Stupidity Should Be Painful


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X-ray images of the lizards and snakes were provided by the Australia Customs and Border Protection Service. (Australian Customs)

SYDNEY – This was not part of a sequel to the 2006 movie "Snakes on a Plane," but just as scary. A man was arrested attempting to smuggle 44 reptiles onto an airplane at Sydney International Airport.

The 24-year-old man, attempting to travel from Sydney to Bangkok on Friday, had a suitcase filled with 24 Shingleback Lizards, 16 Bluetongue Lizards and four snakes: three Black Headed Pythons and one Albino Carpet Python, both endangered species, according to the Australian Customs Office.

The haul would be worth about $12,000 on the black market.

The reptiles were hidden in socks and cloth bags, though they were easily seen in the X-ray machine (see images at left).

The man has been released on bail and is set to appear in court in March. The reptiles were taken to Sydney Wildlife World.

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Reptiles were found in socks and cloth sacks. (Australian Customs)

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A total of 44 reptiles were found in a man’s suitcase. (Australian Customs)

— A 21-year-old man wanted by the U.S. Army for desertion was arrested in Boulder over the weekend.

In a strange twist, he was found wearing a woman’s thong and had three pairs of women’s underpants stuffed in his shirt pocket.

Boulder police said they received an anonymous tip Saturday that Christopher Mauger, who has a nationwide felony warrant for desertion, could be found in an apartment unit at 770 29th St. in Boulder.

Police went to the apartment around 4 p.m. and caught Mauger, who was wearing Army camouflage pants, at the back of the building trying to climb down to the ground from the deck.

Mauger — who Army officials say is from Centerport, N.Y. and was undergoing basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. — told police that he left the base while he was on leave and didn’t plan on returning. Then he tried to run away, according to an arrest report.

Two officers took Mauger to the ground and told him that he would be Tased if he didn’t calm down, police said.

At that point, Mauger stopped resisting and allowed himself to be handcuffed, though he continued to try to pull away from the officers as they took him to their patrol car, police said.

He was ticketed for allegedly resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, and taken to Boulder County Jail. Jail staff found three pairs of panties in Mauger’s shirt pocket and said he was wearing a woman’s thong underneath his boxers. He refused to tell jail staff where the undergarments had come from and why he had them, police said.

It’s also not clear why Mauger was in Boulder. No one answered the door Monday at the apartment building where he was found by police over the weekend.

Edwin Fernandez-Cruz, an assistant investigations clerk with the U.S. Army Desertion Information Point at Fort Knox in Kentucky, said Monday that Mauger had been declared “absent without leave” by the Army on Jan. 7. He had enlisted in the service in early October.

Mauger had gone home to New York for the holidays, returned briefly to Fort Benning, and then left on Jan. 6 without authorization, Fernandez-Cruz said. He is a soldier with E Company, First Battalion, 19th Infantry at Fort Benning. Fernandez-Cruz said the Army put a warrant out for his arrest on a charge of desertion on Feb. 6.

He said Mauger will likely be sent to Fort Sill in Oklahoma to face disciplinary proceedings.

“They will most likely kick him out of the service,” Fernandez-Cruz said.

But first, Army officials from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs will need to get Mauger, he said.

Dee McNutt, a public affairs officer with Fort Carson, said Monday they have not yet received a request from Boulder to pick up the soldier.

Mauger, who is being held at the Boulder County Jail, also faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

Sarah Huntley, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Police Department, said she is not certain which charge will take priority.

Source

Six immigrants who were prequalified for huge mortgages are suing Bellevue Towers and JP Morgan Chase Bank after they lost a combined $174,050 in earnest money. They allege the preferred lender put down false numbers for their income, which made it possible to prequalify but not to qualify for the actual loan, resulting in the loss of their earnest money.

Seattle Times staff reporter

When Uzbek hot-dog vendor Danil Kasimov thought of America, he thought of the place portrayed in movies — a Land of Plenty where anyone’s dreams could come true.

In 2000, he emigrated to the U.S., settled in Redmond and became a limousine driver, earning little more than minimum wage.

Two years ago, a real-estate agent suggested he consider purchasing a condominium at the luxurious Bellevue Towers. To Kasimov, it seemed his vision of America was unfolding with the ease of the touch-screen showing eventual views from his dream condo on the 32nd floor.

Delighted that he prequalified for a $1.5 million condo on his $20,000-a-year income, he put down more than $75,000 in earnest money he borrowed from a friend.

But that money — and nearly $100,000 from five other prospective condo buyers — soon evaporated. The six filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court this week against Bellevue Towers and JP Morgan Chase Bank, alleging the lender falsified documents, making it possible for them to prequalify for loans they could never actually get.

In one case, the lawsuit says, a Chase broker listed a prospective buyer’s income not at the actual $2,147 a month, but at $12,500. Chase’s underwriter "red flagged" the document as suspicious, the suit alleges, but the applicant still was prequalified for a $724,000 condo.

Jim Robinson, the prospective buyers’ attorney, says the sellers risked nothing because of a 2005 state law that allows property owners to keep earnest money without proving they were damaged.

Robinson, who is working pro bono, says that law allows buyers who should never have been "prequalified" for loans to put earnest money down that they are sure to lose when they fail to qualify for the actual loan.

The Legislature has created a means for developers "to grab their earnest money, and that is shocking. … If you take that law and combine it with a lousy real-estate market, guess what happens? You’ve got developers running around trying to grab people’s earnest money," Robinson said. "It’s going on all over the state."

The lawsuit filed Wednesday caught Bellevue Towers staff and others by surprise. Patrick Clark, a principal at Realty Trust, which markets the complex, said Thursday, "We have no interest in selling a home to somebody who isn’t qualified to purchase it."

He added that "it’s a very difficult market, and (buyers) will make any sort of argument they’d like to get money back, but the contract is the contract."

The Chase broker could not be reached for comment. Her former supervisor declined to comment Thursday night.

Grand opening

Bellevue Towers held its grand opening Thursday, celebrating completion of its first 22 floors. The rest is scheduled to be completed by June.

Just east of Bellevue Square, it’s an architectural dream, with twin towers rising an eventual 42 and 43 stories, making it the tallest residential building in the Northwest when it is complete. Of the 539 condos, 180 have been sold, the marketing department says. The number does not include those who backed out or forfeited their earnest money. According to King County records, about 12 sales have closed. The units sell from $500,000 to more than $9 million each.

In 2007, Kasimov borrowed $75,700 from a friend to put 5 percent earnest money down on a Bellevue Towers condo. Financing 95 percent, the new home would have cost him more than $7,000 a month, including monthly dues.

Bellevue Towers’ preferred lender is JP Morgan Chase, which had an office in the same space as the condo model.

"I normally wouldn’t think I could afford this," Kasimov said. "But there was all this excitement … Hollywood all over the place." He says he was told there were only a few units left, and the real-estate agent, knowing what Kasimov did for a living and that it was his first purchase, said, "Let’s see if they’ll approve you."

Kasimov said that when he asked if he could afford the condo, the agent told him: "Let the bank worry about it."

Kasimov said a Bellevue Towers agent led him to a Chase senior mortgage banker/broker. While he had the option of going with other lenders, Chase being the preferred lender meant he would get a better deal, he said the agent told him. Kasimov signed the contract with Chase, but buried in the middle was language indicating that the lender could increase the required earnest money to 25 percent even after accepting the 5 percent, Robinson said. And, he said, that’s what happened.

Kasimov couldn’t raise the extra cash and lost what he’d already put up.

Other plaintiffs

Other plaintiffs are Kasimov’s wife, Diana Shakhnazaryan, who was not married to him at the time, and her mother, Svetlana Kocharyan, both of whom fled Azerbaijan and gained political asylum here about 10 years ago. In 2006, Kocharyan worked on an assembly line and her daughter had a part-time job washing hair in a Kirkland beauty salon. Together, they made $3,659 a month, court documents say.

Chase prequalified them for a 95 percent mortgage for the purchase of a $922,600 condominium, giving them a $7,198 monthly payment, including condo dues.

Standard loan underwriting criteria require a debt-to-adjusted-gross-income ratio of less than 45 percent, which means that the women would have had to have "an adjusted gross income of $16,000 a month," the lawsuit says. Since they clearly did not, and say they were never given a copy of the contract — which was written in English, a language they didn’t understand — they allege that the broker put down false numbers making it possible for them to prequalify.

Kasimov and the other plaintiffs, Yuri and Dora Aleksandrov and Davud Kasparov, none of whom are fluent in English, make the same allegations in the suit.

In Kasparov’s case, he was a student with an income of $3,600 a year and says he was told he prequalified for a $634,000 condominium.

Court documents say the Aleksandrovs put down $36,000 in earnest money — from refinancing their home — on a $724,000 condominium for which they were told they prequalified. The Aleksandrovs have a copy of their contract and noticed that the Chase broker listed Dora Aleksandrov’s income as a hairstylist not at the actual $2,147 a month, but at $12,500. Chase’s underwriter "red flagged" the document and, the suit says, wrote "income … appears high for area and time in line of work" and wondered if she worked with celebrities.

But, the court documents say, Chase ignored its underwriter’s red flag and prequalified the Aleksandrovs.

Via Peoples Press Collective:


Boulder High School Marxist student group wants to change the name of their school to Barack Obama High School.

His sky-high approval ratings are dropping like a rock from the transition period levels, but students in Boulder, Colorado still hold the new President in high esteem:

BOULDER, Colo. — A student group is organizing to change the name of Boulder High School to Barack Obama High School.

The group Student Worker, a student-based activist club at Boulder High School, is planning to host a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Thursday to announce the campaign.

“We initiate this campaign in order to honor the momentous achievement of his election as an African-American, inspire the community with his ideals of unity and hope, and reflect the progressive spirit that is shared by both Barack Obama and our school environment,” the group said in a news release.

The news conference will be held at Boulder High School, Room 153, at 1604 Arapahoe Ave. The conference is open to the public.

Student Worker, eh? We’ve seen the little Marxists before . . . ah yes, the alternative pledge of allegiance:

“I pledge of allegiance to the flag and my constitutional rights with which it comes. And to the diversity, in which our nation stands, one nation, part of one planet, with liberty, freedom, choice and justice for all.”

Boulder’s Daily Camera commenters have many alternative names prepared, just in case.

Drunkablog says BOHS will be next to Lenin Junior High.

Exit question–a new name requires a new mascot. Hope’n’changers?

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Army Spc. Cliff Cornell, 28, smokes in his hotel room on Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 in Savannah, Ga.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Sporting a dragon tattoo on his forearm and skulls on both biceps, Cliff Cornell’s looks tough. But he dissolves into tears as he reflects on his return to the Army four years after he fled to Canada to avoid the war in Iraq.

"I’m nervous, scared," Cornell said, wiping puffy eyes beneath his sunglasses Monday at a Savannah hotel after a three-day bus ride from Seattle. "I’m just not a fighter. I know it sounds funny, but I have a really soft heart."

Cornell, 29, of Mountain Home, Ark., planned to turn himself in to military police Tuesday at nearby Fort Stewart, where he’ll likely face criminal charges for abandoning his unit before it deployed to Iraq in January 2005.

He said he fled because he doesn’t think the war has improved the lives of Iraqis, and he couldn’t stomach the thought of killing.

"During my training, I was ordered that, if anyone came within so many feet of my vehicle, I was to shoot to kill," said Cornell, who enlisted in 2002 but never deployed to war. "I didn’t join the military to kill innocents."

The Army artillery specialist made it to Canada in 2005 and soon started a new life working at a grocery store on Gabriola Island in British Columbia.

Cornell’s exile ended last week when he crossed the U.S.-Canada border into Washington state. He left voluntarily to avoid deportation.

The first U.S. service member forced out of Canada after the government denied him protective status as a war objector was 25-year-old Army Pvt. Robin Long of Boise, Idaho. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison last August after pleading guilty to desertion charges at Fort Carson, Colo.

Michelle Robidoux, spokeswoman for the Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign, said the group has worked with about 50 U.S. service members seeking refugee status or political asylum in Canada. The group estimates more than 200 have fled to Canada, most of them hiding out illegally.

"There are probably another three or four who are imminently under threat of deportation, and we’re trying hard to fight that," Robidoux said.

The lower house of Canada’s Parliament passed a nonbinding motion in June urging that U.S. military deserters be allowed to stay in Canada, but the Conservative Party government has ignored the vote.

During the Vietnam War, thousands of Americans took refuge in Canada, most of them to avoid the military draft. Many were given permanent residence status that led to Canadian citizenship, but the majority went home after President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty in the late 1970s.

The Army has listed Cornell as a deserter since a month after he left, but he hasn’t been formally charged with any crimes, said Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.

"He needs to come and turn himself in, and then the justice process will kick in from there," Larson said Monday.

After returning to Fort Stewart, Cornell could be placed into a unit or be held at a local jail. The unit Cornell was assigned to when he fled – the 1st Battalion, 39th Field Artillery Regiment – disbanded in March 2006.

Cornell’s attorney, James Branum of Lawton, Okla., said it’s likely Cornell will be charged with being absent without leave, punishable by up to 18 months in prison, or desertion – a more serious charge with a maximum prison sentence of five years.

He said he hopes the Army shows some leniency since Cornell avoided the war because of his political convictions.

"This is different from someone leaving for selfish reasons," Branum said. "This is someone who said, ‘I’m not going to kill civilians.’"

Via KOMO News:

 Two New Zealand prisoners who were handcuffed together as they fled a courthouse foiled their own getaway when they ran to opposite sides of a light pole, slammed into each other and fell to the ground. The attempt was caught on a surveillance camera.

 Funny stuff. Check It Out!

| The Hartford Courant

VIDEO

Cofield also is heard twice on the video using the racial term "n—–."

The state’s Judicial Review Council released the video Monday after it found cause to pursue five judicial misconduct charges against her, several of them based on what was termed disparaging, demeaning or "racially inappropriate" language.

The council has scheduled a hearing Feb. 9 to determine whether Cofield violated the judicial code of conduct and, if so, what action to take against her.

At 2:17 a.m. on Oct. 10, nearly two hours into the booking at headquarters, Cofield is seated at a desk and calls her husband on her cellphone. Washington, who like Cofield is black, is standing about 3 feet away.

Her end of the conversation, in part, is: "I don’t need a ride home. … I’m a criminal. … What? What? … Well, they got the head n—– in charge and he … Which one, the head n—– in charge? … Washington. OK. That’s H-N-I-G…."

Then she hands the phone to Washington, who talks to her husband about getting the car off the highway. Washington asks, "Do you guys have Triple-A?"

Hearing that, Cofield interjects: "Oh, no. We don’t. We’re ghetto Negroes. We don’t have Triple-A."

Earlier, when asked if she was injured, Cofield replied: "Yeah, I am. I’m humiliated by your f—–g attitude."

Asked if she was ill, Cofield replied, "I’m sick of being treated like a freaking Negro from the ‘hood," and added: "Write it down, write it. Did you hear what I just said?"

Asked what her illness was, Cofield said: "Negro-itis."

"Do you need to take any medication now?" Washington asked.

"Yeah, I need to take anti-Negro, ummm …"

When he asked what she weighed, Cofield replied: "Why don’t you look at me, tell what you think?"

Asked how much alcohol she had had that day, Cofield replied: "I had no alcohol to drink, Mr. Washington."

Cofield often talked over Washington as he tried to question her, saying again and again that she needed to go to the bathroom. Washington politely insisted that she answer the questions first, and said that she could get to the bathroom sooner if she did so.

"That’s your interpretation, but we’ll see what they say in court, won’t we, Mr. Washington?" she said.

Washington asked if she was willing to take an intoxication test. She replied: "Mr. Negro Washington. I need to go to the bathroom, and then I will take the test."

"It’s Sgt. Washington," he replied, adding, "Don’t disrespect me, and I won’t disrespect you."

At another moment, after she had given a urine sample, Cofield asked Washington: "Do you have a reading on my urine test, Negro trooper?"

When asked to sign a form that she understood her rights, Cofield said, "I’m not signing anything, because when it comes down to the bottom line, who’s smarter — me or you? We’ll figure it out, won’t we?"

Asked if she took any drugs, Cofield responded: "Oh, yeah, I’m a crack addict. Do I look like that to you?"

Then she directed her attention to the first state trooper on the scene of her accident and asked him, "Can you tell me why you came first, and then you had to bring him [Washington]? Is it because you had to make this valid by bringing a Negro?"

Cofield was originally appointed in 1991 as the state’s first black female judge after Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. nominated her and legislators confirmed her. She was last renominated by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and approved by lawmakers in 2007. Her current term expires on June 6, 2015.

Cofield apologized Dec. 8 at Superior Court in Manchester for sideswiping a state police car with her BMW, and was accepted into an alcohol education program. If she successfully completes the program, the charges — driving under the influence and failure to drive in the proper lane — will be dismissed.

About 10:45 p.m. on Oct. 9, Cofield, 60, was driving through a highway construction zone on Route 2 in Glastonbury when her car sideswiped a parked state police cruiser occupied by Trooper Michael Kowal. Prosecutor John Whalen said that the judge’s eyes were bloodshot and that she smelled of alcohol. Urine samples showed her blood alcohol content was 0.16 percent at 1 a.m. on Oct. 10 and 0.17 percent at 2:04 a.m., he said — twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

State legislators had been hoping to view the video, and now will be able to do so and consider whatever decision the Judicial Review Council makes. Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the legislative judicial committee, has said that lawmakers could theoretically seek Cofield’s removal.

He said Monday he believes that the council "will consider whether to recommend that she be removed as a judge. … I think in many ways the ball is in Judge Cofield’s court to convince them that she deserves to remain on the bench. I think if any legislator, any judge, any prosecutor, any police officer, did the exact same thing … they probably would end up losing their job."

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ga.—Four protesters have been ordered to spend 60 days in prison on federal trespassing charges after a rally in Georgia last November to demand the closing of the former School of the Americas.

Demonstrators blame the school, which trained generations of military officials, for human rights abuses in Latin America. They have gathered at Fort Benning every November for years to demand the closing of the school, currently known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

Eric LeCompte an organizer with the group School of the Americas Watch, says those sentenced Monday in federal court in Georgia include an Episcopal priest from New York and a Roman Catholic nun from Ohio.
Source

 By 24Ahead:

All Hollywood and indeed the world have been waiting for my video reply to the recent Ashton Kutcher/Demi Moore opus in which they and their celebrity pals made various pledges, including to be Obama’s "servant".

Without further ado:

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Police officers at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport arrested a woman Friday after Transportation Security Administration officials said she had two throwing knives in her carry-on bag.

Luisana Espinoza Martinez, 25, has been charged with having weapons at a place they are prohibited, a third-degree felony.

According to documents made public Monday, Martinez acknowledged a pink carry-on bag containing the throwing knives belonged to her when questioned by a TSA employee.

Martinez’s arrest affidavit states a criminal background check performed by ABIA police came back negative.

Efforts to reach Martinez for comment were unsuccessful.

Source

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