Mystery prisoner has Utah jail authorities stumped

A mystery man arrested on minor charges more than three weeks ago remains behind bars in Utah while law enforcement officials try to determine his true identity, which he refuses to reveal.

“This is really a strange case,” said Lt. Dennis Harris with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. “He just doesn’t want to be found.”

The unidentified man, who has graying hair, a light beard and is believed to be in his 60’s, was arrested on July 1 for trespassing in a parking garage. He was booked into jail on three misdemeanor charges and has thwarted any chance of release, with or without bail, by refusing to identify himself…

“He either has to be wanted by some other state or he could be on some other registry or database that has not shown up,” he added.

Law enforcement officials say the man is “fairly well spoken and educated,” but very guarded about his identity.

As a result of several short conversations with him, officers believe he may not be from Utah…

Officials say in three weeks of jail the mystery man has shown a pleasant demeanor and has communicated that he is being treated well.

“He said the food has been great,” Harris said.

“I realize that sometimes people want to go to jail because they are homeless, have nothing, they are destitute. I’ve seen that over the years. I just don’t get the impression that’s the reason. He just doesn’t want to be discovered by somebody.”

Now in his fourth week of incarceration, the man added another twist to the story recently by hinting he had business of some kind outside prison that he would need to attend to.

“He said there was a point at some time that he would need to get out of jail,” Harris said. “That’s the closest I can find of what he wants to do. And that makes no sense to me whatsoever.”

Not anyone that I know. How about you?

China bureaucrats disguise illegal roadway as vegetable patch

Motorway being covered with mud to stop government spotting it by satellite

The new road, in a suburb of Xiangyang city, Hubei province, was built illegally earlier this year and was quickly spotted on satellite maps of the area.

Instructions were sent from Beijing to tear up the road and return the land to local farmers, but instead of complying, local officials decided to try to hide the road. They covered its surface with plastic sheets and then spread a thin layer of soil over the top, in which they planted vegetables. The ruse worked for about a month, until angry farmers, whose land had been seized, reported the trick to the government.

“The workers turned up in May, dug up our crops and just laid the road over our land,” said Mao Huancheng, a farmer. “They never gave us any compensation for the land. And then they spread the earth to try to avoid a national inspection and trick the higher-up officials,” he added.

The deputy director of the district said that the road was a vital link to a new industrial park, which was supposed to attract investment to the area. However, it has now been demolished and the local government faces a hefty fine.

Not the first attempt at camouflaged logistics.

Last September, officials in the central province of Shaanxi attempted to make an area blighted by stone quarries look like it had been planted with trees by painting the mountains green. “This is very advanced, we learned how to do it from the internet,” said a spokesman from the local mining office.

Har. Must be watching Clean Coal commercials.

Marriage equality is proving good for New York business

Michael Bloomberg, Christine C. Quinn, Mario Cuomo march in 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Many New Yorkers and thousands of visitors this weekend may make last month’s Gay Pride celebrations seem tepid. Beginning Sunday, New York’s same-sex couples will become eligible for marriage licenses. Tens of thousands of those couples are expected to marry over the next few years, and their vows will resonate across America…

New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and city leaders must be cheering the economic shot in the arm as hotels, restaurants, caterers, florists and legions of vendors welcome the wedding and honeymoon brigades. Some estimate nearly $400 million in revenues for the state over the next three years.

These rewards are also the result of changing tides among American corporations and employers over recent decades. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s same-sex marriage legislation was endorsed not only by major corporations like Xerox and Google but by scores of smaller business owners across the state.

First, many employers already “get it.” Beginning in 1982 with New York’s Village Voice, thousands of employers have added spousal-equivalent work benefits including health coverage for their workers with same-sex partners. Today, nearly 60% of Fortune 500 companies do so…

If employers give equal benefits to same-sex couples, why worry about marital status? Ask employers in New Jersey, where same-sex civil unions are the law instead. Civil unions, domestic partnerships and other makeshift legal arrangements offer some measure of legal protection. But real-world experience shows that they do not measure up in crucial ways.

“Marriage lite” not only creates a social apartheid among families, it opens significant gaps, confusion and conflicts that businesses confront in areas such as survivor benefits, pensions and bankruptcies, along with disparate tax treatment at the state and federal level.

Keeping it simple and consistent are important to businesses…Furthermore, administering payrolls and maintaining accurate, timely benefits and tax withholding procedures can strain any employer. When you add the complexity that accompanies different marital and tax status for many couples, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and workplace to workplace, it is another unacceptable and costly burden on business.

Sooner rather than later, chambers of commerce will recognize that their best interests are served by the simplicity, uniformity and cost savings that come with marriage equality across the nation…

Part of today’s political dichotomies is the decline in principles and standards of traditional organizations of all types. Churches, political parties – local and national, trade organizations and national business representatives like the US Chamber of Commerce have walked away from any pretense of representing a broad base.

Just as fundamentalist churches less and less often engage in dialogue with the broad reach of Christianity, the US Chamber of Commerce long ago turned its back on small business. In truth there are whole segments of American commerce ignored or deliberately affronted by the entrenched leadership of the Chamber. If you ain’t from Big Oil or Pharma or Insurance and Finance – just punch their meal ticket; but, don’t waste anyone’s time with issues outside of extraction taxes or capital gains.

Mexico’s attorney general fires hundreds for corruption

Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales

Less than four months in office, Mexico’s attorney general has overseen the firing of 140 police officers and investigators and has more than 280 others under investigation.

Attorney General Marisela Morales told reporters this week that 424 personnel were in dismissal proceedings, and a report obtained by CNN confirmed that 140 have already been let go. The shake-up at the attorney general’s office, which plays a pivotal role in the country’s fight against the drug cartels, is the most public show of transparency in recent history.

The last time there was a purge at the agency, known by its Spanish initials PGR, was 2008, when 35 agents belonging to the anti-organized crime unit were fired. Some 600 agents were fired between then and March of this year, but those personnel changes were made quietly.

Eighteen officials were fired because they face criminal charges for things such as organized crime, murder, robbery and extortion, the report said. Another seven were let go because they were convicted of crimes such as kidnapping, murder and extortion…

“These are positive steps that they are taking to clean up the police force,” Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told CNN.

The PGR has been notoriously ineffective because of penetration from organized crime, Selee said, and for that reason a question worth asking is if they are firing the right people. Is the agency capable of finding and rooting out the bad apples?

A majority of those already fired belonged to the federal ministerial police — the agency whose officers gather evidence to use in trials. Because of that key role, theirs is a unit ripe for cartels to target with bribes, Selee said…

Nice to see this level of transparency over the firing of officials and bureaucrats. I guess it will help.

I hope it will help. The Mexican people can use all the help they can get.

Oops! There goes a million dollars worth of shiraz wine…

One bottle of Mollydooker Velvet Glove

More than A$1 million of wine has been destroyed in a forklift accident in Australia.

The 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove shiraz sells for A$185 a bottle, the AFP news agency said. Winemaker Sparky Marquis told reporters he was “gut-wrenched” that 462 cases of wine had been smashed while being loaded for export to the United States.

“When they opened up the container they said it was like a murder scene,” he said. “But it smelled phenomenal.”

Mr Marquis told the AAP news agency the shipment represented one-third of his McLaren Vale winery’s annual production. “It’s a massive loss. We’re going through all of the 462 cases at the moment just to see what we can save out of it.”

The wine was, however, fully insured.

Agence France-Presse said Kerry Logistics, which was handling the shipment, moves more than 20,000 containers a year. Spokesman Brett McCarthur said the company had never had a malfunction of that type before.

“It was very hard to make that call to Sparky,” he said.

I have to laugh at myself over this one. I did pretty much the same thing once – though not with as expensive a commodity. I managed to drop double-stacked pallets with almost 400 pairs of full-size truck mirrors on board. Once.

I truly was surprised I wasn’t fired on the spot.

Coast Guard will rescue 15 stranded Pacific islanders

A group of 15 men, women and children stuck for three days on an uninhabited Pacific island formed the “SOS” symbol by linking hands to help signal rescuers, the U.S. Coast Guard said…

The group from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia was believed heading to a festival in Ruo Island when they got stranded about 8 miles from Ruo, though it’s not clear how. Another vessel leaving Ruo saw the group’s 28-foot skiff marooned and overturned, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The area is about 1,000 miles northeast of Papua New Guinea.

The Coast Guard was alerted to the missing vessel on Tuesday. Fishermen and commercial ships in the area helped in the search. The group ranged in age from four to 59 years old, and included six children.

“As far as we know, they are all OK, they had enough food and water” given to them by other boats, Fredrickson said. It’s not yet known if there were more than 15 people on the vessel.

The Coast Guard was planning to pick up the group on Saturday morning.

Good thing it was only a few days. I’ve known some fearless Pacific island folk – but, that’s what can land them in trouble.

Just like my forebears from the Hebrides, you think there’s nowhere you can’t get to in a boat, regardless of size, regardless of weather.

This is Norway’s Oklahoma City not Norway’s World Trade Center

Anders Behring Breivik is a conservative Christian who enjoys classical music and the video game World of Warcraft.

Breivik has been named by several Norwegian media outlets as the suspected shooter at a youth camp in Oslo, where 10 80 people were killed Friday and he may be linked to a bombing near the prime minister’s residence that killed seven others.

On his Facebook page, which appears to only have been started July 17, Breivik mostly posted music videos and said his interests include hunting and bodybuilding…

His profile also says he’s a director at a company called Breivik Geofarm.

He lists himself as single and has five profile photos – four of which are headshots…

A Twitter account is also being linked to Breivik, although there is just one tweet on July 17.

“One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests,” he wrote.

The television station TV 2 in Norway reported Breivik had right-wing extremist tendancies and had two guns registered under his name.

The headline is from some unnamed official who was asked about “international” terrorism.