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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dangerous shopping: PriceRitePhoto.com

A sincere message to PriceRitePhoto manager Steve Phillips in Brooklyn, New York, please be nice to your customers. Being rude, abusive, and threatening does not win you any friends, also baiting and switching customer orders is a bad thing.

Your website says:

Our goal at Price Rite Photo is to make you, our customer, feel comfortable and satisfied with your experience here. Our commitment to sales quality and customer satisfaction is second to none. At Price Rite Photo, we have strong feelings about our customers and to that end our sales and support teams are dedicated to making your experience with us a pleasant and lasting one.

However, professional photographer, Thomas Hawk, had a very different experience when dealing with PriceRitePhoto.com:

"I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again." "I'm an attorney, I will sue you." "I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call." "I'm going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you." "You'd better get this through your thick skull." "You have no idea who you are dealing with."

These are all direct threats that I received today from an individual who identified himself as Steve Phillips, the manager of PriceRitePhoto in Brooklyn, New York when I called to inquire about my order with them. My crime? Telling him that I planned to write an article about my unfortunate experience with his company regarding the camera order I had placed with him yesterday.

How are these people able to stay in business?

How indeed? FYI, PriceRitePhoto address:

PriceRitePhoto
1274 49th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11219
Google Map
update: This address is actually just a mail drop [The Brooklyn Mailing Center]

PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store [ThomasHawk.com, Nov. 29, 2005]
PriceRitePhoto.com
PriceRitePhoto rip-off artists exposed [boingboing.net]
Abusive New York Camera Store Threatens Blogger [digg.com]

update
: The users of digg.com (diggers) have been calling PriceRitePhoto.com and posting recordings of their conversations with the firm on the internet. The influence of digg.com on business practices might get noticed by a lot of people in this case.

According to the Better Business Bureau of Metro New York PriceRitePhoto.com also does business at other locations in Brooklyn and on the web under these names:
LGD Superstore
Lets Go Digital
A. Heffco Technologies, Inc.
C&A Marketing
Dealz Net
Hype Audio
Ideal Audio/Video
Ideal Photo and Video

The BBB says:
Based on BBB files, this business has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau because it failed to respond to one or more complaints.

update Dec. 2, 2005:

An Apology Letter From Ed Lopez, Owner of PriceRitePhoto [ThomasHawk.com, Dec 1, 2005]
I received a call this morning from Ed Lopez, the owner of PriceRitePhoto. We spoke at length and he told me that the activity that has resulted from my post on my experience with his business has most certainly impacted his business. Mr. Lopez told me that he was calling to apologize and that Mr. Philips was going to be terminated at a company board meeting later on this morning.

PriceRitePhoto: Shut Down [ThomasHawk.com, Dec 1, 2005]
PriceRitePhoto is, at least for now, off the internet. I received another call this afternoon from the Ed Lopez, the alleged owner of PriceRitePhoto. Ed has said that hackers have taken his site down off the internet. I assume he has been subjected to denial of service attacks that may have been inspired in part by my post on my horrible treatment that I received at his camera store.

Consumer-Generated Justice: Blogger Sidelines E-Commerce Site [mediapost.com, Dec. 2, 2005]
Most! Evil! Photography! Store! Ever! [Gothomist, Nov. 30, 2005]

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Cell Phone Bank Robber

Candice Rose Martinez
Chantilly, Virginia, teen-ager Candice Rose Martinez, 19, became notorious recently for allegedly holding up four Wachovia bank branches in Virginia while talking on her cell phone.




CNN reported:

[Martinez] admitted to the four robberies, according to an affidavit filed against her boyfriend, Dave Chatram Williams, who is accused of driving the getaway car during the holdups.

According to the affidavit, Williams, a former Wachovia employee, also has admitted his alleged role, the affidavit said. He was arrested Monday [Nov. 14th].

The robberies took place between October 12 and November 4, police said.

In three of the holdups, cameras captured a woman talking on a cell phone as she presented a box containing a note to tellers. In the fourth robbery, she did not carry a box but displayed a handgun and handed the teller a note, police said.

An affidavit filed in Fairfax County in connection with her arrest detailed one of the notes, which was taped to an empty box. The robber presented the note to a teller on October 22, the affidavit said.

The note said, "You have 40 seconds to put all your money in the box, do not make any sudden moves,"

'Cell phone bandit' suspect put on hold [cnn, Nov. 16, 2005]

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Locking down the accused Lego Thief: William Swanberg

William Swanberg

William Swanberg, 40, of Reno, Nevada, is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of lego building blocks. CNN reported:
Target estimates Swanberg stole up to $200,000 worth of the brick sets pilfered from their stores in Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California. The Legos were resold on the Internet, officials said...

Swanberg is accused of switching the bar codes on Lego boxes, replacing an expensive one with a cheaper label...

A Target security guard stopped Swanberg at a Portland-area store November 17, after he bought 10 boxes of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon set.

In his parked car, detectives found 56 of the Star Wars sets, valued at $99 each, as well as 27 other Lego sets.

Records of the Lego collector's Web site, Bricklink.Com, show that Swanberg has sold nearly $600,000 worth of Legos since 2002

Mr. Swanberg's Bricklink.com profile is currently still online. It shows he has been a member since March 10, 2002 and has obtained the lofty "Orange Brick" ranking with a 6190 feedback profile. He also operates an online store there named "Bartering the Brick." He was still earning praise from his customers this weekend. Are his online customers "on the hook" for receiving stolen merchandise? Agents had to use a 20-foot truck to haul away the evidence - mountains of Lego bricks - from the home of Mr. Swanberg.

The AP reported that authorities had to use a 20-foot truck to cart away evidence from Swan's home.

links:
Police: Man steals $200,000 worth of Lego sets [AP/msnbc, Nov. 25, 2005]
Time to build a police station: Man accused of Lego thefts [usatoday, Nov. 25, 2005]
William Swanberg [Wikipedia]

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Chechen Guerrilla Fighter Website

The Chechen Mujahideen (guerrilla fighters) have an internet website. It's called the Kavkaz-Center (The Caucasus Center). They include an English Section where they discuss world events and guerilla activities in Iraq and Afganistan. Their mission:

Kavkaz-Center (www.kavkazcenter.com) - is Chechen independent international Islamic Internet agency. Our agency was founded in March of 1999 in the city of Jokhar (Grozny). The founder is the National Center for Strategic Research and Political Technologies, which was in turn registered, with the Ministry of Justice of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in October of 1998 (N 1377/A-17).

The Kavkaz-Center Internet Agency is oriented to cover events in the Islamic world, Caucasus and Russia. One of the main tasks of Kavkaz-Center is to cover the events in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (the C.R.I. for short) concerning the Russian military invasion against the C.R.I.

Kavkaz-Center is a private independent agency. It does not reflect viewpoints of any states, governmental structures or the Chechen government. Along with that, the Kavkaz-Center Agency has set the goal to cover the real events in Ichkeria under the conditions of total informational blockade, and bring to the world community the truthful information about the war, war crimes, the facts of genocide of the whole nation by the invading state and the position of the defending side - the Chechen Mujahideen.

A recent story is entitled "Chavez: Bush is a Genocidal Madman." The story uses the word: "Bushzarro." It seems this term has become a catch phrase for enemies and opponents of the Bush Administration:
Although I have a couple problems with Hugo Chavez, I love it when he tells the truth, especially when it is so difficult to get the truth here in Bushzarro world, a criminal nation with a corporate media filtering system allergic to the truth. "The planet'’s most serious danger is the government of the United States.... The people of the United States are being governed by a killer, a genocidal murderer and a madman," Chavez said at a meeting of Venezuelan and Brazilian business executives in Caracas, reports Forbes.

They also have an RSS feed for the site.
via Global Guerrillas

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ingy döt Net

Terry Brian Ingerson is legally changing his name to Ingy döt Net.

As I first pondered changing my name legally a few weeks ago, I thought "hmm, I'll just be Ingy, plain and simple". Unfortunately that's not really possible in this country (the US) and in this age of validated web forms and such. I need a surname, and I've decided that surname will be "döt Net".

Am I the first person ever to change their name to their domain name? Possibly, although I hope I am remembered for much more than that.

The surname "Blogspot döt com" is still available.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Doris Payne the 75-year-old Jewel Thief

Doris Payne: 75-year-old jewel thief Doris Payne: 75-year-old jewel thief
Doris Payne - Jewel thief charmed, then stole for more than 50 years

The Independent reported:

An immaculately dressed woman in her mid-seventies walked into the Neiman Marcus jewellery store in the Californian town of Palo Alto on 7 July.

As usual she tried on numerous rings and chatted to the sales person with an effortless warmth and ease. After deciding not to buy anything she appeared to leave empty handed. In fact, she walked out wearing a $31,500 ring.

It may well prove to have been the final act of one of America's most prolific jewel thieves. Knicknamed the "Grandmother Thief", Doris Marie Payne's traits were well known to the police who were amazed at how easily she could distract shop assistants and simply walk away with her loot.

75-year-old woman remembers jewel thief days [USA Today, Nov. 19, 2005]
Diamonds are a girl's best friend [cnn, Nov. 19, 2005]
Grandmother Thief's 50-year career of distraction comes to abrupt end [independent.co.uk]
via Prof. Hex

update: Elizabeth Easterly is writing a book about Doris Payne. Payne a coal miner's daughter became one of the world's most glamorous and elusive jewel thieves.
Now 75 years old, she is awaiting trial in Las Vegas for walking into Neiman Marcus, charming the clerk, and leaving with a $30,000 diamond ring on her hand. It’s something she’s done hundreds of times, at the world’s finest jewelry stores, over the past 50 years. She has hit Tiffany’s in New York, Bulgari in Rome, Her Royal Majesty’s jeweler, Garrard’s, in London. And she once walked out of Cartier in Monte Carlo with a 10.51 carat diamond ring on her finger. Held under house arrest for nine months, she managed to keep the diamond concealed by sewing it into her girdle.

Shine: The jewel thief next door. [integrationpoint.us]

Abandon New Orleans - It's doomed!

Tim Kusky is a professor in the Earth Sciences Department at St. Louis University. He told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that New Orleans should be abandoned:

“Because New Orleans is going to be 15 to 18 feet below sea level, sitting off the coast of North America surrounded by a 50- to 100-foot-tall levee system to protect the city,” explains Kusky.

He says the city will be completely surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico just 90 years from now.

“That’s the projection, because we are losing land on the Mississippi Delta at a rate of 25 to 30 square miles per year. That’s two acres per hour that are sinking below sea level,” says Kusky.

As the city assesses damage and plans to rebuild, Kusky believes there’s a better plan.

“We should be thinking about a gradual pullout of New Orleans and starting to rebuild people’s homes, businesses and industry in places that can last more than 80 years,” says Kusky. Instead, the law will allow residents to rebuild if their homes lie at the 100-year flood level, much of which was inundated by Katrina’s waters and would be put underwater again should levees fail.

The Johnsville News looked at both the quality of life in New Orleans and the geography and asked on Sept. 5th: Why rebuild the criminal cesspool that is New Orleans?
Do not reclaim or rebuild the cesspool - the parts of the city that are currently below sea level. Go green and turn the low lying areas back into protective swamps and wetlands - naturally barriers to hurricanes. The lowlands are lost.

Mr. Kusky in a Sept. 25th article for boston.com said:
The projected setting of the city in 2100 is in a hole up to 18 feet below sea level directly on the hurricane-prone coast. The city will look like a fish tank battered by coastal waves, surrounded by 50- to 100-foot-high seawalls that are barely able to protect it from hurricanes that are only as strong as Katrina. Such a city is untenable, and we as a nation need to face this reality.

New Orleans Is Sinking [cbsnews.com, Nov. 20, 2005]
Time to move to higher ground [boston.com, Sept. 25, 2005]
New Orleans: Why rebuild a criminal cesspool? [TJN, Sept. 5, 2005]
Ocean Levels Are Rising [TJN, Sept. 28, 2004]

Security Threat: Child Hackers or 'click kiddies'

50connect.co.uk reports:

A growing legion of semi-computer-literate teens short of something to do could be the biggest danger to security on the web...

These 'ankle-biters' or 'script kiddies' as they were previously known in online security parlance now have a new name: 'click kiddies'. Their evolution is thanks to the introduction of web-enabled applications, meaning canned exploits written by elite hacker groups are now more easily accessible to curious young surfers than ever before...

Regardless of their skill level, all script kiddies share a common strategy - they randomly scan the internet and if they find a vulnerable system, they start attacking it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia Trial - Week 8

Waiting..waiting...waiting. There has been no news about the Albanian Mafia trial, aka "The Rudaj Organization," since October 19th. The trial started Sept. 26th and there has been a grand total of four news stories about it by our count.

The last two reports were from the Westchester County based The Journal News:

Operation of Westchester gambling dens detailed at trial
[Journal News, Oct. 14, 2005]
Defense lawyers grill informant in NYC organized-crime trial [Journal News, Oct. 19, 2005]

A key prosecution witness last month was Maurizio "Mo" Sanginiti. He testified for 3 1/2 days before defense lawyers began their cross-examination. Sanginite said he ran a gambling house and an illegal sports bookmaking operation in Port Chester, NY, for the Rudaj group. The Journal News reported:

The book in Port Chester took in $250,000 a week in illegal sports bets when Sanginiti ran the operation in 2002, he testified. The Dobbs Ferry man has pleaded guilty to extortion and gambling, among other charges, and is testifying in hopes of receiving a much lighter sentence than the life imprisonment he could face. Sanginiti said Rudaj and "The Corporation" got 20 percent of the profits for providing muscle to the endeavor.

"They would protect us if we were owed money and if someone tried to move in on the territory," he said. If the operation lost any money, Sanginiti paid that out of his own pocket, he said. "The Corporation" was in the business of making money, not covering losses. The money was transported every week to Cafe Roma on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx, which served as headquarters for "The Corporation," he said.

Sanginiti also testified that he ran a gambling house on Adee Street in Port Chester for Rudaj.

Marathon card games at the Adee Street den would take in as much as $15,000, he said.

Cafe Roma would apparently be just down the street from Morris Park Games (840 Morris Park Avenue) in the Bronx. Morris Park Games is Rudaj's game machine business. However, a basic search doesn't show a public address for a "Cafe Roma" on Morris Ave? Does that mean that "Cafe Roma" and the game company are at the same address? Butta bing! It's hard to imagine bags of cash being exchanged in a "public" restuarant.

Update Jan 5, 2005: The New York Times finally decided to report about the Rudaj case. In a story published on Jan. 3rd 2006 a reporter from the NY Times visited the small low profile Cafe Roma on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx:
There is a small cafe on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx where Albanian soap operas play on a large-screen television set. It is the Cafe Roma, and an uneasy quiet hangs in the air.

The cigarette smoke is thick, and stacks of playing cards lie unused on the bar. The bartender, a sallow giant with a mustache, plays chess between serving espressos and sugar-sweetened snacks. The bartender will not talk about it, but the authorities say the Cafe Roma was the headquarters of the Corporation, a violent, up-and-coming gang that had a bold objective: to become New York's sixth crime family, one headed not by Italian-Americans but by Albanian immigrants.
The story goes on to say:
In this country, investigators say, the numbers of such [Albanian] gangs are still unknown but are likely to be concentrated in several states where Albanians have settled in the past few decades, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Only a tiny fraction of Albanian immigrants actually belong to criminal gangs, investigators say, adding that they start by stealing from their own communities. The more sophisticated and daring of the groups go on to more profitable and violent work, often as low-level enforcers for established crime families.
2nd Update:

The TrueHoop blog at ESPN caught some more information from the NY Daily News regarding Maurizio "Mo" Sanginiti and his criminal activities, which even involved an NBA player.
From the witness stand in a Manhattan federal courtroom, Maurizio Sanginiti, 40, has claimed he arranged for a high school friend of [Celtic Player Mark] Blount to take his SAT for him and once had him injected with steroids to bulk up his skinny frame. "He couldn't get the score on his SAT, which I believe had to be an 800 or better, so we decided, me and him, to get somebody else to take the test for him," he told prosecutor Timothy Treanor. Sanginiti is the government's lead witness in a racketeering conspiracy case involving an Albanian-led gang accused of wresting control of Bronx and Queens social clubs from Italian crime families. As a cooperator he's been forced to reveal all other crimes he's committed, including those involving Blount.
He also says Blount was given money by various colleges. Who knows if it's true. The accuser could be seen to have some crediblity problems:
Sanginiti's money troubles had worsened. He was running a sports book operation for the Albanians as well as weekly Texas Hold 'Em games. He said he was in the hole for more than $250,000 in gambling losses. He was arrested last year for kidnapping a man he said took $465,000 in cash from him and his family and invested it in a failed Ponzi scheme.
trial links:
Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia Trial - Week 3 [TJN, Oct. 11, 2005]
Mafia turns scaredy-cat [NY Daily News, Oct. 9, 2005]
Albanian mob trial opens [Journal News, Sept. 28, 2005]

related:
Gangs of New York: Rudaj vs. Gambinos [TJN, Dec. 15, 2004]
Albanian Mafia Boss Denied Bail [TJN, Dec. 10, 2004]
New Mafia Gangs of New York fly below the radar screen [TJN, Nov. 15, 2004]
The Rudaj Organization aka: The Albanian Mafia [TJN, Nov. 1, 2004]

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tag Soup

Here are some of the most popular web sites that are doing tagging right now.

* del.icio.us - a social bookmarking system
* Flickr - a photo publishing / sharing site
* Technorati Tags - a feature added to this popular blog search engine
* MetaFilter Tags - a feature added to the original group blog.
* BlinkList - personal and social bookmarking
* 43 Things - a social networking site that is built on tags

This Rollyo.com (as in Roll Your Own Search Engine) search bar that TJN rolled includes one called "Tag Soup" - it checks all of the above sites for a particular tag or term(s).


related:
Tags [Wikipedia]
Tags & Folksonomies - What are they, and why should you care? [threadwatch.org, Jan. 11, 2005]
Folksonomies - Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata
Rollyo.com
tagscheme [blog]

Fake Fireman Rape Case: Peter Braunstein Prime Suspect

Peter Braunstein

Peter Braunstein, age 41, was a journalist, aspiring playwright, and a former writer at the Village Voice and Women's Wear Daily. He is now the prime suspect in a sadistic 13-hour Halloween sex attack on a 34 year-old women in a Chelsea apartment. Reports say he outlined the sexual assault nearly a year ago on his home computer. If you have some time to kill you can follow the links below and see how this bizarre story has unfolded.

You can start here:

The Braunstein Case - Specialized Rollyo Search of: NYDailyNews.com, NYPost.com, villagevoice.com, wcbstv.com, amw.com, gawker.com, jossip.com, crimelibrary.com, planethuff.com. Note: some of Braunstein's own writings from theVillage Voice will be included.

Crime blogger, Steve Huff, started writing about this case soon after the Halloween attack. He chronicles the many internet clues Braunstein has left as the story twists and turns:
The Hunt for Peter Braunstein

www.andyandedie.com [Peter Brausnstein's blog at archive.org]

Now every cop, journalist and gossip blogger in New York City along with America's Most Wanted is hot on Braunstein's trail:
people began to call police to tell them the sketch resembled 41 year-old Peter Braunstein. But when police went to find Braunstein to talk to him about what happened, he was nowhere to be found and the coincidences don't stop there.

It turns out, Braunstein was already on probation for stalking his ex-girlfriend. And that ex-girlfriend is an editor who works with the victim in this latest attack. What's more, Braunstein is a writer and journalist himself. He covered popular culture for The Village Voice and for "Women's Wear Daily".

In 2004, Braunstein wrote an off-broadway play titled, "Andy and Edie," about the tormented relationship between famed pop artist Andy Warhol and doomed socialite Edie Sedgwick. Police have not charged Braunstein in connection with this crime, but say they want to hear what he has to say about that Halloween night.

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that Braunstein got his fireman gear on eBay:
The prime suspect in the sadistic Halloween sex attack bought firefighter bunker gear on eBay shortly before the Chelsea assault, law enforcement sources revealed yesterday.

Investigators tracked down the online purchases in recent days - drawing the first substantial link between journalist Peter Braunstein and the Chelsea attack, in which a phony fireman assaulted a woman for nearly 13 hours, sources said.

"He went online and used his eBay account to buy bunker gear. It's a concrete connection between him and what was used in the crime," a law enforcement source said.

Update Nov. 15, 2005:
The Braunstein story has brought out the worst in one popular NYC gossip blog according to the New York Times' David Carr:
In a way, Mr. Braunstein represents the very sweet spot of Gawker: he is a media writer, he worked at a division of Condé Nast, his publication covered the fashion world and he was convicted of stalking someone else from the same company. The fact that Mr. Braunstein is likely reading over the shoulder of the blogs adds a significant tingle-factor. A habitué of both the Web and Manhattan media circles, he planted items in Page Six, the gossip column of the New York Post, and he once created a blog to vilify his ex-girlfriend (the same woman he pleaded guilty to stalking earlier this year). In another way, the story is the wrong one for the permanently jaded sensibility of sites like Gawker. Last Wednesday, for example, Gawker ran a poll about Mr. Braunstein's whereabouts.

"It's been nine days since former Women's Wear Daily and Village Voice writer Peter Braunstein allegedly raped a 34-year-old woman in her Chelsea home, and he's still at large. Where is Peter Braunstein? Having lunch with Col Allan and Martin Dunn? Working at the Condé Nast Cafeteria? Waiting outside Gawker HQ?"

A COUPLE of things are off here. Maybe it's minor, but Mr. Braunstein is not being sought for allegedly raping his victim. Secondly, this may be just the mainstream media guy in me, but it seems remarkably puerile to make jokes about his location when Fairchild Publication, a division of Condé Nast that publishes Women's Wear Daily, has posted guards in the company's office because he is suspected of drawing a target on people working there. In order to stick out from the clutter online - and Gawker does it extremely well, having had six million visitors in October - Web sites need to not just push the envelope, but rip it to shreds.

This has been a fast moving story so it's unclear if Mr. Carr's point about Braunstein's status regarding the rape investigation is still valid.

When Bloggers Joke About the Unfunny [NY Times, Nov. 14, 2005]
Peter Braunstein swiping his way to freedom [Jossip.com, Nov. 15, 2005]

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

NSA and the CryptoKids

The National Securtiy Agency (NSA) is stealing a page from Disney:

Hi Kids! Welcome to the NSA/CSS Kids’ page.

We’re the CryptoKids and we love cryptology.

What’s cryptology? Cryptology is making and breaking codes. It’s so cool. We make codes so we can send secret messages to our friends. And we try to figure out what other people are writing about by breaking their codes. It’s a lot of fun.

On this site, you can learn all about codes and ciphers, play lots of games and activities, and get to know each of us - Crypto Cat™, Decipher Dog™, Rosetta Stone, Slate, Joules, T.Top, and, of course, our leader CSS Sam.

You can also learn about the National Security Agency/Central Security Service - they’re America’s real codemakers and codebreakers. Our Nation’s leaders and warfighters count on the technology and information they get from NSA/CSS to get their jobs done. Without NSA/CSS, they wouldn’t be able to talk to one another without the bad guys listening and they wouldn’t be able to figure out what the bad guys were planning.

We hope you have lots of fun learning about cryptology and NSA/CSS. You might be part of the next generation of America’s codemakers and codebreakers.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Pirates open fire on cruise ship off Somalia coast

Pirates attacked a cruise ship carrying 150 passengers, mostly Americans with some Australians and Europeans 100 miles off the coast of Somalia. The Washington Post reported:

Pirates armed with grenade launchers and machine guns tried to hijack a luxury cruise liner off the east African coast Saturday, but the ship outran them, officials said.

Two boats full of pirates approached the Seabourn Spirit about 100 miles off the Somali coast and opened fire while the heavily armed bandits tried to get onboard, said Bruce Good, spokesman for the Miami-based Seabourn Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp.

The ship escaped by shifting to high speed and changing course.

"These are very well-organized pirates," said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Program. "Somalia's coastline is the most dangerous place in the region in terms of maritime security."

The attackers never got close enough to board the Spirit, but one member of the 161-person crew was injured by shrapnel, cruise line president Deborah Natansohn said.

Cruise Ship Escapes Pirate Hijack Attempt [Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2005]
Cruise liner outruns armed pirate boats [CNN, Nov. 5, 2005]
Machine guns not machetes for modern-day raiders [scotsman, Nov. 5, 2005]

related:
Terrorism Goes to Sea [TJN, Nov. 22, 2004]
Nigerian Pirates: Most Deadly [TJN, July 27, 2004]
Pirates Stalking the Malacca Strait [TJN, June 28, 2004]
Piracy on the High Seas [TJN, June 11, 2004]

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Italian Mafia's Revenue is 3.4 Percent of Italian GDP

The Chinese People's Daily Online (English version) reported:

The Calabria-based mafia organisation made 36 billion euros (43.6 US dollars) last year, Italian media reported on Sunday.

The report by Italian social research institute Eurispes said the criminal revenue in 2004 equalled 3.4 percent of Italian GDP.

Drug trafficking was the organisation's most profitable business, generating 22.3 billion euros (26.7 billion dollars), Eurispes said.

Skimming off money from public works contracts and general business corruption were the next most lucrative activities, netting the group more than 4.7 billion euros (5.7 billion dollars) .

Prostitution and arms trafficking made the 'Ndrangheta an estimated 4.6 billion (5.6 billion dollars) while extortion and loan-sharking brought in 4.1 billion (4.9 billion dollars), the report said.

It stressed that the 'Ndrangheta's grip on the southern region was having a devastating social impact.

The Calabria is a region in southern Italy which occupies the "toe" of the Italian peninsula south of Naples. The Calabrian organized criminals are referred to as 'Ndrangheta (from the Greek word andragathía for heroism and virtue).

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

zero hedge

Calculated Risk

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia

Gold / Oil

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