Text messages = digital lipstick on the collar

Senator John Ensign – caught by a txt msg lft on clfon

There is a question that has crossed the mind recently of anyone who has sent a cellphone text message while cheating on a spouse: What was I thinking?

Text messages are the new lipstick on the collar, the mislaid credit card bill. Instantaneous and seemingly casual, they can be confirmation of a clandestine affair, a record of the not-so-discreet who sometimes forget that everything digital leaves a footprint.

This became painfully obvious a week ago when a woman who claims to have had an affair with Tiger Woods told a celebrity publication that he had sent her flirty text messages, some of which were published. It follows on the heels of politicians who ran afoul of text I.Q., including a former Detroit mayor who went to prison after his steamy text messages to an aide were revealed, and Senator John Ensign of Nevada, whose affair with a former employee was confirmed by an incriminating text message.

Unlike earlier eras when a dalliance might be suspected but not confirmed, nowadays text messages provide proof. Divorce lawyers say they have seen an increase in cases in the past year where a wronged spouse has offered text messages to show that a partner has strayed. The American Bar Association began offering seminars this fall for marital attorneys on how to use electronic evidence — text messages, browsing history and social networks — in proving a case.

“How does someone make up an excuse when what is happening is right there, written in black and white?” asked Mitchell Karpf, a Miami divorce lawyer who is also chairman of the bar association’s family law section. “By the time someone shows up with a handful of texts, there is no going back.”

Of course, I’m certain there’s no one among the experienced and hip readers of this blog who would ever make a mistake like this, eh?

Woman charged with witchcraft – in Toronto

Police have dusted off an old chapter of the Canadian Criminal Code and charged a woman with posing as a witch, allegedly to defraud a Toronto lawyer of more than $100,000.

Vishwantee Persaud, 36, is accused of conning veteran criminal lawyer Noel Daley by saying she was the embodiment of his deceased sister, whose spirit would guide him to financial success.

“She told (Daley) that she had a history in her family of them being sort of good witches, or having occult powers, and that she could do a tarot card reading for him,” said Det. Const. Corey Jones.

It was an attempt to gain Daley’s trust, police allege, and the spell worked. Over the next few months, police say, the lawyer coughed up money for a variety of reasons – including alleged bogus law tuition and rent for a premier office space in the heart of the financial district.

Persaud also faces two fraud charges…

If Persaud is found guilty, there won’t be any burning at the stake. The witchcraft charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

Do you have a personal psychic?

Cripes. What a stupid question? We already know there are beaucoup people on the North American continent gullible enough, superstitious enough to believe this crap.

Usually they limit serious practice to only one day a week. And open up their bank accounts to crooks who are tax-exempt.

1st underwater robotic crossing of the Atlantic – Wow!

The first-ever 7,300-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing by an unmanned underwater glider is opening up a new world of ocean technology. A ceremony on Dec. 9 in Baiona, Spain, celebrates the partnership effort among the U.S. interagency Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) through Rutgers University, NOAA, Puertos Del Estado (Spanish Port Authority), the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and other European partners…

The glider, launched off the coast of New Jersey last April, repeatedly dove to depths of up to 200 meters to collect data including temperature, salinity and density. Scientists correlate these data with those from satellite imagery and altimetry, radar systems and seafloor and buoy-mounted sensors to get a more detailed view of a particular patch of ocean in near real time. The glider’s constant motion offers a more comprehensive view of ocean conditions in time and space than the static measurements usually taken from the deck of a ship.

“This data will help us understand what is happening in the ocean, including where and how quickly changes are occurring,” said Zdenka Willis, director of NOAA’s IOOS program. “Collecting this vital data at sea is usually difficult and expensive, but gliders and their evolving and expanding capabilities are now allowing us to explore the ocean in a safer and more economic way…”

Nicknamed the Scarlet Knight, the 7 foot-long, 135-pound glider traversed the ocean over 221 days

Baiona is where Christopher Columbus first announced to Europe the existence of the New World in 1493.


Ireland’s anti-abortion law challenged in Court of Human Rights

The Irish Republic’s strict abortion law is being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The legal action has been brought by three Irish women who say the effective ban on abortion in Ireland violates the European Convention on Human Rights. All three have travelled to Britain to have abortions.

The Irish government has engaged two leading lawyers to argue its case that the country has a sovereign right to protect the life of the unborn…

The Irish constitution was amended in 1983 to include the “Pro-Life Amendment”, which asserted that the unborn child had an explicit right to life from conception…

Almost 140,000 Irish women have travelled to Britain over the past 30 years to have abortions, our correspondent adds.

The struggle for individual freedoms, for the right to choose how you order your own life, will not go away. Whether dealing with draconian law in Eire, Shari’a or Torah courts in the Middle East, the inevitable conflict lies between those who choose to rule on behalf of theology versus individual, collective and social rights grounded in liberty and freedom of choice.

Statue of young Obama unveiled in Indonesia

Indonesians have paid tribute to Barack Obama on the eve of his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. A statue of the U.S. President, who lived in Jakarta, has been unveiled in a park in the Indonesian capital.

The almost life-size statue depicts a 10-year-old Obama, wearing school-boy shorts with his outstretched hand holding up a butterfly…

“We imagined Barry, and we thought the story would be inspirational to all Indonesian children that when you dream big, they can come true,” said Ron Mullers, chairman of the nonprofit group Friends of Obama.

Next month, the citizens of Montana unveil a statue of Dick Cheney as a 10-year-old schoolboy – pulling the wings off a fly.

History repeats itself: AT&T complaining about its “unlimited” plan customers using the service too much

“What we are seeing in the U.S. today in terms of smartphone penetration, 3G data, nobody else is seeing in the rest of the planet,” Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive for mobility and consumer markets at AT&T, told analysts at a conference in New York. “The amount of growth and data that we are seeing in wireless data is unprecedented.”

AT&T is the exclusive United States carrier for the iPhone, whose owners are big users of network capacity as they surf the Web and download videos.

The company has been criticized by owners of the phone for delayed text and voice messages, sluggish download speeds and other network problems….

And it shouldn’t be a surprise to any long-term AT&T customers that AT&T would blame this on the customer.

[De la Vega] emphasized that the company would first focus on educating consumers about their data consumption in the hope that doing so would encourage them to cut back, even though they are paying for unlimited data use. [emphasis mine – ed.]

The company might consider a “pricing scheme that addresses the usage,” Mr. de la Vega said….

Still, [Mr. Chetan Sharma, an independent wireless analyst] said pricing plans based on use were only part of the answer to AT&T’s network congestion.

“They still have to improve things on the back end so they can deal with the issues of multiple users on the network at the same time,” he said.

Mr. de la Vega acknowledged the company’s difficulties in meeting the demands of its customers.

This may sound very familiar to those who, in the late ’90s, were on the “unlimited” dial-up plan. Then also, AT&T lacked the infrastructure to support the commitments it had made to customers.

Back then, AT&T’s best move was to staff a help newsgroups which could keep customers abreast of improvements, literally on a day-by-day basis. Gradually, things got better. The newsgroup folks earned their pay.

Today’s AT&T lacks even the limited vision it still possessed back then to deal with customer dissatisfaction. Don’t expect much support from them.

Afghan Army pay raised – recruits flock to join – surprised?

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The American commander in charge of training the Afghan security forces said Wednesday that there had been a recent wave of recruits for the Afghan Army, most likely because of a pay increase that he said put salaries close to those of Taliban fighters.

The commander, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said that an Afghan soldier in a high-combat area like Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan would now make a starting salary of $240 a month, up from $180. General Caldwell said that the Taliban often paid insurgents $250 to $300 a month.

The Afghan Army pay increase was announced 10 days ago, General Caldwell said. In the first seven days of December, more than 2,600 Afghans signed up — a striking change, he said, from September, when there were 831 Afghan recruits for the entire month, or November, when there were 4,303 recruits…

General Caldwell expressed cautious optimism over the new recruiting.

This is after all, what the surge in Iraq was about. Instead of shipping billions of dollars over by the palletload to be shoveled around as bribes by Bush flunkies like Paul Bremmer – pay the wages of ordinary citizens and train them to be on your own side.

The Taliban has been doing this all along – with a much smaller budget than Uncle Sugar.

Wahhabi version of “The View” in Saudi Arabia

Until recently you would never have seen women presenting television programmes dressed from head to toe in the niqab or burqa. But on the Saudi religious channel Awtan TV it has now become the norm.

Female broadcasters at the station are draped in the all-enveloping dresses, which are usually black and also cover their faces.

The work environment too is very different. Male technical assistants do not enter the studio while the women are presenting.

Awtan TV decided to take a unique approach. The station was launched in 2008, and last month it set a precedent by allowing women to present, but only on the condition that they wear the niqab

Wahhabism, the strain of Sunni Islam that is officially practised in Saudi Arabia, is considered one of the religion’s most conservative forms.

The Muslim women I’ve known have moved beyond this aspect of living in the past.