We served & we protected!
The Farsider Our Chaplain Historical Society


The Farsider

February 6, 2014


Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>


The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.



Mayor Reed is at odds with Kamala Harris, the state A.G., over the wording of the summary that will appear on the ballot for Reed's pension reform initiative, assuming a sufficient number of signatures are collected to quality it to be on the ballot (a pretty safe assumption). This story from last Friday's paper will bring you up to speed if you haven't already read it...

Reed to Appeal Ballot Ruling

—S.J. mayor wants judge to toss attorney general’s ‘biased’ summary, title—

By Mark Emmons
Mercury News — Jan. 31, 2014

SAN JOSE — The white-hot political battle over public pensions was supposed to go before a statewide vote this November with a constitutional measure championed by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. But now that suddenly is in question.

Reed, who leads a group of California city leaders campaigning for the proposed overhaul as a solution to soaring retirement costs, said Thursday they are mounting a court challenge to the state attorney general’s ballot wording, claiming it mischaracterizes their initiative’s intent.

Reed said it’s unclear if a legal fight would allow enough time to collect the required signatures to get the pension reform measure on the ballot — or push the effort back to the 2016 election cycle.

“I’m disappointed, but not necessarily surprised because I had enough people telling me that this was a possibility,” Reed said of Attorney General Kamala Harris’ summary, which was released earlier this month. “This is the only recourse we have to correct something that is inaccurate and misleading. We think the court will correct it to make it fair and impartial, which is what the statute demands.”

A brief statement issued by Harris’ office disagreed.

“The attorney general has issued an accurate title and summary, and we stand by it,” the statement read.

Reed and his supporters have until June 5 to collect slightly more than 800,000 signatures of registered voters needed to get the initiative, which would allow cities to renegotiate future retirement benefits for public workers, on the November ballot. The attorney general’s description is what people can read before deciding to sign — and a distilled version would appear on the ballot.

The summary, Reed contends, contains inaccuracies and uses slanted wording to paint the mea­sure in an unfavorable light.

“Most people reading it would believe that we’re eliminating vested rights protections and benefits that workers have accrued, and the measure clearly doesn’t do that,” Reed said. “But using the word ‘eliminate,’ according to the union polling, apparently is a nice negative term to have in there. It shows a clear bias.”

This could be seen as another setback in Reed’s fervent effort to overhaul California’s deeply underfunded government pension systems, which have seen rising legacy costs drain funding for vital public services and has driven demand for new taxes.

Reed has received widespread voter support as well as favorable national attention for his stance, but it also has put him squarely at odds with public-sector unions that have pushed back hard in court.

In a December ruling, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Lucas blocked core provisions of Reed’s Measure B pension overhaul, even though it won approval by nearly 70 percent of San Jose voters in 2012. The judge agreed with unions that provisions to make employees pay more for pensions violated their rights, although her ruling also affirmed the city can cut salaries to offset mounting pension costs.

In October, Reed and leaders of four other California cities announced their plan for the state ballot. But that also drew quick opposition from labor- backed Democrats around the state.

In fact, both sides found faults in the attorney general’s ballot summary.

“We are disappointed that the attorney general’s title and summary of the Reed measure doesn’t speak to the main motivation of its proponents: To slash the retirement benefits and retiree health care of current and future employees,” said Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, in a statement last month .

But for Dan Pellissier, president of the advocacy group California Pension Reform, Reed’s complaints are eerily familiar. His organization ended its campaign to put a public employee pension initiative on the 2012 ballot when the group felt Harris’ description made it nearly impossible to win support.

“The attorney general has an obligation to write ballot measures that are fair and impartial,” Pellissier said. “Instead, she had the effect of influencing voters. She didn’t even try to be impartial in the summary of our ballot, and that caused us to withdraw our measure.”

Harris isn’t the first California attorney general to face criticism over ballot wording. Jerry Brown drew criticism as attorney general from supporters of a proposition banning same-sex marriage, and former Attorney General Dan Lungren was criticized by opponents of a proposition eliminating state “affirmative action” preferential treatment for women and minorities to ease its passage.

Reed said their challenge will be filed soon in Superior Court.

“We want to get this moving quickly because every day it takes is one less day for collecting signatures,” he said.

~ ~ ~

This is a follow-up article with the same theme as the one above. It appeared in Saturday's paper without a byline…

Pension Measure Less Likely to Make it to November Ballot

SACRAMENTO (AP) — A measure aimed at controlling public pension costs in California is less likely to make it onto the state’s November ballot after proponents said they would sue to challenge the ballot language.

The language assigned by Attorney General Kamala Harris is inaccurate and unfair, the measure’s backers said on Thursday. It says the measure would “eliminate constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree health care benefits for current public employees, including teachers, nurses, and peace officers, for future work performed.”

“That’s just not what it’s about,” San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, one of the measure’s chief supporters, told the Sacramento Bee. Reed said the proposal would give employers facing dire financial trouble a tool to reduce pension benefits if talks over pension costs with employees fail. He also objected to the inclusion of teachers, police officers and nurses in the language, saying that was intended to prejudice voters, who generally hold those professions in high esteem. Harris’ communications director, David Beltran, disagreed, saying the attorney general had issued “an accurate title and summary.”

The lawsuit is likely to be filed in Sacramento County Superior Court in the next few days, the Bee reported. It would take at least a few weeks to resolve, likely leaving insufficient time to gather signatures to qualify it for the ballot. Reed said the presidential election in 2016 would then be the next opportunity to put the measure before voters.

Supporters of the measure say it would help address spiraling, multibillion dollar public-pension costs that governments can no longer pay and are reducing money for other services. Opponents, including public employee unions, say changes to pensions must be negotiated, not imposed, and Reed has a political agenda in pushing for the change.

Union leaders have also objected to the measure’s language, saying the title — the Pension Reform Act of 2014 — fails to note its authorization of cuts to pensions and health care.

~ ~ ~

So is the sky falling, as Chicken Little was heard to exclaim? According to this author's opinion as expressed in Tuesday's paper the answer is a definite maybe when it comes to the pension issue…

Pension Liabilities Growing at Disastrous Rate

By Mark Bucher — Guest Columnist
Mercury News — Feb. 4, 2014

Concern about California’s overspending on public pensions is no longer limited to policy wonks: Today, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California poll, fully 85 percent of likely voters say those state and local government expenditures are a problem. Seventy-three percent favor offering new government employees 401(k) plans similar to what most private sector employees get.

The state’s voters are prescient: Unless they stop California’s statewide spending spree, they’ll soon face a full-blown public pension debacle.

As The New York Times recently reported, the plight of cities like Desert Hot Springs — a small town nearing bankruptcy largely due to unsustainable pension costs — is casting a national spotlight on the disastrous growth of California’s pension liabilities.

For years, the state’s coastal cities and inland municipalities have promised — and delivered — larger and larger retirement benefits to public sector workers.

Now, California state and local governments face an estimated $655 billion in unfunded pension and health care liabilities.

A new database available at
www.transparentcalifornia.com contains salary and pension data for most of California’s government employees. It paints a startling picture of state profligacy. In 2012, over 99,000 California county employees received six-figure salary compensation packages, representing over 50 percent of the estimated full-time workforce, while over 12,000 county workers made in excess of $200,000.

The problem is acute in the Bay Area, where public employee compensation has reached unsustainable highs.

Pensions in Alameda County provide 538 retirees with payouts of over $100,000 a year — 25 of which enjoy packages exceeding $200,000 in annual income. Alameda’s retired public defender clears over twice that sum — $527,255 a year. One retired Palo Alto official clears $281,108; a Mountain View retiree, $262,365. From Sunnyvale to Berkeley to San Leandro and beyond, the list goes on and on.

The fiscal irresponsibility doesn’t stop with pensions. The highest-paid public employees enjoy salaries that most taxpayers could only dream of. Hayward’s Deputy Fire Chief pulled down $328,000 in total compensation.

A Milpitas fire chief took home $494,000. And in Santa Clara, the acting police chief made out like a bandit with a grand yearly total of $639,000.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has filed a statewide ballot initiative that could address the problem at its source. California is desperate for action that would provide state and local governments with the tools they need to fix California’s public employee retirement plans. Without such changes, policymakers are likely to follow the dangerous lead of California cities like Vallejo and Stockton—which have been forced to impose heavy write downs on municipal bondholders. Reed is only one of the Democrats in the bipartisan coalition of mayors supporting and promoting efforts to solve the problem.

Though labor unions are working overtime to pressure state Democrats to kill any initiative that calls for sincere change, the pensions and benefits crisis isn’t a partisan issue — as current polls make clear. Everyone, especially young Californians, should be terrified at the prospect of this kind of spending continuing unabated.

Other states across the country such as Connecticut, Illinois, and Kentucky are confronting a similar crisis. California needs to set an example for the rest of America by confronting its unsustainable spending head-on. But to do this, California agencies need the legal authority to negotiate changes to pensions and benefits going forward.

Playing politics is no longer an option.

Without significant pension reform, the world’s 12th largest economy is in for a rude awakening.

Mark Bucher is president of the California Public Policy Center. He wrote this for this newspaper.



Today's paper included a lengthy profile on Police Chief Larry Esquivel. For many of us as well as the residents of San Jose it could be thought of as a meet and greet story...

In S.J., Chief Keeps It Simple, Real for His Force

By Robert Salonga
Mercury News — Feb. 6, 2014

SAN JOSE — A couple of days after a deadly shooting there, San Jose police Chief Larry Esquivel walked along Loma Verde Drive.

Clad in his dress blues and accompanied by Lt. Rob Millard, he chatted with residents, handed out police stickers to kids in the West San Jose neighborhood, and reflexively pointed out blight such as discarded mattresses he wanted to bring to the city’s attention.

It’s been about a quarter of a century since Esquivel, who recently became the city’s permanent chief after serving about a year in the interim position, worked as a patrol officer. But Esquivel said he aims to walk a beat some­where in the city once a week, and he has been known to jump spontaneously into the shotgun seat of a patrol car and ride along with a police trainee.

“I’m more of a cop who has to be an administrator than the other way around,” he said.

Times are about as tough as they’ve ever been for the San Jose Police Department, a storied agency that a decade ago regularly claimed credit for maintaining the safest large city in the country. Soured by an erosion of pay and benefits, officers have left in droves, and there has been only modest relief.

But Esquivel’s no-nonsense attitude, empathy for street cops and deep roots in the community might be exactly what the embattled force needs, according to officers and city officials.

San Jose’s top cop is fiercely loyal, whether to the city where he grew up or to former Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., a childhood friend Esquivel stands by even as Shirakawa serves a year-long sentence for corruption and gambling with public funds.

San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel, right,
and Lt. Rob Millard walk Eden Avenue two
days after a fatal shooting nearby.

That same loyalty may explain why he took on the challenge of the chief’s job when he could easily retire.

Longtime colleagues joke that Esquivel is an ageless wonder whose look — crew cut and all — hasn’t changed since he joined the force in 1986. What also hasn’t changed, they say, is his methodical, detail-oriented approach, which they described as reassuring in an environment of uncertainty.

“He’s like me: pretty boring. But it’s absolutely what we need,” said Lt. Danny Acosta, a 29-year veteran and contemporary of the chief. “We know what to expect. That stability’s key. It’s one less thing an officer has to worry about, and lets us stay more focused on the job.” Esquivel, 52, grew up the oldest child in a single-parent household in working class East San Jose, near 24th and William streets, as gritty a neighborhood then as it is now. He became a father before he graduated from Yerba Buena High School, where he excelled in football, basketball and wrestling. Feeling the urgency that comes with supporting a young family, he became a carpenter’s apprentice.

“I graduated on Thursday and had a job on Monday,” he said.

He worked in construction for several years, but a childhood dream of police work always hovered in his mind, and he joined the police academy in 1986.

Since his first day on the force — when recruits were put on the street almost immediately — he has been known for an unwavering work ethic, which he said was instilled in part from his time as a carpenter.

“I always had to have that energy,” Esquivel said. “You had to work hard or there would be no work for you.”

In 28 years, his resume has come to include undercover narcotics detective, robbery unit supervisor, team leader on the MERGE (SWAT) unit, commander of the Internal Affairs division, and deputy chief overseeing patrol. Along the way he earned a degree in criminal justice from San Jose State University.

Esquivel was one of four MERGE officers involved in a 1993 gun battle while serving a drug warrant at an apartment near Leigh Avenue in which they shot and killed a man out on bail in an earlier fatal shooting. The suspect narrowly missed hitting the officers, who included Dave Hober, now a deputy chief.

Esquivel said it was one of many instances that conveyed the emotional weight of the job, and it’s a sensitivity that has stayed with him. He has made a point to visit the families of every homicide victim in the city.

“Whatever the circumstances, they were a member of the community,” Esquivel said. “It’s about treating them as human beings.”

Additional touches, like his insistence on walking a beat, routinely dropping in on briefings and often suiting up in full uniform, don’t go unnoticed by officers.

“It means something to them,” Millard said. “I’ve worked under six chiefs, and he’s the only one who gets out here like this.”

When former Chief Chris Moore stepped down in January 2013, Esquivel was named interim chief as the city searched for a permanent replacement. But the search sputtered and after several months of dormancy, it became apparent that city leaders didn’t have the appetite for another go.

Meanwhile, Esquivel wasn’t content to just be a caretaker interim chief.

Consider the last week of May, when there were six homicides in the space of seven days. He ordered dozens of extra cops on the streets to crack down on gang hot spots. When that didn’t work, Esquivel called his commanders in on a Saturday to alter the strategy. Less than two weeks later the department unveiled a three-pronged gang suppression plan. The frequency of homicides and gang violence tapered off for the last half of the year.

Esquivel officially became police chief in December, when the City Council signed off on a recommendation from then-City Manager Debra Figone.

“Having to run the department in difficult times, he proved he can do the job,” Mayor Chuck Reed said.

There have been some bumps for Esquivel. In 2012, when he was deputy chief, he repaid the county for meals Shirakawa improperly charged with a county credit card. The former supervisor is a close friend, and when asked about his relationship to Shirakawa, Esquivel responded with a brief written statement: “I have many friends I have known for a long time and George happens to be one of them. His current situation is unfortunate for him and extremely unfortunate for the community.”

More recently there was a controversy surrounding a change in how the department classified gang crime, which raised questions about the legitimacy of a reported drop in those incidents in 2013.

Local civil rights groups also criticized him when, just days into his interim tenure, he suspended a policy signed by the outgoing Moore to vastly expand the in-field documentation of police stops with the aim of answering racial-profiling allegations. Esquivel said he did it after hearing officers complain the process was so cumbersome it risked dissuading them from making all but the most major stops. The policy has since been implemented after some revision, which even policy backers now see was necessary.

“He was wise to roll this out in a way where officers can appreciate what it’s about,” said LaDoris Cordell, a retired judge and the city’s independent police auditor.

“We don’t agree on everything, but there’s never a second of disagreeability,” she said.

And for the most part, Esquivel has avoided much of the community’s ire about understaffing. The police union, which once considered a “no confidence” vote in Moore because of a perceived lack of advocacy at City Hall, has largely refrained from criticizing Esquivel in favor of turning its vitriol toward the mayor and the budget measures that slashed police pay to retain jobs.

“I hope people don’t blame the chief,” Reed said. “I’m responsible. I happen to think it was the right decision, but it’s not the chief’s decision.”

It’s all been a dizzying change of pace for a man who said he never had chiefly aspirations. After almost three decades on the force, Esquivel admits that retirement is near, but he’s not slowing down. An astonishing example of that surfaced last year, when he became a national weightlifting record holder among police and firefighters in his age range by dead-lifting more than 418 pounds.

“I know I could have retired now. But I grew up in this department, and this is the most challenging time I’ve seen,” Esquivel said. “I can stay a little bit longer, develop the other executive staff. Whatever I can do to better the department.”



Last Week's Poll Results

For the most recent Rasmussen Reports releases, click here:



Jan. 30th


Thanks for reprinting the interesting article on the improved health of California's pension funds. The Huffington Post forgot to mention how much better these portfolios would be had they not divested the politically incorrect stocks RGR and SWHC. I'm long on both, so every time one of California's nuttier than a squirrel's turd politicians opens their mouths on gun control my modest holdings get a little bit fatter. California: Thank you and keep voting.

Regards from the 2nd Amendment Friendly Boise, Idaho

(Larry Fernsworth) <nails208@gmail.com>

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Jan. 30th

Hello Bill,

Regarding the photo sent in by Jim Silvers, the bartender in the middle is my father’s brother who was known by many of the regulars at Bini's bar by the moniker of “FOX.” His given name is Victor Salamida.

I ran into Jim Guido Jr. last night. He recognized the officers in the photo as (L-R) Rich Frechette, Larry Stuefloten, John Diehl and Bob Camara.

Thanks to Jim for sharing the photos, and to you and Leroy for doing a great job on the Farsider.

Joe Salamida Jr. #485A
Reserve Chief/Assistant Director, SJPD Reserve Unit



If you plan on attending but failed to notify Lumpy or

Dave of your intended attendance so an accurate head
count could be made, please do so immediately and
make arrangements to get your check to Lumpy.

Saturday, Feb. 15 — 6:00 to 11:00 p.m.
POA Hall, 1151 N. Fourth St.
San Jose

Hosted Bar with hors d'oeuvres at 6:00 p.m.
Buffet Style Dinner served at 7:00 p.m.
Entrees: Salmon and/or Prime Rib with all the Fixings
Wine on the Tables in addition to the Hosted Bar
Dancing to follow dinner

$25 per person — $50 per couple

Make checks payable to the "SJPBA" and mail to:
P.O. Box 42
San Jose, CA 95103

Questions? E-mail:
President Dave Wysuph at
Secretary/Treasurer Lumpy Lundberg at



With all the hoopla over the Super Bowl, did you know Sunday was Groundhog Day? What happened was the groundhog saw his shadow and then kept watching it. He thought it would be more exciting than watching that stupid Super Bowl.

The Seahawks had a great slogan: "Why not us?" That's what they would say to each other before the game. That is much better than the Broncos' slogan: "Hey, why not hike it over the quarterback's head?"

In spite of being a terrible game, the Super Bowl was the most watched TV event in history. So apparently it’s true — if we do start televising executions, people will watch.

People were partying in Seattle on Sunday night after the game. They were singing, they were laughing, they were hugging complete strangers, dancing in the streets. Basically, the same thing they've done every night in Seattle since they legalized marijuana.

Sunday's game was the most watched Super Bowl in history. It was a hit with fans of both football and whatever the Broncos were playing.

People are worried that Sochi in Russia is not ready for the Olympics. They have a mall there where the only store that's currently open is a Cinnabon — or as Americans refer to it, a mall that caters to all of our needs.

Hillary Clinton is encouraging Hispanic families to read to their kids. She's also telling Asian families to ease up on the math so the rest of us can catch up.

Today it was announced that Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman of Microsoft. He starts working at the gap next Tuesday.

Is the Super Bowl pre-game show still on?

The Broncos got beaten really bad — and we still won't know until we find the black box exactly what went wrong.

So we have the Broncos, and Jay Leno is leaving the "Tonight Show" — what a week for turnovers, huh?

George Clooney is on the program tonight. George is here to talk about his new movie, "The Monuments Men," and also about allegations that he was caught egging his neighbors' mansion.

Facebook is 10 years old today. You know who else is celebrating a birthday today? Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles. Facebook and Los Angeles are very different. One was considered cool a long time ago but is still a good place to waste time with fake friends — and the other one is Facebook.

I'm not on Facebook. I've never been on it. There are people on Facebook who claim to be me. To them I say, "Aim higher."

I'm old fashioned. I don't want my personal information out there for everyone. I share details of my life with a very small group of people — the audience of this show.

Teenagers are proving they don't need Facebook. They're finding other sites. They'll keep hopping from one site to another until they're 70 years old. Then they can settle into the warm embrace of the CBS demographic.

Today is the 10th anniversary of Facebook. Facebook was started in a Harvard dorm room by Jesse Eisenberg in "Spider-Man 2."

Actually, Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook. He was a 19-year-old student in a hoodie. Now he's a 29-year-old billionaire in a hoodie.

More than anyone, Mark Zuckerberg revolutionized the way we avoid doing work in this country.

Yet another winter storm is dumping snow on two dozen states right now. The storms were supposed to end last Friday, but they were so popular they decided to extend their run.



An old cowboy was riding his trusty horse with his faithful dog by his side along an unfamiliar road. The cowboy was enjoying the new scenery when he suddenly remembered dying. He also realized the dog beside him had been dead for years, as had his horse. Confused, he wondered what was happening and and where the trail was leading them.

After a while they came to a high, white stone wall that looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch topped by a golden letter "H" that glowed in the sunlight. Standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate that looked like it was constructed of gold and mother-of-pearl. And the street that led to and from the gate looked like it was paved with gold.

The old cowboy rode toward the gate. As he got closer he saw a man sitting at a desk to one side. Parched and tired from his journey he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"

This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Really? Would you happen to have some water?" he asked.

"Of course, sir. Come right in and I'll have some ice water brought right up."

As the gate began to open, the cowboy asked, "Can I bring my partners, too?"

"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The old cowboy thought a moment, then turned back to the road and continued riding with his dog trotting by his side.

After another long ride he came to the top of a hill and saw a dirt road leading to a ranch gate that looked as though it had never been closed. As he approached the open gate he saw a man inside who was leaning against a tree reading a book.

"Excuse me," he called to the man. "Do you have any water?"

"Sure, there's a pump right over there. Help yourself."

"How about my friends here?" The cowboy gestured to his horse and dog.

"Of course. They look thirsty too," said the man.

The trio went through the gate and, sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bucket beside it. The traveler filled a cup and the bucket with wonderfully cool water and took a long drink, as did his horse and dog.

When they'd had their fill, he walked back to the man who was still standing by the tree.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is Heaven," the man answered.

"That's confusing," said the old cowboy. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the glitzy, gold street and fake pearly gates? That's hell."

"Doesn't it make you angry when they use your name like that? asked the traveler.

'Not at all," said the man. "Actually, we're happy they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind."

~ ~ ~

Sometimes, we wonder why friends forward things to us without writing a word. Maybe this story helps explain it.

When you are busy but still want to keep in touch, forwarding emails is a quick and easy way, even if you don't have anything to say. A Forward lets the recipient know they are still remembered, still important, still cared about. So the next time you receive a Forward from a friend, don't think of it as just another joke or story. Realize that you have been thought of today, and that your friend on the other end just wanted to send you a smile.

You are welcome at this watering hole anytime.



The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox

(Don't miss the entry about "Camel Toads")

New Articles

• Photographs show a female tiger raising a group of piglets.

• This time of year sees the annual circulation of a long-debunked statistic: that more women are victims of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year.

• Telephone customers return hang-up calls from foreign phone numbers and are charged hefty fees.

• The tale of a young Marine who spends the night in a hospital comforting a dying stranger.

• Advice columnist answers a letter from a reader concerned about her godson's interest in 'camel toes,' which she mistakes for 'camel toads.'

• A quiz about list of various 'Marxist' statements supposedly made by Hillary Clinton.

• Accounts warn of death and disease caused by rat urine on soda cans.

• Celebrity death hoax du jour: Vin Diesel is not dead.

• Did a secret tape recorded aboard the doomed space shuttle Challenger capture the final panic-stricken moments of the crew?

• Does the 'Affordable Golf Club Act' require all U.S. residents to purchase a new set of golf clubs before April 2014?

• Will drinking water in which okra has been soaked overnight really make 'diabetes go away'?

• Does the Obama administration plan to displace thousands of Montana residents to give their land over to Native Americans?

• Photograph shows a package of NTUC FairPrice pork labeled as "halal."

• Did the actor who portrayed the 'Marlboro Man' die of lung cancer?

• Has the Obama administration has ordered $1 billion worth of disposable coffins for use in FEMA camps?

• Rumor claims a man was blinded for life when his contact lenses fused to his eyes while he was barbecuing.

• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!

Worth a Second Look

• Did a reporter once ask Redskins QB Doug Williams how long he'd been a black quarterback?

Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.

Fraud Afoot

• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.



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Last year in preparation for an upcoming 2013 Super Bowl Budweiser ad, the ABC late evening news show "Nightline" ran a segment about the Budweiser Clydesdales with emphasis on Anheuser-Busch's horse breeding operation. This clip received from Chuck Blackmore should be worth a few minutes of your time if you are a fan of the iconic horses. (6 Mins.)


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This short video from Don Hale is another animal story, but this one is about a cow who lost its hind legs due to frostbite. There was a strong bond between the bovine and its owner, however, and she chose to save the animal instead of having her put down. Say hi to "Hero," the two legged cow. (2 Mins.)


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Are airless tires that can't go flat the wave of the future? Still pics of these have circulated around the Internet for years. This is the first time we have seen them in action in a video. (1 Min.)


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Some say the guy in this screen saver is falling as fast as he is in the polls. True or not, several readers claim it is relaxing, therapeutic and helps with depression. If he gets stuck between the balls, you can drag him and get him moving again with your mouse. If there is a downside, it's that it may not work on some smart phones and tablets. But give it a try anyway…


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Would you spend the time to watch a performer work a Hula Hoop? Right, I thought the same thing, then I clicked on the link below sent in by Don Hale and watched this piece of eye candy do her thing. It was far different than my short experience with the big plastic hoop 55 years ago when all I could get out of it were two or three revolutions before it slid down past my gut and wound up at my feet. (5 Mins.)


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We haven't been able to confirm the rumor that the Olympic Committee wanted to bring back the Ski Ballet event from the 1980s to the Sochi Olympics because they feared it would drive Putin over the edge, but it sounds plausible. (2 Mins.)


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Don't get squeamish over this clip about cafes in Japan that serve cats. It's not what you think. For background, 1,000 yen is approximately $10. (7 Mins.)


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Rather than go into the lengthy details as to how we came into this information, suffice to say that you should click on the link below IF you have any .22 cal. Winchester long rifle ammo in your inventory. It's about a recall.


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Interesting Father and Son photos — Then and Now

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Northwester Mutual developed this simple 13 question calculator that is supposed to tell you how long you have to live. What's cool about it is that it only takes a little tweaking of your answers for it to show you will still be alive at 95. And even if you answer the questions honestly, you might be so shocked by the your estimated age after the 13th question that you could croak from a heart attack. So be careful if you decide to give it a try...


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Consumers can currently purchase a 3-D printer that can replicate items out of plastic. This report says we are just a few years away before 3-D printers that can create items out of metal become available at a price that will enable consumers to manufacture all the parts necessary to create their own firearms like the semi-automatic pictured below. (4 Mins.)


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Speaking of 3-D printers, this is a documentary about Cody Wilson, a guy who used a 3-D printer to manufacture a lower receiver and a high-capacity magazine for an AR-15. (24 Mins.)


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If you want to read about and see tons of photos of the movement of A-12s to Area 51, click on this link sent in by Bert Kelsey. (There were different versions of the A-12 that included the YF-12 and the famous SR-71 Blackbird.) This is the story in text and photos of how a fleet of the top secret aircraft were transported on public highways from Burbank to Groom Lake in Area 51.


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Some say that beer commercials are the best while others favor insurance ads. An email from Paul Salerno says you should wait until you see this one before you make up your mind. Check it out. (1 Min.)


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When a man at a grocery store tried to buy half a head of lettuce, the young produce assistant told him that they sell only whole heads of lettuce.

The man persisted and asked to see the manager. The boy said he would double check.

Walking into the back room, the boy said to his manager, "Some idiot wants to buy half a head of lettuce." As he finished his sentence, he turned to find the man standing right behind him, so he added, "And this gentleman has kindly offered to buy the other half.'

The manager approved the deal and the man went on his way.

A short time later the manager said to the boy, "I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of that situation earlier. We like people who can think on their feet here. Where are you from, son?"

"Canada, sir," the boy replied.

"Well, why did you leave Canada?" the manager asked.

The boy said, "Sir, there's nothing but hookers and hockey players up there."

"Really?" said the manager. "My wife is from Canada."

"No kidding?" replied the boy. "Who'd she play for?"

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Remember when we were young and bought 45 rpm records for a particular hit song and discovered that the one on the flip side usually sucked? I think that's what happened here a half century ago when the "Newbeats" appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. I don't recall the first song ("Everything's Alright") at all, but I do remember dancing to the second song titled "Bread and Butter." What I found surprising was that the group's lead singer was NOT a woman. Turns out the here-today-gone-tomorrow singing group was comprised of three males only. (5 Mins.)


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Want to see an excellent example of soil liquefaction? It's kind of spooky, especially for the guy driving the dozer. (1 Min.)


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If you can spare a whopping 10 seconds, have a look at what a NASCAR race looks like close up. (10 Secs.)


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We have all experienced what is commonly called the "pucker factor" in the past, perhaps several times depending on how you define the term. But one could argue that those experiences pale when compared to what sailors who fought off kamikaze attacks in WWII endured. Take a few minutes and watch this clip and see what the 13-man crew of Gun Mount 53 aboard the USS Laffey went through during an attack that lasted for 80 minutes. (5 Mins.)


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This week's closer comes from our Webmaster and is as moving as it is patriotic. It's an older clip of a solo performance by Joe Bonsall of the Oakridge Boys. The song is about GI Joe and Lillie. Don't be surprised or embarrassed if you watch it to the end and find yourself a little choked up. (3 Mins.)


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