Northern California Fans Find 56 Flags, Pro-Trump Slogans on Lawn

Concord police are investigating vandalism done to the Bay Area home of horror writer Jay Hartlove and past editor of the International Costumers Guild newsletter Denisen Hartlove. The Hartloves suspect it is the work of a neighbor.

NBC News reported:

A Northern California family is shocked and unsettled after someone cut electricity to their home and planted 56 American flags, seven of which were defaced with handwritten pro-Donald Trump messages, on their East Bay front lawn early Saturday morning.

Concord police are investigating the incident, reported by Jay and Denisen Hartlove, who live on Montana Drive in Concord.

….Some of the flags had “Build The Damn Wall” and “I Luv The Donald” written on them in black ink. The Hartloves say they are one of the more liberal families on the block, and believe they may have been targeted because of it.

“Why would someone do that?” Jay wondered. “I mean, (the vandal) must have spent 20 minutes out there putting the flags in. This is not some drive-by prank….I mean, where do you get 56 flags in November?”

Upon finding the flags, the couple was irked but not worried.

“We tried to brush it off – Trump flags aren’t going to hurt anyone,” Denisen said. “We sort of made light of the situation, like ha ha ha.” The couple confronted the neighbor who they think is responsible, but neither Jay nor Denisen got a response.

A short time later, at about 1:30 a.m., the situation became more serious. The Hartloves heard a huge bang and were plunged into complete darkness.

At first, they thought the abrupt loss of electricity could be related to the fireworks going off in the street hours earlier, but they soon discovered that the metering box connecting power to their property had been ripped off. It was then that they became worried and frightened for their safety, and the safety of their two daughters, who were asleep in bed.

“At that point, I thought we were under attack,” Denisen said.

The couple called the Concord Police Department and filed a police report with two officers, both of whom the Hartloves describe as being “very unhelpful.”

…Throughout the Bay Area and the nation, politically-motivated instances of harassment are being reported at an alarming rate, according to hate-tracking groups. As of Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center had noted 701 reports of harassment since election day.

Furry Murder

Frank Felix, 25, Sun Valley and Josh Acosta, 21, Fort Irwin, have been arrested in connection with the three murders that occurred September 25 in Fullerton.

Frank Felix, 25, Sun Valley and Josh Acosta, 21, Fort Irwin, have been arrested in connection with the three murders that occurred September 24 in Fullerton.

Four people associated with a triple homicide in Fullerton (CA) on September 24 were involved in the Southern California furry community reports the Orange County Register — one of the victims, two men charged with the murder, and an unnamed teenager who may also be charged.

Christopher Yost, 34; his wife, Jennifer Yost, 39; and their friend Arthur Boucher, 28, were found dead in the Yost home in Fullerton on Saturday morning. Two of the couple’s daughters, ages 6 and 9, were home when police arrived. The younger girl alerted police by calling 911, saying their parents had died.

On Sunday morning, police arrested Frank Felix, 25, of Sun Valley; Joshua Acosta, a 21-year-old U.S. Army mechanic based at Fort Irwin; and a 17-year-old female on suspicion of murder.

The trio were arrested after police had asked for the public’s help in finding Jennifer Yost’s missing daughter, Katlynn, who is 17.

Katlynn Yost was located, but police said state law prevents them from saying whether she was the arrested teenager.

According to reports from KTLA, the teenager is expected to face murder charges as well.

Katlynn, known on the OC Furry Facebook Fan Page as Daydreamer, was reported to the group as missing on Sunday.

The Register interviewed the SoCal Furs videographer Christopher Parque-Johnson.

“A lot of people in our community were devastated,” said Christopher Parque-Johnson, 23, of Garden Grove, an artist, performer and videographer for the SoCal Furs, which has members from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. “I’ve been hearing from a lot of people. It bothered everybody.

“It makes no sense.”

Parque-Johnson led a group of furries, as they call themselves, to the site of the homicides Sunday night. They laid roses, left cards and lit candles to honor victim Jennifer Yost, Parque-Johnson said, because she was a mother figure to the SoCal Furs. The two men accused in the killings are also furries, as is Yost’s daughter Katlynn Goodwin Yost, Parque-Johnson said.

“All of them were always nice to everybody,” said Parque-Johnson, known in the furry community as Bandit, a raccoon inspired by the film “Over the Hedge.”

The Los Angeles Times carried details of the charges against the two men arrested in the murders.

A soldier in the U.S. Army and another man were charged with murder Tuesday in connection with the slaying of a Fullerton couple and their friend over the weekend, according to authorities.

Pfc. Joshua Acosta, 21, of Ft. Irwin in San Bernardino County, and Frank Sato Felix, 25, of Sun Valley, each face three felony counts of murder, with special circumstance allegations of multiple murder, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors also charged Acosta with a sentencing enhancement because he used a firearm, according to the district attorney’s office. Both men have been ordered held without bail. If convicted, the men face a sentence of at least life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Parque-Johnson also told the Orange County Register quite a bit of background about furries which was published in the article.

Parque-Johnson said he knew the two men and Katlynn Yost, who identifies herself as a furry on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but did not associate them with one another.

“We’ve never seen them huddled together,” Parque-Johnson said. “We didn’t know them as friends of each other.”

Parque-Johnson said he was closest with Jennifer Yost.

“People looked up to her,” he said. “A lot of people cared about her.”

Joshua Acosta and Frank Felix were helpful in setting up and breaking down weekend events, Parque-Johnson said.

“They were trying to be outstanding citizens,” Parque-Johnson said.

Furries have been around since the 1980s. They admire anthropomorphic animals – characters that walk on two feet and speak like humans. Most of them are “non-suiters,” meaning they don’t spend $1,000 to $5,000 or more on full-body animal costumes. Instead, they create characters and wear badges with their characters displayed.

Parque-Johnson said furries have been unfairly characterized in the media as a group of sexual deviants. Sexual activity involving some people in furry costumes has happened in the three-decade history of the furries, according to media accounts.

“If we see it, we don’t allow those people back,” Parque-Johnson said. “We feel that behavior would be very inappropriate in our group. We think that is very weird.”

The furry community comprises mostly adults under 30, although there are some older furries who were fans of Disney movies involving animals with human characteristics such as in “Robin Hood.”

Furries watch movies, play video games, draw pictures and trade cards, Parque-Johnson said.

“People come to us to get away from the negative stuff in life,” he said.

Pixel Scroll 6/13/16 Carry On My Wayward Scroll

(1) NEXT STEP. Sigrid Ellis responds to the Orlando attack with a series of autobiographical notes in “The road to murder is paved with microaggressions”.

  1. I was horrified to hear the news out of Orlando. But I wasn’t surprised. I wish I found murders of LGBTQIA folk to be surprising. But I have been found guilty of being gay my entire life. I know how much, how casually, how thoughtlessly I am hated. Hated not because I am evil, but because I am merely the most horrible disgusting thing people can imagine.
  2. The shooter went to a place of refuge, of joy, of celebration. He went to a place where queers go when we are told we are too queer to be seen anywhere else. He went to the place where all the shoving and flaunting of queer would have been hidden away from him. He sought it out, this crusader vigilante, this one good man with a gun we hear so much about. He took his righteousness and hunted down the gay he hated and feared.
  3. So how do we go on. How do we live in a world that hates and fears us?

I cannot stop anyone from murdering anyone else. I don’t have that power. But I am … done. I am done with letting the jokes and remarks slide by. I cannot continue to passively agree that I am a punchline, a threat, a bogeyman, a cautionary tale. I just, … I am done.

I can’t stop the Orlando murders, or any other murders of queers.

But I am done being complicit.

(2) HELPING. Stephanie Burgis researched a list of links about ways to help Orlando victims, and community LGBTQ organizations.

This is not the post I wanted to write today. Today, I was planning to announce a fun new project up for pre-order. I was going to talk about other stuff, the normal, small incidents of life. But I’m still reeling. So I’ll post about all those things another day. Today, I just want to pass on the things I’ve seen that might help a bit:…

(3) DIAMOND TIME. Alastair Reynolds’ story “Diamond Dogs” will be on stage in Chicago this season.

An adaptation by Althos Low (the pen name for Steve Pickering and creatives from Shanghai Low Theatricals) of Alastair Reynolds sci-fi story “Diamond Dogs” will complete The House Theatre’s 2016-17 season.

The production, set in the future, follows characters caught in an alien tower and will be third in the company’s season, running Jan. 13-March 5. Artistic director Nathan Allen will direct.

(4) TIME TRAVELERS PAST. The Economist discusses“Time-travel from H.G. Wells to ‘Version Control’”.

MUCH of what is good in science fiction is not about the future. Rather, the genre uses the future as a canvas on which to imprint its real concerns—the present. Counterintuitively, perhaps, time travel stories are often those tales that are most anchored in the present. As Sean Redmond argues in “Liquid Metal: the Science Fiction Film Reader”, time travel “provides the necessary distancing effect that science fiction needs to be able to metaphorically address the most pressing issues and themes that concern people in the present”.

One of the earliest time-travel novels, H.G. Wells’s “The Time Machine”, can, for example, be read as reflecting contemporary anxieties about the effects of the industrial revolution on Britain’s rigid class system. The elfin “upper class” Eloi are seemingly content, but are in fact easy prey for the ape-like “working class” Morlocks. The fear that a strong but supposedly inferior working class, empowered by industrialisation, could come for them would have resonated with many of Wells’s Victorian readers.

Robert Heinlein’s time and dimension-hopping novels featuring Lazarus Long, who lives for over 2,000 years, are rooted in the author’s rejection of the social norms of his times. With their enthusiasm for nudism and free love, the novels, which must have seemed provocative in the 1950s and 60s, can now feel dated.

(5) REYNOLDS WOULD STAY. Alastair Reynolds tells “Why I’m for the UK remaining in the EU” at Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon.

Many of the arguments for and against membership of the EU seem to revolve around economics, which seems to me to be an extremely narrow metric. Even if we are better off out of the EU, which we probably won’t be, so what? This is already a wealthy country, and leaving the EU won’t mend the widening inequality between the very rich and almost everyone else. More than that, though, look at what would be lost. Friendship, commonality, freedom of movement, a sense that national boundaries are (and should be) evaporating.

(6) THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD. SF Gate reveals the crime of the millennium — “The great city of San Francisco no longer has a center”.

A brass surveyor’s disk, recently installed on an Upper Market-area sidewalk to mark the precise geographic center of San Francisco, has been stolen.

On Wednesday, city surveyors and Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru visited the spot in the 700 block of Corbett Avenue to call attention to the disk and to the work of the surveyors who had established the spot as the precise center of town.

It wasn’t technically the center of town — that spot is under a bush on a nearby hillside — but it was close, and it was publicly accessible.

At the time, surveyor Michael McGee predicted that the small brass disk — attached to the concrete with heavy-duty glue — would suffer the fate of similar markers and be stolen by vandals.

“I’d give it about six weeks,” McGee said.

He was off by five weeks and six days.

On Thursday, an orange arrow and shakily written “Geographic Center of City” were still on the sidewalk. A circular patch marked the spot where the disk had been, briefly.

(7) YOU SHOULD WEAR A HELMET. “Could a satellite fall on your head?” BBC follows German scientists’ efforts to find out.

“There are a lot of satellites in orbit and they will come down sooner or later,” he says. “They’ll probably break up and the question for us is: what is the chance of an impact?”

In other words, could sections of dead satellites survive re-entry to hit something or, worse, someone?

The wind tunnel being deployed for Willems’ experiment resembles a giant deconstructed vacuum cleaner attached to a pressure cooker, arranged across a concrete floor. The gleaming machine is covered in a mass of pipes and wires. Capable of producing air currents of up to 11 times the speed of sound, the wind tunnel is used for testing the aerodynamics of supersonic and hypersonic aircraft designs.

(8) GENRE DINERS. Lawrence Schoen presents — Eating Authors: Naomi Novik, the June 13 edition of his Q&A series.

I’m preparing this week’s post from New Mexico, where I am ensconced at a writers’ retreat and working hard to up my craft (while also enjoying great company, fabulous meals, and some truly awesome leisurely walks through nature). But such things cannot stop the juggernaut that is the EATING AUTHORS blog! Which is about as much of a segue as you’re going to get this week by way of an introduction for my latest guest, Naomi Novik, who should already be known to you for her Temeraire series which blends fantasy and alternate history (or, as it’s more commonly described, the Napoleonic Wars with dragons!).

(9) SEND ONE BOOK. Throwing Chanclas pleads the case for a Nevada high school library looking for book donations. Cat Rambo says SFWAns are pitching in.

I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV.  Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mines closed, then mills–nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries….

What we’re lacking is pretty much everything else.

We need racially diverse books. We need graphic novels. We need women’s studies. We need science. We need series. We need film. We need comics. We need music. We need biographies of important people. Looking for Young Adult. Classics. We want zines! Contemporary. Poetry. Everything that would make a difference in a young person’s life. Writers send us YOUR BOOK. We have many non-readers who we’d love to turn on to reading. We need a way to take this tiny area and bring it into the 21st century. We have a whole bunch of kids who don’t like to read because all they’ve ever been given is things that are either dull , dated, or dumbed down.

The students who are excelling are doing so because they have supportive parents at home and access to books and tablets elsewhere. But most students are without.

So here’s what I’m asking. Will you donate a book? A real book. Something literary or fun—something that speaks to your truth, their truths. Something that teaches them something about the world. Makes them feel less alone?

I’m not asking for money. I’m asking for you to send a new book or film or cd to us to help us build a library we can be proud of. Just one book.

So who is with us?

Send us one book.

Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy
Library Project Attn: Margaret Garcia
117 Grand Street
Greenville, CA 95947

Thank you for your support.

If sending during the month of July (when school is closed) please send to

Library Project/Margaret Garcia
PO Box 585
Greenville, CA 95947

(10) SFWA. Today was the second SFWA Chat Hour. Streamed live and saved to video, you can listen to Operations Director Kate Baker, member Erin Hartshorn, Volunteer Coordinator Derek Künsken, President Cat Rambo, and Chief Financial Officer Bud Sparhawk talk about the organization’s new member experience, game writer criteria, the state of SFWA finances, volunteer opportunities, Worldcon plans, the 2017 Nebulas, awards for anthologies, what they’re reading, and more.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 13, 1943 — Malcolm McDowell

(12) TSF&HF. Leonard Pierce experiments with placing the emphasis on each different word in this six-word phrase, and ends up with a column called “Third Booth on the Left”.

“So, what do you guys sell?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Your average author isn’t 83 years old and nearly dead, then?”

Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Oh.  Okay.  But, I mean, you don’t just do space operas based on the technical education of someone who was an undergraduate when Eisenower was in the White House, right?”…

(13) TEH FUNNY. John King Tarpinian recommends today’s Reality Check cartoon by Dave Whamond.

(14) CHINA SF AWARD. “The Chinese Government is Setting Up Its Own Major Science Fiction Award” reports the Lifeboat Foundation.

This is pretty interesting: during the latest national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology, chairman Han Qide announced that the country would be setting up a program to promote science fiction and fantasy, including the creation of a new major award.

Throughout much of its genre’s history, China’s science fiction has had a legacy of usefulness, often promoted to educate readers in concepts relating to science and technology. This new award will be accompanied by an “international sci-fi festival” and other initiatives to promote the creation of new stories.

(15) HE BITES. A deliberately harmful robot named “First Law” has been built to hype discussion about the risks of AI.

A robot that can decide whether or not to inflict pain has been built by roboticist and artist Alexander Reben from the University of Berkeley, California.

The basic machine is capable of pricking a finger but is programmed not to do so every time it can.

Mr Reben has nicknamed it “The First Law” after a set of rules devised by sci-fi author Isaac Asimov.

He said he hoped it would further debate about Artificial Intelligence.

“The real concern about AI is that it gets out of control,” he said.

“[The tech giants] are saying it’s way out there, but let’s think about it now before it’s too late. I am proving that [harmful robots] can exist now. We absolutely have to confront it.”

(16) VERY LATE NEWS. Appropriate to the previous item, Bill Gates was named 2015 Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award Winner – in January.

Story

January 3, 2016 — The Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award is annually bestowed upon a respected scientist or public figure who has warned of a future fraught with dangers and encouraged measures to prevent them.   The 2015 Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award has been given to Bill Gates in recognition of his fight against infectious diseases, his warnings about artificial intelligence, and his funding of improvements in education since a smarter civilization is one that is more likely to survive and flourish.

About Lifeboat Foundation

The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization dedicated to encouraging scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI, as we move towards the Singularity.

(17) PLAY BALL. “Chewbacca Mom and some special ‘Star Wars’ friends threw the first pitch at the Rays game”, as major league baseball blogger Chris Landers told Cut4 readers.

Over 150 million Facebook views later, “Chewbacca Mom” was born. She sang with James Corden. She was offered a full scholarship to Southeastern University in Florida. She started charging $20 for an autograph. And finally, on Saturday, the cherry on top: Payne threw out the first pitch before the Rays’ 4-3 loss to the Astros.

But, befitting a woman who was brought happiness to so many, it wasn’t just any first pitch. It was a “Star Wars” first pitch — featuring the cantina song, another Wookiee, and of course, Taylor Motter at catcher wearing a Chewy mask.

[Thanks to Cat Rambo, Jim Henley, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Arrest Made in Rare Book Theft

An arrest was made the same day File 770 alerted readers to the theft of a van carrying rare books in Berkeley on February 16.  However, the van and most of the books have not been recovered.

Police caught one of the pair who tried to sell a few of the books to clerks at a local bookstore. The clerks became suspicious and called the authorities.

Police arrested Joshua Anderson, 30, of Concord after he and a companion allegedly tried to sell four of the stolen books — worth an estimated $13,000 — to Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue. Anderson, who had two outstanding warrants for his arrest, was arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property. He is being held on $45,000 bail in the Berkeley jail. His companion has not been apprehended.

The books belong to Lawrence Van De Carr, a Chicago rare-book dealer. Van De Carr had driven a 2008 silver Ford Econoline XLT van with 30 boxes of books to Pasadena last weekend for an antiquarian book fair. On Monday, he drove to Oakland to stay at a friend’s house. He parked the van outside the home in the 200 block of Whitmore St., near 51st and Pleasant Valley. When he got up on Feb. 16 around 10 a.m., the van was gone, he said.

The boxes contained rare modern signed first editions, including literary works and science fiction books. Van De Carr estimates they are worth $350,000. He is not insured for the loss of the books.

Less than three hours after the theft was discovered, an attempt was made to sell some of the books at Moe’s in downtown Berkeley. (Hey, I’ve been in Moe’s!)

A short time later, around 1 p.m., two men came into Moe’s with four rare books. They started to talk to one of the clerks and got him to pay $100 for two science-fiction books published by Arkham House, according to Anthony, another Moe’s worker who was standing near the clerk. One of the books was A Hornbook for Witches: Poems of Fantasy by Leah Bodine Drake, one of only 553 known copies, said Van de Carr. It is considered one of the rarer books published by Arkham House and is worth around $2,200. The other was Always Comes Evening by Robert E. Howard

The clerk buying the books had been out to lunch when the call about the theft came, so he hadn’t known to be on the alert, said Anthony, who had taken the call. Anthony suggested to his co-worker that the two sellers go upstairs to the rare-book room to sell the other books. One of those was a signed, limited first edition of Pylon by William Faulkner, worth around $8,500, and the other was a limited edition of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, worth around $1,300, said Van De Carr. Taken together, the four books were worth $13,000, he said.

“I thought they had a classic phony story: ‘The uncle died,’” said Anthony, who did not want his last name used because one of the men is still at large. “To my ears, ‘my uncle died,’ is equal to ‘the cat ate my homework.’”

While the two men were taking the elevator upstairs, Anthony called the rare-book room and told the clerk to stall the men. He then called Berkeley police, who arrived around 10 minutes later. The officers wanted to know how Anthony knew the books were stolen, and while they listened to the explanation, the two men got suspicious.

They bolted. One was caught nearby, the other got away.

Van De Carr says the theft will put him out of the rare book business.

Van de Carr in front of his booth at a rare book show in New York. Photo: Lawrence Van De Carr

Van de Carr in front of his booth at a rare book show in New York. Photo: Lawrence Van De Carr

[Thanks to Petréa Mitchell and John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Rare Book Theft Alert

Garrett Scott of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America’s security committee is spreading the word about a theft that took place today:

Colleagues,

Within the past hour or two, Chicago colleague Larry Van de Carr’s 2008 Silver Ford XLT van (with Illinois “environmental” license plates) full of his stock was stolen in Oakland, California.

The inventory in largely rare science fiction (some signed), literature in dust jacket, a smattering of illustrated (Rackham, etc.) some Western Americana. Larry says he often lays descriptions slips into his books or prices near the upper right hand corner of the front free endpaper.

I believe Larry is on his way to the police right now. He is understandably somewhat in shock — if you are in the Bay Area and are approached under suspicious circumstances and offered material like this PLEASE do all you can to delay and call the police if you have reason to suspect these are Larry’s books.

You can reach me on my cell at (734) 730-0643. Larry’s cell is (847) 707-8780. We will hope to have a case number etc. soon.

Please circulate this notice among Bay Area dealers.

We have begun to make some phone calls but appreciate having the word spread. Please excuse any duplication of messages — the original notice has not yet appeared and this is a time-sensitive matter.

Garrett Scott
ABAA Security Committee

Who Will Judge Kramer’s Lawsuit?

All ten Gwinnett County (Ga.) superior court judges have recused themselves from handling Ed Kramer’s lawsuit challenging his December 2013 guilty plea on child molestation charges. A judge from outside the county will be appointed to the case.

The last two judges recused themselves in January. Their joint filing said that they “find no evidence or implication of any improper relationship existing Superior Court Bench and the District Attorney’s Office” but they were recusing themselves to “avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

Kramer’s current attorney, Stephen Reba, claimed in court documents that the guilty plea was ill-gotten. He alleges District Attorney Danny Porter and Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers colluded to re-open Kramer’s case when it had been effectively closed in 2009 after a hearing on issues surrounding Kramer’s health, and gave Kramer the authority to decide when he was healthy enough to go to trial. Reba also claims Beyers and Porter did not provide medical accommodations that would have allowed Kramer to stand trial, forcing Kramer to enter an Alford plea, a type of guilty plea under which a defendant is allowed to maintain innocence

After pleading guilty in 2013, Dragon*Con co-founder Kramer was sentenced to 34 months under house arrest.

Kramer’s attorney already has succeeded in getting DA Porter disqualified from handling Kramer’s habeas corpus petition because he may be called as a witness in any related hearings.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

Cops Bust Fans With Fake Guns
On Their Way To Canadian Anime Convention

Arrest in progress outside G-Anime in Quebec.

Arrest in progress outside G-Anime in Quebec.

I’d worry if people hadn’t called.

Police arrested two men in camo carrying what turned out to be fake guns after citizens reported seeing the suspicious-looking pair – one wearing a mask – outside the Palais des congrès in Gatineau, QC.

One was carrying an air gun and the other a plastic gun when apprehended. They were on their way to G-Anime 2015, a three day anime and manga convention which began today, January 23.

Gatineau police spokesman Pierre Lanthier tutted, “If you want to attend an event like that, don’t walk on the street dressed like that. Even if it’s fake arms, you might be stopped by a police officer and questioned by a police officer.” Or by a police dog — the canine unit assisted with the arrests.

Police released the men after giving them $270 fines.

The G-Anime staff promptly issued this notice:

Due to recent events, we kindly ask all attendees who are wearing military base cosplays and/or carrying firearms replicas or metal weapons to please change into their cosplays on the convention grounds and to wear such items only on the convention grounds (which is the 3rd floor of the Palais des Congrès).

[Thanks to Taral Wayne for the story.]

Authorities Continue To Investigate Gas Release at Midwest Furfest

Little more has been revealed about the chlorine gas release that caused a Hyatt hotel to be evacuated in the early hours of Sunday during Midwest Furfest.

Toby Murono, chair of 2014 Midwest Furfest, says the convention is withholding comment: “Our staff has assisted authorities in their inquiries to our fullest capabilities and we have encouraged our attendees to aid us in this process. At this point in time we are unable to comment further as this matter is a pending investigation by the appropriate law enforcement agencies.”

The internet’s armchair detectives have been theorizing whether the incident was deliberate or could have been an accident. A convention staff member told the Smofs list there is no pool at the Hyatt, eliminating one reason (if not all) for the hotel to keep the chemical in supply.

Murono thanked those who helped with the evacuation: 

…It is noteworthy that during this time of crisis we were aided by many staff members from other furry conventions throughout the world and attendees whom volunteered their services to aid in the evacuation process. Midwest Furfest is tremendously grateful for their assistance and this only illustrates how supportive the furry community is towards helping one another.

People were allowed to return to the Hyatt about three-and-a-half hours after the incident began and the convention returned to “almost normal operations” by Sunday morning.

Fans put a positive spin on it and went back to enjoying the con, according to a member quoted by Redeyechicago

Sean Groomes, an attendee from Eden Prairie, Minn., whose furry alter ego is a tortoise shell calico cat named Further Monigal, said the evacuation made the event one to remember.

“Everyone was really emotional but it didn’t stop us from enjoying our convention,” he said. “As a coping mechanism, we all started laughing about it, saying we had survived the gas convention of 2014.”

CBS has posted a clip of its news coverage shot outside the Hyatt soon after the evacuation.

Furry Convention Evacuates After Chlorine Gas Released in Stairwell

Furries at Midwest Furfest in Rosemont, Ill.

Furries at Midwest Furfest in Rosemont, Ill.

Nineteen people were treated at local hospitals and thousands of guests evacuated from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare including furries in costume who were present for the MidWest Furfest.

The Associated Press reports the source of the gas was chlorine powder left in a 9th floor stairwell according to the Rosemont Public Safety Department. Investigators believe the gas was created intentionally and are treating it as a criminal matter.

Guests were allowed to return a few hours later after the hotel had been decontaminated, and by mid-morning the furries were pouring back into the hotel for more activities, chat with each other and make their way to a outdoor courtyard where they took part in a group exercise session, with foxes, dragons and other characters getting an aerobic workout.

“We ask you to continue to be patient, and remember that the volunteers who make Midwest FurFest happen intend to give 110 percent to make sure that the fun, friendship, and good times … overshadow last night’s unfortunate incident,” organizers said in a statement posted on the group’s website. Organizers declined to discuss the matter in person.

Rawstory has additional details:

At approximately 12:40 a.m., first responders were called to investigate a “noxious odor” at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosement, which was hosting the Midwest FurFest. The Rosemont Public Safety department was called in and found a high level of chlorine gas in the air.

Authorities immediately ordered all the convention-goers — many of whom were in anthropomorphic animal costumes — to exit the building. They were not allowed to return until almost 4 a.m.

[Thanks to Francis Hamit and Taral Wayne for the story.]

Update 12/08/2014: Corrected name of event to Midwest Furfest. (Something I read gave me a thoroughly mistaken impression that Midwest Furfest was a local iteration of a movable con by the other name.)

Law and Odor

Does this pass the smell test? Dragon*Con founder Ed Kramer spent 13 years avoiding trial on child molestation charges, then took a plea-bargain when trial was imminent last December, but now his new attorney is trying to get that conviction thrown out so Kramer can have “a fair trial to demonstrate his innocence, which he has steadfastly maintained.”

His attorney has already succeeded in having District Attorney Danny Porter disqualified from handling Kramer’s habeas corpus petition on the state’s behalf because Porter might be called as a witness in any related hearings. A motion has also been submitted to disqualify the judge who had jurisdiction over his case. The Gwinnett (GA) Daily Post reports:

In the 21-page habeas corpus document, Reba, the ninth defense attorney Kramer has retained over the years, claims that his client’s plea was ill-gotten for a number of reasons.

Among them is the allegation that Porter, the district attorney, and Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers essentially colluded to “disappear” a 2009 ruling that, due to Kramer’s numerous medical ailments, placed the ability to initial trial proceedings in the hands of Kramer and his attorneys. That came into play in 2011, when Porter fought to have Kramer extradited from Connecticut after he was allegedly caught alone in a hotel room with a teenage boy.

Further allegations claim that Beyers and Porter did not provide medical accommodations that would have allowed Kramer to stand trial. That, the recent filings claim, forced Kramer to enter his Alford plea — which is legally a guilty plea but allows the defendant to maintain innocence — on Dec. 2, 2013, the day jury selection was scheduled to begin in his trial.

Kramer is accused of sexually assaulting three teenage boys, each of whom approved Kramer’s 2013 plea deal and were awarded $100,000 restitution. Since pleading guilty in December, Kramer has been serving his time at home under house arrest.