Posted by Anthony Gorrity
Hunger can make people do some crazy things. Buckets of KFC are now being smuggled in underground tunnels into regions where “Western fast food franchises” are outlawed.
In the past few years, many food delivery services have opened up. These aren’t restaurants or eateries of any kind; they’re simply the middlemen helping you conquer your hankering. The services usually charge $5-$10 USD or some sort of percentage to pick up whatever it is you want and deliver it to you.
These services aren’t only in America either, and they’re proving that hunger is a powerful thing.
In Gaza, where Western fast food franchises are prohibited by Israeli restrictions, savvy consumers have figured a way to get their hands on some good ol’ Southern fried chicken.
The idea to get the American fast food staple into the hands of hungry Gazans came from al-Yamama, a food delivery service that opened in the Palestinian territory a few years ago, according to The Christian Science Monitor
According to CNN, “When employees last month had a taste for some finger-lickin’ good stuff, they called a friend just over the Gaza border in al-Arish, Egypt, and asked him to order some up. He did so and sent it to Gaza through one of the hundreds of tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border used to get goods into Gaza prohibited by Israeli restrictions, things such as weapons and cars.”
Far from fast food, it took three hours for the purchase, transit, and delivery to be made complete. Soggy fried chicken is better than no fried chicken, I suppose.
Eating KFC “has been a dream,” Rafat Shororo told the Monitor. “And this company has made my dream come true.”
I’d say those are pretty modest dreams, but hey, fried chicken is kind of a big deal, you know.
With full bellies, “We asked ourselves, ‘Why don’t we provide this service for Gazans?’ ” Mohammed al-Madani, the financial manager of al-Yamama, explained to the Monitor.
Khalil Efrangi, the entrepreneur that started al-Yamama, thinks of his smuggling as a very noble act, and boasted to the Times saying, “I accepted this challenge to prove that Gazans can be resilient despite the restrictions,”
I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m gonna say the fact that his company was able to charge 300 percent more than what they originally paid probably had a little something to do with it too, but who am I to judge?
“A bucket of chicken goes for about $30 in Gaza, about three times the price in Egypt, according to the media reports. Besides the chicken, fries, coleslaw and apple pie are available, according to the Times.”
Al-Yamama won’t just go pick up two or three buckets of chicken, though. They typically wait until 30+ orders have been placed in order to make it a little more worth their time and effort.
Despite having to wait several hours for the orders to accumulate, be purchased, smuggled, and delivered, the customers are still happy.
Too bad they’re not pickier, though. These folks are eating KFC like it’s something special; wait ‘til they get a taste of Popeye’s!
When investors and the public hear about industrial production and capacity utilization, they might wonder what its place is when the United Stats has outsourced so much manufacturing and moved into a services and materials economy. This underlying manufacturing base still matters, as the United States remains one of the top exporters in the world. And a disturbing trend may be forming that signals some underlying weakness in the old core economy.
We’ve had another death in the autism community. Another lost child. Another story ended.
This time, however, it could have been avoided. The child did not wander, nor was he a victim of a horrible accident.
Alex Spourdalakis was killed by his own mother and godmother. They murdered him.
I will admit that when I initially heard the story, my heart went out to the family. Alex was on the severe end of the spectrum, and they couldn’t afford additional therapies. They had no respite and couldn’t take the daily ins-and-outs of it all anymore. Living the life of a special needs family (indeed, autism affects the entire family), is not easy, no matter where the child falls on the spectrum. Not everyone is made of the same mettle, not everyone can cope, especially if support runs out.
I was empathetic, I understood how things can break down beyond rationality.
I was wrong.
As I started reading posts on friends’ blogs today, I realized I only knew part of the story. The part Alex’s mother wanted me to believe: that she was at the end of her rope and had no other choice. Everyone has a choice, and she chose to follow the snake oil salesman down the yellow brick road.
Alex’s mother and godmother made a very public plea on his behalf in a YouTube video. Alex is shown naked, strapped to a hospital bed, while none other than the not-so-good “doctor” Andrew Wakefield* begs for help. The “help” they’re seeking is ostensibly from mistreatment by the doctors at Loyola, but really, they want money. Money for Mr. Wakefield to “cure” Alex.
Illinois DFCS allegedly offered all of their support and services, which the family (again, allegedly) declined. Alex’s cause was trumpeted far and wide by Age of Autism, Generation Rescue, and all manners of organizations and individuals interested in “curing” him. Rather than occupational therapy (OT), ABA therapy, or other proven autism interventions, they tout chelation therapy and bleach enemas.
Mr. Wakefield, et al, don’t want to help families with autism. I would argue he doesn’t even want to “cure” them. What he wants, what the Defeat Autism Now (DAN) “doctors” want, what the biomedcommunity wants, what Jenny McCarthy** and a lot of nefarious folks want, is to make money off of autism. To profit from the fear of parents. To walk away rich while families suffer.
Alex Spourdalakis did not need to die. He didn’t even need to live with his mother anymore, if she couldn’t handle the reality of autism. We can only wonder if ABA or OT or who-knows-what interventions may have made his, and by extension her, life better. We only know that the “therapies” they were seeking drained them financially. Add Alex’s comorbid medical issues, and you have a toxic situation.
Alex’s mother and godmother didn’t have to kill him. There is nothing to suggest that murder was their only avenue. Alex’s father discovered him, so he might have been a resource. In desperate circumstances, high needs children can be surrendered to the state for care. It’s an extreme move, yes, but much less extreme than cold-blooded murder.
A murder that was well thought-out. Well planned and wanted. When the sleeping pills failed to kill him, his mother stabbed him repeatedly with a knife. She then slit his wrist to ensure his death.
The pair then proceeded to kill the family cat, and swallow a bunch of sleeping pills themselves. The pills failed again.
I am of the belief that their attempted suicides were not due to grief. I think they didn’t want to pay for their crime. Their horrible, heinous crime. And to that end, I’m pretty certain karma took the wheel.
Andrew Wakefield didn’t kill Alex. Jenny McCarthy didn’t kill Alex. Age of Autism, DAN, and all of the other sketchy entities in the autism universe did not kill him. When you’re dealing with unstable people, though, suggestions matter. Alex’s mother was made to believe that if she could not afford to “cure” her son, she needed to put him out of his misery. That his life was worth nothing. That there would be no happy ending for him.
At the end of the day it was her choice to believe the shysters. Her choice to take away Alex’s future. Her choice to end his life. She was just unstable enough to do it.
Because he was inconvenient. Because he was expensive. Because she didn’t want to live in his reality anymore.
Nobody will ever know what could have been for Alex.
I hope this story serves as both a lesson and a warning.
To parents who think they have no choices left, reach out for help. There is always an answer, even if it means surrendering your child to keep him/her alive.
To those who would profit from autism, you disgust me. You prey on the vulnerable, and your demise can not come soon enough.
To everyone, be aware of the special needs families in your lives. Reach out to them in any way you are able. Even the smallest gesture can make a rough time easier. Learn a little about autism, and autistic individuals.
Alex Spourdalakis did not have to die. But because he did, we will learn to be better.
We have to.
*If you are not aware of Mr. Wakefield, suffice to say he’s the doctor who lost his license to practice after falsely claiming to correlate vaccines and autism, the banner that Jenny McCarthy took up and ran with to absurdity.
**Although the argument could be made that Jenny is in it solely for the attention.
Image Credit: Wendy Baskin
- Euthanasia for children nears approval by Belgian Parliament as desperate mother tries to kill autistic son. (chrisspivey.co.uk)
- Dear Autism, I Quit! (spinningglowsticks.wordpress.com)
- how do we get from here to there (adiaryofamom.wordpress.com)
- Wakefield dodges debate – again (leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk)
- Maryland Music Rocks Autism (oneworldpool.wordpress.com)
- Does ABA Work? (appliedbehavioralstrategies.wordpress.com)
- Mother, Caregiver Charged With Killing Autistic Teen (chicago.cbslocal.com)
- Autistic Teen’s Mother, Caregiver Accused Of Stabbing Boy To Death (dreamindemon.com)
- Mother and Godmother Stabbed to Death 14-year-old Autistic Son After Demanding He Be Removed From Hospital and Be Taken Home (katenews2day.com)
- Autism Resource Centre: Search Activated Banner (ibelieveinadv.com)
Chinese National Gets 12 Years for Pirated Software
By Jef Feeley - Jun 11, 2013 11:01 PM CT
A Chinese national was ordered to serve 12 years in a U.S. prison for selling more than $100 million worth of software pirated from American companies, including Agilent Technologies Inc. (A), from his home in China.
Xiang Li, 36, was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, after pleading guilty to copyright and wire fraud conspiracy charges in connection with software sales from his China-based website, prosecutors said in a release.
Signage is photographed outside the headquarters of Agilent Technologies Inc. in Santa Clara, California. Photographer: Chip Chipman/Bloomberg
Li and his wife, of Chengdu, China, were accused of running a website called “Crack 99” that sold copies of software for which “access-control mechanisms” had been circumvented, the U.S. said in an unsealed 46-count indictment. The pair was charged with distributing more than 500 copyrighted works to more than 300 buyers in the U.S. and overseas from April 2008 to June 2011. The retail value of the products was more than $100 million, the government said.
Li is the first Chinese citizen to be “apprehended and prosecuted in the U.S. for cybercrimes he engaged in entirely from China,” prosecutors said in court filings.
“It was hard for me to accept that Mr. Li deserved” a 12-year sentence for his actions, Mingli Chen, Li’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview.
Li agreed to travel there from his home in southwest China to deliver pirated software and 20 gigabytes of proprietary data from a U.S. software company to undercover agents posing as businessmen, according court filings.
An Agilent product intended to speed the design process for electronic equipment was among the software illegally copied by the couple, according to the indictment. The SystemVue 2009program sells for $45,000.
Xiang Li’s websites listed prices of $20 to $1,200 for products with retail values of several hundred dollars to $3 million, according to the government. He engaged in more than 700 sales of pirated software, prosecutors contended.
Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in to sentence Li to more than 17 years in prison over the illegal software sales. Li will be deported to China once he serves his prison term, the government said in a statement.
The case is U.S. v. Li, 10-cr-112, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
- Chinese seller of pirated software sentenced to 12 years in US prison (pcworld.com)
- Chinese software pirate gets 12 years in US slammer (go.theregister.com)
- US jails Chinese man for selling stolen software (stuff.co.nz)
- US jails Chinese man guilty of $100m software scam (updatednews.ca)
- U.S. Sentences Chinese Man To 12 Years Over $100M Software Scam (hngn.com)
- Crack 99 admin gets 12 years in jail for $100 million of software piracy (geek.com)
- Chinese piracy ring operator sentenced after selling military-related software (arstechnica.com)
- Chinese man gets 12 years in U.S. prison for selling stolen software (nst.com.my)
- Chinese software pirate Xiang Li sentenced to 12 years in federal prison (slashgear.com)
- Use of licensed software can boost Indian economy (zdnet.com)
Farmer picks up an American Indian hitch hiking. The Indian is a man of few words but eventually looks at the brown paper bag in between them and asks, “Mmm, What in bag?” The farmer says, “It’s a bottle of wine that I got for my wife”. Indian thinks for a second and say, “Mmm, good trade”.
The Feds’ ‘Ultimate Solution’ to Curb Distracted Driving
Photo: Ryan Harvey/Flickr
NOVI, Michigan — Distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people each year in the United States, a figure that represents about 10 percent of all traffic fatalities. How many of those people die because they were fiddling with their phones or navigating their navigation systems isn’t clear, but no matter. The feds say they’ve got “the ultimate solution” for curbing the use of mobile devices while we’re mobile.
Nathaniel Beuse, associate administrator for vehicle safety research at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says government regulation coupled with standards set by automakers and the electronics industry could reduce fatalities. He says we need “a technological solution, some sort of innovation” in which the device or the car would recognize when the driver is using a mobile device and deactivate it.
“This would be the ultimate solution,” he says.
Federal regulators want to make it impossible for you to send a text, update Facebook or surf Instagram while driving, a campaign that could have as big an impact on mobile phone manufacturers as automakers. This spring, the NHTSA and its parents at the Department of Transportation laid out — in a 281-page report (.pdf) — several guidelines for accomplishing this.
As we noted at the time, a key objective is limiting the amount of time a driver takes his eyes off the road or hands off the wheel, with a maximum of two seconds for each input and total of 12 seconds to complete a task. NHTSA wants automakers to make it impossible to enter text for messaging and internet browsing while the car is in motion, disable any kind of video functionality and prevent text-based information such as social media content or text messages from being displayed.
Beuse, speaking at the Telematics Detroit 2013 conference, says two paths could be taken to this destination. The first is less than feasible because it would require drivers to physically connect their smartphones or mobile devices to the vehicle’s embedded system, disabling functionality while the car is in motion. You can see the problem with that idea.
“[We would need] 100 percent compliance to get drivers to pair their phones,” Beuse said. If such integration isn’t user-friendly and dead simple, “[drivers] will be right back to using their handhelds.”
That makes the second idea far more viable: a proximity sensor, in the vehicle or the device, that recognizes when the driver is using the device and requires them to pass it off to a passenger. Think of a seatbelt chime, but more annoying.
This isn’t the first time NHTSA and the DOT have required companies to eliminate certain distracting features while driving. The most obvious example has been disabling video playback while the car is in motion. But Beuse admits the NHTSA must “figure out how to monitor compliance.” And this won’t just extend to automakers, but the automotive aftermarket that produces in-dash stereos with increasingly complex functionalities.
NHTSA and the DOT, led by outgoing honcho Ray LaHood, have made distracted driving a signature cause during the past four years. Although distracted driving is indeed a problem — the phenomenon accounted for 3,331 fatalities in 2011, up from 3,092 the year before — it’s hard to know just how many crashes and deaths resulted from the use of mobile devices behind the wheel.
“If you look at crash data, there are a number of crashes that are due to distracted driving,” Beuse says, but “our data is not refined enough to pinpoint [the exact cause of those] crashes.”
What’s going to be more difficult is to get what NHTSA wants: 100 percent compliance from automakers, consumer electronics companies, aftermarket manufacturers and the public.
“We can’t force consumers to pair their device to the vehicle,” Beuse says. “We need a technological solution.”
- The Feds Ultimate Solution to Curb Distracted Driving (textually.org)
- The Feds’ ‘Ultimate Solution’ to Curb Distracted Driving (wired.com)
- Genius Parents Curb Teen’s Distracted Driving With Manual Transmission (jalopnik.com)
- Are NHTSA’s numbers on distracted driving wrong? (oppositelock.jalopnik.com)
- Hard Lessons From Distracted Driving (wccbcharlotte.com)
- The End of Distracted Driving? – Continued (auiinsuranceblog.wordpress.com)
- NHTSA Releases New Distracted Driving Guidelines As Data Presents A Very Different Picture (thetruthaboutcars.com)
- How Federal Distracted-Driving Guidelines Will Shape Your Next Phone (wired.com)
- Distracted Driving in Charlotte Series Pt. 1 (wccbcharlotte.com)
- Truckers have unique view of distracted driving: Opinion (nj.com)