Archive for August, 2012

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It isn’t often that there is the opportunity to report a victory of the common man over the banksters. But a few years ago one did happen when a 71-year-old British farmer, from Northumberland, won a £300,000 settlement from his bank after what he described as years of frustration and pain.

Although the bank settled, shortly before the case went to the British High Court, the farmer, Mr David Cannon, said he still felt as though he had not got justice. “They could give me every penny on the planet, but it still couldn’t put it right. It’s taken 10 years away from me. To them it’s monopoly money, but to me it’s all I’ll get.”

His problem was with the National Westminster Bank plc, and began in May 1990. It centered on £70,000 which Mr Cannon claimed went missing somewhere between his own account, his son’s personal and business accounts and an account belonging to his son’s business partner.

He is convinced the money had disappeared gradually during “dozens and dozens” of transfers between the accounts. Naturally the NatWest Bank always strongly denied that the money went astray.

The legal proceedings started way back in 1991, and the Cannons were forced to sell their 300-strong herd of prize-winning Ayrshire cows to fund their case. Mr Cannon said: “It was heart-breaking having to sell the herd, and soon I, and especially my wife, had problems with our health.”

After four-and-a-half years of deadlock with the legal proceedings Mr Cannon decided enough was enough. He borrowed a muck-spreader and chugged into Newcastle-upon-Tyne on his tractor.

In a little over two minutes, he blasted four tons of slurry over NatWest’s Mosley Street branch.

Phew!!!

Stonemasons spent two weeks clearing up and Mr Cannon was fined £2,000. But undeterred, a year later, he subjected the bank’s Ponteland branch to the same exterior decoration.

He really was giving them shit!

Still the dispute dragged on, until December 1998, by which time Mr Cannon had lost patience once again. This time he blocked the door of the Grey Street branch of the bank with his tractor.

Ten months later he returned to the Ponteland branch, baffling staff by measuring the entrance. The next day he forced the doors open with his tractor and barricaded himself inside, nailing fence rails across the doorway. This bank job cost him another £600.

His final fling occurred the following June 12, when he dumped a five-ton load of shit on the doorstep of the Ponteland branch and returned to his farm – pursued by police. Amazingly, he managed to reload and chugged back to the bank, where he made a second five-ton deposit. A low-speed chase ensued, the police puncturing the 10mph tractor’s tyres with a ‘stinger’.

Mr Cannon was charged with criminal damage, dangerous driving, driving without an excise licence and failing to stop for a police officer. He was given a 60-day suspended sentence and ordered to pay £845.60 compensation plus £250 costs.

Mr Cannon, a former bare-knuckle boxer, said: “But fortunately it was in my nature to fight them. Breeding cattle was my life.”

The bank, NatWest issued a token 63-word statement which denied any admission of liability. They refused to add to it when questioned by reporters.

Simon Pitkeathley of the British Bankers’ Association, says angry customers would do better to follow the conventional complaints procedure or move your account elsewhere, said: “Mr Cannon’s behaviour obviously can’t be condoned.”

But I liked it. Good one Mr C.

The big question is, by awarding £300,000 to a man who has taken direct action, has the bank set a dangerous precedent for those distressed customers contemplating direct action? Wouldn’t it be great if they were in for loads more shi……I mean, bother?

 

Farmer David Cannon giving his bank some shit

Farmer David Cannon giving his bank some shit

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Have you ever had awkward moments when you feel a bit stupider than normal? Thankfully I am not as intellectually challenged as the people who feature in this blog, and, of course, neither are you. But I have had my moments!

For example I have been at serious business meetings in hotels where everybody leaves at the same time. We go outside, say our goodbyes, shake hands  –  and then we all set off walking in the same direction! FFS!!!

There are lots of others too. Here are just some of the classics.

Enjoy!

 

 

That awkward moment when someone says “Hello!” and you say “Good thanks!”

(Okay, so there are times I don’t really listen.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you don’t know whether you should tell someone they have food wedged between their teeth.

(I always leave that job to someone else.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you notice someone’s zipper is down but you don’t want to say anything because you don’t have a good excuse for why you were looking there in the first place.

(So many euphemisms for this one. The awkward bit is when you are talking to someone so dumb they can’t take the hint.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you’re trying to get over someone you weren’t even dating.

(This actually did happen to a friend of mine, the dork!)

 

 

That awkward moment when you don’t know if you should hug someone or not.

(Americans are huggers, continental Europeans are kissers on both cheeks, but the British find the whole idea repulsive and usually recoil in terror – awkward or what?)

 

 

That awkward moment when you try to exit through a closed glass door.

(I’ve posted videos about this one – very funny when it happens to other people.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you pull the push door even though it’s clearly signed.

(I’ve done this one, happens a lot if you are preoccupied with other things.)

 

 

That awkward moment when someone asks you how far along you are, and you are not pregnant.

(Whoops!)

 

 

That awkward moment when someone asks when your baby is due and you had your baby two years ago.

(Double whoops!!)

 

 

That awkward moment when you don’t know which arm rest is yours at the cinema.

(Or which cup holder to stick your drink in. Is there a rule? They haven’t told me??)

 

 

That awkward moment when you get stuck in a bean bag.

(Never a bean bag, but got stuck in a leather chair once, maybe blog about that one.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you arrive at the party and see someone else wearing the same dress.

(Personally I don’t wear dresses, but I can see how it might be awkward.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you’re singing Happy Birthday but you don’t know the name of the person so you just mumble the name part.

(Semi-pro at this one.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you’re talking to someone but you can’t remember their name, so you try to avoid introducing them to the person you’re with.

(Gold medalist if this was an Olympic sport.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you try to sneak a photo of someone but the flash goes off.

(You’d have to know how to work the camera on your phone for this one.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you realize you’ve kept talking after the call dropped out.

(Since the arrival of cell phones who hasn’t had this one happen at least once?)

 

 

That awkward moment when unexpected visitors arrive at 11am and you’re still in your PJ’s.

(Haven’t done this one yet, I just wouldn’t let them in.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you see someone that looks like someone you know, and you scream their name, and it’s not them.

(Well maybe not scream, but I have got names mixed up once or twice.)

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I’m going to run a short series of ‘Witty One-Liners’ from the late great comedian, George Carlin.

I didn’t agree with everything George believed in or everything he said, but the man had a great gift of looking at life from a slightly different, and very humorous, perspective than most people.

I hope you enjoy them too.

George Carlin

George Carlin

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If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?

 

Is there another word for synonym?

 

If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he become disoriented?

 

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

 

Why are a ‘wise man’ and a ‘wise guy’ opposites?  

 

Why do ‘overlook’ and ‘oversee’ mean opposite things?

 

Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

 

If it’s true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

 

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

 

Swimming is not a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning. That’s just common sense!

 

A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.

 

Have you ever noticed that their ‘stuff’ is shit and your ‘shit’ is stuff?

 

You can’t fight City Hall, but you can goddamn sure blow it up.

 

If the Cincinnati Reds were really the first major league baseball team, who did they play?

 

No one knows what’s next, but everybody does it.

 

The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

 

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.

 

Just when I discovered the meaning of life, they changed it.

 

Weather forecast for tonight: Dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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First, let me put your mind at rest, today is a test that isn’t really a test, so don’t worry.

Instead I have a selection of twenty curious questions, some of which can be answered, others perhaps not.

But they are worth thinking about, and, they might, I hope, make you smile too.

Enjoy!

 

 

1.  Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

 

2.  Is it wrong for a vegetarian to eat animal crackers?

 

3.  If people from Poland are called ‘poles’ are people from Holland called ‘holes’?

 

4.  Can you cry under water?

 

5.  Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

 

6.  What is another word for thesaurus?

 

7.  Why is ‘abbreviation’ such a long word?

 

8.  What do they use to ship styrofoam?

 

9.  When sign makers go on strike, what do their signs say?

 

10. Is it okay to shoot tourists during tourist season?

 

11. Why can’t we tickle ourselves?

 

12. Why does the word ‘monosyllabic’ have five syllables?

 

13. Why do they call a building a ‘building’ when it is already built?

 

14. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown, too?

 

15. If honesty is the best policy, then is dishonesty the second best policy?

 

16. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how will anyone ever know?

 

17. If Harry Potter has magical power, why does he need to wear glasses?

 

18. How important does a person have to be before they are considered ‘assassinated’ instead of just ‘murdered’?

 

19. Why do you have to ‘put your two cents in’… but it’s only get a ‘penny for your thoughts’? Where’s that extra penny going to?

 

20. Once you’re in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Mondays wouldn’t be the same without a selection of answers given by Joe Public on television quiz shows. Here’s the latest batch from the archives. 

Usual Disclaimer: If you are of a nervous disposition please read the following with caution, severe feelings of intellectual superiority may follow.

Enjoy!

 

 

Q: Name something people want to be buried with         

A: Their home   

 

 

Q: Name a phrase some husbands dread hearing          

A: “Honey, I’m home”    

 

 

Q: Name something you learn how to do from a how-to book     

A: Read           

 

 

Q: Name something that goes off when a fuse blows     

A: Lighter

A: Gas

 

 

Q: Name something that breaks out      

A: A baby         

 

 

Q: Name a holiday usually celebrated on Mondays in order to get a three day weekend   

A: Thanksgiving

A: Somebody’s birthday

 

 

Q: An animal people fear because it’s a man-eater         

A: Hippo           

 

 

Q: Name something you’d hate to be doing on airplane when it hits turbulence    

A: Having sex   

 

 

Q: Name a part of the telephone           

A: The bottom part        

 

 

Q: Name something a baby might hide in his diaper if he didn’t want his mommy to leave home  

A: Kelly Clarkson          

 

 

Q: An unwelcome gift people receive from a cat

A: A bowl         

 

 

Q: An animal whose eggs you’d never eat for breakfast 

A: Hamster       

 

 

Q: Name a tradition associated with Christmas   

A: Hanukkah    

 

 

Q: The worst place to be when you need to use the restroom     

A: On a game show      

 

 

Q: Name something you might find on an old pirate ship, besides pirates           

A: A wrecked pirate ship

 

 

Q: Name something that goes up          

A: An erection

 

 

Q: Name something that is prohibited on most beaches 

A: Sex 

 

 

Q: Name something that falls from the trees      

A: Bird shit       

 

 

Q: Name something that has to warm up before you use it         

A: Wife

 

 

Q: Name a type of foreign money         

A: Monopoly     

 

 

Q: Name a weather term that can also describe your wife           

A: Wet 

 

 

Q: Name a job that helicopters are used for       

A: Tuna fishing 

 

 

Q: Name a happy occasion where you feel a little let down when it’s over

A: Funeral        

 

 

Q: Name something that comes with a summer storm    

A: Snow           

 

 

Q: Name something you wouldn’t want the police to find in the trunk of your car 

 A: Pickles                    

 

 

Q: Besides a house or a car, the most expensive item you own  

 A: Car  

 

 

Q: Name something starting with the word “Club”           

A: Golf club      

 

 

Q: Name a place where people are scolded for falling asleep     

 A: Traffic school

 

 

Q: Name a male dancer

A: Betty Grable 

 

 

Q: Name a famous rock band that starts with the word “The”      

A: The KISS     

 

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There are times when it is difficult enough trying to think up stuff for a new blog every day. But there are also a few times when you get handed some inspiration because of an event that happens somewhere in the world.

Occasionally those events are inspiring and exciting, more often than not though they are tragic. Today is one that is a mixture of both and has led to a double-blog post Sunday for the first time.

I’m sure from the title you know who this post is about.

A young Neil Armstrong during his NASA days

A young Neil Armstrong during his NASA days

 

I learned yesterday via an NBC news headline and from a friend from the blogshpere, John Erickson, of the death of Neil Armstrong.

Everybody knows who he was and what he achieved during his life, so there is no point in going over all that again here. Sunday’s newspapers will be full of it.

I have no personal anecdotes about Neil Armstrong. I never met him, and never came close to meeting him. But I was with him, as were millions of others, on July 20, 1969 when he became the first man to set foot on the moon. I sat in front of our television and watched, totally enthralled, as he did it.

The tv picture was crappy and the sound intermittent, but it didn’t matter. It was happening, and we could see it happening in real time. It was the most exciting thing that had happened in my lifetime and then some. My Dad watched alongside me, every bit as engrossed in the whole event. He couldn’t quite believe it even though he was watching it happen.

It was and remains a truly wondrous event.

At the time, and being a kid, I never considered the courage it must have taken to be the first man to set foot on our moon. It was just an adventure, but what an adventure.

The word “hero” is bandied about a lot these days, but as far as Armstrong is concerned it is a plaudit well earned and well deserved. And not just for what he achieved in his career with NASA, but in how he lived his life as well.

Is it sad that Neil Armstrong is no longer with us? Of course it is. Men like him are all too rare. But he lived more in his lifetime than most of us could ever hope to or even imagine. He will be remembered well and that’s about as much as any of us can hope for.

Neil Armstrong - the first man to set foot on the Moon

Neil Armstrong – the first man to set foot on the Moon

 

 

And Mr Gorsky mentioned in the title of this post?

Naturally this blog being what it is there is a duty to add a little bit of humor and, fact or fiction, Neil Armstrong was aware of the story of Mr Gorsky and I am sure it provided him with a lot of amusement over the years, as it has also done for people like myself who have retold it many times.

For those who don’t know, the legend goes that when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” statement, but before he re-entered the lander, he said “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.”

Over the years, many people asked him what it meant but he would never say. Then one July 5, in Tampa Bay, FL, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26- year-old question. He finally responded. It seems that by that time Mr. Gorsky had died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could at last answer the question.

He said when he was a kid, he was playing baseball with his brother in the backyard. His brother hit a fly ball which landed in front of his neighbors’ bedroom window. The neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky.

As he leaned down to pick up the ball, he heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky, “Oral sex? Oral sex you want? You’ll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!”

;o)

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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When I was putting together yesterday’s post about crooks who had either been smart enough to get away with it or police who had been too dumb to catch them, the name Danny Ocean cropped up in relation to a heist in Belgium.

That put me in mind of the very popular movie remake of Ocean’s Eleven starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, et al.

Ocean's Eleven

Ocean’s Eleven

The Clooney version of Ocean’s Eleven was a good piece of work. (We’ll not talk so much about the sequels!) Without spoiling the whole thing for those who haven’t yet seen the movie, basically the plot is to simultaneously steal $150 million from the Bellagio, Mirage and MGM Grand casinos in Las Vegas, all belonging to ruthless entrepreneur Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). The money is being held in a state-of-the-art safe seventy yards underneath the Las Vegas Strip, with loads of hi-tech surveillance, laser beams, motion detectors and alarm systems to protect it.

Clooney/Ocean puts together a team of experienced professionals, proficient in skills from magic, pickpocteting, pyrotechnics, a card sharp, an electronics and surveillance expert and even a Chinese acrobat! 

The movie is full of special effects and great looking sets with hosts of electronic gadgets that are there to prevent people stealing the casino’s money, and loads of other gadgets that Ocean and his crew have assembled to defeat the former.

Even getting into the surveillance and restricted areas of the casinos is a huge problem that takes sophisticated planning and equipment and well worked plot lines.

casino security

casino security

But that’s Hollywood.

This blog is about reality.

I have spent quite a bit of time in Vegas, mostly on business but I enjoy playing in the casinos too.I even ended up in Federal Court there on one occasion, but that’s a story for another day. Suffice to say here that I like the place and the buzz that it has. Perhaps living there all the time would get to you, but for a visit I highly recommend it (take some money with you though!).

It just so happened that I was in Las Vegas about the time the Ocean’s Eleven movie was doing the rounds, probably 2002. One evening I found myself standing outside the Bellagio watching the fountain show (a great spectacle, see video) and of course my thoughts turned to the movie and all that had transpired. In my mind’s eye I could see Danny Ocean and the others in this very same place. It was a pleasant evening.

Me, Danny and the crew outside the Bellagio

Me, Danny and the crew outside the Bellagio

Within a couple of days of that, however, I discovered that my cell phone was missing. Had I mislaid it, had I dropped it, had it fallen out of my pocket in a restaurant or taxi, or had I had my pocket picked by one of Danny Ocean’s men? I thought the possibility of the latter was highly unlikely so I put it down to my own carelessness.

I was staying in one of the casino hotels, I won’t say which one, because I am sure things have changed a lot in the intervening ten years. But after checking my room for the phone I decided the next best thing to do was to ask the security guys in the hotel in the unlikely event that someone had found it and handed it in. It wasn’t an expensive phone, so I wasn’t too bothered, but one feels obliged to go through the motions when something like that happens.

So I made my way down to the casino on the ground floor and found one of the security guys. He pointed me in the direction of what I presumed was his superior and he in turn pointed me towards a rather non-descript single door on the other side of the casino floor.

After a long walk, circumnavigating numerous roulette and blackjack tables, I got to the door and pressed a buzzer on the intercom affair. To my surprise no one answered, but the door simply clicked open. I wasn’t sure what I should do, but always ready for an adventure I opened the door and went inside.

Man, talk about a disappointment. My crest was fallen on several levels!

Rather than being pleased with myself at the ease with which I had been able to dismantle the multi-million dollar security, I was actually disappointed that it hadn’t been a lot more difficult. I can talk my way (or blag, some people have said) into most places if I choose to do so, and I had been rehearsing various things that I was going to say when questioned. But here I was right in the heart of the casino surveillance system and no one had even spoken to me let alone challenge why I was there.

I was disappointed also by what I saw. Sure there were loads of cctv screens all showing different parts of the casino, different gambling tables and all that sort of thing. And a few obligatory computers. But it wasn’t like the movies. The equipment was clearly not new and the décor left a lot to be desired too, not quite tatty but showing a few years of wear and tear.

I wandered around for a minute or so taking it all in. If Ocean had picked me for his crew I would have had everyone tied up and the place taken over by now, I thought. But then the movie would have been about fifteen minutes long and very little tension and excitement (and box office takings) would have been generated.

Then one of the security guys detected my presence. He didn’t speak, just gave me one of those “Where the f*** did you come from?” looks.

I too was silent, I knew what he wasn’t saying, so I put my right hand inside my jacket and went for my silenced 9mm Walther PPK in its concealed shoulder holster. Well, no, not quite. I just retrieved my room keycard and ID which I thought might be required when everyone came to their senses.

It was. And I explained why I was there and who had sent me. After their initial surprise the guys in the security room were very friendly, but no phone had been handed in and they didn’t hold out much hope of me ever seeing it again, so after a bit of conversation I bid them farewell. I think it took longer to get me buzzed out than buzzed in, but hey that’s life.

Later that evening I again found myself leaning up against the front wall at the Bellagio watching the fountains. But this time Danny and the crew weren’t there, not even in my head. After what had happened earlier, it just wasn’t the same. It hasn’t been ever since!

Just me this time

Just me this time

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Ocean’s eleven trailer

End sequence

 

Video taken from Paris Casino’s Eiffel Tower Observation Point, on March 11,2007

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Just as a bit of a contrast to yesterday’s post, today I have ten stories, which are either about thieves who were smart enough to get away with it, or police who were too dumb to catch them.

The readers can make up their own minds.

Enjoy.

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1. Double Trouble

On Feb 25, 2009, three masked robbers boldly busted into Kaufhaus Des Westens, the second largest department store in Europe.

Via a rope ladder, the men were able to enter and ransack the main floor without tripping any sensors or alarms.

But what may have been a fatal error – leaving behind a single glove – ended up creating a bizarre situation.

DNA found on the glove matched TWO people: identical twins identified as Hassan and Abbas O.

German law however requires that each person be individually convicted and because their DNA is so similar, neither can be exclusively pinned to the evidence.

German police were forced to set them both free, and the third man has yet to be found.

identical twins - how do you tell them apart?

identical twins – how do you tell them apart?

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2. The World’s Most Famous Fugitive

No, it’s not the one about Dr Richard Kimble trying to hunt down the one-armed man, although many readers may well be familiar with this story too which is about probably the world’s most famous fugitive.

On the night before Thanksgiving, November 24, 1971, a passenger by the name of Dan Cooper boarded a plane in Portland, OR bound for Seattle.

Clad in a suit and raincoat, wearing dark glasses and carrying a briefcase, he sat silently in the back of the plane. After calmly lighting a cigarette (yes smoking was permitted in airplanes in those days), he ordered a whiskey from the stewardess and then handed her a note.

It read, ‘I HAVE A BOMB IN MY BRIEFCASE. I WILL USE IT IF NECESSARY. I WANT YOU TO SIT NEXT TO ME. YOU ARE BEING HIJACKED.’

He demanded $200,000 and four parachutes delivered to him in Seattle.

When the plane landed, he released all the passengers, save for the pilot, co-pilot, and stewardess.

Once the money was delivered in the middle of the brightly-lit tarmac, Cooper demanded the pilot take off for Mexico, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Shortly after takeoff, over the mountains northwest of Portland, the six-foot-tall Cooper strapped on a parachute and jumped.

He was never heard from again.

Did he survive?

In 1980, roughly $6000 was found of the money in bundles on a beach, but no signs of a body.

The case remains open and is the only unsolved crime in US aviation history.

The Fugitive - The Illusive Dan Cooper

The Fugitive – The Illusive Dan Cooper

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3. Cops And Robbers – Boston Style

On March 18, 1990, the day after Saint Patrick’s Day, policemen arrived at the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, claiming to have received a call about a disturbance.

Breaking protocol, the security officer let them in.

One of the men said he had a warrant for the guard’s arrest, and they convinced him to step away from his post.

Bad move: the “policemen” were really criminals in disguise, and they quickly handcuffed him and ordered him to call the other guard to the front, who was also subdued.

The thieves absconded with 13 paintings, including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas, worth a third of a billion dollars.

To this date, no one has been arrested in conjunction with the crime, nor have the paintings ever been recovered.

Robbers dressed as cops - would they fool you?

Robbers dressed as cops – would they fool you?

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4. Cops And Robbers – Japanese Style

On December 10, 1968, in Tokyo, Japan, a Nihon Shintaku Ginko Bank car, transporting 300 million Yen ($817,000 US) in its trunk, was pulled over by a policeman on a motorcycle, who warned them of a bomb planted underneath.

Since there had already been bomb threats against the bank, the four passengers exited the vehicle as the uniformed patrolman inspected below the car.

Moments later, smoke and flames could be seen under the vehicle, causing the men to run for cover.

Of course, it turned out the smoke was from a flare and the cop was a phony.

He jumped in the car and sped off with the loot.

Even though there were 120 pieces of evidence, 110,000 suspects and 170,000 police investigators, the man was never caught.

In 1975, the statute of limitations ended, and in 1988 all civil liabilities were voided, but still no one ‘fessed up.

man under car

man under car

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5. Diamonds Are Forever – Unless Someone Steals Them

The largest diamond heist in history was stolen from the world’s most impenetrable vault, located in Antwerp, Belgium.

Two floors below the Diamond Centre, it was protected by a lock with 100 million possible combinations, as well as heat/motion sensors, radar, magnetic fields, and a private security force.

However, on the weekend of Feb 15, using a series of moves that would make Danny Ocean jealous, the thieves were able to silently enter the vault, bust open the safe deposit boxes, and make off with the glittering loot.

And although the purported ring leader Leonardo Notarbartolo was caught and sentenced to 10 years, he has since been released on parole.

Notarbartolo claimed in an interview in Wired Magazine that the true take was only $20 million and was part of a larger conspiracy involving insurance fraud.

Whatever — the loot was never recovered.

Diamonds are forever - sometimes!

Diamonds are forever – sometimes!

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6. The Disappearing $million

On Friday October 7, 1977, before Columbus Day Weekend, a bank worker counted $4 million dollars in cash and stored it in a locked money cart within a heavily guarded vault, two floors below the Chicago First National Bank.

Then poof!

Tuesday morning, the money is counted again, and exactly $1 million dollars – in $50 and $100 dominations and weighing over 80 pounds – had vanished into thin air.

In 1981, $2300 of the money showed up in a drug raid, but otherwise both the perpetrators and the cash are still at large.

cash pile

cash pile

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7. The Pink Panthers

The winner for boldest burglary goes to the perpetrators of the so-called Harry Winston Heist.

On December 4, 2008, four men, three of whom wore long blonde wigs and disguised themselves as women, charmed their way into the famous Harry Winston Paris jewelry store just before closing time.

Once inside, they brandished a .357 revolver and a hand grenade and began their pillaging.

Less than 15 minutes later they escaped with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds worth an estimated $108 million US.

Investigators believe it to be the work of the notorious Serbian criminal gang The Pink Panthers, responsible for $132 million in robberies around the world.

They have never been caught.

Obviously the police needed Inspector Clouseau on the case.

Inspector Clouseau

Inspector Clouseau

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8. Tucker Cross Or Double Cross?

The Tucker Cross, was named after diver Teddy Tucker who, in 1955, recovered it from the 1594 wreck of the San Pedro.

It was a 22-karat gold cross embedded with sparkling green emeralds and considered priceless.

Nonetheless, Tucker sold it to the Government of Bermuda for an undisclosed sum.

In 1975, the Cross was moved to the Bermuda Museum of Art to be displayed for Queen Elizabeth II.

No one knows when or how, but during this transition, a clever thief replaced the original with a cheap plastic replica.

Presumably, this historical artifact was melted down, stripped of its jewels, and funneled into the Black Market.

The Tucker Cross

The Tucker Cross

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9. Fancy A Brazilian?

No, nothing to do with Kim Kardashian or the netherlands. This happened in 2005, in Fortaleza, Brazil at the Banco Central, when a gang of enterprising thieves managed to carry off one of the biggest heists of all time. 

This heist was the result of painstaking planning by a small gang of burglars who tunneled over 250 feet to the bank’s vault from a nearby property.

The robbers used a landscaping business as a front that allowed them to move massive amounts of dirt and rock without looking suspicious.

The tunnel was expertly constructed and had sophisticated lighting and even an air conditioning system.

After three months of digging, the thieves finally broke into the vault and made off with what was equivalent to $70 million dollars.

Since then, police have made a number of arrests in connection with the burglary and recovered roughly $9 million dollars of the haul, but the majority of the suspects are still at large.

Part of the tunnel at the Banco Central - the police are looking into it!

Part of the tunnel at the Banco Central  –  the police are looking into it!

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10. The Thieves Of Baghdad

On July 11th, 2007 in Baghdad a private financial institution, Dar Es Salaam, was robbed by two, or possibly three guards.

They got away with a third of a billion in cash, all US bills.

Perhaps the bank itself did not want people to start wondering where, how, and why it had so much cash at hand, so they have kept mum and there has been minimal press.

But somewhere, the successful thieves are laughing all the way from this bank.

The Thieves Of Baghdad

The Thieves Of Baghdad

========================

 

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Thieves are not usually renowned for their massive intellects, save for an elite few who will be the subject of a future post on my blog. Statistically about one third of bank robberies in the United States fail, with 15 percent of the robbers being arrested at the scene. Approximately fifty percent, or half, are solved within 30 days. 

But the perception remains in the minds of the would-be robbers that they’ll never be caught.  Had they any sense at all they would figure out that getting away from the scene of their crime is every bit as important, if not more so, that getting to it in the first place. After all, if they get caught what was the point of the whole thing anyway?

Sometimes getaways can go just as planned. Sometimes, as illustrated by that excellent Steve McQueen movie “The Getaway”, they require a little bit of flexibility and adjustment. And sometimes, when little thought and planning has been done they turn into disasters.

Today’s selection is about six would-be robbers whose plans were, let’s just say, not as well thought out as they could have been had anyone with a brain been involved.

Enjoy.

 

1. Unarmed Robbery

A severely intellectually challenged gang that masterminded a £175,000 robbery in England made one huge blunder.

They used a getaway driver with no arms.

After they raided a jeweler’s shop in Essex, the four gang members jumped in John Smith’s waiting car and took off as police gave chase.

Unfortunately things got complicated as eighteen year old Smith, who cannot dress himself and lives with his mother, had no arms below his elbows and, being Britain the land of the stick shift (why?), his gang members had to help change gears.

Remarkably they drove for 30 miles before crashing.

Smith was given a 12-month youth custody sentence, suspended for two years.

The unarmed getaway driver!

The unarmed getaway driver!

 

 

2. The Drug Mule

There are drug mules… and then there are drug mules.

A Romanian smuggler, Janos Jakab, took the term a bit too literally with this getaway vehicle.

He was caught while trying to outrun border police with a $500,000 load of cigarettes and tobacco on his horse and cart.

After police challenged him as he crossed Romania’s northern border with the Ukraine there was what was described as ‘a short chase’, as police easily overtook Jakab, arrested him and confiscated his cart.

A spokesman for the local border police said: ‘In general smugglers are becoming more and more sophisticated in their methods of getting contraband across borders.

‘But this case proved the exception to the rule.

‘We have a fleet of high-powered vehicles that can chase down the fastest cars,’ he added.

‘Outrunning our officers was never a possibility – even if he had a thoroughbred racehorse strapped to his cart.’

The drug mule - and cart

The drug mules – and cart

 

 

3. Panic In Houston

A Houston woman, identified only as Blanca, was cashing a check at the Chase bank in Uvalde, Texas, when armed bank robbers stormed in.

She was so frightened she ran out to the first car she saw and drove away.

She said the car was on, so she floored it, desperate to escape. She drove a few miles from the bank, pulled into a parking lot, fell out of the car and ran into a store, screaming for help.

But what she didn’t know was, she’d just stolen the robbers’ getaway car – which, police said, they had stolen from someone else.

“Then, they arrested me, and they said, ‘You’re the one that stole a stolen car.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, it was their car,’” Blanca said.

The FBI cleared Blanca of car theft charges.

As for the robbers? They simply carjacked another vehicle and are still at large.

 

 

4. An Equal Opportunity Robbery

According to police in Palo Alto, CA, a bearded, grey-haired man in his sixties held up a branch of the Wachovia Bank with a handgun while in a wheelchair.

The man had bandages on his legs, and his right leg was held out straight during the robbery.

Having completed his heist, the man trundled off down the street.

Authorities are looking for a white Ford van that they suspect he may have been lifted into. Police also note that they’re not sure if the man was genuinely disabled, or if the wheelchair was part of a cunning disguise.

wheelchair man

wheelchair man

 

 

5. Naked Stupidity

A man in Osceola County, Florida, tried to rob a Lowe’s outlet.

Making his escape with his ill gotten gains he first, he tried to run across Pleasant Hill Road, but a white pickup truck was blocking his way. So he walked up to the driver and punched him in the face.

Deputies said Hodges then stole a golf cart from a nudist community near the Lowes store.

By that time, deputies were already at the scene to make the arrest.

 

 

6. Never Forget The First Law Of Bank Robbery

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia two stupid armed raiders could have escaped with more than $1million after hijacking a security van full of cash, if they hadn’t forgotten the first law of bank robbery, that is.

One of the dumb duo drove the hijacked van away while the other followed in a small car.

However when the time came to ditch the van and transfer the loot to their getaway car they discovered that they had to leave half the money behind – because their car was too small.

The van was later recovered with the remaining half of the money still inside.

“The bags are quite big. I consider them quite stupid. Their planning was very shortsighted,” Police Chief Shakaruddin Che Mood said.

getaway car - a bit too small

getaway car – a bit too small

 

7. Failure Down Under

In Brisbane, Australia, a robber wearing a skull mask and carrying a gun entered a bak in the Grand Plaza Shopping Center at Browns Plains.

Unfortunately rather than holding up the staff at the bank, the unfortunate robber was held up himself when he ran smack bang into a set of glass doors.

The sound of his collision with the automatic sliding doors alerted bank staff to his presence and they sounded the alarms.

The robber fled empty handed.

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And finally a short video courtesy of Monty Python

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

 .

I suppose this being an election year and all it would be remiss not to make some sort of comment on things political. I have to admit that I am not a great supporter of the democratic system as it currently exists.

I say this for a number of reasons. Here are four.

One, we never get to vote for the best candidate, only the candidates who can raise the most money, and who are selected by the party faithful.

Two, most people are so welded to the Republicans or Democrats that an independent candidate, even if he were by far the best of the bunch, has such an uphill struggle it is virtually impossible for him or her to get elected.

Three, our democracy does not require the voter (or the candidate I suppose) to be qualified in any way. The intellectual and the moron have an equal vote, even though the former has the ability to vote for the best qualified candidate with the most sensible policies, whilst the latter will vote for the one who wore the nicest tie in a TV debate.

And four, because whether we have Republicans or Democrats in power, or a white or colored President, they continue to allow the same sycophants and morons to populate all the important parts of government and crucial elements like the banking sector.  

“Yes we can?”

No we can’t.

Not with the present system. The current incumbent has proved that one beyond all reasonable doubt.

So what does all this mean? Well, it means probably that whoever gets elected, things will go on much the same.

But hopefully some people will actually think about who they are voting for and why. And try to cut through the electioneering promises and hype and think about what is practical and doable.

The following might help to clarify things a little.

Enjoy.

 

Death Of A Senator 

A powerful senator dies after a prolonged illness.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

“Welcome to Heaven,”
says St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”

“No problem, just let me in,” says the senator.

“Well, I’d like to but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”

“Really, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven,” says the senator.

“I’m sorry but we have our rules.”

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a club and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him, everyone is very happy and in evening attire.

They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar.

Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes.

They are having such a good time that, before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a big hug and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on Heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

“Now it’s time to visit Heaven.”

So 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing.

They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

“Well then, you’ve spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now choose your eternity.”

He reflects for a minute, then the senator answers, “Well, I would never have said it, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in Hell.”

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and all sorts of other disgusting things and putting them in black bags.

The Devil comes over to him and lays his arm on his neck.

“I…I…I… don’t understand,” stammers the senator. “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a club house, and we ate lobster and caviar, and danced and had a great time. Now all there is, is a wasteland full of garbage and awful stuff and my friends all look miserable.”

The Devil looks at him, smiles and says,

“Yesterday we were campaigning…

Today you voted for us!”


PLEASE VOTE WISELY THIS COMING ELECTION!!