Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pirated DVDs showing Spiderman Man2 but labeled Spiderman3

Beijing: Chinese counterfeiters, determined to cash in on the hype of "Spider-Man 3," have taken piracy one step further, releasing faked copies of different movies in Spider-Man sleeves.

Sony Pictures Entertainment said on Tuesday DVDs in China reported to be pirated copies of widely anticipated "Spider-Man 3" were in fact copies of its predecessor, "Spider-Man 2."

On Thursday, street vendors were selling discs marked with "Spider-Man 3" packaging, featuring a picture of the hero crouching in a black spider suit, and crediting stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Chinese.

A copy bought for 10 yuan -- a little over $1 -- came with the vendor's caveat that it was "not good quality."

When played in a DVD machine, the screen showed a 2001 television movie "Earth vs. The Spider" starring Dan Aykroyd as a detective investigating the case of a spider-like killer.

A copy obtained on Tuesday, with similar packaging and an anti-piracy warning on the back, would not play in a DVD machine.

Sony said in a statement that it had found no evidence of Spider-Man 3 DVDs on the streets in China or on the Internet, underscoring Hollywood's determination to fight Chinese counterfeiters, which they say costs them billions every year.

DVD shop vendors said it was still "too early" to obtain the fakes. The movie had its world premiere in Tokyo earlier this month, but will not be released in U.S. theatres until May 4.

"Wait a few days," said a worker at a DVD shop in Beijing's Sanlitun embassy district, who declined to leave her name.

"I'll have a good quality copy for you then," she said, before recommending a pirated copy of Martin Scorsese's "The Departed."

China has hit back at U.S. complaints to the World Trade Organization that it is not doing enough to tackle piracy, and has conducted stage-managed events in which police have crushed millions of DVD, music and software fakes in recent weeks.

Several DVD vendors said they had noted a crackdown.

"Business has been slow recently," said a shop assistant, surnamed Hong. "There have been too many checks... Maybe there will only be legitimate copies soon," she said.

Hugh Grant arrested on assault charge

Hugh Grant has been arrested for allegedly throwing a container of baked beans at a photographer, London police said.

The Metropolitan Police don't identify suspects who haven't been charged, but said a 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of assault and released on bail. No charges have been filed, police said.

Grant's lawyers weren't immediately available for comment.

Photographer Ian Whittaker told the Daily Star tabloid that Grant had kicked him and shouted abuse before hurling the beans at him Tuesday morning.

The newspaper ran photos Wednesday showing the actor holding a plastic tub over his head.

Grant's screen credits include "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Notting Hill" and "About a Boy."

India may Arrest Richard Gere over Kiss with Shilpa Shetty

A court issued arrest warrants for Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on Thursday for kissing at a public function, news reports said.

Judge Dinesh Gupta issued the warrants in the northwestern city of Jaipur after a citizen there filed a complaint charging that the public display of affection — which he called an "an obscene act" — offended local sensibilities, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Last week, Gupta subpoenaed television footage of the event.

Such cases against celebrities — often filed by publicity seekers — are common in conservative India. They add to a backlog of legal cases that has nearly crippled the country's judicial system.

Gere left India shortly after the kissing incident and it was not immediately clear how the warrant would affect him.

Gere is a frequent visitor to India, promoting health issues and the cause of Tibetan exiles. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has his headquarters in the north Indian town of Dharmsala.

Under Indian law a person convicted of public obscenity faces up to three months in prison, a fine, or both.

Last week, crowds in several Indian cities burned effigies of the 57-year-old star of "An Officer and a Gentleman," "American Gigolo" and "Pretty Woman" after he embraced Shetty and kissed her several times on her cheeks during an HIV/AIDS awareness event in the Indian capital.

Photographs of the clinch were then splashed across front pages in India — where public displays of affection are largely taboo.

The event's organizer, Parmeshwar Godrej, called the controversy a distraction from more important issues.

"It has detracted from and undermined the value and success of the event, which was concerned with creating AIDS awareness and promoting AIDS prevention among truck drivers," CNN-IBN quoted her as saying.

Shetty, 31, has said the embrace was not obscene and that the media should instead focus on HIV/AIDS awareness.

"I understand this is his culture, not ours. But this was not such a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such manner," she told PTI last week.

"I understand people's sentiments, but I don't want a foreigner to take bad memories from here," PTI quoted her as saying.

Shetty, already well-known in India, became an international star after her appearance on the British reality show "Celebrity Big Brother" — another controversial public appearance. A fellow contestant, Jade Goody, sparked international headlines by making allegedly racist comments to Shetty. Mobs took to the streets of India to denounce Goody, and Shetty went on to win the competition.

When You are at the Crossroads ... Where do I Turn?

Which genius painted these directional arrows at Jalan Gurdwara in Ipoh?

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Accident in SS3 Shell Station

The driver of the vehicle on the right lost control and crashed into a petrol pump at the Shell station in SS3 on Tuesday. One car happened to suffer some minor damage.

Superman "S" stands for Serbia?

Serb media responded on Wednesday with a sense of pride and patriotism that a new mineral had been found in Serbia closely resembling the makeup of fictional "kryptonite," which rendered Superman helpless.

Reacting to the discovery of the real new mineral in western Serbia, they pointed out that "kryptonite" was created from the remains of Superman's home planet Krypton, destroyed in a fireball.

"Superman is a Serb!" was the conclusion drawn in headlines favored by several newspapers. The daily Kurir said: "Finally we have scientific proof that we are God's own people!"

Even the staid pro-government daily Politika joined in the fun, speculating that the 'S' on the Man of Steel's blue costume really stood for 'Serbia'.

In the comics, Superman would do anything to avoid kryptonite, whose glowing green crystals sapped his powers.

The actual mineral found at a mine near Jadar does not glow, is not radioactive, has very tiny crystals and is white rather than green. It is to be named Jadarite.

While concluding an extensive examination of its unique chemistry, mineralogist Chris Stanley of London's Natural History Museum stumbled on a close match with 'kryptonite', as described in the movie 'Superman Returns'.

The museum quoted Stanley as saying he searched the Internet for the mineral's formula -- sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide -- and found the same scientific name written on a case containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor in the movie.

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Drunk Deposits Horse in Bank for Night

A German man called on his bank for an unusual service when he was too tired and drunk to go home -- he bedded down there for the night with his horse.

The man, identified as Wolfgang H. by German media, went to sleep next to cash machines in the local branch of the Mittelbrandenburgische Sparkasse in Wiesenburg southwest of Berlin after unsaddling his horse Sammy and closing the door.

A spokeswoman for the bank said that aside from an undesirable deposit made by his horse inside the building, the 40-year-old account holder had not breached any house rules.

"The horse was otherwise very well behaved and kept a good watch on his master," she said Wednesday. "Perhaps we should have a supply of oats and water on the premises in future."

Another customer discovered the horse and rider as he slept and informed police, who asked the man to leave.

A police spokesman said that since the horse's droppings had been removed, the matter was now closed.

Boy gets Toilet Seat Stuck on his Head

British firefighters said on Wednesday they had come to a boy's rescue after he got a toilet seat stuck on his head.

The toddler, aged two-and-a-half, and his mother walked into a fire station in Braintree, Essex, Tuesday saying the boy had put his head through a small trainer seat for the toilet and now could not remove it.

"His mum had tried to get it over his head but couldn't budge it so she walked him down here and asked us to have a look at it and we went to work and we managed to get it off in no time," firefighter Chris Cox said.

"We simply put some dish washing liquid on his head and ears and it slid off nice as pie."

He said the boy had been "very brave" and "toddled away as happy as can be" after his ordeal ended.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hip-hop's Simmons wants to remove offensive words

Prominent U.S. hip-hop executive Russell Simmons on Monday recommended eliminating the words "bitch," "ho" and "nigger" from the recording industry, considering them "extreme curse words."

The call comes less than two weeks after radio personality Don Imus' nationally syndicated and televised radio show was canceled amid public outcry over Imus calling a women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."

Simmons, co-founder of the Def Jam label and a driving force behind hip-hop's huge commercial success, called for voluntary restrictions on the words and setting up an industry watchdog to recommend guidelines for lyrical and visual standards.

"We recommend that the recording and broadcast industries voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic words 'bitch' and 'ho' and the racially offensive word 'nigger'," Simmons and Benjamin Chavis, co-chairmen of the advocacy group Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, said in a statement.

"These three words should be considered with the same objections to obscenity as 'extreme curse words'," it said.

Ho is slang for whore and commonly used in hip-hop music while nigger, a derogatory term for blacks, is among the most highly charged insults in American culture. The slur "nappy," used by Imus, describes the tightly curled hair of many African Americans.

Monday's statement changed course from another one by Simmons and Chavis dated April 13, a day after Imus' show was canceled, in which they said offensive references in hip-hop "may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression."

The Imus controversy stoked a debate in the United States about how to deal with inflammatory words that are widely considered highly offensive but at the same time commonly and casually used in youth culture.

U.S. black leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have led the charge to suppress offensive words while many artists have argued for freedom of expression. New York City declared a symbolic moratorium on the so-called N-word in February.

"Our internal discussions with industry leaders are not about censorship. Our discussions are about the corporate social responsibility of the industry to voluntarily show respect to African Americans and other people of color, African American women and to all women in lyrics and images," the statement from Simmons and Chavis said on Monday.

The network recommended the formation of a Coalition on Broadcast Standards that would consist of leading executives from music, radio and television.

Teachers "purify" students with Cow Urine

Indian teachers sprinkled cow urine on low-caste students to purify them and drive away evil, reports said on Saturday, in a country where millions of people remain oppressed at the bottom of the ancient Hindu caste system.

Upper-caste headteacher Sharad Kaithade ordered the ritual after taking over from a lower-caste predecessor at a school in a remote village in the western state of Maharashtra earlier this month, the Times of India reported.

He told an upper-caste colleague to spray cow urine in a cleansing ceremony as the students were taking an examination, wetting their faces and their answer sheets, the newspaper said.

"She said you'll study well after getting purified," student Rajat Washnik was quoted as saying by the CNN-IBN news channel. Students said they felt humiliated.

Hinduism reveres the cow, and its dung is used in the countryside as both a disinfectant and as fuel. In 2001, Hindu nationalists promoted cow's urine as a cure for ailments ranging from liver disease to obesity and even cancer.

The newspaper said the two teachers were arrested after angry parents complained to police. They have been released on bail.

India's secular constitution bans caste discrimination, but Dalits -- those at the bottom of the caste system -- are still commonly beaten or killed for using a well or worshipping at a temple reserved for upper castes, especially in rural areas.

Dalits, once known as "untouchables," make up around 160 million of India's billion-plus population.

In February, the New York-based Human Rights Watch group said India is failing to protect its lower-caste citizens, who were condemned to a lifetime of abuse because of their social status.

A T-Rex would have tasted like Chicken

Protein extracted from a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex bone has provided further evidence of a direct evolutionary line between dinosaurs and birds.

The soft tissue was removed from a fossilised thigh bone belonging to one of the giant predator dinosaurs unearthed in the US state of Montana in 2003. It lay under more than 1,000 cubic metres of rock.

Scientific analysis showed the tissue, which belongs to the elastic fibres known as collagens, was similar in structure to chicken protein, say scientists writing in the journal called Science.

The tissue is thought to have survived because it did not come into contact with atmospheric or groundwater contamination.

The same researchers hit the headlines two years ago with the discovery that the fossil seemed to contain soft tissues, including blood vessels. Both operations on the T. Rex bone were performed at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Collagen is a fibrous, elastic protein that also helps to keep skin looking young. It also makes up most of the organic material in bone, which consists of both minerals and protein.

The process of fossilisation takes place over millions of years when organic remains are replaced by minerals from water and rock.

"For centuries it was believed that the process of fossilisation destroyed any original material, consequently no-one looked carefully at really old bones", said Dr Mary Schweitzer, who led the North Carolina team.

Final confirmation came from the laboratory of Dr John Asra, director of a mass spectrometry facility at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston.

Mass spectrometry is a sensitive technique that identifies chemicals by their atomic mass. It was able to show the T. rex material contained sequences of amino acids. These are the protein building blocks typical of collagen.

The sequence pattern looked like that of chicken collagen, and there were also similarities with frog and newt protein. "The similarity to chicken is definitely what we would expect given the relationship between modern birds and dinosaurs," said Schweitzer.

"This data will help us learn more about dinosaurs' evolutionary relationships, about how preservation happens, and about how molecules degrade over time, which could also have some important medical implications for treating disease", said Schweitzer. dpa mb pb ds

Every Hour 6 Malaysians Suffer from Stroke

Six people suffer from strokes every hour in Malaysia, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.

He said it was surprising that about 52,000 Malaysians suffered strokes in a year when it is the most preventable of all life-threatening health problems.

“In 2005, 17,909 stroke victims were admitted into government hospitals alone throughout the country. Of these, 3,245 of them were fatal. By 2020, this figure is expected to exceed 25,000 every year.

“Many of the risk factors for stroke can be controlled if people change their lifestyle and also exercise regu-

larly,” he said after launching a book entitled Understanding Stroke by the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (Nasam).

Dr Chua said the main reason for the increasing number of stroke cases was that many Malaysians leading an unhealthy lifestyle, including being obese, smoking and failure to control hypertension, high cholesterol level and diabetes.

“Hypertension, which is a major risk factor for stroke, is scarily becoming prevalent among Malaysians.

“According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 1986, hypertension was prevalent among 14.4% of adult Malaysians aged 30 years and above. “In 1996, the figure had jumped to 29.9%, which is equivalent to a 100% increase,” he said.

Dr Chua said one of the ministry’s strategies for health-related diseases such as stroke was to organise health-promotion activities.

“Some RM37mil has been allocated to the newly set-up Health Promotion Board to provide funding to health-related NGOs and professional health associations to act as catalysts to promote the culture of healthy living among Malaysians.

“I believe strongly that we should focus more on the prevention than the treatment of diseases.” he said.

Dr Chua commended Nasam for the publication of Understanding Stroke and educating the public on how to reduce the risks of stroke.

The book will be distributed widely to educate the public on stroke prevention and what to do in the event of a stroke.

Nasam chairman Janet Yeo said most of the time people thought they would not suffer a stroke.

“And, when it does happen, it is too late to regret not having done the right things to avoid it,” she said.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Malaysia's Magnetic Man

Axes, knives and hammers are among the things which stuck naturally onto Liew Thow Lin’s bare chest and stomach yesterday.

Being a fundraiser requires a certain magnetism, and Liew Thow Lin has it in spades. Literally. A fork, a knife, an iron — they all stick to his chest as if they’ve been glued there. Even a hammer won’t dislodge them.

The 77-year-old grandfather of eight amazed visiting Channel U hosts Vivian Lai and Jeremy Chan of Singapore MediaCorp with his unique "magnetic powers" at the Handicapped Children’s Welfare Home in Jalan Eusoff yesterday .

"I don’t feel anything — neither hot nor cold," said Liew.

He discovered his unusual ability at the age of 60, when he experimented with forks and knives after hearing of a person with similar traits. A decade later, he contacted journalists from a Chinese daily to publicise his ability.

Liew has lifted buckets of bricks and pulled a bus using chains hooked to a metal sheet which he slaps onto his bare chest or stomach. The "attraction factor" works with all materials, including plastic and human flesh, he claims. All he has to do is make sure his skin is completely free of sweat.

For yesterday’s challenge, he lifted 50kg of bricks and pulled a Mercedes Benz car, weighing easily over a tonne, for a distance of about eight metres.

"Liew is a regular visitor and often talks to the people here," said chairman Cheong Kok Leong, adding that there are 76 children and adults at the home now. It costs RM40,000 a month to run the home, including its rent.

Well-wishers can contact Cheong at 05-2436235 or 012-2038569.

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New meaning to Body Bag

Body of Woman found in Suitcase

The body of a woman was found stuffed in a suitcase floating on a river in Segambut here on Saturday.

A passer-by who was walking at Kampung Sungai Segambut retrieved the bag at about 5.30pm.

Sentul OCPD Asst Comm K. Kumaran said the first thing the man saw when he opened the bag was the face of a dead woman.

“He immediately called the police.

“The woman was in a brown and white striped t-shirt and a pair of shorts,” he said at the Police and Society programme at Wangsa Maju here.

“Her legs were tied up with a rope,” he said, adding that the yet-to-be-identified woman had shoulder-length hair.

Forensics police, who arrived at the scene later, confirmed that she had been dead for at least 48 hours.

The woman, who had been smothered, had numerous injuries, including a broken backbone and swelling on her head and neck.

Police also found two pillows in the bag, one of which was believed to have been used to suffocate the woman.

Clothes believed to be the woman’s were also found in the green bag.

There was no indication that the woman, believed to be in her 30s, had been raped.

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Train runs over Three Teenagers lying on Tracks

The train driver could only look on in horror as the fast-moving train ran over three teenage boys lying motionless on the track.

The driver, in his 30s, saw “three dark objects” at 3am near here and blared his horn but the victims did not move.

Segamat OCPD Supt Abdul Majid Mohd Ali said that the driver stopped at the next station and lodged a report at the Segamat police station at around 3.15am.

“Policemen found the mutilated bodies – two on the tracks and the third by the side of the track.”

He said the incident had been classified as sudden death but police had not ruled out foul play.

The victims have been identified as Mohd Faizul Adam, 16, from Jalan Buluh Kasap, Segamat; Mohd Zamri Idris, 17, from Kampung Lubut Selumur, Pagoh; and Mohd Zulfahmi Zulkifli, 17, from Jalan Pemuda, Segamat.

Supt Abdul Majid said that one of the boys had not gone home for the last three days while another was a school dropout.

He said police were still trying to find out if the victims were dead before the train hit them.

“We can’t be sure whether the victims were under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” he said.

Supt Abdul Majid urged those with information to contact the police hotline at 07-2212 999 or the nearest police station.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Couple Caught Having Sex, Crash Car in Johor

What is Malaysia turning to?? Aiyoh!

A COUPLE caught having sex in a car tried to escape from the police but ended up being involved in a road accident in Johor.

The male driver, in his haste to outrun a police patrol car, lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the back of a bus at 10pm on Tuesday.

The man, who is said to be married, suffered head injuries.

The woman, in her 20s, was found squatting in the front passenger's seat after the accident.

The naked duo refused to budge until policemen threw them their clothes which had been placed in the back seat.

They were later escorted by two police patrol cars to the hospital where the man, from Malacca, sought treatment.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Crook wins damages for injury during theft

A Canadian man who admitted shoplifting C$106 in razor blades has been awarded C$12,000 ($10,645) for injuries he suffered when he was tackled by store security guards.

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge said that just because Daniel Baines admitted the store had a right to arrest him in the 2004 incident, it did not mean he lacked credibility as a witness about being beaten while being apprehended.

"Listening to Mr Baines testify, I found him to be remarkably forthright. He did not minimize or deny circumstances that might seem embarrassing or harmful to his case," Justice William Ehrcke said in a ruling published this week.

Baines, who represented himself, said employees of the supermarket in a Vancouver suburb used unreasonable force when he struggled during his capture. Baines lost a tooth in the incident, and said he now has trouble speaking.

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Boys born minutes apart, but they are not Brothers

They may be uncle and nephew, but two newborns may feel more like brothers after being born just minutes apart.

Theresa Crouse, 39, gave birth to a son at MedCentral/Mansfield Hospital at 11:20 a.m. Monday. At 11:27, her daughter, Carrie Gresh, had her own baby boy at the same hospital — and delivered by the same doctor.

Gresh, 21, said the two women suffered through morning sickness together and thought their babies would arrive hours apart.

Crouse said she went into induced labor because of a medical condition and her daughter's labor was induced at the same time.

Crouse called her little boy Caleb Izus Crouse a miracle. "I had been wanting to have a second child for more than 20 years," she said. "I was told I wouldn't be able to have any more children."

Gresh said it's going to be interesting watching new brother and her boy, Landin, grow up and go to school together. The extended family currently lives in the same duplex.

"I think this will be great," Crouse said. "They'll grow up like brothers."

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French Kissing Accident

An Israeli woman accidentally bit off part of her boyfriend's tongue during a heated French kiss, an Israeli hospital that reattached the tongue said Thursday.

Nahariya Hospital said in a statement the man, injured while "passionately kissing his girlfriend," was discharged after the operation and advised to sip iced drinks and "avoid wet kisses" until the stitched wound healed.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Border cops recover 1,000 stolen wedding gowns

U.S. border police found 1,000 wedding gowns stolen from a cancer charity and crammed into a truck trying to get into Mexico, federal authorities said on Tuesday.

The donated dresses were on their way to Los Angeles to a fundraiser for the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation in November when they were stolen in Scottsdale, Arizona, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said.

Inspectors in southern Arizona recovered the dresses late last week when they inspected a tractor trailer that had been denied entry to Nogales, Mexico, by Mexican customs officials.

Police discovered the gowns, which have an estimated value of $3 million, and arrested the driver. It was not immediately clear if the driver was a U.S. or Mexican citizen.

Fran Hansen, co-founder and national director of the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, thanked the border inspectors for recovering the missing frocks.

"When the call came in, I felt blessed beyond my wildest dreams," Hansen said. "I'd been praying for that moment for the past several months."

The charity receives donated wedding gowns, which it then resells, using the proceeds to grant wishes of women diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Wishes fulfilled by the charity include trips to Disneyland, ocean cruises, and funding reunions for separated family members, sources at the charity said.

Female Principal Caned School Teacher On Buttocks By Mistake!

It was apparently a case of mistaken identity. But it has landed a principal in deep trouble. The principal allegedly caned a teacher thinking she was a student who was idling outside the classroom.

And now the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) wants the Education Ministry to investigate.

NUTP secretary-general Loke Yim Pheng said the 28-year-old teacher from Segamat had complained to the NUTP that she was caned on her buttocks in front of Form One students at 9.40am on Wednesday.

"NUTP has always stressed that leadership in schools is very important.
"If true, the act of caning a teacher has gone too far.

"The Education Ministry should investigate and take action," she said.

The secondary school teacher when contacted by Bernama said the incident happened after a Co-Curriculum Day event, when clad in silat attire, she was instructing students to go back to their classrooms.

"Suddenly and without asking questions, the female principal who was patrolling the area caned her on the buttocks and also caned several other students.

"I was ashamed because all the students in Form One saw the incident," she added.

She said the 53-year-old principal apologised to her because she thought the teacher was another student.

"Although she did not know me because she was transferred to the school two weeks ago, there was no reason not to ask me."

The teacher said she did not intend to tarnish the image of the school but did not want the incident to happen again.

Johor Education Department deputy director Jamian Jaffar when contacted said the department would investigate the matter.

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Dentist guilty of Urinating in Surgery Sink

A British dentist was found guilty Thursday of urinating in his surgery sink and using dental tools meant for patients to clean his fingernails and ears.

A medical tribunal said it was satisfied the evidence showed 51-year-old Alan Hutchinson, who routinely did not wear gloves or wash his hands, had risked the health of "himself, staff and patients" for more than 28 years.

A dental nurse who worked for Hutchinson for 16 years said she had caught him urinating in the sink more than once.

"He was tucking something into his trousers before zipping them up hastily. I walked over and I was behind him. He moved to the left and I could smell urine," the nurse told the tribunal.

The tribunal determined that the dentist's poor hygiene habits made him unfit to practice and struck him off the dental register, banning him from work.

"You urinated into a sink in your surgery following which you did not wash your hands and then proceeded to treat a patient. This behavior was clearly inappropriate and is completely unacceptable," the tribunal chairman said.

Man Answers Nature Call and Saves 100!

Residents of the longhouse salvaging their belongings from the rubble.
Residents of the longhouse salvaging their belongings from the rubble.

One man’s urge to answer nature’s call saved 100 residents of Rumah Merikan ak Johnson from being buried alive in Banting Lingga, Sri Aman, on Thursday. Renjis Empati, 57, was walking to the toilet outside the longhouse at 2am when he saw his kitchen slowly collapsing. He then ran to the ruai (longhouse walkway) and shouted to warn residents of the 14-door longhouse and nine other homes.

"I could feel the earth trembling and saw the longhouse collapse into a sinkhole."

The farmer was left with the pair of shorts he was wearing and a shotgun he took from his house before the building collapsed.
"All my belongings, including jars passed down from my ancestors, are lost."

Residents of the longhouse treat Renjis like a hero now.

"If it were not for him, most of us would be dead by now," said Lada Rentap, 67.

Lada could only save her Mykad when she fled from the longhouse.

Another victim, Limah Buma, 70, said it was "horrifying".

"I was dragged by my husband. I could not walk as the floor was wobbling and when we reached the stairs outside, it slowly sank one rung at a time into the earth," she said.

Limah could not contain her emotions and burst into tears when she said all her hand-woven rattan mats, which she had collected since she was a 12-year-old girl, were lost in the incident.

"I also lost seven jars, passed down from my ancestors. Those were priceless. Those jars were hundreds of years old," she said.

There are five longhouses situated close to each other in the village, which was founded more than a century ago.

Yesterday, the Sri Aman Community Welfare Department presented RM13,200 to the villagers.

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Holy Friday for Malaysians

It was a Holy Friday for Malaysians as they headed for the churches, temples, shrines and mosques yesterday.

While Muslims converged at mosques for their Friday prayers, Christians attended Good Friday masses, devotees of Kuan Yin thronged temples while Hindus prayed to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-head God to remove all obstacles.

The scene was a colourful one at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling – Penang’s street of harmony – where a mosque, a Chinese temple, a Hindu temple and a church have stood near one another for over a century.

At the 189-year-old St George’s Church, more than 100 parishioners of South-East Asia’s oldest Anglican church attended the service of meditation at noon.

Poignant reminder: Brother Go carrying the cross during the Way of the Cross procession around the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Kuan Yin temple down the road was a hive of activity with stalls selling vegetarian food, prayer objects and birds, which devotees bought and set free from their cages.

Nearby, Lord Ganesha devotee N. Kalavathy said the Sankatahara Chathurthi was a special day to pray to Lord Ganesha to remove all obstacles.

She said she was “very happy” that different religious prayers were conducted on the same day.

In Kuala Lumpur, more than 300 parishioners braved the hot afternoon sun to attend a special mass at the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras, here.

Father Valentine Gompok presided over the service while Brother Francis Go Sheau Peng carried the cross during the Way of the Cross procession around the church compound.

Catholics take part in the Way of the Cross procession by stopping and meditating at 14 stations that serve as a reminder of Jesus' suffering and sacrifices for humankind.

Special prayers: Devotee R.S Shan, praying to Lord Ganesha at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.
In Malacca, thousands of devotees from all over Malaysia and Singapore, including many non-Christians, converged at St Peter's Church.

The service, laced with age-old Portuguese and Hispanic traditions, included a procession of the Statue of the Dead Lord on a wooden bier and a candlelight procession in the church compound in the evening.

Among the non-Christians who attended the service were Ipoh residents Mah Peng Kiong and his wife Lilian Teoh who have been coming to St Peter's for the past eight years.

The couple, staunch Buddhists who jointly run a daycare centre in Teluk Intan, offered 1.5m-long candles and thanksgiving prayers.

Birthday wishes: The Kuan Yin temple in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling was filled to capacity with devotees to celebrate the goddess’ birthday yesterday.
In Sabah, many Christians carried crosses up various hills in rural areas throughout the state during sunrise while churches were crowded with people for masses and special prayers for Good Friday, a public holiday here.

In Kg Maang, one of the many kampungs in Penampang near Kota Kinabalu, 17 people carried up crosses as a symbolic gesture of Jesus' suffering and death.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Falling woman saved by pile of...

A Chinese woman survived a plunge from a sixth-floor balcony thanks to a convenient pile of excrement which broke her fall, local media said.

The accident happened when the woman was hanging out laundry on Monday in Nanjing, capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu, the Kuaibao tabloid said on its Web site (

"Workers happened to be emptying the building's septic tank, which had not been tended for a long time and had regularly blocked sewage pipes," the newspaper said.

"She probably stretched out too far and fell ... right on to a 20 cm-thick heap of excrement."

The woman suffered only slight injuries, the newspaper said.

In March, a six-year-old girl broke only her left leg when she fell six floors on to a pile of snow in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.

Penang Bridge Bomb Scare

Thousands of Penangites were caught in a massive evening jam when the Penang Bridge was closed for more than two hours after police received a call that there was a bomb on the bridge.

Many motorists heading towards the bridge after work were caught unaware and found themselves in a traffic bottleneck at the Bayan Lepas coastal road leading to the bridge on the island and Seberang Jaya on the mainland.

The bridge was closed to traffic at 4.30pm and only reopened at 7pm.

Traffic had to be diverted to the ferry terminals on both the island and Butterworth, causing George Town and Butterworth town to be choked with cars and motorcycles.

Hundreds of motorcyclists lining up at the ferry terminal in Penang after the Penang Bridge (inset) was closed following a bomb hoax on Wednesday. The bridge was closed for more than two hours, but the streets of George Town and Butterworth were choked with vehicles as road users turned to the ferry service. The bridge reopened only at 7pm after a bomb squad declared it safe. - K.T. GOH and CHRIS LIM / The Star
Just hours earlier, a 10-wheel truck had broken down on the bridge before the middle span, causing a traffic crawl that stretched almost 15km to the Juru interchange near Auto City. The truck’s rear wheels had jammed and it took mechanics nearly five hours to get the vehicle moving again.

Around the same time the truck was removed, police at the state contingent headquarters operations room received a call saying that there was a bomb on the bridge.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Azam Abd Hamid said police then alerted Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and he gave the green light for the police to close the bridge.

“A six-man bomb squad was sent to the bridge immediately. They found a 0.3m-long, 10cm-diameter steel pipe,” ACP Azman later told a press conference at the Northern Region marine police base.

Rare sight: The mid-span of Penang Bridge completely free of traffic. The bridge was closed for more than two hours after police received a call that there was a bomb.
The pipe, he said, was found wedged in the divider at the 3.9km point of the bridge on the Butterworth-bound side.

“It was suspected that the steel pipe contained explosives. Not taking any risk, the squad detonated it at 6.45pm at the site,” said ACP Azam.

He added that police had earlier informed RTM to announce on air that the bridge would be closed. Messages were later flashed on the electronic signboards advising motorists to use the ferry instead.

Arrangements were also made with the Penang Port authorities to increase the number of ferries to cater to the large number of vehicles heading for the ferry terminals.

Tempers flared on both ends of the bridge as traffic came to a standstill. Irate motorists voiced their frustrations after being stranded for nearly two hours.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Now this is What I Call a Car Jack!!!

The car behind did not stop in time while it was raining at Jalan Sentul Pasar.

Kylie will launch H&M Swimwear

SHE'S turned her hand to underwear, now Kylie Minogue is set to bring the great Aussie cossie to the world.
The singer has taken on the role of bikini babe for European fast fashion giant H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), putting the finishing stitches to a new swimwear line last week.

Minogue has been spotted visiting the Swedish headquarters of the fashion giant.

After jetting back from a two-week trip to Melbourne, Kylie was back to work on the 15-piece collection of costumes and kaftans.

"It has been a great experience to work with H&M on creating this summer range," she said.

"To me it is all about summer indulgence, effortless chic and lots of fun."

While the range will not be retailed in Australia, it is expected to be hot property on internet auction sites, like the trend set by designer Stella McCartney's limited edition range for Target last month.

H&M set the pace with designer collaborations when McCartney first created a line for the chain two years ago.

Since then, "cheap and chic" stock by Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor & Rolf and most recently Madonna have set sales records for the label around the world.

Model Kate Moss is the next celeb set to start her own fashion frenzy with a line for UK chainstore Top Shop next month.

The limited H&M Loves Kylie line will also go on sale in May, with Minogue to front the label's advertising campaign.

Grieving couple commits suicide after dog dies

HYDERABAD, India - Unable to come to terms with the death of their pet dog, an elderly couple in southern India committed suicide by hanging themselves, police said on Monday.

The bodies of 67-year-old retired soldier C.N. Madanraj and his wife, Tarabai, 63, were found on Sunday in their home in a suburb of Hyderabad.

Police said the childless couple had held a burial ceremony for their dog of 13 years, called "Puppy," and hosted a feast for friends before hanging themselves in their bedroom.

"The couple described the grief over their pet dog in the suicide note they left on March 29," said police inspector V. Anantaiah.

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Adora Published her First Book at 7 Years Old

Check out child genius Adora. She could read and write simple words at age two and a half; read her first chapter book at age three and half; started to write short stories at age four; started to type short stories at age 6; appeared on Good Morning America and met Peter Jennings at age 7, Published her first book at age 7.

Adora's favorite history book (The Century for Young People) a gift from the author, Peter Jennings. "It is the best history book I have ever read," says Adora.

“Reading and writing is my life.” Adora says seriously. She hopes to use her own success to inspire other kids to take more of an interest in reading and writing.

“Nowadays children are lacking in reading and writing skills, and they are saying things like ‘I don't like to read' or ‘ I don't want to write.' That hurts me very much.”

Although Adora knows her stories are a way to reach out and inspire, she hopes this website will provide some insights of her success and a platform for visitors to access additional tool for their own reading and writing.

Adora's love of books is evident both in the vast amount she reads a day (she gobbles down 2-3 books a day) and in the diversity of her own writing.

A self-proclaimed ‘amateur historian', Adora loves to read historical fiction, so perhaps it's not surprising that her stories range in setting from ancient Egypt to Elizabethan England. Well-researched and wonderfully vivid, Adora's historical fiction informs while following fast paced and spirited storylines. Adora's interest in non-fiction history was originally sparked by historical fiction, and she hopes that her own stories will serve as a similar inspiration for other kids.

On the site of Kobi (NBC) news with her collection of her stories

Although historical fiction remains her first love and passion, she also writes fantasy adventure stories and contemporary fiction. Adora's sense of humor comes through perhaps most in her contemporary stories, which deal with trials and tribulations that will probably seem familiar to most kids. Journal, a contemporary diary style portrait of a young girl, resonates with a fierce emotional tone.

She also delights in the fantastic, and often sets her stories in landscapes and cultures of her own invention. In The Death of a Hag Lord a young girl comes up with an ingenious plan to defend her town from the onslaught of a goblin hoard. Adora explores more humorous terrain in The Cake of Brovdersvik, the story of two archeologists on the trail of a villainous magic skunk.

Citing the Redwall series and the Narnia books as huge influences, Adora is currently working on Amruin, an animal tale of a bat who leads a rebellion against the forest's cruel overlord.

Adora is often disappointed by the way girls are portrayed in books and movies, and strives to create the kind of strong, intelligent, and sassy protagonists she herself would want to read about. Jousting is Ladylike features just such a character, and also illustrates Adora's penchant for mixing the down-to-earth with the fantastic.

Adora getting ready for the TV Show

Adora's favorite activity--Reading

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Trawler Seized with 220 Rare Turtles

Malaysian marine police have seized a trawler carrying about 220 rare sea turtles and arrested 17 Chinese men for poaching, their second such seizure this week, a police chief said Thursday.

In the two seizures, both involving chases through Malaysian waters, almost 300 turtles were recovered. Most were dead, caught for use in making Chinese medicines. Their shells and skins are also used to make fashion accessories.

"We chased them for about half an hour," said Assistant Commissioner Mohd Sueb, head of marine police for Sabah state, referring to the second seizure Wednesday.

"They refused to stop their engine so we were alongside and we jumped over and managed to stop the engine."

Armed police, acting on tip-offs, intercepted both trawlers in waters off Sabah, Borneo island, Mohd Sueb said by phone. The turtles were mostly green turtles and hawksbills, both listed as endangered by the Swiss-based World Conservation Union.

Only 20 of the roughly 220 seized Wednesday were still alive, Mohd Sueb said. Of the 78 turtles recovered in the first seizure Monday, only five were alive, a local newspaper said. All the turtles were handed over to Malaysia's fisheries department.

Nineteen men were arrested in Monday's seizure.

Under Malaysia's fisheries law, the skippers of the trawlers face a maximum fine of 1 million ringgit ($289,000) and the crew could each be fined up to 100,000 ringgit.

Asked if police suspected any more turtle poachers were still trawling waters off Sabah, Mohd Sueb said: "So far, no news. It depends on the intelligence that we get."

World Record - Longest Piano Concert in Japan

Japanese musicians overcame fatigue and a major earthquake to set the record for the world's longest concert on Saturday, playing 184 hours non-stop in a program that ranged from The Beatles' classics to Japanese traditional harp music.

Over 900 musicians aged 6 to 89 took turns performing in the 9-day marathon — with breaks of no more than 5 minutes between acts — at a small railway station in Hikone city, western Japan, according to organizer Kuniko Teramura, 51.

An official from the Guinness Book of World Records was on hand to certify the record at 10 a.m. Saturday, she said.

"The longest concert by multiple artists was achieved by Kuniko Teramura and friends at Toriimoto Station ... from 23-31 March 2007," read a copy of the certificate obtained by The Associated Press.

The previous record for longest concert was set in Canada five years ago and lasted 182 hours, according to the Guinness Web site.

On Sunday, a magnitude 6.9 quake in northwestern Japan jolted the stage — but didn't stop a determined pianist from ploughing on with her tune, said Hiroshi Mizutani, 51, another organizer.

A break in the performance would have ruined the challenge, because musicians were not allowed to stop playing less than two minutes into a song, said Mizutani, whose Oldies band played three times during the concert.

"This pianist was amazing. The whole place was shaking quite badly but she went right on playing," Mizutani said. "Even an earthquake couldn't stop us."

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