Imitation bombs made of carrots freak out Swedes


Earlier version – dedicated to George W. Bush

A Swedish art project caused a bomb scare when people mistook carrot “explosives” for the real thing.

Artist Conny Blom set up The Bunny Project: Bombs, at 15 locations near the southern Swedish city of Orebro.

He taped bunches of carrots together with black tape and attached blue and red wires and a clock to them.

Police received worried calls from members of the public who thought they were real bombs. Mr Blom was forced to remove his art – and may face charges.

The carrot bombs had been placed around the city at the request of a local art gallery, as part of an open-air arts festival.

They had only been in place for an hour before police received their first call.

The artist – of course – said it was a harmless stunt. Does that mean no one should worry?

Though this is not so different from stunts I pulled back in the day, we didn’t have so many nutballs prowling the world seeking an excuse to blow up anyone who disagrees with their theology.

Moneyman for Bin Laden arrested in Yemen


Another Saudi who likes to hang out in Yemen

Al Qaeda’s top financier for Yemen and Saudi Arabia has been taken into custody, the Yemeni government has announced.

“He is expected to be an intelligence mine for information which will hopefully result in the capture or killing of al Qaeda militants,” the government said in a news release.

Hassan Hussein Bin Alwan was arrested in the eastern province of Marib.

The news release included a quote from an anonymous security official saying the government had been tracking Bin Alwan, and calling the arrest “a major coup in the war on al Qaeda.”

“Bin Alwan’s arrest will be instrumental in understanding the system of global terrorism financing.”

How much of this follows on from Richard Holbrooke’s speech in Pakistan where he pointed a finger towards Saudi Arabia and the UAE – as the source of financing for the Taliban?

How much of this results from the Obama administration unravelling the tightly knit alliance between Gulf oil sheikhs and the Oil Patch Boys in Texas?

Orthodox Jews now have “kosher” search site


They don’t go to the carwash either, eh?

Religiously devout Jews barred by rabbis from surfing the Internet may now “Koogle” it on a new “kosher” search engine, the site manager said on Sunday.

Yossi Altman said Koogle, a play on the names of a Jewish noodle pudding and the ubiquitous Google, appears to meet the standards of Orthodox rabbis, who restrict use of the Web to ensure followers avoid viewing sexually explicit material.

The site, at http://www.koogle.co.il, omits religiously objectionable material, such as most photographs of women which Orthodox rabbis view as immodest, Altman said.

Its links to Israeli news and shopping sites also filter out items most ultra-Orthodox Israelis are forbidden by rabbis to have in their homes, such a television sets.

“This is a kosher alternative for ultra-Orthodox Jews so that they may surf the Internet,” Altman said by telephone.

Silly enough to post on a Sunday afternoon in America. We could have “Boogle” for fundamentalist Baptists or “Popoogle” for charismatic Catholics.

Pundits wrong: Digital TV changeover is a piece of cake


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

For most viewers, the transition amounted to a minor hiccup at most. But the industry estimated that 12 million homes had not installed the necessary converter boxes, putting them at risk of losing TV altogether.

Across the country, television stations set up help lines and community organizations held events to aid confused viewers. Most stations didn’t receive the flood of calls they had expected, a sign that the transition was smoother than many had predicted.

Mike Burgess, the general manager of KOB in Albuquerque, said he had braced himself for calls when the station switched at 5 a.m. on Friday. According to Nielsen, Albuquerque had the highest rate of unprepared viewers of any market in the country. Acknowledging his surprise, he said the station had logged only three calls in the first digital hours.

“One of ’em was, when’s your weather guy coming back from vacation?” he said.

As of Saturday evening, the station had received about 150 calls.

Steve Stucker rules. One of the best TV weather guys in the biz.

Michael J. Copps, the acting chairman of the F.C.C., said the “overwhelming majority of households” were ready for the transition. Still, he acknowledged that it represented a “great challenge” for some viewers…

The operative phrase being “some viewers”.

Many of the calls concerned the rescanning of TV sets. The F.C.C. says that over-the-air viewers must rescan their sets to pick up the new digital signals that are being powered on…

The pundits give me the biggest chuckle. I know a couple.

They were wrong before – and after – about Y2K. But they don’t know why. They have no perception of the successful work accomplished especially by banking IT people. All they know is that the disaster didn’t materialize.

What remains this time – is tidying up the calls that will dribble in from folks who never read the manual for their converter box and don’t know how to press a button to rescan. You know. The one that says “SCAN”.

File sharing – French politicians just don’t get it


Their minds are already made up!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

It was the French equivalent of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens’ description of the Internet as “a series of tubes,” which made him the subject of endless mockery on the Web.

In a video shot for an online news site, French legislators were asked whether they were familiar with peer-to-peer file-sharing technology. “No,” one lawmaker responded, rolling his eyes. “I speak French. Excuse me.”

While France has often prided itself on its contrarian approach to information technology — remember the Minitel? — the response summed up the ham-handedness of the latest digital initiative by the French government. The video appeared this spring, at the height of debate about a plan by President Nicolas Sarkozy to set up a government agency to disconnect persistent copyright pirates from the Internet.

The proposal, approved by Parliament last month after an earlier setback, was shot down last week by the country’s highest judicial review body, the Constitutional Council, which ruled that it violated constitutional guarantees of free speech and the presumption of innocence. Only a court of law is entitled to sever Internet connections, the council ruled…

The European Parliament has consistently maintained that Internet access is a fundamental right, at a time when communications, commerce and culture are shifting into the digital realm…

What all this shows, if more evidence was needed, is that an anti-piracy strategy based largely on enforcement is bound to fail.

In the United States, the recording industry has backed away from a legal campaign against file-sharers, realizing that suing its biggest fans is not a great marketing strategy.

Now, we just need someone to explain to Congress what the MPAA and RIAA are gradually beginning to get a glimmer about.

You don’t expect any of our elected officials to be courageous enough to learn something on their own – when there’s always a lobbyist around to ‘splain it to them?

Romantic epic tops Indian Film Academy awards

The Indian historical film Jodhaa Akbar, about a Muslim-Hindu relationship, has dominated an Indian film awards ceremony, with six prizes.

At the gala event in Macau, China, it won best picture, best actor for Hrithik Roshan and best director for Ashutosh Gowariker.

The best actress award went to former Miss World Priyanka Chopra for her role in Fashion.

The International Indian Film Academy awards were marking 10 years…

The movie tells the tale of a Mughal king and his love for a Hindu princess…

Gowariker’s Oscar-nominated 2001 film Lagaan, about Indian villagers who play their British colonial rulers in cricket to decide the fate of their taxes, was named film of the decade. [A personal favorite]

Rock on!

Scotland Yard credit card probe zeroes in on 300 detectives


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

More than 300 elite Scotland Yard detectives are suspected of defrauding the taxpayer of millions of pounds by abusing their corporate credit cards, the Observer can disclose.

Auditors who have examined the American Express accounts of 3,500 officers involved in countering terrorism and organised crime have reported almost one in 11 detectives to the Metropolitan Police’s internal investigators.

A senior officer appears to have spent £40,000 on his Amex card in one year, without authorisation. Items bought by others without permission include suits, women’s clothing and fishing rods.

The scale of the suspected fraud, disclosed in an internal Metropolitan Police Authority report, will send shock waves through the force…

Authority members expressed their dismay last night. Jenny Jones, a Green Party member, said: “Taxpayers have every right to be angry about this. Well done to the current auditing team for uncovering this, but what on earth was happening before? Why was there no accountability?

“It beggars belief that our police, who are supposed to be solving crime, are suspected of fraud on a grand scale.”

RTFA. Chuckle over the details – except it really ain’t funny. These clowns are charged with upholding law and order at the highest level.

I know my honest friends in law enforcement will forgive me for saying this – they know exactly what I mean – The American model triumphs, once again.