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FBI recommended felony counts against Joe Arpaio's cronies


The FBI has turned over a redacted set of documents from its investigative archives related to Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious strong-man whose antics have cost the taxpayers millions in civil suit settlements for actions ranging from racial profiling to stealing a defendant's paperwork in open court to arresting newspaper owners who refused to turn over readers' identities to torching a house and killing a puppy in the process of investigating traffic citations.

The FBI archives, which go back to 2008, reveal that the Bureau recommended that some or all of former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, Arpaio and his officers be indicted for felony counts of "obstructing criminal investigations of prosecutions, theft by threats, tampering with witnesses, perjury and theft by extortion." This recommendation was ignored by federal prosecutors, who concluded that there was not enough evidence to proceed.

County officials who tried to rein in Arpaio have had their offices swept for bugs, believing that Arpaio's regime engages in dirty tricks and illegal wiretapping against local politicians that are hostile to his tactics. Arpaio's office filed several charges against hostile local politicians, none of which led to convictions (by contrast, Arpaio's friendly county attorney Andrew Thomas was unable to get reelected and was eventually barred from practicing law altogether).

Arpaio's bid to quash the FBI investigation and his campaign against local politicians have cost Arizona taxpayers over $44M to date.

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Takei to Arizona lawmakers: we will boycott Arizona if it passes its anti-gay Jim Crow law


George Takei (Facebook)


Sergei sez, "George Takei has written an open letter to Arizona legislators regarding a bill that would allow businesses, based on a 'sincerely held religious belief' to bar LGBT patrons from entering their establishments."

Takei reminds Arizona of the estimated $500M it lost by not ratifying MLK Day, and threatens a supercharged version of the boycott, multiplied by the Internet, if the bill passes.

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Crowdfunding a new location for Phoenix's wonderful Changing Hands bookstore

Safwat sez, "After unsuccessfully trying to sell nude photos on Craiglist (Watch the project video to learn more about that!), Moby-Dick, Frankenstein's monster AND Gregor Samsa turn to crowdfunding to help Changing Hands Bookstore build a new indie bookstore in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. There's some pretty funny and one-of-a-kind classic-literature based t-shirts, prints and greeting cards up for grabs."

I spoke at Changing Hands on my last book tour and not only were the staff kind and knowledgeable, the store was spectacular. What's more, it was clearly a hub for a community of active readers in Phoenix. They certainly deserve your support! The t-shirts/posters are fab, too. Prints start at $10, tees at $30, and you can get all five tees (and support an amazing bookseller) for $140.

Frank 'N Moby Build a Bookstore (Thanks, Safwat!)

Krokodil, Russia's rot-your-flesh zombie dope, appears in Phoenix


Perhaps you've heard tell of Krokodil, an injectable street-drug popular in Russia that causes your skin to go green and scaly and eventually to rot off all the way to the bone at injection sites, and gives its habitual users permanent slurred speech and jerky motions, earning it the nickname of the "zombie drug?" Phoenix poison-control centers now report that they're treating krokodil users, suggesting that the practice of using the drug recreationally is has begun to spread to American shores. A Google Image search for "krokodil" will supply you with ample nightmare fuel for years to come.

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Fracking for helium in Arizona

Tom writes, "Arizona is poor in natural gas, so you'd think it would escape the fracking controversy. Maybe not. The Copper State is one of the best places in the world to find helium, which has been in short supply. The catch is, it takes fracking to mine it. The pipeline company Kinder Morgan paid $30 million last year for fields rich in helium, and also CO2, which is used to pump the last drops of oil from old wells in Texas and New Mexico. Arizona may have rich, frackable deposits of shale oil, too. The Navajo Oil & Gas Co. has applied for a permit to do some exploring." Cory 8

Reporters kicked out of Amy's Baking Company after complaining of fly in drink

Following a spectacular public meltdown staged by a couple running a Scottsdale restaurant, reporters from the Phoenix Business-Journal decided to see what all the fuss was about. They were not disappointed. Rob

Abusive restaurateurs stage spectacular social media meltdown


Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro is Scottsdale, AZ gained some small notoriety when it became the first restaurant that Gordon Ramsey gave up on in his show Kitchen Nightmares, in which the restaurateur helps failing businesses reform their ways. The Ramsey segments show the owners of the restaurant, Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, screaming obscenities at customers, taking servers' tips, and generally behaving very badly.

But that was just for warmup. After the episodes aired and showed up on YouTube, the Bouzaglos took to Facebook to condemn their critics on Reddit and Yelp with a mix of profanity, Bible-thumping, spurious legal threats, and, finally, a claim that it wasn't them at all, all the crazypants stuff had been the work of hackers who took over their Facebook account.

In a world with innumerable social media hissyfits and bun-fights, the Bouzaglos' meltdown stands out as a world-beater. Truly, this is an exceptional episode of bad behavior.

This is the Facebook page for Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro, a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Corruption in Arizona National Guard, from "bum-hunts" to sexual harassment

A long, excellent investigative piece in the Arizona Republic documents a litany of awful and criminal practices by senior officers (especially recruiters) in the Arizona National Guard. Reporter Dennis Wagner spent five months on the project, using Freedom of Information Act requests and internal sources to uncover stomach-turning transgressions, such as recruiters who brought their recruits out to shoot homeless people with paintball guns, and sexual harassment of junior personnel by their seniors that went ignored and unpunished by the Guard.

"Bum hunts" -- Thirty to 35 times in 2007-08, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Amerson, a former "Recruiter of the Year," drove new cadets and prospective enlistees through Phoenix's Sunnyslope community in search of homeless people.

Military investigators were told that Amerson wore his National Guard uniform and drove a government vehicle marked with recruiting insignia as he and other soldiers -- some still minors -- shot transients with paintballs or got them to perform humiliating song-and-dance routines in return for money. During some of these so-called "bum hunts," female recruits said, they were ordered to flash their breasts at transients. Homeless women, conversely, were offered food, money or drinks for showing their breasts.

Amerson, during military interviews, denied paintball assaults but admitted to some wrongdoing. He was demoted to private and given an other-than-honorable discharge. Amerson declined to be interviewed for this story except to say that allegations against him were untrue.

Republic special report: Allegations against National Guard uncovered (via Super Punch)

Cactus cellular tower in Arizona


A Redditor called Jaycrew posted this photo from the erection of a cellular tower disguised as a cactus in Arizona.

How to hide a cell phone tower in Arizona (i.imgur.com) (via Super Punch)

Giant murderous half-ton car-part junkbot will hold 32 bottles of wine for you


A welder in Phoenix assembled a robot out of car and motorcycle parts that serves as a wine-rack. It weighs "Approx 1,000lbs," stands six feet high, holds 32 bottles of wine (or other beverage of choice) and is liberally wired up with glowing LEDs. Yours for a mere $7,000.00.

For the discerning individual who appreciates artwork and wine - you now have a great opportunity to meld those together into one piece of artwork that will display your bottle collection like no other wine rack. This will make you the talk of your wine club, HOA, alcoholics anonymous support group, etc...

There are only several times in one's life when one has the opportunity to purchase something that is RIDICULOUSLY COOL. This is one of those moments.

Need something unique? Sure, you could certainly go to the local Mercedes dealership and pick up a G55 or wait until next year's G63 comes out and yes, it would be unique, you'd be the talk of your friends, and ride around in style but it wouldn't be any different than the next G55 or G63 rolling around. Nooooo waaaaaaay man! Those suckers are mass produced!! You see those all over the place in Scottsdale!

What ya need is a one-off piece of artwork that you will not find anywhere else in the metropolitan area and likely - the entire state.

Half Ton Transformer-style Wine Rack made of auto transmission parts - $7000 (North Phoenix)

FBI: outlaw bikers trying their hands at trademark trolling

An FBI Phoenix memo (PDF) published on Public Intelligence documents a trademark indicator added by Vagos Motocrycle Club, an outlaw biker gang, to its jacket patch, to help them detect undercover law-enforcement officers. The gang's leaders apparently believed that the FBI couldn't find a vendor that would reproduce the patch and the circle-R indicator without authorization. I don't believe they're correct on this score.

(U//LES) The Vagos added the ® symbol to the bottom center of the large back patch as shown in photo 1. There are only about 20 of these new patches which are currently being worn by members. It is believed that the new patches will be given out to new members as they are vetted by the Vagos leadership. By doing this, the Vagos believe they will have exclusive rights to the Vagos patch and no one, including undercover officers, would be able to wear the patch without the consent of the International Vagos OMG leadership.

(U//FOUO) Research within the United States Patent and Trademark Office was conducted which indicated the Vagos International Motorcycle Club Corporation California, 780 N. Diamond Bar Blvd., #B12, Diamond Bar California, 91765, filed to make the Vagos name and symbol a registered trademark on July 2, 2010, Serial Number 85076951. Changes and requests by the Vagos Corporation were submitted as recently as May 2, 2011 to the Patent and Trademark Office.

(U//LES) FBI Motorcycle Gang Trademarks Logo to Prevent Undercover Infiltration (via Wired)

45-foot paper airplane flies

Marilyn writes, "A part of its Giant Paper Airplane Project to get kids psyched about aviation and engineering, the Pima Air & Space Museum launched what may be the largest paper airplane (45-ft-long, 800 lbs, with a 24-ft wingspan) from a helicopter at 2,700 feet over the Arizona desert. It flew (glided actually) about 7 to 10 seconds before crashing. >From the LA Times: ...The plane was constructed of layers of falcon board, which Vimmerstedt described as a type of corrugated cardboard, similar to a pizza box. The plane was designed and built in Lancaster by Art Thompson, who helped design the B-2 stealth bomber, but the design was based on a paper airplane folded by 12-year-old Tucson resident Arturo Valdenegro—winner of a paper airplane fly-off sponsored by the Pima Air & Space Museum in January. In a video interview with the museum on the day of the launch, Valdenegro said before the Great Paper Airplane Project he thought that he might pursue a career in engineering, but after meeting Thompson and seeing his plane realized in giant size, he now knows he’s going to be an engineer when he grows up..."

45-foot paper airplane glides over Arizona desert (Thanks, Marilyn Terrell!)

Arizona Senate votes to let anti-abortion docs lie to pregnant women

The Arizona Senate has passed a bill that immunizes doctors from malpractice suits if they deliberately withhold information about prenatal problems because they don't want the woman carrying the fetus to consider an abortion. (Thanks, Nodeg!)

Arizona State U's Emerge: what does it mean to be human?

Aisling sez, "Emerge is an exciting 3 day event of active workshops, thoughtful conversation and keynotes about what it means to be human, hosted at Arizona State University. Featured speakers and active participants include Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Bruce Mau, Sherry Turkle and Stewart Brand. Workshop leaders include Julian Bleecker, Stewart Candy, Julie Anand, Gretchen Gano and Brian David Johnson. The Emerge event will culminate in an afternoon festival and a spectacular performance on Saturday, March 3rd." Cory