The Bizarre World of Florida

A whole new way to destroy kids sports … Gambling Ring Found At Youth Football Games October 31, 2012

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Really Dumb,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:49 pm

Authorities have arrested nine people, including several football coaches, they say were gambling on youth football games and setting point spreads prior to games.

Broward Sheriff’s officials searched two alleged gambling houses Monday where they say people were betting on professional, college and youth games. The nine men arrested were charged with bookmaking and some were charged with keeping a gambling house. Authorities say the suspects had direct ties to the South Florida Youth Football League and several have extensive criminal histories.

“We take these types of activities seriously and will continue to monitor the situation at our parks,” Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley told the South Florida Times.

According to the league’s website, it has 22 clubs and 6,000 players of all ages in three counties.

Brandon Bivins, coach and president of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes, was among those charged. He’s being held on $50,000 bond. It’s unclear if Bivins had an attorney.


Friendship, money, greed meet in ‘Magic: The Gathering’ fantasy card game

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Controversy,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:29 pm

For someone who doesn’t play the fantasy card game “Magic: The Gathering,” watching a round and trying to understand what is going on is difficult.

The pace is fast. There are cards and dice. A round can be over before you know it.

The game has recently taken the local spotlight for a very dark reason: Sean Dugas, 30, one of the area’s most active players, was killed, according to police, by two Magic players who robbed him for his collection of cards.

In this descendant of the role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons,” players take on the role of “wizards,” using their cards as their tools in fantasy battles.

They start with 20 “life points” with the goal of eliminating the other players by damaging them via attacks with their cards until they reach zero points.

All cards are not created equal, nor is there an equal power to every card. Some cards attack your opponent; others give you extra magical points; some summon mythical creatures to do your bidding.

It’s a byzantine game that you have to learn by doing. If you don’t live in the Magic subculture, and you listen to the players talking, you might think you’re hearing Swahili.

“There’s so many rules and different things you can get into,” said Zach Short, who has been playing for about nine years. “If you think ‘Hey, this is a really fun game,’ sit down and try it.”

Dugas case

William Cormier, 31, is accused of beating Dugas to death Aug. 27 at his home in Pensacola.

Dugas’ cards, valued at somewhere between $25,000 and $100,000, ultimately were sold in Pensacola, Georgia and Tennessee, police said.

Dugas’ body was taken to Winder, Ga., where it was found Oct. 8, buried in a plastic container in the backyard of a home. Now held in Georgia, William Cormier and his twin brother, Christopher, will be returned to Pensacola to face charges in the homicide.

The killing has rocked Pensacola’s close-knit “Magic” community of about 150 people who are stunned that a hobby, albeit one that many of them take very seriously, could bring about such tragedy.

This is simply a game with a collectible element, they say.

Much as with baseball cards, Magic cards are packaged at random. Just as a kid might go through several packages of baseball cards looking for his favorite player, so might Magic players buying package after package of cards looking for a powerful rare card.

A theft is conceivable. A murder is not.

“We’ve been doing this for 26 years, and we’ve never even had a fight,” said Ed Nehring, who owns TBS Comics on Ninth Avenue in Pensacola, where Magic and its predecessors have long been played.

The game

Created in 1993, Magic has more than 12 million players in more than 70 countries, according to Tolena Thorburn, spokeswoman for Wizards of the Coast, the game’s owner.

To date, more than 11,000 cards, each with a unique illustration and a description of the card’s value in the game, have been created.

“All wield terrifying magic and command armies of creatures torn from the endless planes of reality,” a manual on the game’s website says. “Your deck of cards represents all the weapons in your arsenal. It contains the spells you know and the creatures you can summon to fight for you.”

The game has maintained its popularity in the Pensacola area.

“A lot of these fantasy games … spiked way beyond Magic and tapered off,” Nehring said. “There has been a sustaining line of success.”

Short said the game, for him, has a lot to do with imagination.

“You can imagine yourself … you’re a sorcerer and I’m going to summon this creature to the battlefield,” Short said. “And I can picture him on the battlefield going up against my buddy’s creature.”

Two sides

The consensus among many local players is that there are two sides to the game – the social and the monetary.

The social side involves playing with friends on a regular basis. Some stores, such as TBS Comics, host a Magic night on Fridays, when many get together to play, trade and sell.

Members of The Gathering, the University of West Florida’s Magic club, play all the time in the University Commons, said group President Calvin Rarie. The club has about 40 members, with 12 to 15 people usually playing each day, he said.

“We work to make sure that wherever we play, it’s a good friendly environment,” Rarie, 21, said.

The other side involves the money, through trading and going to large tournaments called Grand Prixs.

A select few locals, including Joe Halford of Walnut Hill, say they can make a living off going to the tournaments and trading and selling.

“It’s well more than minimum wage,” Halford, 24, said. “It’s not necessarily upper class, but definitely middle class to lower-upper class status.”

New sets of cards are released every so often, and the values fluctuate, he said.

The rarest cards fetch top dollar, both at shows and online.

On Tuesday, for example, a Black Lotus Magic card was listed on eBay for $100,000. Police estimated a Black Lotus card belonging to Dugas at $10,000.

The Pensacola scene

On Friday night, a few dozen people gathered at TBS Comics to play, trade and watch.

The players were on opposite sides of tables that resemble long workbenches. Their game mats were out, and many players kept score on their phones.

The atmosphere was calm. If someone got worked up about a move or an attack, it didn’t get out of hand.

Everyone knew each other.

Nehring said a core group of up to 40 people regularly come to the store to play and buy cards.

“I’ve got at least four or five of my best friends that we play on a weekly basis, at least,” Short said.

But the death of Dugas, a former News Journal reporter, left a big hole in the local Magic community. He was a constant presence, and some said he was sought by other players when they needed better cards.

“He was a dominant figure in the Magic community,” Rarie said. “When news came of his death, it shook all of us.”

The Cormiers also were mainstays of the Magic community several years ago but had dropped off the scene, according to several players.

That the game and the local community are now accused in connection with one of the more high-profile killings in Pensacola’s recent history is a jolt that still shocks those who play.

“From going from a docile environment to something of this nature, it’s frightening,” Nehring said.


Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Controversy,Dispute,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:27 pm

Many breast cancer survivors say a crop of pink-ribbon campaigns have hit a new low — by sexualizing breast cancer.

An online porn site this month has been using breast cancer to increase its Web traffic by offering to donate 1 cent for every 30 views of its videos. The intended recipient for the donation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, rejected the offer and instructed the site to stop using its name.

Yet pornographers are only the most extreme example of a disturbing trend: using sex to sell breast cancer — or simply get attention, say Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues. Sulik, who recently lost a friend to the disease, notes that magazines and advertising campains now routinely use topless young women to illustrate a disease whose average victims are in their 60s.

“I don’t see the porn site to be much different from the ‘Feel your boobies’ T-shirts,” says Sulik, referring to the Pennsylvania-based Feel Your Boobies Foundation. “It sexually objectifies women, trivializes breast cancer . . . and uses the objectified woman as window dressing for the profit-making machine.”

Newer cancer groups are embracing slogans such as “Save the Ta-Tas” and “I Love Boobies” in the name of humor and reaching out to a younger, less conservative audience. Other groups say they’re trying to stand out from the crowd of public service announcements that arrive every October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

A poster for the “Save 2nd Base” fundraiser at Tao restaurant in Las Vegas last month, for example, depicted a curvy model in a string bikini, noting “everyone in pink bathing suits receives open bar.” An online version of the ad went viral, spread by outraged cancer survivors. The Las Vegas restaurant did not return phone calls for this story.

Although proceeds were to benefit Komen, the cancer group’s spokeswoman Andrea Rader says Komen hasn’t heard how much was raised, and won’t accept the donation. Rader says the Las Vegas restaurant was supposed to get Komen’s approval before launching the ads, but did not. “We would never have approved that,” Rader says. Rader notes that Komen, which has been criticized for its “cause marketing” partnerships with companies such as KFC, disapproves of coy language for body parts. “We just say ‘breasts,'” Rader says.

Breast cancer survivor Kathi Kolb used her skill with computer graphics to create an alternative “2nd Base” poster on her blog, the Accidental Amazon. Kolb’s version makes the bikini model look more like a real cancer patient: with a catheter port in her chest, a prosthesis in her bra and a compression sleeve on her arm to prevent swelling.

“It’s thinly disguised prurience,” says Kolb, 58. “The average guy may be moderately obsessed with breasts, but any guy who’s ever known any woman with breast cancer, the last thing he thinks is that breast cancer is sexy.”

Kolb says she’s been disgusted by sexy breast cancer campaigns for years, noting that many companies are manipulating customers’ compassion for commercial gain. But this year, she says, “is worse than ever.”

But Kimmy McAtee, spokeswoman for the Keep A Breast Foundation, says its “I Love Boobies!” campaign aims to “speak to young people in their own voice about a subject that is often scary and taboo.” T-shirts and bracelets “speak directly to our target audience in a way that is authentic, inspiring and refreshing. We always want to take a positive approach to breast cancer awareness, rather than a funny or sexy one.”

Even mainstream groups, such as the American Cancer Society, are using humor to get their message across. “It’s OK to look at our chests,” the society announces, with videos showing close-ups of women’s chests. On a site called makingstrideswalk.org/boobs, the society announces that a fundraising walk “was created to focus on breasts, and women are glad their chest has our undivided attention.”

The American Cancer Society says the “boobs” video was created to get people’s attention. In a written statement, the society said, “People are exposed to a wide variety of breast cancer information during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and this video was intended to break through the clutter to capture the attention of social media users, who we want to encourage to spread the word about an important message: empowering women to take control of their breast health and fight back in their communities.”

Breast cancer survivor Lani Horn, 41, from Nashville, says these groups are missing the point. “All of us are really fed up,” Horn says. “Save the tatas? No, save the women. A lot of us had to give up our tatas to live.”

Karuna Jagger, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, an advocacy group, says, “The implicit message in these campaigns is that it is breasts that are sexy; sexy is what is important; and we should care about breast cancer because it takes those lovely, sexy breasts out of the world . . . Every October, the stunts just gets more bizarre and further removed from what’s needed for this epidemic.”

Horn, who blogs at chemobabe.com, scoffs at the notion that campaigns such “Feel Your Boobies” educate women about breast self-exams.

While many women with cancer do find breast lumps themselves, that tends to happen more by accident, such as while getting dressed, than during formal self-exams. Medical authorities such as the American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force no longer promote monthly breast self-exams.

Overall, teaching women to do structured monthly self-exams causes more harm than good; it doesn’t save lives, but does cause needless worry, says physician Virginia Moyer, chair of the federal task force. “This doesn’t mean women shouldn’t be ‘breast-aware,’ but it does mean that we know that clinicians spending time teaching the techniques of breast exam and promoting its uptake is a poor use of time,” Moyer says.

Yet ogling-as-fundraising isn’t limited to the USA.

A British group, Coppafeel!, urges women to do a “boob check.” In an imitation of Janet Jackson’s infamous Rolling Stone cover, Coppafeel has been promoting its campaign with images of a topless member of the Spice Girls, Mel B, and her husband, Stephen Belafonte, who clutches her breasts.

A French website called Boobstragram encourages women to post photos of themselves in a bra, advising, “showing your boobs on the web is good; showing them to your doctor is better.”

Writer Peggy Orenstein, who has been treated for breast cancer twice, says she’s appalled at what is being marketed on behalf of “women like me.”

The new campaigns do real harm, she says, by reinforcing the image that breasts are a woman’s most valued asset. That only increases the pain suffered by women who undergo mastectomies, Orenstein says.

“On one hand, women with cancer are told — or have to learn — that we are not our breasts, that our sexuality, our femininity are not located in the mammary gland,” Orenstein says. “That’s a complicated, sometimes painful reckoning. Then these organizations come along and reinforce the notion that boobs are the most important things about us, particularly if they’re hot and apparently most particularly if they’re actually fake.”

When diagnosed with aggressive cancer at age 38, Horn says, saving her breasts was the last thing on her mind. All she could think about, she says, was staying alive for her three young children. “Every time I thought, ‘I can’t climb back into that chemo chair,’ I thought, ‘I have to be able to tell my kids, ‘I did everything possible.'”

The new breed of ads is especially cruel, Horn says, because breast cancer strips women of many features associated with femininity and beauty. Chemotherapy and surgery to remove the ovaries can both improve a woman’s odds of survival, but at the cost of plunging her into instant menopause.

Chemo can make women lose their hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. Radiation can leave women’s chests feeling, as one survivor has described it, like “a raw piece of meat.”

And beyond the chemo-induced nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, Horn says, long-term hormonal therapy can cause severe vaginal dryness, making intercourse too painful to contemplate. While many cancer survivors want more information about preserving their fertility and alleviating sexual side effects, very few get help, Horn says.

Cancer “doesn’t make you feel terribly sexy. Pain is not terribly sexy,” Horn says. “There’s a cruelty to this, when you’re in danger of losing the very sexuality that they’re selling.”


Gone! 80,000 lbs. of walnuts headed for Miami

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Robbers,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:24 pm

Here’s a case that deputies say is a tough nut to crack.

Two companies who recently bought walnuts from Tehama County each reported around 40,000 pounds of  the processed nuts stolen in the last two weeks, and deputies are searching for a suspicious delivery driver with a Russian accent who they say is behind it all.

The mystery started Oct. 26, when the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office got a call from a freight brokerage firm in Southern California reporting that a truckload of walnuts never got to Miami like it should have two days earlier, deputies said.

Employees told sheriff’s deputies that the driver of a white semi with a Russian accent picked up the load on Oct. 19. The walnuts were purchased by F.C. Bloxom and Co., a Seattle-based company, and to be delivered to Miami.

While investigating the strange report, deputies found out a man who matched the description of that delivery driver had picked up an order of 40,000 walnuts from Los Molinos on Oct. 23 that were supposed to be taken to Texas, deputies said.

Deputies checked with the trucking company hired by San Antonio-based Hill Country Bakery and revealed that the man who took the walnuts wasn’t actually the one hired for the job, deputies said.

In both cases, the driver is described as about 6 feet, 2 inches, and weighing 198 pounds, and he’s said to speak with a “very distinctive Russian accent,” deputies said. The man somehow got the correct purchase numbers to show the companies in order to pull off the theft, they said.

Altogether, the stolen walnuts are said to be worth just under $300,000, deputies said.


DUI bust: ER doc wanted a break for giving professional courtesy to cops

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Dangerous Nut,Drunk,DUI,Florida Nut,Really Dumb,WTF? — floridaduh @ 7:21 pm

A deputy just happened to be parked in a Ponte Vedra Beach gas station when he noticed two guys in a golf cart pull into the station and almost collide with another car. The driver of the Limited Edition Club Car then slammed on the brakes before sliding across the parking spots and ended up parking across two spots, according to an arrest affidavit from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

When the deputy made contact with the two men, the deputy wrote in his report that they both “appeared to be confused as to who I was”– even though the deputy was in full uniform and had identified himself as a Deputy Sheriff.

The driver, Douglas Castellano, 38, allegedly told the deputy that “his wife had let him out to drink and have some fun with his friend.”
The deputy then asked Castellano to perform some field sobriety tests.

Instead, Castellano reportedly asked the deputy to give him break and stated he was an ER doc and he is always giving professional courtesy to cops, according to the affidavit.

At the jail, Castellano made numerous comments about his duties as a doc and the deputy’s “buddies” coming in for treatments, according to the arrest affidavit.
Hey, doc, how about a cot and three hots for some professional courtesy?


Drunk driver crashed into patrol car, pinned deputy against gas pumps October 30, 2012

Filed under: Bizzarre,Dangerous Nut,Drunk,DUI,Scary,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 3:14 pm

When the Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy first saw 34-year-old Calvin Robinson early Sunday morning, the man was quietly slumped over in the driver’s seat of his car parked by the gas pumps of a truck stop near Ormond Beach. That quickly changed, though, when Robinson suddenly struck the deputy with his car, ran into and damaged the gas pumps, rammed the deputy’s patrol vehicle and fled driving the wrong way on the highway. Deputies tracked Robinson down and after a brief pursuit finally took him into custody.

At 4:46 a.m., the deputy arrived at Loves Truck Stop, 1657 N. U.S. 1, after the store manager had called to report a man was in the store who could barely walk straight due to being so intoxicated. Additionally, Bunnell Police Department officers had recently witnessed Robinson driving recklessly but he had managed to flee from them. The deputy found Robinson’s car parked at an angle by the gas pumps. The driver door was ajar and Robinson was in the driver’s seat. The deputy turned on his patrol vehicle’s emergency lights, parked in front of Robinson’s car and walked over to check on Robinson. Upon seeing the deputy, Robinson tried to close his door, but the deputy prevented him from doing so and attempted to get Robinson out of the car. But Robinson was able to shift the car into reverse and quickly back up, striking the deputy and pinning him against the gas pumps, which were damaged in the collision. Robinson then switched gears and sped forward. He rammed the deputy’s patrol car, reversed again and finally drove away. The deputy didn’t sustain any serious injuries, but his patrol vehicle was so damaged that it later had to be towed.

Robinson was driving southbound in the northbound lanes of North U.S. 1 when other deputies caught up to him. They successfully punctured the fleeing vehicle’s tires with stop-sticks, but Robinson kept going. He turned down a few side streets before stopping near the intersection of North Nova Road and Old Kings Road where he was taken into custody.

Deputies noted that Robinson reeked of alcohol, had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, and beer cans were inside the car. Robinson refused to submit to a DUI test. Additionally, deputies learned that Robinson had four active suspensions on his driver’s license, and Robinson admitted to not having a valid driver’s license. He was charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer, DUI, driving with a suspended license, criminal mischief and resisting an officer with violence. He was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.


This Halloween party was downright scary — no fake blood here.

Filed under: Abuse,Amazing,Bizzarre,Stabbing,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 3:12 pm


Three People Stabbed During Halloween Party

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an early Saturday morning stabbing at the Malacompra Community Center in Palm Coast which left three men injured.

Deputies, who responded to the 2:07 a.m. incident, reported receiving multiple calls about a disturbance at the center at 69 Malacompra Road. As deputies arrived, the party participants were quickly leaving and none would provide a statement about what transpired during the evening.

Limited information was obtained about vehicles seen leaving the scene with possible victims. One vehicle was stopped and deputies found a 27-year-old male who was being driven to Florida Hospital Flagler for a stab wound to his lower left back. At the hospital, deputies found a second victim, a male, with a stab wound under the chin. A third man was located in another private vehicle being driven to the hospital for treatment to a stab wound to his lower back. The third victim was transported by ambulance to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

The victims were hesitant to cooperate with deputies, other than to say that a large fight broke out at the center. Deputies said none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.



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