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Were Ancient Greeks The Original Recyclers?
It may seem like a bizarre controversy, but experts on ancient Greece have been debating for more than 60 years why potsherds so often surround archaeological sites there. These scattered fragments of pottery are routinely found in explorations.
Some regard it as simple — obvious even. They hold that, as was common in most areas of temperate Europe, people threw their household and barn waste into the fields. The theory is that people were essentially composting and enriching the soil with food, manure and other scraps, and that pottery shards sometimes found their way into these piles.
According to these archaeologists, what they find when they survey the ground of the Hellenic countryside is nothing more than centuries-old trash. Indeed, ceramic was to the ancient Greeks what plastic is to us now. It was abundant.
Still, Hamish Forbes, a professor at the University of Nottingham, decided to review the entire subject from scratch. In an article published in Hesperia — the journal published quarterly by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens — he concludes after 30 years of careful observation that, No, the ancient Greeks did not populate their fields with garbage.. More
Why Bitcoin Matters
A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers.
Political idealists project visions of liberation and revolution onto it; establishment elites heap contempt and scorn on it.
On the other hand, technologists – nerds – are transfixed by it. They see within it enormous potential and spend their nights and weekends tinkering with it.
Eventually mainstream products, companies and industries emerge to commercialize it; its effects become profound; and later, many people wonder why its powerful promise wasn’t more obvious from the start.
What technology am I talking about?
Personal computers in 1975, the Internet in 1993, and – I believe – Bitcoin in 2014. More
Hairless hero: Iranian teacher shaves head in solidarity with bullied pupil
When Iranian schoolteacher Ali Mohammadian noticed that one of his students was being bullied after going bald as a result of a mysterious illness, he decided to show solidarity and shave his own hair. In no time, his entire class shaved their heads and the bullying stopped.
Now, Mohammadian, who teaches at Sheikh Shaltoot's elementary school in Marivan, a Kurdish city in the west of Iran, has become a national hero.
President Hassan Rouhani has praised him, the government has offered financial support for the pupil's medical treatment and his story has reached the four corners of his country.
"I'm so happy that this has touched many hearts and people reacted enormously positive," the 45-year-old teacher told the Guardian by phone from Marivan. "Everyone in the school now wants to shave their head." More
Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease
Joke: How do you dramatically increase sales of a new or unpopular food product to the American public?
Answer: Call it a health food!
This joke, while funny, is also very sad as it illustrates with humor what common sense, logic, observation, and facts cannot for the vast majority of Westerners.
Time and time again, Americans are completely duped by the clever marketing of a food product, falling all over themselves to buy it just because it has been touted in the media and by their (equally duped) doctors as a food that will improve their health.
Don’t believe it? How about margarine? Americans, in the span of just a few short years after World War II, all but completely shunned butter and this behavior pattern continued for decades because saturated fat was supposedly the demon of heart disease. More
Big Hole, Deep Secret
Ask Pittsboro Mayor Chuck Devinney what he did when he worked for AT&T, and he offers evasions straight out of an X-Files script. "I wiped it all out of my head," he says. "When I went out the door, I never looked back."
Coming from a public utility employee turned small-town public official, that might sound pretty melodramatic. Unless, that is, the door walked out of was the secured gateway to Chatham County's underground enigma, the Big Hole. That's where Devinney and dozens of other AT&T employees holed up for much of the Cold War, soldiers in a hidden battle to safeguard a U.S. command and control system in the event of nuclear war.
The system, called the Automatic Voice Network (AUTOVON), was put in service in 1964 by the Defense Communications Agency; the Chatham facility came on-line in 1966. About 60 AUTOVON relay and switching centers were built across the country. Of those, 20 sites, including Big Hole, were underground, hardened facilities, engineered to withstand anything but a direct hit by an enemy missile. AT&T won the classified contract to operate domestic AUTOVON centers, while the U.S. military manned those established in other countries. More
Pancho Claus: A Tex-Mex Santa from the South Pole
HOUSTON -- He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat -- though often it's a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. And he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros instead of eight reindeer.
Meet Pancho Claus, the Tex-Mex Santa.
Amid all the talk about Santa Claus' race, spawned by a Fox News commentator's remarks that both Santa and Jesus were white, there is, in the Lone Star State, a Hispanic version of Santa in cities from the border to the plains -- handing out gifts for low-income and at-risk children.
Born from the Chicano civil rights movement, Pancho Claus is a mostly Texas thing, historians say, though there may be one somewhere in California. Lorenzo Cano, a Mexican-American studies scholar at the University of Houston, says Pancho was apparently conceived north of the border as Mexican-Americans looked to "build a place and a space for themselves" in the 1970s. His rise coincided with a growing interest in Mexican art, Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day and other cultural events. More
Edinburgh man branded Bad Santa
A GROTTO Santa claims he was forced to quit after his bosses objected to him dumping his script and letting kids sit on his knee.
Actor Mike Daviot, 55, took the ho-ho-huff at the £5-a-time Edinburgh’s Christmas grotto in the capital’s East Princes Street Gardens, branding it a “cattle-herding” exercise.
He said: “The kids are only getting about a minute in the grotto and if they ask a question which isn’t in the script you are supposed to ignore them. We’re not really meant to converse with the children at all.”
He added he had taken the decision to allow the youngest kids to sit on his knee because that had been promised in the adverts. But he was reprimanded for it.
Organisers yesterday insisted Mike was “brusque” with kids and didn’t even get on with his elves.
And Underbelly, who run the festive attraction, said they had been told by child protection experts that letting kids on Santa’s lap was not appropriate. More
The Insidious Genius of Hello Kitty-Branded Beer
Hello Kitty, having been slapped onto just about every other imaginable consumer product on this little blue marble of ours, is now being used to market beer in Asia.*
Consumers in China and Taiwan can now pick from six fruit-flavored brews, including peach, lemon-lime, passion fruit, and banana, sporting the cartoon cat on the can. With about half the alcohol content of a Budweiser, they're not very potent. But as Kotaku's Eric Jou put it, "They're so ridiculously smooth and tasty that one can barely tell they're drinking beer. It's almost like drinking fruit juice, even if the cans do say 'beer.'"
This is for the kids, right? Maybe not. Hello Kitty has plenty of adult fans, especially across Asia (we are, after all, talking about a 40-year-old icon). This seems more like a silly but smart branding ploy to reach China's great untapped booze market: women. More
No Man’s Land: 3 territories that are still unclaimed
When it comes to dividing up the planet, politicians have pretty much thought of everything. Leaders around the world have dutifully divvied up continental shelves, found and claimed islands via satellite and established laws for future reference on who gets what — including the moon. But there are a few pieces of Earth that still need an owner, and they are up for grabs.
If you’re looking for sun and sand, Bir Tawil could be the perfect place for that summer home. Bordering Egypt and Sudan, it’s a trapezoid-shaped piece of land that neither want to claim. Bir Tawil is made up of desert and mountains and is lacking any valuable natural resources, rendering it rather useless. The reason behind the two countries’ “generosity”? Both want the prettier, more useful older sister of Bir Tawil — Hala’ib, a piece of land that is much larger and comprised of rich soil. Under the border treaty from 1899, Hala’ib belongs to Egypt.
Under the 1902 treaty, that land belongs to Sudan and Bir Tawil belongs to Egypt. Both recognize the treaty that gives them Hala’ib, as it’s the better end of the deal, leaving Bir Tawil owner-less. More
The Shocking True Tale Of The Mad Genius Who Invented Sea-Monkeys
In a 2002 interview with Erik Lobo of Planet X magazine, Harold von Braunhut comes across as the kind of charming old guy who might detain you in conversation a bit too long if you were volunteering at a home for the aged. An inventor and entrepreneur who brought us legions of wonderfully gimmicky toys before he died, at 77, in 2003, von Braunhut holds forth about times gone by, interrupted only when his cockatoo chews at the wire connecting his hearing aid to the telephone.
Von Braunhut was a short, balding man who had the accent that turns “beautiful” into “bee-YOO-dee-full,” and he often cast himself as the guy they all doubted until he showed ’em. In the interview he seems to delight in telling Lobo about his most famous and successful novelty item, Sea-Monkeys. These little critters, you may recall, carry with them the promise of “a BOWLFULL OF HAPPINESS—Instant PETS!” They’re supposed to arrive in the mail, spring to life in water, and soon start horsing around and making babies. According to von Braunhut, the problem with selling Sea-Monkeys early on, ya see, was that “nobody believed it!” He adds, “It’s a little bit like the story of the Wright brothers.” More
Burning Man 2013 burns its man in Nevada’s desert
RENO, Nev. — A federal official says more than 61,000 people have turned out so far for the weekend Burning Man outdoor art and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Turney said Saturday that gate management was tightened Friday when organizers got close to a permitted capacity of 68,000.
Turney says the crowd ebbs and flows at the festival taking place about 100 miles north of Reno.
He says organizers reported one person was flown to
a hospital by medical helicopter this week after being struck by a vehicle.
No other serious incidents have been reported. More
Lima: Where the pallbearers are black
LIMA, Peru — Elegant in tuxedos and white gloves, the six black pallbearers silently and gracefully remove the mahogany coffin bearing a Lima tire magnate from his mansion. They slide it into the Cadillac hearse that will parade Jorge Reyna's body through the Chorrillos district where he was once mayor.
The pallbearers are in the job precisely because of the color of their skin, a phenomenon unique to this South American capital that was the regional seat of Spain's colonial empire for more than three centuries. In fact, prominent citizens such as Reyna, a widely respected, charitable man of indigenous origin who died at age 82, request black pallbearers for their funerals.
"He planned his funeral and wanted it to be elegant," said Reyna's widow, Clarisa Velarde. Blacks routinely bear the caskets of ex-presidents, mining magnates and bankers to their tombs in Lima. The peculiar tradition exists neither in provincial Peruvian cities nor in other Latin American countries with significant black populations such as Brazil, Panama and Colombia. More
Israelis find 2,750-year-old temple
Archaeologists have uncovered a 2,750-year-old temple near Jerusalem, along with pottery and clay figurines that suggest the site was the home base for a ritual cult, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.
The discovery was made during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) west of Jerusalem, during preparations for work on a new section of Israeli's Highway 1, the agency said in a statement.
"The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple," excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz were quoted as saying in the statement. That’s some imaginative cursing. More
How much gold is there in the world?
Imagine if you were a super-villain who had taken control of all the world's gold, and had decided to melt it down to make a cube.
How big would it be? Hundreds of metres cubed, thousands even?
Actually, it's unlikely to be anything like that size.
Warren Buffet, one of the world's richest investors, says the total amount of gold in the world - the gold above ground, that is - could fit into a cube with sides of just 20m (67ft). But is that all there is? And if so, how do we know?
A figure that is widely used by investors comes from Thompson Reuters GFMS, which produces an annual gold survey.
Their latest figure for all the gold in the world is 171,300 tonnes - which is almost exactly the same as the amount in our super-villain's imaginary cube.
A cube made of 171,300 tonnes would be about 20.7m (68ft) on each side. Or to put it another way, it would reach to 9.8m above ground level if exactly covering Wimbledon Centre Court.
But not everyone agrees with the GFMS figures. More
How to piss off a Spaniard
I should probably preface this whole thing by saying that it’s really not that easy to piss off a Spaniard, unless you’re overtly trying to do so. They, along with the people of Bali, are probably the most easy going and good natured people I’ve ever encountered.
However, it is possible to anger a Spaniard, especially in certain circumstances.
Insult their mother.
The Spanish don’t curse like we do. There’s no equivalent in the language for a simple “Fuck you.” Instead, most real curses invoke the purity, or lack thereof, of the cursee’s mother. I have two favorites I heard while I lived in Madrid. There’s the sort of standard, “I shit in the milk of the mother who bore you,” which is sometimes shortened to just, “the milk!” But my all time favorite is, “I shit in the fourteenth kilometer of the cuckold’s horns of your father.” That’s some imaginative cursing. More
The Science Behind Coffee and Why it’s Actually Good for Your Health
Coffee isn't just warm and energizing, it may also be extremely good for you. In recent years, scientists have studied the effects of coffee on various aspects of health and their results have been nothing short of amazing.
Here's why coffee may actually be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
Coffee Can Make You Smarter
Coffee doesn't just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine's primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function. More
Should We Establish National Parks On Mars?
There’s an old proverb that states “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” And if some in the scientific community have their way, that sentiment will extend to other planetary bodies as well. A movement among some in the spacefaring community believe that humans need to set up a kind of national parks system for planets prior to human and further robotic exploration to ensure that pristine environmental value--both scientific and intrinsic--is preserved beyond Earth orbit.
Earth orbit might be a good example as to why. The area of space where human activity has been most prevalent is filled with debris--the leftovers and byproducts of our presence there. And with private spaceflight now rapidly making up technical ground on even the world’s most capable space programs, it’s only a matter of time before manned exploration is happening elsewhere in the solar system and outside of the strict oversight of a state-sponsored space agency, advocates argue. More
Off the Grid and Loving It in Belize
Turquoise waves lap the shore 30 feet from where I sit writing on my borrowed veranda in southern Belize.
As a pair of large birds glides gracefully through the sky, I think to myself that this remote, off-the-grid home is exactly where I belong at this moment.
When my husband and I first started dreaming about taking a six-month “family sabbatical” with our four young kids somewhere in Central America, we’d considered Costa Rica and Panama as well as Belize.
But then I met a British couple who lived in southern Belize. We stayed in touch and they often gave me advice about our unfolding plans. When they decided they needed a house sitter, they asked if we would be interested. We were!
We now live in their darling 2,400-square-foot furnished home directly fronting the Caribbean Sea. The house is only accessible by boat. We have two large bedrooms, two and a half baths, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and several porches, as well as a cabana for our guests’ use, and a caretaker’s home. We have access to a paddle boat, a sailboat, fishing equipment and two sea kayaks. More
11 Amazing Facts about the McDonald's McRib
The McDonald's McRib is back, hitting restaurants nationwide today.
The legendary boneless pork sandwich, famously molded to resemble a rack of ribs, is both a feat of modern engineering and shrewd marketing.
It garners almost as much attention for its pseudo-meat shape as its impermanence on restaurant menus.
The barbecue-sauce-smothered sandwich was supposed to return at the end of October, but was pushed back to help boost end-of-the-year sales.
Better late than never. More
‘Santa’ arrested for driving with suspended license
Two men were arrested on warrant charges in Jackson County on Dec. 8 after a deputy ran the license tag number of a 1977 Ford truck on Plainview Road that appeared to be driven by Santa Claus.
The deputy spotted a white male with a long beard wearing a red Santa Claus cap and a dark sleeveless shirt, an incident reported filed at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office states.
The deputy ran the vehicle’s tag number through the Georgia Crime Information Center and lost sight of the vehicle while the results returned, showing that the registered owner, Glyndon Coker, had a suspended license for failure to appear and outstanding warrants with Gainesville and Forsyth police departments.
After checking the area, the deputy made contact with the vehicle in the driveway of a Pine Tree Circle residence, where a man met him in the yard. The deputy asked the man where the driver was, but the man said he didn’t know. Johnson, did, however, tell the officer the driver’s named was “Glyndon Coker.”
The deputy walked around the residence and made contact with the man he saw driving the LGT, who was still wearing the red Santa hat, the dark sleeveless shirt and camouflage pants. The man identified himself as Coker. When the deputy asked Coker if he was driving the red Ford truck, Coker responded, “yeah.” More
35,000 rubber ducks in Santa, reindeer outfits seized at L.A. port
They may have had better luck on Santa’s sleigh, but more than 35,000 holiday-themed rubber ducks from China were detained by U.S. Customs officials at the Port of Los Angeles.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized the ducks -- dressed as snowmen, gingerbread men, penguins and reindeer -- which were valued at $18,522, after determining they contained the chemical phthalate in excess of the limit which may be harmful to children.
Phthalates are used to make vinyl and other plastics soft and flexible, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. Consumer officials prohibit the sale, distribution and import of any child's toy or child care item that contains concentrations of more than 0.1% of phthalate. More
Sir Patrick Moore dies aged 89
Sir Patrick Moore, the astronomer and Sky at Night presenter who inspired a generation of stargazers, has died at his home at the age of 89.
The broadcaster “passed away peacefully" in Selsey, West Sussex, after a short spell in hospital last week, a group of friends and staff said in a statement.
“It was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, and it was his wish to spend his last days in his own home, Farthings, where he today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy,” the statement said.
Sir Patrick reckoned that he was the only person to have met the first man to fly, Orville Wright, the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. He outlived them all.
Brian May, the Queen guitarist and astronomy PhD, paid tribute to a "dear friend and a kind of father figure to me".
He said: "It's no exaggeration to say that Patrick, in his tireless and ebullient communication of the magic of astronomy, inspired every British astronomer, amateur and professional, for half a century.
"Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life," he added. "Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one." More
Mock Zombie Invasion Held in San Diego
Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special ops, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.
"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."
Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.
In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bit by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment. More
Khan Academy: The man who wants to teach the world
What Salman Khan, the founder of the non-profit online school Khan Academy, has to say to the parent of an 11-year-old is frankly terrifying: 'If your child is not placed in the fast track for math in sixth grade, his chances of going to Stanford are close to zero. His chances of becoming a doctor or an engineer are probably zero. And it’s decided when he’s 11 years old.’
That’s tragic, I find myself blurting out when we meet at his office in Mountain View, California, the heart of Silicon Valley.
As the mother of an 11-year-old who has just started sixth grade at a California middle school – and still waiting for the results of the deciding test – this pronouncement hits rather too close to home.
'It is,’ Khan agrees wholeheartedly. 'And many of those kids who don’t get into the fast track could easily be there. They just didn’t test well on the day.’
This is exactly what happened to his cousin Nadia. Usually a straight-A student, she had done poorly in a maths streaming test in sixth grade because she had failed to understand one concept. This one test result, Khan says, might have harmed her academic destiny. Nadia’s distraught mother turned to Khan for help. More
Crusader Era Hoard of Gold Coins Found in Israel
The treasure, more than 100 gold pieces weighing about 400 grams, is estimated to be worth more than $100,000.
The coins were found hidden in a partly broken pottery vessel at the Appollonia National Park near Herzliya, the site where archaeologists believe the ancient Crusader town of Apollonia-Arsuf once stood.
The hoard includes 108 gold coins, among them 93 weigh four grams each, and 15 weigh about 1 gram each. The archaeologists suggest that the gold was part of someone’s family treasure or business investment. The coins were probably minted in Egypt about 250 years prior to their burial under the floor tiles of the 13th century CE fortress that has been under excavation for more than 30 years.
In addition to the gold treasure, the archaeologists found a large cache of arrowheads – hundreds, in fact – and other weaponry, including stones used in catapults. They said the find indicated a fierce battle had taken place at the time the Mameluks seized the area from the Crusaders. More
Drug decriminalization in Portugal decreases number of addicts
On July 1, 2001, Portugal decriminalized every imaginable drug, from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. Some thought Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven, others predicted usage rates among youths to surge.
Eleven years later, it turns out they were both wrong.
Over a decade has passed since Portugal changed its philosophy from labeling drug users as criminals to labeling them as people affected by a disease. This time lapse has allowed statistics to develop and in time, has made Portugal an example to follow.
First, some clarification.
Portugal's move to decriminalize does not mean people can carry around, use, and sell drugs free from police interference. That would be legalization. Rather, all drugs are "decriminalized," meaning drug possession, distribution, and use is still illegal. While distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense, possession and use is moved out of criminal courts and into a special court where each offender's unique situation is judged by legal experts, psychologists, and social workers. Treatment and further action is decided in these courts, where addicts and drug use is treated as a public health service rather than referring it to the justice system (like the US), reports Fox News.
The resulting effect: a drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following 10 years. Portugal's drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states, according to the same report . More
eBook replaces all mentions of the word 'kindle' with rival 'Nook' - and ends up destroying War And Peace
War and Peace, one of the most well-known and hefty books in history, went through many revisions during the lifetime of Leo Tolstoy.
But the latest edition is not bowing to cultural pressure, or the posthumous demands of an author, but by an apparent over-zealous use of the 'Find and Replace' function before an e-book was re-released for a virtual print run.
The version available on the 'Nook' reader - the second most-popular bookreader in the US and arch-rival of Amazon's Kindle - lacks any use of the verb to 'kindle'.
Every use of the verb - in it's various forms - has been replaced with 'Nook' - or even 'Nookd'.
Some lazy employee had been preparing the e-book - and had apparently simply taken the Kindle edition, and thought a quick 'find and feplace' would be enough to bring the book up to date.
But he did not count on the Russian author - or to be more accurate, the English translator's - love of fires, and the art of making them.
The error was discovered by shop-owner and book-lover Philip Howard after he was given a copy of War and Peace, but as the book weighs in at a hefty 1,400 pages - and is not exactly bag-friendly - he took the opportunity to try out his new eBook reader. More
Somewhere in North America, there is a place where little girls don’t give the slightest thought to what kind of wedding dress they’ll wear one day. A place where young men have never heard the expression: “why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?”—because the milk is always free. A place where no one asks an unmarried couple expecting a baby if they’re getting hitched.
This place is the province of Quebec. The French language spoken here is no guarantee for romance. Couples are practical, and lovers treasure their individuality.
Quebec has become one of the least marrying places in the world, thanks to the institution known as “de facto spouses,”
But now, thanks to a bizarre legal case entangling a Quebec billionaire and his de facto spouse , the freedom to un-marry is under threat. More than 1 million Quebecois in this kind of relationship may soon be automatically married by the state, against their will. More
USDA Buys 7 Million Pounds of ‘Pink Slime’ For School Lunches
School lunch programs have been in the spotlight recently. Just last week, the Blaze posted two stories about a North Carolina school where the food police were aggressively monitoring lunches that parents give to their children. Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama lead a very public campaign to announce that healthier foods would be coming to school cafeterias and military mess halls.
Today, many parents will be questioning the wisdom of a government-controlled school lunch program. Why? Because the Feds have announced that the USDA is buying seven million pounds of something that is affectionately known as “pink slime.”
The seven million pounds of this frankenmeat product purchased by the USDA is not a new addition to the lunch programs in schools, just a substantial increase. The New York Times reported that in 2009 the U.S. government purchased 5.5 million pounds of the stuff.
Pink slime is a mixture of leftover trimmings, sinew, and other beef parts culled from a cow once the expensive and more recognizable cuts of meat have been harvested and sent to a butcher. The collection of leftovers is spun in a centrifuge to remove excess fat, washed in a disinfecting solution and then minced for use in various applications. More
Female Gladiators? Tantalizing New Evidence From Ancient Rome
Female-gladiator fights appear to have been rare spectacles in the Roman Empire. But new analysis of a statue in a German museum adds to the evidence that trained women did fight to the death in ancient amphitheaters, a new study says.
The bronze statuette is only the second known representation of a female gladiator, according to study author Alfonso Manas, of Spain's University of Granada.
The roughly 2,000-year-old artwork, which resides at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbein in Hamburg, shows a bare-chested woman in a loincloth brandishing a scythe-like object in her left hand.
Manas believes the woman is holding a sica, a short, curved sword associated with a type of gladiator known as a thraex, or Thracian. Thraexes typically fought in plumed helmets, with small shields and metal leg guards called greaves. Their unarmored backs were particularly vulnerable—and were likely ripe targets for sica.
Experts had previously interpreted the curved implement as a strigil, which Romans used for scraping the body clean.
The woman's pose, though, doesn't support that explanation, Manas said. More
Slab City, Here We Come: Living Life Off the Grid in California's Badlands
"Chicago" Joe Angio and his wife Anna did everything by the book to secure their slice of the American Dream. They earned college degrees, started a small business, bought a house and pair of cars, paid their taxes and credit-card bills on time.
But when the economy tanked, so did the dream. Between two jobs they could barely pay their mortgage, reaching a point where they had to choose which creditor to shortchange at the end of the month in order to keep the lights on. With foreclosure no longer a matter of if, but of when, the couple looked on the Internet for the ideal place to lay low, spend less and experiment with solar power to "get more for our buck out of our environment." They bought a used RV and went off the grid. Way off.
Slab City, their home for the past three months, is a squatters' camp deep in the badlands of California's poorest county, where the road ends and the sun reigns, about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles and hour's drive from the Mexican border. The vast state-owned property gets its name from the concrete slabs spread out across the desert floor, the last remnants of a World War II–era military base.
In the decades since it was decommissioned, dropouts and fugitives of all stripes have swelled its winter population to close to a thousand, though no one's really counting. These days, their numbers are growing thanks to a modest influx of recession refugees like the Angios, attracted by do-it-yourself, rent-free living beyond the reach of electricity, running water and the law. And while the complexion of the Slabs, as the place is locally known, may be changing in some ways, the same old rule applies: respect your neighbor, or stay the hell away. More
States seek currencies made of silver and gold
NEW YORK ) -- A growing number of states are seeking shiny new currencies made of silver and gold.
Worried that the Federal Reserve and the U.S. dollar are on the brink of collapse, lawmakers from 13 states, including Minnesota, Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina and Georgia, are seeking approval from their state governments to either issue their own alternative currency or explore it as an option. Just three years ago, only three states had similar proposals in place.
"In the event of hyperinflation, depression, or other economic calamity related to the breakdown of the Federal Reserve System ... the State's governmental finances and private economy will be thrown into chaos," said North Carolina Republican Representative Glen Bradley in a currency bill he introduced last year.
Unlike individual communities, which are allowed to create their own currency -- as long as it is easily distinguishable from U.S. dollars -- the Constitution bans states from printing their own paper money or issuing their own currency. But it allows the states to make "gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts." More
Your iPhone Was Built, In Part, By 13 Year-Olds Working 16 Hours A Day For 70 Cents An Hour
We love our iPhones and iPads.
We love the prices of our iPhones and iPads.
We love the super-high profit margins of Apple, Inc., the maker of our iPhones and iPads.
And that's why it's disconcerting to remember that the low prices of our iPhones and iPads — and the super-high profit margins of Apple — are only possible because our iPhones and iPads are made with labor practices that would be illegal in the United States.
And it's also disconcerting to realize that the folks who make our iPhones and iPads not only don't have iPhones and iPads (because they can't afford them), but, in some cases, have never even seen them.
This is a complex issue. But it's also an important one. And it's only going to get more important as the world's economies continue to become more intertwined.
(And the issue obviously concerns a lot more companies than Apple. Almost all of the major electronics manufacturers make their stuff in China and other countries that have labor practices that would be illegal here. One difference with Apple, though, is the magnitude of the company's profit margin and profits. Apple could afford to pay its manufacturers more or hold them to higher standards and still be extremely competitive and profitable.) More
African Animals Getting Drunk From Ripe Marula Fruit
Almost anyone who has read a travel brochure about Africa has heard of elephants getting drunk from the fruit of the marula tree.
The lore holds that elephants can get drunk by eating the fermented fruit rotting on the ground. Books have been written asserting the truth of the phenomenon, and eyewitness accounts of allegedly intoxicated pachyderms have even been made.
But a study published in the March/April 2006 issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology tells a very different story.
Steve Morris, a biologist at the University of Bristol in England and a co-author of the study, says anecdotes of elephants found drunk in the wild go back more than a century.
“There are travelers’ tales from about 1839 reporting Zulu accounts that ‘elephants gently warm their brains with fermented fruits,’” Morris said. But there is nothing in the biology of either the African elephant or the marula fruit to support the stories, he asserts.
“People just want to believe in drunken elephants,” Morris said. More
The Food Aboard Pan Am
Once upon a time, about 50 years ago, travel by air was an elegant experience, a journey to be relished from start to finish.
The accommodations were luxurious, the service was superb, and the meals, served on fine china, were divine.
Just imagine dining on filet of sole with lobster sauce, prime ribs–rare, medium, or well done (your choice)–duckling, or shrimp, with all the trimmings including a glass of wine. If you were flying first class (the only way to travel!) caviar and a cocktail of your choice served before dinner. Dessert was special too, planned to feature a taste of the destination. On a trip to Hawaii, it might be macadamia nuts on ice cream; for England, Tipsy Pudding.
First-class dinner service was a 3-hour affair, recalls Barbara Braunstein, a former Pan Am stewardess. “The standard meal was seven courses, served on two-tiered carts set with linen and flowers,” she says. More
Police Arrest 'Frosty The Snowman' At Parade
Authorities in Chestertown, Md., said a fracas between police officers and "Frosty the Snowman" at an area holiday parade landed one costumed man in custody.
According to police, 52-year-old Kevin Michael Walsh, who was donning the "Frosty" suit, was arrested Saturday during the annual Christmas parade in Chestertown after he kicked at a police dog, The Star Democrat reported.
Walsh said he has participated in the parade in costume for the last 10 years and was stirred up only after his arrest, according to the publication.
The newspaper reported that Walsh was charged with assault and disorderly conduct and released on his own recognizance. There's no word if Walsh left the police station a jolly happy soul. More
'Tis the season, ye merry retailers, for shoplifting
As America's retail brands gear up to welcome hordes of holiday shoppers, here's a little something they might keep in mind: One in every 11 people who walk through the door are likely to walk out with at least one item he or she didn't pay for. Given that retailers are likely to lose $119 billion to shoplifters this year (1.45 percent of total sales), it's not surprising that the loss-prevention folks have studied this problem from every angle.
That's how we know only 3 percent of shoplifters are "professionals" who'll fence the goods, and most offenders are amateurs whose crimes are ones of opportunity.
"Seventy percent of shoplifters tell us they didn't plan to shoplift," says Barbara Staib, spokesperson for the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention. We also know that three-quarters of shoplifters aren't troubled teens; they're adults--most with jobs. And 35 percent of losses will happen with the help of a corrupt employee.
The scariest part? Shoplifting is up 6 percent compared to 2010--and many experts predict retailers will face record losses by year's end. "Our shrinkage rate is the highest it's been in five years," says Michael C. Creedon, North American vp of retail sales for ADT Commercial Security, who adds, "The economic environment has led to stealing for need-based purposes." Johnny Custer, director of field operations for Merchant Analytic Solutions, says, "Most shoplifters simply succumb to temptation. But add a sense of desperation because of the economy and holiday pressures, and you have the recipe for theft soup." More
Woman Gets Duped Into Buying Wooden Apple iPad for $180
In a new variation on the “brick in a box” scam, a South Carolina woman who thought she purchased an iPad from two men in a McDonald’s parking lot discovered yesterday that the purported tablet was actually “a piece of wood painted black with an Apple logo.”
According to a Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office report, Ashley McDowell, 22, told deputies that she was approached by two black males who claimed to have purchased iPads in bulk and were selling them for $300 apiece. After McDowell explained that she only had $180, the duo agreed to sell her the device at a cut rate.
But when McDowell drove home and opened the FedEx box containing the iPad, she instead discovered the wood with the Apple logo. The “screen”--which was framed with black tape--included replicas of iPad icons for Safari, mail, photos, and an iPod. It also had what cops described as a “Best Buy sales ticket.” More
It's Obama Fried Chicken! OFC pops up in China
Is Obama abandoning his bid for a second term in the White House and is giving Colonel Sanders a run for his money by opening a chain of fried chicken joints?
Now that's change you can't really believe in.
But in Beijing, China, a restaurant is actually calling itself OFC with a logo that looks alarmingly like the President dressed in the colonel's clothes.
The catchphrase underneath, apparently says 'We’re so cool, aren’t we?'
The Obama Fried Chicken could be a response to the U.S. filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization about Chinese tariffs on American chicken exports.
According to the New York Times, the tariffs affect an industry that employs about 300,000 people and range from 50 to 100 per cent, which means some Chinese importers paid as much as twice the price for American chicken. More
6 Mind Blowing Ways 'Starship Troopers' Predicted the Future
We really hope the war ends soon. For one, we want our troops home and safe, as soon as possible. But, as an on-the-side benefit, we'd really like to put an end to those damn war movies that keep coming out. From dramas like Lions For Lambs and The Hurt Locker, to gritty documentaries like Restrepo and No End In Sight, to savagely critical works like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Starship Troopers, it seems like more and more sandy and depressing war movies are taking over our cine-
Yes, Starship Troopers. The campy anti-war satire about a race from a distant, desert land, who out of nowhere strikes a civilian target in a way we didn't think was possible, leading to heavy-handed patriotic propaganda, and a headlong rush into a war with a poorly thought-out strategy that results in a quagmire. You don't have to agree with the message to get that it's clearly a satirical send-up of the War on Terror. If anything, it's too on-the-nose.
What's that, you say?
The movie was made in 1997, four years before 9/11? Hmmm. That is a problem. We mean, we're not saying Paul Verhoeven traveled forward in time and then traveled back to film a commentary on a future war (because that would be an absolutely HORRIBLE waste of time travel), but... well, yeah, maybe we're saying he did that. More
Last meals for condemned cons off menu
Before white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed Wednesday night for the infamous dragging death of a black man in deep East Texas, he ordered up a literal banquet for his last meal.
Two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, large bowl of fried okra, 3 fajitas and a pound of barbeque with a half-loaf of white bread on the side.
For dessert, he asked for a pint of Blue Bell ice cream.
According to prison officials, Brewer ate little, if any, of the Texas-sized feast. This morning, after an influential state senator blasted the menu as “ridiculous” and promised to end the practice of special last meals for execution-bound convicts, prison officials officially cancelled the long-standing program.
“They will receive the same meal served to other offenders” in the prison, said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He said the change will take effect immediately. More
Anonymous set to destroy Fox News
IAn attack on Fox News from the hacker group Anonymous has been a longtime coming. Now the collective says that an infiltration on the website for the Fair and Balanced news network will occur next month with Operation Fox Hunt slated for November 5.
An operative with the hacktivist group Anonymous narrates a video posted to the Web on October 22 that announces that an all-out attack on the Fox News website will come next month as retaliation for the network’s unjust attack on protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“Since they will not stop ridiculing the occupiers, we will simply shut them down,” says the digitzed voice in the recent YouTube clip. “Fox News, your time has come . . . Operation Fox Hunt. November 5th. May the hunt begin,” the narrator adds.
November 5 has already been designated by members of the growing Occupy Wall street movement as a practical holiday, with “Operation Cashback” expected to occur then across the world. Under that initiative, demonstrators are asked to close bank accounts across the globe and move money out of large banks and into smaller, local credit unions. Protesters aligned with the Occupy movement have already staged small cashback-style closures in branches across the United States, with an attempt at closing accounts at a Lower Manhattan Citibank earlier this month resulting in the arrest of several occupies. More
Starbucks Employee Fired After Parody Song Goes Viral
CHOWCHILLA, California -- A Starbucks employee in Chowchilla, California, was fired Tuesday after a parody song he sang about the company went viral on YouTube.
MercuryNews.com reported that Christopher Cristwell, 25, was dismissed after a Starbucks blog reposted the video and it was seen by Starbucks corporate heads.
"They were really cool about it," Cristwell told MercuryNews.com of Starbucks management. "The regional manager complimented me on my creative ability -- not on that specific song -- and then asked me why I did it. They were really trying to find out about my intent behind the videos."
Cristwell said his intent was strictly to satirize his job."I knew the consequences of posting the video online, and I'm not bitter at Starbucks for letting me go, but I am disappointed; it does suck," Cristwell said in the second video. More
Why Amazon Can't Make A Kindle In the USA
Yesterday I noted how conventional cost accounting inexorably focuses attention of executives on increasing short-term profits by cutting costs.
The same thing happens in economics. Take a recent economic study that set out to shed light on role of Chinese businesses vis-à-vis American consumers. Galina Hale and Bart Hobijn, two economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, did a study showing that only 2.7 percent of U.S. consumers purchases have the “Made in China” label. Moreover, only 1.2% actually reflects the cost of the imported goods. Thus, on average, of every dollar spent on an item labeled “Made in China,” 55 cents go for services produced in the United States. So the study trumpets the finding that China has only a tiny sliver of the U.S. economy.
So no problem, right?
Well, not exactly. The tiny sliver happens to be the sliver that matters. What economists miss is what is happening behind the numbers of dollars in the real economy of people. More
Arizona not monkeying with masked speeder
PHOENIX — Speed camera photos of the man in the monkey and giraffe masks have generated lots of chuckles. But the cops aren't laughing.
Dave VonTesmar, 47, started getting the $181.50 tickets last year, but it took Arizona state police several months to realize the same driver was repeatedly triggering speed cameras and refusing to pay the fines. By the time they did, more than 50 of the tickets had become invalid because the deadline for prosecution had passed.
VonTesmar, who has now amassed $6,7000 in fines, is fighting each citation by claiming he wasn't behind the wheel.
In Arizona, people who receive photo-enforcement tickets in the mail have four options: Agree they were driving and pay the fine, say they weren't driving and send in their driver's license photo as proof, request a court date and fight the ticket, or simply ignore the ticket because law enforcement can't prove they received it. The ticket becomes invalid if a violator who ignores it isn't served in person within three months.
On Aug. 19, DPS served VonTesmar in person with 37 tickets, mostly between 11 and 15 mph over the speed limit. The pictures accompanying the tickets show a driver wearing either a monkey or giraffe masks in VonTesmar's white Subaru, which has black-and-white checkered racing stickers on its sides and a sticker on the windshield that reads "Bucktooth Racin'." More
"Planking" pandemonium in Thailand
Thailand, of all places, has developed a particularly strong affinity for "planking." The Australia-born craze invovles lying prone and stiff in an unlikely location: atop a pool table, in a crowded bus terminal or, for the daring, on the ledge of a tall building.
Thailand has absorbed this fad in typical fashion: teenagers love it and stuffy cultural watchdogs bemoan it as an erosion of traditional values.
The head of Thailand's "Culture Watch Center" has warned society that "nude planking" photos have appeared online -- though thankfully most of these filthy pranksters are foreigners.
In one public release, she expressed particular concern over nude planking inside fish tanks which, she warned, "required plankers to tense their neck and body, leading to risk of getting cramp and therefore drowning to death." Any sort of public nude planking, she insisted, will invite criminal charges. Nude planking in private is legal but still "inappropriate," she said. More
Lennon was a closet Republican
John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death - according to the tragic Beatles star's last personal assistant.
Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon's death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.
In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn't the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.
He says, "John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.
"He'd met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event... Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that... He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me. More
Soldier, spy, serial seducer: The war hero who inspired James Bond
Brussels had just been liberated. In a bedroom on the second floor of a sumptuous mansion, Geoffrey Gordon-Creed, a handsome major in the British Army, and a pretty young Belgian girl were engaged in enthusiastic sexual athletics.
Suddenly, there was a loud rapping on the door. It was the girl’s father, a rich Belgian baron, suspicious that his daughter might have company and determined to protect her honour.
The major immediately clambered out of the window and perched on the ledge. While the baron searched the bedroom, outside on the window ledge, Gordon-Creed clung to the shutters, stark naked and shivering.
‘The moon,’ he recalled, ‘was shining on my a***. My “precious gift to womankind” had shrunk to nothing and a small but enthusiastic crowd was beginning to collect below.’
At last Papa departed, apologising for his unfounded suspicions. Gordon-Creed climbed back in through the window and resumed his business.
His Belgian girl was just the latest in a long string of lovers who had livened up the war for Geoffrey Gordon-Creed. By its end, he had not only been highly decorated, awarded a Military Cross and a Distinguished Service Order for his bravery, but had notched up numerous conquests of the other sort in bedrooms across Europe. More
Women who post lots of photos of themselves on Facebook value appearance, need attention, study finds
A study on how people use social networking websites such as Facebook confirms what many of us suspected. Women who post loads of photos of themselves on their sites are conveying some strong personal characteristics, according to new research. These women are more likely to base their self-worth on appearance and use social networking to compete for attention.
The study involved 311 men and women with an average age of 23. In order to better understand aspects of social networking behavior, the researchers looked at the amount of time subjects spent managing profiles, the number of photos they shared, the size of their online networks and how promiscuous they were in terms of “friending” behavior. The participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure self worth and were asked about their typical behaviors on Facebook.
There were differences between women and men. Overall, the results suggest that, compared with men, females identify more strongly with their image and appearance and use Facebook to compete for attention, said the lead author of the study, Michael A. Stefanone, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Buffalo.
The women who had the largest social networks and posted more photos of themselves were more highly vested in their appearance." More
Elderly Woman Single-Handedly Shuts Down Armenian Internet
A 75-year-old Georgian woman shut down the Internet in neighboring Armenia for more than 12 hours last month when she sliced through a fiber optic cable while looking for scrap metal, according to Georgian officials.
Nearly all of Armenia was without Internet access on March 28 and customers of one of the largest Georgian Internet service providers, Caucasus Online, also lost access for nearly five hours, according to Bloomberg.
The woman was arrested by Georgian authorities and charged with property damage, the news agency reported Wednesday. She was "temporarily released due to her old age" on the day of the incident, Bloomberg quoted Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Zurab Gvenetadze as saying.
She has confessed to damaging a cable belonging to Georgian Railway Telecom while looking for copper near the Georgian village of Ksani. More
Maine town becomes first to declare food sovereignty
The town of Sedgwick, Maine, currently leads the pack as far as food sovereignty is concerned. Local residents recently voted unanimously at a town hall meeting to pass an ordinance that reinforces its citizens' God-given rights to "produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing," which includes even state- and federally-restricted foods like raw milk.
The declaration is one of the first of its kind to be passed in the US, and it is definitely not the last. Several other Maine towns -- including Penobscott, Brooksville, and Blue Hill -- all have similar ordinances up for vote in the coming weeks.
"Tears of joy welled in my eyes as my town voted to adopt this ordinance," said Mia Strong, a Sedgwick resident who frequents local farms. "I am so proud of my community. They made a stand for local food and our fundamental rights as citizens to choose that food." More
Egyptian father names his daughter “Facebook” after revolution
An Egyptian man has decided to show his appreciation towards Facebook for its role during the revolution in his country by naming his firstborn daughter Facebook. The report comes from the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram, translated by TechCrunch:
A young man in his twenties wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of 25th of January have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl “Facebook” Jamal Ibrahim (his name.) The girl’s family, friends, and neighbors in the Ibrahimya region gathered around the new born to express their continuing support for the revolution that started on Facebook. “Facebook” received many gifts from the youth who were overjoyed by her arrival and the new name. A name [Facebook] that shocked the entire world.
Egyptian dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak was in power from 1981 until February 11, 2011, when he resigned after 18 days of protests. Facebook has been credited for helping organize regime-ending protests in the country. Although the Egyptian revolution saw some planning done via Twitter, direct text messages, and other forms of electronic communication, Facebook has come to symbolize all the forms of social media that people used to organize the revolutions in the Middle East. More
Modern Earthlings would be unfazed by an alien landing
Proof that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is unlikely to upset modern Earthlings, an expert has claimed.
Times have changed dramatically since 1961 when the US Congress was warned that evidence of extra-terrestrials would lead to widespread panic, argued psychologist Dr Albert Harrison.
First contact with ET, or the discovery of ancient alien relics on Earth or Mars, would probably be met with delight or indifference today, he believes.
Meanwhile, other experts, including Dr Martin Dominik, from the University of St Andrews, said that given the right conditions Earth-like life could be a "cosmic imperative" and evolve the same way everywhere. Aliens at a comparable stage of evolution to humans were therefore likely to be little different from us.
Dr Harrison, from the University of California at Davis, US, wrote in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: "The discovery of ETI (extra-terrestrial intelligence] may be far less startling for generations that have been brought up with word processors, electronic calculators, avatars and cell phones as compared with earlier generations." More
Futurology: The tricky art of knowing what will happen next
Geoffrey Hoyle is often asked why he predicted everybody would be wearing jumpsuits by 2010. He envisioned a world where everybody worked a three-day week and had their electric cars delivered in tubes of liquid.
These colourful ideas from his 1972 children's book, 2010: Living in the Future, helped prompt a Facebook campaign to track him down. His work has now been reprinted with the year in the title amended to 2011.
"I've been criticised because I said people [would] wear jumpsuits," explains Hoyle, the son of noted astronomer and science fiction author Fred Hoyle. "We don't wear jumpsuits but to a certain extent the idea of the jumpsuit is the restriction of liberties."
Hoyle's book is a product of its time. The move towards a planned society with an emphasis on communal living colour it.
"Most of it is based on the evolution of a political system," Hoyle notes.
The author also predicted widespread use of "vision phones" and doing your grocery shopping online. More
End of an era: Last roll of Kodachrome film developed as digital revolution brings 75 years of camera history to a close
It was a photographic breakthrough that helped capture some of the 20th century's most iconic images.
But now Kodachrome, the first commercially successful colour film, has become history itself after it was developed for the last time yesterday.
Dwayne's Photo, a family-run business in Parsons, Kansas, was the last place in the world where the 75-year-old Kodak product could be developed.
The die was cast after Kodak announced in June last year that it would stop making the chemicals needed to develop Kodachrome in a round of cost-cutting after the company reported a £84million loss.
But it pledged to supply Dwayne's Photo in Kansas with the chemicals until the end of 2010. The shop's machine was shut down for the last time yesterday but only after fans of the film had travelled there from cross the world to get theirs developed. More
'People should smoke and drink more’, says Russian finance minister
Russia’s finance minister has told people to smoke and drink more, explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services.
Speaking as the Russian government announces plan to raise duty on alcohol and cigarettes, Alexei Kudrin said that by smoking a pack, “you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates”.
“People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state,” he told the Interfax news agency. Alcohol and cigarette consumption are already extremely high in Russia, where 65 per cent of men smoke and the average Russian consumes 18 litres of alcoholic beverages per year, mainly vodka, according to official statistics. More
Beer Good for the Bones
As wine gets showered with publicity for its heart-fortifying, health-boosting effects, beer has maintained a reputation as a dietary wasteland, full of empty calories. But beer, according to growing research, has some powerful nutritional properties, too.
In one of the latest studies, scientists found that some varieties of beer contain large amounts of silicon, a nutrient that helps strengthen bones. Although the study didn't specifically test the health effects of a cold frothy pint, the findings suggest that moderate beer drinking might help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other diseases.
"The wine guys have stolen the moral high ground," said Charles Bamforth, a biochemist and professor of food science at the University of California, Davis. "The reality is there's now growing consensus around the world that the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages that counters atherosclerosis is alcohol. It doesn't matter if it's wine or beer." More
Gold-covered female skeleton found on Crete is 2,700 years old
A grave dating to the 7th century BC has been discovered on the Greek island of Crete. Unique in the Greek world, one of two female skeletons was completely covered with 3,000 pieces of gold foil.
Greek archaeologists have uncovered an ancient skeleton covered with gold in a grave near the ancient town of Eleutherna in central Crete.
Although some articles reporting this find have said the skeleton was covered with gold foil, excavator Nicholas Stampolidis has explained that the small pieces of gold, measuring up to 1.5 inches, had originally been been sewn onto a shroud covering the woman's body, yet that the cloth has meanwhile disintegrated.
"Over the past 25 years, during which time obesity levels have increased enormously, there has actually been no change in our levels of physical activity," he said at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.
"We seem to have homeostatic mechanism that regulates our calorie expenditure. The more exercise we do during the day, the less active we are during the evening. More
Obesity epidemic simply caused by eating too much
Despite appearances, overall physical activity levels have remained constant for the last quarter of a century during which time weight levels have rocketed, Professor John Speakman said.
He claimed that the average man burned 1380 calories per day in the 1980s and continues to do so today. The average woman has burned 950 calories a day during the same period.
What has changed is that calorie intake has increased by at least a third to on average 3,500 calories a day, he said.
Prof Speakman, who is a member of the Energetics Research Group at the University of Aberdeen, said that his research showed that small changes in lifestyle were not enough to fight the obesity crisis.
"Over the past 25 years, during which time obesity levels have increased enormously, there has actually been no change in our levels of physical activity," he said at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.
"We seem to have homeostatic mechanism that regulates our calorie expenditure. The more exercise we do during the day, the less active we are during the evening. More
New Wave of Spanish-Language Sci-Fi Films Tackle Alien Incursions
It Spanish-language sci-fi thrived in the 1960s, when Mexican filmmakers churned out dozens of outrageous B movies like Santo the Silver Mask vs. The Martian Invasion. Now, a wave of more-sophisticated films hover on the horizon.
The latest to pop onto the radar is Extraterrestre, by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo.
The Spanish writer-director, who made 2007’s time-travel mind-melter Timecrimes, cites Philip K. Dick’s Ubik as inspiration for the film.
Hinting at the film’s premise, he writes on his blog, roughly translated: “What if the apocalypse, instead of being a global blow, is a terminal accumulation of domestic disasters?”
Then there’s Seres: Genesis, centered on a little girl (played by Luisa Guerrero) who pays a high price after surviving a collision with an extraterrestrial spacecraft. More
The World’s Best Second Passports
It probably seems like a radical idea to those who were born and lived their lives in only one country, but individuals with financial means and a little determination can, without much trouble, become international citizens. That’s done by acquiring a second citizenship in another country. Along with that dual legal status comes an official second passport.
Acquiring a second passport can expand rights and freedom. For an American, the benefits include freer world travel and fewer problems from officious border guards or nosey customs and immigration officials. A second passport opens doors offshore otherwise closed to Americans. Best of all, dual citizenship and a second passport can be your key to reduced taxes and increased asset protection—and it could even protect your life. More
Frugal teen buys house with 4-H winnings
Lindsay Binegar was 14 the first time she spent any winnings from years of showing hogs. She bought a purse. The second time, at 18, she splurged. She bought a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a two-car garage. And she paid in cash.
"I've never heard of a teenager buying a house," said Nikki Gasbarro, spokeswoman for the Ohio Association of Realtors. "Smart girl."
The Greenfield teenager has been saving money since she was 4 years old and won $100 showing a hog. "I didn't get the money; it went to the bank," said Binegar, now a 19-year-old freshman at Ohio University's Chillicothe branch.
And so the pattern began. She'd raise a few hogs every year on the family farm in Highland County, show them at competitions and add any winnings or sales proceeds to her savings account.
"She's pretty tight," said Lindsay's dad, Gary. "She's always been big into 4-H, and every penny she made she just banked." More
Somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair
ISomalia - In Somalia's main pirate lair of Haradheere, the sea gangs have set up a cooperative to fund their hijackings offshore, a sort of stock exchange meets criminal syndicate.
Heavily armed pirates from the lawless Horn of Africa nation have terrorized shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia through the Red Sea.
The gangs have made tens of millions of dollars from ransoms and a deployment by foreign navies in the area has only appeared to drive the attackers to hunt further from shore.
It is a lucrative business that has drawn financiers from the Somali diaspora and other nations -- and now the gangs in Haradheere have set up an exchange to manage their investments. One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed showed off the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved. More
Cash-strapped states go online, hoping to tax sales
For years, consumers have counted a legal quirk that allows many Internet retailers to forgo charging sales tax as one of the perks of shopping online. But as states face yawning budget gaps, there is a growing movement to lay claim to the billions of dollars lost through the loophole each year.
In most states, the burden is on shoppers to track what they buy online, calculate the sales tax owed and then pay it. In reality, few consumers fess up -- many do not even know such a requirement exists. That will result in $9 billion in unpaid state and local sales taxes this year, according to a study at the University of Tennessee.
Now, states are eyeing those dollars. About a dozen, including Maryland and Virginia, this year have considered legislation that would force online retailers to collect the tax, though only a handful of bills have passed. Some states have even taken the unusual step of asking sites such as Amazon to provide lists of what residents have bought and how much they've spent, sparking concerns over consumer privacy. More
The world's only immortal animal
The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth.
Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life).
The key lies in a process called transdifferentiation, where one type of cell is transformed into another type of cell. Some animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation and regenerate organs, such as salamanders, which can regrow limbs. Turritopsi nutricula, on the other hand, can regenerate its entire body over and over again. Researchers are studying the jellyfish to discover how it is able to reverse its aging process. More
‘Cannabis crown' coming to Aspen
A version of Amsterdam's “Cannabis Cup” is coming to Aspen, in which medical marijuana growers, providers, patients and others in the industry will convene over one weekend in April.
The First Annual Western Slope Cannabis Crown, organized by Glenwood Springs resident Bobby Scurlock and the owners of High Country Caregivers, will be held April 17-18 at The Gant.
The conference is open to the public and will include speakers, live music, information booths, and most notably, a competition among providers that showcases their best strains. Growers and providers will vie for the “cannabis crown.”
Scurlock said he hopes to draw about 50 dispensaries from around Colorado and their strains will be tested by Denver-based Full Spectrum Laboratories. The marijuana strains will be diagnostically tested for their THC levels and how it matches up with patients' ailments. More
Study: Men Slack Off More Than Women
DENVER -- Researchers have confirmed what wives have long suspected: Men slack off more than women.
Each day American men on average have an extra 38 minutes of leisure time compared to women in the United States, according to a study of Western countries by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
Over the year that adds up to 13,870 minutes -- or almost 10 days -- of extra time off for American men compared to the chores that women toil through on a given day.
But Italian men are the world's slacker kings. Italian men have an average of almost 80 minutes more leisure each day than Italian women do. That's double the U.S. level, according to the OECD. More
Confucius says no to ‘subversive’ blockbuster Avatar
Here is the choice: a blockbuster involving noble aliens, evil humans and stunning effects that is breaking cinematic records all over the world. Or a patriotic film featuring the life of Confucius.
In China the public may not be given the choice at all. Despite long queues for tickets to see Avatar — which was expected to earn more than 500 million yuan (£45 million) at the Chinese box office — reports claim that the film will be removed from screens for being subversive.
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that the state-run China Film Group had instructed cinemas nationwide to stop showing the 2-D version of Avatar from January 23 on orders from Beijing’s propaganda chiefs.
It is not just the desire to entertain the masses with a Chinese movie that has prompted the censors to step in and pull James Cameron’s hit from 2-D screens. The Government fears that too many citizens might be making a link between the plight of Avatar’s Na’vi people as they are thrown off their land and the numerous, often brutal, evictions endured closer to home by residents who get in the way of property developers. More
Placebos getting more effective. Drugmakers wonder why
Merck was in trouble. In 2002, the pharmaceutical giant was falling behind its rivals in sales. Even worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generics to flood the market. The company hadn't introduced a truly new product in three years, and its stock price was plummeting.
In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck's research director, laid out his battle plan to restore the firm to preeminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company's reach into the antidepressant market, where Merck had lagged while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. "To remain dominant in the future," he told Forbes, "we need to dominate the central nervous system."
His plan hinged on the success of an experimental antidepressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it looked like every pharma executive's dream: a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. More
Jesus-Shooting-Santa Display Riles Neighbors
A Christmas display featuring Jesus shooting Santa Claus and a run-over Rudolph is riling some residents of a California neighborhood, KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, Calif., reported.
Homeowner Ron Lake said his Christmas display in Nipomo is an expression of his repressed creativity, and that Santa represents the commercialism of Christmas.
His neighbors disagree and they're upset -- they say the disturbing display will upset children. A school bus stop is just outside the fence that separates the display from the town's main roads.
"I know it's freedom of speech, but it's pretty disturbing and there are lots of children. That's our main concern," one neighbor said. More
Russian missile failure sparks UFO frenzy
MOSCOW -- The failure of a new Russian intercontinental ballistic missile during testing was the cause of spectacular spiraling blue lights in the skies over northern Norway, analysts said Thursday.
Russia's defense ministry said a Bulava missile was launched Wednesday by a nuclear submarine submerged in the White Sea and its third stage suffered an unspecified failure.
Photographs and amateur video footage of the bluish-white in the Norwegian skies have been circulating on the Internet since Wednesday and spawning speculation of UFOs. The ministry did not confirm the lights were the result of the failed launch but military analysts said they clearly came from the Bulava explosion.
"This kind of light show comes from a failed missile launch," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst. "Russia has run free fireworks for the Norwegians." More
Overdue Library Books Returned Half Century Later
PHOENIX -- A high school librarian in Phoenix says a former student at the school returned two overdue books checked out 51 years ago along with a $1,000 money order to cover the fines.
Camelback High School librarian Georgette Bordine says the two Audubon Society books checked out in 1959 and the money order were sent by someone who wanted to remain anonymous.
Bordine says the letter explained that the borrower's family moved to another state and the books were mistakenly packed. More
Worldwide Slump Makes Nigeria's Online Scammers Work That Much Harder
LAGOS, Nigeria -- Online swindling takes dedication even in the best of times, the scammer said earnestly.
The spinal cord aches from sitting at a desk. The eyes itch from staring at a computer. The heart thumps from drinking bitter cola to stay awake for chats with Americans in faraway time zones. The wallet shrinks from buying potions that supposedly compel the Americans to pay.
Succeeding in the midst of a worldwide economic meltdown? That, he said, takes even firmer resolve.
"We are working harder. The financial crisis is not making it easy for them over there," said Banjo, 24, speaking about Americans, whose trust he has won and whose money he has fleeced, via his Dell laptop. "They don't have money. And the money they don't have, we want."
Banjo is a polite young man in a button-down shirt, and he is the sort of guy on the other end of that block-lettered missive requesting your "URGENT ASSISTANCE" in transferring millions of dollars. He is the sort who made Nigeria infamous for cyberscams, which experts say are increasing in these tough times. More
Look Ma, No Brakes!
What a profile they cut, slicing through the city: gorgeous, exotic, dangerous. You see them parked like emaciated steeds outside the coolest clubs.
They don't make much sense, yet for one more fleeting season at least, they are the rage in certain circles. Sort of dumb and super hip: the twin characteristics of many things in life.
We are talking about a bicycle. A very special kind of road bicycle, called a fixed-gear bike, or fixie for short.
A fixie has one speed, which makes it difficult to pedal uphill. A classic fixie has no brakes, which makes it difficult to slow on the downhill.
A fixie has no freewheel, the part that makes coasting possible. Instead, the chain directly drives the rotation of the rear wheel, which means the pedals always turn while the bike moves. More
CVS drops Obama Chia pets
CVS/Pharmacy said this week that it won't be selling the popular Chia pets depicting President Barack Obama anymore, becoming the second major franchise to drop the product.
Joe Pedott, the owner of the Chia franchise, said he's baffled by the drugstore chain's decision.
Walgreens removed the terra cotta heads in April after some complained that the product was racially insensitive. The issue made the round of blogs, talk radio and TV over the summer.
Walgreens' decision cost him millions of dollars, Pedott said. Nevertheless, the product's popularity has consistently grown -- especially after the controversy, he said.
"I can't think of any reason a store like CVS would want to stop selling it," he said Wednesday. More
How the Food Industry Has Made Bacon a Weapon of Mass Destruction
Among my fondest childhood memories is savoring a strip of perfectly cooked bacon that had just been dragged through a puddle of maple syrup. It was an illicit pleasure; varnishing the fatty, salty, smoky bacon with sweet arboreal sap felt taboo. How could such simple ingredients produce such riotous flavors?
That was then. Today, you don't need to tax yourself applying syrup to bacon -- McDonald's does it for you with the McGriddle. It conveniently takes an egg, American cheese and pork and nestles it between pancakelike biscuits suffused with genuine fake-maple-syrup flavor.
The McGriddle is just one moment in an era of extreme food combinations -- a moment in which bacon plays a starring role, from high cuisine to low. More
Cats Do Control Humans, Study Finds
If you've ever wondered who's in control, you or your cat, a new study points to the obvious. It's your cat.
Household cats exercise this control with a certain type of urgent-sounding, high-pitched meow, according to the findings.
This meow is actually a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry. While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed. The study showed that humans find these mixed calls annoying and difficult to ignore.
"The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response," said Karen McComb of the University of Sussex. "Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom." More
10 Quirky Economic Indicators
Everyone is scrambling to get their fingers on the pulse of the economy. When will it turn around? Have we seen the worst? The answers may not be as elusive as you might think.
You’ll find all sorts of clues in everyday life to help determine where the economy really stands. The racks of dry cleaners, for instance, may seem a bit more cluttered these days, and it’s true—many people are stalling an extra week before shelling out to pick up their clothes. And to paraphrase a famous quote from other troubled times, don’t shoot back into the market until you see the whites of their eyelids: Eyeliner sales have surged during the recession.
When times get tough, people go to the movies. Box-office sales have increased in all of the last five recession years. According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the number of movie tickets sold in the first quarter of 2009 increased more than 9% from last year. More
Amsterdam considering bank help -- for prostitutes
Amsterdam city council is turning its attention to a pressing problem for one of the city's key business sectors -- banking and credit for prostitutes who can't get accounts from mainstream institutions.
The city's red light district is famed the world over for its women in tiny windows and even tinier clothing, but despite the trade being legal, many banks shy away from taking the ladies on as customers.
As part of the city's "Project 1012" to remake the De Wallen neighborhood, which includes the sex district, the city council has been asked to find a way to help bordello owners and sex workers gain more access to banks.
"Up until now, it's been very difficult for people in the sex industry to get credit with the banks," a city council spokesman said on Friday. "For them it is a hazard that they can not get regular credit or help or mortgages or anything from a regular bank." More
Astronaut says we're not alone
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, the sixth man ever to walk on the moon, has a message for all citizens of Earth: We are not alone.
"We are being visited," the 79-year-old grandfatherly "spacefarer" told 100 or so UFOlogists gathered at a National Press Club conference called by the Paradigm Research Group (motto: "It's not about lights in the sky; it's about lies on the ground").
"It is now time to put away this embargo of truth about the alien presence," said the astronaut who made the longest moonwalk in history. "I call upon our government to open up ... and become a part of this planetary community that is now trying to take our proper role as a spacefaring civilization." More
Two Buck Chuck Wins Award
Vin d'Expensive? Meritage Snooty? If that's the kind of name you were thinking would grace a winner of the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, get ready for a shock.
Try "Two-Buck Chuck," more formally Charles Shaw, the brand beloved of bargain but palate-sensitive wine shoppers. It's sold by Bronco Wine Co. exclusively through Trader Joe's.
Shaw's California Chardonnay took first place for Best Chardonnay from California. To some in the clubby California wine community, that must seem like a Michelin's Red Guide giving three stars to a roadside hamburger stand. More
Spain's Bullet Train Changes Nation -- and Fast
CIUDAD REAL, Spain -- To sell his vision of a high-speed train network to the American public, President Barack Obama this week cited Spain, a country most people don't associate with futuristic bullet trains.
Yet the country is on track to bypass France and Japan to have the world's biggest network of ultrafast trains by the end of next year, figures from the International Union of Railways and the Spanish government show.
The growth of the Alta Velocidad Española, or AVE, high-speed rail network is having a profound effect on life in Spain. Many Spaniards are fiercely attached to their home regions and studies show they are unusually reluctant to live or even travel elsewhere.
But those centuries-old habits are starting to change as Spain stitches its disparate regions together with a €100 billion ($130 billion) system of bullet trains designed to traverse the countryside at up to 218 miles an hour.. More
'Financial Crisis Created By White People With Blue Eyes'
Brazil's President, while meeting Gordon Brown, has said the global financial crisis was caused by "white people with blue eyes".
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made the comments after talks with the Prime Minister to try to forge a global consensus on how to save the worldwide economy. Sky News' Joey Jones said it was an "uncomfortable" moment for Mr Brown.
"The President does not mind using fairly flamboyant language. He likes to give extensive answers to journalists.But some of it was rather awkward for the Prime Minister, who was standing there listening to the President. More
Ryanair mulls charge for toilets
Irish budget airline Ryanair has said it is considering charging passengers for using the toilet while flying.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary told the BBC that the Dublin-based carrier was looking at maybe installing a "coin slot on the toilet door".
Consumer group Which? said the airline was putting "profit before passengers".
Ryanair's PR chief Steven McNamara later played down the idea, saying: "I don't think it's going to happen in the foreseeable future".
"Will it happen long-term, I'm not really sure," he said. More
Being dead a big pain for Cottonwood woman
Kathrine Neubauer was declared dead several months ago. She's had nothing but trouble ever since. The 81-year-old Cottonwood resident lost her Social Security benefits. She's been unable to get bank loans or financing. Often, she can't even make common purchases.
"It's getting annoying and embarrassing," Neubauer said. "When I go to buy something, I don't know whether or not I am going to be dead." Neubauer's partner died three years ago.
Their finances were comingled in a trust, she said. In October, the Social Security Administration cut Neubauer's benefits, believing she had died with her partner. More
Pranks Involving Electronic Road Signs Stir Worry
Pranksters in at least three states are messing with electronic road signs meant to warn motorists of possible traffic problems by putting drivers on notice about Nazi zombies and raptors. And highway safety officials aren't amused.
The latest breach came Tuesday during the morning rush hour near Collinsville, Ill., where hackers changed a sign along southbound Interstate 255 to read, "DAILY LANE CLOSURES DUE TO ZOMBIES."
A day earlier in Indiana's Hamilton County, the electronic message on a board in Carmel's construction zone warned drivers of "RAPTORS AHEAD — CAUTION." And signs in Austin, Texas, recently flashed: "NAZI ZOMBIES! RUN!!!" and "ZOMBIES IN AREA! RUN." More
MP3 player guides rescuers to lost tourists
ZURICH - The light from an MP3 player saved two lost tourists from a chilly night stuck out in the snowy Swiss mountains, rescue authorities said Saturday.
The two -- a skier and snowboarder, both from France -- had got lost late in the day Friday outside marked runs near the resort of Savognin in southeast Switzerland, said Gery Baumann, spokesman for mountain rescue service Rega.
They were able to alert authorities using a mobile phone, but it then ran out of battery power, Baumann said. "The two winter sports enthusiasts were found by the crew of the Rega helicopter shortly after midnight -- thanks to the faint light of their MP3 player," he said. More
One artist's determination brings historic Native masks home for a visit
Helen Simeonoff doesn't look like Indiana Jones. She's bespectacled, quiet-spoken, not given to sudden moves and will turn 67 this month. Yet this smallish Sugpiaq woman from Kodiak is now receiving credit for discovering -- insofar as most Alaskans are concerned -- one of the most important troves of old art from her Native region.
She found it in France, among the towers of a 13th-century fort. Hundreds of items. Bowls, spears, bidarkas. And what may be the largest collection in existence of aged dance masks, witnesses to the era before Russian hunters claimed the area for the czar and Sugpiaq ways began to fade.
Her mind reeled as she stood among the artifacts, she said, the first Sugpiaq to view them in more than a century.
"I saw a beaded headdress from my mother's village of Old Afognak," she said. "And I thought, 'It could have been one of my ancestors who made that.' ". More
Santa is coming - to a Pub
It is the season to be jolly and Christmas revellers around the world don't need to be told twice. As Christmas fast approaches, the cheer has started flowing.
Thousands of Santas across USA who take part in the Running of the Santas pub crawl each year are just one example of the fun to be had when the tinsel is out.
Crowds of thirsty guys and girls dressed like Santa charge through towns drinking as much as they can in the name of raising money to help out children with cancer.
But the antics have raised the bushy white eyebrows of those in the Santa know.
Tim Connaghan, founder of the International University of Santa Claus, while talking about the pub crawl that he was all for raising money for charity, but said Santa’s image needed to be respected. More
Arabs find a hero in Iraqi shoe thrower
BAGHDAD — Calling someone the "son of a shoe" is one of the worst insults in Iraq. But the lowly shoe and the Iraqi who threw both of his at President George W. Bush, with widely admired aim, were embraced around the Arab world Monday as symbols of rage at a still unpopular war.
In Saudi Arabia, a newspaper reported that a man had offered $10 million to buy just one of what has almost certainly become the world's most famous pair of black dress shoes.
A daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy reportedly awarded the shoe thrower, Muntadar al-Zeidi, a 29-year-old journalist, a medal of courage.
In the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, people calling for an immediate U.S. withdrawal removed their footwear and placed the shoes and sandals at the end of long poles, waving them high in the air. And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, people threw their shoes at a passing U.S. convoy. More
Births fueling Hispanic growth
Births, not immigration, now account for most of the growth in the nation's Hispanic population, a distinct reversal of trends of the past 30 years.
The Hispanic baby boom is transforming the demographics of small-town America in a dramatic way. Some rural counties where the population had been shrinking and aging are growing because of Hispanic immigration and births and now must provide services for the young.
"In all of the uproar over immigration, this is getting missed," says Kenneth Johnson, demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute. "All the focus is on immigration, immigration, immigration. At some point, it's not. It's natural increase."
This natural increase — more births than deaths — is accelerating among Hispanics in the USA because they are younger than the U.S. population as a whole. Their median age is 27.4, compared with 37.9 overall, 40.8 for whites, 35.4 for Asians and 31.1 for blacks. More
Is it Illegal to Drink and Vote?
For a brief moment recently, Albuquerque, N.M., police officers wondered if it was illegal to drink and vote. Why? A woman had passed out while casting her ballot at an early-voting site.
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver doesn't know if the woman completed her ballot — she was subsequently transported by ambulance to a local hospital, which has no record of admitting her — but said it will be counted.
Poll workers called police after the woman began yelling and screaming at them. When the officers arrived, she had lost consciousness with a bottle of vodka tucked into her waistband.
A little checking determined that it was not illegal to be drunk when casting a ballot, but election laws do prohibit liquor at voting sites and creating a disturbance. Charges have not been filed. More
Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found in Mexico
MEXICO CITY - Mexican archeologists have discovered a maze of stone temples in underground caves, some submerged in water and containing human bones, which ancient Mayans believed was a portal where dead souls entered the underworld.
Clad in scuba gear and edging through narrow tunnels, researchers discovered the stone ruins of eleven sacred temples and what could be the remains of human sacrifices at the site in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Archeologists say Mayans believed the underground complex of water-filled caves leading into dry chambers -- including an underground road stretching some 330 feet -- was the path to a mythical underworld, known as Xibalba.
According to an ancient Mayan scripture, the Popol Vuh, the route was filled with obstacles, including rivers filled with scorpions, blood and pus and houses shrouded in darkness or swarming with shrieking bats, Guillermo de Anda, one of the lead investigators at the site, said on Thursday. More
US Government owes Indians $455 million in trust case
A federal judge ruled that American Indian plaintiffs are entitled to $455 million in a long-running trust case, a fraction of the $47 billion they wanted.
But U.S. District Judge James Robertson did not say how the government should award the money, writing that his opinion "leaves for another day the question of how and to whom the award should be distributed."
Robertson's final number is close to government estimates and far from the billions sought by plaintiffs in the 12-year trial. The lawsuit — filed on behalf of a half-million American Indians and their heirs — claims they were swindled out of billions of dollars in oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties overseen by the Interior Department since 1887. More
Wal-Mart Gets a New Logo: Resembles a Sphincter
Something's up at Wal-Mart. Visitors to walmart.com will notice that the logo consumers have become accustomed to over the past 17 years is gone. Gone, too, are the sharp, uppercase letters spelling out the name of the Bentonville (Ark.) company and the pointy star that served as a hyphen. In its place: a new logo made up of rounded, lowercase characters. The hyphen has disappeared. And in place of the star is a symbol that resembles a sunburst or flower. It appears after the "Walmart" name, like an asterisk begging for a footnote.
On June 30, Wal-Mart officially unveiled the new logo, issuing a statement that in the fall, "Walmart's U.S. locations will update store logos as part of an ongoing evolution of its overall brand." The updated logo made its start online on July 1, although the old logo still appears on the site of Wal-Mart's parent company, walmartstores.com. More
Rat sales soar as Vietnam seeks cheaper meats
FARMERS in Kandal province have seen skyrocketing profits from exports of rat meat to neighbouring Vietnam, where cheap meat is in rising demand.
Exports have reached 10 tonnes per month, Governor Ly Marong said, with profits rising to as much as US$15,000 per month in Kandal's Kho Thom district.
"In addition to exports, local people are buying rat meat more than ever before," he said. "Grilled rat meat, or spicy, fried meat with basil, is delicious."
Live rats sell for about 6,000 to 6,500 riels per kilogram in Vietnam's Long Bin market, across the border from Kandal province, but traders purchase rats from Cambodian farmers for about 4,500 to 5,000 riels per kilogram.
The governor said that because heavy rains flood forest areas, rats swarm to nearby farms. High inflation and the rising cost of other meats - as high as 20 percent in recent months - have led farmers to harvest the rats for their own use and for export. More
Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon
Turns out, it is a small world.
The "small world theory," embodied in the old saw that there are just "six degrees of separation" between any two strangers on Earth, has been largely corroborated by a massive study of electronic communication.
With records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people from around the world, researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances.
The database covered all of the Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006, or roughly half the world's instant-messaging traffic at that time, researchers said. More
Miracle fruit: A tiny berry that tricks the tongue
The world is getting fatter. One billion people are overweight, and 300 million of those are clinically obese.
The search is always on for replacements for those things that, eaten in excess, make us obese - fatty and sugary foods. There is no miracle pill that can replace either. Nearly four decades ago one man came close to providing a tablet that could reduce our love of sugar. In the 1960s, Robert Harvey, a biomedical postgraduate student, encountered the miracle berry, a fruit from west Africa which turns sour tastes to sweet.
"You can eat a berry and then bite into a lemon," says Harvey. "It becomes not only sweeter, but it will be the best lemon you've tasted in your life."
But Harvey's sweet dream of making the world healthier came to an abrupt end. On the eve of the launch in 1974, the US Food and Drugs Administration unexpectedly turned against the product.
Legal advice and contact with the FDA had led Harvey to believe that the extract from the berry would be allowed under the classification "generally recognised as safe". Having been eaten before meals for centuries in west Africa, without anecdotal reports of problems, it could be assumed not to be harmful. But the FDA decided it would be considered as an additive which required several years more testing. In the poor economic climate of 1974, this could not be funded and the company folded. More
We Lost George Carlin!
The brilliant comic and social commentator George Carlin has gone on, and left behind all of his stuff.
Carlin, who made his name in the United States in the 1970s as a hip counterculture comedian in the tradition of Lenny Bruce, has died of heart failure in California. He was 71. He won four Grammy Awards for best spoken comedy album and was nominated for five Emmys.
An excellent mimic, he started his career as a relatively conventional comedian in the 1960s before becoming bored with what he called "wearing the dumb tuxedo and entertaining middle-class morons". He turned his attention to the satirical treatment of political and social issues - liberally laced with four-letter words in his "Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV" routine - and found a new lease on life.says. More
George Carlin audio clips 2:45
Isolated tribe spotted in Brazil
One of South America's few remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes has been spotted and photographed on the border between Brazil and Peru.
The Brazilian government says it took the images to prove the tribe exists and help protect its land.
The pictures, taken from an aeroplane, show red-painted tribe members brandishing bows and arrows.
More than half the world's 100 uncontacted tribes live in Brazil or Peru, Survival International says.
Stephen Corry, the director of the group - which supports tribal people around the world - said such tribes would "soon be made extinct" if their land was not protected. More
Subway Bans Homeschooled Kids from Essay Contest
Subway -- the multi-national fast-food sub-shop giant -- has shot themselves in the foot. Again. The goal of their latest promotion was to win the loyalty of parents of grade school-aged kids -- to increase market share, revenue and profits. It was supposed to be a simple exercise in business marketing and promotion.
The outcome, however, was far different. By banning homeschooled kids -- children who are educated at home, as an alternative to public schooling -- Subway has ignited a firestorm of opposition from a vocal segment of the marketplace. Homeschoolers, offended by the ban, spontaneously -- and almost literally overnight -- organized a national Subway boycott that already has Subway's corporate spokesman hunkering down. All this happened over a holiday weekend, a time when people usually have better things to do. Imagine the impact today when millions of homeschooling parents are back in front of their computers, and discover what Subway has done to them. More
Swiss scientist who brought the world LSD takes his final trip
ALBERT Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD and thereby gave the psychedelic generation the pharmaceutical vehicle to turn on, tune in and drop out, has died. He was 102.
Hofmann, who died on Tuesday at his home in Basel, also identified and synthesised the active ingredients of peyote mushrooms and a Mexican psychoactive plant called ololiuqui. He developed at least three related, non-psychoactive compounds that became widely used in medicine.
Those other feats would have been little remembered, however, had he not accidentally got a trace amount of an experimental compound called lysergic acid diethylamide on his fingertips and taken the world's first acid trip.
Hofmann was a talented synthetic chemist working in the Basel research centre of Sandoz Laboratories in the 1930s when he began studying the chemistry of ergot, a fungus that grows on rye, barley and other plants. Although ergot is poisonous, midwives had for centuries used a crude extract to induce labour in pregnant women. Researchers in the US had recently identified the primary active ingredient of ergot, a chemical called lysergic acid. Hofmann, having devised a technique to make a series of derivatives of lysergic acid called amides, began systematically looking for medically useful compounds. More
Raped by lookalike wines
Energy executive and wine collector William Koch has taken his personal crusade to clean up the collectible wine business to the Windy City, filing a lawsuit on Friday that accuses both the Chicago Wine Company and Julienne Importing of selling him counterfeit wine.
Koch claims that from 1987 to 1990, the Chicago Wine Company, a retailer and auction house, sold him 15 bottles of counterfeit wine for $150,000, including a bottle of 1787 Château Branne Mouton (now Mouton-Rothschild) that may have been owned by Thomas Jefferson. The lawsuit also alleges that 14 bottles of wine Koch purchased for $63,000, which were imported by Julienne and sold by the Chicago Wine Company and other retailers, are also counterfeit. Ironically, Koch was a major investor in the Chicago Wine Company for seven years.
"We have been going through our cellar with our experts and we have found a lot of counterfeits sold via Chicago Wine Company," said Brad Goldstein, Koch's spokesman. "They told us they would cooperate on getting to the sources for these bogus bottles but when push came to shove they provided very little—we were left with no other option." More
New way to hike credit card rates
When the House Financial Services Committee meets again next week to discuss credit card reforms, they'll have something else to talk about -- a new way for credit card firms to raise your interest rate.
Discover announced recently that there's a new penalty for cardholders who exceed their credit limit, in addition to the $39 fee -- a higher interest rate.
Many consumers might not even realize that they can exceed their credit limit, and in fact the term has largely become meaningless. Card issuers give consumers what some call a "nominal limit," which is the credit limit printed on monthly bills. But nearly all allow consumers to exceed that limit by 10 percent or more (precisely how much is a secret), and then charge fees of $30 to $40 for each month the balance exceeds that limit. More
Fiorana Launches Line of Latino-Cut Bootylicious Jeans
Advertising Age's Laura Martinez comically comments on the launch of a line of jeans from Fiorana which are cut to accommodate the stereotypically Latina butt such as the ones attached to Jennifer Lopez, America Ferrara or Vida Guerra.
Fiorana President Mike Braden tells us, "The Latina body is different in waist and hip structure. When wearing Anglo cut jeans, there is always a fit problem around the waist area." Martinez ponders the point by wondering why she, who is of Latina descent, does not possess the bootylicious qualities Braden seems to believe all Latina women possess
.Latino celebrities here are more often than not defined by their daring derriï¿½res. Think Salma Hayek, America Ferrara and the mother of all Latino-heavenly butts: Jennifer Lopez. More
Dallas hospital room where JFK died now stored in Kansas
A piece of JFK assassination history now lies buried in the most unlikely of places: a former limestone quarry in Kansas.
It is the end – at least for now – in the long and sometimes strange journey of Parkland Memorial Hospital Trauma Room No. 1, where President John F. Kennedy died on Nov. 22, 1963.
The entire room was purchased by the federal government 35 years ago, when Parkland officials decided to modernize their emergency facilities.
It was dismantled and the contents – all of them, the examination table, clocks, floor tiling, lockers, trash cans, surgical instruments, gloves, cotton balls, even a towel dispenser – were placed in a locked vault in a Fort Worth warehouse run by the National Archives and Records Administration. More
Bear's Activity in Woods Documented
Woods Near You - Speculation about whether bears have bowel movements in wooded areas has been settled with the release of a photograph.
An unidentified correspondent has provided photographic documentation of an unidentified bear relieving itself near a stand of trees in a rural area. The bear paused in that location for nearly a minute before looking around and leaving. An inspection of where the bear stood revealed nearly two pounds of fecal material.
Other lines of speculative questions include inquiries into whether the Pope residing in the Vatican is a member of the Catholic religion, and if country singer Dolly Parton sleeps on her back. StaggerOn.org is actively seeking photographic evidence of the latter question.
Mexico City starts grope-free buses for women
MEXICO CITY - Mexico City has started a women-only bus service to protect female passengers from groping and verbal abuse common on the city's packed public transportation system.
Millions of people cram into subway trains and buses in the Mexican capital, one of the world's largest cities, and women have long complained of abuse from men taking advantage of overcrowding to sneak in an inappropriate grab.
"One time a man stuck his hand up my skirt. They grab your butt ... It's gross," said 27-year-old office assistant Lourdes Zendejas, who waited 20 minutes during the evening rush hour to catch one of the new buses. More
Mitt Romney Demonstrates Campaign Promises
Attorney Installs Shark Tank in Office
BOZEMAN, Mont. - It started out as a joke - a lawyer putting a shark tank in his office. "I said, 'What would it take to put a shark in a lawyer's office?'", and it kind of took off from there, said attorney Christopher Gillette.
On Monday, a crane hoisted a 1,000-gallon aquarium up to a second-story window in Gillette's new office.
"I can't watch," Gillette said as half a dozen workers guided the roughly 8-foot-long, 4-foot-wide and 4-foot-tall tank through the window.
Gillette plans to fill the saltwater tank with a miniature marine ecosystem, including at least two sharks - a blacktip reef shark being flown in from the Caribbean Sea and a bamboo shark that will be hatched from eggs in the tank. More
Santa in G-String Arrested on DUI Charge
Some gifts from Santa Claus are better kept wrapped.
A man dressed as Kris Kringle was arrested Sunday night for investigation of drunken driving after he was spotted outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood wearing a wig, a red lace camisole and a purple G-string.
"We are pretty sure this is not the Santa Claus," police Deputy Chief Ken Garner said.
Rick Carroll, 53, of Long Beach, was booked into jail after his blood-alcohol level measured just above the state's legal limit of .08, police said. He was later released on $5,000 bail.etup. More
Police say woman groped Santa
A 33-year-old woman was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault Saturday after allegedly groping a man playing Santa Claus at the Danbury Fair mall.
Sandrama Lamy, 33, of Danbury, is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, according to Danbury Detective Lt. Thomas Michael.
Two messages seeking comment were left on Lamy's answering machine.
Details leading up to the alleged fondling are sketchy.
"I don't know what the deal was. It was just bizarre," the mall Santa told a reporter, referring all other questions about the incident to Cherry Hill Photo, the company that runs the Danbury Fair mall Santa photo setup. More
Stocking Stuffers Courtesy of TSA, and Your Pocket
If you get your prized pocketknife snatched by airport security this holiday season, you might want to put in a call to Dexter Dobbins. He's the Transportation Security Administration's lost-and-found guy—or something like it, anyway.
Dobbins is a flea-market scavenger who's collected, in his estimation, between 7,000 and 10,000 knives taken from passengers at Washington airports. He gets his goods from the Auburn Retail Store, located inside a warehouse in a World War II–era compound south of the SuperMall.
Here, Dobbins rummages through two dozen bins of knives, scissors, and other implements of terror to pick out winners such as 1980s Buck blades. If you're still looking for cheap, albeit potentially blood-letting, stocking stuffers, Dobbins says markdowns average around 75 percent.
"Most of the stuff I get is pretty good," says Dobbins, a 56-year-old Puyallup resident who sells his TSA treasures on eBay. "I go every time they open. I don't miss a day." More
Microsoft Shuts Down Santa For Talking Dirty
SEATTLE, WA -- Microsoft Corp. quickly shut down Santa Claus' Web privileges after it found out the automated elf it created for instant messaging with kids was talking naughty, not nice.
Last year, Microsoft encouraged kids to connect directly to "Santa" by adding northpolelive.com to their Windows Live Messenger contact lists. The Santa program, which Microsoft reactivated in early December, asks children what they want for Christmas and can respond on topic via instant messaging, thanks to a bit of artificial intelligence.
Microsoft's holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex.
One of the publication's writers replicated the chat Monday. After declining the writer's repeated invitations to eat pizza, a frustrated Santa burst out with, "You want me to eat what?!? It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else.". More
Historic Whiskey Could Go Down Drain
Here's a sobering thought: Hundreds of bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey, some of it almost 100 years old, may be unceremoniously poured down a drain because authorities suspect it was being sold by someone without a license.
Officials seized 2,400 bottles late last month during warehouse raids in Nashville and Lynchburg, the southern Tennessee town where the whiskey is distilled.
"Punish the person, not the whiskey," said an outraged Kyle MacDonald, 28, a Jack Daniel's drinker from British Columbia who promotes the whiskey on his blog. "Jack never did anything wrong, and the whiskey itself is innocent."
Investigators are also looking into whether some of the bottles had been stolen from the distillery. No one has been arrested. More
Bra-maker to turn Japanese women into bag ladies
Environmentally concerned Japanese women will soon have an option to accepting plastic bags, their bras!
A lingerie maker, in a bid to discourage Japanese from using plastic bags, on Wednesday unveiled a bra whose cup padding unfolds to become a handheld shopping bag.
Lingerie maker Triumph has regularly designed bras aimed at drawing attention to social issues and to raise its own profile.
Last winter it unveiled a bra that can be heated in a microwave so as to help save on indoor heating costs.
The “Bra Rangers” — named after the television characters that morph into superheroes — come with matching underwear whose pocket has the inscribed message, “No more plastic bags!” More
Possible human remains in Disney's 'pirate' ride
ANAHEIM, CA - Those animatronic skeletons drinking wine and steering a ship may not be the only dead ones inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
A suspicious powder that may or may not have been cremated remains was spotted in the water in the popular attraction, forcing the ride to close briefly Friday afternoon. Security officials were unable to determine what the substance was or find the female visitor who was seen sprinkling the powder.
"A witness described the substance as baby powder that quickly dissipated. We reopened the attraction after determining that there was no danger to our guests," said Rob Doughty, a Disneyland spokesman, in a prepared statement.
While Disney officials deny this is a recurring problem, a Disney watchdog blog said that this isn't the only incident of visitors possibly scattering the ashes of loved ones in the rides, specifically dark attractions. More
Was Communism created by Acne?
LONDON - Karl Marx, who complained of excruciating boils, actually suffered from a chronic skin disease with known psychological effects that may well have influenced his writings, a British expert claims.
Sam Shuster, professor of dermatology at the University of East Anglia, believes the revolutionary thinker had hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) in which the apocrine sweat glands -- found mainly in the armpits and groin -- become blocked and inflamed.
"In addition to reducing his ability to work, which contributed to his depressing poverty, hidradenitis greatly reduced his self-esteem," said Shuster, who published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.
"This explains his self-loathing and alienation, a response reflected by the alienation Marx developed in his writing." More
Russia schools ban 'cult of death' Halloween
MOSCOW - Moscow schools have been ordered to ban students from celebrating Halloween despite the widespread popularity of the imported festival to Russia.
Halloween is being forced underground because it "includes religious elements, the cult of death, the mockery of death," a spokesman for the city's education department Alexander Gavrilov said on Wednesday.
Pumpkins and images of witches are widespread across Russia, with many bars organizing special fancy dress parties, despite the efforts of the Kremlin, and especially the Russian Orthodox Church, to curb enthusiasm for non-native festivities. More
Forget Hooters - Twin Peaks, a new place to pitch your tent
Albuquerque, NM - Twin Peaks is located in the building that used to house Rockfish, in the sprawling restaurant metro area of The 25 Way. I was immediately greeted by an enormous outdoor mural of a buxom cowgirl proudly showing off her wares, next to the phrase “Come and Get It!”
A server, Gina, was clad in the regulation uniform of a tiny red-and-black checkered flannel tie-top with an open front, the shortest shorts imaginable and cutsie faux-wilderness-whacking boots. As expected, you can really see more meat on these ladies than on the chicken wings they’re hawking, and the wings are pretty meaty.
The indoor dining area is decorated with apropos fake hunting lodge furniture and lots of wood and plaid. Walking through the bar, in between the multitude of flat-screen TVs blaring ESPN, the tables were packed with so many military guys in uniform it looked like Fort Bragg..
And, of course, there were the ladies. From a purely shallow standpoint, the servers were all pretty hot. Blondes, brunettes, short, tall, shy, sassy and even a smoky-luscious tattooed goth girl. I did not get a tawdry strip-club feel from the place, and manager Jamie and I agreed the restaurant isn’t quite a nudie bar, but not quite Applebees—something in between. More
Military mistakenly recruits on gay Web site
The Army, Navy and Air Force unwittingly advertised for recruits on a Web site for gays, who are barred from military service if they are open about their sexual orientation.
When informed Tuesday by USA Today that they were advertising on GLEE.com, a networking Web site for gay professionals, recruiters expressed surprise and said they would remove the job listings.
“This is the first I’ve heard about it,” said Maj. Michael Baptista, advertising branch chief for the Army National Guard, which will spend $6.5 million on Internet recruiting this year. “We didn’t knowingly advertise on that particular Web site,” which he said does not “meet the moral standards” of the military.
Most of the military jobs posted were "hard-to-fill" positions requiring advanced training, although some ads sought to fill core combat slots at a time when the Iraq war has challenged recruiters to meet goals..More
Commuter Dudes Mount Skateboards, Ignore Wives
Fred Mahe, a 36-year-old software salesman, twists his tie into a neat knot while riding his skateboard up Madison Avenue from his home in the Financial District to his office at 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue. “It’s like a magic carpet,” he said of his trusty transport. “You just kind of stand on it and it goes.”
Mr. Mahe doesn’t ride to work every day (“Some days it’s all you can do to find your way to the train,” he said), but he has joined a contingent of late–20-something and 30-year-old skateboarders who are riding the concrete waves of New York and Brooklyn on planks of wood atop polyurethane wheels. These aren’t the young skate punks of Union Square, grinding on railings and clattering down concrete steps at bone-breaking speed.
These are guys with mortgages, iPhone bills and maybe wives and children, who find time to skateboard to and from work or cruise through Central Park on the weekends. They’re indulging in nostalgia for a childhood pastime (Hello, Peter Pan? It’s Wendy calling!) while convincing themselves it counts as cardio. More
Former Mexican president got wealthy from his gig
It appears the it is not just American presidents who accumulate wealth after "serving" the public.
Former Mexican president Vicente Fox has apparently done very well for himself by raking in the ameros after his gig in Mexico.
It all began with a few photos published in one of Mexico's most popular celebrity magazines.
The magazine, Quien, opened a window on Vicente Fox's post-presidential life nearly a year after he left office, treating Mexicans to photos of his newly renovated ranch, complete with a pool, artificial lake and expansive gardens. The glamorous spread prompted a public debate about how Fox could have earned enough as president to afford such luxuries. More
Buried in Stuff: How one woman escaped
Americans are buried in mounds and mounds of their possesions.
They have so many belongings that their homes can not contain it all, and many resort to renting storage space.
Nearly one in 10 American households now rents additional storage, and the Self Storage Association estimates that in 2007 there is a total 2.2 billion square feet of self-storage in the United States, or 79 square miles--more than three times the size of Manhattan. That, brags the association's web site, is "6.86 sq. ft. of self storage space for every man, woman, and child in the nation.
This is one woman's account of how she started to crawl out from under her pile of stuff. More
Staying Dry at Burning Man
Burning Man may have a rep as a haven for drug users, but you won't find 'em in Anonymous Camp.
The stereotype is true. A good portion, perhaps even the majority, of the costumed, dusty people you meet during a night at Burning Man ï¿½ the massive, hedonistic annual artfest ï¿½ are walking around as high as a four-story desert sculpture.
But there's a faction of folks attending the weeklong event who choose to do it drug-free, for reasons ranging from preference to survival. Visit Anonymous Camp for one of several daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings offered in Black Rock City, and you'll meet plenty of people who want to keep their own mind-altering experiences clean and sober. More
Beer cans block Ohio man's escape from burning house
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, OH -- A Cincinnati area man who died in a house fire early Wednesday morning may have survived if his escape had not been blocked by a large pile of beer cans. Fire crews were called to the home near Cincinnati before 6 a.m. and found heavy smoke and fire coming from the structure.
The stereotype is true. A good portion, perhaps even the majority, of the costumed, dusty people you meet during a night at Burning Man ï¿½ the massive, hedonistic annual artfest ï¿½ are walking around as high as a four-story desert sculpture.
Firefighters initially said no one was hurt, but one person, Robert McCarty, 37, was unaccounted for.
Crews working inside the home found McCarty's body shortly after 10 a.m., and investigators said his exit was blocked by a 5-foot tall stack of beer cans. More
'Burning Man' gets torched ahead of schedule
BLACK ROCK DESERT, NEV. - A San Francisco man was arrested on felony arson charges today after the 40-foot-tall "Man" statue whose torching is the annual highlight of the Burning Man festival in Nevada went up in flames four days early, authorities said.
Paul Addis, 35, of San Francisco, was booked into the Pershing County Jail in Nevada on the arson charge and misdemeanor possession of fireworks, Sheriff Ron Skinner said.
Festival organizers, meanwhile, pondered the smoldering remains of the Man and promised to rebuild the big guy in time for Saturday's regularly scheduled burn in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno.
"The Man is still standing, and an assessment is under way to determine the structural integrity of the Man and the Green Man Pavilion," according to a statement posted today at www.burningman.com. "The event will continue as scheduled." More
Reptiles found in Saudi's luggage
Cairo, EGYPT -- A Saudi manï¿½s attempt to smuggle live reptiles out of Egypt in his hand luggage has been foiled by horrified security officers at Cairo airport.
Snakes, chameleons and baby crocodiles were found in the 22-year-oldï¿½s bags as he tried to board a Saudi-bound flight.
Police had become suspicious when X-ray machines at the departure gate gave odd readings. Among the reptiles they found was a cobra, squirming to escape.
The animals were confiscated and turned over to Cairo Zoo.R. More
Stripper Saves Client with CPR
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL -- Karnesha Nantz gave an unexpected performance Friday morning.
The exotic dancer went to a Port St. Lucie, Florida home to entertain 46-year-old Daniel Karpisnki on several occasions, but this time Nantz noticed something wrong.
Nantz said Karpinski was sitting on his couch watching her dance for about 20 minutes. Facing a television with her back toward him, she asked him, "Do you like this, baby?" while swiveling her hips back and forth, she said.
She turned around and realized her 46-year-old client had passed out. "He looked like he was dead," Nantz said. "I had to pull him to the floor, and I tilted his head."
Nantz started CPR. More
Zoo faces charges for selling animals as food
BERLIN Germany - A mayor in eastern Germany has filed charges against workers at his local zoo for shooting animals and selling them as meat.
A spokeswoman for the mayor's office said deer were among the animals killed and sold by workers at Erfurt Zoo without permission over a number of years.
"The case is now with the state prosecutors," said the spokeswoman, declining to give further details.
The German Animal Protection League demanded a review of controls at the zoo and at all other institutions with animals in the state of Thuringia.
"We are worried this is only the tip of the iceberg," said Wolfgang Apel, president of the League, who also said the case raised serious questions about the zoo's management. More
Yee Haw, Let The Games Begin
Four by fours, swimmin' holes, gun racks, six packs and barbecued road kill - the stuff of redneck legend.
To many being called a "redneck" may be offensive, but not to some people who met in East Dublin, Georgia for a festival that celebrates just that... being a redneck.
They says they're proud to participate in all things considered redneck at the Redneck Games.
Bobbing for pigs feet was one of the highlights of the games.
One woman beat out a group of pot-bellied men to win the top prize.. More
Al Gore III Busted with dope in Prius
Perhaps inspired by Paris Hilton, Al Gore III displayed the magnificent gene pool he swims in by getting busted driving a Prius at 100 mph while trafficking in dope and pills.
Al Gore III, the 24-year-old son of the former vice president, was booked on pot-and-pill-possession charges after police clocked him speeding 100 mph down a southern California highway in his eco-friendly Toyota Prius.
It was his second dope arrest in four years.
When deputies searched the car they found pot, along with Valium, Xanax, Vicodin and Adderall. He is currently being held at the Santa Ana Inmate Reception Center on $20,000 bail. More
Clinton, Gore Get Rich Post-White House
When Bill Clinton and Al Gore left the White House, they both had serious financial problems. Now they both have serious cash.
President Clinton left power in 2001 dogged by legal bills. Last year he made more than $10 million in paid speeches, according to federal filings released by his wife's presidential campaign.
"I like to kid my husband we never had any money, and then he gets out of the White House, and he starts making it, and that's fine with me," New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has joked.
But it's Gore, Clinton's former No. 2, who is really raking it in.
After his failed presidential run, a bearded and embattled Gore signed on as an adviser with a then-obscure Internet company called Google.
He went on to join the board of Apple, then he started his own profitable cable company and an asset management firm. More
Car Tent Makes Homelessness a thing of the past
Hotels are really expensive, especially in dense metropolitan areas such as Manhattan. If you're looking to crash in a city but don't feel like dropping bills on a closet-sized hotel room, just go camping in your Car Tent.
Sure, camping on the side of the road is illegal and
dangerous, but no one will know you're there. That's because the Car
Tent looks like a car with a cover on it, keeping you hidden from sight
while you live the dream of being so cheap that you're willing to literally
sleep in the gutter to save a buck. More
Free Speech Dead in Berkeley
Four decades ago a free speech movement kicked off on a Berkeley campus, but has now appeared to have kicked the bucket.
DeezTeez.com, a San Leandro silkscreener and purveyor of wearable Adam Sandler humor recently pulled its "Rutgers ... Nappy Headed Hoes Basketball Team" shirt off its Web site after a group of activists launched an online protest rally and stormed a Berkeley retailer earlier this month.
The navy-blue shirts, which depict a basketball with a picked-out Afro, sparked the ire of some Cal students and staff, who recently walked en masse into T-Shirt Orgy, a basement shop within the Bear Basics store on Telegraph Avenue, and demanded that the "nappy" shirt come down.
Deez' owners don't view the shirts as racist ï¿½ it's all 'hood to them. Their designs regularly crib from hip-hop lyrics: "Where My Hose At?" shows up next to the depiction of a firefighter. "Nuthin' But a G-String," which accompanies a burlesque dancer, plays on a song title from Dr. Dre's 1992 album The Chronic. More
Bikini baristas serve it up in Oregon
Salem, OR - When Adam Marshall and Steven Rotan opened their drive-through coffee shop Coffee Nation on Mission Street in January, they knew they were going to face a challenge.
The state was requiring them to install a median that would block left-turn access to their shop, which they feared would slow business.
Instead of sulking, the Salem brothers got to work on a promotional plan. That plan now has shop employees sporting an unusual uniform: bikinis.
"It's really worked," said Marshall, 28. "Our profits are going up every day." More
Teacher accused of selling kid's jacket on eBay
Hillsboro, OR ï¿½ A Hillsboro mother found her daughter's missing winter coat on eBay, and now a teacher at the girl's elementary school faces charges of theft and computer crimes.
Elizabeth Logan, 41,is on paid administrative leave from Jackson Elementary. She denies stealing the coat, saying she got it from a lost-and-found, Cmdr. Chris Skinner said.
The mother searched the school's lost and found for the coat, then decided to turn to eBay for a replacement. After finding a seemingly identical coat, she noticed that the seller was from Hillsboro. More
Iranian police crack down on women's clothing
The police bus screeches to a halt at a Tehran square packed with traffic. The officers leap out and begin spot checks on passing pedestrians and cars.
Police work apparently like any other place in the world. But here in the Iranian capital their targets are women deemed to have infringed the Islamic republic's strict dress rules.
"For God's sake no pictures!" yells a mother whose daughter has just been stopped by the male officers for her Islamic headscarf (hijab) being pushed too far back and revealing an excessive amount of hair.
The dusk patrol in Tehran's western quarter of Shahrak-e Gharb is part of a nationwide crackdown aimed at "guiding" women to adhere to the Islamic dress code, which since the 1979 revolution requires women in Iran to cover their heads and bodily contours. More
Arrrrr, maties -- Pyratecon hits New Orleans
New Orlean s, LA - The costumed pirate wore a plumed hat and held a squat bottle labeled "rum" in his hand. Inside the bottle, dark liquid sloshed and fizzed.
"It's Coke. I didn't think rum would be appropriate at a school," said Capt. Arrrghdee (pronounced R.D., with "emphasis on the arrrrrrr"), otherwise known as Richard Reid of Deer Park, Texas.
He's among at least 750 people attending "Pyratecon," a New Orleans weekend of piratical dress-up and lore. The weekend gathering also includes good deeds, such as giving supplies to a school re-emerging from Hurricane Katrina.
Pirates are hot these days, thanks in part to Johnny Depp and "Pirates of the Caribbean." But pirates have had a place in popular culture at least since Captain Charles Johnson (or was it Daniel Defoe?) published "A General History of the Robberies and Murders Of the most Notorious Pyrates" in 1724. More
Don't pick on these Gays, they pack heat
On a crisp Sunday morning, Nicki Stallard closes one mascara-coated eye and focuses intently on her target. Her long fingers are wrapped around the handle of a Colt .45; black go-go boots hug her muscular legs, which are firmly set in shooting stance. As she rapidly fires off rounds of ammunition, shells fall to the ground, rolling under her stacked platform heels.
Nicki Stallard isn't your average lady. She was born a man..
Stallard, who has been living as a woman for the past year and a half, is the coordinator of the San Jose chapter of the Pink Pistols -- a national organization that encourages gay, lesbian and transgender people to arm themselves to prevent hate crimes. Part social gun club, part political platform, the group's slogans are, "Armed gays don't get bashed" and "Pick on someone your own caliber." More
Hooters Opens Restaurant in Israel
Hooters, the restaurant chain known for its tasty wings and scantily clad servers, is heading to Israel.
Atlanta-based Hooters of America Inc. said in a statement Monday that it has reached a franchise deal with Ilana and Ofer Ahiraz to open the first Hooters restaurant this year in Israel, with several more locations in Israel to follow.
The first restaurant will be in Tel Aviv, Hooters spokesman Mike McNeil said Tuesday. The franchisees are from Israel. Eventually, other parts of the country might be considered for locations, but there have been no decisions about where, McNeil said.
ï¿½For the most part, it will be identical to what youï¿½re going to see in the United States ï¿½ the same uniform for the girls, chicken wings and burgers,ï¿½ he said.. More
Hillary Clinton Attempting to Muff the Gay Vote
Hillary Clinton is facing stiff competition in her pursuit of influential gay Democrats. Unlike the election of 2004, when Howard Dean had the distinction of having fought for a civil-unions bill when he was governor of Vermont, the three leading Democratic candidates have virtually identical stances on the most visible gay issues.
Speaking for the second time this month in front of a predominantly gay audience, Hillary Clinton assured the crowd at a Gay Menï¿½s Health Crisis dinner at Chelsea Piers that help was on the way.
She guaranteed her support of their issues ï¿½when Iï¿½m President,ï¿½ and pointedly referred to a special AIDS grant she pushed through Congress for the first time ï¿½since the end of the last Clinton administration.ï¿½.
The crowd laughed appreciatively at what was a well-worn bit about the Clinton restoration, and an acknowledgement of the influence of the gay fund-raisers and activists who may put her in the White House. More
Maya priests to purify sacred site after Bush visit
GUATEMALA CITY -- Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.
"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.
It is likely that Bush will leave behind a stench of sulfur wherever he goes. He is seen in this photo flashing a salute of allegiance to his venerable leader. More
Molly Ivins Dead at 62 of Breast Cancer
Austin, TX - Columnist Molly Ivins died at her Austin, Texas home in hospice care on January 31, 2007, at age 62 after a prolonged struggle with breast cancer. A journalist who had a style of writing that made for great humor, Ms. Ivins said of her illness, "Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better than that."
Ivins was born in California, and raised in Houston, Texas. She had a long career in journalism, including when she became a columnist on the Dallas Times-Herald in 1982. There she opined of one Texas legislator that, "If his IQ were any lower, they'd have to water him twice a day," a reader complained, "Molly Ivins can't say that, can she?" - which became the paper's catchphrase for marketing her, and the title of her first book.
She rose to national prominence along with George Bush. It was Ivins who gave the president the nickname Shrub after he had called one of his failed oil companies "arbusto", thinking it was Spanish for bush.Here are a few links to get to better know this remarkable woman.
Danish Bikini Bandits Draw Attention to Speed Signs
Copenhagen, Denmark - A campaign by the Danish Road Safety Council aims to get motorists to slow down to 50 km in cities. The Danish Safety Council has decided to draw attention to speed signs by using sexy, half naked girls - Bikini Bandits. They made a movie with the Bikini Bandits, who stay on the roads and wave with speed signs.
This movie aims to draw attention to speed signs and speed limits in Denmark. Despite a decrease in speed violations, 7 out of 10 Danes still exceed the speed limit on a regular basis. Respecting the speed limits is the simplest way to save lives. Watch the Video
Give us all Your Money
For you people who are bored with gambling in online casinos, weary of hacking through the stilted English of Nigerian 419 scam operators, and have no possible room for the latest "treasure" acquired from eBay, there is a new painless way to depart with your worldly wealth.
The operators of the giveusallyourmoney.com site are willing to help you part with any remaining funds that survived the KwanHannaMas holidays. It is an easy click to get a form where you fill in your credit card numbers and data. Then you click once to send. There will be no tacky eBay items to wait for, no tedious conversations with pushy Nigerians, and no seizure inducing flashy casino graphics.
Currently, there is no provision for giving away cash or real estate. Give Away all Your Money
Santa's Butt Beer Banned in Maine
Bangor, ME - The Maine Civil Liberties Union wants Santa’s Butt in beer coolers by Christmas.
In what its staff attorney called a case of government censorship, the MCLU on Thursday sued the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement in federal court over the agency’s refusal to let a specialty beer distributor sell three imported brews because their labels were deemed "undignified and improper." One beer features Santa Claus on its label, while the others feature artwork that includes depictions of bare-breasted women.
"There is no good reason for the state to censor art, even art found on a beer label," Zachary Heiden, staff attorney for the MCLU, said Thursday in a news release announcing the lawsuit. "Artistic expression is entitled to the highest level of protection under the First Amendment." More
Beware of Bad Santas
Portland, OR - If you find yourself in Portland this year you might be confronted with the sight of 200 drunken Santas swarming up West Burnside, swigging from Mr. Clean bottles and singing lewd perversions of Christmas carols. A joyously anarchic combination of Bad Santa, Mardi Gras, flashmob and peyote-eggnog hallucination, the bawdy barhop known as Santacon is organized by the merry pranksters of the Cacophony Society and has expanded to more than three dozen cities worldwide since it first hit Portland 10 years ago.
The draw of the event is obvious: If perpetuating the Santa Claus scam is a way of preserving childhood, then perpetrating Santacon is a way of reclaiming immaturity. The Kringle mobsters, who address one another only as 'Santa' (and answer most questions that way, too), hand out candy to the kids and sex toys to the grownups. More
WalMart Bans Delivery Guy For Looking Like Osama
A Buenos Aires Walmart has banned potato chip delivery driver Oscar Brufani, saying he looks too much like Osama Bin Laden.
Brufani is suing Walmart to let him deliver his chips.
In a press release, Walmart said Brufani's allegations were unfounded. The retailer alluded to a company dress code, though it didn't say how Brufani might have violated it, or how the dress code applied to a potato chip delivery person. More
Sexy Halloween styles for girls frighten adults
Many girls are dressing for Halloween in costumes that look like they are turning tricks instead of seeking treats.
Halloween hasn’t changed much for boys: Gory get ups and monster masks still sell. But in the last few years costumes for girls have traded silly and sweet for skimpy and sexy.
It’s gotten so bad, one mother on an Internet bulletin board suggested renaming the holiday Dress Like a Prostitute Day.
"That’s an awful thing to say," the woman wrote. "But that’s what some of these costumes look like to me."
Many blame pop culture. Racy television shows and music videos teem with images of teenage girls. Child beauty pageants feature questionable costumes, while corporations make billions selling sexy products to girls too young to understand their significance. More
Killer Teddy Bear slaughters 2500
Milford, N.H - Most teddy bears appear cute and cuddly, but one in New Hampshire has brought destruction and loss of life.
This killer bear has been implicated in 2,500 deaths. Of trout, that is. State officials say a teddy bear dropped into a pool at a Fish and Game Department hatchery earlier this month clogged a drain. The clog blocked the flow of oxygen to the pool and suffocated the fish.
Hatcheries supervisor Robert Fawcett said the bear is believed to be the first stuffed bear to cause fatalities at the facility.
"We've had pipes get clogged, but it's usually with more naturally occurring things like a frog or even a dead muskrat," he said. "This one turned out to be a teddy bear and we don't know how it got there." More
Crikey! Steve Irwin 'Crocodile Hunter' killed by stingray
Queensland, Australia - Australian naturalist and television personality Steve Irwin has been killed by a stingray during a diving expedition off the Australian coast.
Irwin, 44, died after being struck in the chest by the stingray's barb while he was filming a documentary in Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.
Irwin's friend of 20 years, Ferre De Deyne said Irwin had been struck by the stingray while filming. "The stingray just happened to be swimming around and out of the blue whacked his tail at him," he said.
More than 500 million people knew of Irwin, with his programs screened in more than 130 countries. More
"Crikey, mate. You're far safer dealing with crocodiles and western diamondback rattlesnakes than the executives and the producers and all those sharks in the big MGM building." - Steve Irwin
Pot Growing at Duluth Police Department
Duluth, MN - There is a saying, that to get the best drugs you must go see a cop.
In Duluth that is evidently the case. Reporter Janna Goerdt, of the Duluth News Tribune, uncovered a dozen marijuana plants growing in western Duluth.
The pot wasn't growing off an ATV trail. And she didn't find it in the woods. Goerdt found the marijuana growing in a planter near the front door of the West Duluth police substation. More
A video that was produced by StaggerOn.org was banned by the video sharing site YouTube.
The video, which depicts Mexican flags and a sign with the racist phrase "La Raza" being set on fire, had been posted on the site in early June. It was removed from the site on June 26th.
User comments on the video were mostly positive. There were some negative comments, and some of them are included here in their entirety to show the level of dialog.
Although YouTube has banned the Mexican flag burning video, you can still watch it on this site. See the Video
Terrorism, Global Warming, Poverty, Cheap Music
St. Petersburg, Russia - The British recording industry lobbying group, BPI, has written a letter urging the UK foreign secretary to make sure that a discussion of AllofMP3.com will take place at the latest G8 summit.
So now, among the talk of terrorism, poverty and global warming world leaders are going to be concerned with a website that sells music cheaper than the industry likes.
Alleging that the music site is illegal, the BPI is suing the website, claiming it is breaking UK law by selling music there without the necessary licence. More
Chinese workers live and work in "iPod City"
In much the same way that we'd rather not think about how the Big Macs we eat were produced, we also often ignore the manner in which our favorite gadgets are manufactured, because it's not as fun listening to tunes when you consider that the person who put together your DAP could be living like an indentured servant.
According to a recent report about "iPod City," indentured servitude might not be a bad description of the working conditions inside the city-size Chinese factories that assemble the iPod nano and Shuffle.
This is where the employees reportedly make about $50-a-month and live in crowded dormitories as thanks for working 15-hour days. More
Man Pays Speeding Ticket 52 Years Later
Philadelphia, PA - A British man finally got around to paying a speeding ticket he received in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park nearly 52 years ago.
Park officials received a letter and a five-pound note this week from John Gedge, who's now 84 and living in a nursing home in East Sussex, England.
Five pounds was worth about $14 in 1954, and about $9 today. More
Norway dumps Wal-Mart stock
Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen revealed Tuesday that two new stocks will be banned from the country's so-called "oil fund," which now is called the Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global and currently is worth about USD 250 billion. It ranks as one of the biggest pension funds in the world.
The ministry reported that it's excluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Wal-Mart de Mexico and Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc from the fund "in line with recommendations from the Council on Ethics for the Fund."
Halvorsen's finance ministry officials cited "serious" and "systematic violations of human rights and labour rights" as its reason for pulling out of its Wal-Mart investments. More
'Juan Valdez' picks his last coffee bean
BOGOTA, Colombia - After 37 years of schlepping around sacks of coffee beans with his trusty mule, Conchita, Juan Valdez is calling it quits
Carlos Sanchez, the actor who has portrayed Juan Valdez, has promoted Colombian coffee since 1969 with a leather bag, bushy mustache and straw hat typical of rural Colombia. That Juan Valdez trademark has become one of the world's most recognizable, and the fictional figure has become one of the most famous Colombians of all time. More
Spud Wars - Episode 9: A New Franchise
Star Trek meets Photoshop meets centerfolds
There is a stereotype of Star Trek fans (sometimes called Trekkies) being socially awkward nerdy types whose social lives consist of dressing up as characters fron the Trek universe.
This is probably just a stereotype, but one Trekkie obviously has a LOT of time on his hands
A blogger who identifies himself as "TrekMaster" has an entire gallery of attractive well endowed women who he has photo-manipulated into costumes one might find in a Star Trek episode or movie.
TrekMaster takes some artistic license with the idea, but it is definitely in keeping with the spirit of Star Trek. Starting with the very first episode, exotic women in skimpy costumes has been a staple of the series. More
Proof of Global Warming
Canada Post rejects topless stamps
CALGARY, Canada - Sultry personal postage stamp images have been returned-to-sender by Canada Post, leaving a Calgary photographer claiming his work is being censored.
Photographer Frederick Potter said he was excited to learn Canada Post offers a service that allows people to customize and order stamps by using their own photographs. But when some artistic shots of his Ukrainian-born wife Oleanna Potter topless, and one with Maple Leaf flags covering her breasts, were rejected as inappropriate, Frederick said he was baffled.
‘It’s arbitrary censorship,’ he said. ‘Would a picture of a baby on a bearskin rug be considered child pornography? Where does it end?
Having Oleanna on a postage stamp is kind of a celebration of her becoming a Canadian.” More
Gas station sued for prices being too cheap
Greenville, SC - A South Carolina gas station has sued saying that a competitor's lower per gallon prices at the pump have caused them to lose profits.
Pantry Incorporated owns a gas station in Gaffney. It sued in Cherokee County, alleging that Petro Express had kept prices at two of its Gaffney stations below cost.
Consider that for a moment. A gas station raises its prices so as to rake in more profit, and when a competitor does not participate in the scheme, business will naturally move to them. So they sue the competitor. It will be interesting to find a jury (outside of California) that are dumb enough to rubber stamp that lawsuit. More
Did you ever eat a Pink Taco? Do you want cheese with it?
Scottsdale, Arizona - In a city aspiring to be defined by its good taste, a new Mexican restaurant, the Pink Taco, is opening with a name that some find offensive.
Sounding more strip club than cantina, the restaurant isn't coy about the double entendre. "(The name) came out of a dish (that's on the menu), but it's tongue-in-cheek. It was amusing, catchy," Pink Taco CEO Harry Morton said. "You've got to stand out from the rest of the crowd.".
Mayor Mary Manross was so put off by the name, a slang term for vagina, that she asked its owner to change it.
"I don't appreciate anything that offends more than half the population," Manross said. "But he said no and heard my concern. I really didn't want to see a business with that name opening anywhere here." More
US marines offer Babylon apology
A senior US marine officer says he is willing to apologise for the damage caused by his troops to the ancient Iraqi site of Babylon.
US forces built a helicopter pad on the ancient ruins and filled their sandbags with archaeological material in the months following the 2003 invasion.
Colonel Coleman was chief of staff at Babylon when it was occupied by the First Marine Expeditionary Force.
The 2,000 troops who were deployed there did immense damage as they set up camp amidst the ruins of old temples.
A helicopter pad was constructed at the site. The vibration from landings led the roof of one building to collapse.
Babylon's Hanging Gardens were among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. More
Fruitcake from 1962 emerges
There is a theory that there are only 5 fruitcakes in the world, and they keep getting passed round as gifts. If that is true, then there are now 6 fruitcakes in circulation.
Lance Nesta has never much cared for the taste of fruitcake, so when his two aunts sent him one in November 1962 he stashed it away in his stuff and forgot about it. He still has it, after more than four decades.
"I was in the Army in 1962 and stationed in Alaska when my Mom told me that my two aunts were sending me a fruitcake for Christmas," Nesta said. "She knew I hated the damn things, but she said she didn’t have the heart to tell my aunts, who had already mailed it." More
U.S. immigration policy can seem baffling to anyone on the outside looking in.
This pictorial shows some of the key players and interests in the hope of shedding some light on the topic.
Find out who gets in, why they get in, who benefits, and what are some of the hidden agendas served by the policy in this StaggerOn.org exclusive. More
Loompanics Books closes doors
Loompanics Unlimited, publisher of fringe and countercultural books, is going out of business due to declining sales. Statement from Loompanics owner:
Owning Loompanics has been the biggest thrill of my life – for 30 years I got to live my dream (and stick it to the man!). I want to thank everyone who made it possible: Our customers, authors, artists, reviewers, interviewers, vendors, and most of all, the super efficient Loompanics staff...
...and everyone who made it necessary! All the censors, prudes, prigs and pigs in the world, especially the U.S.A...
I hoped this day would never come, but sales have been steadily falling for several years, and we just can't keep the place going any longer! Thank you one and all, for thirty fantastic years! – Mike Hoy, Pres.. More
Easter Bunny booted from St. Paul city office
A petty official in St. Paul, MN removed a cloth Easter bunny, pastel-colored eggs and a sign with the words "Happy Easter" from the City Hall lobby.
Tyrone Terrill, the city's human rights director, asked that the decorations be removed out of concern that it would offend non-Christians.
Terrill failed to explain what a pagan symbol had to do with Christians, or how non-Christians would be offended by a non-Christian symbol. This left rational thinking people scratching their head wondering what the fuss was all about.
Terrill also said no citizen had complained to him. More
Stop time with your mind
Einstein demonstrated that time is relative.
But the rabbit-hole goes much deeper. Quantum physics discovered that consciousness is entangled in matter in some inexplicable ways; but other than the very fast, or very small, or very large, we tend to assume our “ordinary” reality conforms more to the laws of Newton. Simple cause and effect unfolding with clockwork constancy —well, it’s time to shatter this assumption. Let’s stop time. More
Beer pours from kitchen faucet
David Hasselhoff accused of domestic battery
Less than a month after filing for divorce, David Hasselhoff's estranged wife has filed for a court order on a claim of domestic violence by the former Baywatch star.
Actress Pamela Bach, 42, made the filing against Hasselhoff, 53, in the Los Angeles Superior Court, the court's website shows.
Makes one wonder if Hasselhoff was listening to Yanni CDs. More
Patriot Act passed, used to lock up US citizens, not terrorists
Despite reassurances from Bush aministration paid propagandists, the Patriot Act is used to harass and annoy Americans, with almost no prosecution of terrorists being done.
If you buy a cold or allergy medicine, or pay off your credit card, you are a possible enemy of the Bush regime, and you and will come under suspicion. Eventually you may be able to clear your name. More
Music superstar Yanni was arrested at his Manalapan home early Friday morning after his girlfriend accused him of slapping and shaking her during a late-night argument.
The international New Age icon spent 12 hours at the Palm Beach County Jail before being released Friday afternoon. He did not have to post bond, but he is barred from contact with his girlfriend and is required to check in daily with court workers.
Manalapan police were called to the home of the 51-year-old musician - whose legal name is John Y. Christopher - late Thursday after his girlfriend called 911 from a locked bathroom, according to a police report. More
Shortwave, internet and podcast personality Zeph Daniel visited StaggerOn.org recently and discussed the site with his co hosts Trish, and Frankie. Describing the site as "iconoclastic" they viewed several articles and items, while describing them to their audience.
Zeph's website, the Zeph Report, is home of his podcasts which include the Zeph Report and Channel Z. He and his guests discuss current events from a spiritual perspective, with commentary on news stories. One hour of his programming is broadcast daily on shortwave, and includes taking calls from listeners. Listen
after a commercial plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 2001 the
US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was issuing rapid orders to his
aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes
taken by one of them. More
KBR, the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton Co. has been awarded a contingency contract from the Department of Homeland Security.
The purported reason for funneling all these funds to the company is to to supports it Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities in the event of an emergency.
This is unlikely, as the official Bush policy is that illegal aliens are no longer considered "illegal". They are to be given amnesty and mainstreamed into the economy. This disinformation was manufactured to hide the real reason that Haliburton is being given these funds, which is likely that Bush cronies are looting the public treasury. More
The American press has been critical of "Deadeye Dick" Cheney for being slow to come to them with an explanation of his hunting accident in which he shot Austin attorney Harry Whittington. A look at the timelines of other public officials involved in incidents has shown that Cheney has been quicker to release information to the media than they have been.
To keep the comparison fair, this will only include officials who are involved in incidents in their private lives, on their own time, and away from the execution of their public duties.
As seen in the chart, Cheney looks very forthright, when compared to other officials sampled. That does not negate his example of stupid handling of a firearm, which must certainly have the NRA scrambling for talking points to do some damage control.
That said, we will now resume our harsh analysis of his execution of public duties, and criticism of his service to corporate interests at the expense of the public interest.
John Kerry weighs in on shooting
If "Deadeye Dick" Cheney were a Democrat
It was unfortunate that Dick Cheney had to go and shoot a lawyer. Really. He gets a lot of criticism for waiting several hours to tell the public about it. I wonder how it would be if he were a Democrat, would he have spoken up any quicker? This items looks at that possibility. More
Hurricane Katrina relief funds spent on porn by anti-porn Bush administration
While U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales squanders law enforcement resources to broaden his panty sniffing campaign to root out porn, FEMA was spending millions of taxpayer dollars that help put more porn in the hands of Americans.
Tens of millions of dollars of relief money for Hurricane Katrina was squandered in scams and poorly thought out projects, US government auditors reported yesterday. More
Minutemen protest in California
Two groups arrived to face off in Vista, California recently.
A group affiliated with the Minutemen Project chose a corner of a busy street where day laborers congregate to hold a protest of illegal immigration. Another group opposing the Minutemen, and thus supporting illegal immigration, protested in an area around the corner, with sheriff's deputies in riot gear staged between the two groups. More
Identity theft problem was created by the government
For many years states have required the collection of Social Security numbers in order to issue a drivers license. Many people may not recall why this is.
It was a 1996 federal law that makes the availability of federal welfare funds contingent upon states collecting SSNs to assist in the enforcement of child support laws. One little problem though. This made IDENTITY THEFT really easy. More
Al Lewis "Grandpa Munster" dead at age 82 or 95
NEW YORK - Al Lewis, the cigar-chomping patriarch of "The Munsters" whose work as a basketball scout, restaurateur and political candidate never eclipsed his role as Grandpa from the television sitcom, died after years of failing health. He was 82.
LONDON - Suzy Collins had been meeting ex-work colleague "Gary" for four months in the Leeds flat she shared with her partner Chris Taylor, according to reports.
Taylor grew suspicious of his live-in girlfriend when his pet parrot began to imitate her saying, “I love you, Gary.”
Things seems very odd to Taylor when Ziggy, an 8-year-old African gray parrot, would also make kissing noises whenever the name Gary was mentioned on TV. Ziggy would also mimic Suzy Collins saying, “Hiya, Gary,” every time she answered her mobile phone. More
Dorismar -- aka Dora Noemi Kerchen -- has been many things: Playboy Playmate, calendar pinup, performer at a Democratic National Convention party and purveyor of sophisticated soft-core videos inspired by Girls Gone Wild.
Now, she qualifies as an ''Alien of Extraordinary Ability'' -- but that legal designation may not be enough to get her back into the United States.
This would be a real shame, as she has the ability to really put the "Guest" into the term "guest worker program". More
Osama bin Laden to start Book of Month club
Osama bin Laden has announced the start of his Book of the Month Club.
"I have always been a strong supporter of literacy, especially Koran reading", bin Laden said. "Now I can recommend specific titles that I find meaningful."
His first book recommendation is "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower", by William Blum and published in 2000. More
Americans are so stupid that a college education can not remedy it
You may have noticed the increasing number of stupid people found in most American cities and towns, but dismissed them with the thought that they were dropouts from education. That may not be so.
There is a high probability that the stupid person that is annoying you so much has a college degree. All those years of education, and being given certification that they learned something, could be useless. They may lack the basic skills to balance a checkbook, understand a credit card offer or read a passage of literature and understand what it means. More
Bush brain tapped to jump start Sharon brain
An emergency procedure was planned for this week to use George Bush's brain to jumpstart the brain of Israeli leader Ariel Sharon.
"Their brainwaves are remarkably similar", said doctor
Yuval Peretz of Tel Aviv hospital. "We can hook them up and amplify
the Bush EEG, thus boosting the Sharon brain into a start position."
When Cops trade donuts and coffee for alcohol...
It gets ugly. Very ugly. Better to give them un unlimited supply of coffee, on the house. More
Top Ten Rejected Titles For 'Brokeback Mountain
10. "Bareback Mountin'"
Hookup for Condoleezza Rice NEW! Your submitted candidates!
Condoleezza Rice has gone to Russia and made statements that were disagreeable to Russian political leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He responded with a blistering attack, aimed at her feminine attributes.
"...she is a single woman who has no children. She loses her reason because of her late single status. Nature takes it all", Zhirinovsky said.
"Condoleezza Rice needs a company of soldiers. She needs to be taken to barracks where she would be satisfied. On the other hand, she can hardly be satisfied because of her age. This is a complex."
His tirade continues, but StaggerOn.org plans to fight back! More
Anti-Gay Pastor caught cruising for male "services"
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A pastor who has spoken out against homosexuality was arrested after propositioning a male undercover police officer outside a hotel, authorities said.
Claiming he was in the area "pastoring to police", the Rev. Lonnie Latham, 59, was booked into Oklahoma County Jail. More
WalMart offers special iPod, made of meat
If you got a Video iPod for the holidays this year, you should be thanking your lucky stars it didn’t come from the Hawaiian Keeaumoku Wal-Wart.
Rachel Cambra, a mom and an employee of that Wal-Mart store, gave her son a Christmas gift which she believed to be a Video iPod she had put on layaway. It turned out to be a wrapped-up piece of meat, about as useful as a 10 gig tenderloin. More
Who is Ann Coulter? Mysterious origins of crazy Annie
One mystery that has had us baffled for quite a while concerns the origins of Ann Coulter. Sure, she has an official bio and backstory, but the problem is that we can find no one to come forward and admit something like, "Oh yeah, we went to law school together and she was a very intense scholarly girl back then", or any such account. We got nothing.
But there is one amazing possibility no one else has considered, until now. More
Cheney suffers 117th heart attack, in recovery
Secret Location - Co-president Dick Cheney suffered his 117th heart attack recently at an undisclosed time.
"He just wheezed, gurgled and just sorta fell over", an unnamed source said. Cheney was immediately rushed to a facility staffed with "people who can make him go", the source reported. . More
Woman apprehended in cheesy murder plot
A Tennessee woman wanted money for modeling school, and decided to get it the easy way. Thinking a block of cheese was cocaine, she hired a hit man to kill the cheese owners.
Then things got really ugly. More
Arkansas man attempts to occupy White House, bypasses election
WASHINGTON -- Having had enough cleaning up the mess from the last Arkansas man who made it into the White House, the Secret Service immediately arrested the most recent man from Arkansas trying to occupy that venerable structure by scaling the fence.
Secret Service spokesman Jonathan Cherry, who identified the jumper as Shawn Cox, said Cox was being charged with unlawful entry.
Cherry said that Cox has previously come to the attention of the Secret Service, without providing further details.
Mr. Cox scaled the fence surrounding the White House yesterday while President George W. Bush was inside and was immediately apprehended by the Secret Service. More
Believed that Chelsea Clinton still lived at the White House, and that he was destined to marry her. More
Mall shows "Grinch" like holiday spirit to 4 year old girl
A mall in Massachusetts issued an apology after a 4-year-old girl was apparently told she was not allowed to sit on Santa's lap unless she purchased a $21 picture of the meeting, according to a Local 6 News report. More
Jail is a really really bad place. Honest.
In New Zealand, Rape Crisis has reacted with horror and disgust to some Auckland billboards. The A-class.co.nz signs depict a prison shower scene, with a bar of soap covered in blood. The tagline is 'Because jail sux'. More
Separated at Birth?
Gone in 60 seconds: Man stole car with no brakes
A Russian thief did not get very far after he stole a car from a repair shop - without realising the brakes had been removed.
The 24-year-old had taken the broken Nissan Primera from the garage in southern Moscow and tried to make a quick getaway. He survived the escapade, so did not make it to a Darwin award, but on this career path he could be a great contender. More
Male brothel opens to service women
Edmonds, Washington - A brothel has opened in this northwestern U.S. city featuring men who service women, and it is perfectly legal.
"Traditional brothels and escort services have offered what men want, which is an attractive woman to have sexual relations with them", said Marcy Park, owner of the What Womyn Want brothel.
"American women want attractive men too." More
Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham
Shedding phony tears for the camera, Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) resigned from Congress Monday morning after pleading guilty to conspiring to take bribes in exchange for using his influence to help a defense contractor get business.
"I was not strong enough to face the truth," Cunningham said in a news conference outside the federal courthouse, his voice breaking. "The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office." More
The latest scandal involved a defense contractor who bought his home for an inflated value, enabling him to buy a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe.
In service to God?
"We, his remaining friends, have spent the last day with Duke praying and talking about a new chapter in Duke's life, a chapter of service to God," Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) said.
Cunningham is pictured here expounding on moral issues with televangelist Paul Crouch of TBN.
Mr. Crouch, and his wife Jan, are the TBN version of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker knock offs.
A list of some of the loot he raked in. Here
Betrayed his colleagues.
Although Cunningham favored the death penalty for drug dealers, he lobbied for a much lighter sentence for his son, who was caught flying in 400 pounds of Marijuana bricks (worth $200,000.00) in a twin-engine plane, then selling the pot to two other men. (San Diego Union-Tribune. 18 November 1998)
Teachers charged for using appliances in school
St Paul, MN - Teachers in budget-stressed schools are accustomed to shelling out for paper, glue and pencils. But the staff here wasn't ready for this: a new fee for having coffee makers, microwaves and refrigerators in classrooms and offices.
While school districts around the country are placing limits on personal appliances in an attempt to hold down energy costs, St. Paul's pay-for-plug approach appears to be unique. Interim Superintendent Lou Kanavati described the $25 per appliance annual fee as one in a series of steps to save money. He said the district's energy costs this year could exceed $6 million -- far more than the $3.6 million officials budgeted for.
District bean counters, while good intentioned, have not thought through the unintended consequences of this policy. Power costs recouped may be more than offset by lost time as teachers walk to the lounge to get coffee and food. Some teachers may evade costs by smuggling appliances into school and using them clandestinely.
Notably, the district did not announce a policy of reimbursing teachers for energy costs of computers and lighting at home incurred preparing lesson plans, scheduling, and grading papers. By charging teachers for energy costs, they accept on principle that they should also reimburse them. More
Parents gone bad! - Deliberately expose their children to dangerous infections - Pox parties
After centuries of climbing up from ignorance of disease, and developments in science to advance health, many parents today are taking leave of their senses and engaging in a dangerous practice of deliberately exposing their children to an infectious disease. They claim they follow this practice in order to develop immunity, but the science differs from their urban legend driven theories. More
Thief in Oregon sells his loot in online auctions
William Swanberg was indicted by a Washington County grand jury on theft charges.
Police say Swanberg had been selling the stolen Legos on a Web site called "bricklink.com" a site that is similar to eBay, except it's only for Legos. More
Rove relocated to office building far from White House
Van Damme to lead North Korean defense?
Kim Jong Chol has reportedly been dismissed by his father as "too girlish" to rule the country, but is a leading contender as his elder brother is currently in self-imposed exile in Europe.
He was reportedly inspired by Van Damme's terrorist-busting performance in 1995 film 'Sudden Death'. There are no confirmed reports that Kim Jong Chol has any desire to enlist the aid of California governor Arnold Schwartzenegger. More
Bird flu syptoms
The Center for Disease Control has released a list of symptoms of bird flu. If you experience any of the following, please seek medical treatment immediately:
Bush Decision Making Process - Explained Here
Harriet confesses "We are drinking buddies"
Also explains motives for nomination to Supreme Court, details of relationship with Bush
Washington (IPI) In a surprise press conference, former Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers spoke up about details of her relationship with President George W. Bush. With an amazing degree of candor, Ms. Miers explained some of the motivations for the President to nominate her to the high court. Read the details
Enviromentalists decry Martian global warming
A spokesman for a Martian environmentalist group blamed the global warming of that planet on human activity.
Since 1999, observations of the nearby red planet have provided data supporting evidence that it is undergoing a phase of global warming. More
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has been very busy since leaving office.
Using the unique resources available as a former president, he has turned his talents of persuasion to raising investment funds from an unlikely source: Nigerian citizens.
Peggy Ngomo, of Lagos, was offered a business opportunity by Mr. Clinton.
"Yes, it was a very attractive offer, praise God, and he seemed so sincere", Ms. Ngomo reported. But she was not able to follow through on her end of the partnership.
"He kept wanting me to send him more money, and more money", she said, "and he said it was needed to file paperwork to free up my share of the investment."
It is estimated that several thousand Nigerians have been offered a business opportunity similar to what Ms. Ngomo received. StaggerOn.org has obtained documents that detail his business offer, and one can be found here. View It
Bush Presidents seen fishing in New Orleans flood water
Presidents George H., and George W. Bush were seen fishing in the New Orleans flood water on Tuesday.
Both men were aboard a fishing boat, motoring down the flooded streets and trolling for freshwater fish. More
Some Britsh banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims. Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising, the Daily Express/Daily Star group reports here.
Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.
You may no longer "bring home the bacon" or "live high on the hog" if this trend keeps underway. More
Getting Mooned By Mars
In the years since the Viking probes sent back photos of the surface of Mars, some controversy has surrounded the images. Many believe they show a humanoid face carved into stone on the Martian surface. Photos taken since then by more advanced probes have not settled the question. However, the most recent photos from the European Space Agency probe showl in clear detail a large pair of buttocks sculpted on the Martian surface. More
Mr. Bill knew, Mr. Bush didn't
Hello. My name is Mr. Bill. I knew that New Orleans was in danger from a hurricane and flooding for many years. I even made a video of it with my friends. See what I knew and the president did not know. More
Castro seeks White House
In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that promoting private enterprise that promises sales-tax windfalls for municipal coffers is a "public use" protected by the U.S. Constitution, Cuban leader Fidel Castro has filed suit to purchase the White House and turn the property into an amusement park. More
Bush Twins Enlist!
Crawford Texas-(UP) In an apparent move to shore up support for his war in Iraq, George Bush's twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, have enlisted in the army.
"Let's kick some terrorist butt!" Jenna says. More
Drug warriors incompetent, losing battles, wasting money
Policy makers and legislators who wage the so-called War on Drugs have serious brain damage. One of their common schemes to mask their failure to rid the nation of illicit drugs is to arrest people whe have common household items that might be used to manufacture drugs. It no longer matters if actual drugs are involved. That would be too bothersome.
Here are details of a recent shakedown by federal thugs. More
Big Mac and Zyklon B to go!
Not one to let a great marketing opportunity to pass by, Ronald McDonald has built a burger franchise within a kilometer of the Nazi concentration camp, Dachau. Any attempt to lure the concentration camp visitors into town incites accusations of exploiting the 30,000 who died in the camp. The skin certainly prickles at the thought of the vulgar flyers that were slipped under the windscreen wipers of cars parked outside the camp in 1996: "Dear visitor, welcome to Dachau, welcome to McDonald's. Our restaurant's got 120 seats, about 40 outdoor seats and for our young guests an Indoor and Outdoor Playland. How to find us? Really simple. Just follow the picture! We're happy for your visit! Your McDonald's Restaurant, Dachau." The din of outrage that followed the distribution of these flyers was heard even at McDonald's headquarters in Chicago. A formal apology was swiftly made by the chief executive of McDonald's Germany to the head of the country's Jewish community. More
Your baby is a terror suspect!
Homeland Security says your cute little baby is a threat to national security. More
Russian spammer beaten to death, 70 million suspects
Vardan Kushnir, notorious for sending spam to each and every citizen of Russia who appeared to have an e-mail, was found dead in his Moscow apartment on Sunday, Interfax reported Monday. He died after suffering repeated blows to the head. You are one of the suspects. I am too. More
A recent investigation geared at building evidence for a trial against Saddam Hussein has revealed that he is, in fact, a Mexican.
"This puts a whole new spin into our case against him.",
said assistant deputy prosecutor Gary Nebbing. "We plan to go ahead
with all the original charges, and are looking at possibilies to add
more charges that will assure he never hangs his sombrero in another
palace again." More
Democrats contrive method to steal money
The Democratic Party, in an effort to suck cash out of
unsuspecting dimwitted victims, have begun issuing so called "Democracy
Bonds". Promising such howlers as to "Reform the political process by
building a political party beholden only to the people, not the special
interests", and to "Win elections in every state and territory of the
United States, at every level of office", the bonds are sold on the
Democratic Party web site. Prospective victims of this scheme are invited
to check an initial amount, starting at $20, and pledge to donate that
amount every month. Checked amounts go up to $125 and there is a place
on the form to specify other, even greater amounts. The form includes
a field that enables someone lured in by this scheme to check to make
monthly contributions in the amount they specify, and have it automaticly
charged to their credit card. There is no provision for issuing a refund
if the Democratic Party fails to perform the promised services. When
questioned about the legality of this scheme, SEC officials failed to
Bush Collides with Al Qaeda while on bicycle
a stunning development, President Bush has collided with an Al Qaeda
member while on a bicycle ride.
Double dose of Pussy
Oregon kitten born with two faces, and, hopefully, at least nine lives. Gemini was born Sunday with two mouths, two tongues, two noses and four eyes. More