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The Farsider

August 21, 2014

 

Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>

 

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 its membership.


 

FUNERAL MASS FOR EVELYN CAVA SET FOR TOMORROW (FRI.) IN CAYUCOS, CA

Last weekend's Mercury News included this obit on Evelyn Cava, whose passing we initially covered in the June 19th Farsider. Click HERE to review it



April 1927 - June 2014
Atascadero, CA
(Long-time Sunnyvale resident)

Funeral mass will be held Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 at 11:00am, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 360 Park Ave., Cayucos, CA. Reception to follow at the church. Condolences and memories may be made by clicking HERE.

 

PENSION NEWS

Nothing new



POA UPDATES

Nada


 

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE CITY AND SJPD

Many cops will likely look at last week's officer-involved shooting that was covered in Friday and Saturday's paper as "suicide by police." This is the story from Saturday's paper...

Shooting by Police Ignites Public Debate

—Mental health questions linger in death of woman holding drill—

By Robert Salonga <rsalonga@mercurynews.com>
Mercury News — Aug. 16, 2014

SAN JOSE — Cars and heavy trucks rushed along Blossom Hill Road on Friday morning, passing the scene like they do every day.

A piece of police tape here and there; a bouquet of flowers laid down in front of the home. These were the only signs that 24 hours earlier, a 19-year-old woman was shot and killed by police after making threats to her family and claiming to have a sub machine gun, revealed afterward to be a cordless drill.

Little additional clarity has surfaced about the Thursday morning shooting in front of a duplex off Playa Del Rey. San Jose police said they were not releasing any more details about the department’s second officer-involved shooting this year until Monday at the earliest.

The death of the woman, whose identity has not been publicly released, also reignited discussion about how the dwindling availability of mental-health services has meant police officers are increasingly the first to respond to mental-health crises. Outcry over the shooting was steady in social media, with many wondering whether police had to shoot the woman. In Thursday’s case, the woman who was shot reportedly had bipolar disorder, called 911 and told emergency dispatchers that she had an Uzi and was going to shoot her family when in fact no one else was home. “This pattern is not going to stop unless we create the solutions for it,” said Raj Jayadev, coordinator of the social-advocacy and media collective Silicon Valley De-Bug. “It’s on more than just police. It’s on us as a city. It’s on mental-health providers, elected officials and community advocates.” According to the California Peace Officers Standards and Training commission, as much as 15 percent of police calls in California involve a reported mental illness, and one estimate says 40 percent of officer involved shootings in the state involve a mental health crisis. Each year in Santa Clara County, police dispatchers field 4,000 calls involving mental-health issues.

It’s why local law-enforcement experts and medical leaders are pushing for more police officers to undergo what is known as Crisis Intervention Team training, a state curriculum that gets them versed in various types of mental illnesses, so that they can better de-escalate potentially violent situations while minimizing harm. The officer who fired the fatal shot Thursday, 13-year department veteran Wakana Okuma, was CIT certified. SJPD has one of the highest rates in the Bay Area of officers who have undergone the training, at 37 percent. But the fact that even a CIT-trained officer chose to use deadly force — Okuma was the only one of about five officers at the scene to shoot — is indicative of how rapid and unpredictable these kinds of circumstances can be, police advocates say.

“Each situation is unique. Time didn’t allow them to go down different approaches,” said Sgt. Jim Unland, president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association.

According to police and multiple witnesses — some of whom captured the encounter on cellphone video — the woman emerged from her home with an item in each hand, and at some point dropped one of the items on a grassy berm. But she kept a large black item — which would turn out to be the drill — in one hand and continued walking toward the officers in defiance of their orders. As she got close to Wakuma, the officer fired a single shot, hitting the woman. She later died at the hospital.

Neighbor Thien Nguyen, a 22-year-old San Jose State student, said he looked out the window in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and saw the drill.

“I thought it was a gun at first,” Nguyen said. “This is really unfortunate.”

Unland contends that by the time police were called, with the weapons threat ingrained in officers’ minds, de-escalation had to take a back seat to what was believed to be people in danger.

“We’re not the people you call for treatment. We’re the people you call when treatment isn’t being used or utilized,” he said. “As our society cuts back on services that used to be provided, more and more the only service left to call is the police.”
 

• • • • •


If the City is in a financial crunch, it could probably raise some dough by selling motorcycles and desks once used by detectives that are no longer in use. This story from last Sunday's paper explains. Not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but aren't you glad you were part of the SJPD that was and not part of the Dept. that is?

Back On the Beat — Even for Veteran Cops

By Robert Salonga <rsalonga@mercurynews.com>
Mercury News — Aug. 17, 2014

SAN JOSE — Seasoned detectives quelling rowdy bar crowds. Tactical team officers directing traffic around car accidents. Motor officers off their bikes and walking the streets.

A lot of veteran San Jose police officers are back doing what they did when they were rookies, filling gaps in the understaffed patrol division, which police brass have deemed the lifeblood of the force.

It’s the new identity of the San Jose Police Department, which is funneling resources into routine patrols and emergency response at the expense of the vice, electronic crimes, gang and other special units. The proactive work of those special units helped distinguish the department among its big-city peers and is credited for the trumpeted years in the mid-2000s when San Jose was regularly named the safest large city in the country.

“It will be more of a reactive police department,” Assistant Chief Eddie Garcia said. “When a business starts losing staffing, they need to concentrate on that initial thing they provide. Ours is the uniformed patrol force, answering that 911 call for service. We’re going to have to sacrifice some things and, quite frankly, moving forward, we’re going to have to sacrifice quite a few things.”

A particular set of internal department figures bears that out. In 2007, before an exodus of officers amid pay cuts and a still running political battle over pension and disability benefits, officers processed 9,830 suspects at police headquarters rather than county jail, a figure generally used to benchmark proactive arrests. In 2013, that number dropped to 1,788. Overall arrests have dropped over the same period, but it’s telling that in 2007 these “self-initiated” arrests accounted for 27 percent of the total of 36,172, and dropped to less than 10 percent of the 18,314 total arrests in 2013.

A steady decrease in the national crime rate — about 5 percent last year, according to FBI figures — might explain some of that decline. But department insiders say it largely boils down to fewer working officers in each city district, with emergency calls eating into time that might otherwise be spent on investigation or crime prevention.

The focus on emergency response also has translated into sluggish response to burglary calls and dwindling traffic enforcement. Prostitution and drug dealing are stopped less often because the Metro special-enforcement team once dedicated to those issues is instead helping curb gang violence. The rapid proliferation of suburban illegal marijuana grows remains unchecked, surfacing only when grow houses catch fire and threaten neighborhoods.

From a peak of more than 1,400 sworn officers in 2008, there are now just over 1,000, with about 900 available for full duty. About half are assigned to patrol, which is still short of the 492-officer prescribed minimum for patrols citywide. The shortage is made up in overtime shifts and reassigning officers from other divisions. Such specialties as missing-persons and robberies merged, while others, including auto theft, became one- or two-man units. Only four detectives work financial crimes, an 80percent reduction, against a backdrop of rising property crimes statewide.

That was a sore point for Cambrian resident Lily Leiby, whose home-security system caught clear video of a man breaking into her home Aug. 3. But like many burglary victims, she was initially told her case was likely just being added to a pile.

“They said unless we would’ve caught him right there and then, they don’t investigate this much,” Leiby said. “We had the same experience two years ago. It’s why we’re so frustrated.”

She got rare good news though, when dogged work by an off-duty sergeant led to an arrest later in the week.

Recently, special-operations officers, such as those in the Mobile Emergency Response Group and Equipment unit — SJPD’s SWAT equivalent — were pulled into monthly patrols, and the department is considering eliminating the motorcycle unit and reassigning its 12 day-to-day officers.

Some question whether allowing patrol to cannibalize all others is the right tactic, including Dennis Kenney, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and an expert in police-training procedures.

“Just maintaining patrol is probably not an advisable approach,” he said. “There’s a point of diminishing returns, a tipping point with patrol where you have too few people.”

He alluded to other departments in the country addressing similar shortfalls by turning to analytics-based policing — concentrating officers on high-crime areas, but leaving safer areas thinly patrolled. SJPD’s situation, he said, provides a rare chance to fully re-evaluate each service’s importance.

“They need to spend a lot of time thinking about, ‘Is it worth doing?’ ” he said.

The cultural shift away from specialties has been a factor in many SJPD departures, which have averaged more than 100 the past three years.

“Opportunities that people came to this department to do don’t exist anymore,” said Kirk Wilson, a 22-year veteran who left SJPD in June.

Wilson, who worked five years in the defunct high tech crime unit, was one of four specialized officers who left for jobs as investigators with the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office. That included Patricia Jaime, a social worker-turned-cop who worked in the sexual-assault and crime-scene units, veteran gang investigator Clayton Le, and Internet crimes detective Chris Harden.

“I hope our departure sheds light on what’s happening,” Harden said. “We’re speaking with our feet.”

The loss of that kind of knowledge and experience translates into unsolved crimes, says retired Capt. Tom Brewer, who formed the department’s Metro special-enforcement unit in the late 1990s by merging the narcotics and street crimes teams. Brewer says it takes years working a beat to effectively thwart recurring crime issues, citing gangs as an example.

“A crime can go down and one cop’s knowledge of a little tattoo, and they know who did it. You can’t have good street enforcement without that institutionalized knowledge,” he said, adding that it could take “decades” to rebuild.

Well-chronicled political struggles have largely driven SJPD’s transformation: City Hall-led initiatives to rein in spiraling pension and disability costs were met with fierce resistance by the police union, and embittered officers left in droves. The union blames city leaders for decimating the police force, while city reformers accuse the union of running a fear campaign and driving away applicants. Both sides now hope to hire more cops. But the rebuilding effort hit an obstacle this month when the council could not muster enough votes to propose sales tax increases that could have been used for those hires.

Much of the hoped growth hinges on an ambitious recruiting plan: to field three police academies a year of at least 50 cadets each. The current class has 24 cadets, a historic low. Police officials expect future classes will approach the maximum.

Garcia says he’s optimistic, and inspired by the tireless work being done by officers in tenuous circumstances.

“Nobody answers the bell more often than the men and women in this department,” he said. “You put aside all the issues, and still, nothing beats the job itself as an SJPD officer.”

 

• • • • •

 

This item is from the I.A. Column in last Sunday's Mercury News...



SJPD Upset After Agency Posts Out-of-use Cruiser

For nearly a week, an empty San Jose Police Department squad car was parked along Third Street downtown as a decoy to keep crooks from ransacking the recently shuttered San Jose Repertory Theatre. It’s a common deterrent practice.

That is, when police do it. In this instance, it appears that the city’s Public Works Department, on its own, grabbed a decommissioned patrol cruiser and plopped it next to the storied venue that went dark earlier this summer because of bankruptcy.

Making matters worse, the vacant car had a spare key inside. And, depending on who you ask, it might have been unlocked, making it very vulnerable to anyone interested in a ticket-free driving experience.

Or worse.

SJPD brass were left in the dark about the move and, as soon as they found out Monday, it was put back in a city yard. Police officials noted that the move could have caused them some troubles.

“We understand all too well that a police vehicle falling in the hands of the wrong person could pose problems for the Police Department, and the city, for that matter,” police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said. “Fortunately for us, the vehicle wasn’t taken. There has to be better communication amongst city departments to ensure anytime police equipment is used, there is notification of our chain of command.”

Officials from the city, which maintains the police fleet, admitted to faulty communication with police.

“The coordination was not done well,” city spokesman David Vossbrink said. “The intentions were certainly good, but it was a mistake that we acknowledge.”

Vossbrink insists the car was locked, an assertion police sources challenge. The vehicle, however, had been gutted of its police equipment and any weapons before it was put out for guard duty.


 

MAIL CALL

The following was in response to Doug Zwemke's list of world-wide threats. (Another great idea that went over like a phart in church.)

Aug. 14th

Bill,
 
The number 1 threat? Liccardo as Mayor. Donate and volunteer for Cortese today.
 
Jay Wendling
<RAW1300@aol.com>

 

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Aug. 20th

Leroy,

I recently heard about the SJPD doing away with the motor unit. Very disheartening. I understand and have been following thru the Farsider the many problems and ongoing rift between the SJPOA and the City administration, especially the mayor and his cohorts. Very similar to our federal government. Money! Where did it go? How much has city hall spent on projects like the new city hall and the new airport, and probably a lot I'm not aware of. I understand the need for units to handle calls, but can't motor units be used for that purpose, especially the heavy traffic I see when I visit San Jose? They can get to an emergency a lot faster than a patrol car.
 
I have a long history with SJPD motors. I went on bikes in 1969 and stayed on until 1988 when a disability had me on light duty performing backgrounds for a year. My disability retirement wasn't from motorcycle injuries but mostly from violent physical battles. As the city grew I always thought we should increase the motor squad, but instead we started a horse unit. Yes, the horse unit was impressive, but we could have used about 10 more bikes instead. I often wondered how much actual street time a horse unit had out of one day's work after roll call. The horse has to be prepared, then loaded up in a trailer and transported. Then unloaded and do whatever, then get loaded up again and  transported back to the stables and dressed down. Along with that was the training and workouts.
 
I've many memories about motors, some of which cannot be told, which is true about any special unit. I can't think of the Traffic Unit without mentioning the Municipal Motorcycle Officers of California [MMOC] somewhere down the line as I write this.
 
When I was new on motors the Motor Sgt. at briefing one day made a big talk about writing more tickets. An old timer, Dick Erickson stated, "All that means is the city treasurer called the chief and told him the general fund was running low."  I asked him why and Dick told me the fines the city received from traffic tickets went into the City's general fund. Kind of makes sense.
 
Some administrators had little regard for the motor unit. Some didn't know quite how to handle the members of the unit. When the college protest/riots began a call was put out for volunteers to form a unit to deal with the protestors and to meet at the armory on Hedding. The Sgt. setting this up formed us up and was surprised when he saw about 16 pairs of motorcycle boots and a few radar officers out of about 44 officers. I think we went up a notch or two in his appreciation.
 
One time there was a little race type riot at the high school in the Mt. Pleasant district. At the time we had training on Trimble road near the CHP office. We could hear the call for additional units on the radio so Sgt. Longaker said we'd respond. Soon 16 Harleys pulled up at the school and parked side by side. About 40 or more arrests were made and motor officers were responsible for half of them.
 
Earlier I  mentioned MMOC, which is comprised of past and present PD riders throughout the state. We were known locally the PD for our BBQs, steak and  Cioppino Feeds. We had one helluva committee and we had fun doing it. We had a strong relationship with the late Don Lima and because of that we did the BBQs for the $25 a plate Christmas in July thrown downtown.
 
When the first Police Olympics were held in San Jose back in the 70's, Sgt. Gisburne had us do the BBQ for over 900 attendees at the park near Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara. Then, when the first ever World Police and Fire games came to San Jose, good ole Sgt Gisburne asked us to do the meals. Think about the logistics of feeding over 6000 people over a five day period. One meal at one location and two at another. One meal was Western, one was Mexican and one was Italian. Gisburne was a hard task master.
 
I could  go on and on because what I've said so far is only the tip of the iceberg. The best part of it all now are the good memories.
 
Dick Tush
<sonofatush@hotmail.com>


 

ANNOUNCING THE POA'S GOLF TOURNEY TO BENEFIT THE CHAPLAINCY

Join us for the 7th Annual SJPOA Charitable Foundation's Chaplaincy Golf Tournament on Tuesday, October 14th, at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club! All proceeds will benefit the SJPD Chaplaincy Program. Please register as soon as possible so that we can ensure a successful event.

Click HERE for more information about the event.

Click HERE to register, donate, or become a sponsor.


 

THE FERGUSON MESS

When I first saw THIS excerpt of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon calling for a "vigorous prosecution" of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, I assumed he misspoke and had intended to say "vigorous investigation." But when that question was later posed to the governor's press secretary, he stated that the governor stands by the original statement, leading one to believe he is a piss-poor example of a state governor.

And then there is Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed who was credited with this statement directed to St. Louis Prosecutor Robert McCulloch on Aug. 15th:

"If you should decide not to indict this police officer, the rioting we witnessed this past week will seem like a picnic compared to the havoc that will likely occur"

Support for Officer Darren Wilson

There's little question that Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson's life will never be the same. Even if he escapes becoming an incarcerated victim of race baiters like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the New Black Panthers, AG Eric Holder and even some members of the mainstream media who see the violence and rioting as excellent ratings (read money), the officer will likely have to go underground in order to survive. I doubt we can count on AG Eric Holder paving the way for him to be given a new identity and having access to the Federal Witness Protection Program.

A "Go Fund Me" page has been established for Officer Wilson. Click HERE if you would like to show your support and contribute to the fund.

And you can click
HERE if you want to read reviews about GoFundMe.

How does GoFundMe work? We've got that covered, too. Click
HERE.

 

• • • • •


As a final note, we just received an update on the looting in Ferguson: The following items were NOT stolen by the looters: Pens, pencils, résumé kits, work boots, work gloves, work coveralls, and Father's Day cards.


 

THE BEST OF THE LATE NITE JOKES
     
Aug. 13th thru Aug. 18th

President Obama is apparently back on speaking terms with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I guess their disagreements over Israel have made their relationship somewhat complicated. But not as complicated as the name, “Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of “Field of Dreams,” the Iowa State Fair is displaying a 200-pound butter sculpture of Kevin Costner. Or as Paula Deen put it, “If you build it . . . I will come.”

Rick Perry is fueling speculation that he'll run in 2016 by visiting the Iowa State Fair. Unfortunately, he hurt his chances by holding a two-hour conversation with that butter sculpture of Kevin Costner.

People are still fighting about immigration. Congress is suing the president. I'm not saying things are bad, but the Middle East just sent diplomats to negotiate peace in OUR country.

The White House says President Obama won't make any major announcements during his brief trip back to D.C. this weekend. Reporters said, “Isn't THAT an announcement?”

Oh this isn’t good. The Secret Service just arrested 13 people in New Jersey who were making counterfeit money. Which got worse when the counterfeiters said, "Are you sure this isn't something a seven-dollar bill can't get me out of?"

This week a town in Minnesota elected a dog named Duke as its mayor. Yeah, they elected a mayor that pees on the street, sleeps on the floor, and eats out of the garbage. Then Toronto said, "Been there!”

A new poll found that Rob Ford has fallen into second place in the race for Toronto mayor. Yeah, it’s bad news for Ford, and even worse news for my monologue.

George Clooney and his fiancée were apparently spotted this week tasting food for their upcoming wedding. Yeah, food for George Clooney's wedding. Which explains that one hors d'oevre: Flying pigs in a blanket. He’s getting married!

ABC will air a one-hour special that goes behind the scenes to show how the movie “Frozen” was made. Yeah, they say it’s all part of their plan to ruin the movie for kids.

Cinnabon is testing a concept store that will sell smaller cinnamon rolls. Yep, they say it’s perfect for people who love kidding themselves. “I’m just gonna grab one or eight of these little guys here.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been indicted after he threatened to veto funding for a district attorney’s office unless she stepped down. He’s now the most controversial governor in the country — which is why today he got a gift basket from Chris Christie.

It looks like Rick Perry's chances in 2016 might be in trouble. Or as Hillary put it, "One down, four more to go."

A survey found that 75 percent of Americans don't use up all their vacation days. While the rest apparently loaned them to President Obama. He’s on vacation again!

Mr. T reported for jury duty in Chicago last week, but ultimately was not picked for the trial. I guess prosecutors thought he'd show too much pity.

Hillary Clinton is returning to Iowa next month for the first time since her failed presidential run in 2008. Hillary denies just being there for politics. She said, “I love Iowa for their . . . OK, I'm running for president.”

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon apparently sent the National Guard to Ferguson without letting the White House know first. When he heard he was left out of such an important decision, Obama said, “Holy crap, I’ve been Bidened!”

Yesterday the Clippers' new owner, former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer, promised fans that the team will win an NBA championship. He says he has a great strategy for rebuilding the team — Control-Alt-Delete.

Yankee Stadium says it will start adding metal detectors as a way to beef up security. And then they went back to selling beer and baseball bats to New Yorkers.

President Obama had to cut his vacation short two days to go back to Washington. You know why? Vice President Joe Biden had locked himself out of the White House.

Obama was on a two-week break with his family and had to cut it short by two days, had to go back to Washington. I'm thinking: you spend two weeks with your family, you're going to need a two-day break. Am I right?

David Gregory, a longtime newsman over at NBC news, is no longer the host of "Meet the Press." He took over for Tim Russert, and now they just booted him. They just kicked him right out the door. He's following a trail I blazed at NBC.

David Gregory is being replaced by a guy named Chuck Todd, which indicates to me that in order to host that program you have to have two first names.

How about Johnny Football? Anybody see Johnny Manziel for the Browns? I got nothing against the kid but I saw him play last night. I think they ought to change his name to "Johnny Bench."

Toward the end of the game, Johnny Manziel gave Washington the finger. Coincidentally, that's Barack Obama's exit strategy from Washington.

Anthony Weiner is opening a restaurant. Honest to God, how many of you — other than losing a bet, how many of you would go to have a meal at Anthony Weiner's restaurant?

"Meet the Press" has fired host David Gregory and hired another guy, Chuck Todd, to host. To me, if your name is Chuck Todd, it might as well be David Gregory. Todd Chuck, Gregory David, it makes no difference. They're all interchangeable.

There's a luxury Middle Eastern airline that's going to start offering first-class passengers a suite with bedrooms, a kitchenette, and shower. United Airlines says you can enjoy the same amenities if you cancel your flight and stay home.

A 14-year-old Texas boy lived in a Wal-Mart for four days before he was discovered. Employees got suspicious when they noticed something in a Wal-Mart that was made in America.

The Kardashians are mad. They're outraged that they've been robbed three times this year but the police haven't caught the culprits. Los Angeles police said if only there was a video record of what goes on in the Kardashian home.

Yesterday a fight broke out between the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys during a joint practice. Referees told them there's a proper way for NFL players to settle their disputes. It's called murder.

Apple announced it will ban two toxic chemicals that are used in the production of iPhones. In a related story, that iPhone in your pocket right now is made of toxic chemicals.

The Kardashians are outraged that they've been robbed three times this year but the police have not caught the culprits. Kim Kardashian said, "We just want back what's wrongfully ours. We didn't earn that money and we should get to keep it."

Kobe Bryant and Nike have teamed up to make a Beethoven-themed sneaker. They're motto is "Play basketball like an 18th century deaf German."

Analysts say that President Obama has been ignoring Hillary Clinton's advice for years — which is why we've yet to see him in a pantsuit.

In response to criticism of its treatment of killer whales, SeaWorld said it will build them a larger habitat. When asked for comment, a killer whale said, "Hey, you know what's a larger habitat? The ocean!"

In South America a tribe of Amazon Indians has made contact with the outside world for the first time. The tribe was shocked by skyscrapers, cars, and that "Grey's Anatomy" is still on the air.

Off the coast of Russia, a 200-year-old bottle of booze was found in a shipwreck and it is still drinkable. Isn't that amazing? Of course in Russia everything is still drinkable — antifreeze, you name it.

Yesterday Fox News medical expert Dr. Keith Ablow told viewers that Michelle Obama needs to drop a few. So I think there's a good chance Michelle Obama is going to drop Dr. Keith Ablow.

The Kardashians are refusing to start filming their 10th season until the people who burglarized their homes over the past few months have been caught. So let that be a message to those burglars. Stay hidden! Trust nobody! You're our only hope!

Scientists at the University of Illinois think they may have found a way to stop cancer cell growth using venom from bees, snakes, and scorpions. Because apparently cancer cells stop growing when you're dead.

Steubenville High School in Ohio has allowed a newly released sex offender to rejoin its football team just months after being released from jail. High school? It sounds like he's ready for the NFL.

The Korean Aerospace Institute announced that their one and only astronaut resigned for personal reasons. Now all he has to do is get back to Earth.

A woman was arrested at LaGuardia Airport this week after she was seen stealing an iPad and iPhone. The women could be sentenced to as much as six months at LaGuardia.

An Oregon man called Portland police Monday to report that traffic was being held up by a chicken attempting to cross a road. Then on Tuesday, he called back to report a priest and a rabbi walking into a bar.


 

WEEKLY SNOPES URBAN LEGEND UPDATE AS OF AUG. 16, 2014

The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox

New Articles

•Rumors of a re-enactment of the
movie The Purge are afoot.

• A man's cell phone placed calls to his loved ones after his
demise.

• Various rumors about
Starbucks and the Middle East.

• Offer of a spider under the skin video
clickjacks users into a survey scam.

• Video purportedly shows 'goodbye' message recorded by
Robin Williams just prior to his suicide.

• Is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
changing its name to the Obama Center?

• Did Latin pop star Thalia undergo rib removal
surgery in order to appear slimmer?

• Will the federal
Food Stamp program (SNAP) be discontinued in March 2015?

• Actress
Lauren Bacall, whose legendary Hollywood career spanned more than 70 years, has died at the age of 89.

• Anniversary of the tragic murder and
kidnapping case of Ethan and Hannah Anderson prompts recirculation of a missing person alert.

• Reports claim that
ISIS militants have been beheading children in Iraq and Syria.

• Update to reports that Trifexis brand
parasite prevention tablets have caused the deaths of a large number of dogs.

• Was the artificial sweetener
aspartame originally developed as an ant poison?

• NASCAR champion
Tony Stewart hit and killed a fellow driver on a race track.

• More Discovery Channel fiction about the existence of a monster
35-foot shark that attacks ships.

• A collection of statements reportedly made by
Hillary Clinton. How accurate is it?

• More misinformation about the federal government's supposedly preventing
Volkswagen's XL1 model car from being sold in the U.S. because the vehicle is too fuel-efficient.

• Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu's response to an interviewer who questioned the proportionality of Israel's military response.

• Don't forget to visit our
Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!


Worth a Second Look

• Was
Ronald Reagan the actor originally chosen to play the role of Rick Blaine in Casablanca?


Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest
Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.


Fraud Afoot

• Visit our
Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.

 

THE LIGHTER SIDE & OTHER ODDS AND ENDS

Can it happen here? Watch THIS video received from Alice Murphy and think about it. Having to deal with thousands of gangs across the country is bad enough. Are we also going to have to contend with Muslim gangs who will try to force the U.S. to adopt Sharia Law? Are we going to follow in the footsteps of France, Britain, Belgium, and several other European countries? Are we next? (5 Mins.)




• • • • •


Speaking of the Middle East, this is a geography quiz that is interesting, informative and fun. At least that's how it is billed. Truth be told, it's all three. It took a lot of guessing and errors on my part, but I timed myself and managed to complete it in 9 minutes. Can you do better? I'll give you a head start by letting you study the completed map below for as long as you like. When you are ready to start the quiz, click
HERE. Good luck.




• • • • •


Don't put your thinking cap back on the hook yet. This Quick I.Q. Test was received from nearly a dozen readers, indicating that it is (or has) going viral. If you choose to test yourself, take your time because it is not easy. Click
HERE to take the test and see if you can beat the score below. Good luck!




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When it comes to unmitigated talent, there's little doubt in our mind that the parents of each of
THESE guys were delighted to learn that the $40K they each spent on their kid's college education didn't go to waste. (2 Mins.)




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Watching
THIS video of a couple signing to the song "You're the One That I Want" almost makes me want to learn sign language. The closest I can get to that skill is making the letters "Y.M.C.A." to the song of a same title. By the way, if you're thinking that if they are deaf, how can they hear the song? Turns out the blonde is an ASL interpreter, and the guy (her fiance) learned sign language so they could do song interpretations together. (3 Mins.)

The couple has their own YouTube channel with additional videos like THIS one of them in bed singing "You've Got a Friend in Me." (2 Mins.)



If you want to know more about them, click HERE.


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Before you laugh at the poor military personnel in this
CLIP sent in by Alice Murphy, pause for a moment and think of how miserable and embarrassed they felt after falling on their butts. Then you can laugh. (4 Mins.)




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Civil War buffs will want to click
HERE to view one the most expansive, highly-detailed photo collections of the war that took more American lives than any other. Once the page loads, a click of your mouse on any of the photos will enlarge it and provide a caption describing the scene. Note that some of the images are quite graphic.



General George Meade with his staff at Culpeper, VA


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This is an interesting
SHORT FILM that shows how the Sun sees you. It may also convince you to use sunscreen when that big ball of hydrogen and helium in the sky is shining down on you. (3 Mins.)

 

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Seeing someone so rich they can afford a $2 million swimming pool is almost enough to make me a Democrat. This is a
MUST-SEE. (4 Mins.)

 

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Are
THESE really the Top Ten Super Bowl Commercials of all time? We report, you decide. (10 Mins.)




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Speaking of commercials, we can virtually guarantee that
THIS is the most entertaining TV ad for Mickey D's Golden Arches you have ever seen. It aired during the recent World Cup. (2 Mins)

 

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This video from Bruce Morton is called "Best of Formula Offroad Extreme Hill Climb," and
THAT'S a pretty accurate title. (6 Mins.)

 

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This
VIDEO about the "Future of Golf" had such an impact on Mike Thompson that he was virtually at a loss for words. His only comment was "OMG." (13 Mins.)




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Ollie is a
SKATEBOARDING cat who is far different than the many felines that called my place home over the past 40 years. All they ever did was eat, sleep, poop and look at me with contempt. (3 mins.)

 

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Are you familiar with this
human cat perch? No? Check it out. (2 Mins.)


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Speaking of cats,
THIS is a short 37-second clip we're calling "Nice Kitty."




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Last week's tip showed you how to core a head of lettuce in five seconds. This week's tip will show you a very cool way to serve
WATERMELON. (1 Min.)

 

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Is
THIS display of swordsmanship something super human, or is it a trick? You decide. (3 Mins.)

 

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Fans of
ELVIS should enjoy this never seen before footage of "The King" singing "Unchained Melody" at a 1977 concert in Rapid City. (5 Mins.)

 

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It's been a bad week both domestically and internationally, so let's conclude this week's digital fishwrap on a high note with what I believe is another extraterrestrial from an alien world posing as a young FEMALE from earth because I refuse to believe that a little girl this young from our planet could have the stage presence and talent to belt out a song like "You Raise Me Up" without missing so much as a beat or a note. (Yes, that was an extraordinarily long sentence for which I apologize.) Clues are sketchy, but it looks like the performance originated on China's Got Talent or a similar show.
ENJOY. (3 Mins.)




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C'ya



Pic of the Week


 

   

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