Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Sights

Whetting our appetite for news while fishing for items of interest on a sunny Saturday morning.

Booty: How Somali pirates spend their millions of ransom dollars in neighboring Kenya, buying up real estate and businesses, sometimes benefiting, sometimes hurting, the locals:

Kenya, with its large Somali population and lax authorities — who often are more enthusiastic about taking part in illicit dealings than they are about stamping them out — is a better place to blow through cash.
The sums involved are impossible to pinpoint because little of the money will ever be deposited in savings accounts or recorded by a bank.
[A]t the nearby al Habib shopping center, 28-year-old shopkeeper Hassan Said Abdullah said that more than a dozen local traders had been evicted recently when a Somali businessman bought up their stalls.
"Someone came to the owner of the building with a lot of cash, and suddenly the rent for those stalls went from $300 or $400 to $1,500," Abdullah said. "We'll all be flushed out, those of us with little money. This kind of big money brings problems."
Some pirates are paying top dollar for a piece of Nairobi's booming real-estate action. Osman Guyo, a veteran real-estate agent, recently took a Somali man to see an empty lot in Westlands, an upscale Nairobi suburb that expatriates favor. The seller wanted about $125,000, but was waiting on an assessor's estimate.
No matter, Guyo's client said. He offered $1 million on the spot...

Touch: Wish I could have had an experience like this when I was that age: Trucks Day in Silver Springs Maryland:

[A] group of children from the Spring Knolls Cooperative Learning Center in Silver Spring got a chance to climb all over the vehicles last week in a truck-touch event intended as an educational experience that builds relationships between youngsters and the county officials who drive the vehicles.
... "It's a great learning opportunity for the kids. It's one thing to see the trucks in a book, it's a whole lot different to be able to climb all over them."
Students were given the opportunity to explore the vehicles used by police, the fire department and other county service departments...
Spring Knolls, a cooperative, family-run nursery school for pre-kindergarteners, also arranged for an ice cream truck to supply students with dessert before the fire trucks arrived for the big finale, according to Sherry Russell, a parent volunteer at Spring Knolls.
"He was handing out ice cream faster than he could breathe," she said with a laugh, adding that the chance for kids to meet police and fire officials in a non-emergency setting was important to building positive relationships between students and county officials.
"In real life, it's not so fun when you see these people," she said...
Waves: Spain smells blood in the water as Great Britain's weakened economy and disgraced government put their bastion of Gibraltar at risk: "Royal Navy warships have forced heavily armed Spanish ships to retreat from British waters around Gibraltar."

Relations between the 30,000 residents of the British outpost and mainland Spain have become strained following what the Foreign Office described as 'a violation of British sovereignty'.
The warships were dispatched after Spanish ships sent boarding parties to inspect fishing boats in British waters, despite having no authority to do so.
The latest incident followed a day after Gibraltar's government vowed to block EU moves to give responsibility for the environment around the Rock to Spain.
A spokesman for Gibraltar's opposition GSLP/Liberal party said: 'The latest incident is far more serious than anything that has happened before. It represents a frontal challenge to British sovereignty, jurisdiction and control over Gibraltar's territorial sea.
'As such the UK must not only respond to Spain, but must also extract guarantees from Madrid that it will never happen again.'

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