19, dropped Jordan’s girlfriend off at a telephone booth and told her to call police and tell them she’d been attacked. They then instructed 21-year-old Alexis Hopes to tell officers that her assailant bore a tattooed cross on his face, which would finger Robles.

Robles was arrested and, unable to make bail, spent the next eight months at Rikers Island jail. He was sprung in late April after his own girlfriend tracked Hopes’ Facebook page and showed the Queens district attorney’s office evidence that she was dating Jordan Rodriguez. Hopes broke down in the DA’s office and Robles was released from prison the same day, according to the Daily News.

Both Hipolito and Jordan Rodriguez were indicted on multiple counts of perjury this week.

Vermont Legalizes Assisted Suicide

courtesy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/20/vermont-assisted-suicide_n_3309210.html

MONTPELIER, Vt. — After years of debate, Vermont became the fourth state in the country Monday to allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to terminally ill patients seeking to end their lives.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law at a Statehouse ceremony even as opponents vowed to push for its repeal.

The End of Life Choices law was effective immediately, although it could be weeks before the state Health Department develops regulations in accordance with the new measure.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said he expects doctors to write between 10 and 20 lethal prescriptions a year, with a smaller number of patients actually using the drugs.

He based his figures on the experience in Oregon, the first state to legalize assisted suicide in 1997. Washington state and Montana followed later, with Montana’s coming by way of a court order.

“It’s used by a very small number, but it brings comfort to a much greater number knowing it’s there,” Chen said.

During emotionally charged discussion of the bill, proponents said Vermonters of sound mind who are suffering from terminal conditions should be able to choose when to end their lives. But opponents said the law could be abused and vulnerable people, especially the elderly, could be forced to end their lives.

Shumlin offered reassurances before signing the bill.

“This bill does not compel anyone to do anything that they don’t choose in sound mind to do,” he said. “All it does is give those who are facing terminal illness, are facing excruciating pain, a choice in a very carefully regulated way.”

Some critics of the law attended the bill-signing and promised to seek its repeal.

“We need to be more of a caring, compassionate society, not one that says `take a pill, go away,'” said Edward Alonzo of Burlington. “People don’t have the best of intentions, always, with their family members,” he said.

The Legislature passed the bill last week. A similar measure was defeated in 2007.

“I know from my many years of practice that there are many patients out there that want to have this option available to them, and because it’s a new bill I anticipate that a lot of people are going to ask questions about it,” said Dr. Diana Barnard, a family practice doctor in Burlington who is certified in hospice care.

“I do know there are providers who will be willing to provide the best possible medicine to their patients regardless of what that means, and that includes all aspects of palliative care,” she said.

In its first three years, the Vermont law will resemble the Oregon model, which has built-in safeguards, including requirements that patients state three times – once in writing – that they wish to die. Other safeguards include a concurring opinion from a second doctor that a patient has less than six months to live and a finding that the patient is of sound mind.

In Oregon and Washington, patients who take advantage of the Death with Dignity law use the drug pentobarbital, a barbiturate, that is dissolved in liquid or semi-liquid, said George Eighmey, a board member of the Death with Dignity National Center in Portland, Ore.

The patient doesn’t eat for four or five hours before taking an anti-nausea drug and the lethal drug about an hour after that. It takes about five minutes for the patient to fall into a coma. The average length of time until death is about two hours, said Eighmey.

After July 1, 2016, Vermont will move to a model pushed by some senators who complained of too much government intervention. The new model would require less monitoring and reporting by doctors. But many expect lawmakers may push to eliminate those changes and leave the original model in place.

The Health Department will receive reports of how many people were prescribed lethal drugs. Chen said he expects the process will be covered by health insurance.

NYC delivery man accused of selling cocaine from pizza boxes

Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/17/nyc-delivery-man-accused-selling-cocaine-from-pizza-boxes/?test=latestnews

People leave Papa John's in Cleveland with pizza for 23 cents

Authorities say a Brooklyn man arrested on drug charges used his job at a pizzeria as a cover as he delivered more than pizza pies.

Officials on Thursday announced the arrest of 45-year-old Ramon Rodriguez. They say he had made at least 19 sales of cocaine to an undercover officer since the fall of 2011.

He was taken into custody on Wednesday night after authorities said he sold a kilo of cocaine in front of the Brooklyn pizza store where he worked, using a pizza box as a cover.

Authorities say Rodriguez told officers over the course of the undercover effort that he was breaking away from pizza deliveries to make the drug sales.

There was no information on a lawyer for Rodriguez. He was awaiting arraignment later Thursday.

Minnesota lakes reportedly contaminated with cocaine, antidepressants

Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/16/minnesota-lakes-reportedly-contaminated-with-cocaine-antidepressants/?intcmp=HPBucket

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A veritable hodgepodge of chemicals — including cocaine, synthetic estrogen and antidepressants — have reportedly been found in isolated Minnesota lakes.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the findings indicate that some contamination has become the norm for virtually all of the waters in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Among the 50 lakes across Minnesota that were randomly selected and tested for 127 compounds, all but three tested positive for varying concentrations of one of more chemicals. Cocaine was found in 32 percent of the lakes, while the insect repellent DEET was found in 76 percent of the waters.

“That was astonishing,” Mark Ferrey, lead researcher of the new report released Monday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, told the newspaper. “We need to look in the mirror. No matter what we use, it finds its way into the environment.”

Ferrey said the impact of the contaminants on aquatic life and humans is far less understood. A growing number of studies have found that some chemicals, particularly those that resemble hormones, can have a strong biological effect on some species at even tiny concentrations, the newspaper reports.

One experiment conducted in a Canadian lake found that two years after synthetic estrogen was added at a concentration of five parts per trillion — the equivalent of adding five drops to 15 or 20 swimming pools, Ferrey said — the fathead minnow population crashed and its trout numbers began to decrease.

Ferrey said he was astonished that cocaine was discovered in nearly one-third of Minnesota lakes tested, some of which had little human use. Cocaine was the third-most common chemical found, following DEET and Bisphenol A, a chemical from plastic. Ferrey was also surprised to find carbadox, an antibiotic used in swine that turned up in 28 percent of the lakes, including some that had no connection to feedlots or pig farms. Carbadox is also a carcinogen that has been banned in Europe and Canada, Ferrey said.

Are cities shortening yellow light times to make money?

Courtesy of: http://news.msn.com/us/are-cities-shortening-yellow-light-times-to-make-money

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A recent investigation by a Florida TV station claims that shortening of yellow light times is one of the primary drivers that allow red light cameras to be profitable.

An investigation by a Florida TV station that claims Florida is intentionally shortening yellow light times to increase revenue has once again cast a national spotlight on the practice, which traffic safety advocates say is unfortunately widespread.

“It’s difficult to track the data, but we can tell anecdotally — there are people who call us about it and track it,” said John Bowman, a spokesman for the National Motorists Association, a motorists’ rights and advocacy organization that looks at short yellow lights and red light cameras as a cynical way to generate money.

Bowman said there have been lots of challenges to red light cameras all over the country, including in Florida.

According to the Tampa Bay News 10 report, shortening yellow light times resulted in thousands of red light tickets in Florida.

‘I THINK THEY ARE CHEATING THE PEOPLE’

“Just how much is half a second?” asks reporter Noah Pransky in the News 10 video. “It’s not long enough to grab a bite to eat, make a photocopy or even send a text. But half a second is much more significant when you are behind the wheel and the light turns red too fast.”

That half-second cost Floridians $50 million last year, News 10 reported.

The station interviewed Shirley Nagel from Port Richey, Fla., who had to pay $158 after being caught on a red light camera on U.S. Highway 19 this spring.

“I never thought of such a thing, that I was doing anything wrong,” said Nagel, who was fined for entering the intersection about half a second too late in February,

“It’s terrible . . . I think they are cheating the people,” Nagel said.

‘NO MOTIVATION TO TRAP MOTORISTS’

The Florida Department of Transportation’s traffic engineer, Mark Wilson, denies that the yellow light times were shortened to create more citations, telling News 10 that his agency had “no motivation to trap motorists.”

Shorter yellow lights came into the picture in the early to mid-1990s, triggered by changes to federal guidelines and regulations pertaining to yellow lights, Bowman said.

Sometimes, yellow lights are purposely shortened or simply not set to be long enough, he said.

 

“It’s a serious issue and affects traffic safety at those intersections,” Bowman said. “You give people less time to react and stop at that intersection, and it forces them to skirt through, risking an accident and traffic citation.”

One of the main challenges is that the engineering guidelines put out by the federal government regarding yellow lights is fairly broad and vague, Bowman said, which leaves cities with the flexibility to set their own.

“Federal guidelines say that it should be between three and six seconds long, and so what a city can do is the city can set their yellow light times at three seconds and say, We are complying with federal guidelines,” Bowman said. “In reality, the faster the traffic is moving through the intersection, the longer the yellow light needs to be.”

Bowman pointed out that although three seconds would be sufficient for a car traveling at 25 mph, cars moving at 40 mph would need to have a yellow light time of four and a half seconds.

“Any shorter and it will increase accidents at that intersection,” he said.

Just as News 10’s investigation concluded, the National Motorists’ Association also believes that the motive behind shortening yellow light times is purely profit-oriented, so that both cities and camera companies can profit.

Cities that were caught shortening yellow light times in the past include Chattanooga and Nashville, Tenn.; Dallas and Lubbock, Texas; Springfield, Miss.; and Union City, Calif., where red light cameras have been especially controversial.

”Red light cameras can only remain profitable at poorly engineered intersections,” Bowman said. “Once an intersection is fixed, the money dries up quickly. And once the money is gone, the cameras disappear.”

Bowman said a certain formula is used to determine what the yellow light time should be. It involves plugging in the speed someone is traveling, the number of seconds for reaction time and several other factors. The formula is set by the Institute of Traffic Engineers and is widely accepted.

“You have to gauge your yellow light times according to the speed people are traveling at the intersection,” Bowman said. “The actual travel speed can be seven or 10 miles higher than what is posted.”

Breaking into a cop car earns losers speedy trip to jail

Courtesy of: http://now.msn.com/paul-gardener-and-chad-leakey-allegedly-broke-into-an-occupied-police-car

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A high IQ isn’t required for a career in petty crime, but two criminals were clearly short a few points when they reportedly attempted to break into an unmarked police car, with two uniformed cops inside. After opening the back door, it apparently dawned on geniuses Paul Gardener and Chad Leakey that they were climbing into a cage in a police car. The Tempe, Ariz., cops swiftly arrested them, allegedly confiscating a baggie of meth and some mail they seem to have been bright enough to steal too. The pair have been booked into the Maricopa County Jail, where they should be able to find some easy reading material.

Man charged in overnight feast at Ky. supermarket

Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/lightbox/image-provided-bullitt-county-detention-center-shows-may-photo-113934025.html

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MOUNT WASHINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Authorities in Kentucky have charged a man who officers say had an overnight feast in a closed supermarket outside Louisville.

The manager of a ValuMarket says he found 57 empty whipped cream cans in the garbage when he arrived Monday morning. WAVE-TV (http://bit.ly/15HQ8k7) in Louisville reported 30-year-old Trevor Runyon was charged after he was found in the ceiling of the store.

Surveillance video from the store showed that Runyon cooked and ate six steaks, washed them down with beer and then topped off his meal with shrimp and birthday cake.

Police say Runyon slipped into the store and hid while employees closed it for the night.

Bullitt County Detention Center records show Runyon is from Shepherdsville, Ky. It wasn’t clear whether he has an attorney.

Man attacked by alligator while fleeing deputies

Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/man-attacked-alligator-while-fleeing-deputies-191550938.html

Police Stop Blue Lights

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida man ran from the law and into an alligator’s jaws.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says 20-year-old Bryan Zuniga was pulled over for failing to maintain a single lane Thursday at about 2:50 a.m.

Deputies say Zuniga stopped the vehicle and jumped out of the passenger door. He then broke through a vinyl fence and escaped.

The Tampa Bay area man was found at a local hospital a few hours later. He told deputies he had been attacked by an alligator near a water treatment plant. He was being treated for multiple puncture wounds to the face, arm and armpit area.

He has been charged with fleeing police, driving with a suspended or revoked license and resisting an officer without violence.