Policeman attacked by thugs using his own patrol car


An Australian outback policeman was pelted with rocks and beer bottles and his stolen patrol car was used to try and run him down.

The officer was attacked by five people Tuesday night at an Aboriginal camp near the desert town of Alice Springs. The attackers tried to run him down several times with the stolen car before they fled, dumping the vehicle 190 km away. Police condemned the assault as “drunken, cowardly and brutal.”

Alice Springs, a base for tourists visiting Australia’s outback, has seen a surge in violence in recent months, much of it blamed on local indigenous youths.

The town’s mayor last month demanded the riot squad be brought from Darwin, 1,500 km away, in a bid to end lawlessness blamed on chronic joblessness, boredom and easy access to alcohol.

Police said one of the attackers, a woman, was arrested after she was found in the police vehicle. Two men and two other women were arrested Wednesday and were to be charged with assault.

Phew! Tough duty. Can’t be too many coppers standing in line for that assignment.

Indian software/outsourcing company crashes after fraud exposed

Daylife/AP Photo by Mahesh Kumar A

The chairman of India’s fourth-largest software-services provider has resigned after confessing to inflating the company’s profits for years with “fictitious” assets and non-existent cash…

Satyam employs 53,000 people, operates in 65 countries and serves almost 700 companies, including 185 Fortune 500 companies. More than half of its revenue comes from the United States.

Satyam Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju said the balance-sheet padding began several years ago to close “a marginal gap” between actual operating profit and one reflected in the company’s accounting books. It continued through the years, he said.

It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten,” Raju said in a letter to the company’s board of directors.

I love that last sentence. Probably closer to the truth – and understanding of what Raju was trying to do – than anything we’ll ever hear from the ranks of Madoff, et al.

Update: Satyam has been delisted from India’s stock exchange

Police foil German children’s dash to African warmth – and marriage?

Three German children aged five, six and seven who said they were fed up with cold weather at home set off on a voyage to Africa but only got as far as the local train station, said local police.

The boy and the older girl were planning to get married in Africa and brought the girl’s five-year-old sister along as a witness. They left their home in the city of Hanover, which they shared with the boy’s father and the girls’ mother, early on New Year’s Day as their parents slept.

“They said they wanted to go to Africa ‘because it’s so nice and warm there’,” Jureczko said. The boy had once been to Italy and convinced the girl that Africa would be even warmer.

The police told the trio that it would be difficult to get to Africa without money or tickets and instead gave them a tour of the police station before handing them over to their parents.

What a sense of propriety.

Another movie plot. “Well, children. What did you do over winter holidays?”

Atheist bus ad campaign moves on to Barcelona

Next week, Barcelona will become the first city in predominantly Catholic Spain to copy the controversial UK campaign when its buses use a direct translation of the slogan adopted in Britain by the scientist Richard Dawkins and other prominent atheists.

“Probablemente Dios no existe. Deja de preocuparte y goza de la vida,” it reads. “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.”

Campaigners say that with 20% of Spaniards professing they do not believe in God, it is time atheism becomes a visible phenomenon.

It is time for non-believers to make themselves seen and display their pride in their own convictions,” said the Catalan Atheists group.

Donations have been flooding into the fund opened by the Catalan Atheists. “We raised a thousand euros in the first day,” the group said. “At this rate we will be able to take the campaign to Madrid as well.”

Rock on, dudes!

California copper shoots man in the back – kills him on camera

A New Year’s Day shooting in which a subway police officer fired a deadly shot into the back of an unarmed man has the San Francisco Bay Area demanding answers as authorities appeal for patience.

Oscar Grant, 22, was killed January 1 in a shooting at a subway station in California’s Bay Area.

Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesman Linton Johnson told CNN affiliate KTVU-TV in Oakland, California, that the officer is presumed innocent and described him as devastated. I would describe Oscar Grant as murdered.

The young men had been celebrating the new year at a popular waterfront tourist spot, The Embarcadero. They were heading home when police pulled them from the train car. Some of the young men were handcuffed, but not 22-year-old Oscar Grant. The video from the anonymous passenger shows Grant seated on the floor with his back against the wall.

Grant holds up his hands, appearing to plead with police. Burris said Tuesday that Grant was asking police not to use a Taser.

Seconds later, police put Grant face-down on the ground. Grant appears to struggle. One of the officers kneels on Grant as another officer stands up, tugs at his gun, unholsters it and fires a shot into Grant’s back.

The bullet went through Grant’s back and then ricocheted off the floor and through his lungs. Grant…died seven hours later, KTVU reported.

Unconscionable, unforgivable.

As much as thugs – who happen to be employed as police officers – should have learned their lesson with Rodney King’s beating, you’d think they would know by now that everyone has a cell phone and a ton of them have cameras.

UPDATE: That police officer, Johannes Mehserle, has been arrested for suspicion of murder.

UPDATE 1/28/10: BART has agreed to pay $1.5 million in damages to Oscar Grant’s daughter, Tatiana.

Obama offers surgeon general post to Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Daylife/Getty Images

President-elect Barack Obama has asked neurosurgeon and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to be U.S. surgeon general.

Gupta has been “the Obama team’s first choice” for the job, which would make the TV personality America’s top doctor. The Washington Post’s online service, washingtonpost.com, first reported that Gupta had been offered the job, traditionally the U.S. top spokesman on matters of public health.

Gupta had a two-hour meeting with Obama in Chicago in November, the Post said, and later met former Sen. Tom Daschle, who has been tapped to lead the administration’s efforts to reform health care as Health and Human Services Secretary.

Obama told Gupta he could be the highest-profile surgeon general in history and would have an expanded role in giving healthcare policy advice, the Post said. Gupta served in the 1990s as a White House fellow, where he was a special adviser to Hillary Clinton, writing speeches and helping her formulate policies.

In addition to his work at CNN, Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Emory University Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Gupta seems to me to be honest, open, thoughtful and dedicated to science and humanity. However will he deal with Congress?

Vicar has ‘horrifying’ statue of crucifixion removed

A statue of the crucifixion has been taken down from its perch on a church in Sussex because it was scaring local children and deterring worshippers, a vicar admitted today.

The Rev Ewen Souter, the vicar at St John’s Church in Horsham, West Sussex, ordered the removal of the 10-foot sculpture of Jesus on the cross just before Christmas, branding it “unsuitable” and “a horrifying depiction of pain and suffering”.

The 10ft resin sculpture, by Edward Bainbridge Copnall, a former president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, will be replaced by a more “uplifting” stainless steel cross – to the dismay of more traditional parishioners.

Souter, formerly a cell biologist, said: “The crucifix expressed suffering, torment, pain and anguish. It was a scary image, particularly for children. Parents didn’t want to walk past it with their kids, because they found it so horrifying…

A long-standing member of the church, who asked not to be named, said: “The crucifix is the oldest and most famous symbol of the Christian church. Pulling it down and putting up something that would look more at home on the side of a flashy modern shopping centre is not the way to get more bums on seats.

“Next they’ll be ripping out the pews and putting sofas in their place, or throwing out all the Bibles and replacing them with laptops. It’s just not right.”

I think the whole brouhaha is fracking hilarious.

$240,000 payback for Arabic shirt passenger

An air passenger forced to cover his T-shirt because it displayed Arabic script has been awarded a payout of $240,000.

Two Transportation Security Authority officials and JetBlue Airways will be forced to make the payout.

Raed Jarrar, a US resident, had accused them of illegally discriminating against him based on his ethnicity and the Arabic writing on his T-shirt. The payout is the largest of its kind since the 9/11 terror attacks.

Lawyers representing Mr Jarrar say the settlement is a victory for free speech and a blow to the practice of racial profiling.

Back in 2006, Mr Jarrar was waiting to board a flight at New York’s JFK airport wearing a T-shirt that read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic. His lawyers say he was ordered to remove the item of clothing by staff who said other passengers felt uncomfortable with the Arabic slogan.

He eventually agreed to cover the shirt and boarded the plane, but says he was made to sit at the back of the plane.

Bravo! Bigots all over the world – but, especially in the United States – continue to use 9/11 as their excuse for every miserable act in their petty arsenal.

Mini-turbines to harness energy from UK gas pipelines

The enormous pressure inside the gas pipeline grid that supplies UK homes is set to be harnessed to generate clean electricity.

Work to place small turbines inside the gas network will start later this year at Beckton in east London. This first scheme will produce 20MW by 2010 from the natural gas that rushes through the pipes. Repeated across the country, the technology could generate up to 1GW – equivalent to the output of a conventional coal or nuclear power station.

Andrew Mercer of company 2OC, which has developed the “geo-pressure” technology, said: “We’re very lucky that somebody else has built this pipeline infrastructure. We can borrow it to produce renewable energy.”

When natural gas is drilled from underground reservoirs it is at far too high a pressure to be used safely in homes. “It would just blow up your gas cooker,” Mercer said. Instead, the pressure must be released at hundreds of sites across the supply network known as letdown stations.

Currently, the energy contained in this released pressure is wasted. The new technology aims to capture it to generate electricity.

Bravo! Yes, we tried this in the U.S. – just a tiny bit under the reign of Reagan and George 1st – and never since. As part of an overall scheme to recover wasted energy it makes even more sense nowadays.