Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lightning strikes only once _ but kills 52 cows

Lightning strikes only once _ but kills 52 cows

AP Photo
AP Photo
/L/LT_ODD_URUGUAY_ZAPPED_COWS?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=ENTERTAINMENT&headline=Lightning strikes only once _ but kills 52 cows " height="215" width="180">

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) -- Lightning struck only once - but 52 cows are dead at an Uruguayan ranch. The newspaper El Pais reports that the cows had pressed against a wire fence during a storm when the lightning bolt struck in the northern state of San Jose.

A photograph released by the San Jose Police Department shows the black and brown cows lying dead in a long row.

The newspaper said Friday that veterinarians at the scene confirmed the cause of the deaths, which happened Wednesday. The veterinarians told the newspaper that cows often crowd around fences to seek protection during storms.

Meteorologist Fernando Torena told the newspaper he wasn't surprised that a single lightning bolt killed so many cows. But he called it "very bad luck."

eBay buyer faces libel action after leaving negative feedback

eBay buyer faces libel action after leaving negative feedback

Negative feedback

The negative feedback at the centre of the dispute

A man is facing legal action for libel after leaving negative feedback for an item he bought on auction website eBay.

When Chris Read received the £155 mobile phone he had purchased from Joel Jones on eBay, he found it was the wrong model and was not in good condition, as advertised.

The 42-year-old mechanic from Kent returned the phone, and, on October 3, used the feedback facility on the website, designed to warn other buyers of potentially untrustworthy sellers. He wrote: "Item was scratched, chipped and not the model advertised on Mr Jones's eBay account."

Mr Read subsequently received an e-mail from Mr Jones, a 26-year-old businessman from Suffollk who deals in second-hand electrical goods, saying that his comments were damaging his business, and threatening him with legal action unless he deleted them from the site.

Mr Read said: "I was told the phone was in good condition, but there were scratches all over it, a big chip out of the side and it was a different phone. I paid for a Samsung F700 and got a Samsung F700V."

Although he received a refund for the erroneous product, Mr Read decided to stand his ground, and told Mr Jones he would go to court if necessary, which would be a legal first for such a libel case.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Read was sent a pre-court letter from Mr Jones, which asked him to agree that his comments were unfair. The letter told him that he had seven days to respond, or he would face court action, "substantial" legal fees and costs of £175.

Mr Jones, who sells under the username 'onsalexuk,' defended his action, and said: "I am being punished on eBay because of this as sellers who have negative feedback appear lower down the screen in searches than other people. I'm losing money by the day and my business could go under because of it. I've been left with no option but to take legal action."

He called Mr Read's comments "unfair, unreasonable and damaging", because he had received a "no-quibble" refund for the phone.

Mr Read, however, said: "I can't believe someone can be so petty. I only wanted to buy a phone. All I had done was left an honest opinion and everything I said was true.

"I thought that was why the feedback service was there. It's not like I wrote anything malicious or nasty."

An eBay spokeswoman said that the dispute had not been brought to them, and added that: ""We are very disappointed that this seller has chosen to sue rather than to attempt to resolve the buyer's problem amicably." She explained that one negative comment was unlikely to affect Mr Jones's status on the site, which still rates him with a 98.7% positive feedback tally overall.

However, as the law of libel - that of publishing a false or defamatory statement which damages someone's reputation - applies online as well as in print, Mr Read could have a case to answer if the court decides his comments qualify as libellous.

He said: "I'm prepared to fight my corner."

Chris Matyszczyk a Technology writer from CNET said: "Surely Jones is seeking sympathy rather than justice. Because even if he somehow persuaded a court that he was right (which would seem a little unlikely), he will always be known as the scratchy phone seller who sues his customers."

Earlier this year, eBay banned sellers from leaving feedback for their buyers, which means that Mr Jones was unable to retort to Mr Read's criticism. A Facebook group called "eBay Sellers Want Feedback Rights" is calling for this decision to be reversed, and eBay has admitted it needs to review its dispute-handling procedures.

A new system will be launched later this month to allow sellers legitimately to ask buyers to revoke negative feedback if a dispute has been resolved.

Latter day Rapunzel: Florida woman grows her hair almost 9 feet long

MIAMI - Asha Mandela has hair that could rival that of the title character in the German fairy tale Rapunzel.

The South Florida woman who started growing her hair 20 years ago now has locks a lot longer than she is tall.

Mandela has submitted her hair, which measures 8 feet 9 inches long, to the Guinness Book of World Records for the Longest Dreadlocks, the first entry in a new category.

It takes one bottle of shampoo and one bottle of conditioner every time she washes her hair, which sometimes takes days to fully dry.

The 46-year-old Mandela says she used to wash it three times a week, but is now down to once a week.

She calls the process "very tiring" and says sometimes she just doesn't have the energy.

University of Western Ontario cameras capture 'fireball'

University of Western Ontario cameras capture 'fireball'
Meteor may have crashed near Guelph, Ontario

By: University of Western Ontario

Click the image to vie the Collingwood movie
Oct. 24, 2008 - For the second time this year, The University of Western Ontario Meteor Group has captured incredibly rare video footage of a meteor falling to Earth. The team of astronomers suspects the fireball dropped meteorites in a region north of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, that may total as much as a few hundred grams in mass.

The Physics and Astronomy Department at Western has a network of all-sky cameras in southern Ontario that scan the sky monitoring for meteors.

On Wednesday, October 15 at 5:28 a.m., all seven cameras of Western's Southern Ontario Meteor Network recorded a bright, slow fireball in the predawn sky.

Associate Professor Peter Brown and Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral researcher in Planetary Science, are hoping to enlist the help of local residents in recovering one or more possible meteorites that may have crashed.

"This event was a relatively slow fireball that made it far into the Earth's atmosphere. Most meteoroids burn up by the time they hit an altitude of 60 or 70 kilometres from the ground," explains McCausland, who is heading to the region next week to investigate. "This one was tracked by our all-sky camera network to have penetrated to an altitude of about 37 kilometres and it slowed down considerably, so there is a possibility that at least one and possibly several small meteorites made it to the ground."

By knowing the trajectory from the camera observations, the researchers can also track backwards to get the orbit of the object before it hit the Earth.

"The meteorite was on a typical Earth-crossing asteroid-type orbit, so we also expect that it is a stony-type meteorite," says McCausland.

In March, the network of all-sky cameras captured video of a meteor falling to Earth that may have crashed in the Parry Sound area.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Police: Resident cuffed, caught spraying graffiti

Jay AnthonyPortsmouth police photo

PORTSMOUTH — Jay Anthony was spray-painting graffiti on a downtown wall Tuesday afternoon when Officer Chris Kiberd pulled up in a cruiser behind him, leading to Anthony’s arrest, say police.

Anthony, 29, of 769 State St., is charged with a class A misdemeanor count of criminal mischief-vandalism, based on a witness call to police.

Lt. Dante Puopolo said police dispatchers were called Oct. 21 at 4:03 p.m. by someone reporting a man in black clothing and a black hat, spraying paint on a brick wall near the Vaughn Mall. When Officer Kiberd drove into the area, he saw Anthony painting a multi-colored symbol on the wall and seized a can of paint, said Puopolo.

The “nondescript” symbol was still wet and sticky to the touch, said the police lieutenant, adding Anthony told police it was the first time he sprayed graffiti.

Local police have repeatedly reminded the community that graffiti is not viewed by the department as street art, but as acts of vandalism. Typically people who are convicted of the crimes in the District Court are fined and ordered to perform community servic

Fishermen catch a DOG a mile out in North Sea

Fishermen catch a DOG a mile out in North Sea

Last updated at 3:44 PM on 24th October 2008

Two fishermen were left reeling in surprise when they caught a DOG a mile out at sea.

At first when they spotted the animal swimming against the tide they thought it was an otter, but when they realised that it was a dog the two lifted him on board.

Freddie, a 14-year-old cairn terrier, was later reunited with his owner - who revealed that he dislikes water so much that he hates taking a bath and avoids walking through puddles.

Freddie the terrier and rescuer trawlerman Jimmy Thompson

Bedraggled: Freddie shivers in the arms of trawlerman Jimmy Thompson after being fished from the North Sea

He had become disorientated in the fog while on a walk with owner Jean Brigstock and had slipped into the water as the 73-year-old searched frantically for him.

And instead of swimming back to shore at Amble, Northumberland, he had mistakenly struck out for the deeps of the North Sea.

Mrs Brigstock said: 'It was a beautiful day, and I was taking him on his usual walk, but all of a sudden, a heavy sea fret set in quickly, and I couldn't see Freddie anymore.

'I looked for him for hours, and others helped. There was no sign of him, but I was convinced he would eventually turn up.'

Owner Jean Brigstock cradles Freddie on Amble beach in Northumberland

Saved: Owner Jean Brigstock cradles Freddie on Amble beach in Northumberland after his narrow escape

She added: 'I was desperate. He's my companion and he's so important to me.

'I knew he hated water so I thought he'd head for the dunes rather than the sea. It really didn't enter my head that he would swim.

'He rarely goes through a puddle and has an aversion to baths.'

But Freddie was found three quarters of a mile out to sea after a long doggy paddle and was rescued by trawlermen Jimmy and Alan Thompson from Red Row, Northumberland.

A lifeboat was launched to collect the dog because their trawler was not yet due to return to shore.

By chance, Mrs Brigstock's daughter Wendy, who had taken over the search for Freddie, came across the wife of one of the fishermen, who told her they had found a dog.

Mrs Brigstock adopted Freddie as her own three years ago after his previous owner, a friend, went into a nursing home and was no longer able to look after him.

She said: 'He looked like a drowned rat when they found him.

'I'm so grateful to the two fishermen, the Coastguard and the inshore lifeboat men who took so much trouble to find him and take him to safety.'

Sea-dog Freddie, 14, is no worse for wear after his ordeal. He was taken to the vets but found to be unscathed.

Mrs Brigstock said: 'Freddie is back to his normal self. I'm not surprised he survived - he's a bit of a character really.

'The night he was rescued, he was a little bit under the weather. He was quite quiet and feeling sorry for himself. But the next morning he was ready for his breakfast.'

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Drummer snared after alleged church break-in

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Bridgeport police said they snared a 47-year-old man who broke into a local church to play the drums. Police said Michael Smith, of Weston, was driving by the Holy Ghost Deliverance Church on Monday afternoon when he spotted a drum set through its window.

He was charged with criminal trespass and breach of peace after allegedly breaking into the church, where officers found him in a spirited solo after the church's alarm system went off.

Smith is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 5 in Bridgeport Superior Court. A telephone listing was not available for him.

Heights teen was a victim of infamous serial killer

Heights teen was a victim of infamous serial killer

By PEGGY O'HARE Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Oct. 22, 2008, 10:52PM

More than three decades after his body was pulled from a shallow grave, forensic anthropologists at the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office have identified a teenager believed to be the victim of Houston's infamous serial killer Dean Corll.

Randell Lee Harvey was just 15 when he disappeared on March 11, 1971, and his family has never known what happened to him. The boy's remains — stored in a locker at the morgue for 35 years — were officially identified recently after DNA comparison with family reference samples taken from two of his siblings.

Harvey — who lived in the Heights, like so many of Corll's victims — had been shot in the head. His remains were found Aug. 8, 1973, along with the bodies of other Corll victims unearthed at a boat shed at 2500 Silver Bell in southwest Houston.

Corll is believed to have killed at least 26 boys in a sexually sadistic spree that began in 1971. He, along with two teenage accomplices, lured victims ranging from 13 to 20 years old, to various locations where they were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.

Police learned of the crimes on Aug. 8, 1973, when one of the accomplices, 16-year-old Elmer Wayne Henley, shot and killed Corll at Corll's Pasadena home after hours of drinking and glue-sniffing. Henley then led police to the bodies buried in shallow graves at Corll's boat shed on Silver Bell and to others hidden on a Galveston beach and near Lake Sam Rayburn.

Henley and the other accomplice, David Owen Brooks, then 18, each received 99-year prison sentences — Henley for six of the deaths, Brooks for one.

Harvey's skeletal remains are one of three sets kept in a cooler at the county morgue since that shocking day in 1973. Over the years, the three have been known only as No. 11, No. 16 and No. 22.

Bones tested for DNA

They are among the last of Corll's 26 known victims. Because of new technology, the morgue's forensic anthropologists submitted the boys' bone samples to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for mitochondrial DNA, or mDNA, testing.

The Associated Press reported those tests were inconclusive, so Harvey was identified through circumstantial evidence. The remains were officially identified on Friday.

Harvey's mother is now dead, but two sisters — Donna Harvey Lovrek, 55, and Lenore Lovrek McNiel, 51 — still live in the area. Neither could be reached for comment Wednesday night.

They were 17 and 13 years old when their brother disappeared.

Efforts to get comments from Harris County Medical Examiner's personnel who worked on the case and helped identify the boy's remains were unsuccessful Wednesday night.

The other two boys whose bodies are still housed at the morgue remain unidentified.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney's Wax Head Found In A Bin By A Homeless Man

London, England (CNS) - Sir Paul McCartney's head has been found in a bin by a homeless man. Anthony Silva has found the waxwork of the Beatle legend's head and earned himself a reward of 2,000 pounds [around $3,200].

The wax head was left on a train last week by Joby Carter, who had been traveling on a London to Reading train on Thursday. Carter offered the reward money to whoever would find and return the head.

Silva told the Daily Star that he found McCartney's wax head in a bin at a Reading train station, initially thinking it was a Halloween mask. He claimed the reward from Carter after realizing what a treasure he had discovered.

The head, made in the 1960s and displayed at the Louis Tussauds museum in Great Yarmouth, is expected to sell from 5,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds, or around $8,000 to $16,000, at Carters Entertainment auctioneers.

Woman fights deer after poodle attacked

Woman fights deer after poodle attacked

By JOHN GRANT EMEIGH - Montana Standard - 10/22/08

A 61-year-old woman from Silver Star said she got into a tussle with an aggressive deer after it apparently attacked one of her poodles Monday morning.

Carol Lince said she had to fight a doe when it charged her in her yard at her home just south of Silver Star, about 35 miles southeast of Butte.

Lince said she sustained bruises where the deer rammed its head into her abdomen area.

“I’m still sore today,” she told The Montana Standard Tuesday afternoon. Lince said she had let her three poodles outside, when she heard one “screaming bloody murder.” She went outside and saw a deer attacking the smallest dog.

“I see this big ’ol doe that’s ramming him into the ground,” Lince recalled. Lince kicked at the deer’s hind legs to try to get the animal off her dog.

That’s when the deer turned around.
“When it looked at me I realized I bit off a little more than I can chew, but I’m going to fight,” she said.

She said the deer rammed her with its head and pushed her into her fence.

Lince balled up her fists and started walloping the deer’s head until it eventually jumped her fence and ran off.

Lince said her dog, whose name happens to be Little Fighter, was pronounced OK after being checked by a veterinarian.

Butte-area game warden Matt Strozewski said deer can become aggressive toward animals or people.

“Any wild animal can become aggressive,” he said, adding that deer can become especially aggressive during rut.

Lince, a longtime carrier for The Montana Standard, said she didn’t think twice about confronting the deer because she is protective of her poodles.

“I’m not a wimp; I don’t back down,” she said.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Miss Teen Louisiana' Lindsey Evans skips on restaurant bill, loses crown

'Miss Teen Louisiana' Lindsey Evans skips on restaurant bill, loses crown

Lindsey Evans, the reigning Miss Teen Louisiana USA, and her three girlfriends were arrested over the weekend after they allegedly bolted out of a Bossier City restaurant without paying their bill.

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Lindsey Evans, the reigning Miss Teen Louisiana USA, and her three girlfriends were arrested over the weekend after they allegedly bolted out of a Bossier City restaurant without paying their bill.

Besides the theft charges, the 18-year-old and 5’9” tall Evans was accused of possessing marijuana. Such embarrassing accusations cost the teen beauty queen her crown.

Louisiana cops booked the blond, green-eyed beauty and her friends Saturday night on charges of theft after they left the restaurant without paying the bill of $46.07.

The women were arrested when they re-entered the Posados Cafe in Bossier City, La. to get back Evan’s purse which she had left inside the restaurant.

Mark Natale, a spokesman for the police department, says the girls admitted they intentionally left without paying the bill.

In addition to the theft charge, Evans was booked with charges of marijuana possession after the cops found the drug in her purse.

Morgan Goleman, 18, of North Lakeshore Drive in Caddo Parish, one of Evans’ friends was booked on charges of theft, while the others two faced additional charges of drug possession, Natale said.

Jordan James, the 18-year-od native of Blanchard, was arrested for theft, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of Xanax, while the 22-ear-old Jennifer Martin of Arlington Place in Bossier City was arrested on charges of theft, possession of marijuana as well as possession of drug paraphernalia and having an open container, Natale added.

Evans, who was the third runner-up at this year's Miss Teen USA, and friends were released from jail Sunday after posting bond.

What was more shocking for Evans was that she got stripped of her ‘Miss Teen Louisiana’ title, which otherwise ends in November.

In a statement, Paula Miles, the president of RPM who sponsor the pageant, confirmed that Evans has lost her title. "Lindsey Evans has been part of an organization that believes in opportunities when earned and consequences when warranted. Due to recent circumstances, Lindsey has been relieved of her duties as Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 effective immediately."

Lindsey, a graduate of Northwood High School, currently attends Northwestern State University majoring in Broadcast Journalism. She competed in the Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageant in 2007, where she was placed first runner up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dead goldfish offered the vote in Illinois

Dead goldfish offered the vote in Illinois

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CHICAGO – The only "agent of change" Princess ever supported was the person who freshened the water in her fishbowl.

So election officials in Chicago's northern suburbs want to know why voter registration material was sent to the dead goldfish.

"I am just stunned at the level of people compromising the integrity of the voting process," said Lake County Clerk Willard Helander, a Republican, who said she has spotted problems with nearly 1,000 voter registrations this year.

Beth Nudelman, who owned the fish, said Princess may have landed on a mailing list because the family once filled in the pet's name when they got a second phone line for a computer.

"There was no fraud involved," said Nudelman, a Democrat who supports Barack Obama. "This person is a dead fish."

The paperwork sent to a "Princess Nudelman" likely came from the "Women's Voices, Women Vote" project, which sent nearly 1 million mailings to Illinois households in August using a list that mistakenly included some pets, said Sarah Johnson, a spokeswoman for the not-for-profit group that encourages single women to vote.

The mailing list, purchased from a vendor, included names from warranties, magazine subscriptions and other sources, Johnson said. The group attempted to screen out obvious pet names.

"Fido's not going to be left on there, but if a cat is named is Polly, she may be," Johnson said. Princess could be a person's name, she insisted. "I went to high school with two Princesses."

Nudelman said the only address on the registration card was the Lake County clerk's office. She said she wrote election officials a humorous note explaining why the fish was ineligible to vote.

The Illinois mailing generated 63,500 returned voter applications, Johnson said. Applicants were instructed to fill in a driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number so election officials would be able to validate their identity.

"We obviously don't want to add more work for any election official," Johnson said. "At the end of the day, our goal is same as theirs: To give as many people as possible the chance to make voices heard in our democracy."

Steve Sturm, legal counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, said the mailing generated numerous complaints from residents throughout the state.

Lake County election officials contacted Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office Monday afternoon, said spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler. The sheriff's office and state's attorney's office were "already working on it," she said.

The McCain-Palin campaign has lately raised questions about the voter registration practices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN is accused of submitting false registration forms for some of the voters it has registered. The FBI has joined nearly a dozen states in investigating.

Women's Voices has worked with ACORN in the past, but the August mailing "has nothing to do with" ACORN, Johnson said.

Car damaged by metal from sky

Car damaged by metal from sky
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A 20-pound piece of metal fell from the sky yesterday morning and crushed the passenger side of a rental car parked at a U.S. Postal Service mailing facility in Jersey City, authorities said.

No one was injured and law enforcement officials believe the chunk of metal fell from a passing plane, according to reports.

Alfred Michaels, of Mentor, Ohio, had parked his rented Pontiac at the facility at 80 County Road at 7:30 a.m., reports said.

When he returned to his car at 9:45 a.m., he found the piece of metal next to the car, and the car's passenger-side pillar and window smashed, according to Jersey City police.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and U.S. Postal Service police are also investigating.
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A woman decided to go to jail rather than pay her bill at a Fort Pierce Waffle House restaurant. The total she went to jail over: $7.45.

According to a police report, Maryanne O'Neill, 66, ordered coffee and a sandwich at a Waffle House restaurant on Saturday but refused to pay the bill.

The report said an officer asked her to pay or go to jail and she refused.

A jail official said she was released Monday from the St. Lucie County Jail. She was charged with obtaining food or lodging with intent to defraud, a second degree misdemeanor.

If convicted of a second degree misdemeanor she could face up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rat Population Increasing in Las Vegas Valley

Rat Population Increasing in Las Vegas Valley

Updated: Oct 17, 2008 07:23 PM

Rats, like other rodents, can spread diseases, including salmonella, hantavirus, and even plague.

Some of the Las Vegas valley's older neighborhoods have a big problem with roof rats. One homeowner is learning first-hand just how bad the problem is. In some cases, the infestation can be so extensive, it requires professional pest control.

Just like everything else in Clark County, the valley's roof rat population has continued to grow over the years -- ever since the early 90's when the urban rodents first reared their furry heads.

"They run on the wall. You see them all over the place. We're infested with rats," said don Martinez.

Learn more about rodent populations from the SNHD

Martinez takes pride in his backyard. It boasts a beautiful coy pond, running waterfall and lush landscaping. But recently, Martinez says his tropical paradise has become overrun with roof rats, "I can't even have my granddaughter play back here anymore because of fear she'll be bitten by a rat or step in rat feces."

Rats, like other rodents, can spread diseases, including salmonella, hantavirus, and even plague. So Martinez called in a professional pest control company to lay down traps and bait boxes.

And after just one day, "They caught nine rats, immediately."

Unfortunately, Martinez's neighborhood has a lot of roosting pigeons, a nearby wash, and there's stagnant water in the swimming pool at the vacant house next door to him.

Martinez's south Las Vegas neighborhood near Eastern and Pebble is just one of 25 valley zip codes that are now reporting roof rat populations to the Southern Nevada Health District.

Environmental health specialists have been trapping and testing urban rats for specific diseases since 2003.

"We haven't found any disease, and by continuing to monitor and remediate these rat populations, we can keep the disease down," said Phil Bondurant.

But the health district says homeowners need to do their part as well by maintaining their properties.

"I know this is Las Vegas, famous for the Rat Pack, but I never booked them for my backyard," said Martinez.

An environmental health specialist will pay a visit to Martinez's house in a few days to trap and test some of the rats in his backyard. Extermination of rodents on private property still remains the responsibility of property owners.

Texas, Louisiana Forced to Rebury Dead in Ike's Wake

Oct. 8: Inmates from the Phelps Correctional Center, Dequincy, LA move a coffin onto a truck after its recovery from the North Big Lake area.

IN THE MARSH OF CAMERON PARISH, La. — Joe Johnson craned his neck from the airboat as it circled a patch of brown marsh grass. The runaway coffin was not where it was supposed to be.

Johnson pulled up to a pile of rocks, killed the motor and hopped out. After a few minutes of scouring along the tall, reedlike grass, he flagged down two fishermen.

"Can you possibly take me along the shoreline?" Johnson asked. "I'm looking for a casket."

Beyond the usual, dismal rebuilding, Hurricane Ike left another grim task when it struck last month: Its 13-foot storm surge washed an estimated 200 caskets out of their graves, ripping through most of Cameron Parish's 47 cemeteries and others in southwest Louisiana and coastal Texas. Some coffins floated miles into the marsh.

At Hollywood Cemetery in Orange, Texas, Ike unearthed about 100 caskets. Dozens more were disgorged in hard-hit Galveston.

Officials in coastal areas have long struggled with interring the dead, as caskets buried in low-lying areas are susceptible to being belched up by floodwaters. Some areas -- most notably New Orleans -- house the dead in above-ground crypts to keep them from drifting away in storms.

For many of the dead forced up by Ike, it wasn't their first disturbance. About 80 percent of the caskets in southwest Louisiana displaced by Ike were rousted by Hurricane Rita just three years earlier, said Zeb Johnson, the Calcasieu Parish deputy coroner who's headed casket recovery efforts for Rita and Ike.

Of the caskets ejected by Rita in September 2005, 335 were found and reburied, he said. Eighteen were never found.

"Our mother came out for Rita, and now she came out for Ike," said Debra Dyson, a commercial fisher whose house in Cameron was destroyed by Ike.

Dyson said coffins holding her brother-in-law and cousin also were heaved out by Rita. Ike was worse -- the storm thrust out caskets containing her mother, brother-in-law, cousin, niece, three uncles and two aunts.

The one containing Dyson's mother floated to the same spot it came to rest after Rita, 22 miles from the cemetery. Only this time, it didn't take nine months to find it.

"It's hard to lose your home, but the first stop you make is that cemetery just to make sure they're still there, and it's heartbreaking when they're not," said Marilyn Dyson Elizondo, Dyson's sister who lives in Dayton, Texas.

Zeb Johnson helms a team of two employees, volunteer boat pilots and state prisoners to search hundreds of miles of marsh with loaned equipment and haul coffins back to shore. The work is backbreaking, with caskets weighed down by mud in swampy areas teeming with alligators and snakes and the stench of rotting marsh grass.

"It's a job that has to be done," said Joe Johnson, a funeral director and embalmer from Lake Charles who is not related to the deputy coroner.

Joe Johnson's half-hour ride with the fishermen didn't turn up the pink casket reported to the coroner's office, like so many other tips that don't pan out. An hour later, however, he returned with another coffin found in thick grass near a canal bank.

A hole was drilled into the silver metal container to drain out marsh muck and lighten the load for the airboat. Prisoners pulling the casket from the boat tipped it again to empty out more of the fetid water.

The coffin was trucked to the city coliseum in Lake Charles, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency was providing refrigerated trucks to hold caskets until reburial arrangements could be made.

"It's a slow process," Zeb Johnson said.

The Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office is footing most of the search and recovery bill, which hasn't been tallied. But reburying the dead is estimated to cost as much as $100,000 on top of the recovery costs, with much of the money needed for new caskets and vaults. Zeb Johnson wasn't sure who'll cover that price tag, so he wasn't sure when reburial could begin.

More than 140 coffins had been found by Wednesday, and about 20 others that didn't stray far from their burial sites were quickly reburied. Zeb Johnson doesn't expect to find all of the two dozen or more that remain missing.

"The first day we found caskets that had floated 30 miles from their cemeteries," he said. "You just have caskets floating out in the marsh. At least seven of these caskets ended up in Texas, kind of like boats, they just got out in the currents from the high waters and carried them to Texas."

The identification work in many instances is easier this time around. Bodies found after Rita were tagged with special markers, as were the silver metal coffins in which they were reburied. The coffins include a scroll with the deceased's name, where they were buried and other information.

A few families are considering reburials on higher ground. Cameron Parish's government has proposed requiring deeper burials.

Elizondo, whose family awaits word on the missing Dyson caskets, said her brother was buried in January in a deeper vault than those that housed her missing relatives. Ike didn't disturb her brother, so Elizondo wants to rebury her mother the same way, though it is more expensive.

"It's worth it. That way we have the peace of mind that mom won't be gone again," Elizondo said. "We've even offered to do the backhoe ourselves. We just don't want her coming back up again."

U.S. Pilot Ordered to Shoot Down UFO Over England

Monday, October 20, 2008

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  • A former Top Gun said Sunday he was ordered to shoot down a massive UFO over Norwich, England, 50 years ago.

    RAF controllers told U.S. pilot Milton Torres to “lock on” and launch all 24 of his rockets over the city.

    But as he came within seconds of firing at the alien intruder — “the size of an aircraft carrier” on his radar — it vanished at 10,000 mph.

    The amazing close encounter is revealed in secret Ministry of Defense X-Files which are being declassified Monday.

    Milton said, “It was some kind of alien snooping over England. I guess we’ll never know what it was.”

    The incident happened in 1957 when Milton was a 26-year-old U.S. Air Force lieutenant based at RAF Manston in Kent, England.

    At 11 p.m. one night he was ordered to scramble in his F-86D Sabre fighter to attack a “bogey” hovering above Norfolk.

    Speaking about it publicly for the first time, he said: “I was told I would be firing a complete salvo, all 24 rockets. I was pumped up — this was the sort of thing that happened before a war.”

    He got the UFO on his radar and closed for the attack at the Sabre’s top speed of almost 700 mph — then it disappeared off his screen in a flash.

    Milton, now 77, said: “I was smoking, as fast as I could go. This thing had a different propulsion system. It was not an airplane.”

    The flyer said he was visited afterwards by a sinister security official and warned not to tell anyone — so he kept silent until now.

    The close encounter is in 19 files made available online yesterday by the National Archives.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Lego ad red lighted over shades of pink and blue

    Lego ad red lighted over shades of pink and blue

    Lego ad red lighted over shades of pink and blue

    Published: 17 Oct 08 15:11 CET

    A Swedish advertising watchdog has slammed Danish toymaker Lego for a catalogue it claims promotes outdated gender roles.

    Sweden’s Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK) singled out images in a recent Lego catalogue which featured a little girl playing in a pink room with ponies, a princess, and a palace accompanied by a caption reading, “Everything a princess could wish for…”

    On the opposite side of the page, a little boy can be seen in a blue room playing with a fire station, fire trucks, a police station, and an airplane. The caption beneath reads, “Tons of blocks for slightly older boys.”

    In its findings, the ERK singled out the images for preserving traditional and anachronistic views on gender roles, according to the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper.

    Furthermore, said ERK, the pictures constituted a form of stereotyping which was degrading to both men and women.

    Lego defended the images in question by pointing out they were included in a catalogue which also contained several pictures of boys and girls playing together.

    The company said it didn’t believe the catalogue would be viewed as promoting stereotypes, insulting, or discriminatory.

    The ERK backed its ruling by referring to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which says that advertising should be not be discriminatory when it comes to issues of gender.

    David Landes ( 8 656 6518)

    Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

    Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

    A British passport

    Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance.

    Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society.

    A compulsory national register for the owners of all 72m mobile phones in Britain would be part of a much bigger database to combat terrorism and crime. Whitehall officials have raised the idea of a register containing the names and addresses of everyone who buys a phone in recent talks with Vodafone and other telephone companies, insiders say.

    The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain’s estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.

    The pay-as-you-go phones are popular with criminals and terrorists because their anonymity shields their activities from the authorities. But they are also used by thousands of law-abiding citizens who wish to communicate in private.

    The move aims to close a loophole in plans being drawn up by GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, to create a huge database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

    The “Big Brother” database would have limited value to police and MI5 if it did not store details of the ownership of more than half the mobile phones in the country.

    Contingency planning for such a move is already thought to be under way at Vodafone, where 72% of its 18.5m UK customers use pay-as-you-go.

    The office of Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, said it anticipated that a compulsory mobile phone register would be unveiled as part of a law which ministers would announce next year.

    “With regards to the database that would contain details of all mobile users, including pay-as-you-go, we would expect that this information would be included in the database proposed in the draft Communications Data Bill,” a spokeswoman said.

    Simon Davies, of Privacy International, said he understood that several mobile phone firms had discussed the proposed database in talks with government officials.

    As The Sunday Times revealed earlier this month, GCHQ has already been provided with up to £1 billion to work on the pilot stage of the Big Brother database, which will see thousands of “black boxes” installed on communications lines provided by Vodafone and BT as part of a pilot interception programme.

    The proposals have sparked a fierce backlash inside Whitehall. Senior officials in the Home Office have privately warned that the database scheme is impractical, disproportionate and potentially unlawful. The revolt last week forced Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, to delay announcing plans for the database until next year.