Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vera set for crucial test against Jardine

Vera set for crucial test against Jardine

Yahoo! Sports

Brandon Vera is coming off a life-changing experience, but right now he doesn’t have the time to focus on or think about it.

On Oct. 4, while at the home of his grappling trainer, Lloyd Irvin, in Accokeek, Md., Irvin’s home was broken into by two gunmen at 4:30 a.m.

The gunmen pointed their weapons at Vera, Irvin, along with Irvin’s wife and young son, while demanding cash and jewelry.

While one gunmen focused on Vera, the other forced Irvin to go into the bedroom to get the family jewelry. While in the bedroom, feeling he was far enough away that he wouldn’t be putting his family in jeopardy, Irvin made a move and disarmed the gunman.

The intruder ran off, screaming to his partner that the guy had got the gun, and his partner then also ran off.

But with Vera in the final stages of training, only a few days before leaving for the United Kingdom for his UFC 89 fight on Saturday night with Keith Jardine in Birmingham, he’s tried as best he can to remove it from his mind.

“I don’t want to talk about it until after the fight,” Vera said. “We were back training the next day.”

There was little choice, as this fight is the proverbial fork in the road for Vera’s career, and he’s facing a fighter in almost the same situation.

“If I win, I’m a championship contender, and if I lose, I’m completely out of the picture,” he said about the semifinal of a show headlined by Chris Leben vs. Michael Bisping which airs on a same-day tape-delay on Spike TV. “That’s the sport of MMA.”

The match is in the semifinal position, but to a lot of people, it should be the rightful main event except that in the U.K., Bisping, who comes from Liverpool, is the company’s most popular fighter.

A win is important as it will put Vera in the hunt for a light heavyweight title shot, along with the winner of a proposed Jan. 31 match with Thiago Silva vs. Lyoto Machida. Vera is also looking to come out of it with momentum, since as a Filipino, he’s the top star in that country where UFC draws big ratings on network television and could potentially become the Philippines’ answer to Bisping when it follows through with its planned expansion.

“I could never describe what it’s like over there, and if I did, you wouldn’t believe me,” he said. “This sounds bad to say, but over there, I’m like Elvis.”

Just two years ago, Vera (9-2) was looked at by the UFC as the future star of its heavyweight division. With his speed, and combination of strong Muay Thai, submissions and wrestling, he made the bold statement about becoming the first man to win the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles at the same time.

After being too fast for Frank Mir, and finishing off his much larger foe in just 1:09 at UFC 65, Vera was promised the next heavyweight title shot at then-champ Tim Sylvia. But a dispute with manager Mark Dion led to him not taking the championship match and his career was on hold for 11 months.

After his layoff, he broke his thumb on the first punch of his UFC 77 match against Sylvia, by that time a former champion. He fought most of the fight with one arm against a much bigger foe, looking unimpressive in losing a decision.

That was followed by a heartache on June 7, in London, England, when he lost to Fabricio Werdum when he was mounted in the first round and taking punches. Mentally he had told himself that there were 20 seconds left in the round so he’d try and defend until the round was over, and suddenly the match was stopped.

“I’m still bitter about it,” he said. “It was (expletive). But you can’t cry about it. It was a terrible decision. I knew he had a strong mount and it was going to be hard to get out of it. I was just waiting for the round to end to start over, and then it was stopped.”

With the two losses, the talk was that Vera was too small for the heavyweight division. Vera doesn’t carry a heavyweight frame at 225 pounds, and is actually physically smaller than many of the light heavyweights. And after the loss to Werdum, he wanted back in the cage as soon as possible.

That came on July 19, when he was offered his first fight as a light heavyweight. Even though he defeated former three-time All-American wrestler Reese Andy, it was almost like another loss in his string of disappointing performances because he wasn’t himself and couldn’t pull the trigger.

“Making the weight wasn’t hard,” he said. “I cut 20 pounds in three weeks. I didn’t even have to go into the steam room. I weighed in at 204, showing I could make it with room to spare. The problem was performing at that weight. The first round I felt good, like a good feeling out round. In the second round, suddenly I felt I was carrying a monkey on my back.”

Even tired, his balance was good enough to keep the fight standing, and he was far superior technically as a striker so he was able to stay out of trouble. But in that same condition, he wouldn’t likely be so fortunate against Jardine.

Jardine (13-4-1), comes into the fight at a similar point in his career.

Among his last four fights, Jardine has wins over former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, and a knockout win over current champion Forrest Griffin. But the other two fights saw him buckle under a furious onslaught in 48 seconds from Houston Alexander, and again in 36 seconds at the hands of Wanderlei Silva.

“Every fight at this level can go either way,” said Vera, who is approaching the weight cut differently this time. “Anyone in the top 10 to top 15 in the light heavyweight division can beat anyone else on any given day.”

Vera came to the U.K. the middle of last week to get acclimated to the time difference, and expects it to pay off, as he doesn’t think the usual travel four days before a fight would be enough.

“I love it here, but the only problem is the U.S. dollar is so weak right now against the pound.”

Vera considers himself friends with both Jardine and Rashad Evans (Jardine’s regular training partner and current top contender for the light heavyweight title) and had talked about going to Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, N.M., to train with them. But the timing never worked out.

“They’re both good guys, but that’s our sport. When UFC asked about it, you can’t turn down that match. In the end, it’s a business.”

But he did feel that due to Jardine’s unorthodox style, that of all the top light heavyweights, he and Lyoto Machida would be the two fighters in the division he’d have the most difficulty preparing for.

The match looks to come down to Vera’s fluid style of Muay Thai, specializing in strong body kicks, against Jardine’s more rigid and uglier looking mechanics of a style, but one that has served him well.

Vera’s belief is the fight is going to stay standing. While both have strong wrestling credentials, both usually don’t try and take a fight to the ground.

“Wrestling, I think we’re even,” said Vera. “He was at the Olympic training center at the same time I was. He was there for freestyle and I was there for Greco-Roman.”

TSA agent steals $200K worth of gear, resells it on eBay

The TSA reached a mind-boggling new low in customer service this week when it was revealed that one agent had single-handedly absconded with over $200,000 worth of travelers' belongings, primarily cameras and laptops, and proceeded to unload his booty on eBay. His latest haul: A near-$50,000 camera that an HBO employee had been traveling with.

The culprit is one Pythias Brown, a New Jersey resident who worked in the TSA department at Newark Liberty Airport. Finally busted, police discovered an inventory of 66 cameras, 31 laptops, assorted jewelry, and more when they searched his home. How'd he finally get caught? Brown snagged a camera belonging to CNN, and they found it for sale on eBay, where Brown had been converting the gear into cash.

Brown's been doing a great job of it too, with a near-perfect feedback rating on eBay.

Of note: Brown appears to have been taking items from checked luggage in the back rooms of the airport, not carry-ons. (One has to imagine you'd notice your $50,000 camera was missing after it came off the x-ray line.) But since consumers are no longer allowed to lock their luggage (or, at least, the TSA is allowed to break those locks as it sees fit), travelers have no real means of protection when it comes to guarding against inside job thievery like this.

What do you do if you need to get something expensive from point A to point B but can't carry it on the plane? Advance shipping through FedEx and the like seems like the only real solution: At least with shipping carriers you can insure the package against damage and theft. But sadly, your contract with the airlines absolves them of virtually all liability when things like this happen.

Another good reason to ship instead of check a bag? Given that airlines now charge up to a whopping $250 for a checked bag, it may now actually be cheaper to have FedEx pick up your stuff at your house and drop it at your destination. How's that for progress?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mysterious Rash Linked to "Mobile Phone Dermatitis"

Mysterious Rash Linked to "Mobile Phone Dermatitis"
According to the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), people have been going to see doctors with a mysterious rash on their ears or cheeks. Doctors believe the rashes to be “mobile phone dermatitis,” a skin allergy caused by too much mobile phone use.
Referring to published studies, dermatologists explained that this red or itchy rash, affects people who from an allergic reaction to the nickel surface on mobile phones after spending long periods of time holding the devices up to their ears as they talk.
Nickel is often found in the handset casing or buttons, particularly in the most fashionable models.
“Mobile phone dermatitis could even occur on your fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons,” explained Dr. Graham Lowe, British Association of Dermatologists.
A spokesman for mobile phone industry body, the GSM Association, said there was an EU directive designed to regulate nickel content which was intended to protect users with sensitive skin. He added that using a case or handsfree kit would also reduce the chance of a reaction.
The BAD claims that women who react to nickel in jewelry are more likely to develop a rash from their phones.
"It is worth doctors bearing this condition in mind if they see a patient with a rash on the cheek or ear that cannot otherwise be explained," the British group said, adding that many doctors are unaware that mobile phones can cause the rash.
As more people rely on mobile phones for daily communication, safety concerns also continue to rise. However, the current evidence has given the technology a clean bill of health when it comes to serious conditions like brain cancer,Reuters ( News - Alert) reports.
"In mobile phone dermatitis, the rash would typically occur on the cheek or ear, depending on where the metal part of the phone comes into contact with the skin," the group said in a statement.
"In theory it could even occur on the fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons,” it added.
Nickel is a metal found in products, ranging from mobile phones to jewelry to belt buckles and is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, according to the Mayo Clinic in the United States. It is also the most common contact allergy in the UK, affecting approximately 30 percent of the population.
Earlier this year, Lionel Bercovitch of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and colleagues examined 22 popular handsets from eight different manufacturers and found nickel in 10 of the devices.
The BAD advises anyone who develops a rash on their face which might be attributable to prolonged mobile phone use to seek advice from their doctor.

Pals for 30 we find we’re SISTERS!

TWO women who have known each other 30 years were stunned to discover they are sisters.

Deborah Day was adopted at two months old – separating her from big sister Marilyn Morris.

They met again as teenagers working in a supermarket and became friends – but had no idea they were related.

They lost touch again but the truth finally came to light when their oldest sister Sally Griffiths launched a search for her lost family.

At a reunion Deborah, 44, and Marilyn, 45, were shocked to discover they were more than friends.

They live within a mile of each other in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and even send their children to the same school.

Mum-of-three Deborah said: “When we worked together we realised we were similar.

“But I never imagined Marilyn was my sister.

“We’ve got years of catching up to do and we’re enjoying every minute.”

Marilyn, also a mum of three, said: “Debbie and I look so alike. It’s wonderful because we have such a great family now. All our children are friends.”

Sally, 46, who also lives in Weston, spent years searching after losing touch with Marilyn and learning Deborah was adopted due to family problems.

She said: “It was all worth it. But I can’t believe we all lived so close without ever bumping in to each other.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boy, 4, allowed to leave school during lessons unchallenged and walk almost a mile home

Boy, 4, allowed to leave school during lessons unchallenged and walk almost a mile home

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:56 AM on 16th October 2008

A boy of four was allowed to leave a primary school unchallenged during lessons and walk to his home three-quarters of a mile away, crossing busy road.

Tyler McGuire told his teacher he was going to the toilet then headed off on his own.

The youngster arrived home safely because his mother, Sara, has taught him to use a Pelican crossing on the busy main road.

Unchallenged: Tyler Roffey walked out of his primary school, opened a school gate and crossed a busy main road

Unchallenged: Tyler Roffey walked out of his primary school, opened a school gate and crossed a busy main road to walk home

Now Mrs McGuire is threatening to remove Tyler and his twin brother Leo from the nursery class at Ashleigh Primary School in Barnstaple, North Devon.

She was at home when Tyler walked in home but says he could have been left alone and vulnerable if she had not been there.

The 36-year-old is demanding better security at the school after going to check it and finding she was allowed to wander around its campus without anyone stopping her.

The school said it was shocked by the 'unfortunate incident' and had now installed a new, locked, gate.

Sara dropped Tyler and Leo at school in the morning and expected to pick him up at 3.15pm - but he turned up at the back door of their home at 1.45pm.

She said: 'I felt sick when I found out what had happened. He should not be able to get out of school that easily.

Road crossing: Tyler had to cross this road to make it home

Road crossing: Tyler had to cross this road to make it home

'Luckily I was at home that day and Tyler is a sensible child, pressing the button at the road crossing and waiting for the green man but it could have been much worse.

'I took him straight back to class but the security just isn't good enough.

'I am seriously considering pulling Tyler and Leo out and moving them to a different school unless something is done.

'I went back to the school a couple of days later. I managed to get on to the school grounds, wander around the playground and school field near the nursery and no one asked who I was or why I was there.

'You expect your children to be safe at school. I could have been anyone.'

Mum Sara McGuire is considering removing Tyler and her other son Leo from the school

Mum Sara McGuire is considering removing Tyler and her other son Leo from the school

Head teacher Mark Henderson insisted that the safety of his pupils was paramount.

He said: 'This was a very unfortunate accident and we were shocked when we found out.

'Tyler had gone to the toilet and the staff noticed he was absent two minutes later and let me know straight away.

'Together we carried out a full search of the school within three minutes of him leaving the classroom.

'Schools are not prisons and if the security of children is too intense it would not be conducive to learning.

'Since the problem we have installed a new gate with a high latch, put a combination lock on our current gates and ordered new ones too.

'I have met Tyler's parents on two occasions since the incident and both times she said she felt reassured by the action taken by the school.

'She also commented on the nature of her son and that she had trouble at home keeping him in the house.'

'Security isn't good enough': Ashleigh Primary School in Barnstaple

'Security isn't good enough': Ashleigh Primary School in Barnstaple

About 200K Ohio voters have records discrepancies

CINCINNATI (AP) - Close to one in every three newly registered Ohio voters will end up on court-ordered lists being sent to county election boards because they have some discrepancy in their records, an elections spokesman said Wednesday.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner estimated that an initial review found that about 200,000 newly registered voters reported information that did not match motor-vehicle or Social Security records, Brunner spokesman Kevin Kidder said. Some discrepancies could be as simple as a misspelling, while others could be more significant.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati sided with the Ohio Republican Party on Tuesday and ordered Brunner to set up a system that provides those names to county elections boards. The GOP contends the information will help prevent fraud.

"Things already are in motion to comply," Kidder said. "We're working to establish these processes on how we can make this work. The computer work actually began last week."

About 666,000 Ohioans have registered to vote since January.

Brunner previously cross-checked new-voter registrations with databases run by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle and the Social Security Administration and made the results available online, but the 6th Circuit said the information was not accessible in a way that would help county election boards ferret out mismatches.

Brunner, a Democrat, told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer on Wednesday that she is concerned the court decision is a veiled attempt at disenfranchising voters. Brunner said she'll urge counties not to force these people to use provisional ballots.

The court gave Brunner until Friday to get election boards the information but it was unclear whether that deadline would be met. The court set no penalty for missing the deadline.

County election officials were trying to determine Wednesday how they will respond once they get the information.

"I'm very concerned with these new requirements as we get closer to Election Day," said Steve Harsman, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections in Dayton. He said his staff already is working 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

"It's clearly going to have an impact in regard to resources we have to expend to resolve discrepancies," said Jeff Hastings, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland.

"We've had about 100,000 (registrations) since January and of those about 34,000 since the primary. We will do whatever is required of us."

Also Wednesday, the Ohio Republican Party said it has filed public records requests with all 88 counties for copies of forms submitted by newly registered voters, especially those who registered and cast an absentee ballot on the same day during a one-week window earlier this month.

Brunner has said that 13,141 Ohioans registered and voted immediately during the window.

"We've seen reports of fraudulent registrations, and we want to see those forms first-hand," said Jason Mauk, the state GOP's executive director.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Study: Bottled Water as Polluted as Tap Water

Tests on leading brands of bottled water turned up a variety of contaminants often found in tap water, according to a study released Wednesday by an environmental advocacy group.

The findings challenge the popular impression — and marketing pitch — that bottled water is purer than tap water, the researchers say.

However, all the brands met federal health standards for drinking water. Two violated a California state standard, the study said.

An industry group branded the findings "alarmist." Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, said the study is based on the faulty premise that a contaminant is a health concern "even if it does not exceed the established regulatory limit or no standard has been set."

The study's lab tests on 10 brands of bottled water detected 38 chemicals including bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium. Though some probably came from tap water that some companies use for their bottled water, other contaminants probably leached from plastic bottles, the researchers said.

"In some cases, it appears bottled water is no less polluted than tap water and, at 1,900 times the cost, consumers should expect better," said Jane Houlihan, an environmental engineer who co-authored the study.

The two-year study was done by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, an organization founded by scientists that advocates stricter regulation. It found the contaminants in bottled water purchased in nine states and Washington, D.C.

Researchers tested one batch for each of 10 brands. Eight did not have contaminants high enough to warrant further testing. But two brands did, so more tests were done and those revealed chlorine byproducts above California's standard, the group reported. The researchers identified those two brands as Sam's Choice sold by Wal-Mart and Acadia of Giant Food supermarkets.

In the Wal-Mart and Giant Food bottled water, the highest concentration of chlorine byproducts, known as trihalomethanes, was over 35 parts per billion. California's limit is 10 parts per billion or less, and the industry's International Bottled Water Association makes 10 its voluntary guideline. The federal limit is 80.

Wal-Mart said its own studies did not turn up illegal levels of contaminants. Giant Food officials released a statement asserting that Acadia meets all regulatory standards. Acadia is sold in the mid-Atlantic states, so it isn't held to California's standard. In most places, bottled water must meet roughly the same federal standards as tap water.

The researchers also said the Wal-Mart brand was five times California's limit for one particular chlorine byproduct, bromodichloromethane. The environmental group wants Wal-Mart to label its bottles in California with a warning because the chlorine-based contaminants have been linked with cancer. It has filed a notice of intent to sue.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Shannon Frederick said the company was "puzzled" by the findings because testing by suppliers and another lab had detected no "reportable amounts" of such contaminants. She said Wal-Mart would investigate further but defended the quality of its bottled water.

The researchers recommend that people worried about water contaminants drink tap water with a carbon filter.

Blog of funny newspaper clippings

Blog of funny newspaper clippings

Criggo is a delightful blog that posts scans of funny things from newspapers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Parent fury as school uses 'Guantanamo Bay' isolation cells to punish unruly pupils

Parent fury as school uses 'Guantanamo Bay' isolation cells to punish unruly pupils

By Daily Mail Reporter

A school which sends unruly children to Guantanamo Bay-style isolation cells has faced criticism.

Children are ordered to sit for extended periods under a spotlight facing a black wall in one of four partitioned areas of a classroom to reflect on their misbehaviour.

Teachers at Ridgewood School in Doncaster – who call the cells 'individual study rooms' – also notify parents if their youngsters spend time in the cells.
Ridgewood School

'Dungeon': Children at Ridgewood School in Doncaster, above, are ordered to sit for lengthy periods under a spotlight facing a black wall to reflect on their actions

A father whose son was ordered to spend a day in one of the units has threatened to remove him from the school in protest.

Andrew Widdowson discovered the unusual punishment after Kieran, 11, helped deflate the tyres on a boy’s bike, he claimed.

Mr Widdowson, 30, told said: ‘A teacher rang and told me about the punishment and I went into the school to see for myself what this isolation room was.

‘I couldn’t believe it. It was like something out of Guantanamo Bay.

‘The room is painted totally black. The walls, the partitions, the window blinds – everything was black.

‘The partitions down one side created four cells where school kids are expected to sit at a desk all day.’

‘My son has never been in trouble. The first time he’s done something and he gets told to go into isolation. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

‘I would rather take my son out of school than see him spend time in that dungeon.’

Now teachers have refused to let Kieran return to class until he serves his time in the room.

Mr Widdowson had earlier received a letter from the school explaining: ‘All the boys involved would serve one day in the isolation room on separate days… so they can reflect individually on their actions and hopefully decide that they will not be part of doing anything like this again whatever their motivation and degree of involvement in this case.’

The school has defended the room, which is supervised by a member of staff.

In a statement it said: ‘It is well lit with a window providing adequate external light and extra ventilation as required, and each individual carrel has separate spot lighting in addition.

Guantanamo Bay
'Unfitting': A father compared the isolation cells to Guantanamo Bay, above

‘The facility has been in use for over four years and accommodates a handful of pupils each week overwhelmingly for no more than one day and some for less than this.

'The facility is used at a relatively minor level of the behaviour policy to give pupils a chance to reflect on their behaviour and strengthen their desire to meet expectations in future.

‘It overwhelmingly achieves this in terms of pupils not returning for repeated isolations.

‘Pupils are supplied with work from current lessons and are free to ask questions of the supervising member of staff as they would in lessons.

‘It was fully functional during the 2006 Ofsted inspection and approved as a positive feature of the school’s overall success.

‘The school shares the aim of getting Kieran back into education at Ridgewood promptly.

'He is welcome to return at any time, do his day in isolation in line with the behaviour policy for all pupils and return to his full mainstream timetable.’

Jam and jelly could help stop the spread of cancer, according to new research.

Jam and jelly could help stop the spread of cancer, according to new research.


Research found that a gelling agent used in jelly has anti-cancer properties

Both contain the gelling agent pectin which blocks the progression of cancer, the Institute of Food Research study found.

Pectin - a natural fibre product found in fruits and vegetables - is widely used in the manufacture of jelly, jam and many other foods, including confectionery, yoghurts and milk drinks.

The new research has shown that under the right conditions pectin releases a molecular fragment with anti-cancer properties.

The released fragment binds to galectin 3 (gal3), a protein that influences all stages of cancer progression, including the growth of tumour-nourishing blood vessels and the invasion of cancer cells into body tissue.

The binding with gal3 is thought to affect its ability to promote the growth of cancerous cells, according to the study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.

Professor Vic Morris, who led the study, said the modified pectin used in jellies and jams was likely to produce the anti-cancer effect.

"The treatments used by the food industry to modify pectin would emphasise the release of the fragment we've identified," he said.

"I expect you would get some protection from jam, but it's packed full of sugar.


Pectin is found in citrus fruit peel

"It might be better to get the same protection from fruit and vegetables which would give you other anti-cancer magic bullets as well."

At present it is not clear whether unprocessed fruits and vegetables contain pectin in a form that can fight cancer.

Most pectin comes from the peel of citrus fruits and apple pulp.

Prof Morris is planning new research to see if natural pectin releases its anti-cancer fragment after being swallowed. He suspects that it does.

A laboratory study published in the journal Glycobiology last year showed pectin can slow the growth of prostate cancer.