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“Fake” Fancy Wine Widespread November 3, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Food.
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Counterfeit wine accounts for some 20 per cent of international sales, according to unofficial wine industry estimates published in yesterday’s regional French newspaper, Sud Ouest. Investigators said the design on bottles were “near perfect” and that many customers were clearly fooled.


This month, Laurent Ponsot, a Burgundy winemaker and famed forgery hunter, estimated that 80 per cent of auctioned wines allegedly coming from Burgundy’s most prestigious domains, including his own, are fakes.


Mr Ponsot famously unmasked Rudy Kurniawan, an Indonesian collector said to possess “arguably the greatest cellar on Earth” as an alleged wine fraudster, after Mr Kurniawan tried to auction Ponsot’s Clos-St-Denis vintages dating back decades before the domain started producing them. Decanter said the scale of alleged forgeries found when the FBI raided Kurniawan’s premises last year may “ultimately go down as the wine crime of the century”

via Fifth of wine sold worldwide is ‘fake’ – Telegraph.

How Leaded Gasoline Caused Our Violent Crime Wave. January 5, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, Science & Technology.
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Starting in the 1960s, America saw a huge increase in levels of violent crime that peaked in the early 1990s, then steadily declined, and continues to decline today. All kinds of theories have been promulgated to explain this peak and decline in crime, and plenty of politicians in the 1990s took credit for it. Lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the ’40s and ’50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

And with that we have our molecule: tetraethyl lead, the gasoline additive invented by General Motors in the 1920s to prevent knocking and pinging in high-performance engines. As auto sales boomed after World War II, and drivers in powerful new cars increasingly asked service station attendants to “fill ‘er up with ethyl,” they were unwittingly creating a crime wave two decades later.

The use of lead pipes to carry water to wealthy neighLeadedCrimeWaveborhoods is claimed to be one major factor that contributed to the weakening and eventual destruction of the Roman Empire. At least we had the Science to discover our lead folly and correct it, even though much is to still be remediated. But the huge penal/judicial/police industrial complex budget justifications are threatened by such a simple crime source. Turns out criminologists were blaming the wrong Lead, when some accused the music of Led Zeppelin, among others.

via America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead | Mother Jones.

How To Mask A Robbery December 9, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, In The News.
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A white man who robbed Ohio banks looked so convincing in a black-male disguise that an innocent man was held. That’s not exactly how SPFXMasks of Van Nuys had intended its masks to be used.

Mask before and after in a robbery

In October, a 20-year-old Chinese man who wanted asylum in Canada used one of the same company’s masks to transform himself into an elderly white man and slip past airport security in Hong Kong.

Authorities are even starting to think that the so-called Geezer Bandit, a Southern California bank robber believed for months to be an old man, might actually be a younger guy wearing one of the disguises made by SPFXMasks.

News coverage of the incidents has pumped up demand for the masks, which run from $600 to $1,200, according to company owner Rusty Slusser. But he says he’s not happy about it.Slusser opened SPFXMasks in 2003. His six-person crew uses silicone that looks and feels like flesh, down to the pores. Each strand of hair — and it’s human hair — is sewn on individually. Artists methodically paint the masks to create realistic skin tones. Slusser’s customers also include a few Hollywood celebrities who use the masks to fool paparazzi, but he declined to reveal their names.

via Masks so realistic they’re arresting the wrong guy – latimes.com.

Drug Decriminalization? Portugal’s Success Story April 26, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Life, philosophy & politics.
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At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal’s drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal’s new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.

The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

via The Portuguese Experiment: Did Legalizing Drugs Work? – TIME.

How To Steal $9+ Million in 30 Minutes From ATMs February 12, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Technology.
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How did the hackers steal $9 million in one 30-minute time period using only 100 ATM cards you ask? That shouldn’t be possible given the daily limits (usually about $500/day) placed on all ATM cards. Well it turns out that the hackers applied military like precision to old ATM Scam techniques and added a touch of devious ingenuity to pull this one off. Here is a look at how the theft was perpetrated.

via Largest Coordinated ATM Rip-off Ever Nets $9+ Million in 30 Minutes | NetworkWorld.com Community. (more…)

Man calls 911 after Burger King runs out of lemonade February 7, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Humor.
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BOYNTON BEACH — A man was charged with misusing 911 today for a midnight complaint that a Boynton Beach Burger King had run out of lemonade, police say.

Jean Fortune, 66, dialed 911 and told dispatchers he was “unhappy with his order” at the Burger King at 1521 W. Boynton Beach Blvd., according to an arrest report.

When a Boynton Beach police officer arrived, the cashier told him she had informed Fortune at the drive-thru that the store no longer served lemonade. He became angry when he picked up his order at the window and threatened to call police.

The cashier told him to “Go ahead.”

The officer noted in his report that Fortune could not explain why he resorted to calling 911 for a “civil dilemma.”

via Man calls 911 after Burger King runs out of lemonade.

How Restaurants Cook the Books September 2, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Food, Science & Technology.
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With Software, Till Tampering Is Hard to Find – NYTimes.com
Thanks to a software program called a zapper, even technologically illiterate restaurant and store owners can siphon cash from computer cash registers and cheat tax officials.

One of the first reported zapper cases in the United States was Stew Leonard’s dairy, whose owner was convicted in 1993 of skimming $17 million over 10 years. The theft was uncovered after Mr. Leonard tried to board a plane to St. Martin with an unreported $50,000.


Murder Rates Plummet February 2, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in In The News.
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How Low Can the Crime Rate Go? – TIME
It was less than two decades ago that the country’s crime wizards were warning of a unprecedented, bloody spike as a super-predator generation — kids armed with equally menacing weapons and attitudes — inflamed gang and drug wars; murders hit over 2,000 in New York and nearly 1,000 in Chicago during the early 1990s. Many theories for the decline over the past decade and more have been floated; from the Freakonomics suggestion that legalizing abortion effectively wiped out a population of would-be criminals, to the decline of the crack epidemic, to an increase in law-abiding immigrants, to savvier police work, technology and just plain economics.

The FBI recently reported that homicides fell by 6.5% in the country’s biggest cities — those with populations of one million and up — through the first six months of 2007, and by about 1% across the U.S. Violent crime, overall, was off by about 2%. Even more astoundingly, New York City ended 2007 with 496 murders, the lowest number since 1963 [when statistics were first collected] — spurring New York magazine to ask the provocative question, “What would it take [for the murder rate] to go all the way to zero?” Chicago, bruised by enough scandal to unseat its superintendent of police, still managed to record just 443, the fewest since 1965 and the fourth straight year of logging under 500 murders.

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