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”

Cost of Los Angeles and Las Vegas football stadiums

3d rendering of an outlined stadium. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

It is fascinating to see the cost of large projects. Check out the price tag for new football stadiums in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Los Angeles

The new stadium under construction in Los Angeles which, will be the home of the Rams and Chargers, will run a cool $5 billion.

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Where are they now? Players in Silk Road, the on-line bazaar for drugs, explosives, and body parts.

Mr. Ulbricht’s housing area for either the rest of his life or until the Feds decide to move  him to another facility for the rest of his life:  Federal Correctional Complex Tucson FCI Tucson Arizona Overhead View by Prison Insight is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Time for a follow-up on the status and jail location of the major players in the Silk Road, dark web fiasco. If you need lots and lots of background, check out this tag.

Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator service, some online searching, and previous reporting provides this info:

 

Ross William Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts”, “DPR” – Silk Road mastermind – age 35.

Register number 18870-111.

Serving Life Sentence. (In the federal system, I think “life” means life.)

In 12/18 he was confined at Florence (Colorado) – High security U.S. Penitentiary, that is the ‘super-max’. On 9/2/19 he is confined at Tucson U.S. Penitentiary, a high security prison.

 

Roger Thomas Clark – a/k/a “Variety Jones”, allegedly Mr. Ulbricht’s deputy – age 57

Register number 85816-054.

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More tips for people planning a felony on what *not* to do.

If you are planning a felony, consider your pacemaker might testify against you. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

As a public service to people planning a felony (but will never read my blog) and also for entertainment of people who would never commit a felony, I have accumulated a few stories of people who really messed up their escapade by not quite thinking things through.

Extra special tip for your planning consideration:  pay attention to the impact of technology.

Previous discussions:

Here are a few more tips on how not to commit a felony, or in one situation how not to commit fraud:

 

Tip #13

This item doesn’t involve criminal charges, but it sure does fit with the theme of these posts…

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Guy took some time away from basketball after college and playing pro on several teams in Europe. Wanted to join a team in Bosnia after his break.

The league requires a drug screening test. For reasons unknown, he used his girlfriend’s urine. Seems obvious to me that he wanted to hide something.

Urine test was clear for banned drugs.

However…

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First sentencing in college admissions scandal

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A sentence has been handed down in the first of the college admission scandal cases to reach a judge. The former sailing coach at Stanford received:

  • $10,000 fine
  • 1 day in jail, already served
  • 6 months house detention
  • 2 years supervised release, i.e. probation

(Cross-posted to my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Prosecutors recommended 13 months in prison.

Several articles pointed out this person is the lease culpable of those lined up for sentencing. He did not receive any money directly.

If I read the articles correctly, the only student admitted as part of this scheme was not actually an athlete and has since been expelled.  No other students were admitted.

One key point of detention is an assessment of what type of crime is present.

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What is the total federal and state tax on gasoline in California?

Ever wondered what you are paying in direct taxes for that gas? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

State tax on gasoline in California went up again on July 1. Have you been wondering what is the federal & state tax load on a gallon of gas in the state? I was. So I calculated it.

The total excise and sales tax load levied the federal and state level is 72.5 cents a gallon, which is 23.9% on top of the cost of gas.

On July 1, CNBC reported After tax hike, gas in California is now a dollar higher than the national average.

State excise tax went up 5.6 cents for each gallon bringing total state haul to 47.3 cents.

Oh, the 2017 bill that imposed the tax hike also contained an inflation adjustment.

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Intro and update to college admissions scandal

Lots of things going on behind closed doors that have drawn the focused attention of the U.S. Attorney in Boston. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The pretend-to-be-an-athlete-in-a-sport-you-have-never-even-played scandal in higher education is one of many issues I have not focused on over the last year or more.

Family issues have pulled me away from blogging. Hope to start getting caught up on the massive changes taking place around us. I’ll begin with the college admissions disaster.

(Article cross-posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.

Brief background:

A large number of parents were paying Mr. William “Rick” Singer to help their children get into colleges where their kids wouldn’t otherwise gain admission.

More background:

The schemes, according to a long string of articles covered in most newspapers which I won’t link, included techniques such as:

  • Creating fake profile of the student being a competitive athlete when the student had not even played the sport.
  • Paying to have another person take your SAT or ACT tests.
  • Hiring a proctor to oversee extra-testing time and then correcting answers.

Flow of cash was complicated, as expected. Most of the dollars went to a non-profit foundation set up by Mr. Singer. He then distributed portions of the money to college sports coaches, proctors, and other participants. Some of the payments went directly from the parents to the colleges.

Oh, by making those payments to a charity, the payments became tax deductible. So there is also a tax fraud angle for all the involved parents to ponder. You can easily guess someone from IRS Criminal Investigations is involved in each of the cases.

Current status:

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More tips for people planning a felony. Don’t do it.

This is not a wise strategy for addressing the judge who will preside over your criminal trial. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previously mentioned several tips for people planning to commit a felony. For example, don’t take your location tracking fitbit with you while you carry out a contract assassination. Why? The location data will testify you were at the scene of the crime the very instant the crime was committed.

Some more helpful tips.

Tip #10

As you are preparing your case as you represent yourself and approach your first day of trial for threatening to kill someone and ignoring a restraining order, don’t sent a written death threat to the judge who is trying your case. Reported in Williston Herald on 2/25/19: Man accused of threats sends threatening letter to judge before first day of trial.

A man facing trial for terrorizing and violating a restraining order (class C felony and class A misdemeanor) for harassing a women is representing himself at trial. During the three hours that constituted the first day of trial, he did not question any jurors, did not make an opening statement, and only asked one question of one witness with said question obviously irrelevant to his case.

In the days before trial starting, the guy sent a letter to the judge saying that the judge is now on the list of people that the defendant will kill.

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Friendly tip to people planning a felony: don’t do it. And if you still want to, you might want to avoid planning your escapade with the internet or your phone.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you are planning to do something that our society says is a felony, or even thinking about it, please don’t.

Please change your plans. You won’t like the result.

If you are still pondering something that our society says is a felony, or even thinking about it, you might want to avoid using electronic devices that record your planning. Definitely don’t use your phone in commission of the actual crime.

Here are a few examples of what not to do, for amusement of people who are inclined to read my blog.  People likely to go ahead with felonious plans probably are not in my audience.

 

Tip #1

Don’t take along your location recording fitness device while conducting reconnaissance to plan an assassination and definitely don’t take it along for the ‘hit’:  Runners World -1/17/19 – This Runner is a Hitman. His GPS Watch Tied Him to a Mob Boss Murder

A competitive distance runner who moon lighted as a contract hit man took along his fitbit watch as he conducted recon and planning runs for two different assassinations. Also wore it for one of the actual hits. Police looked at the recorded location information on the watch which showed him making recon runs and placed him at the scene of the hit.

Result: Life in prison.

 

Tip #2

Don’t conduct an internet search with questions of whether your plans are illegal: Cleveland.com – 10/19/18 – Brooklyn Woman falsely accused Parma Heights police chief of rape, investigators say.

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Deserter from the U.S. Air Force apprehended and tried.

William Howard Hughes, Jr. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A 1983 deserter from the U.S. Air Force was arrested in 2018 and has now been tried and sentenced.

I was advised today by the Air Force Office of Special Investigation that the now-former officer has been tried and dismissed from the service. I’m working to find out the results of his trial and his current status. As more details are learned, updates will be posted.

(Cross posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Desertion

Back in July 1983, while the Cold War was still running, USAF Captain William Howard Hughes Jr. deserted after returning to Albuquerque from a TDY in Europe. He did not report to his duty station on August 1, 1983.

He was last seen making 19 withdraws from his bank account totaling $28,500. That may have been around a year’s gross salary at the time. Would have allowed him to run and hide for a while as he worked on his new identity. His car was abandoned at the Albuquerque airport.

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Other players in the Silk Road drug sales website face justice

Three more perps in the Silk Road website stood in front of the above and were awarded their well deserved earnings. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Several other players in the Silk Road gun/explosive/drug/body part bazaar have worked their way through the U.S. justice system.

Some info on their involvement and current status follows after mentioning Mr. Ulbricht’s final appeal was denied.

Ross Ulbrickt

As an aside, the Cyberscoop article below points to the following:

6/28/18 – Reason – Sadly, Ross Ulbrickt’s Case Will Not Be Heard by the Supreme Court – His appeal was denied by the Supreme Court on 6/28/18. That is his last opportunity for an appeal.

Article raises the troublesome procedural question that the sentencing judge used allegations that were not proved in court to reach his decision. Specifically, the judge used allegations of the murder-for-hire schemes which were discussed but on which Mr. Ulbrickt was not convicted, according to his attorney’s comments in the appeal.

Apparently there were some warrant-less searches at issue, which the USSC did not take up.

Andrew Michael Jones, Gary Davis, Peter Phillip Nash

7/13/18 – Cyberscoop – Alleged Silk Road employee extradited from Ireland to U.S. – Gary Davis, allegedly a/k/a Libertas, is accused of being a high level administrator in Silk Road. Article links to previously sealed indictment which accused Andrew Michael Jones, a/k/a “Inigo”, Gary Davis, a/k/a “Libertas” and Peter Phillip Nash, allegedly who had four aliases. (Inigo? Seriously? What is the deal with all the slander of the all-time classic comedy Princess Bride?)

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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.

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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.

 

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