XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation use GPS system to keep sex offenders out of state fair -

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation  use GPS system to keep sex offenders out of state fair - 


A fence that's invisible to fairgoers is helping to keep sex offenders out of Cal Expo during the California State Fair.
Using, software that establishes a perimeter and GPS tracking devices that identify specific offenders, a cadre of 20 parole agents from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has monitored parolees at the fair for three years.
One Sacramento offender with a history of sexual offenses against children was arrested in the vicinity of the fairgrounds this year.
Offenders are prohibited from going to places children regularly gather, said Dana Toyama, a spokeswoman for the CDCR.
In addition, the GPS system alerted agents to two other parolees who were not supposed to be in the area, but were not arrested.
They were escorted away from the area, Toyama said.
In addition, agents at the fair have arrested two other parolees and a gang member with an outstanding warrant in Sacramento County, Toyama said.
The GPS system was not involved in those arrests.
This is the third year the CDRC Parole Division is using the GPS system.
The first year its use resulted in five arrests of offenders trying to enter the fair.
"Based on the statistics we have for each year it's definitely shown an improvement," Toyama said.
The system is also used at several county fairs.
According to figures from the CDRC, there are 1,750 GPS-monitored sex offenders in the area stretching from Siskiyou County to Kern County.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/27/3798859/officials-use-gps-system-to-keep.html#ixzz1TMIV6ZK9


Jefferson County, Alabama Prepares for Largest Municipal Bankruptcy in U.S. History -

Jefferson County, Alabama Prepares for Largest Municipal Bankruptcy in U.S. History - 

Alabama's largest county is laying the groundwork for filing what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, over a more than $3 billion debt for its sewer system.

The Jefferson County Commission approved resolutions Tuesday to hire prominent bankruptcy lawyers and to sell bonds later in case money is needed to emerge from bankruptcy.

Jefferson is Alabama's most populous county and seat of Birmingham. It's been trying for three years to avoid filing bankruptcy over debt payments it can no longer afford.

Two of the five commissioners say there's an 80 percent chance the county will file bankruptcy. The vote could come at a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Birmingham.

The commission president, David Carrington, says other possibilities include extending talks with creditors or accepting a settlement offer.



Read more -
http://www.blacklistednews.com/Jefferson_County%2C_Alabama_Prepares_for_Largest_Municipal_Bankruptcy_in_U.S._History_/14909/0/0/0/Y/M.html

This Is What A Collapsing Ponzi Scheme Looks Like - Shocking 10.8 Million Mortgages At Risk Of Default -

This Is What A Collapsing Ponzi Scheme Looks Like - Shocking 10.8 Million Mortgages At Risk Of Default - 


You might want to sit down for this one. As bad as the housing crisis has been over the past three years, it has only been a warm up to what we have headed our way. Laurie Goodman, from Amherst Securities, has been tracking the housing market as well as anyone. She just presented her latest findings at the American Enterprise Institute and it is a horrific forecast, to say the least. As she puts it, “10.81 million homes are at risk of default over the next 6 years. Even if we try to be extremely conservative we can’t get the number below 8.7 million units.”
With defaults already piling up, the shadow inventory of homes has been growing rapidly, and given this new data the number is going to skyrocket. As this chart shows, the total has gone up from 2 million homes in 2009 to 3.35 million as of April, a 67.5% increase already.



Read more -
http://daviddegraw.org/2011/07/this-is-what-a-collasping-ponzi-scheme-looks-like-housing-market-headed-off-a-cliff-as-a-shocking-10-8-million-mortgages-at-risk-of-default/

Why was skeleton in chimney of Louisiana bank? -

Why was skeleton in chimney of Louisiana bank? - 
Why was skeleton in chimney of Louisiana bank?

Skeletal remains found in the chimney of an Abbeville, Louisiana, bank two months ago have been identified as those of a local man who hadn't been seen in 27 years.
The remains are those of Joseph W. Schexnider, who vanished at age 22 in January 1984, Abbeville police said. His disappearance was noted after he failed to show up for a court hearing on a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle, according to a report from CNN affiliate WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge. When Vermilion Parish sheriff's deputies showed up at his home to take him in to custody, Schexnider's mother said he had fled to avoid arrest.
The remains were discovered in May when construction workers were doing renovations on the Bank of Abbeville, WAFB reported. Tests by the Louisiana State University Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Laboratory established the remains were those of Schexnider, who would be 49 years old now. Authorities say he likely died of dehydration and starvation, reported CNN affiliate KATC-TV in Arcadia-Lafayette.
What remains a mystery is why Schexnider was in the chimney.
Abbeville Police Detective Lt. David Hardy told KATC that Schexnider had gloves and a cigarette lighter on him, but no bag or anything to indicate he planned to carry loot from the bank. And Hardy told the TV station there was nothing to indicate that Schexnider was killed and his body dumped in the chimney.
"There's no signs of foul play in this investigation, so as of now it's going to be a closed case," KATC quotes Hardy as saying.
Hardy told The Advertiser newspaper that if Schexnider had planned a burglary, the chimney was not the way into the historic southwestern Louisiana bank.
"There was no wide-open fireplace at the bottom," The Advertiser quoted Hardy as saying. "It wasn't like a wood-burning fireplace  there was no opening, no large space at the bottom. It wasn't a traditional fireplace  maybe more like something that would burn coal."
And the chimney didn't even open to the bank's main floor, but rather office space on the second floor that had been used for storage for many years, Hardy told CNN.
And how could Schexnider have been missing for nearly three decades in the main branch of a bank which sits right on the main square in the town of 25,000 people?
"His family said he had a history of leaving ... and spending a lot of time away from Abbeville. In fact at one time, he joined the circus and traveled around with them until they left the country," Hardy told KATC.
Relatives are planning a funeral when remains are returned from the LSU lab, police told KATC. In the meantime, they were not commenting.
"His mother is upset that she lost a son, of course, but she is at ease that she now knows where her son is," KATC quotes Hardy as saying.
Read more -

Congressional members net worth up 3669 percent - “The Video Congress Does Not Want You To See” -

Congressional members net worth up 3669 percent - “The Video Congress Does Not Want You To See” - 





In the information overload that has become our every day, worrisome world, it is often difficult to see the forest for the trees. 

This video may explain the hubris of constant political distractions keeping us from the truth.  It is the bottom line of the Truth For Our Times:
Many have had the sneaking suspicion that our elected “leaders” in Congress are not going to Washington D.C. to represent us but for their own personal gain. This video may just validate that assessment!
Using the net worth data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics we found a disturbing trend.
The analysis of the information in this video has not been seen by anyone; not on Fox News and not on CNN. You have not read about this in the Wall Street Journal.
Read more - 

A chicken-sized dinosaur fossil found in China may have overturned a long-held theory about the origin of birds -

A chicken-sized dinosaur fossil found in China may have overturned a long-held theory about the origin of birds - 


A chicken-sized dinosaur fossil found in China may have overturned a long-held theory about the origin of birds.
For 150 years, a species called Archaeopteryx has been regarded as the first true bird, representing a major evolutionary step away from dinosaurs.
But the new fossil suggests this creature was just another feathery dinosaur and not the significant link that palaeontologists had believed.
Its discovery and features are reported in the journal Nature.
The authors of the report argue that three other species named in the past decade might now be serious contenders for the title of "the oldest bird".
Archaeopteryx has a hallowed place in science, long hailed as not just the first bird but as one of the clearest examples of evolution in action.
Discovered in Bavaria in 1861 just two years after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, the fossil seemed to blend attributes of both reptiles and birds and was quickly accepted as the "original bird".
But in recent years, doubts have arisen as older fossils with similar bird-like features such as feathers and wishbones and three fingered hands were discovered.
Now, renowned Chinese palaeontologist Professor Xu Xing believes his new discovery has finally knocked Archaeopteryx off its perch.
His team has detailed the discovery of a similar species named Xiaotingia which dates back 155 million years to the Jurassic Period.
By carefully analysing and comparing the bony bumps and grooves of this new chicken-sized fossil, Prof Xu now believe that both Archaeopteryx and Xiaotingia are in fact feathery dinosaurs and not birds at all.
Read more -

Internet time machine "Memento" makes browsing Web archives easy as pie -

Internet time machine "Memento" makes browsing Web archives easy as pie - 


Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have made a fundamental breakthrough in time travel—on the Internet, that is—by building a bridge to the World Wide Web as it existed in the past.
Herbert Van de Sompel and his team of computer and information scientists at the Los Alamos Research Library and Old Dominion University have written a new technical specification that embeds the concept of time within the global explosion of information that we call the Web. The new specification is part of the team's recently proposed information framework, dubbed Memento, which endows the Web with a built-in mechanism for version control of Web pages, databases, and other digital resources. In practice, Memento turns the Web into an online playground for would-be time travelers.
Hitching a time ride with Memento is easy, thanks to a new plug-in that the team has developed. When installed in a Web browser, the Memento plug-in provides a drop-down calendar for selecting a time destination. Want to relive the excitement of the 2004 World Series? Turn the Memento calendar back to October 27, 2004, click on a link to The Boston Globe, and away you go. After transporting you to an archived version of a Web page, Memento maintains the illusion of the past: hyperlinks embedded within the destination page send you to archived Web pages from the same time period.
Before this seemingly simple idea could be implemented, the Memento developers had to teach the Web how to keep track of time. As it turns out, the Web has a bad case of amnesia. When a Web page is updated with new information, the updated version typically inherits the address of its previous incarnation. This is a sensible idea, one that avoids breaking all the existing links to the page from the Web at large. But the cost of this stability is memory loss—older versions are too often left unlinked, abandoned on Web servers to the forces of bit rot and digital obsolescence.
Memento solves this problem by adopting the notion of time as a version indicator and inserting it into the process of content negotiation, the behind-the-scenes digital exchange that takes place between a browser requesting a Web page and the server on which the page resides. This approach allows the version of the page returned to the browser to be matched as closely as possible to the user's time preference. The processes underlying the Memento framework are executed using HTTP primitives, the basic elements of the standard Web protocol. While the scope of other versioning approaches is limited by their use of proprietary syntax, Memento speaks a global language that opens the entire Web to version control.
Time travel with Memento works only when someone has had the foresight to archive a requested Web page. Pockets of memory exist throughout the Web, for example, in the version histories maintained by Wikipedia and the snapshots of the Web kept as cultural records by preservation groups such as the Internet Archive and the Library of Congress. Memento provides a direct path between a current Web page and earlier versions stored in these repositories, thus eliminating the detective work of clicking through a cascade of links to find archived information.
Read more - 

Russia Plans to Sink the International Space Station in 2020 - just like its Russian predecessor, Mir -

Russia Plans to Sink the International Space Station in 2020 - just like its Russian predecessor, Mir - 


The International Space Station (ISS) will be de-orbited and sunk in the Pacific Ocean after 2020 like its Russian predecessor Mir, Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) Deputy Head Vitaly Davydov said on Wednesday.
"We will be forced to sink the ISS. We cannot leave it in orbit as it is a very complicated and a heavy object. There must be no space waste from it," Davydov said in an interview posted on the Roscosmos website.
"We have agreed with our partners that the ISS would function roughly until 2020," he said adding the station's life was initially estimated at 15 years.
The ISS has been functioning for 13 years now after receiving numerous international space expeditions.
Asked whether a new space station will be built, Davydov said "there are several possibilities."
The Mir space station was in operation from 1983 to 1998 before being sunk in the Pacific Ocean in a "spacecraft cemetery" not far from Christmas Island in 2000.
The agreement to construct the ISS was signed January 29, 1998 in Washington by representatives from Canada, members of the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan, Russia and the United States.
Read more - 

Unmanned Army blimp crashes in southwestern Pa. -

Unmanned Army blimp crashes in southwestern Pa. - 


An unmanned reconnaissance blimp launched from Ohio by defense contractor Lockheed Martin has crash landed in the woods of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Keith Little tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the remote-controlled airship took off from Akron, Ohio, shortly before 6 a.m.
Little says the high-altitude ship was being tested as a communications relay for the Army and was supposed to climb to 60,000 feet. The blimp made it 32,000 feet off the ground, but a problem kept it from flying higher.
The ship was put into a controlled descent and came down in Greene County, about 45 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.
Lockheed says they're cooperating with a state police investigation. State police and Lockheed officials did not immediately returned calls from The Associated Press.
Read more - 

Chinese Fighter Jets ‘Repel’ US Spy Aircraft -

Chinese Fighter Jets ‘Repel’ US Spy Aircraft - 


Two Chinese fighter jets crossed an unofficial dividing line in the Taiwan Strait late last month in pursuit of a U.S. spy aircraft, according to defense sources in Taipei and Beijing.


The incident marked the first time in more than a decade that Chinese military aircraft have entered Taiwan’s side of the 180km-wide strait. According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, two Chinese Su-27 fighter jets briefly crossed the so-called “middle line” on June 29.


Confirmation of the close encounter comes as the U.S. and China are trying to cool tensions in the South China Sea and safeguard a recent improvement in bilateral military relations.


Taipei, whose relations with Beijing have also been on the mend, moved to downplay the incident. “This was not between Taiwan and China, but between China and the U.S.,” said a senior Taiwanese defense official. “The Chinese crossed the line to repel a perceived intrusion by a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.”


China and Taiwan have long respected the middle line, which was drawn by the U.S. when it signed a mutual defense treaty with the island in 1954. The line functions as a buffer zone between China and Taiwan’s militaries, which still regard each other as enemies.


Chinese military aircraft have not crossed the middle line since July 1999, at a time of heightened tensions with Taiwan. That summer the People’s Liberation Army Airforce, which had rarely patrolled the area previously, flew hundreds of sorties over the Taiwan Strait.


China has also long objected to reconnaissance patrols of its coastline, especially since a PLA jet fighter collided with a U.S. spy plane in April 2001 near Hainan island. The PLA pilot died and Chinese authorities detained the U.S. crew for 11 days in a tense stand-off.


“This once again shows that U.S. military activity very close to our territory is a destabilizing factor in the region,” said a Chinese defense source. Chinese and U.S. military officials declined to comment.


The Pentagon declined to comment on this specific case but said U.S. reconnaissance flights in the area were “fairly routine” and were conducted in international airspace, as were the Chinese intercepts.


Read more - 
http://www.cnbc.com/id/43890924/

Dow CEO - US Becoming 'Laughingstock' as Debt Talks Drag -

Dow CEO - US Becoming 'Laughingstock' as Debt Talks Drag - 


America is "becoming a bit of a laughingstock" to Europe because of its inability to resolve its debt problem, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris told CNBC Wednesday.
Liveris paraphrased Winston Churchill in describing Europe's view — America finally does the right thing when it runs out of all other possibilities — at a time when the continent has its own debt problems.
He stressed, "We’re a greater country than this," but noted the rancor in Washington "is a massive distraction we didn’t need. Let’s get pragmatic and put it behind us and let’s get to the business of creating jobs" as well as tax reform, getting rid of duplicative regulations and improving the economy.
These important business issues have fallen by the wayside as the partisan divide widens before the Aug. 2 deadline, he said.
Dow Chemical [DOW  35.56    -0.29  (-0.81%)   ] posted a better than expectedquarterly profit Wednesday as higher prices and volumes offset a 30 percent jump in raw material costs.
A lot of that profit came from emerging markets, he said.
"Our travel is an indicator. We spend two weeks to 2.5 weeks a month overseas" meeting with customers and governments, Liveris said. "There are governments out there who work with business to work on growth. We have growth economies around the world," including Germany.

Read more - 

U.S. Customs returned 33 Mexican soldiers on Tuesday who inadvertently crossed over the Rio Grande river into Texas -

U.S. Customs returned 33 Mexican soldiers on Tuesday who inadvertently crossed over the Rio Grande river into Texas - 



U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors returned 33 Mexican soldiers on Tuesday who inadvertently crossed over the Rio Grande river into Texas, authorities said.

The soldiers, packed into four Humvees, crossed over the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge into south Texas at around 2 p.m., said Felix Garza, a spokesman for CBP in Pharr, Texas.

"They crossed the boundary line on the bridge. Once they did that they were forced to continue traveling to our primary inspection area," Garza told Reuters.

"They were processed according to protocols, and they were released and returned to Mexico without incident or charges," he added, declining to say whether the troops were armed.

In a statement late Tuesday, the Mexican military said the troops "unintentionally" crossed over the bridge while they were carrying out reconnaissance on the border.

After clarifying the error with U.S. authorities, they returned to Mexico and continued their "routine activities," it said.



Read more - 
http://news.yahoo.com/u-returns-33-mexican-troops-strayed-texas-030751017.html

Anders Breivik's New Home: Halden Prison, Norway - private en-suite washrooms and flat screen T.V.'s in each cell -

Anders Breivik's New Home: Halden Prison, Norway - private en-suite washrooms and flat screen T.V.'s in each cell -



This is the world's nicest maximum security prison: Halden Prison in Norway. 
It is opened in the spring of 2010. It holds 252 prisoners and has took 10 years of government planning to build. Featuring private en-suite washrooms, flat screen T.V.'s in each cell, climbing wall, library, cafeteria and hobby/recreational areas (Personally, i like those mini-bars ;-).

Yes, it is Anders Behring Breivik's new home...

Pole Dancing Class For 7-Year-Olds Slammed -

Pole Dancing Class For 7-Year-Olds Slammed - 




Family campaigners have blasted a British fitness group for teaching pole dancing to girls aged seven -- and putting pictures of them on the internet.
The photos show youngsters upside down on poles dressed in shorts, crop tops and vests.
Parents must agree before the images, taken at JLN Pole Fitness in Bolton, northern England, are posted on Facebook.
But a spokesman for Christian charity the Mothers' Union told The Sun , "Children are being targeted with an activity that's part of a male club culture which objectifies women."
He added, "We hope parents would consider the negative impact it could have on their child's perception of their own body and sexuality."
Local councilor Nick Peel, who is responsible for children's services in the area, warned, "It's a dangerous world on the internet. People need to be aware of the situation they can be putting children into."
But Jess Leanne Norris, 18, who teaches the youngsters, insisted that "nothing rude is going on."
She said, "What I teach is pole fitness -- nothing else. I've never received any complaints."
Norris also claimed that the photos on the web were not "inappropriate."
Read more - 

Adultery Website Founder Promises a money-back guarantee if its customers do not have an affair -

Adultery Website Founder Promises a money-back guarantee if its customers do not have an affair - 


A controversial adultery website is now providing a money-back guarantee if its customers do not have an affair, the Herald Sun reported Tuesday.
Ashleymadison.com founder Noel Biderman -- in Australia to renew his own wedding vows -- said he would personally reimburse cheats who could not find a fling by following the website's guidelines.
But Toronto-based Biderman said Ashleymadison.com, which claims to have around eight million members worldwide and has been widely criticized by family groups, was not "just an online brothel." Affairs had to be worked on, he said.
"If you want to find the right level of success, we think there is the commitment level you need to make, and if it doesn't work out for you then we'll give you your money back."
The dating site's Australian arm has more than 400,000 members. It claims to protect love rats from leaving a trail of "digital lipstick" by deleting personal communication between users and keeping identities secret.
The website has drawn international condemnation since its launch in 2001, with family groups accusing Biderman of making money from others' grief. In Australia, Family Council of Victoria president Peter Stokes said the website's success was a sad reflection on society.
"The sheer fact that he thinks there's a market out there shows how degraded we've become in terms what we think relationships are," Stokes said.


Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/offbeat/adultery-website-founder-promises-sex-or-money-back-while-renewing-his-wedding-vows-ncxdc-072611#ixzz1TJqysSUA

SHOCK POLL: 46% Think Most in Congress Corrupt... -

SHOCK POLL: 46% Think Most in Congress Corrupt... - 


Voters are more convinced than ever that most congressmen are crooks.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% of Likely U.S. Voters now view most members of Congress as corrupt. That’s up seven points from June and the highest finding yet recorded.  Just 29% think most members are not corrupt, and another 25% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Similarly, a whopping 85% of voters think most members of Congress are more interested in helping their own careers than in helping other people. That’s a record high for surveys stretching back to early November 2006.  Only seven percent (7%) believe most of the legislators are more interested in helping others.
These findings come at a time when voter approval of the job Congress is doing has fallen to a new low.  Just six percent (6%) of voters now rate Congress' performance as good or excellent. Sixty-one percent (61%) think the national legislators are doing a poor job.
Rasmussen Reports has asked these questions monthly since June 2008 and sporadically before that.
Read more - 

Don't give a gun to a monkey -

Don't give a gun to a monkey -

9 of Quartzsite’s Arizona's 14 cops suspended after blowing whistle on Chief; and the Governor Ignores it -

9 of Quartzsite’s Arizona's 14 cops suspended after blowing whistle on Chief; and the Governor Ignores it - 


Governor Jan Brewer continues to ignore the international attention paid to Quartzsite, Arizona over$5 million in corruption charges, while the Chief of Police suspended nine of the city’s 14 police officers with pay, ordering them not to leave their homes between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm.
All of the suspended officers blew the whistle on the chief, calling for an independent investigation into several serious charges, including false arrests and violating federal medical privacy laws.
In response to citizen demands for action, Brewer’s office wrote:
As you may know, the Governor does not have the authority to intervene in local law enforcement matters.  Nor does this office have the authority to investigate misconduct by the police, county jails, federal prisons, and/or judges.
Well, she may not have the “authority,” but she certainly has the power to pressure Chief of Police Jeff Gilbert into a leave of absence while he is being investigated.
The Quartzsite Arizona blogspot posted a copy of the Notice of Investigation served on the officers for possibly violating “Personnel Policy” by reporting crimes allegedly committed by Chief Gilbert.
Hardly a crime worth being suspended over, especially when compared to the charges leveled against Gilbert, who has not been suspended.
Read more - 


Fox to Limit Next-Day Streaming on Hulu to Paying Cable Customers - ABC is considering a similar move -

Fox to Limit Next-Day Streaming on Hulu to Paying Cable Customers - ABC is considering a similar move - 

For a few years, fans have been able to log on to Hulu.com orFox.com to watch what they missed on television the previous night. For most viewers, doing so is about to get a lot more difficult.



Starting Aug. 15, the Fox network will limit next-day streaming of its shows to paying customers of approved cable and satellite distributors. Those customers will be able to log in and watch episodes of “Bones,” “The Simpsons” and other shows the day after they appear on TV; all others will have to wait eight days.
The limitations, announced on Tuesday and bemoaned by fans of Hulu, are a significant change to the online television system. At least one of Hulu’s other network partners, ABC, is contemplating setting a similar limit, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
For Fox, a unit of the News Corporation, the new limitations are driven by a desire to protect lucrative deals with cable and satellite distributors. Increasingly, distributors are paying monthly fees for Fox programs through retransmission agreements, and they dislike the fact that many of the programs are free online.
By putting an eight-day delay in place, Fox is appeasing the distributors and supporting what is known in the TV industry as an authentication model for online streams of shows. Cable channels like ESPN and CNN are implementing a similar model, which requires an individual to authenticate that they are a cable or satellite customer before streaming a show or a channel. Through authentication, traditional distributors hope to keep customers paying for monthly TV service while making it possible to access a wealth of content online.
Fox’s announcement marks the first instance of authentication by a broadcast network. To make authentication work, programmers and distributors have to work together and in some cases sign new contracts; that’s why Fox announced only one distribution partner on Tuesday, Dish Network, which has a subscriber-only Web site for streaming TV,DishOnline.com.
All other cable and satellite customers will be affected by the eight-day delay until Fox lines up other participating distributors. Network executives declined interview requests on Tuesday, but they acknowledged privately that many viewers would be disadvantaged, at least temporarily, by the strategic shift.
Read more - 

Billionaires’ Rise Aids India, and the Favor Is Returned - and raises accusations of crony capitalism -

Billionaires’ Rise Aids India, and the Favor Is Returned - and raises accusations of crony capitalism - 

On a recent wind-whipped morning, a steel-hulled behemoth arrived at a desolate stretch of India’s western coast groaning with enough coal to power a city of one million people for more than two weeks.



The ship, the Vanshi, was carrying coal from Indonesia, a two-week trip across the Indian Ocean. India has its own abundant reserves of coal, which raises a question: Why did India need to go so far to get something it already had?
For Gautam Adani, the power mogul, the answer was simple: the easiest and most profitable way to meet India’s rising demand for electricity is to avoid the obstacles, divisive political confrontations and practical inefficiencies of India. In the spirit of the workaround ethos typical of India’s private sector, Mr. Adani is working around the subcontinent itself.
He owns the Indonesian coal mine, the Korean-made cargo ship (named for his niece Vanshi), the Indian power plant and, most important, the private Mundra port. He owns coal mines and a major port in Australia, and has built his own private railroad spur in India. His business plan is to do as much as possible without relying on the creaky infrastructure of the Indian state.
“He is able to do so well partly because he is very entrepreneurial and has found the right opportunity,” said Eswar Prasad, an economic adviser to India’s finance minister. “But it’s a symptom of a dysfunctional state. He is able to deliver something more effectively than the state.”
Today, India is increasingly turning to the private sector to deliver the electricity needed to maintain rapid economic growth into the future. India’s economy is growing at more than 8 percent annually, but is badly constrained by an inadequate power supply after years in which the government dominated the power sector and failed to keep up with growing demand.
The rise of Mr. Adani attests to a broader shift, as the private sector is playing a greater role in areas once controlled by the state like telecommunications, ports, airports, banks and infrastructure. At a global level, this contrasts sharply with China, where huge state-owned enterprises dominate strategic industries and lead the country’s global expansion. Mr. Adani recently had to outbid the Chinese for his Australian port.
Within India, though, the success of private tycoons has created a paradox: India’s moguls are essential to the country’s success and admired for their ability to get results. Yet their staggering wealth is made possible in part by their coziness with powerful politicians who help arrange environmental clearances, land use rights and other thorny issues. That raises accusations of crony capitalism.
India in the 21st century is now often compared to the United States during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, when robber barons dominated the American economy. The country has 55 billionaires whose aggregate wealth of $250 billion is equivalent to almost a sixth of the nation’s annual economic output.
“No question, there is an oligarchy developing that has an enormous amount of influence,” said Arvind Subramanian, an economic adviser to the Indian government. “That is a matter of great concern. But in India, these are also the guys who are performing. In some cases, they may be gaming the system, but they are also performing despite how bad the system is.”
Read more - 

Grandma jailed for 12 days in heroin mixup - when a jar of motor oil in the back of her van tested positive for heroin -

Grandma jailed for 12 days in heroin mixup - when a jar of motor oil in the back of her van tested positive for heroin - 
Janet Goodin, 66, of Warroad, Minn., was arrested at the border as she tried to enter Manitoba for a bingo game in April.

Janet Goodin had hoped to spend the weekend with her family, starting with a half-hour drive over the border from Minnesota to meet her daughters for a game of bingo in Manitoba.
But when a jar of motor oil stowed in the back of her van tested positive for heroin during a border check, those plans changed.
That weekend in April ended with the 66-year-old grandmother in jail facing charges of heroin possession and trafficking, and enduring what she calls “the most humiliating experience of my whole life.”
Twelve days passed before an RCMP lab test showed the jar to contain nothing more than used motor oil and all charges were dropped.
And now Goodin, a retired office worker, has retained a lawyer and is considering her options as she awaits a Border Services report on the incident.
“I went to bingo and ended up in jail,” she said. “I’m probably the last person in the world who would be smuggling drugs.”
Goodin and her family frequently use the border crossing, which is situated between Warroad, Minnesota, where she lives, and Sprague, a rural Manitoba town two and a half hours south of Winnipeg.
On that particular weekend, she was pulled over for a secondary check because she was bringing some chairs to her daughter Angela. While she was lining up to pay duty on the chairs, border guards presented her with an unlabelled jar found in the back of her van, she said.
“I believe it’s motor oil,” she recalled telling them.
Soon after, she was asked to step into a room and informed that field tests showed the fluid tested positive for heroin.
“I was in complete disbelief,” said Goodin. “I’m not a drug dealer.”
Neither, she said, is her son-in-law, who poured the motor oil into the can after changing her oil two years ago.
Federal officials, including the Canada Border Services Agency, have declined to comment about the case, citing privacy issues. But a source says the suspicions of the border officials were first raised after they found the Mason jar containing the oil in a closed-off compartment in the trunk.
Goodin’s memories of that night on April 20 are blurred with many interrogations, but she vividly recalls being stripped naked and searched, having to remove the incontinence pad she sometimes wears.
“I am a really private person. I was raised on a farm. When I was young I didn’t wear low-cut blouses. To stand there naked in front of other women, and have them inspecting you — it was indescribable how humiliated I was, and still am.”
She was arrested by the RCMP for possession of heroin, and transported late that night to the Steinbach detachment.
“It was surreal. I was angry at first then I started getting really, really scared,” she said.
On the following morning she was transferred to Winnipeg Remand Centre and had more charges added.
“She was charged on three counts, trafficking in heroin, possession for the purpose of trafficking in heroin and importation. There is usually a minimum of two years in jail for the drug couriering,” said Scott Newman, the Winnipeg-based lawyer who was representing her at the time.
The judge granted her bail of $5,000 with a $15,000 surety. Her daughters borrowed the money from family to pay the cash, but couldn’t provide the surety because their houses are on a reserve under federal jurisdiction.
“It’s been a nightmare from the beginning . . . to being ridiculed in our [small] community. It was devastating for our entire family,” said Goodin’s daughter Tina, who lives on Buffalo Point First Nation, near Sprague. “I had to take my daughter out of school because [the other children] were harassing her at school.”
Goodin kept a journal while in prison, and admitted she thought she would be most scared of the inmates. Those fears turned out to be unfounded.
“They were very, very good to me. They treated me like their grandmother, they tried to take care of me, they carried my tray,” she said.
Twelve days later, on May 3 — her granddaughter’s birthday — she was released. The reason, she says she was told, was that the RCMP analysis had come back negative. All charges were dropped.
The federal source said the Canada Border Services Agency will be conducting an internal review to find out what went wrong and understand what caused the initial drug test to come back positive.
“We don’t know what caused the positive, whether maybe the container at some point had come into contact with something or whether it was a false positive,” the source said.
“But it’s used motor oil for sure. It’s not drugs.”
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