August 7, 2014
Mattos, Editor and Publisher
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster
The Farsider is an independent publication that is not
affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely
for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does
not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or
The Council met yesterday after a six week vacation and here is what happened:
Measure B Ballot Measure:
The Council considered a ballot measure that would have changed Measure B to
allow officers who have resigned to be rehired into Tier 1, rather than being
placed into Tier 2 upon their return. The Council also considered changing the
Measure B disability language to place in the city charter its "Guaranteed City
Job" gimmick and requiring that an officer's injury be a one time event rather
For months the POA worked with City Manager Ed Shikada and his legal team to
draft a global fix to Measure B that would have fixed the immoral disability
language contained in Measure B and would have created a secure, affordable and
competitive 2nd Tier benefit for our new members. Unfortunately, the City
Council rejected the compromise the POA and Local 230 had worked out with City
The City Council voted not to move forward with any Measure B fix, thus ensuring
the further demise of our department. Per state law, the next opportunity to
amend the City Charter will be in November of 2016.
Sales Tax Increase:
The Council considered several proposed sales tax increases, including a general
sales tax increase and/or a public safety specific tax increase. After much
discussion and confusion, the Council was unable to get the required 8 votes to
place any sales tax increase before the voters. Per state law, sales tax
increases can only be placed on the ballot during general elections and the next
opportunity for a new sales tax increase will not occur until November of 2016!
Retirement Board Governance:
The Council approved a measure for the November ballot to allow a Charter change
that would increase the Retirement Board's autonomy. The POA supports this
concept but does not support a portion of the measure approved by the Council.
The measure contains language that implies the Council could combine the
Retirement Boards. While City negotiators said this was not their intent, that
is the practical implications of this measure. We will be meeting with Local 230
and the Police and Fire Retirees to consider our response.
The Council voted to move forward with enacting an open negotiations process, by
ordinance as opposed to a charter amendment. This would effectively result in
all labor negotiations being open to the public and media. It is too early to
contemplate the full impact of such a proposal. This kind of change would
require meet and confer obligations involving all of the unions in the City.
We'll keep you notified as we learn more.
Click on the links below to watch and/or read relevant news clips from the past
KTVU Channel 2: Measure B cripples response to brazen daytime burglaries.
~ ~ ~
NBC Bay Area: San Jose Council proposes booby trapped sales tax. (Video)
~ ~ ~
The Daily Fetch: Councilmember Rocha calls out Council colleagues for Measure B
THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE CITY AND SJPD
Seems that nothing can be done these days without a segment of
the public getting their panties in a bunch. This article from last Friday's
Debate Over S.J.
—Critics worry device will be used for more than finding bombs—
By Robert Salonga
Mercury News — Aug. 1, 2014
SAN JOSE — San Jose police say what is believed to be the Bay Area’s first
police drone will only be used for bomb cases. Critics fear it’s the first step
toward streamlined spying on residents and gathering information without a
The $7,000 drone purchased earlier this year looks like a homemade contraption,
and it comes with a mount for a standard GoPro video camera. Police officials
say the drone is far from being air-ready, pending approval from the Federal
Aviation Administration and the creation of policies governing its use, which
police contend will be for only one purpose.
“Speaking today, our intent is to use it for bomb purposes and bomb purposes
only,” police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said.
But civil liberties groups are sounding the alarm about the drone. They have
long challenged the adoption of drones by law enforcement, citing fears of
warrantless intelligence-gathering and surveillance. Prior attempts to get
drones by Bay Area police agencies, including San Francisco police and the
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, were spurned by political pushback centered on
those privacy concerns.
“They may say now it’s for bomb detection, but tomorrow they may decide to
surveil communities of color or watch over a political protest,” said Nicole
Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for ACLU California. “With
the revelations of NSA spying the last couple of years and growing community
understanding of how surveillance can be misused, the public is no longer
willing to accept the ‘Just trust us’ approach.”
Ozer was among several critics decrying the lack of a usage policy for the
drones and how its funding was sought by police and subsequently approved by the
San Jose City Council in November with little to no public disclosure or
discussion. The drone was purchased in January, and its existence surfaced in
July only after exhaustive records requests by public records watchdog MuckRock
and Vice. Morales contends that the department’s records response was slowed by
bureaucratic hiccups and not any intent to conceal information.
Opponents also note that the drone, funded by the federal preparedness-oriented
Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative, backed by the Department of Homeland
Security, could be available to other local police via mutual-aid agreements,
widening its potential surveillance footprint.
“There is something fundamentally different about a drone,” said Jeremy Gillula,
a staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has a Ph.D. in
robotics. “It’s cheaper than a helicopter and doesn’t take an expert pilot. The
affordability and ease of use means it could be used to perpetually surveil
people. You should have to get a warrant first, and we don’t think that’s
Morales said the department is aware of the controversy surrounding the use of
drones by the government and said Police Chief Larry Esquivel has ordered the
department to create policies outlining the circumstances when the drone can be
deployed, which he said will be presented to the public, including organizations
such as the ACLU, for feedback.
“We understand how sensitive this topic is, and how the machinery could be
utilized for other means,” Morales said. “We still need to get FAA approval and
ensure bomb technicians are properly trained.”
He added: “When we get a piece of technology that can help us do our job more
effectively and maintain safety, we owe it to our community to go and do that.
It’s merely another tool for law enforcement, and in this case bomb callouts to
keep officers and the public out of harm’s way.”
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, the county’s other comparably sized
police agency to San Jose, said it will remain on the sidelines on the drone
“We know there has been movement in law enforcement toward this, but at this
time we don’t have any or have plans to acquire a drone,” Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup
Part of that may be driven by a desire to avoid the kind of controversy that
SJPD finds itself in, with one local law enforcement official, speaking
confidentially, saying, “the public perception is terrible right now. It makes a
lot of sense as a tool, but right now it’s not worth the headache.”
The multi-rotor drone in question — a Century Neo 660 V2 made by San Jose-based
Century Helicopter Products — conjures images far different from those of the
sleek, unmanned Predators used to destroy military targets: The 2-foot-wide
product can support a GoPro video camera and accompanying transmitter and is on
the “hobby” end of such Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). In a grant proposal,
police Sgt. Douglas Wedge wrote that it “will provide the capability to inspect
suspicious packages in areas with limited accessibility or in a confined space”
like “stairways and hallways” that existing bomb robots cannot access.
That application might be optimistic given the maneuverability of such devices,
said Dennis Kenney, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal
Justice and an expert in police-training procedures.
“The practicality is problematic. These things are not easy to fly, and flying
them inside buildings, they might end up upside down more often than not,”
He did note that UAVs overall could greatly bolster police capabilities,
particularly in supplanting the roles of helicopters that are notoriously
expensive to maintain. But he agreed with civil liberties groups about the
importance of incorporating public input for such a move.
“Certainly the civil liberty concerns are real,” he said. “The solution is not
to eliminate the technology but to propose the adoption of drones for specific
reasons, and propose policies and have the city enact ordinances to limit its
use to those circumstances.”
Besides the ACLU, is Mercury News columnist one of those who — as
we noted above — got his panties in a bunch over the SJPD drone issue? Looks
like it. This column was in the Sunday paper…
Police Drone is Invasive ‘Toxic Toy’
By Scott Herhold
Mercury News — Aug. 3, 2014
So, great: Somewhere in the bowels of the San Jose Police Department, we have a
drone bought with federal money — a Neo 660 V2, to be precise — a 2-foot-wide
device that can carry a camera and transmit back incredibly invasive pictures of
As the first department in the Bay Area to have such a toy, the police say they
want to use the $7,000 drone to supplement the work of the bomb squad: It would
be used in tight, confined spaces that bomb robots cannot reach. Seven months
after acquiring the drone, the police department still has not developed
guidelines about how it will be used. That’s telling. If the point is to protect
police lives, as the cops say, it’s hard to see it being confined solely to the
“The police say they want to use it to disarm bombs,’’ says Nicole Ozer, the
technology and civil liberties policy director of the American Civil Liberties
Union. “But tomorrow it could be used for surveillance of communities of color.
When you don’t have strict oversight of invasive police techniques, it’s ripe
for problems.’’ So I’ve got a very simple answer: Sell the contraption. Turn it
back to the manufacturer. Put it on eBay or Craigslist. If you take a small loss
— and given that this was purchased with public money, we probably spent too
much — it’s nothing compared to the controversy it sparks.
I say that for two reasons: First, drone technology is different from any other
surveillance equipment. Because it’s cheaper than a helicopter and doesn’t
require an expert to operate, it can be used to put people under constant
surveillance. The most sophisticated drones can intercept texts or pick up heat
images through walls.
Deputy Chief of Police Dave Hober told me the “primary’’ purpose of the drone
was disarming bombs, and I don’t doubt him. But that leaves open a secondary
purpose or two.
Is there a potentially explosive Hells Angels funeral at Oak Hill Cemetery? The
temptation to use the drone is overwhelming. Is there an angry march on City
Hall? Ditto. Where do you draw the line? Don’t forget: The drone can be loaned
to other cities with laxer guidelines.
The second problem is how the drone was acquired. It was bought with federal
Homeland Security money, approved as part of a bigger security package on the
City Council’s consent calendar last November.
No public debate
You heard that right: There was no public debate on getting a drone. This is a
technology that was rejected in San Francisco and Alameda County because of
public opposition. In San Jose, the City of the Big Shrug, it sailed through.
Hey, it’s not our money. The feds paid.
There’s a long tradition in San Jose of important decisions being made with
little public contribution: In December 2005, for instance, the council approved
a 90 percent retirement plan for cops, a huge multimillion-dollar expense, in
five minutes. Everything was negotiated in closed session.
Councilman Pete Constant, an ex-cop, told me he wants to see what kind of
privacy guidelines the cops come with up with on the drone. He doesn’t want it
buzzing his backyard barbecue. That’s fair.
But we should have had that conversation long before San Jose ever acquired a
drone. In the meantime, the answer is really very simple: Get rid of it. Turn it
back in. It’s a toxic toy.
A lady with a familiar last name responded to Herhold's column in
the form of a letter to the editor that appeared in Tuesday's paper...
Explore Every Option, Including Drone Use
Letter to the Editor
Mercury News — Aug. 5, 2014
was ironic that Scott Herhold’s column (Page 1B, Aug. 3) criticizing the San
Jose Police Department for purchasing a drone was on the same page as an article
on a fatal shooting, which also mentions that the violent crime rate in San Jose
is up by 4 percent. In addition to the increase in crime, we all know that SJPD
is understaffed and will be for some time. Did Herhold consider the positive
uses of such a tool? A drone could be used for any number of situations in
addition to dismantling bombs (for example, the search for a missing child or
at-risk adult, hostage situations, searches for suspects who have committed
violent crimes, kidnappings, and so on). With staffing down, and violent crime
up, it is the responsibility of the police department to acquire tools that will
help them perform their job. As a retired crime analyst from the Santa Clara
Police Department, I know it is in everyone’s interest that we have a
well-equipped and fully staffed police department.
As many pitchmen and infomercials like to say, "But wait, there's
more." The continuing saga about SJPD's drone continued in yesterday's paper…
Apology Over Drone
sorry for poor communication, vows to get public feedback—
By Robert Salonga
Mercury News — Aug. 6, 2014
SAN JOSE — After wide criticism by civil liberties groups and national media
over its secretive purchase of a drone, the San Jose Police Department is
apologizing and promises to gather community input before it uses or even tests
Police brass released a statement Tuesday reiterating that its January purchase
of the drone — a two-foot-wide, camera-equipped Century Neo 660 six-rotor
hobbyist flying device and a first among Bay Area police agencies — was aimed at
helping bomb technicians access areas where a robot couldn’t go.
But the department also apologized for quietly applying for federal grant funds
to buy the drone and slipping the purchase into a November City Council consent
agenda item that elicited no public discussion. The ACLU accused the department
of sidestepping the kind of political scrutiny that torpedoed other Bay Area
agencies’ attempts to get a drone.
“In hindsight, SJPD should have done a better job of communicating the purpose
and acquisition of the UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) device to our community,”
the department statement read. “The community should have the opportunity to
provide feedback, ask questions, and express their concerns before we move
forward with this project. To this end, we will first develop a community
outreach plan before we take steps to deploy the UAS.”
Police spokesman Albert Morales said there was no specific timetable for its
community outreach regarding the drone, but that it would be completed before
any testing or use of the $7,000 device, which is grounded anyway pending
Federal Aviation Administration clearance.
Morales said the drone is “not going to fly until we get all that input from all
the stakeholders,” including the ACLU and anyone else who might want to comment.
The statement does say the drone might be used for “situations that threaten
public safety. These could include dangers such as active shooters, hostage
taking, or other such tactical situations where lives might be in immediate
That sort of latitude is what has critics up in arms, voicing fears that while
the original intent may be for bomb-squad callouts, the kinds of uses could
expand rapidly and devolve into warrantless surveillance without clear, defined
restrictions for its use.
“Today’s statement confirms our concerns that (SJPD) plans to expand drone use,”
said Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for ACLU of
The department’s quiet pursuit of the drone surfaced after persistent records
requests by the online public-records watchdog MuckRock and Vice, leading to the
release of records about the drone in July, nearly six months after the
Ozer said that instead of gathering input about appropriate uses for the drone,
the police department and City Council need to convene what should have been
initial public discussions about a police drone’s existence altogether in the
“The fact that the drone was purchased without the public knowing about it, we
shouldn’t move forward,” Ozer said. “They should go back to the drawing board
and the question should be about whether a drone is ever used in San Jose.”
Just when you thought
everything that could be said about the SJPD Drone has been said, there still
was someone with a pair of bunched panties. Her name is Barbara Marshman, a
Lefty who is responsible for writing and/or approving the Mercury News'
City Council Has the Final Say on Drone
Mercury News — Aug. 7, 2014
The first mistake the San Jose Police Department made was buying a drone without
first finding out if the community was comfortable with it. The second was
fumbling requests for information when people heard rumors. The third, after the
ACLU and others raised alarms, was responding in essence: Trust us!
Which was not an option. See Nos. 1 and 2.
On Tuesday the department finally issued a real apology for all this. OK.
Apology accepted. Now how about the mayor and City Council?
Police agencies need to be sensitive to public opinion to be effective, but
they’re not elected. The folks who’ve gotten off the hook here are Mayor Chuck
Reed and the City Council. They passed the drone purchase as part of the consent
calendar for items so routine they don’t require debate. Now they need to
publicly pass a requirement to keep the drone in its box until rules have been
set for its use — including transparency, outside oversight and accountability.
Those rules will need to be in an ordinance, not just Police Department policy.
Other communities — San Francisco and Alameda counties, as examples — have
rejected buying drones for law enforcement based on their communities’ response.
Fear of being spied upon by government in our homes and meeting places is very
real; it’s been done in living memory in this country, most notably on civil
rights and anti-war activists — nearly always with a public safety justification
at the time. And that was before technology of various kinds made spying easier.
Still, drones could help find missing people, assess damage in a disaster area
or, the stated purpose of San Jose’s drone, help disarm bombs. It’s one more
piece of ethically neutral technology that can be used for good or ill. We need
a public consensus on whether it’s possible to sufficiently control the use so
that good wins out.
Perhaps through community outreach and public discussion, the San Jose City
Council can arrive at rules and oversight provisions that make residents
comfortable with a drone. We’ll keep an open mind. But given the way this has
gotten started, don’t be surprised if the cops end up having to wrap it up and
send it back.
Comment on the possible elimination of the Traffic Unit…
They said it would
add 11 officers to patrol by cutting the motors.
As I recall, we had 24 motors and 10 or 12 radar cars when I was in the Traffic
Unit ('88 to '95. It was far too few even back then. Almost 20 years ago…OMG.
Where did the time go?
Some might say a more pertinent question would be, "Where did the
SJPD go?" Then again, if you apply the "Time flies…" cliché, it means you've had
a good time over the past two decades. Be thankful. I think it could be fairly
stated that as current retirees, our timing was impeccable.
• • • • •
Dear Bill and Leroy,
Thanks for the on-going service to us retirees and loyal supporters of what used
to be the greatest police department in the world.
Could you re-run the memo on out-of-area members who wish to continue there CCW
endorsement on the retirement I D card?
Old Pearl Grips Ed Caragher #1345
Nada problemo, Eduardo. If you click on the link below the
Farsider that had the CCW info you have requested should magically appear before
• • • • •
In the spirit of the City of San Jose's new Drone purchase (remote controlled
UAV) that is causing such a stir with the ACLU and probably many others, I
submit that this nifty device can be purchased for a nominal fee (providing one
can be found) for those who think that they will be targeted for observation.
Directional sound finders used to detect incoming enemy planes in 1917.
The same complaints
came when the PD was going to purchase a helicopter. The fears of the ACLU and
others never came to be, and this time the result will probably be the same.
Must be a slow day for the ACLU and others that they have to jump on a topic so
ridiculous. Just to make it more interesting, I also submit that the next time
there is a bomb call-out, someone from the ACLU or "affected members from the
community at large" be tasked with joining the call and that they perform the
work that the Drone would otherwise have been used for.
NEW VANGUARD NOW ONLINE
The August 2014
eVanguard is now online. Hard copies of the magazine are in the mail and will be
to download the Vanguard to your desktop as a PDF file that you will be able to
open with your mouse.
THE BEST OF THE LATE NITE JOKES
July 29 thru Aug.
Last night was the finale of "The Bachelorette." It came down to two guys, Josh
and Nick. But ultimately Andi went with Josh. She said after looking into her
heart and doing a lot of soul searching that he was the person she wants to
spend the rest of her publicity tour with.
Of course, Nick says he's heartbroken, lonely, devastated, and whatever else he
has to say to be the next “Bachelor.”
LeBron James announced that he will wear his original jersey number 23 when he
returns to the Cavaliers this season. Of course, it was awkward when he
discovered that even HE burned his old Cavaliers jersey.
The TSA is offering a $5,000 reward for the best idea on how to speed up airport
security lines. So far the best idea is making a line for people who know what
they're doing and another line for people who have never been to an airport
Actor Orlando Bloom threw a punch at Justin Bieber last night during an argument
at a night club in Spain. Orlando's hand was pretty sore today, you know, from
all the high-fives he got.
Bieber and Bloom got into a fight. Luckily, a stranger broke it up. He said,
"Girls, girls, stop it . . . I mean gentlemen."
In New Jersey a woman dressed like a clown walked away with minor injuries after
she crashed her car into a utility pole. Unfortunately, the other 300 people in
the car weren't so lucky.
A new study found that having a sense of purpose can actually help you live
longer — While having a sense of porpoise can help you swim longer.
North Korea has opened a summer camp where kids from around the world can swim,
play volleyball, and learn about the country's culture. It's the first camp in
history where kids tell ghost stories to feel safer.
I read that PETA is now saying they’ll pay off people’s water bills if they
agree to go vegan for 30 days. Or in other words, you can get PETA to pay off
your water bill if you can lie for 30 days.
Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to sue President Obama for abusing
his executive powers. Experts are calling this a meaningless political stunt
that's a huge waste of taxpayer money, while Congress is saying, "Yep. That's
what we do."
The House voted 225-201 to sue President Obama. That's the bad news. The good
news is that Congress actually passed something.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is facing criticism for accidentally showing the phone
numbers of his supporters in a new campaign commercial. In response, people
said, “No biggie — I gave him a fake number, anyway.”
Home Depot is now selling 3D printers. You know, so you can print out an
employee to help you find stuff at Home Depot.
Yeah, Home Depot is now selling 3D printers, which customers can use to print
out tools and parts. It's all part of Home Depot's plan to immediately go out of
Kia is recalling more than 50,000 cars because of an issue with the steering
system caused by the wrong type of adhesive holding together certain parts. Then
Kia drivers said, "Wait, these cars are GLUED together?”
Tonight is our 100th episode. To celebrate, people sent us flowers and a big
cake — which I immediately passed on to Rob Ford and Chris Christie. We couldn’t
have done it without them.
Of course, we’re not the only ones celebrating. President Obama turned 53 years
old today. Obama blew out his candles and made a wish. But when he opened his
eyes, he was still president.
"Sesame Street" says it may take legal action against people in Times Square who
dress up like its characters. Seriously? Look at the people they’d be suing.
What do they expect to win in the lawsuit? A flask of whiskey and an IOU to a
A new iPhone app gives advice to people going through a divorce. So if you’re
someone who relies on an app for advice during difficult times, well maybe
that's why you're getting a divorce.
Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian have ended their so-called feud after eight
years. Then John Kerry said, “Man, that was rough. Now on to the Middle East.”
Scrabble is adding more than 5,000 words to its dictionary, including “buzzkill.”
As in, "Anyone who reads the dictionary for Scrabble is a total buzzkill."
Buffalo is getting ready to host the National Scrabble Championship this
weekend. They weren’t planning to host it, but it was raining and some of the
Monopoly pieces were missing.
Last week New York’s Museum of Natural History hosted a sleepover for adults.
Sleeping at a museum — or as kids call that, “going to a museum.”
have the cast of "Orange Is the New Black" tonight. The show features a cast of
ruthless women who are constantly at each other's throats. And for once, I'm not
talking about "The View."
"Orange Is the New Black" has helped usher in a new TV trend called "binge
watching." Binge watching blends nicely with another trend in America —
This is not the first show I have watched about a women's prison. However, it is
the first show about a women's prison I didn't have to delete from my browser
Scrabble is adding 5,000 new words including "chillax" and "selfie." So kids,
there's never been a better time to challenge your grandparents to a game of
A Republican congressman has accused Democrats of waging a war on whites. As
proof, he pointed to the recent bombing of the kale aisle at a Trader Joe's.
LinkedIn has agreed to pay a $6 million settlement to employees. Unfortunately,
the employees haven't heard about it because like everyone else they
automatically delete all emails from LinkedIn.
This week a giant tortoise was on the loose here in Southern California. Drivers
on the freeway were shocked to see something moving so quickly.
There's a dating site called OK Cupid. It's for folks who are looking for
someone who is just OK.
As it turns out, the people who run OK Cupid don't really match anybody up. They
just shuffle the cards. They don't care. That's how L.A. Clippers owner Donald
Sterling found a girlfriend with a tape recorder.
At Times Square they now have people dressed up as superheroes. Over the weekend
Spider-Man beat up a cop and was thrown in prison. Today he was in court with
his lawyer — Shyster-Man.
On TV tonight is the movie "Sharknado 2." I didn't see the first "Sharknado."
I'm worried I won't be able to understand "Sharknado 2."
What happens in "Sharknado 2" is a storm breaks out and there's a tremendous
downpour of sharks. And it's embarrassing because The Weather Channel predicted
only a light sprinkling of trout.
Martha Stewart has a drone. Are we comfortable with an ex-con owning a drone?
Congress is now getting ready to take a month off. From what?
Members of Congress need to recharge their batteries for another year of
Sometimes you wonder about these guys in Congress. Are they there at all?
A new study says that Republicans are more religious than Democrats. But I don't
think that includes President Obama praying every day for his term to end.
Siberia locals recently discovered a giant hole in the ground. Now two more
Siberian holes have appeared. Scientists don't know what's causing these holes.
Astronomers blame falling meteorites. Archaeologists blame underground gas
explosions. Fox News blames Obamacare. Mel Gibson blames Jewish people.
Graceland will auction some of Elvis Presley's personal memorabilia. Let's play
"Books That Elvis Checked Out." There's "Hound Dog of the Baskervilles." "The
Blue Suede Shoes of Madison County." "A Hunka-Hunka Huckleberry Finn." "Fifty
Shades of Graceland." "Are You Lonesome Dove Tonight?"
Everyone's reeling from the big fight between two Hollywood tough guys: Orlando
Bloom and Justin Bieber. They engaged in fisticuffs today in Spain. Who won the
fight? I think WE did, America.
Orlando approached Justin and started throwing punches. It was brutal. Mascara
was flying everywhere. There were no broken bones. But sadly, a few broken
Every great fight needs a great name. What should we call this one? The
commotion near the ocean. The girly taunt in the restaurant. The effeminate fray
in the café. The not-a-scratch-on-ya in España.
It's Arnold Schwarzenegger's birthday. Arnold celebrated quietly at home with
his friends and his families.
We're getting more news about the Orlando Bloom-Justin Bieber fight. Apparently
the fight was witnessed by Paris Hilton, P. Diddy, and Lindsay Lohan. I'm
confused. Did this fight take place in Spain or in 2003?
Today in Las Vegas is the start of the annual "Star Trek" convention. I go every
year. I walk up to everyone dressed in a full "Star Trek" costume and say, "May
the force be with you."
A woman in Oklahoma called police to complain about the quality of her meth. I'm
thinking: How bad could the meth be if it made her high enough to call the cops
and complain about it?
A Massachusetts man was arrested for illegally keeping over 400 birds in his
home. He tried to keep it a secret, but he couldn't keep the birds from tweeting
It's a great day for Pope Francis. He released his top 10 tips for feeling
happier. I didn't know Popes did that.
Most of the Pope's tips were what I expected, like No. 7, "Respect nature." No.
3, "Be calm." Except No. 1 — start every day by watching the video of Justin
Bieber getting punched in face.
Beyoncé's dad, Mr. Beyoncé, is teaching a college course on how to "Become the
next Beyoncé." Beyoncé's dad explains the two-step process. Step 1, start a
hugely successful girl group and sell millions of records. Step 2, fire the
It is our president's birthday. It's also the birthday of NASCAR champ Jeff
Gordon. Jeff Gordon and President Obama are very different, of course. One's a
guy who spent his whole life turning left and is hated by NASCAR fans. And the
other one is Jeff Gordon.
I love it when people here in L.A. pretend to know what NASCAR is. They'll say,
"Is that the one with the car?" Or: "Do those cars run on gasoline? I can't
endorse this. Can't they use Priuses and fuel them with kale?"
The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts August 4. But times have changed. Now
even biker gangs are into recycling. When the motorcycle rally is over, the
gangs go around responsibly collecting trash, bottles, and broken teeth.
These days any group of bikers can call themselves a motorcycle gang. Some gangs
are really bad, like Sons of Anarchy. Other gangs are just orthodontists who go
up the highway on a Sunday afternoon.
Earlier tonight I was watching the "CMA Music Festival." It was two hours of
country music, big hats, and big belt buckles.
The CMA Music Festival is country music's biggest night — if you don't count the
Country Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, the CMT Music awards,
and the American Country Awards.
Tonight's CMA Music Festival was held in Nashville — which is a coincidence
because I was held in Nashville once.
Keith Urban is the country singer from Australia. I have a difficult time
imagining a country music star from Australia. He'd sing lyrics like, "I lost my
truck, my dingo eats babies, my boomerang's broke, and Russell Crowe has
Yesterday there was a water main break right next to UCLA. Water was shooting
out of the ground for four hours before it was turned off. They say 20 million
gallons of water flooded the campus. I didn't even know L.A. had that much
In Washington the House passed a bill today to go forward with a lawsuit against
President Obama. Who says Congress can't get anything done? They're suing the
That lawsuit against the president is ridiculous — unless they do the trial on
"Judge Judy." Then I'm all for it.
Congress is about to head off on their August recess, which seems appropriate.
Adults go on vacation, children go on recess.
Congress will take the whole month of August off. From what, exactly, I don't
A new study found that most Internet-connected home gadgets and appliances are
vulnerable to hackers. It's only a matter of time before your blender steals
your credit card number.
Right now, available only in San Francisco, is an app where you can get
marijuana delivered right to your door. Whoever pairs this with a pizza delivery
app probably will get the Nobel Prize.
Happy birthday to President Obama. He turned 53 today, according to his birth
certificate. The truth is he's actually 55 years old but Congress blocked his
last two birthdays.
Tonight President Obama blew out the candles on the gluten-free broccoli and
carrot loaf from Michelle, and then cried himself to sleep. She did let him
smell a piece of cake.
ABC premiered a new show tonight called "Bachelor in Paradise." I'm glad they're
finally doing a bachelor show in paradise. Normally they do them in Third-World
countries and industrial parks.
Some people criticize ABC for putting shows like "Bachelor in Paradise" on the
air. But the truth is you can't always get down to the baboon exhibit at the
zoo. Sometimes they need to be brought to you.
This week 5,000 new words will be added to the Scrabble Dictionary. One of the
words is "mix tape." Why add mix tape now instead of back in 1985, when it was
actually a thing that existed?
Scrabble discovers cool words around the same time my mom discovers them.
The worst addition to the Scrabble Dictionary is "bromance." That is what two
guys who like each other and have a personal relationship are called. No,
they're called friends. I blame Facebook. Thanks to Facebook, the word "friend"
doesn't mean anything, which left the door open for "Us Weekly" to infect us
Can we get someone from Scrabble on the show tomorrow? I want to put a stop to
new poll shows that younger Americans sympathize less with Israel than older
generations did. But then again, most young Americans think Israel is the cat on
A Los Angeles judge has ruled in favor of Donald Sterling’s wife and will allow
her to sell the L.A. Clippers. That leaves Sterling in the awkward position of
hating a white person.
A company in India is releasing the first-ever “smart shoe” that connects with
Google Maps to track your footsteps. “Merry Christmas,” said your wife.
According to new estimates, Beyoncé and Jay-Z will make $84 million from their
world tour. Which is good because 84 million is an easy number to divide by 2.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon claimed he failed his most recent
drug test because he ingested secondhand marijuana smoke. Said Gordon, “That’s
right, I smoked some with one hand, and then I smoked some with my second hand.”
According to French officials, the gardens at the Louvre have become overrun
with rats. Officials later apologized and promised to refer to us as Americans
in the future.
Wikipedia is now accepting donations using the online currency Bitcoin. So now
you can support information you’re not sure is true with currency you’re not
sure is money.
Today marks the last day before Congress takes its summer recess. They're taking
five weeks off. Five weeks. I hope they can get used to doing nothing.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told reporters that despite her age
she does not plan on retiring and is likely to remain on the court for a while —
after which she was immediately traded to the New York Knicks.
A Chinese farmer lost 170 of his prized pigs when lightning struck his barn
while he was feeding them. Though on the bright side — instant bacon.
A woman in New Mexico pulled a gun on a Comcast technician because she didn't
want to pay her cable bill. Wow! That woman doesn't need HBO. She IS HBO.
Happy birthday to President Obama. He turned 53 today, if you believe the birth
President Obama is turning 53 while his face and hair are turning 68.
Congratulations to all three of them.
Congress wanted to surprise President Obama on his birthday so they passed a
The owner of a prominent paparazzi agency is saying he won't use drones to take
pictures of celebrities because he has too much respect for them. And by "them"
he means the drones.
Officials from Hamas and Israel have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire. Of course,
we won’t have true peace in the Middle East until there’s a cease-fire that
lasts longer than a mattress sale.
On Friday, a truck on an Indianapolis highway spilled over 45,000 pounds of
butter onto the road. The governor called for a clean-up, while Paula Deen
called for a national day of mourning.
SNOPES URBAN LEGEND UPDATE AS OF AUG. 2, 2014
facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox
Photograph shows a white
surrounded by smiling blacks.
fund the terrorist organization Hamas?
• Does eating
really result in significantly improved vision?
• Photographs show a barn full of
discovered by the new purchaser of a Portuguese farmhouse.
• Warning that cups of
pose a danger to consumers due to their wax coatings.
• Police car video records a
being subjected to some wacky sobriety tests.
• What did
say when asked what she thought were the major accomplishments of her tenure as
Secretary of State?
• Did a
lead to one of Raiders of the Lost Ark's most memorable scenes?
• Photographs show
trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border hidden inside car's dashboard.
• Has actor Russell Johnson of Gilligan's Island fame been identified as the
• Has Yankee shortstop
cancelled his retirement plans to sign with the Boston Red Sox?
• Was former president
arrested in Dallas for cocaine possession?
• Did police in New Jersey find a
that had lain undisturbed for five years under a motel bed?
• Photographs show a
launch viewed from the International Space Station.
kicked off a Monkees tour because the Daughters of the American Revolution
complained his act was 'too erotic'?
• E-mail claims that drinking
after meals will lead to cancer.
• How actor
detected the presence of an enemy patrol during the Korean War through the smell
• From the mailbag: No, our article about whether
Birthday to You'
is protected by copyright isn't wrong.
• Is looking for the a gap between an object and its reflection the way to
from ordinary mirrors?
• Did the
record songs such as 'Colliding Circles' and 'Pink Litmus Paper Shirt' which
remain unreleased to this day?
• Reebok once marketed the
a shoe named for a demon who violates women in their sleep.
• Don't forget to visit our
for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!
Worth a Second Look
• Did a
in a submerged pool after looting the home of disaster victims?
Still Haunting the Inbox
• Check out our 25
list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.
• Visit our
page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from
THE LIGHTER SIDE & OTHER ODDS AND ENDS
Large or Full Screen preferred for YouTube videos
• • • • •
With over 27 million views,
public service ad from Volkswagen has obviously gone viral. You may want to show
it to any children or grandchildren in your family who are in their teens and of
driving age. (1 Min.)
• • • • •
This TED Talks presentation should be considered a don't miss:
We live in a world of unseeable beauty, so subtle and delicate that it is
imperceptible to the human eye. To bring this invisible world to light,
filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg bends the boundaries of time and space with
high-speed cameras, time lapses and microscopes. At TED 2014, he shares
highlights from his latest project, a 3D film titled "Mysteries of the Unseen
World," which slows down, speeds up, and magnifies the astonishing wonders of
to view some scenes from his film. (7 Mins.)
• • • • •
So let's say you
have a couple hundred ducks and it's time to bring them inside for the night.
Some might say the job would be akin to herding cats, but this guy has found a
this. (1 Min.)
• • • • •
a similar note, here's a guy who is able to gather his critters by playing a
trombone. We're not saying he's good, but he is effective. Stick with him for a
what happens. (4 Mins.)
• • • • •
We're going to assume that this
(Martina Hill) is one of Germany's well known comediennes. The English version
of the clip is called "Happens every time after you do the laundry." (2 Mins.)
• • • • •
ditty received from Bruce Morton and see if you can relate. And be honest. (3
• • • • •
Ever hear two people play one guitar? Have a
and we think you'll agree that they make beautiful music together. (2 Mins.)
• • • • •
Wouldn't it be fun to participate in a prank like
one from the crew of Just for Laughs? (2 Mins.)
• • • • •
What could possibly motivate a bear to
the life of a crow that was in the process of drowning? (2 Mins.)
• • • • •
Speaking of crows, here's one that had the opposite dilemma as the one above;
water. (2 Mins.)
• • • • •
This lady must have tons of
in the bank given how she cares for handicapped dogs. (1 Min.)
• • • • •
Remember when we were younger and could water ski barefoot behind a plane like
this guy? Such fond memories. Watch
clip and it will probably take you back to your youth. (3 Mins.)
• • • • •
Tiger and Rory were featured last year in one of the more entertaining Nike golf
commercials. Have a
• • • • •
Ever wonder how they load an excavator onto the back of a truck in India? I know
that is something I've puzzled over for many years.
video shows how it is done. (1 Min.)
• • • •
In contrast to last week's video of the female Chinese soldiers marching in
is a short story about Father Kapaun and his heroics in the Korean War that also
involved thousands of Chinese soldiers. It was sent in by Dave Scannell and well
worth a look and listen. (5 Mins.)
• • • • •
We only have one
problem with this ATM: It's in Canada, not the U.S., and that's a shame because
we'd like to
a withdrawal. (4 Mins.)
• • • •
closing, Bert Kelsey felt
clip titled "One Life, One Flag, One Mile" should be worth a few minutes of your
time. We couldn't agree more. (6 Mins.)
• • • • •
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