Friday, February 25, 2011

Former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving arrested... for drunk driving.

From Daily Mail:
A former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been arrested for driving while nearly three times over the alcohol limit.

Debra Oberlin, from Gainesville, Florida, was spotted driving erratically, swerving and crossing lanes just after 1 in the morning, police said.

When an officer pulled her over she allegedly smelled of alcohol and had watery, bloodshot and dilated eyes.

The 48-year-old estate agent had difficulty on a field sobriety test - including walking in a straight line and standing on one leg - and registered a .234 and .239 on breath alcohol tests. Florida's legal limit for driving is .08

Oberlin told MailOnline that her mother's death at Christmas had affected her badly and that the drink-drive episode was a one-off.

She had been out to watch a friend play at an acoustic night and was giving somebody a lift home because she thought they were the one over the limit.

'I didn't want them to drive,' she said. 'I didn't know I was intoxicated. I hadn't eaten all day. I thought I was overtired and I was hungry.

'I screwed up. I'm really sorry.

'I'm not this terrible, hypocritical person. I'm a hard-working person who has gone through the biggest personal loss in my life.

'The physical stress, hunger and tiredness meant the alcohol affected me more than it normally would.'

Oberlin, who has two grown-up children, was the president of the local chapter of MADD for three years in the 1990s.

Voodoo sex romp sets Brooklyn apartment on fire.

From NY Daily News:
A couple engaged in a voodoo sex romp in Brooklyn set off the weekend blaze that killed a woman and left dozens homeless, sources said.

A woman paid $300 to a voodoo priest on the fourth floor of the apartment building on E. 29th St. She wanted him to perform a mystical ceremony that would bring her luck, the sources said.

The voodoo priest placed candles on the floor around the bed on Saturday. He lit the candles then the couple began having sex. Candles were accidentally knocked over, igniting bed sheets and their recently discarded clothes.

Instead of calling 911, the man conducting the ceremony tried to put out the fire using water from the bathroom sink, the FDNY said in a statement.

Someone else in the apartment opened a window and a door leading to the building's hallway, creating wind gusts that "shot the flames back inside, creating a blowtorch effect," fire officials said.

Flames tore through the fourth, fifth and sixth floors, causing one of the floors to collapse. A resident on the top floor, Mary Feagin, a 64-year-old retired teacher, died in the blaze.

Twenty firefighters and 11 residents were injured and 47 families were left homeless.

Without referring to the sex, Fire Commission Salvatore Cassano lamented the series of errors that lead to the fire.

"Time and time again we respond to tragedies that could have been so easily prevented," he said. "This fire had so many of those elements - candles left on the floor near combustible material, one of the occupants trying to douse the flames before calling 911 and an open door, which allowed fire to spread into the hallway."

No one has been charged.

"Hopefully others will learn from this tragedy," Cassano said.

Costco makes big move toward sustainable seafood.

Great news and a rare case of a huge corporation acting responsibly. From Alternet:
[...] Greenpeace just announced that Costco has a new policy for sustainabe seafood that affects a "vast majority of the chain's seafood inventory and means the retailer will discontinue sales of twelve kinds of fish associated with severe environmental concerns, including shark, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and Atlantic halibut." And they "also pledged to pursue aquaculture certification standards that support best practices, as farmed salmon and farmed shrimp are two of its largest volume items."

Because of Costco's huge size, this is a really big win for our fisheries and ocean health. The company is still far from perfect, but this latest step in the right direction should be applauded. One thing to keep an eye on is that they will sell some questionable species if they are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which is the most recogonized name in the sustainable seafood biz, but not without its flaws, either.

"We recognize that Costco is moving in the right direction," said Trenor. "That said, Greenpeace shares the concerns some scientists and environmental groups have voiced about the MSC and its standards. Hopefully a progressive company like Costco will use its significant purchasing power to push the MSC to continue to improve and become the gold standard that we all hope it will be."

Vatican: Priests have been raping nuns to avoid AIDS from prostitutes.

From the Independent (via Coozer-Phile Duff):
The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries have been sexually abusing nuns.

Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus.

Confidential Vatican reports obtained by the National Catholic Reporter, a weekly magazine in the US, have revealed that members of the Catholic clergy have been exploiting their financial and spiritual authority to gain sexual favours from nuns, particularly those from the Third World who are more likely to be culturally conditioned to be subservient to men.

The reports, some of which are recent and some of which have been in circulation for at least seven years, said that such priests had demanded sex in exchange for favours, such as certification to work in a given diocese.

In extreme instances, the priests had made nuns pregnant and then encouraged them to have abortions.

The US article was based on five documents, which senior women from religious orders and priests have presented to the Vatican over the past decade. They describe a particularly bad situation in Africa. In a continent devastated by Aids, nuns, along with early adolescent girls, are perceived by some as safe sexual targets. The reports said that the church authorities had done little to tackle the problem.

The Vatican reports cited countless cases of nuns forced to have sex with priests. Some were obliged to take the pill, others became pregnant and were encouraged to have abortions. In one case in which an African sister was forced to have an abortion, she died during the operation and her aggressor led the funeral mass. Another case involved 29 sisters from the same congregation who all became pregnant to priests in the diocese.

The reports said that the cultures in some African countries made it almost impossible for a young woman to disobey an older man, especially one seen as spiritually superior. There were cases of novices who applied to their local priest or bishop for certificates of good Catholic practice that were required for them to pursue their vocation. In return they were made to have sex. Some incidents of sexual abuse allegedly took place almost within the Vatican walls.

Certain unscrupulous clerics took advantage of young nuns who were having trouble finding accommodation, writing their essays and funding their theological studies.

Forced to acknowledge the problem, the Vatican has tried to play down its gravity. In a statement issued yesterday the Pope's official spokesman, Joaquin Navarro Valls, said: "The problem is known and involves a restricted geographical area. Certain negative situations must not overshadow the often heroic faith of the overwhelming majority of religious, nuns and priests".

Cats adore women, form same bonds as human babies.

From Discovery:
The bond between cats and their owners turns out to be far more intense than imagined, especially for cat aficionado women and their affection reciprocating felines, suggests a new study.

Cats attach to humans, and particularly women, as social partners, and it's not just for the sake of obtaining food, according to the new research, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Behavioural Processes.

The study is the first to show in detail that the dynamics underlying cat-human relationships are nearly identical to human-only bonds, with cats sometimes even becoming a furry "child" in nurturing homes.

"Food is often used as a token of affection, and the ways that cats and humans relate to food are similar in nature to the interactions seen between the human caregiver and the pre-verbal infant," co-author Jon Day, a Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition researcher, told Discovery News. "Both cat and human infant are, at least in part, in control of when and what they are fed!"

For the study, led by Kurt Kotrschal of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the University of Vienna, the researchers videotaped and later analyzed interactions between 41 cats and their owners over lengthy four-part periods. Each and every behavior of both the cat and owner was noted. Owner and cat personalities were also assessed in a separate test. For the cat assessment, the authors placed a stuffed owl toy with large glass eyes on a floor so the feline would encounter it by surprise.

The researchers determined that cats and their owners strongly influenced each other, such that they were each often controlling the other's behaviors. Extroverted women with young, active cats enjoyed the greatest synchronicity, with cats in these relationships only having to use subtle cues, such as a single upright tail move, to signal desire for friendly contact.

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats -- be they male or female felines -- more than men do.

"In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners," co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News, adding that "female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners."

Cats also seem to remember kindness and return the favors later. If owners comply with their feline's wishes to interact, then the cat will often comply with the owner's wishes at other times. The cat may also "have an edge in this negotiation," since owners are usually already motivated to establish social contact.

Although there are isolated instances of non-human animals, such as gorillas, bonding with other species, it seems to be mostly unique for humans to engage in social relationships with other animals. In this case with cats, it's for very good reason. Cats could very well be man's -- and woman's -- best friend.

"A relationship between a cat and a human can involve mutual attraction, personality compatibility, ease of interaction, play, affection and social support," co-author Dorothy Gracey of the University of Vienna explained. "A human and a cat can mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other's inclinations and preferences."

Dennis Turner, a University of Zurich-Irchel animal behaviorist, told Discovery News the he's "very impressed with this study on human-cat interactions, in that it has taken our earlier findings a step higher, using more modern analytical techniques to get at the interplay between cat and human personalities."

Turner, who is also senior editor of The Domestic Cat: The Biology of Its Behaviour (Cambridge University Press), added that he and his colleagues "now have a new dimension to help us understand how these relationships function."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Polysics releasing new album!!

From their newsletter. HURRAY!
Hi there!! TOISU!!!!
Here is the Polysics 15th mailing magazine.


We have good news for overseas Polysics fans.
The Polysics one-man show at Shibuya-AX in Japan on 4th March
will broadcast on Ustream.
This show has meanings of 14th anniversary, pre-show for new
album will release on 9th March, and summarization of new Polysics
which has started as 3 piece band.
The show will be fan.

POLYSICS one-man show
2011.3.4 (FRI) start 19:00


Polysics new album “Oh! No! It’s Heavy Polysick!!!” will be
released on 9th March.
This album is the first full album by new Polysics.
Songs is totally original and unique, at the same time, sound is
more dynamic and aggressive.
It will be addictive what the title says.
You must be Heavy Polysick once you listen to this album!!!

[Release info.]
『Oh! No! It’s Heavy Polysick!!!』
2011/03/09(Wed) release
KSCL 1458

Firefly fans step up campaign.

Yes, please, make this happen! From CNN:
True Browncoats, like the fictional freedom fighters they named themselves after, don't give up easily.

Those diehard fans of "Firefly," the 2002 cult TV hit, have a history of turning to the internet to buck improbable odds in defense of their favorite show.

Now, they're at it again.

Just days after an apparently offhand comment from Nathan Fillion, who played Capt. Malcolm Reynolds on the short-lived Fox series, the Web has once again lit up with efforts to revive the sci-fi franchise.

Last week, Fillion, who now stars in ABC's "Castle," told Entertainment Weekly he'd love to play Mal again. Then, he ratcheted things up a notch.

"If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to "Firefly," make it on my own, and distribute it on the internet," Fillion told EW, a partner.

Then, some possibly surprising online reactions started rolling in.

The next day, former "Firefly" writer Jose Molina wrote on Twitter: "For what it's worth, I've told him I'd drop what I was doing and follow."

Then, Jane Espenson, who wrote an episode, chimed in: "I'm there, if needed," she tweeted.

Jewel Staite, who played ace mechanic Kaylee on the show, had a simple answer when a Twitter follower asked if she'd be on board: "Is the Pope Catholic?"

That was more than enough for fans (whose "Browncoat" nickname, by the way, comes from the Western-style dusters worn by Fillion and others on the show).

A website, "Help Nathan Buy Firefly," popped up, under the title "Let's get the Captain his money."

The goal? To set up a means of collecting pledges that would turn into donations if a revived "Firefly" looks like it could become a reality.

The pledge system hadn't been officially created as of Tuesday, but fans were already writing in the site's comment section that they're willing to pony up.

In five days, the site's Facebook group had picked up more than 33,000 members -- about 10,000 of them in the past 24 hours.

The two creators of the site are remaining publicly anonymous for now. In an email to CNN (which came from an address linked to the site and was mentioned on the group's Facebook page), they said they work in the nonprofit field but "have no credentials to speak of" in the TV/film industry or "Firefly" community.

They acknowledged that the odds that Fillion was serious about buying the show's rights are "pretty low," but hope the community's willingness to support some sort of revamped "Firefly" will encourage creator Joss Whedon or someone else with the proper clout to make a move.

"Joss paid out of pocket to make [Web series] 'Dr. Horrible,' and it's not only paid him back, it's paid the folks involved," they said in the email. "We'd like to see him be willing to let fans become his pocket and revisit ['Firefly']."

They say they "won't take a penny" from anyone until someone like Whedon or Fillion gets involved in an effort to revive the show and would look to set up a not-for-profit foundation or something of the sort if that happens.

Other devotees of the cult favorite say they're not surprised by the quick Web action.

"I couldn't believe it when I first read the story," said Brian Harvard, co-creator of the 25,000-member-strong "Bring Back Firefly" Facebook page. "Then, all of a sudden, everyone's posting these links to the 'Help Nathan Buy Firefly' page and I said, 'We've got to help get the word out about this.' "

Even before "Firefly" was officially sacked in 2002, fans had taken to the Web to try to save it. Using the online tools of the early 2000s -- message boards, fan sites, chat rooms and LiveJournal blogs -- they organized. Call it an early example of crowd-sourcing.

They collected money for an ad in Variety, organized a postcard-writing campaign to Universal Pictures and, when the DVD box set was released, raised $14,000 to put copies on 250 Navy ships for the crews to watch.

The fan base's self-styled guerrilla marketing is widely considered to have helped Whedon get funding for 2005's "Serenity," a feature film that draws together some of the loose ends from the series.

"On the internet, that was one of the first times you've seen such a drive to bring something back," Harvard said. "Now, with the advent of Facebook? My goodness -- that's probably the most useful tool, next to the internet itself, to really bring some fire under this movement."

Harvard acknowledges that Fillion's comment sounds like an off-the-cuff quip. (And 20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to "Firefly," hasn't expressed any desire to sell them.)

But he says that doesn't mean nothing will come out of the internet reaction to it.

"Even if this project goes nowhere, at least it's something to show the powers-that-be that there's a product there that could be making them some money," he said.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another lawmaker caught sending pic... this one dressed as a tiger.

This is just bizarre. We need to vote these lunatics out of office. Item.
Grinning broadly in his tiger costume, this was the picture a Senator sent to a female member of his staff at 1am in the morning.

David Wu has admitted he is on medication for mental health problems, but is refusing to resign.

He is receiving counselling after the pressures of his job and looking after his family became too much for him.

The Democrat Senator for Oregon confirmed on ABC's Good Morning America that his staff had tried to stage an ‘intervention’ and force him to have psychiatric treatment when his erratic behaviour caused them deep concerns.

But despite lingering concerns over his mental health, he claimed he can ‘emphatically do the job’.

The admission from Wu begins to explain a catalogue of strange incidents which have sparked a whispering campaign that he is unfit for office.

At least six of his team of 20 have quit - including his chief of staff, communications director and treasurer - meaning he has had to take the unusual step of managing his own campaign finances.

Local newspapers have reported that staff confronted him about his drinking and harassment, but that he was not interested in listening to their advice.

They claimed Wu, whose marriage broke up in 2009, displayed a violent temper -- and became unpredictable.

Wu told ABC: ‘This was a very difficult time in my life. I’ve had a couple of pretty stressful years raising my children basically on my own.

‘Last October was not a good month. I did some things I sincerely regret and as a result I saw fit to get professional help.

‘I’m in a good place now, I’m taking care of my two children, I’m taking care of my 88-year-old mother, I’m taking care of myself and very importantly I’m taking care of the people of Oregon.’

Wu added that he did not seek help in October because he was unable to take the time off, although he later changed his mind.

The picture of him in a Tiger costume was sent to a female member of staff at 1.03am on October 30th from his personal Congressional email account.

He had both hands - paws - held up to either side of his face and was grinning broadly.

In an attempt to make it look like it was from one of his daughters, he wrote: ‘You're the best, but my Dad made me say that, even though you threatened to shut down his campaign.’

An email half an hour later with the subject ‘wasted’, supposedly from his son, read: ‘My Dad said you said he was wasted Wednesday night after just three sips of wine.

‘It's just that he hasn't had a drink since July 1. Cut him some slack, man. What he does when he's wasted is send emails, not harass people he works with.

'He works SO hard for you . . . Cut the dude some slack, man. Just kidding.’

Wu told the ABC show that he deeply regretted sending the emails.

He said: ‘I think a take-home lesson from this is that while they were very unprofessional you shouldn’t ever send photos of yourself in a Halloween costume.

‘It isn’t professional even when you’re joshing around with your kids a couple of nights before Halloween.

‘I did send those photographs, it was unprofessional, it was inappropriate,’ he said.

Wu added that being his own treasurer would be a ‘temporary situation’ - such an arrangement is frowned upon in the interests of financial proprietary.

‘I emphatically can do that job, I am doing that job,’ he said.

'It was a very tough time, I’ve got myself into a good place...and I’m taking care of myself and my constituents.’

Pizza saves woman's life.

From the Toronto Star:
MEMPHIS, TENN.—Authorities say a pizza delivery driver who was concerned about a regular customer may have saved the elderly woman’s life.

Domino’s delivery driver Susan Guy told WMC-TV that Jean Wilson has ordered pizza every day for the past three years.

On Monday, Guy said her boss told her Wilson hadn’t called in three days. Guy insisted on going to check on the woman. When no one came to the door, Guy asked a neighbour whether he’d seen Wilson and then called police.

Police broke the door down and found Wilson on the floor. She’d fallen Saturday and couldn’t get to a phone to call for help.

Investigators said it’s possible her pizza-heavy diet may have saved her life.

Late Monday evening, Wilson was listed in non-critical condition at a hospital.


Awesome: Step-by-step guide on making your own human skull goblet!

Robot Uprising Watch: Brain-machine interfaces to learn about users.

Tech: Scientists create car that can be driven by THOUGHT.

Religion: 36 killed in stampede at holy festival.

Sad: Aspiring NYC artist dies homeless, frozen to death.

Yipes: Stranded motorist struck and killed by own car.

20% of US's dams in danger of collapsing.

From Daily Mail:
The U.S. could be set for a catastrophic flood in the near future after 4,400 of the country's dams were declared susceptible to failure.

Nearly 20 per cent of the nation’s 85,000 dams could give way and need to be repaired, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials.

However, with costs of repairs running into billions of dollar, a fix is unlikely any time soon considering the current economic climate.

One of the communities most at risk are the 4,000 residents who live downstream of the Lake Isabella Dam, which is built on an active fault line that has the potential to cause a devastating earthquake which would crumble the earthern water barrier.

Engineers who built the 57-year-old dam have said that the structure is also in danger of eroding internally.

If the dam were to break, Lake Isabella would probably be carried away and billions of gallons of water would rush down the Kern River Canyon onto the town of Bakersfield, home to 340,000 people.

The potential disaster would rival the Great Flood of 1889 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which killed over 2,000 people and caused million of dollars' worth of damage.

Plankton key to origin of Earth's atmosphere.

From EurekAlert:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Researchers studying the origin of Earth's first breathable atmosphere have zeroed in on the major role played by some very unassuming creatures: plankton.

In a paper to appear in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Ohio State University researcher Matthew Saltzman and his colleagues show how plankton provided a critical link between the atmosphere and chemical isotopes stored in rocks 500 million years ago.

This work builds on the team's earlier discovery that upheavals in the earth's crust initiated a kind of reverse-greenhouse effect 500 million years ago that cooled the world's oceans, spawned giant plankton blooms, and sent a burst of oxygen into the atmosphere.

The new study has revealed details as to how oxygen came to vanish from Earth's ancient atmosphere during the Cambrian Period, only to return at higher levels than ever before.

It also hints at how, after mass extinctions, the returning oxygen allowed enormous amounts of new life to flourish.

Saltzman and his team were able to quantify how much oxygen was released into the atmosphere at the time, and directly link the amount of sulfur in the ancient oceans with atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The result is a clearer picture of life on Earth in a time of extreme turmoil.

"We know that oxygen levels in the ocean dropped dramatically [a condition called anoxia] during the Cambrian, and that coincides with the time of a global extinction," said Saltzman, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Climate change affecting food safety.

From Michigan State University:
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Climate change is already having an effect on the safety of the world’s food supplies and unless action is taken it’s only going to get worse, a Michigan State University professor told a symposium at this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ewen Todd, an MSU professor of advertising, public relations and retailing, organized a session titled “How Climate Change Affects the Safety of the World’s Food Supply” at which several nationally known experts warned that food safety is already an issue and will worsen unless climate change is confronted.

“Accelerating climate change is inevitable with implications for animal products and crops,” said Todd, who also is an AAAS Fellow. “At this point, the effects of climate change on food safety are poorly understood.”

However, Todd said there are already a number of examples of climate change taking its toll on the world’s food supply. One is Vibrio, a pathogen typically found in warm ocean water which is now becoming more common in the north as water temperatures rise.

“It’s been moving further up the coast these past few years,” he said. “There was an outbreak of it near Alaska in 2005 when water temperature reached 15 degrees Celsius.”

Todd also said that extreme weather – droughts and heavy rains – is having an impact on the world’s food supply. In some areas crops are being wiped out, resulting in higher prices and other issues.

Peaceful Japan trying to create a secret spy agency.

This is adorable. From Japan Times:
SYDNEY (Kyodo) Japan has established a secret foreign intelligence unit for the first time since the war to spy on China and North Korea and gather information to prevent a terrorist attack, according to an Australian report Monday citing a classified U.S. cable obtained by WikiLeaks.

The Sydney Morning Herald and other Fairfax newspapers said the cable provided exclusively to them shows a spy unit has been created under the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office and modeled on such Western intelligence services as the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6.

According to the report, a discussion in October 2008 between the former head of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Research and Intelligence, Randall Fort, and Director Hideshi Mitani of Japan's agency revealed a shift in Japanese attitudes for the first time since World War II and signaled that a having a "human intelligence collection capability" was a priority.

A secret cable to Washington by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo indicates the decision was made by the then Liberal Democratic Party government led by Yasuo Fukuda until September 2008 and upheld by his successor, Taro Aso, whose party was defeated in the August 2009 election that brought the Democratic Party of Japan to power after decades of LDP rule.

"The decision has been made to go very slowly with this process as the Japanese realize that they lack knowledge, experience, and assets/officers. A training process for new personnel will be started soon," the embassy told Washington in the leaked cable.

The cable also revealed Japan's lack of information on North Korea, with Mitani frankly admitting to his U.S. counterpart that Japan's best insights into Kim Jong Il were through his former sushi chef, Kenji Fujimoto, who had published a memoir.