Saturday, March 31, 2007

Catholics angry over naked chocolate Jesus in NY

A life-size sculpture of a naked Jesus made out of chocolate has angered Roman Catholic leaders, and a Manhattan art gallery is reconsidering whether to exhibit it during the Easter season.

The sculpture "My Sweet Lord" by Cosimo Cavallaro was to be exhibited for two hours each day next week in a street-level window of the Roger Smith Lab Gallery in Midtown Manhattan. It was set to open on Monday, days ahead of Good Friday when Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus.

"We're considering our options," Matthew Semler, the gallery's artistic director, said on Friday. "We're still assessing the situation."

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a boycott of the affiliated Roger Smith Hotel, writing to 500 religious and secular organizations.

"This is an assault on Christians during Holy Week," said Kiera McCaffrey, director of communications for the league, which describes itself as the largest U.S. Catholic civil-rights group.

"They would never dare do something similar with a chocolate statue of the prophet Mohammad naked with his genitals exposed during Ramadan," she said.

The archbishop of New York called it "scandalous" and a "sickening display."

"The Catholic community is alerted to this offense of our faith and sensitivities. This is something we will not forget," Cardinal Edward Egan said in a statement.

Semler said the hotel had no knowledge of what the gallery planned to show and was being unfairly targeted. Moreover, he said the work was not irreverent.

"It's intended as a meditation on the Holy Week," Semler said of the sculpture, which depicts Jesus as if on the cross. Easter Sunday, this year April 8, is celebrated as the day of Jesus' resurrection.

A photo of the piece on the artist's Web site ( shows the work suspended in air.

New York is familiar with clashes between art and religion.

In 1999, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani threatened to withdraw a grant from the Brooklyn Museum of Art for a painting depicting the Virgin Mary as a black woman splattered with elephant dung adorned with cut-outs from pornographic magazines.

Current Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking a different approach.

"If you want to give the guy some publicity, talk more about it, make a big fuss," Bloomberg told WABC radio. "If you want to really hurt him, don't pay attention."

Ribena's Response to the Lack-Of Vitamin C case

You may have heard recently some Ribena drinks in Australia and New Zealand have been found to contain less Vitamin C than stated on pack. The case came about because the method we had used for testing Australian and New Zealand products was not sensitive enough to measure the natural break down in Vitamin C that occurs over time while this type of product is on shelf.

First things first: we wanted to reassure you this isn’t the case in the UK. Ribena contains the levels of Vitamin C as stated on our packaging and we’re still committed to producing the same quality refreshment that’s been enjoyed in the UK for the last 70 years. During that time we've worked with three generations of blackcurrant growers to create the unique Ribena taste we know our consumers love.

We also wanted to let you know that people who consume Ribena are obviously our number one concern. It was never our intention to mislead consumers in Australia and New Zealand and we're really sorry this has happened. We’ve moved to a new method of testing Vitamin C levels in those countries and we’re also developing a new recipe for our drinks in Australia and New Zealand to ensure Vitamin C levels are maintained over shelf life.

If you have any questions then give us a bell on 0800 096 3666.

The Ribena Consumer Careline Team (UK)

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Britney Spears & Kevin Dederline Settle Divorce

LOS ANGELES - Britney Spears and Kevin Federline reached a settlement in their divorce Thursday, a spokesman for Federline's attorney said.
After a five-hour meeting with their attorneys present, Spears and Federline signed "a global settlement on all issues of their marriage," said Michael Sands, a spokesman for Federline's attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan.

Sands declined to elaborate on terms of the settlement, saying only that it covers child custody and financial matters.

Spears' attorney, Laura Wasser, declined to comment.

The settlement came more than a week after Spears checked out of a luxurious rehab center. During her nearly one-month stay at Promises Malibu Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment Facility, Spears and Federline were under a temporary agreement that gave them joint custody of their two young sons.

When Spears filed for divorce on Nov. 7, the pop star cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for ending her two-year marriage to Federline. She sought custody of the children, with visitation rights for Federline.

Federline counter-filed court papers the following day seeking sole custody of their boys — 6-month-old Jayden James and 18-month-old Sean Preston — and for spousal support.

Malaysia's Noah Ark

A huge structure, built by a cult that promised its followers smooth sailing into the hereafter, is headed for doom.

Purportedly the Noah’s Ark of modern times, followers of the late Sulaiman Mohd Said, who once predicted that the people of Klang would perish in a terrible flood, built the boat-like structure that is now close to ruin.

Sulaiman persuaded his followers, that when the floods came, they would be the chosen ones to sail away to safety with him in the “vessel.”

The Selangor state government now wants to tear down the building.

“Yes, the building will go. The order to demolish has been given to the Klang land office,” said state executive councillor in charge of religious affairs Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil.

The state government made the decision in August last year, to wipe out any memory of the deviant Ajaran Sulaiman or Ajaran Bahtera Noah.

Sources from the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) said Sulaiman did not know how to read the Quran nor did he have any formal religious education.

Apart from claiming that his so-called Noah’s Ark would save mankind, he also claimed to be the Prophet Isa (Jesus).

Jais sources said the movement had wanted its followers and their families to move into the vessel and make it their “mothership.”

Jais had kept a close watch on the leaders since the cult surfaced and banned the movement in the early 1990s.

The mammoth structure – which stretches like a row of terrace houses and includes a surau, two towering masts, portholes and Quranic verses on the wall – is located in a remote village in Meru Barat.

A check by The Star showed the structure had long been abandoned, but the locked entrance was guarded by two hissing geese.

Sulaiman purportedly set up the movement in 1989, by registering it as a business entity with a capital of RM2.5mil and is said to have envisioned a global Islamic enterprise.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Manila Hostage

Children look out of a school bus in Manila today. Two armed men took over the school bus on Wednesday and were holding 32 children and two teachers hostage, police and television reports said.

Live Snakes & Human Foetus as Valentine Gifts?

A spurned doctor is believed to be behind the “gifts” of live snakes and dead human foetus to a 22-year-old undergraduate in Bayan Lepas here.

State CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Datuk Abdul Samah Mat said yesterday that police would be calling up the doctor, in his 30s, soon on the matter.

“Ten police reports ranging from intimidation, arson and child abandonment have been lodged against the doctor by the victim since February.

“We are now focusing on the doctor as it is not easy to obtain a human foetus. It would need someone with a medical background to do something like this,” he said when contacted.

SAC Abdul Samah said a post mortem showed that the male human foetus was between four and five months old but its race could not be determined.

On the numerous vulgar SMS messages allegedly received by the victim’s father, K. Krishnasamy, SAC Abdul Samah said police had identified the service provider and was now tracing the registered owner.

On Sunday, K. Puvaneswary received a dead foetus wrapped in a red plastic bag. The “gift” was placed on her elder sister’s car parked outside the house.

On Valentine’s Day, she received two live snakes in a parcel, which had
a note wishing her “Happy Valentine From Someone Who Cares.”

Her elder sister, Dhanalakshmi, 27, said that in other previous incidents her car was badly scratched while her father’s was splashed with paint. Burning paper had also been thrown into her house, damaging the kitchen, she added.

“My family’s nightmare began about three months ago after Puvaneswary rejected the advances of a doctor who was married,” she said.

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Bindi Irwin's New TV Show - Daughter of 'Crocodile Hunter'

Bubbly 8-year-old Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, will make her debut this summer as a nature-loving TV host.

"Bindi: The Jungle Girl," designed to help get more children interested in wildlife conservation, premieres June 9 on the Discovery Kids Channel.

Bindi will interact with a variety of animals, from koalas to elephants and snakes, while explaining how all animals — both cute and not-so-cute — need to be given respect and protection, the network said Tuesday.

She began filming with her father in early 2006.

Steve Irwin died last September after a stingray's poisonous barb pierced his chest while he was diving in the Great Barrier Reef. His wife, Terri, and Bindi, decided to finish filming the weekly series, the network said.

Steve Irwin will appear in scenes shot before his death and in other archival footage, Discovery publicist David Schaefer said Wednesday.

Bindi will also host "My Daddy the Croc Hunter," a one-hour special that will air June 8 on the Animal Planet. The special includes clips from Bindi's early childhood.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Most Effective "No Parking Sign"

Vandals or a person with a score to settle sent the car owner an explicit message. The owner is going to have a very bad day.

- Guess his Proton won't park there again. ... EVER!! -

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Best Anti Theft System for Trucks

The businessman tries to protect his shop and lorry by chaining them to each other. This may make it harder to thieves to steal his things.

Burglar Makes his Bed and Sleeps In It

A Beijing worker who broke into luxury villas to steal property and get a good night's sleep has been jailed for a year, state media reported Tuesday.

The court heard that Ye, a migrant worker, broke into five villas "out of curiosity," took showers, tried on clothes and slept in beds -- even when the householders were at home, the Shanghai Daily said.

When Ye found a woman sleeping in the house on his third break-in, he took a carton of milk from the fridge and went to bed on a separate floor, the paper said.

"The woman went to work the next morning, but Ye stayed on. She returned in the evening. When she was on the first floor, Ye went to the second floor, and vice versa," the paper said.

Ye was eventually caught at his fifth villa when the owner came home at 2 a.m. and called the police, having found a bathed and clean-shirted man watching his TV, the paper said

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Monster Cane Toad Found

A huge cane toad the size of a small dog has been captured in the Australian tropical city of Darwin, startling environmentalists who are fighting to stop the poisonous reptiles from spread across the country.

"It's a monster toad," said Paul Cowdy from FrogWatch which captured the cane toad Monday night.

"We've never seen a cane toad this big," he said on Tuesday. "It's a male and normally females are bigger."

The cane toad, regarded as a major pest in Australia, was one of 39 caught by a group from FrogWatch near Lee Point in Darwin. It measures 20.5 cm (8 inches) in length and weighs 840 grams (1.8 pounds) -- twice the normal weight.

Cane toads are one of Australia's worst environmental mistakes. The spread of the toads, whose skin is poisonous, has led to dramatic declines in populations of native snakes, goanna lizards and quolls, which are cat-sized marsupials.

"We capture them, put them in plastic bags, freeze them and turn them into liquid fertilizer," Cowdy said of the cane toads.

Cane toads were introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to control native cane beetles. There are now more than 200 million.

New Type of Crocodile Belt

A Palestinian woman wearing a strangely bulging robe was caught at the Gaza-Egypt border trying to smuggle three baby crocodiles strapped to her waist, an official said Monday.

The reptiles, their jaws tied shut, were apparently bound for a Gaza zoo, said Maria Telleria, a spokeswoman for European observers who run the Rafah crossing.

"She looked strangely fat," Telleria said, explaining why the woman was ordered by a policewoman to submit to a search as she tried to enter Gaza from Egypt Thursday.

Surprised by the three crocodiles, the policewoman screamed, other guards raced to the scene and the reptiles were eventually turned over to authorities on the Egyptian side of the border, Telleria said by telephone.

"Two months ago, we had people who tried to cross with baby lions in their suitcases, and we have had many incidents in which travelers attempted to smuggle in exotic birds," the spokeswoman said.

Ribena Exposed - Contains No Vitamin C & Sued $217,000

It is a household name which has become one of the world's best-known fruit drinks and is enjoyed by children in 22 countries across the globe.

But it took only two school pupils to tackle the might of the makers of Ribena in a court case which ended in the company being fined almost £80,000 for misleading advertising.

The case came to court in New Zealand after students Anna Devathasan and Jenny Suo challenged claims over levels of vitamin C in the blackcurrant drink.

Ribena is sold as a healthy drink by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), with advertisements stating that it has more vitamin C than orange juice.

But when the then 14-year-old classmates tested the syrup-based drink as part of a science project in 2004, they discovered that it contained almost no trace of vitamin C.

A lawsuit was filed by the Commerce Commission, the national consumer watchdog, and yesterday GSK admitted 15 charges of misleading advertising between 2002 and 2006.

The company was fined 217,000 New Zealand dollars (£80,000) and was ordered to run corrective adverts and post a message on its website.

Ms Devathasan, who was with Ms Suo in court, said the pair felt "quite proud".

She added: "If we hadn't done that science test three years ago, Ribena could have been promoted as vitamin C full for ever. We're just blown away that anything we could have started as a consumer could have blown up into something so huge."

Adverts in New Zealand claimed that Ready to Drink Ribena had 7mg of the vitamin per 100ml. The high school students found that the drink had almost no trace of vitamin C.

The Commerce Commission said that the company's behaviour was a massive breach of trust with the public.

GSK told the court that it had not deliberately set out to mislead consumers but that the fault lay with its testing methods.

Source1 Source2
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Toddlers Learn from Eavesdropping on other People

Never underestimate toddlers.

Even at the tender age of 18 months they are able to observe adults and use the emotional reactions they see to shape their own behavior, according to a new study.

Researchers describe it as "emotional eavesdropping" -- watching and listening to people to understand emotional dynamics.

"This may be a precursor to ‘reading' other people's minds by understanding their emotional and psychological states," said Betty Repacholi, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington.

She and her colleague Andrew Meltzoff said their findings, which are published in the journal of Child Development, show how sensitive toddlers are to the interactions of adults.

"They don't need to try out a behavior of their own and get rewarded or punished, they can watch what an older brother or sister does and learn from what happens to them," said Meltzoff, who is co-director of the university's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

"This study helps fill in a missing piece, because it shows the children engage in ‘emotional eavesdropping.' Children have their emotional antenna up all the time and they learn from eavesdropping on the behaviors of others," he added in a statement.

The researchers observed how babies reacted as they watched as one adult played with a toy and a second person expressed anger or a neutral reaction.

In one experiment the 96 toddlers were allowed to play with the toy and imitate what the first adult had been doing after the second adult had left the room, or had remained and looked at the child with a neutral expression.

In another test 72 babies played with the toy while the second adult either turned her back on the child, looked at the toddler or pretended to read a magazine.

All the children were interested in what the first adult had been doing and imitated the actions most of the time. But if the second adult remained in the room, it took the toddlers longer to take the toy and they were not as successful in imitating the action of the first adult.

Both boys and girls reacted in the same way.

The researchers said the study shows children modify their behavior in response to emotional communications that do not involve them. They learn important lessons from observing others.

"Infants can use emotional eavesdropping to avoid some of the negative consequences that might arise were they to perform an action themselves. It is also a pretty adaptive way of interpreting what is important and what they can get away with," Repacholi added.

So Anna Nicole Died of An Accidental Drug Overdose

An accidental overdose of prescription drugs including a potent sedative killed Anna Nicole Smith, officials said on Monday, ending weeks of uncertainty over the tabloid star's sudden death.

There was no evidence that illegal drugs or foul play had a role in the death of the former Playboy Playmate, who collapsed on February 8 in a Florida hotel, triggering a media frenzy.

Her death also sparked a legal feud over her burial and a custody and paternity battle over her 6-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, who could one day inherit millions as the only surviving offspring of the 39-year-old widow of a billionaire.

"We are convinced, based on an extensive view of the evidence, that this case is an accidental overdose with no other criminal elements present," said Police Chief Charlie Tiger. "We found nothing to indicate any foul play."

Smith suffered severe depression after the death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel, who died of a drug overdose in September at a Bahamas hospital after Dannielynn was born, said Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper.

She complained of chills when she arrived in Florida on February 5 and was later found to be running a 105 degree (40.5 Celsius) fever caused by the perforation of an abscess in her left buttock, Perper said.

"It is our determination that the cause of death is combined drug toxicity as a result of chloral hydrate and a therapeutic concentration of other medications," he said.

. . . more

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These DIGI Yellow Guys are Everywhere!!!

Little Rachel Chan gets to meet DiGi’s ‘yellow men’

Little Rachel Chan had been so enchanted by the yellow men on TV that she wanted to meet them. So the seven-year-old wrote them a letter.

“DiGi man, can you come to my house please? I like you because you are yellow.

“I see you on TV, you follow people; please, please, please come to my house and follow me to school.”

Yesterday, she got her wish. The yellow men showed up at her doorstep.

Two DiGi Yellow Coverage Fellows (YCF) came to her house in Taman Megah here and the little girl hid shyly behind her mother when she saw them. But not for long.

Soon, she started dancing and gave jumping high fives to the duo.

Her first question was, “Why can’t they talk?”, which drew laughter from DiGi officials who explained to her that the YCF was like its namesake, a figure to represent a mobile phone's coverage capacity.

She then asked whether the YCF came in other colours besides yellow.

“Are there green or blue DiGi men, Mummy?

“Why aren't they doing the 'boing-boing' dance now?” the Year Two pupil asked.

Rachel, who first saw the antics of the YCF on television following mobile phone users to illustrate DiGi's wide coverage, had written the letter several weeks ago.

Without Rachel's knowledge, her mother Esther Lai forwarded the letter to the mobile communications provider.

“Almost every night before I tuck Rachel to bed we would download video clips of the YCF from the Internet and we would always have a good laugh watching what my daughter calls the 'boing-boing' dance.

“Even when we pass a DiGi outlet, she would ask me whether the DiGi man was inside hiding somewhere,” said Lai.

Rachel was chauffeur-driven in an MPV and accompanied by both YCFs to her school here yesterday, much to the envy of her schoolmates who were assembled in the hall.

Pandemonium filled the hall as the two YCFs thrilled the thousand-odd students with their “boing-boing dance.”

They also handed out candies and other goodies to them.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Movie Pirates spraying Chemicals on DVDs to deter Dogs

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Movie pirates are spraying chemicals on their bootleg DVDs to confuse two U.S.-loaned dogs who this month helped Malaysian authorities sniff out nearly 1 million illegal discs, an official said Monday.

The two female Labradors have been trained to detect polycarbonate chemicals used in manufacturing discs. But officials received a tip-off that bootleggers are using chemical sprays to throw Lucky and Flo off the scent, said Fahmi Kassim, the Domestic Trade Ministry's enforcement chief in southern Johor state.

"The pirates are believed to be desperate because the dogs were so successful," Fahmi told The Associated Press.

Ministry authorities last week said the dogs were moved to a safe house after a source informed them that DVD and CD pirates were offering a bounty to anyone who could kill the dogs, which are on loan for at least a month from the Motion Picture Association of America.

The dogs, which began sniffing out disc shipments at Malaysia's main airport on March 13, won acclaim when they traveled south to Johor, helping officials uncover 1 million pirated DVDs, CDs and computer game discs worth $2.8 million in an office complex on March 19.

Fahmi declined to say whether Lucky and Flo were still in Johor, citing security reasons. However, the dogs have not taken part in any raids in Johor since last week's effort, he said.

The large seizure has not crippled pirates, Fahmi said, noting that authorities in Johor, which borders Singapore, found several retail outlets selling pirated discs over the weekend.

"We believe the pirates wanted to show off their strength, to show that they managed to reorganize and reopen their business even after we confiscated so many discs," Fahmi said.

Malaysia is among the world's main producers and exporters of pirated discs, the U.S. government and the MPAA have said. According to the Malaysian government, 5 million discs were seized in more than 2,000 raids nationwide last year, and 780 people were arrested.

The MPAA says Lucky and Flo's work in this Southeast Asian country is the first time authorities anywhere in the world have used dogs to detect contraband discs. Malaysian officials have said they will consider training their own canines to perform similar tasks.

A Couple Fell 60 Feet Off a Cruise Ship in Gulf of Mexico

A man and a woman fell overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday, but both were rescued after a four-hour search and appeared to be in good condition, a cruise line spokeswoman said.

The 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman fell 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 meters) from a cabin balcony, said Julie Benson, spokeswoman for Princess Cruises.

She said the cruise line did not know how they fell overboard. Their ship, Princess Cruise's Grand Princess, was about 150 miles (240 kilometers) off the coast of Galveston, Texas, at the time.

The captain turned the ship around after friends of the man and woman notified the crew at about 1:30 a.m. CDT (0630 GMT) that they had gone overboard, Benson said. The ship's crew used high-powered spotlights and rescue boats in the search. One passenger was rescued by the ship's boats at 5:30 a.m. (1030 GMT) and the other at 6 a.m. (1100 GMT), according to a statement by the cruise line.

The search was aided by the Coast Guard, said Lt. j.g. Jillian Lamb at the District 8 Command Center. A nearby cruise ship also offered assistance, she said.

The man and woman, whom the cruise line declined to name, were examined by the ship's medical staff.

"They appear to be in satisfactory condition and we hope that no further medical attention will be needed,'' Benson said.

Grand Princess was carrying 2,783 passengers on a seven-day tour of the western Caribbean.

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Turtles Make Soup of 300

And so it came to pass that 300 was vanquished by...a bunch of turtles.

TMNT, the CGI-animated restart of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, scored a weekend-best $25.5 million at the box office, Exhibitor Relations Co. estimates said.

After two weekends at number one, the battle-tested 300 slipped to second, with a still-sizeable $20.5 million. All told, the manly man epic has bench-pressed $162.4 million, the year's biggest gross to date.

TMNT's win was big, but not huge. Among animated movies, its opening ranks between 1998's The Rugrats Movie ($27.3 million) and last year's Open Season ($23.6 million), and far, far away from the likes of the Pixar or Shrek movies, per Box Office Mojo stats.

Among previous crime-fighting turtle entries, TMNT's $25.5 million debut was the biggest yet, provided you don't account for inflation. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, released back in 1990 when the reptiles were portrayed by people in theme-park costumes, and consumers were sufficiently literate to respond to non-abbreviated titles, opened with an even-more impressive $25.4 million, according to figures from Exhibitor Relations.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Humor in Church Signage

"Fight Truth Decay" is a favorite. "Come in for a Free Faith Lift," is another -- two examples of the toe-curling puns plastered across so many notice boards outside British churches.

Now the hunt is on for the best pulpit pun, with a 500 pound ($985) prize for the number one religious slogan.

"It never fails to amaze us how many interesting posters there are," said Margaret Slater of the church property specialists Congregational & General Insurance who are organizing the competition.

"Some of the puns really make you smile and we've seen some great examples of creative copywriting too," she added.

Among the classics she cited were "Chxxch -- Have you guessed what's missing. UR!" and "God, You're Great!"

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3 Thieves snatch US $12,000 in Underwear

Three brazen New Jersey shoplifters made off with nearly $12,000 in women's underwear by stuffing the goods into bags designed to foil anti-theft equipment at a Victoria's Secret store while the shop was open for business, police said.

Surveillance cameras captured two men and one woman jamming undergarments into large bags and walking past customers and staff into the Newport Center Mall in Jersey City.

Police said the thieves took over $6,900 in panties and more than $4,900 in bras. Victoria's Secret bras retail from $30 to over $50. Panties cost between $5 and $20, according to the company's website.

No arrests have been made since the crime was reported Tuesday night, said Lt. Edgar Martinez, spokesman for the Jersey City police department.

"This isn't something we've seen before. It's a lot of underwear to take," said Martinez.

If Only Dogs Can Read

A sign painted outside an unoccupied house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

Purity Balls : Young Girls Vow to Put off Sex until Marriage

"Dream dates" have a whole new meaning for a growing group of teenage girls.

The young ladies get dressed up from head to toe -- all for a formal night out with their fathers.

The focus is on bonding, and promising to stay pure until marriage.

The Markle sisters are primping for a big dance, but for the girls, there's one important difference: their date is their dad.

And the big dance???

It's called a Purity Ball.

It has all the hallmarks of a wedding: vows are exchanged, there's a white cake, even a first dance.

But instead of fathers giving away their daughters' hands, they're holding on tight.

One dad said, "As a father, I here pledge to protect my daughter and to respect her."

"In today's day and age, if the daughters are sexually active before they're married, that ceremony really is meaningless because the father's not giving anyone away," said dad Brett Markle.

Tonight, the girls make a solemn pledge to their father.

Sarah Markle, 12 years old, said, "I'm going to stay pure until I'm married, and I'm not going to date or kiss a boy or anything until I'm married."

Purity balls like this one are growing in popularity.

There were dozens held last year -- some paid for partly with federal money from President Bush's abstinence initiative funds.

But critics say if these girls are only learning abstinence, they're not being taught important information about STD's and condoms.

"I could see it winding up in more teenage pregnancies and that type of thing, because they don't know everything that they need to know," said Deanne Keegan, a United Church of Christ youth counselor.

Brittany Baysor admits it might be tough to keep the pledge.

Baysor, a freshman at a public high school, took the pledge. She said, "Some of the boys joke around with it. They say it won't work. They think I'm going to get drunk at a party sometime and have sex with the first guy I meet."

But the dads at this event say they don't care what the world has to say, because they believe their relationship with their daughters will help them stay strong.

The first Purity Ball was thrown in 1998 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Today, hundreds are planned each year in cities across the country.

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Priceless Metalwork Stolen from Penang Church

Empty space: Chin (right) inspecting the wall where the metalwork used to be hung while pastoral committee vice-chairman David Wong looks on.
A priceless antique metalwork depicting Jesus falling while on his way to Calvary to be crucified has been stolen from the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Balik Pulau here.

Pastoral committee chairman Anthony Chin, 67, said the century-old work was part of a 14-piece set specially procured from Italy for the church.

“My wife Agnes Loh and me were praying at the 153-year-old church at 7.30pm on Feb 23 when we noticed that the metalwork had gone missing from the wall.

“We initially thought that it had fallen off but a check showed otherwise. A report was lodged at the Balik Pulau police station four days later,” he said yesterday.

“We then informed the 3,000-strong parishioners to be on the lookout for the item but to no avail. We are hoping that whoever took the item would return it to us.”

Chin said at least two thieves could be involved as the antique was quite heavy.

“They must have then carried the metalwork out of the church. The door was locked from the outside but could be opened from the inside without a key.

He assured the thieves that no action would be taken against them if they returned the irreplaceable item.

“They can just leave it at the church’s doorstep. It is of no use to anyone but it is of great spiritual value to the church parishioners.

“Anyone who has seen such a metal work can also call me at (04-866 8581) or my handphone (012-576 3063). All information received will be treated as confidential,” he said.

Chin said two antique porcelain flower stands, which were part of a set of five, placed next to the altar were also stolen from the church in December.

“The pastoral committee is considering installing a CCTV system. Additional locks have already been placed on the doors,” he said

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Friday, March 23, 2007

God-Fearing Villagers Snub "satanic" Bar Codes

A hundred residents of a Russian village have refused to switch to new passports because they believe the documents' bar codes contain satanic symbols, state television reported Wednesday.

"We believe these new passports are sinful," Valentina Yepifanova, an elderly resident of the village Bogolyubovo, told Rossiya television as she clutched an old, tattered passport she said she wanted to keep.

"They have these bar codes and people say they contain three sixes. We are against that."

Some residents of Bogolyubovo, which means "God-loving" in Russian, have also stopped collecting their pensions at the local post office because the payment slips also have bar codes that might contain the mark of the devil, Rossiya TV reported.

Antarctic melting may be speeding up

Rising sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets are at upper limits of projections, leaving some human population centers already unable to cope, top world scientists say as they analyze latest satellite data.

A United Nations report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February projected sea level gains of 18-59 centimeters (7-23 inches) this century from temperature rises of 1.8-4.0 Celsius (3.2-7.8 Farenheit).

"Observations are in the very upper edge of the projections," leading Australian marine scientist John Church told Reuters.

"I feel that we're getting uncomfortably close to threshold," said Church, of Australia's CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research said.

Past this level, parts of the Antarctic and Greenland would approach a virtually irreversible melting that would produce sea level rises of meters, he said.

There has been no repeat in the Antarctic of the 2002 break-up of part of the Larsen ice shelf that created a 500 billion ton iceberg as big as Luxembourg.

But the Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, and glaciers are in massive retreat.

Man Shoots at Condo for Blocking Out Sunlight

A Japanese man angry that a new apartment building put his house in the shade was arrested after shooting about a dozen bullets at it with a competition rifle.

Police said the man apparently fired at the 11-storey building, which was completed last October, from a window on the third floor of his house, a distance of roughly 164 feet.

"He felt the building management didn't take a sincere attitude toward his complaints that the building was keeping sunlight from reaching his house," a police spokesman in the western city of Kyoto said.

Nobody was injured in the shootings but walls, railings and two lights on the apartment building were damaged.

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Michelle Yeoh planning 3 Wedding Banquets

Actress Datuk Michelle Yeoh, 44, who is engaged to Ferrari motor-racing team boss Jean Todt, 61, is planning wedding banquets in Italy, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Wedding belle-to-be: Yeoh, seen here posing backstage during the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong on Tuesday, said Todt had popped the question but the wedding date hasn’t been set yet.
The former Miss Malaysia announced this as she arrived at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong on the arm of French film director Luc Besson on Tuesday night, The Straits Times of Singapore reported yesterday.

Sporting a diamond ring on her right ring finger, she told reporters, “Actually, you have seen this ring a few times.”

She said Todt, who is French and has a Ferrari racing manager son, had popped the question and added, “The date hasn’t been set but it should be soon.”

She said she would start preparing for her nuptials after wrapping up Babylon A.D., a Hollywood sci-fi thriller.

This will be her second marriage. Her first, to Hong Kong tycoon Dickson Poon, ended in divorce after three years in 1991.

It was her ex-boyfriend Thomas Chung, a Hong Kong movie producer, who introduced her to Todt in June 2004. Three months later, Todt announced that they were engaged but Yeoh denied it the next day.

Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily said she accepted his proposal just months ago.

In Ipoh, Yeoh’s mother Datin Janet Yeoh said she was in the dark over her daughter’s plan to marry Todt, HAH FOONG LIAN reports.

“Michelle didn’t tell me anything. I don’t know anything about it,” she said when contacted yesterday.

Janet added that her daughter would tell her if she has set the wedding date, and she (the mother) would inform the local media.

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Best Parking if You're Late for College

The driver of this car was speeding and shot off from a parking space area near Desa Palma, Bandar Baru Nilai through a metal bar and fence and dropped into the Inti International College hostel grounds at 11.45am on Monday. The driver and passenger were unhurt but the car was badly damaged.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Putrajaya Landslide buries 23 cars, 1,200 evacuated

Around 1,200 residents were evacuated early Thursday morning when a part of a 12m high hillslope crashed down on a parking lot, burying 23 cars under tonnes of soil and undergrowth.

The force of the landslide flipped over some cars and crushed them.

The soil came to a halt mere inches away from a kindergarten housed at one of the blocks.

However, no one was injured in the 4am incident.

Residents from 330 units of three blocks of 15-storey high apartments in Precinct 9, were asked to evacuate by the police immediately after the incident.

According to officials a special committee had been formed to study the safety of the hillslope as an open reservoir holding over 40 million litres of water sits on the hilltop.

One of the official said the committee would be carrying out soil and various other tests to determine the cause and ensure the area was safe.

The apartments are the residential quarters for civil servants from the various ministries in the administrative capital.

Some 150 police were then dispatched to secure the area affected.

A 12-member Smart team and 36 firemen, together with five sniffer dogs, were also reined in.

One resident Mohamad Haidhir Hamzah, 32, whose Naza Citra car was buried under the heap of soil, said he was woken up by a loud noise at around 3.30am but went back to sleep thinking that it was merely noise from the construction area behind his apartment in Block B.

"It's usual for us to hear such noises because of the movements of construction lorries and machinery. So, I thought it was one of those times.

"But then I was woken up by the police informing me to evacuate the premises immediately with my wife and toddler daughter. I didn't even have time to bring any food or clothes with me," he said.

Usually he would not park his car at the lot behind the apartment.

"But I came back at 5pm on Wednesday and my parking lot was already full so I had to move my car there," he said. He added the car was only a year old.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who turned up around 9.30am to inspect the damage and spoke to the residents, said affected civil servants could take time off to deal with the problem.

"Ikram (Public Works Institute of Malaysia) has yet to give us an initial assessment of the damage as well as the condition of the ground.

"I am sure they will turn up for work as soon as the matter is settled," he said, adding that the Government would look into all matters, including the issue of aid and compensation for those affected.

Putrajaya Corporation chairman Tan Sri Samsuddin Osman said it had made arrangements for residents to be temporarily placed at the community hall in Precinct 9.

"I have been told by Ikram that the building is stable but they want to conduct further tests on the ground. If they decide that it will be too dangerous for the residents to return, we will arrange for them to stay in the apartments in Precinct 14," he said.

Putrajaya police chief Supt Abdul Razak Abdul Hamid said the landslide measured some nine to 12-metre high and covered a three-metre wide area.

"We have determined that no one was hurt in the incident,” he said.

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Every 10 minutes 23 Road Users are Dying Worldwide

Every 10 minutes at least 23 road users lose their lives while another 1,000 people are seriously injured due to road accidents worldwide.

Most of the deaths occurred in developing countries, raising alarm bells that fatalities from road accidents would overtake AIDS as the leading cause of unnatural deaths by 2020.

These are among some of the startling statistics revealed during a briefing by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) to the Pahang state agencies during their stop here recently.

Among those who attended were representatives from the police, Road Transport Department, Road Safety Department, Public Works Department and the state Road Safety Council.

The iRAP briefing was conducted by technical officer Paul Van Damme of the ARRB Group.

He said iRAP had been adopted in 30 countries worldwide with Malaysia being the first in the Asian region to take up the programme.

"Presently, we are conducting pilot studies here, South Africa, Costa Rica and Chile.

"Our survey is funded by Federation Internationale Automobile (FIA) and Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM)," he said.

Van Damme said so far, AAM had allocated RM200,000 towards the purchase of the survey vehicle, equipment and other operational cost.

He said Malaysia was chosen at the request of AAM through its affiliation with FIA and the fact that the Malaysian government was very supportive of road safety measures, in addition to having a comprehensive set of data.

Road Safety Department assistant director Raymond Teoh said the survey would assess over 3,000km of roads in Peninsular Malaysia.

He said so far, the survey team had covered more than half of the journey, mostly along federal and coastal roads.

"Our next stop will be Johor and Malacca before going back to our headquarters in Putrajaya.

"The information we collected through three surveillance cameras would be analysed before a rating is given to the roads.

"A rating of four star means the road is very safe while one is the least," he said to questions from members of the press.

Teoh said the results of the survey would be made public in a special ceremony in July.

"It is up to the Government and the relevant authorities to take up the recommendations by the survey team.

"This is a good start in making Malaysian roads safer with strategic partners to complement one another," he said.

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Is 07/07/07 the Perfect Day for a Wedding?

Thousands of U.S. couples planning to tie the knot this year aren't leaving their chances of marital success to love alone, with a rush to marry on what some see as the luckiest day of the year -- 07/07/07 (7 July 2007).

The number seven is considered by many to be lucky, with seven a perfect number in the Bible, Buddha walking seven steps at his birth, and seven lucky gods in Japanese mythology. In the game bingo, the call is "Lucky Seven, God's in Heaven."

Wedding industry professionals are reporting venues fully booked across the United States for weddings on July 7 which falls on a Saturday, and wedding planners, florists, bakers have experienced a surge in demand for services that day.

"The number seven is associated with luck and couples believe that having all sevens would add that extra hint of luck. Also, it is an easy date for their spouse to remember," said Kristin Ciccolella, co-founder of online wedding site

WedAlert's bride database shows 605 weddings planned for that date -- which is three times higher than on the equivalent Saturday a year ago.

One celebrity couple is joining the throng. U.S. actress Eva Longoria, a star of the television series "Desperate Housewives," and basketball player Tony Parker plan to marry in Paris on July 7.

"Tony is extremely superstitious and thinks 07/07/07 is the day most lucky to get married on," a source was recently quoted as telling the U.S. celebrity magazine US Weekly.

Las Vegas, which calls itself the "wedding capital of the world" as it processes over 100,000 marriages a year, said it had experienced a spike in demand for that day.

"Wedding chapels have reported couples booking further in advance to secure a slot on that desirable date and are booking as small as 15 minutes increments to accommodate as many couples as possible," said Erika Pope, spokeswoman of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

"People do tend to gravitate toward any date that is memorable -- like 01/01/01, or 02/02/02 -- and I think people enjoy the idea of saying they married in Vegas on 07/07/07."

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, not usually known as a wedding destination, has come up with a plan after realizing many would-be-brides were finding venues and vendors booked solid for July 7.

Wal-Mart said on Tuesday it was giving seven betrothed couples wedding ceremony and reception packages at local Wal-Mart Supercenters -- in the lawn and garden areas.

"Considering that the average American wedding costs a whopping $22,000 and requires multiple trips to various vendors, the betrothed will be delighted to save money and time at Wal-Mart," said a company statement.

But will a marriage on this magical date be different?

"Love is the foundation to a happy, solid and lasting marriage, not numerology," said Ciccolella. .

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At a Car Show, Do you Look at the Cars or the Women?

South Korean carmakers plan to cut down on the number of scantily clad models at the Seoul Motor Show hoping people will look at the cars instead.

The show, which starts in April, usually attracts thousands of camera-wielding men snapping pictures of young women models in revealing costumes whose images quickly make their way to Web sites in the world's most-wired country.

"We would rather have the spectators' attention on our cars than the attractive ladies," said Hyundai Motor Company spokesman Jake Jang.

Hyundai, which is unveiling several new models and a concept car called QarmaQ that uses lightweight plastics, will hire fewer models for the event. Its affiliate Kia will do the same.

Hyundai, with Kia, is the world's sixth-largest car maker.

Renault Samsung Motors, starting last year, changed the attire of its models from miniskirts to more modest business suits and gave them handheld computers to help answer questions, a company official said.

"When we look at motor shows overseas, the foreign brands did not have models with provocative clothing," the official said.

"It only seems to commercialize women and we want the car to shine, not the women."

China Hospitals Conned for Tea-as-Urine samples

A group of Chinese reporters came up with a novel idea to test how greedy local hospitals were -- pass off tea as urine samples and submit the drink for tests.

The results: six out of 10 hospitals in Hangzhou, the capital of the rich coastal province of Zhejiang, visited by the reporters over a two-day period this month concluded that the patients' urinal tracts were infected.

Five of the hospitals prescribed medication costing up to 400 yuan ($50), the online edition of the semi-official China News Service said in a report seen on Wednesday. Of the hospitals, four were state-owned.

"It makes one shiver all over even though it's not cold," the China News Service said after its reporters and colleagues from Zhejiang Television tested the hospitals

The Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper said in a commentary on Wednesday: "Healthy people are diagnosed with diseases. Small ailments are said to be serious problems. Patients have become automatic teller machines for the hospitals."

The failure of health reforms and rising costs of medical care have sparked social discontent and become flashpoints for unrest in the world's most populous nation, where millions cannot afford to consult doctors or buy medicine.

Health Minister Gao Qiang has accused greedy hospitals of charging excessive fees and prescribing unnecessary and expensive medication.

Market reforms in the past two decades have cut off state subsidies to many hospitals and left the health care system in need of life support.

State media have reported patients committing suicide because they cannot afford exorbitant medical costs.

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Viagra Replicas snapped up as Offerings to Ancestors

- Now things are getting scarry and weird in the after-life!!!

And what are they gonna do with it there ?-

CHINESE cemeteries are selling paper replicas of Viagra pills to be burned for dead relatives as a wish for satisfying sex in the afterlife, state media reported yesterday.

Customers are snapping up the paper Viagra, as well as images of condoms and heavily made-up bar girls ahead of the annual Tombsweeping Festival on April 5, the Nanjing Morning News reported.

Chinese have traditionally burned fake money in honour of dead relatives during the festival, when families clean their ancestors' tombs and graves.

They believe the wealth will accrue to their ancestors in the afterlife.

But China's move towards a more consumer-oriented society has seen new offerings including paper televisions, mobile phones, cars and other luxury items.

A commentary in the Beijing Morning Post yesterday called for a crackdown on the sex-related “vice” offerings.

However, it said efforts by authorities to halt the sales had been unsuccessful due to high demand.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Singapore Woman Received $45,000 Thru Online Dating Relationship

A married Singaporean woman who met a man in an online chatroom and conned him into giving her about $45,000 after she promised to marry him, was jailed for six months on Monday, court documents showed.

Maliha Ramu, 36, used a false name and photographs of Bollywood actress Gayatri Joshi when she began an online relationship with Bharani Indran, an Indian national living in the United States, according to the Straits Times newspaper.

After Ramu promised in 2004 to marry Indran, she asked him to send her a total of about $45,000 for her mother's funeral expenses and for a friend's wedding, according to the court documents.

Indran eventually grew suspicious of Ramu when she asked for more money and filed a police report in Singapore, the Straits Times said. The paper added that Ramu's husband had no idea she had struck up an online relationship until the police came to their apartment to arrest her in August.

"No sensible man will -- without seeing her in person first -- send so much money to a woman who claims she loves him and wants to marry him," Ramu's husband was quoted as saying in the Straits Times.

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Fly Bristish Airways First class Flight with a Corpse

A passenger in first class woke up to a shock when he found himself sitting near a corpse on a British Airways flight, British newspapers reported on Monday.

Paul Trinder, 54, said cabin crew moved the body of the elderly woman from the economy section where she had died after take-off, the Mirror and Sun tabloids said.

"The corpse was strapped into the seat but because of turbulence it kept slipping down on to the floor," Trinder, a businessman, was quoted as saying. "It was horrific. The body had to be wedged in place with lots of pillows."

The woman's daughter was also upgraded and spent the rest of the nine-hour flight from Delhi to London grieving next to her dead mother, the Sun reported.

The Guardian newspaper said the incident happened last week.

British Airways has apologized for any distress suffered, according to the reports. The Mirror quoted BA as saying: "We apologize, but our crew were working in difficult circumstances and chose the option they thought would cause least disruption."

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Britney Spears have LEFT REHAB!!

Britney Spears have LEFT REHAB!!

The pop star checked out of Promises Malibu Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment Facility "after successfully completing their program," the pop star's manager, Larry Rudolph, said in a statement released by Jive Records late Tuesday. "We ask that the media respects her privacy as well as those of her family and friends at this time."

Spears, 25, entered the facility Feb. 22, after a bout of bizarre behavior that included shaving her head, getting tiny lips tattooed on her wrist and beating a car with an umbrella, with photos of the incidents instantly beamed worldwide.

Spears' activities have been weekly magazine fodder since she filed for divorce from aspiring rapper Kevin Federline in November. The two have joint custody of their sons, Jayden James, 6 months, and Sean Preston, 18 months. Federline and the children reportedly visited Spears during her treatment.

Federline, an aspiring rapper who released his debut album in November, will celebrate his 29th birthday Wednesday with a party at West Hollywood nightclub Eleven. A second bash will be held at Pure Nightclub in Las Vegas on Saturday, said Federline's publicist, Marilyn Lopez.

Spears has not disclosed why she sought treatment at Promises, which offers detox, counseling and 12-step programs. A 30-day stay at the plush, oceanfront facility costs $48,000.

'Spiderman' returns... and nabbed

KUALA LUMPUR: Ten years after he caused a stir by attempting to scale the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers, "Spiderman" Alain Robert was back at it again.

And the Frenchman’s second attempt yesterday ended the way his first did in 1997 — with the authorities stopping him on the 60th floor.

Wearing a yellow shirt emblazoned with the words "Petronas Twin Tower 1 - 20th March 1997, Ten Years, Petronas Twin Tower 2 - 20th March 2007", the daredevil, who climbed without any gear, started his ascent at Tower 2 at 3.05pm.

However, he was stopped by the authorities who persuaded him to end his stunt. Robert agreed, but not before unfurling a Jalur Gemilang to the cheers of 500 onlookers below.

His stunt resulted in the police cordoning off the area below Tower 2, while a helicopter hovered nearby.

Fire and Rescue Department operations commander Christopher Chong said the department had received a call at 3.20pm.

"When we reached the scene about 3.45pm, he was already at the 55th floor. We decided to stop him on the 60th because there’s a ledge there.

"When he was at the 59th floor, he saw us and tried to move away but we managed to convince him to give up," Chong said, adding that Robert was taken away by the police.

Robert has climbed over 65 buildings around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, London’s Canary Wharf building, New York’s Empire State Building and Chicago’s Sears Tower.

Speaking to the New Straits Times, Robert said he initially wanted to climb at 8am to avoid people noticing, but the morning rain disrupted his plan.

"I don’t want to wait for the next day as the anniversary of my previous climb is today, so I decided to wait for an appropriate time," he said.

Robert, who was brought to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters, was well prepared for his arrest this time around.

In less than an hour, a group of his friends, including a Datuk and a lawyer, arrived at the police station to help him.

It was clear the 44-year-old was enjoying the attention and he was jubilant over his achievement — he even asked for champagne from one of his friends.

One of his close friends said Robert was a persistent person.

"He will not stop until he reaches the top of the Petronas Twin Towers and he will keep on trying," he said, adding that Robert had tried to get permission from the tower management.

Dang Wangi district police chief ACP Mohd Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman said Robert was detained for trespassing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Family Fights Back and kills Indonesian Robber

A 45-year-old Indonesian man who slashed four members of a family, including a four-year-old girl, was killed when his victims fought back during an attempted robbery at Taman Kuang early yesterday.

Police have launched a manhunt for his three accomplices who escaped when police, alerted by the neighbours, arrived.

Three of the victims were warded at the Seberang Jaya Hospital with slash wounds while the four-year-old was warded at a private hospital in Butterworth with injuries on the hands.

The drama unfolded when four men, including the deceased whom police identified as Mohamad Nor, of Riau, drove up to the home of Tan Swee Chiang in a Mitsubishi Storm at 6am.

Three of the men broke into the house while the driver remained in the vehicle.

They herded Tan, 57, his wife Ooi Siew Ling, 50, their sons Su Ching, 31, and Su Chuan, 28, and granddaughter Yee Sua into a room.

After ransacking the house, Mohamad demanded the keys to the family car.

Ooi, when met at the Seberang Jaya Hospital, said they were so shaken up that they could not remember where the keys were.

"The robber lost his temper and began slashing my husband and sons.

"When he slashed my granddaughter, I screamed for my husband and sons to fight back," she said.

The victims then fought back and killed the robber.

While this was going on, policemen arrived.

Seberang Prai Selatan police chief Supt Zainal Abd Aziz said the Mitsubishi Storm was driven away as soon as they arrived.

"My men went to the back of the house and, through a window, saw one of the robbers holding a parang to the neck of one of the family members.

"My men fired three warning shots before entering the house, but the robbers managed to escape."

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Pahang and Terengganu Finally Agree on Border after 9 Years & RM3 Million Later

After nine years and more than RM3mil, the boundary between Pahang and Terengganu has been finally agreed on with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between both state governments.

It took the Survey and Mapping Department about nine years and RM3.76mil to mark out the 200.4km of boundary between the two states. Surveying work began in 1994.

The MoU supersedes the last border agreement which was inked on Nov 29, 1899 between the King of Siam and the British colonial government.

It is the first border between states to be officially endorsed. The borders of six states are still being mapped out.

At yesterday's signing ceremony, Pahang was represented by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and state secretary Datuk Wan Abdullah Wan Salleh and Terengganu by its Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and state secretary Datuk Mokhtar Nong.

During a press conference later, Adnan said the MoU would make it easier for both state governments to take action against illegal loggers and clearing of land in their borders.

Previously, there was confusion over which government had jurisdiction concerning illegal logging.

“The move will also help both states to manage the environment and forest to prevent deterioration of the quality of water and to safeguard water catchment areas.

“There must be close cooperation between Pahang and Terengganu, not to compete with one another or other states, but for mutual benefit,” Adnan said.

Meanwhile, Idris proposed to revive the committee on boundary development which had been abandoned in 1999.

“There are a lot of economic activities that can be carried out using an integrated approach such as nature or adventure-based tourism.

“The East Corridor Development Master Plan initiated by Petronas is in the final stages and once approved, will benefit both states,” he said.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

R2D2 Mailbox On The Corner

Take this as your dose of levity for the day: As part of a big Star Wars stamp roll out for the film's 30th anniversary, the US Postal Service will have some mailboxes across the country wrapped with R2D2 decals.

The mailboxes will be in 200 cities, and New York City is getting a few. The locations mentioned in the Daily News are 43rd and Broadway, 58th and Fifth Avenue, and 33rd and Seventh Avenue. And for Star Wars fans, remember that tampering with a mailbox is a federal offense.

The USPS has a USPS Jedi Master website that teases a March 28 announcement. According to The Force, the designs will be announced on the 28th, and the stamps will go on sale May 25. Which makes us wonder if any engaged Star Wars geeks will rearrange their invitation mailing plans to work with the Star Wars stamp release.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Shark with Webbed Feet found in Penang

HAS anyone ever seen a baby shark with webbed feet? A worker of the Malaysian Fisheries Development Board (LKIM) in Batu Maung, Penang, made this unusual find when she was given the 1.7kg fish by a fisherman at the jetty recently.

Mary Looi, 48, said she only realised the shark was different when she wanted to cook tomyam fish for lunch for her family.

“It was only when I was about to cut the shark the day after I received it that I found two webbed feet sticking out from the lower part of the body.

“The shark is one-metre long,” she said.

Unusual find:Looi showing the webbed feet of the baby shark.
Looi said she dared not cook the fish after consulting her husband Gooi Man Kaw, 57, who told her that according to Chinese belief, eating fish with unusual features could bring disaster or ill luck.

“Immediately, I returned the fish to the fisherman that night at about 10pm.

“He threw it back into the sea,” said Looi.

Looi, who has been working at LKIM for 10 years, said this was the first time she had stumbled upon such an unusual find.

When contacted, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Muka Head marine research station head Prof Dr Zulfigar Yasin said this is the first time he had heard of fish with legs found in the Malaysian waters.

“There is a possibility that the fish could have swum from other waters into Malaysian waters.

“As far as I am concerned, fish species with legs or bony fins can only be discovered in the waters of North Sulawesi in Indonesia or South Africa,” he said.

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Serial Lingerie Thief Arrested for Stealing 4,000 Women's Underwear

Police found more than 4,000 pieces of lingerie in the home of a Japanese construction worker who used climbing skills developed on his job to steal women's underwear.

Police believe that Shigeo Kodama, 54, amassed the 3,977 panties, 355 bras and 10 pairs of stockings over a six-year period. He was arrested in February after he stole underwear from two houses, and police later raided his home.

"Since he was a construction worker, as long as he had a place to put his feet he was able to climb, so he had no trouble getting up to the second floor of apartment buildings," a police spokesman in the western Japanese city of Hiroshima said.

"He didn't steal any other kinds of clothing. But as long as it was underwear, apparently anything would do," the spokesman added.

Ouch!! I Swallowed a Toothbrush!

A Hong Kong woman somehow swallowed her toothbrush but still managed to dial 999 and call for an ambulance, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The 42-year-old woman's brush with disaster happened on Tuesday morning when she slipped, jamming the offending 15-cm implement down her throat, the South China Morning Post said.

The woman was still able to call 999 without choking and request an ambulance, the paper reported.

"Paramedics obtained another 15cm-long toothbrush at her home, which she said was similar to the one she swallowed, and took it with them to the hospital," the newspaper said.

The instrument was eventually extracted with endoscopic surgery.

"The woman is now recovering and her condition is listed as stable," a hospital spokeswoman was quoted as saying.

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Mom Killed Son as Solution to Cramped Living in Apartment

A Russian woman paid a former convict to kill her 17-year-old son because she was fed up with sharing her small one-room apartment with him, the newspaper Izvestia reported on Wednesday.

The 42-year-old crane operator paid the man a 2,100 rouble ($80) deposit to kill her son, Izvestia said. But the would-be hitman told the police who set up a sting operation and arrested her when she handed over the 900 rouble 'completion' payment.

The woman and her son shared the tiny apartment in the Moscow region with their respective partners and there were frequent rows, which became worse when the son's girlfriend became pregnant.

"The woman decided that by snuffing out her son she could solve her housing problems," the paper said.

Prosecutors confirmed the report and said the suspect would be charged soon.

Chronic housing shortages have dogged Russia for decades. The problem has eased slightly since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but many families of several generations still share cramped apartments.

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Meet the $1,000 pizza..

A New York restaurateur has cooked up the most world's most extravagant pizza -- a $1,000 pizza topped with six sorts of caviar and fresh lobster.

Nino Selimaj, who runs six pizza restaurants in New York, on Wednesday unveiled his Luxury Pizza, a 12 inch (30 cms), thin crust topped with caviar, lobster, creme fraiche and chives. Cut into eight, it works out at $125 a slice.

"I know this won't be for everyone but there are people in New York who can afford it and once tried, they'll be back for more. It is delicious," said Selimaj, who moved to New York from Albania about 29 years ago.

"Sure, some people will say it is just a publicity stunt but I have researched this for over a year and think there is a demand. I have already sold one."

Selimaj said his restaurant Nino's Bellissima, which is the only one of his restaurants to offer the Luxury Pizza, needs 24 hours notice for the gourmet dish as it orders the caviar in advance.

"But where better to experiment with pizza than in New York where people love their pizza," he said.

If diners are still peckish after the Luxury Pizza, they can always head over to the midtown restaurant Serendipity that sells a $1,000 ice-cream sundae called Golden Opulence which is covered in 23K edible gold leaf.

Now they say only 3% of Girls had Sex

KUALA LUMPUR: Only three per cent of the 887 students who participated in a high-risk female youth profile study had admitted to having had sex, according to the final report of the study commissioned by Institut Perkembangan Minda (Inmind).

Inmind chief executive Norizan Sharif said a report quoting Dr Khaizir Ismail, lecturer at the Psychology and Human Development Centre of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, as saying that all but one of the 887 students had admitted to having had sex was inaccurate.

Norizan said the outcome of the study differed because of a mistake in data entry.

"The consultant team identified a mistake in data entry from the questionnaire to the Statistical Package for Social Science software," he said yesterday.

Norizan said the final report of the study found that sex before marriage had the lowest percentage in the list of anti-social demeanour of the respondents.

Four types of anti-social demeanour recorded percentages above 70 per cent — lying (90.5 per cent), loafing (80.1 per cent), playing truant (74.1 per cent) and being late for school (73.7 per cent).

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