Saturday, December 30, 2006

Head-Banging Snakes May Predict Quakes

China has come up with an earthquake prediction system which relies on the behavior of snakes, state media said Thursday, two days after two quakes struck off neighboring Taiwan.

The earthquake bureau in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi autonomous region in southern China, had developed its system using a combination of natural instinct and modern technology, the China Daily newspaper said.

Experts at the bureau monitor snakes at local snake farms via video cameras linked to a broadband Internet connection. The video feed runs 24 hours per day.

"Of all the creatures on Earth, snakes are perhaps the most sensitive to earthquakes," bureau director Jiang Weisong was quoted as saying.

Jiang said snakes, a popular restaurant dish in the south in the winter, could sense an earthquake from 120 km (70 miles) away, three to five days before it happens. They respond by behaving strangely.

"When an earthquake is about to occur, snakes will move out of their nests, even in the cold of winter," Jiang was quoted as saying.

"If the earthquake is a big one, the snakes will even smash into walls while trying to escape."
China is struck by frequent earthquakes, with most hitting remote rural areas.

Two people were killed and 42 injured Tuesday when three buildings collapsed in earthquakes that shook southern Taiwan.

While a tsunami warning came to nothing, the quake damaged undersea telecommunication cables, affecting users across Asia.

Housework Cuts Breast Cancer Risk

Women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer, a study suggests.

The research on more than 200,000 women from nine European countries found doing household chores was far more cancer protective than playing sport.

Dusting, mopping and vacuuming was also better than having a physical job.

The women in the Cancer Research UK-funded study spent an average of 16 to 17 hours a week cooking, cleaning and doing the washing.

Experts have long known that physical exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer, probably through hormonal and metabolic changes.

But it has been less clear how much and what types of exercise are necessary for this risk reduction.

And much of past work has examined the link between exercise and breast cancer in post-menopausal women only.

The latest study looked at both pre- and post-menopausal women and a range of activities, including work, leisure and housework.

All forms of physical activity combined reduced the breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women, but had no obvious effect in pre-menopausal women.

Chores protected
Out of all of the activities, only housework significantly reduced the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal women getting the disease.

Housework cut breast cancer risk by 30% among the pre-menopausal women and 20% among the post-menopausal women.

The women were studied over an average of 6.4 years, during which time there were 3,423 cases of breast cancer.

The international authors said their results suggested that moderate forms of physical activity, such as housework, may be more important than less frequent but more intense recreational physical activity in reducing breast cancer risk.

Dr Lesley Walker of Cancer Research UK said: "We already know that women who keep a healthy weight are less likely to develop breast cancer.

"This study suggests that being physically active may also help reduce the risk and that something as simple and cheap as doing the housework can help."

He recommend that men and women take regular exercise and maintain a healthy body weight to help prevent cancer.

The research is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

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Man Trapped Upside Down in Drain Hunting for Keys

Berlin police said on Wednesday they had rescued a motorist who ended up wedged upside down in a drain after trying to retrieve car keys he had dropped.

The 48-year-old man was seen by a bystander falling into the street drain late on Tuesday after he removed the manhole cover. Police were at first unable to find the man but later discovered him wedged in a drainage pipe below ground.

Several police officers were needed to pull him out. He was at first unconscious and did not appear to be breathing. After police hit him on the back he began coughing up water and breathing again. Police said the car keys were not found.

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Food from Cloned Animals Safe To Eat

Milk and meat from some cloned animals are safe to eat, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday in a draft ruling that brings the controversial technology closer to American grocery carts.

If given final approval, the ruling would allow for the sale of food made from cloned cattle, pigs and goats, but not sheep, in the United States for the first time.

The agency said it would be unlikely to recommend special labels for food made from clones, which are genetic twins of donor animals, but would not decide on the labeling issue until it collects comments from the public over the next 90 days.

"No unique risks for human food consumption were identified in cattle, swine or goat clones," it said.

The FDA did not have enough evidence to give the same assurance on sheep clones, but it did vouch for food made from clones' offspring, which many believe would account for most of the clone-related food making its way onto dinner tables.

Making clones of animals works by taking cells from an adult and fusing them with other cells before implanting them in a surrogate mother. A relatively small amount of cloned livestock now exists in the United States.

The FDA stressed it will maintain its current moratorium on the food until a final ruling is issued.

. . . more
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Boyfriend Flew 13,000 km Off Course with Typo Error

A 21-year-old German tourist who wanted to visit his girlfriend in the Australian metropolis Sydney landed 13,000 kilometers (8,077 miles) away near Sidney, Montana, after mistyping his destination on a flight booking Web site.

Dressed for the Australian summer in T-shirt and shorts, Tobi Gutt left Germany on Saturday for a four-week holiday.

Instead of arriving "down under", Gutt found himself on a different continent and bound for the chilly state of Montana.

"I did wonder but I didn't want to say anything," Gutt told the Bild newspaper. "I thought to myself, you can fly to Australia via the United States."

Gutt's airline ticket routed him via the U.S. city of Portland, Oregon, to Billings, Montana. Only as he was about to board a commuter flight to Sidney -- an oil town of about 5,000 people -- did he realize his mistake.

The hapless tourist, who had only a thin jacket to keep out the winter cold, spent three days in Billings airport before he was able to buy a new ticket to Australia with 600 euros in cash that his parents and friends sent over from Germany.

"I didn't notice the mistake as my son is usually good with computers," his mother, Sabine, told Reuters.

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For sale on eBay: dream holiday with a stranger

Wanted: Young single woman in need of cut price romantic Caribbean holiday.

The vacation for two is on sale on Internet site eBay for just a fraction of its 2,400 pound ($4,700) value.

But here's the catch -- it comes with a companion.

Adam Croot, who had planned the holiday to propose to his partner, was dumped by her just weeks ago.

But rather than lose the money on the non-refundable flights and hotel deposit, the 39-year-old decided to go anyway and find another woman to join him, for a payment of 642 pounds ($1,259).

"Many of my friends would say, 'that is just too high a price to pay' but what the hell, nothing ventured, nothing gained," Croot said on eBay.

The rules of the Couples Swept Away resort and spa at Negril, Jamaica, state it is for heterosexual couples only, so he cannot go alone, or with a male friend on the week-long break in February.

He has also laid down some ground rules, such as not wishing to go with anyone old enough to be his granny, nor with anyone "who has a jealous husband" because he likes his arms and legs "where they are".

Croot has had more than 2,500 "hits" from people viewing his eBay page, which includes reviews of the resort and pictures of himself.

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Thirsty Man Sells Beagle to Buy Beer

A thirsty German sold his 6-year-old step-daughter's pet beagle to the owner of a bar to pay for beer, the Bild newspaper reported Friday.

The unemployed man offered to take the dog for a walk and then stopped at a bar where he convinced the owner to buy the 3-year-old dog for 40 euros ($53).

The man spent the proceeds quenching his thirst for beer. The bar owner has now returned the dog to its owner.

Julia Roberts Expecting her Third Child

Julia Roberts is expecting her third child with her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder, her spokeswoman confirmed to People magazine Friday.

The baby is due this summer, Roberts' publicist, Marcy Engelman, said in a story posted on the magazine's Web site. News of the pregnancy first appeared in the New York Post's Page Six column.

A call to Engelman by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned.

Roberts, 39, and Moder, 37, have 2-year-old twins, Hazel and Phinnaeus, who were born in November 2004. The couple were married in July 2002 at Roberts' home in Taos, N.M.

She won the best actress Oscar in 2001 for "Erin Brockovich." Her screen hits also include "Steel Magnolias" and "Pretty Woman."

Roberts is the voice of the wise spider in the film adaptation of "Charlotte's Web." She'll next be seen in the drama "Charlie Wilson's War," directed by Mike Nichols and also starring Tom Hanks, scheduled for release next year.

She made her Broadway debut this spring in a revival of Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quake Shakes up Asia's Internet

Nearly all of Asia's earthquake-disrupted Internet service and 80 percent of its phone service was to be restored by noon Thursday, a Taiwanese official said following one of the largest telecommunications outages in years to hit Asia.

Lin Jen-hung, vice-general manager of Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Co also said that four ships with crews to repair the two undersea data transmission cables ruptured during Tuesday's powerful earthquake in Taiwan will arrive in the affected area on Jan 2.

The 6.7 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks on Tuesday night and Wednesday caused disruptions for major telecommunications operators from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea -- with ripple effects spreading beyond Asia.

In Hong Kong, a government statement said Thursday it would take at least five days to partially repair the damage to two undersea cables.

The government urged Internet users not to log onto overseas websites for unessential reasons.

People were also told not to repeatedly make non-urgent telephone calls to overseas numbers if earlier attempts failed.

A Hong Kong telecommunications official said all seven major cables serving the Chinese territory were affected, some severely.

"Six of them have been completely damaged and there is a remaining one with a limited capacity," Au Man-ho of the Telecommunications Authority told reporters.

Related News
Internet access improves
Local bloggers frustrated by web service disruption
Internet access to overseas websites disrupted
Asia's Internet, phone services to be largely restored today
Surf’s out for tourists trying to check e-mail
Bloggers feeling deprived after access throttled
Quake shakes up the Net

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"Water Potato" stirs Bad Memories

Frightful memories of the tsunami returned to the minds of villagers in Kampung Jalan Bahru when cocoon-shaped organisms mysteriously appeared on the riverbanks at the village two weeks ago.

The fishing community, who named the strange organism as ubi air (water potato), feared the worst as they thought it was an omen of impending danger.

“Bad memories came flashing back into our minds when we found the organism during low tide two weeks ago,” said fishermen Thor Peng Hock.

Thor, 45, said before the giant waves wreaked havoc two years ago on Dec 26, they observed strange signs such as receding seawater and abundant marine life washed ashore.

“I have lived here all my life and I have never seen anything like it. We feared the worst because God knows what else the earth would purge before and after a catastrophe,” he said when met at the fishing village yesterday.

Thor said the strange organism reminded him and the villagers of the tsunami.

Another fisherman, Tang Kooi Hock, 54, also concurred that the appearance of the water potato had sparked fear in all the villagers.

Villager Ng Teik Chye, 50, said the tsunami had taught them to be more sensitive to their natural surroundings.

“We learnt through experience that strange things do happen, and we must take note of them,” he said.

“When we saw first the water potato we took note and were expecting the worst. Luckily nothing has happened so far.”

Malay villagers, however, said the organisms were actually a sea creature known as bronong.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cockles Haven

It was an unexpected bounty for the villagers at Telok Sepat in Sura, near here, when millions of blanched cockles were washed ashore on Christmas Day.
Thousands of people – many from nearby areas and outstation – rushed to the beach with buckets and scoops after word spread of the abundant kerang covering the beach like a carpet over two kilometres of the South China Sea shoreline.

There was an estimated 4,000 people, from little children to senior citizens, racing to gather this hard-shell marine species, which is boiled or grilled and eaten with chilly or tomato sauce or made into spicy sambal.
There was excitement in the air and the beach looked like a spot for a festive event, with many pitching tents to spend overnight at the beach.

"It’s not always that we can get this lucky and to get a free and fresh supply of kerang from the sea at this enormous scale,” said 46-year-old technician Salleh Jamalludin from Kuantan.
“At least I can do a bit of saving on my weekly grocery bill. The whole family loves a kerang meal,” he said, adding that his family gathered 10 buckets of cockles.
“Everyone were feverishly collecting the cockles and I was satisfied with what we harvested in just 60 minutes,” he said.
Siti Fauziah Ahmad Syaid and her family had come to escape the flood madness in her hometown in Segamat and was pleasantly surprised that this other “madness” had occurred while she was taking a holiday here.
She managed to fill four sacks within 30 minutes.
“I will return to Johor and cook cockle dishes for my neighbours who are still at the flood relief centres,” she said.
A check by The Star showed that the cockles were still being washed ashore in abundance yesterday morning. People were still coming in droves, although it was 2am.

Wikipedia Founder Plans Search Engine to Rival Google

Wikiasari, the project aimed at competing with Google and Yahoo, will be coming soon

The founder of the vastly popular Web encyclopedia Wikipedia is planning on developing Wikiasari, an Internet search engine which will compete with Yahoo and Google. In an interview with The Times of London, Jimmy Wales mentioned that his web site search engine will utilize the same user-based technology that Wikipedia uses.

Feeling that Google's computer-based algorithmic searches can be sometimes easily manipulated, Wikiasari hopes that user-based human judgment will be significantly better.
Because spammers and commercial ventures are learning and adapting to be able to manipulate Google's search methods, Wikiasari may have a viable alternative search method.

In the same interview with The Times of London, Wales said: "Google is very good at many types of search, but in many instances it produces nothing but spam and useless crap. Try searching for the term 'Tampa hotels', for example, and you will not get any useful results."

Wales has said that he understands that trying to compete and catch up to major search engine competitors will be a daunting task. A provisional launch is planned for the first quarter of 2007, according to Wales.

Money Stolen from Church on Christmas

NEW YORK (AP) - A couple of grinches may not have robbed a Queens church of its holiday cheer but they definitely got away with its money.

Police say two men entered Saint Mel's Roman Catholic Church in Flushing, broke into the safe and ran off with the cash about 9:30 Christmas morning. More than $20,000 in donations for needy children is missing.

The crooks fled in a sport utility vehicle. A parishioner saw the getaway and wrote down the SUV's license plate number, but no arrests have been made as of early Tuesday morning.

Parishioners want to know who would rob a church on Christmas Day.

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S Koreans Offered Cash for No Sex

Male workers who vow to stay away from prostitutes after year-end celebrations in South Korea are to be rewarded.

The Ministry for Gender Equality is offering cash to companies whose male employees pledge not to pay for sex after office parties.

Men are being urged to register on the ministry's website. The companies with most pledges will receive a reward.

Officials say they want to put an end to a culture in which men get drunk at parties and go on to buy sex.

But some critics have described the move as a waste of money.

Despite new anti-prostitution laws passed in 2004, the practice is said to be widespread in South Korea, with some estimates suggesting more than one million people work in the sex industry.

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What If Your Name is Mary Christmas?

Do not bother making jokes. This family has heard them all.
No, they do not communicate directly with Santa Claus. And they do not celebrate the holidays all year.

The comments are part of life when your last name is Christmas, especially when two of your family members are named -- yes -- Mary.

"People ask me all the time, 'What were your parents thinking?' " said the younger Mary Christmas, 30. "I never minded. It's a conversation piece."

It all started on Christmas Day 1935, when the elder Mary wedded Henry Christmas. They had Bob Christmas, who married Peggy and had six children.

Mary was born first and was named for her grandmother. The spirit of the season took hold again when Christy Noel, now 23, was born.

And it does not end there. Bob's brother married Cathy Holiday, and they had a daughter named Carol. And Bob's sister married into the White family, becoming Jeane Christmas White.

The Christmas family lives up to its cheerful name. They are a lively bunch, finishing each other's sentences and laughing at a constant stream of jokes.

"You can tell we're a happy family," said the elder Mary Christmas, who is 90.

So what is Christmas like at the Christmases'?

Christmas Eve involves a family dinner, a church service, the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible and then one gift per family member.

The children -- from 12 to 30 years old -- build forts in the living room out of blankets and furniture and fall asleep watching Christmas movies. Christmas Day includes a big family brunch with biscuits and gravy, and a Christmas dinner.

The Christmas children say the only time their last name gets old is during roll call at school. They groan at the thought.

"The first day of the semester in college, I was like, 'Here we go,' " said the younger Mary, who graduated from Liberty University, where one professor made her stand in front of a lecture hall full of students when he saw her name.

Peggy said the name keeps her on her toes.

"When you're out shopping and things, you make sure you're not grumpy or rude to someone who's helping you because in the end when you go to pay, they see your name is Christmas," she said.

Despite the Christmases' lighthearted talk about their name, they take it seriously, too.
"It would be my goal that our lives as a family exemplify not just the birth of Christ, but the life of Christ," said Robby, 28.

With that, he was answered with a chorus of amens.

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Movies That Didn't Make It (Bombed) in 2006

Oscar winners Russell Crowe, Nicolas Cage and Sean Penn starred in some of the year's biggest box office bombs, according to an analysis published Sunday by Variety, proving A-list stars are not invincible.

Crowe struck out with the romantic comedy "A Good Year," Cage with the horror remake "Wicker Man," and Penn with another remake, the political saga "All the King's Men."
High-profile directors such as M. Night Shyamalan ("Lady in the Water") and Wolfgang Petersen ("Poseidon") also made the hall of shame with their waterlogged movies.

The other films among its 10 biggest box office bombs were the erotic thriller sequel "Basic Instinct 2," the World War I aviation saga "Flyboys," the cartoon "Flushed Away," the transcendental love story "The Fountain," and the urban kidnapping thriller "Freedomland."
Variety said its alphabetically ordered list was determined by looking primarily at the ratio between a film's cost and its revenues. It noted that financial loss could be divided among various studios and other equity investors, while international box office receipts and DVD sales can restore some luster.

Based on figures cited in the article, the most unprofitable film appeared to be "Basic Instinct 2," a $70 million film that earned $5 million domestically, and continued actress Sharon Stone's 11-year string of bombs. But the German-backed film's domestic distributor, Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures, said at the time of its release that its financial exposure was limited.

More-spectacular misfires included "Flushed Away" with a $90 million shortfall between cost and domestic sales, and "Poseidon," which had a $100 million deficit, although it did well overseas.

Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Pictures, which had a dismal year at the box office, was the domestic distributor of four of the pictures: "The Fountain," "Lady in the Water," "Poseidon" and "Wicker Man." (Time Warner is also the parent company of CNN.) Columbia Pictures, the market leader with 13 No. 1 movies in 2006, also released "All the King's Men" and "Freedomland."

Closely held Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. handled "Flyboys," although software billionaire Larry Ellison put up almost half the $60 million budget. News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox released "A Good Year," and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures "Flushed Away."

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Angelina Jolie Spends Christmas With Refugees

Actress Angelina Jolie spent Christmas Day with refugees in Costa Rica as part of her work as a goodwill ambassador for the United NationsHigh Commissioner for Refugees, the agency said.

Jolie arrived Monday to visit a group of mostly Colombian refugee children and families and to meet Costa Rican officials, the UNHCR said in a statement.
There are about 11,500 refugees in this Central American country. Most of them fled Colombia because of a conflict between leftist guerrillas, soldiers and paramilitary forces.
"The conflict in Colombia is the greatest humanitarian tragedy in the Western Hemisphere, but it receives very little international attention," the Oscar-winning actress said after she arrived in San Jose. "My Christmas message to Colombian refugees and to the millions of displaced people in Colombia is that the world has not totally forgotten them."
An estimated three million Colombians have been forced from their homes by more than two decades of armed conflict, and most are internally displaced, essentially refugees in their own country.
Another 500,000 have fled to other countries in the region. Together, the UNHCR said they make up the largest single population of concern anywhere in the world.
UNHCR said this was Jolie's second trip to the region since she became a goodwill ambassador for the refugee agency in 2001. It said she went to Ecuador in 2002 and later wrote a personal journal of her meetings with Colombian refugees in that country.

Fears of Tsunami Ease After Taiwan Quake

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A powerful earthquake struck off southwestern Taiwan on Tuesday, briefly prompting fears of a tsunami on the second anniversary of the quake and deadly waves that killed thousands in south Asia.

Taiwanese media reported one person died and three were injured when their home collapsed in the southern city of Pintung. Other reports said city streets had cracked and a major bridge was damaged. They said fires were burning out in the area, apparently caused by downed power cables.

The quake was felt throughout Taiwan. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated its magnitude at 7.1, while Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau measured it at 6.7. It was followed eight minutes later by 7.0 magnitude aftershock, the USGS said.

Two hours later, an official at Japan's Meteorological Agency said there was no longer any danger of a destructive tsunami headed for the Philippines, as had been predicted.

"The danger has passed," said Hiroshi Koide of the agency's earthquake section. "We predicted tsunami based on the depth and magnitude of the earthquake. But ultimately, it appears no large tsunami were triggered."

Phone lines were cut in the southern cities of Kaohsiung and Pingtung, possibly hindering reports of damage by residents, the CTI Cable News reported. Several high-rise hotels swayed violently in Kaohsiung, it said.

Liao Ching-ling, a 30-year-old manager at Kaohsiung's Ambassador Hotel, said she had never before felt such a strong quake: "The building swayed so badly that many panicky guests ran out of their rooms and into the streets."

The initial tremor was centered at sea about 13 miles southwest of Hengchun on the southern tip of Taiwan, the bureau said. Hengchun is about 260 miles south of Taipei.

Quakes frequently shake Taiwan, which is part of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Most are minor and cause little or no damage, but a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in central Taiwan in September 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.

A 9.1-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004 caused a tsunami that killed at least 230,000 people in 11 countries. Those waves reached as high as 33 feet.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Its Christmas, Have a Little more Bat Meat!

Dogs, bats, Kentucky Fried Chicken and barramundi will grace dinner tables across the Asia Pacific this Christmas, a festival celebrated with lots of cheer, and very little turkey, in this mainly non-Christian region.

Christmas Day is seen as a foreign, Western festival in many countries in Asia but that doesn't stop millions of people from cooking up banquets of local food unheard of in the West.

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country which also has a substantial Christian community, Christmas feasts include delicacies such as pork soaked in blood and dog meat.

"We usually hold a family gathering at our parents' house or in-laws' house after Christmas eve mass," said Ermida Simanjuntak, a Batak Christian Indonesian. "We do not exchange gifts, we use this event more to meet and talk."

In the eastern island of Sulawesi, some Manado Christians swear by kawok, or garden rats, cooked with chilies and garlic, and paniki, or bats, cooked in coconut milk.

"Paniki's meat tastes almost the same as kawok but it has more muscles," said Manadonese Stephen Lapian. "But if you cut the arm pit in a wrong way, it will be very stinky."

In Japan, many people head to Kentucky on Christmas -- Kentucky Fried Chicken, that is!

. . . More

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For Christ's Sake, its Christmas Eve!

A German taxi driver who shouted "Oh, for Christ's sake, it's Christmas Eve!" when a robber put a gun to his head scared the thief away.

The teenager opened the parked taxi's door in the western town of Bielefeld and demanded money Sunday evening, police spokesman Michael Mehler said.

The driver refused and jumped out, shouting for help. The two scuffled briefly before the thief fled.

"The taxi driver's resistance and reference to Christmas evidently unsettled the bandit," Mehler said Monday. An 18-year-old and his 16-year-old accomplice were later arrested.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Europe's 'Biggest Dinosaur' Found

Fossils found in Spain belong to what was probably Europe's biggest ever dinosaur, according to scientists.

Turiasaurus would have been 30 to 37 metres long, and would have weighed between 40 and 48 tonnes.
Writing in the journal Science, researchers say the beast is probably the only member so far discovered of a European group of Jurassic reptiles.
The world's biggest recorded dinosaur is Argentinosaurus, a South American reptile twice as heavy.
Like the rest of the giant long-necked sauropods, Turiasaurus riodevensis was a herbivore, despite the fierce appearance of its teeth.


Fossils came to light in 2004 at Teruel in eastern Spain, and the scientists responsible, from the Fundacion Conjunto Paleontologico de Teruel-Dinopolis, have just published a formal analysis.

Although languishing some way behind Argentinosaurus, Turiasaurus was a substantial specimen.

At 1.79m long, its humerus (upper arm bone) is one of the largest ever recorded, while one of its claws is comparable with a rugby ball or American football.

The discovery site also contains teeth from theropod dinosaurs, Stegosaurus remnants, and fragments from fish and turtles.

By comparing its features with other European dinosaurs, the scientists deduce that it belongs to a previously unknown clade, or grouping, which evolved in the Jurassic period (200 to 145 million years ago).

Teeth excavated in France, Portugal and the UK are similar, indicating that Turiasaurus, or more likely its close relatives, ranged across the continent.

A Politically Correct Christmas Greeting

Received this from a friend. This is so funny.

Have a Wonderful Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

A Politically Correct Christmas Greeting

Holiday Greetings to Everyone I wanted to send some sort of holiday greeting to my friends, but it is so difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So I met with my attorney yesterday, and on his advice I wish to say the following: Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that Canada is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher. Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message; however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.

Hilary Duff Becomes a Barbie doll

This image provided by Mattel Inc., shows Mattel's new Red Carpet Glam Hilary Duff Barbie Doll. Duff is the latest Hollywood star to take on 12-inch proportions as the world's most popular doll, Barbie.

Hilary Duff is a real doll. A real Barbie doll. Duff is the latest Hollywood star to take on 12-inch proportions as the world's most popular fashion doll. She joins other famous (doll) faces such as Reese Witherspoon, Beyonce Knowles and Lucille Ball.

The Red Carpet Glam Hilary Duff Doll, which shows the 19-year-old's likeness in a polka-dot dress with a red satin sash, hits stores this month.

Duff, a singer, actress and fashion designer best known for playing TV's "Lizzie McGuire," has also designed clothes for Barbie.

The iconic blonde doll and the young Hollywood beauty are "great role models to girls and the perfect design duo," Jamie Wood, Mattel's vice president of Barbie marketing, said in a statement.

"Not only are they two of the most stylish entertainers, actors and fashion designers, but they also show girls there are no limits to what they can do."

Cake Layered with 100 Diamonds

In the mood for an extra-rich dessert after Christmas dinner? A Japanese department store is offering a cake layered with 100 diamonds — for a cool $850,000.

The chocolate cake, whose diamonds weigh a combined 50 carats, is on display at the Takashimaya department store in the western city of Osaka.

The 14-inch dessert on a chocolate base is named after Japanese jeweler Sa-Birth, which supplied the gems, and pastry chef Masami Miyamoto, who designed it.

While the cake is mostly to pull in Christmas shoppers, the department store said it is up for sale.

"So far we have not received an order for the cake but it must be a good buy as the jewelry on the cake is well worth the price tag," said Eriko Nishikido, a spokeswoman for Takashimaya

Osama the Elephant Slain

A killer elephant named after Osama bin Laden by fearful villagers was killed by sharpshooters, officials said Sunday. The animal was blamed for 14 deaths in the northeastern state of Assam.

"A licensed shooter shot and killed the 10-foot tall bull near the Behali forest reserve in northern Assam," said wildlife warden Chandan Bora.

Wildlife authorities had ordered that the elephant be shot and killed by December 31.
The order came after the bull — dubbed "Laden" — was blamed for the death of a woman Wednesday near the thickly wooded evergreen jungle where it lived. The elephant evaded two previous attempts by officials to kill it.

Confrontations between humans and elephants have escalated in northeastern India in recent years as the elephants' natural habitat has been destroyed, forcing the animals to forage for food in areas where humans live.

In the past five years, more than 250 people have been killed in Assam by elephants, while angry villagers killed 268 elephants during the same period, officials said.

Assam is estimated to have 5,300 Asiatic elephants.

A Dead Cat Tossed Through Mc Donald's Drive-Thru

An employee working the drive-through window at a McDonald's will have a tale to tell. When the worker went to the open window thinking the car pulling up had already ordered, the people in the car threw a dead cat through the window, police said.

Cedar Rapids Animal Control officer Matt McAtee said the black domestic shorthair appeared to have been dead for a while.

"It looked like somebody had picked it up off the road," McAtee said.
Police were called to the restaurant about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The people in the car drove off. A description of the car was not available, but employees knew the people in the car, police said.

No charges had been filed. The investigation was continuing.
McDonald's officials declined comment.

[tags : ]

Miss Nevada USA Loses Shirt then Title

NEW YORK - Another Miss USA contestant has taken a tumble

Miss Nevada USA was stripped of her title Thursday after racy photos of her appeared on the Internet, pageant officials said.

Some of the photos show Katie Rees, 22, kissing other young women, exposing one of her breasts and pulling down her pants to show her thong underwear at a party in Tampa, Fla.

"Katie Rees has been relieved of her duties as Miss Nevada USA 2007," said Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, which owns the Miss USA pageant and others.

Rees' dismissal comes two days after Miss USA Tara Conner was allowed to keep her tiara when she agreed to go into alcohol rehab and a day after an anti-drunken driving group cut its ties with hard-partying Miss Teen USA Katie Blair.

Pageant officials declined to provide a telephone number for Rees and said they didn't know when the photos of her were taken.

Rees' attorney, Mario Torres, of Tampa, defended the blonde beauty queen in a statement sent to the entertainment television show "Extra."

"Katie Rees Miss Nevada USA wants the public to know she was 17 and had a lapse in judgment," he said. "The actions on that evening in subject are in no way indicative of the person she is or the person she has become. ... She is a law-abiding citizen and talented adult. This was an isolated incident that occurred more than five years ago when she was a minor."

Shugart made the decision to jettison Rees, and pageant co-owner Donald Trump supported it, said Miss Universe Organization spokeswoman Lark-Marie Anton.

Trump, who co-owns Miss Universe with NBC, gave Conner, 21, a second chance after meeting with her Tuesday. Trump said Conner, who agreed to undergo drug testing, was a good person with a good heart and deserved to keep her title.

"I think Tara is going to be the great comeback kid," Trump said during his televised announcement, with a teary-eyed Conner by his side.

Apparently, there will be no comeback for Rees, whose reign was truncated because of the photos.

Rees has appeared as Miss Nevada USA at charity events such as the Goodie Two Shoe Giveaway, at which underprivileged students received free shoes, backpacks and school supplies.

Shugart said first runner-up Helen Salas will assume the title and compete at the next Miss USA pageant on March 23 in Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, Mothers Against Drunk Driving announced it was ditching Blair, the Miss Teen USA, because it was "disappointed" by news reports that the 18-year-old from Billings, Mont., had been spotted partying with Miss USA in New York clubs.

[tags : ]

Wine maker's mass nude run promotion scrapped

Police in central China have scotched a wine maker's plans for a mass Christmas Eve "nude run" which the company said was a public interest event to discourage the use of "excessive packaging" in the industry.

Jixiang Ruyi Tobacco and Alcohol Company offered 284 people 10,000 yuan ($1,280) in cash and prizes to participate in a naked dash through Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, the People's Daily reported on its Web site on Thursday.

The company's advertisement called for "auspicious" men and women under the age of 30 with "healthy bodies" and "regular features" to apply.

"The goal of this streaking event is to raise consumer awareness and declare war on the excessive packaging of 'baijiu' through the language of the body," the report quoted a manager surnamed Ma as saying.

"Baijiu" is a type of grain-based spirit popular in China, and often given as an elaborately packaged gift in the lead-up to Chinese New Year.

"The government has called for a sustainable society. Although there is no statute limiting packaging -- and this action may seem a bit much -- our focus is on the broad mass of consumers," Ma said.

Over 1,700 people had applied in four days, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on its Web site, the overwhelming majority of them men.

"We have already invited experts from the beauty industry to conduct physical checks on the applicants. Their mental condition must also be sound. According to the tests, there are only 30 or so that qualify," CCTV quoted a company official surnamed Cao, as saying.

Zhengzhou police rejected the company's application for a permit to hold the run.

"Public commercial events ... must meet moral standards," CCTV quoted a police official as saying. "Such mass streakings do not."

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Will Harry Potter Die? in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Rowling names last book in Potter saga

British author J.K. Rowling revealed on Thursday that the long-awaited seventh and final book in her wizard saga will be called "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," sparking the next phase of Pottermania.

Fans of the series that has already sold an estimated 300 million copies worldwide were kept guessing with the publication date not set -- although that did not stop one U.S. bookseller from starting to take reservations.

The intriguing and ominous title had Potter aficionados puzzling over what might happen to the bespectacled hero.

"Will a favorite character die? Could Harry himself face a grisly demise? How
will it all end?" asked Sam Harrison, children's buyer at the British bookchain

"But surely the question all Potter fans will want answering as soon as possible is -- when can they get their hands on a copy?"

Rowling, whose creation has turned her into one of the world's richest and most successful authors, revealed on her Web site this week "I'm now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more."

"I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don't want, to finish this book (don't worry, I will)."

She said in the diary entry on her official Web site ( that Potter had now inveigled his way into her dreams.

"For years now, people have asked me whether I ever dream that I am 'in' Harry's world," Rowling wrote. "The answer was 'no' until a few nights ago when I had an epic dream in which I was, simultaneously, Harry and the narrator."

But she gave no clues as to what will happen at the end of the upcoming book, amid speculation that some of the characters, possibly Harry himself, will die.

The Potter books have a huge influence on the financial results of their U.S. and British publishers, Scholastic and Bloomsbury.

Though it published the paperback edition of the sixth book this year, Bloomsbury warned on December 11 that profits could widely miss analysts' forecasts because of sluggish pre-Christmas book sales and other factors. This wiped out nearly one-third of its market capitalization.

Kyle Good, spokeswoman for Rowling's U.S publisher Scholastic Corp., said they had not received a date for when they would receive the manuscript nor when the book would be published.

Rowling's last novel, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," was her most successful book in the U.S., she said, selling 6.9 million copies in the first 24 hours.

But despite uncertainty over the publication date, book retailer Borders said it had started taking reservations for the seventh book on December8 and on Thursday e-mailed a link to its customers to sign up for e-mail notification when the book can be reserved online.

"Anticipation for this book has been building since the sixth book was released in 2005," said Borders Senior Vice President Linda Jones in a statement. "We are sensing real excitement from our customers."

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YouTube Helps Police Find Murder Suspect

A video posted on the ultra-popular Web site YouTube has helped Canadian police find a man they believe responsible for a murder.

Police in the Southern Ontario city of Hamilton said on Thursday that they uploaded a one-minute, 12-second clip from a surveillance tape onto the video-sharing YouTube site.

The video, which showed suspects arriving at a local nightclub for a Sean Price hip-hop concert, garnered media attention and was viewed more than 30,000 times.

"This is the first time Hamilton police have utilized video web posting in an investigation, and to the best of its knowledge, the first time that law enforcement has ever used it as a direct investigative tool," Staff Sgt. Jorge Lasso told a news conference.

George Gallow, 24, of Hamilton, who is seen in the clip wearing a baseball cap with the word "JOKER" on the front, turned himself into police on Tuesday and has been charged with second degree murder and attempted murder.

Gallow is accused of stabbing Ryan Milner, 22, and his friend, whom police did not name, in a parking lot after the November concert.

Police said Milner died shortly after being stabbed in the chest. His friend is still recovering.
"(There is) little doubt that the extra media generated by the use of YouTube contributed to the fact that this man turned himself in," Lasso said.

Police said they turned to YouTube due to its popularity with young people. Most of the concert-goers were in their late teens or early 20s.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Toshiba Printer Erases and Reprints on a Single Sheet

Toshiba B-SX8RToshiba has unveiled a printer that can print, erase and reprint on a single sheet of special paper up to 500 times.

The B-SX8R uses specially engineered paper similar to the thermal paper used in early fax machines, except it can be erased and is much more durable. The sheets are made of plastic and can be recycled at the end of their lives.

Toshiba's process uses a special pigment in the paper that reacts to heat. If heated above 180 degrees centigrade the pigment turns black, creating an image on the sheet.

However, if the surface is heated to between 130 and 170 degrees the pigment reverts to white, allowing the image to be 'erased'.

Special marker pens are also available, which can be erased from the paper using an optional cleaning machine.

Toshiba is touting reduced CO2 emissions created during the paper production process.

Traditional paper manufacture and waste creates 6.5kg of CO2 emissions per 1,000 sheets, compared to 1kg for the same quantity of rewritable paper pages.

The printer costs approximately £5,000 and the paper is estimated to cost £5 per sheet, working out at 1p per use if reused 500 times.

Since the pigment is in the paper, the printer has no consumable costs beyond the cost of the paper.

"The B-SX8R will help reduce paper use thus preserving forest resources and reducing CO2 emissions during paper manufacturing and waste processes," said Mike Keane, european product manager at ToshibaTEC.

"The B-SX8R does a small thing in saving paper resources, but assists in the big practical objective of global environmental conservation."

The printer is currently available only in Japan, but Toshiba is looking to launch in Europe if there is sufficient demand.

Toshiba B-SX8R Rewritable Printer Demo

Watch the Demo Video of Toshiba's B-SX8R below

Type =rand(200,9) in MS Word

Mircosoft Word

This is really Weird!!

You have to test it out for yourself in Microsoft Word to experience it first hand.

Step 1 Open Microsoft Word

Step 2 Open a New Document and type the following

Step 3 =rand(200,9)

Step 4 Press Enter

And watch what appears on your SCREEN

It just seems to go on and on for 23 pages ... ... ...

If you do not have MS Word installed on your PC, click here to watch what happens - Source

Bounce Your Balls for Cancer

Contestants race on Space Hoppers during the "Bounce Your Balls for Cancer" charity event in Brighton, England.

The Orchid Cancer Appeal organized the race to raise awareness of the dangers of testicular cancer and the need for early diagnosis.


Do you EGO Surf?

The Internet has given birth to a quirky range of modern addictions and maladies, the British weekly New Scientist says in its Christmas issue published this Saturday.

They include these:
- EGO-SURFING: When you frequently check your name and reputation on the Internet.
- BLOG STREAKING: "Revealing secrets or personal information online which for everybody's sake would be best kept private."
- CRACKBERRY: "The curse of the modern executive: not being able to stop checking your BlackBerry, even at your grandmother's funeral." (A BlackBerry is a popular handheld device that can be used for phoning, emailing and web-browsing).
- GOOGLE-STALKING: Defined as "snooping online on old friends, colleagues or first dates."
- CYBERCHONDRIA: "A headache and a particular rash at the same time? Extensive online research tells you it must be cancer."
- PHOTOLURKING: Flicking through a photo album of someone you've never met.
- WIKIPEDIHOLISM: Excess devotion to contributing to the online collaborative encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. (Wikipedia even has a page where you can test whether you're an addict: (
- CHEESEPODDING: Downloading of a song "so cheesy that you could cover it in plastic wrap and sell it at the deli counter." Cheesepodders are especially vulnerable to soft-rock favourites from the 1970s.


Pooping Peasant Popular in Spain for Christmas

The Virgin Mary. The three kings. A few wayward sheep. These are the figures one expects to find in a traditional Christmas nativity scene. Not a smartly dressed peasant squatting behind a rock with his rear-end exposed.

Yet statuettes of "El Caganer," or the great defecator in the Catalan language, can be found in nativity scenes, and increasingly on the mantelpieces of collectors, throughout Spain's northeastern Catalonia region, where for centuries symbols of defecation have played an important role in Christmas festivities.

During the holiday season, pastry shops around Catalonia sell sweets shaped like feces, and on Christmas Eve Catalan children beat a hollow log, called the tio, packed with holiday gifts, singing a song that urges it to defecate presents out the other end.
These traditions, in the case of the caganer dating back as far as the 17th century, come from an agricultural society where defecation was associated with fertility and health.
While the traditional caganer is a red-capped peasant, more modern renditions have gained popularity in recent years.


Modern Times Disease - Excessive Use of High-tech Games and Gadgets

Hoping Santa will send you an iPod, a Nintendo Wii or the latest mobile phone this Christmas?
Be careful what you wish for: it could come "painfully" true.

Sore thumbs, inflamed elbows and stiff shoulders are among the musco-skeletal injuries linked to excessive use of the popular high-tech games and gadgets that could be under the tree.

"This is a pretty big issue, especially as more and more people are using gadgets a lot more," said William Lenihan from Singapore's Osteopathic Pain Relief Center.

"These Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) are in the long term very detrimental to the whole body and once RSI comes on, its very difficult to get rid of," he told Reuters. "The secret to avoiding this is knowing when to stop."

A few years ago, RSI only used to strike computer and jackhammer operators, who spent hours performing the same movement over and over again.

While the majority of IT users remain RSI-free, more and more people are becoming afflicted, with some children as young as seven developing symptoms, the British awareness group RSI Action said on its Web site (

According to the group, RSI is on the rise because more people are "using more computers for more tasks, workplace stress is increasing, mobile communications are increasing and leisure use of games and iPods are increasing".

It appears too that the gadgets have the potential to become more hazardous as the technology advances.

As mobile phones get smaller, their keypads also shrink, requiring finer finger movements that could aggravate joints. Some users of Apple's iPod music player have also complained about the intensive thumb movement, according to leading British-based online IT magazine

"Hospitals have reported an increase in RSIs of the thumb from usage of gadgets and mobile phones, primarily from sending sms (text messages)," Dr. Er Beng Siong of Singapore's Physiotherapy Associates said. "It's a disease of modern times."

Video game consoles can also contribute to RSI.

While sitting for hours on a sofa, clutching a joystick and staring at a television are the ideal way to unwind for many people, it could also be risky.

Daisuke Ito, the head doctor at Senzoku Orthopedic Plastic Surgery in Tokyo and who often treats RSI, said he expects to see more game-related cases in the future.

"Once you do suffer from tenosynovitis," he said, referring to a type of inflammation of the wrist and hand tendons, "we can treat it with shots. There's also medicine to ease the pain and braces to wear on the wrist.

"Of course, the most obvious way to treat it is to stop playing the game."

Popular game consoles, such as Nintendo's Wii -- which has been flying off shelves worldwide -- come with health warnings.

The Wii website ( urges players to take a break every 15 minutes. Sony's Playstation manual also asks users to take breaks and be aware of their posture while playing.

Experts say moderation, proper posture and stretching are key to preventing your high-tech presents becoming painful.

"People who work at a computer 8 hours a day are already doing a lot of damage," said osteopath Lenihan. "Then they go home and do some more. Prevention is always better than cure."

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Overweight Man Sues Air France Over Seat

An overweight passenger has sued Air France after being told he was too fat and had to pay for a second seat to accommodate his bulk.

Jean-Jacques Jauffret, a French scriptwriter, told Reuters Wednesday he had felt humiliated by Air France staff who had measured his waist in public at New Dehli airport in 2005 and decided he was too big for a single seat.

A lawyer representing Air France told a court Tuesday the company had a clear policy of asking obese passengers to pay for two seats.

"Let's be objective. This man is fat," lawyer Fernand Gamault told the court in Bobigny, according to Le Parisien newspaper. "He barely fits on the courtroom chair. How could he sit in an airplane?"

Gamault was not available for comment but Jauffret confirmed the lawyer's comments and said he was denounced as "fat" and "enormous" on countless occasions during the hearing.

"I felt shocked and humiliated by what he said," Jauffret added.

Jauffret said he weighed more than 160 kilos (352.7 lb) and said he had flown numerous times, including on other Air France flights, without ever being asked to pay more.

Air France's website urges overweight passengers to reserve a second seat, adding that failure to do so might mean they are refused access to an aircraft if it is fully booked.

Jauffret has asked for 8,000 euros ($10,580) in damages and 500 euros reimbursement for the cost of the additional ticket.

A verdict in the case is due on February 20.

[tags : ]

Another Purpose for Public Phones

A group of young men perching on top of payphone booths
to stay out of the flood, even as the water level continue to rise in Kota Tinggi, Malaysia


Virgin birth expected for Komodo dragon in UK zoo

Flora, a pregnant Komodo dragon living in a British zoo, is expecting eight babies in what scientists said on Wednesday could be a Christmas virgin birth.

Flora has never mated, or even mixed, with a male dragon, and fertilized all the eggs herself, a process culminating in parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. Other lizards do this, but scientists only recently found that Komodo dragons do too.

"Nobody in their wildest dreams expected this. But you have a female dragon on her own. She produces a clutch of eggs and those eggs turn out to be fertile. It is nature finding a way," Kevin Buley of Chester Zoo in England said in an interview.

He said the incubating eggs could hatch around Christmas.

Parthenogenesis has occurred in other lizard species, but Buley and his team said this was the first time it has been shown in Komodo dragons -- the world's largest lizards.

Scientists at Liverpool University in northern England discovered Flora had had no male help after doing genetic tests on three eggs that collapsed after being put in an incubator.

The tests on the embryos and on Flora, her sister and other dragons confirmed that Komodo dragons can reproduce through self-fertilization.

"Those genetic tests confirmed absolutely that Flora was both the mother and the father of the embryos. It completely blew us away because it (parthenogenesis) has never been seen in such a large species," Buley explained.

A Komodo dragon at London Zoo gave birth earlier this year after being separated from males for more than two years.

Scientists thought she had been able to store sperm from her earlier encounter with a male but, after hearing about Flora's eggs, researchers conducted tests which showed her eggs were also produced without male help.

"You have two institutions within a few short months of each other having a previously unheard of event. It is really quite unprecedented," said Buley.

The scientists, reporting the discovery in the science journal Nature, said it could help them understand how reptiles colonize new areas. A female dragon could, for instance, swim to another island and establish a new colony on her own.

"The genetics of self-fertilization in lizards means that all her hatchlings would have to be male. These would grow up to mate with their own mother and therefore, within one generation, there would potentially be a population able to reproduce normally on the new island," Buley added.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Paris Hilton tops Google News rankings

The popularity of Paris Hilton remains undimmed, according to the latest search data released by Google.

The heiress, famous for her television show The Simple Life and pornographic film One Night in Paris, was the number one news topic searched for by Google users.

'Orlando Bloom' came in second and 'cancer' came third. Further down the list were a number of major news events, with 'Hurricane Katrina' at fifth, 'NFL draft pick' in ninth and 'celebrity big brother 2006' tenth.
The data on searches from Google's main site reveals important trends in internet use. The two top searched terms, 'bebo' and 'myspace' are social networking sites.

Web 2.0 sites also polled well, with Wikipedia, Metacafe and Radioblog all making the top 10.
The site for a Spanish soap opera, Rebelde, came in at eighth, reflecting the increasing internationalism of the internet.
- 2006 Year-End Google Zeitgeist

Will It Blend? - IPOD

Check the Video Below to see if an IPOD could be "blended"!

Coming Soon ... an Ice Blended Ipod!

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Woman Puts Baby Through Airport X-Ray

A woman mistakenly put her 1-month-old grandson through an X-ray machine at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said.

A startled security worker noticed the shape of a child on the carry-on baggage screening monitor and immediately pulled him out, the Los Angeles Times reported for a story in Wednesday's editions.

The infant was taken to a local hospital, where doctors determined he did not receive a dangerous dose of radiation.

"This was an innocent mistake by an obviously inexperienced traveler," said Paul Haney, deputy executive director of airports and security for the city's airport agency.

The incident happened early Saturday, airport officials said.

Haney said in 1988, an infant in a car seat went through an X-ray machine at the Los Angeles airport.

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Two-Headed Reptile Fossil Found

The reptile was unearthed in rocks from northeastern China
Scientists have found what is thought to be the first example of a two-headed reptile in the fossil record.

The abnormal animal, belonging to a group of aquatic reptiles, was unearthed in northeastern China and dates to the time of the dinosaurs.

The specimen reveals that it must have been very young when it died and became fossilised, says lead researcher Eric Buffetaut.

Details of the fossil appear in the UK Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

This animal was a choristoderan, an extinct reptile that reached a length of one metre in adulthood and was characterised by a long neck - two in this case.

The animal's spinal column divided in two at the point where the neck emerges from the body. This formed two long necks that ended in two skulls.
Choristoderans seem to have been common aquatic reptiles during the Cretaceous Period (144 to 65 million years ago) in what is now northeastern China.

"To my knowledge, it is the only record of a vertebrate fossil showing that kind of malformation," Dr Buffetaut, director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, France.

"Living animals like this are known. But if you compare the number of reptiles born with two heads with the total number of reptiles born, it is very small.

More than 400 two-headed snakes have been recorded"So the chances of finding a fossil like this are extremely low."

The abnormality is known to occur with some frequency in modern reptiles; about 400 cases of two-headed snakes have been recorded in historic times.

It is thought this can occur as a result of injury to an embryo.
The specimen comes from Cretaceous rocks in the Yixian Formation of northeastern China. It is now held at the Shenzhen Museum in southern China.

Eminem Divorces Wife for Second Time in 1 Year

Eminem and Kim Mathers agreed to divide property under terms of a private settlement and to share custody of their 10-year-old daughter, Hailie Jade Scott. They told a judge they understood the divorce was final.
The couple "conducted themselves with dignity and respect," Circuit Judge Antonio P. Viviano said. "All in all, they are a very fine couple to deal with."

Eminem, 34, declined to comment after the brief hearing as two men whisked him into a black Cadillac Escalade. Mathers, 31, did not speak to reporters.

Eminem and Mathers remarried Jan. 14. He filed for divorce April 5. They first married in 1999 in a secret ceremony in Missouri, and divorced in 2001.

Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, has won nine Grammy Awards, including best rap album, for "The Slim Shady LP," "The Marshall Mathers LP" and "The Eminem Show." He won an Oscar for the song "Lose Yourself" from "8 Mile," the semi-autobiographical 2002 film in which he starred.

Condoms 'Too Big' for Indian men

A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.

The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.

It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India.
The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre.

The scientists even checked their sample was representative of India as a whole in terms of class, religion and urban and rural dwellers.

The conclusion of all this scientific endeavour is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimetres shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture.

Doctor Chander Puri, a specialist in reproductive health at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told the BBC there was an obvious need in India for custom-made condoms, as most of those currently on sale are too large.

The issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate.

And the country already has the highest number of HIV infections of any nation.
'Not a problem'

Mr Puri said that since Indians would be embarrassed about going to a chemist to ask for smaller condoms there should be vending machines dispensing different sizes all around the country.

"Smaller condoms are on sale in India. But there is a lack of awareness that different sizes are available. There is anxiety talking about the issue. And normally one feels shy to go to a chemist's shop and ask for a smaller size condom."

But Indian men need not be concerned about measuring up internationally according to Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men's magazine Maxim.

"It's not size, it's what you do with it that matters," he said.

"From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well.

"With apologies to the poet Alexander Pope, you could say, for inches and centimetres, let fools contend."

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Japanese finds scorpion in jeans

A Japanese woman trying on a pair of jeans in a shop got a shock when she was stung by a scorpion hidden inside.

The woman, on the southern island of Okinawa, ended up in hospital for five days as a result of the sting, which was not life-threatening.

Local health officials captured the 5cm (2 inch) scorpion, which was believed to be a Chinese bark scorpion.

It is thought to have travelled inside the jeans from China, where they were made.
Officials told the Mainichi Daily News that the woman, who was not named, felt a sudden pain in her right knee as she tried the trousers on.

When she rubbed the area with her hand, the scorpion then stung her right index finger.

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