Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Arrests made in Stop & Shop fraud scheme.

Four Armenian men who traveled to Rhode Island from California were arrested at a Stop & Shop in Coventry yesterday after store employees noticed one of the men tampering with one of the store's keypads. According to the Rhode Island State Police and United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, a total of $115,000 was stolen from 1,100 accounts at the Coventry store alone.

If convicted on all charges, the men face up to fifteen years in prison each. As reported earlier, similar tampering was found elsewhere, but so far, the only stolen data used to commit bank fraud came from the Coventry store.

And as if that weren't enough, Ocean Staters can sleep easier tonight knowing that Secretary of State Ralph Mollis' ne'er-do-well brother has been arrested - again. For those keeping score at home, Mollis' teenaged son was arrested for shoplifting, his stepson was arrested for attempted murder, and his brother has been arrested for serving alcohol to minors for a second time.

Ralph had better put a halt to his before his wife gets any ideas. I'm just saying.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stop those presses!

The blog belonging WSAR AM's resident "portly, pint sized Portuguese political pundit" Keri Rodrigues has vanished (see here)!

A day after receiving a letter from Fall River, MA mayoral candidate Brad Kilby that alleged Rodrigues made libelous comments on air, the blog disappeared. The last post was a defiant rant by the blogmistress laughing at the aggrieved party's stated intention to pursue legal means of redress if necessary.

Whoops! Victory for Brad Kilby! May we infer that WSAR management PWNED their pugnacious pundit? It probably didn't help that the pundit's blogspot URL included the station's call sign, creating the impression that her views reflected the views of ownership and management. Those are, I suppose, the breaks. The Rhode Islander will be investigating this breaking story, and talking to former Keri Rodrigues Show blog regulars Lefty and Professor Inertia to get the straight scoop.

UPDATE: The former URL now redirects to an adult site?!

UPDATE II: Lefty has posted the third part of our continuing series on border disputes between Rhode Island and Massachusetts! We'll be getting his take on the "pundit to porno" scandal soon.

UPDATE III: I was going to talk to Professor Inertia for his take, but ... eh. He's pretty boring. Besides, once Inertia is at rest, it's a bitch to get him moving.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celona readies for the big house

Sometimes, political corruption in Rhode Island doesn't pay. Former State Senator John Celona, already facing federal jail time for influence peddling, will be tacking on another one and a half years in the ACI after pleading no contest to corruption related charges.

I have to hand it to Attorney General Patrick Lynch (horribly designed web page here) for getting serious about cracking down on the state's notorious corrupt politicians. If only his predecessor had 1/10th of the same zeal.

Lest I forget ...

Speaking as a die hard Boston Celtics fan, this has been a long and rough season for the men in green. A series of injuries led to an 18 game losing streak, and as of today, the Celtics have the worst record in the league.

Still, while waiting for the draft lottery, we can still find something to stand up and cheer for. To wit: last Saturday's NBA All-Star dunk contest, where the Celtics' own Gerald Green electrified the crowd on his way to winning the contest. Yeah, I know - it's no substitute for making the playoffs, but it was great fun all the same. Especially when he paid homage with the "pump the Reeboks no-look dunk" that won it all for Dee Brown in 1991:

Oh great.

The Stop & Shop grocery chain has discovered that some ATM/credit card keypads in their Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts stores have been tampered with, leading to the theft of customer credit card information. Credit card information has been confirmed stolen from the locations in Coventry and Cranston, and tampered key pads were discovered in Coventry and Johnston, while tampered keypads were discovered in Providence, Warwick, Bristol, and Seekonk, Massachusetts.

I've been to two of these stores, and needless to say, I'm checking my statements with fine toothed comb. I think it's time to switch to Shaw's for good.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow photos? No.

Yeah. So, I promised to take pictures of Rhode Island in all of its snowy glory after the long anticipated snowstorm hit. The problem is, Rhode Island hardly got any actual snow. We did, however, get lovely sleet and freezing rain, which promptly froze into a three inch thick layer of ice covering cars, buildings and roads. It's really not very picturesque. Still, there's plenty of winter left, and it has to snow one of these days. Right? Right.

On a different note, this article in the Providence Journal (registration required) about the North Providence police department replacing their fleet with Dodge Chargers depressed me to no end. Why? Oh, I have my reasons. I only hope I can get into the auction when they put their old Ford Crown Victorias up for sale.

Completely unrelated note: Dictators of the World has been lavishly updated. Come to think of it, twice as many people read DotW than this blog. Could it be that people are more interested in dictators than Rhode Island? Perish the thought!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In Woonsocket, it's girls gone wild.

What the hell is going on with women in Woonsocket lately?

Let's start with Ana Rivera and Maribel Santiago. Last month, Ana Rivera's daughter Amanda was suspended from Woonsocket Middle School for what appears to be a variety of misdeeds (apparently making threatening remarks and inappropriate dress), but that didn't stop her from pursing a grudge against her sworn enemy (middle schoolers with sworn enemies?) Grechel Santiago.

After vowing to take Grechel down on her MySpace page, Amanda convinced her mother Ana to drive her to school so she could get gully with her rival, Grechel. What Amanda and her mother didn't know is that Grechel's mother, Maribel Santiago, was with her at school. Before long, the girls started fighting, and anyone could yell "catfight!', their mothers went after each other. A vice principal who attempted to break up the brawl got socked in the eye by Maribel Santiago, and by this time, a large crowd had gathered to soak it all in. Someone finally called The Man, after which, six people (the girls, their mothers, and two other students who threatened the cops) were hauled off to jail.

This made nationwide news, embarrassing the city of Woonsocket to no end, but hey, it was an isolated incident right? No way.

One mother later, Woonsocket mother Robin Sevigny drove to a school bus stop and waited for her 14 year old daughter, and her 14 year old niece, to get off the bus. Sevigny's daughter walked over to her mother's car, said something to her, and before you could say "Jesus, not again!", Robin Sevigny walked up to her own niece, slapped her, and held her down to the ground. She called her daughter over to start hitting her while she held the girl down on the ground. Apparently, the girl and her cousin had been arguing over a boy, and escalated after threats were made on one of the girls' MySpace pages.

But now comes the weirdest, and dumbest, story of them all. Woonsocket mother Rebecca Arnold can more or less forget about seeing her 11 year old daughter ever again after being arrested for child neglect charges. Child neglect in itself isn't so weird, but the circumstances here are just bizarre.

Arnold's daughter had returned to live with her father in North Adams, MA when she told one of her teachers that her mother and her mother's boyfriend, one David Prata, engaged in lewd acts with each other in front of the then 8 year old girl "for educational purposes". The teacher contacted the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families to investigate the complaint. Investigator Vanessa Ciesla probably wasn't prepared for how easy the investigation would be. Both of them freely admitted performing a dazzling array of explicit acts in front of their daughter, and didn't, like, see the big deal, man. The report noted in a dazzling mastery of understatement:
"Mr. Prata said that he and [the girl’s] mother believe in a free and open relationship and don’t want to hide anything from [the girl]."
And what was the mother's rationale for her overeager readiness to get it on with her boyfriend, on numerous occasions, in front of her own 8 year old daughter?
“When I was married to my first husband, my mother-in-law and husband would make fun of me” because, Arnold said, she didn’t know a slang term for oral sex. “I didn’t want anyone to make fun of [her daughter]."
Gah. If anyone can think of a stupider reason to go to jail and alienate their children, by all means, share it with me. And for Woonsocket's sake? I hope Woonsocket women find a more suitable outlet for their aggression and lust. Like politics.

Finally - snow is on the way.

After a long dry and gray winter, Rhode Island will be receiving some snow this week ...

... to be followed by an ice storm and a nor'easter. Could we be looking at getting blasted by bombogenesis again this week? I'm not sure, but I will be taking some pictures when the Ocean State freezes over.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The border is ... where? Part II

If you haven't read part 1 of my series on the history of Rhode Island's border disputes with Massachusetts, now would be a good time to do so. It might also be a good time to read Lefty's examination of the issue from the Massachusetts side as well.

Despite the acquisition of a royal charter from King Charles II, the demarcation of the Eastern Rhode Island border remained in dispute. When petitioners from Rhode Island informed the King that Rhode Island's neighbors were coveting land granted in the original charter, the King graciously granted Rhode Island a new patent in 1693 extending Rhode Island's boundaries to include land "three miles east and northeast" of Narragansett Bay, despite the existing claim to this land by Plymouth Colony. When Plymouth protested, the King appointed a survey commission to settle the dispute. Unfortunately for Rhode Island, the commission found in favor of Massachusetts.

The border remained the same after Plymouth Colony merged with Massachusetts in 1691. In 1740, however, Rhode Island tried once again to secure the land rights granted in the 1693 patent. Why? Well, timing appears to have a lot to do with it. Having just decided a New Hampshire boundary dispute with Massachusetts in New Hampshire's favor, Rhode Island sensed that King George II might be amenable to Rhode Island's claims under the 1693 patent.

Rhode Island guessed right. King George II appointed another set of commissioners to settle the dispute between Massachusetts and Rhode Island, resulting in decision extremely favorable to Rhode Island. The decision was made to grant Rhode Island all points in a three mile radius from the Providence River and eastward into Narragansett Bay, in adherence with the 1693 patent. Overnight, the present day towns of Bristol, Warren, Barrington, Cumberland, Tiverton and Little Compton were transferred from Massachusetts to Rhode Island, forming all of present day Bristol County and adding considerably to present day Newport County.

So this settled it right? Wrong. Massachusetts accused Rhode Island of jumping the gun, and failing to allow surveyors from Massachusetts the chance to determine where the magic lines radiating from the river and bay determined the new boundary, setting the stage for the next, and final, stage of the dispute.

Friday, February 02, 2007

This just in!

This just in! Apparently, one party rule in Rhode Island has led to endemic corruption and embarrassing scandals! That's actually not news. But this is:

The voters don't care. Oh sure, they'll continue to complain about corruption, inefficiency, and the drawbacks of having a single party controlling the state legislature from now until the sun burns out, but they'll never actually vote any of their incumbent state representatives out of office. That would take, like, going to the polls and informing themselves about politics (and, like, stuff).

On the technical front, Technorati just can't seem to detect when I update this blog. It detects updates on this site's sister blog (Dictators of the World) without any problems, which has led me to quadruple check my work. Nope. The blog claim code is inserted correctly, but Technorati seems to think it's been over 500 days since The Rhode Islander has been updated. Bizarre.