Friday, June 26, 2009
They say bad news comes in threes.(Thanks Kelly!)
Perhaps that explains major media outlets' rush to believe unconfirmed reports this morning that American actor Jeff Goldblum had died.
As the world came to terms with the news pop superstar Michael Jackson had suffered a heart attack and former Charlie's Angels actress Farrah Fawcett had lost her long battle with cancer, the rumour of Goldblum's death surfaced.
The news has now been revealed as a hoax.
But only after gaining widespread news coverage - from ABC Radio to Richard Wilkins on Channel Nine - and generating a flurry of activity on social networking websites.
"Jeff Goldblum dead" was at 11am the third-most popular search term on Google.
All the other top-10 search terms revealed on Google Trends related to Michael Jackson's death.
It appears the rumour of Goldblum's death originated on a spoof website that generates generic news stories about celebrity deaths.
Five French tourists got a harrowing start to their New York visit: a wild police chase.
As they looked for a ride at the Air France terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday morning, the visitors were lured to a van that was not licensed to provide taxi service, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman John Kelly said.
Plainclothes police recognized the man who enticed the tourists, Ian McFarland, as a repeat offender previously arrested for corralling passengers into unlicensed cars. A Port Authority officer reached inside the van to try and grab the keys, but the driver, Khaalis Preacher, sped off with the tourists inside, knocking the officer to the ground, Kelly said.
Port Authority police sped after the van, which snaked through residential streets and traveled about seven miles through two boroughs before it crashed through a gate at a U.S. Postal Service facility in the East New York section of Brooklyn.
The tourists said they screamed and prayed during the chase.
"I was scared," Paris resident Esther-Ethy Mamane, 26, said Wednesday at a news conference. Mamane and her mother, Claudine, traveled to New York to attend a religious seminar. She said she tried to keep the other passengers inside the van calm during the chaos.
Preacher and McFarland jumped out while the van was still moving. Mamane said there was smoke and the rear doors wouldn't open from the inside, so she jumped out the front as the van rolled and ran around to open the doors. Mamane's mother tried to jump from the van, fell and the vehicle rolled over her arm. She was treated at a hospital and released. Mamane and the other passengers, a woman and her parents, were not injured.
Meanwhile, police chased the two suspects on foot and arrested them on charges of unlawful solicitation, criminal trespass and possibly other charges, Kelly said. It wasn't clear whether they had attorneys.
Claudine and Esther-Ethy Mamane were given a bag full of New York City goodies, including tickets to the Broadway show "Chicago," passes to the Museum of Modern Art and transit fare cards at a news conference Wednesday. The other tourists decided not to attend.
The women, who spoke little English, said they were grateful to the Port Authority officers who never let the van out of their sight, and they are looking forward to a good trip in New York.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The whale and dolphin watching industry in Japan is growing annually by around 6.4 percent and last year generated nearly $23 million in revenues, according to a new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Environmentalists publicized the data on Wednesday in an attempt to show whaling nations the benefits of focusing on conservation rather than hunting.
In the report, IFAW revealed that 13 million people took whale and dolphin watching tours in 119 countries in 2008, generating ticket fees and tourism expenditures of more than $2.1 billion.
According to IFAW, the number of people who participated in whale and dolphin watching tours in Japan stood at 191,970 in 2008, with the figures showing an average annual growth rate of 6.4 percent over the last 10 years.
There were 104 tour operators in Japan last year, generating $7,375,076 in direct revenues from ticket sales, with an additional $15,345,902 being produced in tourism revenue for the local economy, the report stated.
The whale watching industry in Japan is the most profitable in Asia, according to one of the contributors to the document, pointing out that it generates much more in revenue than the subsidized whale meat industry.
Iran's leading opposition figurehead, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, launched a lengthy broadside against the Iranian leadership and state-owned media in comments published today on his website as authorities arrested 70 university professors who had met with him.
The former prime minister, in comments apparently delivered Wednesday to the arrested social scientists and posted on one of his websites today, accused Iran's supreme leader of not acting in the interests of the country and said a dramatic change for the worse had taken place in the country.
He slammed state-controlled broadcast outlets, which have intensified a media blitz against the West and alleged that the recent unrest over disputed June 12 presidential election was the work of Iran's international antagonists.
Wallabies are breaking into Tasmania's poppy fields and getting high.
The strange occurrence, revealed in a State Government Budget Estimates hearing, has also solved what some growers say has spurred a campfire legend about mysterious crop circles that appear in northern Tasmania's poppy paddocks.
In true X-Files-style, Attorney-General Lara Giddings said the drugged out wallabies had been found hopping around in circles squashing the poppies, creating the formations – and hence solving the mystery.
The wallabies are increasingly entering the fields and eating the poppy heads, The Mercury reports.
That causes them to get high and run around in circles creating "crop circles".
"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Ms Gidding said.
When you gotta go you gotta go, and for small tropical mammals called tree shrews, a pitcher plant serves as a handy toilet, new video research finds.
The jug-shaped plants make out just fine, too: They use the shrew's feces as a much-needed nitrogen source.
Most pitcher plants are carnivorous, trapping ants and other insects that slip down the sides of the pitcher into a pool of digestive enzymes. The new finding, published online June 10 in the journal Biology Letters, reveals at least one type of pitcher plant "feeds on" the poop from tree shrews in lieu of insects.
"Basically it's a toilet complete with a feeding station," said study team member Jonathan Moran of Royal Roads University in British Columbia.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A teenage girl who claimed 56 stars were tattooed on her face as she slept when she'd only asked for three has admitted she was awake the whole time - and lied because her father was 'furious'.
Belgian Kimberley Vlaminck said last week she woke up in horror to find her face covered in the stars of various sizes which spread out over the left-hand side of her head.
She went on to blame the Flemish-speaking tattooist for not being able to understand her French and English instructions.
Amid a frenzy of media attention, she then vowed to sue tattoo artist Rouslan Toumaniantz for the £9,000 she needs for laser surgery to have them removed.
She said after the tattooing: 'It is terrible for me. I cannot go out on to the street. I look like a freak.'
But the 18-year-old has finally confessed she did not fall asleep, that she wanted all the stars and was 'fully aware' of what Toumaniantz was doing.
Miss Vlaminck told a Dutch TV crew: 'I asked for 56 stars and initially adored them.
'But when my father saw them, he was furious.
'So I said I fell asleep and that the tattoist had made a mistake.'
WTF: Crocodile causes helicopter crash.
Awesome: Kung fu master cracks four coconuts with finger.
Hot Cha Cha: North Carolina beach going for world's biggest skinny dip.
Biz: Philip Morris agrees to pay $200 million to settle Colombia tax evasion suit.
Yipes: Dad kills son during argument on Father's Day.
Hot Cha Cha: Top 10 sexiest PETA ads (borderline NSFW?).
Politics: In Colombia, 28 of 33 governors and 70% of mayors investigated for corruption. Sounds like the US.
PSA: Cruise lines don't often respond properly - and sometimes cover-up - rapes on cruises.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Tired of scooting around the office, writing down everyone's order in a piece of scrap paper before making that run to Dunkin' Donuts?From here.
[...] Well, it seems the IT folks at the coffee company can feel your pain.
Dunkin' Donuts today unveiled a new Web site, Dunkin' Run, along with an iPhone application, designed to help customers solicit and submit group orders online.
"We conceived of Dunkin' Run as a social application that helps hard-working Americans stay slightly more productive," said Baba Shetty, chief media officer at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc., Dunkin's advertising firm.
Here's how it works:
The person making the run can initiate a group order at her company using a PC, a mobile device or the new iPhone application, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes. Then alerts are sent to the runner's list of co-workers or friends informing them that a run is going to be made and that they can place their order online. Users can look at the menu online or check out their own list of favorites.
The runner then can print out the page and take it to the store, or she can bring the page to the local Dunkin' Donuts on her mobile device.
Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.
A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm.
Staff in London were briefed last week on the banking and securities company's prospects and told they could look forward to bumper bonuses if, as predicted, it completed its most profitable year ever. Figures next month detailing the firm's second-quarter earnings are expected to show a further jump in profits. Warren Buffett, who bought $5bn of the company's shares in January, has already made a $1bn gain on his investment.
Goldman is expected to be the biggest winner in the race for revenues that, in 2006, reached £186bn across the entire industry. While this figure is expected to fall to £160bn in 2009, it will be split among a smaller number of firms.
A woman from the town of Jericho in Antioquia had to undergo surgery to remove a toothbrush from her intestines she swallowed for inexplicable reasons.
The toothbrush was stuck in the intestines of the woman after she apparently incidentally swallowed it while brushing her teeth Friday evening. The woman is not able to explain how she was able to swallow the object and whether it was because of an accident or stupidity.
Doctors in her hometown -- alarmed by the seriousness of the situation -- referred the woman to Ciudad Bolivar to undergo treatment, but the doctors there also felt incompetent to remove the toothbrush and referred the woman to a Medellin hospital.
A woman was trampled to death by cows while walking her dogs in northern England, police said Monday.
The 49-year-old died at the scene, said a press officer for North Yorkshire police, where the incident took place on Sunday just after noon local time (7 a.m. ET).
"She had two dogs with her," said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named in line with police policy. They were not on a leash, she added.
"We believe the cows may have gotten protective of their calves," she said.
A Warwickshire man is auctioning his dad's ashes on eBay - in revenge for abandoning him as a child.
William Ireland, 50, of Atherstone, claims he was six when dad Ken left his mum to start a new life, reports The Sun.
He later tracked him down and admitted: "I spent a lot of childhood pining for dad.
"When I found him we started seeing each other then he died in 2006. I found out his estate was going to the woman he left my mother for and their son.
"I thought he might have made it up to me. Obviously he never cared."
Mr Ireland got the ashes after paying for the funeral. His father's second wife and family are thought to want them back.
The eBay ad reads: "Here are the ashes of my father, Kenneth Ireland, an adulterer who left a wife, two children and just £17 in her pocket. He never paid a penny towards his kids' upbringing."
Some parents of incoming freshmen at Antioch High School want an assigned summer reading book pulled from the school's shelves and the curriculum because it uses foul, racist language and describes sexual acts.
The book, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," by Sherman Alexie, is an award-winning story of a 14-year-old American Indian who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. The main character faces many of the same challenges the incoming freshmen will face when they start school in the fall, said John Whitehurst, chairman of the English department at Antioch High School.
Jennifer Anderson said she was one of seven parents who attended the Community High School District 117 School Board meeting Thursday to ask that the book be banned from the curriculum, or at the very least be accompanied with a warning about the content.
"I can't imagine anyone finding this book appropriate for a 13- or 14-year-old," said Anderson, whose 14-year-old son will be a freshman this fall. "I have not met a single parent who is not shocked by this. This is not appropriate for our community."
District 117 Supt. Jay Sabatino said he has not read the book but planned to do so over the weekend and asked two school board members to do the same. On Monday, the group will reconvene to discuss the appropriate action to take, he said.
The inventor of the "Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed," which brought weary travellers 15 minutes of "tingling relaxation and ease" for a quarter in U.S. motel rooms during the 1960s and '70s, has died. He was 92.From here.
John Joseph Houghtaling died Wednesday at his home in Fort Pierce, his son Paul Houghtaling said Friday in a telephone interview.
Tinkering in the basement of his New Jersey home, Houghtaling invented the "Magic Fingers" machine in 1958.
"Put in a quarter, turn out the light, Magic Fingers makes ya feel all right," Jimmy Buffett sang in "This Hotel Room."
Kitschy and titillating, Magic Fingers remained a staple of American pop culture even after the device began disappearing from motels. The vibrations triggered a beer explosion in the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," and FBI agents Mulder and Scully relaxed to the pulsations in an episode of "The X Files."
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A man suspected of breaking into a Maine restaurant will have to get used to jailhouse food after workers at the eatery discovered lobsters and wine missing—and the suspect asleep on a bench.
Police say Paul Bruneau broke into the Portland Lobster Co. through a rear window and stuffed his pockets with cash before chowing down on the better part of 11 prepared lobsters worth about $300. He washed it all down with a white wine.
The Portland Press Herald reports Bruneau also left a refrigerator open, causing about $1,000 worth of food to be thrown away.
Bruneau, who was already out on bail, was being held Friday at the Cumberland County Jail. He couldn't be reached for comment.
[...] Shortly after midnight on 5 February 1958, Howard Richardson was on a top-secret training flight for the US Strategic Air Command.
It was the height of the Cold War and the young Major Richardson's mission was to practise long-distance flights in his B-47 bomber in case he was ordered to fly from Homestead Air Force Base in Florida to any one of the targets the US had identified in Russia.
The training was to be as realistic as possible, so on board was a single massive H-bomb - the nuclear weapon he might one day be instructed to drop to start World War III.
As he cruised at 38,000 feet over North Carolina and Georgia, his plane was hit by another military aircraft, gouging a huge hole in the wing and knocking an engine almost off its mountings, leaving it hanging at a perilous angle.
At his home in Mississippi, Colonel Richardson said: "All of a sudden we felt a heavy jolt and a burst of flame out to the right.
"We didn't know what it was.
"We thought maybe it was something from outer space, but it could only be another plane."
The colonel thought his number was up. His bomber started plummeting to earth and he struggled with the flight deck to get any kind of response.
"We had ejection seats - I told 'em: 'Don't hit the ejection seats just yet. I'm gonna see if we can fly.'"
As he dropped to 20,000 feet, he somehow got the damaged craft under control and levelled out.
He and his co-pilot then made a fateful decision which probably saved both their lives and the lives of countless people on the ground.
It's not nearly as overt as a hand sign or a coloured bandana, but DNA may offer one clue as to whether someone belongs to a gang or not.
Males with a particular form of gene called MAOA are twice as likely to join a gang, compared to those with other forms, finds a new study of more than 2000 US teens. What's more, gang members with these mutations are far more likely to use a weapon than other members.
"For the most part, people haven't really thought of the biological or genetic underpinnings to gang membership, says Kevin Beaver, a biosocial criminologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, who led the study.
The relatively common mutations result in reduced levels of a protein, called monoamine oxidase A, which recycles several of the chemicals that foster neuron connections.