Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sex workers chronicle life in Indian brothels

MUMBAI (Reuters) - An exclusive magazine for prostitutes is offering a snapshot of life in some of India's biggest brothels, reporting the murky world of pimps and violent customers and showcasing the dreams and talents of sex workers.

"Red Light Despatch", a monthly publication, is full of emotional outpourings of women sold to brothels as children, personal accounts of torture and harassment, poems and essays by prostitutes, book and film reviews and advocacy articles.

Health workers and prostitutes sit together once a week in a tiny newsroom located inside a brothel in India's financial capital to discuss stories, headlines and the design of issues.

The reporters, often themselves prostitutes or their relatives, file their contribution after scouring the brothels of Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi and some smaller cities.

"We choose the best stories for publishing," said Rupa Metgudd, a news coordinator and daughter of a former prostitute, sifting through reports for the latest edition. "The magazine is not a mere publication. For us it is journalism of purpose."

Although prostitution is illegal in India, it is a thriving underground industry and voluntary groups estimate that there are about 2 million women sex workers.

Launched six months ago, the magazine is a platform for the collective memories, nostalgia and dreams of the sex worker community and an attempt to wean their children away from the profession, said editor Anurag Chaturvedi.


In one recent edition, Sita, a prostitute from Kolkata who gave only one name, told of her violent childhood marriage that forced her to flee her home and land in a brothel.
"My dignity was torn to pieces. I used to cry a lot. But I soon learnt some things will never change no matter how much you cry," she wrote.

Elsewhere, women wrote about betrayed love, bad marriages, their dreams of living a life of dignity, of owning a "house with lots of sky", and about the "frightening" world of prostitution.

With a little help from a voluntary group, the magazine prints about 1,000 copies in Hindi and English and is distributed free among prostitutes and residents of red light districts.

The ragtag magazine, without any photographs, looks more like a booklet but it apparently serves the purpose.

"It's a platform, a vent for many prostitutes who deposit their anger, hurt and thoughts on these pages," said Anita Khude, a health volunteer associated with the magazine. "The magazine is for them and it is about them."

If there were any doubts about the quality of the magazine staffed by people with no journalistic experience, two former journalists help edit it.

There also are plans to turn it into a more appealing tabloid in Hindi, English and Bengali.

"We have little money, but we still pay our writers small amounts so that they realize they can earn a respectable living as well," said editor Chaturvedi.

For its reporters, getting stories from brothels is not a problem because "we are accepted as one of them".

"When we go to people's homes they are comfortable and they talk," said Khude. "In the next issue we will write about how a 'normal' man -- a poor roadside snacks seller -- fought prejudices and married a prostitute he fell in love with."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Scientists excited by Indonesian-caught coelacanth

MANADO, Indonesia - Two months ago Indonesian fisherman Justinus Lahama caught a fish so exceptional that an international team of scientists rushed here to investigate.

A very rare coelacanth fish as Indonesian, Japanese and French specialists (unseen) carry out an autopsy of in Manado, North Sulawesi, in June. Coelacanths are among the world's oldest fish species. Their fossil records date back more than 360 million years and suggest the animal has changed little in that time. [Agencies]

French experts equipped with sonar and GPS asked Lahama to reconstruct, in his dugout canoe, exactly what it was he did that enabled him to catch a rare coelacanth fish, an awkward-swimming species among the world's oldest.

Last May 19, Lahama and his son Delvy manoevred their frail canoe into the Malalayang river, on the outskirts of Manado, on northern Sulawesi island. Like any other morning, they rowed out to sea and fished within 200 metres (yards) of the beach.

"I very quickly unrolled the usual trawl line with three hooks, about 110 metres (yards) long, and at the end of three minutes, I felt a large catch," Lahama recounts.

The pull was strong: "I had painful arms - I felt such a resistance, I thought that I was pulling up a piece of coral."

After 30 minutes of effort under the searing tropical sun, he finally saw a fish swishing at a depth of about 20 metres (65 feet).

"The sea was very calm this day. There was no wind, no clouds, no current. The water was very clear. The fish let itself be drawn in from there," he says.

He thought he was dreaming, he said, when he saw the creature at the end of his line.

"It was an enormous fish. It had phosphorescent green eyes and legs. If I had pulled it up during the night, I would have been afraid and I would have thrown it back in," he exclaims.

Coelacanths, closely related to lungfish, usually live at depths of 200-1,000 metres (656-3,200 feet). They can grow up to two metres (6.5 feet) in length and weigh as much as 91 kilogrammes (200 pounds).

Lahama, 48, has fished since he was 10 years old, like his father and his grandfather before him. But he was unlikely to have ever run into this "living fossil" species, as scientists have dubbed the enigmatic fish.

Lahama's catch, 1.3 metres long and weighing 50 kilograms (110 pounds) was only the second ever captured alive in Asia. The first was caught in 1998, also off Manado.

That catch astonished ichtyologists, who until then had been convinced that the last coelacanths were found only off eastern Africa, mainly in the Commoros archipelago. They had been thought to have died out around the time dinosaurs became extinct, until one was found there in 1938.

Their fossil records date back more than 360 million years and suggest that the fish has changed little over that period.

Lahama, who had never even heard of the fish, initially thought of selling his white-spotted catch.

"Considering his weight, I said to myself, this will fetch a good price."

Returning to port, he showed it off to the most senior fisherman, who became alarmed.

"It is a fish which has legs - it should be given back to the water. It will bring us misfortune," he told him. But the unsuperstitious Lahama decided to keep it.

After spending 30 minutes out of water, the fish, still alive, was placed in a netted pool in front of a restaurant at the edge of the sea. It survived for 17 hours.

The local fisheries authorities filmed the fish swimming in the metre-deep pool, capturing invaluable images as the species had only previously been recorded in caves at great depths.

Once dead, the fish was frozen.

After the fisherman was interviewed, French, Japanese and Indonesian scientists working with the French Institute for Development and Research carried out an autopsy on the coelacanth. Genetic analysis is to follow.

The site of capture, so close to the beach and from a depth of 105 metres, had intrigued the scientists. Does the Indonesian coelacanth live in shallower waters than its cousin in the Commoros?

Lahama's fish is to be preserved and will be displayed in a museum in Manado.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

town creates record ketchup packet

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — First came the world's largest ketchup bottle.

Now citizens of this southern Illinois community are after the record for the world's largest ketchup packet.

Collinsville has partnered with the H.J. Heinz Co. to fill an 8-foot tall, 4-foot wide plastic pouch with 1,500 pounds of the tomato goop for a school fundraiser.

"That's a lot of ketchup," said Tracey Parsons, a Heinz spokeswoman.

The company donated 4,000 glass bottles of the condiment that people can buy for $1 and pour into the packet.

Hundreds in the city, which is the home of a 170-foot-tall water tower shaped like a giant ketchup bottle, showed up Saturday to participate in the ketchup filling and other fundraising activities.

Organizers expected the packet to be filled to capacity with 130 gallons by Saturday evening.

The feat is being submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records. If accepted, it will be the world's largest ketchup packet, Parsons said.

The proceeds will go to the Collinsville Christian Academy, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Part of the school was destroyed by a fire earlier this week.

After it's filled with ketchup, the giant packet will be sealed and kept in Collinsville for a few days before being transported to the Pittsburgh-based company's headquarters.

Parsons said the ketchup won't ever be eaten.

The world's most beauty pageant Contest in Arab

The world's most beauty pageant Contest in Arab

The world's most upmarket beauty pageant - without a bikini in sight

Women from across the Arab world came together to compete in the Miss Arab World contest in Cairo - with Miss Bahrain, Wafa Yaqoop, being crowned the winner.
Winner: Wafa Yaqoop is crowned Miss Arab World 2007

Candidates came from 16 Arab countries including Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Palestine.
Contestants: Palestinian contestant Merna Kattan (left) and Kuwaiti contestant Fatma Ghadban
Beauty: Iraqi contestant Mayada Hussein (left) and Moroccan contestant Sarah Banani

It is the second time the competition has been staged.
Line-up: Contestants in the second Miss Arab World Contest

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sex for the motherland: Russian youths encouraged to procreate at camp

Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp's mass wedding. "They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia".

Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.

With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.

But this organisation - known as "Nashi", meaning "Ours" - is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life.

Nashi's annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness.

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear - supposedly a cause of sterility - and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.

Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp's first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

Attempting to raise Russia's dismally low birthrate even by eccentric-seeming means might be understandable. Certainly, the country's demographic outlook is dire. The hard-drinking, hardsmoking and disease-ridden population is set to plunge by a million a year in the next decade.

But the real aim of the youth camp - and the 100,000-strong movement behind it - is not to improve Russia's demographic profile, but to attack democracy.

Under Mr Putin, Russia is sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed. And Nashi, along with other similar youth movements, such as 'Young Guard', and 'Young Russia', is in the forefront of the charge.

At the start, it was all too easy to mock. I attended an early event run by its predecessor, 'Walking together', in the heart of Moscow in 2000. A motley collection of youngsters were collecting 'unpatriotic' works of fiction for destruction.

It was sinister in theory, recalling the Nazis' book-burning in the 1930s, but it was laughable in practice. There was no sign of ordinary members of the public handing in books (the copies piled on the pavement had been brought by the organisers).

Once the television cameras had left, the event organisers admitted that they were not really volunteers, but being paid by "sponsors". The idea that Russia's anarchic, apathetic youth would ever be attracted into a disciplined mass movement in support of their president - what critics called a "Putinjugend", recalling the "Hitlerjugend" (German for "Hitler Youth") - seemed fanciful.

How wrong we were. Life for young people in Russia without connections is a mixture of inadequate and corrupt education, and a choice of boring dead-end jobs. Like the Hitler Youth and the Soviet Union's Young Pioneers, Nashi and its allied movements offer not just excitement, friendship and a sense of purpose - but a leg up in life, too.

Nashi's senior officials - known, in an eerie echo of the Soviet era, as "Commissars" - get free places at top universities. Thereafter, they can expect good jobs in politics or business - which in Russia nowadays, under the Kremlin's crony capitalism, are increasingly the same thing.

Nashi and similar outfits are the Kremlin's first line of defence against its greatest fear: real democracy. Like the sheep chanting "Four legs good, two legs bad" in George Orwell's Animal Farm, they can intimidate through noise and numbers.

Nashi supporters drown out protests by Russia's feeble and divided democratic opposition and use violence to drive them off the streets.

The group's leaders insist that the only connection to officialdom is loyalty to the president. If so, they seem remarkably well-informed.

In July 2006, the British ambassador, Sir Anthony Brenton, infuriated the Kremlin by attending an opposition meeting. For months afterwards, he was noisily harassed by groups of Nashi supporters demanding that he "apologise". With uncanny accuracy, the hooligans knew his movements in advance - a sign of official tip-offs.

Even when Nashi flagrantly breaks the law, the authorities do not intervene. After Estonia enraged Russia by moving a Sovietera war memorial in April, Nashi led the blockade of Estonia's Moscow embassy. It daubed the building with graffiti, blasted it with Stalinera military music, ripped down the Estonian flag and attacked a visiting ambassador's car. The Moscow police, who normally stamp ruthlessly on public protest, stood by.

Nashi fits perfectly into the Kremlin's newly-minted ideology of "Sovereign democracy". This is not the mind-numbing jargon of Marxism-Leninism, but a lightweight collection of cliches and slogans promoting Russia's supposed unique political and spiritual culture.

It is strongly reminiscent of the Tsarist era slogan: "Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality".

The similarities to both the Soviet and Tsarist eras are striking. Communist ideologues once spent much of their time explaining why their party deserved its monopoly of power, even though the promised utopia seemed indefinitely delayed.

Today, the Kremlin's ideology chief Vladislav Surkov is trying to explain why questioning the crooks and spooks who run Russia is not just mistaken, but treacherous.

Yet, by comparison with other outfits, Nashi looks relatively civilised. Its racism and prejudice is implied, but not trumpeted. Other pro-Kremlin youth groups are hounding gays and foreigners off the streets of Moscow. Mestnye [The Locals] recently distributed leaflets urging Muscovites to boycott non-Russian cab drivers.

These showed a young blonde Russian refusing a ride from a swarthy, beetle-browed taxi driver, under the slogan: "We're not going the same way."

Such unofficial xenophobia matches the official stance. On April 1, a decree explicitly backed by Mr Putin banned foreigners from trading in Russia's retail markets. By some estimates, 12m people are working illegally in Russia.

Those who hoped that Russia's first post-totalitarian generation would be liberal, have been dissapointed. Although explicit support for extremist and racist groups is in the low single figures, support for racist sentiments is mushrooming.

Slogans such as "Russia for the Russians" now attract the support of half of the population. Echoing Kremlin propaganda, Nashi denounced Estonians as "fascist", for daring to say that they find Nazi and Soviet memorials equally repugnant. But, in truth, it is in Russia that fascism is all too evident.

The Kremlin sees no role for a democratic opposition, denouncing its leaders as stooges and traitors. Sadly, most Russians agree: a recent poll showed that a majority believed that opposition parties should not be allowed to take power.

Just as the Nazis in 1930s rewrote Germany's history, the Putin Kremlin is rewriting Russia's. It has rehaabilitated Stalin, the greatest massmurderer of the 20th century. And it is demonising Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first democratically-elected president. That he destroyed totalitarianism is ignored. Instead, he is denounced for his "weak" pro-Western policies.

While distorting its own history, the Kremlin denounces other countries. Mr Putin was quick to blame Britain's "colonial mentality" for our government's request that Russia try to find a legal means of extraditing Andrei Lugovoi, the prime suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Yet the truth is that Britain, like most Western countries, flagellates itself for the crimes of the past. Indeed, British schoolchildren rarely learn anything positive about their country's empire. And, if Mr Putin has his way, Russian pupils will learn nothing bad about the Soviet empire, which was far bloodier, more brutal - and more recent.

A new guide for history teachers - explicitly endorsed by Mr Putin - brushes off Stalin's crimes. It describes him as "the most successful leader of the USSR". But it skates over the colossal human cost - 25m people were shot and starved in the cause of communism.

"Political repression was used to mobilise not only rank-and-file citizens but also the ruling elite," it says. In other words, Stalin wanted to make the country strong, so he may have been a bit harsh at times. At any time since the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism in the late 1980s, that would have seemed a nauseating whitewash. Now, it is treated as bald historical fact.

If Stalin made mistakes, so what? Lots of people make mistakes.

"Problematic pages in our history exist," Mr Putin said last week. But: "we have less than some countries. And ours are not as terrible as those of some others." He compared the Great Terror of 1937, when 700,000 people were murdered in a purge by Stalin's secret police, to the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

The comparison is preposterous. A strong argument can be made that by ending the war quickly, the atom bombs saved countless lives.

Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman-may have failed to realise that nuclear weapons would one day endanger humanity's survival. But, unlike Stalin, they were not genocidal maniacs.

As the new cold war deepens, Mr Putin echoes, consciously or unconsciously, the favourite weapon of Soviet propagandists in the last one.

Asked about Afghanistan, they would cite Vietnam. Castigated for the plight of Soviet Jews, they would complain with treacly sincerity about discrimination against American blacks. Every blot on the Soviet record was matched by something, real or imagined, that the West had done.

But the contrasts even then were absurd. When the American administration blundered into Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of people protested in the heart of Washington. When eight extraordinarily brave Soviet dissidents tried to demonstrate in Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in 1968, they were instantly arrested and spent many years in labour camps.

For the east European countries with first-hand experience of Stalinist terror, the Kremlin's rewriting of history could hardly be more scary. Not only does Russia see no reason to apologise for their suffering under Kremlin rule, it now sees the collapse of communism not as a time of liberation, but as an era of pitiable weakness.

Russia barely commemorates even the damage it did to itself, let alone the appalling suffering inflicted on other people. Nashi is both a symptom of the way Russia is going - and a means of entrenching the drift to fascism.

Terrifyingly, the revived Soviet view of history is now widely held in Russia. A poll this week of Russian teenagers showed that a majority believe that Stalin did more good things than bad.

If tens of thousands of uniformed German youngsters were marching across Germany in support of an authoritarian Fuhrer, baiting foreigners and praising Hitler, alarm bells would be jangling all across Europe. So why aren't they ringing about Nashi?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New born snake baby shocks Saudi family

Summary: A Saudi family in Jeddah was in shock at the sight of their new born baby badly deformed by a genetic skin disease. The mother of seven girls who had wanted a boy claimed she had predicted she would give birth to a "snake" days before the delivery.

Date: 20 July 2007

Shotlist: Various shots of the newly born Saudi baby 00:00-01:23
Diverse shots from the Kurtoglan village in Van 01:23-02:23
Interview with doctor at the Van Yuzuncu Yil University, Ercan Kirimi (in Turkish) 02:23-03:56
Kirimi showing pictures of Harlequin ichtiyosis cases on computer 03:56-04:09
Photos of babies with Harlequin ichthiyosis disease 04:09-04:54

Origin: Jeddah

I was in CAYTV this morning and I happened to open a video of a baby who look like a snake, it said that that baby was born in Jordan and she died after an hour. I don’t know if I’m late or not but for those who did not see it yet, you can view it in this link. Accordingly, when the mother of that baby learned that the baby she was conceiving was a girl she told her friends that she is going to have a snake soon since she don’t want to have a baby girl anymore, so she called her fetus inside her womb as snake, so when she gave birth, her baby looks like a snake!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Top 10 Weirdest and Funniest Japanese Condoms

condoms have a long history in Japan, beginning with the earliest versions which were made from leather (!), tortoise shells (!!) or even horns (!!!)... is this where the expression "are you horny?" came from?

Thankfully, condom technology has advanced to the point where 580 million condoms are sold each year in Japan and competition within the industry is, er, stiff. Indeed, Japan boasts more condoms used per person per year than any other country. To get ahead in the race for safe sex supremacy, Japanese consumers are being treated to innovative market thrusts that are by turns interesting, unusual and downright weird. So, leave that poor turtle alone and come with us (ahem), as we count down The Top 10 Weirdest Japanese

1) Super Big Boy Condoms... to Win, Place or Show!

Whoa... easy now big fella!

You know, there is a sort of endearing innocence to the Japanese sensibility that comes through from time to time, and this is one of those times. The earnest marketers at Okamoto seized upon a single, archetypal image to illustrate the boxes of their largest condoms. Yes, it's a horse. A horse, people! Slap a pack of these babies down on the nightstand and you've got yourself a no-win situation: she either runs from the room screaming, or - minutes later - sighs with disappointment. According to Okamoto, "Exceptional cutting of Okamoto condom with absolutely more liberation, this condom is designed for you." Mr. Ed, maybe, but not Mr. Steve. Oh, but there's more: "It also employ a new odour masker technology to cut the irritating smell of condom." Yeah, don't you just hate that? Actually I never get close enough to notice, but I'll take their word for it. For those who want to pony up for a dozen before they saddle up, that'll be $18.40, pardner.

2) "We are all brack people", so can't we all get a wrong?

"I have a (wet) dream!"
What can I say... the "Power BLACK Color Rubber" is so wrong on so many levels, I'm speechless. Heck, the Reverend Jesse Jackson would be left speechless, and that takes some doing. If he sees these condoms he just might cancel Operation PUSH! Seeing this condom package reminded me that Japan is a very strange place indeed. The image of a very black panther and his "you go girlfriend" is enough to make Eldridge Cleaver weep, but it's nothing compared to the copy on the package. On the left we have "Keep it real. Keep on faith. Keep on going. Piece! So cool. Respect!" You tell 'em, Aretha! Then on the right there's "Stay real! WE are all brack people"... Hallelujah! It's like they locked up the package designer in a room with some bad rap records and some bad acid for a week and this was the result.

3) When it comes to Nuts, ask a Squirrel

What would Bullwinkle think?
OK, the fur-bearin' varmints may know about nuts but does that qualify them to advertise condoms? Evidently it does, but the poor critters seem a mite confused: they're using them as rain hats! Or, pardon the phrase, Pith Helmets (I slay me). We assume human users will know better. What I'd like to know is, do the actual condoms really display a smiling squirrel's face?

4) Skins Mobile... for Safe Phone Sex

Over half a billion condoms are sold in Japan each year but it seems the manufacturers still have extra capacity and are looking for new markets to, umm, penetrate. Witness "Skins Mobile", basically condoms for your cell phone. No, they aren't lubricated, so don't get any "hey, guess where I'm calling from!" ideas. Skins Mobile are sold in 3-packs for $6.99 and are thin enough to let sound waves - but not hot-tub waves - pass right through.

5) Grace Condoms, for when Company comes...

Nothing says "Elegance" like latex
Advertisers have tried to give an upscale aura to condoms before, but are we really ready to see a box of them displayed alongside lamps, plants and other household brick-a-brack? Will the boss and his wife (or her hubby) be impressed with your good taste when they arrive for dinner & drinks? If not, could it lead to your dis-grace?

6) I thought Anime Otaku don't get Dates...

But on the off chance a fateful meeting of obsessed otaku-tachi turns into something romantic, whip out your Gundam condoms! Available in 4 different package designs, each featuring a different "condomonster". Gundam condoms (try saying that six times quickly) show that when nerds eventually do it, they do it in style!

7) Designer Condoms by Radical Suzuki

Designer wrappers for wrappers
Is that a Suzuki in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? In the bedroom or in your wallet, count on Tokyo Art Condoms by Radical Suzuki to make a good impression - and not just a circular one. These look so good it seems a shame to rip them open. Not only are the packages appealing, the condoms themselves are attractively tinted and pleasingly flavored in peach, melon and plain. plain?

8) Fe+Male Condoms, for the Gender-ambivalent or the Iron-poor

The first Unisex condom?

Okamoto is one of Japan's leading condom manufacturers, so you'd think they'd invest in an English-speaking copyeditor to proofread their new products. These "Fe+Male" condoms are a case in point... are they for males, females, or what?? My wife's multivitamins have "Fe+" on the bottle, so are these condoms iron-enriched as well? And if so, is there a problem with rusting?

9) Candy is Dandy, but Condoms are a Girl's Best Friend

"Have a break..." uh oh!
The obvious thing to do, then, is to combine the best attributes of both... but maybe it's best to get your legal department's OK before running off thousands of "Kit Sacks". Sure, have a break... wait a minute, these are condoms! And no, I refuse to make any "Hershey Highway" references, so let's not even go there.

10) Astrology Condoms, for those with Crystal Balls

Hey baby, what's your sign?
This cute condom package evokes traditional Japanese themes to create a modern day version of the Floating World. No telling if the actual condoms are styled to resemble the pair of piscine prophylactics on the package - or, for that matter, if they're fish-flavored. Hopefully not, on both counts.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Record storms kill 152 in China

BEIJING - Record rainfall this week triggered floods, landslides and mud flows that killed 152 people in China and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands, state media reported Sunday.

Since the start of the annual rainy season in June, floods have hit nearly half of China's regions and killed at least 400 people, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Worst-hit this week was southern China's Yunnan province, where rain triggered floods and landslides from Wednesday to Saturday.

More than 4,000 houses were destroyed and 386,000 people evacuated, Xinhua said. It cited the Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying that 59 people were killed in Yunnan, most of them caught in violent mud flows on Thursday.

Eastern China's Shandong province and the southwestern city of Chongqing were also badly hit, with rain inflicting severe damage to infrastructure, transportation and telecommunications, Xinhua said.

In Chongqing, 42 people died and 12 have been reported missing, it said. Another 300,000 people have been evacuated.

"The rainstorms' intensity and poor drainage systems are to blame," He Zhiqiang, chief of the technology department of Chongqing Municipal Facilities Bureau, was quoted as saying by the China Daily newspaper Saturday.

Xinhua said earlier that 10 1/2 inches of rain fell between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon in Chongqing, the largest volume since records began in 1892. The previous record of 8.1 inches was set on July 1996, the reports said.

In Shandong, 40 people were killed and another nine were missing, Xinhua said. Some 112,600 were evacuated, it said.

Jinan, Shandong's capital and the worst-hit city, received up to 4.65 inches of rain in an hour during a storm on Wednesday.

According to Xinhua, officials at the Shandong Department of Water Resources said the rainstorm was the worst since 1916, when Jinan began to record such data.

In the far western Xinjiang region, torrential rainfall killed 11 people and injured more than 100, it said.

Summer is peak rainy season in China, where millions of people in the central and southern part of the country live on farmland in the flood plains of rivers.

Flooding and typhoons killed 2,704 people last year, according to the China Meteorological Administration. That was the second-deadliest year on record after 1998, when summer flooding claimed 4,150 lives.

Also Sunday, Xinhua reported that the middle and lower reaches of the Huai River, China's third longest, are facing the danger of flooding after days of rain.

More than 1 million people have been evacuated in central China's Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces from the projected path of floodwaters along the Huai, which could suffer its worst flooding since 1954 if dams and flood walls break.

There have been no reports yet of death from rain or flood along the Huai.

"Dikes that have soaked in high water level for 19 days would be at an increased risk of breach in the coming 10 days," Xinuha said, citing officials with the flood control headquarters in the central province of Anhui.

More rain was forecast for Sunday, Xinhua said.

Woman faces charges for kissing painting

MARSEILLE, France - A woman has been arrested on suspicion of kissing a painting by American artist Cy Twombly and smudging the bone-white canvas with her lipstick, French judicial officials said Saturday.

Police said they arrested the woman after she kissed the work on Thursday. She is to be tried in a court in the southern city of Avignon on Aug. 16 for "damage to a work of art," judicial officials said.

The painting, which is worth an estimated $2 million, was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Avignon. It is part of an exhibition slated to run at the museum through Sept. 30. Officials did not provide further details on the painting.

Twombly is known for his abstract paintings combining painting and drawing techniques, repetitive lines and the use of graffiti, letters and words.

Born in Lexington, Va., in 1928, Twombly has lived in Italy for nearly a half- century. He won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale in 2001.

Friday, July 20, 2007

5 Deadliest Cities in The World

1. Chernobyl, Ukraine

When you hear Chernobyl, you immediately think nuclear disaster. It was, in fact the worst nuclear accident in history. A huge fallout cloud of radioactive dust spread across vast swathes of the Soviet Union, Europe and Eastern North America. As a result, an estimated 9 thousand people have contracted cancer and died. The disaster displaced over 336,000 people. Life expectancy is low. However, according to scientist James Lovelock, Chernobyl was an ecological success: animals can now roam around free without being hunted. Environmental Graffiti disagrees.

2. Dzerzhinsk, Russia

Until recently, the city of Dzerzhinsk in Russia used to produce huge quantities of chemical weapons, including mustard gas and lewisite. Chemical weapons ceased to be produced by 1945. However, the waste was buried underground, contaminating water and crops. The site however, remains the largest producer of chemicals for the Russian Federation. Life expectancy is low at 42 for men and 47 years for women. This is attributed to the high levels of persistent organic chemicals.

3. Haina, Dominican Republic

Haina, has been referred to as the ‘Dominican Chernobyl’. According to the United Nations, the population of Haina is considered to have the highest level of lead contamination in the world, and its entire population bears the scars. The contamination is believed to have been caused by the past industrial operations of the nearby BaterĂ­as Meteoro, an automobile battery recycling smelter. Although the company has moved to a new site, the contamination still remains.

4. Kabwe, Zambia

Kabwe, the “bush capital” of Zambia was the site of a huge mine. The mine became the largest in the country until overtaken in the early 1930s by larger copper mining complexes on the Copper belt. Apart from lead and zinc it also produced silver, manganese and heavy metals such as cadmium, vanadium, and titanium in smaller quantities. The reason why the mine is on our list is that large quantities of zinc and lead tailing have made their way into the local water supply.

5. La Oroya, Peru

Since 1922, adults and children in La Oroya, Peru - a mining town in the Peruvian Andes and the site of a poly-metallic smelter - have been exposed to the toxic emissions from the plant. Currently owned by the Missouri-based Doe Run Corporation, the plant is largely responsible for the dangerously high blood lead levels found in the children of this community. Studies carried out by the Director General of Environmental Health in Peru in 1999 showed that ninety-nine percent of children living in and around La Oroya have blood lead levels that exceed acceptable amounts.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

3 girls in tubs successful in 60km crossing

NIIGATA -- Three women completed the 60-kilometer crossing from Sado to Honshu in tub boats Saturday, following in the footsteps of a mythical figure who traversed the straits to see her lover on the mainland.

Kanako Takahashi, 26, Miho Hamada, 25 and Miki Takano, 27, each rowed a tub boat across the Sado Straits to make the first successful crossing in the craft for 40 years; the third overall, but the first ever to be completed solo.

"My arms and hands are really hurting, but I'm so glad it was successful," Hamada said.

A Sado tale tells of a woman called Omitsu paddling one of the island's famous tub boats from Sado to Kashiwazaki, where her fisherman lover Gosaku lived. The Sado Tourism Association planned the three women's crossing, which began at about 10 a.m. Friday in Sado.

Takahashi, Hamada and Takano, all clad in traditional garments, set off in their 1.9-meter tubs at about 10 a.m. Friday, provisioned with food, water and a bucket to use as a toilet. They arrived in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, at around 10 a.m. Saturday. Two fishing boats accompanied the women to ensure their safety.

There were fears that the approaching typhoon Man-yi could hinder their journey, but the worst weather the women encountered on their 24-hour paddle was light rain. Waves were only about 40 to 50 centimeters high.

In 1966 and again in 1967 there were successful crossings of the strait in tub boats, but on each occasion three people had taken turns in paddling them.

"Having made the crossing alone, now I know how Omitsu must have felt about Gosaku," Takahashi said

Monday, July 09, 2007

How to Chill a Hot Beer or Soda in 3 Minutes

So my father and brother-in-law were over this weekend for a barbecue. My fridge was stuffed with appetizers and salads so I was only able to fit a 12-pack of beer. Normally, this would have been enough so I didn't worry about it. After a couple hours, the stash was depleted.

I did have some more beer in the garage but the 90+ degree Chicago heat had rendered it useless for at least an hour. Now what? These guys all had designated drivers and, in all honesty, they wanted more beer. Little did I know, the old man had a trick up his sleeve that I had never heard of. If I had a video camera ready, I would have taped this because it was pretty cool (sorry, no pun intended there).

Here is how he took beer from 80+ degrees to (seemingly) 40 degrees in about 3 minutes.

1. He took 6 hot beers from my garage and he placed them into a steel pot from the kitchen

2. He tossed in enough ice cubes to completely cover the beer

3. He then filled the pot with water

4. Next, and this is the trick, he tossed in (what must have been) 2 cups of table salt.

5. He took a large wooden spoon and stirred this thing up to be sure the salt dissolved.

6. He placed the concoction into the freezer and in 3 minutes we had ice cold beer.

Frankly, I wish I knew about this little trick years ago. Apparently this works for wine, soda, or anything. The addition of the salt does something that I am admittedly not qualified to explain. If we have any experts that want to weigh in, feel free. I do however know that this works.

Friday, July 06, 2007

World's Biggest Gay Pride Parade

Sao Paulo hosts world's largest gay pride parade

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Millions of people packed the streets of Sao Paulo for what organizers said was the world's largest gay pride parade, dancing and waving rainbow flags in a carnival-like atmosphere to condemn homophobia, racism and sexism.

At least 3 million people filled the canyonlike Paulista Avenue on Sunday, organizers said, surpassing last year's count of 2.5 million. The larger count was confirmed by a police spokesman who is not authorized to be quoted by name under department rules.

"This is the biggest parade on the planet," Tourism Minister Marta Suplicy said. "Our city is showing, once again, its respect for diversity."

In comparison, recent gay pride parades in New York and San Francisco have drawn tens of thousands of people, and world gay pride day celebrations in Berlin in 2004 attracted between 200,000 and 500,000 participants.(AP)

Participants kiss each other during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Sunday,
A participant takes a photo during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Sunday
Activists take part in the 11th Gay Parade in Sao Paulo
housands march during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Sunday
Activists take part in the 11th Gay Parade in Sao Paulo June 10, 2007. An estimated 3 million gays, lesbians and transvestites paraded down the main avenue of Brazil's business capital Sao Paulo on Sunday, showing their pride in a blaze of color and festive music, organizers said. REUTERS

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Turtles to test wireless network

DEERFIELD, Mass. - From the way he thrashed his head, kicked and tried to make a getaway, M16 made it clear he didn't like human contact. But the researchers wrangling with him could be helping to save his species.

Despite his best efforts to escape the clutches of two scientists from the University of Massachusetts and get back to the swamp he was just lifted from, the 40-pound snapping turtle finally gave up and let Mike Jones and Matt Garber do their jobs.

Using a combination of orthodontic cement and duct tape, the students attached a postcard-sized waterproof computer to the turtle's shell. After christening the 16th male turtle he found in the area as "M16," Jones scribbled some information about the turtle's shell markings into a field book and set the snapper free.

Knowing where M16 goes could help scientists protect him.

n an experiment taking place along the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts, two otherwise unrelated groups of researchers are working together: computer engineers like Garber who are testing a new wireless communication network, and biologists like Jones who are tracking snapping turtles — a species they worry may be headed for decline as land development shrinks their habitat.

The idea behind the technology is to create a network of constantly moving devices that record and store information, transmit data from one device to another, then relay all the saved information to a central location while running on self-charging batteries.

"A lot of the existing technology works great as long as you're not moving around and you have stable networks and people who could recharge batteries," said Jacob Sorber, a doctoral candidate in computer science who designed the network he calls TurtleNet, a project funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.

The solar-powered computers are light enough so they don't weigh the turtles down, and they don't interrupt their mating habits, Jones said.

Stuck to the shells of about 15 turtles found in spots near the Deerfield swamp, the gadgets will take periodic readings of the reptiles' location and body temperature.

When one computer-carrying snapper gets within a tenth-of-a-mile of another, the machines swap information.

The series of short-distance transmissions allows for long battery life in each computer, and the solar panels attached to the units are expected to constantly keep the batteries charged. Without a relay system, a longer transmission would require a larger battery that would drain too quickly or be too big for a turtle to carry.

The turtle-to-turtle relay ends when one of the snappers passes near a single base station that receives all the accumulated information. While Jones thinks the snappers may roam up to 10 miles from the Deerfield swamp they know as home, he says it's in their nature to return to the bog where the base station is.

Working like a cell phone sending a text message, the base station zaps the data to the UMass-Amherst campus about 15 miles away, where biologists are charting each turtle's whereabouts.

"We're trying to get a better idea of their range, the routes they take and where they hibernate," said Jones, who is working on a doctoral degree in biology. "If you have that information for a good number of turtles, you can predict what their patterns will be for the next 50 years or so."

Booming land development and an increase in natural predators has landed seven of Massachusetts' 10 freshwater turtle species on the state's endangered species list. Snappers aren't there yet, but Jones and other biologists are concerned they're on their way.

"People think they're a nuisance, they're aggressive and they're smelly," he said. "And you see a lot of dead snappers on the side of the road. But most of the turtles that people are running over are mothers trying to get somewhere to nest."

By mapping where and how the snappers move, they're trying to generate enough information that could be used to help protect turtle habitats.

Until now, tracking turtles has been a difficult — and messy — business.

Jones has been following turtles around New England by attaching radio receivers to their shells. When he goes looking for them, he has to carry a radio receiver while wading through swamps and bushwhacking through woods hoping to pick up a signal. And the radio batteries are good for only about two years.

If TurtleNet — which was launched in June — works, he'll be able to spend less time hunting for his subjects. The computers should let him know where the turtles are at any time.

Researchers from Princeton University have been using a similar technology during the past five years to track zebras in Kenya. Unlike TurtleNet, the Princeton project uses computers with larger batteries that could be more easily carried on collars attached to the strong, fast-moving zebras.

Still, the end result is the same, and the Princeton scientists say their studies have shed new light on the animals' migratory patterns.

"These are early examples of using computer engineering to answer questions about biology," said Margaret Martonosi, a professor of electrical engineering at Princeton. "If you know where these animals are going and how they're moving, you could take steps to better preserve the land and their habitat."

While the turtles may not be covering as much ground as the zebras, their interaction with people is increasing. And that puts them in more peril.

"You see a lot of them up the road this time of year," said Les Jackson, who works on a farm adjacent to the swamp where M16 was found.

Early summer is when turtles nest, and finding a place to lay their eggs often means crossing busy roads. The snappers Jackson was referring to were the ones he's seen crushed by cars.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The little girl who can give birth to her own brother or sister

When Melanie Boivin learned that her young daughter Flavie had a rare condition which would damage her fertility, she was determined to find a way to help her.

After a year of research on the Internet, talking to experts and discussing it with her partner, she came up with the answer - to donate some of her own eggs for eventual use by seven-year-old Flavie.

As a result, the little girl could one day give birth to her own half-brother or sister while Miss Boivin, 35, would be both a mother and grandmother to the infant.

"The role of a mother is essentially to help her children and if I could do anything in my power to help her I had to do it, and because of my age I had to do it now," Miss Boivin said.

"I told myself if she had needed another organ like a kidney I would volunteer without any hesitation, and it is the same kind of thought process for this.

"It is not the biological aspect that is as important as caring and raising the child. She would be the real mother as she would be caring for the child."

Now 21 of Miss Boivin's eggs have been put into deep freeze, the first time such a mother-daughter donation has been made.

Miss Boivin, a French-Canadian, lives with partner Martin Cote, 35, a financial analyst, and their three children in Montreal.

Flavie was born with Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that affects one in every 2,000 girls born. It causes infertility and means Flavie will probably never be able to have a baby without donated eggs, but a major worry for her mother was the worldwide shortage of such eggs.

Miss Boivin said: "For a complete year I was thinking about it and did some research on the Internet and was discussing it with my partner because we were concerned about the ethical questions - would I look at the child as my grandchild or as my own?

"We were also concerned about the financial impact, the physical impact on me and the emotional impact on the family. After a year I was convinced there were more advantages than disadvantages."

She contacted the McGill reproductive centre in Montreal which has a major egg freezing programme designed to help cancer victims. After an in-depth interview with the ethics committee, she was accepted for treatment.

Professor Seang Lin Tang, medical director of the centre, said mother-to-daughter egg donation had never before been attempted.

He said: "Because there is a tremendous shortage of egg donors worldwide - we have 300 couples waiting here - couples often search for a donor among family members and this is generally ethically acceptable.

"Intergenerational egg donation has been problematic because it usually involves a daughter donating to her mother, which raises the possibility of coercion and feelings of obligation.

"This did not apply to a mother giving to her daughter - it's a mother's love that motivates the donation."

There is no time limit on the eggs being stored in Canada, though in the UK it is unlawful to store eggs which are not for a woman's own use for more than ten years.

Genetic diagnosis could be applied to the eggs before fertilisation to ensure there was no risk of Turner Syndrome being passed on.

Miss Boivin, who has an 11-year-old son Jamie and a healthy second daughter Clara, two, said: "Flavie is full of life. She is always happy and smiling and she is a very social child. She is brilliant at school.

"I do not want to oblige her to use the eggs. I want to give her the option."

Details of the donation were released yesterday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Lyon, France.

Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "This is very worrying. We have to stop thinking of women only in terms of their reproductive potential. The daughter could live a full and happy life without having children of her own."

But Dr Richard Kennedy of the British Fertility Society, which represents specialists working in the field, said: "Here is a mother who has the capacity to do something to help her daughter have a child. This altruistic behaviour is not dissimilar to the scenario where a parent donates a kidney to a child."

Cell Phone Explodes and Burns Off Owner’s Nipple

You often hear of stories how a cell phone can harm people who have heart problems and use pacemakers or that there is radiation in the airwaves that effect the brain. Rarely do you actually consider your cell phone would explode on you.

That is exactly what happened to poor Cai.

“Right after I powered on the cell phone and pressed the button it exploded. My nipple got burned so badly from the explosion”.
20 year-old Cai paid $50 for a second hand cell phone and followed the instruction that the battery needs to be fully charged before use.

Next morning he got out the bed, couldn’t wait to try out his new toy, right after he powered on and he began to press a few buttons, it exploded.

Cai wasn’t wearing any clothing at the time, his left chest got badly burned including his nipple. The cell phone was some “Made in China” local brand with cheap quality and the battery wasn’t even safety certified.

An office girl also bought a similar new cell phone and it exploded as well, her nose was hurt so badly she ended up having to be hospitalized and might need a plastic surgery later.China is famous for cheap products which are often are fake, imitation and even dangerous.

These types of underground factories are everywhere and the government is not regulating it enough.

Check out our previous posts for fake eggs and a brick satellite receiver. You might fine these “Made in China” stories are humorous and unbelievable.
Source:-Weird Asia News

Monday, July 02, 2007

The human cannonball who has mastered the art of flying

Blasted out of the smoking cannon, this daredevil appears to have mastered the impossible Art of flying.

But seconds later Mike - the Bullet - Smith loses his inevitable battle with gravity and lands 50 yards away on a giant safety net.

The cannonball man, wearing a special red jumpsuit and safety helmet, was the star attraction at the Royal Norfolk Show in Norwich.

Thousands of spectators clustered around the waterlogged field on Thursday to watch him execute a perfect arc across the sky.

Photographer Bill Smith was perfect placed to film his spectacular ascent with his high-speed professional Nikon camera.

He said: "I was in the right place at the right time. The blast from the cannon was so loud the first few frames were a little wonky, but I managed to keep it steady.

"My camera, which takes around eight shots a second, was for the job."

Mr Smith used all 29 frames his camera took of the flight to produce this astounding composite picture.

Having perfected his craft over 20 years in the job, he combined each frame of the photos stuntman using a computer software programme.
He added: "When I started we just used film and printing. But with digital cameras you can do some quite exciting things. It was really fun putting this sequence together."