Friday, January 8, 2010

Scam artists win Mega Millions.

From the NY Post:

The Long Island couple who won a $162 million Mega Millions jackpot will today receive $1 million less of their winnings, the million bucks being put aside to pay back the public for a scam they ran while operating homeless shelters, sources said.

A lawyer for Suffolk County got a court order last night – after officials went to a judge to get back the money they say William and Mary Morrison, of Miller Place, took under false pretenses in 2000, officials said.

Suffolk County Attorney Christine Malafi ``received an order from Supreme Court to put aside $1 million in escrow from their winnings,’’ said Suffolk Department of Social Services commissioner Gregory J. Blass.

Blass said the Morrisons should receive their money today at a 2 p.m. press conference in garden City – ``but it will be $1 million less.

``We know this has made the Morrisons cranky,’’ said Blass, in an ironic tone ``but having $1 million less is a sacrifice they can endure.’’ After taxes and deductions the couple should net more than $60 million.

Blass said the Morrison’s lawyer Michael Solomon did not oppose the court order. He could not be reached for comment.

The county yesterday scrambled to recover funds meant for the homeless after the Morrisons yesterday revealed their identities and authorities realized the couple - who are set today to receive their prize money – were the same couple who owed more than $950,000.

Witch-doctors reveal extent of child sacrifice in Uganda.

From BBC:
A BBC investigation into human sacrifice in Uganda has heard first-hand accounts which suggest ritual killings of children may be more common than authorities have acknowledged.

One witch-doctor led us to his secret shrine and said he had clients who regularly captured children and brought their blood and body parts to be consumed by spirits.

Meanwhile, a former witch-doctor who now campaigns to end child sacrifice confessed for the first time to having murdered about 70 people, including his own son.

The Ugandan government told us that human sacrifice is on the increase, and according to the head of the country's Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce the crime is directly linked to rising levels of development and prosperity, and an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people get rich quickly.

In the course of our investigation we witnessed the ritual torching of the shrine of a particularly active witch-doctor in northern Uganda by anti-sacrifice campaigners.

The witch-doctor allowed ceremonial items including conch shells and animal skins to be burned in his sacred grove after agreeing to give up sacrifice.

He told us that clients had come to him in search of wealth.

"They capture other people's children. They bring the heart and the blood directly here to take to the spirits… They bring them in small tins and they place these objects under the tree from which the voices of the spirits are coming," he said.

Asked how often clients brought blood and body parts, the witch-doctor said they came "on average three times a week - with all that the spirits demand from them."

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Science: Huge breakthrough on how a protein is liked to the spread of viruses.

Science: Hubble finds most distant galaxies.

Lame: Restaurants and packaged foods have more calories than noted on nutrition labels.

Prophesy: Runaway anti-matter destroys star, explosion can be seen halfway across galaxy.

Hot Cha Cha: $30m Senegal statue shows too much thigh.

Film: Dune being remade for some reason.

Scientists: Dolphins should be treated as non-human people.

Dolphins rule. From FOX News:
Dolphins have been declared the world's second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as "non-human persons."

Studies into dolphin behavior have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.

The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.

"Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size," said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates.

"The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions," she added.

Dolphins have long been recognised as among the most intelligent of animals but many researchers had placed them below chimps, which some studies have found can reach the intelligence levels of three-year-old children. Recently, however, a series of behavioral studies has suggested that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, could be the brighter of the two. The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.

Researchers: The G-spot doesn't exist.

It's not surprising that scientists can't find the G-spot. From BBC:
The elusive erogenous zone said to exist in some women may be a myth, say researchers who have hunted for it.

Their study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine is the biggest yet, involving 1,800 women, and it found no proof.

The King's College London team believe the G-spot may be a figment of women's imagination, encouraged by magazines and sex therapists.

But sexologist Beverley Whipple, who helped popularise the G-spot idea, said the work was "flawed".

She said the researchers had discounted the experiences of lesbian or bisexual women and failed to consider the effects of having different sexual partners with different love-making techniques.

The women in the study, who were all pairs of identical and non-identical twins, were asked whether they had a G-spot.

If one did exist, it would be expected that both identical twins, who have the same genes, would report having one.

But this pattern did not emerge and the identical twins were no more likely to have a G-spot than non-identical twins who share only half of their genes.

CIA bomber was CIA double agent.

Already old news, but damn. From BBC:
The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan was an al-Qaeda double agent, US media reports say.

He is said to have been a doctor from Jordan, arrested there a year ago.

He was then reportedly recruited by the Jordanians and CIA, who wrongly thought they had turned him, and given a mission to find al-Qaeda leaders.

The reports came as the top US military intelligence officer in Afghanistan issued a scathing assessment of the state of the intelligence effort there.

In a report, Maj Gen Michael Flynn said that US intelligence in Afghanistan was still "unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which US and allied forces operate and the people they are trying to protect and persuade".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

ESPN to launch 3D TV network.

Finally, I can watch hours of poker in thrilling 3D! From Reuters:
The Walt Disney Co's sports unit said on Tuesday it will launch ESPN 3D, which it claims is the industry's first 3D TV network, in June and will air a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year.

"This will be a meaningful step to drive adoption of 3D television sets and afford opportunities for our affiliates to create value through new product offerings, and our advertisers, who want fresh sponsorship opportunities," Sean Bratches, ESPN's executive vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement.

Already a hit in movie theaters, many believe 3D is poised to take over the home market as the display technology to watch this year. Many 3D technologies will be on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas.

A lack of 3D programing, in particular for sports, has been one of the key barriers to adoption of 3D TV, analysts have said. Having to wear special glasses is another.

In addition, sports, perhaps even more than movies, is a prime driver of consumer sales for screen technology, including flat-screen TVs.

ESPN said its first broadcast will be a June 11 World Cup soccer match between South Africa and Mexico. Other events to be produced in 3D include up to 25 World Cup matches, the Summer X Games extreme sports, college basketball and football, including the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona, on January 10, 2011.

Kitchen spoons will kill us all.

From EurekAlert:
A new study published in the Jan. 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine illustrates the dangers of using kitchen spoons to measure liquid medicine.

Former cold and flu sufferers were asked to pour one teaspoon of nighttime flu medicine into kitchen spoons of differing sizes. Depending upon the size of the spoon, the 195 former patients poured an average of eight percent too little or 12 percent too much medicine.

"When pouring into a medium-size tablespoon, participants under-dosed. But when using a larger spoon, they poured too much medicine," said Dr. Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, who led the study.

"Twelve percent more may not sound like a lot, but this goes on every four to eight hours, for up to four days," Wansink explained. "So it really adds up—to the point of ineffectiveness or even danger."

Visual illusions and spatial relationships are familiar topics in Wansink's work in food and eating behavior. In his book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, he shows how smaller plates can unknowingly decrease how much people eat, and how taller glasses can decrease the amount of alcohol poured by even expert bartenders.

"Simply put, we cannot always trust our ability to estimate amounts," said the study's co-author, Dr. Koert van Ittersum, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Georgia Tech. "In some cases it may not be important, but when it comes to the health of you or your child, it is vital to make an accurate measurement."

The most dangerous sport? Cheerleading.

From ABC News:
[...] Cheerleading has long been an iconic American pastime, and it is now more popular than ever. By one estimate, 3 million young people cheer, more than 400,000 at the high school level. And cheerleaders are no longer only on the sidelines -- many cheer competitively.

The degree of difficulty of cheer stunts has exploded. So too has the number of accidents.

Cheerleading emergency room visits have increased almost sixfold over the past three decades. There were nearly 30,000 in 2008, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The numbers are all the more disturbing because some states don't even recognize cheerleading as a sport. That means there are no uniform safety measures and training methods.

Woman puts fist through McDonald's window over lack of McNuggets.

From Breitbart:
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Police say an Ohio woman punched through a McDonald's drive-through window because Chicken McNuggets weren't available. Police were called Friday to the restaurant in Toledo.

Police say 24-year-old Melodi Dushane was treated for injuries, then jailed. She pleaded not guilty to a vandalism charge. She was released on a recognizance bond and ordered not to have contact with the restaurant. The phone number for her home address isn't listed.

A manager at the McDonald's declined Monday to discuss the incident.

Couple arrested for tattooing children with crosses.

From MyFoxDC via Drudge:
CHATTOOGA COUNTY, Ga. - A Georgia couple is out of jail on bond after being arrested for tattooing six of their children.

Investigators say they put their children in danger, but they say they did nothing wrong.

Investigators said a plastic pen body with a needle made of a guitar string connected to an electric motor was used to tattoo the six children.

"It's a painful procedure with a crude instrument," said Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett.

Sheriff Everett said five children got a cross like tattoo on their hands, the oldest boy, a tattoo of "mom and dad' on his arm.

Sheriff Everett continued "7-years-old to 17. The 7-year-old's the one that didn't' receive a tattoo. They determined he was too young."

"I'm not breaking their skin, it's right there, it's going to fade away. It's like a pen mark," said the children’s mother PattyJo Marsh.

Sheriff Everett said investigators came after receiving a complaint from the biological mother of two of the children complaining about the tattoos.

Patty Marsh and her husband are charged with three counts each of illegal tattooing, second degree child cruelty and reckless conduct.

Man makes off with discarded bank heist booty.

From the NY Post:
A bank robber running from police dropped a bag full of cash in the heart of Chinatown yesterday -- but the money is still missing because an opportunist made off with the booty.

Police said the robber, who was not identified, walked into the TD Bank branch on Canal Street and Bowery at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge at about 1:30 p.m. He claimed to be armed and verbally demanded cash from a teller.

But just steps from the bank, a uniformed cop spotted the crook and chased him. As the robber ran, a dye packet inside the cash bag went off.

"I was right outside the bank. A man came running out," said witness Bun Lam. "There was a cop two steps behind him . . . Right in front of a beauty-supply store, the ink exploded."

The robber dropped the bag and continued to run, witnesses said, and another unidentified man picked up the red-stained cash and took off.

Cops caught up with the bank robber, but the booty-grabber was still in the wind.

Charges were pending.

Stupid siblings horse around, brother dies.

This is why kids shouldn't be horsin' around! From FOX News:
MESA, Ariz. — Police say a teenage girl accidentally ran over and killed her 17-year-old brother as the two played around in an Arizona shopping mall parking lot.

Mesa Police spokesman Ed Wessing on Sunday identified the brother as Dwight J. Brock Jr. and his sister as 16-year-old Nicole M. Brock, both residents of Mesa.

Wessing says the sister had dropped off her brother at Superstition Springs Mall Saturday evening. And then they started playing around, with the brother jumping in front of the car and the sister slamming on the brakes.

The last time that happened the sister was unable to stop and ran over the brother.

He was rushed to a hospital in critical condition and later pronounced dead.

Panic room saves Dutch cartoonist.

I'm not so sure trying to decapitate someone with an axe is a good way to defend the benevolence of one's religious ideals. From Times Online:

Just when Denmark thought the worst was over, Islamic fury has come back to haunt it with an assassination attempt on the artist whose cartoon of the prophet Muhammad as a suicide bomber had an explosive impact four years ago on the Muslim world.

An axe-wielding Somali extremist broke into the home of Kurt Westergaard on Friday night as the 75-year-old cartoonist was looking after Stephanie, his five-year-old granddaughter.

Westergaard, whose little ink drawing of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban sparked riots throughout the Middle East in 2006, has received numerous death threats. He pressed an alarm button to summon police when the attacker entered the house in Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, by breaking a window.

He did not have time to collect the child from the living room before locking himself into a “panic room”, a specially fortified bathroom. He said the assailant had shouted “swear words, really crude words” and shrieked about “blood” and “revenge”, as he smashed the axe in vain against the bathroom door.

“I feared for my grandchild,” he told Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that had commissioned the cartoon. “But she did great. I knew that he wouldn’t do anything to her.” He went on: “It was close, really close. But we did it.”

The attacker, who was also carrying a knife, shouted, “I’ll be back”, before going outside to confront police. He smashed a police car window with the axe and was shot in the hand and a knee when he threw the axe at an officer. He appeared in court on a stretcher yesterday to be charged with the attempted murder of Westergaard and the policeman.

[...] Angry protesters in Muslim countries in 2006 burnt embassies and stormed several European buildings in a wave of rioting and flag-burning in which more than 100 people were killed. The reaction had come after a dozen “Muhammad cartoons”, including the famous one by Westergaard, were published in several newspapers.

The drawings, which first appeared in 2005, had been intended to contribute to the debate about criticism of Islam and self-censorship. This followed the brutal murder in Holland the previous year of Theo van Gogh, the film maker, by a fanatic who resented his depiction of Islam and slit his throat on a street.

US lifts HIV/AIDS immigration ban.

From BBC News:
The US has lifted a 22-year immigration ban which has stopped anyone with HIV/Aids from entering the country.

President Obama said the ban was not compatible with US plans to be a leader in the fight against the disease.

The new rules come into force on Monday and the US plans to host a global HIV/Aids summit for the first time in 2012.

The ban was imposed at the height of a global panic about the disease at the end of the 1980s.

It put the US in a group of just 12 countries, also including Libya and Saudi Arabia, that excluded anyone suffering from HIV/Aids.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon, in Miami, says that improving treatments and evolving public perceptions have helped to bring about the change.

Rachel Tiven, head of the campaign group Immigration Equality, told the BBC that the step was long overdue.

"The 2012 World Aids Conference, due to be held in the United States, was in jeopardy as a result of the restrictions. It's now likely to go ahead as planned," she said.

In October, President Obama said the entry ban had been "rooted in fear rather than fact".

He said: "We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the Aids pandemic - yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with HIV from entering our own country."

Woman hit with falling moose head.

Where's Basil Fawlty when you need him? By the way, the last two lines of this piece are priceless. From NY Daily News:
A Manhattan woman has sued a lower East Side restaurant, claiming she was conked in the head by a moosehead that fell off a wall.

Raina Kumra, 32, sued White Slab Palace, a Scandinavian-inspired hipster hangout on Delancey St., for an unspecified amount, charging the owners were "grossly careless" in mounting the taxidermy wildlife.

"It was the bar's fault," Kumra told the Daily News Tuesday. "I was injured and in an embarrassing way."

The 150-pound moosehead with antlers spanning over 3 feet was the centerpiece of the restaurant's back party room.

In a suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Kumra said she was standing under the moosehead about 1 a.m. on Oct. 4 when it came dislodged and crowned her.

Named in the suit is Annika Sundvik, a Manhattan art gallery owner who opened White Slab Palace in February.

The restaurant "had a duty to provide ... an environment free from falling objects," the suit charges.

Kumra said she suffered a concussion when clobbered on the head in the party room packed with patrons.

Since the incident, Kumra has lost cognitive skills and suffered chronic neck pain, fatigue, dizzy spells and anxiety from mounting medical expenses, the suit says. Sundvik, who also owns Good Bar & Grill in Chinatown, did not immediately return calls for comment. A manager at the restaurant refused to comment, saying she hadn't heard of the suit.

Meanwhile, Richard Santomauro, owner of Wildlife Taxidermy in Wall, N.J., insisted Kumra was not hit by a moosehead.

"That's a caribou," he said after viewing a photo of the stuffed head.

Darwin Award winners announced.

From UPI:
A North Carolina woman was the runner-up for the 2009 Darwin Award, the first female to contend for the honorific recognizing stupidly fatal behavior.

Coming in second for the tongue-cheek award, the woman tried to flee from police custody during a flash flood by jumping into a swollen creek, the organization said in a news release. An officer tried to rescue her, but to no avail.

She was in custody because she drove right past the officer and a roadblock, lost control of her moped -- and fell into the creek.

Placing first, though, was a pair of robbers who couldn't do the math on the amount of dynamite needed to blow open an ATM in Dinant, Belgium, and really overestimated the amount needed. Both died.

Named in honor of Charles Darwin, father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those "who improve our gene pool -- by removing themselves from it," the Darwin Awards Web site said.

The award, the site said, is "generally bestowed posthumously."