Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is trying to block photos of him allegedly partying with topless young women at his villa in Sardinia from being published.More here.
Berlusconi wrote three days ago to the Italian data protection agency asking it to stop publication of the photos taken at the Villa de Porto Rotondo, the newspapers La Stampa and Il Corriere della Serra reports.
There are said to be around 700 photos in all, taken by a Sardinian photographer, some of which depict what Il Corriere described as "bikini-clad or topless girls" lounging in the gardens or taking showers.
Other images show Berlusconi, 72, with the "bikini-clad" women on guest-house patios, added the newspaper, which also printed what it called the full text of the prime minister's letter to the Garante della Privacy agency.
Berlusconi, who hosts a G8 summit in July, is under pressure to explain his relationship with Noemi Letizia, 18, who is at the centre of a highly public row between him and second wife Veronica Lario, who has filed for divorce.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
A caustic tarlike substance blamed for burning a dog in Queens on Monday was removed by firefighters yesterday.
Douglaston residents had a minor scare after the hazardous substance was reported by residents, prompting firefighters and Department of Environmental Protection workers to descend on Alameda Ave., haz-mat suits and all.
Officials said the black substance, which was discovered at the base of a tree outside a single-family home, burned a dog on Monday, but no additional information was available.
"I have a dog. I'm concerned," said neighborhood resident Dan Blanda, 50. "If they found something, they should share it with the people that live here."
A city official speculated the substance could be tree poison, but a full investigation was ongoing.
A plague of hairy super caterpillars that can cause breathing problems, severe skin irritations and headaches is sparking health alerts across Britain.
Brown tail moth caterpillars each have up to two million brown hairs which can break off into the air and cause severe allergic reactions.
Previously only found on the south-east coast the insects have been swarming north over the last few years thanks to Britain's increasingly warm weather.
Thousands of the moths have invaded a housing estate near Trowbridge, Wiltshire, where worried residents and their children are coming out in itchy rashes.
Other sightings have been made throughout Essex, Sussex and Kent, with a family restaurant near Folkstone forced to close part of its car park over health fears.
Julie Payne, 35, who is 25-weeks pregnant and lives on the affected housing estate in Hilperton, Wilts., said yesterday that the caterpillars were 'everywhere'.
Friday, May 29, 2009
A cheeky New Zealand parrot -- perhaps with a desire to spread its wings further afield -- has pinched a Scottish man's passport in a bag snatch.
The passport was in a brightly coloured courier bag in the luggage compartment of a bus heading into the popular tourist destination of Milford Sound in the Fiordland region of the South Island, the Southland Times reported Friday.
The kea, the world's only alpine parrot, struck when the bus stopped and the driver was busy in the luggage compartment. When the driver turned around the startled kea flew away with the passport.
The bird was last seen heading into thick forest and the British passport's owner doesn't expect to get it back.
"Being Scottish, I've got a sense of humour so I did take it with humour but obviously there is one side of me still raging," said the man, who did not want to be named.
"My passport is somewhere out there in Fiordland. The kea's probably using it for fraudulent claims or something."
An Argentine evangelical pastor was born again after a book of Psalms he was holding deflected a bullet fired at close range, officials in the western province of Mendoza said.More here.
Mauricio Zanes Condori, 38, was trying to talk two thieves out of robbing his church, located in the town of Rodeo del Medio, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) west of Buenos Aires, local judicial authorities reported.
One of the thieves aimed his handgun at Zanes Condori's chest and fired at a distance of two meters (about seven feet).
The criminals immediately fled, and churchgoers who were watching in horror as the event unfolded, called for an ambulance.
But the bullet hit the book of Psalms that Zanes Condori was holding to his chest.
A medic who arrived at the scene said the book slowed down the bullet and deflected its trajectory, so in the end it only scratched Zanes Condori's chest.
FAIRFAX, Va. - Officials in northern Virginia are blaming Krispy Kreme doughnuts for clogging the sewers.More here.
Fairfax County says the company has damaged its sewer system by dumping yeast and grease from a plant in Lorton.
County officials filed a lawsuit this month after the company refused to pay a US$1.9 million bill for repairs to the system.
Krispy Kreme says the charges are unfounded.
The fastest computer in Europe and the third worldwide with the capacity of 50,000 desktop computers was launched Tuesday in Germany.
The computer "Jugene" is capable of performing 1,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second. It ranks behind the "Roadrunner" and "Jaguar" computers in the United States, said Kosta Schinarakis from the Juelich research centre, where the computer is located.
The computer will be used for a wide variety of operations, including research on fuel cells for electric cars, weather forecasting and the origins of the universe, Schinarakis said.
WARREN, Pa. — A northwestern Pennsylvania newspaper is apologizing for running a classified advertisement calling for the assassination of President Barack Obama.
Warren Times Observer Publisher John Elchert says the ad appeared Thursday. It read, "May Obama follow in the steps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy!" The four presidents were all assassinated.
Elchert tells The Associated Press that the newspaper's advertising staff didn't make the historical connection.
He says the newspaper turned information over to police and that the Secret Service is investigating the person who placed the ad.
A note in Friday's paper says the newspaper "apologizes for the oversight."
DAYTON, Ohio — A former Ohio Girl Scouts leader has agreed to pay the organization $20,000 as restitution for stealing money from a cookie account and using it for vacations, groceries and other personal expenses.More here.
Prosecutors say Tamara Jo Ward had access to a bank account the Dayton-based troop used to deposit cookie sales revenue that was to pay for the troop’s recreational activities.
The 45-year-old Ward pleaded guilty in April to grand theft.
Under a restitution agreement, she’ll pay $5,000 up front. She’ll also pay $250 a month during a five-year probation and spend 30 days in jail.
An Iraqi-born 16-year-old reportedly has cracked a math puzzle that has gone unsolved for over 300 years.
Mohamed Altoumaimi, who immigrated to Sweden six years ago, took only four months to find a formula that explains a sequence of calculations known as the Bernoulli numbers, a code that had stumped some of the best experts in the field, Agence France-Presse reported.
Altoumaimi said after his high school teachers were skeptical about his work he contacted professors at Uppsala University, one of Sweden's top institutions, who confirmed his formula was correct and offered him a place at the university, AFP reported.
The teen opted to continue his general studies but planned to take courses in advanced mathematics and physics this summer, AFP reported.
A pest controller who has already helped to cull more than 22,000 grey squirrels in the North East is moving south to feed demand for squirrel pie.
Paul Parker, 45, from Newcastle, is part of a conservation group trying to rid areas of grey squirrels and preserve native reds.
Now he says demand for greys from top chefs means he needs to expand.
He is working with landowners in the south of England to maintain supplies of squirrels for restaurants.
The father of three is a founder of the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership (RSPP), which says trapping and shooting greys is the only way to save native reds from extinction.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Real robot names such as Roomba and Asimo don't evoke as much fear as the fictional "Terminator." But consider that Roomba, the automated vacuum cleaner, is manufactured by iRobot, creator also of armed robot warriors for the U.S. military. And Asimo represents just the first wave of an incoming tsunami of robots that strive to look and act eerily human.
It goes beyond automated vacuums and mildly entertaining dance-bots. Japan and Korea plan to deploy humanoid robots to care for the elderly, while the United States already fields thousands of robot warriors on the modern battlefield. Meanwhile, plenty of people have enhanced their bodies technologically in ways that bring them closer to their robotic brethren.
So it's OK to become a bit of a paranoid android, because many experts say that the robotic future is rapidly approaching, if not already here. Robots probably won't completely take over or annihilate the human race anytime soon, but they may supplant us by other means -- and LiveScience is here to count the reasons why you need not hide your fear of the metal ones.
Booze: Alcoholic brew kills 16 in Indonesia.
D'oh: Man run over by his own truck.
Biz: Time Warner to finally dump AOL. (AOL is still around?)
Biz: Toys R Us acquires FAO Schwartz.
Neat: Cameron Frye's house up for sale.
Police in the eastern Siberian city of Chita said Wednesday that they have rescued a 5-year-old feral girl whose father kept her locked in a filthy apartment and who was essentially "raised" by the cats and dogs she lived with.
An anonymous caller tipped police off that the girl, Natasha, was living in "inhumane conditions" with her father, grandparents and other relatives in an apartment in the city's Zheleznodorozhny District, the regional Interior Ministry said in a statement on its web site.
After strong resistance from the girl's relatives, police from child affairs managed to enter the three-room apartment and found Natasha unwashed, in dirty clothes and acting "like an animal," the statement said.
Natasha "attacked" the officers "like a dog," police said. "In all of these years, the child was able to learn the language of animals," the statement said. "She almost can't talk, though she understands human speech."
Doctors have discovered no permanent damage to Natasha's mental development, though when they leave her alone in a room she lunges at the door and barks, the police statement said. While doctors say she has a normal appetite, she forgoes using a spoon and simply licks her plate, it said.
After learning that her daughter was placed in a shelter, Natasha's mother voluntarily went to police for questioning, RIA-Novosti reported.
The whereabouts of the father, 27, are unknown, RIA-Novosti said.
Police plan to open a criminal investigation in connection with child neglect, which is punishable by up to three years of confinement.
A Russian scientist has claimed that an alien spaceship sacrificed itself to prevent a gigantic meteor from destroying earth a century ago.
According to The Sun, Dr Yuri Labvin, head of the Tunguska Spatial Phenomenon Foundation, has found quartz slabs with strange markings that he thinks were part of a UFO control panel.
He made the discovery near the site of the so-called "Tunguska event" - a massive and so-far unexplained explosion that devastated more than 100 square miles of Siberian forest in June 1908.
Dr Labvin claims the slabs provide evidence that a spacecraft deliberately crashed into the meteor to prevent it slamming into Earth and wiping out life on the planet.
"We don't have any technologies that can print such kind of drawings on crystals," he explains. "We also found ferrum silicate that can not be produced anywhere, except in space."
Here's one article:
These three girls took a picture with a ghost:
Six girls between ten and fourteen years old were admitted to a local hospital in the Tolima department after having played with a ouija board.
The girls, all from the village of Buenavista, were taken to the Rafael Gutierrez hospital in San Juan del Valle after having played the Parker Brothers board game that is used to summon spirits, but according to some can summon demons.
Hospital psychologist Maritza Guzmán told Caracol Radio Saturday that, even though the girls were free of physical symptoms, tests had proven the girls were suffering psychological disorders when being admitted.
All girls were sent home after being examined, but continue to be under supervision of the hospital's psychology staff.
The families of the ouija-playing girls asked the local priest to conduct a serious of prayers for the girls.
Some older news items here, here, and here.
Three teenage girls from a Tolima town saw a ghost standing behind them in a photo taken after having played improvised satanic rituals, local media reported Wednesday.
The incident happened last week in the town of Purificacion when the girls, between 15 and 17 years old, decided to dress up as witches and to try satanic rituals and spells - just for fun.
One of the teenagers asked her younger brother to take a photo of the girls to remember the evening. They had the shock of their lives when they discovered the clear image of a man standing behind them.
Seeing the alleged ghost, the girls started to scream and panic and one of them even suffered a nervous breakdown.The three friends swear that they were only playing around and did not use a ouija board to invoke spirits, which is a more common reason for panic among teenage girls in Colombia and especially in the Tolima department.
Imagine a typical lunchtime meal - say, chicken and vegetables with a glass of water.
If you eat the food and drink the water, you will feel full for a couple of hours before hunger kicks in. But if you blend the food with the water - to make soup - you will stay hunger-free for much longer, and less likely to snack through the afternoon.
How can blending the food into soup make such a difference? The answer lies in the stomach. Scientists have used ultrasound and MRI scans of people's stomachs to investigate what happens after eating solid-food-plus-water meals compared with the same food made into soup.
After you eat a meal, the pyloric sphincter valve at the bottom of your stomach holds food back so that the digestive juices can get to work.
Water, however, passes straight through the sphincter to your intestines, so drinking water does not contribute to "filling you up".
When you eat the same meal as a soup, the whole mixture remains in the stomach, because the water and food are blended together. The scientists' scans confirm that the stomach stays fuller for longer, staving off those hunger pangs.
Driven by rising health care costs at home, nearly 1 million Californians cross the border each year to seek medical care in Mexico, according a new paper by UCLA researchers and colleagues published today in the journal Medical Care.
An estimated 952,000 California adults sought medical, dental or prescription services in Mexico annually, and of these, 488,000 were Mexican immigrants, according to the research paper, "Heading South: Why Mexican Immigrants in California Seek Health Services in Mexico."
The paper is the first large-scale population-based research ever published on U.S. residents who travel to Mexico for health services. It is based on an analysis of 2001 data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation's largest state health survey.
"What the research shows is that many Californians, especially Mexican immigrants, go to Mexico for health services," said lead author Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, which conducts CHIS. "We already know that immigrants use less health care overall than people born in the U.S. Heading south of the border further reduces the demand on U.S. facilities."
Cost and lack of insurance were primary reasons both Mexican and non-Mexican U.S. residents sought health services across the border.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Despite the well-known benefits of having a lifestyle that includes physical activity, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, moderate alcohol use and not smoking, only a small proportion of adults follow this healthy lifestyle pattern, and in fact, the numbers are declining, according to an article published in the June 2009 issue of The American Journal of Medicine. Lifestyle choices are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes.
Investigators from the Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston compared the results of two large-scale studies of the US population in 1988-1994 and in 2001-2006. In the intervening 18 years, the percentage of adults aged 40-74 years with a body mass index greater than 30 has increased from 28% to 36%; physical activity 12 times a month or more has decreased from 53% to 43%; smoking rates have not changed (26.9% to 26.1%); eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 42% to 26%; and moderate alcohol use has increased from 40% to 51%. The number of people adhering to all 5 healthy habits has decreased from 15% to 8%.
Iran has arrested more than 100 "Satan-worshippers" in a raid on a concert in the southern city of Shiraz where people were drinking alcohol and "sucking blood", a newspaper reports.
"One hundred and four members of a Satan-worshipping group were arrested at a party and immoral concert in Shiraz," local Revolutionary Guards chief Abbas Hamidi was quoted as saying by Jam-e Jam newspaper.
"The session was held in a garden outside Shiraz and the Satanist ceremony was broadcast live to the world via the internet," he said, adding the arrest was made by members of the Islamist basij militia linked to the Guards.
"These people drank alcohol, hurt themselves and sucked blood," Mr Hamidi said.
Iranian authorities sometimes link hard rock and heavy metal music and their icons with Satan worship.
It's called the Eternal City by many, but Rome also has the sobriquet "Stab City" among football fans because of the level of knife attacks in the Italian capital.
There are fears tonight's Champions League final, being held in the city's Olympic Stadium, will be marred by such violence after several knife-related attacks on supporters from a number of English clubs over the last decade.
What is marked about the attacks is that victims are often stabbed in the buttocks. The practice even has its own slang name in the local Roman dialect - "puncicate". But why is the backside targeted?
According to those who have researched the subject, a stab wound in the buttocks may be chosen as it is seen as not likely to be life-threatening, but is humiliating and painful for the victim.
Experts believe the cultural tradition may even be linked to medieval duelling where slashing an opponent's buttocks was supposedly considered very skilful.
Domo, the chocolate Twinkie-like Japanese critter that Target tapped for a Halloween promo last year, is now shacking up with 7-Eleven.
A six-week program, hitting Oct. 1, includes a proprietary Domo Slurpee in Red Apple flavor, which will be sold in a still-in-development brown-flocked cup to match the creature's coat. Special straws featuring detachable fuzzy Domos in hip hop and wrestling costumes are being discussed. A Domo Attack! energy drink and other licensed merch is also on the table.
Why Red Apple? “Because Domo doesn't like apples,” said Rich Collins, CEO of Big Tent Entertainment, who described the deal a 360 program that's a perfect match for 7-Eleven's teens and young adults and the Domo demo. “That way you don't have to worry about Domo stealing your Slurpee.” Big Tent currently serves as Domo's worldwide marketing and licensing agent outside of Asia.
Evan Brody, marketing manager for Slurpee and Big Gulp Brands, was a bit less fanciful: “Domo lends itself well to the store and our proprietary products and our consumers who love crazy Japanese shit.”
Japan’s deepest postwar recession is encouraging cash-strapped consumers to eat more bean sprouts, ketchup and cheap beef, according to a report by Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute.
Spending by each household fell a record 69,509 yen ($734) in 2008, Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-Ichi Life in Tokyo, wrote in a report published today. Consumers cut back the most on food, paring outlays by 16,952 yen, he said.
“Households are in serious penny-pinching mode,” Nagahama wrote in a report that compares last year’s consumption with spending during the 1998 financial crisis. “We’re seeing families eat more at home to help save money.”
Hidden beneath the U.S. West's Great Basin, scientists have spied a giant blob of rocky material dripping like honey.
The Great Basin consists of small mountain ranges separated by valleys and includes most of Nevada, the western half of Utah and portions of other nearby states.
While studying the area, John West of Arizona State University (ASU) and his colleagues found evidence of a large cylindrical blob of cold material far below the surface of central Nevada. Comparison of the results with CAT scans of the inside of Earth taken by ASU's Jeff Roth suggested they had found a so-called lithospheric drip. (Earth's lithosphere comprises the crust or outer layer of Earth and the uppermost mantle.)
The revelation this month in GQ Magazine that Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary embellished top-secret wartime memos with quotations from the Bible prompts a question. Why did he believe he could influence President Bush by that means?
The answer may lie in an alarming story about George Bush's Christian millenarian beliefs that has yet to come to light.
In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France's President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.
In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel unless stopped. The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:
"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them."
Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:
"This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people's enemies before a New Age begins".
The story of the conversation emerged only because the Elyse Palace, baffled by Bush's words, sought advice from Thomas Romer, a professor of theology at the University of Lausanne. Four years later, Romer gave an account in the September 2007 issue of the university's review, Allez savoir. The article apparently went unnoticed, although it was referred to in a French newspaper.The story has now been confirmed by Chirac himself in a new book, published in France in March, by journalist Jean Claude Maurice. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush's invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and "wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs".
[...] There is a curious coda to this story. While a senior at Yale University George W. Bush was a member of the exclusive and secretive Skull & Bones society. His father, George H.W. Bush had also been a "Bonesman", as indeed had his father. Skull & Bones' initiates are assigned or take on nicknames. And what was George Bush Senior's nickname? "Magog".
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A second British mother is facing jail in Dubai after she admitted cheating on her husband - an offence in the United Arab Emirates.
Sally Antia, 43, was arrested earlier this month after her husband, also believed to be British, reported her to the police.
Vincent Antia told the police of his suspicions on May 2.
They launched a 2am raid, catching Ms Antia leaving the £477-a-night Radisson Dubai Deira Creek hotel with her lover.
She confessed to adultery, and was being held in custody last night facing a year in jail and deportation.
She has had her passport confiscated and been banned from leaving Dubai while her case progresses through the emirate's court system.
Her alleged boyfriend, another Briton aged 44, is also prohibited from leaving. He has not been named.
Residents who were fed-up living in Butt Hole Road have finally had the name changed.
The street which houses four homes in Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, has now been renamed Archer Way.
The road was named after a communal water butt used centuries ago.
Peter Sutton, who has lived on the street for six years said he got bored of all the jokes.
Pranksters used to visit the street and bare their backsides for photographs while delivery firms refused to believe it existed.
Elizabeth Brennan, 77, who uses the street for access to her home, told The Sun: "It was a bit tedious having the street laughed at all the time. The new name is much nicer."
However, an internet petition to get the name changed back again has already started.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
A Moose Jaw man was going for a new world record. But it seems it was more than his voice could handle.
Ken Parsons was hoping to sing karaoke for more than 52 hours non-stop, taking only limited breaks and the occasional bite of food.
He started at noon Friday, but according to staff at Minto United Church, his voice gave out Saturday night around 8 o'clock.
This is the second recent attempt by a Moose Javian at this very record. A woman's previous attempt wasn't made official because somebody else exceeded her record before the paperwork was even in.
Malware crippled Windows-based computer systems at the U.S. Marshals Service, which hunts federal fugitives and operates the country's witness protection program, knocking the agency’s network offline.
The agency's press office confirmed it was having network problems and that its e-mail system was down Thursday morning, but it was unclear if the outage extended across the entire network.
Per government regulations, agencies are required to report security incidents to the US-Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). A call to CERT was not returned by press time.
It was not clear if the malware was the cause of the network outage or if the agency took down systems to stem the spread of what was believed to be the Neeris worm, which saw a new version appear last month that copies Conficker's evil ways.The agency was running desktop malware software, but it had not been updated for more than three years -- even though the agency had paid for upgrades to newer versions that protect against Neeris.
She just had to mention that girl from Nantucket! From Daily Mail:
The new Oxford University professor of poetry is facing calls to quit after it emerged she helped to spread sex slurs about her rival for the post.
Ruth Padel had claimed that she had 'nothing to do' with the smear campaign against Derek Walcott, a former winner of the Nobel prize for literature who was favourite for the job.But it was revealed that weeks before the vote she sent emails tipping off journalists about two allegations of sexual harassment made against Walcott by female students.
Days later, Padel's close friend, writer John Walsh, wrote a highly inflammatory article referring to the lurid claims in The Independent newspaper.
Details about the allegations were later sent anonymously around the university, prompting Walcott, 79, to withdraw from last week's election, complaining of a 'low and degrading attempt at character assassination'.
It allowed a near clear path for Padel's election to the 300-year- old post, which is regarded as the most influential in UK poetry behind that of the poet laureate.
Human warriors have long spoken of the bonds forged in combat and of becoming a "band of brothers." The fact that some of those fellow soldiers are made of metal has not discouraged human feelings toward them.
Thousands of robots now fight with humans on modern battlefields that resemble scenes from science fiction movies such as "Terminator Salvation." But the real world poses a more complex situation than humans versus robots, and has added new twists to the psychology of war.
"One of the psychologically interesting things is that these systems aren't designed to promote intimacy, and yet we're seeing these bonds being built with them," said Peter Singer, a leading defense analyst at the Brookings Institution and author of "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century" (Penguin Press HC, 2009).
Singer highlights many accounts of human soldiers feeling strong affection for their robots — especially on the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams where Packbots and Talon robots undertake the risk of disabling improvised explosives planted by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.