Sinkhole swallows car, driver climbs out and up a ladder to safety


Click to enlarge

A sinkhole swallowed a car as it was traveling down a street in Toledo, Ohio, and the 60-year-old driver climbed out of the hole using a ladder supplied by rescue workers…

A water main break or heavy rains may have caused the sinkhole to open up under the street on Wednesday as the woman was driving down it, fire department Lieutenant Tom Kuhman said.

“She saw the car in front of her kind of almost go in but her car, being already in motion, was unable to avoid it,” he said…

The woman was unhurt and climbed out of the hole using a ladder, helped by a firefighter.

The biggest city here in New Mexico is Albuquerque. Part of how it grew was the railroad going west along the Mexican border. A big part has been the military and our government’s devotion to weapons of mass destruction. Between air force bases and national labs like Sandia and Los Alamos, taxpayer dollars dedicated to death and destruction put three squares a day on a lot of New Mexico tables. Very little of that goes to infrastructure for civilians.

Albuquerque has as many as three water main failures a week like this. You can time construction matching the growth of the city to wars. World War 2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War. When the water system was laid down and apparently targeting a 50-year-replacement cycle. Long past – and never done.

Yeah, another tale of infrastructure self-destructing around us and under us.

Is Google paying AdBlock Plus to greenlight their ads

According to reports from German news site Horizont, Google and other companies are paying the makers of AdBlock Plus to add their content to the app’s list of ‘acceptable ads’.

AdBlock Plus, the single most popular browser extension for both Firefox and Chrome, is a free application that users install to remove advertising from their web experience. Despite this, the company has always been open about its ‘whitelisting’ of certain content.

The makers define advertisements they consider acceptable as those which are static (ie, without animation or sounds), that do not obscure page content, are clearly marked as advertising and that are preferably text-only…

However, if AdBlock didn’t work with companies in some way then brands would almost certainly take action against them. So it seems that having at least some standards – ie, AdBlock’s criteria of what makes an ‘acceptable advertisement’ – is preferable to having no standards at all.

Sounds like “Do no harm” is one of those standards that been sufficiently watered down to have become no standard at all. Adblock is free. I might be interested in an app that actually blocked all adverts. It is what I do with TV ads, after all, with the 30-second skip feature on my DVR.

A long, long history of lies by U.S. spy agencies


James Clapper preparing to lie to Congress

America’s chief intelligence officers have a longstanding history of untruthiness — testifying falsely and fearlessly…

The latest episode involves the testimony of the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in March on the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping on Americans. The question to Clapper from the Senate Intelligence Committee was straightforward: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper simply answered: “No.”

Now, almost four months later, he concedes: “My response was clearly erroneous.” He corrected the record only after the metadata program was revealed by the meta-leaker Edward Snowden.

Clapper joins a grand tradition. Allen Dulles, the Cold War commander of the Central Intelligence Agency, was a champion at untruthiness…

Dulles went to a formal White House briefing for President Dwight Eisenhower on the CIA’s 1954 coup in Guatemala, in which the agency overthrew a freely elected president and installed a pliant pro-U.S. colonel named Carlos Castillo Armas. “How many men did Castillo Armas lose?” Ike asked. Only one, said the CIA’s briefer. “Incredible,” said the president.

At least 43 of Castillo Armas’s men had been killed. Dulles didn’t correct the record…

Richard Helms, director of central intelligence from 1966 to 1973, paid his own price. President Richard Nixon nominated him as ambassador to Iran. During the confirmation hearings on his appointment, Helms was asked, under oath, about the overthrow of President Salvador Allende of Chile. Did the CIA have anything to do with that? No, sir, Helms had answered. He eventually stood before a federal judge on a charge of a misdemeanor count of failing to tell Congress the whole truth.

William Casey, director of central intelligence from 1981 to 1987, was “guilty of contempt of Congress from the day he was sworn in,” said his deputy, Robert Gates, who later served as the agency’s director and as secretary of defense.

The deceit spread downward from the director’s office; it led to the tragicomedy in which the White House and the CIA sold weapons to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and skimmed the profit to finance counterrevolutionaries in Central America.

George Tenet, director of central intelligence from 1997 to 2004, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Sept. 17, 2002: “Iraq provided al-Qaeda with various kinds of training — combat, bomb-making, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear.” He based that statement on the confessions of a fringe player in the global jihad who had been beaten, stuffed in a 2-foot-square box for 17 hours and threatened with prolonged torture.

The prisoner had recanted after the threat of torture receded. Tenet didn’t correct the record.

Not that our tradition of “transparency” in government varies much from the model standard used by our spies. The winning class action suit I participated in against the FBI in the 1970’s also included the regional phone company, elected officials of the city I lived in – and the local police department. They all lied. They all were found guilty.

Not until that brief period of courage when Congress – well, at least the committee headed by Frank Church – spoke out against intelligence agency corruption were changes even considered by the elected portion of Washington, DC. Now, don’t be surprised. Things are back to “normal”.