Richard Collins III, Army Lieutenant, Killed at University of Maryland

Richard Collins III - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A Bowie State University student, Richard W. Collins III, was killed on the University of Maryland campus in mid-May—and it’s being investigated as a hate crime. Collins, a 23-year-old senior, was murdered by a 22-year-old University of Maryland student, Sean Urbanski, who was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.”

Authorities said that they’re investigating the incident as a hate crime due to Urbanski’s involvement in the Facebook group, which posts racist material.

Urbanski is being charged with first- and second-degree murder, as well as first-degree assault.

According to the victim’s father, Richard Collins, Jr., investigators told him that Urbanski approached his son and made some type of threatening statement. When Collins III responded, Urbanski allegedly took out a knife and stabbed him.

Collins was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, completing his college degree in exchange for a commission in the military.

Hate crimes have been on the rise this year, but the sad truth is that some states don’t even have hate crime laws. (Maryland does, as does Wisconsin.) Even in states that do have hate crime laws, the prosecution has to prove that the person who committed the crime was motivated by the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or another protected class.

In this case, University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said, “Anyone who feels empowered by what happened, the only thing I can say is that if you want to harm our students, you are going to have to go through us. We are not going to tolerate any harm brought to our students. Not on my campus. Not on my watch.”

What Do You Think?

What do you think is causing the surge in hate crimes, which have been on the rise since about January 20 of this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please, share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Why T. Rex Costumes Are Funny… Until They’re Not

Woman in T. Rex Costume Scares Horses - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

We’ve all seen hilarious videos of people wearing T. Rex costumes and performing everyday activities, including gym workouts, riding motorcycles and skateboarding, and participating in the American Ninja Warrior Competition.

But one woman took it way too far—and now she’s been accused of a crime.

The Charleston, South Carolina police department reported that the woman, who was wearing a T. Rex costume on the street, stopped her stroll to growl at a pair of horses pulling a carriage.

“This spooked the horses and they began backing up. The carriage then struck an unoccupied vehicle and caused minor damage to its bumper,” said Charles Francis, the Charleston Police Department’s spokesman.

The carriage’s driver was also hurt. He was thrown from the carriage, and one of the wheels ran over his leg, breaking his foot. He says that he yelled at the woman to “get out of here” several times before she actually spooked the horses.

The horses weren’t injured, and neither were the carriage’s passengers.

Proud of the way his horses reacted, the driver said, “Perhaps she did not realize what a threat that appeared to be to my animals, but they responded remarkably well. Any animal, you included, are entitled to your flight response, the key is how quickly do you come back under control. If I throw a snake on you and you jump, you’re entitled to that, but if you can come back and get in control really quickly, that’s the key to emotional control and both of the animals demonstrated that.”

After spooking the horses, the woman ran to a parking garage and drove away. She turned herself in the following morning, though, and faced charges of disorderly conduct and for violating laws that prohibit wearing a mask or disguise in public.

What Do You Think?

Do you think the charges were harsh enough for the woman, or do you feel that purposely scaring animals that way deserves a tough sentence? I’d love to hear your opinion, so please feel free to share it on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Goat Yoga: Yes, It’s a Thing

Goat Yoga - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Vegetarians and health nuts have long touted the benefits of goat’s milk, cheese, and all the other stuff that goes along with it, but there’s a new exercise fad in town.

Make way for goat yoga.

Yes, goat yoga is a real thing, and it’s happening in New Hampshire right now. (Strangely, there aren’t any goat yoga studios in Milwaukee yet, so if anyone opens one, let me know.) It’s actually been a “thing” for more than a year.

What is Goat Yoga?

Goat yoga is the practice of doing yoga in the same room with a handful of baby goats. Goats climb on you when you’re doing the downward dog, dart between your legs when you stretch, and occasionally stop to nibble on your ear while you’re perfecting your poses.

Peter Corriveau, the guy who owns one of the most popular goat yoga studios in the country, said it surprised him that it took off so quickly.

“This was really kind of a fluke,” he said. “We did this dry run, posted some pictures and really hadn’t thought that far ahead. And it’s just exploded. The phone is ringing continuously for people wanting to sign up for classes.”

Classes are about $22 each, and instructor Janine Bibeau says that the goats make class a lot more fun.

“It brings a lighter and more joyful energy to a class,” Bibeau said. “They make a nice energy in the room. It brings everyone together.”

It does look like a lot of fun.

What Do You Think?

Would you try goat yoga? If you’re not already into yoga, would baby goats encourage you to give it a shot? I’d love to hear your take, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Nacho Cheese from Gas Station Sickens Five in California

Nacho Cheese Lands Woman in Hospital - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A woman from Walnut Grove, California, spent nearly a month in intensive care after eating gas station (read: top-quality) nacho cheese.

The woman, Lavinia Kelly, hit up the gas station’s nacho cheese pump to add a little adventure to her run-of-the-mill bag of Doritos in late April. She ate the chips and cheese, went home, and had a normal life.

But the next day, things weren’t going so well. She went to the emergency room near her home to be treated for double vision, but they sent her home. Just a few hours later, she began having trouble breathing and started vomiting.

The cause?

Botulism.

It’s a rare, paralytic illness that’s often the result of food poisoning. It’s caused by a nerve toxin that bacteria produce, and it usually comes from eating improperly preserved or improperly canned foods.

The symptoms of botulism include:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness

It’s a medical emergency, and it can be fatal.

Kelly isn’t the only one who’s been hospitalized for the same problem, either. Officials are investigating four other cases that may have come from the same gas station, as well. State officials stopped the gas station from selling food on May 5, two weeks after Kelly was hospitalized.

As for Kelly, her family is hopeful she’ll recover.

“We just don’t know how long or how much effort and, and we’ve got somebody here every single morning, every single day,” said Kelly’s sister, Theresa. The family filed a lawsuit against the gas station alleging negligence, product liability, and breach of implied warranty.

What Do You Think?

Do you trust gas station food? Have you ever known anyone who contracted botulism through food? I’d love to hear whether you think the gas station should be held accountable or if you believe this is something that could’ve happened at any gas station—and to anyone. Share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter!

Carlos Gamino

Ohio Cop Overdoses on Fentanyl During a Drug Arrest

Fentanyl Almost Kills Cop in Accidental Overdose - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Two suspected drug dealers were allegedly conducting business when Ohio police officer Chris Green of East Liverpool pulled them over to search their car. Police observed the pair engaging in behavior “consistent with a drug transaction,” according to NBC News, which ultimately nearly killed the police officer tasked with the search.

Green, a five-year veteran of the East Liverpool police force, wore protective gear—a mask and gloves—to conduct the search of the blue Chevy Monte Carlo. But when he returned to the station, another officer noticed a small amount of white powder on Green’s shirt; Green brushed it off with his bare hand, and that was nearly a fatal mistake.

The powder turned out to be fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, is sold under a number of street names, including:

  • Apache
  • China Girl
  • China White
  • Dance Fever
  • Friend
  • Goodfella
  • Jackpot
  • Murder 8
  • TNT
  • Tango and Cash

The drug binds to opioid receptors in the brain. The problem? In addition to hanging out in the areas that cause or control pain, those receptors are in the parts of the brain that control breathing. High doses of opioids can cause breathing to stop completely, and because fentanyl is so potent, the risk of overdose is extreme.

Green absorbed the fentanyl powder, which the two suspects had tried to grind into the carpet of the vehicle, through his hand. According to his police department, it took four doses of Narcan to revive green after he lost consciousness about an hour after brushing away the powder.

What Do You Think?

Did you know fentanyl was becoming a popular street drug? What can police do to curb the trend that’s harming so many communities? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please, share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Ransomware Courtesy of the NSA

NSA and Ransomware - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If you’ve recently received a threatening demand for money on your computer, you’re likely the victim of ransomware. Thousands of computers are vulnerable to this malicious software, and it spreads like wildfire. You can probably thank this latest round of hacking, the WannaCry attack, on the United States National Security Agency.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is software that can either block system files through encryption, or lock you out of the operating system completely. Both forms of ransomware allow hackers to demand payment to grant you access to your own files. These online criminals will often set a deadline to their insistence, leaving victims helpless.

The cyber extortionists will usually only accept bitcoin, making the transaction virtually untraceable.

Why the NSA?

The NSA uses hacking tools to spy on foreign adversaries, and any holes discovered in software, are usually kept secret to make their job easier. If the flaws are leaked to hackers before the issue is fixed, anyone using the internet could be the next victim of ransomware.

A cyber group called Shadow Brokers is claiming responsibility for this attack, saying they stole this sensitive information from the NSA. They also gave warning to President Trump before making their move. It is believed this group has ties to Russia, and this may be the result of America’s airstrikes in Syria.

Who’s Targeted?

This particular infection is targeting businesses; however, a top cyber security company’s website states that the average home user is the most vulnerable for a ransomware attack. Most users think their information is safe because they are not a company, and they also fail to back up their data.

To keep safe, it is suggested that you upgrade to the latest versions of software, don’t click on unknown links, and perform regular backups of your files. It’s also a good idea to protect your computer with more than just an antivirus. You’ll want to be sure that you’re protected from malware too.

What Do You Think?

Should the NSA be held accountable? Have you been hit by one of these cyber attackers? I’d love to hear your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Pennsylvania Man Changes Name to Hitler

New Jersey Man Changes Name to Hitler - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

A Pennsylvania man made the news on May 8, 2017, when he officially changed his last name to Hitler.

The man, formerly known as Isidore Heath Campbell, is now Isidore Heath Hitler. His initials, I.H.H., he says also represent “I hail Hitler.”

The neo-Nazi, tattooed from head to toe with swastikas, was featured in a Showtime documentary called “Meet the Hitlers.” (You can watch the trailer, and see Hitler—the new one—at 0:49 in this clip.) He first made the news in 2008, though, when he ordered a birthday cake for his son that he wanted to say “Happy birthday, Adolf Hitler” and the market refused to make it for him.

In 2009, the same man lost parental rights to three of his children because a court determined that he didn’t have the psychological capacity to care for kids. In 2013, he showed up at a visitation rights hearing wearing a Nazi uniform.

Hitler—then Campbell, of course—was on Hunterdon County, New Jersey’s “Most-Wanted Fugitives” list for domestic violence. He was arrested in March 2016 and spent 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and resisting arrest.

He applied for a name change on Valentine’s Day 2017, and a judge approved his request just three months later. He sports a shortened mustache, parts his hair down the middle and slicks it to the sides, and claims he should have custody of all nine of his children, who share in common four different mothers.

What Do You Think?

Do you think a name like Hitler’s should be off-limits, or do judges have a responsibility to let people choose whatever names they’d like—even if those names are patently offensive to the vast majority of people? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on Twitter or on my Facebook page.

Carlos Gamino

Do You Fly United Airlines? Think Twice Before You Buy a Ticket

Two Scorpions in a Month on United Airlines - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If United Airlines ever needed to catch a break, it would be now.

Unfortunately, it’s not working out that way.

In mid-May, a scorpion (the second one in a month, actually) delayed takeoff on a flight from Houston to Ecuador. The creepy critter crawled out of a sleeping man’s sleeve, and another passenger saw it crawl under the seat (at least something fits beneath the seats, I guess).

Paramedics examined the man at the gate and determined that he hadn’t been stung—but the last passenger to encounter a scorpion on a United Airlines flight from Houston to Calgary wasn’t so lucky. In that incident, a scorpion fell from the overhead bin while the man, Richard Bell, was eating. It fell into his hair, and when he pulled it out, another passenger told him it was dangerous.

“So I dropped it on my plate and then I went to pick it up again, and that’s when it stung me,” Bell said. “It got my nail, mostly.” The sting wasn’t life-threatening; Bell described it as feeling like a wasp sting. After it stung him, yet another passenger stomped on it and flushed it down the aircraft’s toilet.

The first scorpion incident didn’t get all the attention it deserved, though—it happened the same day a Chicago doctor was dragged from another flight for refusing to give up his seat for United Airlines crewmembers.

What Do You Think?

Do you fly United? Will you keep doing so? Do you think the scorpions are a Houston problem or that the airline needs to focus more on keeping passengers safe? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Arkansas Rushed to Execute 7 People in 11 Days… And Failed

Arkansas Executions Halted - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A federal court judge granted an injunction to stop the executions of seven death row inmates in Arkansas in mid-April—and the back-to-back executions would’ve set the record for the most inmates executed by a state in such a short period since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty.

Arkansas hasn’t executed anyone since 2005 because of drug shortages and legal issues, but Governor Asa Hutchinson wanted to execute the seven convicted men by the end of April because the state’s supply of midazolam expires.

The drug, marketed under the name Versed, is used for anesthesia, sedation, and sleep difficulties; it can be used to treat seizures, as well. It’s on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines when used to treat serious medical conditions.

The drug itself isn’t controversial, although its use in executions is. Midazolam was part of a botched execution in Oklahoma, where convicted murderer Clayton Lockett regained consciousness and began speaking during the procedure.

A lawyer for McKesson, the company that sells vecuronium bromide—another drug used in the lethal cocktail used in executions—said that the state of Arkansas misrepresented its purchase and ordered 10 boxes of the chemical, which is used to stop a person’s breathing.

“It [the state of Arkansas] purchased the products on an account that was opened under the valid medical license of an Arkansas physician, implicitly representing that the products would only be used for a legitimate medical purpose,” McKesson’s lawyer, Ethan Posner, wrote in a statement.

Two judges issued separate orders that temporarily block the executions, although state officials are appealing.

What Do You Think?

Do you think Arkansas was right to rush the executions before their drugs expired, or was the state out of line by ordering an unprecedented number of executions over such a short span of time? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Is Trump Going to Mine the Moon?

Is Trump Going to Mine the Moon - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Documents obtained by Vice News show that President Donald Trump’s team is asking NASA about mining on the moon—and whether the agency can survey it for potentially valuable materials.

NASA says it has been “working with industry to develop innovative cislunar [between Earth and the Moon] habitation concepts that leverage existing commercialization plans” and is working with Taiwan on a robotic prospecting rover that it’s going to test this year. The rover, equipped with digital equipment to determine which valuable metals, minerals, and other resources are located beneath the surface.

However, mining the moon poses serious legal concerns: It could violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Article I of the treaty, which was signed by dozens of countries from Afghanistan and Bangladesh to Sweden, Yugoslavia, and Zambia, says:

“The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.”

Article IX says that “States Parties to the Treaty shall be guided by the principle of co-operation and mutual assistance and shall conduct all their activities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, with due regard to the corresponding interests of all other States Parties to the Treaty,” and goes on to insist that exploration must avoid “harmful contamination.”

The treaty also forbids the unilateral private use of space resources.

You can read all the documents, which were requested under the Freedom of Information Act, here.

What Do You Think?

Do you think that Trump will end up supporting commercial businesses mining the moon? Do you feel that would be a violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, or that the document is outdated and the U.S. has a right to send private businesses to mine the moon?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Twitter feed or on Facebook!

Carlos Gamino