Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sunken British Warship

Sunken British Warship From American Revolution Found in Lake Ontario

Friday, June 13, 2008

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A 22-gun British warship that sank during the American Revolution and has long been regarded as one of the "Holy Grail" shipwrecks in the Great Lakes has been discovered at the bottom of Lake Ontario, astonishingly well-preserved in the cold, deep water, explorers announced Friday.

Shipwreck enthusiasts Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville used side-scanning sonar and an unmanned submersible to locate the HMS Ontario, which was lost with barely a trace and as many as 130 people aboard during a gale in 1780.

The 80-foot sloop of war is the oldest shipwreck and the only fully intact British warship ever found in the Great Lakes, Scoville and Kennard said.

"To have a Revolutionary War vessel that's practically intact is unbelievable. It's an archaeological miracle," said Canadian author Arthur Britton Smith, who chronicled the history of the HMS Ontario in a 1997 book, "The Legend of the Lake."

The finders of the wreck said they regard it as a war grave and have no plans to raise it or remove any of its artifacts. They said the ship is still considered the property of the British Admiralty.

Although the vessel sits in an area where the water is up to 500 feet deep and cannot be reached by anyone but the most experienced divers, Kennard and Scoville declined to give its exact location, saying only that it was found off the southern shore.

The sloop was discovered resting partially on its side, with two masts extending more than 70 feet above the lake bottom.

"Usually when ships go down in big storms, they get beat up quite a bit. They don't sink nice and square. This went down in a huge storm, and it still managed to stay intact," Scoville said. "There are even two windows that aren't broken. Just going down, the pressure difference, can break the windows. It's a beautiful ship."

Smith, who was shown underwater video of the find, said: "If it wasn't for the zebra mussels, she looks like she only sunk last week."

The dark, cold fresh water acts as a perfect preservative, Smith said. At that depth, there is no light and no oxygen to hasten decomposition, and little marine life to feed on the wood.

The Ontario went down on Oct. 31, 1780, with a garrison of 60 British soldiers, a crew of about 40, mostly Canadians, and possibly about 30 American war prisoners.

The warship had been launched only five months earlier and was used to ferry troops and supplies along upstate New York's frontier. Although it was the biggest British ship on the Great Lakes at the time, it never saw battle, Smith said.

After the ship disappeared, the British conducted a sweeping search but tried to keep the sinking secret from Gen. George Washington's troops because of the blow to the British defenses.

Hatchway gratings, the binnacle, compasses and several hats and blankets drifted ashore the next day. A few days later the ship's sails were found adrift in the lake. In 1781, six bodies from the Ontario were found near Wilson, N.Y. For the next two centuries, there were no other traces of the ship.

Explorers have been searching for the Ontario for decades, and there have been numerous false finds over the years, said Eric Bloomquist, interpretative programs manager at Old Fort Niagara.

Kennard, an electrical engineer who has been diving for nearly 40 years and has found more than 200 wrecks in the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes and in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, began searching for the Ontario 35 years ago but quit after several frustrating and fruitless years.

Six years ago, he teamed up with Scoville, a diver who developed the remote-controlled submersible with students from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Since then, the pair have found seven ships in the lake.

Over the years, Kennard obtained documents from British and Canadian archives on the Ontario, including the ship's design plans. Even then, it took the pair three years of searching more than 200 square miles before they found the vessel earlier this month.

After locating the wreck with the sonar, the explorers used the submersible to confirm their find, documenting their discovery with more than 80 minutes of underwater video.

"Certainly it is one of the earliest discovered shipwrecks, if not the earliest," said Carrie Sowden, archaeological director of the Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center of the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermillion, Ohio. "And if it's in the condition they say, it's quite significant."

A rare feature that helped identify the ship: the two crow's nests on each mast. Another was the decoratively carved scroll bow stem. The explorers also found two cannons, two anchors and the ship's bell.

The clincher was the quarter galleries on either side of the stern — a kind of balcony with windows typically placed on the sides of the stern-castle, a high, tower-like structure at the back of a ship that housed the officers' quarters.

Kennard said he and his partner have gathered enough video that it will not be necessary to return to the site. He added that they hope to make a documentary about the discovery.

There are an estimated 4,700 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, including about 500 on Lake Ontario.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Time for a Quick Round of Golf?

Time for a Quick Round of Golf?

An interesting new trend is taking South Korea by storm. Golfers who want to play golf, but are too busy or do not have the space have begun playing indoor courses.

Indoor simulated golf allows players to tee off from Pebble Beach in California, St. Andrews in Scotland, and other world famous courses, without ever having to leave South Korea.

korea_golf Time for a Quick Round of Golf? picture

“Six p.m. to midnight is the peak. But some patrons play until 5 a.m. This is quite addictive,” Kwon said. “But it’s also good exercise, because you swing real clubs and hit real balls. Here you can play your golf anytime, rain or snow, day or night.”

The sheer pace at which simulated indoor golf is growing in Asia is amazing. It is being reported as the fastest growing technology since the Internet, with active users tripling each year.

Personally I am more of a football man, so watch out mum - I am about to break some furniture if this keeps up.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

eLife: Disposable Paper Pots and Pans

Campers, Hikers, and just about anyone who hates scrubbing pots and pans will be excited about a new revolutionary invention out of South Korea.

eLife, a product sold in at least one supermarket in Seoul, South Korea, is a collection of pots and pans made completely out of paper.

elife-paper-pots eLife: Disposable Paper Pots and Pans picture

Available in many different shapes and sizes, eLife paper pots and pans have a special material that is painted on the bottom that allows them to be used on direct heat or flame.

No more having to carry heavy pots and pans when going camping, or wash nasty pots and pans at home.

North Texas Man Survives 2-Hour Bee Attack

North Texas Man Survives 2-Hour Bee Attack

GRAHAM (CBS 11 News) ― A North Texas man credits God and a cell phone for helping him survive a two-hour long bee attack. It all happened in Graham, west of Mineral Wells.

James Dunsworth was clearing away cedar trees with his bulldozer on Monday when the 72-year-old hit a bee hive deep inside one of the trees. "Just about one o'clock," he said, "I hit that tree that had all the bees in it, and those bees came up just like smoke out of that tree."

The bees attacked Dunsworth, knocking him from the tractor and onto the ground. "They come right under the hood of that dozer, right in on me," he explained. "I just laid there and thought, I'm going to have to do something or I'm going to die right here.

As Dunsworth rolled down a nearby hill, the bees climbed inside his mouth and ears, stinging his face and arms. "They stung in my mouth, my ears, all over my head and on my arms. I had a pair of overalls on, or it probably would have got worse," he said.

Then, "I just happened to think about my cell phone," Dunsworth said. He dialed 911.

Dunsworth: These bees are covering me up! Killer bees!
Dispatcher: Have you been stung?
Dunsworth: All over! They're all over me!

"Look at my ears," Dunsworth said tugging at his large, swollen ears almost completely covered in bumps from bee stings. "My ears don't usually stick out at that. They're just solid where they got inside of 'em."

Dunsworth said he rolled down a hill trying to get the bees off of him.

"There's a cedar tree right down there where I rolled down the hill. I got under it and took them branches and flopped it back and forth kind of knocking 'em away from me."

It took two hours for rescue crews to find Dunsworth, clinging to life under a tree in the remote area.

According to Dunsworth, one thought kept him alive during these two hours of waiting for help. He had to take care of his daughter with cerebral palsy. "I got to thinking about my little daughter, and I thought, I'm going to try to fight it out if I can. That's what I done," he said.

"It was a terrible experience," Dunsworth said of the torturous attack. "I wouldn't want to see anybody go through that. That's the worst punishment I ever had."

Dunsworth is now recovering at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth. His muscles are still stiff, and doctors intend to watch him for a couple more days. Still, he is lucky to be alive. "I know I wouldn't have been here today if I hadn't had that little cell phone," he said.

Dunsworth held up the small flip phone which, as a background, has a picture of a woman playfully sticking out her tongue at the camera. It is a picture of his daughter.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Activists Preparing Against Use of ‘Brown Note’ at Dem Convention

Riot police fire rubber bullets at protesters outside an FTAA meeting in Miami in 2003 (AP Photo).

Political activists planning protest rallies at the upcoming Democratic Convention in Denver have their stomachs in knots over a rumor about a crowd control weapon - known as the “crap cannon” - that might be unleashed against them.

Also called “Brown Note,” it is believed to be an infrasound frequency that debilitates a person by making them defecate involuntarily.

Mark Cohen, co-founder of Re-create 68, an alliance of local activists working for the protection of first amendment rights, said he believes this could be deployed at the convention in August to subdue crowds.

“We know this weapon and weapons like it have been used at other large protests before,” he said.

Cohen, who described Brown Note as a “sonic weapon used to disrupt people’s equilibrium,” cited eyewitness accounts of its use during free-trade agreement protests in Miami in 2003.

“I think these weapons were mostly intended for military use and so their use for dealing with innocent protesters seems highly inappropriate,” he said. “The idea that they might be field testing them on people who are doing nothing more than exercising their first amendment rights is disturbing.”

His group is preparing against a possible attack by Brown Note and other crowd-control measures by dispatching street medics at the convention trained in treating injuries in demonstration situations.

“It’s all we can do,” Cohen said.

So is the Brown Note a real threat?

Dr. Roger Schwenke - an expert acoustician who appeared on the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” in 2004 to test the phenomenon - told there is no scientific evidence that proves such frequencies cause involuntary defecation.

“When we conducted the low frequency experiment for the Brown Note episode of MythBusters, we tested a variety of low frequencies and no involuntary gastro-intestinal motility was caused,” he said.

But Schwenke acknowledged the low-frequency exposure did cause an adverse effect. Several people — including himself — reported “abdominal discomfort,” he said, “which was easily alleviated by moving a moderate distance away from the source.”

Adding to the Brown Note rumor is a refusal by Denver’s Mayor John W. Hickenlooper to release details of what was purchased with $18 million of a $50 million federal grant the city received to pay for convention security, despite a lawsuit filed by ACLU.

Cohen’s group is calling on the administration to disclose what measures will be taken.

In a statement released to, city spokeswoman Sue Cobb said, “commenting on specific security preparations is not helpful to ensuring their effectiveness. I can say, however, that all of our security-related purchases for the Democratic National Convention will comply with federal and City requirements. We are working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that the $50 million federal security grant is spent on personnel and equipment in the manner required by the grant.”

Denver’s police Department wouldn’t comment on the tactics that will be used during the convention, but a spokesman said that “we do support and encourage people to express their views safely and in a manner that respects the rights of others along with the laws and ordinances of our city.”

But Glenn Spangnuolo, also with Re-create 68, isn’t taking any chances. He said he has no doubt that Brown Note exists, and is preparing his group for confrontation. “Whether it causes someone to defecate in their pants or not, I don’t know that,” said Spagnuolo. “What I do know is that it causes a person to be disoriented and lose their equilibrium resulting in a nauseous feeling in their stomach.”

More troubling to Spagnuolo is the “Active Denial System” or “ADS,” a ray gun used to send high levels of microwave frequencies that cause a burning sensation the skin.

He described ADS as an “indiscriminate weapon” and said “there’s no long-term testing on what happens to the body when exposed to those kinds of microwave frequencies.”

Spagnuolo believes that Raytheon, the company that manufactures the weapon, is planning to test a limited-range civilian version on protesters in Denver before approving its use in places like Iraq.

Spagnuolo said he believes tactics like these are excessive. “I think spending millions of dollars on weapon technologies to be used on people in our community is completely wrong,” he said.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The wife U.S. Republican John McCain callously left behind

The wife U.S. Republican John McCain callously left behind

By Sharon Churcher
Last updated at 1:45 AM on 08th June 2008

Now that Hillary Clinton has at last formally withdrawn from the race for the White House, the eyes of America and the world will focus on Barack Obama and his Republican rival Senator John McCain.

While Obama will surely press his credentials as the embodiment of the American dream – a handsome, charismatic young black man who was raised on food stamps by a single mother and who represents his country’s future – McCain will present himself as a selfless, principled war hero whose campaign represents not so much a battle for the presidency of the United States, but a crusade to rescue the nation’s tarnished reputation.

Scroll down for more

Carol McCain

Forgotten woman: But despite all her problems Carol McCain says she still adores he ex-husband

McCain likes to illustrate his moral fibre by referring to his five years as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. And to demonstrate his commitment to family values, the 71-year-old former US Navy pilot pays warm tribute to his beautiful blonde wife, Cindy, with whom he has four children.

But there is another Mrs McCain who casts a ghostly shadow over the Senator’s presidential campaign. She is seldom seen and rarely written about, despite being mother to McCain’s three eldest children.

And yet, had events turned out differently, it would be she, rather than Cindy, who would be vying to be First Lady. She is McCain’s first wife, Carol, who was a famous beauty and a successful swimwear model when they married in 1965.

She was the woman McCain dreamed of during his long incarceration and torture in Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and the woman who faithfully stayed at home looking after the children and waiting anxiously for news.

But when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of publicity and a handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been disfigured in a terrible car crash three years earlier. Her car had skidded on icy roads into a telegraph pole on Christmas Eve, 1969. Her pelvis and one arm were shattered by the impact and she suffered massive internal injuries.

When Carol was discharged from hospital after six months of life-saving surgery, the prognosis was bleak. In order to save her legs, surgeons

had been forced to cut away huge sections of shattered bone, taking with it her tall, willowy figure. She was confined to a wheelchair and was forced to use a catheter.

Through sheer hard work, Carol learned to walk again. But when John McCain came home from Vietnam, she had gained a lot of weight and bore little resemblance to her old self.

Today, she stands at just 5ft4in and still walks awkwardly, with a pronounced limp. Her body is held together by screws and metal plates and, at 70, her face is worn by wrinkles that speak of decades of silent suffering.

For nearly 30 years, Carol has maintained a dignified silence about the accident, McCain and their divorce. But last week at the bungalow where she now lives at Virginia Beach, a faded seaside resort 200 miles south of Washington, she told The Mail on Sunday how McCain divorced her in 1980 and married Cindy, 18 years his junior and the heir to an Arizona brewing fortune, just one month later.

>>>Who do you want to see as the next US president? Leave your views below...

Scroll down for more

John and Cindy McCain

Golden couple: John and Cindy McCain at a charity gala in Los Angeles

Carol insists she remains on good terms with her ex-husband, who agreed as part of their divorce settlement to pay her medical costs for life. ‘I have no bitterness,’

she says. ‘My accident is well recorded. I had 23 operations, I am five inches shorter than I used to be and I was in hospital for six months. It was just awful, but it wasn’t the reason for my divorce.

‘My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that just does.’

Some of McCain’s acquaintances are less forgiving, however. They portray the politician as a self-centred womaniser who effectively abandoned his crippled wife to ‘play the field’. They accuse him of finally settling on Cindy, a former rodeo beauty queen, for financial reasons.

McCain was then earning little more than £25,000 a year as a naval officer, while his new father-in-law, Jim Hensley, was a multi-millionaire who had impeccable political connections.

He first met Carol in the Fifties while he was at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. He was a privileged, but rebellious scion of one of America’s most distinguished military dynasties – his father and grandfather were both admirals.

But setting out to have a good time, the young McCain hung out with a group of young officers who called themselves the ‘Bad Bunch’.

His primary interest was women and his conquests ranged from a knife-wielding floozy nicknamed ‘Marie, the Flame of Florida’ to a tobacco heiress.

Carol fell into his fast-living world by accident. She escaped a poor upbringing in Philadelphia to become a successful model, married an Annapolis classmate of McCain’s and had two children – Douglas and Andrew – before renewing what one acquaintance calls ‘an old flirtation’ with McCain.

It seems clear she was bowled over by McCain’s attention at a time when he was becoming bored with his playboy lifestyle.

‘He was 28 and ready to settle down and he loved Carol’s children,’ recalled another Annapolis graduate, Robert Timberg, who wrote The Nightingale’s Song, a bestselling biography of McCain and four other graduates of the academy.

The couple married and McCain adopted Carol’s sons. Their daughter, Sidney, was born a year later, but domesticity was clearly beginning

to bore McCain – the couple were regarded as ‘fixtures on the party circuit’ before McCain requested combat duty in Vietnam at the end of 1966.

He was assigned as a bomber pilot on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin.

What follows is the stuff of the McCain legend. He was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967 on his 23rd mission over North Vietnam and was badly beaten by an angry mob when he was pulled, half-drowned from a lake.

war hero John McCain

War hero: McCain with Carol as he arrives back in the US in 1973 after his five years as a PoW in North Vietnam

Over the next five-and-a-half years in the notorious Hoa Loa Prison he was regularly tortured and mistreated.

It was in 1969 that Carol went to spend the Christmas holiday – her third without McCain – at her parents’ home. After dinner, she left to drop off some presents at a friend’s house.

It wasn’t until some hours later that she was discovered, alone and in terrible pain, next to the wreckage of her car. She had been hurled through the windscreen.

After her first series of life-saving operations, Carol was told she may never walk again, but when doctors said they would try to get word to McCain about her injuries, she refused, insisting: ‘He’s got enough problems, I don’t want to tell him.’

H. Ross Perot, a billionaire Texas businessman, future presidential candidate and advocate of prisoners of war, paid for her medical care.

When McCain – his hair turned prematurely white and his body reduced to little more than a skeleton – was released in March 1973, he told reporters he was overjoyed to see Carol again.

But friends say privately he was ‘appalled’ by the change in her appearance. At first, though, he was kind, assuring her: ‘I don’t look so good myself. It’s fine.’

He bought her a bungalow near the sea in Florida and another former PoW helped him to build a railing so she could pull herself over the dunes to the water.

‘I thought, of course, we would live happily ever after,’ says Carol. But as a war hero, McCain was moving in ever-more elevated circles.

Through Ross Perot, he met Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California. A sympathetic Nancy Reagan took Carol under her wing.

But already the McCains’ marriage had begun to fray. ‘John started carousing and running around with women,’ said Robert Timberg.

McCain has acknowledged that he had girlfriends during this time, without going into details. Some friends blame his dissatisfaction with Carol, but others give some credence to her theory of a mid-life crisis.

He was also fiercely ambitious, but it was clear he would never become an admiral like his illustrious father and grandfather and his thoughts were turning to politics.

In 1979 – while still married to Carol – he met Cindy at a cocktail party in Hawaii. Over the next six months he pursued her, flying around the country to see her. Then he began to push to end his marriage.

Carol and her children were devastated. ‘It was a complete surprise,’ says Nancy Reynolds, a former Reagan aide.

‘They never displayed any difficulties between themselves. I know the Reagans were quite shocked because they loved and respected both Carol and John.’

Another friend added: ‘Carol didn’t fight him. She felt her infirmity made her an impediment to him. She justified his actions because of all he had gone through. She used to say, “He just wants to make up for lost time.”’

Indeed, to many in their circle the saddest part of the break-up was Carol’s decision to resign herself to losing a man she says she still adores.

Friends confirm she has remained friends with McCain and backed him in all his campaigns. ‘He was very generous to her in the divorce but of course he could afford to be, since he was marrying Cindy,’ one observed.

McCain transferred the Florida beach house to Carol and gave her the right to live in their jointly-owned townhouse in the Washington suburb of Alexandria. He also agreed to pay her alimony and child support.

A former neighbour says she subsequently sold up in Florida and Washington and moved in 2003 to Virginia Beach. He said: ‘My impression was that she found the new place easier to manage as she still has some difficulties walking.’

Meanwhile McCain moved to Arizona with his new bride immediately after their 1980 marriage. There, his new father-in-law gave him a job and introduced him to local businessmen and political powerbrokers who would smooth his passage to Washington via the House of Representatives and Senate.

And yet despite his popularity as a politician, there are those who won’t forget his treatment of his first wife.

Ted Sampley, who fought with US Special Forces in Vietnam and is now a leading campaigner for veterans’ rights, said: ‘I have been following John McCain’s career for nearly 20 years. I know him personally. There is something wrong with this guy and let me tell you what it is – deceit.

‘When he came home and saw that Carol was not the beauty he left behind, he started running around on her almost right away. Everybody around him knew it.

‘Eventually he met Cindy and she was young and beautiful and very wealthy. At that point McCain just dumped Carol for something he thought was better.

‘This is a guy who makes such a big deal about his character. He has no character. He is a fake. If there was any character in that first marriage, it all belonged to Carol.’

One old friend of the McCains said: ‘Carol always insists she is not bitter, but I think that’s a defence mechanism. She also feels deeply in his debt because in return for her agreement to a divorce, he promised to pay for her medical care for the rest of her life.’

Carol remained resolutely loyal as McCain’s political star rose. She says she agreed to talk to The Mail on Sunday only because she wanted to publicise her support for the man who abandoned her.

Indeed, the old Mercedes that she uses to run errands displays both a disabled badge and a sticker encouraging people to vote for her ex-husband. ‘He’s a good guy,’ she assured us. ‘We are still good friends. He is the best man for president.’

But Ross Perot, who paid her medical bills all those years ago, now believes that both Carol McCain and the American people have been taken in by a man who is unusually slick and cruel – even by the standards of modern politics.

‘McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory,’ he said.

‘After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.’

Boy, 3, who got fed up with trying to pick up a teddy bear in the arcade machine

The boy, 3, who got fed up with trying to pick up a teddy bear in the arcade machine ... and crawled inside instead

By Chris Brooke
Last updated at 11:16 PM on 08th June 2008

They say the fun's in the taking part. But someone forgot to explain that to Christopher Air.

And when his mother Elaine took the three-year-old to the games arcade on the family's holiday in Skegness, he just wanted to get his hands on the winnings.

For a while, he had been playing happily on the crane machine, trying to pick up a teddy bear with its mechanical arm. But he wasn't having any success.

Enlarge Christopher Air

Trapped: Little Christopher was stuck in the machine for one and a half hours

And as Mrs Air went to change a £20 note so he could try again, Christopher took matters into his own hands. Rather like a scene in the film Toy Story, he spotted the flap on the machine, from where the prizes are delivered, and squeezed inside.

Mrs Air said: 'My back was only turned for a minute. When I looked around, Christopher was inside.

'He's good at solving problems. He obviously saw getting the teddy bear as a problem and getting inside the machine as the answer.' For Christopher, at last united with the bear, it was the perfect solution... in the short term at least.


Reunited: Christopher Air with Winnie and parents Peter, 33, and Elaine, 33

But it proved more difficult to get out, than in - especially as the arcade owner couldn't locate the keys.

Mrs Air, 33, of Grangetown, Sunderland, added: 'Initially, Christopher was laughing. But then a crowd started to gather and he got upset and started crying.'

After 30 minutes, he was released - and is sure to have learned his lesson.

But, misguided as it was, his ingenuity paid off - the arcade owner gave him the bear to cheer him up.

The toddler is now back at home with Winnie.

Mrs Air added: 'If you mention what happened, he just laughs and he puts a little guilty look on his face.

'You can see he’s a bit embarrassed about it but he’s none the worse for what happened.'

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Canada deploying cardboard cops to nab speeders

Canada deploying cardboard cops to nab speeders

Fri Jun 6, 4:16 PM ET

Police in westernmost Canada are deploying life-size cardboard replicas of traffic cops pointing a radar gun at oncoming traffic to try to reduce speeding and road fatalities, authorities said.

And these mock-ups are so realistic that while being tested on a Vancouver street this week, "a tow-truck driver pulled up and started talking to it," Staff Sergeant Ralph Pauw told a press conference on Thursday.

Eight of the cut-outs will initially be deployed on city streets, Pauw said. And in case some drivers aren't fooled by the facsimiles, "there may or may not be a (real) police officer behind one of these cut-outs," he added.

The police initiative called Operation Silhouette follows similar trickery used elsewhere, including "bait cars" for thieves, fake intersection cameras and mechanical moose used by Canadian wildlife officers to nab poachers.

Woman claims Comcast violated privacy

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Woman claims Comcast violated privacy

By Jason Cato
Friday, June 6, 2008
'Woman claims Comcast violated privacy', 'A copy of a South Fayette woman\'s check, written with complaints over the increasing cost of her Comcast bill, wound up in cyberspace. Now, she is suing. ', '', 1)"> A South Fayette woman so fed up with her cable television provider that she offered a body part as payment is suing the company after a copy of her check, including personal and financial information, wound up in cyberspace.

('Woman claims Comcast violated privacy', 'A copy of a South Fayette woman\'s check, written with complaints over the increasing cost of her Comcast bill, wound up in cyberspace. Now, she is suing. ', '', 1)">Krista Cooney and her husband, Chad, filed a federal lawsuit this week in Pittsburgh against Comcast Corp., claiming an employee of the cable giant e-mailed a copy of the check to people outside the company.

Unhappy with how much she was being charged, Cooney made out the check for "My Right Arm and Zero Dollars" and in the memo wrote for "Robbing Customers Blind."

"Some people do have a budget ya know," Cooney wrote on the payment slip accompanying her check.

story continues below

Cooney's check contained her signature, address, telephone number and bank account number.

Comcast spokeswoman Jody Doherty said the company declined to comment.

The couple seeks an unspecified amount in damages for exposing them to identity theft.

The lawsuit claims Comcast violated the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, which forbids cable companies from disclosing "personally identifiable information concerning any subscriber" without permission. They are suing for invasion of privacy.

The Cooneys could not be reached for comment. Their lawyer, Matthew Collins, said the couple wants to keep a low profile.

"They're still shocked and in fear of some major identity theft attempt," said Collins, who believes his clients are still Comcast customers. "They're so geeked by this."

According to the eight-page lawsuit, Krista Cooney subscribed in June 2007 to Comcast's "Triple Play" plan for cable television, telephone and Internet service for $99 a month. She became disgruntled when her first bill was for $296.74. Unable to pay that amount, the lawsuit states she paid $267.86 with the intention of paying the remainder the next month.

After Comcast threatened to suspend service, Krista Cooney submitted two checks: one to cover the outstanding amount and a second offering her arm in protest.

The Cooneys learned of the e-mail Aug. 20, when a Colorado resident who was victimized by identity theft received a copy of the e-mail and called the couple to alert them.

Jason Cato can be reached at or 412-320-7840.