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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the News: June 22, 2011

Lots to post. It's been a while....

I know this is old news, but in case you didn't see Anderson Cooper's report on Sarah Palin's version of history, here it is:
"Sarah Palin is standing by her statement about a key moment in American history. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports."


Lenin impersonator ill after arrest on Red Square
Not huge news, but I had no idea these people existed... Totally makes a trip to Russia more worth it.

"A famous Lenin impersonator who poses for photos with tourists on Moscow's Red Square has fallen ill after being arrested, Russian media report.

Sergei Solovyov, 53, was detained after complaints from vendors reportedly "aggrieved" by his appearance and foul language - a charge he denied.

When Mr Solovyov was taken before a judge, he fell ill with high blood pressure and was rushed to hospital.

A tsar impersonator working with him accused police of harassment.

Viktor Chepkasov, 55, told media he had been working alongside "Lenin" for years as his arch-enemy Nicholas II, Russia's last tsar.

The two men pose on Red Square, one of Moscow's top tourist destinations, which houses the mausoleum where the remains of the real Lenin are still preserved amid some controversy.

First-Ever Photos of Space Shuttle Docked At Space Station

"After a 5-month stay at the International Space Station, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli snapped one-of-a-kind photos of the Space Shuttle docked at the ISS, on his way back to Earth in a Soyuz craft. This is the very first time photos have captured an American orbiter docked to the International Space Station.

The photo-op arose because, by sheer coincidence, the Soyuz capsule was scheduled to come home while Endeavor was docked. Two such ISS missions have never overlapped before, said a NASA spokesperson. Realizing the rare opportunity, the astronauts and space agencies arranged a photo shoot.


Amish man in Indiana arrested, accused of sexting girl, 12
I think the Amish are transitioning to the 21st century really well...

I didn't even know the Amish could have cellphones...

"Police in Indiana say they arrested an Amish man who arrived in a horse-drawn buggy for a presumed rendezvous with a 12-year-old girl to whom he had sent sexually explicit cell phone messages.

Officers arrested 21-year-old William R. Yoder on Wednesday, June 15, after he rode up to the Takathemoke Restaurant in Milroy, Indiana, and approached an undercover agent.

"The suspect arrived, in a one-horse carriage as he said he would, was identified by the undercover officer confirming his identity and was taken into custody without incident," said Connersville, Indiana, police Detective Craig Pennington.

Yoder was taken to Fayette County Jail, about 60 miles east of Indianapolis, where in a videotaped statement he confessed that he sent video messages, naked pictures of himself and lewd text messages. He posted bail June 16.

There Was a Massive Solar Explosion
Luckily it happened away from Earth.

"Regular readers know that PopSci can’t get enough of huge explosions on the surface of the sun. That puts us in a pretty good place right now, considering the current solar cycle is moving into a period of increased explosive activity. For those who might not understand why we love solar explosions, this video of this morning’s massive solar flare and ensuing solar prominence should reveal all."

2 people die as bear flies through SUV
More old news, but noteworthy/interesting if you hadn't heard about it.

"A bizarre auto accident involving two vehicles and a bear has left two people and the bear dead, Canadian authorities said.

Police in Quebec said a 300-pound male black bear wandered onto a road and was struck by an eastbound Pontiac Sunfire. The impact sent the animal hurtling through the air, where it smashed the windshield of a westbound Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle and went out through the back window, regional police spokesman Officer Martin Fournel said.

"It was a 300-pound bullet," he said.

"No alcohol or drugs were involved, and police are still trying to determine each vehicle's speed in the 90 kph (56 mph) zone, Fournel said, adding that charges are unlikely."

"It's bear mating season, and many male bears are out looking - sometimes recklessly - for females, so drivers on rural roads should be watchful, hunting guide Daniel Larocque told the Canadian television network CBC."

The animals are taking the earth back!
Elephant rampage causes terror in Indian city

"Two wild elephants have gone on a rampage in southern India, killing at least one person, officials say.

The elephants left a trail of destruction in a suburb of the city of Mysore, in the state of Karnataka.

Officials say the animals walked into the city from a nearby forest, leaving residents running for their lives.

Officials say that one elephant barged into a women's college compound and wandered the grounds, while the other wreaked havoc in a residential area.

Forest rangers and officials from Mysore Zoo later tranquilised and captured the animals.

'Paris Syndrome' strikes Japanese

I suspect Mr. Hilton suffers from the same ailment

"A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as "Paris syndrome".

That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations.

The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.

Around a million Japanese travel to France every year.

"Many of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris - the cobbled streets, as seen in the film Amelie, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre.

The reality can come as a shock.

An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures.

But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.

This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock.

Zimbabwe officer who used Mugabe's toilet awaits word on his fate
I think I need to take dictatorial control of a country so I can have a private toilet toted around wherever I go...

"A police officer in Zimbabwe who has languished at a police detention barracks for a month for using a toilet reserved for President Robert Mugabe will learn his fate at end of this week following an appeal to his boss.

Alois Mabhunu, a homicide detective was sentenced last week to 10 days after he was convicted by an internal police court for responding to a call of nature in a toilet which had been reserved for Mugabe at a trade fair in Zimbabwe's second biggest city.

"Mabhunu was part of the security team when Mugabe attended the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair last month. He is alleged to have rushed to the VIP toilets reserved for Mugabe and Jean Louis Ekra, head of the African Export Import Bank, who was participating in the opening ceremonies.

When he was stopped by other officers guarding the toilets, he obliged, but he later forced his way in. The following day he was arrested, he has been in custody since then.

New Way to Make Lighter, Stronger Steel — In a Flash
Engineer. This is awesome.

"A Detroit entrepreneur surprised university engineers in Ohio recently, when he invented a heat-treatment that makes steel seven percent stronger than any steel on record — in less than 10 seconds.

In fact, the steel, now trademarked as Flash Bainite, has tested stronger and more shock-absorbing than the most common titanium alloys used by industry.

Now the entrepreneur is working with researchers at Ohio State University to better understand the science behind the new treatment, called flash processing.

What they've discovered may hold the key to making cars and military vehicles lighter, stronger, and more fuel-efficient.

"The basic process of heat-treating steel has changed little in the modern age, and engineer Suresh Babu is one of few researchers worldwide who still study how to tune the properties of steel in detail. He's an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State, and Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Integrative Materials Joining for Energy Applications, headquartered at the university.

"Steel is what we would call a 'mature technology.' We'd like to think we know most everything about it," he said. "If someone invented a way to strengthen the strongest steels even a few percent, that would be a big deal. But 7 percent? That's huge."

Lawyer: Deer parts left by NH teacher were gifts
Best. gifts. ever.

"A New Hampshire high school teacher charged with “terrorizing’’ his ex-wife and children by leaving deer parts at their home says the ear and hoof were gifts for his daughter.

Portsmouth High School media teacher Nathaniel Heard was arrested in April on charges of criminal trespassing, criminal threatening and stalking. Authorities allege the 51-year-old Heard left the deer parts at the home to frighten the family in violation of a no-contact order except under specific conditions.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that Heard’s attorney says his client had permission to be at the home to return a bicycle helmet, and the deer parts were gifts for his daughter who has expressed an interest in obtaining a hoof while watching a deer dressed.

China Genetically Modifies Cows To Produce Human Breast Milk
Oh China...

"One of the many things the US and Europe are going to have to confront as they compete with an increasingly powerful China is a different sense of ethics.

Western countries are plowing ahead with things like biotech and genetically modified food, of course, but the developments are still lagging behind what science is capable of.

And the West's food and drug regulators tend to be much stricter, preventing the use of "experimental" treatments that often don't work or kill people but do often lead to future breakthroughs.

China is unencumbered by such concerns. And don't think the country isn't using that to its advantage.

Today's example:

A China dairy farm has genetically modified cows so they produce human breast milk, Sky News reports.

This wouldn't happen in the United States, because it would freak people out (ethicists, animal rights groups, ordinary citizens).

But the Chinese farmers think it's pretty darn cool. And they point out that human breast milk is better for humans than cow milk. And they observe that there are about a billion starving people in the world who would love a ready supply of human breast milk and other such foods.

So the morality picture actually isn't all that clear, either.
(Business Insider)

PR2 Learns to Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies From Scratch
Here's to hoping Judgement Day is filled with cookies!

"Is there anything you and I can do that Willow Garage’s PR2 can’t do more adorably? PR2 is now learning how to bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch courtesy of MIT. Swathed in a smock to keep it from getting itself messy--the table was not so lucky--PR2 demonstrates an ability to properly combine ingredients and mix them up in the video below.

The idea was to create a simple introductory project for PR2 and those students and grad students working on it, but baking turns out to be quite a trial for the robot. But it’s also been a valuable learning experience for all involved. In order to execute the chocolate chip cookie recipe--an relatively simple one to wrap the human mind around--engineers there had to program PR2 to follow a lengthy progression of tasks while integrating various aspects of robotics like computer vision, highly-controlled motions, and object detection.

Report: Newark airport screeners targeted Mexicans and Dominicans
Racists in New Jersey. Is anyone really surprised by this?

"Security screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport singled out Mexican and Dominican passengers for nearly two years, according to a federal report obtained by The Star-Ledger newspaper.

The racial profiling was so prevalent in 2008 and 2009 that some TSA employees at the airport referred to their colleagues as "Mexican hunters," a Star-Ledger story based on the 2010 internal report said.

A TSA spokeswoman described the situation in Newark as "isolated" and said the agency took action to fix it.

"While the actions referenced in the report were based on intelligence reports regarding false documentation, criminal or illegal activity and the possible impact on transportation security, TSA's policies were overstepped," spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

According to the Star-Ledger, the report said TSA agents stationed at the Newark airport would stop Mexicans and Dominicans, asking them additional questions, reviewing their passports and visas and searching their luggage. The report did not specify how many agents were involved, but "leaves no doubt that the process was widespread," the newspaper said.

"The report said Mexican and Dominican passengers were singled out for scrutiny of their travel documents as an easy way to drive up the number of referrals by Newark's (behavior detection officer) unit so that it would appear productive," the newspaper said.

Farbstein said the TSA does not permit racial profiling, and a manager accused of promoting profiling in the report is no longer in management with the agency.

"Eighteen months ago, TSA took immediate remedial action and retrained the entire behavior detection workforce at Newark," she said.

"Retrained" but barely a reprimand and no one fired...

Jerusalem rabbis 'condemn dog to death by stoning'
Just what the Middle East needs... more irrational minds.

"A Jewish rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a stray dog it feared was the reincarnation of a lawyer who insulted its judges, reports say.

The dog entered the Jerusalem financial court several weeks ago and would not leave, reports Israeli website Ynet.

It reminded a judge of a curse passed on a now deceased secular lawyer about 20 years ago, when judges bid his spirit to enter the body of a dog.

The animal is said to have escaped before the sentence was carried out.

Actually, that's not in the Bible
Is it too much to ask for people to be informed on their beliefs?

Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden right? Nope. That's one of many phantom passages that people think are in the Bible.

"NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season. “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.

None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.

But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.

“Only a few catch on.”

More People Take Photos Of The NYC Apple Store Than Of Times Square

"Researcher Eric Fisher analyzed millions of Flickr photos and recorded where each was taken by using associated geotags (via 9to5Mac and ifoapplestore).

He determined that the four most popular places to snap photos in Manhattan: Times Square (4), Columbus Circle (3), Rockefeller Center, (2) and…The 5th Avenue Apple Store (1).

Here's the NYC photo heatmap, below.

Ridiculous study...
Obviously uploads are going to be popular at the Apple Store. Most Flickr users probably use iPhones.
(Business Insider)

TV watching raises risk of health problems, dying young
No sitting, no TV.... It's like they want us to go outside and have a life or something...

"No one ever claimed that watching TV was healthy, but doctors are only now discovering just how bad it can be.

Evidence from a spate of recent studies suggests that the more TV you watch, the more likely you are to develop a host of health problems and to die at an earlier age.

In a new analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers combined data from eight such studies and found that for every additional two hours people spend glued to the tube on a typical day, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 20% and their risk of heart disease increases by 15%.

And for every additional three hours the study participants spent in front of the TV, their risk of dying from any cause during the respective studies jumped 13%, on average.

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