World-class conman captured crossing from Canada to U.S.

They will be watching Juan Carlos Guzmán-Betancourt very closely at his jail in Vermont.

The last time the silver-tongued Colombian conman with a taste for the high life was locked up he walked out of a British prison after persuading the authorities to let him go to the dentist on his own.

But after illegally crossing the border from Canada, the man who British police have likened to the legendary US conman Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can, now faces the prospect of up to eight countries and the US state of Nevada asking for his extradition…

The Colombian has at least 10 identities and has been pursued in Canada, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela. He’s been convicted of larceny in Virginia and New York and credit card fraud in Florida, and deported from the US three times.

RTFA. I can never resist reading about a good con.

Excluding Congress of course.

Giant candy retailer to open flagship store in world’s largest mall


A Dubai-based company is opening what it says will be the world’s largest confectionary store in Dubai as it looks to tap demand from the Gulf Arab region’s hunger for candy.

Candylicious, which initially opens in one of the world’s largest shopping centers, The Dubai Mall, is also planning a second store in Singapore early next year, Sunaina Gill, director of Retail Is Detail, a Singaporean family business in Dubai…

“We are planning 10-15 stores in the Gulf Arab region over the next 3-5 years, with additional stores to open in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the next 12 months,” said Gill…

Dubai is an ideal place for the store, said Gill, adding there was a gap and sufficient demand in the market for a confectionary store of this type, especially with 30 million visitors a year expected to visit the Dubai Mall…

In addition to its sweets, the 10,000 square foot store features a huge 10-meter singing chocolate tree decorated with lollipops.

Uh, OK. If we can’t defeat the Oil Patch Boys in Congress, maybe we can get them to do themselves in with sweets?

DIY paint-on Faraday Cage for your home

Researchers say they have created a special kind of paint which can block out wireless signals.

It means security-conscious wireless users could block their neighbours from being able to access their home network – without having to set up encryption.

Of course, this should read, “in addition to encryption” to keep the Feds from beaming directly into your network.

The paint contains an aluminium-iron oxide which resonates at the same frequency as wi-fi – or other radio waves – meaning the airborne data is absorbed and blocked.

By coating an entire room, signals can’t get in and, crucially, can’t get out.

Developed at the University of Tokyo, the paint could cost as little as £10 per kilogram.

No doubt you can conjure up additional features and benefits.

No doubt.

ICE crackdown with firings = hiring legal residents and citizens

A clothing maker with a vast garment factory in downtown Los Angeles is firing about 1,800 immigrant employees in the coming days — more than a quarter of its work force — after a federal investigation turned up irregularities in the identity documents the workers presented when they were hired.

The firings at the company, American Apparel, have become a showcase for the Obama administration’s effort to reduce illegal immigration by forcing employers to dismiss unauthorized workers rather than by using workplace raids. The firings, however, have divided opinion in California over the effects of the new approach, especially at a time of high joblessness in the state and with a major, well-regarded employer as a target.

The, uh, “tactic” is called enforcing existing law.

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Trying to live at least 120 years – becomes respectable


Who would have thought it? The quest for eternal life, or at least prolonged youthfulness, has now migrated from the outer fringes of alternative medicine to the halls of Harvard Medical School.

At a conference on aging held here last week, the medical school’s dean, Jeffrey Flier, was to be seen greeting participants who ranged from members of the 120 club (they intend to live at least that long) to devotees of very low calorie diets.

The heavyweight at the conference was Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. The company is developing drugs that mimic resveratrol, a chemical found in some red wines. Resveratrol has been found to activate proteins called sirtuins, from which the company derives its name. Activation of sirtuins is thought to help the body ride out famines.

Mice and rats put on a diet with 30 percent fewer calories can live up to 40 percent longer. They seem to do so by avoiding the usual degenerative diseases of aging and so gain not just longer life but more time in good health.

Sirtris’s researchers think that drugs that activate sirtuins mimic this process, strengthening the body’s resistance to the diseases of aging. The company has developed thousands of small chemical compounds that are far more potent than resveratrol and so can be given in smaller doses.

In mice, sirtuin activators are effective against lung and colon cancer, melanoma, lymphoma, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease, said David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School researcher and co-founder of Sirtris. The drugs reduce inflammation, and if they have the same effects in people, could help combat many diseases that have an inflammatory component, like irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma.

Any sirtuin activator that averted all these diseases in people would be a rather remarkable drug. So there is considerable interest in how well Sirtris’s drug trials are going.

I have to agree with Nicholas Wade…it is a pleasant thought that, just possibly, a single drug might combat every degenerative disease of Western civilization.

Har! Check out their website. They’ve already been gobbled up by GSK. $720 million. Now, that’s a positive sign.

Giant engineering companies to build global Green projects

A green power building spree is on the way, and much of it will be brought to you by the same people who built the nuclear and coal-fired power plants that keep the lights on now.

What might strike casual observers or radical greens as odd can be explained by good business sense; with few other power plants in the works, big U.S. engineering and construction companies have heartily embraced renewable energy projects…

Moving from solar panel installations on the roofs of the eco-minded to utility-scale projects that will power the homes of thousands requires far more planning expertise and capital, which will play into the hands of the big engineers.

“If you don’t have nine figures of cash on the books, people are more scared off,” said Heiko Ihle, an analyst at Gabelli & Co. “Especially these big projects, where there’s only a handful who can do it in an efficient manner, and you don’t have to worry about them running away with your money…”

Steven Chan, chief strategy officer of Suntech Power Holding Co Ltd, said his company was working with a few as-yet undisclosed engineering contractors, and saw the big players entering the solar business as only a positive trend.

“They can bring to bear a lot of other powerful things that are within their arsenal,” Chan told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit this month, citing their employee numbers, and their purchasing power in driving down costs.

RTFA. You can skip past the sneers of editors who’ve never built anything larger than an origami birdhouse.

Rising sea level won’t be stopped

A rise of at least two meters in the world’s sea levels is now almost unstoppable, experts told a climate conference at Oxford University.

“The crux of the sea level issue is that it starts very slowly but once it gets going it is practically unstoppable,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, a scientist at Germany’s Potsdam Institute and a widely recognized sea level expert. “There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions.”

Rahmstorf said the best outcome was that after temperatures stabilized, sea levels would only rise at a steady rate “for centuries to come,” and not accelerate…

His best guess was a one meter rise this century, assuming three degrees warming, and up to five meters over the next 300 years…

Speakers in Oxford used history to back up their arguments on rising seas. Three million years ago the planet was 2-3 degrees warmer and the sea 25-35 meters higher, and 122,000 years ago 2 degrees warmer and 10 meters higher, they said.

“What we now see in Greenland, Antarctica could be a temporary phenomena but it could also be the start of what we saw 122,000 years ago,” said Vellinga…

About 40 million people worldwide live in flood plains, said Southampton University’s Robert Nicholls. That is 0.6 percent of the global population and 5 percent of global wealth, because of valuable assets such as airports and power plants.

The airports and power plants are assets more important to American politicians than, say, healthy or educated citizens.

Texas medical examiners the “last bastion of junk science!”

Texas autopsy?

Texas medical examiners are under fire for mistakes that have allowed convicted criminals go free and sent the innocent to prison, critics said.

“The state does not keep track of MEs in any shape, form or fashion,” Bexar County Chief Medical Examiner Randall Frost told the Fort Worth Star Telegram, adding the state doesn’t know how many certified forensic pathologists work in government offices.

A medical examiner only needs a state medical license to perform an autopsy and does not have to be trained in forensics or pass a specialty. Frost said people are shocked when they find out there are not special qualifications.

“The work of the medical examiner’s office is just so slipshod,” said Tommy Turner, a former special prosecutor. Turner’s investigation put a Lubbock medical examiner behind bars for falsifying autopsies.

Critics call the medical examiner’s office “the last bastion of junk science.” They cite lack of performance standards, poor documentation and too few qualified personnel as well as lax oversight.

On the other hand Texas prosecutors find nothing wrong because District Attorneys aren’t complaining of losses in court because of medical reports. WTF?

That describes the ignorant leading the incompetent – if nothing else.

Arizona gets ready for guns in bars

Starting Wednesday, those carrying concealed weapons are allowed to enter Arizona’s roughly 5,300 establishments licensed to sell alcohol, as long as they don’t drink. If those bar and restaurant owners don’t want guns on the property, they must post a sign indicating that they are not allowed.

The law only requires one sign be posted in a “conspicuous” place, near the establishment’s liquor license. But Al McCarthy, owner of Duke’s Sports Bar & Grill in Scottsdale, put up three signs – one for each entrance to his property – “as soon as the bill passed” nearly three months ago.

“I want to make sure there’s no confusion as to where this business stands on the issue,” McCarthy said. “I have yet to have a customer to tell me they wish I hadn’t put up the sign.”

About a thousand official, laminated signs have been requested since they became available in mid-August, according to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, with the average establishment requesting four signs. Business owners also have been able to download and print their own signs from the department’s Web site…

There were 138,348 concealed-weapons permit holders in Arizona as of Sept. 1.

Opponents are concerned that the law could create unnecessarily dangerous situations or harm the local and state tourism industry…

I think the NRA crowd may have shot themselves in the foot on this one. Dimbulbs looking to celebrate this “victory” may behave for a few days – until they resume the egregious conviction they qualify as judge and jury.

This article is from the Arizona Republic – not exactly with a national reputation for progressive politics – yet 60% of the readership voted that it was a bad idea and bad things would happen.