Saturday, June 6, 2009

Top 5 songs of the week (5/31/09 - 6/6/09).

1. CSS - Alcohol

I'm not hipster enough to love CSS, but I do absolutely adore this song. The chorus is on repeat in my head whenever I drink or want to drink, which is always. And the video is tre cute.

2. Le Tigre - Deceptacon

A brilliant workout tune (okay, I walk fast to it) that's even better when performed by Jem & the Holograms.

3. Ramones - Do You Wanna Dance?

Most of my daydreams in high school involved a visit from the Ramones, Riff Randall, and Clint Howard.

4. Epoxies - Everything Looks Better On Video

This song makes my pants tight.

5. Bajofondo - Pa' Bailar - Siempre Quiero Mas

Not really a video, but this song has been on loop in my head for days. I must really miss Argentina... Anyway, "Pa' Bailar" is a big instrumental hit from modern tango troupe Bajofondo, but I'm all about this version with the lovely Julieta Venegas singing.

PS - Just occurred to me that I think all of these videos are fan-made (besides the Ramones, which is a film clip).

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sears settles with FTC after swiping tons of personal info from customers.

Sears knows everything about you. More here.
Sears Holdings Management has agreed to settle a complaint from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it failed to tell customers about the wide range of their personal information, including bank statements and prescription records, it collected through a downloadable software application, the FTC said.

Sears Holdings, owner of the Sears and Kmart retail chains, invited some visitors of and to become members of the "My SHC Community," paying them $10 if they agreed to download "research" software that would confidentially track their online browsing.

However, the software not only tracked browsing, but also monitored customers' online secure sessions, including sessions on third-party Web sites, the FTC said. The Sears software collected the contents of shopping carts, online bank statements, drug prescription records, video rental records, library borrowing histories, and the sender, recipient, subject, and size of Web-based e-mail messages, the FTC said.

The software would also track some computer activities that were unrelated to the Internet, the FTC said.

Sears asked these customers to "participate in exciting, engaging, and ongoing interactions -- always on your terms and always by your choice."

Sears, in a statement, said the research project ended a year ago. The software was removed after the project and all personal information was destroyed, Sears said. No similar studies are planned, the company added.

Curry fights dementia.

It's been mentioned here before, but turmeric is a magical panacea. I need to start adding turmeric to my twinkie milkshakes.
It probably won't be our main priority when deciding what takeaway to order.

But curries – so often criticised by advocates of healthy eating – may protect against Alzheimer's disease.

Eating a curry two or three times a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, an expert said yesterday.

According to Professor Murali Doraiswamy, the magic ingredient is curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric.

Curcumin prevents the spread of harmful amyloid plaques found in the brain of Alzheimer's sufferers, he said.

These plaques are thought to play a key role in symptoms such as memory loss and mental impairment.
More here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

14% of workers in Spain are bullied by workmates.

Jeez, what could they be bullying each other about? "Hey, your siesta is only four hours long!" From EurekAlert:
Although it is a relatively widespread phenomenon, the experts have still not been able to come up with an all-encompassing and precise definition of workplace abuse or bullying. Basing their work on previous literature, David González, of the High Court of Justice of Madrid and José Luís Graña, of the Faculty of Psychology at the Complutense University, have defined it in their study as a "process of systematic and repeated aggression by a person or group towards a workmate, subordinate or superior". Their research has been published in the latest issue of Psicothema.

According to the authors of the work, published by Psicothema, "the conclusions reached to date have been highly varied, due to the difficulties in the conceptual definition of mobbing". However, they tell SINC that "workplace abuse is a phenomenon with many causes, can lead to negative consequences in workers, their social and family environment, and can impacts on their job performance".

[...] From the data obtained, the researchers tell SINC that 14% of the respondents have confirmed having suffered situations of psychological abuse over the past six months, with 5.8% suffering frequently and the rest, 8.2%, occasionally. In 2000, the International Labour Organisation said the prevalence of alleged cases of workplace abuse was 5%, a similar figure to the one now obtained by this study.

The results also provide evidence that women are most frequently on the receiving end of workplace harassment, which coincides with the results of other studies carried out on the issue.

Man's hand pulled off during tug-of-war.

This is why I hate the beach.
A Chinese man lost his hand when it was ripped off at the wrist during a tug-of-war contest.

The 30-year-old man joined the beach contest and with five of his colleagues and took the back position. To stabilize himself, he wrapped the rope around his wrist and threw the loose end over his shoulder.

It was going to be a tie but then people in the audience rushed out to help both sides so there'd be a winner.

"I called on people to stop but my voice was too quiet to be noticed," the man said.

The competition stopped when people noticed the man's injury.

The man's hand was reattached in a five hour operation but doctors warn it will be a few days before they know if the surgery was successful.
More here.

Obama gives landmark, sweeping speech on Islam and the Middle East.

Full transcript here.

Man has wife raped so he can watch.

Hopefully this guy will learn more about rape firsthand in prison.
A Kannapolis man is in jail after police say he used Craigslist to arrange for a man to rape his wife at the couple's home while he watched.

The woman was sexually assaulted at knifepoint early Sunday, according to police. The couple's two children were in the home, but unharmed and unaware of what was going on in their parents' bedroom.

Police haven't located or identified the armed assailant, and aren't sure if he knew that the woman was not a willing participant. He may have thought he was fulfilling a fantasy for the couple, police told WCNC-TV, the Observer's news partner.

The incident was the latest garish headline for Craigslist, a San Francisco-based Web site featuring free online classified ads, whose sections devoted to personals and adult services have come under fire in recent months.

The Observer is not releasing the name of the man arrested in Sunday's incident so as not to reveal the identity of the sexual assault victim. Police believe the husband arranged the assault without his wife's knowledge or consent.

“When the victim woke up, she saw a male standing at the foot of the bed holding a knife,” Kannapolis Police Chief James “Woody” Chavis told WCNC.

The woman had no serious injuries, but she was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast for an examination and an interview. Her husband was charged with first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual offense and attempted first-degree sexual offense.

Authorities learned on Tuesday that the husband had responded to at least two personal ads on Craigslist, trying to arrange for someone to come to his house and “have sex with his wife using some type of scare tactic,” according to a Kannapolis Police news release.
More here.

David Carradine found dead, possible suicide.

He must've finally gotten around to seeing the second Kill Bill. From BBC:
Kill Bill and Kung Fu star David Carradine has been found dead in a Bangkok hotel room.

Thai police told the BBC the 72-year-old was found by a hotel maid sitting in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and body on Thursday morning.

The US star was in Thailand filming his latest film Stretch, according to his personal manager Chuck Binder.

Mr Binder said the news was "shocking", adding: "He was full of life, always wanting to work... a great person."

Carradine was part of an acting dynasty which included his father, John Carradine, and brothers Bruce, Keith and Robert.

The star was best known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu, which spawned sequels in the '80s and '90s.

After a career which included more than 100 movies with directors such as Martin Scorsese and Ingmar Bergman, he recently found fame again thanks to his role in Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film Kill Bill.

He is survived by his wife, Annie Bierman, and four children.

Las Vegas company to plead guilty to selling food that killed thousands of cats and dogs.

Misdemeanors?? They should be forced to eat their own pet food and die slow, painful deaths.
A Las Vegas-based company and its owners have agreed to plead guilty in connection with tainted pet food in 2007 that may have killed thousands of dogs and cats, according to a court document.

An attorney for Stephen S. Miller, co-owner of ChemNutra Inc., said his client had reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and would plead guilty plea at a hearing June 16, according to the papers filed in court last week.

Miller's wife, Sally Miller, and ChemNutra also plan to plead guilty, the filing said. Attorneys did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, said the office couldn't discuss any plea agreement until it had been approved by a judge.

The Millers and ChemNutra, along with two Chinese companies, were indicted in February 2008 on charges alleging they imported wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine, which was then sold to pet food makers. Thousands of cats and dogs reportedly sickened or died after eating the tainted food.

ChemNutra and the Millers were charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce, 13 misdemeanor counts of introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce and one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
More here.

Half of all friends replaced every 7 years.

And how does one find these... "friends"? From Yahoo! News:
You may have more Facebook friends as the years go by, but when it comes to your close friends, you lose about half and replace them with new ones after about seven years, new social research suggests.

As a result, the size of your social network stays about the same.

People might like to think they have control over whom they choose as friends, but social networks could also be influenced by the context in which we meet one another. Sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst of Utrecht University in the Netherlands was interested in finding out exactly how much our networks are shaped by social context or by personal preference.

He conducted a survey of 1,007 people ages 18 to 65, and then contacted the participants seven years later. From the original group, 604 people were re-interviewed. The survey contained questions such as: Who do you talk with, regarding personal issues? Who helps you with DIY in your home? Who do you pop by to see? Where did you get to know that person? And where do you meet that person now?

The results showed that personal network sizes remained stable, but that many members of the network were new. About 30 percent of discussion partners and practical helpers had the same position in a typical subject's network seven years later. And only 48 percent were still part of the network. This finding goes against previous research which had showed that social network sizes are shrinking.

Japanese convenience stores can finally sell over-the-counter medicine.

This is a country where you can buy whiskey and soiled panties from a vending machine, but not Tylenol from a convenience store. From Japan Times:
Convenience stores and supermarkets on Monday began selling nonprescription drugs, some around the clock, as deregulation under a revised pharmacy law took effect.

Under the revised Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, stores are no longer required to be staffed with a pharmacist to sell most nonprescription drugs, including cold tablets and aspirin, and can sell them simply by having sales clerks qualify and register with prefectural governments.

The entry by large-scale distributors into the drug retail market has pressed existing drugstore businesses to enhance their sales efforts, including by extending operating hours with their own registered sales clerks.

Argument over karaoke machine leads to apartment building fire.

Once again, karaoke causing havoc. From PennLive:
A man police said was responsible for an April fire in an East Pennsboro Township apartment has been arrested. Jeffrey Alan Robinson, 42, of the first block of West Main Street in Mechanicsburg, is charged with harassment and criminal mischief in connection with the incident, which began as an argument April 28 between Robinson and his girlfriend over a karaoke machine and loud noise, court documents state.

According to court documents, Robinson grabbed the stove and threw it into the center of the kitchen, tearing free the gas line and starting a fire that caused more than $11,000 in damage to the apartment and other apartments.

How to become an idiot savant.

This is great news for people like me, who are just idiots. From New Scientist:
Researchers are beginning to unearth clues as to how savants' formidable brains work, and that in turn is changing our view of what it means to be a savant. In the past, savants were considered rare, solitary figures capable of mind-boggling skills that appeared as if by magic. "There have almost been suggestions that their skills appear like the birth of Venus in Botticelli - fully formed," says psychologist Richard Cowan, who studies savants at the Institute of Education, University of London.

A flurry of research published earlier this year in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B paints a very different picture. It turns out that these skills are far more common than previously thought. They may even arise from traits found in the general population, implying that savants are not fundamentally different from the rest of us. What's more, these skills may only blossom after years of obsessive practice, raising the question of whether many more people might cultivate similar skills, if only they had the motivation.

Queen of Spain takes $13 Ryanair flight.

I have to say, as far as royalty goes, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia are pretty cool.
Queen Sofia of Spain has given the British royals a lesson in costcutting - by taking a £13 budget airline flight to London.

The 70-year-old monarch flew with low-cost airline Ryanair from Spain to Stansted on Sunday to visit her brother, ex-King Constantine of Greece, who is recovering from heart surgery in a London hospital.

A Spanish royal source said it was 'common practice' for members of the House of Bourbon to fly on scheduled flights and added: 'King Juan Carlos is the only member of the royal family who always travels on military flights.
More here.

Controversial topless coffee shop burns down; arson suspected.

So much for asking for a large cup. From CNN:
In the end, a coffee shop in Vassalboro, Maine, that gained national attention for its topless waiters and waitresses simply proved too hot -- the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop burned to the ground early Wednesday morning.

A state fire official said it was arson.

The blaze consumed the risque, small-town business shortly after midnight, said Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe. He described the flames as "severe" and said the building was a "total loss."

"I really liked it here," waitress Krista Macentyre said after learning the cause of the fire. "We weren't hurting anyone. I don't know why someone would do something like this."

The shop's proprietor, Donald Crabtree, said he is determined to rebuild. "This is home" to a lot of people, he said.

For Crabtree the coffee shop literally was home. He and his two daughters, their two boyfriends, and his two infant grandchildren lived in quarters attached to the Grand View. The fire forced them to relocate to a motel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Goldblum joins cast of Criminal Intent.

Or should we say that Criminal Intent finally joins The Goldblum?
Until now, episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent featured only one cast member who is definitely a character.

Robert Goren, as played in strange fashion by Vincent D'Onofrio, is a New York police detective who always seems about one emotional push away from insanity.

Now Goren has some competition. Jeff Goldblum has joined the cast, playing Detective Zach Nichols, a man with a mysterious past and a strange present.

D'Onofrio and Goldblum will alternate weeks as new episodes of the series air on TV3.

[...] Goldblum, seated next to D'Onofrio, explains his character in a way only Goldblum could.

"Well, I don't think we find literally out a lot about my back story. But you kind of glean things from the way I go about things. You know, a little bit. But the specifics, hmm, it's rationed, rationed," he says.
More here.

NYC safest of all big US cities.

The FBI went on to say that the biggest crime in NYC is Yankees ticket prices. From the NY Post:
One small thing about the Big Apple is the crime rate -- New York is America's safest big city by a mile, new FBI crime stats show.

New York has the lowest crime rate of the 25 largest cities in the country, Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday. And of the 261 cities with more than 100,000 residents, New York's crime rate ranked 246th.

Violent crime plunged 4 percent in New York last year, outpacing the national crime decline of 2.5 percent.

The city's overall violent-crime decrease in 2008 was led by a 9 percent drop in assaults -- a plunge that offset spikes in other categories, including a 5.4 percent increase in murders, a 1.7 percent hike in rapes and a 1.8 percent boost in robberies.

In what's surely more good news for Bloomberg's re-election campaign, crime also dropped sharply in the first five months of 2009, according to NYPD data.

Murders led the year's downward trend, dropping 21.1 percent, the NYPD said.

Rapes, robberies and felony assaults are down, too.

"There have been 43 fewer murders, 1,415 fewer robberies and 491 fewer cars stolen than this same time just a year ago," Bloomberg said.

"Using innovative policing strategies and a focus on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, we are continuing to do more with less, in spite of the economic downturn."

Following New York in the lower crime rates for big cities were San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

The story was far grimmer in small-town America in 2008.

Places with fewer than 10,000 residents charted a 5.5 percent rise in murders, a 1.4 percent increase in rape and a 3.9 percent rise in robbery.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Erotic dance craze breaking penises in Jamaica.

I thought the last music from Jamaica to emasculate men was ska...
An erotic dance craze is thought to be the cause of a recent spate of broken penises in Jamaica, and now faces a government crackdown.

"Daggering", a lewd dance style where couples simulate dry sex in various positions to the beat of the music, is characterised by over-the-top gyrating, heavy pelvis-thrusting and daredevil leaps.

Many couples have taken the “rough” daggering dance from the club to the bedroom, with disastrous consequences.

Jamaican doctors were prompted to issue a warning on the dangers of daggering when presented with a range of fractured penises caused by rough intercourse.

The number of cases tripled in the last year, the UK’s Sun reports.

The rising popularity of the new dance - and subsequent public protests - have prompted the Jamaican government to ban songs and videos with blatantly sexual content.

Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission, which defines daggering as a "colloquial term used in dancehall culture as a reference to hardcore sex or what is popularly referred to as 'dry sex' or the activities of persons engaged in the public simulation of various sexual acts and positions", enforced the ban in February.

“There shall not be transmitted through radio or television or cable services, any recording, live song or music video which promotes the act of ‘daggering’, or which makes reference to, or is otherwise suggestive of ‘daggering’,” the Jamaican Broadcasting Commission’s official statement said.
More here... if you dare.

Robot sub reaches the world's deepest abyss.

From New Scientist:
A robotic submarine named Nereus has become the third craft in history to reach the deepest part of the world's oceans, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

The dive to Challenger Deep, an abyss within the Mariana Trench that reaches 11,000 metres beneath the waves, was completed on 31 May by a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Massachussetts, US.

For the expedition, the team had to build a new breed of remotely-operated submarine, called Nereus, which is capable of going deeper than any other while still filming and collecting samples. Sunday's dive makes it the world's deepest-diving vehicle, and the first vehicle to explore the Mariana Trench since 1998.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cats and dogs don't understand string theory.

Except for my cat, who's a beautiful genius. From New Scientist:
Now we know why cats never get bored of chasing string. A new study has found that domestic felines don't seem to understand cause and effect connections between objects.

Chimpanzees, tamarin monkeys, parrots and ravens all understand that tugging on one end of a string will bring a treat at the other end closer. Pigeons and human infants don't; and cat lovers dismayed at their pets' lack of nous can console themselves with the knowledge that dogs don't either.

"There's no reason to think that cats are more stupid than dogs," says Britta Osthaus, a comparative psychologist at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, who led the study. "I've done quite a few tests and I always find that dogs just don't get it."

Working with 15 shelter cats, Osthaus's team attached fish or biscuit treats to one end of a string. A plastic screen with a small gap at the bottom separated cats from their reward, requiring the felines to tug on the string to get the treat.

With a single string attached to the food, most cats learned to paw at the string to get a snack. But when Osthaus' team introduced a second piece of string, unconnected to any foods, cats tugged on the correct string less than half the time.

This suggests that the cats couldn't infer cause-and-effect relationships between two objects and could only learn an association from scratch each time.


D'oh: Car crashes while taking shooting victim to hospital.

Dead: Last survivor of the Titanic.

Health: Wet earwax and bad B.O. signal breast cancer risk.

D'oh: "Survivor" contestant dies of heart attack.

Lame: AIG trying to seize back its charitable grants to pay big bonuses.

Tech: Researchers design software that can help anyone create endless, original music based on emotions.

Pringles argues that they're NOT potato chips to avoid taxes.

Damn, I love Pringles, but what the hell are they?? Based on the below, I don't even think they could be classified as a food... From the NY Times:
Britain’s Supreme Court of Judicature has answered a question that has long puzzled late-night dorm-room snackers: What, exactly, is a Pringle? With citations ranging from Baroness Hale of Richmond to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lord Justice Robin Jacob concluded that, legally, it is a potato chip.

The decision is bad news for Procter & Gamble U.K., which now owes $160 million in taxes. It is good news for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs — and for fans of no-nonsense legal opinions. It is also a reminder, as conservatives begin attacking Judge Sonia Sotomayor for not being a “strict constructionist,” of the pointlessness of labels like that.

In Britain, most foods are exempt from the value-added tax, but potato chips — known as crisps — and “similar products made from the potato, or from potato flour,” are taxable. Procter & Gamble, in what could be considered a plea for strict construction, argued that Pringles — which are about 40 percent potato flour, but also contain corn, rice and wheat — should not be considered potato chips or “similar products.” Rather, they are “savory snacks.”

The VAT and Duties Tribunal disagreed, ruling that Pringles — which have been marketed in the United States as “potato chips” — are taxable. “There are other ingredients,” the tribunal said, but a Pringle is “made from potato flour in the sense that one cannot say that it is not made from potato flour, and the proportion of potato flour is significant being over 40 percent.”

An appeals court reversed, in a convoluted opinion that considered four interpretations of the law before ultimately rejecting three of them. In the end, it decided that Pringles are exempt from the tax, mainly because they have less potato content than a potato chip.

The Supreme Court of Judicature reversed again, in an eloquent decision. Lord Justice Jacob, in an apparent swipe at the midlevel court, insisted the question was “not one calling for or justifying overelaborate, almost mind-numbing legal analysis.”

Dead birds raining from sky in Australia.

From FOX News:
The sky in Western Australia is raining dead birds in what is becoming a regular, and mysterious, event for the region.

More than 200 ibises, ravens, ducks, gulls and a pelican were found dead or convulsing near Perth, raising fears of a mass poisoning.

The discovery comes less than a year after the mystery deaths of 200 gulls only a few miles away, and two years after thousands of birds fell from the skies over the coastal town of Esperance after being poisoned by lead carbonate.

The latest poisoning has been caused by the the pesticide Fenthion, which is used both for domestic and industrial purposes and which is known to be highly toxic to birds.

The Australian Department of Environment and Conservation has opened an investigation into whether it was a deliberate bird poisoning or caused by someone dumping large quantites of the pesticide.

Boy chosen by Dalai Lama turns back on Buddhist order.

This is really interesting.
As a toddler, he was put on a throne and worshipped as by monks who treated him like a god. But the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of a spiritual leader has caused consternation – and some embarrassment – for Tibetan Buddhists by turning his back on the order that had such high hopes for him.

Instead of leading a monastic life, Osel Hita Torres now sports baggy trousers and long hair, and is more likely to quote Jimi Hendrix than Buddha.

Yesterday he bemoaned the misery of a youth deprived of television, football and girls. Movies were also forbidden – except for a sanctioned screening of The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy, about a kidnapped child lama with magical powers. "I never felt like that boy," he said.

He is now studying film in Madrid and has denounced the Buddhist order that elevated him to guru status. "They took me away from my family and stuck me in a medieval situation in which I suffered a great deal," said Torres, 24, describing how he was whisked from obscurity in Granada to a monastery in southern India. "It was like living a lie," he told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Despite his rebelliousness, he is still known as Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche and revered by the Buddhist community. A prayer for his "long life" still adorns the website of the Foundation to Preserve the Mahayana Tradition, which has 130 centres around the world. The website features a biography of the renegade guru that gushes about his peaceful, meditative countenance as a baby. In Tibetan Buddhism, a lama is one of a lineage of reincarnated spiritual leaders, the most famous of which is the Dalai Lama.
More here.

Bride still in wedding dress saves family from fire.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A Connecticut newlywed in her wedding gown is being credited with helping save a family from a Bridgeport house fire.

Officials say that Georgette Clemons had just left her wedding reception Sunday evening when she spotted smoke coming from a home on West McKinley Avenue.

Clemons got out of the car she was riding in and ran into the home. She says a woman was yelling about her animals and didn't want to get out so she had to pull her out.

As firefighters arrived and battled the blaze after members of the Eitelberg family were rescued, Clemons was nearby folding her blackened wedding dress.
More at FOX News.

Taiwanese man sues Vegas casino for feng shui sabotage.

Sounds like a nutty lawsuit, but the casino probably DID do this on purpose. Casinos do all sorts of crazy things to the environment to manipulate people's focus. But breaking into this guy's suite to screw with his superstitious head is pretty devious.
A Taiwanese man who lost two million US dollars in Las Vegas is threatening to sue the casino for using feng shui to cause his losing streak, a report here said.

The man, surnamed Yuan, alleged that the Venetian dug a one-metre (40-inch) square hole on the wall of the presidential suite he was staying in April last year and covered it with a black cloth, said Apple Daily.

The casino also put two white towels in front of Yuan's suite and turned on two large fans facing his room without notifying him, it said.

Yuan claimed that his luck turned bad after discovering the arrangements and that he went from winning 400,000 dollars to losing two million, the report said.

"We Chinese drape black and white cloths only when there is a death in the family. It is such a taboo for regular people, let alone for the gamblers," he was quoted as saying.

Yuan filed a complaint against the Venetian after returning to Taiwan and demanded the cancellation of a two-million-dollar debt to the casino, half of it on credit, it said.

The casino has promised to refund him 100,000 dollars in cash and the same amount in chips, the paper said, without explaining why it had agreed to this.
More here.

Snake-bite chicken off Chinese menus.

The ol' cruel vs. delicious debate just got weirder.
China's health authorities are reported to be putting a stop to restaurants serving chickens which have been bitten to death by poisonous snakes.

The dish, which is served by a small number of restaurants in Guangdong and Chongqing, is billed as detoxing.

But it has generated a storm of controversy in the media and among bloggers after a video of its preparation was circulated online.

The video shows a cook holding a snake and forcing it to bite a live chicken.

A week of intense internet discussion has reached the near-unanimous decision that it is cruel to kill live chickens by forcing deadly snakes to bite them repeatedly.

Some voices noted, however, that they found the cooked dish delicious.
More here.

Tomato pill beats heart disease.

From BBC:
Scientists say a natural supplement made from tomatoes, taken daily, can stave off heart disease and strokes.

The tomato pill contains an active ingredient from the Mediterranean diet - lycopene - that blocks "bad" LDL cholesterol that can clog the arteries.

Ateronon, made by a biotechnology spin-out company of Cambridge University, is being launched as a dietary supplement and will be sold on the high street.

Experts said more trials were needed to see how effective the treatment is.

Preliminary trials involving around 150 people with heart disease indicate that Ateronon can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the blood to almost zero within eight weeks, a meeting of the British Cardiovascular Society will be told at Ateronon's launch on Monday.

29-year-old Tennessee man has 21 children.

Hope taxpayers enjoy paying for this knucklehead's irresponsibility. From Ananova:
A 29-year-old Tennessee man has fathered 21 children with 11 different women.

Desmond Hatchett's extended offspring came to light after authorities took him to court for non-payment of child support.

He has apparently set a US record but said: "It just happened."

Residents of his home town of Knoxville are angry with some even calling for him to be castrated.

But Mr Hatchett said he would not have any more children: "I'm done. I'll say I'm done," he said.

Mr Hatchett, who earns a minimal wage, told TV reporters he knows the names and ages of all his offspring who range from newborn to 11 years old.

Authorities in Knoxville said they plan to take half of his monthly salary to pay for the youngsters but officials said that would work out at just over $1 a week for each child.

His lawyer Keith Pope said: "The children can't all be supported by Desmond, so the state of Tennessee has had to step in."

Chinese woman kills rapist cop, now may get arrested.

Police in central China say a woman went too far in defending herself against a sexual assault that led to the death of an assailant identified as a local official.

Deng Yunjiao, 21, used "excessive force" when stabbing two officials, one of them lethally, after they tried to rape her at a spa in Badong county, Hubei province, Xinhua news agency reported.

The case has been widely covered by the national media and is the subject of intense interest on blogs, where the main reaction is one of shock over the brash and corrupt lifestyles of Chinese officials.

Ms Deng, a waitress, was being investigated for the alleged May 10 murder of Badong county official Deng Guida, who allegedly attacked her at the Dream Town spa and karaoke bar and tried to rape her, press reports said.

Although she had been detained on suspicion of murder, she was released on bail last week and has not been charged, the report said. Last week, police ruled out that she had been raped.

Ms Deng has won widespread sympathy and has been deemed a heroine by the media, while her lawyers have insisted that she killed in self-defence and should not be punished.

It was not immediately clear if the police statement that said Ms Deng went too far in defending herself meant she would be criminally prosecuted.

More here.

Jet with 228 people mysteriously vanishes.

Wow, this is really scary. From CNN:
An Air France plane missing over the Atlantic with 228 people aboard reported electrical problems in stormy weather before it lost contact, the airline said Monday, describing the loss as a "catastrophe."

The Airbus A330-200 sent automatic messages signaling equipment failure as it hit turbulence early in its 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told a news conference.

The last known contact with the plane was at 1:33 a.m. GMT (8:33 p.m. Sunday night ET), according to the Brazilian Air Force.

Brazil says it has launched two air force squadrons to hunt near the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha in the Atlantic Ocean, 365 kilometers (226 miles) from its coast, although the plane vanished outside the country's radar coverage.

Flight AF 447, took off shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday local time (6 p.m. Sunday ET). It was carrying 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby, in addition to the crew, CNN affiliate BFM reported.

"I can say without doubt that this is a catastrophe," Gourgeon said, adding "the entire Air France company and its staff are very moved and affected by this."

[...] CNN air travel expert Richard Quest says the twin-engined plane, a stalwart of trans-Atlantic routes, has an impeccable safety record. "It has very good range, and is extremely popular with airlines because of its versatility," he said.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

David Attenborough protects his own environmental habitat - by buying the pub next door!

From Daily Mail:
He has tangled with gorillas and been bombarded by bats. So Sir David Attenborough was well-equipped to deal with a problem right on his own doorstep.

When the veteran TV wildlife presenter realised a proposed building development could compromise the privacy of his home, he made a natural move.

He bought the derelict pub next door to his stunning Edwardian house in Richmond upon Thames, South-West London, for £1million – and so stopped the possibility of a block of flats being built.

Now Sir David, 83, who has been voted the most trusted person in Britain, has finalised plans to extend his powder-blue house by joining it with part of the pub called The Hole In The Wall and promised he will keep the facade.

He said: ‘I have watched with dismay as the property has lain empty for the past two-and-a-half years and become increasingly derelict and unsightly.

‘I wouldn’t say I am rescuing it but the front will be retained.’

Man forced to marry chops off own penis.

What price love? From here.
An Egyptian cut off his penis today in protest at his parents' choice of bride, a police official said.

The 25-year-old labourer from the village of Sheikh Eissa in southern Egypt was taken to hospital in stable condition, the official said, adding that the man had also mutilated his testicles.

"He was in love with a woman but his parents rejected her and told him to marry another woman he didn't want. He took a knife and cut off his penis in his room.''

Doctors were unable to reattach the severed member, the official said.

Abortion doctor killed in CHURCH.

Hey whackjobs - if you think this is what God wants, think again. From Yahoo! News:
WICHITA, Kan. – Dr. George Tiller, who remained one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions through decades of protests and attacks, was shot and killed Sunday in a church where he was serving as an usher and his wife was in the choir.

The gunman fled, but Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Erickson said a suspect was in custody. Erickson said the person authorities had been seeking is being held in New Century, Kan., about 170 miles northeast of Wichita, until Wichita police can question him.

Police had few details on the shooting but scheduled a news conference late Sunday afternoon.

Long a focus of national anti-abortion groups, including a summer-long protest in 1991, Tiller was shot during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church. His attorney Dan Monnat said Tiller was an usher at the services and his wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time.

Tiller's killing is "an unspeakable tragedy," his widow, four children and 10 grandchildren said in statement issued by Monnat. "This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace."

The family said its loss "is also a loss for the city of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care despite frequent threats and violence."