Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Babylon Bee: Media Relieved To Be Covering The Good Kind Of Riots Again

 The Babylon Bee offers another spot-on satirical piece:

U.S.—Media organizations across the country announced today they are relieved to be covering the good kind of riots again, now that people are looting Targets for justice again instead of protesting their government.

"It was pretty rough there for a while," said Rachel Maddow. "We had to cover the dark days of the violent insurrection. But now that people are stealing Nikes to protest racial injustice, we can return to feel-good reporting about the good riots that are happening."

"It's just the Spring of Love around here!" she added happily.

Many journalists are calling this the shot of positivity the nation really needed in the aftermath of the worst days in our country's history following the riot at the Capitol. Finally, they say, the nation has remembered what protests are for: stealing stuff and burning things down before any facts have come in.

"I was pretty depressed having to cover the worst riots our nation has ever seen," said Brian Stelter as he wiped tears from his eyes on his Sunday program. "We can finally get back to what the people want: puff pieces minimizing the violence and destruction wrought by protests that we agree with."

"But don't worry -- we will continue to watch Fox News and yell at it, just for you."

You can read more humor pieces via the below link:

The Babylon Bee | Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire.


Philadelphia Mob Associate Sentenced To 4+ Years For Real Estate Fraud Scheme

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information: 

PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Stephen Sharkey, 51, of Swedesboro, NJ, was sentenced to four years and one month in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $296,000 restitution, and to forfeit the same amount of money by United States District Court Judge John R. Padova for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

In September 2020, the defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and, one count of money laundering in connection with three brazen and predatory frauds which greatly harmed innocent victims and netted the defendant more than $385,000. Sharkey engaged in two mortgage-closing schemes to defraud potential home buyers – stealing money that the victims had intended to use to purchase residences for themselves and their families. In the third scheme, the defendant stole all of the proceeds of the sale of a house by secretly going to closing without telling the seller.

Sharkey and his associate, Antonio Ambrosio, convinced their victims to provide Sharkey with the down payment funds in advance of the dates set for the real estate closings, with the promise that Sharkey would provide full financing for the purchases. Rather than finance the deals, Sharkey and Ambrosio simply stole the down payment money supplied by the victims and made excuses when the deals did not close. As part of the scam, Sharkey and Ambrosio even defrauded Ambrosio’s own brother-in-law out of $208,000. After receiving this money, Sharkey immediately cut checks to ARMM Investments, LLC, a company owned by George Borgesi. Borgesi and Sharkey were both convicted in United States v. Merlino, et al., 99 CR 363, an early 2000s RICO case in which the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra was named as the enterprise. Borgesi was named as a capo of the Philadelphia LCN in that Indictment, and Sharkey was identified as a bookmaker for the mob. 

After Sharkey and Ambrosio stole the down payment from Ambrosio’s brother-in-law, they proceeded to lure a second victim to use Sharkey to finance his mortgage, and the victim wired Sharkey $100,000, which Sharkey promptly converted to his own use. The deal for this property fell through, but Sharkey and Ambrosio induced the victim to send the seller an extra $25,000 to hold the deal open, claiming Sharkey would get the deal done. The victim sent the seller the $25,000, but Sharkey had already disposed of the earlier $100,000 and the deal never closed.

Finally, in the real estate fraud perpetrated on the seller victim, Sharkey promised the victim that Sharkey would sell the house belonging to the estate of the victim’s deceased parents and, after going to a closing the victim knew nothing about, Sharkey deposited all of the proceeds of the sale into his own bank account, stealing over $52,000 from the victim in the process.

“Sharkey’s greed impacted the lives and security of multiple families, and his shameful actions had severe consequences for these innocent people,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “Not only did he and his associate steal mortgage down payments, but he also sold a different family’s house right out from underneath them and pocketed all of the cash. For his actions, he will now spend years in prison.”

“Real estate fraud was just the latest racket for Stephen Sharkey,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “He blatantly preyed on innocent victims here, destroying two families’ plans of buying homes and stealing a third person’s inherited property. A chunk of these fraudulent proceeds was diverted to a longtime Philadelphia mob figure, underscoring Sharkey’s continued association with organized crime. The FBI and our partners are going to keep investigating and locking up those committed to making money through illicit means.”     

“This investigation once again reveals how members and associates of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Organized Crime Family are constantly looking to make illicit financial gains by infiltrating legitimate business or exploiting regulatory rules as well as federal and state laws,” said Brandon Corby, Eastern Organized Crime Task Force Commander, Pennsylvania State Police. “The Pennsylvania State Police with our FBI partners are committed to eradicating this type of criminal behavior and hold those engaged in such activities accountable. “          

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Organized Crime Task Force and the Pennsylvania State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Donovan.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Novelist James Jones Showed Grace in the Face of Hemingway’s Cruelty: Hearing Hemingway’s Famously Nasty Letter About Her Father Read Aloud In The New Burns And Novick Documentary Came As A Rude Shock.

 Like many TV viewers, I watched the fine three-part documentary series on the late, great writer Ernest Hemingway. Another viewer was Kaylee Jones, the daughter of another late, great writer, James Jones. 

Jones’ daughter, who wrote a fine novel herself, A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries, saw the nasty letter being read in the documentary and offered her take at the Daily Beast.                      

Last night I watched Episode 3 of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s Hemingway documentary on PBS. I’d watched the first two episodes the night before. The doc is very well produced and has interesting writers talking about Hemingway’s influence, Tobias Wolff and Edna O’Brien among them. But nothing earth-shatteringly new. 

Already, in the two first episodes, the division between the man and the myth is starkly apparent. By Episode 3, Hemingway is unraveling. Drunk all the time, self-medicating with pills and rivers of booze. Trading in one wife for another, as if he were discarding old clothes. 

Imagine my shock when suddenly, in Episode 3, appearing on our huge TV screen, was my father, dressed in his soldier’s uniform, the photo I love and often use when writing about him on social media. I heard the narrator saying... a young veteran... James Jones... and I instinctively sprang bolt upright on the couch. 

Here’s the background on this: In 1950, the publisher Charles Scribner sent galleys of my father’s first novel, From Here to Eternity, to Hemingway, hoping for an endorsement. What Scribner got back was a letter so vile, so cruel, so ugly, it is still hard for me to believe Hemingway wrote it. He compares my father’s writing to snot, he calls him a phony and a coward (a wounded combat veteran of Guadalcanal!), and Hemingway ends by saying he hopes my father kills himself. 

The screen cut to Tobias Wolff. My heart was pounding. I was afraid he was going to defend Hemingway’s actions. He did not. Looking bereft and slightly embarrassed, Wolff explained that Hemingway wrote many such letters, attacking old friends, writers, even his own family. But this is the letter they chose to illustrate Hemingway’s state of mind at the time. And how sad and unfortunate, says Tobias Wolff. 

This was the first time I’d heard that abominable letter read aloud. I knew about this letter, I’ve read this letter. I can’t even count the number of writers, critics, students, professors, and friends who have asked me about this letter. How did my father feel about this letter? 

How the fuck do you think he felt about this letter? 

At the time the letter was written and sent to Scribner, I wasn’t born, wasn’t even a thought in my father’s mind. My father didn’t meet my mother until 1957, long after his first novel was a substantial critical and commercial success. 

But years later, he did tell me that he’d felt sorry for Hemingway. The man had thought his own work was finished, that he would never recover from whatever malevolent depressive state had taken over his mind. “He was not well,” said my dad. “And who can blame a man for that?” 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Novelist James Jones Showed Grace in the Face of Hemingway’s Cruelty (thedailybeast.com) 

You can also read my previous post on the Hemingway series via the below link: 

Paul Davis On Crime: The Man. The Myth. The Writer Revealed: A Panel Discussion About The Upcoming PBS Hemingway Documentary By Ken Burns And Lynn Novick 

A Little Humor: Why I Worked At The Philadelphia Quartermaster

After I was discharged from the U.S. Navy in the 1970s, I began working as a civilian clerk at the Defense Department’s procurement depot in South Philadelphia, known locally as the Quartermaster. 

Although I would later be promoted into positions that were interesting and personally rewarding, such as performing security work for the command and writing feature stories for Defense Department magazines, I found the clerical work in those early years to be boring and seeming pointless. 

I wanted to be a writer, but as I could not then get a job in journalism, and there few jobs of any other kind available, I stayed at the Quartermaster. 

Thankfully, there were many, many pretty young girls working there as well.  

Before the age of office cubicles, our desks were lined up in rows in an open area in a building that was a converted warehouse. 

My desk was situated in a spot where many of those pretty girls passed by my desk as they went about doing their daily jobs. 

One day my boss saw me watching the parade of beautiful girls. 

“Admit it,” he said. “You’re working here just for the fringe benefits.”

Postscript: I later married one of those beautiful girls and we are still together after all these years.

You can read about the Philadelphia Quartermaster via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: The Philadelphia Quartermaster Revisited 

Babylon Bee: Nation Braces For Most Peaceful Protests Yet

 The Babylon Bee takes a satiric shot at biased reporters who claimed past violent protests were “mostly peaceful.” (Especially the idiot TV reporter who made that claim as buildings burned visibly behind him in his much mocked video report).

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—As the Derek Chauvin trial continued this week, the nation began bracing for the most peaceful protests so far. 

"We're getting ready for some really peaceful protests," said one business owner as he boarded up his storefront. "We ain't seen nothin' yet when it comes to just how peaceful Black Lives Matter can be."

While last summer, BLM unleashed their mostly peaceful brand of protests, they said at the end of this trial, they will be unleashing their most powerful weapon: entirely peaceful protests, involving even more peaceful bricks, Molotovs, and more peaceful deaths.

Black Lives Matter representatives announced that that they will definitely be rioting if Derek Chauvin is acquitted. They also said they would riot if he is convicted. Additionally, they said they would just be rioting no matter what so everyone should get ready.

"We will riot if Chauvin is acquitted," said one spokesperson for the movement gathered outside the courthouse in Minneapolis. "And also, you know, if he's convicted. Yep, we'll still be rioting then. In fact, we'll be rioting no matter what happens, so buckle up, America. You thought last summer was bad? Get ready for peace."

You can read other humor piece via the below link:

The Babylon Bee | Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

A Little Humor: Navy Boot Camp Medical Condition

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy when I was 17 in 1970. 

I attended Naval Recruit Training at Great Lakes, Illinois which sailors call Boot Camp, back in February of 1970. 

I recall suffering through one particularly freezing and grueling day on the grinder, marching and doing strenuous exercises with a 12-pound rifle. 

I finally had enough and I told the drill instructor that I had a medical condition. He told me to report to sick bay. 

I saw a Navy corpsman in sick bay and I told him I had a back problem.

About a half hour later the corpsman ushered me into the Navy doctor's office. 

The doctor consulted a sheet and asked, "You have a back problem?" 

"Yes, Sir," I replied. "I wish I was back home in Philadelphia." 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Law Enforcement All Hands On Deck: Acting U.S. Attorney Williams and 15+ Philadelphia-Area Federal Agency Directors Issue Letter To Citizens Announcing Initiative To Combat City’s Gun Violence Epidemic And Fight Violent Crime In Philadelphia

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of PA released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – During a press conference held on Independence Mall this morning, Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams (seen in the above photo) was joined by senior officials from more than 15 federal agencies operating in the Philadelphia area to announce their collective effort to combat the raging epidemic of violence in the city and support the work of the Philadelphia Police Department, which was represented at the event by Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. In a letter addressed to the The citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, federal leaders pledged an “All Hands On Deck” effort from their respective agencies to identify, investigate and hold responsible perpetrators of violent crime.

“The violence in Philadelphia affects all of us, not just residents of the city – millions of people travel in and out for work, school, medical care and more. The mission of the federal agencies gathered here today is to keep our entire District safe in partnership with local authorities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “That is why we are here today: to announce that together, we are ‘All Hands On Deck’ to stop the violence and support the Philadelphia Police Department in their work. Violent criminals should be on notice that we are re-doubling our efforts and we are coming for you. We have had enough.”

“Our citizens, our children, and even our officers are being victimized as a result of the continued violence in the city. Enough is enough. The PPD and our federal partners recognize the gravity of the challenges that we face. We must continue to work together—citizens, police, and stakeholders - in order to make headway against the scourge of gun violence. We truly are in support of and need ‘All Hands On Deck’,” stated Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

To the Citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:

The current violence in Philadelphia affects all of us. Over 1.5 million people live in the City, and millions more travel into the City for work or school, to receive medical care, and to enjoy the City’s parks and cultural attractions. The impact of the ongoing violence is felt in Philadelphia as well as far beyond the City’s limits.

As federal law enforcement, our mission is to keep our entire District safe, and the current state of affairs puts the safety and well-being of everyone in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania at risk. Murders and shootings in Philadelphia continue to rise at an alarming pace. In 2020, 499 people were murdered—a 40% increase from the 356 homicides that occurred in 2019. And in 2021, we are on pace to surpass 600 murders, a horrifying milestone.  Importantly, these numbers do not tell the whole story because they do not include the victims of violence who were lucky enough to survive, nor do they address the harm caused to Philadelphia’s commerce and spirit as people find themselves afraid to venture outside after dark.

These statistics are grim. We cannot allow violent criminals to hold Philadelphia hostage.

That is why we, the undersigned leaders of federal law enforcement agencies, have come together to deliver this message: We are outraged and have had enough. 

Many of the federal agencies below investigate violent crime as part of their mission. But even those that do not have joined this letter to show their commitment to the cause. We are joining together, like never before, to use every tool at our disposal to find and arrest the most dangerous criminals. From obtaining search warrants, to reviewing cell phone records and ballistics evidence, to mobilizing our network of sources, we are sharing information and working every angle—standing shoulder to shoulder with Philadelphia police—to do all that we can to reverse this trend. And when we find those who are committing violence, we will prosecute them and obtain stiff sentences when they are convicted.

We know what the City needs: it needs All Hands On Deck to stop the violence. And that is what we are committed to provide.