From the daily archives: Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Showcase And Other Thoughts

HERE WE ARE BACK FROM ANOTHER EXCITING WEEKEND.
If you haven’t experienced the thrill of a major allergy attack, then you don’t know the meaning of sick. Who-eee!
If all started with the Business Showcase at the Imperial Valley Fairgrounds. That breezy afternoon air turned cold and I was too busy to notice it.
A few hours of standing in a draft with dust blowing all over you, though, did me in.
Head stuffed sinuses plugged. Lungs infected. You name it,  I had it. So I got two days of laying around my apartment taking antibiotics, antihistamine and anti-anything that would make me feel better.
But it took about three days for me to get my system back to a manageable level. Dust, wind and me don’t mix very well, especially in this dry climate of the southwest.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the desert southwest with its wild west culture and mixture of populations. The food alone is worth the agony.
But, perhaps we should post warning signs at the edge of the Valley saying, “Enter At Your Own Risk of Sinus Infection. “
It’s great for Kleenex sale as well as other facial tissues. I must have gone through about 600 or so of those little white pieces of soft paper that make your nose feel temporarily better. So there is an economic benefit to the wind. But, doggone it, it sure does slow a fellow down. Next time we’ll lay in an extra supply.
WE ATTENDED A PRESS CONFERENCE IN CALEXICO on the aid to Haiti and using the Red Cross to deliver it. What they need is cash. They have plenty of supplies, but money will go the farthest  to get what is needed to help these devastated people.
The gap between have and have nots is growing wider in the world once again. All these fancy committees that meet occasionally to discuss financing for the world, need to take a closer look at the poor places. These are where revolutions begin.
When ignorance, want and hunger come together you are left with an unstoppable desire to get out. If someone can bring together economic justice, then some of that anger and tension will be released. The world needs to pay attention to this now and every year. Not  just when a major natural disaster occurs.
On that gloomy note, we  turn our attention to this year’s Business Showcase.
I love taking in this event because I get to see a lot of people I don’t get to see during year. People I may have lost contact with. And people who want to know more about our newspapers.
We were flattered several times by people who came up to us and “Keep up the good work. Keep your independence. We need to hang on to our independent newspaper. All I can say is Amen, brothers and sisters.
Despite what the networks would have you believe or some teenager with horned rimmed glasses, newspapers aren’t going away. Some of them just need to find some new ways to do business. That’s what free enterprise is all about. Having the right to choose how you operate your business. Socialism begins with some giant corporations telling everyone how to live and how to do their jobs. Then it spreads to governments and on up the line.
We’ll do our best to keep the flame alive for all you folks out there who like having an independent press. That’s something you will never get from NBC News. I think we said that someplace else before.
Meanwhile the Business Showcase was full of people wanting a bright future. but the crowds were considerably smaller than in the past and the amount of giveaways was also on the small side. Both signs of slow times. Well, it was still a good place to promote your business. And we’ll be back again next year. We  hope the economy will have improved by then.

 

CBP in San Diego Seizes $2.2 Million in Narcotics, Catches 13 Fugitives, Undeclared Money

(Tuesday, January 19, 2010)

contacts for this news release

San Diego — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry along the California/ Mexico border seized almost 2,900 pounds of narcotics valued at $2.2 million, captured 13 fugitives, and stopped the illegal entry of 417 persons over the busy holiday weekend.

From 6 a.m. on Friday through 6 a.m. on Tuesday, CBP officers at the six land ports of entry intercepted 16 smuggling attempts involving marijuana and methamphetamine. The drugs were hidden in various areas of the vehicles such as in the gas tank, in the bumpers and the spare tire.

click for hi-res
Bundles of marijuana are discovered in the back of a motor home.
Bundles of marijuana are discovered in the back of a motor home.

The largest seizure occurred at the San Ysidro border station on Sunday at about 1:30 p.m. after a detector dog alerted to a the back wall of a motor-home pulled by a Ford F-350 pickup as it and the two female occupants waited in line to be inspected. The women and conveyance were escorted into the secondary area for a more intensive examination.

Officers subsequently discovered 78 wrapped packages of marijuana in the rear wall of the motor home weighing 1,764 pounds, valued at more than $1 million.

Both the driver, a 34-year-old U.S. citizen from Big Bear, Calif., and her passenger, a 46-year-old U.S. citizen from West Covina, Calif., were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center. CBP seized the narcotics and conveyance.

Also on Sunday, at approximately 8:40 a.m. while conducting a primary vehicle inspection at the Calexico downtown port, a detector dog alert to a 1998 Ford Windstar driven by a 44-year-old male who was accompanied by his 36-ear-old spouse and 10-ear-old son, all of whom are Mexican citizens.

Further inspection on the vehicle resulted in the discovery of 118 “brick-like” packages concealed in the dashboard, seats, quarter-panels, spare tire and roof. The packages tested positive for marijuana weighing just over 234 pounds with an estimated value of more than $140,000. The driver was arrested and turned over to ICE agents.

On Monday morning, at about 7:40 a.m. while conducting southbound inspections at the Calexico downtown port of entry, an officer received a negative declaration for weapons and money in excess of $10,000 from a male 34-year-old Mexican citizen driving a 1999 Ford F-150. At the same time a canine unit alerted to a black jacket inside the vehicle.

Further vehicle inspection and a routine pat-down revealed $31,477 in undeclared cash that was concealed in the suspect’s jacket, jean pockets, socks and gym bag in the vehicle. The suspect was arrested and turned over to ICE agents.

CBP officers captured 13 individuals wanted on outstanding felony warrants for such crimes as larceny, fraud, and parole violations during the four days.

Officers also stopped 417 illegal aliens from who attempted to illegally enter the country hidden within vehicles or by presenting fraudulent documents or valid documents not legally issued to them.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

 

Stirling Energy Systems and its developer partner Tessera Solar are planning a kick-off event on Jan. 22 to inaugurate the first project to use Stirling Energy System’s “SunCatcher” solar dish.

Stirling Energy and Tessera have built Maricopa Solar, a 1.5MW solar project in Peoria, Ariz. (Maricopa County) that will use 60 SunCatchers to sell clean power to local Arizona utility Salt River Project. The ribbon-cutting event is supposed to feature Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Department of Energy Solar Program Manager John Lushetsky.

This is just the first small project from the Stirling Energy crew, and the company says that later this year it will start construction of its two much larger solar plants in California — a potentially 900MW plant in Imperial County, Calif. for San Diego Gas & Electric, and a 850MW solar plant in San Bernardino County, Calif. for Southern California Edison.

Founded in 1996, Phoenix, Ariz.-based Stirling Energy has developed a 25 KW electric solar dish that focuses the sun rays directly onto a stirling engine. Stirling engines, which were invented centuries ago, can be more efficient and quieter than internal combustion engines and use a closed system of gases to generate power. Most solar thermal technologies, by contrast, concentrate the sun’s rays onto liquid, which powers a turbine.

Stirling isn’t the only company turning to stirling engines for solar power. One example is Infinia, which is backed by a gaggle of A-list Silicon Valley-ers, including Bill Gross’ Idealab and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital. Infinia’s technology is similar to Stirling’s and uses mirrored concentrator dishes to track the sun and reflect its rays into a highly efficient Stirling heat engine. Stirling Energy has raised $100 million from Dublin, Ireland’s NTR, which in the process took a 52-percent stake in the company, according to the Cleantech Group.

 

Mystery/Secret Shopper Schemes

The IC3 has been alerted to an increase in employment schemes pertaining to mystery/secret
shopper positions. Many retail and service corporations hire evaluators to perform
secret or random checks on themselves or their competitors, and fraudsters are capitalizing
on this employment opportunity.

Victims have reported to the IC3 they were contacted via e-mail and U.S. mail to
apply to be a mystery shopper. Applicants are asked to send a resume and are purportedly
subject to an extensive background check before being accepted as a mystery shopper.
The employees are sent a check with instructions to shop at a specified retailer
for a specific length of time and spend a specific amount on merchandise from the
store. The employees receive instructions to take note of the store’s environment,
color, payment procedures, gift items, and shopping/carrier bags and report back
to the employer. The second evaluation is the ease and accuracy of wiring money
from the retail location. The money to be wired is also included in the check sent
to the employee. The remaining balance is the employee’s payment for the completion
of the assignment. After merchandise is purchased and money is wired, the employees
are advised by the bank the check cashed was counterfeit, and they are responsible
for the money lost in addition to bank fees incurred.

In other versions of the scheme, applicants are requested to provide bank account
information to have money directly deposited into their accounts. The fraudster
then has acquired access to these victims’ accounts and can withdraw money, which
makes the applicant a victim of identity theft.

Tips
Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of employment schemes
associated with mystery/secret shopping:

*  Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
*  Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
*  Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files
may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Virus scan all attachments,
if possible.
*  Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
*  Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and
determine if they match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
*  There are legitimate mystery/secret shopper programs available. Research the legitimacy
on companies hiring mystery shoppers. Legitimate companies will not charge an application
fee and will accept applications on-line.
*  No legitimate mystery/secret shopper program will send payment in advance and ask
the employee to send a portion of it back.

Individuals who believe they have information pertaining to mystery/secret shopper
schemes are encouraged to file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

 

WorldWater & Solar Technologies Solar Water Purification Systems Are First to Provide Clean Water in Haiti

Mobile MaxPure® Supplying Red Cross Tankers with Potable Water for Delivery Throughout Port-au-Prince

WorldWater & Solar Technologies, Inc. creates separate non-profit entity “WorldWater for Haiti” to assist disaster response and recovery

PRINCETON, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–WorldWater & Solar Technologies, Inc. [WWST] has learned that its solar Mobile MaxPure® water pumping and purification system was the first and for many hours after the earthquake the only purification equipment operating, supplying clean drinking water to thousands in Port-au-Prince. There was no electricity and essentially no diesel fuel for other systems.

After pulling the Mobile MaxPure® unit out from the rubble of a collapsed building, the French Red Cross and the company’s distributor moved it to the International Red Cross (IFRC) base, where it began immediately pumping and purifying 30,000 gallons per day for distribution across Port-au-Prince by tankers of the American, French, German, Spanish, Belgian and other Red Cross services. It is estimated by the WorldWater distributor, Patrick Brun, that more than 100 nationalities of aid workers have continued using the Mobile MaxPure® for water supply.

In addition to clean water, the Mobile Max is also supplying 3.3 kW of electric power and has the capability for operating a satellite communications system.

To aid the relief and recovery efforts in Haiti, WorldWater has initiated a campaign “WorldWater for Haiti” and has created a separate non-profit entity where donations may be made starting tonight to help send more solar powered purification systems to Haiti. Please visit www.worldwatersolar.com/disasterrelief/ or contact Melissa Burns (mburns@worldwatersolar.com) to learn more.

WorldWater’s Mobile MaxPure® systems are also operating in Darfur and for civilians in Iraq and soon Afghanistan under the auspices of the US military.

About WorldWater & Solar Technologies, Inc.:

WorldWater & Solar Technologies is a private company specializing in proprietary solar-driven water pumping and purification systems, mainly through its Mobile MaxPure® technology and product lines, which can produce an average of 30,000 gallons of potable water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from freshwater sources, using solar power backed by an embedded battery bank. Reverse osmosis (RO) desalination and purification systems are also available. For more information about WorldWater & Solar Technologies, Inc. visit the website at www.worldwatersolar.com.

 
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