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The Farsider Our Chaplain Historical Society



The Farsider

March 27, 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.



As most of you are aware, Leroy and I have been bringing you the Farsider for over six years, and the time has come where I am asking for your help on behalf of our Webmaster and his family.

Leroy's 8-year-old grandson, Trey, is battling a very rare form of lymphoma that affects young children. Trey's father, Mike, lives in close proximity to Leroy above Murphys in Calaveras County. Until Trey became ill, Leroy was teaching him to shoot trap. To say that the grandfather and grandson are very close is an understatement.

Mike has medical insurance that picks up 80 percent of the cost of Trey's treatment, but the weekly chemotherapy and trips to UC Davis Children's Hospital are astronomical in cost and creating a huge financial hardship on the family.

Concerned friends of the Calaveras County community have organized "A Day for Trey" fund-raiser in the small town of Arnold on March 31st with the hope of relieving Trey's folks of some of the financial burden they are facing.

While it's unrealistic to assume any of you who reside outside of Calaveras Co. will attend the fund-raiser, I thought you may want to help out by making a donation to the fund. The "Day for Trey" website makes it possible to donate on-line by credit card or PayPal, and rest assured that all the links are secure. If you would like to make a donation with a check instead, make it payable to "Team Trey" and mail it to:

Team Trey
c/o Ron Cooper
P.O. Box 3149
Arnold, CA 95223

Ph. 209-795-5475

Please click on the link below. It will take you to the "Day for Trey" website that includes the PayPal and credit card links to make a donation. It also provides details of the May 31st fund-raiser in Arnold that features a Tri-Tip/Chicken dinner as well as info on a gun raffle should you want to take a shot at winning one.


On behalf of Leroy and Mike's families, thank you.



March 21st

SJPOA exposes false claims from Sam Liccardo that San Jose has help coming to deal with skyrocketing crime. New city projections released at a Willow Glen community meeting show 100 less officers in San Jose by June of 2016.

NBC Bay Area (video)


~ ~ ~

KTVU Channel 2 (video)


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KPIX Channel 5 (video)


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KGO Channel 7 (video)


~ ~ ~

Mercury News: Crime and Courts (article)

San Jose: Police will lose another 100
officers by 2016, according to projections


~ ~ ~

The Daily Fetch (article)

Liccardo and Nguyen's noses are growing trying
to defend their efforts to restore public safety


March 22nd

Mercury News: Crime and Courts (article)

San Jose: Willow Glen residents hear firefighters,
cops speak out against pension reform


~ ~ ~

NBC Bay Area (video)


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KGO Channel 7 (video)



March 25th

Click on the link below to listen to Mayor Reed blame the POA, not
his destructive policies, for driving our police away from San Jose.  

KLIV-AM Radio (audio only)


~ ~ ~

Mail in ballots hit homes on May 5th. The time is now to get involved and help Dave Cortese fix San Jose. Rose Herrera, Madison Nguyen, Sam Liccardo and Pierluigi Oliverio will do or say anything to win. Your POA is fighting back and working to make sure Dave Cortese makes it into the runoff. Dave is in a great position but needs you to help him withstand the attacks coming his way.

Please go online now and DONATE to help Dave with the resources to get his message out about safe neighborhoods, improving emergency response times and fixing our roads. There will be a fundraiser at the POA on Monday, March 31st, from 5:30-7:30 PM. If you can't attend to meet Dave and write a check, then go online NOW and make a donation. This is your fight too!

Click on the link under this DONATE NOW button




So what does the future hold for San Jose and the SJPD? Perhaps this story from last Friday's paper will provide a clue...

Exodus Continues from San Jose Police

—Report says half of recent academy graduates have left—

By Robert Salonga
Mercury News — March 21, 2014

SAN JOSE — Despite efforts to hire and retain officers, officials say that if current trends continue over the next two years the San Jose Police Department will shrink to two-thirds its size in 2008, when budget reduction measures sparked a running exodus of officers.

Worsening the bleak projection from the department are estimates that nearly half of the most recent police academy graduates — considered to be the backbone of any replenishment plan — have left for other agencies and the department can reasonably expect just a quarter to actually stay on. According to the projections, by June 2016 the department will have 879 street-ready officers, though police insiders say the number ready to deploy would be closer to 800 to account for ongoing disability, injuries and military leave.

Currently, the police department has 970 street-ready officers and is deploying 906, a far cry from the nearly 1,400 street-ready officers — of which more than 1,200 were in the field — six years ago at the start of a series of budget cuts and ensuing pension reforms that led to layoffs and early retirements and resignations from the department.

A package of city efforts to offset the departures — which includes restoring officers’ pay to 2009 levels and restoring police academies after a three-year hiatus — appears to have only slowed the losses at best, since the 2016 estimate reflects a loss of 50 officers a year. Over the past three years, SJPD has seen at least 100 officers leave annually.

The San Jose Police Officers Association and the San Jose Fire Fighters Local 230 were expected to discuss the projections and paint a dire public-safety picture at a Willow Glen public forum Thursday.

The city’s plans to add officers could be moot if pay, pension and disability benefits continue to be outpaced by surrounding Bay Area agencies, which have made SJPD less competitive for high-quality recruits.

David Vossbrink, a city spokesman, acknowledged that the current trend lines, if not altered, could reach the department’s projections. But the city expects much will change over the next two years — and is working hard to ensure the department can retain officers.

“Rather than focusing on a potential number itself, we are focusing on making changes that will help the situation,” Vossbrink wrote in an email. “Retention is a critical priority for SJPD and the City, and we are addressing key factors for keeping and attracting officers.”

But of the fall 2013 graduating class, which was the first to be hired under a reduced pension plan, 22 of 40 rookie officers remain with the department. Sources say of the 22, at least half are being backgrounded by other police agencies for potential hiring, and even more are looking elsewhere.

Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, who is a candidate for mayor, insists the city now is positioned to hire more officers.

“We have more money in the general fund today to hire officers and that’s exactly what we intend to do,” Nguyen said.

She added the city receives “hundreds and hundreds” of applications from prospective recruits who believe San Jose is a good place for a law-enforcement career.

“It’s very unfortunate that the police union continues to do this, spinning information out of control,” Nguyen said. “This is just the same thing that they have been doing over and over.”

Police union president Sgt. Jim Unland said the current state of pay and benefits is the primary culprit for the department’s troubles with hiring and retention. To gain even baseline competitiveness with other departments, he said, the city has to adopt a policy more in line with statewide levels.

“Unless they move pretty damn quickly, I don’t know what happens,” Unland said.


• • • • •

This item from last Saturday's paper is basically a follow-up article to the story above.

Cop Staffing Awaits Election

—Union president and mayor trade barbs over shrinking force—

By Robert Salonga
Mercury News — March 3, 2014

SAN JOSE — The release of a bleak staffing projection from the San Jose Police Department has intensified a political stalemate over the dwindling police rolls, and residents likely won’t see any real progress until after a mayoral election in which public safety is assured unprecedented prominence.

“We’re at loggerheads here until after November,” said Larry Gerston, a political analyst and professor at San Jose State University. “It means that everyone is held hostage until it gets clarity.”

At issue is a department estimate that surfaced Thursday and predicted that if existing trends continue, by 2016, SJPD stands to lose 100 officers to retirements and resignations. That would bring the street-ready officer tally to 879, which is about a third fewer officers than its last known heyday in 2008, when more than 1,200 were policing the city.

On the day the projections came out, police and fire union officials told residents at a community in Willow Glen they are stretched so thin they can’t quickly respond to all but the most serious emergency calls. City officials say the unions are making a bad situation worse by continuing to harp on the negative and even encouraging officers to leave.

“Unfortunately, our police union is undermining our efforts to improve staffing levels,” Mayor Chuck Reed said in a statement Thursday.

POA president Sgt. Jim Unland dismisses the accusations as scapegoating. He says the union is making no such suggestions to officers, but is instead telling them the truth about where they stand in terms of pay and benefits compared to other local agencies.

“We haven’t told anyone to leave. We’re making sure our officers understand the effects of these policies,” Unland said. “They’re out of ideas so they’re blaming the union.”

That kind of back and forth has been going on for months. And prospects for a solution to the police exodus seem dim this political year that will not only see a new mayor, but a potential shift in the balance of power to a more union-friendly majority.

Reed, a champion of the pension reform measures so bitterly opposed by police officers, said the problem is embodied in the fact that the city’s police budget has increased by $100 million over the past decade and has actually yielded fewer officers. That is countered by the police union’s contention that uncertainty over retirement and disability benefits spurred by the measures is the culprit.

Reed pointed out that the city reached an agreement with the union to restore 10 percent pay cuts officers took along with other city employees to help balance the budget, which would bring their pay back to 2009 levels. But it is only stemming the bleeding: according to sources familiar with the process, the most recent graduating police academy class has seen nearly half leave for better- paying agencies, with no more than a quarter of the 40 rookies expected to remain with SJPD.

The political gamesmanship is only rising: One of the reasons the staff projection at SJPD — generated entirely by the department independent of the city and the union — was released Thursday was to spur interest in the Willow Glen forum.

The panel did not host any speakers in opposition; The Willow Glen Neighborhood Association has scheduled City Manager Ed Shikada to talk the issue from the city’s perspective in May.

San Jose police Officer James Gonzales, a union board member, said a plan drafted by the mayor and Councilman Sam Liccardo to get 200 more officers on the streets in the next few years is impossible given the climate of officers leaving the department and new trainees not sticking around.

“Citizens have been promised an additional 200 officers on the streets in two years,” he said. “That was in August and we have no more officers than we had then. How ethically responsible is it to San Jose citizens that help is coming when it’s not?”

Gerston, the political analyst, says San Jose should prepare for more fingerpointing until early next year.

“It is hard to imagine a major breakthrough,” he said. “But the good thing about the election is that it will force some kind of resolution. The next mayor will have no choice but to confront this issue head on.”


• • • • •

Last Sunday's I.A. column included this tidbit that likely made Chuck Reed breathe a sigh of relief…

Mercury News — March 23, 2014

Judge Rules Reed Didn’t Violate State Campaign Laws

San Jose unionistas crowed when California’s political watchdog declared that Mayor Chuck Reed had violated state campaign law in a bid to help ally Rose Herrera keep her City Council seat in a 2012 re-election challenge from a political newcomer they were backing.

But a Sacramento judge now has exonerated Reed in his appeal, calling the section of the state campaign law union leaders had accused the mayor of violating unconstitutional.

Reed had donated $100,000 from his “fiscal reform” campaign fund, used to promote pension cuts that enraged government unions, to an independent political committee promoting Herrera’s re-election.

San Jose Police Officers’ Association President Sgt. Jim Unland filed an October 2012 complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, calling the mayor’s move an “illegal funneling of campaign cash by Mayor Reed and the Chamber of Commerce to help Herrera.”

Herrera handily won a second term over challenger Jimmy Nguyen. Reed argued that the prohibition on contributions from a “candidate-controlled committee” didn’t apply to a termed-out mayor no longer seeking office. He also said miscommunication between his committee and FPPC staff led him to think the contribution was legal.

The FPPC ruled in September that Reed broke its laws, but it whittled a proposed $3,500 fine against Reed to just $1 on grounds that the mayor had not intentionally violated the law.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner, however, upheld Reed on appeal. Though Sumner agreed with the FPPC’s interpretation that Reed qualified as a “candidate” under the law’s definition, the judge found the law itself an overly broad restriction on political speech. Sumner cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling in 2010 overturning restrictions on independent political spending, a case that originated over a film critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton .

“The ability to communicate freely about candidates for political office and the issues in an election,” Sumner wrote, “lies at the heart of the First Amendment’s protections.”

For those thinking Sumner must be a political kindred spirit with Reed, it’s worth noting that he also rejected the mayor’s lawsuit complaining that Attorney General Kamala Harris’ ballot summary of his proposed statewide pension reform initiative was unfair.

Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week’s items were written by Tracey Kaplan, Josh Richman, John Woolfolk and Paul Rogers. Send tips to
<internalaffairs@mercurynews.com>, or call 408-920-5782.



Last Week's Poll Results

For the most recent Rasmussen Reports releases, click here:



The following message from Russ Jones is in reference to this item from last week's Farsider…

"Welcome Home" is a new series being produced by Sleeping Dog Productions. It tells the story of Vietnam Veterans from all branches of the service and is scheduled for release on the 40th anniversary year of the end of the war in 2015 as a thank you and a long overdo welcome home to all Vietnam vets. (10 Mins.)

Russ Jones piloted one of these Huey's in the Vietnam war



~ ~ ~


March 20th

That was interesting, hadn't seen it yet.

A little bit of added interest: At 2:45 in the video, Patrick Brady, awarded the Medal of Honor, is telling a story. He lives near me and we get together now and then with other helicopter pilots who live in the area here. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, as a helicopter pilot, during a series of dust-off missions assisting the 3rd of the 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade. This was in the same valley, and the same unit I was assisting with a couple of dust-off missions when I was wounded several months after Brady's mission. The difference between what Brady did and I did was day and night — literally. He performed his missions in the dead of night. Mine was in the middle of the day. I'd like to think I would have tried, but not sure at all I could have accomplished what he did in that valley that night. Anyway, my point is, he wrote a book that some might be interested in: "Dead Men Flying" by Patrick Brady.


A check of Amazon shows that "Dead Men Flying" is available for the Kindle at($7.69) and in hardcover ($12.77.)  

For further info on what the dust-off pilots of yesterday and today do, check out this trailer.


The full 63-minute DVD documentary entitled "When I Have Your Wounded" is also available through the Amazon Marketplace. Click on the link below for more info.


Russell Jones <rjones1502@yahoo.com>

Ed. — Amazon is still carrying "Honorable Intentions," the book authored by Russ about his experience flying helicopters in Vietnam and working Narco at the SJPD. It's available for the Kindle ($9.99) and in paperback ($12.91)...


• • • • •

We received a cc of this message Kenn Christie emailed to Bob Allen in response to his Mail Call item last week about the retired Deputy Chief's reunion in Hawaii with some other retirees…

March 20th

Great photo and story in the "Farsider" today, boss.

Can't say that I knew anyone in the photo but you (working at SJPD March '70 — July '01), but it is just your kind of challenging "remember when" articles and photos that make the weekly rag that much more interesting.
Incidentally, considering that you were an extremely young and brand new lieutenant boss of mine when I was getting started (under the initial training of Fred Reid and Maury Warner, then working for Sgt. Dave Evans in the old Swing B-18), you're still looking darned young! Yep, I remember my first brief official meetings with you as my one or two-page check-list (far preceding the eventual FTO Program and "Rook Book") got checked off.
1.  Key...check
2.  I.D. card... check
3.  Badge...check
4.  Beat map booklet...check
5.  List of call-box locations...check
6.  Latest training memos...check
7.  Know where the jail is and other items…check
It was reassuring to this young country boy who was darned near lost in a big city to hear you tell me that you were from Bakersfield while you seemed to get a kick out of the fact that I was way up in San Jose from the distant farm country outside of Visalia and Tulare. I'm still farming there to this day and still have the family's old farm house and property to look out for.
What a flashback on the start to a frickin' blast of a whirlwind career of 32-years that now seems to have just flashed by.
Again, it's about YOU and YOUR story. Great writing, great photo and great update. Keep up the great health and inspiration.
Fair Winds, Following Seas, God Speed and Semper Fidelis

Kenn Christie

• • • • •


March 24th


Thought I'd let you know that you're not the only one who hates the silly CFL/LED mandates. We are stockpiling our own bulbs and are set for awhile. I saw some at Home Depot the other day, but the price is going up. Get 'em while you can.

(Wicker) <jpwicker@att.net>

Smart move, Joe. When the dollar goes in the tank and we move to a bartering economy, you and I are going to be among the top one-percenters.



We suppose the SJPD should be grateful that the Mercury News didn't enlarge the photo of Graves and his attorney so it would cover the entire front page of Tuesday's Local Section. The article appears below...

Geoffrey Graves, a six-year member of the San Jose Police
Department, appears in court for his arraignment on Monday
with attorney Darlene Bagley. He did not enter a plea.

~ ~ ~


Case Points to Vulnerability of Immigrants

By Robert Salonga
Mercury News — March 25, 2014

SAN JOSE — A San Jose police officer made his first court appearance since he was charged with raping a woman while on duty last fall, in a case that shone a harsh spotlight on police and strained its relationship with immigrant communities.

Geoffrey Evatt Graves, a six-year member of the San Jose Police Department, was arraigned in a San Jose courtroom Monday to answer allegations that in September he escorted a woman to a hotel after she had been involved in a domestic dispute, then, after waiting for another officer to leave, entered her room and raped her.

Clad in a black suit with San Francisco-based attorney Darlene Bagley standing alongside him, Graves did not enter a plea and his only words were “Yes, your honor” when confirming he waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 60 days. His next court date was set for April 14. The charge of rape carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.

Graves, who is free on $100,000 bail and on administrative leave from SJPD, did not speak to reporters after the brief hearing, during which Judge Hector Ramon signed orders barring the police officer from contacting his accuser and requiring him to surrender his firearms.

The disturbing accusations against Graves grew even more serious after sources told this newspaper that the alleged victim is an illegal immigrant with a limited command of English, which social-rights advocates said made her particularly vulnerable and likely fearful of challenging a police officer.

“No one’s happy about this,” said Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega, referring to the public-trust damage from the rape charge. “But based on the evidence we have, we believe we can prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Graves, 38, of Gilroy, was arrested March 10 following a five-month Internal Affairs investigation into the Sept. 22 incident that began with a police call to a home where a married couple was arguing. After the four responding officers — including Graves — determined no crime had occurred, the woman told them she did not want to stay at home that night and asked to be taken to a hotel.

According to the investigation, Graves and another officer traveled to the hotel and waited for the woman to check into a room. After the second officer left to answer another police call, Graves reportedly stuck around and later returned to the woman’s room, where he overpowered her and “forcibly engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim before leaving the hotel approximately 10 minutes later,” according to San Jose police.

On Oct. 13, about three weeks later, the woman came forward to allege the attack by Graves. Socialjustice groups hailed her bravery; while San Jose police policy bars officers from inquiring about residency status to encourage residents in immigrant communities to cooperate with police, suspicion and deportation fears persist.

Her report spurred an investigation that reportedly discovered her DNA on Graves’ bulletproof vest — he reportedly shed parts of his uniform but kept the vest on during the alleged attack. Sources said the nature of the DNA and amount of bodily fluid present could not have come from casual contact.

This is not the first time Graves’ police career has been in jeopardy: In 2011, amid a custody battle with his ex-wife, she obtained a protective order against him after alleging a violent road encounter. Graves successfully fought her attempts at a restraining order that would have prevented him from possessing firearms.

Police discipline policy relies on a “preponderance of evidence” of misconduct rather than the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard required in criminal court. So even if he avoids conviction, Graves could still be terminated if the police department decides his credibility has been too damaged to return to duty.



The SJPD Chaplaincy Board would like to invite you to join them for dinner at the Hayes Mansion in honor of Dave Bridgen's retirement from the Chaplaincy on Thursday, June 5, 2014. See the flyer below for more details.

Click here
<http://tinyurl.com/lhyosna> to register or make a donation online. Registrations MUST be completed no later than April 25th. This is a firm deadline date with the Hayes Mansion. Please register now!

NOTE: To receive an e-mail with just the form below that
you can print, fill out and mail in, send your request to




March 19 through March 25

The president announced his bracket for the NCAA tournament. March Madness starts tomorrow and Obama is predicting Michigan State will beat Louisville to win the national championship. Going by Obama's past predictions, I want to congratulate Louisville on their big win.

The standoff in Ukraine keeps getting worse. But a new poll shows Vladimir Putin's approval rating has actually gone up 10 percent since he sent troops into Crimea. When he heard that, Obama just shrugged and sent troops to invade Canada.

It seems like everybody’s weighing in on the situation. In fact, Senator John McCain has released a list of 11 steps he thinks the White House should take to punish Russia. Usually when McCain takes 11 steps, he uses a stair lift.

Lawmakers here in New York are considering a plan to bring slot machines to LaGuardia Airport. Of course there's always that other way to gamble at LaGuardia — checking a bag.

First lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia are visiting China for the next week and the president said the White House feels very lonely without them. Then he said, looking around, “OK, I think they bought it. Time for some March Madness, baby. Let’s do it!”

A new iPhone app lets people in large cities reserve parking spots in advance. The way it works is you reserve the parking spot, and then other drivers don’t care.

This week scientists revealed that a massive solar blast narrowly missed the Earth back in 2012. Or as the Mayans put it, "Almost told you so."

Starbucks is coming out with a new tea inspired by Oprah Winfrey. In a related story, they're also coming out with a cup holder inspired by Stedman.

In March Madness, there have been several major upsets. Yesterday No. 12 seed Harvard beat No. 5 seed Cincinnati. Harvard students haven't been this excited since the last time they told someone they go to Harvard.

Harvard had a good game plan. When they committed a foul, their dad called the ref and got them out of it.

Last week the basketball coach at the University of Delaware mistakenly ignored a phone call from Joe Biden wishing him good luck because he didn’t recognize Biden’s number. Then Obama said, “Well there goes MY excuse.”

There’s a new study out that says an ingredient in tequila can help protect against diabetes. So finally, a shot that people with diabetes can enjoy.

Over the weekend Vladimir Putin ordered fireworks to go off in Moscow to celebrate Crimea joining Russia — and also the fact that he had Stanford beating Kansas in his March Madness pool.

That’s right, Putin ordered fireworks to go off in Moscow. Either that or one of Putin’s rivals tried to start his car.

Today President Obama was in the Netherlands for a nuclear summit with 50 other world leaders. Putin didn’t even attend. He sent his foreign minister in his place. He said he doesn't want to visit any country he can't keep.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride. But they're making some changes to it. They're making the Russian section much, much larger.

President Obama has convinced the leaders of the world’s biggest economies to move the G-8 summit out of Russia this summer and meet in Brussels instead. Then Vladimir Putin said, “All good. By summer, Brussels will be part of Russia.”

There are reports coming out that Chris Christie has lost 100 pounds since having lap-band surgery. It's a pretty big loss — you know, for my monologue.

“Divergent” was the No. 1 movie at the box office over the weekend, taking in $56 million. It takes place in a bleak futuristic world in which no one's ever read or seen “The Hunger Games.”

Customs officials in Europe recently seized a shipment of cocaine that was addressed to the Vatican. Which can only mean that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford just received a giant box of communion wafers.

While in China, first lady Michelle Obama commented on Chinese censorship. Or as the Chinese news reported it, Michelle Obama greatly admires Chinese censorship.

Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly invested millions of dollars into a computer that can speak and think as a person. The computer is known as "Mark Zuckerberg."

In Michigan, a funk band has made money off an album of complete silence. You hear that, Nickelback? It can be done.

Ukraine said it plans to take Russia to court to try to get Crimea back. So get ready next week for a very special "Judge Judy."

There are some accusations that Silicon Valley discriminates against people because of their age. Elderly groups are so furious about this that they plan to send Silicon Valley an angry fax.

There's a new website that helps you write elaborate works of personalized fiction. It's called Match.com.

Let's talk about March Madness. It starts out with 68. Then it goes to 32. And then it drops to 16. You know what it's like? It's like President Obama's approval rating.

In March Madness, when No. 3 Syracuse was eliminated, I heard people say the Orange had been eliminated. They said the Orange and the first thing I thought was something happened to Speaker of the House John Boehner.

President Obama now is meeting with the G-7 leaders. Can you name all of the G-7? I try but I always forget Bashful.

When Obama meets with the G-7 leaders it must be fun for him to put faces to the voices he hears on the wiretaps.

They've kicked Vladimir Putin out of the G-8, the most powerful economic organization. So now he won't be getting his G-8 jacket. He won't be getting the G-8 mug. And he's not going to get the G-8 tote bag.

Ukraine is in a lot of trouble, and I was thinking about this. The only guy who can turn things around for Ukraine — Phil Jackson.

Michelle Obama is in China. I wonder if while she's over there she could get them to do something about those leaky cardboard takeout containers.

Pope Francis called out the Mafia. He said, "You Mafia guys are all going to hell." It got me to thinking, who else is going to hell? What about those guys who honk the second the light turns green?

Madison, Wisconsin, is playing host to the "World Championship Cheese Contest." It's the biggest cheese competition in the world. It's like Cheese-a-Palooza.

I don't know how you can judge cheese. It's subjective. I think this year's judge is from Norway. He couldn't tell a wheel of brie from a wheel of a tricycle. Take that, Norwegian cheese aficionados!

Some people say you shouldn't eat too much cheese. These people are called "doctors."

I like that you can eat cheese even if it is moldy. You can't do that with other foods. In your face, nuts!

Oprah Winfrey sold her old studio, Harpo Studios. They say it's haunted. On a cold, moonless night, you can hear ghostly whispers of cars being given away.

Apparently Oprah sold her studio because she's decided to get rid of things she doesn't use anymore. Next up, Stedman.

Every now and again when I do this show, I wait for an adult to come along and fix it. It's not going to happen.

It's a great day if you love magic and illusion because it's Harry Houdini's birthday. He was born on this day in 1874. Or was he?

There's a difference between an illusionist and a magician. The word "magician" is from the Greek word "Mageaia," meaning "One who wears a top hat and cape, and looks a bit like a gay vampire."

An illusionist is one who shows you something that defies the laws of nature, thus creating anxiety. It is something that creates a weird feeling in your stomach, like Bruce Jenner.

Harry Houdini was an illusionist. But he was also the president of the Society of American Magicians. He was a popular president. For a while, anyway — until he passed HoudiniCare.

Happy birthday, Sir Elton John. You know who else's birthday it is today? "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker. One is a sassy lady dreaming about hooking up with Mr. Big. The other one is Sarah Jessica Parker.

It's a huge holiday in Sweden. It's vaffeldagen — or Waffle Day. Every year on March 25, people in Sweden make waffles while they drive their Volvos and listen to ABBA.

Here in America, March 25 is when we celebrate Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." If you were to combine breakfast foods with "The Lord of the Rings," what would you get? Bilbo Bagels. Elves Benedict. Cinnamon Trolls.

The NCAA tournament tips off tomorrow. As is now the tradition, President Obama revealed his bracket picks today. He has Florida, Arizona, Louisville, and Michigan State in the final four with Michigan State beating Louisville to win it. I'd take his picks with a grain of salt. He also picked Louis Anderson to win on the reality show "Splash."

This morning police released detailed descriptions of the video that reportedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. If they don't elect him mayor again, I want him to move out here. He could do a reality show — "Here Comes Mayor Boo-Boo."

There was a major scientific finding this weekend out of Harvard. The physicists there believe they've proven the big bang theory. Those of you who aren't familiar with the intricacies of the big bang theory, it's a scientific theory based on a CBS TV show, I think.

A lot of time is wasted on office pools for the college basketball tournament. A global company said 50 million Americans participate in March Madness and companies stand to lose $1.2 billion every hour because of it. If that's true, we need to get rid of it. President Obama shouldn't be filling out brackets.

Apparently pizza sales are way up during the NCAA tournament. I didn't think pizza sales could go up. I thought we were eating at our pizza peak right now.

Productivity is down, and pizza sales are up. If that isn't 50 years of America in a nutshell, I don't know what is.

Sweden and France have developed technology that allows cars to detect the emotions of their drivers. The system uses an infrared camera to determine if you're upset. The car will beep and flash a warning light, telling you to calm down. Nothing soothes an angry driver like a loud beeping sound and warning light.

President Obama released his March Madness bracket this morning, picking Michigan State to win the tournament. In response, Vladimir Putin started moving troops into Gonzaga.

North Dakota is rolling out a new recruiting campaign hoping to fill more than 20,000 open jobs in the state. The only catch is, when they ask where you see yourself in five years, you have to say North Dakota.

Two New York men have been charged with insider trading after authorities caught them exchanging secret messages on cocktail napkins and eating them to hide the evidence. The men came up with the plan after they both got sick from eating their Blackberries.

Singer John Mayer is suing Charlie Sheen’s best friend after the man sold him $5 million worth of fake Rolexes. If you can’t trust someone who introduces himself as “Charlie Sheen’s Best Friend” then who can you trust?

Today is the first day of spring. And just in time, because yesterday was the 400th day of winter.

Kobe Bryant told ESPN that he thinks President Obama could make the Lakers roster this year. I don’t know about that. He’s a good shooter but he can’t seem to pass anything.

This morning Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tackled a journalist on his way into City Hall. The craziest part of that story is that Rob Ford is still going to City Hall.

March Madness has begun. And by March Madness I am, of course, referring to people wearing shorts when it’s 55 degrees.

Google announced last night that it will launch a new security feature to make it harder for situations like the NSA spying program to happen in the future. Then they went back to driving around and taking pictures of the street you live on.

Pole dancing’s first-ever award show, the Pole World News Awards, premieres in Los Angeles tonight. It’s intended to be an annual contest to determine who is the world’s worst father.

 On Sunday Mitt Romney suggested that he had a power to “see the future,” and could have stopped Russia from invading Crimea if he had been elected in 2012. Though if he could really see the future, he wouldn’t have run for president in 2012.

In an interview with “Meet the Press,” former President Jimmy Carter said he won’t send emails because he believes the NSA is reading them. And also because he can’t find the “send” button on his typewriter.

Three elephants escaped from a circus in suburban St. Louis on Saturday, and before they were captured they damaged two vehicles, injuring over 50 clowns.

Tomorrow morning, Russia will fly an American astronaut to the International Space Station. And you thought driving someone home after a breakup was awkward.

Time Warner was voted America’s worst company in an online poll by the blog Consumerist. I have to say, I’m kind of surprised that Time Warner customers were able to get online.



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

New Articles

• Did notorious homophobe and Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps confess on his deathbed that he was gay?

• A child who wrote to God about her deceased pet received a kind letter in response.

• Did Google Earth help locate a woman who had been stranded on a desert island for seven years?

• Warning about a family who perished after drinking tea from a kettle in which a deadly spider had died.

• Did Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford decide to found their own university after being rebuffed by Harvard's president?

• Did greeting 'Hello' enter the language because it was the surname of Alexander Graham Bell's girlfriend?

• Wayne Knight of Seinfeld fame has not been killed in a car crash -- it's another celebrity death hoax.

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

Worth a Second Look

• Is there something about the equinox that allows eggs and brooms be balanced on their ends?

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.



Large or Full Screen recommended for YouTube videos.


The Critter Corner

Video cameras often capture the tight bonds between Mother and Child, and it doesn't seem to matter whether we are talking about animals or humans. Watch what mom does when it looks like her baby is having a bad dream. (1 Min.)


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Sometimes, of course, Mom has to be a little firm with her offspring when they disobey. This is a case in point. (1 Min.)


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There's no question that Subaru has a winner with this Internet ad we received from Bruce Fair. At least with dog owners. (2 Mins.)


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This is the most amazing dancing dog we have ever seen. It is so good, in fact, we think it should audition for "Dancing with the Stars." (3 Mins.)


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So how smart is that mouse you're holding onto? We'll wager it's not as smart as the one in this video that knows where to go to buy a meal when it gets hungry. (33 Secs.)


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Can dogs really understand English? This 34-second video presents solid proof that they can and do.


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If you are worried that your pet Hamster isn't getting enough exercise and you have misplaced its running wheel, here's a tip: A teflon-coated Chinese wok works just as well. (1 Min.)


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After watching this clip of a confused little critter I'm going to think twice before I ever order lamb chops again. (36 Secs.)


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This Sheltie is happy she has someone to play with, and is even more delighted that her playmate thinks she is funny. (2 Mins.)


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It's nice to see house pets that have been taught to share their food like these two furry siblings. (1 Min.)


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This is a CNN report of a couple who had a pod of Orcas (Killer Whales) play in the wake of their boat for nearly an hour off the coast of LaPaz last year. (2 Mins.)

This is the raw footage that was captured by the lady with the video camera. (3 Mins.)


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Here's a feel-good video about a baby moose that was stuck in a fence and didn't quite know how to say "Thank you" after measures were taken to set him free. (4 Mins.)


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If we were to ask when you last saw an Australian Magpie playing with a dog, you would probably say never. At least until now. Watch Sqwark and Whiskey enjoying some playtime. (4 Mins.)


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According to Marcia Morton (Bruce's wife), anyone who has ever owned a cat knows they make the best alarm clocks, and this is especially true if it's time for their breakfast. (1 Min.)


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This is a short clip of a baby Polar Bear that is learning to walk. At this stage it would make a great house pet. A few months later, not so much. (2 Mins.)


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This week's final critter clip is about a pretty gutsy newborn Lamb who meets "Pancake" the Cat and "Sugar Tree" the Doberman for the very first time. (2 Mins.)



Scram, Critters, we've got other things to cover...

Most of you have seen the Internet photos showing the luxury of the first-class cabin aboard the Emirates Airlines A380. When you get to experience a virtual (video) first-class flight on one, however, the impression is completely different. Can you spell the word d-e-c-a-d-e-n-c-e? Hop aboard and enjoy your first-class virtual flight aboard an Emirates A380 bound for Hong Kong from Bangkok. Not only is it free, it may also be your only opportunity to fly first-class on the world's largest passenger jet. (8 Mins.)


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Unfortunately, comedy geniuses Carol Burnett, Tim Conway and Harvey Corman show what flying will continue to be like for the vast majority of us in this "No Frills Airline" skit from the old Carol Burnett Show. (10 Mins.)


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We don't see anything unusual with the way this Swedish police officer interacts with the public. Rumor has it that most of the cops in Colorado and Washington are doing the same. (44 Secs.)


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Speaking of dancing, I was a huge Laurel and Hardy fan when I was a kid, but this is the first time I have seen the boys show off their happy feet to the beat of the Rolling Stones. (2 Mins.)


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This World Science Festival, in our opinion, provides the clearest explanation of how the Internet works. Granted, most people don't really care how it works, as long as it does. This is for the curious among you. (3 Mins.)


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There are several time lapse pregnancy videos on the Web, but this one with music was exceptionally well done. Congratulations to the new Mommy and Daddy. While the epic video was nine months in the making, it wasn't posted until a few days ago. (3 Mins.)


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When I first saw this clip from Britain's Got Talent I thought I might be looking at several Farsider readers and their lady friends vying for the coveted four stars so they could move on to the final. But alas, I didn't see anyone I recognized. (6 Mins.)


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If you want to know what Sarah Brightman looked and sounded like when she was nine years old, watch and listen to this clip sent in by Phil Norton of Amira Willighagen when she appeared on Holland's Got Talent last year. She really is a remarkable young lady with an absolutely amazing talent. (8 Mins.)


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For comparison, this is Sarah Brightman singing the same song at a 2008 concert. (3 Mins.)


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Not to be outdone by the little Dutch girl, here's a clip of 10-year-old Jackie Evancho singing the same song on America's Got Talent in May of last year. (4 Mins.)


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This hot chase sent in by Don Hale is well done considering it's from a movie by the title "End of Watch." It concludes with the score: Good Guys 2, Bad Guys Zip. (3 Mins.)


Internet Movie Data Base reference (play the Trailer)


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There are pucker moments, and there are PUCKER moments. The video camera pointed at the driver inside this dragster going 200 mph captured a PUCKER-PUCKER moment. Have a look. (46 Secs.)


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Want to see something amazing? If you click on the link below you will see some photos that show the difference between a low tide and a high tide. There are twelve coastline photos in all (including the small ones below). They were each taken at low tide, then again at high tide from the same vantage point. Clicking on any of the photos will show you the difference. They illustrate the enormous pull that the Moon's gravity has on the Earth's oceans.


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Speaking of gravity, I was thinking of picking up one of these anti-gravity tops from Amazon until I discovered it would have made my wallet $50 lighter. And besides, the top just uses magnetism to defy gravity. See for yourself. (2 Mins.)


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Before we move on to a different subject, is it possible that this video can provide a clue as to how UFOs are able to defy gravity? Watch the full 2-minute video before you render a decision...


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The pilot of this chopper was fortunate to walk away from the accident in this clip sent in by Joe Wicker, but he did need a little assistance. The helicopter itself didn't fare too well. (2 Mins.)


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Unlike a video of a stunt plane that lost a wing a few years ago and landed safely that turned out to be a hoax, this is the real deal. What saved the pilot's life was a BRS that stands for a Ballistic Recovery System, which is basically a large parachute. (2 Mins.)


This is the viral video from 2008 that fooled a lot of people who thought it was real. (3 Mins.)


It turns out that the hoax video was a clever ad for a German clothing company. If you are curious about it and want to know how it was filmed, read this Snopes entry that includes a couple of embedded videos.



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If someone had asked me how many Shuttles we have launched starting with the first one, I would have taken a wild guess and said something like 50 or 60. Turns out I would have been way off. As of nearly two years ago — in July 2012 — the U.S. has launched 135 Space Shuttle missions. What's remarkable about this video is that it shows all of the launches leaving the pad at the same time. (The Challenger is on the second row from the top, sixth from the right.) (4 Mins.)


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Putin is no doubt feeling a little cocky with his takeover of Crimea. And if this latest Russian fighter that strutted its stuff at a recent air show in Paris is any indication of his country's military capability, he may be successful in rebuilding the USSR while our government takes a carving knife to our military. (4 Mins.)


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When it comes to green energy, the proponents should be pushing this concept instead of solar and wind. Seriously. Have a look at this clip we received from Tom "The Science Guy" Macris. (5 Mins.)


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If you want to see something else amazing, check out this video shot by a tourist in a Chinese bakery and watch how fast the young lady behind the counter can load a bag with little cakes. You may think the video has been sped up, but it hasn't. (2 Mins.)


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Ray Stevens was kind enough to include the lyrics and his family tree that will help you keep up with this clever song he recorded five years ago. It's title is "I'm My Own Grandpa." (3 Mins.)


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Most of you are no doubt familiar with the phrase "You've got mail" to alert you that a new message has been dropped into your Inbox. If you can spare 67 seconds, here's your opportunity to meet the man behind the voice…


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Harry Mullins says he wants one of these because he never knows when he may need to breach a door, but he's not sure the Israelis will sell him one. Let us know if they do, Harry, and we'll publish an update because we know of a few dozen other retirees who would like one. (5 Mins.)


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Longtime readers of the Farsider should recognize Bill Whittle who hosts "Afterburner" on the PJ Media website. In this clip he compares Texas with California in a witty and humorous way. Many people outside of San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and several other "progressive" California cities should find what he has to say amusing. Or not. (8 Mins.)


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Anyone care to hazard a guess as to how this South Korean gentleman manages to balance things that a person should not be able to balance? (1 Min.)


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What can be done with a GoPro camera mounted on a drone and home video editing tricks today is amazing. This isn't Hollywood quality, but compared to the George Reeves' Superman of the 1950s, it's pretty spectacular. (3 Mins.)


Want to know how the video was made? We suspect that our in-house filmmaker (Scott Cornfield) may be interested in the production techniques. Anyone else? (11 Mins.)



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Speaking of drones, we have to agree with Tom Macris who wrote that he had no idea the annual Burning Man festival out in the desert drew so many people. One of the attendees took his drone and captured footage of the event from the air. Check this out. (4 Mins.)


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Illusion like the one shown in this 22-second clip can drive a person nuts. See if you agree...


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If you have an expensive toy like a Lamborghini and you want to keep it safe when you're at home, what's a millionaire to do. This clip from Alice Murphy will show you a Singapore resident's solution. (2 Mins.)


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Kudos to Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham for not letting his disability keep him from achieving what he set out to do. (3 Mins.)


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Don Hale opined that this video narrated by the late President Reagan should be seen by every American citizen. After watching it, we can't find fault with that opinion. (4 Mins.)


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This feel-good story may have some of you rummaging through your old stuff looking for something of value. But even if you don't find anything, you will be amply rewarded emotionally when you reach the conclusion of this story about the auction of an old Indian blanket. (7 Mins.)


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"This is our universe, can you comprehend it?" is the very appropriate title of this short video that should be worth a few minutes of your time, even if you fancy yourself as an astronomy buff. (5 Mins.)


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This wasn't just the final story on a recent CBS news broadcast, it's ours as well, and the moving "On the Road" segment with Steve Hartman may call for a Kleenex or two for some of you. The short story is about the son of a fallen soldier who found a $20 bill in the parking lot of a market. (3 Mins.)


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Pic of the Week



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