Driver follows GPS directions directly into lake

A Polish driver who was too sure of his GPS road navigation device ended up neck-deep in a lake after ignoring road signs warning of a dead-end ahead, said Polish police.

“The man took a road that was closed a year ago when the area was flooded to make an artificial lake serving as a water reservoir — he ignored three road signs warning of a dead-end,” Piotr Smolen, police spokesman in Glubczyce, southern Poland, told AFP.

It was still night time and he didn’t notice the road led into the lake. His GPS told him to drive straight ahead and he did,” Smolen said, adding the driver had not been under the influence of alcohol.

The road ran straight downhill into the lake. The Mercedes mini-van was nearly entirely submerged and was unable to back out on its own after being inundated with water.

The driver placed the first call to emergency services while still inside the sinking van.

At least he wasn’t distracted by the GPS talking to him. Or reality.

Luxury car sales in Saudi Arabia unaffected by global crisis. Surprised?

Recession fears may be gripping much of the global economy, but in the world’s largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia car manufacturers are betting on more big spending…

“The luxury car market in Saudi Arabia is the biggest one in the Gulf region, so for the BMW group it is the potential market focus,” said Reiner Braun, sales director at Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors which imports BMW and other cars.

“The global crisis will certainly have an impact on all markets worldwide but … the Middle East will probably be the most stable (market)…”

While ordinary Saudis have suffered over the past year as inflation soared to 30-year highs, the kingdom’s elite have continued to prosper.

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second biggest and most liberal city, the rich live fast and consumption is conspicuous.

Exhibition organizers say that Mercedes and BMW are among the most popular cars in the super-expensive range. Rolls-Royce cars were also on display in the exhibition, where colors extended to orange and lurid green.

Gosh, I was worried for a while that everyone was going to suffer through this economic downturn.

FBI smashes child prostitution ring

More than 600 adults have been arrested and 47 children rescued in a three-day roundup targeting people who force children into prostitution.

The FBI said the roundup by federal, state and local law enforcement occurred in 29 cities, adding that the raids dismantled 12 large-scale prostitution operations run through call services, truck stops, casinos and Web sites…

The 47 rescued children ranged in age from 13 to 17, and all but one are female. Of these, Pistole said, 10 had been reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

A total of 642 people were arrested. The FBI says they include 73 pimps and 518 adult prostitutes.

Child prostitution has taken on a new urgency in recent years with the growth of online networks where pimps advertise the youngsters to clients. The FBI generally gets involved in child prostitution cases that cross state lines.

Nice to see we have a couple of crimefighters spared from the Worldwide War on Terror to fight against the reality of day-to-day crime.

Bravo and well done.

Google reaches book search agreement

Google has reached a landmark agreement with authors and publishers to make millions of books available online, in a deal that includes a $125m payout and the end to lawsuits filed by companies including Penguin.

The agreement, part of which is subject to the approval of the US District Court in New York, comes after two years of negotiations between the parties and will mark the end of two lawsuits against the Google Book Search tool.

Today’s agreement settles a class action lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild in September 2005 challenging Google’s plans to digitise, search and show snippets of in-copyright books and to share digital copies with libraries without explicit permission.

The deal today, described in a joint statement by all parties as “groundbreaking”, will see online access granted for millions of in-copyright materials “and other written materials” in the US through Google Book Search.

Under the agreement Google will make payments totalling $125m to be used to establish a Books Rights Registry, to resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees.

It is hard work writing a book and even harder work getting paid for it,” said Roy Blount Jr, the president of the Authors Guild. “As an author, well, we appreciate payment when people use our work. This makes good sense.”

Blount – and his peers – are dimwits who consider the direct payment of a few pennies of royalties from a search engine more important than demand generated by readers having easy access to his work. He’s almost as bright as the RIAA.

Americans fear snakes and flying more than disease

Diabetes affects 24 million Americans and an increasing number of children. It can lead to limb loss and heart attacks. Yet people are more afraid of snakes and flying.

In an online survey by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people revealed far greater fear of events that are much less likely to affect them. Percentage of respondents who fear:

Being in a plane crash: 16 percent
Snake bites: 13 percent
Being hit by lightning: 5 percent
A shark attack: 4 percent
Getting a disease: 5 percent.

Further, when asked specifically about diseases, 49 percent reported a fear of cancer, and only 3 percent cited a fear of diabetes.

Ironically, one in ten adults reports having been diagnosed with diabetes, while just 6 percent have been diagnosed with cancer, according to the ADA.

“While the impact of a shark attack, lightning strike or plane crash may be more immediate, the reality is, the consequences of mismanaged diabetes can have equally severe consequences that include loss of limbs or even death,” the ADA stated. “In fact, 491 deaths related to commercial aviation accidents happened in 2007 whereas diabetes contributed to 233,619 deaths in 2005.”

Snakes make for more exciting Reality TV.

OTOH – if you want to see Flying Snakes – check out this post.

Mexican organized crimefighters infiltrated by – organized crime!

A major drug cartel has infiltrated the Mexican attorney general’s office, and one cartel worker says he even spied on DEA operations from inside the U.S. Embassy, said Mexican prosecutors.

Five officials of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime unit were arrested on allegations they served as informants for the Beltran Leyva cartel, Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said, adding there are indications that other spies still work inside his agency.

The embassy employee, who also worked for Interpol at the Mexico City airport, is a protected witness after telling Mexican officials in Washington that he leaked details of DEA operations. U.S. Embassy officials had no immediate comment, saying they generally avoid discussing internal operating or security issues.

President Calderon himself has long acknowledged corruption is widespread in police forces. Monday’s case represents the most serious known infiltration of anti-crime agencies since the 1997 arrest of Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, then head of Mexico’s anti-drug agency. Gutierrez Rebollo later was convicted of aiding drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes…

Assistant Attorney General Marisela Morales said two top employees of her organized-crime unit and at least three federal police agents assigned to it may have been passing information on surveillance targets and potential raids for at least four years.

The agents and officials each received payments of between $150,000 and $450,000 per month for the information, Morales said.

Does it ever end? Will there ever be a long enough concerted effort by the Mexican government that roots out root and stem of corruption?

Better ways we could have spent Iraq War’s $1 trillion

Rob Simpson is no geopolitical, macro-economic, inside-the-Beltway expert. He’s an armchair analyst and creative director for an advertising agency, a former radio announcer and music critic in Ontario and a one-time voiceover actor.

His alternative spending choices reflect his curiosity and wit.

He calculates $1 trillion could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with gold — 23.5-karat gold leaf. It could buy every person on the planet an iPod. It could give every high school student in the United States a free college education. It could pay off every American’s credit card. It could buy a Buick for every senior citizen still driving in the United States.

“As I started exploring, I was really taken aback by some of the things that can be done, both the absurd and the practical,” Simpson said.

America could the double the 663,000 cops on the beat for 32 years. It could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses, enough for 43 million Americans…

It’s too recent to make Simpson’s list, but that $1 trillion could also have paid for the Bush administration’s financial bailout plan, with $300 billion to spare. It might not be enough, however, to pay for the war in Iraq. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz has recently upped his estimate of the war’s cost to $3 trillion.

I have been saying this, plenty of folks have been saying this, since it became clear the nutballs in charge were going to use 9/11 as the core rationale of their new imperialism. Only Simpson has done it with a lot more humor and wit.

White supremacists charged in plot to kill Barack Obama


Strange Fruit

Federal prosecutors charged two men with plotting a “killing spree” against African-Americans that would have been capped with an attempt to kill Sen. Barack Obama while they wore white tuxedos, federal officials said Monday.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Jackson, Tennessee, said Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, were self-described white supremacists who met online through a mutual friend.

Both men have been charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a federally licensed gun dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate.

The men planned to kill more than 100 African-Americans, including 14 who would be beheaded, according to the affidavit.

According to an affidavit from the federal agent who questioned them, Cowart and Schlesselman planned to charge at Obama with a car, firing from the windows as they went.

Throw away the key. That’s about the kindest, gentlest sentence I might urge.

Next spring, I celebrate 50 years of activism, officially challenging racism and bigotry in this land. I grew up in a northern factory town with neighborhoods stringently divided along ethnic and racial boundaries. But, an equally strong and radical political movement based in the major industries in that city – grounded in the CIO – led educators and unions, community organizations and individuals to positive, aggressive commitments against bigotry.

Much of that was crushed in the days of McCarthy and the beginning of the Cold War – a time that McCain seems to miss as much as does Karl Rove and his peers. But, it stuck with me well enough to guide a reasonably consistent political life that I see no reason to back down on, now.

The crimes associated with bigotry and racism are as vile as a human being may contrive and commit. I hope these thugs have decades to reconsider and reform their ways – behind bars.

Moroccan schoolboy jailed for insulting the fracking King!


The boy’s father, Mohamed Belassal

A Moroccan schoolboy, aged 18, has been jailed for insulting the king, after replacing the monarch’s name with that of his favourite football club.

He altered the phrase “God, The Nation, The King” on the school blackboard to read “God, The Nation, Barcelona”.

FC Barcelona says it has appointed a lawyer to look into whether they can help the boy, within the framework of Moroccan law.

The king sounds like a Man U fanboy.