(Well actually, by the time you read it here, it really isn’t news anymore.)
By Gene Mahoney
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"As far as I'm concerned you now stepped over the line into treason, the punishment for which is death. And I'm really busy, so I may have to kill you right here." -- Former “Partridge Family” star Danny Bonaduce to a 9/11 conspiracy theorist (a video of most of the exchange has appeared on YouTube.com)
Crash victim saved by breast implants (Ananova.com, 10/4/06) A Bulgarian car crash victim was saved by her huge breast implants - which acted as airbags to absorb the impact. Elena Marinova, 24, from Sofia, was involved in a full frontal crash with another car in the northern city of Ruse. A police expert explained that the 40DD silicone implants "absorbed the impact of the crash".
Couple's Surname Decided Over A Game Of Golf (All Headline News, 1/16/07) Levin, New Zealand - A newly-wed couple from Levin, New Zealand played 18 holes of golf immediately after their wedding ceremony to decide who would give up their surname. Greg Marshall and his bride Adrienne Foley were still wearing their wedding outfits when they hit the green. The bride and groom agreed to play 18 holes of golf after Adrienne complained why women have to lose their surname when marrying. During the game, Adrienne managed a hole-in-one on the ninth hole, causing some panic to Greg. But eventually he scored a three-shot lead on the 17th hole and clinched the game on the last hole. The new Mrs. Marshall conceded, "He got there, he won, so I have to take his name. Next time, it's pool, or something more even."
Men smarter than women: Study (Moneycontrol.com [India], 9/11/06) HOUSTON - Women all over may not like it but it has been proved that men are smarter than women. A study of 100,000 17- to 18-year-olds on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) published in the September 2006 issue of the journal Intelligence, has confirmed a surprising new finding-that men have a 4 to 5-point IQ advantage over women by adulthood. Because girls mature faster than boys, the sex difference is masked during the school years, which explains why the sex difference was missed for 100 years.
Mondales report a theft from their home (StarTribune.com, 11/6/06) A burglar is believed to have made off with a family heirloom from a kitchen drawer on Irving Avenue S. in Minneapolis, and though the home's famous occupant -- Joan Mondale -- won't talk much about the item, she will share this advice: "Hide your key in a better place."
Mondale and her husband, Walter Mondale, formerly of Washington, D.C., where he was a U.S. senator and vice president, reported the burglary to Minneapolis police Monday, saying the item was believed to have been stolen between April 1 and Nov. 4. In the report, police said an "unknown suspect" allegedly entered the house in an "unknown manner," with "no force evident." Joan Mondale said she believed someone must have used a key that he or she would have seen her hiding outside the house. The key, she added, was in an "obvious place." Mondale said she was surprised such a theft could occur. For 22 years, the couple left a key above the door in Washington, she added, and "no one robbed us there."
Police: Sleeping Man Claims Gold Teeth Stolen Out Of Mouth (Local6.com, 10/16/06) A man in Brevard County, Fla., told authorities that someone reached into his mouth and removed his gold teeth as he slept, according to a Brevard County Sheriff's Office report. Investigators said they responded to a reported theft at a home located at 3424 Populatic Street in Mims, Fla., on Sunday. The report said Bryan Osteen told officers that someone entered his bedroom and took the $80 teeth out of his mouth.
Bono, Preacher on Poverty, Tarnishes Halo With Irish Tax Move (Bloomberg.com, 10/16/06) Bono, the rock star and campaigner against Third World debt, is asking the Irish government to contribute more to Africa. At the same time, he's reducing tax payments that could help fund that aid. After Ireland said it would scrap a break that lets musicians and artists avoid paying taxes on royalties, Bono and his U2 bandmates earlier this year moved their music publishing company to the Netherlands. The Dublin group, which Forbes estimates earned $110 million in 2005, will pay about 5 percent tax on their royalties, less than half the Irish rate.
Allies Criticize Guantanamo, But Refuse Release of Prinsoners (FreeInternetPress.com, 10/17/06) British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett last week issued the latest European demand to close down the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The existence of the prison is "unacceptable" and fuels Islamic radicalism around the world, she said, echoing a recent chorus of complaints from Europe about U.S. counterterrorism policy. Behind the scenes, however, the British government has repeatedly blocked efforts to let some prisoners leave Guantanamo and return home. According to documents made public this month in London, officials there recently rejected a U.S. offer to transfer 10 former British residents from Guantanamo to the United Kingdom, arguing that it would be too expensive to keep them under surveillance. Britain has also staved off a legal challenge by the relatives of some prisoners who sued to require the British government to seek their release.
Other European governments, which have been equally vocal in assailing Guantanamo as a human rights liability, have also balked at accepting prisoner transfers. A Turkish citizen who was born and raised in Germany was finally permitted to return from Guantanamo in August, four years after the German government turned down a U.S. proposal to release him. In addition, virtually every country in Europe refused to grant asylum to several Guantanamo prisoners from China who were not being sent home because of fears they could face political harassment there. The Balkan nation of Albania agreed to take in five of the Chinese in May, but only after more than 100 other nations rebuffed U.S. pleas to accept them on humanitarian grounds, said State Department officials.
James Brown shooting (DotMusic.com, 1/12/07) A gun-fight has taken place in America between two friends over the height of James Brown. One man was shot twice in the dispute, which is understood to have taken place in a house in Atlanta on Monday. Dan Gulley Jr has been charged with assault following the shoot-out, which saw both men arm themselves in a heated disagreement over how tall The Godfather Of Soul was. David James Brooks Jr suffered gun-shot wounds to his abdomen and was taken to hospital following the incident, where his condition is not thought to be serious. James Brown, who died on Christmas Day, is understood to have been 5ft 6ins tall, although he regularly wore heels.
KGB Letter Outlines Sen. Kennedy's Overtures to Soviets, Prof Says (CNSNews.com, 10/20/06) In his book, "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism", which came out this week, Paul Kengor focuses on a KGB letter written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan's foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts. The letter, dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB to Yuri Andropov, who was then General Secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party. In his letter, KGB head Viktor Chebrikov offered Andropov his interpretation of Kennedy's offer. Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) had traveled to Moscow on behalf of Kennedy to seek out a partnership with Andropov and other Soviet officials, Kengor claims in his book. At one point after President Reagan left office, Tunney acknowledged that he had played the role of intermediary, not only for Kennedy but for other U.S. senators, Kengor said. Moreover, Tunney told the London Times that he had made 15 separate trips to Moscow. "There's a lot more to be found here," Kengor told Cybercast News Service. "This was a shocking revelation."
It is not evident with whom Tunney actually met in Moscow. But the letter does say that Sen. Kennedy directed Tunney to reach out to "confidential contacts" so Andropov could be alerted to the senator's proposals. Specifically, Kennedy proposed that Andropov make a direct appeal to the American people in a series of television interviews that would be organized in August and September of 1983, according to the letter. "Tunney told his contacts that Kennedy was very troubled about the decline in U.S -Soviet relations under Reagan," Kengor said. "But Kennedy attributed this decline to Reagan, not to the Soviets. In one of the most striking parts of this letter, Kennedy is said to be very impressed with Andropov and other Soviet leaders." In Kennedy's view, the main reason for the antagonism between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980s was Reagan's unwillingness to yield on plans to deploy middle-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe, the KGB chief wrote in his letter. "Kennedy was afraid that Reagan was leading the world into a nuclear war," Kengor said. "He hoped to counter Reagan's polices, and by extension hurt his re-election prospects."
As a prelude to the public relations strategy Kennedy hoped to facilitate on behalf of the Soviets, Kengor said, the Massachusetts senator had also proposed meeting with Andropov in Moscow -- to discuss the challenges associated with disarmament. In his appeal, Kennedy indicated he would like to have Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) accompany him on such a trip. The two senators had worked together on nuclear freeze proposals. But Kennedy's attempt to partner with high-level Soviet officials never materialized. Andropov died after a brief time in office and was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev. In his attempt to reach out the Soviets, Kennedy settled on a flawed receptacle for peace, Kengor said. Andropov was a much more belligerent and confrontational leader than the man who followed him, in Kengor's estimation. "If Andropov had lived and Gorbachev never came to power, I can't imagine the Cold War ending peacefully like it did," Kengor told Cybercast News Service. "Things could have gotten ugly."
In the long run of history, Kengor believes it is evident that Reagan's policies were vindicated while Kennedy was proven wrong. In fact, as he points out in his book, Kennedy himself made a "gracious concession" after Reagan died, crediting the 40th president with winning the Cold War.
ALF targets tiger, takes rabbit (Ananova.com, 10/23/06) Animal rights activists who broke into a circus to liberate a rare white tiger changed their minds after seeing it - and took a bunny rabbit instead. Campaigners from the Swiss faction of the Animal Liberation Front had earlier told Circus Royal director Oliver Skreinig they planned to steal the Siberian tiger and hand him to a zoo. But when they broke into the circus enclosure and saw the animal they changed their minds - and stole a rabbit instead. The liberationists then posted pictures of themselves online wearing black army uniforms and balaclavas and holding the rabbit. Skreinig said: "The pet rabbit was not even in the show, it belonged to our clown's six-year-old daughter."
Brit pupils can’t locate Britain on world map! (ZeeNews.com, 10/25/06) Geography does not seem to be a favourite with school kids in Britain, as a new survey has found that on an average one in every five British students is unable to find even his/ her own country on world a map. It was also found that one in every 10 British pupils could not name a single continent, and more than 20,000 children in London did not realise they live in England's capital city. The study, carried out by National Geographic Kids magazine, questioned more than 1000 British six to 14-year-olds to mark its UK launch. It was found that boys have "slightly better geographical skills than girls", with 65 per cent being able to locate a number of countries around the world compared with 63 per cent of girls, reported the Daily Mail.
Less than two thirds of children (60 per cent) were able to locate the UK's closest ally, the U.S., and 86 per cent failed to identify Iraq, in spite of its dominance of the news agenda. Reacting to the findings, education experts described it as "rather frightening", saying that schools must concentrate on the basics in geography lessons. The subject is a compulsory part of the National Curriculum for five to 14-year-olds. The critics attributed the lack of basic geographical knowledge on secondary school lessons, which focused on green issues such as global warming rather than facts and figures.
Swan falls for paddle boat (Ananova.com [UK], 9/27/06) A rare black swan has fallen in love with a plastic swan paddle boat for hire on a German lake. According to biologists, the Black Australian Swan is showing all the typical signs of love - circling its plastic lover, staring endlessly at it and making crooning noises. Both boat and swan live on the Aasee lake in Muenster, north-western Germany. The boat, a large white plastic peddalo designed to look like a swan, is hired out to families who want to picnic on the lake. Biologist Dirk Wewers from the local Allwetter Zoo said: "This behaviour proves that the swan has built an attachment with the peddle boat."
Man Denies Deliberately Hitting Turkey Driving To Anger Management Class (ShortNews.com, 11/19/06) 27-year-old Vermont resident Steven J. Lapre is claiming that he is being made an example of after being accused of running over and killing a wild turkey as he was driving to his anger management class. He asked at his arraignment, "How many citations do they hand out for all the dead deer by the side of the road?" He also claimed he tried to avoid an entire flock crossing the road, but still managed to hit one. He faces a $500 fine if convicted. Two witnesses came forward saying they saw Lapre speed up and swerve toward the turkeys. Lapre countered this, saying his car has a loud muffler. As he left the court he caused a stir, saying "You know how stupid this sounds?"
THEORY ON WHAT KILLED INDIANS SPARKS DEBATE (Associated Press, 1/8/07) MEXICO CITY - Mexicans have long been taught to blame diseases brought by the Spaniards for wiping out most of their Indian ancestors. But recent research suggests things may not be that simple. While the initial big die-offs still are blamed on the conquistadors who started arriving in 1519, even more virulent epidemics in 1545 and 1576 may have been caused by a native blood-hemorrhaging fever spread by rats, Mexican researchers say.
Dr. Francisco Hernandez, a physician to the Spanish king who witnessed the epidemic of 1576 and conducted autopsies, describes a fever that caused heavy bleeding, similar to the hemorrhagic Ebola virus. It raced through the Indian population, killing four out of five people infected, often within a day or two. “Much of the reason why these epidemics were left unstudied was that it was politically and institutionally easier to blame the Spaniards for all of the horrible things that might have happened,'' he said. "It was the official version of history.''
German dictator no pariah to some in India (Chicago Tribune, 1/2/07) KHARGHAR, India - When an Adolf Hitler-themed restaurant opened its doors in a suburb of cosmopolitan Mumbai in August, many were horrified. The restaurant, Hitlers' Cross, changed its name a week later to Cross Cafe, but it is hardly the only example of how some Indians view Hitler and his legacy. Hindu fundamentalist groups praise Hitler's leadership skills. A college poll a few years ago showed he was perceived as an ideal leader. Books and videos of him are top sellers. Most patrons prefer to call Cross Cafe by its previous name. Plates and cups still bear the Hitlers' Cross logo, with a Nazi swastika in place of the "O." "We call it `Hitler' only," said Ashish Anant, 18, an aeronautics college student who likes to come to the cafe with friends. "We say, `Let's go to Hitler.' It's a trendy name. It's different."
It's not clear why Hitler is popular in some circles. Some experts say it's because of a belief that Indians were the original Aryan race. Others say it's because Hitler used the traditional Hindu good-luck symbol of the swastika, rotating it slightly. Those who believe strongly in the caste system of India also may like Hitler's eugenics and race beliefs. Any praise for Hitler is not reflected in national policy. India has strong ties with Israel and views it as an ally in the war on terror. And Jewish and non-Jewish Indians were horrified by Hitlers' Cross. Daniel Zohar Zonshine, the Israel consul general in Mumbai, looked visibly upset when talking about the portrayal of Hitler in India, especially Hitlers' Cross. He said he thinks the owners wanted the free publicity that comes with such controversy. Hitler is glorified in other ways. A poll of 400 students from the country's most prestigious colleges by a leading Indian newspaper in 2002 found that Hitler was their third most requested ideal leader of India, behind independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and the country's then-Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
'Smallest state' seeks new owners (BBC News, 1/8/07) The owners of the world's "smallest state" - Sealand - have put the quasi-country up for sale. The former anti-aircraft platform, seven miles off the Essex coast, was taken over 40 years ago by retired Army major Paddy Roy Bates. The so-called "independent state" of Sealand is currently home to an internet firm. The platform, built by Britain during World War II, now has its own flag, passports, currency and stamps. It was derelict until the 1960s when Mr Bates took over the 10,000 sq ft platform and declared it the independent nation of Sealand. At the time, the platform was beyond the then three-mile limit of British territorial waters. All this changed in 1987, when the UK extended its territorial waters from three to 12 miles.
Sealand's current "head of state", Mr Bates' son Michael, said he was only 14 when they took over the platform, but now seemed the right time to sell up. "My father is 85 and my mother in her late 70s and I'm 54," he said. "I believe the project needs a bit of rejuvenation." He said the "micro-nation" included accommodation, offices, a power generator and a chapel. During the Bates' time on the platform, they saw off an attempt by the Royal Navy to evict them, and an attempt by a group of German and Dutch businessmen to seize control of the platform by force. The government does not recognise the sovereignty of Sealand.
Romanian Burglars Give Instead Of Taking (All Headline News, 12/13/06) Bucharest, Romania - Two Romanian burglars may have taken pity on their victim after they broke into her home. Instead of robbing the 86-year-old woman, they gave her all the change in their pockets. Filofteia Stefan, of Constanta, Romania told police that two young men, wearing masks, broke into her apartment apparently to rob her. Stefan said the burglars searched for money and valuables, but found only her wallet with the equivalent of $.20 inside. The burglars then gave her all their loose change and left without taking anything.
Jilted groom finds fitting new bride (Ananova.com, 11/4/06) A jilted Romanian man found a new bride by asking which of his neighbours could fit into the wedding dress. Florin Mazilu, from Malu Mare in southeastern Romania, is now recommending buying the dress first and looking for the wife second. He claims his stand-in bride has turned out to be the love of his life after original fiancée Adelina Epure dumped him four days before their wedding.
Mazilu spread word in his hometown that he would marry any girl who fitted into the wedding dress and the wedding ring he had already bought. Within hours he had found 21-year-old local Ana Maria who fitted perfectly into the dress and ring. He said: "I had everything prepared for the wedding but no bride. I was determined to go ahead with a wedding though and while the conditions I set for a bride were unusual I knew that if she fitted the dress and could wear the ring on her finger it would work.
"Ana Maria was the only one of dozens of girls who could fit into the dress perfectly and could wear the ring. It was love at first sight. I knew she was perfect from the moment I saw her.