Saturday, January 20, 2007

Let's take our time with young car thief

The main thing is not that 9-year-old Semaj Booker got behind the wheel of a stolen Acura and led law enforcement on a high-speed chase.
It's not that he slipped past security at Sea-Tac Airport or duped Southwest Airlines officials to fly away.
The bigger questions here deal with more than this kid's precociousness.
After all, what would prompt someone so young to go to such lengths to flee? And should a 9-year-old be charged with felonies for behavior that, although bad, really harmed no one physically?
Semaj's mother told different media this week that her son hated their Tacoma- area neighborhood. Pierce County officials also are looking into concerns that Semaj's mother claims her son had about a sex offender living nearby.
But officials aren't waiting. Semaj -- all 4-foot-9 and 80 pounds of him -- has been tagged a little menace to society, and prosecutors wasted no time charging the boy with two felonies.
There really wasn't a need to rush.
"We could have decided not to," Fred Wist, the prosecutor who filed the charges told me Friday.
But prosecutors said they felt compelled because the person whose car Semaj is accused of stealing was understandably frustrated and because of public safety concerns raised by the boy's actions.

"Nine-year-olds typically steal gum from a store," Wist said. "We all are lucky he was not injured or killed, or that he did not hurt someone."
I'm with him -- to a point.
I worry that in flexing prosecutorial muscle so fast, a precocious kid, and, yes, a law-breaker, could be sacrificed to a criminal justice system with a spotty record in turning around the lives of troubled teens, not to mention kids who haven't even reached double-digit birthdays.
Semaj has run away more than a handful of times, his mom said. He had a run-in with the law in December when he was found at the wheel of a possible stolen car that had been driven into a ditch.
The kid needs help.
Semaj is facing felony counts for taking a car without permission and eluding police. He also is charged with a misdemeanor for driving without a license.
It could have been worse. Prosecutors tell me they could have issued a bench warrant for his arrest and hauled him back to Tacoma, but didn't in deference to the boy's age and the need to investigate further.
So now what?
Semaj is currently in Texas. Prosecutors are waiting.
If he gets psychological help and if his family receives social services to deal with his issues, he just might turn out OK. He's intelligent enough, after all, and young enough to change.
But without stern guidance, he's coming to a police blotter near you.
If he gets tossed and lost at juvie, hardened toughs could teach a quick learner the ABCs of more serious crimes.
The pint-sized kid is at a big-time crossroads.
State law prohibits prosecutors from charging those under 8 with a crime, and there's a good reason for that. The law recognizes that kids can't appreciate the wrongfulness of their behavior.
But for kids between 8 and 11, a judge can step in. If a child in that age range is found capable of understanding his or her actions, it paves the way for the case to proceed.
In Semaj's case, a judge could determine that he had a clue. Or that he was clueless.
Or Semaj also could get probation with conditions, and his charges could go away if he follows strict rules.
Or his lawyer could plea-bargain the felony charges to misdemeanors.
Any number of outcomes are possible since the case breaks such fresh ground.
Wist said he doesn't think his office has ever charged a 9-year-old.
Like I said, crossroads.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

technorati.. post

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lights and music make Brum car park the best

A car park in a Birmingham shopping centre has been named as the best place to park in Britain.

The car park of the Mailbox complex in Birmingham was praised by for its good lighting, generous space in the bays and the background music played throughout.

The assessment of British car parks was commissioned by the AA and carried out by Kevin Beresford of the Car Park Appreciation Society. Beresford said of the Mailbox car park: 'It's a stylish building, which helps, and it's easy to get into and out of, though it's not that cheap. You get what you pay for.'

Britain's worst car park, according to Beresford's study, was the International Press Centre in London. 'It's expensive and has no real parking spaces, just nooks and crannies,' said Mr Beresford. 'Trying to turn around in there would be almost impossible.'

A book has now been compiled of the findings, called Parking Mad, which follows up Beresford's unexpected previous best-selling book about British roundabouts.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Best Car Hire Operator 2006

It's official, at the Guardian/Observer/GuardianUnlimited awards ceremony in Cape Town (South Africa), our Managing Director was presented with Best Car Hire Operator 2006. This prestigious award, based exclusively on reader surveys from The Guardian, The Observer and GuardianUnlimited is presented annually. This year's ceremony was held at the South African resort of Cape Town on October 7th and was attended by over 100 senior directors and managers of the UK travel industry.

Stephen Doran, CarJet's Managing Director said "We are naturally over the moon at receiving the 2006 award for Best Car Hire Operator. The fact that this wasn't just a panel of faceless people but the thousands of readers of these prestigious newspapers is just the icing on cake!

"..2006 saw our first year with worldwide car hire coverage. We set this company up as a home based business in 1998 and we now service 500,000 bookings every year. We became very well known from offering low-cost car hire. Today we are very much the market leader in our industry with constant improvements to our booking systems and initiatives like no insurance deposits, payment on arrival and free cancellation make us very different from the UK's mainstream car rental sources.

"..We expect to ruffle some feathers with this award, in fact our company was awarded the top rating in our sector, 86.56% customer satisfaction, placing us above established multinationals car operators like Hertz, Avis etc and a full ten percentage points ahead of our nearest UK competitor.

".. The award ceremony cited our customers praise for our 'up-front' pricing policy, with no hidden extras and our user-friendly web booking system.

Save the Cars

What, in the name of Giorgetto Giugiaro, is happening to cars today? Take a good long look at the bonnet of the new Sonata Embera for instance.Looks like Hyundai has resorted to rain water harvesting.That bonnet can store a good two litres of water when the monsoon kicks in! And cars are dropping their jaws all over the place too! Look at the new Mitsubishi Evolution X the new Nissan Skyline GTR and the whole Audi range and you'll see what I mean (Even VW's Passat and Golf are acquiring a beard now).true, they look stunning but if one car marker starts the design theme, why do all other car marker follow? And it's very disappointing to see that that Ferraris are getting uglier by the year. The Bugatti Veyron looks like an oversized bug but still manages to look superb thanks to enormous road presence. I'm glad to see that Ford India has stuck to an honest design theme for the Fiesta and the new Honda City is not as eye-offending as it was.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Car world

We just start car worlds