“Red Mercury” sewing machine hoax hits Saudi Arabia

My wife would kill me if I sold hers…

Saudi police say they are investigating a hoax that has seen people rushing to buy old-fashioned sewing machines for up to $50,000.

The Singer sewing machines are said to contain traces of red mercury, a substance that may not exist.

But it is widely thought that it can be used to find treasure, ward off evil spirits or even make nuclear bombs. It is believed that tiny amounts can sell for millions of dollars.

Rumours about the sewing machines have been spreading for days by word of mouth and over the internet, it said.

In Dhulum, it was reported that people had broken into two tailors’ shops to steal the machines.

In the city of Madina, people were holding mobile phones up to the machines, due to the belief that they could be used to detect the presence of red mercury.

Isn’t it heartwarming to learn that the tinfoil hat brigade is part of the worldwide gene pool?

45 or older? Look forward to longer unemployment!

When Ben Sims, 57, showed up earlier this year for a job interview at a company in Richardson, Tex., he noticed the hiring manager — several decades his junior — falter upon spotting him in the lobby.

“Her face actually dropped,” said Mr. Sims, who was dressed in a business suit befitting his 25-year career in human resources at I.B.M.

Later, in her office, after several perfunctory questions, the woman told Mr. Sims she did not believe the job would be “suitable” for him. And barely 10 minutes later, she stood to signal that the interview was over.

I knew very much then it was an age situation,” said Mr. Sims, who has been looking for work since November 2007, a month before the economic downturn began.

The recession’s onslaught has come as Mr. Sims and many others belonging to the baby boom generation remain years from retirement. But unemployed baby boomers, many of whom believed they were still in the prime of their careers, are confronting the grim reality that they face some of the steepest odds of any job seekers in this dismal market.

Workers ages 45 and over form a disproportionate share of the hard-luck recession category, the long-term unemployed — those who have been out of work for six months or longer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Read the whole article. Unless you’ve experienced discrimination for one reason or another, you don’t get the complete picture. Knowing about social and economic reality, fighting against job decisions grounded in foolishness and fear, you still get an extra measure of pain and despair when it happens to you.

Yup. I had this experience a couple of times before I retired.

Norwegian couple busted for high-speed sex


A man faces a hefty fine and a driving ban after being caught having sex with his girlfriend while speeding on a motorway in Norway.

Officers initially trailed the couple’s car after noticing it was swerving from side to side and travelling at 20mph over the road’s speed limit.

But they soon realised the erratic driving was due to the woman “sitting on the man’s lap”, a police spokesman said.

After filming the exploit for evidence, they pulled them over at a rest area.

The 28-year-old man’s punishment will be decided within the next week, but police said he was likely to face a fine of several thousand Norwegian kroner and a lengthy driving ban…

“The vehicle was veering from one side to the other because the woman was sitting on the man’s lap while he was driving and doing the act, shall we say,” he added…

Despite her prominent role in the incident, the 21-year-old woman was permitted by police to drive her lover home.

Phew! I’m glad they weren’t on a motorcycle.

Republicans prefer no Junior Senator for Minnesota – to losing

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A Minnesota court panel has ruled that Democrat Al Franken beat Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in the long-fought contest for a U.S. Senate seat and said the comic turned politician should be certified as the winner.

The contest, however, is far from over. Coleman has already said he would appeal the widely anticipated ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court and possibly to federal courts.

It may be months before the U.S. Senate knows if Democrats will control a crucial 59th seat in the body, strengthening their chances of putting together a controlling 60-vote bloc to cut off debate.

And that’s what it’s all about. Republican tradition of political ideology trumping democracy and civil liberty.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of state court judges who examined absentee votes in question said Franken had won and should be certified.

The panel concluded its work last week after finding Franken had a 312-vote lead. But Minnesota Governor [Republican] Tim Pawlenty has said he would not certify a state winner until all legal challenges are exhausted…

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said “a thorough election contest upheld the result of a meticulous recount.

Al Franken won the election, Al Franken won the recount, Al Franken won the contest, and now Al Franken should be allowed to get to work for the people of Minnesota.”

I can only hope the voters of Minnesota keep in mind how the RNC and their tame governor decided that no representation was preferable to the candidate the people elected.

13-year-old bank robber caught in under an hour


Peoria Illinois police quickly apprehended a 13-year-old boy they said used a handgun to rob South Side Bank on Monday morning.

The robbery occurred about 11:34 a.m. at the bank’s 2119 SW Adams St. location, and by 12:10 the suspect was in custody. The Peoria teen was apprehended in a garage behind a house at 927 S. Louisa St. in South Peoria.

Police combed the area immediately around the bank, looking for a teen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and a red bandana over his face. They also were told that a red dye package, which was placed in a bag of money the suspect took from the bank, had exploded and possibly covered the suspect…

According to Burgess, police eventually located the suspect hiding in the garage near the alley off Louisa. The suspect, who police haven’t identified because he is a juvenile, was hiding behind a couch in the garage at 927 Louisa. His sweatshirt was covered with reddish-colored dye.

After apprehending the suspect, police continued to canvas the neighborhood. Burgess said they were able to locate the gun and money, which the suspect discarded while being pursued.

The little thug will be properly treated as a juvenile offender. Receive some education [I hope] along with time off the streets. And, frankly, I hope he spends some time learning the technical skills required to use a shovel, a broom, maybe even a hammer.

Retraining his brain and body through responsible social, physical activities can be productive – in my experience.

Sterile man becomes father with frozen sperm from 1986


A North Carolina man who was rendered sterile by cancer treatment as a teenager is now a father after doctors used a sperm sample he donated 22 years ago to impregnate his wife. Reproductive medicine doctors say the use of two decade-old sperm to conceive a child sets a world record, and say it shows that sperm need not have a shelf life.

Chris Biblis, 39, was struck with leukaemia at age 13. Told the chemotherapy might leave him sterile, at his parents’ urging Biblis on April 25, 1986 donated a sperm sample at a laboratory in Atlanta, even though no treatment for male infertility existed at the time.

“I was trying to get through high school and living one day at a time, hoping I was honestly going to make it,” Biblis told ABC news. “It was the furthest thing from my mind – being married or having a child.”

Biblis recovered from cancer a few years later, thrived, and eventually married Melodie Biblis, a nurse. The couple, in excellent health, were eager to have a child and sought to do so naturally.

Reproductive medicine doctors in Charlotte, a banking centre in North Carolina, thawed Biblis’s frozen sperm in June. In a laboratory, a doctor injected a healthy looking sperm into the centre of an egg harvested from Melodie. The embryo was allowed to grow, and was then implanted into Melodie’s uterus. The procedure was successful on the first go.

Baby Stella was born on February 25, at seven pounds, seven ounces. Melodie Biblis, a nurse, told a Charlotte newspaper that she is “fattening up nicely”, and is in good health.

Yeah, I posted damned near the whole article. It’s a great story.

How Technology Won the Presidency, Part I

Daylife/Getty Images

Command of the issues, cool confidence and disarming smile aside, Barack Obama might just owe his campaign’s success to his team’s ability to harness the technology at their fingertips. Social networking, broadband and data management all played huge roles in making the Obama campaign the most personalized presidential campaign ever…

Data drove many decisions for the campaign. The team amassed more than 13 million email addresses and more than 5 million friends across the social networking landscape. Of the roughly $750 million Obama raised, two-thirds of it was donated online. There were field offices across the nation. Data was coming from everywhere — every time someone signed up on Facebook, donated $5 or requested info from my.barackobama.com, the campaign got at least a phone number or an email address.

Corralling the various data was critical, Luke Peterson said during the presentation, as it allowed the campaign to “break down the walls between departments.” In early 2007, when Iowa was the focus, Team Obama built a tool that meshed voter registration data with data collected online to determine the geographic location of voters. This allowed precinct organizers to more fully personalize the experience for voters in their precincts. Instead of generic phone calls asking people to vote for Obama, callers were able offer rides to caucus locations or talk about issues that voters might have raised via a forum post. While all this was going on in Iowa, another web tool was feeding information to volunteers in states with later primaries and caucuses, who built and grew coalitions until the official campaign focused its attention on those states.

The main objective of this data integration strategy was to make the most of resource expenditures. The Obama campaign didn’t want to waste time going through the phonebook cold calling, so it used data mining and integration to figure out “who the cream was on our barrel,” on whom it should unleash its hordes of volunteers. This was the campaign’s single biggest technology-derived success…

Makes good sense to me. The Rove-directed Republicans did similar work, though, focused by premise on a smaller demographic grounded in religion and reactionary ideology.

Stimulus projects under budget, ahead of schedule

U.S. President Barack Obama says that thousands of major infrastructure projects being undertaken as part of his economic stimulus plan were ahead of schedule and under budget.

Obama…says 2,000 new projects to rebuild U.S. highways and bridges already had been approved under the $787 billion stimulus plan that became law in February. That plan provided $48 billion to the Transportation Department for infrastructure improvements, including $28 billion for road projects.

“By the end of next year our investment in highway projects alone will create or save 150,000 jobs, most of them in the private sector,” Obama said during an appearance at the Transportation Department to plug his plan. “What is most remarkable about this effort … isn’t just the size of our investment or the number of projects we’re investing in. It is how quickly, efficiently and responsibly those investments have been made…”

Obama said fierce competition for the projects had led to bids coming in under budget in many states around the country. The White House said bids have been 15 to 20 percent lower than expected on average.

“Because these projects are proceeding so efficiently, we now have more recovery dollars to go around, and that means we can fund more projects, revitalize more of our infrastructure, put more people back to work,” he said.

It was a local project that prompted me to Google around for what’s going on in the infrastructure portion of the stimulus. There’s a major interstate interchange down in Albuquerque that was ready to be bonded and bid out for about $350 million. The original construction design was a piece of crap and the execution wasn’t much better. The usual state of affairs here in New Mexico.

I happened to see a TV news spot that said stimulus funds were awarded for rebuilding the interchange – and that it was going to be done for $300 million. We seem to have gotten the under-budget part OK.

Swiss closing American accounts that are unreported to the IRS

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

The Swiss bank Credit Suisse is edging towards closing the accounts of thousands of American customers as tax authorities in Washington step up a campaign against offshore banking secrecy.

According to reports in the Swiss media, Credit Suisse has between 2,500 and 5,000 US clients with (Sfr3bn) $2.6 billion in accounts undeclared to the Internal Revenue Service.

A Sunday paper, Sonntagszeitung, reported that customers are being given a choice of moving their money to a subsidiary, CS Private Advisers, which would declare financial details to the US authorities. Alternatively, they will be sent a cheque for the balance of their funds…Har!

Credit Suisse declined to comment directly on its actions towards US account holders. But in a statement, the Zurich-based bank said: “Credit Suisse adheres to the highest compliance standards, applicable laws, regulations, and policies.”

It continued: “We offer both domestic and international wealth management services to US clients in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and policies.”

Prosecutors in the US have grown impatient with the tactics of offshore banks in touting for American clients. According to the justice department, UBS told its staff to use encrypted laptops and to change hotels regularly while visiting clients in the US. Unmarked envelopes were used in correspondence to avoid detection.

Tax avoidance is not a crime in Switzerland. Aiding someone committing a crime in another country – if that country is really serious about the crime – looks like that is becoming an issue for Swiss bankers. Interesting what that not only says about the bankers; but, what it says about U.S. law enforcement up till now.

Man makes 50-foot leap to escape wife’s nagging. Failing, he jumps again– still no luck.

A Russian man survived after downing three bottles of vodka and leaping from a fifth floor balcony – twice.

Alexei Roskov says he jumped the second time because he couldn’t take his wife’s nagging about the first time.

Wife Yekaterina had watched in horror as her drunken husband opened the kitchen window of their Moscow apartment, and hurled himself out.

Astonishingly Mr Roskov, 22, survived and managed to stagger back upstairs with barely a scratch after the 50ft fall.

But while his wife called for an ambulance and began to scold him, he jumped again.

Amazed medics treated Mr Roskov for minor cuts and bruises before releasing him.

How do you spell relief?