Thursday, December 18, 2014

Psychic charged with swindling woman out of nearly $20,000

By Ashley Luthern, via Journal Sentinel

A Milwaukee woman who claimed to be psychic is accused of swindling another woman out of nearly $20,000.

Janet T. Adams, 34, was charged Tuesday with theft by fraud. The criminal complaint filed against her outlines a pattern of taking money from the victim over three months, beginning in April.

According to the complaint:

The victim, identified as P.W. in court documents, learned of Adams and her business as a psychic and healer from her hair stylist. The stylist referred to Adams as "Isabella," which Adams would later tell authorities is her "spiritual name."

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Riches to Rags for New York Teenager Who Now Says His Story Is Hoax

By Kate Taylor and Ravi Somaiya, via The New York Times

Stuyvesant High Student Admits He Didn't Make $72 Million on Stock Trades

An article in New York magazine about a high school student who had earned eight figures trading stocks was a hoax, a representative for the student said Monday night.

The article appeared in the magazine’s “Reasons to Love New York” issue. No. 12 on the list was: “Because a Stuyvesant senior made $72 million trading stocks on his lunch break.”

The student, Mohammed Islam, 17, confirmed to New York magazine that his net worth was in the “high eight figures.”

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Psychic Paula: let us test your pregnancy prediction powers

By Michael Marshall, via The Guardian

Paula O’Brien claims she can predict the sex of unborn children. If true, this would force scientists to rethink the laws of biology and physics
After declaring that an audience member was almost certainly pregnant (much to the lady’s surprise), Paula O’Brien explained that she has an uncanny accuracy when it comes to such matters. Photograph: Paula O’Brien
I firmly believe in the importance of skeptics attending psychic shows, to see firsthand how the biggest touring psychics in the country claim to put audience members in touch with the spirits of their dearly departed – for entertainment purposes only, naturally. In seeing such shows up close and witnessing their effect on devoted audiences we get to see how seriously people take the word of a psychic, and therefore how serious an issue it is if the person making the claims doesn’t have the supernatural powers they profess.

One such show I recently attended was that of psychic Paula O’Brien, whose Liverpool show saw a modest audience of around 150 gather in a hotel function room, eager for Paula to make contact with the other side. Among the usual fare of scattergun names (“Is there a Stephen or a Stewart or a Scott?”) and random numbers and dates (“What does the number three or the month of March or the 3rd of any month mean?”) there were a few points that particularly stood out to a skeptical viewer.

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I Lied About Being a Psychic. It Worked.

By Jami Attenberg, via New York Magazine

Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images
Last February, I visited a small house in New Orleans’s Irish Channel where I had been told there were costumes for sale. It was a charming old house that smelled of cat, and was filled with all manner of costumes and accessories, glittery robes and wigs and headpieces, many of them vintage and gussied up for parades and parties. The place was a gold mine.

I’d never really been one for dressing up in costume (it’s enough work being me as it is, let alone anyone else), but this was Mardi Gras season in New Orleans: If costumes weren’t necessarily mandatory, they were highly recommended. I put on a silver lamé turban with a jeweled pin at its center and a woman next to me said, “You should buy that, it looks great on you.” So I did. When I got in my car I put it on again and looked at myself in the mirror. “I’m a psychic,” I whispered. I wore it the whole way home.

A week later, I went downtown for one of the early Mardi Gras parades, the Krewe du Vieux. I had been studying palm reading all week. It was not enough to merely dress as a psychic. If you’re going to do this, do it right, I told myself. Now I could passably bullshit a few things. For example, I could identify the four major lines: love, head, heart, fate, and had a basic sense of how to interpret certain breaks and curves in the lines. I felt ready to become the person I never knew I was. For most of my life, I’ve been far too cerebral and analytical for my own good, more comfortable living an interior life. But what if I took my inside self and wore it outside?

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Opting Your Kid Out of Vaccination? That’s Sickening.

By Phil Plait, via Slate
Photo by Peeradach Rattanakoses/Shutterstock (modified by Phil Plait)
Hmmm, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on how anti-vaccination propaganda is making people sick and putting children needlessly at risk for terrible diseases.

[Opens up map, looks around, sees blinking red alarm light over Michigan.]

Ah, Michigan, that bifurcated mitten by the lake. I spent three years at U of M and grew quite fond of it.

But then, I didn’t get measles or whooping cough while I was there.

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'Faith healer' sex abuser claimed he could remove vagina 'devils'

By Steve Butcher, via The Age

Omar Sheriff leaves the County Court on Wednseday.
Photo: Greg Briggs
A former "faith healer" who used his so-called "special powers" to sexually assault a vulnerable woman has been given a suspended sentence, 20 years after he committed his "devious and depraved" crimes.

Omar Sheriff, now 67, told the woman in 1994 that she had the "devil" in her body and it had to be removed "in a very strange way" at his furniture factory in Campbellfield.

Judge Jane Patrick heard Sheriff claimed to have "the power" and he had also warned the woman, 30, she would die unless he removed "devils" from her vagina.

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State settles 'smart' meter debate

By Ryan Randazzo, via AZ Central

(Photo: Arizona Public Service Co.)
Arizona Public Service wants your meter reader to go the way of the milk man and the rotary dial phone. But the wireless technology it is using has at least 20,000 customers up in arms.

The utility's solution? If customers still want someone to come to their house and read their meter in person, they'll have to pay for it.

On Friday, regulators came up with a compromise that left no one happy.

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