Friday, March 20, 2009

Judge blocks Bush rule permitting concealed guns in federal parks.

Clearly, this judge is foolishly unafraid of violent squirrels. Americans have the right to protect their acorns! From the Washington Post:

A federal judge yesterday blocked a last-minute rule enacted by President George W. Bush allowing visitors to national parks to carry concealed weapons.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by gun-control advocates and environmental groups. The Justice Department had sought to block the injunction against the controversial rule.

The three groups that brought the suit -- the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees -- argued that the Bush action violated several laws.

In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly agreed that the government's process had been "astoundingly flawed."

She noted that the government justified its decision to forgo an environmental analysis on the grounds that the rule does not "authorize" environmental impacts. Calling this a "tautology," she wrote that officials "abdicated their Congressionally-mandated obligation" to evaluate environmental impacts and "ignored (without sufficient explanation) substantial information in the administrative record concerning environmental impacts" of the rule.

Mom's plea for Down's Sydrome son to lose virginity.

So is this a good mom or a bad mom? Cool of her or uber weird? From the UK Metro:
Most parents don't want to know about their children's sex lives - but one mother is doing all she can to help her Down's Syndrome son lose his virginity.

Lucy Baxter is even considering paying for adopted son Otto to go to a prostitute and has signed the 21-year-old up to dating agencies.

'I would have no problem if he went to a brothel in Amsterdam,' she said.

[...] 'He gets a kiss or two because he does have a way of chatting people up - but it doesn't get anywhere after that,' said the 50-year-old, from Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

'His room is stuffed full of condoms which he buys every time he goes to the pub with his friends and his collection of pornography is staggering.'

iPod repairman stole 9,000 Shuffles from Apple.

From ComputerWorld:
Federal prosecutors filed felony fraud and money-laundering charges earlier this week against a Michigan man accused of duping Apple Inc. into sending him more than 9,000 replacement iPod Shuffles.

According to court documents filed Wednesday, Nicholas Woodhams of Kalamazoo, Mich., squeezed 9,075 iPod Shuffles out of Apple by entering real serial numbers on a company site that provides users with replacement iPods when theirs fail under warranty. He then turned the purloined iPods into cash by selling thousands of them for $49 each.

Woodhams ran an iPod repair business under the names iPod Mechanic, iMechanic and Pod Tradeup, operating Web sites under the first pair of names, the two-count complaint read. As of Friday, those sites were offline.

"Through trial and error, the defendant determined that he could guess valid, warranted serial numbers and enter then into Apple's Web site for 'replacement' units without ever in fact purchasing or processing the 'original' units," the prosecutors said.

"On an almost daily basis during the course of the scheme, the defendant compiled lists of manufactured or 'guessed' Shuffle serial numbers that would be accepted by Apple's Web site and dispatched them to part-time employees by hand or e-mail," they added.

Chronic cannabis use can lead to severe vomiting sickness.

Huh, and all this time I thought it was the Phish music that was making me puke. From EurekAlert:

This obscure clinical manifestation of severe vomiting sickness due to chronic abuse of marijuana, recognized by Dr. Sontineni and his colleagues at the Creighton University of Omaha, NE, was published on March 14, 2009 World Journal of Gastroenterology.

Recent research into the neurobiology of cannabis has led to the identification of different receptor types including two specific types that mediate neuropsychiatric and immunologic effects.

According to Dr. Sontineni, doctors and health care workers currently under recognize the syndrome leading to delayed diagnosis and expensive diagnostic investigations. Increasing consistent use of marijuana among United States populations, particularly young people, over several years will see a steady rise in the number of cases diagnosed each year.

The syndrome was first recognized in Australia around the Adelaide hills. The exact mechanism leading to generation of these symptoms, why it appears only after several years of marijuana abuse and why compulsive hot showering behavior relieves the symptoms is still under scientific investigation.

Rush Round-Up.

Geddy Lee talks about how his parents met in a concentration camp. I don't think he's spoken in this much detail about it before. From Contact Music:
RUSH rocker GEDDY LEE's parents met and fell in love as teenagers in the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp.

The singer/bassist is inspired by the story of how his mother and father survived The Holocaust and escaped from Poland to Canada, where Lee - real name Gary Weinrib - was born.

The 55-year-old reveals, "When the Nazis came into the Polish town where my mother lived, they kept the Jews in a ghetto and then marched them to a labour camp. My father was from a different village, but was at the same work camp. They were 12 or 13, and then they were both sent to Auschwitz. My father would bribe the guards to give her shoes or food, little signs of affection. They fell in love in that horrible environment. Then she was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, and after the war she assumed he hadn’t survived. My dad made a point of finding her."
And he insists the Holocaust has always been a part of his life: "We grew up very aware of The Holocaust. My mother’s 83, and she freaks out if I leave a door unlocked. Holocaust survivors don’t ever really feel secure. They’re always waiting for those soldiers to come back. I was lucky that I had my dad for 12 years, and my mum’s still going strong at 83."
And Geddy quips about the hormonal imbalance at Rush shows in this NewsOK piece about I Love You, Man:
Peter and Sydney rock out to the Canadian art-rock band Rush with impunity — something that gets lost in translation crossing the gender line.

Rudd made an effort to assure Rush’s Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, who appear in a concert scene in "I Love You, Man,” that they weren’t the butt of a joke, just an illustration of man taste.

"So, I was telling Geddy Lee that it was part of the story: We’re going to be dancing around, and she’s (Zooey) going to stand there like she’s not that into it. And Geddy Lee said, ‘Oh, you mean so it will be like every one of our concerts?’”

Philadelphia closing streets so frogs can get it on!

I love this. From

WHEN LOVE IS in the air, the last thing one might be thinking about is the Philadelphia Streets Department.

But the Streets Department is thinking of the amorous toads of Upper Roxborough. It has issued a permit to close Eva Street and part of Port Royal Avenue for that neighborhood's annual toad migration.

Whenever the toads get around to making it, that is.

The migration is a mating ritual during which the toads leave the woods around the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and head for the Roxborough Reservoir to find a toad of the opposite sex.

Rainy weather and a series of warm days are their siren song to burrow out from the loose soil where they have spent the winter in dormancy and kick up their heels.

Volunteer toad-spotters are prowling the roads at twilight to alert the toads' protectors to put up city-approved temporary detour signs.

Woman gives birth in airplane toilet... and abandons baby.

From the Daily Mail:

A woman has given birth to her baby in a toilet on an airplane - and then left the child behind in the rubbish bin when she disembarked.

The Samoan woman gave birth in one of the plane's toilets during the Pacific Blue flight to Auckland early yesterday, New Zealand media reported.

It is believed the infant was found by an airline worker in the toilet rubbish bin more than an hour after the plane landed.

Authorities only discovered something was wrong after the mother approached them saying she had misplaced her passport. They noticed she was pale and blood-stained.

Pacific Blue crew are mystified at how the birth took place unnoticed, the Chief Officer's Network reported.

The flight is only three and a half hours long - meaning that for a passenger to go missing for a long time could reasonably be expected to be noticed.

Both mother and child are now recovering in hospital in New Zealand.

GOP chair denies global warming.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Speaking on a nationally syndicated radio program, Michael Steele, whose official job title is Embattled Chairman of the Republican National Committee, placed himself in opposition to empirically observed reality earlier this month when he denied the existence of global warming.

Mr. Steele who was filling in for conservative pundit Bill Bennett on Mr. Bennett’s drive-time “Morning in America” call-in show on March 6, responded to a caller who mocked the concept of global warming. Here is Steele’s response, as transcribed by the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein:

“Thank you, thank you,” he said. “We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? No[t] very long.”

Steele managed to pack many factual inaccuracies into this statement. The notion that the planet has entered a cooling phase is a common – but highly misleading – trope among climate change deniers, who often cite temperature readings that show that the hottest year on record was 1998, implying that the planet has been steadily cooling since then.

Dark Knight director's brother arrested for fraud, murder.

Whoa, this guy is a psycho freak! If only there was a caped crusader who could stop his madness!

The brother of Christopher Nolan -- director of the blockbuster "The Dark Knight" -- has his own dark tale, law enforcement officials allege.

Matthew Francis Nolan, 40, of the South Shore neighborhood, was under investigation by Chicago Police in a $700,000 bank-fraud scheme when FBI agents here nabbed him last month in connection with a 2005 killing in Central America.

Matthew Nolan is wanted in Costa Rica in the kidnapping and murder of Florida businessman Robert C. Cohen.

More here.

NJ considers ban on Brazilian waxing.

I'm assuming the ban is to preserve New Jersey's love of big hair. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
New Jersey is drawing the line when it comes to bikini waxing.

The state Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling is moving toward a ban on genital waxing after two women reported being injured in their quest for a smooth bikini line.

Both women were hospitalized for infections following so-called "Brazilian" bikini waxes; one of the women has filed a lawsuit, according to Jeff Lamm, a spokesman for New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the cosmetology board.

Technically, genital waxing has never been allowed -- only the face, neck, abdomen, legs and arms are permitted -- but because bare-it-all "Brazilians" weren't specifically banned, state regulators haven't enforced the law.

"The genital area is not part of the abdomen or legs as some might assume," Lamm said.

Officials with the National Cosmetology Association and National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology said they were unaware of another state that has banned genital waxing.

Regular bikini waxes would still be allowed.

Genital waxing can be dangerous in that the hot wax can irritate or tear delicate skin in the bikini area, resulting in infections, ingrown hairs and rashes, according to skin care experts.

Despite such risks, millions of American women -- and some men -- choose to have the hair down there ripped away, and a majority of salons in New Jersey offer the procedure for between $50 to $60.

Pink baby elephant caught on camera.

It usually takes a few beers before I start seeing pink elephants.

Anyway, article here with more pics!

Monty Python prop causes bomb scare.

It's only a flesh wound. From Ananova:
Bomb disposal teams were called in and buildings evacuated after a Monty Python film prop was mistaken for a hand grenade.

Water company engineers spotted the object when they lifted up a fire hydrant cover on a street in Shoreditch, east London.

The road was cordoned off and a nearby pub was evacuated amid fears that the "grenade" could explode, reports the Daily Telegraph.

But after nearly an hour, bomb experts realised it was in fact a copy of the 'Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch' used by Eric Idle to slaughter a killer rabbit in Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

Woman cures leg by shoving maggots in it.

Warning: the full article has a profoundly disgusting/disturbing image. Thanks ABC News.
With a worsening ulcer and the threat of losing a foot, Pam Mitchell was willing to try something drastic; she had live maggots put in her wound.

"I didn't have a choice, I didn't have any options, I had to have [it] amputated," she recalled.

But she heard about maggot therapy from a friend who had seen it on The Learning Channel. While it took some convincing of her doctors, Mitchell said they agreed to try it before amputation.

Her dermatologist, she recalled, said, "Why not, let's try it." The doctors sent off to a lab in California to have specially bred maggots shipped in, although Mitchell believes they probably did it to show her it wouldn't work.

But in Mitchell's case, it did.

1/3 of all US bird species endangered.

From the NY Times:

Habitat destruction, pollution and other problems have left nearly a third of the nation’s 800 bird species endangered, threatened or in serious decline, according to a study issued on Thursday.

Described as the most comprehensive survey of American bird life, the report, "The U.S. State of the Birds," analyzed changes in the bird population over the last 40 years. “This report should be a call to action,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at a news conference in Washington.

Citing surveys by government agencies, conservation organizations and citizen volunteers, the report said that the population of grassland birds had declined by 40 percent and birds in arid lands by 30 percent. It estimated that 39 percent of bird species that depend on American coastal waters were in decline.

Many forest birds are threatened by urban sprawl, logging, wildfires and “a barrage of exotic forest pests and disease,” the study said.

Follow-Up: Arrest in Bronx bow-and-arrow attack.

I should be relieved that we don't have a new Dartman running around, but this is kind of anti-climactic. From NY Daily News:

A plumber was arrested Thursday in the Bronx bow-and-arrow attack after cops noticed he was acting "squirrely" while answering routine questions about the incident.

Eric Collins, 27, of Riverdale, was apparently just playing around when he shot off the 30-inch projectile that went astray and lodged in Denise Delgado-Brown's stomach Sunday, police said.

Collins, who has a pregnant wife, was being held at the 50th Precinct stationhouse, where he was charged with assault and reckless endangerment.

Robots could flex muscles stronger than steel.

What a great idea! Let's make indestructible robots that can tear steel like paper! From New Scientist:

A new material that is weight for weight stronger than steel and stiffer than diamond, and weighs little more than its volume in air, could be the perfect artificial muscle for robots.

"We've made a totally new type of artificial muscle that is able to provide performance characteristics that have not previously been obtained," says Ray Baughman, a materials scientist at the University of Texas, Dallas, and co-developer of the new muscle.

Baughman and colleagues have developed a technique to make ribbons of tangled nanotubes that expand in width by 220% when a voltage is applied and then return to their normal size once it is removed. The process takes only milliseconds.

Google Street catching people coming out of sex shops, vomiting.

By the way, I never pick my nose in public anymore. From the London Paper:
GOOGLE was forced to remove dozens of London images from its new Street View image service today after sparking major concerns over personal privacy and security.

Parts of London have been “blacked out” after scores of complaints from homeowners and people captured by Google’s cameras complained.

Among the images withdrawn are one photo of a man vomiting outside a pub in Shoreditch, and another leaving a Soho sex shop.

A picture of a man being arrested in Camden has also been pulled.

Blacked out areas have been replaced with a message saying: “This image is no longer available.”

However, it is still possible to view the contentious images by changing the position from which it is viewed.

Geddy Lee applauds fan for good cover.

Jacob Moon's acoustic version of 'Subdivisions' by Rush has garnered the singer-songwriter a whole new following thanks to YouTube, including Geddy Lee, the lead singer in Rush.

"The guys have all seen this and think it's terrific," wrote Mr. Lee in an e-mail to Mr. Moon. "Kudos to Jacob and best of luck to him. Great voice!! Best, Geddy."

"I have the blessing of the man himself. I would consider it a failure if the guys didn't dig it," Mr. Moon said.

Mr. Moon will be performing 'Subdivisions', and many other songs, this Saturday night at EastRidge Evangelical Missionary Church in Stouffvillle.

Here's the cover:

US army accidentally confirms Israeli nukes.


The Army has let slip one of the worst-kept secrets in the world -- that Israel has the bomb.

Officially, the United States has a policy of "ambiguity" regarding Israel's nuclear capability. Essentially, it has played a game by which it neither acknowledges nor denies that Israel is a nuclear power.

But a Defense Department study completed last year offers what may be the first time in a unclassified report that Israel is a nuclear power. On page 37 of the U.S. Joint Forces Command report, the Army includes Israel within "a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east."

The single reference is far more than the U.S. usually would state publicly about Israel, even though the world knew Israel to be a nuclear power years before former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu went public with facts on its weapons program in 1986.

Several years later investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published "The Samson Option," detailing Israel's strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened. Israel's nuclear arsenal has been estimated to range from 200 to 400 warheads.

Yet Israel has refused to confirm or deny its nuclear capabilities, and the U.S. has gone along with the charade.

TX principal accused in school cage fights involved fatal shooting, own kidnapping.

This guy sounds like a piece of work. From Dallas News:

Reports that former South Oak Cliff High School principal Donald Moten sent troubled students into a steel utility cage to fight aren't the first blemishes on his résumé.

The DISD hired Moten despite his checkered history at the Dallas Police Department – one that included staging his own kidnapping and the fatal shooting of an elderly crime-watch volunteer.

South Oak Cliff High School was stripped of its 2006 state basketball championship after investigators determined Moten had coerced teachers into changing athletes' grades.

Moten, 56, resigned from the district after an investigation into allegations that student athletes' grades were changed so they could remain academically eligible to play basketball. Moten also had gotten tangled up in the DISD's "P-card" credit card scandal. And he was accused of gambling away funds raised at unauthorized high school pep rallies.

[...] Moten joined the Dallas Police Department in 1986. In 1987, he and a colleague were involved in the fatal shooting of an 81-year-old man who fired a rifle in their direction.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ex-cop nabbed for stalking stranger for over a year.

This is as close to the ideal of "creepiness" you can get without wearing clown makeup. From NY Daily News:

A Queens Criminal Court officer and former cop relentlessly stalked a young stranger for a year, officials charge.

Christopher Ofee approached his victim a half-dozen times in a bizarre ritual - donning wigs to disguise himself and repeatedly asking her the same question about a bus route, authorities said Tuesday.

Ofee, 43, was nabbed about 10:30 a.m. Sunday near an isolated Queens bus stop after the woman called cops when he walked up to her.

She said that after the ex-cop walked up to her, he got back in his car and drove back and forth, staring at her as she waited for the bus at 81st St. near Ditmars Blvd., according to the arrest report. When police arrived, Ofee tried to flee by driving across the street. He then emerged from his car with his pants unzipped, according to the arrest report.

The 30-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld by the Daily News, told cops it was the sixth time Ofee had approached her in the past year to ask about the bus route.

She said she had no other dealings with him.

Police found multiple wigs in his car, which he wore to conceal his identity from his victim, police sources said.

Pope tells Africa not to use condoms.

What a dick. From NewsDaily:
The Vatican on Wednesday defended Pope Benedict's opposition to the use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS as activists, doctors and politicians criticized it as unrealistic, unscientific and dangerous.

Benedict, arriving in Africa, said on Tuesday that condoms "increase the problem" of AIDS. The comment, made to reporters aboard his plane, caused a worldwide firestorm of criticism.

"My reaction is that this represents a major step backwards in terms of global health education, is entirely counter-productive, and is likely to lead to increases in HIV infection in Africa and elsewhere," said Prof Quentin Sattentau, Professor of Immunology at Britain's Oxford University.

"There is a large body of published evidence demonstrating that condom use reduces the risk of acquiring HIV infection, but does not lead to increased sexual activity," he said.

PSA: Keep poisons away from your pets!

Some great info here. Here's just an excerpt:
•Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine. Cocoa and caffeine contain the stimulant theobromine, which can be deadly to pets, especially dogs.
•Avocado - avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
•Grapes and raisins - the toxic substance in grapes and raisins is not known, however, these fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs.
•Raw yeast dough - can cause an animal's stomach or intestines to rupture from gas accumulation.
•Xylitol - an artificial sweetener used in sugarfree gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste. Xylitol causes insulin levels to rise, which can be fatal.
•Onions, garlic, and chives in large quantities can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could possibly lead to red blood cell damage. The small quantities found in pet treats and foods are safe.
•Cooked bones - cooked bones can splinter and puncture an animals stomach or intestines. Raw foods and bones are becoming more popular as we look to more natural diets for our pets. Some of these are safe and beneficial for your pet. However, before feeding any raw food items to your pets, you should consult your veterinarian for breed specific information on giving your pet this type of food.

Americans support environment action despite economic crisis.

This is good to hear! From EurekAlert:

New Haven, Conn.—Even in the midst of a growing economic crisis last fall, over 90 percent of Americans said that the United States should act to reduce global warming, according to a national survey released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities. The results included 34 percent who said the United States should make a large-scale effort, even if it has large economic costs.

Two-thirds of Americans said that the United States should reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases regardless of what other countries do, while only seven percent said the nation should act only if other industrialized and developing countries reduce their emissions as well.

"When you make a mess, you're supposed to clean up after yourself," said Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University. "We think many Americans view climate change in a similar way. The United States should act to reduce it's own emissions regardless of what other countries do."

Americans strongly supported a wide variety of climate-change and energy policies, including funding for research on renewable energy (92 percent), tax rebates for people buying fuel-efficient vehicles or solar panels (85 percent) and regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant (80 percent).


Sad: Black girls 50% more likely to be bulimic than white girls.

Health: Shellfish and inkjet printers hold key to to faster healing.

Awesome: Goodbye needle, hello smoothie! New vaccines may be tasty.

Science: NASA scientists find clues to the secret of life.

Lame: Madoff scandal deeply impacted life science research.

Sad: Old books could cause problems for libraries.

Sad: Girl, 18, hangs herself after boyfriend texts pic of her around school.

Sad: Darth Vader in cancer battle.

Politics: Syrian president praises Obama, wants to help mediate.

Misc: Wisconsin's new slogan faces pushback.

Lame: Bush aide gets 30 months for stealing $600,000 from Cuba democracy program.

D'oh: Does China have better anti-monopoly laws than the US? Takeover bid by Coca-Cola shot down.

Duh: Some schools may be breeding grounds for killers.

D'oh: Lawyer defending dirty cop discovers he's on his client's hit list.

Travel: US warning over Tokyo nightlife after Americans keep getting drugged.

D'oh: Sarah Palin to give huge speech - only she doesn't know about it.

Trends: Easy access to info creating more and more mistrials.

Duh: Bush's first post-prez speech met with protesters, flying shoes.

Duh: Diebold admits its voting machines can delete ballots.

Misc: Queenryche's singer doesn't want your silent lucidity when it comes to thanking troops!

Trends: Whoopie pies making a comeback! (I just like saying "whoopie pie.")

New jellyfish looks like Rainbow Brite.

From National Geographic:

Jellyfish expert Lisa Gershwin caught the unnamed species in early March while swimming near a jetty off the Australian island of Tasmania with a "phototank"—a small aquarium that makes it easy to photograph sea life.

The jellyfish does not emit its own light, as bioluminescent creatures do. Rather, its rainbow glow emanates from light reflecting off the creature's cilia, small hairlike projections that beat simultaneously to move the jellyfish through the water.

Though the glowing jelly is Gershwin's 159th species discovery in Australia, she still finds the discovery "simply splendid."

Geddy Lee talks about Colbert, new comp.

Excellent new interview with Geddy Lee. Some excerpts:

EW: So how did you settle on the 14 songs on the new collection?
GL: We usually send each other a bunch of emails. Management will make suggestions, and we’ll try to ignore as many of their suggestions as possible. [Laughs] For me it’s all about trying to do something interesting for our fans. Our fans probably have all those songs in one form or another, so if we’re going to put something out there we’d like to try to make it a little different. We tried to include some unusual versions of some of those songs. If I had my druthers it would be a boxed set of three discs. But that’s not very practical. I would like to spend some time at some point doing some creative boxed sets. I think that would be fun.

EW: So there’s a lot of unreleased Rush material sitting in the vaults, then?
GL: There isn’t. None. There’s lots of unreleased live material. Hours. Months. But there’s no [studio] material that we’ve recorded and not released. It’s like this: if we’re working on a song where we don’t love it enough to put it on the record, we throw it away. If we’re disappointed in them, we trash them.

EW: What kind of response did you get after Colbert?
GL: Surprisingly, many of our fans were upset about [a gag where the show cut to commercial in the middle of the "Tom Sawyer" performance]. They didn’t take it in the spirit with which it was meant. I think they’ve got to lighten up a little. It’s a comedy show. They just thought it was rude, even though it was all kind of staged to be that way. He wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. He was trying to make people laugh. We were laughing. But there were also a lot of fans who came to gigs afterwards holding up Colbert signs.

Ron Paul nearly seduced by Sacha Baron Cohen.

Spoilers in the extended. The scene sounds hilarious.
Presidential candidates will do almost anything for publicity. But Ron Paul's appearance in Sacha Baron Cohen's upcoming Bruno movie suggests he draws the line at making sex tapes with gay Austrian TV hosts.

In a five-minute scene, comedian Cohen tries—and fails—to seduce the Texas congressman and former Republican presidential candidate in a Washington hotel room. A spokeswoman for Paul confirmed the appearance but declined to discuss details, which were provided by two people who attended a test screening last week.

78-year-old woman foils armed robbery.

From Newsday:
A 78-year-old Huntington woman and her daughter resisted an armed robbery Tuesday in East Northport, police said, resulting in the arrest of a man for that and two other armed robberies.

[...] Susan Jannace, 49, of Elwood, said she was sitting in her car with her mother at the Huntington Square Mall when a man approached about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"We were just talking for a minute, and all of a sudden someone opens my driver's door and this man looks in and says, 'Give me your money' and points a gun at me," said Jannace, a lawyer. "I grabbed the gun, trying to get it out of his hand...."

Too much red meat will make you go blind.

So much for my steak-only "megan" diet. From the Daily Mail:

Eating too much red meat can increase the risk of blindness by half, scientists have warned.

A new study shows those who eat ten or more portions of red meat every week are nearly 50 per cent more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, or AMD - a cause of blindness in half a million Britons.

But the research also shows that eating chicken at least three times a week can cut the risk of blindness by more than half.

World Wide Web inventor victim of online fraud.

From the Telegraph:
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the worldwide web, has revealed how he fell victim to online fraudsters while trying to buy a gift over the internet.

Sir Tim, who dreamt up the web 20 years ago, said he bought a Christmas present from an online shop. It was only when the present didn't arrive that he realised he had been conned.

He is one of an increasing number of victims of online cyber crime. Around one in four internet users in the UK have fallen victim to online phishing scams that attempt to steal people's financial details while one in six have fallen victim to other types of online fraud.

Woman hits hole-in-one with first ever swing.

From Ananova:

A 62-year-old woman hit a hole-in-one in Florida - with her first ever swing on a golf course.

Norwegian Unni Haskell achieved the feat in St Petersburg, where she now lives, reports the St Petersburg Times.

"I didn't know it was that big of a deal,'' she said. "I thought all golfers do this.''

[...] She teed up and took aim on the 100-yard first hole, swung as hard as she could and watched the ball avoid a bunker, bounce onto the green and roll into the hole.

Obama reverses Bush stance on criminalization of homosexuality.

This one's a no-brainer... which is probably why Bush refused to sign. From the Chicago Tribune:
The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then- President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned.

U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the declaration's French sponsors that the administration wants to be added as a supporter. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on.

The move was made after an interagency review of the Bush administration's position on the nonbinding document, which was signed by all 27 European Union members as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries, the officials said.

North Korea refuses US food aid over satellite row.

This is dumb. From BBC:

The US says North Korea has refused to accept any further food aid supplies.

Five aid groups have been told to leave the North by the end of March, the US state department and aid groups said.

The UN World Food Programme estimates that almost nine million people - more than a third of the North Korean population - are in need of food aid.

The aid block comes as the North is planning to launch a satellite, which some fear is a cover for testing long-range missile technology.

To add to the tension, North Korea recently closed its border with the South, leaving 400 South Korean workers in the shared Kaesong industrial zone stranded.

Rape reports rise in US military.

From BBC:

Reports of sexual assault by US military personnel against both fellow troops and civilians rose by some 8% last year to 2,923, the Pentagon says.

The number of incidents reported in Iraq and Afghanistan rose by about a quarter on the previous year to 163.

Pentagon officials say the jump in reports suggests the department's policy of encouraging victims to come forward is bearing results.

But they estimate that no more than 20% of attacks are actually reported.

"Given the fear and stigma associated with the crime, sexual assault remains one of our nation's most under-reported crimes in both the military and civilian community," said Dr Kaye Whitley, the director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault and Prevention Office.

Man replaces lost finger with USB drive.

I believe this is how Skynet started up. From Ananova:

A Finnish computer programmer who lost a finger in a motorcycle accident had it replaced with a USB drive.

Jerry Jalava built a special prosthetic finger which contains computer storage for photos, movies and other useful files.

It looks like a normal finger but he can peel it back from the 'nail' and plug it into the USB slot on his computer, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Bob Dylan's stink is blowing in the wind.

Tangled up in poo.... From Ananova:
Bob Dylan is reportedly making himself unpopular among his Malibu neighbours because of smells from a portable toilet on his property.

Local residents are complaining that sea breezes blow nasty smells from the loo, used by employees of Dylan's, including his security guards.

Cindy Emminger, whose house is directly behind the toilet, says the smell has made her and her eight-year-old son ill because they are both sensitive to chemicals and have allergies.

She and her husband even went as far as installing five industrial sized fans to blow the smell back at Dylan, but it didn't work.

The toilet is currently under investigation by Malibu officials.

Bat falls asleep on space shuttle; has rude awakening.

Poor Batty McBattersons.... From ABC News:
The bat, seen clinging to the external fuel tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery before its launch on Sunday, apparently clung for dear life to the side of the tank as the spaceship lifted off.

And what a ride.

The shuttle accelerates to an orbital velocity of 17,500 milers per hour, which is 25 times faster than the speed of sound, in just over eight minutes. That's zero to 100 mph in 10 seconds.

Did it make it into space? No one knows yet. But photos of Discovery as it cleared the launch tower showed a tiny speck on the side of the tank. When those photos were blown up, it became apparent that the speck was a bat.

Flight director Paul Dye said no one has seen the bat since.

Monday, March 16, 2009

After 10 years of leader's heroic struggle, pizza comes to North Korea.

North Korea is a profoundly weird place. From The Guardian:
For millions of undernourished North Koreans, the notion of eating at a restaurant belongs strictly to the world of fantasy. And so there is only the grimmest humour in the news that, for the country's ruling elite, Pyongyang's dining options just got a little more impressive: the country now has its first-ever pizzeria.

An obsession with pizza stretching back at least 10 years prompted the isolated nation's dictator, Kim Jong-il, to authorise North Korea's first Italian restaurant, which opened in December, according to a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published in Japan. "General Kim Jong-il said that the people should also be allowed access to the world's famous dishes," the restaurant's manager, Kim Sang-Soon, was quoted as saying in Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper seen as a mouthpiece for the regime.

Those dining at the restaurant are reportedly treated to pizza and pasta made with wheat flour, butter and cheese flown in from Italy. They are also presumably reaping the benefits of a years-long effort by Kim Jong-il to bring the perfect pizza to his famine-plagued totalitarian state.

In the late 1990s, he summoned a team of Italian pizza chefs to Pyongyang to instruct army officers. One of the chefs, Ermanno Furlanis, later recounted how the Italians underwent x-rays, brain scans and urine and blood sampling on arrival, before being sequestered in a marble palace. One of the officers Furlanis was training asked him to specify the precise distance at which olives should be spaced on a pizza, he recalled.

Follow-Up: NY seas to rise twice as much as rest of US.

I guess I shouldn't have been laughing at California the other day. From National Geographic:
Sea levels around New York City and much of the U.S. Northeast will rise twice as much as in other parts of the United States this century, according to new climate models (U.S. Northeast map). Driven by changes in ocean circulation, the rapid sea level rise will bring increased risk of damage from hurricanes and winter storm surges, researchers say.

"Some parts of lower Manhattan are only 1.5 meters [5 feet] above sea level," said lead study author Jianjun Yin, a climate modeler at Florida State University.

"Twenty centimeters [8 inches] of extra rise would pose a threat to this region."

Yet New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., area seas will rise 14 to 20 inches (36 to 51 centimeters) by 2100, according to the study, published online today in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Other U.S. cities, such as Miami and San Francisco, are expected to see only half as big an increase in sea levels.

Con man steals $90,000 from currency exchange.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Police are seeking a man who duped a teller and stole $90,000 Sunday afternoon by posing as the owner of a currency exchange in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the South Side.

At 5 p.m., a female teller at a Currency Exchange on the 800 block of West 87th Street received a telephone call from a man who she thought was the owner. The man said that an “auditor” was going to stop by the business in a few minutes and would give her a certain “secret code," according to police, who said the "owner" then told her the code.

When the "auditor" came by and gave her the “code,” it matched the one she had been given by the "owner." The man told her he was going to check the safe, and took the $90,000, saying to her that he was going to count the money and be right back, police said. He never came back.

The owner told police he had a similar incident occur about a month ago at another currency exchanges he owns.

Fashion robot to hit Japan catwalk.

Well, at least our new cybernetic overlords will be well-dressed. From Breitbart:
Japanese researchers on Monday showed off a robot that will soon strut her stuff down a Tokyo catwalk.

The girlie-faced humanoid with slightly oversized eyes, a tiny nose and a shoulder length hair-do boasts 42 motion motors programmed to mimic the movements of flesh-and-blood fashion models.

"Hello everybody, I am cybernetic human HRP-4C," said the futuristic fashionista, opening her media premiere at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology outside Tokyo.

The fashion-bot is 158 centimetres (five foot two inches) tall, the average height of Japanese women aged 19 to 29, but weighs in at a waif-like 43 kilograms (95 pounds) -- including batteries.

She has a manga-inspired human face but a silver metallic body.

"If we had made the robot too similar to a real human, it would have been uncanny," said one of the inventors, humanoid research leader Shuji Kajita.

"We have deliberately leaned toward an anime style."

Dino teens hung out together, got into trouble.

I guess all teens are dumb. I wonder if these dinos listened to emo too. From the Chicago Tribune:
Horsing around without adult supervision, a large group of adolescent and pre-adolescent dinosaurs died en masse 90 million years ago when they ran pell-mell into a mudhole, sinking to their doom as they frantically tried to pull themselves out.

Terrible as the consequences were of this apparent parental neglect, the dinosaurs' remains are providing a bonanza of new knowledge for a group of Chinese and American paleontologists who excavated the fossils in the Gobi Desert in western Inner Mongolia.

Many of the 25 individuals recovered were complete skeletons, so perfectly preserved that the remains of their last meals were found too. Because they are all from the same species, a two-legged plant-eater called Sinornithomimus dongi, or "Chinese bird mimic," the fossils yield rare insight into the social behavior of the animal.

Man unwisely tries to rob Tae Kwon Do studio.

From Breitbart:
FOX POINT, Wis. (AP) - A robber gets more than he bargained for when he targeted a Tae Kwon Do studio in suburban Milwaukee. The robber thought he could quietly slip in and out of David Kang's studio in Fox Point with some loot. What he didn't realize is that he would encounter a Tae Kwon Do master who wasn't about to let him off the hook.

Kang was giving a private lesson Tuesday and heard someone in his office. Kang found the man going through his closet, grabbed him by the neck and sat him down while he called police.

The robber took off and Kang gave chase, finally catching up with the man and holding him by the neck until police arrived.

Kiev mayor sent to shrink after bizarre initiatives.

This mayor sounds awesome. From Ananova:

MPs have demanded a psychiatric report on a city mayor after a string of eccentric initiatives.

Kiev mayor Leonid Chernovetsky recently issued a call for all OAPs to be tempted into state care with a diet of caviar and pineapple.

Now the Ukrainian parliament has called for medical tests after fears for his mental condition.

The mayor recently approved plans for a giant sculpture of a flying cow and a public monument to street lights.

The mayor has refused to comment on the MPs demands and has instead gone on holiday, local media reported.


Hero: Man has ultra rare and mysterious ability to remember everything.

Sad: Rats being evicted from Rat Island.

Duh: China athletes faked their age.

Yipes: Brain decline begins at age 27.

D'oh: Woman drugs boss' coffee so he'll "chill."

Dead: Ron Silver. So much for a Heat Vision and Jack reunion.

Tech: Man used Google Earth to locate historic buildings, strip them of valuable materials.

Politics: El Salvador votes for former guerrilla leader as prez.

Creepy: Brain scans can read memories.

Lame: Children are the future.... too bad they'll destroy it with their carbon footprint.

Dorky: Sci Fi Channel changing name to SyFy. (Ugh.)

High school trip to Rome leaves students without clothes.

A little amusing, but I feel for these kids. After doing laundry in Florence, I left a lot of clothes hanging to dry in a closet and didn't realize until I was in another city. Had to pay a bazillion $ for new clothes that fit me like a sausage casing. Anyway, from the Toronto Star:

They came to one of the most fashionable cities in the world hoping to buy souvenirs, but a group of high school students is spending their money on socks after roughly half their luggage was stolen during a school trip to Europe.

The teens, from Waterdown District High School near Burlington, are on a 10-day tour of Italy and Greece. Shortly after they landed in Rome Saturday evening, they stopped for dinner on the way to their hotel, leaving their tour bus on a well-lit street.

When they returned an hour later, the coach had been broken into with crowbars, and suitcases and carry-on bags were missing.

[...] Replacing clothes in Rome isn't as easy as it is back home, thanks to the city's notoriously high prices. In one shop, for instance, three pairs of underwear cost 12 euros (nearly $20 Canadian), she said.

Mickey Rourke in Russian prison.

Sad part in bold. From Moscow Times:
U.S. actor Mickey Rourke toured Moscow's overcrowded Butyrka prison to prepare for his upcoming role as a Russian villain in "Iron Man 2," becoming the first person in 35 years to don a tsarist torture device used to keep prisoners awake.

Rourke visited Butyrka on Thursday to get a firsthand view of Russian prison life and inspect the 18th-century "slingshot" sleep-deprivation tool, which was last worn in the 1970s, according to the prison's web site.

[...] Butyrka is the main presentencing facility in Moscow, whose inmates have included the KGB forerunner's founder Felix Dzerzhinsky, Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn and oligarch and former NTV owner Vladimir Gusinsky.

Rourke's next role is that of an evildoer named Ivan who goes by the name of Whiplash in "Iron Man 2," a sequel to the blockbuster starring Robert Downey Jr.

Rourke inspected the kitchen and asked for a loaf of bread to take away.

Scientists: Sea-level rise worse than thought.

From CSM:

Climate scientists meeting in Copenhagen Tuesday warned that sea levels could rise to almost three times that of the official worst-case estimates, threatening hundreds of millions of people.

The landmark 2007 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that sea levels would rise 18 to 59 centimeters – about 7 to 23 inches – by the end of the century. That would be enough to submerge several small island nations, and would inundate low-lying and densely populated deltas in Africa, East Asia, and on the Indian subcontinent.

But researchers gathered at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change now say that those estimates are too conservative, that a rise of less than 50 centimeters is unlikely, and that sea levels are likely to rise about one meter.

The UN panel deliberately excluded from its calculations the loss of ice from the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets. More recent climate models are better able to predict how ice sheets react to warming and how they interact with oceans.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Woman hit by stray ARROW in NYC.


A stray arrow hit a Yonkers woman as she was dropping off some elderly churchgoers at a nursing home in the Bronx Sunday.

Denise Delgado-Brown, 50, just dropped off two friends near a nursing care center on Independence Ave. when an arrow struck her in the abdomen about 1:30 p.m., witnesses said.

"I got shot with an arrow," Delgado-Brown screamed as she staggered behind her car, according to her pal, Olga Rivera.

"I thought it was a joke," Rivera said.

The victim had just gotten out of her Kia SUV to pop open the truck when she was hit by the bow-fired missile.

Cops called the incident a random shooting and were using helicopters to search the area. Sources said the arrow may have been fired from nearby Henry Hudson Park or Seton Park.

Delgado-Brown, who was hit just below the heart, was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital where she was in stable condition.

"I saw it happened," said another friend, Donna Hubbard. "The arrow came right at her. I was in disbelief."

Science website admits robots will destroy us all.

LiveScience is getting into the Robot Uprising Watch. They're gonna post a bunch of articles/videos next week about how we're all going to be killed and/or enslaved by our Speak N' Spell. Don't say the Coozer Files didn't warn you.

Robots have not taken over the world. Yet. But with recent advances in humanoid robots and the growing field of cybernetic enhancement of humans, a convergence looms. Exciting? Scary?

In a three-week full-court press of videos and stories, LiveScience will examine how:

  • Robots are being made in our image.
  • Robots are learning to walk, think and feel.
  • They are increasingly able to take care of us.
  • Human individuality may be at risk.

Episode 1 will go live at 2 p.m. ET Monday. The 10-part series continues each Monday, Wednesday and Friday through April 6.

Texas holds $11 million meant for sex assault services.

This strip club tax isn't a bad idea. Too bad it's getting such pushback from the public. Maybe "sex assault" is another word for "dating" in Texas.... From the Houston Chronicle:

DALLAS — Texas gentlemen’s clubs have paid the state more than $11 million in fees collected from patrons as part of a law enacted in 2007. But the money hasn’t gone to its intended purpose — funding sexual assault services for Texas counties without any — because of an ongoing First Amendment lawsuit.

The Texas Comptroller’s Office has collected $11.2 million from the $5-per-patron fee, but the money remains in state coffers because of the lawsuit, which pits the state against some of the sexually oriented businesses, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday.

In addition, only some of the clubs are paying the money, and the $11.2 million is far short of the $40 million that legislative analysts projected for the law’s first year, the newspaper reported.

A state district judge struck down the law last year, saying topless dancing was protected as free speech and that the state couldn’t show a link between strip clubs and inadequate health insurance. The state has appealed.