Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Other stuff”

Additional follow-up on former Secret Service agent’s theft from Silk Road dark web site

Primary mode of transportation to be used by major players in Silk Road drug bazaar for many years to come. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

While looking at the sentencing of former Secret Service agent Shaun W. Bridges I learned a few more details of what he was up to while looting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoins.  His sentencing is one of the loose ends on my posts about the Silk Road dark web site where you could buy any drugs, body parts, contract hits, weapons, explosives, or fake identification that your heart desired.

Some tidbits from a few articles on his antics:

12/7/15 – SFGate – Ex-Secret Service agent gets prison in S.F.-based Silk Road case – Good summary of first case.  Sentenced 12/5/15 to 71 months, which is one month less than 6 years. Carl Force was sentenced on 10/19/15 to 6 1/2 years.

2/3/16 – Motherboard – Great Moments in Shaun Bridges, a Corrupt Silk Road Investigator – Article was written shortly after his re-arrest.

This guy had quite a career. Seriously. He was a successful hostage negotiator before joining Secret Service. He was on the Obama presidential protection detail and was a cyber currency expert while at the USSS.

Read more…

More sentencing details on Silk Road dark web site – part 1

View of Mr. Bridges neighborhood for seven years. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

One more loose end on my reporting of the drug/body parts/contract hit/weapons/fake ID/explosives dark web site Silk Road:  sentencing for Shaun W. Bridges.

Update: After getting ready for followup to this post, I realized those are actually separate discussions. Thus, there will be no ‘part 2’ for this post.

He is the former Secret Service agent who, while assigned to the inter-agency task force investigating Silk Road, stole a large amount of bitcoins. He was sentenced to prison for 71 months.

The day before he was scheduled to report to prison he was trying to get out of the U.S. but was arrested for another theft of Bitcoins. He pled guilty and was sentenced to another 24 months, which the judge ordered to run consecutively.

He was also ordered to surrender 1,500 bitcoins, which were worth approximately $10.4 million at the time of his sentencing.

This post will discuss his sentencing. Next post will give some more background on his escapades which paid him a well-earned seven years in free federal housing.

I’ve previously walked through this exercise for Scott London and Keith Graves.

Release dates and actual time in prison

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Silk Road perps. The last one has been extradicted and is awaiting trial.

Expected long-term housing arrangements for ‘Variety Jones.’ Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

There are only a few loose ends on the massive on-line drug bazaar called Silk Road. Actually, you could buy weapons, human organs, explosives, and even a contract killing on the site along with any amount of any dope you have ever heard of.

Most of the players are in federal prison on long-term sentences.

Last time I checked, the remaining on-the-loose player was “Variety Jones.” He is now in custody, awaiting trial.

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Operating costs of military aircraft using reimbursement rates as an approximation

An F-16 Fighting Falcon joins in formation with a P-40 Warhawk (front), P-51 Mustang (bottom), and an F-86 Sabre (top) during the Heritage Flight Training Course March 2, 2014, over Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.  (U.S Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

The Department of Defense has established reimbursement rates for the airplanes and helicopters in the military inventory. If I’m reading this right, these are the hourly rates for reimbursement when an aircraft or helicopter is loaned out.

This seems to be usable as an estimate for the operating costs of airplanes. I previously discussed Operating costs per hour for USAF planes. This post provides more detailed descriptions.

There are separate rates for loans to another US military organization, other federal agencies, and two other categories I don’t understand (FMS and All Other).

Sure would be fun to put together a tongue-in-cheek conversation for which these rates would be used (Short outline: British Defense Minister: “Say old chap, we’re putting together a strike in our little squabble and we’d like to borrow two flights of Strike Eagles and a half-dozen tankers for a couple of days. Can you do that and what’ll the tab be?” U.S. Secretary of Defense: “Sure, for you, no problem. Um, yeah, we have the resources available. Hold on a second while I look up the list price.”)

More seriously, I’m guessing this provides a simple way to calculate the dollar amount of assistance we provide our allies, say the French need air transport to land a brigade of troops in Africa to deal with a new round of shooting in a civil war, like in Mali or Central African Republic. Or, say we provide refueling for the superb fighters of our French and British allies while all three of us launch a coordinated air strike in Syria.

Anyone care to share your guesses on how these reimbursement rates would actually be used?

B-52D at March Field museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

Reimbursement rates

On a practical basis, this reimbursement table provides a frame of reference for the operating costs of U.S. airborne resources. The rates are broken out between operating and maintenance (O&M) and personnel costs (MilPers) on tab F2. That likely approximates the hourly operating costs and the hourly compensation for a standard crew.

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Who picked up the bill for our freedom?

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For our freedom, I offer up a humble thank you to all who have gone before standing endless watch, slogging through the jungle mud, freezing in a foxhole, shooting Nazis with a machine gun at 30,000 feet, doing yet another round of dreary maintenance, brought home a life-long injury, or paying the ultimate price fighting to defeat the Confederacy.

Because of millions who did what had to be done, I can say what I wish without fear of being thrown in jail.

It seems so insufficient, but I’ll say it anyway – – Thanks.

 

“It is the soldier, not the reporter,

who has given us freedom of the press.

 

It is the soldier, not the poet,

who has given us freedom of speech.

 

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,

who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

 

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag,

who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr.

 

Ethical failures by NCAA and UNC Chapel Hill. Illustration of the phrase ‘auditing with your eyes closed.’

UNC Chapel Hill – “Midnight Old Well” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As mentioned in previous post, articles keep popping up on the systemic academic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill. Trying to hold my posts to under a thousand words each means there need to be multiple updates.

  • Reporter says the UNC scheme was widely  known
  • UNC grad, class of ’92, explains the reason UNC claimed as legitimate classes they previously confessed were fraudulent. Also says this fiasco shows him the UNC leadership chose money over honor.

10/13/17 – Duke Basketball Report at SB Nation – A Pitiful Victory – Article goes over a long list of warning signs of systemic cheating and fraud at UNC. After most of the points, the writer makes some comment along the lines of they knew, or we knew, meaning there was common knowledge of cheating.

Apparently there was a massive scandal at UNC back in the ‘60s and the school made a strong commitment to play clean. Article shows that commitment to integrity only lasted until somewhere around 1990.

Author says the rest of the ACC, and maybe everyone in college sports, should be upset with the lying and cheating. I agree. The NCAA isn’t able to find anything in the rule book to say academic and athletic fraud is actually punishable. (Next article says they removed from their rulebook the rule that said academic fraud is punishable.)

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More on the UNC fiasco and the FBI’s recruiting investigation

bell tower” by zach_mullen is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I was planning to wait a while before talking some more about the UNC academic/athletic fiasco and the NCAA’s toothlessness, but articles just keep popping up that grab my attention:

  • UNC gave opposite stories to its accrediting agency and the NCAA
  • One of the head coaches implicated in the major FBI investigation was fired

10/20/17 – The News & Observer – How UNC changed its story-and lost its voice in college sports – Apparently UNC had a reputation of ethical behavior in its athletic programs before the current systemic academic & athletic fraud developed.  That reputation is now gone.

The current administration addressed the academic fraud with the accrediting agency and accepted responsibility. An internal investigation concluded the purpose of the fake courses was to keep athletes academically eligible for participation. The University drew a one year academic probation.

Article provides quotes saying that the University accepted responsibility, identified the courses as wrongdoing, admitting the courses were frauds, acknowledging the scheme was running for a long time, and agreed that more than two people were involved.

And then came the NCAA investigation…

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The last pieces of democracy slip away in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has made its choice. Will that choice stand? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The elections in Venezuela were stacked.

Oh, by the way, what economic system produced this human suffering? What political system produced this all-but-in-name dictatorship?

  • Hints of the fraud before the election.
  • In spite of polling and expectations, a mere 5 opposition candidates won a governorship.
  • Oh, the few in the opposition who won are denied their position; initial reports said that government hacks were sworn into office instead.
  • Four of the five opposition governors actually sworn in.

10/15/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Latest Election Fraud – More details on how the election results were cooked. Reporter describes more details on manipulation.

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More details on Venezuela’s upcoming bond payments

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Found an article giving more details on the Venezuelan bond payments at risk. Particular item of note is the breakout of principal and interest.

Oh, the five opposition governors were actually sworn in.

10/25/17 – ZeroHedge – The Time Has Come:  Venezuela May Be In Default In Under 48 Hours – Venezuela skipped two more coupon payments over the weekend, for another $237M, making a cumulative $586M of missed coupons for a week.

Tables in article are detailed enough that it takes a while to understand. If I get it, this is the P&I due in near future, with the breakout between principal and interest on the two big payments:

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Default watch on Venezuelan bonds

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Venezuela is in danger of defaulting on bond payments in the next few weeks.

10/17/17 – Miami Herald – Maduro faces financial nightmare in Venezuela – just in time for Halloween – The government has bond payments of $1B due on 10/27 and $1.2B due on 11/2.  Total due in next six weeks, which would be the end of November, is a total of $3.53B. Both S&P and Fitch are rating Venezuela as having a high probability to default within 6 months.

Here some more of the detailed numbers:

10/20/17 – CNBC – Venezuela is blowing debt payments ahead of a huge, make-or-break bill – Here is a schedule of upcoming required bond payments:

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UNC Chapel Hill evades any sanctions from NCAA for academic and athletic fraud scheme that ran for 18 years.

UNC Chapel Hill bell tower. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The NCAA announced it will not impose sanctions on UNC Chapel Hill men’s and women’s basketball program for a systemic academic fraud that offered about 200 different “paper courses” over a two decade timeframe.

The NCAA acknowledges that from 1989 through 2011 around 6,000 students were in those courses. The NCAA acknowledges for these courses minimal attendance was required, faculty helped with papers, and the grading was quite loose.  An internal investigation found 3,100 students took a paper course during a specific 9 year timeframe, with somewhere around half of those enrolled being student athletes.

The reason UNC walks?

Non-athletes participated in the paper courses.

Since the known and admitted fraudulent courses weren’t used to benefit only athletes, the NCAA concluded the scheme does not violate their rules.

Seriously.

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More bad news for college basketball

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Looks like a new mega-scandal has burst on the college basketball scene. I’ve just started paying attention to it. Will describe a few articles on the fiasco and then let it sit for a while before discussing it in more detail.

The feds indicted assistant coaches from four named colleges with two more unnamed schools mentioned, with sufficient detail to allow guesses as to which school’s coaches will next face a perp walk.

Charges are described in Yahoo Sports on 9/26/17: FBI brings Armageddon to college basketball, and its’ just the tip of the iceberg.

Allegations are large payments going to promising high school recruits to get them attending particular schools. Named schools are Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and USC.

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Nuclear launch protocol and timing

Drawing courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In case I ever want to make reference to such things, I now can cite an article that describes a guess at the nuclear launch protocols in place for the United States. Article also has speculation as to timing for each phase of the sequence.

Someday I may want to cite an unclassified source, so here it is:

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Venezuela continues to spiral downward

Venezuelan flag. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

News out of Venezuela keeps getting worse.

8/18/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Former Attorney General Flees to Columbia – The constituent assembly removed the Attorney General earlier in the month and last week took over all legislative powers from the Congress. When the government leveled corruption accusations against the now-deposed Attorney General, she and her husband fled for their lives to Columbia.

As an indicator of why she had to get-outta’-Dodge is that the secret police raided her home last week and the government has now banned 60 other prosecutors from leaving the country.

8/26/17 – Hot air – Girls As Young As 12 Turned To Prostitution To Survive Venezuela’s Socialist NightmareRead more…

Ripple effects of marijuana legalization in California

Photo by James Ulvog.

I have seen two amusing ripple effects of soon-to-be-legal recreational use of marijuana in California.

The first impact is visible in hotels. I am sure you have seen the disclosures at hotels that if you smoke in a no smoking room you will be hit with a large cleaning fee charged to your credit card.

I recently stayed at a hotel which had the typical comment of a $250 smoke cleaning fee on the check-in form, which I had to initial.

In the room, there is a sign in the bathroom, which you can see above. Just in case you weren’t aware that smoking marijuana constitutes smoking, the sign reminds you that if you smoke either tobacco or marijuana there will be a $250 cleaning fee.

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