Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nice Scam You Got There Nigerian.

You know of the typical Nigerian Internet Fraud scams right? The emails promising you money, saying you won an international lottery, or claims there's a wire transfer or package just waiting for you to accept, etc.

Well there's a new one making the rounds.

The fraudsters are copying ads of homes for rent from, then posting them on craigslist at a ridiculously below market price for rent. Then of course the sucker responds to the advertisement by email, gets sent an "application" which asks for you social security number and other info and is told to wire the money and they'll be mailed a key. You know how that's going to end right?

The problem is among the houses they're playing with, they're trying to pull this using my house. Amazingly, people ARE falling for it.

I've had multiple people come by the house based on this ad. Given that the rental amount in the ad is more in line for a studio apartment around here rather than a 3 bedroom house that should have set off some alarm bells - not to mention the international area code for the phone number the fraudster gives, and his Nigerian accent. He even tells people he's in Nigeria! And they still go with it!

I just managed to stop one poor yet nice sap from sending this scammer money that she would have never seen again - she came to see the house and I pointed out they were being scammed.

They gave me the phone number the guy had provided, and the ad, which I have since gotten craigslist to pull - and craigslist was pretty quick to take the ad down once it was pointed out that it was a scam - its down at least for now until this scumbag tries to put it up again. I've also reported it to the local police department, but obviously there's some limits on what they can do about an international fraud scheme.

So if you want to mess with this guy and try and sucker him to come to the USA and get arrested for scamming lots o' people (I doubt mine is the only house he's pulling this trick with - apparently this is a new endemic fraud tactic) here's his info:
phone 1-234-808-974-2766 - The 234 is the Area code for Nigeria.

It is amazing that people fall for this stuff - if it looks too good to be true - and $500 a month below what any other comparable house for rent in the area is going for is too good to be true. Then it really is too good to be true. Don't be a sucker.

The international area code should also have been a tip off. Nigeria should raise a huge red flag on any internet transaction - and sending personal info and money to Nigeria in return for a promise of a key in the mail should unquestionably have people running, not walking, away from the scam.

But, as P.T. Barnum said, there's a sucker born every minute, and the Nigerian fraudsters are trying to fleece every darn one of 'em they can.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Seal of Approval - SEAL Acquited in assault on Terrorist Charge

As I wrote before, as an example of lawfare the enemies of our country engage in, some SEALS were charged with assault involving the capture of a terrorist, who claimed they punched him when they captured him.

The SEALS are being tried via courts martial and the first SEAL was quite properly acquitted.

Fox News: US Navy SEAL cleared in Iraq abuse case
A U.S. Navy SEAL was cleared Thursday of charges he covered up the alleged beating of an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding the grisly 2004 killings of four American security contractors.

A six-man Navy jury found Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas not guilty of dereliction of duty and attempting to influence the testimony of another service member. The jury heard too many differences between the testimony of a sailor who claimed he witnessed the Sept. 1 assault at a U.S. base outside Fallujah, Iraq, and statements from a half-dozen others who denied his account.

Smiling and composed as he left the courthouse at the U.S. military's Camp Victory on Baghdad's western outskirts, Huertas said he felt vindicated.

"It's a big weight off my shoulders," said Huertas, 29, of Blue Island, Illinois. "Compared to all the physical activity we go through, this has been mentally more challenging."

Huertas said he would rejoin the SEALs, the Navy's elite special forces, as soon as possible. His was the first trial of three SEALs accused in the assault of Ahmed Hashim Abed and its alleged cover up.
Good, he deserves to be fully reinstated with all honors and put back on the proper promotion path as well.

Of course the natives of Fallujah - that hotbed of the Sunni violence being a pro-Saddam, anti-American hot spot weren't happy:
Thursday's verdict was met by anger and sad shrugs from Iraqis who said they no longer expect to see U.S. troops held accountable for atrocities or other abuses.

"They would release him even if he had killed an Iraqi and not just beaten him," said Ahmed Abdul Aziz Khudaeir, teacher in Fallujah.

Abed, who is a suspected terrorist, claimed in his testimony that he had nothing to do with the 2004 attack on four Blackwater Worldwide security guards whose bodies were burned and dragged through the streets of Fallujah in what became a turning point of the Iraq war. Two of the bodies were hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates River, and Abed was the focus of an Iraq-wide manhunt by U.S. forces in the following years.
Too bad, so sad but you're not getting a SEAL to have as a trophy, your terrorist buddy lost and the good guy won.

I do wonder what Khudaeir was doing during the 2004 battle of Fallujah between the Marines and the insurgents.

In any case, this was a proper result and ending to a case that shouldn't have been brought in the first place.

It's a good thing the military jury understands the nature of this war -
"There was no abuse," Monica Lombardi, Huertas' civilian attorney, told the jury. She said Abed could have bit his lip on purpose to cast blame on U.S. troops, calling it "classic terrorist training."
The jury was smart enough to know the truth and justice prevailed. 3 more of these ridiculous trials to go, hopefully with the same proper result.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

That word unconscionable, it does not mean what you think it means

Instapundit reports that Sen Jim Inhofe is calling President Clinton's statement likening the tea parties critical of the government to the Oklahoma City Bombing unconscionable.

Of course, Senator Inhofe misses the mark just a bit.

President Clinton would have to have a conscience to be offended by be claimed to do something that's unconscionable, and we pretty much know by now he just doesn't have one. He traded his battered conscience in long ago for political expediency.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Free Electricity May Become A Right In Michigan, As Long As You're "Disadvantaged"

So I'm in court on a motion in Detroit, patiently waiting my turn to be heard. Simple motion, when my turn comes my motion is granted and life is good.

Ahead of me on the docket is an interesting case.

A lady is suing DTE in pro per, claiming that under the Americans with Disabilities Act she's entitled to free electricity for her claimed disability. She claims she needs electricity as she claims she uses some machine to help her breathe a few times a day, and she has yet to provide any medical evidence of her disability. The machine of course wasn't in court and she seemed reasonably capable in court with no problems speaking, or breathing for that matter.

Apparently DTE shut the power off because she owes over 3 grand in unpaid electricity bills. She bought a generator to run her machine and she's suing for over $250k in punitive damages and for the electricity to be turned back on and provided to her for free.

The Judge of course is very solicitous of pro per defendants and bends over backwards to help them even when they're way over their head and not making cognizable or rational claims.

The judge first wants to know why the lady has yet to get a pro bono lawyer. Most people in the courtroom wonders why she doesn't get a job or pay for her electricity herself rather than expecting other DTE customers to subsidize it for her.

Apparently she can't get one from the U of D clinic as they only serve people over age 50 in need of a lawyer. The judge finds it a bit humorous that a person claiming a disability can be discriminated against based on age for legal services from a law school clinic.

Of course, why this person who can apparently afford to buy a generator that sufficiently runs this machine and needs electricity on occasion to run an appliance has run up over 3 grand in electric bills is yet to be explained, that's a lot of electricity or a very long time to not pay for it already. Indeed, she's dressed rather well for court and a guy with her is similarly dressed to the nines in a flashy suit and earring.

Perhaps the ADA does provide free electricity from a utility for the disabled but I haven't heard of such a section of it to date. I'm sure the utilities also have programs for reduced rates or free power for the destitute. Of course, this helps explain why DTE's rates keep going up as paying subscribers have to carry the load of those who get it for free.

Heck, low-income Michiganians already get free cell phones, why not all you-can-power free electricity too? Next up, free Internet. Pretty soon the benefits for those not working will make working a sucker's bet, much as it seems to be the case already in once-great Britain, where a family on the dole can get £815-a-week in state handouts. Michigan it seems, isn't far behind in following the Brits' example.

Some Octopi are Real Camera Hams and some like to Mug the Cameraman

Octopus Nabs Diver's Camera

The Sun has a neat story, complete with video of an octopus grabbing a diver's camera and taking off with it while its still recording. The diver manages to get it back undamaged, but that's got to be a tense moment as you feel your camera ripped from your grasp and heading off into the blue.

The larceny rate among New Zealand Octopi is now an item of concern for divers, and leaving valuables within their reach is highly ill-advised.

Hat tip to Lagniappe's Keeper.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rec 2 Class - Dive 2 Getting Better

Yesterday was dive 2 of the UTD Rec 2 Class.

In many ways it went a lot better - my trim was really good, kicks were much improved and things were going ok. Our drills are still taking to long and we're still not keeping the tightest formation but that should come with more practice.

Overall, the dive started lousy but then started to get better, we started getting our trim down, my kicks started coming together pretty nicely and life was getting good.

Then James pulled my mask off.

Ouch. A 48 degree slap in the face and no mask to put back on. I stayed calm, kept my trim and buoyancy and put my right hand out and started waving my light for assistance. Wes saw me and kept me steady with signals by holding my right hand, but we lost our buoyancy and went up. Next time, remind Wes my spare mask is in my right pocket. I suspect this will happen again during class.

Then the dive continued, and wouldn't you know it, my can light was declared inoperable - switched off by the black hand of death. I'm rather happy with my response - kept my trim, deployed my backup light and went to catch up with my team, which didn't see I had an issue as our video divers light was washing mine out. No big deal. I caught up and life was good. Makes me appreciate how bright the 10 watt can light is compared to my little backup light.

Then, to add to the fun, James throws Wes out of air and he comes over to me. Of course, I trapped some of my long hose under my can light wire that was clipped off as it wasn't working - a good heads up not to do that again. But in any case, Wes had air, we made a good approach to the exit and it was a safe ending.

I can see us improving as a team which is a good thing indeed, 'cause we sure can use the improvement. Excellent after action analysis by James and Chad really helps with the learning process - it is very instructive to see your mistakes on video, and heartening to see it when you do it just right.

Great class, great dive team, and 4 more dives to go to shine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Somedays A Walk In The Woods Is In Order

Especially when you turn up an interesting find: The Detroit News:Feds to review 34 weapons found in Clare Co. woods

Clare Sheriff's Department officials say a man on Tuesday found a rifle hidden under a log while cutting firewood in Freeman Township, about 110 miles north of Lansing. The man later found another 30 guns.

Police seized the weapons, then located three handguns in the same area.

Darn, I must be going for a walk in the wrong woods. I've never found such treasure on my walks. Too bad Clare County is a bit far from me.

The article doesn't give much information on the age of these firearms, if they're recently left there by some ne'er do wells, or an older cache from long ago that might have some interesting historical tales to tell.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Michigan's Lakes are Still Cold and Lake Safety Matters

While the ice is off the lakes, that doesn't mean its safe to be casually jumping in the water, nor nonchalantly boating either:

Commerce Township man drowns after saving father in canoe accident

A 24-year-old Commerce Township man who helped save his 60-year-old father after their canoe tipped over in an Oakland County lake on Saturday drowned after the father got to shore.

Oakland County Sheriff's officials aren't releasing the man's name but said he was taking a canoe ride with his father around 5:15 p.m. in Hawk Lake in a newly purchased 17-foot aluminum canoe when he stood up in it about 100 feet from the shore and the boat flipped.

Sgt. Brian Lippard said the man helped his father hold onto the partially submerged side of the canoe until a neighbor on the lake heard their cries for help and helped get the father to shore. When the neighbor returned to help the 24-year-old, he had slipped below the surface of the 50-degree water. Divers recovered his body about 45 minutes later, Lippard said.

Neither man was wearing a life jacket and alcohol may have been a factor, along with the son's swimming ability, the sherriff's office said.

The weekend was nice and sunny and great for boating, and its likley many boaters didn't consider that the water is still darn cold. If you weren't wearing warm clothing and a life jacket you were in deep trouble if you fell in, as happended in this case.

Boating safety matters and life jackets are essentially safety gear, especially in small boats. Considering the temperature of the water, falling in the water can be a massive shock to your system, and hypothermia is a real possibility.

In 50 degree water, in under 5 minutes without protective clothing you will lose manual dexterity, including your ability to hold on to things. You'll be totally exhausted in thirty to sixty minutes and dead from hypothermia in one to three hours.

This was a sad but very avoidable tragedy, all the worse considering the safety was a short 100 feet away -- but after the system shock your body gets when hitting such cold water, and if the report is right about a lack of swimming ability and possible alcohol use, 100 feet may have been miles for all the help it could be. Darn shame, and even worse that if this was a new boat they mayn ot have known any better about the local conditions, and the basic fact that you don't go standing up in a 17 foot canoe unless you want to go swimming.

Especially now that the Oakland County Sheriff is suspending its marine patrols due to budget constraints, there's going to be both less help available for distressed boaters and less of a lid kept on the yahoos that contribute to unsafe boating, likey leading to more incidents this year.

Be safe out there on the lakes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rec 2 Class - Dive 1 - The Train Wreck Begins

The worst part was this train wreck was self-inflicted.

So we meet Sunday morning at Union Lake and do our pre-dive briefing.

A simple dive plan - kick out to the solitary far boat on the north east line rather than the boats and pontoons on the near east line. Do modified frog kick, modified flutter kick and Frog kick. Then at the boat do the Basic 6 drill (1. Reg out and replace, 2 regulator exchange, 3. Regulator thrown over shoulder and recovery, 4. Modified Air share drill, 5. Mask flood and clear, 6. mask remove and replace.) then do back kicks and helicopter turns and then do a 7 minute ascent drill stopping one minute at 18 feet, 15 feet, 12 feet, 9 feet, 6 feet and 3 feet).

Easy right?

Not so much.

So we head out into a fine cloud of silt that another group of divers had created and visibility sucks. James the instructor is coming along, as is Chad working the video camera and Reichy and Skip just for giggles to watch the approaching train wreck.

Of course, we're all off buoyancy wise - Wes and I are too negative, Keith too positive so we're a little staggered in our formation and already beginning not at our A game.

So we get through the silt cloud, and head for the boat. And of course two other divers are hanging around just where we're about to set up. Thankfully they head off.

Wes ties off the flag and we start the drills. Of course we start backwards - doing the back kick and helicopter turns first. We need practice on those and my trim is terrible - very knees down, I've got a lazy left foot, and pretty negative too boot.

On with the Basic 6 - not bad until we hit the lovely mask remove and replace.

Keith goes up on removal - once you lose visual orientation its hard to tell where you are in the water column. So we pull him down, he gets his mask on and life is good.

The Wes goes and hits the bottom once his mask goes off. He gets it back on and we're ok.

My turn.

Thump. There went my buoyancy.

Knees hit the bottom. My face really isn't enjoying the 46 degree F slap in the face it just received. I get the mask back on, clear it, get my buoyancy back and we're A-OK.

Then we do the ascent drill and we truly mess it up. It takes much longer than 7 minutes. I of course begin the goof up as I start it from the current depth of 35 feet as we had moved from the originally planned 21 foot location to this one - that was my mistake, I should have confirmed that and not assumed. We should have went immediately to 21 feet and started there. Of course we have trouble holding our spots on the way up and it is a mess.

James is not happy.

So we set to dive back and get the flag and swim back to the entry point. We're swimming along happily and then James throws Keith out of air. Keith skips Wes as he's busy with the flag and comes to me. I get him a reg and then watch as up he goes. And up he goes. Then my long hose comes flopping down, with no diver attached to it.

That just can't be good.

Keith is gone, up on the surface.

As the long hose comes down, it catches the flag line as Wes also went up but had a ton of line in the water. The line in addition to getting on the long hose had also fallen on me and I get wrapped up like a diving turkey, ready to be stuffed. This sucks. Keith comes down and unwraps the line - off the reg, off the arm, off the legs. Given I was face down midwater and stuck, the help was appreciated.

Line lives to tangle divers and this line was laughing and snickering all the way back to the end of the dive.

It was not our finest hour by any stretch of the imagination, and we did far worse then in our preparatory dives.

So we get out of the water then watch the video and James carefully and thoroughly critiques our every misstep and error. Many of which we didn't even consider to be problems until they're pointed out, and many where we knew they were errors. In either case we need to fix them - most especially my #!@#! trim problem.

Basically you gotta check your ego at the door in these classes and keep working on making improvements as you go as you're gonna get beat on constantly until you improve. Then you'll get beat on some more.

Dive Number 2 is set for Wednesday and we plan to do a heck of a lot better. We've got the team that can do this and we will.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Some Ships Stop Pirates The Old Fashioned Way

Rather than meekly submitting to ransom, some ships crews are fighting back:
Israeli security guards foil pirates

Israeli security guards drove off two boats of pirates who opened fire on a ship belonging to ZIM, the Israeli shipping company, on Saturday.

The Africa Star was en route from Mombasa, Kenya to Djibouti when pirates attacked as it sailed close to the Somali coast. Two boats approached the ship and opened fire but were driven off following a gun battle with the Israel security guards.

It was the second attack on the Africa Star in a week. Three days earlier the ship was attacked in the same area, but the crew prevented the pirates from boarding the vessel.

Like the pirates who stupidly attacked a US Navy guided missile frigate, with expected crushing defeat as a result, these pirates got a bit more than they bargained for.

The academic face of the Muslim Brotherhood due to speak in Livonia

Talking 'bout jihad of course.

Tariq Ramadan had been banned by Bush from entering the country for his radicalism and association with terrorist groups, but under hope n' change, he's now being allowed in.

The Detroit Free Press: Controversial Muslim scholar to talk about jihad in Livonia

Note how they didn't choose Dearborn as a venue.

controversial Muslim scholar previously banned from entering the U.S. because of alleged terrorism links is to speak Sunday in Livonia about jihad.

Tariq Ramadan, a professor at Oxford University who is grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, is set to deliver a lecture titled “Jihad Within Young Hearts: Toward a Positive Engagement." [I expect the speech will be a blow-out]

He's considered one of the top Muslim intellectuals in the world, but has stoked complaints from critics.

Ramadan was banned by the Bush administration in 2004 after Notre Dame
University in Indiana had given him a teaching position. He was accused of being associated with a charity ties to Hamas, and for promoting extremism. The denial of his visa was protested by some academics and a lawsuit against the U.S. government was then filed on his behalf by the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union.

In January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lifted the ban by signing an order that allowed him to enter, part of an effort by President Barack Obama to reach out to the Muslim world. Ramadan's talk in Livonia is one of the first in the United States since the ban was lifted.
Once again the Obama Administration works on the sound principle of harming one's friends and aiding one's enemies.

The lecture is being sponsored by Sound Vision, an Islamic media company in Chicago headed by Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, a leader in Chicago's Muslim community.

Sound Vision of course has quite a reputation for being a support center for Islamic extremism.

Mujahid said the previous ban on Ramadan "was ill advised considering he was among the top intellectuals of the world." He added that "Notre Dame's loss can't be compensated, but...this can now open the door...Stopping Americans from hearing diverse voices is unconstitutional."

No, stopping terrorists and terrorist supporters from entering the USA and spreading Islamist propaganda is hardly a contravention of any American's constitutional rights.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Dives #121, 122 and 123 Union Lake - Prep for Rec 2

Some good practice dives in preparation for the Unified Team Diving Recreational Diver 2 class.

I've teamed up with Keith and Wes, two good guys and good divers to take the class. Both are at or above my level so we're similarly skilled, so we make a good dive team.

For dive 121, their friend Holly came along and as I brought a camera so I took a few pics during the dive, the viz wasn't great and we were doing some practice, so there's just a few:

Here's two of the crayfish of Union lake doing crayfish things (either fighting or trying to make more little crayfish - you pick which) at 30 feet:

Here's Keith working the dive float on the ascent:

On dives 122 and 123, Keith, Wes and I did some serious training practice for our upcoming class - Basic 6 (Mask removal and replace in 45 degree water sucks by the way), Out of Air drills, controlled ascents, all the good stuff we're going to need and are certainly going to get pounded on in class by James.

Hopefully I'll be able to figure why I'm having so much trouble reaching my valves on my double tanks for the valve drills, but that's a whole other story.

Looking forward to the class - 4 skill dives, 2 "experience" (I believe this means we get our tails kicked but good to experience what happens when everything that can go wrong does) dives and class work on deco theory, team cohesion and Nitrox.

Well, at the very least I've got a great team with whom to learn this stuff. I'll report on the class as it happens.

First two dives for the class are set for Sunday.