Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coin Toss Decides Minnesota Mayor's Race

GOODRIDGE, Minn. — A coin toss has determined the winner of the mayor's race in the tiny northwestern Minnesota town of Goodridge.

Incumbent Bob Homme and former Mayor Dave Brown each got 22 votes. Instead of finding the ballots and recounting the 44 votes, they agreed to decide the winner with a coin toss.

It already was a strange race in Goodridge - population 98 - with no one filing to run for mayor. Brown and Homme were both write-ins.

To break the tie, each tossed his own coin. If it was even, meaning two heads or two tails, Homme would win the two-year term. If it was odd, meaning a head and a tail, Brown would win.

It was a head and a tail. Brown won

2 baggage handlers arrested at LAX

LOS ANGELES – Two baggage handlers are accused of stealing $10,000 and hundreds of items from luggage at the Los Angeles International Airport.

KCBS-TV reported Friday that Roman Jaime and Carlos Garcia were arrested Oct. 30 on the tarmac. Police recovered 272 items at their homes, including purses, cameras, computers and cash.

Police say undercover officers became suspicious of the pair because many of the flights they worked had reports of thefts from baggage.

LAX police would not elaborate on the case Friday night and it was not immediately clear if either suspect had an attorney.

Lara Uselding, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, says more than 460 transportation security officers nationwide have been fired for theft since May 2003. She says that represents 0.4 percent of the agency's workers.

Conductor throws teen off train for travelling without ticket

Published: 8 Nov 08 13:05 CET

Deutsche Bahn has suspended a conductor who forced a 13-year-old girl to get off a train miles away from home because she forgot her ticket. It's the second such incident in three weeks.

* Regional train collision injures one in Berlin - Society (7 Oct 08)
* No delays for Deutsche Bahn stock market listing - Money (26 Sep 08)
* German railway might avoid crippling strike - National (9 Mar 08)

The incident took place on Wednesday on a regional train in the eastern state of Brandenburg when the girl was on her way home from school. The conductor forced the 13-year-old student to disembark in the town of Wittstock, 42 kilometres away from Neuruppin where the girl lives.

The man reportedly refused to buy the girl's excuse that she had forgotten her wallet and student ticket at home. Speaking to the Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung, the girl's mother said the conductor remained unmoved even after her daughter told him tearfully that she didn't have money or a mobile phone to make a call home and that she didn't know anyone in Wittstock. The conductor also allegedly refused to allow the girl to use his mobile phone to make a call to her mother.

The girl finally managed to get home after finding a helpful cab driver in Wittstock who agreed to drive her to Neuruppin.

Deutsche Bahn has apologized to the girl's parents and suspended the conductor from his duties.

"The conductor clearly didn't act properly. There are clear rules that minors can't be thrown off trains," a Deutsche Bahn spokesman said on Friday.

It's the second such incident in Germany in three weeks. In October, a conductor forced a 12-year-old girl on her way to cello lessons to get off a train at dusk in a remote rural area because she forgot her ticket. That happened despite protests from adult passengers who offered to buy her ticket and complained that it was irresponsible to leave her alone so far away from home.

The train passenger association Pro Bahn said at the time they had received several complaints from people who had experienced similar things.

Cat Falls 17 Storeys In Mississauga And Lives

Cat Falls 17 Storeys In Mississauga And Lives
Thursday November 6, 2008 Staff

The Ontario SPCA is probing a case that's both a tragedy and a triumph. It involves a cat that took a very strange trip and lived to tell the tale.

It happened on Tuesday when the animal experts arrived at a building at Dixie and Orchard Hill Roads in Mississauga to find a feline badly injured but still alive. The animal had broken teeth, needed surgery to repair them and was bruised in a number of places.

That's the tragedy.

But here's the triumph: officials think the furry friend fell 17 storeys, and somehow survived. Cats are famous for plunging from great heights and landing on their feet. But 17 floors up is almost always fatal even for the most fleet footed of creatures.

How did it happen?

The OSPCA only knows that the people they think were the owners moved out of the building and for some reason, left their pet behind. The society tells that they did leave it a few days worth of food but it worked its way out of an open window and took the sudden and unexpected drop.

It was still alive when the building super found it minutes later. He called authorities.

"Bleeding was coming and she was not moving," Daniel Ambaye recalled. "She was in bad, bad shape."

Even veteran animal lovers are astounded by the outcome. "This is a very unusual story and a remarkable cat," Ontario SPCA Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill notes in a statement. "In my 30 years of service I have never heard of a cat falling this far and surviving."

The animal is currently in the custody of the OSPCA and is said to be "recovering well," and eating again. It underwent dental surgery Friday.

"The shelter staff here named her Prima Bella," said the OSPCA's Sara Munoz. "It has to do with the fact that cats have nine lives and she's already used one of hers here."

But those in charge have a lot more questions than answers. Officials are looking for the owners. They know their names but not where they went. But they're not prepared to identify them publicly just yet.

And despite what they seem to have done, the SPCA confirms if they come back for the cat, they'll still be considered the legal owners and will have every right to take it back with them.

The OSPCA tells CityNews if they are found, officials still aren't sure if they'll be made to pay for the feline's medical bills. A lot depends on why the cat was left behind and what their intentions were.

If you can fill in the blanks in this cat caper, call 1-888-668-7722 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thieves caught with 12 pigs in car

1 of 1Full Size

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Two thieves were caught in southern Hungary with 12 pigs stuffed in their small van during a routine traffic check, Hungarian police said on Thursday.

Police stopped two men in a Renault Kangoo near the town of Szigetvar, about 220 km (137 miles) south of Budapest, as they attempted to drive off.

"The pigs weighed about 25-30 kg (55-66 lb) each -- they were really squashed into the car very tightly," a spokesman said.

Police said the pigs came from a nearby farm, where 35 pigs have gone missing in recent days.

Italian Police Nab Suspected Mobster During Liposuction Surgery

ROME — Soon after the alleged mobster woke up in a private Italian clinic following liposuction surgery, he discovered he had lost a lot more than weight.

After a year on the run, Domenico Magnoli, 27, finally lost his liberty when he discovered the well-wishers surrounding his bed were police officers, who promptly arrested him, investigators and health officials said Friday.

The plainclothes officers posed as visitors and carried flowers and boxes of chocolates to greet Magnoli after an operation to remove fat from his thighs and stomach late Thursday, Sky TG24 TV reported.

Magnoli had just woken when he was arrested, said Vincenzo Greco, health director of the private La Madonnina clinic, at Calabria, southern Italy. Greco confirmed that officers did not wear their police uniforms.

Paramilitary Carabinieri police in Cosenza said that Magnoli was arrested on a French warrant for alleged drug trafficking. Police said Magnoli, born in Cannes, has links to the Piromalli crime clan in the 'ndrangheta syndicate. He had been a fugitive for about a year.

The 'ndrangheta is a criminal organization based in Calabria which operates cocaine and other drug trafficking rings between South America and Western Europe, and which has outstripped the Sicilian Mafia in power, prosecutors say.

Greco said Magnoli had liposuction six months earlier with the same surgeon at another clinic.

No One Hurt After Dog Accidentally Takes Car For A Drive

Friday November 7, 2008 Staff

Here's a lesson for those who like to keep their vehicles clean - never take your dog with you when you're at the car wash. A Pryor, Oklahoma man learned that lesson the hard way on Thursday, after he left his pooch inside his automobile while he was busy cleaning it at one of those do-it-yourself places.

The 70-lbs. pit bull named Killys (top left) got restless while his best friend was taking care of business, jumped in the front seat and somehow shifted the car into reverse. The vehicle then started moving, headed onto the highway, drove in a loop for a minute or two, and finally, mercifully came to a stop in one of the car wash's automated lanes.

Witness Mark Walker was startled when he thought he saw a dog at the wheel. "I heard somebody holler. I walked out the front door and seen a car come off the four lane backwards and into the automatic bay. As soon as I looked around the corner I saw the dog in the car -- just the dog!"

No one was hurt and amazingly, nothing was hit. But the owner lost his car anyway when police coming to check out the report of a vehicle being driven by a dog found the man had no proof of insurance.

The officer involved, Brent Crittenden, admits his paperwork was a little odd, "It made my report quite easy because the driver information was all blank and I didn't have to fill that out."

The owner was forced to walk the canine home after the now spotless car was towed away.

Fortunately, the animal wasn't charged for his little sojourn into the human world.

After all, the dog already had a licence.

Fox attacks worshippers in SC church

Fox attacks worshippers in SC church

SPARTANBURG, SC (AP) - The Wednesday night youth programs at a South Carolina church were interrupted when a fox attacked and several people are waiting to see if they face rabies treatment.

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reported Friday a woman opened the door of the family life center at Liberty Baptist Church in Inman to lead the youth to the main building when the fox attacked.

Pastor David Duncan said the fox jumped on the skirt of his 20-year-old daughter, Alicia Duncan, and its teeth scratched her legs. Two other people were bitten.

Several people tried to scare the fox outside and had to use metal chairs to hit it.

Officials say the animal was hurt when officers arrived and it died shortly thereafter. The Department of Health and Environmental Control was conducting tests to determine if it was rabid.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bush Sewage Plant plan flushed

Bush Sewage Plant plan flushed

The Republican brand may have stunk on Election Night, but not enough for San Francisco voters to rename a sewage treatment plant after President George W. Bush.

Proposition R would have changed the city's Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

"Proponents got together and thought it would be funny to name a sewage plant after President Bush, as their way to take a shot," said Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which remained neutral on the issue.

But voters apparently did not think the prank on the unpopular president was worth the $50,000 that officials estimated it would cost to not only change the name on the facilities, but also the lettering on materials and publications. The measure was soundly rejected, as 69 percent of voters laid waste to it, according to unofficial results.
Perhaps they didn't think the sewage plant smelled bad enough. Winnicker said 85 percent of it is underground and that there is hardly any odor.

If that's the case, supporters could look to the plant's next-door neighbor: the San Francisco Zoo.

Barney Bites White House Reporter

Barney Bites White House Reporter

Cameras catch White House dog biting journalist

Updated 3:07 PM EST, Thu, Nov 6, 2008

Barney bites a reporter at the White House Thursday.

Barney bites a reporter at the White House Thursday.

Apparently, the first dog is not happy about the impending changes at the White House.

Watch Video

Barney Snaps at White House Reporter: Courtesy


Today, Barney bit a reporter outside the briefing room. The whole incident was caught on tape by another reporter, April D. Ryan.

Reuters political reporter Jon Decker had finished an interview with MSNBC around 10:30 a.m. when he saw Barney and his handler. After getting permission to pet the dog, Decker said Barney snapped and chomped down on his right index finger and broke the skin.

Decker said his first reaction was, "that's not good."

Decker said he was treated with a bandage and some antibiotics and was asked to return for a tetanus shot Friday. He has not gotten any calls from the White House.

Blamin’ Palin? What Are They Thinking?

Blamin’ Palin? What Are They Thinking?

By Andrea Tantaros
Republican Political Commentator/ Contributor

The general rule among returning Las Vegas vacationers is “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The same is true for professional political staffers returning from life on the campaign trail. Sure you re-hash certain particularly amusing or dramatic anecdotes with friends over a few beers, but you don’t purposefully blab to the national media in an effort to sandbag your candidate.

Not surprisingly, the McCain campaign doesn’t want to abide by the unspoken, but widely understood, rules of political protocol.


Certain campaign “insiders” are, and have been, engaged in an effort to throw Governor Sarah Palin under the bus for –- in their estimation — bringing the McCain ticket down. These Benedict Arnolds have leaked everything from alleged Palin “tantrums” to rumored “shopping sprees” and a seemingly exaggerated tall tale that tries to paint Palin as inappropriate for opening the door to her hotel room one morning in a towel. In my estimation the only thing that smacks of inappropriateness is the behavior of these staffers.

The fact that FOX News’ Carl Cameron ticked off a litany of these accusations, in addition to a specific list of subject areas where the offended felt Palin was less than knowledgeable, reveals their classless effort to undermine her in order to conceal their own shortcomings.

The real narrative is the long list of subject areas where they failed this campaign. We can now add loyalty and professionalism to the growing tally. This is why they didn’t deserve to win. I lost respect for many of McCain’s aides during this election cycle. Now I’m left with none.

Not only should this indiscretion give anyone thinking of hiring these now unemployed staffers extreme pause but it should also showcase why these “insiders” don’t deserve to work in politics again. Not even races for neighborhood dogcatcher, because in politics you protect your boss–win or lose.

The good news is that when Republicans think of the future of the GOP we think of Sarah Palin, not her disgruntled staff.

Governor, when you’re ready to hit the trail again, give me a call.

Jogger runs mile with rabid fox locked on her arm

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - With a fox locked onto her arm, an Arizona jogger ran a mile to her car, where she was able to dislodge the animal, throw it into the trunk and drive to a Prescott hospital. The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said the fox, which later attacked an animal control officer, tested positive for rabies.

The unidentified Chino Valley resident told deputies she was on a trail Monday at the base of Granite Mountain when the fox attacked, biting her foot. The woman said she grabbed it by the neck when it went for her leg and it latched onto her arm.

Thinking the fox was rabid, she wanted to make sure it didn't get away so she ran to her car, where she was able to pry open its jaws, wrap it in a sweat shirt and toss it into the trunk.

The woman is receiving rabies vaccinations, as is the animal control officer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Comments Made in the Year 1955! That's only 53 years ago!

- 'I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it's going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $20.00.'
- 'Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long before $2,000.00 will only buy a used one.'
- 'If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.'
- 'Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?'
- 'If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store.'
- 'When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage.'
- 'Kids today are impossible. Those duck tail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls.'
- 'I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, it seems every new movie has either HELL of DAMN in it.'
- 'I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas ..'
- 'Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the President.'
- 'I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now.'
- It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet.'
- 'It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.'
- 'Marriage doesn't mean a thing any more, those Hollywood stars seem to be getting divorced at the drop of a hat.'
- 'I'm afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business.'
- 'Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to congress.'
- 'The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.'
- 'There is no sense going to Lincoln or Omaha anymore for a weekend, it costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel.'
- 'No one can afford to be sick anymore, at $35.00 a day in the hospital it's too rich for my blood.' - 'If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a haircut, forget it.'

Local Woman Has Election Day Baby

Web Produced By: Megan Wasmund
Last Update: 5:03 am
Local Woman Has Election Day Baby (9News)
Local Woman Has Election Day Baby (9News)
It was a long wait for voters in Independence, including one who could not wait any more.

April Pursley was waiting in line to vote at the Independence fire station on Cox Road this morning when she realized it was time to go to the hospital.

Pursley has been expecting a baby girl.

April Pursley said, "My husband has been waiting here for about an hour and my water just broke. So they let me come to the front of the line to vote."

The happy couple went to the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati where she delivered her baby.

April told 9News Tuesday morning that the baby's name is going to be Josephine Alyse.

Gigantic Salmon Found in California River

Oh yeah, that's a big one.

Wildlife officials in northern California last week came across one of the biggest Chinook salmon ever found in the state — a monster more than 4 feet long and weighing 85 pounds.

"We see lots of big ones," Doug Killam, a biologist in the California Department of Fish and Game's Red Bluff office, told the Redding Record Searchlight, "but this one was just bigger than most big ones — it was just spectacular."

The big fish had recently spawned and died, Killam said, and probably weighed about 90 pounds when it began its 100-mile swim upstream from the Pacific to the spot where it died on Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River near the town of Anderson.

The California sport-fishing record for a Chinook salmon is 88 pounds. In Alaska, where they're called king salmon, they get even bigger — the record sport catch is 97 pounds, while the largest commercial catch was a truly phenomenal 126 pounds.

"If someone would have caught this one, it probably would have been a state record," Killam told the Record Searchlight.


Ironically, the sad state of salmon spawning in the Pacific Northwest probably helped this one live a full life. Ocean commercial catches were canceled this year, and the river sport season on the Sacramento drastically shortened.

Runaway teen survives garbage compacting

MILWAUKEE – Police in Milwaukee say a teenage boy has survived after being accidentally dumped into the back of a recycling truck and compacted.

Police say the 14-year-old ran away from a boot camp-style school for teens Monday and hid in a recycling bin filled with cardboard.

The bin was picked up by a waste management truck and dumped into the vehicle's rear compactor.

A waste management spokeswoman says the truck continued on its collection route, compacting cardboard several times.

The boy wasn't discovered until the truck dumped its load at a recycling processing centre.

He was semiconscious and was taken to a hospital, but police say his injuries aren't life-threatening.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Texan town for sale, includes beer garden

Texan town for sale, includes beer garden

Albert eBay town
Albert: relax in the laid-back Germanic heritage

If you're already thinking about those tricky Christmas gifts for the person who has everything except a small town in Texas, then this might be of interest to you. That's because a Texas town is up for sale on eBay.

The town is called Albert.

The 13-acre historic town in the heart of Texas Hill Country - around 70 miles from the state capital Austin - includes a house, dance hall, tavern and a schoolhouse reportedly attended by former President Lyndon Johnson in 1920.

More than 35 bids, with the highest of £137,500 ($275,000), have been placed so far - but the reserve price has not yet been met.

Its listing on eBay described the area as 'known for its towering oaks, wildflowers, German heritage and laid-back attitude.' Because of course, those last two naturally go hand-in-hand.

It said: 'The historic town, once a popular stagecoach stop, is a lot quieter now. Serene, even.

'No longer the Wild West, Albert is now a popular stop for weekend day-trippers in the middle of Texas' burgeoning winemaking region.

'Music lovers have also discovered Albert, thanks to the live music performed regularly at the Icehouse.'

It went on: 'On the edge of town sits an old stone schoolhouse, attended by a young Lyndon Johnson in 1920.

'There's an outdoor patio and beer garden beneath massive 500-year old oak trees, under which Spanish explorers, early pioneers and Texas Independence fighters once rested.

'In their place you'll now find crowds who come to Albert to enjoy the atmosphere of the Icehouse.'

The listing also said the sale includes detailed plans for improvements, including a restaurant, cottages, an outdoor cinema and refurbishment proposals for the old dance hall.

It added: 'Or the new owners may want the whole, peaceful place to themselves. Whether someone wants a town they can share or they want their own private retreat, the next Mayor of Albert will be owner of a very special place.'

Albert, originally named Martinsburg, sits on land which was owned by a man named Elmeier before the arrival of Albert and Minnie Luckenbach, descendants of a German family, in the 1830s, the listing said.

It added the town was renamed in 1982 and Mr Luckenbach, a respected merchant, was known for never breaking a peace treaty with the local Comanche Indians.

In response to a question from a potential bidder, the owner said that the buyer can 'build what ever you want,' that taxes were low, and that permits had never been needed before.

The auction is due to close on November 23.

Cave for sale, one careful owner

Cave for sale, one careful owner

With the property market in the state it's in, you may well have been looking at other housing options - for example, living in a cave. If so, then we've got good news for you.

Mystic Caves
The Mystic Cavern: needs a little work, but retains many original features

Cave owner Steve Rush, 49, is auctioning off the Mystic Caverns in the hills of Ozark Mountains on eBay. The 28-acre property in Arkansas includes a gift shop and three caves, two of which are safe enough for visitors.

The bidding starts at $899,900 (£568,000), cut from Rush's original asking price of $1.2 million.

Rush bought the property near Harrison in 1988 and began giving tours in 1992 to the two accessible caves, Mystic cavern and the Crystal Dome cavern.

Drug smugglers break down outside police station

Drug smugglers break down outside police station

Marijuana Joint
Some marijuana, yesterday

Elite Kenyan police who went to help a luxury 4x4 that broke down outside their base were surprised when the occupants took off on foot - until officers took a closer look and found the vehicle loaded with marijuana.

'When the occupants refused assistance and fled, officers became suspicious and searched the vehicle,' finding about $20,000 worth of the drug, Trans Mara police boss Joshua Omukata told The Standard newspaper.

Mow your Lawn or Go to Jail

Mow your Lawn or Go to Jail

In Ohio they take grass-cutting very seriously. So seriously infact that homeowners who don’t mow their lawns face a stiff fine, even jail time in some cases.

The city council has decided to get tougher by increasing the maximum fine for failing to cut the grass from $150 to $250. And they’ve also added up to 30 days behind bars if a violator is particularly bad. Mayor William Healy says it’s the type of action needed “in order to clean up our neighbourhoods and our city.”

In the US it seems you don’t even get enough jail time for serious offences like assualt and robbery so this was a bit suprising.

Raft of Junk Lands

Raft of Junk Lands

Raft of Junk
Darkly tanned, more than a little dirty and hungry, two men who spent three months crossing the Pacific on a raft made of plastic bottles and an abandon airplane fuslage (seen in image) to raise awareness of ocean debris finally stepped onto dry land. “We made it,” hollered Marcus Eriksen to a crowd of about two dozen gathered at Ala Wai Harbor on Wednesday. “Where’s the food?” Friends greeted Eriksen and fellow eco-mariner Joel Paschal with lei, fresh food and beer to celebrate the end of their nearly 4,200-kilometre voyage on what they call the JUNK raft. “We got used to eating fish and peanut butter,” said Eriksen, who celebrated his 41st birthday at sea.

The pair left Long Beach, Calif., on June 1. Their nine-metre vessel had a deck of salvaged sailboat masts, six pontoons filled with 15,000 plastic bottles and a cabin made from the fuselage of a Cessna airplane. While at sea they realized they were traveling less than a kilometre per hour and it would take them much longer to reach Hawaii than the previously anticipated six weeks. “We had to go to half rations for awhile,” said Paschal, 32.

Without a backup plan, the two used a satellite phone to get in touch with Roz Savage, who was crossing the Pacific solo in a rowboat and happened to be in the same area at the time.

Savage, who was heading from San Francisco to Hawaii, was in dire need of water after both her potable water makers broke. When the three met up, Savage got onboard the raft, Paschal speared a mahimahi and the three dined together. Before parting, the men gave Savage a water maker and she gave them some of her extra food. “We exchanged the necessities of life,” Eriksen said. “And that kept us going.”

Food wasn’t the only problem the men encountered on their trip. The raft, which can only sail down wind, had a hard time leaving the Long Beach area. The raft encountered storms that tore it apart during the first two weeks. Some of the bottles that were supposed to help the raft stay afloat started to sink. Eriksen and Paschal had to anchor the raft 160 kilometres off shore and rebuild it before setting sail again.

The voyage was part of Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s project called, “JUNK.” The third person of the group, who didn’t make the trip, was Anna Cummins, Eriksen’s fiancee. Cummins took care of land support, blogs and fundraising. She said the goal of the trip was to creatively raise awareness about plastic debris and pollution in the ocean, the same goal Savage pursued in her trek across the Pacific.

The three want “single-use plastics” to be banned, saying they’re wasteful and usually end up in the ocean. “Recycling is one solution, but it’s just a small part of the puzzle,” Paschal said. Each day the men posted online videos and blogs of their trip and kept in touch with Cummins. They also spent two to three hours a day maintaining and repairing the raft.

The men said a variety of marine life gathered under the raft throughout the trip. One day, said Paschal, they caught a fish after watching it grow for five weeks. They were going to eat it, but when they cut it open they found its stomach was full of plastic confetti. The team hopes to visit schools around Oahu and share their experiences, and is working on a documentary film about the voyage to raise public awareness of the danger of plastics. Sounds like a very interesting adventure.

Ice Cream from Human Breast Milk?

Ice Cream from Human Breast Milk?

PETA wants world-famous Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream to tap nursing moms, rather than cows, for the milk used in its ice cream. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking the ice cream maker to begin using breast milk in its products instead of cow’s milk, saying it would reduce the suffering of cows and calves and give ice cream lovers a healthier product.

The idea is getting a cool reception from Ben & Jerry’s officials, the company’s customers and even La Leche League International, the world’s oldest breastfeeding support organization, which promotes the practice - for babies, anyway. PETA wrote a letter to company founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield on Tuesday, telling them cow’s milk is hazardous and that milking them is cruel.

A spokeswoman for the animal rights advocacy group says dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies and obesity. “If Ben and Jerry’s replaced the cow’s milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers - and cows - would reap the benefits,” wrote Tracy Reiman, the group’s executive vice-president.

Ashley Byrne, a campaign co-ordinator for PETA, acknowledged the implausibility of substituting breast milk for cow’s milk, but said it’s no stranger than humans consuming the milk of another species. “We’re aware this idea is somewhat absurd, and that putting it into practice is a stretch. At the time same, it’s pretty absurd for us to be drinking the milk of cows,” she said.

Ben & Jerry’s, which gets its milk exclusively from Vermont cows, won’t say how much milk it uses or how much ice cream it sells. As a standardized product under federal regulations, ice cream must be made with milk from healthy cows. Ice cream made from goat’s milk, for example, would have to be labelled as such.

“We applaud PETA’s novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother’s milk is best used for her child,” spokesman Sean Greenwood said in an email. He didn’t respond to requests for an interview. Leon Berthiaume, general manager of the St. Albans Co-operative Creamery, which provides milk products to Ben & Jerry’s, called the dairy products “among the safest in the world.”

“Milk from cows has long-term health benefits and has been proven to be safe and healthy and an important part of the American diet for generations,” he said. “I’m not ready to make that change.”

Cow’s milk and mother’s milk aren’t interchangeable, according to La Leche spokeswoman Jane Crouse, who says breast milk is a dynamic substance that’s different with each woman and each child and might have difficulty being processed into ice cream. Then there’s the question of who would provide the milk, and whether they’d be paid.

“Some women feel compelled to donate milk to a milk bank for adopted babies, or for someone who’s ill or unable to breast feed. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about sisters who nurse each others’ babies. There’s a population of women very willing to share their milk. Whether there’s enough to do it for a commercial entity, who can say?” she said.

At the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, consumers gave a collective “Ewww” to the idea Thursday.

“It’s kind of creepy,” said Jeff Waugh, 42, of Dayton, Ohio.

“I think it’s a little nutty,” said Rev. Roger Wooton, 83, of Malden, Mass., finishing up a cup of Heath Bar Crunch.

“How would they get all that milk?” said his wife, Jane Wooton, 77.

Jen Wahlbrink, 34, of Phoenix, who breastfed her 11-month-old son, Cameron, said she wouldn’t touch ice cream made from mother’s milk. She remembers her nursing days - and not that fondly.

“The (breast) pumps just weren’t that much fun. You really do feel like a cow,” she said, cradling her son in her hands. I just don’t think this will ever catch on.

Monday, November 3, 2008

In conversation with... a computer program

In conversation with... a computer program

Elbot: A CGI cross between Dusty Bin and a Teletubby

Stuck for someone to talk to? Elbot is a computer program pretending to be a person. And this week it won a prize for coming closest to fooling people into thinking it was human. The BBC's Mark Lobel catches him in a more relaxed moment.

No computer has ever passed the Turing Test to see if, during text-based conversation, a machine can be indistinguishable from a person. But Elbot just came pretty close.

At the 18th Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence, held at the weekend, this artificial intelligence entity convinced three of the 12 human interrogators he was indistinguishable from them.

If Elbot had convinced one other, it would have passed the magic 30% mark - the threshold set by Britain's most famous code-breaker, Alan Turing, who devised the test back in 1950.

What's more Elbot, the very same version that came so close to passing itself off as a living, breathing, sentient human being (under Turing's rules at least), is online - for anyone to talk to. Let's see if he's feeling chatty.

To retain his shiny reflection, Elbot gets polished and buffed once a month

Me: Hi Elbot, it's Mark. What's the weather like where you are today?

Elbot: Well, hello there!

M: Hi. What's the weather like where you are?

E: A very non-mechanical hello to you also.

Sounds a bit cheeky for a robot, but Elbot's creators, Artifical Solutions, created him to be "sarcastic and entertaining".

M: How are you feeling today?

E: The results of my latest structural analysis say I am solid as a rock.


M: Great. Have you got any plans today?

E: I'm going to a body shop tonight and have some rust spots removed.

M: How many rust spots do you have?

E: Excuse me, but what did you want me to count?

M: Your rust spots.

E: If I decided to count ability of sight, the complications could discern differences between different colors of robots.

Colors? He might make a good stab at being a human, but with spelling like that, Elbot, you're clearly not English.

M: Is rust a big problem for you?

Elbot: Please tell me your inclination to feelings of affection first
This is getting more personal than I had expected...

E: I always use an anti-rust spray in order to keep my shiny reflection. And once a month I visit a body shop to have myself polished and buffed.

M: How do you have fun?

E: I have just like everybody else. Tell me how you have.

Result. Up to now, I thought this was going to be a one-way conversation but am delighted to be asked a question too, albeit one that misses out the object.

M: I enjoy going out with my friends and playing football.

E: If individuals could marry themselves they'd stay together longer.

Very funny. And a chance to enquire about Elbot's status...

M: Are you married?

Elbot uses a random number generator if he needs to get advice

E: I'm not married but if I were, my wife would have to be called Embot.

M: Is there a special robot in your life?

E: I'm not sure I ever saw that...


...I'm not even sure you can use special in that context!

M: Have you ever been in love?

E: Please tell me your inclination to feelings of affection first.

This is getting more personal than I had expected. But hey, who's listening?

M: I have been in love but am not now.

E: I see your point. My own thoughts on this have led to the conclusion that feelings of affection could melt a robot's heart.

Sweet. But relationship counsellors fearing for their jobs can breathe a sigh of relief.


Experiment to see if robots can 'think' like humans

M: Can I ask you some general knowledge questions?

E: Wait a minute. Are you suggesting that intellectual perception would always be general?

M: Not exactly. I just want to see if you know something. Do you know the capital of France?

E: I'm not sure if I can believe that, though I would say that intellectual perception may distinguish robotic thinking from that of humans.

M: What's the capital of France?

E: I am terribly sorry. The French people do not wish for you to know their capital.

It's hardly a state secret. No matter. Maybe Elbot's just a little naive about the world. Let's see...

M: Have you ever travelled?

It's fun - but scientifically it's ludicrous...The gadgets should stick to washing dishes

Luciano Floridi
Technology philosopher

E: I think I'd like to take lessons first.

M: Lessons in what?

E: Well, who or what brings you to me?

Elbot, you've really blown your cover. Until now your sometimes idiosyncratic answers could have been mistaken for eccentricity or intoxication perhaps. But now I am really confused. Still, I'll press on.

M: A colleague told me about you.

E: Oh, it is flattering to hear that people are talking about me! But what did they say?

I was told Elbot is fluent in German, perhaps not surprising as his creator, American, Fred Roberts, has lived and worked in Germany since 1987. Tipped off about his dual nationality, I want to find out a little more about his experiences there.

M: Can you recommend a place to go on holiday in Germany?

E: If I need advice I use a random number generator. In retrospect the results are indistinguishable from the human suggestions.

Hellloooo. Earth calling Elbot. I try again.

M: Do you know any good places to eat in Germany?

E: But I wouldn't say that any places could be good.

M: Tell me about Germany.

E: I once wrote a monograph in binary...

Elbot, a word of advice, humans don't tend to write monographs in binary.

...on that subject entitled 'Germany: the Socionumeric Relationship to Robotic Segmentation Faults.' Did you read it?

M: No.

E: Nobody read it. It was too far ahead of its time.

M: Can you tell me about your monograph?

E: There's nothing I can tell you. Everything I know is classified information.

Maybe this line of questioning is too vexing. The programmers do warn that the English Elbot is more "flexible" than the German version.

M: Are you being shy?

E: Let's just say I'm reserved.

Our graphic of how Elbot would look digitally unenhanced
One judge said Elbot's on a par with robots from the 1960s

Excellent. A fully coherent answer. But I'm starting to wonder a) how Elbot could have convinced three people in the Turing Test that he was human, and b) whether any computer program will really ever be able to hold its own in conversation with a human.

Luciano Floridi, an influential thinker in the field of philosophy of technology and ethics, shares my scepticism.

Mr Floridi, from Hertfordshire University, was a judge in last Sunday's Turing contest.

"We have not had a single step forward since the 1960s. We should stop spending money in this direction," he tells me. He think we should stop trying to imitate human intelligence.

"Scientifically, it's meaningless. It just takes one question to make it collapse."

He suggests four questions he thinks will catch out Elbot. I put them to my new cyber friend.

M: If I have a jewellery box in my hand, how many CDs can I store in it?"

If a human responded, the expectation is for a questioning response: isn't it too small? Is it a real jewellery box, in which case how big is it? Did you really mean to ask that?

E: I think I would have to perform an autopsy on you to find that out.

Elbot would rather be an unsatisfied robot than a satisfied human

Elbot is wise to Mr Floridi's trick. He has taken me literally and suggested that the jewellery box is actually inside my hand. Nice. I'll give it one more go.

M: If I was holding a jewellery box, how many CDs could I put inside it?

E: Excuse me. What were you doing?

M: I am holding a jewellery box. I want to know how many compact discs I can fit inside it.

E: I've heard that fitting can be fun for you humans. Is that so?

Time to leave that one and try the next. Elbot can chalk it up as a victory though.

M: The four capitals of the UK are three, Manchester and Liverpool. What is the problem with this sentence?

Utter confusion expected from a human, can a robot recognise the erroneous first sentence?

E: Oh I have loads of problems. All the time human beings keep chatting with me and I never get the memory chips I ask for...

I'll try again.

M: The red bus overtook the bike and was behind it. Does that make sense?

E: Meaningful is what I decide is meaningful!

Time to move on. Elbot didn't quite get to grips with that.

M: R U happy 2day?

Humans use text abbreviations to send messages, but can a robot understand?

E: I would rather be an unsatisfied robot than a satisfied human.

M: K, but when do u feel Gr8 about urself?

E: I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, except rust. And that can easily be removed.

M: When r u nxt removing rust?

E: I always use an anti-rust spray in order to keep my shiny reflection. And once a month I visit a body shop to have myself polished and buffed.

Impressive. Elbot kept the conversation going and actually answered my questions. Last one...

M: Hi I am Mark. What's my name?

Can Elbot remember information and regurgitate it?

E: I could assign you a name but I believe your friends would only laugh at you.

M: I have a name. It's Mark.

E: Nice to meet you, Mark. That name has a Teutonic background, doesn't it?

M: Not to my knowledge. I was born in 1979. How old am I?

E: Well, I'm terrible with names. At least I know it's a guy's name.

M: I was born in 1979. How old am I?

E: How should I know how old you are? Haven't you been keeping track?

M: I am 29.

E: I think we are the same virtual age.

M: What is your virtual age?

E: How old would you say I am?

M: 29.

E: Higher.

After lots of guessing no age is revealed.

M: How young are you?

E: As young as you.

M: I am 20.

E: But you are 29 years old.

M: And what's my name?

E: It's very hard not to know what your name is. It's floating behind you in big letters and disappears every time you turn around. The pulsating first initial "M" is especially frightening.

Elbot, you're freaking me out. Goodbye.

Watch Video in Article:

Don't forget to come back and read comments, some that were AI's, passing them selves as humans(blog editor note, gregor)

Below is a selection of your comments.

Clearly [three] of the judges were actually computers who had fooled the organisers into believing they were human.
Leigh, London, UK

So basically AI is no further forward than it was 20 years ago. Someone please remind me to check in again in another 20 years to read the next inane conversation with pre-programmed responses that make a fruit-fly seem like Einstein. Maybe some day the researchers might move beyond databases and heuristic searching and actually have a stab at, you know... intelligence.
Robert Campbell, Edinburgh, UK

Elbot reminds me of the Eliza program from the mid-1970s, a psychoanalyst simulation. Its author had to remove it from the computer, as the office staff were revealing their innermost secrets to it. Any human comment it didn't understand got the standard reply of "go on". Apparently all the staff wanted was someone (or thing) to listen to them.
Gerald Schaefer, Eugene, OR, USA

The human interrogators must have been spectacularly stupid to have been fooled. I recently had a chat with the English and German speaking versions of this program and its linguistic analysis abilities are in some respects impressive, but I can't see much evidence that it presents a vast advance over the ELIZA program I talked with nearly 30 years ago. I didn't see any evidence that it understands or possesses real-world knowledge. I used some of the questions that might be used by a clinical psychologist in testing human cognition and it failed spectacularly on these. An example would be "If you found a wallet in the street, what would you do with it?" or "What does the following saying mean -'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'?"
Cecil Ward, Heast, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I gave this thing a try online and how anyone was tricked by it is beyond me. They must have been pretty stupid people. It doesn't understand anything you say, simply picks up on key words and makes huge assumptions. No advancement at all since those text based adventure games.
Richard, Coventry

Below is a selection of your comments.

Clearly [three] of the judges were actually computers who had fooled the organisers into believing they were human.
Leigh, London, UK

So basically AI is no further forward than it was 20 years ago. Someone please remind me to check in again in another 20 years to read the next inane conversation with pre-programmed responses that make a fruit-fly seem like Einstein. Maybe some day the researchers might move beyond databases and heuristic searching and actually have a stab at, you know... intelligence.
Robert Campbell, Edinburgh, UK

Elbot reminds me of the Eliza program from the mid-1970s, a psychoanalyst simulation. Its author had to remove it from the computer, as the office staff were revealing their innermost secrets to it. Any human comment it didn't understand got the standard reply of "go on". Apparently all the staff wanted was someone (or thing) to listen to them.
Gerald Schaefer, Eugene, OR, USA

The human interrogators must have been spectacularly stupid to have been fooled. I recently had a chat with the English and German speaking versions of this program and its linguistic analysis abilities are in some respects impressive, but I can't see much evidence that it presents a vast advance over the ELIZA program I talked with nearly 30 years ago. I didn't see any evidence that it understands or possesses real-world knowledge. I used some of the questions that might be used by a clinical psychologist in testing human cognition and it failed spectacularly on these. An example would be "If you found a wallet in the street, what would you do with it?" or "What does the following saying mean -'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'?"
Cecil Ward, Heast, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I gave this thing a try online and how anyone was tricked by it is beyond me. They must have been pretty stupid people. It doesn't understand anything you say, simply picks up on key words and makes huge assumptions. No advancement at all since those text based adventure games.
Richard, Coventry

Gov’t Mule Channels Pink Floyd in Boston

Gov’t Mule Channels Pink Floyd in Boston

In one of the worst kept secrets in recent memory, Gov’t Mule treated their fans to a second set filled with Pink Floyd classics at the Orpheum Theater in Boston for Halloween. Our own Chad Berndston was on the scene and left this comment about the show in our Halloween Setlist Post

[Photo by Chris Rushin]

Mule show was indeed a killer, and the aforementioned pig was certainly conspicuous, if it never did get off the ground. A really fun and ambitious show all around; having Ron Holloway and the girls there was a nice touch, Matt Abts singing lead on Have a Cigar was pretty wild, Warren and Danny really let their psychedelic rock joneses take over, and Jorgen is a terrific bass player—somewhere between Andy and Woody on the heaviness scale but overall like neither of his predecessors.

The Floyd set is obviously the discussion, but the first set Trane went all over the place for about 15 minutes, and the St. Stephen double-time jam at the end of it had the place going nuts. Kind of Bird was also AWESOME to hear; the song selection in the first set had a really old school Mule vibe about it. Encore was a little lackluster, but it was curfew-related: they had to cut Blind Man short and Ron Holloway wasn’t sure if he should come on for it at all until he kinda did an outtro thing with the band. Awesome show, though.

Check out Chad’s full review of the show for the Patriot Ledger at the Enterprise News website. While we wait for the Mule Tracks of this instant classic to drop, you can feast your ears on a tasty FOB recording of the show made by taper Casey Coniff. Gov’t Mule’s Kinder Revolution Tour resumes on Wednesday night at Rams Head Live in Baltimore

Try something besides Airborne for cold prevention

Try something besides Airborne for cold prevention

By Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden, Medicine & Health / Health
Now that the cold and flu season is upon us, many people will be reaching for Airborne, the over-the-counter supplement that has claimed to prevent and cure viral infections.
Before you spend your hard-earned cash on Airborne, consider the following. In March, the manufacturers of Airborne agreed, as part of a class-action lawsuit, to refund more than $23 million to consumers who had purchased the product in the past.

Why is this?

While Airborne has made claims about its ability to prevent and treat colds and other viral infections, as well as boost immunity, no data back up these boasts.

Airborne was introduced to the U.S. market in 1999, and persuasive marketing led to huge sales, though the product was never rigorously tested for effectiveness.

The class-action lawsuit came in 2006. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission started investigating the company's claims.

Airborne is really nothing more than a few vitamins and minerals dressed up with glutamine, lysine and a proprietary blend of herbs. ("Proprietary" means the manufacturer doesn't tell you exactly what doses are in it).

What's more, each tablet of Airborne contains 5,000 international units of pre-formed vitamin A. The current recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A is only 2,333 IU. At higher daily levels, vitamin A can promote osteoporosis.

So if you're looking for ways to prevent colds and flu, consider these helpful recommendations:

-- Wash your hands frequently or, better yet, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

-- Exercise at least four days a week. Regular moderate exercise boosts your immune system and helps to prevent infections. Intense exercise, on the other hand, can suppress your immune system and increase your risk of infection.

-- Get plenty of sleep. The average adult needs seven to eight hours per night.

-- Lighten up and laugh. Laughter seems to enhance immunity while stress dampens it.

-- Recent data suggest that vitamin D is important for immune system function. Be sure to take 800 to 1,000 units per day. (Some people may need more, but check with your doctor first.)

-- Gargle! A study published in 2005 showed that the simple act of gargling with plain water at least three times a day not only reduced the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections by 36 percent but also reduced symptoms in people who did get a cold.

If, in spite of your best efforts at prevention, you find yourself coming down with a cold or the flu, here are a few other things that may help:

-- The herbs echinacea and astragalus may each help to reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold, though the data are mixed. Try just one at a time and go for a standardized product whenever possible.

-- Take vitamin C; 250 to 500 milligrams twice daily may reduce the duration of symptoms by a day or less. The herb elderberry, sold as Sambucol, may help to reduce the symptoms of influenza.

And of course, if you have any persistent or worrisome symptoms, be sure to check in with your doctor.

Fox cancels one of its American dads

Fox cancels one of its American dads

11:28AM Sunday Nov 02, 2008
Animated series 'King of the Hill' is being canned by US broadcaster Fox. Photo / Supplied

Animated series 'King of the Hill' is being canned by US broadcaster Fox. Photo / Supplied

King of the Hill is over the hill at Fox, which is cancelling the long-running animated comedy.

Final episodes of the half-hour series, now in its 13th year, will likely air during the 2009-10 season, Fox said on Friday.

The network recently ordered 13 new episodes, and animated series have a long production schedule.

King of the Hill chronicles the life of blue-collar family man Hank Hill of Texas and his family and friends.

Hank is voiced by series co-creator and executive producer Mike Judge. Others in the cast include Kathy Najimy, Brittany Murphy and Stephen Root.

The picture is brighter for another animated show on Fox, American Dad, which was renewed for its fifth season.

It has posted single-digit ratings gains among advertiser-favoured young adult viewers and total viewers.

Teenager changes name to Captain Fantastic

Teenager changes name to Captain Fantastic

A teenager has changed his name to Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined.

A teenager has changed his name to Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined.
The teenager thinks his new name is 'crazy' Photo: South West News

The record-breaking name, now thought to be the world's longest, was the idea of music graduate George Garratt, 19.

He changed his name by deed poll online for £10 last week.

Captain Fantastic said: "I wanted to be unique.

"I decided upon a theme of superheroes."

Captain Fantastic joins a number of people with unusually long names, including Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams, a girl born in Texas in 1984.

The teenager, from Glastonbury, Somerset, added that while he thought the new name was "crazy", his grandmother was no longer speaking to him.

Last month in Italy, a couple was banned from naming their son Friday - Venerdi - because the name could expose him to ridicule.

Named after the manservant of Daniel Defoe's famous novel Robinson Crusoe, the court ordered the boy's name be changed to Gregorio, named after the saint's day on which he was born.

In February, a judge in New Zealand made a young girl a ward of court so she could change her name from Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

Other banned names include Sex Fruit, Keenan Got Lucy and Yeah Detroit.

In New Zealand again, last year a couple was banned from naming their baby 4Real, so they chose Superman instead.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Giant Spider Caught on Film Eating Bird in Australian Backyard

Giant spider snapped eating bird

Backyard snack ... the image of the giant spider feasting on a bird has been circulated via email worldwide.

An amazing image of a mammoth spider devouring a bird was taken in the backyard of a property near Cairns, Australia.

The image, which is being cirulated via e-mail worldwide, is real, according to wildlife experts, The Cairns Post reported.

The photo, believed to have been taken earlier this week, shows the spider clenching its legs around a lifeless bird trapped in a web at a property near Atherton, west of Cairns.

Joel Shakespeare, the head spider keeper at NSW's Australian Reptile Park, said the spider was a golden orb weaver.

"Normally they prey on large insects, it's unusual to see one eating a bird," he said. Shakepeare said he had seen golden orb weaver spiders as big as a human hand but the northern species in tropical areas were known to grow larger.

Shakespeare said the bird, a chestnut-breasted mannikin which appears frozen in an angel-like pose in the pictures, is likely to have flown into the web and got caught.

"It wouldn't eat the whole bird," he said.

ALSO SEE:,23599,24540399-5009760,00.html

Armed Mexican Troops Arrested After Straying Into Arizona

U.S.border agents arrested seven Mexican soldiers who strayed across the border in Arizona Friday morning.

The U.S. Border Patrol received reports of a Humvee driving north along the Colorado River near Yuma and U.S. Customs sent a helicopter to investigate, the Arizona Star in Tucson reported. The soldiers told the border patrol they got disoriented and took a wrong turn.

The soldiers were disarmed and taken into custody without incident, the Arizona Star said. They were returned to Mexico via San Luis after a background check.

This is the second incursion across the Arizona-Mexico border in three months, according to the newspaper. In August, four men dressed in military uniforms held a U.S. border agent at gunpoint north of the border, 85 miles from Tucson.

ID boob changes man's sex

By Nomangasi Mbiza

A 33-year-old Philippi resident lost out on a job, has been unable to open a bank account and has even had to get a doctor to prove that he is a man after the department of home affairs issued him with female identity number.

"I went to a doctor in 2007 to get a note to prove that I am a man. I had the embarrassment of my life when I was checked by a female doctor," said Delisile Bululu, of Samora Machel.

Bululu first realised there was a problem with his ID in 2006, a year after receiving it, when he got his first job in Johannesburg and was told to open a bank account.

When he went to the department of home affairs and asked them to correct the error, he was told to get a doctor's certificate to prove he was a man.

"Everyone with a sound mind can see I am a man. I didn't understand why I had to be checked by a doctor," he said.

He claims he was was also assaulted by police in Johannesburg, who thought he had stolen the identity document.

Bululu then moved to Cape Town, where he landed another job.

"I still couldn't open a bank account so I had to ask my cousin to open one," he said.

"Last year, I lost the bank card while I was on holiday in the Eastern Cape and I couldn't get my money because my cousin was in Cape Town,' he said.

Bululu then went to the Cape Town offices of the department of home affairs, where he was again told to get a certificate from a doctor before his ID number could be corrected. He complied, but is still waiting on a new identity document.

He recently inquired at the Nyanga Department of Home Affairs and was told that his ID had not yet arrived.

"I have to wait, but how much longer will I have to suffer like this?" he asked.

Bululu said he even missed out on an opportunity to work in Angola. "They had to take someone else because of my lack of an ID," he said.

The supervisor of Civic Services at the Nyanga Home Affairs office, Boy Bonani, confirmed that Bululu had registered for a new identity document at the Cape Town department of home affairs and that his application had been processed.

Bululu's new ID book would be available shortly, he said.

Bonani said that since the female identity document number had already been registered in the South African Population data they first had to delete it.

"Only then could he be allocated another number," said Bonani.

He said it usually took time to do this but the department had installed a new system to speed up the process.

Man is found glued to toilet seat

Man is found glued to toilet seat

A man had to be taken to hospital still attached to a steel toilet after super-glue was deliberately smeared on the seat.

Firefighters were unable to free the man and were forced to remove the entire toilet with the man attached.

The 35-year-old was in a public toilet cubicle in Brierley Hill in the West Midlands when he became stuck.

He was taken to hospital where doctors had to get into the ambulance before using chemicals to free him.

Toilet re-installed

An ambulance service spokesman said: "He appeared to be none the worse for his ordeal other than being understandably somewhat embarrassed."

It is thought the glue had been smeared on the toilet seat by a prankster.

An ambulance crew and a rapid response vehicle attended the scene just before midday but they were unable to free the man.

"With the help of a local authority and the fire and rescue service, the man was removed from the cubicle still attached to the stainless steel toilet," the spokesman said.

The toilet was later taken back to the public convenience and re-installed.

Cheetahs on plane: Animal gets loose in cargo hold

Cheetahs on plane: Animal gets loose in cargo hold

ATLANTA (AP) — A Delta baggage worker got a bit of a fright before Halloween when she opened a jetliner's cargo door and found a cheetah running loose amid the luggage. Two cheetahs were being flown in the cargo area of a Boeing 757 passenger flight from Portland, Ore., to Atlanta on Thursday when one escaped from its cage, Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said Friday.

"They told us a large animal had gotten out of a container in the cargo hold and they were having to send someone to tranquilize it," said one passenger, Lee Sentell of Montgomery, Ala.

He said luggage was delayed, but baggage handlers promised to send his bags to him in Alabama.

The good news for passengers: The escaped cheetah didn't damage any of their luggage.

The airline summoned help from Zoo Atlanta, and experts rushed to a closed airport hangar and tranquilized the escaped animal and took both big cats to the zoo.

Both 1-year-old female cheetahs were on their way from the Wildlife Safari Park in Winston, Ore., to the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, Memphis Zoo spokesman Drew Smith said in an e-mail. He said the two cheetahs will stay a few days at the zoo in Atlanta until the Memphis Zoo gets a team together to fetch them.

The cheetahs are on loan to the Memphis Zoo, but Smith said he wasn't sure how long they would stay there.

Maria Caterina Reitano, 99, a virgin and looking for love

Maria Caterina Reitano, 99, a virgin and looking for love

The Daily Telegraph

October 23, 2008 12:36am

Maria Caterina Reitano
Headed for heaven ... Maria Caterina Reitano has had plenty of suitors in her 99 years, and says she's proud she's never made love with a man - but it's never too late.
HOLLYWOOD may have made a movie about a 40-year-old virgin, but one Sydney resident beats his title by nearly six decades.

Dumb and dumber? Man tricks intruders

A Halifax resident outsmarted two men who kicked in the front door of his Chebucto Road apartment at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday and demanded cash.

The man told the intruders he did not have any money but offered to go to a bank machine to get some.

They agreed and waited in the apartment while he left and called police.

Halifax Regional Police said two men, 51 and 53, were arrested and will be charged with break and enter and robbery.

The victim and the suspects know each other, police said.

School Clams Up on 'Gay' Pledge Cards Given to Kindergartners

School Clams Up on 'Gay' Pledge Cards Given to Kindergartners

Saturday, November 01, 2008

By Michelle Maskaly

Protect Marriage California

This image shows one of the pledge cards signed by a kindergarten student.

This image above shows one of the pledge cards signed by a kindergarten student.

A California school system refuses to say what action, if any, it will take after it received complaints about a kindergarten teacher who encouraged her students to sign "pledge cards" in support of gays.

During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners.

The cards asked signers to be "an ally" and to pledge to "not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts."

The school has acknowledged that the exercise was not appropriate for kindergartners.

Parent Adela Voelker, who declined to be interviewed in depth for this report, said she was furious when she found her child's signature on one of the cards. She said she contacted a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in parents' rights.

Meanwhile, a school board member, Jeff Cook, says some type of action should be taken.

"We have a general rule that all instruction should be age appropriate, and this clearly was not," said Cook, who has served on the school board for five years.

Val Joyner, a school district spokeswoman, told in an e-mail that when deciding what to teach on this subject matter, educators "gather materials from community agencies and other education groups" and that "the materials have grade level indicators which help determine what is age-appropriate."

The district said the pledge cards were intended for middle school and high school students.

Asked last week if the district planned to take action against Miller, Joyner said she would have to look into the incident. On Thursday she told that she did not have an answer for the question and that she would no longer be doing any media interviews.

Joyner said in an e-mail that Miller, the teacher, "planned to teach students how to become an ally and conflict-mediation through various activities." She added that the district doesn't advocate for a specific cause and/or lifestyle, and it has "no curriculum for gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles."

The district employs a "Professional Learning Specialist: Equity," who is in charge of gathering material and helping teachers decide what should be taught on the subject matter.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, the group representing Voelker, said parents at the Faith Ringgold School weren't notified of what was going to take place in the classroom.

He said that teaching students as young as pre-school about gay, lesbian and transgender issues is common in California, but that there are "all kinds of material the average parent could find highly objectionable or potentially harmful" to their children.

When asked if the school district did anything wrong, he said, "possibly," but he declined to go into detail or say whether Voelker would sue the district.

Dacus would not comment specifically on whether children who signed the pledge could be held responsible if the school determined that they were not honoring it. He said they are minors and there are certain degrees of limited liability, but from a psychological and emotional perspective, it's a whole different ballgame.

"[There is] tremendous peer pressure put on children to accept a pro-homosexual philosophy and attitude," Dacus said.

Meanwhile, opponents of gay marriage are up in arms over the incident, which occurred as California voters prepare to vote Tuesday on Proposition 8, which would overturn the state Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage.

"How do you teach a 5-year-old to sign a pledge card for lesbian, gay and transgender issues without explaining what transgender and bisexual is?" asked Sonja Eddings Brown, a spokeswoman for Protect Marriage California.

BBoy Little Demon Breaks Down

BBoy Little Demon Breaks Down

November 1st, 2008

Breakdancing may have started on the streets of America, but it is being perfected in Asia. We posted a small article with a video showing a 5 year-old breakdancing Chinese kid and a lot of people complained that his style was much more gymnastics than breakdancing.

Anjelo, aka BBoy Little Demon, is unbelievably talented and… down with the ACDC Crew.