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Law/Police/Crime
Cops Writing Cops claims to be a site created by a bunch of police officers in order to publicize the problem of cops who give other cops tickets for traffic violations. They invite cops who have been ticketed by other cops to write in with their stories. In their "About Us" section, they write:
Our mission is to try and bond our community by bringing the stories of how our brothers and sisters are sometimes mistreated by other brothers and sisters. Maybe after visiting this site and reading how much it really does affect other officers, you may think twice about giving that ticket. It's ONLY A TICKET! We're positive that there is someone more deserving of your attention than your own brother or sister.
Here they offer their argument about why cops should not be ticketed for traffic violations:
Best Buy employees get an employee price (which is awesome), Subway employees get free subs, military people get free hops on planes, airline employees get the jet around the world for free ($50 is free). Every profession gets some kind of 'perk'.
Whoever created the site has carefully concealed their identity. (The site was registered via Domains by Proxy.) This makes it difficult to know whether or not they're for real. But I'm having a hard time taking it seriously. It reads a lot like what someone who was angry at the police and wanted to make them look bad would create. (Thanks to James for the link)
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 28, 2007
Comments (10)
A real-life version of the "killer in the backseat" urban legend has been reported. Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand gives the following description of this classic tale in his Encyclopedia of Urban Legends:
"Would-be killer lurks in back, detected by motorist or gas-station attendant." In all versions, the intended victim is a woman. In the versions in which another motorist spots the assailant, the driver notices that the car or truck following her keeps blinking his lights or shifting them to the high beam. When she reaches home -- still followed by the blinking vehicle -- the other driver rushes to her car and pulls out the lurking stranger. In the gas-station versions, the driver is asked by the attendant to come into the office because of some problem with her credit card. The attendant then locks the office door, tells her about the threat from behind, and calls the police.
In the incident that was recently reported, a 23-year-old woman reported finding an intruder lurking in the back seat of her SUV as she drove home from a class at Calhoun Community College. From The Decatur Daily News:
McNatt said she arrived for her 4:30 p.m. class at Calhoun, parked behind Harris Hall and locked her SUV.
She remained on campus until about 9 p.m. She used her secret code to unlock the SUV.
As she drove, she talked on her cell phone to her brother.
"When she got on the river bridge on Interstate 65, a white male sat up in the very back of her vehicle," McNatt said. "He said he wanted her to take him somewhere."
The woman's brother heard a scream and then lost the phone connection with his sister.
Nothing happened to the woman. She simply parked the car, got out, and the guy walked away. Police are investigating the incident. It seems harsh to be suspicious of someone who's been through a scary event like this, but it's hard not to be a little skeptical about whether this really happened, given how closely it parallels the urban legend.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 14, 2007
Comments (9)
Joe Littrell alerted me to an amusing piece on slate.com which takes the air out of a Boston Globe story about the disturbing trend of "Vicious Attacks By Girl Cliques Seen Increasing." Jack Shafer points out that the article contradicts its premise in its own subtitle, where it admits, "Despite Police Statistics, Violence Causing Worries." In other words, police statistics show that girl-on-girl violence is decreasing, but the article tries to spin it the other way, presumably because a rise in girls fighting each other sounds more intriguing, especially when you can lead off with vivid descriptions of girls fighting such as this one:
They use fists, knives, and razors to hurt each other. Before fights, they smear their faces with petroleum jelly so their adversaries' fingernails glide off the slick surface and won't cause scars.

The Boston Globe article manages to use two of the journalistic ploys that I list in Hippo Eats Dwarf: The phony crime wave (in which reporters grab readers' attention on slow news days by reporting crimes that would normally go unmentioned), and the generalization from a single example (in which the reporter claims to have discovered a trend, based on a sample size of one or two examples).
Categories: Journalism, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 07, 2007
Comments (3)
Here's a story about a detective who had to go deep undercover, posing as a corpse in order to catch a man who was vandalizing hearses belonging to a funeral home:
The funeral directors contacted the Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership which hired a team of private detectives. They spent five days posing as members of the public and using cameras to stake out the firm. But cars continued to be damaged under their noses so security firm Storewatch decided one of their team had to hide inside a body bag. There the detective could watch a computer displaying live images from cameras inside and outside the vehicle. Mark Ferns, Storewatch director said: "Our guy would do three or four hours in the bag and then would have to take what the Americans call a comfort break.

I don't really understand why they couldn't have achieved the same thing with remote control cameras.
Categories: Death, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 06, 2007
Comments (2)
Due to personal circumstances, this week's Best of the Forum post is brought to you by guest writer and board moderator Madmouse.

Unauthorised Reincarnation Banned in Tibet (MadCarlotta)
China has banned Buddhists from reincarnating without permission, in an apparent attempt to have the next Dalai Lama chosen by the Chinese government.
From the news article:
"According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

This could lead to a situation where there are two Dalai Lamas, one recognised by millions of Buddhists around the world, and one by the Chinese government.
I don’t know how much of an effect this would have, but it would be a situation best avoided, if possible.

Skype Outage Caused By U.S. Government Spy Plan? (LaMa)
There’s been a lot of discussion in the forum about this conspiracy theory.
www.skype-news.com says:
“Skype says the problem was triggered by a Microsoft patch, delivered by Windows Update, which caused an automatic reboot of many PCs. "The high number of restarts affected Skype's network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction," says Skype's Villu Arak. According to Arak, the system would normally have recovered quickly, but on this occasion "a previously unseen bug" caused the network to fail.”
However, this news item suggests that the outage was in fact caused by the introduction of eavesdropping technology, made permissible by a newly-introduced law.

Online Game Used As Epidemic Scenario (Hulitoons)
Scientists have been studying players’ reactions to a disease in online game ‘World of Warcraft’. The researchers say that the information gathered about people’s varying reactions to a crisis like this could prove useful in the event of a genuine epidemic.
From the BBC article:
Researcher Professor Nina Fefferman, from Tufts University School of Medicine, said: “Human behaviour has a big impact on disease spread. And virtual worlds offer an excellent platform for studying human behaviour.The players seemed to really feel they were at risk and took the threat of infection seriously, even though it was only a game.”
Even if people might act somewhat differently in a game, I think that this is a reasonable (and safe) way of gathering data.

Rampant Rabbit In Stick-Up (Dave and Madmouse)
A man was jailed for five years for a robbery at a bookmakers in which he used the sex toy instead of a gun. The vibrator was hidden in a carrier bag, and seemed realistic enough that the shop staff handed over £600.
I do wonder what on earth made him think of using that rather than, say, a toy gun…
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime, Religion, Sex/Romance, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Aug 24, 2007
Comments (11)
Joe Littrell forwarded an interesting story from the People's Daily Online. It reports that police in China have arrested or warned 60 people this year for spreading rumors or threats through text messages and the internet. Wow. If spreading urban legends was a crime here in America, just imagine how many people would be in jail.

Some of the messages that rumormongers circulated:
On July 11, a text message began circulating in Jiangsu, claiming victims of full-blown AIDS were spreading the disease by using toothpicks at local restaurants and returning them to the containers on tables. The message warned recipients against using toothpicks in Jiangsu. The police traced the rumor to two businessmen surnamed Du and Cao through Du''s cellphone.

an Internet user known as Laoshi Heshang (Honest Monk) on July 31 posted a story with the Taiwuliao portal, based in Taizhou, Jiangsu, about police allegedly chasing a man and his pillion passenger son on a motorbike through the streets of Jingjiang city. The man had failed to stop as required by police after he was seen not wearing a helmet. The bike crashed and the son, who had been enrolled at prestigious Qinghua University, was killed. The posting caused outrage against the police, who were obliged to contact all six Jingjiang students who had been enrolled at Qinghua University this summer to confirm the story was a hoax.
Personally, I think the real criminals are not the ones who start these rumors, but the people who feel compelled to forward along every idiotic rumor that lands in their inbox.

Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 22, 2007
Comments (7)
Well, after my holiday, my laptop went down, and it's only this week that I'm back online. I do extend my apologies for the lack of 'Best of the Forum' posts for the last few weeks.

Receive the Holy Oil! (Transfrmr)
Forum member Transfrmr found a rather... interesting advertisement in a local free newspaper.
The advertisement (see above link) shows the text:
"I heard voices calling my name but saw nobody. Sometimes the voices told me to throw
myself under a car. To top it off I also suffered with terrible nightmares...I had no peace
at all!
I did a chain of Prayer, used the Holy Oil and fight for changes in my life. Gradually,
the grudges and pain were replaced with peace, forgiveness and joy."

The holy oil comes absolutely free, apparently. If I lived nearby, I'd have been tempted to go along and pick some up.

Man says hold the cheese, claims McDonalds didn't, sues for $10 million (AussieBruce)
Jeromy Jackson, who is allergic to cheese, claims that a local McDonalds made a mistake in his order, causing him to have to be rushed to hospital. He's now suing the chain.
A friend says that Jackson at least five times checked they had his order correct, but when he ate the burger, the reaction was instantaneous. He allegedly ate the burger in a darkened room, causing him to not notice the cheese.
As many people in the forum have noted, surely someone with such severe food allergies would make sure to check his food for himself before consuming it. Whilst this story may be what it seems, it does tingle my spidey-sense somewhat.

CIA behind Wikipedia entries (Smerk)
A new identification program on the popular site Wikipedia has shown that, amongst others, frequent users include CIA, the British Labour Party, and the Vatican, all of whom edit and update not only their own entries, but others besides.

We Have Broken Speed of Light (Tah)
Two German physicists have broken the speed of light, they've told New Scientist magazine.
Doctors Nimtz and Stahlhofen claim to have completed an experiment wherein microwave photons have travelled up to three feet instantaneously.
Categories: Advertising, Business/Finance, Food, Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Aug 17, 2007
Comments (10)
Ok, I'm out of here on holiday, so most likely there shan't be forum roundup posts for the next couple of weeks. They'll be picked up when I get back.

Alien Abduction Caught On Film In Dickinson, North Dakota (Emidawg)
A video has come to light of an alleged alien abduction. Well, when I say ‘come to light’, I mean more that the gentleman involved has sent said film to the director of HBCC UFO Research.
Highlights of the video are said to include a ‘spiraling thing’ and ‘entities’ which remove his blankets. I’m looking forward to the forthcoming release of the film…

Wrestler’s Murder-Suicide of Family (Tah)
Over the course of last weekend, WWE wrestler Chris Benoit tragically murdered his wife and son, then hung himself. The bodies of the family were not found until around 2pm on Monday. However, a little after midnight on Monday morning, someone updated Benoit’s Wikipedia page stating he’d missed a match on Saturday “stemming from the death of his wife Nancy”.
Authorities were looking into this curious incident throughout this week. On Friday, the anonymous user who had made the edits admitted to the changes. He said that the edit was not made with knowledge of the crime, and was based on rumours and speculation. [Entry corrected to say "son" instead of "daughter."]

Evolution of Beauty (Bok)
A short video showing the transformation of a woman from as she naturally is to made-up, photoshopped, altered billboard model.

Japanese toymaker to sell “Air-Guitar”! (David B.)
Takara Tomy Corp are now marketing gadgets to make playing air-guitar just that bit more realistic. The toy can be hooked up to speakers, attached to an MP3 player, or strapped to the wrist to allow music to go along with the motions of playing in a rock band. The item is programmed with ten songs, and will play just as long as the air-guitaring continues.
Categories: Advertising, Celebrities, Extraterrestrial Life, Law/Police/Crime, Photos/Videos, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Jun 29, 2007
Comments (5)
The Press Club of Dallas has been a much-respected institution for years, offering the annual Katie awards to journalists for high quality work. Recently, though, the organisation’s reputation has been dealt a crippling blow, with the news that their recent president, Elizabeth Albanese, has been falsifying the award results for at least the past two years.

Albanese became involved with the Katies in 2003, the year she first won prizes, and has been reportedly tampering with the results every year since.

For the 2003 awards, unlike following years, a list of judges for the awards was provided. However, it appears that Albanese and her husband had access to each judge’s nominations for weeks before the ceremony, which certainly gave them the opportunity to alter them. Albanese won two awards.

In 2004, Albanese was acting as co-chair for the awards. Tom Stewart, the new president of the Press Club, has told reporters that the list of judges for that year cannot be found.

The judges for the 2005 and 2006 awards have been equally elusive. For the 2006 results, even the entries are missing. Volunteers packed them, and loaded them into Albanese’s car. After that, what happened to them is a mystery. Albanese claims that her husband’s company shipped the forms, but there are no records of this happening, and no-one but Albanese, and possibly her husband, know where they went. Tom Stewart is quoted as saying ”I wish to hell I knew. Greatest mystery to me. For all I know they’re in the damn Trinity River.”
Albanese won four awards that year - the most given to anyone.

Albanese was a social woman, slipping stories of her fascinating life into stories she told her friends.
These included:
*that she had a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas
*being born in Ireland, then moving to New York as a child
*being diagnosed with bone cancer, forcing the family to move to Houston so she could get treatment
*that her mother was a fashion model in New York
*that her father had been assistant manager at Plaza Hotel, and the family lived there
*that she had been a University of Texas cheerleader
*that she had married to Greek basketball player who had died in a car accident
*that she had worked for CNN during the first gulf war
*that she had a Harvard Law degree

What is known of her, much of which contradicts these tales, is this. Lisa Jeanne Albanese was born in White Plains, New York. When her working class family moved to a refinery town near Houston, her father worked in a car dealership. The only high school where she grew up has no record of her graduating, she never graduated college, and she did not even attend Harvard Law School. The family never lived in the Plaza. Albanese has a record of mental illness and delusional behaviour, and also a criminal record. In 1994, she was arrested for writing a bad check for a second-hand car. When the charge was entered into the system, it was discovered she was wanted in Texas for theft of two aeroplane tickets.

In February of 2007, Durhl Caussey - Albanese’s own choice for head of the club’s finance committee - was sent to pick up the financial records from Mac Duvall, their former bookkeeper. This proved to be a big mistake for Albanese. Duvall had proof of over $10,000 racked up on the club’s credit card. Between February and December of 2006, Albanese had been treating the card as if it were her own, blowing hundreds of dollars at a time on clothes, flights and hotel rooms. Duvall also showed Caussey records of the hundreds of emails he had sent Albanese regarding the club’s finances - emails that had never been shown to the rest of the board. Little wonder, with that sort of evidence, that Albanese had spoken to the board about firing Duvall. Caussey phoned Albanese for an explanation, whereupon she claimed it had been an honest mistake, and that she had paid back all the money. The records, however, showed that she still owed the club $3,000.

March 13th, 2007, became a showdown between Albanese and her doubters. At the meeting on this date, Durhl Caussey handed out copies of her credit card transactions to all the board members. Reactions were divided, with her supporters becoming angry at the ambush.
This was the point where Rand LaVonn, president of the Press Club Foundation stepped in. He made one request - “Please identify the judges for the 2006 Katie Awards and provide proof.”
Albanese claimed to not remember who the judges were, but promised to hand over a list of shipping labels to which the entries had been sent. Following the meeting, she told Meredith Dickenson - who considered her a friend - that she had destroyed the list, and was not going to provide any information. She made good on that statement. When Dickenson phoned her to ask about the judges, Albanese came up with strings of excuses - her husband had the labels and was out of town; she couldn’t call him as they didn’t talk when he was on business; she’d replaced her laptop without transferring the files…

Eventually, Albanese did provide a list of judges for the 2006 awards. However, the press club do not believe that the list is real. Some of the phone numbers didn’t work, one was answered by a hospital in Tennessee, and no-one has ever come forward to say they had been involved in the judging.

The club have no proof that any judging took place from 2004 until 2006 and, if that is the case, nearly 600 awards were handed out at Albanese’s whims. Several of her staunch defenders were winners in that timeframe.

Sadly, it looks like the Press Club of Dallas may have to bring to a close the annual award ceremony. Doing so will lose the monetary support the club used to rent its office space and to pay for journalistic scholarships. Some are still hoping that the awards may be revived but, for 2007, their future seems in doubt.

(Thanks to Kathleen for the story, and Madmouse for help with the post.)
Categories: Con Artists, Identity/Imposters, Journalism, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Flora on Mon Jun 25, 2007
Comments (19)
imageimage
Flowers growing from a steel pipe (NEO)
A Chinese man has found what he believes to be a patch of white flowers growing from a steel pipe in his vegetable garden.
Ding has consulted his neighbours, who believe the flowers are the legendary Youtan Poluo flower, which blossoms only once every 3,000 years.
“No soil, no water. These flowers can bring me good luck,” he added.

Forum members suspect, however, that the 'flowers' are lacewing eggs (see pictures to compare.)

Make your bad grades disappear! (Accipiter)
A student worried about re-taking a year at school because of his bad exam results talked two friends into entering a classroom wearing masks, threatening the teacher with an iron bar, and attempting to steal the report cards. Sadly for the sixteen-year old and his accomplices, the other students in the class defended the teacher, and they fled without the reports. The associates, aged 14 and 15 respectively, were arrested near to the school.

Herman Munster's Identity Stolen (Tah)
Internet thieves on an underground chatroom were offering the personal identification data of Herman Munster. Apparently unfamiliar with the television series The Munsters, the thieves were offering information such as his address - 1313 Mocking Bird Lane - and his Mastercard number. The theory is that a fan of the programme deliberately provided the bogus data.

A horror movie come to life (Iridium)
Three families in Fircrest claim to have been victims of harassment for four months now. The families say that the mysterious stalkers are tracking their moves, controlling their cell phones, and sending death threats.
Somehow, the callers have gained control of the family cell phones, Price and Kuykendall say. Messages received by the sisters include snatches of conversation overheard on cell-phone mikes, replayed and transmitted via voice mail. Phone records show many of the messages coming from Courtney’s phone, even when she’s not using it – even when it’s turned off.
Whilst the phone company claims this is impossible, the Department of Commerce says that there is such thing as a 'roving bug', which will work whether the phone is on or not, and can pinpoint its location to within a few feet.
Categories: Con Artists, Identity/Imposters, Law/Police/Crime, Miscellaneous, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Jun 22, 2007
Comments (7)

Artist fools punters into buying tins of cheap plaster… (David B.)
Tins of Italian artist Piero Manzoni’s excrement, sold as art to collectors for thousands of pounds, have been in the news recently, as it seems that they may contain nothing more than plaster.
A spokeswoman at the Tate museum in London insisted that the revelation did not invalidate the tin as a work of art.
“Keeping the viewer in suspense is part of the work’s subversive humour,” she said.

The world’s most famous photos (Beasjt’s number is 669)
This website displays a collection of what they say are the world’s most famous photographs. There has been some debate amongst the forum members as to which photos should be included.

Chatline for dolphin (Madmouse)
A dolphin raised by a deaf mother is having problems learning vocalisations. So a chatline has been rigged up at her Florida home so that she can communicate with dolphins in a nearby lagoon.

Ninja Power vs. the Old Dude of Doom!!! (Accipiter)
A ninja who targeted isolated Italian farms whilst wielding a bow and a knife was captured on Monday, after an elderly farmer confronted him with a rifle. The ninja was arrested, following his escape by bicycle, when the police pursued him to an abandoned farmhouse. He turned out to be Igor Vaclavic, a former soldier from the Russian army.
Categories: Animals, Art, Law/Police/Crime, Photos/Videos
Posted by Flora on Fri Jun 15, 2007
Comments (2)

Man blames health drink for unwanted erection (Bebelicious)
New Yorker Christopher Woods underwent surgery in 2004 for severe priapism – an erection that would not subside. Now he’s suing pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, claiming that their nutritional drink, Boost Plus, was the cause of his condition.

Can’t remember the name of a song? Try tapping it on your keyboard! (DJ_Canada)
This programme allows you to tap the melody of a song using your space bar to try to identify it. Results appear to be user-submitted, so they're a little hit and miss. No pun intended.

Yahoo’s list of sunscreen myths (Dily)
A Yahoo writer, Leslie Baumann, M.D., has posted a short list of common mistakes people make when considering protection from the sun.

Woman arrested for making faces at a dog (Slender Loris)
Charges have been dropped against Jayna Hutchinson from Lebanon after she was arrested for "staring at [the police dog] in a taunting/harassing manner."
Categories: Animals, Entertainment, Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Flora on Fri Jun 08, 2007
Comments (10)
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