Archive for December, 2007

Santa hates capitalism and the media

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Girl Gets Bizarre Surprise Instead of iPod

A little girl thought she was getting an iPod for Christmas but ended up getting a rude surprise. She got the box but when she opened it up, she found a surprising switch: the iPod had been replaced with a bizarre note.

The note reads in part “Reclaim your mind from the media shackles.”

Drunk and disorderly in Antarctica

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Antarctic base staff evacuated after Christmas brawl

Two men, one with a suspected broken jaw, have been airlifted from the Antarctic’s most remote research facility after an incident described as a “drunken Christmas punch-up”.

The brawl happened at the US-operated Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, located at the heart of the frozen continent. The station, where staff carry out a range of scientific investigations from astrophysics to seismology, is currently being rebuilt in a £76m project.

After reports of the fight reached staff at McMurdo station, the headquarters of the US Antarctic Programme, which is located on Ross Island, a US Air Force Hercules was sent to pick up the injured man and the other worker.

A charming vignette on Christmas in Afghanistan

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Christmas In Afghanistan

This came from a longtime reader in Afghanistan. I waited for permission to publish:

Well, yesterday I celebrated my first Christmas away from the states. I’m at a little outpost in Afghanistan training Afghan soldiers where I have the distinction currently of being the lone American (everyone else is either recently reassigned or on leave). Aside from the Afghans the place is mostly French Canadian, with a bomb-sniffing K-9 guy hailing from Tanzania. The French Canadians celebrate Christmas very differently (i.e. wrong) than we do. They stay up late to count down until midnight and then celebrate. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they’d gotten it confused with New Year’s. I imagine in a few days we’ll celebrate New Year’s Morning. One of the unit’s few long-suffering Anglophones told me that it was a first for him too.

More fun with crank calls

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

 Staff Fired After Prank Call Shock Treatments

Staff members at a group home made multiple mistakes when they followed a prank caller’s direction to give dozens of electrical shocks to two emotionally disturbed teenagers, according to a report by a state agency that investigated the incident.

The report by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care said six staffers at a Stoughton residence run by the Canton-based Judge Rotenberg Education Center had ample reason to doubt the orders to administer the shocks, but did nothing to stop it.

The six staff members and video surveillance worker on duty that night have been fired, Ernest Corrigan, the school’s spokesman, said Thursday.

Initial investigations showed that a former student at the Judge Rotenberg Education Center allegedly called in orders for electric shock treatments on Aug. 26 and officials at the school self-reported the prank call and unnecessary treatments the day after they occurred, Cindy Campbell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Early Education and Care, said Monday.

After the call, the teens, ages 16 and 19, were awakened in the middle of the night and given the shock treatments, at times while their legs and arms were bound. One teen received 77 shocks and the other received 29. One boy was treated for two first-degree burns.

$54,000 bottle of whiskey

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

 This rare Scotch is one pricey potable

If Santa gives you this gift for Christmas, you’ve really been exceptionally good this year: A bottle of 81-year-old Scotch sold for $54,000 earlier this month at New York’s first liquor auction since Prohibition.

It became the most expensive bottle of Scotch whisky ever sold by the auction house, said Christie’s, which has been holding similar sales in Europe for a decade.

“I’m trying to figure out what exactly what was going on”

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Police: Hot Sauce, Beer, Live Snake Used In 2-Year-Old’s Abuse

Police said a Somerset man draped a live snake around his 2-year-old son’s neck, fed him hot sauce, and otherwise abused him for nearly a year.

Jason Flick, 27, is charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and related charges. He was arrested Friday and taken to the Somerset County Jail on $25,000 bond.

Bad Kitty!!

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Tiger Escapes S.F. Zoo Cage and Kills 1

Investigators trying to determine how a tiger escaped its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo – killing one visitor and mauling two others on Christmas – planned a thorough sweep of the zoo grounds Wednesday to look for clues.

Authorities did not believe more people were attacked, but they wanted to inspect the area in the daylight. Zoo officials were still uncertain how long the Siberian tiger, the same one that mauled a zookeeper last year, was loose before being shot dead.

The three men who were attacked Tuesday while visiting the zoo were in their 20s, police spokesman Steve Mannina said. The attack occurred just after the 5 p.m. closing time, on the east end of the 125-acre grounds.

They suffered “pretty aggressive bite marks,” Mannina said.

Nazi dogs not cool in Deutschland

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Nazi jailed for dog’s paw taste salute

Ach, du Schweinhund – a dog trained to give the Nazi salute has landed his owner in jail.

Adolf the part-Alsatian mongrel raises his right paw whenever he hears the command “Heil Hitler”.

Now his owner, a pensioner named as Roland T, has been jailed in Germany, a country where all Nazi symbols or salutes are now strictly verboten.

The owner had previously been in trouble for shaving illegal Nazi insignia into the dog’s fur.

Bad Santas Riot in New Zealand

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Drunk Santas Cause Chaos in New Zealand 

A gang of drunken Santas ran riot through a Christchurch cinema complex at the weekend, pushing families waiting to see the film Enchanted, ripping posters off the walls and shouting “Ho, f……. ho,” a newspaper reported on Monday. “They were kicking things over, ripping down posters and smashing everything in sight,” said Kate Gorman, 35, who was in the cinema with her two children, aged 6 and 7.

Politically Incorrect in Hollywood

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Smith: ‘Hitler was a good person’

Will Smith has stunned the world by declaring that even Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was essentially a “good” person.

The Men In Black star, 39, is determined to see the best in people, and is convinced the former German leader did not fully understand the extent of the pain and suffering his actions would cause during his time in power in the 1930s and ’40s.

Japan getting ready for alien invasion

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

 Japan Confronts Space Alien Invasion Plans

The Japanese Minister of Defense is calling for efforts to work out the military and legal issues that would result if Japanese were attacked by extraterrestrials. Two members of the Japanese cabinet have expressed personal beliefs in the existence of  extraterrestrials out there, somewhere. Because of Japans 1947 constitution, there are restrictions on what actions the military can take. Basically, the Japanese military is, technically, a purely defensive force. But an extraterrestrial invasion might play out in ways that would find the Japanese military prevented, by lawyers, from moving against an extraterrestrial menace.

Parents brawl at School Christmas Program

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Chairs Thrown During Parents’ Fight at School Christmas Program

An apparent ongoing dispute between three parents erupted into a physical fight at an elementary school’s Christmas program Tuesday night.

Children in the first through third grades at Oak Hill Elementary School had just completed about three-quarters of the program when three parents began fighting.

Witnesses said the fight lasted about 10 minutes, and, according to an account by principal Sara Roberts, started when a father approached a student about pushing his daughter while on stage

Never chase your hat down a garbage chute

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Man survives six story fall into trash compactor

A man who fell six stories into a trash compactor that activated when he hit survived the ordeal, Moline police said.

The incident occurred at about 5 a.m. Saturday at the Hillside Heights Apartments, 825 17th St., according to a news release issued Tuesday by Moline Police Lt. Jerome Patrick.

Police were called to the building by a resident who could hear a male voice yelling for help near the elevator shaft, Patrick said.

Building maintenance responded, released the trash compactor and pulled the man out of the bin, he said.

Patrick said that Alfonzo Gomez, 26, explained that he was at a party on the sixth floor when he went to throw some trash out. As he threw the bag into the chute, his hat fell off his head and went into the chute.

Please don’t pet the tigers

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Tigers Kill Man Who Stuck His Arm Into Zoo Cage in Northeastern India

Two tigers killed a man who stuck his arm into their enclosure in northeastern India on Wednesday, ripping off his arm as his family and dozens of visitors looked on, zoo officials said.

The man, identified as 50-year-old Jayaprakash Bezbaruah, avoided zoo safety precautions in an apparent attempt to photograph the two adult Bengal tigers up close, said Gauhati zoo warden Narayan Mahanta.

“The man ignored warnings from keepers, crossed the first barrier and stretched his hand into the enclosure that housed a male and a female tiger before the animals grabbed his limb and tore it apart at the shoulder,” he said.

Hat tip to Kara!

Grandma got run over by a reindeer

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Disoriented doe bruises up grandma

Penny Patch Produce & Garden Center had an intruder Monday morning.

It was actually a doe – a deer, a female deer – that ran across Fleming Drive and jumped through the store’s front window.

“We’ve been here about 26 years, and we’ve had break-ins but never anything like this,” said David Rakestraw, who owns the store with his brother.

He said the deer hit their cashier, Carol Stroupe, who is somewhere in her 60s, as it crashed through the window.

Stroupe was OK but a little bruised up. She went home early, but before she left, she told Rakestraw and his brother, Chris, she was going to tell her grandson, “Grandma got run over by a reindeer.”

Black hole on the attack in nearby galaxy

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Black hole ‘bully’ blasts galaxy

A powerful jet of particles from a “supermassive” black hole has been seen blasting a nearby galaxy, according to findings from the US space agency.

Galaxies have been seen colliding before, but it is the first time this form of galactic violence has been witnessed by astronomers.

This could have a profound effect on any planets in the jet’s path and could also trigger a burst of star formation.

The findings are to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

The larger of the two galaxies in 3C321 – dubbed the “death star galaxy” by the astronomers – has a jet emanating from the vicinity of the black hole at its centre. The unfortunate smaller galaxy has apparently swung into the jet’s line of fire.

A bright spot in some images shows where the jet has slammed into the side of the companion galaxy, dissipating some of its energy. After striking it, the jet has become disrupted and deflected.

“Everyone I’ve treated tonight has been drunk – this is ridiculous”

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Aboard the ‘Booze Bus’

A “drunks-only” ambulance is mobilised on occasions of widespread drunkenness in central London. What’s it like aboard the “Booze Bus” on one of the busiest party nights of the year?

“I love the job – I like being able to make a difference. No two days are ever the same,” says paramedic Brian Hayes with a jovial grin as he describes his job.

Over the course of a 12-hour shift on Friday night, he and his two colleagues on the Alternative Response Vehicle – or Booze Bus, as it’s more commonly known – draw on their reserves of composure, ingenuity and stoicism to treat more than 20 dazed drunks.

At St Thomas’ Hospital, where some of these patients are taken, a visibly-frustrated doctor speaks despairingly of dealing with a tide of alcohol-related problems, instead of people who are seriously ill.

Genetic Engineering Creates Fearless Mice

Monday, December 17th, 2007

GM mice don’t fear cats

Japanese scientists have created a genetically modified mouse that is not afraid of cats.

Researchers at Tokyo University managed to turn off the receptors in a mouse’s brain that react to the scent of its main predator.

They wanted to prove that fear is genetically programmed and not, as is commonly believed, the product of experience.

Instead of scurrying away or playing dead, the GM rodents were able to carry on as usual when coming face-to-face with a cat.

Giant rats in Indonesia

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Giant rat found in Indonesian jungle

Researchers in a remote jungle in Indonesia have discovered a giant rat – five times the size of a typical city rat – and a tiny possum that are apparently new to science.

Unearthing new species of mammals in the 21st century is very rare. The discoveries by a team of American and Indonesian scientists are being studied further to confirm their status.

The animals were found in the Foja mountains rainforest in eastern Papua province in a June expedition, said US-based Conservation International, which organised the trip along with the Indonesian Institute of Science

Yet another reason not to pee in public

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Pup latches onto urinating man

A DRUNKEN man urinating through a fence got a nasty surprise when a playful puppy in the adjoining lot latched onto his member.
Kann Veasna took a break from drinking wine at a street stall to relieve himself through a hole in a fence, according to news agency DPA.

However a puppy spotted the Mr Veasna’s appendage as it poked through and apparently thinking it was a toy latched on, newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea reported.

300-lbs + 40-Foot Fall = OK

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

300-lb Man OK After 40-Foot Shaft Fall

A construction worker who fell about 40 feet down an elevator shaft is nearly unhurt, with no serious injuries. District of Columbia Fire and EMS spokesman Alan Etter said the man, who’s about 25 years old, was working on a house under construction in Southeast Washington Friday morning.

The worker, who Etter says weighs more than 300 pounds, was standing on a plywood platform in the elevator shaft at the top level of the house.

The board couldn’t support his weight and the man fell 40 feet down the shaft before he crashed into the basement. He broke two more platforms on his way down.

Fire Chief drunk driving on the job

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Chief accused of drunk fire truck racing

A fire chief in Penobscot County has been charged with being drunk behind the wheel while driving a fire truck with its lights on and its sirens going.

Russell Banks of Burlington was arrested around midnight Saturday after a resident complained that Banks was racing a fire tanker by his home even though there was no fire in the area.

Never touch another man’s Honey Bun

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Man convicted in jail beating death over snack

Bennie Rochelle has been convicted in the murder of Jose Estrada, who was beaten to death because Rochelle believed the 46-year-old fellow Kent County Jail inmate stole his Honey Bun snack cake.

The jury spent less than five hours deliberating before returning the verdict late this morning that the 19-year-old is guilty of second-degree murder.

Witnesses testified over the last two weeks that Rochelle — in a fit of anger over his missing snack — pulled the slight Mexico native from a top bunk bed sending him crashing head-first to the concrete floor. Testimony also states that Rochelle then beat the man with his fists, slammed his head against a metal door and threw a plastic cot on him.

How not to shut down the California power grid

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Guilty plea in attempt to shut down state power

A Sacramento County computer technician pleaded guilty today to trying to shut down California’s power grid by pushing a button marked “Emergency Power Off,” authorities said.

Lonnie Charles Denison, 33, of South Natomas admitted in U.S. District Court in Sacramento that he went into a room at the Independent System Operator’s data center in Folsom on April 15, broke a glass cover and pushed the button, prosecutors said. Denison, a contract employee at the data center, was upset with his employer, authorities said.

The ISO oversees electricity purchases and distribution. Denison prevented the data center from communicating to the electricity market for about two hours, leaving the electrical power grid vulnerable to shortages, Matthew St. Amant, a California Highway Patrol officer assigned to an FBI taskforce, wrote in an affidavit. No blackout occurred because the incident – which cost $14,000 for 20 computer specialists to repair – happened on a Sunday, investigators said.

Yet another humiliating dropped gun story

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Man Accidentally Shoots Self in Buttocks

A Scottsdale man inadvertently shot himself in the buttocks Thursday morning. Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said Daniel Leatherman, 26, heard a disturbance outside his apartment and saw a man he knew fighting with a cab driver.

Leatherman told police that the man, Cody Nunn, 25, had assaulted him in the past, so he grabbed his gun and went outside.

Leatherman told police that he accidentally dropped the gun while hiding it behind his back and shot himself in the derriere.

Bolivia’s Implosion Begins

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Four Bolivian regions declare autonomy from government

Tensions were rising in Bolivia on Saturday as members of the country’s four highest natural gas-producing regions declared autonomy from the central government.

Ruben Costas, center, governor of Santa Cruz, celebrates as the Bolivian region declares autonomy Saturday.

Thousands waved the Santa Cruz region’s green-and-white flags in the streets as council members of the Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando districts made the public announcement.

The officials displayed a green-bound document containing a set of statutes paving the way to a permanent separation from the Bolivian government.

Council representatives vowed to legitimize the so-called autonomy statutes through a referendum that would legally separate the natural-gas rich districts from President Evo Morales’ government.

Better 93 years late than never

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Christmas card arrives 93 years late

A postcard featuring a color drawing of Santa Claus and a young girl was mailed in 1914, but its journey was slower than Christmas. It just arrived in northwest Kansas.

The Christmas card was dated Dec. 23, 1914, and mailed to Ethel Martin of Oberlin, apparently from her cousins in Alma, Neb.

It’s a mystery where it spent most of the last century, Oberlin Postmaster Steve Schultz said. “It’s surprising that it never got thrown away,” he said. “How someone found it, I don’t know.”

Today’s Example of Concentrated Incompetence

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Murphy’s Law: The Billion Dollar Blueprint Mystery

There is a nasty situation is developing between India and Russia, and apparently it’s all because of some lost blueprints. It goes like this. Russia and India have a $1.5 billion deal, which sold an unfinished Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov, to India, and included a Russian shipyard performing $700 million worth of repairs, modifications and upgrades. Another $800 is to be spent on aircraft, weapons and equipment. Russia now wants a lot more money, while India insists on getting what the original contract called for. While the carrier is in Russia, India, which has already paid the Russians half a billion dollars, insist that they now own the ship. Russia has been scrambling to explain their sudden demands for more money, and has now admitted that the cause of the problem is, well, no one can find the blueprints for the Admiral Gorshkov, which entered service in 1987. The ship was built in Ukraine, which became an independent nation in 1991. After independence, the blueprints for the Admiral Gorshkov went missing, but no one noticed.

Santa hates Canadians

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Santa’s letters weren’t funny

There was absolutely nothing Ho Ho Ho about the letters Rosalyn Da Costa’s children got from Santa on Thursday.

In fact, they included filthy messages.

They are two of 10 inappropriate letters dropped into mailboxes across Ottawa in the last two days and there could be more. On Thursday, Canada Post shut down it’s Write To Santa program across the city while it joins Ottawa Police to hunt down the rogue elf.

Each Santa letter Canada Post delivers contains the same main message with a hand-written personal PS.

Maya’s personal PS said: “This letter is too long, you dumb shit.”

The personal PS to Colton’s letter read: “Your mom s**** d**** and your Dad is gay.”

Forbidden Lego designs unleashed!

Friday, December 14th, 2007

New Book Shows How to Build Lego Guns, Catapults

Legos — they’re not just for good kids anymore.

A book written by two former employees of the Danish plastic-brick giant is burning up the Amazon.com sales charts — and raising eyebrows on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Forbidden LEGO: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against” was published in August by No Starch Press, a small independent publishing house based in San Francisco.

Its authors, Ulrik Pilegaard and Mike Dooley, both worked at the Lego Mindstorms robotics division before leaving to join an independent robotics firm.

“You’ll learn to create working models that LEGO would never endorse,” the book’s page on the publisher’s Web site promises. “Try your hand at a toy gun that shoots LEGO plates, a candy catapult, a high voltage LEGO vehicle, a continuous-fire ping-pong ball launcher, and other useless but incredibly fun inventions.”

NFL Head Coach is a Peeping Perv

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

fellategate

Someone likes to watch. On the heels of the so-called “videogate” incident comes breaking news of a disturbing pattern of behavior exhibited by New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. Apparently Belichick enjoyed sneaking over to the summer home of his former Assistant Coach (and current New York Jets Head Coach) Eric Mangini to watch he and his wife engage in what Belichick calls ‘playing in the red zone.’

Dr. H. S. Meltzer, a sports psychologist who grew up across the street from the Patriots’ coach isn’t surprised. “When I heard about Bill taping the Jets’ defensive signals I wasn’t exactly stunned,” said Meltzer. “You think three Superbowl rings come without controversy? To think these kinds of covert activities just flare up or are isolated incidents is ludicrous. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Look, it started during his teen years,” Meltzer added. “Here’s how it plays out folks — you begin with an overwhelming curiosity – perhaps seeking the love of an unresponsive mother or an abusive father – followed by the accumulation of a stash of magazines like Fabulous Boobies and Jawbreakers, generally for the purpose of getting one’s rocks off – if you catch my drift. It’s all innocent dime store fun, but before you know it, you’re onto the real hard stuff, like Horse Jizz Slurpin’ Harlots, Taint Misbehavin’, and Probing for Corn. Then you apply this perverted, self-destructive method to your life’s work, and hope nobody finds out. But then, like your mother discovering your ill gotten booty of 42nd Street low-rent, pages-stuck-together smut, you’re snagged by the NFL commissioner like a sixty-two year old salesman in a raincoat pleasuring himself in the back of a porn house. That’s our Bill.”

Hat tip to John M

Acid bath for hubby

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Biochemist Kills Husband By Stuffing Him, Alive, in Vat of Acid

A Los Angeles jury found a biochemist guilty Wednesday of killing her estranged husband by stuffing him in a vat of acid.

Forty-seven-year-old Larissa Schuster of Clovis was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2003 killing. She could face the death penalty.

Schuster’s former lab assistant got life in an earlier trial.

Authorities say the two knocked out Timothy Schuster with a stun gun and chloroform and dumped him head-first — and still breathing — into a barrel before adding hydrochloric acid.

Saturn’s rings safe for now

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Saturn’s rings ‘may live forever’

Saturn’s iconic rings may be much older than we thought, scientists say.New data from the Cassini probe shows these thin bands of orbiting particles were probably there billions years ago, and are likely to be very long-lived.

It means we are not in some special time – the giant planet has most likely always provided a stunning view.

Previous data had led researchers to believe the rings were created just 100 million years ago, when a huge moon or comet shattered in Saturn’s vicinity.

Feds going after Reverend Al

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Subpoenas for Al Sharpton’s aides

Teams of federal agents swooped down on up to 10 close associates of the Rev. Al Sharpton Wednesday, demanding the flamboyant clergyman’s financial records since 2001.

Sharpton’s former chief of staff said he was roused at his Harlem home about 6:30 a.m. by two FBI agents who handed him a subpoena to bring the records to a federal grand jury the day after Christmas.

Several employees of Sharpton’s National Action Network also got wakeup subpoenas to testify before the Brooklyn panel, the rabble-rousing reverend’s lawyer said.

The FBI and IRS are investigating whether Sharpton improperly misstated the amount of money he raised during his 2004 White House run to illegally obtain federal matching funds, a source familiar with the probe said.

Glow in the dark cats genetically engineered!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

SKoreans clone cats that glow in the dark: officials

South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday.

In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.

A team of scientists led by Kong Il-keun, a cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, produced three cats possessing altered fluorescence protein (RFP) genes, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.

“It marked the first time in the world that cats with RFP genes have been cloned,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The ability to produce cloned cats with the manipulated genes is significant as it could be used for developing treatments for genetic diseases and for reproducing model (cloned) animals suffering from the same diseases as humans,” it added.

Now kids, don’t try this at the airport

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Man drinks liter of vodka at airport line

A man nearly died from alcohol poisoning after quaffing a liter (two pints) of vodka at an airport security check instead of handing it over to comply with new carry-on rules, police said Wednesday.

The incident occurred at the Nuremberg airport on Tuesday, where the 64-year-old man was switching planes on his way home to Dresden from a holiday in Egypt.

New airport rules prohibit passengers from carrying larger quantities of liquid onto planes, and he was told at a security check he would have to either throw out the bottle of vodka or pay a fee to have his carry-on bag checked as cargo.

Hat tip to Joey!

Racing Champ Takes Control of Taxi To Make Flight

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Taxi for Schumacher

A taxi driver in Germany was left shaken and stirred after handing his keys over to seven-times Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher, 38, asked to take the wheel as he was running late for a flight.

“I found myself a passenger, which was strange enough, but having ‘Schumi’ behind the wheel was incredible,” said taxi driver Tuncer Yilmaz.

“He drove at full throttle around the corners and overtook in some unbelievable places.”

After giving the cabbie an unforgettable experience, Schumacher also gave him a 100 Euro tip.

Our Robot Overlords Are About To Take Our Jobs

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Honda Robots Pair Up to Lend a Hand

As if the idea of having one robot to serve you wasn’t unusual enough, Honda says its humanoids are now ready to work in pairs — and they can even serve drinks.

At a demonstration Tuesday at its Tokyo headquarters, automaker Honda Motor Co. showed off two of the child-sized Asimo robots serving tea and performing other tasks in coordination with one another.

The bubble-headed robots seemed to pick their steps carefully as they made their way around the room, picking up and putting down drink trays and pushing around a refreshments cart.

Trapped in a Bathroom for 4 Days

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Man Spends Four Days Trapped in a Bathroom

A retired teacher who spent four days trapped in a freezing toilet says he survived by dipping his feet in hot water.

David Leggat was stuck in the bathroom at his bowling club with no food or contact with the outside world after the door jammed behind him.

The 55-year-old, who spent 16 hours of each day in darkness, was eventually freed after cleaner Cathy Scollay heard his cries for help and raised the alarm.

“There was no reason for anyone to come looking for him,” she said. “David looked awfully grey and shaky when he came out but he managed to walk up the road to his house.”

Hat tip to Kara!

Arctic meltdown almost complete

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Ominous Arctic melt worries experts

An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.

Greenland’s ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer’s end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by The Associated Press.

“The Arctic is screaming,” said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government’s snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo.

The solar system is ‘dented’

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Voyager 2 finds solar system’s shape is ‘dented’

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft has found that our solar system is not round but is “dented” by the local interstellar magnetic field of deep space, space experts said on Monday.The data was gathered by the craft on its 30-year journey into the edge of the solar system when it crossed into a sweeping region called the termination shock, they said.

It showed that the southern hemisphere of the solar system’s heliosphere is being pushed in or “dented.”

Voyager 2 is the second spacecraft to enter this region of the solar system behind Voyager 1, which entered the northern region of the heliosheath in December 2004.

We’re evolving away from each other

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Why the human race is growing apart

Races have evolved away from each other over the past 10,000 years, according to new research that challenges standard ideas about the biological significance of ethnicity.

A genetic analysis of human evolution has shown that rather than slowing to a standstill it has speeded up, with different pressures on different populations pushing racial groups further apart. Scientists behind the findings suggest that European, African and Asian populations grew genetically more distinct from each other over several thousand years, as their environments took them down different evolutionary paths.

This would call into question the popular scientific view that race has little or no biological meaning, as the genetic similarities between ethnic groups greatly outweigh differences.

Time to abolish the Congressional Page system

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Pages Had Oral Sex In Front of Colleagues

Teenaged congressional pages performed oral sex in front of their colleagues for weeks before they were caught and expelled from the program, according to a new report in Roll Call newspaper.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has pledged to reform the page program, which brings dozens of 15- and 16-year-old students to live and study in Washington, D.C., while working as aides in congressional offices.

“As a mother and a grandmother, nothing is more important to me than the safety and security of our House pages,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Yet another reason to avoid Canadian bacon

Monday, December 10th, 2007

‘Serial Killer’ Pig Farmer Robert Pickton Guilty Of Murder

A 58-year-old Canadian pig farmer is facing life in prison after being convicted of murdering six women – a fraction of the total number he is thought to have killed.

Robert “Willie” Pickton was given an automatic life sentence when a jury in British Columbia found him guilty of murder.


During his trial, a prosecution witness, Andrew Bellwood, said Pickton told him how he strangled his victims and fed their remains to his pigs.

Health officials once issued a tainted meat warning to neighbours who might have bought pork from Pickton’s farm, concerned the meat might have contained human remains.

Portugal airs its dirtiest laundry on public TV

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Portugal gets harsh blast from the past

The heads of enemy soldiers impaled on roadside trees. Hundreds of prisoners tortured, killed and dumped in mass graves. Napalm dropped on jungles where guerrillas sheltered, and grass-hut villages torched with cigarette lighters.

These gruesome acts were carried out in Portugal’s name two generations ago during its colonial wars in Africa. But for most Portuguese, the events aren’t history — they’re news.

A groundbreaking series aired by public broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa is confronting Portugal with unsettling aspects of its recent history that for decades have been shrouded in silence. The series has become a top-rated prime-time program and the most-watched documentary in years, regularly drawing more than a million viewers in a country of 10.6 million.

Everyone Loved Waterboarding in 2002

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

Diplomats ditch their Korean adoptee child in Hong Kong

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Parents return unwanted girl

A SENIOR European diplomat in Hong Kong has promoted outrage by giving up the seven-year-old Korean girl he adopted with his wife as a baby.

The unnamed diplomat handed the girl to social workers in Hong Kong, saying the adoption had not worked out.

The man and his wife adopted the girl as a four-month-old in Korea, where he was working at the time, when they thought they could not conceive.

The wife since had two children and decided to hand the girl to social workers because the diplomat said the adoption had gone wrong, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

No Sex Parties Please, We’re Suburbanites

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Suburban Sex Parties Draw Complaints

The most popular address on Cedar Ridge Drive is Jim Trulock’s split- level home, which has a group sex room and attracts as many as 100 people to swinger parties featuring “Naked Twister” nights.

But the festivities could soon be over. In response to neighbors’ complaints, the city has outlawed sex clubs in residential areas. Citations have been issued, and search warrants may be next.

“It’s crazy that they want to force their morality down our throats,” said Dawn Burton, 45, a regular guest at the parties. “We’re all frustrated.”

So are those who complain of the noise, traffic and parking problems that occur in their otherwise quiet, upscale neighborhood every Friday and Saturday, when Trulock’s home is transformed into “The Cherry Pit.”

BBC forced to take ‘Tell the truth’ training

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

‘Tell the truth’ seminars for TV and radio staff cost £1m

Training to remind staff about the importance of telling viewers the truth will cost the BBC more than £1 million in staff time and expenses.

About 17,000 BBC staff have to attend a two-hour course, in which employees are invited to discuss where the line should be drawn between artifice and deception in the wake of a series of scandals.

Vin Ray, the director of the BBC’s college of journalism, said that the direct cost of the course would be “a maximum of £500,000”, but the cost of taking each employee out for a half day more than doubled that figure.

Mark Thompson, the Director-General, introduced the scheme after the corporation admitted a series of faked broadcasts, including made-up winners to phone-ins for Children in Need and Comic Relief and a misleading edit of a promotional video for a documentary about the Queen.

Cremation in China is not the best idea

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Cremator dumps half-burned bodies to save fuel

China’s worst fuel crunch in years has led a crematorium to dump half-burnt corpses to try saving on diesel costs, a Hong Kong newspaper said on Friday.

Villagers in Hengyang county, in the southern province of Hunan, discovered the practice when an “unbearable stench” started coming from the site, and tried to block a road on Wednesday to stop funeral vehicles from delivering more bodies.

The village sent people to investigate the smell and the South China Morning Post said they saw “crematorium workers putting half-burnt human remains and organs in plastic bags and throwing them into a nearby ditch.

Mailman stealing greetings cards gets caught

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

NYC Mailman Accused of Filching Cards

Call it a special delivery. A postal carrier pocketed dozens of greeting cards he was supposed to deliver to get at the cash inside, postal inspectors said.

He was found with more than 130 pieces of other people’s mail in his car, according to a court complaint.

Michael Olivio was released on his own recognizance Thursday following his arrest the previous day, court records show. The exact charges against him were not listed in court records available early Saturday, and a spokesman for prosecutors did not immediately return a telephone call.

Food Stamps Boss steals $1.5M, buys Lexus

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

State says food stamp boss looted $1.5M

A state food stamps supervisor in Plantation was arrested Friday afternoon on charges she diverted about $1.5 million in state welfare dollars — some of which was spent on a Lexus sport utility vehicle and a Lexus sedan or was spent gambling at local casinos, police say.

Violet Jones, 41, of Miramar, was charged Friday by agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with first-degree grand theft of more than $100,000, participating in an organized scheme to defraud, identity theft, official misconduct, unlawful compensation and money laundering, according to an FDLE statement.

Cuban jugglers run as soon as they get out of Cuba

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Cuban circus juggling act vanishes on Mexican tour

Eight Cuban acrobat jugglers disappeared before a performance at a festival in central Mexico last week, presumably to defect to the United States, organizers said on Friday.

The six men and two women, the entire juggling and high-flying acrobatics act of Havana-based Circuba, arrived in the Mexican state of Queretaro last week for an annual festival of musicians, actors and artists from around the world.

Yet another reason not to be a window washer

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Window washers fall 47 storeys

A window washer fell 47 storeys to his death and his brother was seriously injured yesterday when the scaffolding on a high-rise apartment building gave way, authorities said.

The brothers were getting onto the scaffolding from the roof of the 47-storey building when the platform gave way, said Seth Andrews, a fire department spokesman.

“They apparently fell all the way from the top,” added John Mulligan, another fire department spokesman.

A 30-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. His 37-year-old brother was in critical condition at a hospital, officials said. The brothers’ names weren’t immediately available.

Politically Incorrect at Penn State

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Students Dress as VT Victims, Cause Outrage

It started with a picture on Facebook and has now created a firestorm of outrage.

Two Penn State students, dressed as Virginia Tech shooting victims, at a Halloween party have enraged people from the Virginia Tech community, as well as the entire country.

10 On Your Side has seen all of the controversial pictures. They are of two Penn State students and are extremely graphic. Both are wearing Virginia Tech t-shirts and elaborate make-up. Both have bullet holes in their bodies.

Another celebrity tries the Pete Townsend defense

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Radio Host Bernie Ward Indicted on Child Porn Charges

A San Francisco radio talk show host pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges after surrendering to authorities Thursday.

The specifics of the allegations against Bernie Ward, 56, remain under seal. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco did not immediately return a call.

Ward’s criminal attorney, Doron Weinberg, insists that his client was merely doing journalistic research when he accessed the child pornography.

“Bernie was in the process of writing a book about hypocrisy in America,” Weinberg told The AP. “As part of it, for a few days in December of 2004, he accessed child pornography.”

Bad Santa AI gets nasty!

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Microsoft shutters Santa site

Microsoft Corp. quickly shut down Santa Claus’ Web privileges after it found out the automated elf it created for kids to instant message with was talking naughty, not nice.

Last year, Microsoft encouraged kids to connect directly to “Santa” by adding northpolelive.com to its Windows Live Messenger contact lists. The Santa program, which Microsoft reactivated in early December, asked children what they wanted for Christmas and could respond on topic, thanks to artificial intelligence.

The holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex.

One of the publication’s writers replicated the chat Monday. After declining the writer’s repeated invitations to eat pizza, a frustrated Santa burst out with, “You want me to eat what?!? It’s fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else.”

The exchange ended with the writer and Santa calling each other “dirty bastard.”

Booze is back in Baghdad!

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Iraqis crack open a furtive drink as Mahdi Army retreats from streets

The men emerged from behind the shop’s metal grille clutching black plastic bags, or with pockets bulging, eyes peeled for the enforcers of Islamic law.

They hurried with their precious, clanking cargo to waiting cars or quickly flagged down taxis. It may be furtive but, for the first time in years, alcohol is being sold openly again on the streets of Baghdad.

With security slowly improving in the city centre Iraqis are returning to a long-forgotten pastime — drinking. In the days when the Mahdi Army, the deadly guardians of Muslim morality, roamed central Baghdad at will, many alcohol vendors had their shops blown up and their colleagues kidnapped and murdered.

Pedestrian? What pedestrian?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Wis. Man Pleads No Contest to Hitting Pedestrian, Driving Home With Victim Lodged in Windshield

A motorist accused of hitting two pedestrians and driving home with one of them lodged in his windshield pleaded no contest Wednesday to four felonies, including homicide.

Authorities said Steven Warrichaiet hit the pedestrians after he left a friend’s house late July 8. He continued to drive nearly a mile to his home with the body of Tyrone Ware, 50, in his windshield, officials said. Joann Carroll-Hildahl, 42, was found in the street with serious injuries but survived.

Warrichaiet called police about six hours later to report he had been in an accident and thought he hit someone, authorities said. Ware was pronounced dead after officers arrived.

Officials have said Warrichaiet’s blood alcohol level was 0.18 percent about six hours after the crash, or more than twice the legal limit for driving. He had been drinking heavily at a friend’s home before trying to drive home.

Chavez starts cracking up

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Chavez says Venezuela opposition vote win stinks


“It’s calm, so keep it calm,” Chavez said at a news conference in a message to the opposition. “I wish you knew how to manage your victory. But you are already covering it with shit. It’s a shit victory and it’s yours.”

Who wants to be a Mexican Rock Star?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

String of drug gang killings of Mexican singers spreads fear

A wave of organized crime violence terrorizing many parts of Mexico is driving fear into the heart of the entertainment business with the murders of several popular musicians, suggesting no one is immune to the rampant brutality.

Most disquieting were the weekend slayings of two singers who had crooned only about love and loss, not drugs and guns like some “narcocorrido” celebrities killed in the past.

The murders of Sergio Gomez, lead performer for the top-selling group K-Paz de la Sierra, and Zayda Pena of the group Zayda and the Guilty Ones has mainstream singers worrying they may become targets by becoming identified with one or another of Mexico’s warring drug gangs.

Some fear that singers, whether they have any links to drug cartels or not, are routinely “adopted” by drug gangs, which post Internet videos showing their members torturing and executing rivals to soundtracks of popular tunes.

Dead and forgotten for 2 years, aside from the smell

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Woman’s Death Somewhat Ignored for 2 Years

Brooklyn resident Christina Copeman became a recluse after the death of her husband 17 years ago, more so as she began to succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. She wouldn’t answer greetings from neighbors and eventually refused to come to the door when people knocked.

The full consequences of her isolation weren’t realized until this week, when police broke down the door to her apartment and found her skeletal remains dressed, and wearing a coat and hat as if she were about to go out. She was curled in a fetal position and a medical exam determined that she succumbed to heart disease.

She had lain there for two years, slowly decomposing as friends and neighbors made occasional inquiries into her whereabouts. Neighbors called the police to report bad smells coming from Copeman’s apartment, but when cops arrived they said they couldn’t detect anything.

Politically Incorrect in Italy

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Italy politician urges Nazi policies for immigrants

A local politician has shocked Italians, and Jews in particular, by proposing that immigrants be treated with the same severity the Nazis used when they occupied the country.

Giorgio Bettio, a city councilor in the northern city of Treviso, said during a council meeting earlier this week: “With immigrants, we should use the same system the SS used, punish 10 of them for every slight against one of our citizens.”

His comments revived memories of the 1944 Ardeatine Caves massacre, when Hitler ordered that 10 Italians be executed for each of the 33 German soldiers killed in a partisan attack against occupying forces on a Rome street.

New twist on missile defense

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

US jet intercepts ballistic missile for first time: officials

A US F-16 fighter used an air-to-air missile to destroy a sounding rocket in its boost phase for the first time this week in a test of a new missile defense concept, US spokesmen said Tuesday.

The system — named the Net-Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCDE) — breaks new ground in that it would arm fighter aircraft or drones with missiles fast enough to intercept a ballistic missile as it lifts into space.

The aircraft would have to get to within a 100 miles of the launch site to catch the ascending missile in the first two to three minutes after launch.

But it could be very useful in a short range combat situation against short and medium range missiles, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the US Missile Defense Agency.

Somali pirates cornered by US, German navies

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

US, Germans corner pirates

US and German navy ships have cornered Somali pirates who seized a Japanese-owned chemical tanker more than a month ago and are demanding a ransom, an official said on Tuesday.

The Panama-registered Golden Nori was carrying benzene from Singapore to Israel when it was hijacked on October 28, just off Somalia, one of the world’s most dangerous shipping lanes.

At the time, US Navy said coalition naval forces had pursued the pirates, opening fire and destroying speedboats the hijacked vessel had in tow.

Those wacky Sweedes are at it again

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Towering wooden moose planned in Sweden

With little else to attract tourists, promoters of two Swedish counties are pinning their hopes on a truly gargantuan wooden moose.

When completed, the 148-foot tall, 155-foot-long moose will have a restaurant in its belly, as well as a concert hall, conference rooms and a shop, according to Thorbjorn Holmlund, project coordinator and local tourism promoter.

The monument to the moose will be so big that its massive wooden hooves will be firmly planted in two different counties, Vasterbotten and Norrbotten, about 540 miles north of Stockholm.

Yet another reason not to be a sperm donor

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Sperm donor pays maintenance to lesbians

A sperm donor who helped a lesbian couple have two children is now being forced to pay thousands of pounds for their upbringing, he said.

Andy Bathie, 37, agreed to assist Sharon and Terri Arnold – who were united in a religious blessing ceremony – after they assured him he would have no involvement in raising the boy and girl.

But after the couple split up he was tracked down by the Child Support Agency and forced to make regular maintenance payments.

How not to impress your girlfriend

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Man Accused of Stealing Plane to Impress

A man accused of stealing a twin-engine plane and driving it down the taxiway staged the stunt while he was drunk to impress his girlfriend, police said.

Michael Santos, 38, was charged Friday with theft, criminal mischief and operating a vehicle after his driving privileges had previously been forfeited for life.

Santos, who is being held in the LaPorte County Jail on $2,000 bond, is accused of driving to the LaPorte Municipal Airport despite a lifetime ban on his driving privileges.

According to police reports, Santos was drunk when he took his girlfriend to the airport Sept. 9 to show her that he could fly a plane. They climbed into the plane and were heading down the taxiway when, Santos told police, flames began shooting from the left engine.

He said he turned off all the switches and veered into a soybean field.

Divorce is bad for the Earth!

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Divorce Squanders Earth’s Resources

Divorce leaves more than a trail of legal documents, stinging egos and uprooted kids. The split-ups wreak havoc on the environment.

A global trend of soaring divorce rates has led to a surge in the number of households with fewer people. The result: We collectively devour more space and gobble up more energy and water, say the authors of a new study published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Not only the United States, but also other countries, including developing countries such as China and places with strict religious policies regarding divorce, are having more divorced households,” said co-author Jianguo Liu of Michigan State University. “The consequent increases in consumption of water and energy and using more space are being seen everywhere.”

“I’m like everyone else – except of course that I put my shoes on backwards.”

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

‘I’m not disabled’ insists waitress born with feet facing backwards

A waitress has refused to be classified as disabled even though she was born with feet that face backwards.

Wang Fang, 27, of Chongqing city in China, was born with her feet facing the wrong way, but has learned to live with her condition without problems and recently refused a disability pension.

She said: “I can run faster than most of my friends and have a regular job as a waitress in the family restaurant. There is no reason to class me as disabled.”

Viagra vote-buying in Thailand

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Thai politician accused of Viagra vote-buying

Vote-buying is an old practice in Thai politics, but one candidate in December’s Thai elections has reportedly come up with a new tactic – handing out Viagra instead of cash.

The allegation, made Thursday by a campaign worker against a rival party, comes as rules about handing out favors to voters have become stricter than ever, barring even the distribution of free T-shirts and soft drinks.

Sayan Nopcha, a campaigner for the People’s Power Party in Pathum Thai province just north of Bangkok, said the drug used to treat sexual dysfunction in men was being distributed to elderly male voters at social functions.

Robo-tank coming soon

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Carnegie Mellon gets $14.4 million to build robo-tank

Unmanned aircraft are showing up in the skies more often and today the US Army awarded $14.4 million to Carnegie Mellon to build a remote-controlled unmanned tank.

A certain amount of the award will go toward significantly improving the Crusher, a 6.5-ton unmanned support vehicle Carnegie engineers developed in 2006 in conjunction with DARPA. Since its introduction, the Crusher has demonstrated unparalleled toughness and mobility during extensive field trials in extremely rugged terrain, according to Carnegie Mellon.

The next generation Autonomous Platform Demonstrator (APD) ill make use of the latest suspension, vehicle frame, and hybrid-electric drive technologies to improve upon its predecessor’s performance. Enhanced mobility capabilities will push the envelope for autonomous and semi-autonomous operation, the engineers said. The engineers will develop a comprehensive control architecture that makes use of hardware and software components as well.

Hugo Chavez Bungles His Own Rigged Election

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Chavez Loses Constitutional Vote

President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat Monday in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider.

Voters defeated the sweeping measures Sunday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout at just 56 percent.

She said that with 88 percent of the votes counted, the trend was irreversible.

Opposition supporters shouted with joy as Lucena announced the results on national television early Monday, their first victory against Chavez after nine years of electoral defeats.

Some broke down in tears. Others began chanting “And now he’s going away!”

Mud Volcano Update

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Stinking, Oozing Mud Swallows 11 Towns

On one side of the levee, a line of trucks waits on a clogged, two-lane road under a broiling sun. On the other, a vast lake of mud stretches to the horizon. Neither appears to be moving.

In the distance, a trail of white smoke rises from a hole in the ground where the mud flow began 18 months ago. Despite attempts to stanch the sludge, such as by dropping giant concrete balls from helicopters into the fissure, the mud continues to gush, swallowing everything in its path.

That’s 165 years old to you and me

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Cat, 26, could be record breaker

A 26-year-old domestic cat from Shropshire could be one of the oldest in the UK.

Pussywillow lives in Ratlinghope and is still “sharp in her mind and her eyes”, according to owner Lin Brown.

The black cat, who now enjoys curling up by the stove, lived off animals she caught herself until she was 22, Ms Brown said.

Healthy cats can normally live to about 18, with previous world record holders only reaching their early 20s.

Pussywillow was near-feral when she was first taken in by the family.

So much for the Royal Navy

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Navy would struggle to fight a war

The Royal Navy can no longer fight a major war because of years of under­funding and cutbacks, a leaked Whitehall report has revealed.

With an “under-resourced” fleet composed of “ageing and operationally defective ships”, the Navy would struggle even to repeat its role in the Iraq war and is now “far more vulnerable to unexpected shocks”, the top-level Ministry of Defence document says.

The report was ordered by Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, who had intended to use it to “counter criticism” on the state of the Navy in the media and from opposition parties.

But in a damning conclusion, the report states: “The current material state of the fleet is not good; the Royal Navy would be challenged to mount a medium-scale operation in accordance with current policy against a technologically capable adversary.” A medium-scale operation is similar to the naval involvement in the Iraq War.

Hunting for Homo Sapiens Douchebagus

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

$30,000 Millionaires: Douchebags in the Mist

After weeks of painstaking research and late-night expeditions that had turned up next to nothing, I was finally on the verge of a breakthrough. I found myself standing, nearly motionless, in the dark, warm environment that I’d identified as the native habitat of the creature I’d been trying so hard to track down: Homo sapiens douchebagus, a hard-partying bipedal primate indigenous to Dallas.

Many people know this creature better by its common name: the $30,000 millionaire. The name is derived from their distinctive behavioral pattern of spending more money than they make in an attempt to appear wealthy and desirable.

Yeti footprints found near Mt. Everest?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Footprints seen around Mt.Everest stoke Yeti mystery

A U.S.-based television channel investigating the existence of the legendary Yeti in Nepal has found footprints similar to those said to be that of the abominable snowman, the company said on Friday.

A team of nine producers from Destination Truth, armed with infrared cameras, spent a week in the icy Khumbu region where Mount Everest is located and found the footprints on the bank of Manju river at a height of 2,850 meters (9,350 feet).

One of the three footprints discovered on Wednesday is about one foot long, or is of similar size and appearance as shown in sketches of the mystical ape-like creature believed to live in snowy caves, the TV company said.

Never touch your fellow prisoner’s cheese sandwich

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Man charged in inmate death

A fight between cousins over a cheese sandwich at the Manitowoc County Jail left one inmate dead and another charged with murder, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

Juan P. Jaimes, 19, died Nov. 18 as a result of injuries sustained in a Nov. 16 fight with his cousin, Miguel C. Gamez, 22, according to authorities.

Gamez was charged this week in Manitowoc County Circuit Court with felony murder, and faces up to 27 years in prison if convicted.

Faking cancer always comes back to haunt you

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Former Fed Fakes Cancer For Free Days Off, Deception Prompted 30 Fellow Employees To Donate Almost 1,000 Hours Of Vacation Time

A former federal worker who persuaded employees nationwide to donate nearly 1,000 hours of their own paid leave so he could take time off for fictitious cancer treatments pleaded guilty to fraud Friday.

Robert Joseph Thom, 45, of Oceanside, admitted guilt for 10 counts of wire fraud that carry a combined sentence of up to 20 years in prison. He is to be sentenced Feb. 8 in U.S. District Court.

Thom was an information technology specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Southern California when he signed up nearly a year ago for a national donor list. He falsely claimed that he had undergone “multiple urgent surgeries for the removal of malignant tumors,” according to court records.

He forged four letters from a doctor, all attesting to his ongoing medical problems, according to a September indictment.

Cops seeking driver who did 219 MPH in Lamborghini

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Max Speed on Lamborghini Sets New Record

Authorities have confirmed they are investigating a viral Internet video that shows a driver in a Lamborghini who claims to be driving at 219 mph on an Arizona highway.

“This is still an ongoing investigation,” Lt. James W. Warriner, a spokesman for the Airzona Department of Public Safety, told ABC News. “We will not be commenting until the investigation is complete.”

The video, originally posted on YouTube, runs more than four minutes long and appears to be professionally produced.

In the nighttime footage, an unidentified thrill seeker in a gold Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 appears to be pushing the vehicle to within 1 mph of the its 220 mph maximum. At the tail end of the clip, an unseen man is heard claiming the achievement as a new record.

Meta-Mafia Update

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Mafia boss arrested while watching Mafia TV show

Italian police burst into the room of a suspected Mafia mobster in Sicily and arrested him as he watched a television show about the arrest of a Mafia boss, investigators said Friday.

Police said Michele Catalano was watching the concluding chapter late Thursday of the TV mini-series “The Boss of Bosses,” recounting the arrest in 1993 of real-life Cosa Nostra leader Salvatore “Toto” Riina, when he was detained.

They Catalano, 48, was suspected of being a senior commander serving under the latest “boss of bosses” Salvatore Lo Piccolo, who was arrested this month after nearly 25 years on the run.

Catalano faces charges of drug trafficking and extortion.

How to spot a drunk

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Police given manual on how to spot a drunk

It may not make it on to the best-seller list this Christmas but a Government manual offering advice on how to tell if someone is drunk could prove one of the more humorous offerings of the festive season.

From looking out for staggering or “dishevelled” pub-goers to listening for “rambling conversation” and offensive language, the Home Office publication covers it all in minute detail. The guide is being issued to thousands of police officers who will work undercover in pubs and clubs this Christmas to catch bar staff who sell alcohol to inebriated customers.

Other tell-tale signs of drunkenness, according to the guide, include being “careless with money”, exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviour, offensive language, bumping into furniture, spilling drinks and drinking quickly or competitively, “i.e down in one”. Drunkenness may also cause a loss of train of thought, difficulty in paying attention, “not understanding what is said”, glassy eyes or lack of focus.

“It glorifies the drug trade,” he said. “There’s really no reason that a product like this should be on the shelf.”

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Police: Hershey candy looks like drugs

New mint packets being sold by The Hershey Co. look nearly identical to the tiny heat-sealed bags used to sell illegal powdered drugs like crack, heroin and cocaine and glorify the drug trade, a Philadelphia police official said.

Ice Breakers Pacs, nickel-sized dissolvable pouches with a powdered sweetener inside, hit store shelves in November. The packets, which come in blue and orange plastic slide-up cases, are similar enough to drug packets that a child familiar with the candy could mistakenly swallow a heat-sealed bag of drugs, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector William Blackburn told the Philadelphia Daily News for an article published Friday.