A woman stepped forward Wednesday to claim her late father was the infamous Zodiac Killer and that she as a 7-year-old wrote some of the letters that taunted local police.
Kevin McLean, the former law partner of the late Melvin Belli, said he has led a two-year investigation into claims by Deborah Perez that her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, was the Zodiac killer. Hendrickson, who lived in Orange County, died in 1993 of cancer.
“He was a Jekyll and Hyde,” McLean said of Hendrickson. “He was nuts. He set out to kill people. Some of these killings were not random.”
McLean said Perez came forward on Wednesday because another investigator in Sacramento was about to come forward with a different theory of the killings. She was also currently involved in making a documentary on the crime.
As a youngster, Perez said she sometimes accompanied her father on his killing sprees to the Bay Area. The family lived in Santa Ana, but McLean said Hendrickson may have worked at one time at the Mare Island Naval shipyard in Vallejo.
Archive for April, 2009
The Egyptian government began slaughtering pigs today as a preventative measure to stop the spread of the swine flu, reports the AP. Over 300,000 pigs will be killed immediately despite no reported cases of the pandemic in the country.
The state news agency MENA reported to AFP yesterday about the passage of the measure in lower parliament:
”The People’s Assembly urged the government to immediately start culling pigs and not to relocate pig-breeding farms away from residential areas for fear of the spread of swine flu,” MENA said.
Egypt’s 80-million population consists mainly of Muslims, whose religion forbids them from eating pork, as well as an estimated six to 10 percent Christian Copts who may eat pig meat.
Police say a 14-year-old girl was dancing topless at an Akron strip club when they raided the bar and arrested four exotic dancers. The girl has been placed in protective custody. Akron police vice officers served a search warrant Friday night at the Playhouse bar. The bar’s owner and manager were charged with illegal use of a minor in a nudity performance and child endangering.
While the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks wage war in the NBA playoffs, the games are a far cry from the real battle going on at the University of Miami.
A pair of real hawks is terrorizing students as they walk through one section of the college campus. One female student suffered a concussion after falling down from an aerial assault and others have reported lacerations to their heads and face from the talons of the menacing little birds.The attacks curiously began around the same time the Round 1 playoff series started.Coincidence? As Arsenio Hall would say, it’s one of those “things that make you go hmmm.”
Six banks have failed the preliminary stress test, Bloomberg says. They’re now appealing.
The government wants these banks to raise capital by converting preferred stock to common stock, which would stave off the need for additional capital injections. This makes sense, but debtholders should be forced to do the same thing.
At least six of the 19 largest U.S. banks require additional capital, according to preliminary results of government stress tests, people briefed on the matter said. While some of the lenders may need extra cash injections from the government, most of the capital is likely to come from converting preferred shares to common equity, the people said.
The Federal Reserve is now hearing appeals from banks, including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., that regulators have determined need more of a cushion against losses, they added. By pushing conversions, rather than federal assistance, the government would allow banks to shore themselves up without the political taint that has soured both Wall Street and Congress on the bailouts. The risk is that, along with diluting existing shareholders, the government action won’t seem strong enough.
Hope y’all were short the financials!
South Korean scientists say they have engineered four beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that could help develop cures for human diseases. The four dogs, all named “Ruppy” — a combination of the words “ruby” and “puppy” — look like typical beagles by daylight.
But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs’ nails and abdomens, which have thin skins, look red even to the naked eye.
Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, called them the world’s first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes, an achievement that goes beyond just the glowing novelty.
“What’s significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them,” Lee told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Security minister Lord West denied today that he placed a bet on Labour to lose the next general election. The former head of the Royal Navy was named in the Daily Telegraph today as the minister who had reportedly made the wager on a Labour defeat.
It followed a report in the Sunday Times that an unnamed minister placed a bet at odds of 66-1 in mid-2007. But arriving today for a conference in London, West said: “I have never placed a bet on Labour losing the election.”
He added: “I have never placed a bet at all while a minister ever on a political issue.” The bet – that Labour would fail to win an outright majority – was said to have been made around the time Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as prime minister.
Hat tip to Una!
Another one of the left’s cherished political myths bites the dust.
For decades, the late I.F. Stone has been a revered liberal journalistic icon: An anti-establishment, muckraking crusader whose self-published weekly newsletter was required reading in Washington. He was also, it now turns out, a paid agent of the Stalin-era KGB.
Claims that the Soviets had co-opted Stone have been debated by historians and heatedly denied by his admirers; the initial evidence was inconclusive. But now come John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, the two leading experts on Soviet espionage in America, who’ve written a new book based on 1,100 pages of notes taken by former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev, who was given access to some of the spy agency’s historic files.
His transcription of the internal documents is definitive: From 1936 through 1938 — when, sad to say, he was also chief editorial writer for the then-liberal New York Post — Stone was an agent of Soviet intelligence.
The strangest monument in America looms over a barren knoll in northeastern Georgia. Five massive slabs of polished granite rise out of the earth in a star pattern. The rocks are each 16 feet tall, with four of them weighing more than 20 tons apiece. Together they support a 25,000-pound capstone. Approaching the edifice, it’s hard not to think immediately of England’s Stonehenge or possibly the ominous monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Built in 1980, these pale gray rocks are quietly awaiting the end of the world as we know it.
Called the Georgia Guidestones, the monument is a mystery—nobody knows exactly who commissioned it or why. The only clues to its origin are on a nearby plaque on the ground—which gives the dimensions and explains a series of intricate notches and holes that correspond to the movements of the sun and stars—and the “guides” themselves, directives carved into the rocks. These instructions appear in eight languages ranging from English to Swahili and reflect a peculiar New Age ideology. Some are vaguely eugenic (guide reproduction wisely—improving fitness and diversity); others prescribe standard-issue hippie mysticism (prize truth—beauty—love—seeking harmony with the infinite).
What’s most widely agreed upon—based on the evidence available—is that the Guidestones are meant to instruct the dazed survivors of some impending apocalypse as they attempt to reconstitute civilization. Not everyone is comfortable with this notion. A few days before I visited, the stones had been splattered with polyurethane and spray-painted with graffiti, including slogans like “Death to the new world order.” This defacement was the first serious act of vandalism in the Guidestones’ history, but it was hardly the first objection to their existence. In fact, for more than three decades this uncanny structure in the heart of the Bible Belt has been generating responses that range from enchantment to horror. Supporters (notable among them Yoko Ono) have praised the messages as a stirring call to rational thinking, akin to Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason. Opponents have attacked them as the Ten Commandments of the Antichrist.
In a development that realizes a scenario out of a science fiction movie, scientists have developed technology enabling a robot to be controlled by thought power.
A user wears a helmet that detects changes in blood flow and brain waves in different parts of his or her brain and converts them into radio signals that are transmitted to the bipedal humanoid robot, operating its limbs and making it speak.
The technology was developed by a team of scientists from Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, Honda Motor Co. and others.
In experiments using Honda’s Asimo robot, test participants were able to move the robot’s limbs and make it speak just by imagining those actions, with a success rate of 90 percent.
Similar research is being done in the United States and European countries, but the success rate there reportedly is between 60 percent and 70 percent.
So far, the Japanese team has only been able to have the robot raise its arms and legs and utter a few words in response to controllers’ thoughts. There is a delay of about seven seconds between the detection of changes in a test participant’s brain and corresponding reactions by the robot. The brain wave reader weighs about 300 kilograms and is as large as a chest.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared an emergency in his country’s swine flu outbreak, giving him powers to order quarantines and suspend public events.
Authorities have canceled school at all levels in Mexico City and the state of Mexico until further notice, and the government has shut most public and government activities in the area. The emergency decree, published today in the state gazette, gives the president authority to take more action.
“The federal government under my charge will not hesitate a moment to take all, all the measures necessary to respond with efficiency and opportunity to this respiratory epidemic,” Calderon said today during a speech to inaugurate a hospital in the southern state of Oaxaca.
At least 20 deaths in Mexico from the disease are confirmed, Health Minister Jose Cordova said yesterday. The strain is a variant of H1N1 swine influenza that has also sickened at least eight people in California and Texas. As many as 68 deaths may be attributed to the virus in Mexico, and about 1,000 people in the Mexico City area are showing symptoms of the illness, Cordoba said.
The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn’t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not.
Astronomers searching for the building blocks of life in a giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way have concluded that it tastes vaguely of raspberries.
The unanticipated discovery follows years of work by astronomers who trained their 30m radio telescope on the enormous ball of dust and gas in the hope of spotting complex molecules that are vital for life. Finding amino acids in interstellar space is a Holy Grail for astrobiologists, as this would raise the possibility of life emerging on other planets after being seeded with the molecules.
In the latest survey, astronomers sifted through thousands of signals from Sagittarius B2, a vast dust cloud at the centre of our galaxy. While they failed to find evidence for amino acids, they did find a substance called ethyl formate, the chemical responsible for the flavour of raspberries.
Curiously, ethyl formate has another distinguishing characteristic: it also smells of rum.
Police said a 23-year-old man is in stable condition after he pretended that he was falling off a bridge over the Minnesota River, then actually fell off the bridge.
Police got a call just before 5 a.m. Sunday from a 21-year-old man who said his friend fell off the Highway 77 bridge and into a marshy area about 30 feet below.
The caller said he was driving north when his friend, who he said had been drinking, told him to pull into the bridge’s emergency lane so he could urinate.
The 23-year-old stood eventually climbed to the ledge of the bridge, then looked at his friend and pretended to fall. “He then in fact fell,” reads a press release from the Bloomingtin Police Department.
When Jacob Zuma fulfils a lifelong dream and assumes the presidency of South Africa next month his first major policy headache is going to be which of his current crop of wives and girlfriends should become First Lady.
Mr Zuma is a polygamist who has had as many as four wives at one time. He currently has two after one committed suicide in 2000 and another one – Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the South African Foreign Minister – divorced him in 1998. She remains a trusted aide.
He recently paid lobolo (a Zulu dowry) for two other women. One is a long-time girlfriend. The other is Sebentile Dlamini, a Swazi princess, whom he apparently is not too keen on, but he does not want to upset the neighbouring kingdom of Swaziland. Speculation has been growing that he may marry one or both of them soon.
The residents of this tiny town, anticipating an imminent attack, will be ready with a perimeter defense. They’ll position their best weapons at regular intervals, faced out toward the desert to repel the assault. Then they’ll turn up the volume. Rock music blaring from boomboxes has proved one of the best defenses against an annual invasion of Mormon crickets.
The huge flightless insects are a fearsome sight as they advance across the desert in armies of millions that march over, under or into anything in their way. The 2-inch-long insects often carpet the arid landscape in the spring and summer, devouring vegetation and driving residents to distraction.
But the crickets don’t much fancy Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, the townspeople figured out three years ago. So next month, Tuscarorans are preparing once again to get out their extension cords, array their stereos in a quarter-circle and tune them to rock station KHIX, full blast, from dawn to dusk. “It is part of our arsenal,” says Laura Moore, an unemployed college professor and one of the town’s 13 residents.
The powerful Habsburg dynasty that ruled Spain for nearly 200 years came to an abrupt end in 1700 with the death of King Charles II, who left no heirs to the throne. The termination of that royal lineage may be the result of frequent inbreeding of the line, which may have left Charles II ill and infertile, a new study suggests.
The House of Habsburg was one of the major royal houses of Europe for many centuries. The Habsburgs ruled over Austria for more than six centuries, eventually coming to rule (through marriages) over Bohemia, Hungary and Spain.
The Spanish Habsburg dynasty was founded by Philip I (or Philip the Fair, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I) in 1516 when he married Joanna the Mad, the daughter of the Catholic Spanish rulers Ferdinand of Aragon and Elizabeth of Castile. The house ruled over Spain throughout the height of its influence and empire.
This amazing happy-faced spider found in Hawaii is bound to leave you beaming from ear to ear. The tiny insect, which measures just a few millimetres across, has developed bizarre markings which look just like a smiling face.
Scientists think the spider, which is harmless to humans, has evolved the patterns to confuse predators. spider This tiny spider has developed markings that look like a smiling face But it’s no laughing matter for the spider which is under-threat from extinction from its home in the rainforests of the Hawaiian island chain in the Pacific ocean.
Spider expert and geneticist Dr Geoff Oxford, 62, from the University of York, said studying happy-face spiders was a real joy. He said: ‘I must admit when I turned over the first leaf and saw one it certainly brought a smile to my face.
Just after midnight on Thursday, April 9, unidentified attackers climbed down four manholes serving the Northern California city of Morgan Hill and cut eight fiber cables in what appears to have been an organized attack on the electronic infrastructure of an American city. Its implications, though startling, have gone almost un-reported.
That attack demonstrated a severe fault in American infrastructure: its centralization. The city of Morgan Hill and parts of three counties lost 911 service, cellular mobile telephone communications, land-line telephone, DSL internet and private networks, central station fire and burglar alarms, ATMs, credit card terminals, and monitoring of critical utilities. In addition, resources that should not have failed, like the local hospital’s internal computer network, proved to be dependent on external resources, leaving the hospital with a “paper system” for the day. In technical terms, the area was partitioned from the surrounding internet.
What was the attackers goal? Nothing has been revealed. Robbery? With wires cut, silent alarms were useless. Manipulation of the stock market? Companies, brokerages, and investors in the very wealthy community were cut off. Mayhem, murder, terrorism? But nothing like that seems to have happened. Some theorize unhappy communications workers, given the apparent knowledge of the community’s infrastructure necessary for this attack. Or did the attackers simply want to teach us a lesson? Although they are silent on the topic, I hope those responsible for emergency services, be they in business or government, are learning the lessons of Morgan Hill.
The first lesson is what stayed up: stand-alone radio systems and not much else. Cell phones failed. Cellular towers can not, in general, connect phone calls on their own, even if both phones are near the same tower. They communicate with a central switching computer to operate, and when that system doesn’t respond, they’re useless. But police and fire authorities still had internal communications via two-way radio.
Realizing that they’d need more two-way radio, authorities dispatched police to wake up the emergency coordinator of the regional ham radio club, and escort him to the community hospital with his equipment. Area hams dispatched ambulances and doctors, arranged for essential supplies, and relayed emergency communications out of the area to those with working telephones.
At a time when New York Times managers are forcing all employees to take a five percent pay cut, and demanding even larger sacrifices from the NYT-owned Boston Globe, top executives of the beleaguered newspaper received substantial bonus and fringe benefit payments over and above their salaries, according to a proxy statement released on March 11.
These bonuses and benefits to top Times company executives have provoked growing resentment among Times staffers, and frank anger from Globe reporters who have been warned by Times executives that their paper will be folded if they do not come up with $20 million in pay cuts and layoffs.
On Tuesday, the Times disclosed a $74 million first quarter loss, 221 times larger than the $335,000 loss in the first quarter of 2008.
The Star Trek fortune is going to the dogs.
Just before Majel Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, died in December 2008, she put a clause in her trust that provided lavishly for her beloved pups, according to TMZ.
The trust documents, filed in L.A. County Superior Court, stipulate that Roddenberry’s dogs will be able to live in one of the family’s mansions until they cease to live long and prosper.
The dogs also are entitled to a $4 million fund to upkeep their swanky dog house, and their own highly paid attendant.
The trust provides $1 million for Reinelda Estupinian, who cared for the dogs for the last few years. In the paper Rodennberry said Estupinian “did an excellent job of caring for my animals (giving them comparable or better care than that which I gave them during my lifetime).”
Residents of a central Kenyan town took up arms against a violent gang, sparking fierce battles in which at least 24 people were stoned and hacked to death, police said on Tuesday.
The clashes started late on Monday when residents organised in small groups armed with crude weapons decided to fight back against the Mungiki, a violent mafia-like extortionist group famous for beheading and skinning its victims.
“A total of 24 people are dead as we speak but we are not able to tell who is Mungiki and who is not,” a police spokesman, Eric Kiraithe, said. “It’s a very bad scene.”
“At night, the groups of locals started attacking some of the youths they suspected to be Mungiki members and slashed some of them to death,” he said. Police sources said at least three people were wounded and 37 suspected were arrested.
Robots are gaining on us humans. Thanks to exponential increases in computer power — which is roughly doubling every two years — robots are getting smarter, more capable, more like flesh-and-blood people.
Matching human skills and intelligence, however, is an enormously difficult — perhaps impossible — challenge. Nevertheless, robots guided by their own computer “brains” now can pick up and peel bananas, land jumbo jets, steer cars through city traffic, search human DNA for cancer genes, play soccer or the violin, find earthquake victims or explore craters on Mars.
At a “Robobusiness” conference in Boston last week, companies demonstrated a robot firefighter, gardener, receptionist, tour guide and security guard. You name it, a high-tech wizard somewhere is trying to make a robot do it.
A Japanese housekeeping robot can move chairs, sweep the floor, load a tray of dirty dishes in a dishwasher and put dirty clothes in a washing machine.
Intel, the worldwide computer-chip maker, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., has developed a self-controlled mobile robot called Herb, the Home Exploring Robotic Butler. Herb can recognize faces and carry out generalized commands such as “please clean this mess,” according to Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer.
Retired navy captain and Apollo XIV astronaut Edgar Mitchell today called for the U. S. government to disclose to its citizens and other Earthlings what he asserts are the realities of long-standing extraterrestrial visitations and interactions with our planet.
Speaking this morning at “X-Conference 2009″ in Gaithersburg, MD, a suburb of the nation’s capital, Mitchell told several hundred attendees and a phalanx of video cameras that, with our planet confronting population pressures and critical questions of environmental and energy sustainability, the need for disclosure about extraterrestrial involvement with Earth is critical.
Mitchell contends that the dispersal of knowledge about what he believes to be the end of Earth’s apparent quarantine from other civilizations, and advancement of planetary culture beyond its present fragmentation and incoherence, are desirable results of the widest public release of information about the extraterrestrial presence he believes is real.
Sorry folks, but this secret got privatized long ago. Good luck trying to find it (or wring it free) now…
On Saturday, April 25, the Saturn V, the rocket that sent men to the moon 40 years ago, will once again lift off from U.S. soil and soar over the Atlantic.
Only this time, it won’t be quite real. Rather, what’s going up will be the largest model rocket ever built — a one-tenth scale, 36-foot-tall, fully working replica of the Saturn V.
Its nine rocket engines will provide 8,000 pounds of thrust to lift it between 3,000 and 4,000 feet above its launching point in Price, Md.
Once it reaches its zenith, it’ll separate into three sections, each of which will parachute back to the ground.
Fourteen thoroughbred horses dropped dead in a mysterious scene Sunday before a polo match near West Palm Beach, Florida, officials said.
State and local veterinary teams are trying to figure out what happened at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, as team Lechuza Caracas prepared to compete in a U.S. Open match. It’s unclear what killed the horses but necropsies and blood tests were being done Sunday, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The U.S. Polo Association, the sport’s governing body, is expected to open an investigation Monday, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported. Two horses initially collapsed, and as vets and team officials scrambled to revive them, five others became dizzy, said Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the polo club.
A 20-year-old Nunavut man who jumped to his death from an airplane flying at 23,000 feet Wednesday was sent to a Yellowknife hospital earlier that day showing signs of depression, RCMP say.
Police identified the man Friday as Julien Tologanak of Cambridge Bay in western Nunavut.
Tologanak was a passenger on an Adlair Aviation charter flight that travelled Wednesday from Yellowknife when about 180 kilometres from Cambridge Bay, he forced open the aircraft’s exit door and jumped out, despite efforts by the pilots to calm him.
At the time, the King Air 200 turboprop aircraft was flying at an altitude of 23,000 feet, or about 7,000 metres.
Action movie star Jackie Chan questioned the need for freedom for Chinese people during a speech Saturday, prompting outrage from lawmakers in Taiwan and Hong Kong, who accused him of insulting his own race.
The 55-year-old star of “Rush Hour” said at a business forum in the southern Chinese island province Hainan on Saturday that a free society may not be beneficial for authoritarian mainland China.
“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said at the Boao Forum. “If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.”
Chan added, “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”
THE poverty-stricken father of Slumdog Millionaire child star Rubina Ali plans to become a millionaire himself-by SELLING his nine-year-old daughter.
In a bid to escape India’s real-life slums, Rafiq Qureshi put angel-faced darling of the Oscars Rubina up for adoption, demanding millions of rupees worth £200,000.
As he offered the shocking deal to the News of the World’s undercover fake sheik this week, Rafiq declared: “I have to consider what’s best for me, my family and Rubina’s future.”
Rafiq tried to blame Hollywood bosses for forcing him to put his daughter up for SALE. As he tried to fix the illegal adoption deal, real-life slum dweller Rafiq declared: “We’ve got nothing out of this film.”
Police and doctors hailed the survival of Tammy Sexton, 47, as miraculous after a bullet from a .38-calibre handgun struck her squarely in the forehead, passed through her skull and exited through the back of her head.
She is expected to make a full recovery, while her husband shot himself dead after the attack on his wife. But law enforcement officers in Jackson County, Mississippi, were also astonished that Mrs Sexton offered them tea when they arrived at her home after the shooting.
Sheriff Mike Byrd said: “When the officer got there she said, ‘What’s going on?’ She was holding a rag on her head and talking. She was conscious, but she was confused about what had happened.
“She had made herself some tea and offered the officer something to drink.
“There’s no way she should be alive other than a miracle from God. You just don’t hear of something like this. Somebody gets shot in the head and they’re dead.”
Is Europe headed for a new Middle Ages? On the basis of some disquieting signs, I should say it is indeed. Politically, it seems to be in the midst of a process of further disintegration.
Ten years ago, in The Rise and Decline of the State, the Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld was among the first to suggest the world was headed towards a new Middle Ages. The European Middle Ages are characterized by international political instability and endless wars. A modicum of spiritual and ecclesiastical control was exerted by the Pope in Rome, while the German Emperor could sometimes wield political pressure to restore order. Fundamentally however, disorder prevailed. The impending collapse of the nation state.
Now look around you, what do you see? Some of Europe’s major nation states are governed by men who are little more than clowns. Take Gordon Brown, for instance. Is it possible to find a more laughable figure than him? Heading a bankrupt, pauperized nation where all residual wealth is concentrated in and around London, Brown still has the gall to lecture the rest of the world on how to run an economy. Even Italian premier Berlusconi, regarded by many Anglo-Saxons as a frivolous imitation of his famous predecessor whose last name started with an M, looks more serious after somehow rising to the occasion during the recent earthquake disaster. As for French president Sarkozy, the odour of boyish amorous adventurism and lack of focus still surrounds him and makes it difficult to regard him as a serious statesman. With the possible exception of Mrs. Merkel the German Chancellor, most other European leaders are pathetic mediocrities who do not even manage to produce a benevolent smile on any observer’s face.
A giant set of golden arches outside a McDonald’s in eastern Arizona toppled in high winds Wednesday, crushing a Naperville couple’s Chevy Trailblazer as they sat inside the parked vehicle. Retirees Russell and Carolyn Janke suffered multiple injuries.
They had stopped at the McDonald’s on the Navajo Nation reservation in Window Rock as they were making their way back to suburban Chicago from their winter home near Tucson.
Navajo acting Police Chief Steven Nelson said winds hit 60 mph Wednesday, causing the sign to be blown down from atop a pole across the street from the restaurant.
“It was a freak accident,’’ Nelson said.
The Bush Administration approved the use of “insects placed in a confinement box” during the interrogation of top Al Qaeda official Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2002 document that President Obama declassified for release Thursday.
The legal memorandum for the CIA, prepared by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, reviewed 10 enhanced techniques for interrogating Zubaydah, and determined that none of them constituted torture under U.S. criminal law. The techniques were: attention grasp, walling (hitting a detainee against a flexible wall), facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and waterboarding.(View pictures of life inside Guantanamo.)
The CIA desire to use insects during interrogations has not previously been disclosed, according to two civil liberties experts contacted by TIME.
The Bybee memorandum, which was written on August 1, 2002, described the CIA’s plans for using insects this way: “You [the CIA] would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us [the Department of Justice] that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him. You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a catapiller in the box with him.”
Room 101 anyone?
The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.
Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.
And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact — as part of a Congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 — with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said. The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman’s conversations, the official said.
The official said the plan was ultimately blocked because of concerns from some intelligence officials about using the N.S.A., without court oversight, to spy on a member of Congress.
Domino’s Pizza says there is a warrant out for the arrest of two fired North Carolina employees who videotaped themselves passing gas on salami, stuffing cheese up their nostrils — then using the foul fixins’ in the fast food.
The silly-yet-stomach-turning clips — which also showed the workers sneezing and blowing their noses on meals they were handling — were filmed at a Conover, N.C., Domino’s and posted on YouTube.
The pizza delivery giant said it was stunned when the footage surfaced. The pair, who call themselves “Michael” and “Kristy,” were promptly terminated.
Two men have reportedly admitted killing their elder brother and eating parts of his body which they kept in the fridge for months.
The pair, named only as Timur and Marat G, said they murdered their brother Rafis at their home in the central Russian city of Perm, according to newspaper Tvoi Den.
Police grew suspicious when the brothers reported Rafis missing but were vague about his details.
After raiding their house, officers are said to have found the victim’s skeleton, which had been stripped bare and buried in the garden.
The Secret Service is always on the alert for aerial assaults — but on Thursday, White House grounds were hit by one unexpected airborne threat. A swarm of honey bees took over a bush located between the Northwest security gate of the White House and the area where television networks stand-up positions are located early Thursday. CNN photojournalist John Bodnar said he came through the Northwest gate around 12:30 pm and was warned about the bees by Secret Service on duty in the guard post. “I walked out and thought it was a swirl of blossoms blowing in the wind, but turns out it was a swarm of bees,” he says. Half an hour later, they were still issuing warnings.”
The USA is developing a new nuclear doctrine. American experts believe that today’s system of U.S. nuclear forces is out of date. Now they are going to change nuclear targets on the territory of Russian federation. The U.S. is going to retarget their nuclear missiles from large Russian cities to 12 most important Russian economic facilities. According to the U.S. experts destruction of these facilities will paralyze Russia’s economy and Russia will not be able to maintain military resistance.
This information was provided in the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report calling for fundamental changes to U.S. nuclear war planning, a vital prerequisite if smaller nuclear arsenals are to be achieved.
“From Counterforce to Minimal Deterrence – A New Nuclear Policy on the Path Toward Eliminating Nuclear Weapons” calls to abandon the almost five-decade-long central mission for U.S. nuclear forces, which has been and continues to be “counterforce,” the capability for U.S. forces to destroy an enemy’s military forces, its weapons, its command and control facilities and its key leaders.
The Finch Arboretum is being overrun by ground squirrels, and Spokane Parks and Recreation is bringing in some special artillery.
The agency is using a special machine called the Rodenator Pro to detonate some of the estimated 100 to 150 squirrels tearing up the grounds.
Shades of Carl Spackler, the gopher-hating groundskeeper from “Caddyshack.” The Rodenator Pro pumps propane and oxygen into the tunnels of squirrels, then sends an electric spark that causes an explosion. The shock waves kill the squirrels and collapse their tunnels – but in a humane way, the agency said.
Spokanimal, which is the local animal shelter and Humane Society chapter, was caught by surprise by Monday’s announcement. “You’re kidding,” Director Gail Mackie said when she learned the news. “That borders on cruelty.”
The federal government is waking up to what has become a growing nightmare in many parts of the country – a bed bug outbreak.
The tiny reddish-brown insects, last seen in great numbers prior to World War II, are on the rebound. They have infested college dormitories, hospital wings, homeless shelters and swanky hotels from New York City to Chicago to Washington.
They live in the crevices and folds of mattresses, sofas and sheets. Then, most often before dawn, they emerge to feed on human blood.
Faced with rising numbers of complaints to city information lines and increasingly frustrated landlords, hotel chains and housing authorities, the Environmental Protection Agency is hosting its first-ever bed bug summit on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A hairdresser from the small Russian town of Meshchovsk has subdued a man who tried to rob her shop, and then raped him for three days in the utility room, Life.ru reports.
The incident occurred on Saturday, March 14. The working day was coming to an end at a small hairdressers, when a man armed with a gun rushed in and demanded the day’s earnings. The frightened employees and customers agreed to fulfill his demand, but when the shop’s owner, 28-year-old Olga, was handing the money to the robber, she suddenly knocked him down on the floor and then tied him up with a hairdryer cord.
The 32-year-old Viktor couldn’t have known that the woman was a yellow belt in karate. Read more Olga locked the unlucky robber in the utility room and told her colleagues that she was going to call the police – but didn’t do so. When everybody left home, she approached the man and ordered him to ‘take of his underpants’ threatening to hand him over to the police if he refuses to cooperate.
After that Olga raped her hostage for three long days. She chained Viktor to the radiator with pink furry handcuffs and fed him Viagra. She eventually let the man go on Monday, March 16, saying: “Get out of my sight!”
Viktor went straight to hospital as his genitals were injured, and then to the police.
Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday.
The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China’s fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships.
Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China’s. The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away.
The pirates could only lament their littleness before the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.
China initiated its three-ship escort task force on Dec. 26 last year after the United Nations Security Council called on countries to patrol gulf and waters off Somalia, one of the world’s busiest marine routes, where surging piracy endangered intercontinental shipping.
China’s first fleet has escorted 206 vessels, including 29 foreign merchant vessels, and successfully rescued three foreign merchant ships from pirate attacks.
PAKISTAN could collapse within months, one of the more influential counter-insurgency voices in Washington says.
The warning comes as the US scrambles to redeploy its military forces and diplomats in an attempt to stem rising violence and anarchy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we’re calling the war on terror now,” said David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House.
“You just can’t say that you’re not going to worry about al-Qaeda taking control of Pakistan and its nukes,” he said.
A stopped clock is accurate twice a day. Sooner or later, so will this one…
Undeterred by U.S. and French hostage rescues that killed seven bandits, Somali pirates brazenly hijacked three more ships in the Gulf of Aden, the waterway that’s become the focal point of the world’s fight against piracy.
The latest trophy for the pirates was the M.V. Irene E.M., a Greek-managed bulk carrier sailing from the Middle East to South Asia, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.
The Irene was attacked and seized in the middle of the night Tuesday — a rare tactic for the pirates.
- Mexico is protesting what it says is a whopper of an insult. An advertisement for Burger King’s chili-flavored “Texican” burger that has run in Europe shows a small wrestler dressed in a cape resembling a Mexican flag. The wrestler teams up with a lanky American cowboy twice his height to illustrate the cross-border blend of flavors.
“The taste of Texas with a little spicy Mexican,” a narrator’s voice says. The much-taller cowboy boosts the wrestler up to reach high shelves and clean tall windows, while the Mexican helps the cowboy open a jar.
Mexico’s ambassador to Spain said Monday he has written a letter to Burger King’s offices in that nation objecting to the ad and asking that it be removed. Jorge Zermeno told Radio Formula that the ads “improperly use the stereotyped image of a Mexican.”
A man died Monday, days after he was involved in a swordfight with the grandson of a woman who was killed when she tried to intervene in the fight, police said.
Adolf Stegbauer, 69, died from complications of a stab wound. Charges pending against Chris Rondeau, 39, were expected to be upgraded. Police said he stabbed Stegbauer.
Franziska Stegbauer, 77, also died as a result of stab wounds after the fight early Thursday morning, but police were not initially sure which of the men had stabbed her.
Rondeau and Adolf Stegbauer got into an argument at a home in the 5200 block of Raceway Road that escalated when one of the men grabbed a sword, prompting the other man to also brandish a sword.
The captain of the Maersk Alabama was freed Sunday after being held captive since Wednesday by pirates off the coast of Somalia, a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia. Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama is being held by pirates on a lifeboat off Somalia.
The official said Capt. Richard Phillips is uninjured and in good condition, and that three of the four pirates were killed. The fourth pirate is in custody.
Phillips was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.
Earlier Sunday afternoon Maersk Line Limited, owner of the Maersk Alabama, said the U.S. Navy informed the company that it had sighted Phillips in a lifeboat where pirates are holding him.
This is the moment a woman was mauled by a polar bear after she jumped into its enclosure at Berlin Zoo.
The intruder was attacked just yards away from Knut, the abandoned bear who became famous around the world.
Zookeepers managed to push the bear away and carry the woman from the cage.
The mauling took place inside an enclosure occupied by four polar bears not far from Knut’s home.
Heiner Kloes, a Berlin Zoo spokesman, said the enclosure is surrounded by a fence, a line of prickly hedges and a wall.
The woman was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Police did not say why she jumped in with the bears.
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, raise the Jolly Roger and all that. The thought of pirates brings a smile to the lips – but in reality there is nothing jolly about pirates, as this week’s hijacking of the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia, should remind us.
On Wednesday, Somali gunmen briefly hijacked the colossal freighter, only to be driven off by the crew. Retaining the captain as a hostage, they fled to a lifeboat, where they were yesterday engaged in a David-and-Goliath standoff with the might of the US Navy.
Last year, more than 130 such attacks were reported, centred on the Gulf of Aden. Approximately 50 were successful, with millions of pounds being extracted in ransom money, most notoriously for a Saudi supertanker carrying £70 million in oil, and a Ukrainian ship transporting 33 tanks. The civilised world long believed that piracy was part of history, long ago stamped out by the navies of the industrialised nations. Instead, at the chokepoints of sea lanes, off the shore of weak – or completely failed – states, piracy is flourishing.
So our campaign must be ruthless and pitiless: pirate ships must be sunk on sight and the crews left to swim to safety, if it can be reached.
Many would complain about such tactics but, in my opinion, pirates have no rights – indeed, it will be vital to exclude human rights lawyers from the anti-piracy campaign. To bring any captives to Europe or America for trial would probably be to grant them their dearest wish, which is to secure entry to a new life in the First World.
As the saying goes, read the whole thing…
Pirates seized a U.S.-owned and Italian-flagged tugboat with 16 crew on Saturday in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden waterway, a regional maritime group said.
Andrew Mwangura, of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, said the crew were believed to be unharmed on the tugboat, which he added was operated from the United Arab Emirates.
He said the tugboat was towing two barges at the time of capture but there were no details on their cargo.
“This incident shows the pirates are becoming more daring and violent,” Mwangura told Reuters by phone.
Helicopters began evacuating foreign leaders Saturday after anti-government protests forced the postponement of a major Asian summit in Thailand, Agence France-Presse reporters and police said.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo boarded a civilian helicopter which landed on the roof of the luxury beach resort hotel in the city of Pattaya where the meeting was being held, an AFP correspondent said.
Arroyo’s Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said by phone that the President was “very safe and very OK.”
Remonde said Ms Arroyo and the other leaders were never in danger. “The protesters were not rowdy.”
Remonde confirmed that Ms Arroyo was flown out of the convention center of the Royal Cliff Grand & Spa Hotel, venue of the summit, toward the airport in Pattaya.
The son of an infamous CIA double agent who is himself accused of spying was released from jail Friday in Portland, Oregon, pending trial after a federal judge ruled he did not pose a flight risk.
Judge Anna J. Brown ordered that Nathaniel Nicholson, 24, can be freed provided he stay with family, not leave Oregon without permission from authorities and wear a GPS monitoring device. Brown also ordered that he not have any contact with his father, the admitted spy Harold James “Jim” Nicholson.
The elder Nicholson pleaded guilty in 1997 to spying for Russia and is the highest ranking CIA officer ever to be sentenced for espionage. While serving a 23-year prison sentence, prosecutors allege, Jim Nicholson, 58, restarted his career as a double agent and enlisted his son Nathaniel in his efforts to collect money owed to him by the Russian spy services and to sell more secrets.
Both father and son were charged in January with acting as agents of a foreign government, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They have pleaded not guilty. Court appointed lawyers representing the men did not return CNN’s calls for comment
Australian astronomers have been studying an intergalactic assassin poised to wipe out life on Earth. Maybe.
Observations indicate that cosmological curiosity WR104 may be a killer – and we might be the victim. The pretty pinwheel that makes the system so distinctive is now know to be a combination of two stars – a blue star orbiting the Wolf-Rayet 104.
Note that the “Wolf-Rayet” name is the astronomical equivalent of a beeping red LCD countdown reading “0:01″ – it’s a swollen star getting ready for final supernova detonation.
At the moment its fusion reactions are blasting its own photosphere off into space, where the blue companion orbits and illuminates the material, creating a seriously impressive spiral over twice the size of our solar system. We have a perfect view of this pinwheel pattern, since the spiral is at right angles to us, in the same way a man being held at gunpoint has a perfect view of the little hole the bullets come out of.
And the gun is over twenty-five times the size of the sun. When a binary system collapses into a black hole, which astronomers call ‘coalescence’ (a euphemism which makes ‘heated debate’ a valid description of World War II), it can release a gigantic burst of gamma rays.
Gamma rays are the ultimate high energy electromagnetic radiation, and while the burst lasts less than two minutes it can contain more energy than the entire mass of the sun converted into energy by E = m c^2. You’ll notice that the mass of the sun and the speed of light, c, are extremely large numbers.
A Harlem woman took home $25,000 Thursday for guessing the exact number of jelly beans in a jar – for the second time in her life.
The first time Jessica Silverman struck it lucky was 21 years ago, when she was a 5-year-old kindergarten student and the trophy was a stuffed toy dragon.
This time, the prize will help her put a deposit on a new home after she correctly guessed there were 7,954 treats on display at a stand in the Hilton hotel on Sixth Ave. Tuesday.
“I’m a lucky girl, and I was in the right place at the right time,” Silverman said. “This is going to the ‘Get Jessica a first apartment’ fund.”
Asian-Americans say they are outraged that a Texas lawmaker suggested in a hearing that Asian-American voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with” at the polls.
Texas Rep. Betty Brown, a Republican, made the comments on Tuesday as Ramey Ko, an associate member of the Organization of Chinese Americans, testified before the Texas House Elections Committee on voter identification legislation.
Ko testified that people of Asian descent frequently have difficulties voting due to differences in their legal transliterated names and the English name shown on their driver’s licenses.
Brown asked Ko: “Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”
The Conficker worm has started to update infected machines with a mystery package of data.
Computer security firms watching the malicious program noticed that it sprang into life late on 8 April. The activity on its update system delivered encrypted software to compromised machines. It is not yet clear what the payload contains.
The Conficker virus variants are thought to be present on millions of PCs around the world.
Escalating a dramatic Indian Ocean standoff, more U.S. warships — as well as pirate reinforcements with an international gallery of hostages — rushed Friday toward the spot where four Somali bandits are holding a U.S. sea captain aboard a drifting lifeboat.
The pirates apparently fear being shot or arrested if they hand over Capt. Richard Phillips — captured in a failed effort to seize the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday — and hope to link up with their colleagues who are using Russian, German, Filipino and other hostages captured in recent days as human shields.
U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus said U.S. warships also are headed to the area, more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) off Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast.
“We want to ensure that we have all the capability that might be needed over the course of the coming days,” he said.
Vandals cut fiber-optic cable lines belonging to AT&T at two locations early today, knocking out phones and access to 911 emergency services to thousands of residential customers and businesses in southern Santa Clara County, in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties and along the Peninsula, authorities said.
Four AT&T fiber-optic cables in an underground vault were severed shortly before 1:30 a.m. along Monterey Highway north of Blossom Hill Road in south San Jose, police Sgt. Ronnie Lopez said.
Four more underground cables, at least two of which belong to AT&T, were cut about two hours later along Old County Road near Bing Street in San Carlos, authorities said.
John Britton, spokesman for AT&T, said, “Clearly, we have some vandalism. Someone purposefully and deliberately cut the wires.”
Voters in a small town in the US state of Missouri have re-elected their popular mayor to a fourth term, several weeks after he died of a heart attack.
Harry Stonebraker died at the age of 69 in March – after ballot papers had been printed and absentee voting in the town of Winfield had begun.
He won by a landslide, securing 90% of the vote in the 723-population town.
Winfield will appoint a temporary mayor to serve until a special election is held in April 2010.
A man was rushed to hospital after telling doctors how his best friend bit his penis off in a row – and swallowed it.
Horrified Marian Milczarek, 53, from Lesna in south west Poland, was attacked following a row with his friend – apparently over borrowing a trailer.
‘He began hitting me with a chain and then pulled down my trousers and started biting. It was agony,’ he said.
Hat tip to John M. !
A skeleton of a German man who shot and killed himself in a tree has been found by a hiker – nearly 30 years later.
Police said the 69-year-old retiree who had been missing since 1980 tied himself to the tree before firing the gun, Reuters reported.
His remains were discovered after an 18-year-old hiker found a bone in the forest last week and brought it to police, who then searched the area, Reuters reported.
A TEENAGER who laughed at a cat’s “screams” as he hurled it off a second storey rooftop into a swimming pool was fined $1000 in Cairns Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The court heard that Christopher Jeffrey James, 18, paused before throwing the cat – his ex-girlfriend’s mother’s pet – as his friend got his mobile phone ready to record the cruel show.
“The video footage clearly shows a man throwing a cat from the roof of a two-storey house,” police prosecutor Constable Siobhan O’Rourke said.
“There is the sound of a cat’s scream as he does this.”
“The cat lands in a nearby swimming pool and swims to the edge then runs into nearby bushes.
“Voices are heard laughing in the background.”
Flying and oral sex don’t mix, a judge ruled Tuesday as he upheld the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to revoke the license of a pilot who allowed a busty blonde woman to perform a sex act on him as he flew her around San Diego.
The FAA took the action earlier this year after a videotape of the May 29, 2005, encounter surfaced on the Internet. Neither the identity of the videographer or the woman seated next to David Martz was revealed. However, published reports have identified the woman as a Swedish porn star.
“The evidence clearly shows grossly reckless conduct on the part of the respondent,” National Transportation Safety Board administrative law Judge William R. Mullins said after spending an hour in private reviewing an unedited version of the video with FAA officials, Martz and his lawyer.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Wednesday for world action to “end the scourge of piracy” as U.S. warships raced to confront pirates who hijacked a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia.
American crew members aboard the hijacked ship were able to regain control of the vessel Wednesday, but the ship’s captain still is being held hostage on a smaller boat.
“We are deeply concerned and we are following it very closely,” Clinton said.
“Specifically, we are now focused on this particular act of piracy and the seizure of a ship that carries 21 American citizens. More generally, we think the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy,” she said.
U.S. Navy officials told FOX News on Wednesday afternoon that its closest ship was 300 miles away, which would place it 15 hours from the vessel, known as the Maersk Alabama.
For young Somalis, piracy offers a life of adventure and money: At sea, they are armed with automatic weapons, rockets and grenades. On land, they are a cross between a town official and a gangster rapper — with grand houses, luxury cars and beautiful wives.
Piracy is a lucrative business in Somalia, a country with no central government, no banks and few merit-based opportunities because of an entrenched clan system. For Somali men such as those who hijacked an American cargo ship, banditry at sea offers power and potential prosperity in a land so bleak that life expectancy is just 46 years and a quarter of children die before they reach 5.
Pirates are attracted by Somalia’s lawlessness and its strategic location. The Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s busiest waterways, with 20,000 merchant ships passing through yearly on their way to and from the Suez Canal. Countless fishing boats drop anchor in search of tuna, snapper and barracuda, which are plentiful in Somali waters.
Somali pirates have seized a Danish-owned, US-operated container ship with 21 American crew members aboard, in the latest attack on shipping off the Horn of Africa, a regional maritime group said today.
Andrew Mwangura, of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, said the Maersk Alabama, a 17,000-tonne ship, was hijacked in the Indian Ocean, 400 miles from the Somalian capital, Mogadishu.
“All its 21 American crew members are believed to be safe,” Mwangura said.
The US navy confirmed that a US-flagged ship with 21 crew members was hijacked early today off the eastern coast of Somalia.
Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls, the newspaper said, citing current and former U.S. national security officials.
The intruders have not sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure but officials said they could try during a crisis or war, the paper said in a report on its website.
A picture of Adolf Hitler was displayed on a huge billboard in Sofia and immediately prompted the Israeli Embassy to protest to Bulgarian authorities.
The picture of the Nazi leader shown on an advertisement billboard caused outrage in Sofia, the Bulgarian SNA news agency said Tuesday.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has smashed a sinister plot to smuggle nuclear weapons materials to Iran through unwitting New York banks, the Daily News has learned.
Officials plan to unseal a 118-count indictment Tuesday accusing a Chinese national of setting up a handful of fake companies to hide that he was selling millions of dollars in potential nuclear materials to Tehran.
“This case will cut off a major source of supply to Iran and it shows how they are going ahead full steam to get a nuclear bomb. Long-range missiles they pretty much have already,” a law enforcement source close to the case said.
“We think it is one of the largest suppliers of weapons of mass destruction to Iran.”
News Corp like all major Hollywood studios takes the crime of piracy very seriously. Nor will the Fox parent company tolerate it if its employees don’t. Especially after a stolen, early and unfinished work print of 20th Century Fox’s big summer blockbuster X-Men Origins: Wolverine was put onto the Internet illegally this week in a major scandal that the FBI is now investigating.
So there was universal shock on Friday when long-time “Fox 411″ freelance columnist Roger Friedman wrote what I’m told his bosses felt was a blatant promotion of piracy on his Fox News web outlet. Besides writing a review from watching the purloined print of Wolverine, Friedman posted, “I did find the whole top 10 [movies in theaters], plus TV shows, commercials, videos, everything, all streaming away. It took really less than seconds to start playing it all right onto my computer. I could have downloaded all of it but really, who has the time or the room?
For what it’s worth, there’s a hell of a lot more out there than just the top 10 in the theaters. Indeed, there’s vastly more out on USENET than there is on Netflix.
A laboratory robot called Adam has been hailed as the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators.
Adam formed a hypothesis on the genetics of bakers’ yeast and carried out experiments to test its predictions, without intervention from its makers at Aberystwyth University.
The result was a series of “simple but useful” discoveries, confirmed by human scientists, about the gene coding for yeast enzymes. The research is published in the journal Science.
Feeding picky eaters can be a pain.
Just ask Lyndel Toppin’s fiancée, whose middle finger was almost chopped off when Toppin allegedly attacked her with a kitchen knife, according to Upper Darby police.
The reason for the assault, cops say, was a poorly made meatball sandwich. Specifically, the cheese placement was all wrong, which infuriated Toppin.
“That was the catalyst,” police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said. The 44-year-old woman, whom cops did not identify, was preparing dinner last week in her Kingston Road home when Toppin “became enraged due to the victim not placing cheese on his hoagie roll correctly,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Angry residents of a Buckinghamshire town blocked the driver of a Google Street View car when he started taking photographs of their homes.
Police were called to Broughton, near Milton Keynes, after residents staged the protest accusing Google of invading their privacy and “facilitating crime”.
“Google have taken a tremendous liberty,” resident Paul Jacobs told the BBC. Google said it observed UK law and only filmed from public areas.
A Malawian court has ruled that US pop star Madonna has failed in her bid to adopt a second child from the country.
”I must have to decline to grant the application to Madonna,” judge Esmie Chondo said in a ruling following a closed-door hearing on Friday.
The application has been rejected over residency rules.
Madonna, who flew to Malawi on Sunday, was not in court to hear the ruling over Chifundo James, three. It is not clear if she will appeal against it.
The 50-year-old singer applied to adopt Chifundo James, whose name translates into English as Mercy, on Monday.
In just over a day, a powerful computer program accomplished a feat that took physicists centuries to complete: extrapolating the laws of motion from a pendulum’s swings.
Developed by Cornell researchers, the program deduced the natural laws without a shred of knowledge about physics or geometry. The research is being heralded as a potential breakthrough for science in the Petabyte Age, where computers try to find regularities in massive datasets that are too big and complex for the human mind. (See Wired magazine’s July 2008 cover story on “The End of Science.”)
“One of the biggest problems in science today is moving forward and finding the underlying principles in areas where there is lots and lots of data, but there’s a theoretical gap. We don’t know how things work,” said Hod Lipson, the Cornell University computational researcher who co-wrote the program. “I think this is going to be an important tool.”
Advertisers in the US are bracing themselves for regulatory changes that they fear will curtail their efforts to tap into the fast-growing online social media phenomenon.
Revised guidelines on endorsements and testimonials by the Federal Trade Commission, now under review and expected to be adopted, would hold companies liable for untruthful statements made by bloggers and users of social networking sites who receive samples of their products.
The guidelines would also hold bloggers liable for the statements they make about products. If a blogger received a free sample of skin lotion and then incorrectly claimed the product cured eczema, the FTC could sue the company for making false or unsubstantiated statements. The blogger could be sued for making false representations.
“This impacts every industry and almost every single brand in our economy, and that trickles down into social media,” said Anthony DiResta, an attorney representing several advertising associations.
Three members of a banned fraternity were charged with criminally negligent homicide Tuesday for organizing a wild night of drinking that left a college sophomore dead of alcohol poisoning.
Arman Partamian, 19, a biology major from Queens, was found lying face-down on a mattress March 1 at a house run by an off-campus club known as the Orange Knights, or Pigs.
Police said he had been drinking heavily for three days to gain membership in the club, located near the State University of New York at Geneseo in western New York. Toxicology tests showed Partamian had a blood-alcohol level as high as 0.55 percent, nearly seven times the legal limit for driving.
Fellow students Alex Stucki, 20, and Daniel Wech, 21, were charged along with Devin McClain, 21, with hazing, unlawfully dealing with a child and criminally negligent homicide — a felony that carries a sentence of up to four years in prison. They encouraged and directed Partamian to drink to such excess that he died as a direct result of alcohol poisoning, Livingston County prosecutor Thomas Moran said.
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” isn’t due in theaters until next month, but the prequel has already hacked its way online.
A high-quality, full-length work print of the 20th Century Fox film, which is set for release May 1, appeared online Tuesday. The film focuses on the beginnings of Hugh Jackman’s clawed Marvel superhero Wolverine.
Fox said in a statement Wednesday the version of the film posted online was not complete and vowed that the source would be prosecuted. It said the FBI is investigating.
Just nine people accounted for nearly 2,700 of the emergency room visits in the Austin area during the past six years at a cost of $3 million to taxpayers and others, according to a report.
The patients went to hospital emergency rooms 2,678 times from 2003 through 2008, said the report from the nonprofit Integrated Care Collaboration, a group of health care providers who care for low-income and uninsured patients.
“What we’re really trying to do is find out who’s using our emergency rooms … and find solutions,” said Ann Kitchen, executive director of the group, which presented the report last week to the Travis County Healthcare District board.
The average emergency room visit costs $1,000. Hospitals and taxpayers paid the bill through government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Kitchen said.