Daily Blog 04/08/2011

  • Three hours outside Bucharest, Romanian National Road 7 begins a gentle ascent into the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps. Meadowlands give way to crumbling houses with chickens in the garden, laundry on clotheslines. But you know you’ve arrived in the town of Râmnicu Vâlcea when you see the Mercedes-Benz dealership.

    It’s in the middle of a grassy field, shiny sedans behind gleaming glass walls. Right next door is another luxury-car dealership selling a variety of other high-end and executive rides. It’s as if the sheer magic of wealth has shimmered the glass-and-steel buildings into being.

    In fact, expensive cars choke the streets of Râmnicu Vâlcea’s bustling city centre — top-of-the-line BMWs, Audis and Mercedes driven by twenty- and thirtysomething men sporting gold chains and fidgeting at red lights. I ask my cab driver if these men all have high-paying jobs, and he laughs. Then he holds up his hands, palms down, and wiggles his fingers as if typing on a keyboard. “They steal money on the internet,” he says.

    tags: internet crime romania

  • Cars, tractors, boats and the occasional entire house have been spotted floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean in the aftermath of the March 11 Japanese tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

    The largest “island” of debris stretches 60 nautical miles (69 miles) in length and covers an expanse of more than 2.2 million square feet, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is closely monitoring the floating rubbish.

    tags: japan tsunami Pacific

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