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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Weird laws of Alaska - Read and enjoy

Each and every state has its collections of weird laws, so here are some from Alaska. As long as you not impacted, it is fine; but if you have ever been affected by any of these, please do reply.

Here goes:
A moose may not be viewed from an airplane. (not sure of what to do when you do see one)
It is considered an offense to feed alcoholic beverages to a moose. (why waste perfectly good booze)
It is considered an offense to push a live moose out of a moving airplane. (this should be a law against any animal, why specifically the moose)
No one may tie their pet dog to the roof of a car. (Animal cruelty, so a good law, but does that mean that you can tie your pet cat?)
Persons may not allow "attractive nuisances" to exist.
No child allowed to build a snowman taller than the child on school grounds
No Huskies allowed inside school buildings.
Stealing snow from a neighbours garden to make a snowman is against the law. Using it for an igloo is acceptable. (Igloo is a place of residence, so maybe that is why)
Persons may not live in a trailer as it is being hauled across the city. (you can crawl on top of the vehicle as long as the trailer is in the city)
It is illegal to throw a grenade on the street. (There goes my plan for getting the street made again)
Intentionally avoiding walking on the cracks in the pavement is illegal. (How do you prove such an act)
A person may only carry a concealed slingshot if that person has received the appropriate license. (ouch, there goes my collection of slingshots and paper knives)
Employers of bars may not let their bartenders serve while they are drunk themselves.
While it is legal to shoot bears, waking a sleeping bear for the purpose of taking a photograph is prohibited. (Must be a part of the law that prevents suicide)
Juneau - Owners of flamingos may not let their pet into barber shops. (or any other pets)
Nome - One may not roam the city with a bow and arrows.
Fairbanks - Moose should not have sex on the sidewalks (good, else you would have to explain sex education to your children even when they are young)
Fairbanks - You cannot tie your horse to city streets, but dog sleds are fine (public pressure by the dog sled owners association ?)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Father criticized as being a pervert for photographing his own children on a slide

Sometimes paranoia can take a form that baffles people. Consider the normal scenario where a family goes out for a fun filled day where a loving father takes photographs of his children on a slide - 2 fun boys who are 5 and 7 years old. And when people see him taking these photos, they object, with some claiming that he is a pervert who is taking photos for selling on the internet, with the unstated claim being that he was involved in child pornography. Other parents objected, the person running the slide objected; this made the person so angry that he found policeman to back him on his right to take these photos - but this effectively ruined his day (link to article):

Yesterday he said: ‘What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not? ‘This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.’
He said: ‘The children wanted to go on an inflatable slide and I started taking photos of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop.
‘When I asked why, she told me I could not take pictures of other people’s children. I explained I was only interested in taking photos of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting inside the White House uninvited

Imagine what could be one of the most secure locations in the world ? The White House would be one of these locations, one would think of locations such as those housing huge sums of money, those housing the secret of Coke's formula, and also those housing nuclear weapons; but there should not be any comparison with the White House. The White Houses the most powerful man in the world, who commands a huge army and holds the key to the economic well being of the world. And in such a secure place, the thought that people could gate-crash and get inside may seem incredible, but it is the truth.
This has left the Secret Service totally red-faced, after all, they are responsible for the security of the American President, and the fact that somebody was able to get inside even though they were not invited is a horrible security breach (link to article):

A White House photograph taken Tuesday evening shows Michaele Salahi, wearing a gold-accented red sari, clasping her hands around Obama's right hand as her smiling husband, Tareq, looks on. The dinner was held for visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is smiling next to the president in the photo. An investigation into Tareq and Michaele Salahi has found that Secret Service agents did not follow protocol at a security checkpoint, the Secret Service said.
The Secret Service's statement says that although the Salahis went through magnetometers and other levels of screening, "they should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely." "That failing is ours," the statement said.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weird laws in England / Great Britain (part 2)

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament
Eating mince pies on Christmas Day is banned
In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants
Picking up abandoned baggage is an act of terrorism.
It is still an offence to beat or shake any carpet rug or mat in any street in the Metropolitan Police District, although you are allowed to shake a doormat before 8am.
Londoners are not allowed to keep a pigsty in the front of their homes.
The Library Offences Act of 1898 makes it illegal to gamble in a library.
The Metropolitan Police Act of 1839 states that no one, “except persons acting in obedience to lawful authority, may discharge any cannon or other firearm of greater calibre than a common fowling-piece, within 300 yards of any dwelling house, to the annoyance of any inhabitant thereof”.
One may not drive a cow while drunk.
In Scotland it is illegal to be a drunk in possession of a cow.
Ban on firing a cannon close to a dwelling house (Met Police Act 1839)
Ban on the use of any slide upon ice or snow (Town Police Clauses Act 1847)
Prohibition of driving cattle through the streets of London (Metropolitan Streets Act 1867)
In London, it is illegal for a person with the Plague to flag down a taxi. No cab may carry corpses or rabid dogs.
It is illegal to sell most goods on a Sunday. It is however legal to sell a carrot. It is also legal to sell it at any price, and to give free gifts with it, such as anything else one might want to buy on a Sunday.

The following are legal though:
- a male may urinate in public, so long as it is on the rear wheel of his motor vehicle, and his right hand is on the vehicle.
- all English males over the age of 14 are to carry out approximately two hours of longbow practice a week, supervised by the local clergy.

Weird laws in England / Great Britain (part 1)

In Hereford, you may not shoot a Welsh person on Sunday with a longbow in the Cathedral Close.
However, in Chester you can only shoot a Welsh person with a bow and arrow inside the city walls and after midnight.
Also in York, excluding Sundays, it is apparently legal to shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow.
In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless in public unless they are a clerk in a tropical fish store.
It is illegal for a Member of Parliament to enter the House of Commons wearing a full coat of armour.
Sleeping with a consort of the queen is classified as treason, and as such carries a maximum penalty of death (this was debated by the newspapers when there was the controversy about Lady Diana's lovers).
It is unlawful to impersonate an Chelsea pensioner.
The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen
It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing
It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour
No cows may be driven down the roadway between 10 AM and 7 PM unless there is prior approval from the Commissioner of Police.
Those wishing to purchase a television must also buy a license.
All English males over the age 14 are to carry out 2 or so hours of longbow practice a week supervised by the local clergy.
It is illegal for two adult men to have sex in the same house as a third person.
Any person found breaking a boiled egg at the sharp end will be sentenced to 24 hours in the village stocks (enacted by Edward VI).
It is illegal for a lady to eat chocolates on a public conveyance.
It could be regarded an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British king or queen's image upside-down

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

90 year charged for Nazi crimes

What do you do when you get a 90 year who has committed horrendous crimes many many years ago ? These people have not been found till now, and only now is the criminal located, and the person is 90 years old. However, the crimes committed by the Nazis were at all levels, with people indulging in mass killings, others doing smaller number of killings, and yet others involved in facilitating the crimes (and being equally guilty). These killings have been ruled to be genocide in the past, and have always been prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. And even among the murderers, the SS was the one who were the most guilty, and who deserved the maximum punishment (link to article):

A 90-year-old man from northern Germany has been charged with 58 counts of murder for the killings of Jewish forced laborers in the final days of World War Two. The man, who was not named, was a member of the feared SS serving in what is now Austria when he allegedly carried out the crimes, the state court in Duisburg, western Germany, said Tuesday. A state office responsible for the prosecution of Nazi war crimes filed the charges.
That day or the next, the court said, the man made other Jewish forced laborers who were "exhausted and no longer able to walk" to march near the town of Jabing, which was then in Germany and is now part of modern-day Austria. He then "insidiously" shot them from the back, it added.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Corruption even for babies in maternity ward

If there was such a thing such as the height of corruption, then it is in the case where parents get their baby soon after birth. However, in some hospitals, it seems like the staff will not leave even the newborn baby alone, and need money for allowing parents to get a glimpse of the baby, for getting its clothes changed, and so on (link to article):

HYDERABAD: Babies born at government maternity hospitals in city are being delivered to parents with a price tag, threats extra: You can get a glimpse of your baby boy/girl only if you cough up Rs 500/Rs 400 respectively; at some hospitals it costs even more.
According to patients, bargaining only prolongs the agony because these offenders rarely offer a discount. And there’s never an off-season for harassment. “My wife delivered a baby boy today. The hospital attendants and aaya refused to give me my child unless I paid. They refused Rs 200 that I offered and, in the end, I was forced to shell out Rs 500,” said G Srinivas while he waited outside the post-operative ward at Petlaburj.

British company charging tax for toilet breaks

You would have read all about those jokes where companies charge individuals for using the toilet as a part of cost cutting; probably you would have laughed thinking that such a thing is impossible in the real world. Well, guess what, nothing is impossible. Here is a company that has actually implemented such a policy (link to article), and obviously employees are unhappy:

A company in UK has come up with an "outrageous" plan to save expenses – workers are charged on the amount of time they spend in the restroom and their salary is deducted accordingly. Although, Dunbia, the meat supplying company says the scheme was implemented due to health and safety issues and an allowance was being given to cover the "toilet tax, the employees are disappointed that it is costing them £30 a week to answer the nature's call."
"Dunbia is making money every time a worker visits the loo and that money is coming out of the workers' wage packets. It's outrageous that in 2009 workers have to endure the indignity of clocking out for toilet breaks," Cathy Rudderforth, regional officer for the Unite union, said.

Monk, successful as a band rocker, quits blaming the devil

What a story. A monk goes to see a Metallica concert (not a classical musical concert), and gets impressed by the 'music'. He remains a monk (including wearing a habit), but also becomes a member of a heavy metal band, being the lead singer, is not retiring. Given the curiosity value of a monk becoming the lead singer of a heavy metal band, he became famous. He is not retiring because of any disputes, but because it looks like the head-banging affected him, and is claiming that he is retiring because of the devil. The devil apparently made him famous to break him away from his friends, and from his band members, and hence the retirement (link to article):

The white-bearded Cesare Bonizzi, a Capuchin who recorded CDs for a punk label and was the lead singer for the band Fratello Metallo (Metal Brother), said the devil was up to his usual mischief.
"The devil has separated me from my managers, risked making me break up with my band colleagues and also risked making me break up with my fellow monks. He lifted me up to the point where I become a celebrity and now I want to kill him," the monk said in his farewell video.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being lashed for drinking alcohol

A lot of you would have seen revelries and festivals in many countries. Along with the carnival type of atmosphere, alcohol consumption is an intrinsic part of such celebrations. However, such is not the case everywhere. Alcohol is considered illegal and against religion in many Islamic countries, and people indulging in alcohol can be punished. This happened earlier in Malaysia, and now in the African country of Sudan, a Nigerian footballer was convicted of driving while drunk, and got a double sentence - one for driving drunk, and the other for drinking alcohol (link to article):

The 20-year-old forward, who joined the northern Sudan outfit in October 2008, was found guilty of drinking alcohol and driving under the influence by an east Khartoum court. Alcohol is illegal in the Muslim north of Sudan according to Article 78 of the penal code, although it is not in the semi-autonomous and largely non-Muslim south.
The forward's lawyer has appealed against the punishment for the player who had previously admitted in interviews that he had struggled to adapt to the different culture and religious life in Sudan.

Being lashed for drinking alcohol seems pretty weird, although being punished for driving while drunk is common and should be enforced.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Setting up a pro-rape group on Facebook

Rape is one of the instruments related to subjugation of women, and is viewed by society as an abomination. Rape is supposed to be such an insult to a woman that in most countries, the name of the rape victim is not reported, and the perpetrator is sentenced to long terms in prison. In such a situation, one would expect educated (and from premiere institutions) young men to be very careful, and yet you have a case where these young men created a pro-rape and anti-consent group on Facebook and it was only when it got controversial that this group was closed (link):

Members of an elite Australian college linked to Sydney University provoked outrage on Tuesday after it was revealed they had set up a “pro-rape” group on social networking site Facebook. The page, set up by mostly past and present students at the all-male residential college St Paul’s, called itself “Define Statutory” and described itself as “pro-rape, anti-consent”, local media reports said. It has since been taken down.
Sydney University vice-chancellor Michael Spence said he was “appalled by the reported behaviour and apparent attitudes of some students”. “There can be no excuses for sexual assault,” he said in a statement. “The university and the residential colleges have been working hard to bring about a change in attitudes and behaviour. Obviously we still have much to do.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Husband impotent, so allows father to rape wife

The quest to get a child is a strong urge. In patriarchal societies, getting a child after marriage becomes a social obligation, and when this does not happen for some time, especially after some years, it can be a social disaster. People ask about what happened, is everything wrong, and is the man capable. In such cases, the pressure to get a child by any means is strong, and here is a report, which if true, shows the extent to which a person can go to make sure that society does not impact them. But one wonders as to how a person could do such a thing (link to article):

A Rajkot woman on Monday filed a case against her father-in-law alleging that he had raped her after doctors declared her husband as impotent. The woman in her complaint said her husband had agreed to let his father rape her so that they could have a child.
The woman was married to Dharmesh seven years back. When she couldn’t conceive for first two years of her marriage, her in-laws took her to a doctor who declared her medically unfit to bear children. She got suspicious and went to another gynaecologist for a second opinion. The gynaecologist told her that there was nothing wrong with her. When she confronted her in-laws, they accepted that Dharmesh had a medical problem and suggested in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The woman alleged that one day when she was alone, Vimal gave her sleeping tablets and raped her while she was unconscious. When she complained to Dharmesh, he allegedly told her that it was all planned.

College expels student after discovering she worked in a topless car wash

Malaysia is an Islamic country, and correspondingly, has a higher sense of public decency and morality, sometimes with painful results (there have been earlier stories of people being punished for drinking alcohol if they are Muslims). So, consider the case of this lady from another country (China) who was in Malaysia for college, and close to graduation. She was punished by being expelled from her college since she was one of the girls who took part in a prize ceremony event - the prize was the promise of getting their cars washed by topless cars, and she was one of the girls who went topless (link to article):

According to Sin Chew Daily, the girl was thrown out of college after her photos appeared over the internet. An anonymous letter was also mailed to her school in Singapore, reports the Star Online. The event, organised by a new motoring website in the republic, had given 20 lucky members a chance to witness a topless car wash.
The women donned only bikini bottoms and high heels and were paid nearly $1,400. The student, who has been identified as Angela, was taking an advanced certificate course at a private college and said she was only two months away from graduating.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pamela Anderson bankrupt - blames decision to line pool with platinum

Most of you would have heard of Pamela Anderson, and seen her (she was the most exciting part of Baywatch, the TV series). Her personal life has been a bit erratic, being married and divorced to the same person on a regular basis, but finally left him because of his becoming violent. You would expect such a medium level professionally successful actor to be still rolling in riches, but there is a fact that just because you make money does not mean that you have the brains to keep it. After all, how many of you would have bought some platinum jewelery ? Some of you, right ? It can be expensive. But how many would have thought of tiling a pool with platinum ? Well, Pamela Anderson did, and she claims this made her bankrupt (link to article):

London: `Baywatch` beauty Pamela Anderson has revealed that it was her decision to tile her swimming pool with platinum that led her to bankruptcy. The 42-year-old blonde bombshell has spoken for the first time about the huge debts she has been left with after splurging on a dream home, reported Daily Mail online.
"I`m going to sell it. I hate it. People commit suicide over constructions. Relationships break down over constructions and I can see why. It rips your heart out," said Anderson who shares her trailer with her electrician boyfriend Jamie Padgett, 42, and her two sons Brandon, 13, and Dylan, 11. She reportedly has just USD 4,000 in the bank and needs to spend at least USD 800,000 more to make the house habitable.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weird news: Soldier dies after receiving cancerous lung transplant

Modern medical science enables people to survive diseases that would kill them even just a few decades back. We have modern medicine, treatments for cancer, and transplants. Specifically about transplants, there are many different types of transplants. So you have blood transfusions, heart transplants, lung transplants, liver, kidney, and so on. You can now even transfer limbs to people. In an ideal world, there will be enough donors to make sure that whoever needs a transplant for medical reasons gets one; however, this is not the case. It is not easy to get enough donor organs, and hence hospitals and people needing donors are pretty desperate. There was a case earlier where a patient got an organ from somebody who had a severe disease, and the patient died soon after. Here is another case (link to article):

A leading UK hospital has defended its practice of using organs donated by smokers after the death of a soldier who received the cancerous lungs of a heavy smoker.
Corporal Matthew Millington, 31, died at his home in 2008, less than a year after receiving a transplant that was supposed to save his life at Papworth Hospital -- the UK's largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital, in Cambridgeshire, east England.
Papworth Hospital released a statement saying using donor lungs from smokers was not "unusual."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Using a powerful magnet in a heart operation

When a patient's life is at stake, medical personnel can do anything, take any measure to save the life of the patient. Consider the case of a patient who suddenly finds himself in mortal danger because of a needle in their heart. While sleeping, this guy suddenly had a sharp sewing needle piercing his body and getting to the muscles around the heart, with the tip actually entering the heart. The danger was that if the needle got into the blood stream (it was only 4 cm long), it could move to other portions of the body, causing damage wherever it went (link to article):

Turning in his bed, he felt a sharp pinch on the left side of his chest. It was a needle that had pierced halfway into his heart. "I suddenly woke up and saw a small portion of the needle protruding from my chest. But as I bent forward to pull it out, the needle penetrated further in," said the Jammu resident.
With each contraction, the needle was sliding deep inside the heart. It is difficult to locate a thin 3-4 cm long needle in the huge chunk of muscles. We couldn't cut open the thick layer of muscles around the left ventricle, as it would have caused a lot of trauma to the heart. We decided to enter the heart through the usual procedure. We were lucky as the tip of the needle had pierced the wall of the left ventricle. When I peeped inside the valve in the left side of the heart, I could only see the tip of the needle," said Dr Mishra. As a major portion of the needle was still stuck in the muscles, Dr Mishra decided to use a magnet to pull the needle inside the valve. "We could get a grip on the tip of the needle with our surgical instruments. That is why, decided to use a magnet to pull it out slightly before extricating it," said Dr Mishra.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Woman delivers child in train, and child moves out through toilet

A lot of Indian trains have toilets where the toilet is connected through an open pipe, with the contents of the pipe dropping onto the tracks. This situation gives rise to some weird happenings.
Consider the following case. A woman, fully in term, gets onto a train with her husband, and then goes off to the toilet of the train when she starts getting some pain. She delivers while in the toilet, and the baby actually slips off into this tube and lands on the track. And this is where the maternal instincts kick in, since the woman jumps off the train, and onto the tracks.
Finally the train is stopped, and people go to find the woman and her child, from where they are taken to the hospital, and finally they are all in good health (link to article):

In a case that seems to be straight out of 'Ripley's Believe It or Not', a woman delivered a child inside a toilet of a moving train and the newborn slipped down the outlet into the tracks but miraculously escaped unhurt.
When the train stopped, the passengers walked back to the spot where Rinku and her child were lying, they said, adding both were brought back to the train. A medical team attended on them at the Purulia station, when the train reached around midnight.
The mother and baby were referred to the Purulia Sadar hospital where their condition was stated to be out of danger, hospital superintendent Swapan Kumar said.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pilots and cabin crew fight in mid-air

Taking a flight is now a normal state of affairs. You get into the flight, meet the smiling cabin crew, hear the voice of the captain (but normally don't get to see the captain), and after food and the flight duration, the flight lands, and you get off, not thinking about the flight again. What happens when things do not happen like this ? Passengers were shocked to witness a fight between the cabin crew and the pilots, with the pilots on one side and the cabin crew on the other side. This horrid scene (witnessed by passengers) was seen on a flight of the Indian Airlines, running between Sharjah and Delhi (link to article):

Endangering the lives of 106 passengers and grossly violating safety norms, the airline staffers came to blows in the cockpit and galley of the Indian Airlines Airbus A-320 as the aircraft cruised over Pakistan en route to Delhi via Lucknow from Sharjah. The cabin-vs-cockpit tiff originated on the ground in Sharjah itself and then turned into a full-blown fight once IC 884 took off soon after midnight.
The cabin crew alleged that pilots harassed a 24-year-old female colleague who later filed a molestation complaint against them with the cops after the flight landed in Delhi. The pilots, on the other hand, accused a male flight purser of misconduct that seriously compromised flight safety, and said the accusation of molestation aimed to protect the complainant's purser friend—who has a commercial pilot licence (CPL)—from facing action.

One can only hope that the airline and the flight regulators make sure that these people are penalized for their misconduct, and the airline is also prosecuted for this happening.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Storing everything around you in electronic form

Have you ever thought about how much you see around you, all the experiences you undergo, the people you meet, and so on ? All of these are memories that we junk (after all, how many of us remember the persons who were in the elevator with us a week back) ? If you started remembering all that, you would be a person with a superb memory (many of us have problems with remembering the name of people we went to school with, or even those who were very close friends sometime back). Well, consider the case of a person (as part of an experiment) who saves all information, including the people he meets, the meals he has, the conversation he has, and so on (link to article):

But Bell, who is 75 years old, takes the idea of digital memory to a sci-fi-esque extreme. He carries around video equipment, cameras and audio recorders to capture his conversations, commutes, trips and experiences. Microsoft is working on a SenseCam that would hang around a person's neck and automatically capture every detail of life in photo form. Bell has given that a whirl. He also saves everything -- from restaurant receipts (he take pictures of them) to correspondence, bills and medical records. He makes PDF files out of every Web page he views.

Can you visualize recording your entire life, ready for you to play back whenever you need something. However, if there is something called 'information overload', then such a scene is a perfect example.

Woman impregnated with wrong embryos, gives birth

Medical science has promised a lot of people in need of help; for childless couples, the prospect of being able to have children through in-vitro fertilization or through the help of a surrogate mother is a huge deal. However, once in a while, there are errors that happen. In this case, a couple was implanted with their embryo by a fertility clinic through in vitro fertilization, and was then informed that they had been implanted with the wrong embryo (a news that would have been horrifying to the couple, who were hoping to get a child through this technique). The couple finally decided that they would give the baby after birth to the natural parents, and, now the woman has finally given birth, and they are going to carry out this promise (link to article):

The couple said a fertility clinic implanted another couple's embryo into Carolyn Savage's uterus -- in essence, she became an unwitting surrogate for another family. Ten days after the procedure in February, they received a call from the clinic's doctor: "Carolyn is pregnant, but we transferred the wrong embryos."
They met with the baby's genetic parents and the DNA-related mother of the child came along for one doctor's appointment. In their statement after the birth, the Savage family congratulated the biological parents of the baby.

Such a decision requires a huge deal of courage and selflessness, and it is great to see that the couple have decided to go ahead with this decision.

Massive baby born in Indonesia

Typically new born babies are around 3 Kg in weight (and many of them are much smaller than that, but are healthy enough with a lower weight). Even with a weight of 3 Kg, it takes time and effort for the mother to produce the baby from her body. However, there have been cases in the past when babies with much larger weight have been born, such as happened in Indonesia recently where a baby was born that was atleast 3 times bigger than the normal weight of a new born baby (link to an article, and you can also see a photo):

Muhammad Akbar Risuddin, born Monday, is thought to be the heaviest baby born to date in Indonesia. "I was very surprised. I thought it was twins," said Binsar Sitanggang, the lead doctor in the cesarean-section delivery at Abdul Manan Hospital in North Sumatra.
"We can compare this giant baby with a 9- to 10-month-old baby," Sitanggang said. "Both his parents are tall and big, so there might be a genetic cause for this." Sitanggang said the baby has already developed a robust appetite, requiring instant milk as well as breast milk.

If you see the photo in the linked article, you can see how big the baby actually is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weird: To-be-bride bride wants to reduce weight, but then dies of crash dieting

In a tragic story that underlines the problems with going on crash diets without regard to the innate health of a person, a bride-to-be wanted to quickly reduce weight before marriage so that she felt that she would get more respect. However, even a weight loss program that was said to be medically monitored did not help, and she eventually dies of a probable heart stoppage due to her low daily calorific consumption. Learn more at this article (link):

It was revealed at an inquest that Samantha Clowe, 34, was “fit and well” when she started the diet, but passed away 11 weeks later, after losing three stone from her original 17st 6lb. Clowe, a metal researcher, had got her GP’s approval before she started the LighterLife diet of special soup, bars and shakes.
Pathologist Dr Alfredo Walker said a post-mortem failed to establish a cause of death. “It may be related to her low calorie diet and weight loss,” he said. Coroner David Hinchliff, who recorded a narrative verdict, said Clowe probably died from cardiac arrhythmia, when the heart stops.

This is also a warning that being obese is also a major reason for a enhanced chance of higher health problems, including the very serious ones.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Superbug kills man at an extremely fast speed

Once in a while you hear about bacteria or viruses that can kill a person inspite of the best efforts of doctors, and you wonder about how there can be diseases that can kill people like this; and then you remember about hearing of some diseases such as Ebola where the rate of death is more than 80% of those infected, where the disease actually ends because it has killed too many people before the disease could spread to more people. But how many times have you heard of a bug that could kill people in an incredibly short period of time ? Well, read on (link to article):

A flesh-eating superbug claimed the life of a British father just four hours after he was hospitalised with leg pains. The Daily Mail reports Richard Johnson, 54, died from a rare infection known as necrotising fasciitis in November last year.
The infection moved through Mr Johnson's body so quickly that doctors could actually see it spreading up from his leg to his abdomen as they operated, an inquest into his death was told. The rare infection occurs in the deeper layers of skin and is typically caused by many types of bacteria entering an open wound, especially after major surgery. While commonly known as a flesh-eating bug, the bacteria don't actually eat tissue, instead destroying skin and muscle by releasing toxins.

How horrific it must be to know that you have a condition that will not allow you to last through the day, and how horrible it must be for doctors and for family members to know that you are going down, and there is nothing that they can do.

Man held in Brazil for kissing daughter

It seemed pretty weird when I read the story for the first time. In Brazil, strangers on a beach found a person kissing a young girl, and with all the stories about child molestation, particularly when the skin color of the man and the girl were different, and it was not immediately apparent that the 2 were related. However, as a result of a complaint, the man was put in prison and faces a long jail term if convicted. The mother of the child, the man's wife, denies that anything improper happened, but the man has already spent a week in jail for this charge (link to article):

There is growing controversy in Brazil over the arrest of an Italian tourist held after kissing his eight-year-old daughter in public. Witnesses told police the man allegedly touched the girl in an intimate way. Under a strict new law partly designed to combat child sex abuse in South America's largest country, he faces eight to 15 years in jail if convicted.
However the wife of the arrested tourist says it was all a misunderstanding by witnesses who had misinterpreted seeing a foreign white man with a young darker-skinned girl. She told the Brazilian state news agency if there was any suggestion the claim was true she would not hesitate to take her daughter's side, and recalled that she had been present the whole time.

Man charged with unlicensed driving car twice, hits police

When people are charged with a driving offence, they normally obey all the rules and laws, and desist from whatever activity for which they are were charged, since they do not want to suffer further problems (further driving problems could mean points on the license, or problems in getting insurance, and so on). However, once in a while there will be a person who will not care too much about the offence, and is even willing to take offensive action if charged with something (link to article):

A north Queensland man who was allegedly caught driving unlicensed twice in one day and became irate and has been charged with assaulting police. The 19-year-old was given a notice to appear in court for unlicensed driving about 10am (AEST) on Monday, and about 30 minutes later, the same officer saw him allegedly driving the same car, police said.
The officer was questioning the man when he allegedly became aggressive and punched his car's window, smashing it. He then allegedly kicked the side mirror of the police car and punched the police officer. While struggling with the man the officer was allegedly assaulted by a 15-year-old male youth who was in the man's car.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Foolhardy: Getting mauled by a lion after climbing into its cage

Wild animals are called wild for a certain reason. Their behavior is unpredictable, they can be aggressive if they feel that they or their young ones are threatened, or if their territory is being encroached upon. Further, for many of them, their nature is such that they can be aggressive; but that does not deter people from trying out some crazy and wild stunts. What would you call a person who gets into a lion cage in a zoo and is then saved from serious damage by the keeper of the cage ? Such a person was inviting trouble, and it is only prompt action that saved him (link to article):

A travel writer was lucky to escape with minor injuries after his venture into a lion's den turned ugly. British journalist Charles Starmer Smith visited the South African wildlife park to "play" with one-year-old lion Mapimpan — whose name translates to "little baby".
Finally the handler was able to corner the cat in the pen's corner, allowing the journalist to calmly make his escape. He could be seen bleeding from his leg through his shredded torn pants and required stitches for his relatively minor injuries.

A country changing direction of driving (from right to left)

For people in the United States, Europe, and many other countries, drivers drive on the right side of the road, and are totally used to that way of driving. When they arrive in countries that were earlier part of the British Empire such as India, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, Great Britain, they are not used to suddenly seeing vehicles driving on the wrong side of the road (in these countries, people drive on the left side of the road). It can be very unsettling, and for people moving from one type of country to another, it can be very difficult to drive on the road; it takes time to get used to the traffic coming from an unexpected side. So, what happens when a country (even if it is a small country) decides to move from one side to another, and that too, the reason being that importing cars are cheaper (link to article):

Samoa will switch its driving from the right side to the left side of the road on Monday in a move opponents have called ill-conceived and said will lead to dozens of wrecks and fatalities. Proponents tout the change, which no other country has attempted since the 1970s, as making economic sense.
The nation has declared Monday and Tuesday holidays for people to adjust to the change and banned alcohol sales for the next three days. Until now, most of the cars in the Pacific island nation have been imported from the United States, where drivers travel on the right side, and Samoa's neighbor, American Samoa. The change will allow the thousands of expatriate Samoans who live in their nation's biggest neighbors, New Zealand and Australia, to send used -- and therefore, cheaper -- cars to their families back home. In both those countries, drivers travel on the left side of the road.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A stranger slaps a toddler in a shop, arrested

Suppose you are the mother of a bonny toddler, and life is hectic for you. You need to handle the child as well as make sure that your house is running fine. So you may need to run around, do shopping while carrying your baby. However, children do not follow the rules that adults have; they can cry whenever something is disturbing, they can seem like an inconvenience to other people and so on. However, nothing can justify what this apparent stranger did when he got irritated by the behavior of this child (link to article):

A Georgia man allegedly slapped a toddler at a Walmart store because she wouldn't stop crying, authorities said. Roger Stephens, 61, was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree cruelty to children. An incident report obtained from police in Gwinnett County indicated Stephens did not know the 2-year-old girl he stands accused of hitting.
The mother said a stranger later identified as Stephens approached them and said, "If you don't shut the baby up, I will shut her up for you." A few moments later, while the mother and the crying child were in another aisle, Stephens allegedly grabbed the girl and slapped her across the face.

Now, he has been charged with cruelty to children, and one would think that it is perfectly justified that he has been charged with such a crime.

Monday, August 31, 2009

13 year old Dutch girl wants to sail around the world

The craze to create records can make people do all sorts of things. But the expectation is that parents are there to control and guide the lives of children until they are capable of making their own decision. However, this does not always seem the case.
If you consider the art of sailing, it seems all fun and pleasure, out on the blue waters, under a nice sun, enjoying. However, if you consider a much longer journey, then not everything is such smooth sailing; you have storms, harsh weather, hot burning sun, engines break, and so on. Hardly something a 13 year old girl can manage alone, and yet her parents are fine with her attempting this. It took a court to bring some sense into this issue (link to article):

A Dutch court intervened Friday to stop a 13-year-old girl from attempting to sail around the world by herself, stripping her parents of sole custody. Laura Dekker's parents support her round-the-world ambition, which sparked concern from child protection officials because of her age. They took the case to court to prevent the solo trip.
Social workers took the action to stop the teen from attempting to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe because they believe the voyage would be too dangerous. "It's really more a question, is that person, that young person, mature enough to be able to look after themselves and deal with everything that's going to come at you when you get out alone at sea?" he said.

Seems more like an attempt to make a name for a person, or else a strong wish, not founded on more logical thinking, in some quarters, this could be called a 'death wish'.

Girl found 18 years after kidnapping

This is truly weird news. In the past 2-3 years, the world has found many cases of girls getting kidnapped and help for years altogether. They are exploited sexually, in many cases bearing multiple children while being held prisoner, and worst of all, in some cases, the person who has done this to them is none other than a relative (a father in some cases).
In yet another case, a family suddenly one day lost their 11 year bright bubbly daughter in 1991 (can you even remember that year). For a parent to lose a daughter like this, and not know what happened, whether their daughter is alive or has been killed by some monster, it must have been an emotional trauma. And then one day to suddenly discover that their daughter had been kept in confinement for 18 years, been exploited sexually, and forced to have 2 children (link to article):

A woman who was snatched as an 11-year-old from a bus stop was reunited on Thursday with her family after spending 18 years as the captive of a convicted rapist who fathered her two children, police said.
"None of the children have ever been to school. They've never been to a doctor," a police representative told a press conference. "They were kept in complete isolation in this compound, if you will."

It is horrible, one cannot believe the trauma that this girl would have gone through.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Malaysian woman to be caned for alcohol drinking

When people start getting out of control in terms of alcohol drinking, they head off to rehabitilation centers to break their habits. Others try to moderate their alcohol limits. However, in many Islamic countries, alcohol is firmly banned, and citizens are not allowed to consume alcohol. Even then, using corporal punishment to deter drinking is another very different step in prevention of alcohol drinking. However, consider the weird situation where a citizen of a country is not allowed to drink while another citizen of the country can drink (difference based on the religion of the person), a woman could be caned for drinking, and the punishment is imposed by a religious court that is parallel to the civil judicial system, and the civil judicial system cannot interfere in this judgment (link to article):

A Malaysian model, who was set to become the first woman to be caned in the southeast Asian country for drinking beer in public, had her sentence postponed Monday until the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. An Islamic, or sharia, court in Pahang had fined Kartika -- a Muslim -- $1,400 (5,000 Malaysian ringgit) and sentenced her to six strokes with a rattan cane for drinking at a hotel bar two years ago.
The caning would have been carried out within seven days of that, making her the first woman to be caned in Malaysia under sharia law. The moderate Muslim country has a dual-track justice system, in which Islamic courts operate alongside civil courts. But the country's civil system also cannot overrule a sharia court sentence.

Such a punishment, caning, for drinking alcohol, seems very harsh. Further, the fact that a country's civil courts cannot over-rule a religious court seems even stranger.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rat eating plant found in Phillipines

Not many people know that there are plants that eat meat as well. Say again ? Plants that eat meat ? Yes. There have plants such as the pitcher plant and sundew that eat meat. But humans need not be worried as yet. In a recent discovery by scientists, a plant that can eat rats has been found on Mount Victoria in Palawan, central Philippines. The plant has been named in honour of Sir David Attenborough. The plant has a pitcher which attracts insects and rats, and then takes nutrition from these animals (link to article):

The new discovery measures up to 30 centimeters in diameter and is formed by a tendril which inflates into a large cup-shaped trap. McPherson told CNN: "Around the mouth of the pitcher are secretions of nectar which attracts insects and small animals. The rim has lots of waxy downward-pointing ridges which help prey fall directly into the pitcher.
"These plants grow in really harsh areas where soil quality is very poor -- often pure gravel or sand. Catching insects allows the plant to augment nutrients that it otherwise wouldn't have access to." "These plants have evolved to catch insects. But on rare occasions they do catch rats and mice. The first reports of these plants catching rats was made in the 19th century by a British explorer called Spenser St John," McPherson said.

This is very interesting for those people who see a very clear separation between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. If a plant can itself eat meat, then that separation starts to wither away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weird law: Denying your wife food if you don't get sex

In April, there was wide-spread international condemnation when a legislation catering to the Shia sect in Afghanistan was passed. This legislation tilted the gender balance very strongly towards men, something not uncommon in Islamic countries. However, since Afghanistan was a place where troops from many nations were fighting the Taliban, and many of these troops were losing their lives, there was more outrage. How could a country have such a law if the Government of the country was dependent on foreign aid and foreign support. At that time, the President of Afghanistan, Karzai, shook off the criticism by claiming that he had not read the legislation clearly before signing it, and he would take steps to revert. However, seems like nothing really happened after that (link to article):

Afghanistan has enacted a new legislation empowering men of Shia sect of Islam to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, a media report said on Saturday. The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work, The Guardian reported.
According to the report, the new law has been backed by the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who is thought to have influence over the voting intentions of some Shias, who make up around 20 per cent of the population. Karzai has assiduously courted such minority leaders in the run up to next Thursday's election, which is likely to be close, a poll indicated.

Given that the President is now contesting for re-election as the President of Afghanistan, and Shia votes will also be important, it is doubtful whether this legislation will be so easily reversed; would be so ironic that a state supported by the West enshrines a massive gender bias.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Man sent to jail for yawning in courts

One knows that judges treat the courts as their domains, not letting anything happen in their can that could be seen as dis-respecting, or as subverting the majesty of the law. The law of contempt of court is made so that if a person acts in a way that could lower the dignity of the judge or the courtroom, then the person can be punished. For the whole judicial system to work, it is necessary that the entire judicial system is held with respect and seen to be efficient and un-biased; equally important is that judges do not misuse this facility and send people off to jail if they feel offended by something.
In this particular case, a person in the courtroom yawned loudly, to the extent that the judge felt that it was a deliberate attempt at being dis-respectful, and the person was sent off to jail for 6 months (link to article):

Drowsy spectators in one suburban Chicago courtroom might want to stifle their yawns from now on. Clifton Williams, 33, of Richton Park, is facing six months in jail for making what court documents call a yawn-like sound in Will county judge Daniel Rozak’s court last month. The yawn happened as Williams’ cousin, Jason Mayfield, was being sentenced for a drug charge.
Rozak found Williams in contempt of court and sentenced him to six months in jail. However, Rozak could free Williams after a status hearing, if Williams apologizes and the judge accepts.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Humour: Kenyan offers animals for Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton's (wikipedia) dowry: 40 goats and 20 cows.
Now if you have finished laughing, this was actually a proposal made by a Kenyan man (Godwin Kipkemoi Chepkurgor). Giving livestock for gaining the hand of a girl in marriage is apparently proper in Kenya, and this offer was first made 9 years ago when the then President Clinton had visited Kenya. He renewed the offer when President Clinton's wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Kenya, and she was told of the offer in an open session. What makes the offer even more interesting is that the man is already married, but it would be legal for him in Kenya to get a second wife. However, it would be quite apparent that he would have to wait for quite some time for Chelsea to agree to this proposal.
Maybe the man felt emboldened since now President Obama has kin in Kenya, and this would have made Godwin seem bolder. A secretary of state cannot be rude or be forcefully direct, so Hillary took the most politically correct answer in terms of stating that this would be Chelsea's decision. :-) (link to article):

CNN's Fareed Zakaria, the session's moderator, commented that given the economic crisis at hand, Chepkurgor's dowry was "not a bad offer." However, Clinton said her daughter was her own person. "She's very independent," she said. "So I will convey this very kind offer."
In Kenya, a man proposes with dowry for the prospective bride, Chepkurgor explained. He said he stands by his initial livestock offer until someone makes a counteroffer. Chepkurgor, now 39, first made his intentions known when all three Clintons visited East Africa in 2000. He wrote a letter to the former president, offering himself as his only child's suitor. He said he had not expected the secretary of state to address the issue during her visit to Kenya this week.

Air France disaster hoax fools Bolivian TV

The Air France disaster over the Atlantic Ocean in July was a mystery, with investigators unable to find a lot of wreckage, were only able to find 51 bodies overall (most of them were lost to the sea), and unable to find the black boxes that would be able to help them figure out what actually went on. Right now, the most investigators have been able to do is to use a series of automated messages that the plane sent out over a 2 minute minute, and speculate over what went wrong. They seem to have determined that the crash happened because the speed detectors on the plane threw wrong information, and hence caused the plane to go into a spin.
However, as with any such disaster, there are a lot of people who try to make some mileage out of this tragedy, or spin some new stories. One of these is a hoax about a camera being found in the wreckage, that apparently caught a few shots as the plane went down. One Bolivian TV channel apparently got caught in this hoax and showed this on the TV (link to article):

Bolivian TV channel PAT has been left looking a bit daft after broadcasting extraordinary images of the last moments of Air France flight 447, lost over the Atlantic on 1 June.
In fact, the camera can be traced to ABC Studios and sharp-eyed readers will notice that the photographs feature well-known actress Evangeline Lilly, aka Kate Austen from TV series Lost.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mayor of a Romanian town wears Nazi uniform

Given what the Nazis did to Europe before and during the Second World War, and given the genocide they committed towards Jews, Russians, gypsies, Poles, etc., it is absolutely incredibly stupid that a mayor of a town would wear a Nazi uniform to a fashion show. Take a look at this stupid this behavior could be (link to article):

Jewish organizations called for a Romanian official to resign and face a criminal investigation after he wore a Nazi uniform during a fashion show over the weekend. Radu Mazare, the mayor of the town of Constanta, and his 15-year-old son "entered the stage marching the clearly identifiable Nazi 'goose step,'" the Center for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism in Romania said in a letter to the country's prosecutor general.
Mazare, 41, said he had not noticed the Nazi swastika symbol on the uniform before he wore it, according to the Romanian Times newspaper. "I checked it before I put it on but the swastika was very small and I didn't see it," he said. "I really liked the look of the uniform after seeing it in the Tom Cruise film 'Valkyrie.' I bought it from a costume hire shop in Germany."

So, how is that a mayor of a city did not know the history of the Nazis, or recognize the swastika on the uniform ? Even though he wore a uniform of the Army rather than the SS, the Army was also an instrument of the Nazis during the Second World War.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Getting a gun free with your vehicle

This can only happen in the United States, where the Constitution (reinforced by various Supreme Court judgments) has made it possible for almost anybody to buy almost any type of weapon, except for a few class of heavy weapons. You could go to a gun show and buy a machine gun without any problem, or go to a regular shop, and after a cooling off period of 7 days, buy guns to your heart's desire. However, this post is not a direct commentary on the Second Amendment, more about the connection between people who buy trucks and who also buy guns (link to article):

Buy a truck and get a free AK-47 gun. That's the deal a Missouri truck dealer is offering new customers who buy a pick-up truck in August. Mark Muller, owner of Max Motors in Butler, says he knows people will be bothered by the promotion.
But not to worry, Muller is not handing out free guns. Instead, he will give buyers a voucher to use at a gun store after they obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon.

Wonder how many people are bothered by the fact that owning a gun is now made an incentive; you buy a vehicle and you get a free assault rifle; and keep in mind that an AK-47 is not a hunting assault rifle, it is a short distance multiple rounds per minute gun that is not accurate over the distances required for hunting.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Air India overbooks - carried more passengers than capacity

Airlines frequently overbook, given that there is always a number of people who will cancel, and hence there is a mathematics related to the number of people who overbook. Sometimes airlines land up in a situation whereby they find that this mathematics goes awry, and they find that there are more passengers than seats available. In such cases, the airline has to placate irate passengers, and decide who can go and who needs to be refused. Such cases typically cause a lot of unhappiness. However, it is not accepted that an airline boards more passengers than there are seats available. Even in these bad economic times, it is unacceptable to have more passengers on board than there are seats, given that these are paying passengers who have a right to proper treatment. Modern airlines have automated systems whereby boarding passes are issued which prevents extra passengers from getting loaded. However, if the airline wishes to violate such conditions, there is very little that can be done.
Further, after the terrorist incidents, the cockpits of planes are now high security zones where passengers are no longer allowed. So, if there is a case when a passenger is allowed inside the cockpit, that is against all security norms and needs to be thoroughly investigated.
We have a case, whereby all this happened. Air India, the national carrier of India, had a case whereby it was found that the airline had boarded 3 extra passengers; this case is now being investigated by the regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). In order to ensure that this case is brought to its logical conclusion, the investigation needs to be thorough (link to article):

In these recessionary times, airlines globally are operating on half-empty seats. But Air India, which is passing through its worst ever financial crisis, is in fresh trouble for allegedly carrying extra passengers on a fully loaded flight. What adds to the irony is that the excess passengers were discovered in a probe into the aircraft's door falling apart when it started moving while attached to an aerobridge!
"Of these three, one woman passenger was accommodated in the cockpit and two others on the foldable seats where cabin crew sits during take off and landing," said sources. The DGCA can now take criminal action against AI for this violation. The cockpits in modern aircraft have three seats. While two are for the pilot and co-pilot, the third is called a jump seat which is usually vacant. Since the process of issuing boarding passes is completely computerized, the system stops generating passes once a flight is full. In this case, however, the probe has found that boarding passes were allegedly issued manually to enable the extra passengers to clear the different levels of pre-embarkation security checks.

This action by the airline was a gross violation of the air safety norms. In this case, the airline was caught because of another incident, and this fact came out during the investigation.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doing circumcision the hard way

Circumcision is a practice in which the foreskin is removed, and is prevalent in many religions and cultures. At the same time, the skin is very sensitive at that point, and the removal needs to be done with care. The removal is normally done early on when the person is a young boy, and with due care. So, how do you account for this chap, who wanted to do the circumcision using nail clippers, without any form for anesthesia ? Maybe, a few drinks were enough to get the person to try out this new way of doing circumcision (link to article):

A medic at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, has advised men against attempting DIY circumcision with nail clippers, after a young man who'd decided this was the best way to go roundhead was admitted for emergency treatment.
Hinting at what had provoked the patient to treat his foreskin in such a cavalier fashion, the medic concluded: "Using a pair of nail clippers must have caused excruciating pain, even if he had had a few drinks beforehand."

Seems fairly obvious advice ! Doing this by yourself in such a sensitive body location would surely have been very painful.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pilot dies, but jet lands safely

This can be a bad situation, given that the pilots on modern planes have a huge amount of training before they are ready to fly modern planes. The dependence on pilots being fully aware when they are flying is pretty high, which is why if a pilot is caught drinking before a flight, it is taken very seriously. So, if a pilot is incapacitated during a flight or dies, it could become a problem. There is a co-pilot, but it is still risky. So it was a wonder that things went very smoothly on this Continental flight when the pilot died of natural causes during the flight (link to article):

The pilot of Continental Flight 61 died Thursday as the plane flew from Brussels, Belgium, to Newark, New Jersey, the Federal Aviation Administration and Continental Airlines said. The 60-year-old Newark-based pilot died of "apparently of natural causes" about halfway through the flight, the airline said. He had 32 years of service with Continental, it said. Passengers told CNN that they were not informed, and that the only indication of a problem was that an announcement for a doctor was made during the flight.
The airline said the crew on the flight included an additional relief pilot who took the place of the deceased man, and "the flight continued safely with two pilots at the controls." The Boeing 777 landed safely at Newark International Airport at 11:49 a.m. ET Thursday, the airline said.

Good that things went well, and the passengers were not notified during the flight so there were no panic situations.

Man dressed as his dead mother to continue claiming benefits

Fans of suspense movies might remember the movie 'Pyscho' and the character of Norman Bates. However, that character was dealing with murder, while in a recent arrest, a man was convicted of impersonating his dead mother in order to continue claiming her benefits (Social security, loans, state housing subsidies). Irene Prusik, the mother of Thomas Prusik Parkin, died in 2003, and he started dressing up as her when required, and sought the help of another accomplice in maintaining this charade. The interesting fact in this was that he was able to continue this for as long as 7 years before the law finally caught up with him (link to article):

A 49-year-old Brooklyn man faces up to 25 years' jail for allegedly dressing as his dead mother to scam $1m in benefits and loans, the New York Daily News reports. Thomas Prusik Parkin (pictured) adopted Irene Prusik's identify following her death in 2003, the Brooklyn district attorney's office claims. Dressed in "wig, makeup, nail polish and long, red dresses", he and alleged accomplice, 47-year-old Mhilton Rimolo - who posed as his nephew - managed to collect "$62,000 in Social Security payments and $65,000 in state rent subsidies".
The elaborate scam finally came to an end when Parkin was arrested after attempting to renew his mother's driving licence at the Brooklyn Department of Motor Vehicles. A security camera captured him and Rimolo red-handed (see pic). When he was cuffed on Monday, investigators presented Parkin with clear evidence he was not his mother, in the form of a photograph of her grave.

He will be facing a trial for grand larceny and forgery, and could face upto 25 years in jail.

Fined a huge amount for downloading songs

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been fighting a battle against people indulging in music-sharing across the internet. For the past many years, the music industry has seen a reduction in the number of music sales through the physical medium (CD's, DVD's, etc.) and this reduction is being blamed on the amount of file swapping that happens (file swapping gained prominence with Napster, and when the RIAA shut down Napster through a court case, other, more difficult to control file sharing methods such as P2P and torrents have gained prominence).
The music industry and the RIAA have been fighting against these, although fighting against a much widely dispersed enemy in the form of torrent sites and servers is more difficult. The music industry also started attacking the actual users, getting their details from ISP's, and then serving them notices with huge amounts of damages. The RIAA also had some hugely embarrassing mistakes, suffering from targeting people such as single mothers, children, and so on, all of which were huge Public Relations disasters. In some cases, they have successes, with people settling with the RIAA out of court. However, in another case, they have won huge damages (link to articles):

A federal jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Minnesota woman guilty of illegally downloading music from the Internet and fined her $80,000 each -- a total of $1.9 million -- for 24 songs. Jammie Thomas-Rasset's case was the first such copyright infringement case to go to trial in the United States, her attorney said. Attorney Joe Sibley said that his client was shocked at fine, noting that the price tag on the songs she downloaded was 99 cents.
This was the second trial for Thomas-Rasset. The judge ordered a retrial in 2007 after there was an error in the wording of jury instructions. The fines jumped considerably from the first trial, which granted just $220,000 to the recording companies.

Not sure about whether this will be a success, given that the accused is a single mother who works for an Indian tribe. Also, the RIAA has mostly given up fighting these cases, so this would be one of the few such cases that are still existing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crushing house based on wrong GPS coordinates

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a satellite based system of providing the coordinates of any point on earth, and is used for a number of different applications such as being able to plot destinations, traffic mapping, city planning, races, etc. GPS is also being used more and more for offensive tactics such as positioning for cruise missiles, bombs, and other targeting. GPS has seen to be seen as a major solution accelerator for many industries, however, the dependence on GPS to the exclusion of any other factor caused this man to lose his house (link to article):

A Georgia man is none too happy that his memory-filled family home, lovingly hand built "brick by brick" by Pop, is now a scene of rubble-strewn desolation after a demolition firm used a GPS to identify its victim and moved in for the kill. Al Byrd of Sandy Springs got a bit of a shock earlier this month when someone called to let him know the Carroll County house was no more. Byrd had lived there with his nine brothers and sisters, and the house still contained precious heirlooms including "mom’s dining room set … her hutch with her dishes in there"
“I said, ‘What address did you have?’ and he said, ‘They sent me some GPS coordinates.’ I said, ‘Don’t you have an address?’ [and] he said, ‘Yes, my GPS coordinates led me right to this address here and this house was described.’”

A great problem, imagine demolishing a house just because the technology used for GPS erred; but this was also true in some cases where drivers have been reported as having been guided down wrong roads while using their GPS trackers. It would have been good for the firm to have got a confirmation for the address before demolishing it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mother cut open to take unborn baby

Sometimes you come across crimes so bizarre and horrible that one does not know how to react. One cannot easily determine whether the crime was conducted when the person was of sane mind, or whether the person was insane at that time, and laws normally do not easily allow people who are insane to be prosecuted for crimes that they committed (it is a different matter that it can be fairly difficult to determine whether the person was insane when they committed this crime).
Consider the following case where investigators found a dead woman and a dying baby inside the home of a woman who had earlier claimed to be pregnant, but who was not pregnant (link to article):

An Oregan who was killed last week was cut open by her killer so that the baby could be removed from her womb, an autopsy revealed. Authorities also said Heather Snively’s accused killer, Korena Elaine Roberts, who was arraigned on Monday, told her boyfriend and her family members she was pregnant, even though she wasn’t, The Portland Oregonian reported on Tuesday.
Roberts did not speak during her court appearance, the newspaper reported. Her court-appointed attorney did not enter a plea on her behalf. She is charged with the death of Snively, not her baby because the unborn child must have taken a breath to meet the legal standard of being alive, Washington county prosecutor Bob Hermann said. “The issue is - was the child alive at all, at any point in time?” he said. “That’s the legal issue we’ve got to try and resolve.”

In such a case, jury members have a tough task of determining whether the crime was conducted by a person in full control of their mind (and one can expect that the defense attorney will try to present a defence based on temporary insanity).

Pregnant man gives birth for second time

This is not a medical miracle the way you think about it. In this case, there was a woman, who got a sex change operation to become a man. The 'man' married (but obviously does not have the full set of equipment to become a natural father) and then became pregnant (not sure how he became pregnant, but could have done so through medical intervention) once last year and gave birth. The idea of a bearded man giving birth would have seemed strange to those who did not know the full details, and he has done so again, giving birth to a second child through natural childbirth (link to article):

LOS ANGELES: Thomas Beatie, the transgendered man who created history last year by giving birth to a baby girl, has done it again. ABC News reported that Beatie gave birth to a son early Tuesday in Bend, Oregon, and that the child would be nursed by his wife, Nancy.
ABC News quoted sources close to the couple as saying that it was a natural childbirth and not via Caesarean section. Beatie revealed last year that after giving birth to his first child he did not start again taking male hormones to allow him to get pregnant.

Doctors take 1 Kg of hair out of a girl's stomach

Wonder how many people have heard of Rapunzel's syndrome ? People would have heard of the fairy tale of Rapunzel who had very long hair and it was with the help of this hair that her price managed to rescue her from her prison on the top of a tall tower. However, in medicine there is an ailment called Rapunzel Syndrome where girls under the age of 15 are known to swallow hair. This is a condition that requires psychiatric treatment since in many cases, the girls deny that they eat hair. In a case in India, the doctors admitted a girl who had trouble eating, who used to vomit; they found a lump in her cancer that turned out to be a lump made up of 1 Kg of hair (link to article):

VADODARA: When this 13-year-old patient walked in the hospital complaining of abdominal pain and vomiting, doctors thought that she was suffering from some routine stomach disorder. Post-diagnosis, the rare ailment left the doctors stumped. Her reports revealed that the patient had a big lump of hair in her stomach measuring 50 cm.
This syndrome is usually observed in girls below 15 years and in such cases the patient has to be operated upon to remove the lump from the stomach. "The patient came to us with pain in upper abdomen, vomiting and was unable to eat anything. We investigated her, got a CT scan and endoscopy done. The diagnosis revealed that the patient had a big ball of hair in the stomach, giving impression of hard lump," said a paediatrician Samir Brahmbhatt.

A strange ailment, but it is good that the doctors were able to remove the hair, it will be even better if they are able to prevent the girl from swallowing more hair.

Man kills a teenager for making noise

People are on a much shorter fuse nowadays, with the patience level having drastically reduced. And with the easy availability of weapons, the chance of this rage translating into something deadly has increased drastically. Consider this case where an elderly French man fired on a group of teenagers who were making a lot of noise (maybe too much noise for the gentleman) who killed one of them. The gunman was eventually caught by police (link to article):

Police said the man started shooting at “a group of teenagers who were talking loudly” in the eastern village of Guemar at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Thursday) before taking refuge in his house. One of the youths who spoke to him was shot three times and later died from a wound to his shoulder, said police.

Giving away $1 million worth of savings in a mattress

Sometimes good tasks can also result in harm. What else are the results you can draw from the below story ? A daughter sought to do good to her elderly mother, and bought a new mattress for her to replace the old that the mother was using. She also wanted to make this a surprise, so she took the effort of throwing out the old one and replacing with the new one. However, this surprise turned into a huge shock for everybody concerned when it was disclosed that the old mattress contained nearly $1 million, the life savings of the mother. And the mattress had been taken away by trash (link to article):

A woman in Tel Aviv, Israel, gave her elderly mother a new mattress as a surprise gift, throwing out the old tattered bed her mother had slept on for decades. The gesture ended up bankrupting Annat's mother, who had stuffed her savings of nearly $1 million inside her old bed for decades, Annat told Israel Army Radio. A massive search is under way at the city dump, where security has been beefed up to keep out treasure-seekers who have heard Annat's story in Israeli media.
Annat alerted the two major dump sites in the Israeli city in an effort to locate the bed, but so far she has had no luck. Yitchak Burba, one of the dump site managers, told Army Radio that he and his men are working relentlessly to try to help Annat find the million-dollar mattress among the tons of garbage at the landfill. The publicity has triggered a wave of people also trying to find the mattress and its contents for themselves. Burba has increased security around the dump to keep them out.

Such news is very traumatic to read. It almost reminds of that saying that I heard once: "No good deed goes unpunished".

Friday, June 12, 2009

2 men cook body, being tried

A new mechanism to get rid of evidence. For a lot of murder trials, having a body is an important part of the overall evidence presented at the trial, and this is the reason why people try hard to get rid of the body - this could include tossing the body into water, burying it, burning it, or whatever. In this particular case, a person was owed $70,000 for a drug deal, and there was no intention to pay. So what better way to avoid paying and to also get out of the problem of leaving a body behind than to eat the body (link to article):

Prosecutors say two men killed a drug dealer to clear a debt, then dismembered his body and cooked the remains. Forty-seven-year-old Daniel Bradley and 48-year-old Paul Moccia pleaded not guilty Monday to murder in the death of 37-year-old Angel Antonio Ramirez.
The two were ordered held without bail. Authorities say Moccia owed Ramirez $70,000 from drug deals. They say Moccia shot Ramirez in March and Bradley helped him destroy the body.

Cannibalism is particularly repugnant to humanity, and brings about a feeling of disgust in most people when they get to know.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

2 good people return huge amount of money they found

Did you know that if a security truck carrying money dropped money onto the road by mistake, then you cannot legally pick up the money. The money is meant to be returned to the truck company, and it is a felony to actually take the money. However, in reality, how often would you come across people who find huge sums of money lying on the road, and return the entire money they found ? Would you be the one who would return this money if you found it ? Is your conscience clear ?
Well, in this case where an armored truck (the truck whose business it is to carry money safely and away from people who would want to steal the money) dropped bag of money from a side open door and continued merrily on its way, there were some good people who actually collected most of the money (including persuading others who had the money) to return the money (link to article):

Two good Samaritans returned more than $275,000 that tumbled out of an improperly secured armored truck in Syracuse, New York, last week. But some not-so-good Samaritans seem to have walked away with another $60,000 that fell onto the street. A Brinks armored truck inadvertently strewed more than a dozen bags of money on the ground in front of the Syracuse Antiques Exchange on Friday, according to Sgt. Tom Connellan of the Syracuse police department.
As word spread that hundreds of thousands of dollars lay in the street, people streamed out of passing cars and adjacent businesses. For the most part the gatherers cooperated in the recovery effort. Herring attributed the crowd's willingness to turn over the money -- rather than run away with it -- to his imposing stature. "Had I not been the size I was, it might have went a different way."

How easy it is to think of not returning the money, well these people withstood all those inducements and simply did their duty.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Man faces charges after biting out his son's eyes

A father (or mother) is very important in the life of a child, they are the one who protect their children till the children themselves become adults, and in addition, it would seem impossible to find a parent who can cause their children harm. So what do you say to this boy whose father, in a drug induced frenzy, bit the eye of his 4 year old son, as a result of which the boy may become blind (link to article):

Bakersfield police say 34-year-old Angel Vidal Mendoza appeared to be under the influence of the drug PCP when he attacked the boy April 28, The Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported. Afterwards police say Mendoza rolled his wheelchair outside and began hacking at his own legs with an axe.

Imagine being so much under the influence of drugs that you can no longer recognize what is good and bad.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Woman ends her life after husband scolds her for cold dinner

Life is a precious gift, but sometimes people squander it for any reason. Who would have imagined that scolding (even if it was very harsh scolding) by her husband would have led to the wife ending her life. Consider this case in India where when the husband (a truck driver) came home from a trip, his wife served him cold dinner; at this point the husband flared up and scolded her badly (and the article does not mention it, but could have also done some physical abuse). At this the wife committed suicide (link to article):

On being scolded severely by Jitu, Anuradha seemed shocked. "Jitu told us that she went in the kitchen saying she would get hot chapattis for him, but did not return," said police investigators.
After some time, Jitu went inside to hunt for his wife and found her hanging with a saree from the ceiling. He raised an alarm and later lodged a complaint at Vastrapur police station. The couple had been married for two years.

This is shocking.

Mom arrested for neglecting 555 pound baby

Being obese has its own health problems, with diabetes, heart problems, liver, back problems and numerous other problems. For the case of people who are very obese, the terms is called 'morbid obesity' and requires urgent medical attention in order to reduce the weight and improve health. In cases such as these, the health of the patient is supreme and may require forceful medical attention; when you balance that against the obligations of the parent, then there can be conflicts. Consider the case of this lady whose son now weighs 555 pounds, and she has not been getting him the attention that he requires (link to article):

South Carolina authorities have located a 555-pound teenager and his mother, who faces a charge of violating a custody order, police said Thursday. The mother is being held in a detention center and will be extradited to South Carolina on an outstanding warrant, he said. "The understanding was that the individual was of the weight where it was decided by medical authorities that he needed treatment that was not being provided for by his mother," Armstrong said. Earlier in the day officials said the boy "is possibly at a stage of critical health risk."
Gray was supposed to appear in family court Tuesday with her son and failed to do so, the sheriff's office said. During the family court hearing, the boy was ordered into state custody because of medical neglect, as well as his mother's failure to appear. The Department of Social Services then contacted the sheriff's office, authorities said.

For a teenager, the parents bear a lot of responsibility for their well being and need to take this condition seriously.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Man in US jailed 83 days for missing jury duty

The United States has a system of justice that depends on jury trials for a large number of cases, based on the belief that a citizen should be judged by a jury constituted of 12 of their fellow citizens, and it is these citizens who can be depended upon to deliver a judgment. A condition of that is that every citizen can be called for jury duty, and it is only those who can show some sort of valid reason who are excluded from being on the jury. However, it was shocking when it was found that a person was jailed for 83 days for avoiding jury duty (link to article):

A man arrested for allegedly failing to appear for jury duty was released on Saturday after spending 83 days in jail, a length of detention that a judge called "unacceptable." Douglas Maupin was released a day after The Dallas Morning News brought his plight to the attention of a Collin County judge.
All American citizens and permanent residents are required to report for jury duty from time to time to supply potential jurors for court cases. District Judge Chris Oldner said he was unaware of Maupin's detention until Friday, even though the case was assigned to his court. The judge who signed the original 2003 warrant had retired, and officials said the case was assigned to the court of his replacement but the offense didn't fall under that court's responsibility.

This is part of the blind nature of the legal system. Maupin was caught as part of an earlier warrant issues in 2003 and when caught for speeding, this warrant showed up and he was jailed; further, he could not afford the bail amount.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Festival celebrating roadkill

Food festivals are different the world over, with different cultures all over the world, and different cuisines. Let me ask you this - how many of you have heard of roadkill ? You know, the case where animals such as deer, snakes, squirrels, possums, get killed by speeding vehicles and can be found on the side of roads. How do you combine the two ? Ugh - what a prospect. But there is a food festival where the food is essentially supposed to be based on roadkill, and this festival is so popular that hotels and motels are booked in the city when it is supposed to happen (link to article):

Thousands of people converge on the small town of Marlinton, West Virginia, each fall for a feast whose main ingredients were unlucky enough to crawl, slither or lurk too close to a speeding car. "There are some that are better than others, but I've never really had anything that I really didn't like," Cain said. "But there was one year they cooked a rattlesnake in some kind of stew, and ... there was no way I could taste that one."
About 10,000 people from all over the country came to last year's gathering, Cain said. All dishes featured in the festival must have animals commonly found dead on the side of the road -- such as deer, squirrels and snakes -- as their main ingredient. But the meat doesn't have to be actual roadkill.

I certainly don't want to be the judge for such an event, but it does seem to be incredibly popular.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hotel bans an entire town

People in the hospitality business see all kinds of guests - there are the quiet ones, there are the polite ones, there are the ones who can cause all kinds of trouble, and there are the ones who you really don't want at your place - they are not worth the kind of nuisance value that they cause. Most hotels shrug off, or maybe blacklist certain guests, but have you ever heard of a hotel having continuous bad experiences with guests from a certain town, and then consequently banning everybody from that town ? Well, read on (link to article):

A motel owner in New Zealand -- fed up with one too many incidents of rowdy behavior -- has banned an entire town from checking in as guests. Steve Donnelly, the owner of the Supreme Motor Lodge in the town of Palmerston North, said he decided to yank the welcome mat for the 16,000 residents of Wainuiomata because "each time they visited, our life became less exciting." "I'm not Santa Claus. I can't figure out who's naughty and who's nice," he said. "So we went ahead and banned all of them."
Donnelly said he banned the town after three groups of people from Wainuiomata checked in on separate occasions over a six-month period, riling other guests at the 51-room hotel. "We have moms and dads who come here with two or three kids to relax," he said. "They don't want some loudmouth spitting on the pavement, flirting with girls and swearing." The "no vacancy" extends to the members of parliament, as Wainuiomata lawmaker Trevor Mallard found out when he came to test the ban.

One does not know the law on this, but to blacklist an entire town, including people who may be law-abiding may not be something that could hold up in a court of law.

What police officers in Britain's do inside the royal palace

For those who were earlier shocked at the separation between Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and some of the lurid tales of affairs and other such juicy stuff that was revealed over the years. However, the concept was still that the Palace was a serious place, and that everything over there would be formal, and maybe a bit boring. However, if you read about the antics of some of the police inside the Palace, you would find that things can get pretty interesting inside the palace (link to article):

Police officers responsible for protecting the British royal family handled firearms when drunk, traded pornography and steroids and sat on Queen Elizabeth II's throne in comical poses, it has been alleged in a London court. At one point Cooper "suggested" there had been a procedure among armed officers at the palace whereby one officer on duty would sleep while the others kept watch for their superior.
The court also heard that officers protecting the royals lost more than £250,000 ($365,800) to a spread betting venture called "The Currency Club," one of a number of apparently successful sidelines Page allegedly set up to clear spiraling debts, PA said. Cooper suggested that McGregor had been "one of those police officers" using mobile patrols to deliver cash to other police officers based in Royal Protection who were involved in financial matters.

The image of police and that of the palace has been totally serious in the past, but maybe no longer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trying to land an airplane in the absence of a pilot

When you are being driven by somebody else, and something happens to the driver, most people will attempt to take over the driving themselves. Even if that fails, there is a good chance that even an accident will not lead to severe injuries; what happens when the controls are more complicated, and the injuries / damages that would happen in an accident are more likely to happen ? We are so dependent on air travel that we do not even try to consider the case of what happens when something happens to the pilot of the aircraft; well in the case of this small craft, there was a passenger who was able to fly the aircraft with some coaching (link to article):

It's a nightmarish scenario straight out of the movies: A passenger is forced to land a plane after its pilot becomes incapacitated. The reality was playing aboard a plane over Florida on Sunday in what the National Air Traffic Controllers Association called "an Easter miracle." The pilot notified controllers that the plane was at 9,000 feet and climbing, said Steve Wallace, Miami Center spokesman for the association. However, a controller at the center tried twice to raise the pilot after that and received no response, Wallace said.
After a few moments, a different voice came over the radio: Passenger Doug White told air traffic controllers the pilot was unconscious and they needed help. His wife and two teenage daughters were flying home to Louisiana with him, he said. He reported the plane's autopilot was on and the plane was continuing to climb from 10,000 feet. White later told the Naples Daily News he has a pilot's license and about 130 hours experience flying a single engine Cessna, but had never flown the larger, faster King Air.

This was a good coincidence, however, one shudders to think what would happen in the case when there was nobody available to pilot the aircraft; the family would have been acute distress at the impending disaster.

Girl forced to choose between parents and country

In a reflection of how law does not take into account human factors, or emotions, a teenage girl was placed in the horrendous position of having to choose between the country where she was born, and her parents (whom she may not be able to physically meet for 5 more years). In a case in Japan, a girl (Noriko Calderon), born to illegal immigrants, was given a choice of staying on in Japan, or returning on with her parents who were getting deported back to the Philippines. Her parents, Filipinos Arlan and Sarah Calderon, were illegal immigrants to Japan in the early 1990's, who then married in Japan and settled down there, and Noriko was born in Japan, and lived there for all of her young life. She is for all purposes a Japanese citizen (but not legally so, being granted a one year visa that will need to be extended annually), speaking only Japanese, and getting educated in Japan's schooling system.
However, her life (and that of her parents) was totally turned upside down one day in 2006 when Noriko's mother (Sarah Calderon) was arrested by authorities and accused of being an illegal immigrant. Her parents fought the legal battle till the end, but Japan is very strict about immigration controls and Noriko's parents lost in the end, finally being deported. And the decision for Noriko was hers to take (stay or go with her parents) (link to article):

Arlan found a stable job working for a construction company. Noriko grew up Japanese, attending school and never learning her parents' native language. Noriko, like many Tokyo girls her age, loves hip-hop and hopes to be a dancer or a teacher at a dance school someday. But her future in the only country she's ever known went into limbo when Japanese immigration authorities arrested her mother in 2006.
Japan's Immigration Bureau in a statement to CNN said the couple's illegal presence in the country as an "extremely malicious" violation that "shakes the foundation of Japan's immigration control." But when it came to 13 year old Noriko, the government gave the girl a choice: Her country or her parents. "Japan is my homeland," says Noriko, when asked why she is choosing to stay behind. She will move in with an aunt, allowed to stay in Japan under a visa that the government will reassess yearly. Her life, say her parents, will be better in Japan. She'll have schooling and the dreams a big city like Tokyo can offer her, versus the impoverished farm community her parents will move back to in the Philippines.

However heart-breaking the story, this is not a story that happens rarely. Such scenes are repeated in Japan and many other countries on a regular basis. Some countries are more liberal, allowing people to see a path for becoming citizens when they have been in the country for a long time; in other cases, it is equally traumatic when the child gets automatic citizenship due to having been born there, while the parents get no such benefit and are deported back to their original countries.
One slight twist happens in some such cases when the families do not retain any papers of their original country's citizenship, and their original country refuses to take them, asking for proof that these people were indeed their citizens in the first place.

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